What Can You Do to Keep Your Pet Safe During the Summer?
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MAUREEN CAVANAUGH (Host): I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. Dogs and cats have a lot to like about summertime. Dogs get to play Frisbee and munch on barbecue leftovers. Cats get to bake in a sun spot for hours on end. But there are some not-so-great things about pets and summertime. Pets can get overheated and dehydrated, they can get lonely if the family is away on vacation, or they can get a little crazy if you take them on vacation with you. There are also seasonal physical fluctuations that pets go through, which every cat owner, who is covered in fur from June through September, knows very well. So for the rest of this hour we'll be talking about pets and summertime. I’d like to welcome my guests, veterinarian Dr. Katy Allen, owner of Canterbury Tails Veterinary Services. Welcome back to These Days, Katy.
DR. KATY ALLEN (Veterinarian): Thank you, Maureen. Good morning.
CAVANAUGH: And Carol Harris is a certified pet dog trainer, and the owner of The Educated Pet. Carol, welcome.
CAROL HARRIS (Certified Pet Dog Trainer): Thank you. Good to see you again, Katy.
DR. ALLEN: Great.
CAVANAUGH: And I’d like to invite our listeners to join the conversation. If you have a question about vacationing with your pet or keeping your pet cool and happy through the summer or some behavioral issue that you’re having with your summertime pet, give us a call. The number here is 1-888-895-5727, that’s 1-888-895-KPBS. Well, I wonder, Katy, let’s start out – In fact, we can start out with both of you. What are some of the signs you should look for when you’re walking your dog during the summertime and maybe it’s just a little bit too hot?
DR. ALLEN: Oh, your dog will speak to you quite – quite clearly, if you are listening. Now, if you base your assumption on the fact that your dog will do anything to please you, so if you’re going for a walk and your dog is sitting down, pulling back against the leash, heading for the shade under the tree, it means they’re already very, very hot because they will do anything to keep up with you. So you need to take that clue immediately because the first clue you get means he’s already really overheated. It’s not the beginning of ‘I’m starting to get a little bit warm,’ it means I’m already way too hot. So if you see that, pulling back on the leash, headed for the grass, headed for the shade, that’s your clue right there.
CAVANAUGH: And, Carol, what should you do then if the dog sits down and starts to pant? What – Are those the signs of overheating or dehydration or something?
HARRIS: Well, first of all, you should take – think about precautions. When you go to take your dog out for a walk, you need to put your hand on the surface that you’re walking on. If it’s too warm for your hand, it’s too warm for your dog. We do get dogs that have damaged pads and damaged paws from the heat on the asphalt or on the sidewalk. You also need to make sure that you’re carrying plenty of water that’s available for that dog. If your dog is showing mild – you know, the initial signs I’m – as Katy said, they’re too warm, you need to cool them down. Get them wet, wet their paws, wet their heads, wet their bellies, but you need to get them out of the sun. You need to get them home, get them relaxed, and watch and make sure that you’re not having breathing difficulties or other issues that you need to see your veterinarian for.
CAVANAUGH: You know, we’re just on the cusp here of getting into our really warm time in San Diego and I’m wondering, if you open the door and it’s like, you know, a sauna when you step out, is – what – is there any time that you can feel that it’s too hot to take your dog out? Or what do you…
DR. ALLEN: Absolutely. I mean, the mad dogs and Englishmen thing is right. You don’t have to be English or rabid to go out in the midday heat. So, yes, so if it’s uncomfortable for you, it’s certainly uncomfortable for your dog who is wearing a fur coat, who cannot sweat all over their body as we can. You know, they lose their heat by panting. If it’s humid out, well, you’ve just – they’ve just lost a lot of that ability to lose heat by panting because then it’s all by evaporation. I mean, you don’t evaporate if it’s – if the air is damp. So, yes, it’s – if I were to – Do I want to go out for a walk wearing a fur coat right now? And if I don’t, then I shouldn’t take my dog out.
CAVANAUGH: Well, what if, you know, you go to work and you have a – you leave your dog in the backyard during the day? What kind of precautions can you take for dogs that are left out?
