Ask the Vet: Stay Out of Green Water!

Question: Kip, my retriever mix, loves to swim in a nearby lake, but the water recently turned green. Is it safe for him to swim?

Answer: I recommend you keep Kip from drinking or swimming in green water; the color may mean it’s contaminated with blue-green algae called cyanobacteria. Some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that can sicken or kill animals and humans. Cyanobacteria live in both salt and fresh water and thrive in warm, calm water. When an animal ingests contaminated water, algae, or fish, toxins are released and quickly absorbed and circulated throughout the body, causing liver damage and neurotoxicity. Clinical signs can begin within minutes and include diarrhea, weakness, muscle tremors, paralysis, and seizures. Death can occur within a few hours.

Ask the Vet is written by veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to [email protected] and read more at saturdayeveningpost.com/ask-the-vet.

This article is featured in the September/October 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: PJ photography / Shutterstock

Ask the Vet: Safer Chew Toys

Question: Baxter, my 5-year-old retriever mix, broke a tooth while gnawing on a bone, and the vet said his enamel was badly worn, probably from chewing on tennis balls. Can you suggest safer chew toys?

Answer: The nylon fuzz on tennis balls damages enamel in two ways: It’s abrasive even when clean, and it picks up dirt that acts like sandpaper on teeth. The lesson: Anything harder than teeth breaks teeth. The list includes natural and nylon bones, dried pig ears, hard plastic chew toys, and even ice cubes. Safe chew toys, the rubber kind, have some “give.” (Kong black toys are good for power chewers.) Offer Baxter a twisted rope toy and some dental chews. Also, increase his physical activity to tire him out before he settles down for a chew.

Ask the Vet is written by veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to [email protected] and read more at saturdayeveningpost.com/ask-the-vet.

This article is featured in the July/August 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Photology1971 / Shutterstock

Ask the Vet: How to Get Your Cat to Swallow Pills

Q: How can I get my adopted cat, Sally, to take her pills?

A: Perhaps my technique will work for you. While my cat is eating yummy canned food, I tip her head up, open her mouth, and drop the pill on the back of her tongue. Then I praise her and let her resume eating. Offering food before giving the pill lubricates the throat,  which facilitates swallowing. The food reward afterward ensures the pill finds its way to the stomach. You can also hide the pill inside a tasty treat, such as a Pill Pocket, or try using a pet piller. If she still refuses, ask Sally’s veterinarian about alternative dosage forms — flavored liquids, long-acting injections, or transdermal gels that are absorbed through the skin.

Ask the Vet is written by veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to [email protected] and read more at saturdayeveningpost.com/ask-the-vet.

This article is featured in the May/June 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Ask the Vet’s Pets: Keep Your Dog Safe in Cold Weather

Ask The Vet’s Pets is written by Daisy Dog and Christopher Cat, with a little help from Dr. Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to Daisy and Christopher at [email protected] and read more online at saturdayeveningpost.com/askthevetspets. Dr. Pickett’s column appears in the each issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe today.

 

Dear Daisy Dog:  What do I need to know to keep my dog Riley safe in the cold weather?

Daisy Reponds:  Many people erroneously believe that a dog’s fur coat protects him from the cold. Unfortunately, dogs are as susceptible to the cold as humans are, so they can quickly develop hypothermia and frostbite during the winter. Puppies and elderly dogs are especially sensitive to temperature extremes, as are dogs with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis.

When you take Riley for a walk on cold days, consider dressing him in a sweater or coat — and possibly boots. Remove snow balls from between his toes and wash any salt from his feet. If he has long hair between his toes, clip it to decrease snow ball formation. Around your home, replace rock salt with a pet-safe deicer, which is more effective than salt at low temperatures and doesn’t damage grass, concrete, carpets, or wood floors.

See more at askthevet.pet.

Featured image: Shutterstock.com

Ask the Vet’s Pets: Food for Thought

Dear Christopher Cat: Once we’ve finished carving the Thanksgiving turkey, may we give the carcass to our cats, who would enjoy removing the remaining meat and chewing on the bones?

Christopher Responds: Your cats – and dogs, if you have them – will be better off eating their own food and staying away from your turkey. Any abrupt change in diet can precipitate diarrhea and vomiting. Bones, too, also cause countless problems, ranging from broken teeth and stomach problems to a punctured stomach or intestines. So, prevent trouble by making soup from your turkey carcass instead.

 

Ask the Vet’s Pets is written by Daisy Dog and Christopher Cat, with a little help from veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to Daisy and Christopher at [email protected] and read more online at saturdayeveningpost.com/askthevetpets.

This article is featured in the November/December 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Shutterstock.com

Ask the Vet’s Pets: Down Play

Cartoon drawing of a mixed breed dog.
(Shutterstock)

Dear Daisy Dog: How can I stop Chester, my young pointer mix, from jumping on me and other people? I was told to knee him in the chest when he jumps, but that’s not working.

Daisy Responds: Chester is jumping on people because he wants attention. So let’s use that information and some positive reinforcement — which is always more effective than aversive training — to get what you want. When Chester jumps on you, turn your back to him, so you’re not making eye contact. Don’t speak to him. Raise your hands into your armpits so you don’t inadvertently pet him if he rubs his head against your hand. As soon as he has all “four on the floor,” turn around and ask him to sit. When he’s sitting, praise him and pet him. If he jumps again, repeat the process. He’ll soon learn that the best way to get your attention is to sit.

Ask the Vet’s Pets is written by Daisy Dog and Christopher Cat, with a little help from veterinarian Lee Pickett, VMD. Send questions to Daisy and Christopher at [email protected]

This article is featured in the September/October 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Shutterstock