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Q. - My vet really upset me during my last visit. She muzzled my cocker spaniel for a simple pedicure. Can I refuse the use of a muzzle?

A. - Yes. Your veterinarian may decline the opportunity to do the pedicure. Trust her professional judgment. She may see a deep fearfulness in your dog of which you are unaware. Dilated pupils, ears pinned back and jerky-adrenaline charged movements all warn of a fear that may result in an unexpected bite. Your veterinarian is concerned with your safety, her employees', and her own.

- W. James Brown, DVM

Wild cat

Q. - I have a 3-year-old neutered male house cat. He lives indoors and is my only cat. Last week he was sitting on the windowsill looking outside. I walked by and petted his ear and he attacked me like a wild bobcat. Five minutes later he came over and jumped in my lap purring. Is he "emotionally disturbed?"

A. - Probably not. It is likely that you experienced redirected aggression. Something probably aroused your cat while he was looking outside. He attacked you because he couldn't get to his real target. He feels perfectly normal after the arousal passes and bears no hard feelings toward you. Prevent his viewing the source of his arousal by blocking his view of passing cats. Medical problems are rarely causes of expression of aggression but should be ruled out with a thorough physical exam.

- W. James Brown, DVM

Caring for canine's canines

Q. - Do I really need to brush my dog's teeth? How did he get along all these years without brushing?

A. - You need to take care of your dog's teeth. That may simply involve rubbing the gum line with a soft fingerbrush and flavored enzyme. Ideally, brush every day. The tartar, composed of bacteria and food, re-forms very quickly. The resulting gingivitis and deeper periodontitis will actually stress the heart and kidneys. Twenty years ago, dogs and cats did not outlive their teeth. Today they live longer and we need to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

- W. James Brown, 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.

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