HARRIS: Well, there’s all kinds of things. First of all, making sure that there’s plenty of shade and plenty of fresh water in a bowl that is not easy to tip over. Dogs are great for playing in their water dishes and so on. You can provide them with kiddie pools that have water in them that you change regularly so you don’t end up with a mosquito problem. You can put up misters. Misters are lovely things for dogs and they really like them and you can attach them to your patio or wherever so that the dog can be misted periodically.
CAVANAUGH: Misters, oh, okay. I didn’t know what you were talking about at first. But does – just spray mist.
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, oh, okay. All right. That’s a good idea. Let me take a phone call. We are taking your calls about summertime pets. The number is 1-888-895-5727, and Bobbi is calling from La Jolla. Good morning, Bobbi. Welcome to These Days.
BOBBI (Caller, La Jolla): Thank you, Maureen. Good morning. I have an Airedale terrier, not quite two years old yet. And she – her hair was clipped. I had – the way Airedales are clipped when they are show dogs, which she’s not but she could be. Anyway, her hair’s clipped and she is panting so much and I don’t understand it because we live less than a mile from the ocean. We have lovely breezes. Yes, it’s hot as could be if you sit in the sun but she generally sits in the shade and yet she does hardly anything and then she comes in panting so hard. I don’t understand. Is there something wrong with her or is this the humidity? Or what do you think?
DR. ALLEN: Well, it certainly could be a medical problem so I would go see your veterinarian and make sure that there’s nothing going on that would cause her to be panting. And that can be a respiratory problem, it can actually be some metabolic problems cause excess panting. If she is possibly somewhat unfashionably plump then it is – she’s more likely to be panting too. And a lot of us have our dogs a little more heavy than they should be and so when we look at them, we don’t actually see them as overweight because we’re surrounded by dogs that are actually overweight and so our – sort of our scale is shifted a little bit so that might be something, too. So I would definitely get her looked at medically.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. That is veterinarian Dr. Katy Allen. And also Carol Harris is my guest as well. She is the owner of The Educated Pet and a Certified Pet Dog Trainer. But, Carol, I want to turn the conversation just briefly over to cats, if I may.
CAVANAUGH: I’m wondering, Katy, is there anything we should look out for with cats during this time of year?
DR. ALLEN: Well, most of my – most of our cats are indoor cats…
DR. ALLEN: …these days so they’re in, you know, an air-conditioned house and so they don’t seem to have any heat problems.
CAVANAUGH: Now should you leave your air-conditioning on for your cat when you leave home?
DR. ALLEN: That sort of depends on where you are in the county. Certainly in east county, I would be very uncomfortable, you know, in most homes without a little bit of air-conditioning on. It doesn’t have to be down to 65 but I would, you know, when I leave the house, I, you know, I maybe put it up to 78 or 80 just to make sure I take the edge off. And, again, just, you know, cats, they’re actually more desert animals. They are able to withstand heat better. They can go without water a lot longer than dogs can. Their kidneys are able to concentrate their urine so they can maintain their hydration a lot better. So they really are much better suited to the hot conditions. But nonetheless, you know, still keep an eye out.
CAVANAUGH: What about what I referred to in the opening as the shedding fur. Do cats shed all through hot weather?
DR. ALLEN: My cat sheds all year. Yeah, and they seem to be quite happy to leave great gobs of fur all over the carpet year round, actually, so it’s not – I don’t know whether it’s seasonal.
CAVANAUGH: Is it important though to comb them more during the summertime because their hair can get matted, can’t it?
DR. ALLEN: Absolutely, their hair gets matted and it can get to the point where you can’t comb it. You have to then shave them down. And some people do give their long-haired cats what we call a lion cut so they leave the hair all around the face and the neck and give them a mane and then they have a little hairy bob at the end of their tail and they often have little furry slippers, and the rest of them is naked.
CAVANAUGH: Oh, my.
