How to say “no” to a puppy

Dear Dr. Doug, I have a 12-year-old cat that was just diagnosed with an over-active thyroid gland. We have an appointment to visit with our veterinarian soon and discuss our options. Can you might help me with a head start for the discussion?

-Cat Momma

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That is a great topic, as we more often deal with low thyroid, or “hypothyroid disease,” in dogs. In fact, “hyperthyroid” condition in cats is also quite frequent, first presenting sometimes as early as 10 years of age, but more commonly by 12 years.

I have directed patients to all three possible treatment methods – pharmaceuticals, surgery, or radiation – over my years as a family practice veterinarian. Any one of them can be effective, and it’s up to you and your veterinarian to collectively sort out the pros and cons of each option, to find which serves your pet best.

Factors to consider include the condition of your pet when diagnosis is made, and before treatment begins; risks associated with each; costs in dollars and time and other steps you’ve tried thus far. Again, take time to visit your family veterinarian and move onward towards a successful event.

Dear Dr. Doug,

We have three young girls, ranging in age from 2 to 7. They play with our neighbor’s pets all the time, and my eldest is demanding a puppy. It breaks my heart to say no, but it simply is not a good time for us. Any ideas?

– Disturbed Mom

There are many alternatives for you. I can assure you that any pet that belongs to your girls will do away with their new puppy obsession.

Start out with a simple pet, like a guinea pig. In fact, one of the best pocket pets to consider are rats. Yep, they are intelligent and enjoy human engagement. A small bird like a parakeet or cockatiel would be another good choice. The biggest disadvantage would be the difficulty in touching or petting, and the tactile sense is really a big part of live animal interactions.

Another great choice would be a small fish tank. We set up a tank in each kid’s room. The fish tank provides a backdrop of subtle and comforting humming. The fish quickly become friends with children, and the movement in the tank captures their attention for long periods. Finally, the light in the tank serves well as the nightlight to secure the children.

With any choice, the kids can have any degree of participation they are up to, and in turn, they learn compassion and caring responsibility. Good luck!! It’s a fun project too.

Dear Dr. Doug,

Do you have a favorite animal?

-Animal Fan

That is a difficult question for me. In 31 years of practice, I have worked with so, so many different animals.

In truth, I like to say I have favorite features in various animal types that peak my interest. But, I suppose it is chimpanzees that really catch my eye.

I especially enjoy females caring for young. It is not unusual for adult female chimps to share their young’s care with their close female companions. It amazes me how well this action transpires without conflict. I cannot remember an episode where an animal babysitting another’s young attempted to steal that baby from its mother. I have to assume it happens, however.

Chimps in captivity should be kept in some social grouping, and it is even better to have multiple groups that can interact with others, by sight and sound. I enjoy watching chimps exploring and playing, much like young kids. It is hard to be in the presence of a chimpanzee and not feel drawn to them.

Dr. Doug Pernikoff, a local veterinarian who has practiced for more than 30 years, is based in Chesterfield at the Clarkson-Wilson Veterinary Clinic. He can be heard with Frank O’pinion on KTRS radio each Wednesday afternoon.