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Published March 25, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Not all enjoy a chase

Dear Dr. Fox: When I read your article about dogs chasing rabbits and other small game, I couldn’t help but be amused. I believe that the animals being chased enjoy the game as much as the dogs doing the chasing.

By: Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: When I read your article about dogs chasing rabbits and other small game, I couldn’t help but be amused. I believe that the animals being chased enjoy the game as much as the dogs doing the chasing.

We live on a 182-acre farm, and our dogs have always run loose, as do our neighbors’ dogs. I have seen many unusual sights with animals. I have seen rabbits and squirrels tease our dogs until the chase was on. One incident happened about five years ago in southeast Missouri.

I was walking from my barn to the house. Ol’ George, a beagle who has since passed away, was sleeping in his favorite spot beside the drive in the shade. I saw a rabbit hop up from behind my shop and hop right over George’s head; George didn’t even move. The rabbit went about 10 feet, then realized George wasn’t chasing him. He stopped, turned around, and looked at George as if to say, “What are you doing?” George raised his head and opened one eye as if to say, “If you think I’m chasing you in this heat, you’re crazy.” George then laid his head back down and went to sleep. The rabbit hopped on across the yard and went on his way. – E.J.D., Perryville, Mo.

Dear E.J.D.: Part of the play repertoire of prey species like rabbits and squirrels is the catch-me-if-you-can routine. They clearly enjoy the thrill of being chased by one of their own kind; but when they encounter a predator species like a dog or a cat, the game could soon be over if they incorrectly interpret the chaser’s intentions. Not surprisingly, they will test a predator to see how agile and motivated the animal is to chase, catch and kill, and will establish playful relationships with predators, especially in and around the predator’s den or home base. But out in the predators’ hunting range, they may be fair game.

My particular gripe is people letting their dogs chase ducks and other water birds along lake shorelines in winter. Over-wintering animals should not be disturbed because their energy reserves could become severely depleted, especially when they have little food and the temperatures are subzero.

Dear Dr. Fox: Our springer spaniel is 11 years old. Like most old dogs, he suffers from arthritis. We give him 1 tablespoon of cod-liver oil a day as well as vitamin D3 from fish oil (400 IU). We also give him prebiotics and probiotics with yogurt. At night, we give him Wobenzym on an empty stomach for inflammation. This has seemed to work for a long time, but lately he is becoming stiff and it is more difficult for him to get up after lying down for a period of time.

We started to give him one Ascriptin tablet (325 mg). This seems to help him greatly. We don’t give him the aspirin every day because we are concerned with stomach bleed. His blood work has been normal, and there has been no evidence of any problems so far.

We would like to know if giving him the Ascriptin is a safe treatment and how often can this be given to him. Our vet recommends Rimadyl, and we would like to know your thoughts on that drug, too. – B.&J.K., Jupiter, Fla.

Dear B.&J.K.: Rimadyl is in the same class of drugs that have been recalled for use in humans suffering from arthritis. Liver damage is of particular concern for dogs.

Occasional buffered aspirin is OK, giving no more than 81 mg per 20 pounds of body weight after food in the morning. Try a good-quality concoction of glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM human supplement; give half the recommended daily dose.

My book “The Healing Touch for Dogs” gives an instructive massage program that has helped many dogs like yours. Also explore the benefits of veterinary acupuncture and of giving powdered ginger and turmeric in your dog’s food (500 mg a day). Give just after eating if you are presenting these fine herbs in capsule form. Some veterinarians are also finding significant benefits using low-intensity laser therapy, the Q laser treatment system being approved by the FDA. For details, visit

Send your questions to Dr. Fox in care of The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns. Visit Dr. Fox’s website at