DR. ALLEN: And I think that probably does help with some heat exchange. It certainly helps with their maintenance. They do come home from the groomer somewhat embarrassed but they get over it.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. We are taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727. Kevin is calling from Carlsbad. Good morning, Kevin, and welcome to These Days.
KEVIN (Caller, Carlsbad): Thank you very much for taking my call. Hello, Doctor. We have spoken with our vet about odd behaviors of our cat at various times of the year. It happens around the equinox, I believe. And what he said is odd behaviors are due to a change in light. Now my interpretation is that means the tilt of the Earth in relation to the sun, and it didn’t quite wash with us and we’re wondering if you have any knowledge on whether or not the behavior is affected – the cat’s behavior affected by the tilt of the sun? Or tilt of the Earth in relation to the sun?
DR. ALLEN: Well, certainly their reproductive lives are. Once we pass, you know, the shortest day and the days start to get longer, that’s when female cats start to come into heat and they do cycle that way. So if that part of their brain is receptive to changes in the length of the day, I can only imagine it’s quite reasonable to expect that maybe there are other behaviors that respond to that. And certainly people do, as well, don’t we? We get…
DR. ALLEN: …you know, we all get moody in the winter and, you know, all that good stuff, so it’s certainly possible. I don’t know, Carol, do you have any thoughts on that?
HARRIS: Oh, I would question what the cat’s strange…
HARRIS: …behaviors were…
CAVANAUGH: My question, too.
HARRIS: …that would be my question.
CAVANAUGH: Kevin, what’s your cat doing? Kevin, are you with us?
KEVIN: Its behavior would change. It would get anxious and now that the doctor mentioned it, I want to say our cat is definitely out of menopause. I don’t know if a cat does that but now it begins to make sense. A change in the internal clock, I guess, the circadian clock for a cat. And it makes sense. It’s just odd behaviors and the doctor said the only thing that can be attributed to it is the change in daylight.
CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you so much for your call, Kevin. It’s sort of like gotten us all shaking our heads a little bit.
DR. ALLEN: Yes, a little bit. But I would like to take the opportunity to say that changes in behavior often are related to medical problems. You know, if it’s sort of cyclical then maybe it is this circadian stuff but a lot of changes in being friendly or hiding, appetite, aggression, often have medical underpinnings and are always worth checking out medically. I’m assuming that his veterinarian’s already done that and that’s why we’ve backed into the – the circadian rhythm theory but…
CAVANAUGH: We had a caller who didn’t want to wait but his – he called in to ask, in a previous discussion about how to keep your dogs cool, can dogs have ice cubes as a treat? Is that okay? Carol?
HARRIS: I have not recommended ice cubes as treats because they have been known to crack teeth and your veterinary bill is going to be much more expensive if you have to have those teeth repaired. Putting ice cubes in the water to cool the water, if your dog isn’t an ice cube diver, is not a bad idea. But if your dog’s going to be chewing on the ice cubes, not such a great idea at all.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Now when you take your dog out to the park or perhaps you’re going to the beach, should you – is there anything that you should take with you on a hot day to make sure your dog’s okay?
HARRIS: Absolutely. First of all, lots of water. But second of all, there are things like – called cooling vests or cooling mats that are activated just by water or the ones that you put in your freezer and take with you. And that’s a mat, a very lightweight mat, easy to carry in any sort of a backpack or anything, and you put it on your dog and that can bring their body temperature down and make them more comfortable and give them something to lie on that’s cool and comfortable at the park.
CAVANAUGH: And I’ve heard that in any kind of weather, it’s a good thing when you go out in a very public place to run your dog that you have the dog have a good recall response. Now I’m going to ask you, Carol, what does that mean? And how do you build that in a dog?
HARRIS: Well, that’s – that’s your fifty thousand dollar question. A good recall response means that your dog comes when it’s called. But coming when it’s called in your backyard and coming when it’s called at dog park are two completely different things, and you can’t anticipate that that is going to be effective unless you’ve done the training to get it to that point. And that training is fairly long and fairly involved but it’s very easy to do. And making ‘come’ a fun thing as opposed to a punishment is your first step to that.
