Ask the Savannah Vet

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Most of us have questions from time to time about the health and care of our pets. But we often hesitate to call our veterinarian with what seem to be minor questions, and may be reluctant to pay for an expensive office visit unless it seems serious. SavannahBest launches our new AskTheVet column, where top Savannah veterinarians, Dr. Rachel Peeples and Dr. Allison Witherow, will answer questions about your pets’ health, care and behavioral quirks. Just email your questions to and you’ll have your answer soon!

Please allow 48 to 72 hours for your question to be answered. If you have a question that requires an immediate answer, please contact your local vet or emergency service.







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The responses given are based on general knowledge of veterinary medicine. Each animal is individual and this should in no way replace an actual examination by a veterinarian.

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Dachshund Licking







Q: I took my dog for a walk 3 days ago, she got soaked on her underside. Ever since, she has been licking at her front paws and scratching at her belly and underarms. Has not wanted to do anything else. What can I do to comfort her and get her back to normal?

I took dog for walk and she got soaked underneath. She has been licking her toes and scratching her underarm ever since. Been 3 days?

A: I'm sorry your dog is uncomfortable. From what you are describing it seems like your dog may be having an allergic reaction. It would be best to get your dog into a veterinarian for an exam and treatment. In the meantime, if this is just a skin issue, bathing your dog could offer temporary relief. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog with Anxiety

Q: Hi, my name is Cathy. My little eight year old, Lucy, is a Shiastu/Haveneese mix. She is the most loving little doggy and loves people, except for the UPS man. She has anxiety. She is constantly growling and barking at things that are not there (I even let her out to see there nothing there). He has been licking me and my leather very much and started urinating on my rug when I am there and when I am gone for a little while. She usually will let me know if she has to go outside. We tried the crate, but it seemed to cause her more anxiety than just letting her stay out. She has only stayed at the kennel one time and she was so upset when we picked her up that she sounded like she was having an asthma attack and shakes whenever I take to the vet to be groomed. I am very attached to her and I worry about her being so upset. Do you have any recommendations on what I can do to help her? She is also very afraid of loud nosies, like thunderstorms, gun shots, and fireworks. We did try the anxiety coat, but it did not seem to help her. Thank you very much for any input.

A: Hello Cathy, I'm sorry Lucy has such anxiety. I know this may make her nervous but this warrants a trip to the veterinarian to make sure there are no medical issues (vision problems, urinary abnormalities, pain, neurological issues). If she is fine medically I'm sure that your veterinarian may discuss anxiety medication with you. Keep in mind that it is a good idea to check bloodwork before starting any potentially long term medication. Also keep in mind that often medication works best with training to teach you how to handle her anxious times. Do a search for a certified pet dog trainer (CPDT). Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog walks hunched over

Q: Help! My dog walks hunched over, walks slow, wont eat his normal food, and drinks a lot more water than normal, but whenever I put down rice and chicken he gobbles it up and his symptoms go away almost immediately. Today his dog brother came over and he was full of life and energy and was fine after he left. My family and I left and when we came back he was showing the above symptoms again. He is a 6 year old, teacup poodle. For as long as we had him he always would shake before we would leave the house, so that is normal. I've pressed on all areas on him and he doesn't yelp or show signs that something is hurting him.

Worried, Jordan A: This does sound like a puzzling case. When I hear about a dog that walks "hunched over" and "slow" I also wonder whether something could be painful. There could be a painful neck, back, abdomen, or really anything else. Sometimes when dogs are in pain their appetite does change. Sometimes they are much more able and willing to eat "people food" like rice and chicken than their dog food when they aren't feeling well.

Animals are very good at hiding pain and when they get excited sometimes a rush of adrenaline can mask pain. Maybe if he is hurting but he got really excited when his friend came to play, the excitement masked his discomfort.

You also mentioned that he is drinking a lot more water. This can be a sign of many different potential issues or in some dogs, it's not indicative of anything at all.

My point is that there are numerous things going on with your dog that just aren't normal for him. I think it is worth a trip to your veterinarian to make sure that he/she cannot find an obvious source of the problem. Thanks for your question. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Female Dog is Sick

Q: Hi , I am curious as to why my 8yr. Old female pit bull has been drinking large amounts of water , much more than ever before and all the time , and seems to have a healthy apatite still, and lately she also has been showing signs of real weakness in her rear legs , hips . She doesn't seem to get excited to go on her usual walks in the evening , due to lack of energy . And she collapsed in the hallway a couple weeks ago , for no apparent reason , she has been to the vets and has had ex rays extensive blood work done and has been referred to a specialist for more testing and they told us that they don't know what could be wrong with her but that she was borderline enemic and her white blood cells were low and put her on antibiotics . But I feel like she has all the symptoms of cushings disease . What are your thought and do you think I should get a different vet ?

A: Thanks for writing in and I'm sorry that your dog is not feeling herself. It sounds like your veterinarian(s) have done an extensive workup. There are many, many causes of excessive water drinking in dogs and it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause. I start out with standard labwork that includes complete blood count/chemistry panel/thyroid/urinalysis. If I do not get any answers from this standard labwork then I typically will send out a urine culture/sensitivity to make sure that there is no urinary tract infection (even if the urinalysis looks normal sometimes there can still be an infection and the urine culture is recommended to rule this out).

I do think that xrays are a good idea because there are types of cancers that can cause this excessive water drinking. Remember that sometimes an ultrasound allows us to see more detail than an xray. There are also some abnormalities associated with the heart that can result in excessive water drinking. Often when I refer my patients to a specialist an ultrasound is performed.

Make sure that her blood pressure has been checked as blood pressure abnormalties can be a cause of excessive water drinking.

As far as Cushing's disease, there are a couple of tests that can be used to test for this disease (ACTH stimulation test and dexamethasone suppression testing). I think that it is worth performing one of these tests to see if there is evidence of Cushing's disease if this has not been done already. If an ACTH stimulation test is performed and is negative for Cushings sometimes the dexamethasone suppression test is performed as a way to just make sure that there is no Cushing's disease. Addison's disease can be ruled in or ruled out by the same tests.

I realize that most of these tests may have already been performed but I just wanted to give you some ideas of how I usually proceed. I am assuming that your dog is spayed? Sometimes when we have run every test that we can think of and get no answers we do a trial treatment for a disease called diabetes insipidus. If this has not been mentioned to you I'm sure you can discuss it with your veterinarian.

Finally, some dogs drink too much water because of a behavioral issue (psychogenic water drinking). Obviously you cannot assume that this is a behavior issue until you rule out all of the medical problems. Please keep us posted and good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rottweilder can't eat or sit

Q: My 10 year old spayed Rottweiler mix has terrible teeth--and badly need to be cleaned and quite a few pulled. However, my Vet says he doesn't think he should do it because she likely wouldn't make it through the anasthesia. A fwe years ago she was in a bad auto accident which requered a lot of surgery and he says her whole system was weakened by that. Lately, however, she simply cannot eat. At first, she couldn't eat dry food, then she couldn't eat any dog food at all, so I started giving her Cream of Whieat, and she loved that. Then she couldn't eat even that. Then not even ice cream! She's lost at least 20 pounds, she seems to be in a lot of pain all the time, and can't sit or lie down. I just don't know what to do! Hope you can help!

A: I would start out having bloodwork performed if it hasn't already been done. This will make sure that there is not an additional problem causing her to stop eating and to be painful. For example, it will check to see if there are kidney issues, diabetes, or other diseases.

If it is determined that this really is just a dental problem you can take the risk with the anesthesia knowing it could be the only hope of making your dog more comfortable. You could also speak with your veterinarian to learn if he or she could recommend pain medications to help with your dog's quality of life.

If your dog is suffering every single day and a dental procedure is not the answer sometimes we have to make the difficult decision to end suffering by putting a dog to sleep.

I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat has Dry Skin

Q: I have a big grey tabby cat, neutered, about 6 years old. He had his annual check up a couple of months ago and is in perfect health. Over the last few weeks, his skin on his back, especially just towards his tail, has become very dry and flaky. It doesn't seem to both him at all, he isn't scratching or biting or anything. But when I brush him, lots of white flaky stuff comes off. His fur is very short, very thick, and looks great. Any ideas on this? Thanks, Marita

A: Thanks for your question. I tend to see a lot of adult cats, especially larger cats, that get a condition that looks like dandruff. Certainly a change in a cat's haircoat can be indicative of a systemic disease (diabetes, kidney issues, etc) but often it is just dry flaky skin. Brushing very often should help. Sometimes veterinarians will recommend certain diets or even dietary supplements. Call your veterinarian and see what he/she recommends for your cat. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua Dachshund Mix

Q: I have had my dog for almost a year, he is a chawawa and docsond mixed... for almost 3 or 4 days he has been gagging, and occasionally throwing up... he has diarrhea bu he has only had that for 1 1/2 days, also he has only diarrhea twice and the rest of the time his bathroom habits have been normal... i looked at his gums this morning and they seem kinda pail... im worried that my boy might be sick and i want to kno if the has something that can possibly kill him... He acts fight with the cat, runs away from the ducks when they chase him, barks at compleatly nothing... every thing he has been doing for about a year now... Please tell me whats wrong with him.

A: Thanks for writing. You should take your dog to your veterinarian for an exam. I would take a fecal sample with you so that the doctor can check for intestinal parasites. As far as the respiratory issue goes, I'm not sure what is causing it but I worry about infection. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Jekyll & Hyde Cat

Q: My cat is a neutered male, beautiful, longest hair solid black. Most of the time he is sweet and loving, sleeps snuggled up to my chest at night, sits on my lap often, purring. But he can be purring and nuzzling me, sweet as can be, and suddenly, bite me, hard! drawing blood, and at the time also often uses his back feet to claw me before running off. What on earth good cause this abrupt change from sweet to savage?

A:Thanks for writing in. Cats can be so unpredictable sometimes. There is a condition called "Feline petting induced aggression." With this condition a cat will appear to accept being petted and then all of the sudden bite the person petting him/her. This is how a cat tells you that he or she does not want to be petted any longer.

There are medical issues that can contribute to this behavior ( feline hyperesthia syndrome) but this very well could be a behavioral issue too. I think that you should let your veterinarian examine your cat to make sure that there are no skin or musculoskeletal problems that could be causing pain.

If all medical issues are ruled out there are behavioral modification techniques described to help with this problem. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Blue Nose Pit Bull

Q: Maia is our 1 yr old Blue Nose Pitbull who just hasn't been right lately. We took her in to our Vet. and here is what has been going on for a little over 2 weeks. She has had a fever as high as 105, avg 103 she has been stiff in her hips and neck at times laying in her spot not moving for hours, vet. has taking blood work several time and tells us she as high white blood cell count she is on her 3rd antibiotic (baytril finished, amoxicillin 2 days left stopped and put on sulfamethoxazole also went through rimadyl pills and 3 shots) she has had an ultrasound and all her organs looked good and blood work showed normal organ function as well. a blood smear was also normal. She has now lost a few pounds. She vomited once and has had some lose stool, she is not jumping up on our bed and struggling to get on the couch, yet she jumps into the pool and swims. She is eating a small can of wet food in the AM and 1 in PM with meds and usually only has 1 big can in PM with dry food in AM. She acts scared towards me at times when I call her as if she has done something wrong and I raised my voice. She has had surgery in march for pyro...

A: I'm so sorry you are going through this. It sounds like your veterinarian has done a very thorough work up. Depending on the history of your dog you may want to ask your veterinarian if a Brucellosis test is appropriate.

With a fever and muscle soreness I also wonder if there could be some sort of tick borne disease such as Lyme disease. There are specific blood panels that can help test to see if your dog has been exposed to a tick borne disease.

There are so many reasons dogs can have fevers and therefore many tests may need to be performed. Some other ideas that come to mind include: urinary tract infection (urine culture/sensitivity could help diagnose this), leptospirosis (a blood panel can be done), infection involving a bone (X-rays may help).

Sometimes an actual blood culture is necessary to diagnose if there is an infection in the bloodstream. Please keep in mind that even though your dog has been on antibiotics, there may be an infection that needs another type of antibiotic OR there may not be an infection at all.

Some of the cultures mentioned above may be most accurate if the samples are obtained after your dog has been off of antibiotics for a specific period of time.

It is also possible that there could be some sort of neurological or endocrine abnormality causing inflammation/fever. If your dog is not responding to treatment please consider referral to a board certified internal medicine specialist who may have significant experience with unusual cases like this.

I wish you the best of luck. Please let us know how your dog does.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua with Breathing Problems

Q: My 8 year old chi has been having episodes of not breathing through her nose. I do believe she has a collapsed trachea, although these episodes are not like any symptoms for that. She starts acting like she has something stuck in her mouth ( she does this when food is caught between her teeth and lip). In this case she does not stop and puts her paws to her snout on both sides and looks like she is trying to remove something from her mouth or nose. She does this so hard she looks as if she is having an attack. You can tell she can't get air, mostly through her nose. Then she will stop and breathe through her mouth, you can see she has a blue tint to her tongue. She will do for a while and then she has episodes of sneezing and then it gets better. It definitely seems like her nose is blocked. I have tried an infant nose sucker but she won't stay still enouph, and saline infant spray,if we can get it in it helps a little. I put her in bathroom and held her to calm down while I ran hot water for steam, this seams to have helped her.I haven't seen any other posts about this problem anywhere. It seems as if she has something in her nose. She has always had alot of fluid from her nose, it always has dripped and she sneezes alot of fluid out, but this is to thick or different, she can't sneeze it out. She tries but no air comes out when she sneezes. I'm really worried, I'm taking her to vet this week but want outside advice. About 10 days ago we took her to vet cuz her neck was having some sort of spasm, you could see her neck draw up on one side and it caused her pain and would last about 4 min. They said it was a strained muscle. I just don't think so, now these episodes happening right after . I know something is going on with her. Not a sprained neck muscle !!!!!!!!

A: This is certainly an unusual case. If she is rubbing at her muzzle/nose I'm wondering if there is a source of discomfort. You mentioned that she has a history of nasal issues. Sometimes if a dog has dental disease an infected tooth root can affect the nasal sinuses. In a situation like this I might consider sedation for a complete oral exam. If nothing obvious is seen, a nasal flush could be performed.

Some veterinarians even have tiny cameras that can go up into the nose to make sure that there are no masses or foreign bodies. More advanced imaging like MRI or CT scans could be useful for this too. Just to be complete, I think that a very good exam of the ears should be performed just to check for evidence of inner ear infection. Best of luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Drags Bottom, Has Small Scabs Under Fur

Q: I have two female sibling cats who will be 3 years old on 8/1/13, They are strictly indoor cats! For the past year, at least, Harlow has been throwing up somewhat frequently, but not consistently. Which has made it very difficult to tell if she has a food allergy. But, then a couple months ago, she started dragging her bottom on the floor like a dog does. I've never seen or had a cat that did this, and I've checked her litter box for worms... nothing.

Now the last couple weeks when I pet her I can feel what feels like scabs under her hair. I was concerned she may have fleas and these "scabs" were from scratching. However, when I part her fur to see these, there is no dried blood... there is actually nothing to even see, just a hard dry spot that feels like a scab. I checked both cats for fleas and have found nothing. And whatever is going on with Harlow does not seem to be happening with GiGi at all.

Harlow is otherwise healthy, active and playful, so I am hesitant to take her to a vet for a work-up when I know the cost is always so steep. If you have any idea what might be causing these problems, I would be so grateful to hear them. We love our kitty's and I don't want her to be miserable. Thank you so much!! Sincerely, Rachel

A: Thanks for writing in. As far as her dragging her rear end, this could be an anal gland issue, possibly parasites, or a sign of allergies. I would get a fecal sample from the litterbox and ask your veterinarian to check for parasites. Your veterinarian also needs to perform an exam to evaluate the anal glands.

As far as the crusts/scabs that you are feeling on the skin, this is almost always a sign of allergy and possible secondary infection. Remember that fleas are very difficult to find on cats as they are such great groomers and pick the fleas off. If we absolutely rule out fleas this could be a food allergy or an environmental allergy.

Either way I think a trip to the veterinary clinic is warranted. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can Tree Tea Oil Cause Itchy Ears?

Q: My 6 year old Maltese went for a grooming at a different grooming salon just a week or so ago. Since then he has these itchy, red, scabbed bumps in his ears (on the flap but inside).

My first reaction was to rush him to the vet, but I decided to see what kind of info I could get from my groomer first. She told me that they use a natural Tea Tree Oil ear cleaner. So I assumed that couldn't be the problem, but my gut told me that must be the problem since it's the only thing he's had in his ears!

So I did some research and discovered that Tea Tree Oil is toxic to small animals. First off, I'd love to know if this is true. I read it from several different forums, but didn't see anything from a professional's view.

Could it be possible my pup is having a reaction to the oil? Are red, scabbed bumps a symptom of an allergic reaction, or toxicity? Thank you so much for your time! - Tara A: I have not known tea tree oil to be toxic but dogs can be sensitive and have reactions to anything. Furthermore, sometimes we can see abnormalities on the inner ear flap when dogs have infections. I definitely would let your veterinarian xamine your dog. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Human Antibiotics Should Be Used Only Under the Direction of a Veterinarian

Q: My 9.5 y/o Cattle dog has had a runny nose, and backward sneezing but no discharge in her eyes. It came on suddenly. She still eats and is active in playing but not as much as before. I know she has a couple bad teeth but am leary of having her put under to remove them just yet. She has been taking Metronidazole 500mg on and off for her gums. Can I give her human Amoxicillin in case of infection or will her Metronidazole help? Just took her temp and it was 101.3 Thank you, Tami

A: Thanks for writing. I could not recommend administering a specific antibiotic without having actually seen your dog. Please call your veterinarian to find out the best course of action! Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Surgical Incision Continues to Seep and Bleed

Q: Hi my Baby/Shih-tzu had a little lump removed by her breast. She is 9 and is spayed . She was diagnosed with Kidney disease Nov. 2010. I asked over and over if I have the lump removed, will the anesthesia harm her kidneys worse? I had a hard time trying find peace which route would be the best for Abby and the quality of her life, cause she is my life! I brought her home from surgery and had seizures the whole night. It was one of the worse nights of my life. My concern of top of everything else is her incision. It has seeped and bled. This has been nothing like when she was spayed. The vet said to put new skin on it right over the swollen puss.

I won't lie that scared me. I thought do I want puss trapped in there? I tried cleaning it and let the air out. The problem is the scab is so big you couldn't see the stitches. I been praying please let that scab come off naturally. Part of it did last night and left a drainage spot on the sheets. It looks moist and wet and some seepage. I am at a loss. I am scared to call the Vet on a Sunday. I called twice with the seizures which he said can happen. Then called on the stiches 3 or 4 days after surgery. I so regret my decision to have this surgery on her. Also is it normal to send a dog home after surgery with no pain meds? Her incision was 4 inches long. The whole experience has been upsetting. I just want the best for Abby. Should I do anything with this incision or let it just air out? Help. Thanks for any help.

A: I'm so sorry that this is causing so much worry for you. I can tell that you love your dog. Sometimes it is really difficult to know for sure if surgery is the right thing to do. I think that with any abnormal growth it is usually best to remove it surgically and I believe that you did the right thing.

As far as the incision looking abnormal, I couldn't tell without seeing her if it was infected. I have seen incisions that are perfectly fine bleed and ooze a little but I have also seen incisions that become infected and need antibiotics. Again, she would need to be examined to know if this was necessary.

As far as pain medication goes, I typically do send my surgeries home with pain medication. With a history of kidney disease I would be very picky as to which pain medication I chose for her.

I recommend addressing these concerns with her veterinarian. If you are not comfortable doing so you could always consider changing to another veterinarian who you feel more at ease with. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Has Problem Walking

Q: My six year old Chihauhau Wagner has always been healthy. He was lying on my chair with me for a couple of hours and then his front paws went straight out. I put him down and he didn't walk for about 30 seconds. I think his legs were asleep. Do you think I should take him to the vet? Thank you, Kristin

A: Obviously without seeing this myself I cannot say for certain what happened. If he seems completely normal otherwise you could just monitor him. If any more episodes occur he should be seen.

I do worry about low blood sugar in smaller dogs. This can manifest as episodes of weakness. You may want to call your veterinarian to discuss what you should keep on hand in case hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) is suspected in the future. There are commercially made gels that you can get at any pet store that are high in sugars. In a bind, you can rub syrup on the gums.

Again, this likely is not significant, but since we aren't sure what happened we just want to be prepared. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Separation Anxiety Stresses Dog and Owners

Q: I have a 10 month old Maltipoo who gets very stressed when someone is not around and becomes destructive. We have tried leaving her blocked off in the kitchen and also in a crate. In the kitchen, she will find anything that she can get a hold of and tear it up. Even going so far as to jumping up to the desk in the kitchen and pulling any papers off of it and chewing them up. She will chew up the carpet at the edge of the room or by the door if she can get to it. Meanwhile, all of this is going on when she has many toys and bones available to chew on or play with.

If she is kept in the crate she will pull anything through the rails that she can reach either through the top or the sides to chew up. She has now finished chewing up the bottom plastic piece that is in the crate. My daughter said that with her old crate when she was younger before she moved back home, she would actually chew the metal crate trying to get out. Of course, all of this is being done while crying, barking or whining.

My husband is getting fed up and I do not want to have to give her up. We have tried the thunder coat but she is able to get that off, my husband calls her Houdini……

A: I'm so sorry that your family is going through this. Separation anxiety is very common in dogs. Severe cases often necessitate both medication and training.

I would recommend doing research and talking to your veterinarian about dog appeasing pheromone. This is a substance that only your dog can smell that will help produce a calming sensation. It is typically either purchased as a diffuser that you plug into the wall or as a collar. This alone will not solve the problem, but it could help.

Many dogs are also on medications such as fluoxetine or clomipramine because of separation anxiety. You definitely need to discuss this with your veterinarian.

Finally, and most importantly, your family needs to find a good trainer that will help you address this problem. We need to get your dog to associate you leaving with positive experiences. If you cannot find access to professional dog trainers in your area consider looking online at Animal Behavior Network.

This is not an easy problem to address but if you really try to treat this while your dog is young there is a chance that the situation can improve. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rat Terrier Has Breathing Problems

Q: We put our rat terrier on baby food last night The coughing started a couple of months ago. Took him to vet and he had a bad tooth. Make a long story short they said they were pulling 2 and ended up pulling 10 total. We literally freaked out because they never called to advise us of the other 8 teeth. All on top also. The bill was 134.00. The vet was the Kelleys animal hospital in Memphis where we have taken animals for 30 years. So we thought that might have been the reason for coughing. And then after that everything escalated. So now it all comes down to there might be something in his lung. Only one lung is working properly. We're very saddened. Please help us!!!!!

