In the doghouse

Features - August 9th, 1974

by Dr. Herb Friedman

Isn’t this just some weather. Where are you, rainy season, now that we really need you.

Honestly, this heat spell, which is quite unbearable for most of us, has the same effects on the family pets. Don’t be alarmed if the animal cats much less during this weather because this is a perfectly normal event. Also, the animal will want more fluid intake and may on very hot days show a loose stool. Feed less than you would normally, check food carefully for spoilage, and make sure to always allow the pet access to a supply of cool water. Cut down the amount of exercise the animal usually gets and walk the dog during the cooler times of day and during the evening hours.

If the dog is left out in the yard, make sure that there is a sheltered place available where he can get out of the hot sun. It would be wise to keep the water in this place so as to keep it cooler for the animal. Heat is the best friend of the flea, tick, mosquito, and other parasites. Buy a good flea and tick powder or spray and use it on the dog weekly, brushing it into the skin well. Aim particularly for the neck area and near the rear end because this is where fleas are most likely to be found.

When needed, shampoo the dog with a mild shampoo such as J&J Baby Shampoo. Most dogs enjoy a shampoo in this terribly warm weather. Make sure the dog gets heart worm pills every day either in the food or right after eating. To keep the dog free of harmful endoparasites such as hook­worms and whipworms which thrive on this weather, take a stool sample to your veterinarian and make sure that the dog is either free of these parasites or is treated for them.

Other than the normal regular poodle cuts or grooming that the dog re­quires for appearance, do not give the dog a haircut. Hair acts as a natural in­sulation and actually keeps the animal cooler.

*             *            *

It is much easier looking after cats in this weather. Just make sure that the cat bits access to cool places in the house, that the food is fresh, and that the litter is changed frequently. Actual­ly many pets, both dogs and cats, neither require nor favor the degree of air conditioning that we humans enjoy. Particularly in the ease of older animals, I would suggest avoiding severe temperature changes. This of course means that it is not the smartest thing to over-exercise an older ani­mal and then bring him directly into a house where the air conditioning has been turned on full blast.

*             *              *

Last time, I went into the problems of breeding as con­cerns dogs. Cat mating pre­sents different problems altogether. In all my experience, I have never seen cats that needed help in the love-making department. Of course, many times female cats that have been bred fail to conceive. This is almost always due to func­tional causes such as cysts on the ovaries, etc. The real problem with cats is keep­ing them from breeding.

The female goes into heat in a much less dramatic way than her dog counterpart. Bleeding is usually not seen and the main signs are the great sudden affectionate nature of the animal along with the loud screaming noises of the mating call.

Cats in heat that roam the neighborhood are usually bred by more than one male cat and give birth from 58 to 88 days later. Most pet owners recognize that the cat has been bred after it is too late to take corrective procedures. The cat ovulates and therefore goes out of heat when an object touches the wall of the cervix. In catteries where they do not want kittens from a cat in heat, they take a glass rod and touch the cervix. This releases the ovum and of course there is no sperm to fertilize such, but the cat does go out of heat.

Unfortunately, the female cat produces ova at an irregular rate and not consistently like the bitch. Therefore, after the cat queens and has her litter nursing, she may be again in heat and ready to become pregnant again. To make a long story short, there are far too many stray cats running around and if the cat owner does not want to look after kittens, it is a wise idea to have the cat spayed at six to seven months of age when the fe­male reaches sexual ma­turity.