Advertise in Print | Subscriptions
Published September 23, 2011, 12:00 AM

Pet Care: Chair disturbs Sheltie

Dear Dr. Fox: I sincerely hope you can help me with a terrible situation. My husband and I bought a replacement recliner chair for our living room. It is a light color and a different material from the old one.

By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM

Dear Dr. Fox: I sincerely hope you can help me with a terrible situation. My husband and I bought a replacement recliner chair for our living room. It is a light color and a different material from the old one. Ever since it was delivered, over a week ago, our 2-year-old Sheltie has been traumatized and has lost his bright and fun-loving ways.

He runs through the room to get outside to the deck or to the backyard. He refuses to stay in the room with us, instead going to the bathroom where he sleeps. Even his playtime outside is down about 80 percent. He simply does not have any desire to be in the house or with us.

We have tried leashing him and having him sit with us while we are in the chair. We also sat him in our laps in the chair. He just shakes and bides his time to get down and get back outside.

Before this, he was a very engaging little guy, not happy to have strangers around, but happy otherwise. What can we do to get him over this? – C.W., Sequim, Wash.

Dear C.W.: Shelties can be very sensitive dogs, and you need to determine which of his senses are being disturbed by this new piece of furniture. Does it emit a high-frequency sound when you move it or move on it? Perhaps it needs some lubricant, or a cover to muffle squeaky sounds that the dog could misinterpret as a small animal’s distress calls.

Does it have a strange odor – tanned leather – or even possibly toxic stuffing from China? Some readers have told me that they got a bad rash from new recliners and that their dogs scratched like mad after lying on them, and on new dog beds filled with heaven-knows-what. Flame-retardant chemicals in furniture foam are highly toxic and are linked to thyroid disease in dogs, cats and people, too. (For a recent review, see my website,

Cover the recliner with one of your well-used bed sheets imbued with your body odor. This may help your dog accept this new thing in his environment. But return the recliner to the store if in doubt about what it is filled with. Like the canary down the mineshaft, your dog may be alerting you to something that you do not want in your home.

Dear Dr. Fox: I’ve been making your dog food recipe coming up on three years now. Solid Gold has quit making the bone meal, and I can’t find it anywhere else.

I know you mention several other options, but which would you personally prefer? I keep finding calcium tablets plus D, and that D concerns me. I’m not sure if that is good for the pups.

We lost our 10-year-old bichon on April 1 to prostate cancer. He was a castrated male, and it was a true shock. I thought small dogs lived a lot longer than 10. We are heartbroken.

We still have our 2-year-old mixed-breed pup and are spoiling him rotten. He has a terrible anal gland problem, though. I don’t know if we should consider surgery. His glands release that awful smell at least once a day, and you can tell he doesn’t like it, either. – V.V., Brunswick, Md.

Dear V.V.: The cheapest – but not the best – source of calcium is from oyster shells, available in tablet form in most drugstores without vitamin D. On my website,, I list various kinds of calcium supplements, one of the best being calcium citrate. It is available from GNC with or without vitamin D, small amounts of which will not harm dogs. Giving about 250 milligrams daily per 30 to 40 pounds of body weight in the home- prepared diet should provide an optimal amount of calcium for a healthy dog.

Growing pups, especially of the giant breeds, need ample dietary calcium, but excessive levels can interfere with the uptake of other essential minerals. So a balanced multimineral and multivitamin supplement is advisable.

As I point out in a review on my website, some sources of calcium, such as bone meal and oyster shell, can be high in toxic chemicals such as fluoride and lead. These are best avoided.

Sorry to hear about the death of one of your beloved canines. Anal gland problems often require irrigation under general anesthesia and packing with antibiotics and steroids, coupled with a test hypoallergenic or all-natural, single-protein (lamb, venison) diet. Chronic inflammation and infection of the anal gland and/or ears can be one expression of food allergy in dogs.

Cat survives long fall

New York City cat Gloucester made news on the Fourth of July when he survived a 20-story fall from his apartment to the pavement below with barely a scratch.

“According to the vet, when you’re 10 floors or above, you actually have an increased chance of surviving it, because you have a chance to kind of right yourself and get ready to land,” said Barry Myers, who has owned the cat he calls “G” for 16 years.

All cat owners, in apartments especially, should double-check that window screens are very secure and cat-tamper proof!

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 Web site at