Thursday, October 27, 2011

The cat who loves babies.


Hello viewers, readers, listeners,
As always, I posted both the video and transcript for this episode of The Web-DVM.  If you are one who typically prefers to read the transcript tather than watch the video, I urge you just this once to watch the actual video, as the photographs and video footage of this cat can only be trully appreciated viewed directly.  Enjoy!

Roger Welton, DVM

Transcript from this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

I did not have to look far for this week’s news story, as this one comes right from my own home.  This story is about Forrest, the cat who loves babies. 

Forrest is a Devon Rex cat, a feline breed known for quirkiness and often downright eccentricity, but gentle, tolerant to their core, and very snuggly little cats.
While Forrest will enthusiastically snuggle up to any person who takes a moment to pay attention to him, he has a special affection for babies.  It began with my first child Austin, when Forrest would wait by the door for my wife or me to enter his nursery in the morning, only to rush in, jump into his crib, nuzzle our infant son, and flop down next to him purring loudly. 
Whether we were bathing, dressing, or changing Austin, Forrest was always right there snuggled up against him.
But Forrest was at the time only still a mere kitten himself, about 6 months of age.  We thought perhaps Forrest simply saw the baby as merely another “kitten” to play with, or was just simply overwhelmed with kitten curiosity over this strange little human creature.
But then came baby Scarlett, and by the time of her birth, September 2010, Forrest was an adult cat over 2 years of age, my son Austin by now 2 ½.  While Forrest remained remarkably tolerant of and affectionate toward Austin, his obsession with him was not quite as intense.  And the from moment we brought home our infant little girl, his attention turned from Austin altogether and Forrest once again became a cat obsessed, with yet another baby.
My wife took this photograph [see video for image] of Forrest after he had jumped in the crib to cuddle with Scarlett when she had turned to put some of Scarlett’s clothes in the hamper.  And you can clearly see, the love is not one sided.

In fact, wherever my daughter may be crawling around in the house, you will find Forrest right there, ready to cuddle her as she pleases, something she takes full advantage of often, as she does in this video my wife shot just the other day.
-    Video Clip of Forrest and Scarlett cuddling on the kitchen floor [see webcast for video footage] -
Yes, Forrest loves his baby indeed and Scarlett clearly loves him back.  While this friendship is a most unlikely one, it is as real as it gets, and for us and our extended family, a heartwarming spectacle that plays out every hour of every day right in our home.
I take heart in the fact that Forrest is still young, only 3 ½ years of age, and that hopefully one day he will still be with us the day Scarlett is old enough to appreciate this video and realize that her very first BFF in this world was a silver and black Devon Rex, named Forrest.
This is Roger Welton reporting, for The Web-DVM. 

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Pets and Halloween and your pets: Costumes, avoiding Halloween dangers.

Listen to internet radio with Roger Welton DVM on Blog Talk Radio

Listen to this podcast directly from my show page by CLICKING HERE.

Podcast airs Wednesday, October 19, 2011, 9 PM EST

Greetings loyal viewers, listeners and readers,

Now 3 years old, my son Austin is aware enough of last year’s Halloween experience to look forward to dressing up (this year as Iron Man per his request), go trick or treating, and eat free candy. Seeing my son in his little get-up walking up to people’s door to enthusiastically say “twick or tweet” brings me a joy I never expected. Seeing his little friends and all the adorable neighborhood kids so happily engaging in this tradition brings us all back to more innocent and carefree time when dressing up for Halloween was one of the most important priorities of the year.

In this episode, I will be talking about the unique opportunity Halloween brings pet owners to dress up their beloved furry companions in cute, often downright hilarious costumes. With very agreeable weather this time of year here in Florida, many people spend the evening doling out candy sitting outside with tables and chairs set out on their driveways, and increasingly, with their pets at their side dressed up in some of the cutest and outrageous costumes I have ever seen on any species!

