I'm Sam Litzinger with Dr. Gary Weitzman. We would like to hear your animal-related questions and your stories. 1-877-610-3647 or email@example.com. Again, the phone number is 877-610-3647. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. You could also play our Animal of the Day quiz on "The Animal House" Facebook page. Visit facebook.com and search for "The Animal House" and there we will be. Here is Chris. Let's take a telephone call from Chris. Glad to have you with us in "The Animal House," Chris. Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes. Thank you for having me on the show.
I would like to know if I go to a rescue center and adopt a dog, which kinds of breeds or mixes would I want to pick if I'm looking for one that can go on longer distance runs with me as I train for a marathon.
Wow. Oh, you're training for a marathon. So you're looking for a dog that'll go a distance with you then. Are there such creatures out there?
Marathon-running dogs? No.
So you have to know, first of all, that I think you can certainly get a more appropriate dog to actually run with you, to go on jogs, but, Chris, it'll be more limited than 26 and a half miles.
It'll probably be more like at the most three miles, to be perfectly honest.
And depending on where you live, I mean it, you know, in the good weather, like people in Washington training for the Marine Corps…
…you could probably go on a three-minute…
…if that, jog with a dog. All dogs are sprinters, for the most part. They're not long-distance runners. So when I see people running with their dogs, it's great. It's great exercise for them, but you just have to read the dog's face. As far as getting a dog that -- I have to think about that. Getting a dog that would be better running with you, you'll probably want a dog that can actually keep up pretty well. And it's not a Greyhound 'cause they're gonna be past you in about two seconds. And then they're gonna be done. (laugh)
And they tend to run in circles (unintelligible).
It's like, I'm already here. I've been waiting for you 10 minutes, Chris. Where you been? So -- okay. Shih Tzu's out, Greyhound's out.
You know, I think, honestly, probably the best dog, especially if you're going to a shelter, is the one that you fall in love with that's a bigger dog with longer legs. And, you know, a Lab mix, Pits can run pretty well. My little Betty could outrun a Greyhound, I swear, and for a lot longer amount of time. So I think the only thing that you're looking for is a dog with longer legs. You know, you just definitely don't want a mini breed 'cause that's gonna, first of all, even if they can keep up, it's gonna look ridiculous.
And you don't wanna look bad if you're serious about running for a marathon. But, you know, a Ridgeback mix, you know, any kind of Lab mix. And actually running would keep their weight down, too, and that would help. Shepherds have a little bit of trouble with dysplasia, but still, they could probably do a little of that. That's -- and probably a good mix. A good mix is gonna work out best for you. But I would say -- and for people looking for a rescue dog or a shelter dog -- same things -- then talk to the people running those organizations to have a good match for you.
We use Meet Your Match at the Washington Animal Rescue League, but everybody uses different things and a lot of them use Meet Your Match, but finding one that will actually work for you. And you'll find a dog that's young, healthy, no diagnosis of hip dysplasia or knee problems and that'll be a good running companion for you. But please, please, please don't go 26 miles with your dog.
And the other thing, by the way, Chris, we had a similar question some time ago, it seems to me. And as I recall, one bit of advice that somebody gave us was if you can design a course so that maybe you go out like a mile and a half and then come back and you could drop the dog off at home and then you could continue on the rest of your marathon training after that. So you'd have a companion animal for the first part of the run. Then the dog can come back and, you know, have a snack and take a nap or something while you're finishing the marathon. If you can design a course like that, that could work for you.
Right. Right. But they're great companions to run with. And they love it. You just have to limit it.
Good for you, Chris. I'm completely jealous of your running a marathon, by the way.
Didn't you just do that last week?
Is your training coming along? You're ready to go, Chris?
Yeah, it's coming along, a quarter of the way there.
Okay. Good. That's great.
And let us know what you end up with, too. And let us know -- 'cause presumably you'll talk to the shelter people and get a dog that can do that. So report back to us in a little while, Chris. Keep up the good work. Our telephone number is 877-610-3647. Our email address is email@example.com. Let's take a telephone call from Kimberly. Kimberly, glad to you have you with us in "The Animal House." You have a question for Dr. Gary? By the way, you're calling us from Florida, aren't you?
Yes, sir, I am.
Oh, good. You must listen to us on WUWF. Thanks for doing that. Question for Gary?
Yes. I have a gerbil. He's about nine months old. When he was about three months old he had a head injury and one his front paws doesn't work properly anymore. The fingers won't move.
And shortly after that he started chewing off all the toes on the opposite foot on a back leg.
