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Published April 27, 2012, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Garlic safe tick repellant

Dear Dr. Fox: I read your articles every Sunday. Thank you so much for your valuable information. A woman at my health food store told me to use bottled garlic juice when I expressed my concerns about flea and tick treatments for my Jack Russell terrier, Sadie.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I read your articles every Sunday. Thank you so much for your valuable information.

A woman at my health food store told me to use bottled garlic juice when I expressed my concerns about flea and tick treatments for my Jack Russell terrier, Sadie. She said she had been giving her dogs garlic juice for years to keep ticks and fleas away. I went to the grocery store and bought a bottle, came home and looked up the correct amount to give Sadie. She gets six squirts from a spritz bottle: three in her morning meal and three in her evening meal.

Since this treatment, there have been no flea or tick problems. – A.K., Cedar Point, Mo.

Dear A.K.: I would like to hear from other readers who have found that including garlic in their dogs’ food kept fleas and ticks away.

Garlic should always be given with food since it can irritate the lining of the stomach. It is safe in small amounts for most dogs: one large clove of fresh garlic, finely chopped, per 30 pounds of body weight per day. Remember that onions are not safe for dogs, and onions and garlic are not safe for cats.

Many readers found that adding brewer’s yeast to their animals’ food (1 teaspoon per 30 pounds) also helps repel fleas, ticks and biting flies. Brewer’s yeast is safe for cats and it has the nutritional benefits of a B-complex vitamin.

For additional tips on keeping these annoying insect parasites off your animals, visit my website, www.twobitdog.com/DrFox. You will also find a new article about how the wildlife management practices of states such as Minnesota are facilitating the spread of Lyme disease and other serious tick-borne diseases.

Dear Dr. Fox: My 1-year-old American shorthair cat, Taz, chirps, squeaks and trills. Will she ever learn how to meow? – E.A., Silver Spring, Md.

Dear E.A.: As you have discovered, cats have a varied repertoire of vocal sounds. The basic cat meow is like a long-distance call, sometimes with an element of distress (the “meow-yowl”). It can also be a call for attention. Your cat may feel she gets all the attention she needs, so she simply gives lower-intensity, intimate vocalizations.

Try meowing when you are in another part of the house. She may learn to respond and come to your call. Meow more softly just before you feed her.

Many cats never purr; some cats don’t make sounds until later in life. I would welcome letters on cat sounds my readers like to share. I once had a cat who would give a low growl-bark when he heard anyone at the door.

Dear Dr. Fox: We are desperate for help. We had a cat named Tiny who was wonderful and very affectionate. About five years ago, we saw a 3-year-old cat’s photo on a rescue group’s website. She had the same name as my husband’s deceased sister, Lily, so we had to adopt her. Lily is declawed, very shy and timid. She never got along with Tiny, but they coexisted and were able to eat near each other. They maintained no contact.

Unfortunately, we lost Tiny last year at the age of 18. In the middle of August, we adopted Petunia, a 1-year- old female, from the local shelter. We followed the advice of keeping the two cats separate for two weeks and then gradually introducing them. We have been receiving ongoing support from a shelter volunteer.

Petunia wanted to play, but after aggressive noises from Lily, she started chasing her. They fight frequently – there’s clawing and scary noises, but no bloodshed. My cat sitter advised that we leave them together whenever we are home, and let them work it out. After repeated fighting, Lily became terrified of Petunia. She has started hiding and defecating and urinating on the porch (her favorite place) or outside of the litter box. She has stopped eating.

We are at our wits’ end. It’s OK if they don’t become friends as long as they both can live with us safely. We have tried giving them treats if they are in the same room without fighting. The shelter volunteer suggested that we start over and separate them for at least a week.

We really love Petunia and would love to keep her, but don’t want Lily to suffer. We would appreciate any help and advice you can give us. – C.A., Manchester, N.J.

Dear C.A.: I agree with the advice given by the animal shelter volunteer to keep the cats separate for a week and then go through the reintroduction procedure. These slow steps (there are no quick shortcuts) are spelled out on my website, www.twoditdog.com/DrFox.

If this fails, you may try an option that often works like a miracle: Adopt a healthy young adult cat who can form a peaceful triangle, keeping the other cats away from each other most of the time by bonding with playful and active Petunia. I can vouch for this miracle third cat phenomenon from personal experience, and it is well worth consideration.

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s Web site at www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.