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for small dogs and their human companions

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Please welcome Kelli Danielsen to the Alameda Small Dog Team! She is the founder of Pride and Pedigree, a Dog Day Care and Training Facility in Oakland. She is joining Stephanie & Ms. Mims as Dr. Fluff Columnists. Read more about Kelli at the end of the December column.


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Dear Dr. Fluff,

I have recently adopted a Chihuahau mix from the Oakland SPCA.  His name is Chico. I could not wait to bring him to the dog park in Alameda as I have been a long time admirer of that area.
The first time I took him to the park, he was quite shy and hid behind me most of the time.  He played a little bit but was quickly overwhelmed.  Two weeks later we returned to the park.  This time he seemed to have no problem acclimating and it appeared he was having a great time playing with the other dogs.  However...in the two weeks between visits...he started becoming very weary of strangers and would act aggressively from time to time. I thought that maybe more frequent visits to the park might help to socialize him towards dogs AND people...but during our second visit to the park Chico began being aggresive towards nearly any "person" that came close to him.  If given the opportunity he would even nip at their ankles and pant leg if they turned their back on him.  I immediately removed him from the situtation.
He is obviously going to require much more training and we are trying... however.. I would desperately like to continue to socialize him.  I am considering bringing him to the park with muzzle.  I have read and heard differing opinions on this issue so I thought I should ask for your opinion before bringing him to the park.  I do not want to offend the patrons of the Alameda Small Dog Park, and I know that you can not speak for everyone... but... generally speaking... do you think that bringing a muzzled Chico to the park would be improper?
Thank You for your time and advice.


Dear Jeremy,

Congratulations and thank you for rescuing Chico! Chico is doing a very good job communicating to you what his needs are, and you have actually chosen words on your own that nail the issue right on the head:
“overwhelmed”, and “weary” . Chico has  been through so much in his tiny life and being such a small dog, he needs your support more than ever right now!  Since Chico is a rescue pooch, you probably have little to no idea what his previous experiences with other dogs and people may have been like.  That said, you would do best to sloooooww way down on the social activities.  Even though you are anxious to get Chico out to the Fabulous Alameda Dog Park, he needs a bit more time.  Try going to the park’s general area but not going in, let Chico observe from a distance so he can “check it out”, and while you are there, bring a few special yummy treats to help him form a positive association with the environment.  Then, when meeting new people, allow them to crouch down to Chico’s level, approaching him from the side, and touch his side or chest with the back of their hand and offer a treat-suggest that folks pet him that way to build trust and comfort.  Don’t allow anyone to stand over him or pet his head-that is very intimidating to a small guy! And watch Chico’s body language, he will tell you what he is ready for and when by his tail being up, prancing, smiling, showing you he wants to participate.

I would advise working with a private trainer to get Chico through this transition.  A trainer can help you read the subtle body language and support you on the appropriate times to increase interactions, even though you are doing a very good job at this point at identifying the way Chico feels in these social areas.

Lastly, a muzzle would actually do more harm than good.  It would remove one of Chico’s primary methods of communication by concealing a good portion of his face that he needs to convey his expressions and body language, and, he will feel he is at a real disadvantage in that he cannot protect himself if he needs to, since the base of most aggressive behavior is fear.  So, try to create a positive association with all new people and situations, go very very slowly and connect with a trainer who focuses on positive and reward based training.

Best of luck to you and Chico!
Woofs and love
Dr. Fluff

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Dear Dr. Fluff,

We have two cockapoos - one about 20 pounds and one about 15 pounds.  They both just turned one year old.  We take them to the small dog park and one is having a great time and loves to chase tennis balls (the 20 lb one).  The smaller one sniffs around a lot, sometimes chases a ball, sniffs every new dog that comes around, loves to chase and be chased,  and is very friendly with humans.  When another small dog who is very energetic either sniffs him or meets him face on, he will growl and snap.  It appears to be a warning and that's the end of it.  We usually intervene, put him on his back, and do a time out so he can't play for a few minutes.  I don't think he's an agressive dog and doesn't initiate the contact that leads to this behavior.   Is this aggressive behavior?  If so, how do we handle it?

