Ask Deborah

Have a pet question? In our weekly feature called Ask Deborah, you can do just that! Every Tuesday on Facebook and on our website, Deborah will pick one submitted question to answer. Send your questions to

*Deborah will not diagnose or give medical advise. Your veterinarian is the best person to go to for medical advise about your pet.

Q: What is the best way to use a dog crate?

A: A crate is the perfect place for your puppy or dog to sleep and spend quiet time in. The crate can also be his personal property and a favorite refuge, as long as its not abused. If you crate your dog, be sure to carefully consider some of these do's and don'ts.

  • Do crate train a dog while they are still a puppy.
  • Do remove your dog's collar, leash or clothing.
  • Do put a proper pad in the bottom of the crate for comfort.
  • Do ensure the crate is large enough for the dog to comfortably stand, turn around in, and lay down flat.
  • Do make sure the door is securely shut and locked.
  • Do inspect the crate regularly for any holes, chew marks, or pieces broken off.
  • Don't leave in objects such as bones or toys with parts that might be chewed off.
  • Don't leave your dog alone in his crate for long periods.
  • Don't crate a dog with unresolved separation anxiety, he could panic when you leave and injure himself trying to get out.
  • Don't shut a adult dog in a crate if he's never had any experience with one before.
  • Don't use blankets or sheets, until you know your puppy or dog will not spend his time eating them.

Q: How do I brush my pet's teeth at home?

A: A typical basic home dental care program includes regular (daily) brushing and check ups as well as proper nutrition with a specially designed dental diet. Just like with humans, infected gums and teeth aren't just a problem in the mouth for dogs and cats. Your pet's heart, kidneys, lungs, intestinal tract, and joints may also become infected. The tartar and any infected areas of the mouth contain a multitude of bacteria that can travel to other parts of the body. Providing your pet with regular dental care including brushing their teeth at home will help prevent some of these more serious side effects.

To brush your pet's teeth you must train your pet gradually over several weeks. Small dogs and cats are easily done when they are sitting on a table, or in your lap. Larger dogs can be sitting on the floor. When you first begin it may take 2 people to get the job done, but be careful not to over restrain your pet, keep brushing sessions short and positive. One person can hold your pet and the other can actually do the brushing. Praise and reassure your pet throughout the process, and don't forget a treat as a reward afterwards.

Q: My indoor cat wants to venture outside now. What do I do?

A: We have all experienced every cat owner's nightmare, a guest in your home was careless about leaving the door open, and your precious indoor cat got out.

Most of these mishaps have a happy ending, unfortunately some of them do not.

The following tips and safety precautions can help keep your indoor cat safe inside, where they belong.

Train your cats to come when you call them.
This is not at all hard to do. Call their name and reward them with a treat each time they come to you. For many cats. simply hearing the sound of the treat bag coming out of the cabinet will do the trick, and that's fine too. You need a reliable signal that tells your cat she/he needs to come to you. This will not only help in the event that your cat does get out, it will also be useful in emergency situations.

Q: We would like to add another cat to our family. How do we introduce the new cat to our kittie at home?

A: So you've decided to get another friend for your current cat. These are some good tips on how to get you to transition from one cat liking each other to perhaps, cats becoming best friends. Best thing to do is go slow, and go gradual. You don't want to just take two cats that are strangers, throw them into an environment together and expect everything to work out. It is highly unlikely that that will occur.

Q: Deborah, you have run a successful pet sitting business for many years. How do I get started?

A: Pet sitting can be a very rewarding, if you love animals and have a unique way with them, here is some information to get started.

Have the person you're working for tell you ahead of time when they want you to sit. You will need time to prepare for pet-sitting before the pet comes over, making room for a cage, puppy or kitty proofing your house, or even getting keys to go to the owners house.

Q: Why do dogs eat grass?

A: Dogs love to munch away on grass, and some even make it part of their daily routine. Fortunately most experts believe it isn't something you should worry about. So why do dogs love to eat grass so much?

A dog will seek out a natural remedy for a gassy or upset stomach, and grass it seems may do the trick. When ingested, the grass blade tickles the throat and stomach lining, this sensation in turn may cause the dog to vomit.

Q: My cat is always pushing on me with his paws or on her favorite chair. Any idea why she does this?

A: From time to time you may catch your cat doing something a little strange - kneading. This occurs when your cat rhythmically alternates her paws, pushing in and out, usually against something soft.

Q: Why do cats love boxes so much?

A: Boxes aren't just fun and games for your kitty. Those 4 cardboard walls offer safety and security, in addition to being a great place to swat at a passerby.

Cats love boxes, big boxes, small boxes, even items that resemble boxes, such as drawers, sinks, and laundry baskets. But what is it about boxes that sends our feline friends into a furry?

Cats are instinctively drawn to boxes because they offer security. The confined space provides protection from predators, and its a great place to stalk prey while remaining virtually unseen.

Q: I will be traveling soon and would like to bring my dog along on the road trip. Do you have any travel tips?

A: Road trips are one of the easiest and most relaxing ways to travel with your pet. Before your trip, I recommend you book a visit with your veterinarian to ensure your pet is healthy enough to travel and is up to date on all vaccinations, and flea, tick and heartworm preventions.

Q: Why do cats sleep so much?

A: Cats sleep an average of 15 hours a day, and some can sleep up to twenty hours in a twenty-four hour period, which is why this question is often asked.

Cats are most active between dusk and dawn, which means that they sleep mostly during the day and become active around twilight. This can come as quite a shock if you're bringing a new kitty home for the first time. Your cat will waste no time investigating and getting into trouble when you're fast asleep. As soon as your cat is done with breakfast, as the rest of us get ready for a busy day, you'll find your cat winding down for a long day of slumber. Cats have the philosophy of a predator, they are hardwired to give chase at night. Hunting prey takes an amazing amount of energy. Whether your cat is hunting for outdoor prey or tackling a catnip toy, all that sleep he gets is reserve energy for running, pouncing, climbing and stalking.

Q: I would like to adopt a cat, where do you recommend I go?

A: Great question and I have FOUR great reasons as to why you should adopt a cat from a shelter.

1. At a shelter, the staff know the personality traits of each cat and can recommend which furry friend will suit your lifestyle.

Q: Is it okay to change an adopted dog's name and how do I do it?

Changing a dog's name isn't as difficult as most people think, I highly encourage it. I will share with you how I have successfully changed the name of 20 plus pets during my career working with animals.