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Nicholas Dodman Answers Your Dog Questions02:24
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(peasap/Flickr)
(peasap/Flickr)

A few weeks ago, we spoke with Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian at Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and the editor of "Good Old Dog: Expert Advice for Keeping Your Aging Dog Healthy, Happy, and Comfortable."

Our phones were flooded with calls from pet owners seeking answers. We couldn't get to all of you, so we sent some of the questions along to Dr. Dodman. He's answered many of them.

Josh in Bay Village asked:
"My tea-cup Chihuahua is quite old. I was always told that if his appetite is OK, then he was ok. Is he really still OK?"

Dr. Dodman wrote:
"Appetite is a really good indicator of whether a dog is feeling "up to snuff" but there are still conditions that can lurk below the good appetite threshold. It is best to have annual or bi-annual veterinary exams and tests performed to ensure good health, however good you dog's appetite is."

Karen from Lynn asked:
"I lost a greyhound to bone cancer but we still have our second greyhound who is now 10. Are there any signs we can look for in terms of whether she’ll get cancer too."

Dodman responded:
"Clinically you can look for lameness, usually on a front leg or you may notice pain/touchiness when you gently squeeze your dog's leg either side of a joint. The ultimate test is to have a bone scan - but regular X-ray can reveal a lot."

Robin O’Neil asked:
"We have a 14 year old Sheltie/American Eskimo at 35lbs whose main issue is Arthritis evidenced by weakness in back legs for which Gluc/Chondroitin is managing very well.

My question is this, can I decline further Rabies vaccines on his behalf and have a Vet sign off on it? I've read articles from Dogs Naturally Magazine that states the life of vaccines last much longer in the blood stream than the guidelines used by Veterinarians. My concern is our "old boy" is doing so well, we do not want to keep introducing chemicals to his body that may not be necessary as we keep him closer on leash and in yard with little chance of wild animal exposure. I'm also worried the vaccines could cause illness or toxicity."

Dodman responded:
"Vaccines are really 'chemicals' - they are modified infectious particles - modified to make them inactive. Rabies is a 'killed' virus. The law is that you have to vaccinate your dog against rabies every three years - because it is a zoonosis (a disease that is transmissable to humans) - so you'd better do it. Rabies is endemic in our area and, if you dog gets it, it will be way worse than exposure to any supposedly harmful chemicals. You never know when a rabid skunk is going to materalize so it's best to be prepared."

Have a question for Dr. Dodman? Comment below or send us an email: radioboston@wbur.org.

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This program aired on February 9, 2012.

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