Is Cookie, a much loved Antioch dog, at risk from eating too much cheddar?

DR. JOAN: Cookie, my small dog, is my companion. I believe he is Maltese. He is about three years old.

Cookie eats a healthy diet of premium dog food, but I like to spoil him with special treats to show how much I adore him. He adores cheese of all kinds and will devour it before asking for more. Is it permissible to give him cheese? I don’t give it to him on a daily basis, but he adores it.

— Antioch resident Jane D.

DEAR MISS JANE: Most dogs can tolerate cheese, but some cheeses are preferable to others.

Lactose intolerance can occur in some dogs. Cookie appears to enjoy cheese, but anyone giving their dog cheese for the first time should start with a small piece and see how the dog reacts. Lactose intolerance is characterized by an upset stomach, diarrhea, pain, and excessive gas.

Cheeses that are low in fat, sodium, and calories are ideal for Cookie and other dogs. Cottage cheese, Swiss cheese, mozzarella, and Parmesan are all excellent choices. The next best cheeses are Gouda, ricotta, and American. Avoid feta, provolone, goat, brie, blue, cream cheese, and anything flavored with herbs and spices.

In general, treats of any kind should make up about 10% of a dog’s diet. Cuddles, pets, and love can be given freely at any time.

DR. JOAN: What causes my cat to slap her water dish? Before drinking, she splashes the water with her paw. I initially assumed that there were bugs or something else in the water, but the water is clean. The dish is as well.

Is there anything I can do to put a stop to her?

— E.J. from Oakland

DEAR E.J.: Cats have excellent eyesight, allowing them to detect the smallest muscle twitch in their prey and see well in the dark. The cost of all that specialized vision is difficulty with depth perception, particularly when looking at a clear, flat surface.

Cats frequently can’t tell where the water level is, so instead of plunging their faces into a bowl of water, they tap the surface, causing ripples that allow them to see the water.

DR. JOAN: Yes, the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum does grow in bat guano. Histoplasma, on the other hand, is restricted to specific geographical areas. We do not anticipate histoplasmosis to be a risk factor for residents of Ben Lomond or California in general.

Documented cases in California would be people who were exposed in endemic areas but moved to or transited through California when they were diagnosed. You might have misled your reader.

— California Institute of Medical Research President Dr. David Stevens

TO DR. STEVENS: It appears that I did, and it’s good to know that particular health risk isn’t one we need to be concerned about in California, though we should still avoid allowing animal poo to accumulate in or around our homes.

Thank you for clearing the air, and thank you to the institute for all of your hard work and support of medical research.

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