Author Archives: Chryssa Rich

Puppy Bites Shoes; Over-Vaccination Question

Hi. I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell, and I’m at home today answering questions from Pet’s Best Facebook page. The first question comes from William. William writes, “My German shepherd likes to bite shoes and the feet of the wearer of the shoes. What can I do about this?”

I can see how this would be an annoying habit. Obviously, a German shepherd’s a big dog, and it’s probably a behavior that should be broken, especially if he’s doing it to children or your friends. I would definitely discipline him. Make sure everyone in the family’s on the same page, that this isn’t a behavior that he’s allowed to do. So when he does it, you tell him “No,” distract him, give him a toy or something that’s appropriate for him to bite and chew on, and then praise him when he directs his attention towards that new toy.

The next question comes from Amy who says, “What is your take on the over- vaccination issue with pets?” This is a really good question, and I think that veterinarians recently have trended towards trying to not over- vaccinate pets as much. We are limited by the manufacturer’s recommendation on the vaccines though. So if the manufacturer only guarantees that that vaccine is going to work for a year, we can only guarantee for you that your pet is not going to become sick from whatever it is that you’re vaccinating within that year. So that’s usually where the numbers come from, one year, two years, three years.

I do think that especially in cats this can be a problem. Cats tend to be a little more sensitive to vaccinations.

Talk with your veterinarian about your concerns, and they can explain to you why they pick however many years it is between vaccines.

If you guys have questions for me, you can post them at

Anal Gland Expression and Choosing a Premium Dog Food

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell, and I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best’s Facebook page. The first question comes from Linda who writes, “I have to take my dog into the vet every two weeks for anal gland expressions or else they leak. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?”

This can be really a frustrating problem. Anal glands are really stinky. They’re basically underdeveloped scent glands that dogs have that are normally used to kind of mark their territories. In a normal dog, a little bit should probably be expressed every time they defecate. For some reason, your dog isn’t doing that the way that it would normally happen. When dogs are really relaxed, sometimes this fluid can leak out a little bit.

Getting the dog in regularly to have the glands emptied is one way that you can keep it from happening. Some other things that you might try, there are some things that you can do to kind of bulk up the stool a little bit so that every time your dog defecates it’s more likely to do sort of some expression and squeezing on its own. Fiber is a good way to do this. Most dogs like canned pumpkin, which is a pretty good source of fiber. You could try that, depending on the size of your dog. You can talk with your veterinarian about how much is appropriate. You could also do human fiber supplements, but, again, talk with your veterinarian about what dose would be appropriate for your dog.

The next question comes from Keshla who says, “Do you recommend premium or holistic foods? Which are better?” This is a really good question. There’s a lot of dog food out there, and it can be hard to know what to buy and what brands to use. A premium dog food generally refers to a dog food that has maybe higher quality ingredients, a little bit more quality control, not as much fillers is in it, whereas a holistic dog food might be more organic, preservative free, hormone free, that type of thing.

I think both types have a great place. I think either one of them are going to be far superior to sort of your grocery store brands that are a little bit less expensive and tend to have a lot of fillers. If the price is too good to be true, it probably really is too good to be true. Whatever works best for your pet and whatever your pet does best on is probably going to be fine, either a premium food or a holistic food.

If you guys have questions for me about your pet, feel free to post them at

Dog Pees on Couch; Eating Squirrel Food

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question comes from Kineen who writes, “My older male Weimaraner urinates inside our house almost every day when we’re not home, most often on the back of the couch. I notice this doesn’t happen when the other dog at home is gone. He’s been cleared of any medical issues that might be causing the problem and I have a dog walker that comes out at noon to let the dogs out. We’ve tried a belly band, animal communication, and crate training, and nothing has worked. Anything else we can try to do to stop this behavior?”

Sounds like you’ve done a great job working it up. I definitely applaud that you’ve gone to the veterinarian and made sure it wasn’t something silly like a urinary tract infection or something else that’s treatable.

Because you’ve ruled out the medical issues, it indicates that this truly is a behavioral problem. You’re definitely going to benefit from speaking with a behaviorist, so consider finding a local behaviorist to ask this question.

There are some other things you might try at home. If he doesn’t do it when the other dog is at doggy daycare, you could have the other dog at doggy daycare. If you don’t mind having him there, that would potentially solve the problem. You could also have the dog that’s doing the urinating go to daycare, too, and be supervised all day.

You might try to continue working with the crating. Some dogs will be self-destructive and should not be crated if they react really poorly to it, but if he’s just a whiner or it’s sort of a mild aversion, you could certainly work with it to try and make it a more fun place. Feed him in there. Keep his toys in there. Encourage him to go in when you’re not actually going to close the door and leave him there for the day.

Those might be some things that you could try. You can also talk with your veterinarian about certain anxiety medications or behavioral medications that can sometimes help with inappropriate urination.

The next question comes from Hannah who writes, “We live near a restaurant and squirrels constantly drop food remnants in our yard. We’ve found everything from bread bowls to pizza to hamburger buns and rolls. I try to ensure my dog doesn’t eat any of the food items while she’s outside but she sometimes does. Can any of this food be harmful to her and are there any diseases she could catch from the squirrels?”

This sounds like a really tough problem to deal with. I do think that there is some possibility that some of this food could be harmful to your dog, especially if it’s spoiled, since it was in their trash. There probably aren’t a lot of diseases that she’s going to get from the squirrels, just from them eating the food and then her eating the food that they dropped. Squirrels can have mites and parasites and that type of thing, but she would have to be in pretty close contact to have that happen.

I think you’re probably going to be in a position where you’re going to have to monitor the yard pretty well to keep her from getting hold of this food. You might try talking to the restaurant and see if they can do a little bit better job of disposing their garbage or maybe keeping it covered.

If you guys have pet health questions for me, feel free to post them at

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