2016-02-10 / Columnists

Pets, Pets, Pets

Oh, no! He’s back. Monsieur Edgar (aka my “Edgar Afghan Poe”) insists on writing another dog advice column. It’s his consolation prize for not being asked to any big February events.

“I’m an Afghan Adonis so why wasn’t I invited to compete in Westminster or the Puppy Bowl? Why doesn’t anyone in New Orleans want to see me dressed for Mardi Gras?” whined Edgar, “if Christie Brinkley can publish a beauty tip book, I should be allowed to write another “Pets” column.”

Note from J.A.: I gave in to pacify the braggart. Just because Monsieur Edgar has a swelled head, doesn’t mean he has a big brain. Please take his advice with caution. You may want to run some of his suggestions by your veterinarian or groomer. It’s a good thing he can’t read this. Please don’t tell him I think he’s a handsome windbag. I have to live with him. Here’s the first question from one of his naïve fans:


Monsieur Edgar gets ready for Mardi Gras Monsieur Edgar gets ready for Mardi Gras Q: All of a sudden we seem to be having a lot of snow. I wasn’t born a Husky so this is not my idea of fun. When I go for walks I get painful ice balls stuck in my paw pads. It hurts when my owner pulls them out. Do you have any hints I can suggest to him to remove them without pain? Better yet, is there anything he could do for me so I don’t get these terrible ice balls stuck in my pads? Signed, Lou Lhasa

A: Lou, you think you have problems? What about my sore paw pads? The coat on my legs is really long. I pick up so many ice balls; you’d think I was an Afghan Zamboni machine. Most show Afghans wear laceup boots in the snow. If I were a champion show dog, I wouldn’t have this misery.

Whatever you do, Lou, don’t lick the ice off your paw pads. You may have stepped on chemical deicers and road salts. They can make you sick. These mixtures can also burn your pads. When you get home, your dog walker should wipe your paws with warm water on a soft cloth.

There are several products that protect pads from salt and road chemicals. Booties come in sizes for all dogs. Some small dog sets of four have suspenders that meet at the middle of the spine so the booties do not fall off and get lost. It takes practice walking in the house before a dog is ready to venture outdoors with such fancy foot wear. Safe Paw (sold as aqua crystals in a jug) is a common pet-friendly deicer, but sand, small stones, and kitty litter (non-clumping) can be a safe paw rub too. Musher’s Secret (sold in a cold cream-style jar) is a popular paw wax which is applied to the pads of the feet before a walk. It forms a protective barrier between the paw and the salty sidewalk or street. This coating will wear off after exercise, and should be reapplied before each walk. Both products are available on Amazon. (No, I do not get a commission.)

Try to get this message across to your owner: Hairyfooted breeds, like Afghans, are more apt to form ice balls when there is snow on the ground. To reduce the risk, keep inter-pad hair trimmed neatly and short during the winter months. Not only can hairy feet contribute to the development of ice balls stuck to feet, paw hair can retain a lot of stinging, deicing salts. If your dog has hairy feet, trim them throughout the winter.

Q. Monsieur Edgar, this is not a pleasant subject but is an issue requiring your vast wisdom. Sometimes my family gives me food too rich for my delicate constitution. I must rush outdoors because I get the “runs”, if you know what I mean. To make matters worse, I have long hair like you, and at times my back end gets embarrassingly messy and smelly. Is there anything my family could add to my food to help my bowels regulate themselves quickly? Signed, Sheri Sheepdog

A. Zut alors! Sheri, how dare you give me flashbacks to last week! Same thing happened to me. Joanne fed me too much pizza. This is what you must do: First make sure someone responsible cleans you. You may need a “spot bath”. One summer after a similar mishap, Joanne had the nerve to try to wash me with the outdoor hose. I am an Afghan Hound, the King of Dogs. No one squirts the King with an outdoor hose. How gauche!

Most important tell your caretaker, if your dog has chronic diarrhea, or this “mishap” lasts more than a day or two, make sure to take your dog to the vet. The poor pup may need fluids for dehydration, or this problem may be associated with something more serious. After a vet OK, you may want to try a nifty home remedy. Pumpkins contain high amounts of fiber, which is important to digestive health. Canned pumpkin, just plain pumpkin, not the spiced pie mixture, is an easy to use mix-in. Introduce the pumpkin slowly, and use it in moderation.

Some vets suggest one tablespoon of canned pumpkin a day for smaller dogs, and two tablespoons a day for larger ones. Joanne thought she was fooling me when she pushed my turkey chop meat into the pumpkin dollops. She forgot I am an Afghan with a long, chiseled nose which can detect any of her culinary shenanigans. I’ve begun to like this unlikely additive. I don’t want to jinx anything, but pumpkin is helping me.

Oh, there’s another benefit for dogs needing to drop a few pounds. (Not me. My Afghan physique is magnifique.) Since fiber provides a feeling of fullness, adding pumpkin to a chubby pup’s meal may help weight loss by reducing calories. Again, check with your vet before putting your dog on a diet.

For Adoption at Babylon Town Shelter (631- 643-9270) Lamar St. W. Babylon: “Marie” 16-4 is a Pit pup who already had a litter. She likes other dogs, and has so much potential. “Mimi” 6-11 is a gorgeous, friendly, longhaired tabby from the evicted hoarder with 31 cats. Both girls deserve the best of homes.

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