Q. Our ferret was chewing on the bars of her cage and broke one of her long canine teeth in her lower jaw in half. She seems fine with it and does not seem in any pain, but we were wondering if it may interfere with her eating.
-- Robin Jones, Uniondale
A. You should take her to a vet who knows about ferrets to get the tooth extracted or capped.
I have seen ferrets that broke a tooth as yours did and even though everything seemed fine at first, a few weeks later they develop a really bad abscess and infection in the jaw right below the broken tooth. This means lots of antibiotics and supportive care that can compromise your ferret's health.
Q. We just lost our 15-year-old dachshund and are planning to get a dachshund puppy, as we love the breed. Ours, however, have always suffered from back problems and disc issues. We were wondering if there was anything we could do for our new puppy to prevent such issues when she gets older?
-- Debbie Duffy, Sea Cliff
A. I love dachshunds as well and have always had them. For all short-legged breeds, back issues are largely the luck of the draw.
To get the odds in your favor, concentrate on keeping the dog's weight down. Start by training the puppy not to beg for food all the time. If the dog carries less weight, there is less stress on the spine. This is hard in a dog like a dachshund that has a strong food drive, but it really makes a big difference later on in the dog's life.
Jumping up and down from furniture is also a problem with this breed. Dogs have no idea of their physical limitations and cannot comprehend any consequences from their actions.
If you get the dog used to using puppy stairs or ramps from an early age, you will never have to worry about the dog crashing to the floor off the couch when the doorbell rings.
The whole situation is about being proactive.
Q. I am a senior and enjoy walking in the afternoon with my poodle when the area is quiet. There is a house that I pass on a busy road that has no fence. The family has a large, boxer-type dog that always rushes out to bark at us when we pass. As soon as we get near the house, I pick up my dog and carry her past. Thus far, all the other dog does is bark and he never gets closer than 10 feet or so. But I am still nervous about what to do. My husband says to carry pepper spray, but I cannot imagine being able to use it on the dog. Do you have any suggestions?
-- Darcy Rubin, Brentwood
A. It is never a good idea to use aggression in any circumstance -- especially when you are in a confrontational situation with a strong animal with sharp teeth.
I have found that any charging dog just meaning to do mischief will stop short when a closed umbrella is pointed at it and then is suddenly popped open.
The action of the umbrella opening really startles it, and the dog usually looks for another way to entertain itself.
It may be a bit easier to carry a can of pepper spray rather than the umbrella, but I do believe that you will feel and be safer with the umbrella, in the end.
I cannot imagine how these people can allow their dog to be loose in front of their house without a fence separating it from the road. Perhaps they have an invisible fence, but an angry dog can still cross one of those if the attraction is strong enough.