Q: Do cats and dogs really hate each other? I always hear about people fighting "like cats and dogs" and have seen dogs chase cats. Yet I see pictures of TV commercials that show them getting along. Where's the truth?
A: Cats and dogs are not necessarily natural enemies. There are many households where these pets enjoy each other's company, play together and have no fights. Yet, a dog may still chase a stray cat out of the yard while his buddy watches or a cat may sleep next to the family dog and still take a swipe at the neighbor's pup. Socialization between the two species is common, although it may take some time for a dog and cat to adapt and accept the other. Still, these species have such wide variations in individual temperament, aggression and response to each other that not all individuals will get along. Sort of like people.
Q: We have two dogs, one a terrier mix and the other a Doberman, and they seem to be healthy. They both eat well and are very playful. They have not been vaccinated, and now I have to get a license for them. Can I vaccinate them myself, and where do I get the vaccines? What type of vaccines do I need to get?
Benito Silva, Santa Ana
A: Preventive medicine is as important in animals as it is in humans. Vaccinations are an inexpensive and effective method of keeping your dogs healthy. By having your dogs vaccinated by a veterinarian, an examination can be done at the same time to evaluate your pet's health, checking the teeth, gums, eyes, ears, skin, heart and lungs. This way any potential problems can be taken care of before they become serious.
Vaccines are biological agents and need to be handled and administered properly. They need to be stored or shipped at the correct temperature range to avoid heat, which can destroy their efficacy. Proper administration with a sterile syringe and needle is a necessity.
Even with proper care, rare vaccination reactions can occur. Your veterinarian is able to deal with these situations immediately before the reaction becomes serious. Since you need to license your dogs, a rabies vaccination is required if your dog is over 4 months of age. This vaccination is a public health requirement and is given by veterinarians only. Other vaccines such as distemper, Parvo or Bordatella should be given annually to protect your dogs' health from these common diseases. It is extremely sad to see an otherwise healthy dog become ill and suffer from diseases that are so easily prevented with routine vaccination programs.