Welcome back to "The Animal House." I'm Sam Litzinger with Dr. Gary Weitzman of The San Diego Humane Society. You can call us at 1-877-610-3647 if you have an animal-related question. You could send your question via email to email@example.com. Again, that telephone number is 877-610-3647. You could email us, firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to visit our Animal House Facebook page to see animal news, videos, our animal of the day, all kind of cool things on that page.
Let's take a telephone call, if we can, from Rebecca. Rebecca, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
How are you? Thanks for taking my question.
I have a Red Eared Slider turtle. I've had him for about nine years, since he was the size of a quarter.
Aw, that's great.
(laugh) Was he adorable as the size of a -- I bet he was so cute.
A turtle pup.
He was so cute. He was a spring break indulgence.
I didn't realize the responsibility.
Well, what's his name and what's his problem?
His name is Luis. And he doesn't have a problem. I've just noticed interesting behavior. I've been feeding him goldfish for the past couple years. Not solely, just…
…as a treat every once in a while. And I usually get like five to seven fish at the store.
And I put them in his tank and immediately he starts chasing them and he eats, you know, a good half of them…
Right. It's Thanksgiving day, okay.
Exactly. And then over the course of the next 24 hours he'll finish some of the other ones off. But then it seems for the past couple times that I've fed him, he seems to not eat one or two of them. For example, he had one that lived with him for six months. And then I ended up killing it…
…by accident when I cleaned the tank. Yes.
And he's done this a couple of times. And right now he has three that have been living with him for a good four months. And…
Now, you -- now, Gary, what do you know about Red Eared…
…Slider turtles? A lot?
Yeah, I am so glad you asked.
Did you do any work in -- you didn't, did you?
Could we get a little bit of help on this one?
Yes, we can.
Katrina Smith is adoption coordinator at the Mid-Atlantic Turtle And Tortoise Society. She's also author of the book, "Red Eared Sliders." I mean, how perfect…
…could this be?
Katrina, are you with us?
Oh, you're my hero. Thank you.
You gotta help Dr. Gary a little bit.
Now he knows a good deal about turtles, but is this turtle adopting other animals? (laugh) I mean, is the turtle having pets? What's going on here, Katrina?
Well, she's gonna end up with a lot more pets if she keeps buying the goldfish.
You're thinking Rebecca may end up with a lot more goldfish, huh?
Right. As Sliders get older, they tend to want more plant matter than animal matter in their diet. Although they do still like chasing things and eating animal matter like goldfish, they're true omnivores. They will eat anything they can get their mouths on.
But as they get older they tend to eat less animal matter in the wild. And some of them just get used to having the goldfish around. And so, you know, like she said, six months later, he decide to eat one again and you lose your goldfish. Or the goldfish keeps growing and the two become companions in the tank and you may end up with a six or eight-inch goldfish along with your six or eight-inch turtle.
Oh, so you're suggesting a possible dietary change here, Katrina?
That could be part of it. He could also just decide he doesn't want goldfish anymore. But I like the fact that she said that it's not the main part of the diet. It's only a snack or a treat. Because goldfish contain thiaminase, which is an enzyme that breaks down B vitamins and can cause neurological problems.
Now this is exactly why we have you on the show because I wouldn't have said that in 100 years. Terrific. Okay. So Rebecca, so what else are you feeding?
Well, the regular, you know, bottled turtle food, the pellets and things. Usually also whatever veggies or fruit I'm having at the moment. So sometimes I give him banana or apple pieces or carrots. He really loves red things, it seems. Strawberries, oh, my goodness. Watching him eat a strawberry is more entertaining than television.
And Katrina Smith, that's all okay?
That's good. As treats, that's great. You can also throw in some romaine lettuce, you know, whatever leafy greens you have on hand every once in a while.
But that sounds like a good varied diet.
Good. So now I have some extra goldfish pets.
That's right. (laugh)
Yes, you do.
You may have a lot of extra goldfish if you're not careful. Katrina Smith, thank you very much for the help on this.
Okay. Could I also add that since 1975 it's been illegal to sell the little baby turtles.
Oh, that's good to hear because that's what we asked. Okay.
So whatever store was selling those is selling them illegally. Usually people buy the baby ones as kids presents for, you know, they go on vacation and see them and get one for their children, not realizing they can carry salmonella and everyone has to wash their hands after they handle the turtle. And also not realizing that little baby turtle, as you've probably realized, can get up to 6, 8, 10, even 12 inches long when it's full grown.
They can live to be like 30 years old, right?
Yeah, we have one for adoption that's 46 years old.
You've got a long life ahead with Luis I think, Rebecca.
