You can't always tell it, driving around town, but it's illegal in California to transport an unsecured dog in the back of a pickup truck. In fact, it's been illegal for close to five years, but there are still those who don't seem to care about the law, their dogs or their fellow drivers.
Then there are those who properly tether their dogs but leave them standing on hot metal. The bed of a pickup truck can get hot enough to cook on in summer, yet some people seem unaware of this obvious fact -- even though their dogs jump frantically about in a futile effort to keep their feet off the grill.
If you transport your dog in a pickup truck, protect him from the elements by bringing him into the cab, installing a camper shell or keeping him in a securely fastened shipping crate. If you must keep your dog in the open, be sure his tether is short enough to keep him in the center of the bed, put some carpet remnants underneath to keep his feet from frying and keep water handy to cool him off. If you care about your dog, he deserves nothing less.
Q: We're going on vacation and our dog is going to a boarding kennel. Last year, she came back with kennel cough. This year, she's going to a different kennel, and we want to know if there's anything we can do to prevent her from picking up the disease again.
A: Before I answer your question, let me put in a word for your old boarding kennel. Dogs can pick up kennel cough anywhere other dogsare -- at a show, in the park, at the vet's, in a shelter -- and there's no way any kennel can be 100 percent sure your pet won't pick up the canine version of the common cold. So if the only thing you didn't like about the kennel you used last year was that your pet came home with kennel cough, you're not being fair in taking your business elsewhere.
It helps to understand what you're up against. Characterized by a dry, bellowing cough, kennel cough is a contagious infection of the upper airways, so called because it is commonly contracted after a stay in a boarding kennel or shelter. Some veterinarians believe constant barkers are predisposed to the ailment, since barking leaves the airways irritated and more vulnerable to the disease.
Kennel cough is caused by several viral and bacterial agents, and the good news is that none are really serious. The treatment involves calming the airways so they can heal, a goal reached by using depressants to calm the coughing and environmental changes to settle the dog.
If a sick animal sits in the back yard barking all the time, kennel cough can be tough to beat. In the more severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed. Most times, though, the disease runs its course in a couple of weeks.
There are vaccines available to protect your pet, but they need to be administered well in advance of any kennel stay. Your veterinarian can tell you which vaccine is right for your pet.
Q: What's the best thing to put on a pill to get a pet to take it? It looks as if we're going to be giving our dog thyroid medicine for the rest of his life, and this has never been a great pill-taking dog.
A: I've found the best way to get one dog to take a pill is to have another dog in the room when you offer it. My dogs will wolf them plain if they think another dog might get something they won't. There are also any number of great pill-coating substances, like peanut butter or that snack cheese that comes out of a can. Others I have used with great success include hot dogs, liverwurst, cream cheese, cottage cheese and just plain cheese.
Since you're going to be giving pills every day, you might want to learn how to give your pet a pill without dressing up the medication. It's easy, once you get the hang of it: Open your pet's mouth and push the pill to the very back, then raise your pet's muzzle and stroke his throat to get him to swallow. Don't forget to praise him for his cooperation.
Ms. Spadafori is a licensed pet trainer in Sacramento, Calif. Questions about pets may be sent to her c/o The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore 21278.