Last Update: 9/12/2017 4:45:00 PM
Dogs manifest anxiety and fear in subtle ways
Dear Daisy Dog: When my dog, Buddy, is in the vet's office, he yawns, even though I'm sure he's not tired. Also, he licks his lips as though he's hungry, but he won't accept food treats from anyone, including me. What's going on?
Daisy responds: It sounds like he's anxious or frightened.
Sometimes we dogs make these feelings obvious by cowering, moving away or even growling when approached.
Other times, we express our anxiety more subtly, by yawning, licking our lips or refusing treats. We may pant, pace or walk very slowly, sometimes crouching.
Anxious dogs may hold their ears down and to the side. Others are unusually vigilant, darting looks in every direction.
You can help Buddy feel more confident at the vet's office by taking him there for social visits, where the staff will pet him and give him treats, but not administer injections, draw blood or trim his nails.
In addition, you should enroll Buddy in group dog obedience training classes where he will interact with a variety of people and dogs while you praise him and reward him with treats. Ask people to pet him and, when he's ready, to touch his ears and feet, so he gets accustomed to being handled by people he doesn't know.
In time, his increased confidence will help him enjoy his veterinary visits.
Dear Christopher Cat: My 13-year-old cat, Luna, lost her appetite for dry cat food, but she'll eat the canned tuna I eat. Is it OK for her to eat only tuna?
Christopher responds: No. Luna should see her veterinarian to determine why she refuses dry food. For instance, she might have a diseased tooth causing pain that needs treatment.
Luna may eat a balanced canned cat food or a small amount of canned tuna, but not straight tuna. An all-tuna diet has deficiencies and excesses that can cause serious medical problems.
For example, tuna doesn't provide enough vitamin E, so Luna can develop pansteatitis, a painful, debilitating and sometimes fatal inflammation of the body's fat. The insufficient vitamin K in tuna causes internal bleeding which has killed some cats.
Neurologic problems, such as seizures, tremors, loss of coordination and muscle weakness, are common in cats that eat only tuna. These problems occur with mercury contamination of tuna and because canned tuna contains only tiny amounts of B vitamins, which cats require in large quantities.
Skin problems occur because tuna is deficient in an essential fatty acid called linoleic acid. Tuna that is beginning to spoil releases histamine, which can cause skin itchiness and redness. Tuna also is low in calcium.
Conversely, tuna is high in magnesium, which may contribute to feline bladder problems. Also, cats fed canned tuna have an increased risk of oral squamous cell carcinoma.
So feed Luna a balanced canned cat food, and have her veterinarian determine why she's refusing dry food.
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 www.askthevetspets.com.