Dog with bad odor needs a vet's assessment

When in doubt about a potential medical condition,

When in doubt about a potential medical condition, get your pooch to the vet. (Credit: AP / Noah Berger)

Q: Our 3-year-old boxer is a great dog, but she has always had a "ripe" odor about her, and her fur feels greasy. We give her a bath as often as we can, but the nice smell lasts only a day or so, and then she gets stinky again. What can we do to keep her odor down? It's embarrassing when we have guests, and people even notice it when we take her for a walk. --Richard Andrews, Smithtown

A: It sounds like a medical issue. Your dog may have impacted anal glands or a bad tooth causing the smell. If the tooth is infected and causing the dog's saliva to become smelly and the dog licks herself, then that odor will be all over her fur. A quick fix is to rub dry cornstarch in the dog's coat. It will get rid of the greasy feel and absorb the odor somewhat. But a trip to the vet is in order here.

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Q: We have a 3-year-old female cat. This is an approximate age, as she was a stray. This is the vet's guess. We have had her about 2 years. She is an extremely interesting cat. Over the years, we have had many different cats, especially as our children were growing up, although our last cat died 13 years ago, and we never intended to get another. She loves the toy that is a stick with a string and a little cloth mouse attached. Here is her ritual: Most nights, she sleeps at the bottom of our bed. As soon as we are in bed, never before, she drags two or three of these toys from the living room, across the foyer and into the bedroom and leaves them on the floor at the bottom of the bed. Then, she jumps on the bed and seems to watch them for a while before falling asleep.

I can guess several reasons for this, but I'm not sure why she does this most nights. Since we have never had a cat that had an odd habit, I was wondering if this is unusual. --Linda Miller, North Huntingdon, Pa.

A: This is a subject that people love to debate. Animals have rituals, just as humans do. However, we have them for different reasons. Life is full of random events, and because humans have hopes and aspirations that are destroyed or delayed by random events, we go out of our way to create rituals so we have something in our lives that is consistent.

Animals' rituals are governed by instinct -- the animal is doing it as it evolved to have a better life. Most likely, the behavior your cat is doing at night is based on the instinct of storing food. A cat that is not hungry will bury or store uneaten prey for later. The foot of the bed is the best place to keep the objects.

Since domestic animals have lots of free time, and most have never known a hunger pang, the behavior is not as cut-and-dried as it would be in their wild counterparts.

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Q: I have a yellow nape Amazon parrot that I got as a baby last spring. Her wing feathers have always been trimmed, and she spent most of her summer days outside with me as I worked in my garden. Of course, I had to keep her indoors all winter, but now I have spring fever and want to get outside again to work in the garden. Her cage is in our living room window, and when she sees me outside, she obviously wants to come outside with me, as we did last year. My question is: How warm does it have to be outside before I can take her out with me again? --Nancy Chapelle, Orient

A: Parrots can acclimate to just about any cold temperatures. Just look at the feral mitred conures and monk parakeets that live outdoors here all year round and do just fine in all temperatures.

However, your bird most likely has never been in any temperature lower than 65 degrees or so, because that is about the lowest room temperature most homeowners maintain.

Common sense would say 65 degrees should feel OK to the bird.

Just be sure you have the bird's wing feathers trimmed before you start to take her outside again, because the trimmed feathers from last year may have molted out and regrown over the winter months.