Yeah, as I was in for a surprise when I bought him as a, you know, quick -- not a souvenir, but a little pet and came home to realize it was…
But you wouldn't give him up for the world now, I bet you…
You're probably very fond of him.
I very much am. Who knew you could love a turtle so much?
And so does Katrina Smith. Katrina, thank you very much for all your help.
Thank you. All of you have a good day.
All right, bye. Katrina Smith is adoption coordinator at the Mid-Atlantic Turtle and Tortoise Society. Our telephone number is 877-610-3647. Our email address is email@example.com. You were talking before, you used to be able to buy those things at Woolworths.
Yeah, I remember those. Yeah, you're right. Woolworths. And that's what put them out of business.
What a rotten child I was 'cause I'm sure I bought like -- they were a quarter.
Along with the chameleons and I had sea monkeys.
What was wrong with me?
Not even realizing…
Amazing sea monkeys.
…they built cities that I couldn't see.
Let's take a telephone call from Toria. Toria, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes. Hi, Dr. Gary.
I have a little barn cat named Blossom.
Who adopted me about 12 years ago.
(laugh) Adopted you, yes. Okay.
And oh, she's wonderful. And she's very active. She used to just hunt all the time and jump up on hay bales. And she loved the snow. About two months ago, she went blind.
And it's just breaking my heart 'cause I…
Yeah, I bet.
…see her now and she's an inside/outside cat. And she kinda gingerly walks through a room and, you know, bumps the legs of chairs and…
…you know, hits a table. And she's able to find her way to the cat door and she goes outside. And she kinda, you know, crinches (PH) along the side of the house outside. And when I'm out there with her, I speak loudly or I stomp loudly on the ground…
…and she just follows me around. She has a detached retina in one eye. And a broken…
Okay. So you brought her to the vet?
I did, yeah.
And broken blood vessels in the other eye. And unfortunately I wasn't home -- I’m a pet sitter also. So I'm not home a lot. So I don't know what happened, if something traumatic happened to her, if she fell or…
Oh, poor baby.
Anyhow, so yeah it really is breaking my heart. It's tough when I go into a room and I flick a light on and she's just sitting in the middle of the floor with her head down. And…
Oh, no. Yeah, that's tough.
…I just know, yeah, she used to be so active and so full of life.
Toria, can you keep her indoors?
I can't. She does…
She refuses to use the litter box. I have tried and tried and tried. She just…
Or do you have any way that there's a -- I don't know. Do you have a screen porch or anything that you could put the litter box in or…
Yeah, we do have a screen -- yeah. My thing is, I've got two other cats.
And I do have a screened porch. And I have a little rip in the screen and they all go in and out of that part. She goes out of the house and onto the screened porch.
So I guess maybe I could put the rip someplace else that she can't get to, but she just won't use the litter box. She'll…
…go to the bathroom on the (unintelligible).
This is a tough one.
Well, you know, it's hard. And, you know, the obvious answer is to keep her indoors.
That's what you would do if you had an indoor cat.
But I know that, you know, you've got a barn cat. So you have a cat that's very acclimated to being outside. It's gonna be impossible for you to even keep her inside, even if she did use the litter box.
She'll go crazy trying to get out, but, you know, it's not wonderfully safe out there for her. Okay. But that all being said -- and you've heard that before. You know, she's probably -- the inside is the same as the outside to her. I mean, as long as she has access to safety and being indoors, what you wanna do is make sure that the things you can keep stable, are. You know, whatever you've got in your house that is her normal routine.
That she can always get to that, that that's okay. She'll go outside. And probably she'll just venture to the point of safety, you know, places that she feels and can smell and touch with her whiskers. And she won't, I hope, go too far, you know, beyond that.
So, you know, that's the way it works. You know, unfortunately there's no way to keep her inside.
Will it get better over time? 'Cause presumably she's using other senses now…
…to get around.
So is she gonna get better at that?
You know, yes and no. She'll get better and she'll get more used to dealing with her limitations, but, you know, the senses fail and they all start to do that. And I think the retinal detachment, the other issues that your vet is seeing in her other eye, are probably progressive. I mean, you know, that's what generally happens. They're usually not due to trauma. They can be due to infection or they can just happen. But it sounds like she's pretty much, you know, she pretty much has acclimated. How long has it been?
It's been about two months.
And what I've done especially outside is I've got little triggers every place. I've got wind chimes by a door. And she can…
…hear the -- I know she can hear the bird feeder when all the birds are there 'cause she'll sit and listen. And I've got a big dawn-to-dusk light.
And it makes a big buzzing noise. So at least she knows night from day. And she's getting used to the smells, I think. She's got her little pile of mulch that she likes to scratch and go to the bathroom in.
