As one of more than 40 health professionals that make up Health24's online expert service, CyberVet has answered his share of over 250 000 questions sent in by our readers to date. Read the most frequently-asked questions, and if they don't cover what you need to know, then send your question in to CyberVet.
Q: Jack Russell scratching
My Jack is 4 months old and since we got him he has scratched constantly. We have changed his diet 3 times, he is now on Vondis wet food, he has had flea injections + every 2 weeks has flea stuff put on him, bathed in special skin shampoo etc. Should we consider taking him for tests at a Veterinary Dermatologist? If so, do you know of one in Cape Town?
Or any other suggestions?
A: It can be very difficult to determine the cause of the scratching. Have any diagnostic test been conducted? If not it would be advisable to do the basics (skin scrape, microscopic evaluation e.t.c.) to determine the cause of the itch. If failing this then you can consult a Veterinary dermatologist. Dr Martin Briggs is a specalist in veterinary dermatology and he can be located in Newlands, Cape Town.
Q: Bulldog hip problem
My bulldog is almost 9 yr, she battles with her hip, the vet said we can give her a voltaren tablet it's fine since she is to old to go for a operation or even x-rays as she can have a heart attack, is it fine if I give her a voltaren when I see her limping, or what else can you suggest doc.
A: Yes, you can use Voltaren when your bulldog limps. 1st get your vet to work out the required dosage and frequency of treatment. Remember that voltaran must be given with food. If there is any vomiting and/or diarrhoea while on treatment then stop all medication and seak advise from your vet.
There are other drugs that you can use such as Rimadyl, Metacam, Petcam and Previcox
Q: Bathing a cat
The subject says it all? Can you wash a cat? Sometimes the fur feels dirty when you stroke it and when she sits on the linen and scratches herself, there's sand on the linen. How often can you wash a cat, is it possible or not?
A: If you want to every 2 weeks. You get special cat shampoos.
Q: Can a female in heat be spayed?
Very stupid question, but how long does a female stay in heat? I also want to have her spayed. Can it be done while she is in heat, or must I rather wait a while?
A: Three weeks, best to have it done between seasons.
Q: Excessive shedding
My dog has medium length fur but sheds a lot of if all year round. She eats a healthy diet of reputable dog food chunks, raw "pets mince" and marrow bones but - against my will - is fed tidbits of "our" food by my daughter. Is there any way to slow down the shedding please as it drives me crazy!
A: Try the best dog food you can buy, and put Efazol over the food daily for life.
Q: Barking dog
Hi, Our Dog, a "Border Collie" which we bought 2 years ago (and for which we received papers that she is Pure Bred), turned out not to be a Pure Bred Dog after all. The problem we have is that she never ever stops barking! We are absolutely fed up and nothing seems to work. I have talked nice, I have begged, for every unnecessary bark she gives, I tie her up for 3 minutes (like a naughty corner), and now I tell her to stop and then throw water on her. Please give some advice, we love her very much, but even the neighbours complain.
A: Why don't you contact a qualified animal behaviourist? They should be able to give good advice. Border collies need a huge amount of exercise as they are working dogs. That might solve part of the problem.
Q: Feline eczema
I have a male cat that is 6 yrs old and he has been neutered. For the past 3 years it seems he has a skin allergy. He scratches himself until he bleeds and loses his fur. This is only around his neck, eyes, ear and on his back. He is on cortizone injections – which, according to the vet, will shorten his life span. I have asked for a scraping / biopsy to be done to diagnose what is really wrong with him, instead of just treating his symptoms. My vet said to me I'm wasting my money. He was back at the vet on Monday - and she said she thinks it's seasonal eczema and should not be so bad during the winter months.
A: Give the cat Hills sensitive skin food, use mirra cote daily and treat the cat for fleas every 2 weeks and your carpets every 2 months. It sounds like a flea-bite allergy, and yes, you do not see fleas on a cat with flea-bite allergy.
Q: Introducing cats to a dog household
I am moving to a new home with my 2 female cats, my fiancee's home has a small maltese and a small foxy. Do you have any advice on how to introduce them to each other safely? The house is large with many rooms and doors, and the yard is well segmented with fences and gates, so keeping them apart won't be a problem, but I prefer to at least try and live harmoniously if possible. Do you have any tips/advice?
A: I would suggest getting a Feliway diffuser for the cats in a area of the house where the dogs can't go. As long as the cats have their own area and can escape they should sort the dogs out in a couple of weeks
Q: Flea plague
My daughters dogs are covered in fleas, when I bath them dried blood actually comes off their bodies. I have been bathing them every Saturday, but seem to be fighting a losing battle. They do lie around in the sand to keep cool. I can't use Top Spot because my daughter has a toddler who touches the dogs - what else can we try?
A: Use Flego for the carpets and outside areas, and frontline for dogs, as well as capstar tablets. Use them all together to get the best results.
Q: Clawing cat
I have a 6-month-old male cat – he shows no affection, just scratches and bites all the time. What is wrong?
A: What are you doing to him? Poor cat. The least you can do is buy him a Feliway diffuser.
10 pet emergencies
Pets: behavioural problems
(Joanne Hart, Health24, May 2010)