Cats now ‘top dog’ in our homes

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Pete Keesling

There’s an old saying that tells us a dog is man’s best friend. But new statistics indicate that this just ain’t so anymore. Today, the pet dog population in the United States is more than 67 million. But listen to this; there are more than 83 million cats living with human companions. Those darn cats. Somehow, they snuck up and took over as the most popular pet in America. Only fish outnumber them (there are an estimated 170 million pet fish in the United States), but that’s only because a lot of fish can fit in one small aquarium. So it seems that cats have it when it comes to being “top dog” in our homes.
Q:
Our older dog, Betsy, is very weak in her back legs. She’s tiny, only a little bigger than a cat. Our vet prescribed some pain medication and it helps, but only a little. Our neighbor told us that their dog had a similar problem a few years ago. They did some kind of “water therapy.” We’re willing to try anything at this point. Any recommendations?
A:
Water therapy is often used for patients that have difficulty standing or walking. The buoyancy of water allows a pooch to use her legs in a nearly-weightless environment. There are several ways to do this, but I’d suggest you get a referral to a specialty clinic that offers water therapy. Your veterinarian can recommend one in your area.
Still, if you want to try this yourself, discuss this with her vet to make sure that she can’t injure herself. Some spinal conditions can worsen if a dog overexerts. If you stand in a warm swimming pool and hold her under her tummy, she’ll start paddling with her front feet and (hopefully) kicking with her hind legs. This movement will help maintain, and even rebuild some muscle strength. But it takes a lot of time (figure a few weeks to months) with many repeated visits to the pool. You have to be very patient with this type of problem. There are other exercises you can do at home without water. Ask Betsy’s vet for some suggestions.
Q:
Our two dogs were just spayed and we’re having a tough time keeping them quiet while they recover from their surgery.
Just yesterday, one climbed out of their enclosure and for moment was a free girl. Fortunately, she didn’t remove her stitches. But now we aren’t sure how to keep them from running around and hurting their chances to heal properly. Do vets prescribe sedatives for dogs like ours?
A:
Oh, the challenge of dealing with all that energy! Post-op spay patients need time to heal and it takes 10 to 14 days to do just that. Your vet probably told you to keep your girls confined. But this can be difficult, especially if one or the other is an escape artist.
Typically, tranquilizers or sedatives aren’t a good idea. And you wouldn’t want your pooches to be drugged for a prolonged period anyway, right? So what to do? How to deal with all this pent-up energy? Here are a few suggestions for any dog that has just been spayed.
First, and most important, leash walk her at least two to three times every day. Burn off some of that energy with a 30 to 60 minute stroll. She’ll be glad to get that huge protective collar off, and she’ll love to get out and “smell the roses.”
Be sure to put that collar back on when you’re not with her. We don’t want her to lick the surgery site and do any damage.
She’ll need to be confined in a safe enclosure. If she’s a climber or some other kind of “Houdini dog,” I recommend getting an oversized kennel crate at the pet store. Get one that’s large enough for her to stretch out and sleep (with her collar on) and that has enough room for her water bowl. This crate can become her little cave where she can rest, relax and recover from surgery.
Follow these suggestions and you should have an uneventful recovery. Happy healing!

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