Ask Henry

Q: I have a friend who took their dog hiking and he got sick a few days later. The doctor said the dog may have gotten sick from drinking lake water while on the hike. I hike with my dog in the same area. Could my dog be at risk also?

A: I got sick once from drinking lake water and I felt terrible! I had such a bad tummy ache. My dad found out that I had picked up a parasite called Giardia that can be found in stagnant water. Luckily, he brought me to the vet right away and they tested me right in the office and found out I had the parasite. It also turns out that I could get other things from lake water: parasites, like Coccidia and Cryptosporidium, and an infection called Leptospirosis. My dad had me vaccinated against Lepto that very day so now I feel much safer going to Lake Lanier, but I am still careful not to drink out of puddles and other small areas of water. Dad brings a bottle of water from home for me to drink now. If you want to be really safe, I suggest you bring a bottle of water for your buddy next time you go hiking and be sure to protect him against Leptospirosis. If he gets sick after you have been hiking, bring him right in to see your vet. Trust me, the treatment for Giardia doesn’t hurt a bit!

Q. I have an adult cat and I just got a new kitten. My older cat doesn’t seem to like the new kitten I have adopted. Do you have any ideas to help with the transition so everyone can get along?

A: Oh, those pesky cats – why can’t they seem to get along like us dogs? We know right away who our friends are! I had to ask my housemate, Zelda the kitty, to help me with your question. She says that it is hard for an older cat to trust a new one right away so you have to give them time to adjust. She suggested keeping the new addition in a small room by itself with a litterbox, food and water. This room should be one that the established cat does not use very often. The door to this room should be kept closed initially so that the cats can just smell and hear each other. During this time it is helpful to have a product called a Feliway diffuser to put in several places around the house. This diffuser releases a pheromone that makes cats feel safe. It also helps during this time to mix the scents of the cats by petting each one after the other without washing your hands in between and maybe swap their bedding with each other to get them used to the other’s scent. After a few days, open the door but leave a tall gate in between so they can’t get too close, or put the new kitten in a dog crate with a blanket over part of it so it feels safer. Make sure you supervise their interactions initially. A few days later, you can let the new kitten explore the rest of the house but be sure to keep an extra litterbox available so they don’t have to share and make sure the older cat has a place to escape from the rowdy kitten if she needs to be alone. Sometimes it helps to feed them both yummy treats in the same room so they have a positive experience to associate with their new friend. The important thing is to let them get to know each other at their own pace. Good luck!

Dr. Seibert Sugar Hill Animal Hospital

Henry’s helper for this issue was Dr. Seibert from Sugar Hill Animal Hospital

Dr. Seibert is a 1989 Graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Seibert continued her studies with an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at Cornell University. Dr. Seibert is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Georgia Veterinary Medical Association and the Gwinnett County Veterinary Medical Association. Away from the hospital, Dr. Seibert stays busy with her husband and four children. When she does find spare time, she loves to watch college basketball, cheering for her Alma Mater, Duke.

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