Dear Maria

Thank you for such a great question!  I am glad to hear that two of your little pooches enjoy getting out and enjoying the lovely spring weather! I am glad you asked this because I think your smaller pup is trying to tell you something. You did not mention if these two are littermates, but, dogs are a lot like people in their social preferences; some are social butterflies, others prefer to ponder nature and think about the latest kibble in a bit more solitude. This is what I think your smaller cock-a-poo is saying, that he or she is not as social as your bigger dog, and needs more space.  This is not a bad thing!  Humans tend to want to ensure their dogs have a glorious time with lots of doggy friends, but, just as some folks prefer the library or a solitary hike to a cocktail party or Metallica concert, so do some dogs.

My advice is to support your little one, don’t punish this behavior. Rather let him or her know you are a safe haven when the social pressure gets to be a bit much-and, please no more rolling on the back! This is a terrifying way to get a message across and can actually have consequences leading to a bite since dogs do not understand this behavior.  It is far better to just be sure your little one has lots of space, don’t allow other dogs to back him or her into a corner or up to a fence, and try to place your body between your dog and the other dogs in the park.  That way your dog can sniff and ponder knowing you have her back! And if your pup “tells off” another dog, that is okay as long as it does not escalate and the other dogs give him or her the space needed.  You may want to also consider some leash walks along the shoreline too, that way you get out as a family and you can satisfy your little one’s preference for a bit less social interactions.

Best of luck to you!
Woofs and Love,
Dr. Fluff

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Dear Dr. Fluff,

I am recently the proud owner of an adorable Chihuahua named Pepe. I am trying to do everything I was told to do by the former owner.

I am having the best time with my good-natured dog; so, imagine my dismay when my dog seemed to lose all interest in the dog food he has been doing so well with. At the present time, he won't have a thing to do with any dry dog food. The place where I purchased the dog said to try some hamburger and rice. That worked temporarily, but alas, now that doesn't work either. I give him some Nutri-Stat to help keep him from getting lethargic, but I am concerned that he isn't getting proper nutrition and that he isn't eating any dry dog food. Any advice you could give me would be much appreciated.

Dismayed, New owner

Dear New Owner,

Congratulations on your new addition! I can understand your concern at Pepe's lack of interest in his diet.

First, did you have your new little guy checked out by your veterinarian? This is something you should have done right away if you have not done so already. Changes in things appetite should always be reviewed by a vet to be sure nothing is amiss.

Second, have you confirmed with Pepe's previous owner what he has been used to eating, or if this is a "normal" behavior for him? Once you have those two things confirmed, then I would look at what you are feeding him. Small dogs can have a reputation for being fussy eaters, however this does not have to be the case. You want to find a good quality food with minimal to no grains, no by-products and as close to a dogs natural diet as possible.

My first recommedation would be trying a raw meat diet. It is the closest to a species specific diet, and there is very minimal processing involved. Some great brands are Primal, Farmore or Natural Balance. Bear in mind this is still controversial in some circles, so some vets are not supportive, which is okay, but you may want to research it. You just need to be mindful of hygiene procedures.

If raw is not your thing, then a high quality canned would also be a good idea. Brands like Innova or Innova Evo, California Natural or Natural Balance would be great. The kibble options I like best is a brand called Origen, which can be hard to locate, but you can find it (as well as the other foods mentioned) at the Village Dog in Albany. Another good option is Innova and Evo dry, or Canidae, which also has a canned formula.

You may also want to consider a home prepared diet; this can be very rewarding and it is not too difficult. There are several great books such as Dr Pitcairn's Natural Health for Dogs and Cats that can walk you through home cooking.

One last thing to consider is a few supplements; an Omega and Salmon or fish oil supplement is helpful for skin, heart as well as immune system function,and a probiotic can help with digestion as well.

Hope this helps get Little Pepe back at the food dish!

