Why do cows and camels and some other animals chew differently?
It seems as though they are sliding their teeth as they eat. I
watch our cat and dog eat and they chew faster, but
Q: Why do cows and camels and some other animals chew differently? It seems as though they are sliding their teeth as they eat. I watch our cat and dog eat and they chew faster, but differently.


The answer to your question has a lot to do with what these animals eat. There are significant differences between herbivores and carnivores, not just in the way they eat, but also in the shape of their teeth.

Carnivores have sharper teeth that allow them to tear and chew through meat and skin. Herbivores (like cows, goats and sheep) have teeth with a flatter surface so they can grind their food, breaking hay and grasses into smaller pieces before swallowing. The side-to-side sliding or grinding you noticed is how they break down fibrous food, and it’s an important part of their digestion.

You’ve made a really good observation. Now here’s something else to watch. Most ruminant herbivores get a very relaxed and satisfied facial expression when chewing their cud. It looks as though they really enjoy chewing their food. See what you think as you observe one of them next time you’re near one of these animals.


We have an 8-month-old Siamese kitten that we bought a few months ago. She is so cute, but she also looks as though she is starting to go into heat. She’s yowling all over the house and seems forever agitated. How long will this last? How often do cats come into heat?


I’m afraid you might be in for a little surprise. Female cats are induced ovulators, meaning that they don’t always go out of estrus (or heat) unless they are bred. If your little girl is actually starting her first estrus, she may turn into a real challenging housepet. Estrus behavior in felines is often loud and unruly, and intact females can make lousy pets because of their hormone-induced loud behavior. Worst of all, this can go on and on for a long time.

At 8 months of age, she’s too young to breed. I’d suggest she be examined by your vet to make sure she’s healthy.

Raising kittens and puppies is a lot of hard work. And many breeding animals don’t make the type of loving pet that people want around their home. The bottom line? You might consider spaying her if you really want her as a couch companion. Otherwise her yowling will dominate her personality and only get more annoying.


Our pug, Electra, has a thin patch of hair over his side that the vet tells us is a seasonal problem. The rest of his coat looks great and he’s healthy otherwise. He had this last year, but this time, he’s had this bald patch for over 7 months. The vet tells us that some dogs never grow their fur back in these spots. I can’t remember what he called this condition. It had something to do with the start of Spring. Is there any treatment for this condition?


Electra’s problem sounds like seasonal flank alopecia. But this is one of those problems whose name is deceptive. Alopecia is a descriptive term meaning hair loss. The hair loss can be almost anywhere along the sides of the flanks, abdomen or chest. The skin may look a little dark, even pigmented.

The good news is that dogs with this condition usually aren’t itchy. And in most cases, the hair eventually grows back. Problem is, many of these patients don’t have a seasonal recurrence of their problem.

While it may come and go each year, some dogs maintain this thin spot for much longer. It just won’t go away.

In addition, there are other conditions that can look similar. Hypothyroid disease is one of these. Electra’s vet probably ran a few blood tests to rule out this and anything else.

So what can you do? You might ask his vet about melatonin treatment. There’s some question amongst veterinary dermatologists as to whether or not this is effective. But it’s relatively safe and it just might speed up your dog’s return to that shiny coat he once had. Otherwise, you’ll just have to wait and see when he can grow back is lost.

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