Dear Readers: Does your dog or cat drink tap water? This could possibly lead to medical problems for the animal. Tap water can contain high amounts of calcium and magnesium, which can contribute to crystals forming in the urine, urinary tract infections and incontinence, among other issues.
Veterinarians can't say for certain that straight tap water (also called hard water) causes disease, but many recommend giving your pet filtered or bottled water.
It's something to discuss with your veterinarian. -- Heloise
Dear Readers: Susan K. in Rochester, N.H., sent a picture of her two Oriental shorthair cats, Chloe and Dora, who appear to have merged into one. They always sleep together, Susan says, but not quite like this!
To see Chloe, Dora and our other Pet Pals, visit www.Heloise.com and click on "Pet of the Week." -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: Please remind readers that rice can clog drainpipes. Also, a safe way to clear many clogs is the combination of baking soda (2 cups or more) with vinegar (enough to wash all the baking soda through the clog). Keep a gallon of vinegar on hand with the largest box of baking soda. -- Terry in Orange, Calif.
Terry, how right you are! Rice, when it gets wet, of course expands, which can spell trouble for your pipes. As for the baking soda and vinegar, this delightful duo may not clear a tough clog, but it can help drains to run smoother and smell fresh.
Readers, I've compiled a collection of my best vinegar hints, helps and recipes into a handy pamphlet. Would you like to receive one? It's easy. Visit my newly updated website, www.Heloise.com, to order, or send a long, stamped (70 cents), self-addressed envelope, along with $5, to: Heloise/Vinegar, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, TX 78279-5001. Heat your vinegar to heighten its cleaning power! -- Heloise
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Dear Heloise: My friend who is a dog trainer advised me about picking a name for my dog. He said to pick a name that is pleasant and fun, and associated with happy things. Easy, right?
He also recommends a short name with a strong consonant, for training purposes. -- Rebecca W. in Pittsburgh
NO FREEZE, PLEASE
Dear Heloise: Here's a new colder weather suggestion I don't ever remember hearing before: Open the doors below any sink on an outside wall to prevent pipes from freezing. -- Richard E., via email
Richard, yes! It's still chilly in some parts of the country, so this is a good reminder. -- Heloise
Dear Heloise: I have used washing soda in the laundry since my mom used it way back when doing laundry was on Mondays and ironing was on Tuesdays. Love your column. -- Joe C., The Villages, Fla.
Joe, two cleaning powerhouses: Your sweet mother and washing soda (a laundry booster that helps to deodorize and freshen when added to your regular detergent).
I always love speaking to the fine folks of The Villages! -- Heloise