ASK DR. CHIP - APRIL EDITION

 

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About Dr. Chip

Dr. Chip Coombs is Pets Plus Us’ Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO), and has practiced veterinary medicine since 1976, initially in the United Kingdom, then in Western Canada and, finally, in Toronto, where he owned a multi-veterinarian practice for 33 years.

Please note: This forum is not intended for life saving medical advice. If your pet is having a medical emergency, please contact your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic.


Question:

Dear Dr. Chip,

Can you advise why my neutered male cat still thinks he's a Tomcat? He was neutered about one year ago, then continued ‘tomcat’ behaviour, tracking the resident feral female constantly. I assumed he might still have some male hormones in his system.

Now, one year later, he's doing it again. Hasn't been home for a day and a half, other than when she comes to my house for food. And he doesn't even eat! How can this Be? He doesn't have any testicles. Also, the female really needs to be trapped and neutered, but she’s very, very wary. She has been trapped & escaped several times. She identifies me with food and comes when called. Is there any sedative I could safely give her?
She has a hiding place one yard over, if she would be sleepy enough while sunning in my yard, I could wrap her in a blanket, (she administered serious bites once while being transferred to a holding cage, and escaped)

Katherine

Answer:

Dear Katherine,

The situation you are experiencing with your cat is not as unusual as you might think. The age at which a male cat is neutered has a significant impact on his behaviour going forward, but even if he was immature when neutered, he will always remain a male. Removing the main source of testosterone by neutering does not eliminate masculine behaviour, it’s simply just less active. The older a cat is when he is neutered, the more likely that there will remain some hard-wired behavioural traits. Not all behavioural characteristics that we associate as sexually driven actually are. The best example of this would be aggression.

Neutered males can still roam, still hump other cats and, in the extreme, are used by some cat breeders as "Teaser Toms". In your situation, with an unaltered feral female cruising the neighbourhood, your self-respecting male cat can still smell her pheromones. Your solution of having her spayed and then released or re-homed is a good one. Trapping her would be preferable to sedating her, for once moderately sedated she would likely be off her game and could likely get into serious trouble, and for example get hit by a car. I would think that your local SPCA, particularly if they operate a feral cat program, would be your best bet on getting advice on how best to trap her.

Hope this helps.

Cheers,

Dr. Chip


Question:

Hi Dr. Chip,

We have a 5-month-old, Shih Tzu puppy. He's in puppy classes and is doing really well. We have no concerns, except his potty-training which is lagging behind the rest of his training. He sleeps all night (9:30 pm to 6:30 am) and holds it during the day while in the crate for 3-4 hours. The rest of the time we take him out to do his business either by walking him or taking him to the backyard. He comes in and he plays for anywhere between 30-60 mins before we crate him again with us in full view. We take him out every hour to hour and a half after that till bedtime. Sometimes no accidents, other times several. There doesn't seem to be any connection to going outside. If there are none, it's more likely that we're lucky than anything else. Lastly, we have to carry him outside (he can't get down stairs) we ring a bell before going out and I use a command word when outside to go do his business. What are we doing wrong that he's still not trained????

Thanks, Brad

Answer:

Hi Brad,

I don't think you're doing anything wrong. Smaller breeds can be a challenge to house train no matter how diligent an owner might be. If I have understood your note correctly, your puppy is able to make it through the night and these accidents are happening through the day (in your presence). The fact that he is able to hold it for 8-9 hours at night would imply that there is not an anatomical reason or a physiological reason (i.e. bladder infection) behind the accidents. However, if they continue, you should discuss the possibility with your veterinarian.

One suggestion would be to take your pup out on a routine, as well as a regular, basis. This will start to train his biological clock to anticipate the event. If you take him out too often, it will be less impactful than if it is scheduled, say every 3 hours. The other suggestion is that when you do take him out, make sure you play with him to the point of tuckering him out. Exercise stimulates him to want to urinate / defecate and he will likely sleep for a good part of the duration until the next outing. Dogs learn from routine. So, part of the regimented times to go out should be first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after every meal, after every sleep period and after every play period inside. That's quite a few trips outside and when he does perform, praise him lavishly.

The vast majority of dogs will catch on quickly and it sounds like you are almost there.

Cheers,

Dr. Chip


Question:

Hi Dr. Chip,

Can I give my 50lbs Sheep-a-Doodle Gravol before a road trip? And at what dosage?

His anxiety seems to be increasing as he gets older. As a pup he would sleep in the car and now he just pants and shakes for essentially the entire 5 + hour trip. He is in a travel crate typically, but we have tried leaving him out of it but see no difference in his behaviour. 

Thanks,

Joanna and Griffon

Answer:

Hi Joanna,

Gravel is commonly recommended for motion sickness in both dogs and cats and its sedative like action may be sufficient to calm Griffon down for the long car ride. However, Gravol can react negatively with other drugs and is not recommended for pets that have certain medical conditions. Therefore, I am not in a position to make the recommendation to use it for Griffon, but your veterinarian certainly is and would know Griffon's state of health and any other medications he might be on that could be contradictive.  A 4mg/lb is a commonly used dose, but I would urge you to check with your veterinarian first and I would also suggest you have a trial run with half of whatever dosage is recommended before you go on the first trip.

Not knowing how often these trips take place, an alternative to drugs is to recondition Griffon to the car and its movement. Where to start in the process depends upon how anxious Griffon gets and how soon. If the anxiety is either immediate or early on in the trip, then start him off by simply getting in the car with Griffon and read a book for, say 30 minutes, without going anywhere. Gradually extend these reading sessions to a one or two hour and do them more often. Once he is used to physically being in the car, start going for very short trips - either up and down the driveway or even around the block - short enough that it doesn't trigger the anxiety. Work within his threshold and gradually increase the length of the trips. Yes, this is time consuming, but if you can find the time to do this, most dogs will reacclimatize to the car and the ride, regardless of the length of time. Five hours is a long haul, so hopefully you can plan some rest periods for Griffon (and yourself) to relax and rejuvenate before setting off again.

Hope this helps,

Cheers, Dr. Chip