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Fix it up before pets move in

Question: We just moved into a fixer upper, and we plan to do that gradually as we can afford it. We've already put in a new furnace and done a lot of weatherstripping. It was a cold, drafty house and we were most worried about Benny, our dog, and Birdy, our small parrot. We allow them free run of the house and they have been spending a lot of time on that cold floor.

They're both fine, but I'm writing to ask you about the old linoleum on the kitchen floor. Somehow, they both seem to be attracted to it. Is there something about linoleum that just naturally attracts animals?

At least it gives them something to do. Our empty house can't be too exciting for them. _ A.W.

Answer: Better boredom than lead poisoning. Unfortunately, linoleum is one of many household sources for lead. Preventing your pet pals from playing with, and particularly consuming, linoleum could prove a life-saving effort.

In the process of getting your old house a new lease on life, you'll have to be particularly careful not to endanger your pawed or plumaged partners. Fixing up a fixer upper presents many possible hazards, including poisoning, and physical accidents that can cause serious injury or death.

Both your pets should have sanctuaries where they can be safely confined for given periods of time to avoid a possible petastrophe.

Frog's fungus

Question: A pet frog couldn't get ringworm, could it? _ T.E.

Answer: Pet frogs could carry a fungus on the skin which may or may not actually bother the frog. They do not carry the fungus that causes ringworm in humans.

Let him eat kibble

Question: When I brought home Ratsie, they sold us some special rat chow that they said was best to feed. But after I used that up, I discovered he loved the small kibble our dog eats, and we've been feeding him mostly that since.

Is the dog food all right? Ratsie's a swell pet, and I'll feed him the rat chow if I have to. _ E.M.

Answer: You don't have to. Ratsie should do quite well, nutritionally speaking, on a good quality dog kibble.

Dr. Frank Miller is a nationally syndicated columnist on pet care.