And she lets me pick her up and she just purrs and purrs. And I put a little space heater on for her and she just curls up in a little ball and just is happy as can be.
Good for you, Toria. Thanks for very much.
I just love her. She's my bliss. Well, thank you for your help.
Well, that's great.
I appreciate it.
Thank you very much. 1-877-610-3647 is our telephone number. Our email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Let's take a telephone call from Andres. Andres, it's glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
We have an English Bull Terrier. And last weekend…
Oh, those are great dogs. Go ahead.
Yeah, she's fantastic. And she's nine months.
And is a sweetheart. We just moved from D.C. to Maryland. And the move has been a little bit traumatic for her.
What is her name, by -- Andres, what's her name so we can refer to her?
Okay. Ponio, okay. Okay.
Well, what is she doing?
So she's great.
What is she doing that makes you think it's been traumatic?
Well, I can't get her to pee and poo on command. I had like a spot for her.
And she has been holding it for a while, but finally today we made some progress. She finally went today, but her appetite has been pretty down.
So I have to bribe her and get her the wet food that she loves, the Wellness wet food.
Good. Okay, good.
But I just kind of wanted to check to make sure everything's fine.
You know, it's, listen -- and point of fact, moves are one of the most stressful things that any human goes through and it happens with the animals, too. You've changed her whole world. And you've got total control over her world. And I guess you just experienced what the ramifications of that are for her. You know, it's tough for her to go to a different environment, to different outdoor behavior, to being house broken and it's confusing. I mean, she's only nine months.
You know, and she's -- Bull Terriers, too, they need, you know, they don't grow up 'til they're about five years old. So it's gonna take her a while to really get used to everything, but I think you're doing the right thing. Just reassure her. Try to get into a routine as quickly as you can. You know, that's the biggest thing here. If house breaking's an issue, give her the safety and security of the crate, again, just for a few weeks. And honestly, you know, I think you're gonna need it for like four days, to be perfectly honest.
Because she'll get it pretty quickly. So unless you moved from a house with a great rolling lawn down to the Potomac to a, you know, a 10-story condo loft or something like that…
In New York City, yeah.
…I don't think it's gonna be really hard for this dog to get used to it. She just has to accept the first part. And then she can learn how to deal with her new environment. But it sounds like you're doing the right thing. Get the food, bribe her, you know, get the treats ready, reassure her. And, you know, she'll acclimate, too.
Well, report back to us maybe in a couple of weeks.
Thank you. Well, while I got you on the phone, quick question for you, Doctor. She's nine months. When can I switch her over to regular food? She seems to be bored.
Oh, a Bull Terrier? Yeah, I would say you can definitely switch her now. You know, we usually say depending on the dog size you can start as early as, honestly, even seven months. But I would talk to -- I would have everybody out there talk to their vet before deciding on this first. But I think a Bull Terrier, generally, nine months you could probably start switching her now and get her transitioned to adult food within about a month.
Okay. Fantastic. Thank you so much.
Good for you. Thanks, Andres. Dr. Gary Weitzman will be back to answer more of your questions. You can send them to email@example.com. You can call us, 1-877-610-3647.
I’m Karen Munson and this is The Animal House Dateline.
I saw this bird fly by and it landed on my windowsill and I just fell in love. Isn't that right?
That’s the voice of pop singer and TV personality Cee Lo Green, who's taking heat over his plans to replace the pet cat he took to his TV show "The Voice," with a Moluccan Cockatoo. Animal rights organization Born Free has expressed concern, explaining that the species is not only endangered, but is also believed to develop self mutilation when kept as a pet.
A new program in San Francisco will pair carefully selected dogs from shelters with panhandlers in an effort to steer the latter away from asking for money on the streets and keep the animals from being euthanized. The temporary guardians -- the words pet and owner are frowned upon in San Francisco -- will receive weekly stipends of $50 to $75 and must agree to jettison those cardboard signs in the pilot program called WOOF, which is short for Wonderful Opportunities for Occupants and Fidos. The program is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. And the animals will eventually be placed in permanent homes.
A 450-pound sculpture dubbed, "The National Fire Dog Monument," has just completed a 12-city, 2000-mile tour, recently reaching its permanent home in Washington, D.C., named "From Ashes To Answers." The sculpture depicts a firefighter looking down at his Labrador Retriever. The bronze statue was created by Jerry Means, an arson investigator from Colorado. It was sculpted by Denver-area firefighter Austin Weishel, and serves to acknowledge the work of certified accelerant-detecting arson dogs.
For more information about these stories, visit wamuanimalhouse.org.
Coming up, what animals can teach us about human health in "The Animal House."
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