A: I'm so sorry that this dog is so ill. Respiratory diseases can be difficult to diagnose and to treat. Reasons for fluid in the chest cavity can include heart disease, infection, lung disease, cancer, and I have seen diaphragmatic hernias that make chest films look abnormal.

Sometimes the fluid is in the lungs and sometimes it is on the outside surrounding the lungs. To be honest, being a general practitioner, I would be seriously considering referring this case to a veterinary internal medicine specialist. Specialists often have equipment and experience not always available to a general practitioner. They also often have the ability to provide round the clock care that is needed by many of our critical patients.

Depending on exactly where this fluid is located tests such as ultrasound, transtracheal wash, bronchoscopy, culture/sensitivity for infection, heartworm testing, and bloodwork should be considered. I'm sure that some of these tests have already been performed. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shepherd Pup Paws At Nose

Q: My German Shepherd began pawing at her nose and rubbing it about 3 weeks ago. She is 16 months old. Should she be seen by a vet?

A: I definitely think that this is a sign of your dog being uncomfortable. I do think you should get into the veterinary clinic to figure out what can be done to help this puppy feel normal. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese Pup Misssing Patches of Hair

Q: I have a 10 month old male maltese and in the past month I started to notice that he is missing large patches of hair. he does not appear to be scratching, sore, or red. it just looks like he has a totally uneven bad haircut. upon closer examination, I became aware that his hair is lost, gone, or licked away. I can not tell for sure but big patches at different parts of the trunk and back quarters of the legs. what would cause this condition at 9 mos old? is it true that it is normal puppy hair loss? I had a maltese prior to this one and never remembered this occurring. thank you so much for your help. -- janet

A: This is an interesting question. If a dog this age came to see me for an exam I'd start with a test to check for overgrowth of skin mites (common in young dogs). I would definitely have your veterinarian examine your little dog. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Scabs on Puppy Need Attention

I have a 15 week old male Bulldog puppy and I just noticed that all of his nipples have scabs on them and has been bleeding what should I do about this and what could be causing this to happen thank you Mary

This definitely needs to be addressed by your veterinarian. Hopefully this puppy has been going for his series of puppy vaccines/exams. This could be anything from allergies, skin infection, or even skin mites. Skin issues are quite common in young dogs and your veterinarian should be able to help. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Dog Licks Other Objects

My dog is a 3YR old part Shitzu & part Terrier 17lbs. Sweetest Dog Ever! He has for several weeks now, been licking pillows, blankets & his front paws. We live very far away from a Veterinarian.

Can you tell me what is wrong with him? He needs a haircut, but our only Dog Trimmer got an injured back & is expected to be back at work another week from now.

This is a complicated situation. When dogs lick themselves it usually indicates iscomfort (pain or itchiness) or some sort of behavioral/anxiety disorder such s obsessive compulsive disorder.

When dogs compulsively lick other things (people, inanimate objects, other nimals) it is most likely behavioral. There are medications and perhaps training tactics to try to dissuade this behavior. It certainly is worth a trip to your veterinarian to make sure that there are no physical abnormalities with your dog. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Min Pin Turning Behavior Troubling Q: my min pin is hunched and turning one way in circles. If we try to coax him to go the other way its as if he can't follow our fingers. He cannot turn to the right. Any thoughts?

A: I think you need to get to your veterinarian as soon as possible. There are many possible causes for this behavior and in order to make him feel better he needs an exam. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Should Pregnant Pup Get Vaccinated?

Q: Hello, I have a question regarding my female dog Peaches she 4 1/2 yrs old about 7lbs. She got pregnant 14 days ago by the neighbors dog., they ended up give me him cause they did want him. ( his like 7 months & i just took him for his 1st series of shoots).

I'm concerned cause I did not get her booster shoot, now she's pregnant. I talk to the vet that she goes to now & they says to give her the shoots., Its ok before 1 month. But I also called her old vet & they said wait until after she has the puppies.I've been reading in the Internet about this issue @ not sure what to do? They talk about Provo, worms etc. Please advise Thank You in advance - Monique

A: This is an interesting question. Obviously when the puppies nurse they get antibodies from their mother to help protect them against certain diseases until they start receiving vaccines. If the mother is not vaccinated then she cannot transfer immunity to the puppies.

Having said that, I found a reference from the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) stating "Vaccination with MLV (attenuated) and/or killed (inactivated) vaccines during pregnancy should be avoided, if possible, to avoid potential injury to the fetus. There are exceptions, especially in shelters, where vaccination would be advised if the pregnant dog has never been vaccinated and there is risk of exposure to a highly pathogenic virus (e.g. CDV, CPV-2)."

I typically do not vaccinate pregnant dogs. It is very important to do all that you can to keep the puppies in a sheltered environment away from other dogs until they start to receive vaccines. I'm sure your veterinarian would be open to answering any questions you have regarding these guidelines. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten Develops Skin Problems

Q: My kitten is almost a year old and about a week ago I noticed a small little scratch on his back. It looked like a small circle. Today I was looking at the small spot and noticed that it now goes down the center right of his back. He doesn't scratch the area, it isn't scabbling over, I haven't seen it bleed badly but he has some blood stained fur. Do you possibly knno what the cause of this could be.

He is an indoor outdoor cat, I rescued him a year ago from a bad home and have been nursing him back to health. I can try to answer to my best knowledge any questions I have. Thank you for taking time to read my email. I hope to hear from you soon, I would love to figure out what I must do to make him healthy. -- Emmaly A: I'm sorry your cat is worrying you. Skin abnormalities are very common in cats and can be caused by multiple problems in including flea allergies, food allergies, environmental allergies, bacterial infections, and fungal infections. The list goes on and on. You should have your veterinarian examine your cat to determine what is going on. Remember that some diseases in animals can be spread to people. We need to make sure that this is not a disease that could be contagious. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Planning for Possible Medical Expenses
Potential Black Lab Owner Needs Guidance

Q: I'm right on the verge of adopting a beautiful black lab 6 month old dog. He is a mix, but he looks exactly like a lab. He's gorgeous, and I love him already and he seems to love me too. But now I'm worried. I saw a Vet on television yesterday who was talking about various dog breeds and he said that labs were very prone to hip and joint problems. sometimes requiring surgery.

Then smeone told me that the operation for a hip problem--I've forgotten the name of the condition--costs $5,000 per hip. I couldn't afford that for me or my daughter, so certainly not for my dog. Is this true? What should I do? Is this conditon really common? I love this boy and really want him, but I'm scared.... Please help!

A: Thanks for writing. Rarely do I have owners that ask questions before obtaining a new dog. Yes, labs just like many other larger breed dogs can develop joint problems. Having said that, any dog can develop any kind of problem. Even small dogs can develop arthritis.

I guess what I'm saying is that any breed and size of dog can develop issues. I have a very small dog who has arthritis and diabetes. It is up to you as a pet owner to do all that you can to minimize problems. You will want to work with your veterinarian on preventative medication. Make sure your puppy is put on an appropriate food for appropriate growth, make sure preventative vaccines are given regularly, make sure your dog is on appropriate monthly heartworm preventative, etc etc.

Owning a pet is hard work and requires responsibility both emotionally and financially. Many clients are purchasing pet health insurance for their animals so that if there are any major issues you would have financial help. Please do a search online for specific information about the various companies that offer pet health insurance.

I wish you the best of luck. Let us know if you need anything else. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Are Expensive Meds Always Worth the Premium Price?

Q: Hi I have a 10 pound poodle, the vet told me he has a grade 2 out of 4 luxating patella noted on the right. I was told to give him Dasuquin, with MSM, which I have been doing for a few years, they are very expensive. I happed to be out of town with a friend at her vets office and they sold Dasuquin way cheaper because they were the plain ones, she told me there is no proof that the MSM is better. I checked with my vet and the do not sell the plain ones but found a vets office that does. but could you tell me is there a big difference with the MSM?

I also told the girl at my vets office they sell this product on the web and she said , she wouldn't advise it, because you do not know if they are the same product. Could you advise me on what to do, if the MSM is better I will pay the extra money, my dog means the world to me, but if there is not a big difference it would save me a lot. Also is it safe to buy from Pet Meds,? Thank you, as always, I respect your opinion -- Angela

A: This is an interesting question. I remember looking into this several years ago. I just did a literature search on MSM to see if anything has changed since I last looked into it. Unfortunately, my answer to you is that I just don't know the exact answer. It is controversial. Some specialists feel that theoretically it should work but aren't sure if they've seen a real clinical difference in their patients. Others really think it helps.

I personally have not used it in my own pets or prescribed it to my clients only because I've not worked in clinics that have sold MSM-containing products. I feel that they are very safe to use but I have to leave it up to you and your veterinarian to decide if your dog must stay on it.

If your dog is doing well I hate to risk making any changes. Having said that, if your veterinarian thinks it appropriate, you could also try a product without MSM to see if you notice a true change.

As far as online pharmacies go, I feel that some are probably quite reputable and others may not be as good. I worry about issues like proper storage of drugs, proper shipping, etc etc. It is not my place to comment on specific online pharmacies but I do think that you need to be careful and speak to your veterinarian about specific online pharmacies that he/she prefers to work with.

Unfortunately in veterinary medicine there aren't always black and white answers but I trust you'll do what's best for your little dog. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Boston Terrier Has Scary Symptoms

Q: Hi i have a two year old boston terrier. she has been vomiting up white foam since yesterday morning i got her to eat a little bit of food and drink some water and it all came back up last night she had a little blood in her feces yesterday morning and today all she is doing is laying around shaking like she is cold an she hasnt touched her food or water. im scared she has parvo what should i do i have a 5 year old and am 15 weeks pregnant

A: I agree that this is worrisome. Anytime we see symptoms like this I would not hesitate to get to your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Husky Keeps Licking His Paws

Q: I took my Husky with me on a trip to visit friends in Vermont. Living in Florida, he'd never seen snow, but given that he is a Husky (or mostly Husky), I figured he would automatically love it. And he did! He and my friend's German Shepherd played together in their snowy world for hours on end, every day.

We've been home for about a week now, and my dog keeps licking his front paws. He doesn't seem to favor them or anything when he walks, and there's no sign of iritation or anything on them, but he keeps licking the bottoms of his paws. I'm beginning to wonder if there's a problem. Could he have gotten frost bite without my knowing it? Is there something I can put on his paws? Should I take him to the vet? He seems perfectly fine except for the licking....

A: Thanks for writing. It is actually common for dogs to lick their paws. The most common reason that I encounter is licking from allergies. Other reasons may include an injury, presence of a foreign object, or even an abnormality with a nail. If it continues I would at least get in touch with your veterinarian for an exam. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cocker Spaniel Has Swollen Spot on Eye

Q: My Cocker Spaniel (she's not purebred but close to it we think) is 3 years old and over the last month or so, her left eye seems to have a bright red swollen spot at one edge. What could this be? Can I try giving her Murine or Clear Eyes? Would that help? Or should she see the vet.

A: Eye issues are rather common in Cocker Spaniels. I think you should see your veterinarian just to make sure that this doesn't need special treatment. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Older Tabby Starts to Lose Weight

Q: I have an orange tabby cat about 17 years old. He used to weight about 19 or 20 pounds (in his prime, he weighed 22 lbs.). He had his regular check up, vaccinations, etc., about six months ago and was in perfect health. However, over the last couple of months, he seems to have lost weight. I think he only weighs about 15 or 16 lbs. now, and he seems a little bit listless. Nothing terrible, he still plays some, and eats well, but just doesn't seem as lively as before. Maybe this is just normal as he gets older, but I don't want to take any chances with this boy. I really love him! Do you think I should go to the vet or not?

A: Yes, given your cat's age I would like you to take him to your veterinarian. It would be a good idea to have another physical exam and bloodwork (complete blood count, chemistry, and thyroid). Let us know how it goes. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Catching Kennel Cough at the Veterinary's Clinic

Q: The Vet said my 9 year old Terrier mix needed to have his teeth cleaned. I was hesitant because I know there are risks to being put under anesthesia, but finally decided to go ahead and do it because the risks only become more severe the older the dog gets. So I took him in and had it done, and everything seemed fine. His teeth looked great.

But two days later, he started coughing and very soon I realized he was sick. So I took him back to the Vet. He said the dog had kennel cough. He gave me antibiotics and we went home and my poor doggie is getting better. However, my other dog caught the kennel cough and also had to go in and get antibiotics and he is not recovering as quickly.

The Vet wanted to charge me for the antibiotics for both dogs, which I don't feel I should have to pay since it was his fault the dogs got sick. What do yu think?

Also, I'm wondering if I should ever take my dogs back to this place, since I assume the reason for the kennel cough was that the place was not proper cleaned or the equipment propertly steralized. What should I do?

A: I'm sorry that you are going through this. The term "kennel cough" refers to a disease that can be caused by any of a number of various bacteria and viruses. Respiratory diseases can be very contagious in dogs and we can see disease even in dogs that have been vaccinated as no one vaccine can protect against every single disease-causing pathogen.

I am not familiar with the hygiene practices in your veterinarian's clinic so I cannot comment on that specifically. I can say that from time to time even in clean and well run veterinary clinics we can see outbreaks of respiratory disease (kind of like kids in daycare).

Finally, since this disease can be so contagious I cannot say 100% that the infection was obtained at the veterinary clinic. Sometimes dogs can take several days after exposure to a disease to show clinical signs.

I hope that both of your dogs are back to normal very soon. As far as whether or not you should continue on with this clinic, I have to leave that up to you and your instincts/judgement. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Q: I took my cat to the vet. He was put on anti biotics and predisone but is still constantly cleaning himself and losing his hair on his back end back legs and mid-body. I spent over 200 dollars at the vet for nothing. He is still cleaning and going bald and he looks so uncomfortable now. Mmy other two cats are starting to do he same. What can I do? He has dry skin where hes biting and NO FLEAS. Can you help me? My finances are running very low. thank you

A: Skin disorders can be very difficult to diagnose. I know you said you aren't seeing fleas, but fleas can be exceedingly difficult to find on cats because they do such a great job picking them off when they groom. I would at least make sure that your cats are on safe prescription strength flea preventatives. Comb them regularly with a flea comb and I wouldn't be surprised if you found some fleas.

If this is not a flea issue sometimes skin biopsies are necessary to know exactly what the problem is. It is best not to have a biopsy done while a cat is on steroids as steroids could affect the result by masking inflammation.

Call your veterinarian to discuss your concerns. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Older Pom's Continued Coughing Resists Treatment

Q: My 7 year old Pom has been spayed and has had good health for many years. But a few months ago, she starteed coughing, just a little at first, then almost constantly. The vet put her on antibiotics, which didn't do any good at all, then he tried another kind of antibiotic and that seemed to help for a while, but now the cough has returned and the vet can't seem to explain why. Do you have any ideas?

A: I'm sorry you have been worrying about your dog. I see a disease called "collapsing trachea" very often in Pomeranians. This can actually be difficult to diagnose and may or may not show up on an X-ray. I would recommend X-rays if they haven't already been performed to also make sure that the heart and lungs look normal. The treatment will depend on what is found. If collapsing trachea is diagnosed, often cough suppressants can help. In some really severe instances a stent needs to be placed. I wish you luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Puggle Pup Chews on Penis<./b>

Q: I have a 6 month old adopted dog. He is a puggle and is fixed. He has recently taken to chewing on his penis. Is this normal or cause for concern? -- Trisha

A: I do think that you should have him examined by your veterinarian to make sure that there are no signs of infection, abnormalities, etc. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Are Pale Gums in Dogs a Sign of Anemia?

Q: My 5 year old Boston Terrier's gums seem paler than they used to be. A friend told me he might be anemic. Could this be true and if so, what should I do?

A: Pale gums certainly can be a sign of anemia. To know for sure you need to get your dog into your veterinarian. Sometimes anemia can progress to a point where it can make a dog very ill. If you can, I would take a urine sample and a fecal sample in with you in case your veterinarian needs to do tests on these samples. Remember that sometimes we think the gums look more pale but the animal is not anemic. It's best to get him in just to know for sure. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Bulldog Mix Coughs and Chokes While Eating

Q: Lately, My Bulldog mix has been wolfing down his food even faster than normal, then coughing and choking as though something is caught in his throat. But nothing is, and he getws over it in a few minutes. What could this be? He is about 5 years old and this has never happened before that I know of. Now it is going on a couple of times a day.

A: This is an interesting question. Bulldogs and other brachycephalic breeds have smaller airways than other dogs their size. Brachycephalic refers to their "smushed faces." As these dogs get older sometimes any issues that they have with their airways can get worse. It is possible that there is some irritation to the throat when he eats quickly and we are noticing more of the coughing/choking as he's gotten older. There are special food bowls designed to make the dog eat more slowly. You could do an online search for these and give it a try. If the problem continues I do think it would be a good idea to let your veterinarian examine your dog to make sure that there are no other problems contributing to this coughing and choking. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Resists Application of Flea Medication

Q: We have four cats, all on Vet prescribed flea medicine. However, only three of the cats actually get the medicine. The third, aptly named Miss Feisy, never gets hers. No matter how we try, she uses those powerful back legs of hers and escapes before you can get the medicine on her. Since they are all indoor/outdoor cats and we live in a very pet friendly neighborhood, there are lots of animals outside and fleas, and sure enough, she gets them on her from time to time. What can we do?

A: Talk to your veterinarian about oral medication for fleas. Some cats are actually better at taking oral medications. Sometimes you can hide it in some very delicious food and they may not realize they are eating it. I'm sure your veterinarian would be happy to help you administer flea medications if you could take your cat in to them monthly. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Changes in Dog's Behavior Can Mean More Serious Condition

Q: Hi, my baby will be 9 yrs old she is an applehead dear teacup chihuahua, she weighs around 3 lbs she is spoiled rotten of course lol. Recently she always sleeps with me, but she has been distancing herself from me, she will lay with me for a while, but then go to her bed. This is unusual behavior for her. Is there a reason for this that you know of? She has always slept with me, so i am a little concerned. She is haviing some skin problems cause she is allergic to corn, so i have just changed her food. So i don't know if the skin is from fleas or the corn. she has had a bump on her stomach which doesn't hurt her for a long time. Now she is getting like a hernia underneath that which is hurting her. I am working on the skin again this has happened before. i am worried about the distancing herself from me. Thank you very much. -- Carla G.

A: When animals distance themselves or behave abnormally it absolutely can be a sign that they aren't feeling well. They could be painful, too warm, the list goes on and on. I'd like for your dog to have a good exam by a veterinarian. It would not be a bad idea to have bloodwork performed either. Good luck! -- -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Cause Green Yuck Build-up in Dog's Eye

Q: Hi, My mum has a bull terrier that is about ten years old and for the last year she has been getting a yuck green build up in her eyes so much so that of it isn't cleaned within 4 days it covers her whole eyes. If you could please lead me in the right direction of how to fix this problem it would be great help.

A: Your dog needs to get to the veterinarian. The doctor may test for diseases like dry eye and ulcers as both can cause serious complications. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Walker Coonhound Dies Suddenly

Q: My 4 yr old Walker Coonhound died suddenly and unexpectedly today at Doggie DayCare. She played for a couple of hours in the morning and according to the daycare personnel appeared to be sleeping in the sun for about 10-15 min (she loved to sleep in the sun). When personnel attempted to wake her she was unresponsive. She was taken to a vet near the daycare location but could not be resuscitated. An x-ray was taken and I was told there was no evidence of bloat or an enlarged heart. I am devastated and am not sure how to proceed. After speaking with my vet I decided not to have an autopsy but I don’t know how I will have closure without some plausible explanation regarding the cause of her death. Do you have any suggestions

A: I'm so sorry that this happened. Without a necropsy (autopsy in an animal) there is no way to say for sure. Sometimes there can be congenital heart disease that is not obvious on an X-ray. Again, I'm so sorry for your loss. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Schoodle Exibits Exceptional Panting

Q: My dog has started to show signs of panting when I started to study law. Few days ago, he actually pounced on my four piles of study notes when I was sorting out. Before he goes to sleep in the night, he will be panting quite heavily and then lick his nose. In the past, he would also lick his private parts.

I have brought him to the vet a couple of times. First, they gave him Forteka. Seem to help a bit but now I am not so sure if he is showing behavoril problem. After patning, he will lick his nose before he lies down. Rather worried but vet says he's ok.

Breed: Schnoodle born with heart murmur. Age: 13 in Feb. Any advice? Best wishes Pebble

A: I would recommend starting with bloodwork to make sure that there are no signs of any other systemic disease. There are diseases that can cause panting (Cushings disease, liver disease, etc). Bloodwork would also be useful in case we needed to start any additional long term medications to make sure the liver and kidneys can handle such medications.

With the heart murmur, X-rays would also be a good idea to make sure there are no abnormalities in the chest to contribute to abnormal breathing.

Finally, animals that are painful may pant. Are there any signs of osteoarthritis or pain of any sort? Good luck to you! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese With Penile Issues

Q: Hi, I took my Maltese to the groomers and ever since he came back his penis has been sticking out, a lot. He isn't leaking or anything, it just hangs out about an inch and a half, outside his body.

A: This is not uncommon in dogs. It usually is not a problem. Every once in a while the exposed tissue can become unhealthy. I would get him in to your veterinarian to have them examine him and correct this issue. They can talk to you about ways to minimize the risk of this recurring. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

How To Treat A Young Sick Cat

Q: My 8 month old cat is sick. His breathing sounds terrible and he goes into these sneezing fits. I was wondering if it would be okay to give him some penicillin?

A: I'm sorry your cat is ill. I would not give any medication without consulting with your veterinarian. Young animals can be very sensitive to certain medications and it is very important to give exactly the correct dose.

I always like to remind owners of kittens to make sure that their kittens have been tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus as these viruses can cause illness in cats. Remember that all kittens need to get a series of vaccines to strengthen their immune system. If you take your kitten to the vet I recommend taking a stool sample to be checked for intestinal parasites as well. Good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Older Cat Has Sticky Discharge Spotting

Q: My ten yr. old cat eats very well and is certainly not losing weight. She seemed to be constipated so I started giving her canned food along with the dry. She has one small dry movement a day. She doesn't seem uncomfortable, but she is spotting everywhere she sits on my carpet or bed. The discharge is sticky and dark. She has never liked to be handled (I've had her 5 yrs.) and I brush her every night and she seems content. But, she is ruining my carpet and I can't afford to have it cleaned every month. I've tried Iams cat food for digestion and nothing has seemed to help. I would appreciate any help. Thank you. -- Joan G.

