Pet Health: Feline Leukemia, Feeding Rabbits, Bad Breath in Dogs and More

Helping a choosy rabbit get nutrition, an examination of feline leukemia, skin growths on a Norwegian elkhound, using baking soda to relieve bad dog breath, allergies and a golden retriever.

| June/July 1993


Killer breath? It may be time to bring out the baking soda.


After speaking recently at several grade schools in my area, I realized that children are often more in tune with pet care than most adults. Completely unaware of the strong bond they're building, children just naturally seem to relate more closely to their four-legged friends. So as spring and summer months bring out the child in all of us, I hope to see everyone romping around outside with those non-human members of the family.

Unfortunately, the on set of summer also brings several health hazards to our pets. Believe it or not, one of the biggest potential dangers is the pesticide we spray on our lawns.

As we begin to revitalize our yards, it's important to be aware that the poisons that kill rodents, snails, and other garden pests are also lethal to dogs and cats who snack curiously on the bait. Even herbicides require special caution. A rule of thumb: Keep animals away from recently sprayed gardens and lawns for two to three rainfalls following the spraying.

If you think your pet has already come in contact with a recently sprayed lawn or flower bed, check his or her feet, belly, chest, or other areas that may have touched the ground (such as long basset hound ears) for burns or irritation. Wash these areas with mild soap or dish detergent and water to reduce the inflammation. Then rinse off the soapy area thoroughly with water to avoid exchanging one cause of irritation for another.

'Tis also the season of heartworm, which means our annual MOTHER reminder: Check your pets! Heartworm—which earned its name from the fact that it causes severe heart and lung damage in affected animals-is a parasite spread via mosquito contact. Be especially cautious if you live near river beds and water basins, where mosquitoes breed.

Bring your dog to the veterinarian for a blood sample; once you're certain that your dog is free of heartworm, your vet will prescribe a daily or monthly preventative to be used throughout the rest of the season.

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