Best of luck to you!
Woofs and Wags,
Dr. Fluff

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Dear Dr.Fluff,

My chihuahua tends to bark at every little noise he hears outside. He runs to the doors or windows and barks ferociously. Even if i am right there telling him to be quiet he continues barking. If i pick him up, he just keeps on...what can i do to discourage him from doing this? He starts, and then my other two dogs who are generally quiet, join him and it can be a real problem. My other two will stop barking when i ask them to. What concerns me is that my chihuahua ignores me!

Hiring a professional dog trainer is not an option for us right now, so please give us some advice and tips on how i can work on this issue at home on our own.

Thanks, FFAB(Z)

Dear FFAB(Z):

Well, sure sounds like your little guy is a perfectionist at alerting you to possible threats! The key to managing this behavior is interrupting the barking and then taking the opportunity to reward for quiet.

The best way to  achieve this is by getting assistance from a friend and setting up situations where your chi is going to bark. This lets you focus on working on the barking without any other activities happening. After your friend makes noise outside to prompt barking, you want to make a sound to interrupt the barking like ‘uh oh” or “ah-ah”. The sound must be loud and sharp enough to interrupt the barking. As soon as your dog stops barking, you can then say “Thank you, quiet…” and give a treat as a reward. This is not a simple behavior to modify as barking can be very self rewarding and become compulsive. But with patience and time, you should see some improvement.

Your other option would also be plain old management; which means not exposing your dog to the stimulus that produces the barking. (such as keeping him from a window that he gets a lot of visual stimulation from.)

I hope this helps, and, take comfort in the fact that your Chihuahua is acting like a normal dog, especially one of the little guys!

Best of Woof!
Dr. Fluff

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Dear Dr.Fluff,

Please, could you explain to me why my pet Yorkshire Terrier barks at all dogs while taking his walk? He is so aggressive towards other dogs. Please give me some good advice. I just enrolled him into pet school.

Thanks, Barky

Dear Barky:

This is a great question and actually quite common. Often, dogs will be more “aggressive” when they are on leash or behind a barrier. The reasons for this can vary, but it can be anything from frustration to fear. Enrolling him into school is a great plan, just be sure the instructor is experienced in positive reinforcement techniques and you should inform him or her of this issue prior to attending the class.

Taking your pooch to an area where there are so many other dogs to trigger this behavior will not be helpful for either of you. The way I would want my Mom to start to manage this behavior is with a good counter conditioning program, possibly even with a clicker. You definitely need the assistance of a good trainer here, and private lessons would be ideal before the class experience.

Some good resources are:

Sandra Mannion C.P.D.T./The Village Dog 510-525-9924
Sandi Thompson, C.P.D.T. Bravo Pup Training (www.bravopup.com)
Vicki Ronchette, C.P.D.T. Brave Heart Dog Training 510-483-2631
Jo Woodison, Fuzzy Ears Animal Care 415-359-5028

Since your dog has had several opportunities to practice this behavior, results could take a while, so be patient!

Best of luck!
Dr. Fluff

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Dear Dr.Fluff,

Occasionally at the small dog park, there is a dog that seems to play rough and upsets the other dogs - or - even starts a fight with another dog to the point that the owners have to go and pull the dogs away from each other. It is really a drag when the owner of the aggressive dog doesn't have a good attitude and denies that his/her dog is the problem.

What advice do you have as a dog professional to deal with situations like this? I should not have to leave the park because there is an aggressive dog there...shouldn't the problem dog leave?

Thanks, Worried at the Small Dog Park

Dear Worried,

This is a sticky one, isn’t it!! I understand your concerns and yes, they are valid.  In this situation, you don’t want to have an altercation with someone if they seem to be “in denial” about their dog’s behavior. 

First, in all fairness, it would be in everyone’s best interest if there were a clear list of “rules” posted in a highly visable place. These rules would clearly define things like “Dogs using the park must be friendly and non-aggressive. Aggressive dogs and fights are not allowed.” The list can also include reminders about cleaning up after your dog, the toy policy etc.

(**At the Alameda Small Dog Park there is such a list of dog park rules posted at the front gate. The dog park land belongs to East Bay Regional and these are the rules that apply to all East Bay Parks that allow dogs. It would be a good idea if everyone were to read it and become familiar with good dog park etiquette. Also, please take a look at our website's "Etiquette" page. It contains some very helpful adivce about what is appropriate behavior at the dog park.)