A: I'm sorry that you are going through this with your cat. It sounds like a veterinarian needs to examine her to make sure that there is nothing more significant going on. Your veterinarian may want to check your cat 's anal glands and perform a rectal palpation to check for growths. I'd take a stool sample in with you just to have that checked as well. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Gave More Steroid than Prescibed

Q: Hi! My puppy, 11 pound yorkie-poo, is on a steroid along with an antibiotic because he has been scratching and making sores on himself. I accidentally gave him a whole pill instead of half of it as the directions state? Will this hurt him? Should I get him to a vet? Thanks, -- Crystal

A: While this is probably fine you need to call your veterinarian to let them know.They may need you to adjust your dog's dose of this medication over the next couple of days account for the extra that was given. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Continues to Have Watery Poop

Q: Hi, I have a question this like the 3rd or 4th day that my yorkie poop is watery and it's constantly, he poops all day long like it's non-stop. Do you have an idea on what it could be I am a little worried.....-Clarice

A: There are many causes of diarrhea. I think of parasites, dietary indiscretion, food allergy, certain types of cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, the list goes on and in. I'd start by having your veterinarian examine your dog. Make sure to take a sample of stool with you so that it can be checked for parasites. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kennel Cough Treatment Not Working

Q: My male dog 8 months old and is less then 40lb went to the vet for kennel cough got an amoxicillin 250 mg but is getting worse, his symptoms are running nose watering eyes lack of hunger his and has lost a lot of weight. Breed is a pitbull mix

A: You definitely need to let your veterinarian know. This could be a bacterial disease that is not susceptible to the current antibiotic or this could potentially be a viral disease. Remember that this could be quite contagious to other dogs. I hope your puppy feels better soon. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Cat Suddenly Has Problems Walking

Q: Hi, my 7 month old cat started acting very strange this morning. He went outside around 9 am, as usual, and came back after about an hour and was acting as if he needed to cough up something or vomit. He never did, but I checked inside his mouth/throat but I didn't see anything. He has been eating and drinking water, so I assumed it was nothing. Just a little while ago, around 11 pm, he started meowing very loudly and tried to walk but his front legs just didn't seem to work. He was almost toppling over, and when he could get his footing, his gait was off... he starting sneezing about a week ago too.. no nasal or eye discharge.. he's been acting like a normal, happy, energetic kitten. He is up to date on all his shots, has his rabies shot, was negative for feline leukemia, and is an otherwise happy healthy boy. These symptoms appeared out of nowhere and I am very worried. Have you heard of anything like this before? I will be taking him to the vet tomorrow. Thank you for your help.

A: I agree that this is strange. It sounds like there could be a neurological component to this behavior. After an exam your veterinarian may want to start out with bloodwork. It would be a good idea to have a stool sample to take with you too if you haven't already. I'm sure you've already been in to see your veterinarian and I hope your kitten is doing better. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Mini Chihuahua Has Intestinal Problems

Q: I have a 3 year old mini chihuahua. While I was petting her this afternoon, I noticed her stomache gurgling rather loudly. She doesn't seem to be in any pain, just a little lethargic. For the past few weeks, from time to time, she has been throwing up what looks like yellow, frothy stomache bile. She'll get all hunched over and appears to be choking or what looks like the equivelant of hacking up a hairball. I've read online that these issues may arise from some sort of intestinal blockage or she may have worms. Please let me know what could be wrong with her, if the two issues are related, what I can do to help her, and whether or not a trip to the vet is necessary. Thank you so much!

A: If these problems continue I do think its worth having your dog examined. It would be a great idea to take a stool sample into your veterinarian to check for intestinal parasites. If a heartworm test has not been done recently that would be a good idea too.

As far as what else this might be, the list could include acid reflux, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, infection, foreign body, etc. A visit to your veterinarian is definitely in order. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pug Devlops Sudden Ear Problem

Q: My pug was playing, beating up a rope... Stopped in her tracks...and started scratching at her ear, shaking her head, and has tilted head or crooked neck. I figured she hit herself with the rope ( but didn't see). It's been 2 hours .. She is hurting because she lays on shoulder when sick.. She is still on my shoulder ... I have a cool clothe on the side of neck ... ( she appears to like it)... What could it be ?.. Of course I will take her to vet tomorrow if she's still hurting ... But should I be taking her to an emergency vet now? ... I'm scared ... HELP please

A: I'm sure by now you have gotten her to a veterinarian. My first thought when I read your post was the possibility of an ear infection. I cannot rule out an injury though (neck injury, etc). I hope she's feeling much better! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua Puppy Seems To Have Lost Voice

Q: We have a male toy chihuahua and he is 11 weeks old. Yesterday he was fine like normal dog but this morning he was so sleepy and lost his voice. He seemed like he is coughing . He tried to bark but all we hear is like he looks coughing rough voice. What do we need to do? Can a toy chihuahua can catch cold?

A: You need to get this puppy into the veterinarian. Puppies do not have strong immune systems and they can be predisposed to infectious diseases. Your veterinarian will also be able to make sure he isn't coughing for other reasons like heart problems.

Remember that all puppies need regular visits to the veterinarian to get their series of vaccines, for examinations, and to start monthly preventative medication for heart worms and fleas. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Has Discharge From Eyes

Q: hi my friends cat whose name is cry baby(the cat not her) has goop coming from his eyes, not eating as much, non silky pelt, fir skin, and not himself. what should she do to help him?

A: I'm sorry this cat is not feeling well. The best thing your friend can do is to get this cat into the veterinarian for an exam. The veterinarian likely will recommend a test for feline leukemia virus/feline immunodeficiency virus to start with. Have your friend take a stool sample of the cat's with her so that she can be checked for intestinal parasites. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Causes Small Bald Spot

Q: My Shi Ztu is one year old and recently got spayed and went through a false pregancy and I noticed she has a small bald spot,it looks normal no sores and the skin is normal. no other areas and new hair growth. Could this be hormones? She has colitist and is on Science Diet WD so I know it's not a allergy.What can it be? Tammy

A: Your veterinarian would need to check her to rule out microscopic mites (mange), fungal infection like ringworm, bacterial infections, etc. Certainly skin issues can be linked to hormones in dogs. Allergies could also be a factor even with her food. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Mini Dachshund Has 6 Puppies

Q: I have a mini dachshund who whelped 4 weeks ago ... she and puppies are doing well (6 puppies). However, I have noticed several things that are causing me to begin worrying.

1) she eats a lot ... normally she eats 2/3c of TOTW twice daily she is eating 2/3c up to 4 times daily and she still looks emaciated. You can see her ribs and her spine.

2) her water consumption has also increased significantly ... I assume because she is feeding the pups.

3) I have noticed 2-3 dry areas of skin .. these are small areas ... do not look like ringworm but I am sure they were not there before she had the pups.

4) pups and mom have been wormed ,,, mom with a triple wormer and the pups with Nemex 2. Mom is still spotting .. could she have some other worm that is causing her to not gain weight, have an increase in appetite and thirst, and cause the continued spotting? Thanks for any advice. Kathleen

PS - pups were born under the care of the vet. She had oxytocin injections during whelping and an xray several days after delivery to confirm there were no more pups.

A: It is amazing how many calories a nursing dog uses. I recommend that these dogs be fed puppy food for the extra calories. Your veterinarian should be able to tell you exactly how much a lactating dog at her weight should be eating. Depending on the exact food, your veterinarian can tell you how many kilocalories to feed per day and therefore how much food.

The increased water drinking is possibly from the extra demands on her body, but ingestion of extra water can be linked to other diseases too. (urinary tract infections, kidney issues, etc). A blood panel and urinalysis can help your veterinarian rule in or out these other issues.

Hormonal changes and nutrition can affect the skin. Stress on the body can affect the immune system and result in hair loss as well. Sometimes in situtuations like this I will do a simple test called a skin scrape to check for skin mites.

No dewormer will eliminate every possible parasite. Have your veterinarian check a stool sample. The spotting may or may not be normal for your dog. I think it's very appropriate for multiple reasons to at least call your veterinarian to discuss these issues. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

African Serval Has Constipation

Q: I have a 30 pound african serval who has had a bout with constapation The vet gave him 5 ccs of penicillin sq I asked him before he did it if it was too much then later again as my cat is now lathargic how much should cats be given -- exotic cats like servals? Linda

A: I cannot comment on doses of medications because the medications come in different strengths and therefore the amount to be given varies. I would be concerned that there is an ongoing issue that may necessitate further tests and/or additional treatment. If the cat is not doing well please notify the veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Large Furry Family Sends Thanks

Q: I just wanted to say thank you so much for your wonderful column. My husband and I have four dogs and six cats, so as you can imagine, we're pretty busy with them all. Sometimes they are a lot of work and sometimes quite expensive, but it is all worth it, because they fill our every day with love and joy! Needless to say, we often have questions about minor health issues -- two of our dogs are in their mid-teens and three of our cats in their twenties, so we have our share eof "elderly" problems. I always try to avoid bothering you with questions because I know you must be inundated with them, so I use the "find" on your site to look for answers before I do anything else.... and usually, I find it somewhere on the site.

Once I sent you a question and your answer sent me straight to our vet, and probably saved the life of one of our Senior dogs! Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you and tell you how grateful we are.... We both hope this column will be here forever and ever! Janie and Tom

A: Thanks for sending this :) Beagle Licks Private Parts

Q: My beagle will be five next month. I have been noticing that she is constantly licking her private. She will even wake me up in the middle of the night doing it. I actually went to give her a bath and she yelped when I tried to wash her. Also, this week I tried wiping her off with some all natural wipes and she yelped again. (just around her private) Do you have any suggestions? She is an inside dog if that helps.

A: She may have inflammation and/or infection of her genital area. From what you've said she is obviously uncomfortable. This warrants an exam by your veterinarian as she may need some prescription strength medication. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM Dog Makes Strange Breathing Sounds

Q: I have a four year old Chihuahua yorkie mix. About 2 weeks ago she started making a strange noise. It sounds like it is coming from her throat. She starts to shiver and arches her neck and makes a noise like a pig as she breathes through her nose. I have taken her to the vet twice. The first time he listened to her chest, checked her ears, etc. He said she was very healthy. He said it could be a reverse hiccup. He told me to record her making the noise.

So I did and took it in for him to listen to. He said that it was not a reverse hiccup and had me bring her in the next morning for a chest xray. He said the xray showed that her lungs and everthing looked fine. He said that her windpipe was smaller at one end than the other, but not enough to matter. He said he could find nothing wrong with her. He said maybe allergies and to give her benadryl. I have been giving her it for a week now and it is not helping. I don't know what to do to help her. She gets so scared when it happens and shakes the whole time. Her brother does the same thing but only occasionally. Like 3-4 times a year. My dog is doing it 2-3 times a day when I am home. Please any help you can give me I would greatly appreciate it.

A: When I first read your post I thought you were describing a "reverse sneeze." You can actually do a search online to look for videos of other dogs doing this to see if it looks like your dog.

If it is not a reverse sneeze, and if your veterinarian has ruled out heart and lung disease I would be suspicious of some type of infection or even a foreign body being stuck in the nasal cavity. Not all dogs respond well to antihistamines either. Sometimes when I suspect allergies I will prescribe a trial of a steroid. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Puppy Eats Melatonin Pills

Q: what will happen to a 7 month puppy if it eat's two 3mg melatonin pills?

A: Thanks for your question. From the research that I've done, it is unlikely that a single overdose will cause problems due to the safety of this medication. Having said that, I would recommend getting to your veterinarian if your dog acts abnormally.

Remember that there are poison control hotlines specifically for animals such as ASPCA poison control. I would recommend keeping the number for a veterinary poison control somewhere so that you can call quickly in case of emergency. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Displays Signs of Partial Paralysis

Q: About 6 days ago, I came home & Cody had vomit & poop in his cage....the next day he wasn't throwing & still had diarrhea (looked like he was straning to poop) wed morn he looked really weak, when I left him in his cage to go to work.. I called the vet to make appt, when my boyfriend cam by to take him he couldn't walk on his hind legs. The vet gave him antibotics & sent him home. I still didn't feel like something was right with that pic.. so he took him back the next day, the vet said he has a pinched nerve, and 5 days of strict cage rest & gave him anti-flammatory med. The next I was off work, I noticed Cody wasn't urinating so I took him back to the vet. The vet showed me how to empty his bladder. Of course by this I'm upset I couldn't grasp how to release his bladder. The vet recommend me to let him take him for about 3 days to see if he can get Cody better, with strict cage rest. Saturday he called to give date Cody still isn't urinating own his own & he belv he is paralyzed in the back end. :( He thought Friday he said he still had some feeling, but he doesn't think so now. He said he is gonna try another therapy method before he feels there isn't any hope. He did recommend surgury would be the only way (can't afford the surgery) People say I treat Cody better than some parents treat there kids, I love Cody so much....I'm just don't know how this happened..he has never had back problems & he has never been sick. Vet said yetserday a wheelchair would be ideal for Cody. But it wouldnt be a good idea if Cody couldn't urinate on his own. I don't know what to do, don't have the extra funds for surgery. When the vet calls today I'm gonna ask about muscle relaxers..Any suggestions, please help...

A: I'm so sorry you are going through this. Sometimes dogs can develop neurological disorders (such as a herniated intervertebral disk) that can cause paralysis. If that is the case, then often surgery is the best option. I have seen some dogs improve with steroids, pain medication, and strict cage confinement. I agree that if your dog cannot void his bladder on his own he will require more intensive care.

There are owners who elect to get a cart for their dog and who express their dog's bladder on a regular basis. In cases like this, decisions need to be made based on how the dog is responding, what an owner is willing and able to do at home, and finances. Q: I will keep you and your dog in my thoughts. I feel confident that you and your veterinarian will make the best decision for your dog. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Problems Cleaning Poodle's Teeth

Q: I have a 10 pound poodle and I was giving him C.E.T. chews for aiding in cleaning his teeth. A tech at the vet told me to watch him and take it away from him when it gets small . but my dog chewed and ate the whole c.e.t. chew. I got him the petite ones. I was wondering if it is safe for him to swallow it, he does chew it up. I changed to Pedigree Dentastix . can you suggest any that are safe and good for my dogs teeth. I do brush them, but not as often as I should. Thank you as always Angela

A: This is a great question. First of all, for dental care at home, brushing is best. I realize that not all dogs are receptive to having their teeth brushed. If you have a dog that will allow it, use any soft bristled toothbrush but use toothpaste made for dogs (no human toothpaste). For brushing to be effective it needs to be done at least every other day but preferably every day.

In terms of other products to use, please do a search online for "Veterinary Oral Health Council" (VOHC). This website has wonderful information about effective products that you can use at home. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Is In Pain -- Can Vaccination Shots Be The Cause?

Q: My cat had her annual rabies & c/d feline 5.5oz shots,3 days later I went to pick her up from her bed as she usually comes to my bed and wakes me up, I figured something was wrong. I bent down to pick her up and before I touched her she gave me a loud meow then I picked her up and she freaked out at me and cried louder and pushed herself away from me, I laid her back down. She seemed in pain so I took her to a vet emergency hospital, they took lab tests, pancreatic test & blood tests she also had a fever of 40. The vet told she should stay for the night so they could put o her on IV and monitor her, they did not think it had anything to do with her needles 3 days before I don't agree with them, what do you think as they said they found nothing wrong with her all she had was a fever. Diane

A: I cannot say for sure if this was a vaccine reaction. Animals can experience vaccine reactions that can range from mild lethargy to severe illness. If your cat has ever had problems with vaccines in the past I would be more concerned that this was a reaction to the shots. I would certainly call your regular veterinarian to get an idea of how to proceed now and also long term regarding how to give vaccines in the future. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cairn Terrier Throws Up, Doesn't Eat

Q: Our male neutered Cairn, 9 years old, has always been problems. The end of August, he suddenly started to throw up his food, wouldn't eat, his tummy was rumbling very loud for long periods of time, turned his head at food he normally gobbled and started licking his genital area a lot. We took him to the vet, who put him on anti-biotics and took a blood test. The test showed somewhat elevated white blood cell count so infection was present.but no other significant things. Some days he would seem his old self, then he'd crash again. His weight dropped from 24.8 to 16.8 in 8-9 weeks. He seemed lethargic, was hiding, slow on walks most days.

He was put on a medication for gall improvement. We took him to another vet with more equipment. Took two x-rays which showed nothing. Two more blood tests which were almost identical to the first.slightly elevated white blood cell count. He was put on a new anti-biotic. No change really. Some days he is a bit more chipper and wants to eat. The vomiting restarted, very liquid, some foam in it ;tummy rumbling again. About the only food I can get down him is chicken breast boiled.

The 2nd vet did a rectal exam and said he felt a lump near the bladder.he pressed it hard and other than being uncomfortable with a finger up his rear, it didn't seem to bother Murphy much. So now we have a decision. We can't afford MRIs and Cat scans and such, what is left is probably surgery. If it is cancer, as the vet thinks, and not something he can surgically repair, he'll put him to sleep on the table.

Does any of this add up to something else? Thank you!

A: I'm so sorry your dog has been ill. I would ask if a urinalysis and urine culture/sensitivity has been done. Sometimes ultrasounds can allow us to visualize the internal organs without being as invasive as surgery. Having said that, sometimes exploratory surgeries are necessary.

There is a disease in dogs called Addison's disease. It can manifest several different ways. It may be worthwhile to check for that too. I wish you luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten Has Bad Diarrhea

Q: My kitten has really bad diarrhea and it won't go away it's discolored and his behind is swollen what could this be?

A: There are many causes of diarrhea in kittens. My primary concern would be intestinal parasites. Your veterinarian needs to examine a fecal sample from your kitten under the microscope to look for parasites. Hopefully your kitten has been going in regularly for kitten vaccines and checkups. Kittens also need to be started on a monthly heartworm and flea prevention. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Bulldog Pup Does Not Respond to Treatment

Q: Hello We have a 12 week old american bulldog that has not got her first set of vacinations and within the last 3 days has became sick as of yesterday she won't eat or drink we took her to a vet and spent 170 dollars on on ivs for home for 3 days amoxicilin pills and a shot for neuasea but my 8 year old is her best friend want to know what else I could do or if there's any other antibiotics I could buy and minister them myself as soon as possible if u could please get back with me thanks kate

A: I'm sorry your puppy is sick. Puppies tend to have very weak immune systems and are susceptible to infectious diseases, especially when they are not vaccinated. You did not give specific details about the illness but with young sick dogs I often do bloodwork, a parvo test, a fecal floatation, and X-rays if indicated. Some sick animals require hospitalization with IV fluids and antibiotics. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Femal Rat Terrier Exhibits Symptoms After Latest Litter

Q: My daughters female rat terrier who has always been a good Health seems to be suffering with something? First I want to note that Brooklyn had three litters of healthy pups over a few years with no complications was a great mom and seemed to be fine. Her last litter was last December 2011. I noticed when she would drink water she would really lap it up then gag and spit up a clear saliva type substance. Next I noticed she had a really raspy hoarse voice and her bark was weak. Next I noticed she had very buggy eyes and seemed to get stiff her two front legs were practically sticking straight out. After vet visits and hospital visits nothing really conclusive. I did have blood work and very slight if any elevations were noted nothing to warrant concern on the vets end. I spoke in length with a very knowledgeable Bark employee who told me that her dog had all same symptoms and it was a heat stroke. I was not completely admit that this could not be, due to the unbelievable hot summer we had even though she is an indoor dog. I shared this with my vet with no real conclusion either way. We fed her very high quality dog food gave her a immune booster daily in her food. She came into contact with fleas and got totally eaten up poor baby. We did everything to help her, bathing washing all bedding, all goods repellent oils flea shampoos ect. Got so bad took her into vet who said she is highly allergic to the fleas. She seems weak and a seems to struggle a bit when starting to walk.

We have been giving her omega 3's fish oil on healthy treat, changed her diet very careful what she eats. She was put on antibiotic and pain pills. I coat her daily with mixture of coconut oil vitamin E and small drop of tea tree oil to lubricate her skin where It has fallen out and is so badly scabbed over.... she is given tons of TLC and hoping to see a full recovery. I am concerned though is there something vets are missing with the other symptoms? Can hormones have anything to do with this ( puppies)? I love this little girl and want to see her back to herself!!!! Please help Lauren

A: I'm sorry your dog has been having such a difficult time. You asked if horomones could have anything to do with this and my answer is.....maybe. Horomones can potentially exacerbate skin conditions. Certainly intact (unspayed) female dogs can be prone to other serious conditions like pyometras, serious infections of the uterus. Another thought would be to rule in or out neurologic conditions. Sometimes with abnormalities that are very difficult to diagnose I will refer these cases to a board certified veterinary specialist. Your veterinarian could make a referral for you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Are Warts Common in Dogs?

Q: Please tell me if warts are common in dogs or in Spaniels specifically? My dog is a Spaniel mix and he has had a wart for almost a year. Anyway he bumped it a couple days ago and the wort bled for a few minutes, but I thought warts ooozed not bled? Please tell me if you know any info that would help me understand and take care of this myself if possible. I just moved, whoch cost me every expra pennyI had, so I don't have the money for a vet visit unless it's really life and death urgency. Also, could a tick possibly burrow so deep that all the tick stuff and alcohol would not touch it? I hope not!! Thanks for your time and attention to my concern. I'd be very grateul for any suggestions you might have.

A: Any dog can get a wart. It is quite common to get growths on the skin that can get irritated and bleed. Many growths on the skin are harmless. Having said that the only way to know absolutely sure that a growth is benign is to have it removed and sent to the laboratory for biopsy. If the growth has been present for almost a year you don't necessarily have to rush to have it removed but I would at least look into it. Many small skin masses can actually be removed with a local anesthesia. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to see what he or she thinks. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Blue Razorbck Pit Has Skin Problems That Won't Go Away

Q: Hi, I have a few concerns regarding Bud, my 3 year old Blue Razorback Pit. We have had him since he was about 5 months old. He is up-to-date on his shots and also his monthly preventive worm medicine. This problem he has started out on the top of his head with little bumps. At first I thought it might have been a tick, but when I looked closely at it...there was nothing there, but a little dry bump.

Well the summer months came and the flea season was awful this year. We bought flea yard stuff that was 35.00 a bottle to do the back yard. And money is a little tight now, with husband losing his job 3 months ago. So I am bathing the dogs about every 3 days because of the itching, scratching and chewing on themselves.