CAVANAUGH: Can you give us just a really short sort of crib notes kind of a thing on how you can build up that recall response?
HARRIS: I recommend people call their dogs 25 times a day, every day, and give them a treat. The 26th time you call them, they’re liable to come. And you add into that some distractions from your family and maybe some distractions of very – other dogs and you just kind of increase their focus on you slowly and carefully and don’t call them in the dog park when they’re not going to come until you’ve got that recall. Actually go get them because if you call them too frequently, they don’t come, they learn ‘come’ means go the other way.
CAVANAUGH: Because I want to ask you both, what kinds of trouble can dogs get in in those big areas if they don’t return, if you don’t have that recall response built into the dog?
DR. ALLEN: Well, they can certainly decide to run off, they can get into a situation where maybe there’s an aggressive dog there that they might get into a fight with. They might just get into, you know, in amongst a family party. Maybe the children are, you know, scared of dogs or so…
HARRIS: They can get lost…
DR. ALLEN: Yeah.
HARRIS: …easily. I’ve had dogs that have gotten into cactus because there’s cactus down in the canyons and so on. They can terrorize wildlife. I mean, it’s really not a safe thing for your dog not to have a good recall.
DR. ALLEN: But I would like to add, please don’t give your dog 25 treats a day or food treats a day.
HARRIS: Oh, let me – let me modify that. That would be your kibble, your dog kibble that you use to feed your dog. You take out 25 pieces of that. See, she was asking for Cliff Notes, see what happens? 25 pieces of your dog’s kibble and you use that for your rewards when the dog is coming.
CAVANAUGH: So no extra treats.
HARRIS: No extra treats.
DR. ALLEN: No extra treats. Take it out from their daily ration ahead of time. Thank you, Carol.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Cindy is calling from La Mesa. Good morning, Cindy. Welcome to These Days.
CINDY (Caller, La Mesa): Good morning. Thank you for this topic, and it’s very timely for me right now. I have an old lady golden retriever who is on prednisone because she’s got a brain tumor and so there’s a lot of panting that goes along with the prednisone. I have kind of two questions. One is, is the panting on prednisone related to heat or is it a metabolic thing? And the other thing is, I have heard conflicting information about whether it’s helpful to, you know, shave their hair down. I’ve heard that it insulates them so it’s better to keep it on. And then I’ve heard other people say that it’s good to clip them.
DR. ALLEN: Well, as far as the panting and the prednisone goes, it is more a metabolic thing, actually that the diaphragm doesn’t work as well when they’re on high doses of prednisone so it’s harder work to breathe. And they actually can be prone to small blood clots in the pulmonary blood supply, the lung blood supply, which can cause panting. Certainly, it makes them very, very thirsty and it’s not a sort of a perceived thirst, it’s a real need because it makes them wee a lot and so they’re losing lots of water out through their bladder and so they need to have lots of water available so that’s particularly important with the prednisone there. As far as the coat shaving’s concerned, I’m – yes, the jury’s still out and I’m not sure, really. I have a very longhaired dog and I do shave her down but not to bare skin because I see a lot of sunburns and even sun-induced tumors on dogs that are going commando during the summer. So if you can find a groomer that can leave maybe, you know, a quarter, half inch on and not take them all the way down. I don’t know, what do you think, Carol, about the grooming thing?
HARRIS: You know, a lot of dogs seem to be a lot more comfortable with the cut – with the coat cut down a little bit when it’s this hot. But again, as Dr. Allen said, make sure it’s not down to the skin because they really do sunburn.
CAVANAUGH: It’s interesting. I would have never thought of that. Let’s take one more call before we go to the break. Tom is calling from Ocean Beach. Good morning, Tom. Welcome to These Days.
TOM (Caller, Ocean Beach): Hi. Good morning. I had a question about my dog who has inoperable cataracts. And it was kind of a slow progression and then very suddenly over the course of maybe a month or two he’s gone almost entirely blind. So my question is, I was looking for some services or support or a blind dog society that I could kind of get some information to help him with his transition.
