by Paulette Cooper & Paul Noble
IS ALCOHOL OR MARIJUANA BAD FOR YOUR DOG?
A dog won't be harmed by alcohol in moderation, like a half a bottle of beer for an average-sized dog. But beer is fattening, so if your dog is overweight, keep him on the wagon.
That will probably be easy, because dogs generally don't like the taste of alcohol, unless they were fed it as puppies. So yours is unlikely to raid your liquor cabinet and take a snort of his own.
But what about a marijuana brownie? Actually, the chocolate in the brownie might hurt him more than the marijuana. Although in larger quantities marijuana may cause depression, vomiting, and respiratory problems, in small quantities, "Marijuana is not bad for dogs in the sense that it will harm them," says Dr. Steven Radbill, co-author of "The Complete Book of Questions Dog Owners Ask Their Vet and the Answers," and owner of the Radbill Animal Hospital in Philadelphia. "But, like people, marijuana would probably make some dogs lose some of their judgment.
"Dogs can act very bizarre under it," he continued. "People call me in the middle of the night and don't say what happened, but I know what is going on, because they say their dog has fallen out of the bed, is acting really weird, vocalizing, and his eyes are dilated."
Still, he says marijuana isn't a good idea for dogs psychologically because, "the dog doesn't realize what's happening to him. Cats wouldn't have as strong a reaction because they're used to their catnip."
DOGS WITH BAD BAD BREATH
Many dogs, especially those who eat moist food, have breath that could knock the Statue of Liberty off her perch. Dogs smell of the food they eat; and if they eat manure or fish they'll smell like it. So one solution is to change their diet, especially to dry kibbles.
Commonly, though, the source of room-clearing bad breath in dogs is bad teeth and gum problems. So have their teeth cleaned annually by the vet; brush them yourself regularly (sure); or try one of the many products sold to improve dogs' breath.
To get your dog to eat that dry boring stuff, try mixing a small amount of tasty moist food in with it, microwaving the kibbles for a few seconds, or both.
HOW OJ SIMPSON'S DOG PROVED HE DID IT
The only known living witness to the Nicole Simpson murder is Kato. The dog, that is, not Kato Kaelin. But why didn't Kato (the dog, or the one with brushed hair), try to stop the murder, and why did he behave so oddly afterwards?
Why didn't the Akita attack the killer that night? The dog probably not only knew the killer, but the killer was a boss to him or he would have attacked him. If the killer is also a boss to the dog, he becomes confused, doesn't know who to defend, and does nothing. "An Akita will attack someone harming his family unless it's another dominant household member," says Barbara Bouyet, national coordinator of the Akita Rescue Society of America, and author of Akita: Treasure of Japan.
How else did the dog prove that OJ did it? People who have dogs know that when they come home, their dogs greet them warmly. But OJ's dog barked angrily at him when he saw him right after the murder.
When OJ arrived back home in his white Bronco after the famous chase, the Akita, who had been taken to OJ's home, did not act normal. He did not greet O.J., or go up to anyone in the car. "Instead, that dog looked into the car, stiffened, backed up, barked, and backed up again when he saw OJ," says Bouyet who watched the scene on local TV.
Why did the dog show such defensive behavior? "I don't believe that an Akita would ever behave that way toward someone unless that person had done something very bad," she says.
Did Nicole's Akita do anything else incriminating after the murder? People reported that they heard strange howls of a confused and anguished dog. "These are quiet dogs," says Bouyet. "They hunt silently like cats. I think he was confused because the person attacking his mistress was not an outsider."
DOGS WHO PASS GAS
What can you do about dogs who pass gas? Leave the room. Seriously, this problem is especially likely to occur in older dogs (because of their slowed intestinal function), or among dogs who eat only once a day. That can cause them to become ravenous and gulp down food, swallowing air in the process.
If your dog is causing you to walk around holding your nose, constantly saying to others "it's him" in case there should be any confusion, try feeding him more often; not more food, just more times.
Or change the foods you serve him. Or crumble charcoal pills onto his food. Or buy a product call Curtail, which reduces gas in dogs. Or take him to a vet and see if there's anything wrong. (And let it be the vets who hold their noses this time.)
IS IT SAFE TO KISS YOUR DOG?
Letting your dog "kiss" you will probably not harm you; indeed, the danger may be greater to him than to you! But beware: what you might catch is rather surprising and what your dog could contract is even more astonishing.
But don't worry too much if you've got a dog who likes to leap and love and lick you. "Obviously, it's not really a sanitary thing to do, for example, dogs do sniff other dogs' fecal matter. But you probably won't get anything from that particular bacteria or others," says James B. Miller, D.V.M., from the Atlantic Veterinary College at the University of Prince Edward Island in Canada.
Dr. Miller points out that one surprising disease you can catch is cat scratch disease! "Although dogs never get sick from it themselves, they can be carriers." A far more common ailment you might get from kissing your dog, though, is strep throat, which has been reported among families that have dogs and children who trade kisses back and forth.
But in general, face licking is probably far riskier for dogs to do to you than for you to do to them because they can catch tuberculosis from it! And since people don't always know they have TB in the earlier stages, "They can transmit it to their dog without realizing it. They may cough, and have sputum on their lips and then the dog kisses or licks their mouth. Or they cough into a tissue, which falls to the floor and the dog chews it."
THE MOST DANGEROUS DOGS TO KISS
No, I'm not going to try to tell you that it's the pits to kiss a pit bull. It's the wrinkly-faced dogs that you also have to watch out for! Steven Radbill, D.V.M., believes that kissing dogs with "smushed-in" faces, like Sharpeis, Pugs, or Boston terriers can cause problems on your kisser if you try to kiss them.