So the bumps on his head are gone, but there is a few right below his collar and alot on the portion of his back by his tail and back he chews his tail so much it bleeds. I have tried oatmeal baths, flea shampoos, dog shampoos, milk and honey shampoo and even my Paul Mitchel Tea Tree Shampoo...while giving him a bath - he tries to lick himself to death. He loves every taste of it all...but I am able to get control of the fleas on him now and when he gets out I put neosporin ointment on his bigger bumps and a shirt over him so he isnt able to lick it off. That seems to help him alot with not chewing and biting and scratching himself...but its too hot to keep the shirt on him all day.

He is an inside dog, but during the day when we are at work or school, we leave the back door open for them to go outside when they want.

I just do not know what is causing it or what it is...and with my husband out of work right now, I need to try home remedies first, before seeking a vet. We are struggling as it is, but Bud is my baby and if it came down to it, I told my husband, I will do some research this weekend and see what possible treatments I could do and try them on Bud...but if nothing helps him in 2 weeks, my whole check will go to him getting treatment.

So if there is anything you could point me in the direction to help him, I would so appreciate it. Oh, there is also hair loss on the larger bumps and his skin is hot at times, like he has a fever. I do give him Benadryl (2 pills-his weight is 110lbs) when it seems to be hurting him the worst.

Thanks again for your time in reading my letter and if you have the time to send me any suggestions, I would so be greatly

A:Im sorry you are going through this with your dog. Skin allergies are very common and fleas or food are just the tip of the iceberg. Dogs can be allergic to many things in the environment just like people are. In addition to allergies causing skin issues it's important to rule out other potential causes including skin mites. A trip to your veterinarian is necessary at this point as over the counter remedies often are not enough. I wish you luck. -- -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Husky Puppy Has Discharge From Eyes and Nose

Q: I have a 5 month old husky, with shots up to date. my dog is making a sneezing/wheezing/cough non stop. he has gooey stuff coming out of his eyes and nose constantly. Does he need a vet? I heard you can give a dog kids benadryl or advil in a small dose if it is allergies?

A: Thanks for writing in about your dog. It is important if you haven't already, that you get your dog to a veterinarian. Puppies are like babies in that they have relatively weak immune systems. I wouldn't take any chances with this. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Shows No Improvement With Urinary Tract Condition

Q: My male 11 year old cat has been treated by my vet 4 times since January. I have spent over 2500.00 and I still see no improvement. He has been on Clavamox because earlier tests said he had ecoli. then the peeing with little drops off blood outside the litter box continued. He has tested for stage 3 kidney disease and then I had him overnight for 2 nights receiving fluids and he seemed better for about 3 days. He was retested before he came home and his level was up to stage 2.

He was okay for a few days and the crouching walk, restlessness and peeing on pillows and carpets with drops of urine and blood had started again so my Vet put him on 5 days of Morphine and 2 weeks of Clavamox which was 8 days ago and he is not better. He seems restless but he is eating. He walks with his hind legs bent and can't seem to settle. the Vet tested him for Hyperthyroidism and it came back negative.

HELP I am not able to spend any more money on tests, but everyone tells me that they think I should let him go in peace???

A: I'm so sorry that you are going through this with your cat. I am not exactly sure what is going on internally. With urinary tract infection, kidney disease, and blood in the urine I would be concerned about the possibility of stones (kidney or bladder) and sometimes certain types of cancer can cause symptoms like this too. I often employ X-rays and ultrasound to get adequate views of internal organs. I know how difficult this must be for you. I wish you the best of luck.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Having spent $2,500 with your veterinarian, with no improvement, it wouldn't be out of line to at least ask to have an unltrasound or x-ray done at no charge to rule out stones.

Puppy Has Bump Near Penis

Q: Hi, am new to this, but i would really like to know what is wrong with my dog, his name is Chico, he's 9 months old, and he has a bump next or a little on his pee pee area. its got a sore on the outside n it has puss and a little blood.I'am really concerned but i cant afford a vet, please help i also have a video and pictures.

A: Puppies are very prone to getting infections on their skin. Some infections are minor and the dog's immune system can fight them off. Other infections can develop into more serious problems and require prescription strength medications. I know it is an expense but puppies really need to go into the veterinarian frequently for their series of puppy shots and examinations. Please make an appointment to get your puppy into your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Beagle Pup's Front Legs Are Bowing

Q: My 6 month old beagles front legs are bowing increasingly and they shake when she stands on them. Is this ok or is there more serious problem?

A: This could be a normal part of growing for your puppy or potentially a congenital orthopedic problem. I recommend getting this examined by your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih-tzu Seems to Have Lost Hearing

Q: My shih-tzu and I recently moved to this state a week ago. He has a general vet and an eye vet back home, and both saw him in mid-July for a good check-up. I realized this week that Mushu can't hear me. I thought it could be due to the 7 hour trip in the car, or his medicines (tramadol when needed, pepcid ac, prednisone every other day.) I took him into Banfield today to have his ears checked , and explained first, though that he had issues with his back, but I was there for his ears. I gave them his records from his home vets, and told them what his medications were. The vet then insisted on picking him up and holding him, not supporting his back legs at all, but squeezing his trunk so hard that he retched 4-5 times when she finally put him down. Then she had a tech come in to hold him again, and examined his eyes, teeth, skin and backlegs while he struggled. She finally examined his ears when I started crying.

She said there's nothing she can do for his ears, they're not swollen or infected, it's just old age, she believes he can still hear high notes. Then she prescribed cefpodoxime proxetil (50mg/day) for his skin issues. I'm so upset since his back seems worse, and he is placing his back feet down slightly to the side, then has to lock them back in, which happens when his back is worse than normal. But I went for a check up of his ears, I am wondering if this veterinarian's behavior was appropriate given my warnings? And is it correct that ototoxicity is one of the side effects for the antibiotic she prescribed? I am already concerned that the tramadol (12.5 mg up to twice a day for pain) may also be ototoxic, and now that she's injured him further he will need to have a dose of that tonight, and perhaps tomorrow as well.

Sorry to go on so much. Thank you in advance for whatever level of advice you are comfortable giving.

A: First of all I am sorry that you've had such a negative experience and I hope your dog is doing better. I am not a pharmacologist but have never experienced or heard of that antibiotic being ototoxic. I have also not experienced ototoxicity with tramadol.

When an animal comes in to the veterinarian for a specific problem it is common to perform a complete physical exam. If you have not done so already I think it would be appropriate to call the veterinarian that last saw your dog, explain your concerns, and ask for any advice in terms of the back. I wish you luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cavashon Male Starts Marking Around the House

Q: I have a 3 yr old make Cavashon. We obtained him when he was 9 months old, already neutered. He "marked" the house quite frequently at first. He has begun urinating around the house again. I've also noticed that the blanket in his kennel smells of urine. I've witnessed him "getting off" in his kennel quite often lately. Is there any correlation? Thank you for your input as I am at the end of my rope with him. Shiela

A: First we need to distinguish a behavioral problem from a medical problem. I would recommend visiting your veterinarian. He or she will likely recommend a urinalysis, urine culture/sensitivity, and maybe even some bloodwork and/or X-rays to look for bladder stones. Once it can be determined that this is not a medical abnormality then behavior/training needs to be discussed. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shephard Show Many Symptioms

My German Shepherd mix, Floyd, is 6 yrs old. Sudden onset of being VERY thirsty, slowly moving, will not eat food, can tell he has a temperature...ear insides are hot, dry nose, a lttle slobbery, nasal, chest congestion. You can hear him breathe, needs help getting up, little cough...but is being picked up on all fours to go out and urinate. My husband has cancer so I did not know until yesterday morning he was ill. I had to coax him from his spot and lift him into the door. Heavy breathing. Its summer and had noticed he had not been eating but a tiny bit in the few days....he is also periodically vomiting. What do you think I should do tonight. He was fine 2 weeks ago...perfect! He has a vet appointment tomorrow at noon. Is he going to die tonite??? ~ Caroline

I'm hoping your dog is doing better. If a dog presented to me with such symptoms I would start with a physical exam and then likely recommend bloodwork and possibly X-rays. There are so many potential causes for such symptoms that I'd need to base any further comments on my workup. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Bichon's Vomiting Causes Concern

Q: Hello, I have a 12 year old bichon mix. This past week he has refused to eat his dinner a few times. He has always been a picky eater so I was not concerned. Last night I switched his normal food to one of those Beneful prepared dinners. He ate it and held it down. He is a good weight, responsive and energetic except that he has been vomiting off and on this past week.. Today his clear vomit had some small specks of what could be blood. It was a bright color. He is having normal, solid bowl movements. I cannot afford a lot of diagnostic tests, X-rays or CAT scans. What might be causing this problem? -- Elinor

A: This could be anything from mild stomach upset with gastric reflux and esophagitis to a more severe systemic problem. Some diseases that seem unrelated to the GI system can manifest as GI disturbances. It's important if you have not done so already to get your dog into your veterinarian to discuss the next course of action. Unfortunately as dogs get older they are more prone to certain diseases. It's important to get them in sooner rather than later when they become ill. Good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Seems Unstable After Ear Surgery

Q: My dog was diagnosed with Pannus and having ear problems. The vet explain that the reason why his ear was super swollen was due to the fact of broken blood vessels from head shaking. He recommended to do surgery as soon as possible because if it were to burst, we would be looking at another set of problems. I opted to do the surgery which was friday the 31st,2012. During the surgery, the vet called me to notify me that he had found a mass on his eardrum and he wanted to do an aspiration and spend a sample to see what the mass was, but was unable to because he couldn't extract enough of a sample to send for testing. Today (Sept 3), he had an episode where his tongue was hanging from his mouth and he was falling over from side to side.. When he was standing he was swaying back and forth. He did not seem to have his normal appetite, he did eat a little at a time but once he finished his breakfast he threw everything up along with his meds. He was able to drink quite a bit of water and is laying down. My baby is only 5 1/2 years old, weighs 88.9 pounds and I am terrifyed that I will have to put him down. Do you have any idea as to why he is falling over? Please help~ Thank you, Kasia

A: I'm sorry you are going through this with your dog. It is relatively common for dogs to experience a problem called vestibular disease following procedures involving the ear and/or ear drum. Vestibular disease can manifest as loss of equilibrium/balance, nausea, nystagmus (quick movements of the eyes), and sometimes the appetite can be involved. Vestibular disease usually resolves on its own but it's important to provide symptomatic care such as medicine for nausea and/or motion sickness to support these dogs.

I am not saying for sure that this is what your dog has, but given the history and clinical signs it should be a consideration. Hopefully by now your veterinarian has had the opportunity to evaluate your dog. I wish you luck. - -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Shakes Head and Has Labored Breathing

Q: Our mix breed (German Shepard / Doxin we think), started behaving very oddly last night, acting like I had asked her to go for a walk when I hadn't. She is shaking her head a lot and we looked at her ears, they are red but no obvious signs of mites or anything. She also feels warm and seems like her breathing is labored, and every time we fill her water bowl she drains it.

Thank you for your help - it's labor day so the vets are closed.

A: I'm sure by now you have had your dog evaluated by your veterinarian. It sounds like a thorough physical exam is necessary. Bloodwork would be a good idea as well. Let us know how your dog is doing. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can Baby Aspirin be Used Safely on Small Dogs

Q: Can a baby aspirin be given to a 13 1/2 year old female lhasa apso. She had teeth cleaned this morning and is moaning on and off tonight. I think she is in pain.

A: Aspirin can be safe in some situations, but without knowing the exact health status of your dog I cannot recommend it. Sometimes nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories can have serious side effects. Definitely consult with your veterinarian if you have not already done so. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pitbull puppy has hard lump on stomach

Q: I have 7wk old female pitbull puppy and I noticed a hard lump on lower stomach above puppy vulva. Her urine smells fishy what could this be?

A: She could potentially have an infection. Please get her to your veterinarian for an exam. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Runs and Hides in Strange Ways

Q:My dog has always been a little timid. We got him when he was 15 weeks old. No joke, I went in the pet store to get dog food and he was in clearance! When we first got him he would hide under the table and loved his kennel. He would only come out so far and then dart back in. I expected this behavior since he had been in a pet store kennel for so long. After time that behavior changed and he became very energetic. Loves to play with our other dogs and be right on top of you. He would sit and constantly lick you, you would make him stop and he would sneak to kiss u again.

He has always had this weird little walk about him, especially if he was excited. He would start to run then sit and kinda twist/drag his hind legs, then run a little and then drag til reaching you. Like I said he has always been a little quirky. The problem is that for the last three days he has been hiding. We have 40 acres so he is allowed to roam. When I have let him out in the mornings he uses the restroom then darts behind the bushes.

He will stay there a little then dart to more shade (under a car or tree). I have been calling him the vampire dog. He acts as if the sun is killing him. He will also go sit far from the house and just stare when called. Has been going in circles over and over, then sit, lick his private or bite his tail and turn. He has been walking in a U shape. When he comes inside he runs straight to his kennel and hides. Comes out for one piece of food at a time and runs back in to eat it. The only thing that is really different is that I shaved him. He was getting mats and he now has a lion cut. Only mane, boots and small amount on his tail. I shaved a good bit of his tail because he was getting large amounts of stool in his hair. Once to the point that I had to cut it away so that he could deficate. It was like plugging him off. He often has loose stool. He focuses a lot at his bottom. He has been wormed recently and has been treated for fleas. Of course I see some here and there, but not many. And when he starts biting at his bottom I look to make sure there are not fleas in that spot bothering him. Also over the last two days he has a tear duct that pops in and out. He shakes 24/7. Just very worried

A: I'm concerned that your dog is in pain. What is painful I cannot say (anal gland infection, back pain, etc). Please get in to your veterinarian for an examination. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Growth at Base of Tail Causes Concern

Q: My Pit is about 13. After we had her spade she got this purplish colored growth between the base of her tail and anus. Its abiut the size of a golfball it dont seem to bother her and im afraid to take her to the vet to hear bad news. as i said it don't seem to bother her. I've heard if its cancer she'd have to be put down. can you help? what could it be.? I appreciate your input.

A: I understand being nervous about the possibility of getting bad news. Unfortunately the only way to know what is going on is to have her seen by your veterinarian. Just think....if it is nothing bad you will be relieved. If it is cancer it does not necessarily mean that you have to put her down. I wish you the best of luck -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dachshund Occasional Lameness

Q: Dear Doctors,
My five year old dachshund displays occasional lameness in her right rear leg/thigh, for just a moment when it occurs. She also appears to have lost some muscle tone in her right thigh/leg. Thank you for your help. Sincerely, Walter R.

A: This could be anything from back pain, luxating patella (kneecap that pops in and out of place), or arthritis. This is a common complaint in dogs and a trip to your veterinarian is in order to identify the problem and come up with solutions to keep your dog pain free. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

1 year old Maltese

Q: My dog has always been a little timid. We got him when he was 15 weeks old. No joke, I went in the pet store to get dog food and he was in clearance! When we first got him he would hide under the table and loved his kennel. He would only come out so far and then dart back in. I expected this behavior since he had been in a pet store kennel for so long. After time that behavior changed and he became very energetic. Loves to play with our other dogs and be right on top of you. He would sit and constantly lick you, you would make him stop and he would sneak to kiss u again. He has always had this weird little walk about him, especially if he was excited. He would start to run then sit and kinda twist/drag his hind legs, then run a little and then drag til reaching you. Like I said he has always been a little quirky. The problem is that for the last three days he has been hiding. We have 40 acres so he is allowed to roam. When I have let him out in the mornings he uses the restroom then darts behind the bushes. He will stay there a little then dart to more shade (under a car or tree). I have been calling him the vampire dog. He acts as if the sun is killing him. He will also go sit far from the house and just stare when called. Has been going in circles over and over, then sit, lick his private or bite his tail and turn. He has been walking in a U shape. When he comes inside he runs straight to his kennel and hides. Comes out for one piece of food at a time and runs back in to eat it. The only thing that is really different is that I shaved him. He was getting mats and he now has a lion cut. Only mane, boots and small amount on his tail. I shaved a good bit of his tail because he was getting large amounts of stool in his hair. Once to the point that I had to cut it away so that he could dedicate. It was like plugging him off. He often has loose stool. He focuses a lot at his bottom. He has been wormed recently and has been treated for fleas. Of course I see some here and there, but not many. And when he starts biting at his bottom I look to make sure there are not fleas in that spot bothering him. Also over the last two days he has a tear duct that pops in and out. He shakes 24/7. Just very worried

A: I'm concerned that your dog is in pain. What is painful I cannot say (anal gland infection, back pain, etc). Please get in to your veterinarian for an examination. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Beagle Appears to be in Pain Following Castration

Q: My daughter's 9 year old beagle was laying around n whining, well took him to the vet june 2012 and the vet said his testicles was scorched and it would be best in a dog his age to be castrated. well Shorty still just lays around and whines, my daughter is really worried n she said he was whining at 3 am this morning and she just cried with him, should they have gave him some kind of pain medicine. ,,Shortly usually loves it outside but now he stays in the house and lays around and whines sometimes, but u can tell he's hurting. Please help?? Thank you so much

A: Certainly if he is in severe pain secondary to the condition your veterinarian diagnosed, pain medication could be appropriate. If you have not already done so please contact your veterinarian and make sure to communicate the severity of the pain. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Picky Eater Gets Worse With New Diet

Q: I have a 6 year old Pekingese whom I adopted last year. He proved to be a very picky eater, turning his nose up at every canned food I put in front of him. So I went online and searched for recipes of dog food that I could make at home (as an alternative to canned, he was still getting dry kibble as his main diet). I discovered one recipe that seemed pretty straight forward and healthy. It included ground bison (which we would interchange with ground turkey sometimes), eggs, old fashioned oats, cottage cheese, and carrots all packed into a loaf and baked. My Pekingese went crazy for it and thoroughly enjoyed every meal. About a month or two into this home made diet, my Pekingese started acting strangely. Five or six hours after dinner, he would suddenly stand up and pace the room nervously, licking the carpet all the while. After furiously licking for several minutes he would start to sneeze. 15 minutes of licking and sneezing leads to him throwing up a big pile of white foam and whatever was in his stomach. The licking, sneezing, and foam-puking go on anywhere from one to three hours. He also burps and passes a lot of gas during these episodes.

Trips to the vet only ended in everyone scratching their heads. Hundreds of dollars later, the most they can tell me is that he had an inflamed esophagus with no discernible cause. I also had blood work done on him, which all came back normal. I started to wonder if my Pekingese had a food allergy of some sort, and I mentioned this to the vet. They said it was possible, but without extremely expensive allergy tests, we'd never know for sure. The vet instead switched my dog to a kibble and canned diet rich in a protein he'd never eaten before- rabbit. The thinking was that rabbit meat would be foreign enough to his system that he wouldn't have a reaction to it. We also stopped giving him treats entirely. And he never gets scraps from the table. We experienced some success with this new diet. The licking episodes went from happening once a week, to once a month. But they were still happening, still ARE happening. I feel at a loss. I don't want these episodes to happen at all. What can I do for my dog? Thank you for your time.

A: This certainly is an unusual case. If the symptoms are always associated with eating I too am wondering about food allergies or even acid reflux. Sometimes I will do a trial of an antacid as well as a prescription strength diet. Since you've noticed such an improvement with this new diet I think that food allergy is a real possibility.

Sometimes more extensive tests like ultrasound and/or endoscopy are useful to really visualize the upper GI tract. Ask your veterinarian about referral to a specialist for more testing. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

New Pups May Infect Chihuahua

Q: Hi I've had my chihuahua for about 7 months and this has never happened. He was the only dog we had in the home and just recently we got two more puppies and day one of the puppies sounded like he was chocking and then threw up some mucus kinda stuff and then the other puppy statred doing it and my my dog is doing it. I don't like the way it sounds because its like he can't breath and it sounds bad...any suggestions on what u might think it is I'd really appreciate it thank you

A: I'm sorry this is happening. Given the history that you have provided, I wonder if one of these dogs picked up a respiratory infection and passed it on to the other dogs. Respiratory infections can be very contagious and can be caused by any of a number of bacteria and viruses. I recommend that all dogs (with few exceptions) be up to date on their vaccines to maximize protection against communicable diseases. Having said that, even vaccinated dogs can get ill sometimes. Respiratory diseases can vary in severity from mild to severe. It is likely that your veterinarian needs to examine these dogs to determine if prescription strength medications are necessary. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Does Hydroxyzine Cause Tear Stains

Q: Hi, was just wondering does hydroxyzine give tear stains to dogs

A: I have never experienced tear staining being caused by hydroxyzine in a dog. Hydroxyzine should be avoided in dogs that have a disease called angle closure glaucoma. There are certain medications that are not compatible with hydroxyzine. If your veterinarian has prescribed this drug and you are noticing eye issues I definitely recommend calling your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Boxer Reacts Badly to Yellow Jacket Stings

Q: My daughter's one year old male boxer received several stings from yellow jackets. (maybe 10 to 15) He broke out with hives all over and acted like he was in shock. He would stand in a daze and stagger some when he walked. He also threw up several times. After about 6 hours the hives went away and he started acting more normal. This happened on Friday night around 8 PM. On Sunday he urinated in my house which is very unusually for him. He only did that once when he was a puppy. My daughter said he urinated twice in her bed Sunday night even though he had just been outside and she saw him go to the bathroom there. Other than this he seems perfectly normal....eating, drinking and playing. Should we give him a few days to see if he gets back to normal or should we take him ASAP to see a vet? Thank you, - Concerned Granny

A: Boxers are notorious for being extra sensitive to issues like bee stings. It sounds like he was having a pretty severe allergic reaction with the hives and vomiting. As far as the urinary abnormalities I cannot say if this is related to the allergic reaction or if there is another unrelated problem going on. I would get him to your veterinarian if this continues. I would also ask your veterinarian to tell you the dose of diphenhydramine that you can have on hand to give your dog in case this happens again. Remember if this happens again, the reaction could be more severe so even if you give medication you'll still want to call your veterinarian. - -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Studdenly Changes Indoor Habits

Q: Hi. My moms cat, Paco, who is an older cat has never wanted to come in my room but lately he's been obsessed with it and staying in there. Also he goes right out side of it and does this really loud cry why?

A: It is difficult for me to say if this is a behavioral issue versus a medical problem. I think that Paco is either avoiding something elsewhere in the house or there is something about your room that is making him feel extra safe. Sometimes older cats can have systemic diseases (diabetes, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, etc) that make them feel abnormal and display abnormal behavior. I really would like for this kitty to get to the veterinarian for a physical examination and bloodwork. - -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rotti Mix Has Breathing Problems

Q: Hi about four years ago I adopted a rotti mix and everything seemed to be going fine until just recently. In the last three days she seems to be breathing harder, facing the wall and sticking her nose way out in front of her, now here is the clincher she is still eating and drinking but I haven't seen her pass any fecal matter in a day or so.