However, I must say, since the dog park is a “public” place, really anyone can use it, and you may need to leave the park if there are certain individuals who don’t respect the spirit of the park and are not being reasonable about their dog’s behavior. That happens everywhere dogs are allowed, and my “mom” and I have had to leave public trails because of people not observing the leash laws and having unsafe dogs off leash.

Another option may be to “elect” a spokesperson who is not shy about speaking to those individuals who have inappropriate dogs at the park and explain what the problem is and ask them to control their dog, and if they can’t, ask them to return at a time the park is not being heavily used. (i.e early a.m./late p.m ). Bear in mind, however, you may get resistance to this if someone continues to bring their dog to the park after this behavior had clearly been exhibited; they are either ignorant to dog behavior or just don’t care - both are possible.

It is unfortunate when a few people can make things difficult for the majority, but sometimes it is challenging to control others and the best you can do is just keep yourself and those around you safe.

Good Luck and Woofs!
Dr Fluff

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Dear Dr.Fluff,

I have a mini-schnauzer that is in a neighborhood that has big dogs
like a German shepherd. What is the best way to introduce my small dogs to other big and small dogs? And if we ever come across a stray or unleashed, aggressive dog, what do you recommend if I am walking my dog on a leash? Maybe purchasing some kind of dog repellant?


Dear Igor:

We dogs are such social creatures, what a great question to ask to help us all avoid a doggie “faux paw”.

First, you want to determine if the dog your schnauzer is potentially meeting is friendly. It is not necessary for us to meet and even like all dogs we see! It is perfectly acceptable to “pass” on any introduction where the other dog is a little too intense. That said, greetings should ideally be from a side angle - meeting head on with an intense stare or rushing up is considered a bit rude. Often puppies will do this simply because they don’t know any better, but it is less tolerated in adult dogs. Also, when meeting another dog who is on a leash, be sure your leash is relaxed with plenty of slack, and that you are relaxed too - tension travels right down the leash, and if you are anxious about your dog meeting another dog, your schnauzer will feel it and will begin to think meeting new dogs is a cause for concern.

Now, to address off- leash dogs. The same rules actually apply from the above paragraph - if a dog is approaching you, and he or she does not seem friendly, you can politely ask the owner to control the dog. You can even say that your schnauzer is unfriendly ( a total lie, of course!) but if it keeps your dog safe, a little white lie is okay sometimes! It may also be helpful to carry treats, especially if no owner of the other dog is present. You can firmly say “STOP”, with your hand up as if you were stopping traffic, then toss treats to the dog, away from you. This can allow you to make an exit, however be aware some dogs can become more interested in your dog as you leave, and having your dog’s back turned can place your dog at a disadvantage. You can also always pick up your dog, however just be aware that picking him up can increase another dog’s desire to get to your dog, so use caution in all situations.

There is a repellant available called “Direct Stop” that is easy to find online. This is a citronella spray that does not require a permit or special training to use. You may want to consider this, however it may not work on all dogs, or if dogs are fully engaged in meeting play, or even behaving aggressively, this may have little impact.

To sum it all up, trust your instincts and keep in mind not all dog have to meet one another. That will ensure nice relaxing walks for both of you! Thanks for the great question and happy walking!!

Dr. Fluff

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Dear Dr. Fluff,

I have noticed that there has been an influx of stuffed toys at the dog park. This seems to bring out aggressive behavior in the dogs, who become possessive of these toys. Also, many dogs chew the stuffing out of the toys which can lead to blockage, or accidental choking. Finally, the park grounds look a bit trashy with all of these stuffed carcasses lying around.

Just wanted to know your thoughts about this.

Concerned in the Small Dog Park.

Dear Concerned,

Thank you for thinking of the safety of dogs at the dog park. Stuffed Toys can present a number of hazards, especially in a social situation, just as you describe. Stuffed toys are very fun and can become very valuable to some dogs. This can create possessive tendencies in some dogs who aren't so good at sharing. And, this of course can lead to “scuffles”.