These dogs "have a tendency to get Pseudomonas infections in their lip folds, and people can catch it from them. I have one client who won't stop kissing her dog and she has gotten it several times," he says.
He suggests you protect yourself by checking before you let your dog kiss you by sniffing to see if his face emits a strong smell -- which indicates he may have this infection.
Incidentally, to stop a dog from kissing your face, blow into his face and firmly say "no" as soon as he gets into "position."
STOPPING DOGS FROM MOUNTING YOU
One reason dogs hump human legs is that they can't reach higher than that! Seriously, although grabbing the opposite sex is wrong for people to do, dogs don't view themselves as people so such rules don't apply to them. They think we're big dogs and see us as part of their pack, treating us accordingly.
But we, big dogs, don't act like dogs, because we stop them from doing what comes naturally to them. And we often don't let them do it with dogs either. So they're frustrated -- which is why they go after your leg or anything standing or lying still, including cats, other male dogs, cushions, and, yes, human legs, which are easy for them to get their own legs around.
As for sniffing you or your guests in embarrassing places, Dr. Peter Neville, a top English consultant in animal behavior, writes in Pet Sex that "It's all very natural" for dogs to "head for an area where there's lots of scent information to be gleaned. It's like shaking hands in a world that we have so little sensory awareness of. They do things which are natural for them, no matter how rude they may be for us."
In order to stop this tawdry behavior, it's not a good idea to pick your dog up and put him on your lap, or make a big deal out of the mounting or sniffing. That just gives him extra attention and encourages him to continue the behavior.
While some dog experts advocate hormones, or castration, simpler methods are to divert them in some way, such as spraying something like water or lemon juice whenever they mount or sniff.
Lifting a knee to a large dog's chest to force him to get down also works but it isn't considered a nice thing to do (as if mounting people was).
Isolation is often recommended, that is, putting the dog in a quiet room for a few minutes each time he tries to mount. Be warned! One salacious dachshund had to be isolated eighty-four times the first day this technique was used! But three weeks later, the dog was no longer mounting.
SHOULD YOUR DOG TAKE PROZAC?
Is your dog dejected? Is your canine compulsively scratching himself? Since we live in a Prozac Nation, and our dogs live here with us, it was inevitable that we'd eventually share our Prozac with them, too.
Furthermore, many people with "mutt cases" on their hands don't want or can't afford to go to dog behaviorists and psychologists. Besides, the latter don't always succeed, perhaps because while most dogs enjoy lying on a couch, they can't tell anyone what's wrong with their mothers.
Seriously, one problem for which Prozac is being prescribed is dog depression, an ailment it's hard to believe any of them get since it's supposed to be a dog's life. But some dogs do get depressed, and this pill may give them a whole new leash on life. However, since dogs sleep all the time anyway, it can be hard for us see much change in their behavior after they're given Prozac.
The second problem for which Prozac is prescribed is dogs' constantly licking, scratching, biting, or chewing the same spot on themselves, sometimes for hours. The problem is probably psychological, possibly corresponding to human obsessive-compulsive disorders. After all, a compulsive dog can't wash his hands ten times before he eats, or check the door a dozen times to see if it's locked after he goes out.
Well, if Prozac doesn't work for your dog, there's always that couch. But make sure if you go the Prozac route (hey, it's better than a lobotomy) that your vet prescribes the medication and determines the proper dosage.
If you're on Prozac too, don't give him yours, since the dosage is different. And if you're having a Prozac moment, don't reach for his Prozac for the same reason.
ARE RAWHIDE CHEWS SAFE?
A Harvard study on rawhide bones found that while they were effective in removing dental calculus--they're not always so safe for your dog, depending on how much they chew and where you buy them.
As for the first, throw away the small pieces rather than letting your dog chew them down to the last few inches. Small pieces can get stuck in their throats.
You also have to be careful where you buy them. In the early 1980s, some dogs died after ingesting some rawhides chews. These bones can be purchased inexpensively at flea markets, and other el-cheapo outlet stores. But they may be cheap because they're foreign, and treated differently.
Rawhide from some parts of the world may have traces of arsenic in them, used to cure the raw cattle hides. They may also be contaminated with insect eggs. Or come from the hides of water buffalo which have a lot of fat. Or they may even have been washed with water that has high levels of mercury.
So only buy genuine 100 percent rawhide bones from a respectable pet supplier.
ODD WAYS TO TELL IF YOUR DOG HAS FLEAS
If your dog has fleas, chances are your house is infested with them too. One way to tell if you've got a problem is to walk through your house with white socks. If there are small black specks on your socks afterwards, there are fleas on your dog as well.
Another way is to look on your pillows (if your dog sleeps there), or any place where you see tiny black specks that you're not really sure of. Pick up these pepper-like pieces, put them on a white piece of paper or white napkin and put a little water on them. If the speck turns red, it's "flea debris," all right, that's a nice name for droppings filled with blood. (Ughh.)
Finally, if you suspect that fleas are on your dog, and you have tiny bites on you below your knees, your dog probably does have a problem.
Fleas prefer your lower areas, much like they prefer the rump end of the dog. (The rows of bites fleas make on you are referred to by doctors as "breakfast, lunch and dinner.")
From 277 Secrets Your Dog Wants You to Know by Paulette Cooper and
Paul Noble. Copyright ©1997 Paulette Cooper and Paul Noble. Excerpted by arrangement
with Ten Speed Press. $8.95. Available in local bookstores or call 800-841-BOOK