Sometimes when you look at her she seems to be a little incoherent however when you call her name she perks right up and looks at you, now she is at least 8 or 9 years old and her care until she came to me was way less than adequate to achieve a healthy adult dog. I know I will not be able to determine how long she lives by my care as I have owned rescues all my life and their early life dictates their longevity and she was about 4 to 5 years old when I got her and she was skin and bone.

She is also losing weight now. she has never had a really great appetite but I was always able to get her to eat and she is eating for me now but not nearly enough for my taste.

My thought was she was just stressed with our recent move but now I am thinking it is more physical. Please can you at least give me something to go on an idea I know it cannot replace a visit to the vet but I need something to go on until I can get her to see a vet I am not wealthy and need to keep my costs as low as possible. Thank you. Dana

A: As you stated, this will not replace a trip to the veterinarian. It sounds like this dog needs to get to the veterinarian. If she is having respiratory abnormalities it could result in a lower than normal amount of oxygen circulating through the body, which could lead to times of mental confusion. If she came to me I'd start with a physical exam, heartworm test, and I'd ask you to try to bring in a stool sample if she defecated prior to the appointment. Depending on these results I may or may not recommend further tests like X-rays and/or more extensive bloodwork. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten With No Tail May Have Breathing Problems

Q: I am a foster parent for my local shelter and recently took in a wonderful mama cat who gave birth to three kittens. They are now ten days old. I have some questions on one kitten in particular. She was born without a tail, like a manx cat. There are no severs, just a little bob-tail which is odd considering neither the mother, father, or other 2 kittens are tail-less. She doesn't seems to mind. Is this just genetics? Also, the same kitten is having (what I consider) difficulty breathing. Her chest heaves inwards considerably more than the others (looks as if someone is sucking in their gut all the way then letting it out) and sometimes she just lays there with her mouth open. Otherwise, she is eating well and such. We have an appointment for them later in the week, just wondering if this little kitten is just developing and I am paranoid or if there is something wrong. Thank You!

A: I'm glad you have an appointment with your veterinarian. As far as the tail goes, if she is able to walk normally and use the restroom normally it could just be genetics and not cause a problem. I am a bit concerned with the respiratory issues especially if she has open mouth breathing. Please make sure she is tested for feline leukemia and FIV. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Ragdoll Kitten Just Messes Himself

Q: Hello. I got myself a Ragdoll kitten a couple of days ago, he is 8 weeks old. The problem i need help with is that when he's laying down and needs to go to the toilet he just goes, he makes no effort to get up and go anywhere he just either wees or poohs where he is. I need help its happened 6 times in the last 2 days please help. Thank you, Ashlee

A: This certainly is unusual. I recommend that you get this kitten to your veterinarian to try to figure out why this is happening as I could not tell what is going on without a physical exam. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can Change of Dog Food Brand Cause Problems

Q: Hello! My vet recently changed their in house dog food from Science Diet to Royal Canin. I am currently researching the product. I have read that there is a special formula for a Shih Tsu. Mollie is 6 years old and it is most important that she receives the best nutrition. I also supplement her dry food with fresh chicken, rice, and vegetables from my own dinner. Your advice on this Royal Canin or Royal Canin for Shih Tsus would be very appreciated. -- Susan

A: I have to leave it up to your veterinarian to specifically address the dietary needs of your dog. Some dogs, even in the same breed, may have different nutritional requirements depending on their health. For example, some dogs benefit from low protein foods for kidney health while another dog may need a specific food to control the pH of their urine. You are absolutely correct in stating that nutrition is if the utmost importance and since your veterinarian knows all about the health of your dog I will let you ask him/her this question. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Blood Spots in Kitten's Bowel Movement Cause Concern

Q: I Have found a orphaned kitten about 5 days old I know all the basics to taking care of her/him but after I fed him today and wiped/massaged his genitals for his regular bowl movement of liquid poo and pee there was also 2 light spots of blood, I am very worried and was wondering if there is anything I could do myself for Chance.

A: Do you know where the blood came from? If this kitten could have parasites or inflammation in the rectal area there could be bleeding. I would recommend rubbing the rear end with some petroleum jelly to help with irritation. Also please get to your veterinarian if this continues. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rottie Has Penile Discharge

Q: Hello, I have a what we believe to be a one year old Rottie ( he just showed up a stray at our door step on Mother's Day). I have noticed for about a month or two that he has discharge from his penis. It doesn't appear to have any blood or color. It is a white or cream color. It doesn't drip, its just a small discharge that just stays on the tip of his penis. He does lick it off when it appears. He is in good health. I do have other rotties a male and a female that are both fixed. He is the only one who is not neutered. Is this normal or a non-neutered male or is this something i should be concerned with? Thank you very much, Stephanie

A: Hello Stephanie, Believe it or not I get this question quite often and this is the second time today I've been asked this. Obviously I cannot see your dog to say for sure that there is no infection, but chances are it is normal for him. Many male dogs get his type of discharge normally and it is not a problem. Obviously if he starts to feel poorly get him into your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Attacks Recently Groomed Dog

Q: I recently took my pup to the groomer to get a bath and shaved, but now the cat has a terrible fit and attacks the dog when he walks by, like he does'nt know the dog anymore. could this be caused by the shampo that was used or could something have happened to him while he was there.

He also sits down so fast sometimes like something is crawling out of his butt and he's trying to stop it from getting out, he started to do this right after I had him neutered, what could be causing this, he reacted badly to the surgery I had to take him back three times, I believe he was allergic to the stiches.

A: As far as the cat goes, it's pretty common for the animal that didn't leave the house to react to the animal that has been gone. I believe that they are likely reacting to new smells, as animals notice this much more. Usually this will straighten itself out as the animals re-acclimate to each other. If this continues, a gradual re-introduction in stages may be necessary.

The "sitting down fast" behavior could be from fleas, anal gland issues, or even allergies. Your veterinarian would be able to help rule out these specific problems. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Suddenly Has Trouble with Right Hind Leg

Q: Hello. My Yorkie, Lucky, started to limp on his hind, right leg early this evening. As time went on he could not walk at all. He can't jump onto the couch, stands still when I take him to potty and he is whimpering and growling in pain. He was not in any accident that we are aware of. My vet is on vacation this week and there is no one on call for him. I will find someone to see him if Lucky does not improve today. Also, I am fairly sure this is unrelated but his anal glands have been swollen. In the 9 months we have had Lucky, they would swell then go down. The groomer, vet nor myself have been able to express any fluid from them but it did not seem to be an issue. I expressed them tonight because he was licking and barking at his behind. I was finally able to produce something, but it did not look like normal discharge. It was very thick and white. It looked very much like curdled milk but thicker. Please advise me. Thanks, C. Spencer

A: As far as the leg issue goes, it could be any of a number of things. My first thought in a Yorkie is a condition called luxating patella. This is common in smaller dogs and involves their kneecap popping in and out of place. Obviously your veterinarian needs to examine your dog in order to prescribe appropriate pain relief and to diagnose the exact cause of the lameness.

Certainly, anal gland abnormalities could cause him to lick and bark at his hind end. Fleas, allergies, and even intestinal parasites can also cause this. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Does Malti-poo Still Have Parasites?

Q: My Malti-poo she is very tired all the time. We I walk her she sits constantly. I took her to vet about month and half ago. She had a intestine parasite. She was given a shot and reglan for it. She has also quit eating her dog food. She will eat anything we eat. What can I do for her? Sincerely, Jessica

A: I would start by taking another fecal sample to your veterinarian to make sure the parasites are gone. If they are gone then you may want to consider having some bloodwork done to rule out other problems. Good luck -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Should Cat Lick Up SpaghettiSauce?

Q: I know that dogs cannot eat garlic or onions. But is this also true for cats? My big tabby cat loves to lick the plates when I make spaghetti sauce, which contains both garlic and onion. So far, it's never hurt him, but I don't want to take any chances. I love this boy!

A: Small amounts may not hurt but there is the potential for toxicity. Like you said, better safe than sorry. I'm also not a fan of letting cats ingest tomato based products. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pitbull with Distemper

Q: Hi. I have a 5 year old pitbull that was recently diagnosed with distemper. He has been like this for about a month now and hes still full of life. We have already taken him to 4 different vets but they just take a quick glance at him and tell us that he has no chance of surviving this. I read that dogs with distemper should die within the first 2 weeks of having the disease. He still eats and drinks water, and he listens and looks around when we talk to him and at times he tries to lift up his head but he cant. He seems fine but he just cant stand up or walk. One of his hind legs had a ticking that traveled throughout his body and now his whole body twiches. I was just wondering if there is anything else we can do for him or if it would just be best to put him down? Thanks.

A: I'm so sorry you are going through this. Distemper is an often fatal disease in dogs that can manifest in different ways. I have seen dogs with respiratory issues, gastrointestinal issues, and of course the neurological problems that your dog is displaying. The decision whether to euthanize your dog or not is up to you. If your dog has been like this for a while with no improvement he likely will not get any better. In situations like this we need to consider the overall quality of life and make the most humane decision for that animal. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

First Heat Cycle Does Not Seem Normal

Q: Hello, I wonder if you can shed some light on my little girls situation. I've had dogs for quite a while, my eldest female is 16 yrs so I'm kinda familiar with all possible medical issues that can occur with dogs. We got Zoe from my niece at about 7 months old and within a week she went into her first heat cycle. My niece had all shots and exams up to date but I needed to be reassured that everything was good so I took her to my vet. Sure enough she is in heat but in very good health and as happy as can be. Except her mammary glands were very hard and swollen and vagina seemed larger than I've ever seen a dogs get. My vet said it was normal and there was nothing to worry about but it seems more hightened than the norm. Both seemed to itch allot or maybe they were sore but uncomfortable non the less. She nibbles, tries to scratch but can't reach the lower ab so I lend a hand from time to time. I would put her on a heating blanket or a little chilled rag to see which made her feel better.

If I rub her belly she tends to wag her back paws as if to scratch and if I did it all day she would let me. Its now been 2 months and her lower mammary glands are still hard and she is still sensitive. Although the enlarged vagina has reduced in size it never went back to the normal size and it turned black? She seems hypersensitive there as well, if she starts to bite it as to scratch she becomes obsessed with it. So much so that she is extremely uncomfortable and then starts to, well for lack of a better word "humps" the air. She will continue to do this until I distract her with a toy or shift her attention to playing. My vet wanted to wait a bit for all her hormones to settle before spaying her and he just passes everything off as normal. None of my other 3 girls did this ever, so I'm concerned and want to rule out any possible illness. If not then try to find something that could ease the discomfort in the mean time . Any advice or information would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for you time T. Kramer

A: Thanks for telling us about your dog. Sometimes after a dog cycles you will continue to see enlargement of their reproductive organs for quite some time. Without seeing her myself it's difficult to say the exact nature of the problem. Could she have an infection? Is there any exposure to any human hormones? (For exampIe, I have seen female dogs look persistently in heat when their owners use topical medications like estrogen that the dog can absorb too.) Could she have another problem like skin allergies making her itchy? These are just potential reasons that she may be doing this. I am assuming of course that she is not pregnant. Let us know how she continues to do. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Antibiotic Use As Home Remedy Not Advised

Q: I sent a previous message but I forgot to add that by the suggestion of my aunt who has a lot of knowledge for dogs I gave my dog one pill of antibiotics and were buying a cone for him to stop any irritation he may cause to it, but he is an outside dog so I don't know what to do. We found the dog a few days ago and haven't been able to get his shots or check up yet so I don't know what to do. We were only able to get his hair cut because he had so much hair that was tangled and matted with lots of twigs and burrs in his hair. So I don't know what to do from here, if I could get some advice I would really appreciate it.

A: I do not recommend giving antibiotics unless they are specifically prescribed for your dog and for a specific disease. Not all antibiotics are appropriate for skin issues. This dog may very well need some stronger medications to ease the itch. There likely will not be an effective home remedy. For this dog's sake please make an appointment with your verinarian as soon as possible. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Collie Mix Always Tired and Vomiting Q:Hi I wondering could you help me find out what is wrong with my one year old collie mix millie she has got broader and always tired an very lazy doesn't want to leave the house to go outside and she is vomiting in the mornings and her nipples are hard

A: You should get your dog to your veterinarian especially if she is frequently vomiting and if she is lethargic. I wonder if she may be having a pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. Please have her examined.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog's Skin Turns Red Around Ears When Excited

Q: I have a six month old female blue fawn pitbull. I have noticed under certain conditions that her skin around her ears and eyes turn very pink almost red. This happens when she is around other animals or very hyper small children. It's usually when I take her to Petsmart for her doggy training or if she is around my niece who is extremely active, is this normal?

A: Yes, this is very normal. Often when dogs are excited the skin, ears, and sometimes even the whites of the eyes become very red. As long as your dog seems to be feeling well I wouldn't be concerned. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

|Chihuahua Responds Badly to Vaccine

Q: I recently purchased an 8wk old apple head chihuahua little boy on May22,2012. They had him on cesar soft food in the canisters, when I got him I noticed he didn't have puppy breath all I culd smell as his food.? His poop was soft and it smelled like the food , so I wanted to change it so I slowly mixed his food with wellness puppy but he still mostly ate cesar. On Tuesday the day after memorial Day I bot a puppy vaccine from tractor supply it was his distemper and parvo vaccine he seemed fine till this morn which, he went from pretty much fine to puking yellow, poopin yellow, very very weak he trys to drink but can't even walk he went from completely perky and happy to very very weak please help me ids whats wrong with him, I'm gonna try to take him to the vet in the morning but I don't think he's gonna make it throughout the night , please help me I'm feeling so helpless just crying holding him he's so little he probably don't weigh a pound he's about the size of my checkbook he's so tiny please help me. -- Thanks A. Foutz

A: I'm sure by now you have contacted your veterinarian and I hope everything is ok. Please realize that this is not a venue for getting quick or emergency consults but I do hope everything is fine. My biggest concern when reading your post was that your puppy could have a virus called parvo. Other potential problems could include vaccine reaction, hypoglycemia, intestinal parasites, and a long list of other potential problems. I am very sorry that your puppy became so ill. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pit Bull With Mucus Plug

Q: why has my american red nose pit bull lose mucus plug on monday and she lost it on saturday.

A: I'm sorry but this question is impossible for me to answer without more details about your dog. Feel free to write back and give more detailed information. I hope your dog is doing well. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

7 Year Old Cat Urinating More Frequently

Q: My cat is around 7 yrs. old, she was a stray, her name is Kiki. I found her when she was about 3-4 months old. She has been a healthy cat. Has only gone to the vet. for her shots. I noticed a few days ago that she is urinating frequently, seems to be in small amounts. And she has wandered around the house during the day, for the last 2 days, meowing on and off, which is not her at all. She is a quiet cat, only meowing when I'm getting her treat ready. Then settles on my lap and sleeps all afternoon. The only other symptom that she is showing is she cleans that area more than usual. She is a indoor/outdoor cat.
I hope I've giving you enough information to tell me what is wrong. Or some advice on what to do.

Thank you, -- Julie in Phoenix, Az.

A: I'm sorry you are going through this. Please call your veterinarian to get her in for an appointment. This could be urinary tract infection, bladder stones, or just inflammation in the lower urinary tract common in cats. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shepherd Breathing Sounds\

Q: My German Shephard, had lost her voice. She had treatment for that. However, she now has a heavy raspy breathing (sounding horse-like). She isn't in any pain. Please help, what's causing this and how can I help sooth her breathing.

A: I am not able to tell you exactly why this is happening with your dog. You need to let your veterinarian know that this is going on. Your dog may need to have X-rays taken, possibly bloodwork including a heartworm test, and you may even want to ask your veterinarian if your dog's clinical signs are consistent with a condition called laryngeal paralysis.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Beagle-Lab puppy, 8 weeks old, suddenly develops problems

Q: We have a beagle lab pup she was ok this afternoon then her rt eye was squinted and red inside within a few hrs her other eye is the same as the rt one. She yelps for no reason lays down wont eat/drink and got a bloody nose...any suggestions what could b wrong?

A: I'm not sure what is going on but it sounds like you need to get this dog to your veterinarian to check for possible allergic reaction, infection, or even a bleeding disorder. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Parvo Danger Continues For Other Dogs

Q: My Pomapoo recently recovered from parvo and can come home any day now but he can't come home until we find out a way not for the Pomapoo to give the parvo to my other dog which is a Shihtzu and has not had any boosters until yesterday and she is 5 years old. Do you have any suggestions I've already asked the vet he's been staying at but they don't have any suggestions so he's just being boarded there now for 5 days but they said he'll be contagious for 1 month and I can't afford that. So any other suggestions?

A: Parvo is very contagious and can remain present for a long time. Obviously the concern is that your other dog hasn't had all of the vaccines and is very vulnerable if exposed to this virus. I suppose it could work out if you kept the dogs physically separated in your house for the quarantine period. Since parvo is passed in a dog's stool it would be best to make sure that they use the bathroom in different areas. I'd even go as far as picking up the stool from your infected puppy and maybe pouring some bleach solution over where he used the bathroom. You will want to wash your hands after handling him and preferably even change clothes before touching your healthy dog. I know this is hard and I appreciate you trying to do the right thing. -- -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Editor's Note: Check with your dogless friends. Perhaps one of them can babysit one of your dogs for a month. And have them dispose of any stool safely and promptly.

Golden Retriever Has Swollen Throat

Q: I have a 6 yr old fixed male Golden Retriever who has refused to eat now for 24 hours. I thought maybe he had got part of a rawhide bone stuck in his throat, which he has done before, so I stuck my fingers down his throat to find that the right side of his throat is swollen. He is slobbering more than usual, panting more and he was feeling a little warm yesterday but today feels fine. I have tried feeding him dry dog food, wet dog food , canned chicken, lunchmeat and everything in between but he refuses to eat and is also drinking about half the amount of water that he usually drinks. I was giving him benadryl but that didnt seem to do anything and have since stopped.

A: I'm so sorry that your dog feels poorly. I think you need to get him into your veterinarian. The drooling and panting could be from nausea and abdominal pain. -- -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

How to Remove Black Tar-like Substance

Q: Our female pug, 11 yrs old, has a black tar like substance on the outside of her vagina. We try to wash it off but we just cannot get the area clean. Is there any special wash that will penetrate the tar substance?Any advise would be greatly appreciated.Thank you

Q: I hope that your little dog is ok. Do you know what this substance is? My first thought was wondering if there could be blood present. I would just recommend using a mild shampoo. Sometimes hydrogen peroxide helps wash stains off of skin but you need to be careful using it near potentially sensitive areas of the body. -- -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pug Exhibits Symptoms of Neurological Disorder

Q: pug is 2 years old. Ziggy is his name and lately I've notice some strange behavior that has me concerned. If I had to guess I would attribute some sort of nuerological disorder as to why he is reacting the way he does. What Zig does is, when he shows symptoms, is to sit down and use one of his front legs to propel himself to do a tight circle, (I believe it is always in a clockwise direction). It takes him approximately 3 of the actions to make a full 360 degree motion. His head is always cocked back as if he is trying to scratch his hind area, but can not reach. Sometimes he just goes back and forth almost as if he is trying to scratch a flea that he can not reach. Ziggy is doing his more and more on a daily basis it seems.

He does not show any other symptoms and seems to be full of energy at all times. He eats all his food....just seems to have this nuerological abnormality, periodically. Any idea why Ziggy is doing this? He does not have any muscular atrophy in his hind legs or history of seizures. Thanks,

A: I'm sorry that your dog is worrying you. This could be anything from a neurological issue (as you suggested) to problems with anal glands. It is important to get your dog into your veterinarian for an exam to make sure there's nothing that can be treated simply. -- -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Puppy Is No Longer On Best Behavior

Q: My puppy Oscar ( french bulldog x old tyme bulldog) is roughly 7.5months old, recently he's been acting up more, and not listening, he gets walked everyday and a long walk at the weekend. Up until then he's been awesome. Could this be because he's not been neutered yet?

A: You are going through typical "puppy issues." This dog is testing you to try to determine what he can get away with. It is completely normal. I think that it would be a wonderful idea to find a reputable dog trainer in your area just to get your puppy used to learning to see you as the leader. Make sure you always use positive reinforcement rather than punishment while your dog is trained.

I do recommend that you have your dog neutered as it can prevent significant issues/health problems that sometimes do not show up until later in life. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Q: I have a spayed 1 year old teacup chihuahua .. she is 2.7 usa lbs or just over on 1.2kilo .. how much pepto can I give her.. tried the outside to eat grass but she would not eat it.. needs relief .. thank you -- A: I'm not a big fan of giving pepto bismol to dogs as there can be potentially harmful amounts of anti-inflammatories. It would be best to call your veterinarian to discuss a safer option for your dog. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Bloody Mucus Oozes From Euthanized Pug

Q: My elderly pug had to be euthanized because he had arthritis so bad and after trying all medications possible he was still in so much pain. He had very restricted movement in his shoulder and elbow joints thus hardly move. The question I have is, after my pug was euthanized, I brought him home and after a short while there was bloody mucus starting to come out of his nose. Why would this happen~was there a hidden medical ailment that he had that I didn't know about? This would give me piece of mind to know. Thank-you for your advice.

A: I'm so sorry for your loss but I know that you made the most humane decision for your little dog. While I cannot say without seeing your dog the exact reason for this nasal discharge I would not assume that there was a disease process that was missed. This could have just been a normal part of the changes that occur in the chest cavity after euthanasia. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten With Amputated Leg

Q: I have just adopted a kitten who has lost his right rear leg from the joint down, and all of the toes off the left rear leg. He seems to have little to no locomotive distress. He has some trouble jumping and climbing, though he is not aware of it. My question is in regard to his stump bleeding. Several times he has stubbed his partial leg and caused it to start bleeding. It seems to distress him for a moment, and then he continues on with his playing. Is this delicate skin on the appendage part of the healing process, and as this occurs scar tissue will develop, making it sturdier, or should we look into surgery to shorten the bone more to take pressure off the end of the stump?

A: I'm a little unclear as to what is going on. Were the appendages surgically removed? You said the kitten lost his right rear leg but didn't say from which joint down. If this was a surgical issue that recently was treated it could be tender for a while. If this has not been addressed by a veterinarian it would be a good idea to have your veterinarian evaluate the kitten to make sure no other problems need to be addressed. I commend you for taking on a special needs cat. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Kitten Has High Fever

Q: Can you please tell me if a high fever of 105.5 for an 8 week old kitten is deadly??? My kitten is at the vet office for fliuds and medication. I am so worried. She tested negative for FIV and FeLV. Her fever last night was 104.6, so she is getting worse. I'm so scared she is not going to make it. Thank you -- Michelle

A: Fevers are pretty common in cats and often are called "fever of unknown origin" when there is not an obvious cause of the fever. I agree that this is a very sick kitten but certainly with aggressive treatment there is a chance that your kitty can recover. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Bulldog Drips Pee

Q: my name is Amanda, I have a question about my seven month old English bulldog . She drips pee non stop, what can I do?

