ITHACA, N.Y. -- As Buddy, the new First Pup in the White House, becomesmore oval and Socks recoils in horror, Cornell University veterinarianshave some unsolicited advice for the Clintons: Avoid overfeeding andoverexercising Buddy, and give the First Cat a "dog-free zone."
"A Labrador retriever's bones are not mature until they reach 8 to 10months of age, so you don't want to overexercise or overfeed adevelopmentally immature dog," said Rory Todhunter, assistant professor ofsurgery at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine.
Noting that developmental orthopedic disease is not uncommon among mediumand large dog breeds, Todhunter advised dietary restraint during the firstyear of Buddy's life. "Labrador puppies tend to be fat and they like toeat, so I would suggest keeping the animal trim through a restricted -- butbalanced -- diet. That way you can reduce the physical expression oforthopedic diseases that affect the joints, like the hip, elbow andshoulder, and reduce the expression of secondary effects of diseases likearthritis."
Meanwhile, Katherine A. Houpt, the director of the Cornell Animal BehaviorClinic whose 1993 advice may have eased Socks' transition to 1600Pennsylvania Ave., has been watching the president's dog on television."Buddy is already pulling on the leash. The owner should learn to gentlybut firmly control the dog," said Houpt, professor of physiology. "And thedog has to learn not to chase cats."
The young Buddy's interest in rapidly moving objects is understandable,said Houpt, a textbook author and expert in animal behavior. Earlypuppyhood is the best time, she said, to teach a young animal aboutinappropriate behavior.
"What is play for a puppy is torture to a cat, because a largepuppy play-fights and enjoys rough-and-tumble games. If a dog gets in thehabit of chasing cats, what began as play can become a serious problem,"she said. "Many cats and dogs learn to get along fine and even playgentle games together. Others learn to coexist harmoniously but withlittle interaction."
And for Socks' sake, the Cornell animal-behavior expert recommends a littleprivacy. "Give the cat a 'dog-free zone,' preferably one with some verticalspace where the cat can relax and feel secure," Houpt said, adding thatfinding room shouldn't be a problem. "It's a big house."
Materials provided by Cornell University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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