DR. ALLEN: That’s a fabulous question and people always say that just before they have to say they don’t know the answer. Carol, do you have…
HARRIS: I don’t know the answer either. However, what I – what I do know from having worked with deaf and blind dogs a lot, is that it’s really important that you keep their routine as close to what it has always been as possible, and that blind dogs actually adapt very well if they know what’s happening and know what’s happening around them especially if they still have their hearing. I wouldn’t take this dog, obviously, off leash or, you know, to open spaces where it could get lost. And sometimes you have to shrink their world just a little bit and make it to where they don’t have the danger of falling down stairs, or putting up baby gates and that sort of thing. I don’t know of an actual society or group that helps you with that. I’d be very interested if you happen to find something like that online to e-mail me and let me know about it.
DR. ALLEN: Yeah, and the other thing, which is very simple—and I’m not being, you know, trite—is don’t move the furniture.
DR. ALLEN: You know, you dog has learned to navigate his area so don’t mess with that.
CAVANAUGH: Tom, I wonder, is your dog exhibiting any behaviors now that your dog can’t see?
TOM: He is. He’s much more dependent.
DR. ALLEN: Umm-hmm.
TOM: He wants to kind of be right near me. He no longer jumps up on any furniture, all his spots, and, again, this is so, you know, sudden, this – these changes. He’s found one comfortable spot that’s kind of secluded that he hangs out in most of the time. You know, he’s not as lively. He’s very hesitant. He doesn’t enjoy being around other dogs because he’s scared, presumably. And the ophthalmologist said that he would adapt eventually but I think it happened so suddenly that he didn’t have time to do that…
CAVANAUGH: Yeah, uh-huh.
TOM: …in a gradual way so it’s kind of – I think it’s a little traumatic.
DR. ALLEN: Well, sure.
CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you for that call, Tom. Yeah, I’m sure it is but I think your advice to sort of shrink his world until the dog gets used to it is probably very good.
DR. ALLEN: And, also, the ophthalmologist may be able to put you in contact with other people who are dealing with that same situation with their own dogs and you guys can start your own little support group. That might be a really good place to start.
CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm. We are talking about dogs and cats and we’re talking about the summertime, too, and how the summertime influences some dog and cat and pet behavior. We are taking your calls and we will continue our conversation in just a few minutes. You’re listening to These Days on KPBS.
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CAVANAUGH: I'm Maureen Cavanaugh. You're listening to These Days on KPBS. We’re talking about keeping your pets healthy and happy during the summertime. My guests are veterinarian Dr. Katy Allen. She is owner of Canterbury Tails Veterinary Services. And Carol Harris is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer and owner of The Educated Pet. We’re taking your calls at 1-888-895-5727 if you have a question about your summertime pet. And I have to start out, though, by saying that both these ladies have taken great issue with something I said in the beginning of this segment. I said that dogs get to play Frisbee and munch on barbecue leftovers, and both of you just said, oh, no. Tell me why.
DR. ALLEN: Oh, let me count the ways. Well, most barbecue foods are actually going to be very upsetting to your dog’s stomach. They can’t take the high level of fat that we can, particularly pork is very upsetting to them. They may just get a nasty gastroenteritis, which means you’ll be dealing with vomiting and diarrhea. They may get a pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas, which is incredible painful, can actually sometimes be life threatening and is very expensive to treat. So let me talk to your wallet if to nothing else. So yet again, people food for people, and dog food for dogs. And, really, some of the things that they put in those hot dogs, you wouldn’t feed to a dog.
HARRIS: And most of those bones that are on the meats that you’re grilling are not good for your dogs. Don’t give your dog the steak bones, the chicken bones, the pork chop bones, the rib bones, they shouldn’t be having any of those. They’re really, really dangerous. They can puncture internal organs and you can, again, speak to your wallet about what that’s going to cost and not to mention the pain to your dog.
CAVANAUGH: Well, I’m so glad you pointed that out. I had no idea.
CAVANAUGH: No more barbecue for you, that’s what I have to tell the dog.
DR. ALLEN: Yes. Yes, you stand corrected.