A: You need to get her to your veterinarian to check for problems like urinary tract infection, bladder stones, and other urinary tract abnormalities that can exist in dogs. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Husky Pup Has Multiple Symptoms

Q: We got Hudson the Husky at 4 months old and he has been having issues since the day we brought him home from the breeders. He started to have diarrhea really bad and about 5-10 times a day! And this is when he was still potty training. We then took him to the vet within 3 days of getting him and was diagnosed with coccidia. Started on prescription. Diarrhea seemed to get better then got worse again, and he was diagnosed with giardia and put on another round of medication. Once the giardia cleared up, he started having urinary problems and bleeding from his penis and was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection. Started a prescription for a uti. He is now almost 9 months old and after his 4th round of medication for uti's, it is still present.

Other symptoms include: eats strange objects (might just be him but it is constant) -- wants to eat grass all the time -- big appetite -- weight loss/not gaining weight or growing (even though he is now at 4 cups of food/day) -- poops at least 4-6 times per day -- recent bald spots (but he is a husky, don't know if they get spots where they lose more fur?)

Other things to note: He has been to 2 vets clinics and 3 vets (since they couldn't even cure his uti, we went to another vet) He has been on 4 different types of foods, all of which we changed at a gradual progression. He is on Natural Balance right now (high in protein, lots of real vegetables and vitamins) He was on rice and hamburger for a month off and on because of diarrhea He was given a Vit C twice a day for 2-3 months He is now on 'Golds' Probiotics and Urinary meal (cranberry powder) twice a day each I also was giving him 2 Tbsp Apple cider vinegar and 2 Tbsp plain yogurt for uti with his food (at night) He gets exercise daily- usually 2 short walks and one long one or a run (and a lot of energetic play time)

Any thoughts? Vet ruled out diabetes awhile ago because urine is so concentrated. The vet said our next step is to get an ultrasound to check for stones and/or an IVU to check for an ectopic ureter?? I've researched 'cushings' and all kinds of diseases. Thank you.

Q: Wow, it sounds like this puppy has had some challenging issues. As far as the digestive issues go it seems like in a young dog parasites are the most common type of problem. I often ask owners to collect a stool sample from 5 days in a row to bring to me to send out to the lab to make sure there are no additional difficult to find parasites that could be affecting weight gain, etc. I also sometimes put these guys on a hypoallergenic diet appropriate for puppies. Sometimes I'll even do a blood test called a GI panel to look for other causes of failure to thrive.

As far as the urinary issues I do think additional imaging studies are warranted to make sure there are no stones. I have seen bladder stones in puppies even younger than your little one.

As far as the new bald spots I'd ask your veterinarian to do a test called a skin scrape to look for mites common to puppies. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is The Lab Realy Obese? Q: Hello, my 6 and a half yr old black lab blue heeler mix, male weighs 60 lbs. Vet said he was obese and borderline hypothyroid. She put him on thyroid med, he became lethargic listless fever excessive thirst his core became hard and large he looked like a hot dog little head big body. His hips and tail swelled up rear leg pain and lameness chews his inner flanks and around base of tail and totally not himself. We weaned him off meds and 80% of symptems are gone. There is still some back and hip pain base of tail slightly swoolen and chewing and licking base of tail and inner flank area. Is 60 lbs to fat? He doesnt look fat to me. Will the swelling chewing and licking go away or is there a problem ? Symptoms 80% gone while weening him from pills 4 days 1 pill a day and 1 pill every other day using 3 pills. He was originally on 2 pills a day . Symptoms came on with pills and are leaving as he gets off. A cvc and blood work was done and everything came back great all organs also great. Help what should i do. I dont think my dog is fat or has thyroid

Q: I'm sorry that your dog has not been doing well. I cannot really answer your question as to whether or not 60 pounds is fat for your dog. There is such a range of variability even among dogs of the same breed that I would have to see your dog to determine the body condition score. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog's Persistant Cough

Q: Hi: My female dog seems to cough a lot and it almost seems like see is gagging on flem but nothing comes out. I had her to the vet. for xrays & it showed a white film on her lungs & my vet. wasn’t sure what it was so sent the xrays off to another clinic to be looked at. It came back saying they were not sure what it was but it did not look like cancer. She coughs a lot almost like she has flem in her throat she also groans a lot. Can you give me any suggestions? Thank you. Katherine

A: I'm sorry you are having to deal with this. Sometimes I will do a test called a transtracheal wash in an attempt to get a sample from the airways. This test is not always diagnostic but you can get samples to send to the lab to look for abnormal cells and infection. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

After a Cold Swim Dog Has Arched Back

Q: After my dog had a couple of swims in the cold sea, she started staggering whilst walking with an arched back. Back at home she is still the same, could she have cramped some muscles? Any ideas? Much appreciated, Liz, U.K.

A: Certainly this could be a soft tissue injury like a sprain/strain. I would also be concerned about neck or back pain. Let's get your dog to your veterinarian if this persists. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Yorkichon Has Gastric Symptoms

Q: My 13 month old Yorkichon has been to the vet 3 times in the last 3 months. Thought she had a blockage-did x-rays and found nothing. Gave her antibiotics...she stopped vomiting and was acting great. After 10 days of antibiotics, a week later she began having loose stool again and diaharia.. She looks so sad. I took her to the vet again and they had blood work again and found nothing. We changed her food to adult royal canine about 1 month before all this began happening...could it be her food??? She also licks her paws sometimes at night and also shakes (like she is wet) quite a few times a day..i would say about 20. Please give me some insight. I am planning on changing her food hoping it is an allergy. We received Predinsone for allergies for her..i was going to try, but thought about her food first. Thanks.

A: I'm sorry you are going through this. There are so many reasons that young dogs can have stomach upset. Make sure that intestinal parasites have been ruled out. Some parasites are difficult to find and some are not even present in the stool every day. For this reason if I have a dog with chronic upset stomach issues I ask owners to save a stool sample for 5 days in a row and I send it to an outside laboratory to look for parasites.

Little dogs can be prone to issues such as portosystemic shunts (a congenital abnormality). A bile acids blood test can help with this. Any dog can have food allergies too. Finally if these problems persist there is a test called a GI panel that can help rule in or rule out certain diseases.

As far as the itchy skin and shaking I'm suspicious of skin allergies and maybe even an ear infection. Remember that sensitivity to food can cause GI issues and skin issues. Good luck to you! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is Cavalier King Charles Pregnant or Not?

Q: We bred our sweet Abby 60 days ago. Her due date would be May 1st...however, she really doesn’t appear to be pregnant. Her vulva is still slightly enlarged and her nipples stick out, but she doesn’t show signs of having milk. She has gained nearly 2 pounds and looks thicker all over (including her chest)....but no protruding belly and I’m not feeling any movement of any kind yet. Her appetite has increased and she feels the need to eat grass every time I take her outside (which she just started in the past month). The breeder keeps telling me that Cavaliers are good at hiding their pregnancies. Is it true that some Cavalier King Charles Spaniels carry their puppies up in their ribcage? I am charting her temps twice a day now with no real sign of it dropping yet. Of course, I plan to wait her out...but I’m more and more inclined to think she’s having a false pregnancy at this point.
Frustrated and Disappointed.

A: The best way to know if she is pregnant is to go to your veterinarian for an ultrasound or X-rays. X-rays are actually more useful in terms of counting puppies. Certainly, depending on the number of puppies present there may be puppies not obviously palpable. I know you understand that I cannot tell you over the Internet if she is definitely pregnant. Get her to your veterinarian to know for sure. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Sphinx Cat has Spots

Q: Hi there!I've been wondering about my poor Sphynx cat lately. He has developed these dark grey or black spots on his legs near his belly and testicular region. Now they're starting to spread to his belly and some have appeared on his front legs.They don't seem to bother him or itch, they just look dirty. It makes him look like I don't take care of him, which I do. I love my little guy. Do you think there is anything wrong with him, or what could it be do you think? Also, what can I do to get rid of these spots? Thanks for your time!

A: To determine if this is a normal change in pigment versus a problem in need of a dermatology work up you will want to contact your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten, Runt of the Litter, Has Poor Motor Skills

Q: I had a female cat who had kittens about 4-6 weeks ago She had 4 but the runt is a little different. It likes to be pet, it has a mouse voice. and doesnt play with the others. eats but lays around and sleeps has very poor motor skills walks ok but doesnt respond to snaped fingers behind its head. I really dont know if it sees or hears do u think something is wrong or is it just not as advace as the others its very sweet kitten very loving.

A: This could be caused by any of a number of things. Ear issues could affect hearing. There is a disease that some kittens have called cerebellar hypoplasia that can affect motor skills. My point is that there are so many potential causes that your veterinarian needs to examine this kitty to let you know. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is it time to put down my 14 year old mini dachshund?

Q: She is losing weight, shaking and acts sometimes disoriented. She is constipated (although bloody sometimes) and makes rattle breathing noises in her nose, She is blind in one eye and going blind in the other, coughs like something is in her throat and all she wants to is sleep. She used to love outdoors, but only wants to come in now. She hollers sometimes when I pick her up under her chest. She is breathing hard, snorts, and her stomach makes really loud noises. My problem is, I am flying home from Europe next week - a 30 hr flight, and I am afraid she will not make it. She doesn't always want to eat, even boiled chicken. Her skin stays up when I pull it up on her neck, indicating dehydration even though she drinks water. She throws up white foam many mornings.. My question, is, is it time to put her down? She has lose her quality of life and seems to be in pain a lot. It is $25. here to put her down with cremation, but would be $300 in the states, plus what if she dies on the plane home? She would be in the cabin with me but I am afraid the stress would be too much. She shakes terribly. She will be going to a home with me with 4 other dogs, which will not be a good thing as she is very grouchy. Is it time to put her down?

A: I'm sorry your dog is not doing well. This is a decision only you can make. If you feel like your dog is having more bad days than good days sometimes it is the most humane decision to let them go peacefully. Where this is performed is up to you although I agree that travel can be very stressful in an already ailing dog. Forgive me for taking so long to answer this post as I've been out of town. I wish you the best of luck.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Ear Cleaner for Small Poodle

Q: I was wondering is there a better ear cleanser for dogs. I have a 10 lb. poodle and I bought Epi-Otic Ear cleanser . It says to flood the ear and then wipe, but I never get any wax out of his ear, maybe very little. I am sure he must have more. Is there another product that is safe to use to get all the wax out of his ears? They only sell this one at the vet.
Thanks as always

A: There are several ear cleansers available in the veterinary world. I need to say that some are unsafe for animals that could have ruptured ear drums so you have to be careful about which ones you use. Sometimes you don't get much from the ears when you clean because some dogs just don't have waxy or dirty ears. The cleaner that you mentioned is very good. You could also try to do a search for cleansers with the phrase micellar solutions. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Tsu Puppy

Q: my 10 month old puppy's nipples are swollen and some have scabs, are blueish and some are red and she has a small bubble lump on her tummy and soft to touch. She also had a splinter on her paw a few days ago and had swelling and redness with a little drainage, but it is much better now and all the swelling went down. I have not been able to take her to the vet, cuz I just spent $100.oo on her and her sister to get groomed. I have to wait 2 weeks until I get paid again. I am a senior disabled and on a very limited income...can you please help?

A: I cannot help a problem like this over the Internet. This could be anything from a normal horomonal change to possible infection. I recommend having your veterinarian examine this puppy. Good luck!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Q: My cavalier might have swallowed an Advil. Why should I do? Thanks,James

A: The way to treat depends on the exact weight of a dog and the strength/amount of medication. I recommend that all pet owners have the number for an animal poison control handy. Contact your veterinarian to find out which poison control group is recommended. I often use ASPCA poison control. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shepherd Flea Allergy

Q: I have a beautiful 7 year old German Shepherd who is in perfect health, except that over the past year or so he's developed a flea allergy. This causes hm to itch so mch that he hs chewed his gorgeous tail to bits, gets hot spots costantly, and is forever chewing or biting on himself or scratching. He's been n every kind of flea medication except for Confortis. He will not take it! We've tried using pill pockets....the second his takes a bite he tastes the chopped up pill , spits it out and takes no more. I've tried almost pulverizing it and puting into the most delicious (to him) kind of moist canned dog food..... one bite and he knows that pill is in there and will eat no more. What can I do? His vet has put him through a course of Prednisone, we've tried Benedril, the vet now has him oon another anti-allergy prescription pill, all to no avail. Any suggestions?

A: I'm so sorry! If he absolutely will not take Comfortis you may want to try a topical product and perhaps use an oral insect growth regulator such as Program. Also environmental treatment is key. I've had clients who have had amazing results with FleaBusters. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pekingese has Problems After Grooming

Q: Hi,
I have a male Pekingese, weighs about 8 pounds and is turning 11 years old this July. He has been a bouncy happy little guy. I took him to the groomer the 13th of March, when I picked him up he was real weak and walked like he was drunk, when he tried to lift his leg to pee, he rolled and had trouble getting back up. Normally when I pick him up he is all bouncy and runs around outside on his leash, goes potty and is generally bouncy.

I have noticed a few things since his groom, he as some tuffs of hair that are peach or coffee colored, I thought it was coffee stains since I had taken an espresso with me when I was carrying him to the car to go to the groomer, he is a light fawn color. He has seemingly gotton worse in walking, having poor balance. He walks along pretty good, a little wobbly. when he tries to lift his leg or if he tries to hurry when he's walking he will tip over and roll, he has difficulty getting back up on his feet but does get up.

Other than his balance problem, he has minor tremors aabout every thirty seconds continuously.

Other than those issues, he is perfectly normal, eats well, drinks alot as usual, seems happy. I have felt him all over pressing everywhere and he doesn't mind at all, doesn't seem to have pain anywhere. I asked the groomer what happened right away, she said he wouldn't stand up and she had to hold him up to groom him, but says he does that sometimes, he doesn't want to stand up and be groomed.

Thank you for any advice or opinion you might share.


A: I'm sorry that your dog isn't acting his normal self. I cannot say for sure what is going on with your dog but the problems standing up/keeping his balance make me worry about a neurological disorder or even an ear issue. Please get him into your veterinarian for an exam.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM


Q: My hamsters has a big lump that is rather odd It's pink and sticks out infront of the back left leg it doesn't seem to impair to much is eating and toiletting fine no other symptoms that I can see thankful for any help

A: I worry about infection or a tumor based on what you have told me. I recommend letting a veterinarian actually examine your hamster for an exact diagnosis. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Has SeriousSymptoms

Q: My dog is shivering,vomiting green mucosy stuff,shaking,constant dry mouth, not pooping what is wrong with her?

A: It sounds like your dog could be seriously ill. Please get to a veterinarian as soon as possible. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Crying Chihuahua

Q: My two and a half year old Chihuahua started crying loudly for no apparent reason for 2 or 3 minuets. I tried to console him but I think he must have been in pain. I know it was not a bad dream because he was not sleeping prior to his cries. Once he finally calmed down he seemed to be perfectly alright. He was wagging his tail responding to my voice and took the treat I offered him. I'm worried he had some kind of cramp maybe in his tummy, he gets people goodies sometimes. I 'm careful about what I give him no chocolate or anything of course ! He's house broken and always lets me know when he needs a walk and he didn't have an accident and his most recent poopy seemed to be normal. He's had all required vaccinations and all his blood work and vet checks to date have raised no cause for concern. This has happened twice before but never for so long and not in the past year until now. He had been sleeping on both of those occasions and was so quickly soothed that I chalked it up to a bad dream but this time it really scared me. Of course should it happen again today I will go to emergency vet care right away. Should I be worried should I make an appointment with his regular vet as soon as I can ? What could cause this and what is the best way to try and soothe him when this happens. I love my little guy and hate to see him suffer and I'm worried this may be serious. Please offer any advice you can. Thank You Sincerely Adrienne Riley

A: I am unable to say exactly what is going on. Like you, my first concern would be pain. It's never a bad idea to have your veterinarian take a look just to make sure that nothing obvious jumps out (anal gland issues, knee issues, etc).-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Need Help With 13-yr Female Pug

Q: Hi, I found your website online and hope you can help. I have a female Pug, Yoda, she'll be 13 April 19th and is spayed. She's been really healthy her whole life but hurt her back December 09. She fell off the back of the couch, she was treated with muscle relaxants and pain killers. By the next day I couldn't keep her contained and she had a remarkable recovery. And good till fall of last year (Sept 2011). I noticed that she was walking slower & having a harder time getting up after sleeping. Thought that it was just getting older, I got a full blood panel done (all looked good) & started acupuncture end of January (it had helped a previous pet). The Vet was out for 2 weeks after and so didn't do another treatment but before I could I ended up in the ER with her (Feb 26th). I could tell that her back was really bothering her then she'd start shaking I'd get her calmed down and I got her on Robaxin & tramadol until the Dr. got back and could see her. 3 days later she had eaten dinner, gone outside did her pug rub on the floor and had taken her nap. She got up and I could just tell she was uncomfortable, she started shaking and looking very stressed, she threw up.

I could tell that her back was spasming, I was trying to help her as much as I could with out stressing her then she started having trouble breathing, she got weak in the knees and laid down. I immediately took her to the ER, they put her on oxygen and wanted to run $500.oo worth of tests that I couldn't afford and I had just gotten her blood tested. The Dr. thought it was cancer and wanted to put her down then and I just couldn't. I brought her home & helped her through the night by dawn her breathing was better and by daylight she was up. She ate breakfast, went outside, was walking. I took her to my vet and checked her lungs...sounded fine....checked her was good. Her oxygen level was good. Kept her on the meds. She seemed to better. I could tell when her back was bothering her. I've been carrying her up & down any stairs, tried to prevent her from jumping at all. But she's sneaky and when she's feeling good she get too active and will jump on the couch or jump down (I have her own stairs for the couch & bed). When she is feeling better she's eating & drinking just fine, her eyes are bright and she's alert. She does sleep alot.

There's been 2 more incidents, again on March 8th, she started arching her head back and started crying I could tell that she was having spasms, she was instantly week, trouble walking then breathing. Took her back to my vet, they put her on oxygen took xrays (they looked fine for the heart and lungs) again took her home keeping her on the meds and again the the next day up walking around hungry, drinking, going potty. Then March 18th she started shaking gave her the muscle relaxants and she calmed down then the next night March 19th went to bed and saw her starting to cough mildly and stressing and threw up and instantly had trouble breathing and week kneed & couldn't support herself. I don't know how to help her, I don't know what is wrong, my vet had suggested getting an MRI but I can't afford 1700 right now. I'm not clear how she can seem like she won't make it through the night and then seemingly better the next day. Have you ever heard of these symptoms is there anything else that I could be doing or that my vet could be looking at? Please help! -- Meradith & Yoda

A: Wow, I'm so sorry that you are going through this. From what you've mentioned I do worry about neck and /or back pain. Unfortunately advanced imaging techniques are necessary for a specific diagnosis. If it is decided that this is definite pain and further diagnostics aren't possible you may have to just continue with pain medications and hope for the best.

There is a disease called Addison's disease that can manifest in a variety of ways. It tends to have a waxing and waning course. You may want to ask your veterinarian if it would be appropriate to check for this. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Strange Red Blotch on Dog's Stomach

Q: I noticed a red round blotch on my dogs stomach near his testicles towards his leg. He doesnt seem bothered by it, even when I touch it. I have checked to see if it is a bite but there is no puncture mark on or near it. What could this be.

A: This could be anything from a skin allergy, infection, mite, autoimmune disorder, the list goes on and on. If this area is still present please have your veterinarian take a look to make sure that this is not an early sign of a more significant disease. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Smelly Lumps on Dog

Q: My dog has a several lumps, most of them very small. However, she has a sizable one on her forehead and one on her ear and they smell terribly. While she doesn't appear to be in pain, the smell is really disturbing and the number of smaller lumps on her body appears to be slowly increasing. She is a 12 year old Cocker Spaniel (she will be turning 13 on September 19th) who has become blind and deaf but she can still smell and she always eats her food.

A: Older dogs commonly get lumps and bumps. Often they are benign, but it is impossible for me to know the exact types of masses that your dog has without an exam. Sometimes benign masses can become infected and irritated and may require antibiotics. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Puppy Sleeps With Part of White in Eye Showing

A: Hi, I just bought a 5 wks. old pure breed shih tzu. I washed him with a lukewarm water waist-down. Then she had chills. Then after I dried her using a towel, she slept with her sclera showing. Then when she woke up, she still had the same appetite. Is this normal?

A: If I am understanding correctly, you are asking if it's normal to have some of the whites of her eyes showing while asleep. This breed can include dogs with slightly bulging eyes. This can sometimes make it difficult for the eyelids to completely close. If she seems fine now I'd just monitor her. As a puppy she will require several visits to the veterinarian. Please have your veterinarian examine the eyes extra carefully. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Boxer's Only Problem -- Frequent Urination

Q: I have a very large boxer. about a hundred pounds or more not fat just very tall and lanky . he drinks water continuously and when i take him out he pees for what seems like forever it is a small stream and constant for about 4 minutes the urine also smells so bad it will take your breath at times.he cant hold it very long and all of my dogs are rescues leaving me a little strapped for vets. however due to his extreme size and defensive personality im sure this will be his forever home .

recently i started monitoring his water intake this has not helped but the smell is so strong it wont ever leave. do you think there could be something wrong with him ? he has had no loss of appetite nor energy.i have an older boxer and 3 other rescues and have always had a pack of dogs but have NEVER smelt anything like that.

A: Excessive water drinking and urination can be caused by many different diseases including urinary tract infection, kidney disease, liver disease, Cushings disease, the list goes on and on. I highly recommend getting him into your veterinarian for bloodwork and a urinalysis. A urine culture/sensitivity would be another helpful test. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What is a Good Number for a Diabetic Dog

Q: Hi there, My 12 year old Schnauzer was recently diagonosed with diabetes. He receives ten units of insulin twice a day. I have been testing his blood sugar once a day (which is a real challenge!) The vet told me anything under 200 was a good number, but this number seems a little high to me. What would recommend for a good blood sugar number? Cotton weighs 21 pounds. Thank you! --Cotton's Mama

A: This is a great question. I have a diabetic dog as well and am very familiar with this disease. I typically start dogs on a specific type of insulin and base the number of units given on their body weight to start with. Some dogs that weigh 21 pounds may need more or less insulin than other dogs weighing the same amount due to normal variations. After being on the insulin for one week I like to do a glucose curve. A glucose curve allows me to check their blood sugar through the day. With a glucose curve I ask the owner to feed their dog breakfast and give insulin as they normally would at home and then bring them into the hospital for the day so that I can measure blood sugar levels through the day. I take a blood sugar measurement every 2 hours unless the blood sugar gets below 150 in which case I check it every hour.