I will also be discussing some common pet dangers that present themselves during the Halloween season, how prevent them, and what to do if your pet falls victim to one of them, plus this evening we have 4 listener e-mail questions that I will be addressing on the air.

As always, thanks again for caring about what I have to say, and keep the e-mails coming! 

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Why do so many dogs (and some cats) eat grass?


Transcript from this week's episode of The Web-DVM:

Your beloved canine companion clearly is not a cow, so it may be a bit strange to see him grazing on grass outside. It’s even weirder to see your cat doing this. So why in the world would they do this?

Let’s start with dogs. One bit of misinformation out there maintains that dogs are pure carnivores, meaning that they supposedly subsist predominantly on meat based protein. Realistically, however, dogs are omnivores just like people, in that they thrive ideally with a mixed diet consisting of both plant matter and meat, making the craving of plant matter like grass, not entirely unusual after all. Even their ancient cousin the wolf is omnivorous, engaging in the eating of plant matter with similar acts of grazing on grasses, as well as eating the plant matter out of the guts of their herbivorous prey.

Some dogs only seem to eat grass when they are feeling sick, prompting the owner to schedule to a vet visit because Buffy is repeatedly eating grass and vomiting it back up. Grass, after all, contains fiber which can help to expel worms and provide bulk to relieve diarrhea. Some grasses are rich in the green pigment chlorophyll, a compound that is rich in anti-oxidants and free radical scavengers that help to boost an immune system stressed with illness. Chlorophyll also has antiseptic properties, which could be helpful in cases of bacterial infections of the gut.

Many veterinarians dismiss this notion of dogs craving grass only when they are ill, maintaining that they are just not intelligent enough to know that some elements of certain kinds of grasses may be beneficial during times of GI upset, that their grass eating and GI upset are simply coincidental. I do not happen to be of this opinion.

While I would agree that dogs are not going to be smart enough to seek treatment for GI upset on their own the way we seek ant-acids for indigestion, I believe that on some instinctual level born of evolution, some dogs do indeed engage in the eating of grass only when sick.

For other dogs, the eating of grass is strictly a behavioral phenomenon, done simply out of boredom. This fact is evidenced by the numbers of grass eaters that are less apt to partake in grass grazing after the owner takes more time to play with and engage with the dog.

So what about cats? Interestingly, dietary-wise, cats are quite different from dogs and people in that they actually are true carnivores meaning they can fulfill all of their dietary needs and essential nutrients by eating a 100% meat diet. Given this fact, it seems especially strange that a cat would enjoy grazing on grass, but the truth is that many do. While the common storyline from dog owners is that Buffy only eats grass when he is sick, the same is not heard with nearly the same frequency in cats.

This seems to make the instinctual evolutionary craving for the aforementioned medicinal elements of grass less likely to be the case in cats. Still, since we cannot ask them, it cannot be completely dismissed. More likely, however, cats that tend to graze on grass do so out of boredom.

So what do you do if your dog or cat grazes on grass? Is it a problem? Well, if your dog or kitty is one of those that only seem to eat grass to vomit it up when sick, then perhaps you should schedule a veterinary visit to deal with said illness that prompted the behavior.

For all others that simply seem to enjoy it, try engaging with the pet more to alleviate potential boredom. For dogs, consider more walks, swimming, fetching, or just tickling the tummy as often as possible. For cats, try getting a cat jungle gym in the home, engage in play with cat toys or a laser pointer, or consider getting Tiger a window stand for more visual stimulation.

If in the end, your dog or cat eats grass no matter what you do, it is not likely to cause any harm, in fact, it could even stand to do them some good. The only caveat to this is that many commercial lawn pesticides can cause harm to your dogs and cats if ingested with the grass. As such, for homes of pets that have a tendency to dine on the lawn, it is wise to choose only lawn pest control products that are organic and safe for animal ingestion, or avoid them altogether if possible.

This is Roger Welton reporting, for The Web-DVM.

Dr. Roger Welton is the President and chief veterinarian at Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne Florida, as well as CEO of the veterinary advice and health management website