The stuffed toys also can get torn apart, which can present health hazards, as you mention, so, I must agree with you that stuffies may be best kept at home. I think that by asking other doggie “parents” how best to remedy this, you may find a lot of folks in agreement with you, and coming to the final decision as a group can help in keeping the park as safe as possible.

You can also refer them to this column, which may help too.

Excellent question; thank you for looking out for all of us pups and thinking about our safety! I will look forward to focusing on playing with just my friends from now on!

Dr. Fluff

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Kelli Danielsen: is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer (C.P.D.T.), and has completed the Marin Humane Society's CITA/CBA program under the instruction of well-known Dog Behaviorist, Trish King. Kelli has attended numerous educational seminars in dog behavior and training and continues to educate herself in dog theory, and consults clients regarding dog training and behavior issues. Kelli is also certified in Reiki, an alternative healing modality and has earned a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Art from CSU Sacramento.

Kelli has over 20 years of experience in animal care, dog training, and personnel management. Most recently, she worked with Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. in the Training department, Breeding department, and as Program Manager for the Puppy Socialization and Foster Care programs.

Prior to being employed by Guide Dogs, Kelli was a veterinary technician for over 10 years and has a passion for holistic and natural health for dogs. She handles Boston terriers for AKC Conformation competitions, as well as training her own dogs in obedience. Kelli is also a member of the Sierra Gold Boston Terrier Club as well as being on the SGBTC's Health Commitee. Kelli has also been a volunteer for Smiley Dog Rescue for over 5 years. She is currently owned by "Darby" a Boston terrier and "Bella", a French Bulldog.

Please visit her website for more information about her new daycare and training facility! www.prideandpedigree.com.




Dear Dr. Fluff,

I have epilepsy and take Phenobarbital to prevent my seizures. My mom doesn't like chemicals and thinks that Advantage and stuff like that is not good for me. She even makes my food from scratch-all organic! Do you think diatomaceous earth really works? That's what she has started putting on me, but when I got groomed last week the groomer found fleas! Yuck! Maybe Mom wasn't putting it on me often enough. What do you think? I'd like to go au natural, but I sure don't want fleas. Thanks for your time.


Dear Pepper,

Fleas! What a blight upon dogs! You have brought up a great subject, one that many dogs are interested in. Fleas are a big problem in our warm climate, because they live year round. In colder climates, fleas aren't that much of a problem, so my usual consultant, Ms. Mims, who works in Truckee, wasn't able to help. You might want to check out this website it has an holistic approach


I consulted with my own veterinarian, who told me that he thinks it is a BAD idea to put diatomaceous earth on your fur. It can cause respiratory problems. Like many vets, he is a big believer in Advantage and all the other medicines that help with flea control by messing with (technical term) the flea life cycle. I have put a bunch of excellent links here to explain the reasons that these medications are a boon for dogs and cats and their owners.

I can speak about fleas from my own experience. Being a bichon, I have very sensitive skin, and recently was bothered greatly by hot spots. A hot spot is an itchy spot on my skin, that I have licked and bitten until it bled. My veterinarian made me go to a recovery program to get over my addiction to biting and licking my itchy spots, which I know now was a BAD habit. I really couldn't have done it without my owner, who is now vigilant about putting a huge, ugly cone on me whenever I am tempted to lick again. However, we also had to get to the bottom of the question, why was my skin itching? Some thought it was too much wheat in my diet, others thought it might be fleas. Since I live with two smarmy, lowlife, flea bitten cats, I thought that was probably the problem. So we did EVERYTHING to make some “life style” changes.

These are the things we did:

1) Change my diet to one with much less wheat.

2) Add fish oil and brewers yeast to my diet. The fish oil is to improve my nutrition, which helps my skin, and the brewers yeast is to repel fleas.

3) Treat the cats and myself consistently with a medicine that interrupts the life cycle of the flea, such as Advantage, Frontline, or Revolution. It takes about 2-3 months for these medicines to really make an impact.

4) Wash all the bedding to get rid of flea eggs. Vacuum the rugs and floors.