The reason I like to check several readings through the day is because if you only check one reading in the day it's difficult to measure a trend. For example, if you get a reading that is way too high, it can mean that you aren't giving enough insulin OR it can actually mean that you are giving too much. You wouldn't know which was the cause unless you had other numbers to compare it to that day.

As far as a goal being to stay below 200, I agree that is appropriate. This number is higher than normal, but for a diabetic dog I think that is a reasonable goal. Let me know how it goes! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Strong Smell Probably Anal Glands

Q: I have a 7 month old beagle/lab cross. We have had him since 8 weeks old and I have never experienced this with him. My boyfriend and I noticed that he has a really bad odor around his anal area all the time and he licks it constantly. The other day I noticed there was a clear liquid seeping out and he was all over it. This has only started to occur the past few days and the liquid I just noticed yesterday. Around the time this started happening my dog has not had a large appetite. We took him to the vet about a week ago and he said he was extremely healthy and a beautiful dog. I am concerned and was looking for some advice before taking him for another 70$ visit to the vet. Thanks again.

A: He likely has an infected anal gland and needs to get to the veterinarian to make sure that's what this is and to treat properly. This is a common affliction in dogs and occurs quickly. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Has Recurring Build-up of Fluid

Q: Hello. I have a 4 yr old female yorkie. Before she was 1 yr old she was diagnosed with a liver shunt. She had surgery and everything was great until this past December when we noticed that her belly was really big and she was very skinny. We took her to the vet (we are in Puerto Rico) and she has had a wide range of blood tests, x-rays but they don't have a definite diagnosis. They inserted a catheter to empty her belly this past Saturday (2nd time since Dec) and her belly is getting full again. She's taking meds (prednisone, a diuretic and enalapril and an iron supplement). She doesn't seem to be in pain, in fact, she's quite happy and eating good. I don't know what else to do!!! I've spent a lot money (which is secondary to me) but as of today no diagnosis. Please help me.

A: I'm sorry you are going through this. Has your veterinarian sent out a sample of the fluid to a pathologist in an effort to identify the exact makeup of the fluid? Sometimes this can help determine the cause of the problem.

Honestly, the best chance of finding out the exact cause in a complicated case like this is to get to an internal medicine specialist who has experience with unique cases like this and who would have a lot of experience with an ultrasound to get a detailed look at the abdomen. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Help Needed to Neuter Both Pets

Q: Help, I have a 21/2-year-old male teacup Terrier that needs to be neutered and a 8-month-old female kitten/cat. The kitten/cat has been going into heat about once a month for the last couple of months and I don’t know where to look for help getting both of them fixed. Where would you suggest I start, research, and end with financial help for both situations? Thank you, -- Kris L.

A: The most obvious answer to this question is to make sure that you can afford to have such procedures performed before you actually get a pet. I know that there are circumstances where this is not an option for everyone. Depending on your area of the country there may be discount spay/neuter clinics that could offer such services at a discounted price. You could contact your local humane society to see if they knew the options in your area. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Post Partum Care

Q: My pitbull had a litter of ten on December 31, 2011. She laid in my bed this morning and i noticed she still has some sort of slimy bloody looking fluid coming out. Its very dark...not bright at all. Should I take her to a vet? Is this normal? I love my dogs like my children! Should I be worried?

A: It's probably fine as there can be a discharge for up to several weeks after giving birth. Having said that, I do think an exam is in order to make sure that is all that this is. I mainly want your veterinarian to rule out infection. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Strange Behavior

Q: I rescued a chihuahua mix from a terrible situation about 3 months ago. Vet said in good health, but she emits an odor that smells like ammonia. She also bites and chews her hind hip and leg. She will cry out but continue to bite. I don't see any fleas, nor any skin issues. She will do this for about an hour at a time daily then just settle down, relax and sleep. What's up?

A: I'm not exactly sure why your dog is doing this. My first concern was that we have allergies causing itching. I have seen dogs with musculoskeletal pain lick at the joint or limbs that hurt as well. Finally some dogs can develop behavioral issues (like obsessive compulsive disorders) that cause regular licking. I never assume it is behavioral until I have ruled out all medical problems. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pit Bull Puppy

Q: my name is felicia and i had a pit bull who has gave birth to eight puppies. All of their eyes have opened but there is one that before his eye opened was swollen and draining a lil bit. Now he has only one eye that is opened all the way and the other one has this bubble on it. Im going to try and describe it the best way i can.... Its like a greyish red color with a red dot like on it, he doesnt seem to be able to see, and seems to be a little painfull. Do you have any idea of what it is? I love the puppies a lot and dont like to see one of them like thhis or in pain. Is there anything i can do for it? Thanks felicia baucom

A: This is very likely uncomfortable for this puppy. The best thing you can do for this puppy is to get it to the veterinarian as soon as possible especially if this has been going in for any period of time. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua has Lump

Q: I have a question concerning my dog. He is 4 years old and he is a small type dog, a Chihuahua. Recently I have noticed under his ribs like where his sterum would be located at there is a knot there. It is very hard. Could you tell me what exactly is wrong with him or should I take him to the vet? I don't have much money so I thought asking you would be the best thing for now. He runs and plays a lot but gets to where he can not breathe good at times. I thought maybe with the more information you had the better you could tell me what is wrong with my baby.

A: It sounds like he has an abnormal growth of some sort. Many times these turn out to be fatty accumulations or benign cysts. The only way to know for sure is to let your veterinarian examine the mass. While there, please mention that your dog has times when he cannot breathe well as this symptom is as worrisome as a bump. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Blue Nose Pitbull

Q: Hi, I have a blue nose pitbull, she is just over 2 yrs old. She was born in North Carolina, and developed the mange, of which I have treated with a topical medication. Which of the mange bacteria she had is unknown. Although that medication applied to her has been effective, she has recently developed a spot on her tail. The redneck remedy of burnt motor oil worked well, but needed to be redone, the topical medication I used was that of an equine treatment. With a white tube and equestrian figures on the label. The name slips me.... I have recently moved to Arizona, and my 'Lady' (her name), has begun to sneeze profusely at times when she becomes excited, when I come home from work, let her in from outside, and other various times. Is this just an expression of her happiness or is there a specific reason behind her nasal activity. Also when we are ready to go to bed, and the lights are out it sounds like she is constantly trying to swallow excess saliva, but upon checking her mouth its no more than usual, if not less. Then after the light goes back out she will grind her teeth, after doing an apparent accumulation of saliva then swallowing. This happens until I have to tell her to stop grinding her teeth. And she is aware of this phrase, as she will discontinue the oral noises, both slurping and grinding. Why would she grind her teeth and what would be the cause of her to do that to begin with? Your feedback and any other responses will be greatly appreciated.

A: First of all, mange is not a bacterial disease. It is caused by a type of microscopic mite that lives in the skin. I do not advocate putting motor oil on a dog's skin. In terms of the medication that you used please make sure you are using a medication prescribed by your veterinarian. Some seemingly harmless medications for mange can actually have some serious side effects. Additionally, many skin diseases look like mange but are caused by other problems and therefore need other treatments.

I'm not sure about the sneezing. This could be infection, allergy, or she could even have a growth or foreign object in her nose. Sometimes dental disease can even be associated with sneezing.

The teeth grinding can be a sign of pain, nausea, reflux, etc. It sounds like it is a good time to get her established with a veterinarian in Arizona to address these multiple issues that she is having. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

9 Year Old Maltese Exhibts Strange Behavior

Q: Hi, My 9 year old female Maltese has started some very strange behavior. She is well trained, rarely having any accidents. she uses the wee wee pad. Well, she has started to pee on the floor instead sometimes. She knows she is misbehaving as she puts herself in her crate afterward. She has always bitten at her forearms. Sort of gnawing at them like ears of corn. But, in the last couple of weeks she has started new bizarre things, like roaming around the bed at night in circles. She sleeps with us a lot. Then, she will tunnel under the covers. She climbs back and forth over us for hours never settling down. My daughter heard her downstairs in the middle of the night and found her on the leather couches "digging" into the cushions. she has never done anything like that, I am starting to think she has an anxiety disorder. what are your thoughts? I also looked at the retinal atrophy symptoms. Any advice?

A: I know you are worried about your dog. Dogs can develop a disease called canine cognitive dysfunction, similar to dementia in people. Before we assume this to be the case let's get her into your veterinarian for a complete physical exam and labwork. I like to do a complete blood count, serum chemistry, thyroid, electrolytes, and urinalysis. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltipoo Has Uninary Tract Problems

Q: I adopted a 2-1/2 year old female Maltipoo 4/6/12 from a rescue. She had previous had 4 bladder stones removed and was put on antibotics and Proin. She has become the center of attraction in our home and even my male 3-1/2 year old Bichon is in love with her. They are both spayed and neutered. A week after finishing her antibotics she started leaking and licking herself. My male bichon started going crazying chasing her to smell her underneath.

I decided to take a urine sample to the vet to get it checked out. He confirmed that her urine tested positive for UTI and put her on a slightly higher dose of antibotics. Now the doctor is saying that once she is finished with the antibotics we will have to do another urine test and possibly a cuture. Is there a cure for this and what do you think is my best options. She has only been with us a month but we love her and don't want to lose her. We also don't have the money for expensive vet bills.

A: Unfortunately when you get a dog, especially a dog with known health issues, you have to be prepared for veterinary bills. There is just no way around it.

Some types of bladder stones in dogs are associated with urinary tract infections. There is no way to know which type of bacteria is causing the problem without a test called a culture/sensitivity. This will identify the type of bacteria and also tell the most appropriate antibiotic to use. Some dogs that get urinary tract infections need to be on antibiotics for weeks at a time.

If there is not an infection or if the problems persist after the infection is cleared up I'd recommend having X-rays performed to make sure that there are no stones in the bladder. Thank you for giving this dog a home and good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Penile Infection Keeps Recurring

Q: Hi I have had a fortune of having the companionship of a 7 Year old male Pekignese dog for the past few years. There is a problem that my vet has not been able to fix or help with. He has had this problem over a year now and at least visits to the vet and no results. He has an infection on his Penis which refuses to go away. He bleeds at times. The tip gets swolen. After every episode I gave him antibiotics and anti inflammatory medicine. In addition I apply Animatx ointment. It seems to want to get better then in 2 days it is back worse than before. I am not sure what to do and need help and advice, My name is Mike and live Northern Virginia. I thank you for all of your help in advance.

The Vet said if it gets worse they would have to remove the Penis!!! Is that necessary. Otherwise he is in good spirits. Eats and plays well Please help. Thanks

A: This sounds very unusual. I cannot tell you exactly what should be done without examining your dog. If this really is an infection then I'd make sure a culture/sensitivity test has been performed to identify the exact bacteria and make sure that you know the exact antibiotic to use.

I have seen a condition in dogs called urethral prolapse where the tip of the urethra, which is normally inside the penis everts out. This can cause some bleeding. There is a surgery to correct this. Again, I'm not sure if this is your dog's issue.

If this continues to be an issue certainly the affected portion could be surgically removed. If you aren't comfortable with that option it is certainly reasonable to ask another veterinarian who can actually examine your dog for a second opinion. I wish you luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten Has Swollen Eye

Q: i have 3 kittens they are about a week old and today i noticed one of the kittens has a swollen eye its about double the normal size should i be worried ? is there any thing i can do to help this little guy thanks bunch april

A: Yes, this eye is worrisome and needs to be examined by a veterinarian. If there is an infection then perhaps proper medication could be administered in an attempt to save the eye. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

10 Yr Old English Bulldog

Q: Hello, My dog Bentley, has been in extreme pain for the last few days. I thought it was a hip joint issue but as it turns out, he has a ruptured disk in his neck which is causing weakness in his front left leg. We have decided to go the medical route rather than surgical, however our vet put him on 150mg of Tramadol, 2-3 times a day. He is on his second dose and there is absolutely no change in his pain level, however he has a very difficult time walking as he seems dizzy. My vet is open tomorrow, however I am just worried that he is so uncomfortable tonight. Thank you!

A: I'm sorry about your dog. Sometimes in addition to pain medication an anti-inflammatory can be tried when appropriate. I admit that with herniated disks the use of anti-inflammatories like steroids are controversial but they sometimes are tried in situations where surgery is not an option if the dog is not improving. Sometimes no medication works and surgery is required. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rabbit Help

Q: Help! Rabbit had an abscess on his face. A slight incision and toothpaste ooze about 1/4 cup full. I cleaned. 3 days later another lump. I got a warm, clean cloth to wipe and ascess and started oozing with little pressure. Then a chunk just fell off! No blood. Just a bit of ooze and an open chuck the size of a nickel/crater looking size. I cleaned and applied some comfrey salve. Idk what to do. We simply can not afford to take a $20 rabbit to the vet. He is eating and playing. No sighs of lethargic behavior. Idk what to do.......
Thank you,
M Cundiff

A: Regardless of the cost of a pet they can all get health problems that require veterinary care. From what you are describing I agree that this is likely an abscess and if your veterinarian agrees with this upon exam then he/she will likely prescribe an antibiotic. Rabbits have quite sensitive systems so great care must be taken when prescribing medications. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Has my Cat been Spayed?

Q: I found an 8 year old female cat and had to take her to the vet. They checked to see if she had a chip while she was there and if she was spayed. One vet said he thought he saw a scar and the other said no. I don't want to put her through an unnecessary spaying. She shows no signs of being in heat, I know what the signs are and I've had her 2 1/2 months now. Sincerely, Gloria Nichols

A: The only way to know for absolute sure if a cat is spayed is with an exploratory surgery. Signs of being in heat for a cat often include being very vocal and seeming very affectionate. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

10 Yr Old Yorkie

Q: He runs and plays and seems fine, but I've noticed that he hunches over all the time, acting like he needs to poop, but nothing is coming out. When he does poop, it's normal. He isn't throwing up or gagging. And when you see him hunched over like he is pooping, you call him, he stops, and comes running to him. appetite seems normal, gets plenty of water.
thank you for your answer in advance.

A: I think that he may be experiencing some inflammation/discomfort in his rectal area. Such inflammation can make a dog feel as if they need to use the bathroom when they really don't. Get him into your veterinarian for an exam to rule out internal abnormalities. Make sure to take a stool sample in to have it microscopically examined. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dachshund Mix has Upset Stomach

Q: I have a 1 year old Dachshund mix dog that I rescued from the shelter a little over a month ago. She is healthy and checked out fine, however I gave her sentinel (fle and heartworm preventative) and after that she has had the runs for about 2 weeks now. I did not know she was getting sick so I had started switching her food to wellness. I did it gradually as well. I have had a vet check her stool sample and they said it was fine, no signs of worms or anything. However it is now a week later and she still has the runs. She acts like she feels fine. She runs and plays and doesn't seem to be not feeling well.

A: There are so many causes of diarrhea. Remember that as far as parasites/worms go, some of them are not detectable every day. Therefore with long term diarrhea I like to check multiple samples, preferably sending a sample to an outside laboratory.

If parasites are excluded sometimes I put dogs on a trial of an antibiotic appropriate for intestinal infections. Probiotics made specifically for dogs are also often helpful.

I'm not sure if this diarrhea is related to the medication that you mentioned. Most medications have a phone number where you can call technical support to ask if they have other cases of this problem. I suspect this is not related to the medication. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Tzu Skin Problems

Q: Hi, my 1&1/2 shihtzu has been having skin problems. He had this before but not this bad. Right now he has red skin in his inner arms and is constantly itching and licking. I'm most likely sure he has no flees. He is healthy and playful. But he's constantly licking his paws and his legs and scratching his legs and his inner side of legs. His inner legs hair has been all tangled up so we cut the tangled hair so it wouldn't itch. But I've started to notice his hair in that particular section is falling off. I can just grab a piece of hair and just pull it off and it doesn't hurt him at all. A while ago he had food allergies so we changed his food and it was fine. But we did change his shampoo to Martha stewerts shampoo and starting then it got worse. What is his case and what should I do? Unfortunately we can't afford the vet but we are getting him groomed to help his long fur not tangle up anymore. Please help! Also in his red skin there are some black prints, I found out online that is because he has been chewing on his skin. It's black but there is no puss in his skin. It's just red on both of his inner front legs and losing hair and black prints. Please help!

A: This sounds most like a severe flare up of allergies. There are many different things dogs can be allergic to and often successful treatment requires multiple treatments. I know you said it's difficult to get to your veterinarian but successful treatment of allergies requires prescription medication from your veterinarian and typically for best results it's necessary to go in for regular rechecks to tweak medication. Finally your veterinarian will need to make sure that this is just allergic disease and nothing else like mange.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat with Soft Lump

Q: Hello recently I discovered a soft palpable lump on my cats neck. It feels fluid filled, kinda like a gumball with fluid in it. It doesn't bother her when I touch it and it is easy for me to rap my fingers around and pull it away from her. She is eating normally, playing and doesn't really bother with it. She has acne on her neck and recently had a bad acne breakout on the same side. What could this be?

A: This could be a cyst, an abscess, or even a tumor. Your veterinarian will likely want to do an aspirate to know what we are dealing with. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

After the Poop!

Q: after my dog goes poop every time he has a great burst of energy. does this mean anything & is there anything we can do to control it as often it causes him to run away.

A: I suppose if he has constipation issues he may be more comfortable after he defecated. Your veterinarian could do a rectal palpation to rule out other abnormalities like anal gland problems. To keep him from running away, just make sure to keep him on a leash. If there are constipation or anal gland issues your veterinarian can recommend medication and /or diet changes.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Border Collie has Trouble Pooping

Q: Hi we have a Border Collie, Ben, who seems to have trouble going to poo, he seems to have four to five attempts before he can go, the first two or three times nothing comes out or just a little bit then he goes normally.

He is in good health has a good diet full of energy and running, just this problem, thought at first it was because he was to anxious to keep running that he wouldnt stop long enough to go properly. It doesnt seem to worry him but it does us, He did have a problem like this a year ago and the vet said it was soft tissue damage, we had to try and stop him from jumping and running for two months also he was given some anti inflamatory tablets but it never really cured this problem. Could you give us any advice please he is 6 years old in April

A: Thanks for writing in about Ben. Dogs can sometimes have trouble defecating due to constipation. If he is a little bit constipated then a stool softener may help him defecate more easily. Another potential reason for his problem could be enlarged anal glands. I think you should take him in to see if he is having anal gland enlargement causing problems eliminating. If your veterinarian thinks he has chronic anal gland enlargement a fiber supplement may be recommended. If this seems to be more of a constipation issue a stool softener may be discussed. Make sure to take a stool sample to the veterinary clinic with you to rule out worms and also make sure your veterinarian performs a thorough rectal palpation to make sure there are no obvious abnormalities in the rectal area. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltipoo has Diarrhea and Vomitting

Q: My 7 month old maltipoo puppy has diarrhea, vomitting, no appetite and he has no energy. When I fed him this morning around 8:45 a.m he ate fine and also when I took him outside to use the restroom he also did it normal. Until around 3:45 pm he used the restroom again but this time it was a loose stool. I was thinking he was stressed due to my little niece coming over and just messing with him and he would just run away from her.

Around 8:30 p.m I fed him his dinner and he didn't eat and he didn't even drink his water. I gave him half a capsule of pepto this first time I noticed the diarrhea even though he wasn't vomiting. He only vomited once after I gave him his dinner and after that vomiting I gave him another half capsule of pepto.

I did some research and all that came up was parvovirus. I'm hoping it isn't due to him having the parvovirus vaccination.. If he doesn't get better by tomorrow morning I will most deff. take him to the vet.

Please help me in giving me your thoughts I really would appreciate it.

Thank you,
Jennifer Martinez

A: Many different things can cause GI disturbance in dogs but we always want to rule out parvo as it is so common and requires aggressive care. Remember that puppies need to get an entire series of vaccines (including parvo). It is typically recommended to star vaccines at 6-8 weeks of age and give booster vaccines every 3-4 weeks until the age of 16 weeks. Even with an entire series of vaccines we rarely will see a puppy that still gets parvo.

Hopefully by now you have taken your puppy in for an exam. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Semi-Feral Cat with Eye Problem

Q: He was a stray. Weve been taking care of him for 5 years now but he still prefers to live outside and only comes home once or twice a week. His eye last week was hazed over with a white film. Didnt think to much of it because our dog had that same thing happen and she heeled.fine. Cat left for a few days and came home this morn. His eyeball is swelled out of its socket and completely scabbed over. The eye lid wont close but his eyeball still moves back and forth. It resembles a walnut. What can we do? We cant afford surgery but dont want him to die. His name is Angelo. Hes a fat grey long haired cat with beautiful green eyes. Help me make him comfortable. Theres little discharge from the eye. His appetite is good. Hes walking into things though.

A: Serious eye abnormalities are very painful. If there is any way you can get this cat into a veterinarian it would really help him. Perhaps you could call veterinary clinics or even cat rescue groups in your area to see if there are funds set aside to help in situations like this. He probably needs to be sedated for a complete physical exam, feline leukemia/FIV test, and then depending on the exact problem recommendations could be made.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Feral Cat

Q: I have a well once feral cat, she has been around for 4 yrs just recently only I could touch her. After catching 3 litters of kittens she brought me, We decided to trap her and get her spayed. We caught 5 kittens first about 8 or 9 wks. old. After keeping her in our garage in a large kennel cage for 7 days to heal, she now stays in our garage of free will can leave but stays pretty close. She had tapeworm so I got profender to use, wonderful product see no more worms, she has gotten pretty fat could this be from laziness now without kittens all the time or could she have some other parasite? cant pick her up she is still feral when she wants gotta keep eyes on her. could you give me some clues Thank You, Aileen

A: I would worry about pregnancy in a feral cat that is gaining weight but you said she was spayed. This is likely a combination of normal weight gain we sometimes see after a cat is spayed as well as the fact that she now has a "home" and I'm assuming is roaming less and eating well. Worms can cause weight gain. To know if and which worms are present your veterinarian would need to microscopically examine a fecal sample.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

12 year old Cat in Pain

Q: Hello, Recently my 12 yr old cat seems to be in agonizing pain every time she jumps up or down from something, somewhere at home. When she lands, she tends to fall over on her side, with one of her hind leg lifted. She would cry in pain and wont let me touch her until the pain subsides...Is this a serious or temporary injury? What can I do to keep her from jumping from places or running and hurting herself in the process?

