Dear Daisy Dog: My dog died recently, and I very much want to welcome a new dog into my life, but at my advanced age, I fear I will outlive the dog. What is your advice?

Daisy responds: Research shows that animal companions help people live longer, healthier, happier lives, so I think you should share your love with a new dog. Consider adopting a senior pet, and arrange for his care if he outlives you.

Ask a trusted family member, friend or rescue organization to care for him if you become incapacitated or die during his lifetime. Set aside funds for his food, veterinary care and other needs.

To ensure that your wishes are carried out, establish a pet trust with the help of an estate attorney. For more information, visit

Younger readers should think about this subject, too, because something as commonplace as a car accident might prevent you from caring for a beloved pet.


Dear Christopher Cat: I am thinking about changing veterinarians and want your advice. My cat was sneezing, and my veterinarian said she had an upper respiratory infection. However, the vet refused to give my cat an antibiotic for the infection. Isn't that malpractice?

Christopher responds: Most likely, your veterinarian concluded that your cat had a viral upper respiratory infection (URI), a common condition in cats. Since antibiotics kill only bacteria, but have no effect on viruses, an antibiotic wouldn't have helped, and it may have made things worse.

Antibiotics sometimes cause loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting, which surely would have made your kitty feel sicker.

Even worse, indiscriminate use of antibiotics is a significant factor in the rise of antibiotic resistance. Unnecessary antibiotics kill the weakest bacteria, which are harmless or even beneficial, leaving the stronger, more resistant bacteria to thrive. The next time the antibiotic is used, it won't be effective against those resistant bacteria.

Over time, bacteria evolve mechanisms to elude antibiotics. This process occurs more rapidly when antibiotics are carelessly prescribed and when they are added to animal feed to enhance growth.

I assume your cat recovered on her own, which further supports the diagnosis of a viral URI. Feline URIs are similar to a human's cold, which is caused by any of about 200 viruses. The best treatment is supportive care and "tincture of time."

Your veterinarian seems to have made an accurate diagnosis, prevented unnecessary and potentially dangerous medical therapy, and helped your cat get better, all good reasons to stick with this vet.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at