CAVANAUGH: And, Carol, you were going to say something also about a particular kind of mulch that people are using that might be harmful.
HARRIS: Well, yeah. This time of year, people are doing their gardening and they’re mulching their gardens and they’re putting down all kinds of very attractive wood bark mulches because of the water shortage and we’re trying to make our landscaping more desert friendly and so on. But one of the forms of mulch is called a cocoa bark or cocoa mulch and that does have toxic properties in it for dogs. If they eat it, it can be life threatening, just the same as chocolate is. It’s the same chemical compound in it that is in chocolate that can be toxic to your dog. So if you’re going to do the mulching, don’t use the cocoa bark if you’ve got a dog.
CAVANAUGH: Okay, fair enough. Let’s take another call. Eileen is calling from Carmel Valley. Good morning, Eileen, and welcome to These Days.
EILEEN (Caller, Carmel Valley): Hello. Thank you. I’m calling because I have two dogs. I have a Wheaton terrier and I have a Pug-Chihuahua mix. The Wheaton terrier is about five, six years old, totally house trained, never has an accident. The Pug-Chihuahua, on the other hand, will urinate on anything vertical in my house.
CAVANAUGH: That sounds like a problem.
DR. ALLEN: That would be the Chihuahua.
EILEEN: And he – and he has full access to come in and out of the house all day long, so he’ll go out half the time and the other half of the time he could be standing by the door and will go into the house and urinate on something and then go about his way.
HARRIS: My first question would be, is this puppy neutered?
EILEEN: The puppy is not – he’s not neutered. He’s not a puppy anymore either. He’s about four.
DR. ALLEN: Well, that would – That’s the answer to your question right there. He’s doing his territorial marking. He’s flexing his muscles.
HARRIS: He needs to be neutered and you need to take care of the – Every place that he has urinated in the house needs to be taken care of to his nose. And the easiest way to do this is to turn off all your lights, get yourself a roll of masking tape and a black light, turn on the black light, it’ll show every spot in your house that has biological material on it. You put a line of masking tape around that because you’ll forget where they all are by the time you’ve turned the lights back on. And those areas need to be cleaned with a good cleaner that will take up the smell to his nose, something like AIP, Anti-Icky-Poo, or Nature’s Miracle, something of that sort. There’s several products on the market. But you need to do that. And then he needs to be retrained.
CAVANAUGH: Okay. Well, thank you for that. And thank you for that call, Eileen. I wanted to ask a couple of questions about vacations and road trips and bringing your dog or even your cat along. What kind of behavioral training do you need to do to help prepare perhaps your dog to take a road trip with you?
DR. ALLEN: For a road trip? Some dogs travel naturally very well and others just do not so you need to do a trial run to see what’s going on. And if – Some dogs actually have motion sickness, really sick sickness coming from the center in the brain, others have – just have travel anxiety and that can actually then cause them to vomit as well. So there are ways that you can desensitize them and get them used to travel and you need to take the time to do that if you want it to be a fun family vacation. And I suspect Carol’s probably got better ideas than I do so I’ll let her weigh in.
HARRIS: Well, there’s – there’s several tools to help you with the anxious dog. I mean, as Dr. Allen said, a lot of dogs travel very, very well and you don’t have to worry about it. With any dog, however, I do recommend that you take their own food with you because wherever you’re going sometimes you’re not going to be able to find the same food that they’re used to eating. And I do take several days worth of water from home with me so – or bottled water so that they don’t get an internal upset from water or food that’s odd to them. The other thing is keeping their routine, keeping their walks going and their routine normal. But you can use things like DAP, which is dog appeasing pheromones that you can get from your veterinarian, and you can spray it on a bandana. It can help calm dogs down. There’s some very, very good CDs called Through A Dog’s Ear that are musical CDs made specifically to calm dogs down during travel in a car or for other anxiety related disorders. And just really what Dr. Allen said, getting them used to it and desensitizing them to it and taking some trial runs and making sure it’s going to work for you, knowing your dog well enough to know that you’re doing it for your dog, not just for you.
