Q: My 5-year-old Westie has redness on her paws and she is always chewing on them. Her skin is so flaky and her fur actually feels greasy sometimes, and she is always itching.
We tried a shampoo that said it was medicated for such skin, but it did not work at all. A friend told me her dog was like this and she used Head & Shoulders on the dog and it worked like magic, but I am hesitant to try it. There are so many shampoos out there with confusing ingredients in them, and I have no idea which is the best one.
A: The redness on the dog’s paws might be because she has an allergy, so a visit to your vet is in order. Such things can be fixed with a change in diet prescribed by the vet.
I cannot recommend using a human shampoo on a dog. Shampoo for humans is designed with a totally different pH than that for dogs. The greasy feeling on your dog’s fur indicates it actually needs a drying agent. The most harmless drying agent is called salicylic acid. It might sound horrible, but it is actually a derivative from the willow tree. Some over-the-counter shampoos do have salicylic acid in them. The one I like to use on my dogs is called Splash Plus. There is another called just Splash that does not have salicylic acid, and it’s for dogs with normal coats.
Q: What do I do when I am walking my dog on a leash and a loose, aggressive dog comes after my dog? Our neighborhood has a lovely nature trail that is dog-friendly, and I walk there every day. One day, a dog who lives right by the entrance to the park broke loose from its chain (the owners have at least stopped relying on the invisible fence that never kept him in) and came after my dog. If the owner had not been there to grab her dog, I don’t know what I would have done. The possibility of the aggressive dog attacking us when his owner isn’t around really worries me and puts a dark shadow over my walk.
I have thought of carrying a small spray bottle with water in it, but what a pain to carry something while we’re walking two miles.
A: The reality is that you are going to have to carry something, and the best thing to carry is an umbrella that folds up into a very small package but pops open at the touch of a button.
If you just point this at the charging dog as it is running up to you in the closed position and then pop it open, it will startle the charging dog into stopping in its tracks. In most cases, the dog will re-evaluate the situation and find something better to do.
If you are going to do this, I would advise you to practice opening the umbrella in your backyard while holding your dog on its leash next to you so your dog gets used to it.
You do not want to have the opening umbrella spook your dog at the same time you are using it to distract and stop the one that is challenging you.
Q: My son has had a bearded dragon for the last year, and we feed the lizard crickets and waxworms we buy from the pet store.
This year, we have noticed little green lizards in our yard and found out they are Italian Wall lizards that were introduced our area (Long Island) years ago and have now spread all over.
My two sons have been watching these lizards and watching them eat the insects that are all over our yard. Can we feed the insects that we catch in our yard to our bearded dragon?
A: I am quite pleased that your sons are watching and learning from the wild lizards in your yard. Children can learn so much more from the natural world than from the virtual one that so dominates their lives.
It is not a good idea to feed your bearded dragon the grasshoppers, crickets and other insects you find outdoors and that the wall lizards are enjoying.
Pet bearded dragons have been bred in captivity for so many generations now that they can be considered a domestic animal and, as such, have lost their ability to live in the wild.
With this loss, they would no longer have resistance to any pathogens or parasites that may be picked up from eating the wild-caught insects. The crickets and waxworms you buy are bred in captivity in a controlled setting and thus are pathogen-free.
The wall lizards have been eating the wild insects for so many generations they now have a resistance to them that the domesticated dragon does not. Plus, some outdoor insects are downright poisonous to pet lizards.
I know many dragons that died after eating fireflies fed to them by their keepers. So let the wild lizards eat what they were meant to eat and your pet lizard continue with the farm-raised insects.
First Published August 19, 2014 8:00 PM