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Dog’s horseplay a pain in the neck for owner
Dear Dr. Spiegel, My son has a Black Lab who has started to pin down other dogs by their neck. Do you know why this is happening? This dog is incredibly gentle and loves Chris (my son). Sincerely, C.L., Newark
Dear C.L., Have you considered signing him up with the World Wrestling Federation? All kidding aside, there are two possible reasons this is happening. The first is simply play. The second is an attempt to assert his dominance. Which it is, can usually be determined by reading the animal's body language. In play, his hind end may be up and his tail will probably be wagging. In an assertion of dominance, the tail is usually straight up and may be accompanied by low growling. The way your son interacts and plays with the dog can have a tremendous influence on a behavior such as this. If the dog has grown up with your son doing a lot of wrestling with him and hugging him around his neck, the dog may have learned that this is a completely appropriate way to play and display affection. If the dog did not have much early exposure to other dogs, then it will likely model its interactions with others on the way it is handled by your son. Whether or not you should intervene and attempt to stop him from pinning other dogs largely depends on the reactions of the other dogs. If they are all right with it and do not respond aggressively or fearfully, then they probably recognize it as play, and you needn't worry. If, however, the pinning leads to any displays of aggression, then you'll want to begin taking a more active role in controlling and redirecting this behavior.
Dear Dr. Spiegel, A year and a half ago my children adopted two ferrets from a local shelter. They received a canine distemper shot (a disease they are susceptible to) from the shelter and had no problem. My problem is when I went to get them their yearly booster for distemper, one ferret had a terrible reaction, going into anaphylactic shock almost immediately. Had I not noticed his distress in the carrier and raced him back to the vet, he would have died. I've read that these reactions become worse with each subsequent dosage of vaccine. He's due for a rabies shot, but I'm hesitant as he never goes outside, and I'm afraid he may just be ultra sensitive to all vaccines. How would you go about this? We're so attached to these little guys that endangering one is just unthinkable. Thank You, T.B., Odessa
Dear T.B., You have two basic choices. One is avoiding the vaccinations and risking possible exposure to disease. The other, which is probably the more sound choice, is to pretreat the ferret with injections of antihistamines and corticosteroids prior to him receiving his vaccinations. These substances act to suppress the body's hypersensitivity reaction to the vaccine. In most cases, the vaccine can then be given safely, and the animal can be observed for a short period to insure that no vaccine reaction occurs. If for any reason the anaphylactic reaction still occurs, your vet will have epinephrine on hand to reverse the effects of this allergic response.
Dear Dr. Spiegel, A week ago, my uncle had emergency surgery for a tumor on his spine. He has malignant cancer. He lives alone and I will be moving in with him to care for him. My problem is where he lives dogs are not allowed. I have two dogs, "Trouble" a 10 year old female mixbreed and "Killer" a 13 year old male Pekinese. I love these dogs more than I can express in this letter. I am desperately trying to find someone who can care for one or both of them temporarily while I care for my uncle. They do not do well with other animals or children. I will have their food delivered to the foster parent(s) door and pay for all necessary expenses. Sincerely, Barbara, Wilmington