Pet Care: Humans, coyotes can coexistDear Dr. Fox: A big coyote has been spotted in our neighborhood, and I wonder what we can do. This is a dangerous animal, and I worry about it killing my cats who get out in the yard, and even my grandchildren when they come visiting. Please advise
By: By Dr. Michael Fox, INFORUM
Dear Dr. Fox: A big coyote has been spotted in our neighborhood, and I wonder what we can do. This is a dangerous animal, and I worry about it killing my cats who get out in the yard, and even my grandchildren when they come visiting. Please advise. – R.M., Silver Spring, Md.
Dear R.M.: Rest assured, coyotes are usually shy and very fearful of humans, but they have been known to kill small pets who were left out unsupervised.
The war against the coyote – including traps, poison bait, shotguns, cyanide guns, state bounties and millions of dollars of misspent public funds – has not deterred this wily survivor from spreading across much of the United States. For more details and ways to live in harmony with this incredible cousin of the wolf and dog, visit www.projectcoyote.org.
Many municipalities have found successful ways to reduce coyote and other wildlife-human conflicts. Especially important with coyotes is to keep all garbage secured or shut away in a shed. Do not put out food except in bird feeders for the birds. Never let cats and small dogs outdoors unsupervised, and always keep them on a leash when off your property – which is an animal control ordinance in many communities, along with rabies vaccinations and collar-ID tags.
Dear Dr. Fox: I have a question about fish oil supplements. I believe you have never mentioned krill oil as a source of beneficial omegas for cats. I see it advertised on TV (for humans) and wonder if it would be good for my dog and two cats. – M.F., Fort Myers, Fla.
Dear M.F.: I abhor the “harvesting” of krill primarily for farmed animal food protein, and the oil as a byproduct now being marketed as a nutritional supplement. Krill oil may be a good source of omega fatty acids, but harvesting it is not ethical.
Krill is a staple food for whales and other sea life, and the vast tonnage being netted is one added starvation- stress factor for these creatures in an already overfished marine environment. Pollution and acidification of the oceans are wreaking havoc on a once sustainable natural resource.
Some fish oil providers, such as Nordic Naturals and New Chapter, are aware of these issues and select plentiful fish species and fishing-industry byproducts taken from managed and less polluted marine sources. Oils from farmed, rather than wild, salmon should also be avoided because of reported high levels of toxic contaminants such as dioxins and PCBs.
Dogs helping children
The incidence of autism spectrum disorders now reaches about one in 100 children. Drugs and other therapies have mixed and inconsistent results, but according to Professor Daniel Mills of the UK’s University of Lincoln, trained assistance dogs have proved to be highly beneficial. They help affected children control problem behaviors, communicate better and ease family stress.
Parents reported that dogs helped their autistic children develop a wide variety of skills, such as language, feeding behavior, social attention, interaction and reduction or elimination of tantrums. From my own earlier research in this field of animal assisted therapy, I would insist on very close supervision and concern for dogs being around severely autistic children who may initially react to the dogs as though they are inanimate objects and mistreat them accordingly.
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 www.twobitdog.com/DrFox.