Q -- My 10-week-old shepherd-husky puppy growls at me if I come near him while he is eating. What should I do?
A -- You are describing early signs of dominance aggression, common in young dogs. Correcting his behavior is important. Ignoring it can lead to a very troublesome dog. Feed "meals" instead of always having food available. Make the puppy sit down and wait for a moment in submission, in order to get a meal. As the puppy is eating, place a liver-based treat on the floor near the bowl. The puppy will associate your approach with something good instead of a threat. Eventually you could put the treat in the bowl. If this behavior persists ask your veterinarian for additional advice, or referral to a behavioralist.
W. James Brown, DVM
More ways to brush teeth
Q -- My dog's gums and teeth are showing signs of dental disease. My vet suggested brushing them but she's big and cannot hold still. Is there another option?
A -- There are several options. First, try a fingerbrush. They are easy to use and well accepted by most dogs. Second, an enzyme impregnated "chewee" can reduce tarter. Third, there is a new Hills Prescription Diet aimed at dental care. Last, routine scaling and polishing under anesthesia may provide a solution. Ask your veterinarian which solution is best for you.
W. James Brown, DVM
When to change to cat food
Q -- How long do I need to feed kitten food to my kitten? Can I feed him cat food now that he's neutered?
A -- You should feed a food labeled for kittens, or one that says it is adequate for all stages of the life cycle, until your kitten is a year old. Kittens continue to develop their bones, teeth and other organs up to a year after birth, even though there may not seem to be much change in their size during the last few months of this time. The kitten diet has extra nutrients to aid this process. Although neutering does reduce metabolism and he may need less food as an adult because of it, as a young growing cat he should have the benefit of kitten food. As with any guideline there are a few rare exceptions for special circumstances; your veterinarian will advise you in the event one of these applies to your cat. Your veterinarian can also advise you which of the many different brands he or she recommends, as there can be considerable variations in quality between brands.
Kate Marquardt, DVM
Prepared as a public service by the Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society. Send questions to Pets, P.O. Box 403, East Aurora, N.Y. 14052-0403. Sorry, personal replies cannot be provided.