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My Pet World: Can puppies recognize their puppy brothers, sisters?

December 28, 2010|By Steve Dale

Q: We bought our 8-year-old dog, Callie, from a local family, and we're still in touch. I've often wondered if Callie would recognize a sibling. Is this possible? — J.K., Cyberspace

A: All these years later, the chance your dog would recognize a litter mate is a definitive "maybe."

Veterinary behaviorist Dr. Lore Haug, of Houston, explains: "Siblings most certainly can recognize one another. But when they're separated at a young age, there's no way to consciously remember. Still, it seems that at some olfactory level we don't fully understand, even litter mates separated at a young age probably do recognize one another on a subconscious level."

If Callie is not spayed, it's possible she'd resist hooking up with a brother. This ability is beneficial for the species.

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Haug also notes that we know dogs recognize their own breed, or specific general characteristics of other dogs. For example, if your dog was bitten by a dog with a turned-up tail, she could be understandably wary of all dogs with turned-up tails.

Q: I have a cold, with coughing, sneezing and a stuffed-up head. One of our cats, Miss Murray, likes to sleep with me, and now she's as sick as I am. Her brother, Simba, has also been around me but he's not sick. Can cats catch human colds or other ailments from people? — M.A.A., Cyberspace

A: "Cats have their very own set of upper respirator viruses," says Dr. Mike Thomas, of Indianapolis, past president of the American Animal Hospital Assn. and immediate past president of the Companion Animal Parasite Council. "We don't get viruses from cats or usually give our viruses to cats. By the way, if your cat goes off food and water for over a day, contact your veterinarian."

Incidentally, there have been some individual cases of people with the H1N1 influenza virus passing it on to their cats. While it's rare event, some viruses will jump species. Still, feel free to continue to share your bed with Miss Murray.

Q: Our 13-year-old beagle/bassett hound mix has been house-trained since she was a puppy, but recently started to urinate overnight. She has Cushing's disease. Is there anything we can do? — S.W., Las Vegas

A: Was the Cushing's disease (which is hyperadrenocorticism, the production of too much adrenal hormone) under treatment when your dog began to awaken and have accidents overnight?

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