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14 April 2011

Poorly pets? Cybervet helps

Hairballs, itchy skin, allergies and ticks: here are some new questions answered by Cybervet.

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Your pets may not be able to tell you exactly what's wrong, but you know when they're not feeling well.  Repetitive scratching or licking, losing their appetites or not allowing you to touch a certain area - these are all signs that something is amiss.  Cybervet answers more of your pet-health questions.

Q:  Excessive hairballs

I have a 7-year old female cat (average domestic shorthair) in excellent physical condition. Recently she has been spitting up hairballs on a daily basis, this has been going on for the past 2 weeks. I've changed her food, but it didn't help. I then started giving her a lubricant that I bought from my pet-store, but this only seemed to help for a day or so. 

The reason I'm worried is that this seems to be a daily occurrence, while in the past it happened perhaps once a month. I also feel completely helpless, because (a) she absolutely won't let me brush her at all, and (b) I have no idea if she is constipated (she's a bit of a private kitty and usually does her business where I can't see it).

Is this normal? should I be taking her to a vet? In the past 7 years this has never happened, so I'm really worried now. Otherwise she seems to be doing well, she doesn't seem to be ill or acting outside of her normal character.  What can I do to help her?

A: Yes, obstruction of the GI tract can indeed happen due to excessive hairballs. Regular grooming would have certainly helped with this, but we do have certain diets available on the market specifically to reduce hairballs and, of course, laxatives that I think you might have tried.

I would suggest that you visit your vet for a clinical examination to confirm or exclude constipation and give you advice on certain diets and laxatives. Furthermore I think it’s also a good idea for the vet to rule out any skin condition that might lead to excessive grooming which might or might not aggravate this problem. If the skin is in good health and constipation not severe you should be able to control this with a special diet and laxatives.

Q:  Lumps

My 1-year-old Labrador suddenly (overnight) developed lumps on both "shoulders". The shoulders are still mobile and don't seem to be painful.  The dog also moves around well. Please help?

A:  These lumps can be numerous things from an allergic reaction to a growth, and should best be assessed by a vet, especially if the condition doesn't resolve itself within the next day or 2, or the lumps start getting bigger!

Q:  Daschund recovery after disk op

My daschund has a back problem which could lead to paralysis - my vet has prescribed meds and cage rest and hopefully this will help, but is there anything else I can do? We try to keep him still and enclosed to ensure recovery after his back operation.

A:  Except for the strict rest and anti-inflammatory medication, your dachshund will also benefit from physiotherapy or acupuncture, same as a human with a back problem. It is very important to also try to prevent any jumping on to furniture (rather pick him up) and climbing up and down stairs. If his back problem does not resolve or worsen, the next step would be an MRI scan to determine where the problem is and additional surgery if indicated.

Q:  Itchy Labrador

1) My labrador seems to be scratching all the time! We use ectodex dip for skin problems and fleas, I changed his diet as well.  We brush him regularly and give him some meds for allergic reactions.  Any other ideas on what we could do to relieve the scratching?
2) Ostrich dog food - is this any good? Will it help my Labrador as I have read that it might help for pets with sensitive skin?

A:  It sounds like your dog has a skin allergy, a very common problem that some breeds, including Labradors are prone to. There are numerous things that can cause skin allergies. The most important to exclude is fleas, thus make sure all you pets are treated monthly for fleas with a good flea product. I would recommend a spot on product as it is just easier and safer than a dip. Second on the list is a food allergy. These can unfortunately be tricky to diagnose and treat but I would start by stop giving any ‘table food’ especially food with lots of preservatives and containing dairy products. He might also be allergic to a certain protein eg chicken/fish. There are special food ranges for this kind of food allergy, but first discuss this with your vet.

Unfortunately he might be allergic to numerous things in the environment as well, that one cannot eliminate but only try to manage: bathing with a good quality shampoo for sensitive skins, adding omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to his meals and medication for skin allergies. 

Ostrich dog food can be beneficial to a dog with a specific protein allergy eg chicken/fish but unfortunately dogs can also be allergic to ostrich proteins and it also depends on the quality of the food, so again, discuss this with your vet before changing his food.

Q:  Mommy cat with sore swollen teats

My cat recently had a litter (gave birth 7 weeks ago) and the last kitten was suckling until two weeks ago. But now her there are big lumps all around her teats.  I think they hurt as she won't allow me to touch it. They're not red and they don't feel hot, but she keeps licking them. Is there anything I can do or give her that will take the swelling away?

A:  It is quite normal for female animals to have persistent enlarged mammary areas after lactation. These swellings should however subside within 2-4 weeks after the offspring have stopped suckling from the mother. This is a normal process and will normally happen without any medical intervention.

It might help to use cold packs (ice wrapped in a small towel) on the mammary areas. However should mastitis (infection) develop, then you are correct to look for redness, warmth, pain and possibly a discharge in those areas. Further clinical signs would be a fever and loss of appetite. So should these signs develop, I would strongly advise you to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

Q:  Deworming tablets

Tips on how to get deworming tablets down the dogs, it's that time again and it's always a war.  Any tips will be appreciated, thanks

A:  Many of the "better" dewormers come in treat forms eg Biltong flavoured. If you are battling with these too, you can crush the tablets and mix them with low fat yoghurt or even warmed up dog food. If you continue to battle many Vets run "free" nurse clinics and they can help you.

Q:  Kittens jumping on kitchen counters

How can I teach our cats not to jump on the kitchen work tops. Nothing helps and they keep doing it again, even just after a repremand. They are still young, 5 months and already know thats where we prepare and leave food, also licking the dirty dishes. This drives me crazy.

A:  Unfortunately this is a problem we all have !! Cats are by nature curious and have an amazing sense of smell. Often a water spray/pistol can help - tap water mixed with a small amount of Citronella .

Every time you find the naughty kitten on the work surfaces spray him/her. Also try increasing the amount of toys that they have so it can reduce boredom.

Q:  Ticks

Yesterday I found a tick on my dog (thank goodness it was not a red one).  It hadn't sucked a lot of blood yet and I removed it with the head intact. I have now brushed a mixture of Frontline and water (as per my vet's recommendation) over her and I will repeat this for the next few days.  Is this sufficient, or should I do anything else?  The male dog is tick free.  My dogs sleep indoors and I keep the garden very neat so that ticks etc. cannot breed in the long grass.  Any advice?

A:  My best advice is to apply a good tick remedy STRICTLY ACCORDING TO THE MANUFACTURER'S INSTRUCTIONS on a regular basis, according to the manufacturer's intervals. The best and safest products are still available from your veterinarian.

More info:

Visit the Pet Centre

Send your questions to Cybervet

(Joanne Hart, Health24, April 2011) 

 
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