DEAR JOAN: I have a small dog named Cookie. I think he’s part Maltese. He’s about 3 years old.
Cookie eats a very healthy diet of premium dog food, but I like to give him special treats to show I love him. He loves cheese of all types and will gobble them down and ask for more. Is it OK to give him cheese? I don’t give it to him every day, but he sure loves it.
— Jane D., Antioch
DEAR JANE: Cheese is fine for most dogs, but some cheeses are better than others.
Some dogs can be lactose intolerant. It sounds like Cookie does fine with cheese, but anyone giving their dog cheese for the first time should start with a small piece and see how the dog does. An upset stomach, diarrhea, pain and excessive gas are indications of lactose intolerance.
The best cheeses for Cookie and other dogs are low in fat, sodium and calories. Cottage cheese, Swiss, mozzarella and Parmesan are good ones. Second best is Gouda, ricotta and American. Stay away from feta, provolone, goat, brie, blue, cream cheese and anything with herbs and spices.
In general, treats of any kind should account for about 10 percent of a dog’s diet. Cuddles, pets and loving can be given in abundance at any time.
DEAR JOAN: Why does my cat slap at her water dish? She splashes the water with her paw before drinking. I thought at first that there were bugs or something in the water, but the water is clean. So is the dish.
Is there something I can do to stop her?
— E.J., Oakland
DEAR E.J.: Cats have fairly fabulous eyesight, which allows them to detect the slightest muscle twitch in their prey and to see well in the darkness. However, the price for all that special vision is difficulty with depth perception, especially when looking at a clear, flat surface.
Cats often can’t quite tell where the water level is, and not wanting to plunge their faces into a bowl of water, they tap the surface, causing ripples that help them see the water.
The slapping is probably as much habit as necessity, so it’s unlikely you can break the cat of its slap happy practice. You might try finding a shallow bowl that is wider – cats also don’t like to have their whiskers smashed on the edges of the bowl – or invest in a feline drinking fountain.
DEAR JOAN: Yes, it’s true that the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum grows in bat guano. However, Histoplasma is endemic to certain geographic regions. We would not expect histoplasmosis to be a risk factor for anyone living in Ben Lomond or in California in general.
Documented cases in California would be persons exposed in the endemic regions, but who moved to or transited through California when diagnosed. You may have misguided your reader.
— Dr. David Stevens, President., California Institute of Medical Research
DEAR DR. STEVENS: It appears that I did, and it’s good to know that specific health risk isn’t one we need to worry about in California, although we still shouldn’t let animal poo accumulate in or around our homes.
Thanks very much for setting the record straight, and thanks to the institute for all its work and support of medical research.
Animal Life runs on Mondays. Contact Joan Morris at [email protected].