Oh, my gosh. Oh.
And I didn't know if there was any correlation to that at all or anything.
So he's not chewing the bad foot? He's chewing the one opposite that?
He's chewing a good foot what was on the opposite side that his affected hand is on. So it's a front right paw that was damaged and a back left foot that he's been chewing on.
Oh, my goodness. What's going on, Gary? Any idea?
Okay. So the front right was damaged. And he had a head injury as well?
That's when the front right stopped working.
Oh, I see. Okay. You know what? I actually think it probably is correlatable. And it's hard to know what. Have you brought him in to talk to your -- not for him to talk to your vet -- but have you talked to your vet about this?
I did when I first noticed that he was starting to chew off a couple of the toes. It was very subtle at first. And I thought he'd gotten into a fight. The doctor said just give him some doxycycline and put some Mupirocin on his toes until it healed up.
Right. Right. And did it heal okay?
And so I put the Mupirocin on.
No. The more I put the Mupirocin on, the more he tried chewing off the foot.
That's the backfire setting on treating rodents. The problem is once you put Neosporin or any kind of ointment or something on there, you call attention to that area and that can direct them to cause even more self trauma. So it sounds like this little guy has got some issues really happening. And they may be related to head injury. They may not. Does he act neurological at all? Does he stumble?
No. He's a very -- he even gets in his wheel and still tries to run. It's more of a hop now, but…
Oh, poor guy. Okay. Were you able to save his foot at all, his back foot?
He's chewed off about half of it now. And he's still kinda working on it. I'm not sure what else to do other than take him back to the vet and have the rest of it amputated off.
I know. I think that's probably what you ought to do, but the problem is now we're talking about half -- his left front and his right hind, they're gonna be missing. So they're -- while I'm talking to you I'm thinking about little tiny gerbil Elizabethan collars or something to keep him away from that foot. (laugh) But the reason I asked you about your vet -- and thank you for bringing him in, by the way, because a lot of people with small rodents don't necessarily go to their vet, thinking that it's prohibitively expensive or there's nothing you can do. Or you can just go to the pet store and get another one.
And, you know, that's not really the right way to treat it. These are still, you know, these are -- not still, but these are parts of our family. And I'm glad you brought him in, but what I was wondering was whether there was something else going on that was picked up on the exam with his foot. If there's an infection there or there's something else happening that's causing it to be irritated and causing him to start gnawing at it. Nothing was found?
Nothing. When I took him in the first time it was just a quick look over, did a full check of him and it was just the first two of the toes. He stopped for about a month. And then continued again in like full-fledge gnawing. He went from just one toe left to cutting off half his foot in the course of two days.
That was about two weeks ago.
Poor little guy.
I'm set to go see my vet on Monday.
Good. Okay. I strongly recommend that. Let me say that again. I'd strongly recommend that because if there's nothing to keep him from gnawing at that foot, he's gonna just take the whole thing off anyway. It'd be better for your vet to actually amputate and have him deal with missing two of his feet, basically. Because he probably will do okay, but there's a complication that once that's done, there'll be sutures there. And that might cause attention to that area, too. Or maybe they'll -- I think I would probably use glue to hold the skin together, but even that could cause some attention from him to the foot.
And the other possibility is that maybe he could save the foot by putting him on oral antibiotics and fashioning some kind of a collar so that he can't turn his head toward that foot. But that's gonna be tough to do with a gerbil 'cause they can really get out of everything. And they can reach everything. So I think good. Good that you're going in to your vet to have a recheck done. And I think I'd be considering the two options, one to remove the foot, one to start an oral antibiotic and see if that helps at all.
Boy, that's a tough choice. I'm sorry about that, Kimberly.
Oh, poor guy.
Yeah, get back to us after you've talked to the vet though, will you?
All right. Thank you. Yeah, that's tough. The poor guy. You just wonder what he's thinking.
I know. There's not a whole lot you can do.
No. In that case, it's a tough one. 877-610-3647. Animalhouse@wamu.org is our email address. Let's take a telephone call from Joann. Joann, glad to have you with us in "The Animal House." Question for Dr. Gary?
Yes. Thank you. I’m concerned because my cats are overweight. And when I go out of town I have to leave them with dry food. And I come back and I pick them up and I can tell that they're really hefty. Now, when I go away for longer than a day I do have a lady come in. She feeds them wet food and also leaves a big heap of dry food.
And scoops. I wanted to ask about automatic dispensers that are timed. Where can you get them and do you recommend them?