5) My owner flea combs one of the cats. The other cat is too wild to flea comb, and I have a wiry undercoat that prohibits flea combing, which is very effective if it can be done.

6) When I do get an itchy spot, and start licking, my owner immediately puts on this big, obnoxious cone, which keeps me from licking anything. She also sprays the spot with a cortisone medicine she got from my veterinarian. Usually the problem goes away in a few hours. It never gets gross and bleeding and yucky (technical term.)

Now, one of the problems for me, because I have such sensitive skin, is that if I get even one little flea bite, it can drive me mad! And all the stuff my owner and I are doing can’t really eliminate all the fleas from my world. I can pick up a flea taking a walk, or even at the dog park. That is one reason for the brewer’s yeast. Some people think it helps repel fleas, and though it hasn't really been proven, I still think it is worth trying.

Please write in your own experiences for controlling fleas. We will print some next month! It will be our own online flea support group!

Dr. Fluff

Flea control info:

This first link talks about the life cycle of the flea, and explains why the new medications are so effective.

This link talks about herbal alternative flea control.

This link talks about itching and allergic skin in dogs.

This link compares different flea products for pets.

The above links were all taken from the excellent site:Veterinarypartner.com

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Hello Dr. Fluff:

Sometimes my mom would like to do a little nursing at home, without having to run us to the Vet for every little thing. Is this ok? How can she better prepare herself for this...I mean we love her, but we want to have the right treatment, ya know? How can we help her educate herself in this regard? Please steer her in the right direction!

Many thanks and we love your column!
Frankie & Zeke


Dear Frankie and Zeke,

This is a great website with lots of dog (and cat!) information and some good articles about when to take your dog to the veterinary hospital or clinic:


Here is a one of the articles:

By Gina Spadafori
Pet Columnist

When To Take Your Pet to Emergency Care

One Christmas Eve many years ago, I decided to kill some time before heading over to a family gathering by cutting the nails on all my dogs. (Yes, I know it's odd, but I'll say in my own defense that the presents were already wrapped and I had nothing else to do.)

Somehow I managed to cut so deeply into one nail that I could not stop the bleeding. So instead of opening presents, I found myself opening my checkbook at the emergency clinic, along with a handful of other pet lovers with timing or luck just as bad as my own. Among them I remember a puppy with parvo, an ancient cat with breathing problems and a dog with ... tapeworms.

The last was hardly an emergency, but the pet's owner didn't know that. She'd seen something come out of her dog that she was convinced was a part of his intestine. The veterinary technician was kind enough to set her straight without charge and with instructions to visit her regular veterinarian after the holidays.

While it might be tempting to snicker at a person who didn't recognize a tapeworm, she was truly doing her pet a service. She thought something was wrong and didn't wait to find out what it was. That's much better than those people who wait to get sick animals treated, even when their pets are clearly in pain.

But how do you know when a situation is critical enough to find a veterinarian immediately? Anything is worth at least a call if you're not sure what's wrong, but some things require urgent attention. Here are some signs that should have you heading for your veterinarian's or for the emergency clinic:

~Seizure, fainting or collapse.

~Eye injury, no matter how mild.

~Vomiting or diarrhea -- anything more than two or three times within an hour or so.

~Allergic reactions, such as swelling around the face, or hives, most easily seen on the belly.

~Any suspected poisoning, including antifreeze, rodent or snail bait or human medication. Cats are especially sensitive to insecticides (such as flea-control medication for dogs) or any petroleum-based product.

~Snake or venomous spider bites.

~Thermal stress -- from being either too cold or too hot -- even if the pet seems to have recovered. (The internal story could be quite different.)

~Any wound or laceration that's open and bleeding, or any animal bite.

~Trauma, such as being hit by a car, even if the pet seems fine. (Again, the situation could be quite different on the inside.)

~Any respiratory problem: chronic coughing, trouble breathing or near drowning.

~Straining to urinate or defecate.

Although some other problems aren't life threatening, they may be causing your pet pain and should be taken care of without delay. Signs of pain include panting, labored breathing, increased body temperature, lethargy, restlessness, crying out, aggression and loss of appetite. Some pets seek company when suffering, while others will withdraw.

