ask amy

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Is clumping litter dangerous?

Dear Amy:  Even though you are a dog, I didn’t have anyone else to turn to for help.  My sister and I live in a house with four canine siblings and sometimes they treat our litter box like it is a snack bar.  Can this be dangerous for them because my parents use clumping litter?    – Thanks, Muffin.

Dear Muffin: My research shows me that clumping kitty litter is not only bad for dogs, but for cats as well.  You want to inform your parents to stay away from litter that contains the ingredient called “sodium bentonite.”  This is a natural clay that clumps when it gets wet.  This clay also has dust which you inhale or lick off your paws when you clean.  Now, Think about what happens when you lick this dust from your paws – and the clay gets wet.  Or when you inhale and the moisture from your nose causes the clay to clump?  Although there are no “clinical studies” proving or disproving the theory, it never hurts to err on the side of safety.   They suggest using biodegradable litter and sprinkling baking soda in for odor control.  There are also litter boxes with air filters for odor control.  If clumping litter is required in your house, then try putting wood clamps on the litter box to hold the top and bottom together, that way your canine sisters and brothers won’t be able to pop the top off and get a snack.  Let me know if these ideas work.

Love, Amy

How to exercise pets of all ages

Dear Amy:  I am a very energetic 6 year old Golden Retriever and I live with 2 much older dogs.  My older brother and sister can’t go for long walks, but I sure would love to get out more, and more often.  How can I get my parents to take me on longer walks, without upsetting my two older siblings?    – Harley   PS, I have seen your picture and you are a babe!

Hi Harley: (giggle), Well, you have a tough situation.  I have a suggestion to take all of you for your walk.  Do a short walk to pacify your older siblings and have your parents bring all of you back to the house.  The older ones will be grateful they got outside for some exercise and will probably want to take a nap.  Then your Mom and Dad can take you on a longer walk. You may see some of the same scenery, but at least you are getting what you need and you are not offending your older siblings.  Please write back and let me know if this works.

Love, Amy

How to make car rides easier

Dear Amy:  I live with two other adopted golden retrievers, a real nice mom and a grumpy sour pus dad. Everything around here is great!  Good food, nice house, cool in summer,  warm winter, and with the rain some great mud puddles to dig in! Mom grumbles when she has to wash our feet and noses before we can get back in the house. Mom and dad are always saying they wish they knew what my old life was like before we all met and I was in jail. OK now here is my problem. The other two boys love to get in the car and go for rides. Not me!!!  When they make me go I just want to lay down on the floor board or try to get in the front seat on someones lap.  When they leave home I feel sad and left out of the family stuff. please help so I can go on car rides and have fun and please my family. – Toby

 PS dad is really great with us. I was just kidding.

Dear Toby:  It sounds like you have a wonderful family (and your Dad must have a heart of gold if he has 3 adopted Goldens!)

After reading your email, I believe that you may have some trust issues still remaining from your past life. Going for rides in the car is great… you can feel the wind on your face… gently caressing through your fur…. ears flaping softly against your face… (sigh)… OK… Back to business…

I suggest that you and your Mom and Dad start a car training program; you should start at the beginning and take mini-steps. First, have your mom and dad pick up the car keys (shake them and take you to the car); make sure they let you check out the car as much as you want. Then, if you feel comfortable, get in and sit down for a few minutes.  Your Dad or Mom will want you to stay in the backseat and not try to climb to the front (which is dangerous for everyone). Make the sessions 15 minutes max. You want to make sure that you don’t get bored and miss the fun of learning something new (not to mention, learning to trust again). Your training should be incorporated into your daily routine. Once you can get into the car and sit and stay where your parents want you; then your parents will be able to take you for short rides around the block (each time the ride should get longer) while reinforcing the commands you practiced during your training sessions when the car was stationery. Make sure Mom and Dad both go so one can drive and the other can work with you. After a while, you will begin to build trust and realize that you will always be brought home.  And, maybe someday, you can enjoy riding as much as your siblings.

Please email me updates with your progress. This may take sometime, so be patient.

Love, Amy