Animal Doctor: What medicines does my house dog need?
Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 7-year-old Chihuahua who I saved from the local pound. Is it necessary for him to get all of the shots they provide? Please tell me what medicines we need to continue with, as he will be going in for a rabies shot unless yo...
Dear Dr. Fox: I have a 7-year-old Chihuahua who I saved from the local pound. Is it necessary for him to get all of the shots they provide? Please tell me what medicines we need to continue with, as he will be going in for a rabies shot unless you advise differently. This little one is strictly a house dog. Any suggestions? - M.N., De Soto, Mo.
Dear M.N.: It is the law in all municipalities for dogs to be given an anti-rabies vaccination every year. More enlightened veterinarians favor the available three-year interval vaccine. This lowers the risks of adverse reactions associated with annual vaccinations, including autoimmune diseases. The next step is to evaluate the duration of your dog's immunity from a single vaccination by blood titer testing. Many dogs may need to be revaccinated less often than recommended. I encourage more public support for the Rabies Challenge Fund, which is doing research to determine the amount of time vaccinations last. Trials for the fund are now approaching the seventh year. Visit www.rabieschallengefund.org for more information.
Your dog may or may not need other vaccinations, and your veterinarian can take blood samples to evaluate the need for booster shots. One other preventive treatment is anti-heartworm medication, which calls for a different blood test prior to medicating. I also advise an annual wellness examination for all of your animal companions.
Dear Dr. Fox: Twelve years ago, we adopted four feral tabby kittens - two males, two females. The dominant male (Junior) became one of the female's "sleepmate," and for 12 years, the female never left his side.
Three weeks ago, we had to have Junior put down. Since then, his loving female has been looking all over the house for him. The loving female cat (Eyes) acts depressed and at times gets aggressive at her other brother and sister. Will this pass? - P.G., Manahawkin, N.J.
Dear P.G.: You are describing the behavior of a cat in mourning. It may help some animals through the grieving process if they are allowed to examine the body of the deceased companion.
The female cat's evident shunning of the other cats is a call to you to encourage her to enjoy being groomed, massaged and engaged with your favorite interactive games. Get the other cats interested, too. Some calming music may help, and you can try rubbing each cat under the chin with your favorite perfume every morning and evening for a few days.
Petting shelter cats helps prevent disease
A study confirming the benefits of petting cats in shelters who are already human-socialized has been reported by doctors Nadine Gourkow and Clive J.C. Phillips in the journal Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
They compared a number of tame cats in shelter cages who were given human contact with those who were not. Human interaction by petting, playing and grooming improved shelter cats' welfare.
Cats so treated were more content and less anxious and frustrated. Treated cats had increased concentrations of immunoglobulin A in their feces. Within 10 days, the interaction had substantially reduced viral shedding. Treated cats had less respiratory disease, especially the good responders to treatment.
Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. 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 website at www.drfoxvet.net . His column also appears in the Farmers' Forum section on Friday.