When in doubt, err on the side of caution, always. Better to be dead wrong about a minor medical problem than to have a pet who's dead because you guessed wrong about a major one. Call your veterinary clinic or hospital before you need help and ask what arrangements the staff suggests for emergency or after-hours care. If your veterinarian refers clients to an emergency clinic after regular business hours, be sure you know which clinic, what the phone number is and how to get there.

I got lucky that Christmas Eve with a fast and relatively inexpensive resolution to my pet's emergency, but I'm always aware that next time I might not be so fortunate. Which is why I know whom to call and where to go whenever I need help for my pets. And also why I also have resolved never to clip nails on a holiday again.

Ms. Mims, my favorite veterinary technician, who works up in Truckee, suggests checking out the Red Cross website::


They actually have dog mannequins now for practicing CPR. If it doesn't work, just google pet first aid and the first option should be the Red Cross. (it's about their classes on pet first aid, how to make a kit, etc.)

There are alot of commercially available Pet First Aid kits now on the market but you could basically use anything in a human first aid kit except for medications. Although some vets might give human medications in very small doses one time depending on the case, to be on the safe side you should never give your dog Advil, Tylenol, etc. Cats can't tolerate any of those including aspirin. (Dogs can often take buffered aspirin safely but the same rules apply that you would apply for humans--take with food, watch for stomach ulcers with long term use, it can prolong bleeding time so don't give before surgery, etc.)

Ms Mims also says, “An injured pet, even if it loves you, may bite so be careful. The first aid course will probably show how to make a muzzle out of gauze if needed.”

Thanks Ms. Mims! See all you Small Dogs next month!

Play safe,
Dr. Fluff

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dear dr. fluff,

i am having lots of anxiety since that whole hurricane katrina thing. here in california, we have a little problem with earthquakes, and now i am always worried about the possibility of emergencies, and of being separated from my humans. can you give me some advice to ease my fear? i’ve just about licked the hair off my butt!

anxious andy

dear andy,

first of all, leave your butt alone! licking will not help the situation, and will only cause your humans to put one of those humiliating plastic cones around your neck, and believe me, that is NO FUN! i called upon my favorite vet tech, ms. mims, and she forwarded the following link and information.


there is a lot of other information there, for your humans, about all kinds of medical stuff. This information is from a brochure on their website about disaster planning for dogs and cats:


In the event of an evacuation, pets may not be allowed inside human emergency shelters. Determine the best place to leave your pet in case of a disaster. Identify an off-site location as well as a place in your home.

IDENTIFICATION AND PHOTOGRAPHS. Dogs and cats should always wear properly fitting collars, personal identification, rabies, and license tags. Make sure all the information on the tags is current. Keep a current photo of each pet. Make sure any distinguishing markings are visible. You will need proof of ownership to retrieve your pet from a shelter.

DISASTER KIT. Maintain a disaster preparedness supply kit for each of your pets.

PAPERWORK AND RECORDS. Store important animal documents in a zip-lock or waterproof plastic bag. These should include vaccination and medical records.

VACCINATIONS. Your pets need to be current on vaccinations. You will be required to show proof of vaccination if you need to board your pet.

TRANSPORTATION. Each animal should have their own pet carrier. Familiarize your pet with the carrier or cage before an emergency.

LEASHES AND COLLARS. Keep a leash handy for each dog and cat in your home. Consider using a harness.

BUDDY SYSTEM. In case you are not home when disaster strikes, ask a trusted neighbor to check on your animals. Exchange veterinary information and file a permission slip with your veterinarian authorizing them to get emergency treatment for your pet if you can't be located.

Disaster Preparedness Kit

- Your veterinarian's information
- Portable radio and extra batteries
- Pet carrier or cage for each pet
- Two weeks' supply of food and water
- Non-spill food and water bowls
- Medications and dosing instructions
- Pet first-aid kit
- Vaccination and medical records
- Cat litter box and litter
- Plastic bags for waste disposal
- Paper towels
- A current photograph of each pet

Be sure to provide your pets with as many amenities as possible. Remember, they are counting on you for their support and survival!