Okay. Let me ask -- yeah, you can -- I definitely do recommend them. But it really depends on how regular your cats are about when they wanna be fed and when they're gonna go over there. I mean, it just dispenses the food. So they don't have to eat it right then, but it depends on how much grazing they do and how quickly they eat, too. But let me ask you a couple questions. Your cats, when you say overweight, are they fat? Are they just a little overweight? Are they needing to be on medicated food?
Well, no, no, no. I do -- I think I've got something called Evo, which is weight management. The rest of the dry food is California Natural.
Okay. But are they really over -- how much do they weigh?
One weighs 14. He's a pretty big cat.
And the other one was hiding when the vet was here last. So I didn't know (laugh) how much she weighs. But I do…
Well, at least she can still get under the bed.
Right. I mean, she's not 47 pounds.
Yeah, that's what I was getting at.
I know this is a problem with cats.
And that it causes problems like diabetes as they age. And I want to avoid that. She told me when I am here -- and I'm here most of the time -- to feed them -- this sounds so irritating -- four times a day. One tablespoon dry, one tablespoon wet, each cat.
I do that, but when I go away, of course I can't do that.
No, no. And that's not very much food.
So the reason I asked you how overweight they are is…
My vet is really skinny. Do you think she's trying to make them as skinny as she is?
See, there you go. (laugh) Okay. Skinny people just are so -- yeah.
It's so easy for them.
It is so easy for them. You know, I think that if your cats are just overweight, but not obese -- and that's, you know, that's in the eye of the beholder in a way.
Is that what it sounds like in this case?
I think so. I think so, 14 and, you know…
Not morbidly obese?
It doesn't sound like it.
No, they're not.
But I mean, obviously…
They're still moving around all right.
Obviously, we need to scan your cats and take a look at them and we could do a full exam. But if they're just overweight you wanna watch that. You're doing a very strict, you know, diet for them. Four feedings a day, two tablespoons each. I mean, that's really regimented. And I would talk to your vet. And I don't wanna get in the middle of your discussion with your vet 'cause your vet has all the knowledge of having seen these guys, but I'd talk to her about possibly using a prescription diet that you can feed more, but it's not gonna cause the weight gain.
And those are carb-restricted diets. And as far as your first question about getting an automatic feeder, absolutely. There's a million of them out there -- or there's four. (laugh) But there's enough of them out there. You can get them on the internet. You can get them at the pet stores.
So look on the internet under automatic cat feeders?
That should do it.
Or how about if the electricity goes? Oh, well, it's okay.
Well, if it does, you know, then make sure you have a phone number you can call somebody to just let you know, you know, if something like that happens. But you're absolutely right. You're doing the right thing. If you leave for more than a day, then you definitely wanna have a human over there.
Thanks very much, Joann. Get back to us in a few days. Let us know what you end up with.
Don't go crazy and get the automatic litter box 'cause cats hate that.
Yeah, oh, yeah.
Just do the food.
Yeah, I can imagine 'cause if a poor cat was about to use the litter box and…
I know, I know.
It attacks them.
Yeah, I would hate that. Thanks, Gary.
I'm Dr. Gary Weitzman with an "Animal House" pet care tip. It's summer and this is storm season in much of the United States. You may have a dog with thunder phobia or you just found out that you do. We're not sure why, but we think this is more about the electric charge in the air than the actual sound of the thunder. So what can you do if your dog reacts negatively to thunder while the sun is still high in the sky?
For starters you can use a specially constructed tunic called the Thunder Shirt, which has a metallic fabric that dissipates the static charge. Try not to overdue the attention or contact with your dog 'cause that can only reinforce the fear by convincing him that you're alarmed, too. Incentives are very tricky. You have to plan well in advance and even then, the results are questionable, to say the least.
So just provide a safe place to wait out the storm. A nice bed in a dark area of the house and some soft music, maybe some jazz. Of course the storm will pass and everyone will be fine. For "The Animal House," I'm Dr. Gary Weitzman.
This edition of "The Animal House" is almost finished. First, here's the answer for our Animal of the Day quiz. Earlier we asked for the name and location of the world's largest coral reef. The answer, the Great Barrier Reef, in the Coral Sea, off the coast of Northeast Australia. Thanks to our guests Dr. Gregory Burns, Dr. Mary Becker and WAMU environmental reporter Sabri Ben-Achour for their contributions today. We also thank Bob James and Acoustic Alchemy for their music today.
Special thanks to Dr. Gary Weitzman for his work. And thanks to you for joining us in "The Animal House." I’m Sam Litzinger.
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