CAVANAUGH: I wonder if there are any sort of questions or guidelines you can give to people as to when it’s a good idea to take your pet with you and when it’s a good idea to board your pet? Do you have any, oh, sweeping generalizations about those two concepts?
HARRIS: It depends on where you’re going.
HARRIS: Quite honestly, if you’re going someplace that you’re going to be totally occupied doing – you’re going to be in your cousin’s wedding and nobody’s going to be around to take care of the dog, then the dog should probably be boarded. If you’re going on a camping vacation or you’re going someplace where you’re going to be able to spend a lot of time with the dog, then if the dog is a good traveler, then it’s a good idea to take the dog with you.
CAVANAUGH: So, in other words, if you’re going to Manhattan, you might as well just board your cat or dog.
DR. ALLEN: Exactly. If it’s a vacation your dog’s going to enjoy…
DR. ALLEN: …and you’re – and he’s going to be in a strange circumstance so he’s actually going to need you more than he does at home. So if you’re going to be less available than you would be at home then that would probably be your first clue.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Calla is on the I-5 and she’s calling us. Good morning and welcome to These Days.
CALLA (Caller, I-5) Hi. Thank you. I have a very crazy, fruit driven cat and it’s particularly a problem with summer fruit. He eats everything, tomatoes, avocadoes, nectarines, plums, anything. And I’m trying to get him to stop doing it and I can’t – He won’t stay off the counters. He won’t – Anywhere I put the fruit, he’s in it, he’s eating it. I don’t know what to do.
DR. ALLEN: Well, I mean, the easiest thing to do would just be keep the fruit in the fridge so, you know, keep it unavailable and break that behavior and that’s probably the simplest thing to do.
CALLA: I’ve – I’ve tried to do that but a lot of fruit needs to be left out to ripen and I – I hide it, I put it in cabinets. I put it on top of the refrigerator. He finds it. He can open cabinets. I really am – And he won’t – He’s not disciplinable yet, you know.
HARRIS: Have you put baby locks on your cabinets because most cats…
HARRIS: …cannot open the baby locks.
CALLA: Actually, I didn’t try that. I tried Velcro. I have industrial strength Velcro right now.
HARRIS: No, get baby locks.
HARRIS: And that keeps most cats out of cabinets.
CAVANAUGH: Have you heard of cats liking fruit?
DR. ALLEN: I haven’t actually. In 20 years, I haven’t heard this particular problem before. So just celebrate the fact you have a unique cat.
CAVANAUGH: Umm-hmm, because he could like donuts and ice cream like mine.
DR. ALLEN: Exactly.
CAVANAUGH: Let’s take another call. Todd is calling from San Diego. Hi, Todd, welcome to These Days.
TODD (Caller, San Diego): Hi, welcome. Good day.
TODD: My comment was going to be – actually I’m a veterinarian in San Diego and I was listening to the heat problems for our dogs and cats and just to put a reminder to not forget about our backdoor rabbits and all the exotics that need some cool support also during this hot weather.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you for that. And, yes, it’s not – the world is just not made of dogs and cats, I know that.
DR. ALLEN: So you have any specifics to share?
CAVANAUGH: Todd, are you still there?
TODD: Yeah. I think some of these animals that are kept outdoors like rabbits and tortoises are used to burrowing to get away from the heat so those animals need to be provided shaded areas and cool areas, too. Sometimes a hutch just doesn’t work all the way. Frozen water bottles are good for cooling down for a relatively short period, a couple of hours. But plenty of access to water and shade is probably the best. We do see heat strokes even with the desert tortoises. They just can’t get out of the sun.
CAVANAUGH: Well, thank you for that.
DR. ALLEN: Oh, yes, you just educated me. Thanks so much.
CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Todd, for that call. One thing I want to make sure we address before we run out of time and that is, I thought it was very interesting hearing about people who acquire a new pet during the summertime when everybody’s at home and then kids have to go back to school, you sort of – the population at home thins out as the fall rolls around. And I’m wondering, is there any way to get a dog or a cat who’s so used to having just the so many distractions to being able to spend more time alone when people go back to school and back to work?