Listen to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on the TV or radio.

If you take your pet:

Evacuate your pet early, if possible.

Take your disaster preparedness kit, including the pet's vaccination and medical records, as well as identification photographs with you.

If you can't take your pet with you:

Bring your pet indoors. Do not leave pets chained outdoors. Prepare a pre-selected site indoors for your pet. Use a room with no windows but adequate ventilation, such as a utility room, garage, bathroom, or other area that can be easily cleaned. Do not tie them up.

Leave only dry foods and fresh water in non-spill containers. If possible, open a faucet to let water drip into a large container or partially fill a bathtub with water.

Do not leave vitamin treats, which could be fatal if over-eaten.

House cats and dogs separately, even if they normally get along.


Pet behavior may change after an emergency. Monitor your pets closely and keep them leashed. Familiar scents and landmarks may be altered, causing confusion and abnormal behavior.

Be aware of downed power lines, fallen trees, debris, and local wildlife.

If you find a pet, call animal control or any emergency phone numbers set up after the disaster. Isolate it from your animals until it is returned to its owner, or can be examined by a veterinarian.

If you lose your pet:

Visit each shelter in your area at least once every other day.

Keep a current photo of your pet showing or describing any distinctive markings.

Create a flyer with your pet's photo and description, pet's name, your name and phone numbers where you can be reached.

When you do find your pet, immediately examine it for illness or injuries. Obtain medical attention from your veterinarian, if needed. Use caution when handling animals. Panicky or injured animals may bite.

For additional disaster preparedness information, visit the California Department of Food and Agriculture's web site.

The California Veterinary Medical Foundation generously provided the funding for this brochure. The main goal of CVMF is to help California's animals affected by disasters. If you would like to assist California's animals, please make a donation to CVMF.

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dear dr. fluff,
my mom wants to brush my teeth once a week, but i hate it. can you please tell her that she can just give me a greenie, and get that darn toothbrush out of my mouth? do greenies do anything, anyway, or do they just taste good?


dear smiley,

i think greenies are quite delicious, and i encourage my mom to give them to me, too. i know for sure that they help my breath, because she always lets me lick her face after i've chewed one, and that is my favorite thing to do. i also hate the brushing, but fortunately my mom doesn't always get around to it - she just bought a new kit a few weeks ago, and forgot about it. i wont be reminding her! i did see some alarming pictures of funky dog teeth, showing us what could happen if we don't take care of our teeth though - here is the link:


this link also has information about funky dog teeth and the problems caused by not brushing. they have products to help keep teeth clean. i am also including the link to greenies - they have some info that shows they help dental health for dogs. you can bet i am showing that link to mom....


hope that helps,

dr. fluff

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dear dr. fluff,
i really like to hang around with big dogs - no offense, but size matters. is it wrong for a diminutive doggie to have big friends?

see ya,

dear shorty,

i'm kind of a size queen myself, so i understand. like everything else in this complicated world of the canine, it depends on the dog. some little dogs are comfortable with big dogs and some react like prey species (running and shrieking) or they think they are mastiffs and go on the attack. either behavior can invite trouble from a big dog with no bite inhibition. i do have to say that i've met great dogs at the alameda small dog park, and at this time feel no need to stray.

see you at the park,
dr. fluff

dear dr. fluff,
when i go to the small dog park, my dad wants me to run around and keep busy. all i want to do is sniff around and see my friends. can you tell him it is okay to hang out at the dog park, and just because i'm not running around it isn't a waste of time to be there?


dear sleepy,

i hear ya. i'm a couch potato myself. i think the important thing for our humans to understand it that if we are happy and satisfied after a visit to our favorite place, by which of course i mean the alameda small dog park, then it doesn't really matter what we do there. capiche?

signing off for now,
dr. fluff

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Do you need some small dog advice?
Email Dr. Fluff with your question!

dr. fluff wishes to thank
ms. mims, vet tech
at sierra pet clinic in truckee, california,
for her expert advice!

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