DR. ALLEN: Well, certainly. Well, you can sort of – you can wean them down and that would be the way to do it and try and have sort of have them have their own little life as well. Crate training is good. Have them used to spending time on their own. You know, they can have a Kong, a food – with a food treat stuffed in it. Have their own little space. And try and live your summer life, as far as the amount of time you spend with your dog, don’t let it be such an abrupt cutoff because they just won’t get it.
CAVANAUGH: Is there a problem with people going back to school and work…
HARRIS: Oh, absolutely.
CAVANAUGH: …with their dogs?
HARRIS: It can create separation anxiety which is a very, very severe problem to work on. It’s much easier to prevent than it is to cure. So doing the normal things, leaving your dog during the summer, making sure it learns to stay by itself. Crate training is fabulous. There’s interactive toys that you can actually put their food, meal, in and it takes them a half an hour or so to eat their meal. So it slows that process down and makes it a more enjoyable, drawn out process. Making sure that you have exercised your dog fully before you leave so that they’re not sitting around the house being bored; they’re already tired and they’re mentally stimulated already. Making sure that people – if you’ve got a young dog, making sure you have someone coming in in the middle of the day to let the dog out and give it some mental stimulation. Those are really important things.
CAVANAUGH: Interesting. Well, let’s take a couple more cr – calls, that is. Tom is in Oceanside. And good morning, Tom. Welcome to These Days.
TOM (Caller, Oceanside): Hi, Maureen, how’re you?
CAVANAUGH: Great. Thank you.
TOM: I have a poodle and you guys were talking about cooling methods and basically my bitch Hairy Fungaris (sp) likes to lay on the tile and she’s got these fluid sacs that have built up on her elbows and I’m trying to get her to lay on a pad or something because the vet says it’s because of the hard surface that she’s getting these sacs. And I was wondering what kind of advice you had for the cooling. She likes the cool down on the tile but, you know, I’m trying not to have her lay on the tile.
TOM: And I wondered what kind of advice you had for me.
DR. ALLEN: Well, those are called hygromas and they can be a nuisance. You can actually buy little sort of donut – elbow protectors that you can put on the dog so she can still be lying on the tile but she’s not got, you know, the bone-on-tile contact, and that might be worth a try. You go to a good pet supply store and maybe even look online for those, and they’re just little inflatable donuts. I don’t know…
HARRIS: The other thing would be the cooling pads that I was talking about earlier for taking to the parks and stuff because they are actually slightly padded and they are very cool.
CAVANAUGH: And I just wanted to mention before we run out of time, I did mention in my opening about poison squirrels. And I wanted you, Katy, to just tell people what it is that they need to be concerned about.
DR. ALLEN: Okay, yes, we used to always worry about if dogs had got into rat poison because rat poison’s generally something that causes your blood to not clot and they will bleed to death internally and it takes days for that to happen. But now with all these squirrels that are out and about and gophers, too, people are poisoning the squirrels and the gophers and even if they’re doing it safely, they’re putting it in a proper trap where your dog can’t get to the poison, you then have these squirrels that are poisoned, they’re still running around because they haven’t died yet and the dog will – can catch them and eat them and they get what’s called secondary poisoning. And up in Ramona where I work there, we’ve had a couple of cases and the first one we didn’t even really – weren’t aware what was going on because we weren’t – we just weren’t clued into the fact that there were these secondary poisonings going on. And it’s a very sad thing.
CAVANAUGH: We have to end it there. I want to thank my guests, veterinarian Dr. Katy Allen, and Carol Harris, the owner of The Educated Pet. Thank you so much, both, for talking with us. I appreciate it.
DR. ALLEN: Oh, it’s been a lot of fun. Thank you.
HARRIS: Thank you. It was fun.
CAVANAUGH: And for all the callers who couldn’t get to us, I want to let you know that you can post your comments online, especially Nicola who had advice for the person with the blind dog. You can go to KPBS.org/TheseDays.