Thank you,
Stefanie R.

A: I'm sorry about your cat. There is no way that I can tell you without actually examining your cat if this is temporary or serious. Your cat needs to be examined to determine he cause of pain so that proper treatment can be administered. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Owner Worries About Dog with Vague Symptoms

Q: my best friend doesnt feel right to me, his body feels stiff and to me he seems to be retaing water, and when resting his breathing seems loud and raspy, once in awhile he acts as if he is gaging. if i massage his throat in the middle today he showed me his teeth.he eats fine, but not drinking as much, having a hard time poopen yesterday, today he had a small bowell movement after i gave him milk, color of stool was light greenish yellow.his behavior yesterday was different, was up in my face waggen his tail like he wanted something or feeling frisky. i'm unemployed and can't afford another bill, bk in sept. he was hit by a car and it took 6 weeks before he could walk again, and bill was close to 600, but he proved to me he was a soldier, please help me figure out what is wrong with him. thanx so much, --charmaine and spibly

A: I'm afraid that this is impossible to diagnose without examining your dog. The loud and raspy breathing may or may not be significant (potential infection, cardiovascular disease, laryngeal disease, etc). You mentioned that he is retaining water and when they have fluid retention it can indicate anything from simple weight gain to more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease or even abnormal growths. Your dog needs an examination as soon as you are able to get into the veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Has Good Appetite But Remains Skinny

Q: Dog is about 15 months. He eats like crazy but he is skinny. He still is playful though. But he does have a bad diarrhea problems. What's wrong with him and get I get help for him from home?

Also, we have three dachshunds who had beautiful coats. They get flea bathed regularly and use sprays but they keep chewing on themselves. They now have patches due to them chewing. What started this all of a sudden?

A: I get a lot of questions asking about "home remedies" for health issues for their animals and as much as I wish there was a home remedy for every problem the simple truth is that usually a trip to your veterinarian is necessary to diagnose and properly treat your pets. I hope that your 15 month old dog received his full series of vaccines and has been started on an appropriate protocol for monthly preventative medication.

I'm not sure why your dog is so thin but my first thought would be to have a veterinarian perform a fecal exam to check for internal parasites. Just because you aren't seeing worms does not mean that they aren't present. Please make an appointment to take this dog to the veterinarian and make sure to take a stool sample. If no parasites are present then I typically look at the dog's nutrition and also run bloodwork.

As far as the skin issues with your other dogs they need a trip to the veterinarian too. Sudden onset of itching could mean external parasites like fleas (another reason to keep all pets on a prescription strength monthly flea prevention), mange, allergies, and infection.

Keep in mind that potential gastrointestinal parasites and potential skin infections can in some circumstances affect people. This is another reason to have these dogs checked out. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

13 year old dog has increasing problems

Q: Cobi is 13 1/2, and has very weak back legs - squats more often than stands upright. He still goes for short walks, and until Friday, was eating well, and having normal bowel movements. Now he will only eat very little dry food out of my hand, still eats dog biscuits, and will eat yoghurt. He is also refusing water, but eats snow. His abdomen looks fat, 'though he is boney through the back and shoulders.

He takes hydrocodone at night, once or twice, depending on his coughing, as prescribed by our vet for a chronic breathing disorder. I changed his food a couple weeks ago, because he seemed to be having a lot of very large, though normal bowel movements. Went from Purina Fit & Trim which he had been doing well on, to Taste of the Wild Sierra Canine Formula with roasted lamb all life stages diet. He has actually been getting the two mixed, as I didn't want to switch suddenly.

Should I worry and take him to the vet? (It is hard to get him into the car, as he refuses to jump up, and he weighs a lot, and he really hates the vet :( ) Or should I just relax and let him be? He doesn't seem to be in pain.

A: Given his age, his small appetite, and weight loss with distended abdomen I am concerned about Cobi. I cannot say for sure what is going on but bloodwork and X-rays are likely in order. Potentially a problem could be diagnosed that could improve Cobi's quality of life if treated appropriately. I understand how stressful and difficult it can be to move large dogs around. Perhaps you could look into seeing if there is a mobile veterinarian who could come to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can These Swellings Indicate Pregnancy

Q: My dog has swollen boobs and she is not eating her dog food. She does not look like she is gaining any weight. Could she be pregnant? I do not know if she has been in heat lately. And if she is pregnant I really don't have the money to take her to the vet. Could I just take care of her myself?

A: Since you don't know if she has been in heat lately it is impossible for me to tell you if she could be pregnant. I can tell you that if she was mated with a male dog she should have full term puppies 60-65 days later. Some pregnant females are able to give birth naturally and, just like in humans, others have to have Caesarian sections due to potentially life threatening complications during labor. } The best way to know if she is pregnant is with ultrasound or X-rays. I know it costs money to go to the veterinarian but you need to know if you need to be prepared financially for a potential Caesarian section. If she is pregnant your veterinarian will need to talk to you about what to expect and what the puppies will need when born. } There is a possibility that she is not pregnant and has enlarged mammary glands just from horomone changes in her body. If she is not pregnant now please talk to your veterinarian about having her spayed. Not only will that prevent pregnancies but other potentially serious health issues related to her reproductive system. } Finally please make sure that she is kept up to date on her vaccines as well as monthly preventative medications like heartworm and flea medication. Investing in proper regular preventative medicine will save you money in the long term. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese Has Smelly, Brown Discharge

Q: I have a two year old maltese that I adopted from an animal shelter and I've had my girl Savannah for eight months now and she is just my world however i'm worried that she has a really smelly anal and there seems to be brown discharge as well she is always chewing her left leg and it drives me crazy little lone what she must be going through. There are no obvious signs of swelling or limping however when I do try and look at her bottom she does pull her left leg away is the two problems connected? At first we thought that Savannah had worms as she only ate half of her worm tablet so we treated her with drops this time and there was really no change with her little bottom. Such a charming conversation isn't it? I am concern if she still chewing her leg than I'll be taking her to the vet for a check up just to be sure.

A: You need to get her to the veterinary clinic as you mentioned, to rule out or to treat potential problems like impacted anal glands or even an abscess. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Causes Older Maltese to Go Wobbly

Q: Hi we have a 10 yr old maltese SPIKE that we noticed that his head/body was wobbly (looked as if he was drunk ) and this lasted for about a week so we took him to our vet and got all his blood work done which came back negative. He also gave us some medicine (Phenobarbital and a steriod based medicine) Before giving him meds I wanted to get a second opinion since our vet didn't know the exact problem so we took him to another vet to get checked out and of course he did not show any of the symptoms described so she referred us to a specialist. That's the route we are gonna take but wanted to see if you have heard of this common in this breed. We are VERY worried since his age. Also after the week of episodes he seemed to be getting better this week but tonight he started to do his wobble again. Doesn't seem like a seizure but not sure please advise thanks in advnace. He is eating a little less and seems to be out of it and its killing to look at him with his head slowly wobbly .

A: I'm pleased that you are able to go to a specialist. I agree that this sounds like a neurological abnormality. Sometimes dogs can develop abnormalities that affect the spinal cord in the neck or the back. In order to detect the type and specific area of the abnormality sometimes advanced imaging like myelograms, MRI, or CT scans are needed. Sometimes when I have potential neurological cases that I need to do something about while we are waiting to get to a specialist I will administer a trial of steroids and sometimes antibiotics depending on the case. It is natural for you to be concerned but please make sure you pursue the appointment with the specialist. Please let us know how things go. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Elderly Dog has Seizures

Q: I have a 14 year old shih tzu who has been having seizures at night. During her seizures she either has tremors, vocalizes, or loses control of her bladder while remaining unconscious. And I usually have to shake several times to wake her up. And when she does wake up she tends to cough or sneeze. So, I was just wondering if this I should be over concerned about this and I'm not sure if I should be taking her to the vet or if this is just the case with older dogs. Also, her heart beat is pretty fast nowadays, even when she's not active. Thanks!

A: This is definitely not the norm for even older dogs. I certainly think that seizures and possible elevated heart rate warrant an exam by your veterinarian. Depending on the underlying cause of the problem you may be able to give medication to help your dog have a good quality of life. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

11-Year Old Dog with Frequent Urination

Q: Our 11 year old Basahone started peeing alot, like every 10 minutes,for about the last 2 months. Now the last 2 days she has started with diarea,just as much! Due to losing my job recently,and we also have 3 more dogs, we are unable to afford the vet at this time ,unless it is an emergency! Any help you could give I would really appreciate. Thank you -- Fred

A: The symptoms you are describing could be indicative of systemic disease like diabetes, kidney disease, etc. On the other hand it may not be anything that serious. Given the age of your dog and the fact that these abnormalities have been going on for some time I do think it's important to get in to see your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rescued dog with serious skin problem

Q: Hello my name is j and this dog is in bad shape, I rescued him yesterday. He is constantly scratching, biting, and licking his legs, and underside. The skin is thick red crusty stuff and losing hair. I need help to learn whats going on ... I think he might have fleas I can't tell

A: You need to get this dog to a veterinarian. The skin is the largest organ on the body and when it is unwell it really affects a dog poorly. This could be fleas, allergy, or even mange. Please, please get this dog into a veterinarian to address the skin and to make sure that there are no diseases present that can be passed onto humans. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Owner bewildered over dog's diagnosis

Q: Two days ago, my dog was agitated, panting and seemed like he was chasing after his butt. Its tail is also lowered and his stool was oily. At first I suspected impacted butt so I did warm press on his butt. Since he was still agitated I brought him to the vet. She noticed that my dog's eye and gums are redder than usual. She did a blood extraction and instructed me to bring my dog back home and she would just call for the lab result. When I went back home, my dog was able to finally poo and became his normal jolly self.

Here's the result: Temp 39.5 Creatinine 1.27 mg/dl Sgpt 10.61 u/l Hematocrit 0.32 Hemoglobin 108.8 Rbc 3.40 Wbc 11.4 Segmenters 0.70 Lymphocyte 0.28 Eosinophils 0.02

She told me that my dog's RBC is lower than the normal and that it has anemia. And that my dog has increased WBC that's probably caused by Canine Erlichiosis. She prescribed me 4 different medicines. I was just wondering how did she come up with that disease with just little information? Is it possible by just having increased WBC and slight fever my dog's now diagnosed with Canine erlichiosis? Thanks

A: I cannot comment much since I have not seen your dog. Having said that, with any anemia potentially related to an infectious disease I would keep Ehrlichia on my list of possibilities. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pit Bull loses hair

Q: We "inherited" a 4 year old unspayed female pitbull from our daughter and she always seemed to lose her hair on her back and back legs during the summer and it would always grow back by about the middle or so of winter. Now it seems to be worse and shes always scratching and licking constantly and her poor nipples are red and look really sore. Shes not pregnant. We have tried oatmeal baths and anti iching sprays and shes been eating the same dogfood since she got off puppy food. She never gets people food. I know she hasn't seen a vet very often and we dont have much money. But we love her and want to figure this out somehow. Her skin is rough and scaly and red where she scratches. Please help us with ideas to help her. Thank you

A: This sounds like it could be allergies but I cannot rule out skin infections or even skin mites. The skin is a dog's largest organ and it can really make a dog sick when the skin is diseased. Your best way to figure the cause of the problem is to get her to your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Girl Desperate to Keep Her Puppy

Q: I have a 9 month old male maltese that marks his territory everywhere. on every mailbox, pole,t ree, patch of grass, and oh when he is inside he pees on carpet and the legs of the couch. we are getting him neutered march 7 . will that stop him from peeing every where? my mom said if he doesnt stop peeing she is going to get rid of him and i can't let that happen he's my first dog and the only thing i find joy in.please help me.

i read that when the dog hikes his leg up to mark his territory they said to get a spray bottle put vineger and water in it and spray him and say no. will that help? or will it harm him. please what do you think i should do?

A: I think that your puppy is marking his territory as dogs tend to do. Having said that, this is also a training issue. It is our job as pet owners to train our dogs where they are supposed to use the bathroom. Having him neutered very well may help some, but keep in mind that even after a male dog is neutered there are male horomones circulating in his system for a few weeks.

Make sure to clean the areas where he urinates with an enzymatic cleanser to eliminate the urine odor to prevent him from going back to that area because of the smell. I do not want you to spray him with anything when he has an accident. I believe that positive reinforcement works much better. Talk to your veterinarian about reputable dog trainers in your area. Many of my clients have good luck with a technique called crate training.

Remember that he is just a baby. Your family needs to pick a consistent training method and most importantly you have to be patient with him. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Urinating More than Usual Q: Hey I have 2yr old female dog that has been urinating alot more then usual, but when she came back in I noticed my other dog who is female licking the clear fluid from her vagina is this normal?

A: Increase in urination is not normal for dogs and is associated with increased water drinking. Polydypsia, or increased water drinking can be a symptom of multiple issues including urinary tract infection, other infectious disease, kidney issues, endocrine diseases, etc. Additionally, certain medications like steroids can cause this. I would get your dog into your veterinarian for a work up. Try to see if you can bring a urine sample from your dog with you. Based on the age of your dog this likely is nothing too serious but you need to have this checked out.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Dog Losing Clumps of Fur

Q: Hi, I have a 3-year Pom, Shitzu, Chihuahua. He's very dear to me and I'm getting concerned because recently he's been losing clumps of fur. He normally sheds quite a bit (fine hairs) but these are small clumps. His appetite seems fine, he's playful, seems healthy. Is this common or should I be concerned? Thank you,Christine

A: Shedding can be common in dogs but excessive hair loss can also be a symptom of a skin disorder or even systemic issue like hypothyroidism. It would probably be a good idea to have your veterinarian examine your dog to make sure that no medical intervention is needed.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Are Dogs Goopy Eyes Contagious

Q: Hi, I have a medium sized black dog who is 5 years old. His eyes are runny a lot with green discharge and we have to clean them. They don't seem red or swollen and he doesn't seem bothered by them. The only thing is that we have three other dogs now also, a 7 month old small/medium sized dog and 2 pure bred German Shepherd puppies who are 3 1/2 months old. They too now have goopy eyes like our 5 year old black dog. I have given them all worming medicine and have followed all regular vaccination schedules. We live in Brasil, so I don't know if that piece of information would be helpful to know. Do you know what are some of the possibilities that it could be?
Thanks for any thoughts on this,
Mendi Everett

A: It sounds like this could be an infectious conjunctivitis. There are many reasons for ocular discharge including infection, dry eye, and even ulcers. Based on your post, my primary concern is infection since more than one dog has this. You should call your veterinarian. Good luck!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Female Pit Bull Has Bloody Urine, Stool After Giving Birth to 8 Pups

Q: While searching the net looking for answers to the question I have about my dog I came across your website. I have a female pit bull who is 33 months old and she just gave birth to her first litter after being mated for the first time on December 24th 2011 and she had 8 puppies all healthly and doing well as of this letter. I have noticed that since giving birth she has had blood in her urine and in her feces. It has gone from small stains to larger amounts and I am growing more and more worried. I normally take her to a vet every two months for a check up but due to the loss of my job I have not been able to take her like I normally do. She has had all of her shots since birth and I'm about 3 months behind from her annual shots because of my situation but I will be getting her them soon enough. Moving on though I was wondering if you could please help me with this matter. Should I be worried or is this normal after giving birth? Please I just need to know what I should do or why this could possibily be happening? I would truly appreciate your help in this matter and look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible.

A: It can be normal to have some degree of dark colored discharge from the genital area for up to several weeks after giving birth. If you are noticing bloody urine and blood in the stool I do think she should be seen by your veterinarian. Make sure to take a stool sample with you. Since having puppies really puts a strain on the body I just think you need to make sure that this isn't something that needs treatment. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is Dog's Shivering a Problem?

Q: A few days ago my dog was shivering for about 5-10 min then it stopped and 4-5 days later he did it again it didn't last long but I was wondering if I should take him to the vet. I know he shivers when there is a storm or a trip to the vet. and he was very quiet not playful when it happens. If this continues should I take him to the vet? I just had him there for his heartworm test, distemper shot and his physical. They periodically like to do blood work but I didn't have it done as that visit was very expensive and the blood work cost $120.00 but if you think I should have the blood work done I will. I would appreciate your advice as you have always helped me in the past on some of his issues. My son lives in Savannah, next time I visit him I would like to see where your office is. You're very much appreciated helping us. -- Angela

A: I think that if this continues to happen and especially if these episodes worsen you should have bloodwork done. Shaking in dogs can be caused by anything from being cold, excited, or nervous to more serious issues like low blood sugar, pain, and certain diseases (such as Addison's disease). I can tell that you already watch your dog closely and I trust that if this continues you will call your veterinarian. Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is A Small Bladder Causing Frenchie's Leaking Problems

Q: Hello, I have a 4 month female frenchie who is leaking urine. She dribble throughout the day, evident by the droplets on our floor but after she has a drink of water ie. before a walk or with a meal, she leaks A LOT and has puddles under her. I talked to the breeder and she said this is normal because frenchies have small bladders but need lots of water; she said it happened to her frenchies too but went away at about 6 mos when they have more bladder control. I also took her to the vet and he said it was probably behavioral and not to worry about it- is any of this info true? I feel like its a bit more of a serious problem than bladder control or behavior. Any insight would really help!!!

A: Certainly it is important to differentiate medical from behavioral issues. To rule out all medical issues sometimes I will perform bloodwork, a urinalysis, and a urine culture/sensitivity to rule out infections. Urinary incontinence is common in dogs but usually in older dogs that have been spayed. I have seen young puppies that have bladder stones and this can be picked up with X-rays. If all of these tests looked normal then I'd give some time to see if the problem resolved with age. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pug Dies After Surgeries

Q: Recently I took my pug into be neutered. When given medication to calm him down prior to sedation he began to throw up a large amount of fiber; apparently he had chewed up and ingested pieces of a blanket unbeknownst to me. The vet pulled out what fibers she could. My dog threw up again only this time swallowed it again. He was then sedated and the vet performed the surgery. I picked him up later in the day and told what happened and to watch for any irregularities in his behavior. He was also on pain medication. He acted as I would expect until the second morning when he woke up bleeding from his rectum. Sadly he died after a subsequent surgery. My question is should he have been sedated in the first place until the "fiber" issue had been resolved? Thank you for your help. -- Susan

A: I am so sorry for your loss. Unfortunately in veterinary medicine unexpected complications sometimes happen. I cannot fault your veterinarian for proceeding with the sedation as it sounds like your veterinarian did what seemed most sensible at the time. I will keep you in my thoughts. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese Cannot Stand on Hind Legs

Q: Hello, my name is jasmine I have a Maltese she is 4 years of age she is very skinny, she cannot stand On her back legs, and her stool is brown and has a white layer over it. A description of her she is small and you can see and feel her bones very noticeably. I am hoping for a response , thank you

A: Based on your description she has multiple problems. These may or may not be due to a single problem. With a skinny dog with abnormal stool I always recommend having a stool sample examined for parasites including Giardia (a parasite sometimes hard to detect).

I am especially worried about her not being able to use her back legs. This could be neurological disease, musculoskeletal disease, anemia, or many other possibilities. Your dog really needs to be examined by a veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM


Q: my yorkie has a liver shunt and since he had a operation he pees like a girl but he still lifts his leg so he ends up peeing on his leg do you know where we can get a leg wrap for the winter?

A: I don't know of any wraps made specifically for this. Do a search online as I see clothing items for dogs online all the time that I never knew existed. In this situation most of my clients just get used to bathing their dog often.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is Pitbull Mom Still in Labor?


A: Please do not give Tylenol as human pain relievers can be very toxic to animals. She needs to get to a veterinarian as soon as possible for X-rays to see if there are any more puppies inside. If there are puppies that she cannot give birth to this could be life threatening for her and the puppies. Please try to get her into a veterinarian. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Older Lab Develops Heartworms

Q: I just took Sugar, my 8 yr old Black Lab to the vet today for shots. Well, she has heartworms. The vet said it's a moderate case because the dot on the bottom was the same or slightly lighter than the dot on top. He prescribed Heart Guard for 3 months, then bloodwork to check her liver and kidney functions to decided on short term or long term kill. He said he wouln't do injections to a dog 10 years of age or older, but he's on the fence since Sugar is 8. She's in good health otherwise. No coughing. No labored breathing. And the vet said her heart sounds good.

I'm wondering what the prognosis is for her with the long term kill and the injections. Obviously I know the heartworms will eventually kill her if left untreated which is not an option. I've had this dog longer than both my kids! So, any imput would be appreciated. Thanks so much for your time. -- Jackie

A: This is such a good question and I appreciate you writing. Any dog, no matter the age or the severity of heart worm disease can have a reaction to the worms as the worms die during heart worm treatment. Therefore, there is always a risk involved no matter what.

Obviously when we see dogs that are already showing signs of heartworms (coughing, exercise intolerance) I am more nervous about the treatment. I like to perform bloodwork, a urinalysis, and X-rays of the chest as recommended by the manufacturer of the medication used to treat heartworms. If your dog seems overall healthy based on these tests and if you are confident that you can spend several weeks after the treatments keeping your dog quiet (heavy activity increases the risk of complications) then I would recommend the treatments using the slow kill method (an initial injection followed one month later by the last two injections spaced 24 hours apart).

I do keep them on a safe product to prevent more heartworms as directed by your veterinarian. Please let me know if you have any other problems. .-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

No! No! No! Don't Feed Your Dog Cooked Bones

Q: Hello. I have a maltipoo and i am wondering if i can give him bones from cooked baby back beef ribs. Is this okay to do?

A: Please, please don't give your dog bones like this. I have seen too many dogs end up in pain or in surgery. It's just not worth the risk. Thanks for bringing up this common question. .-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Develops Diarrhea, Has Suspicious Lump

Q: My 13 year old Yorkie has had a few symptoms for 3 days now. A bump (like a swollen bug bit or bee sting) on her front paw on top. That swelling went down after the second day. She had "goopy eyes" (like when you get a cold in your eyes) for the first 2 days. I had some of her prescription eye ointment which cleared that right up. She has also had diarrhea for 3 days. She normally asks when she needs to go out and do her business, but she obviously isn't having time for that and has been going all over the carpets. It is dark brown (normal for her), but very wet, and there is a lot. She does not feel feverish at all and has energy and is drinking water.

She gets dry Royal Canin rabbit and potato food and dry treats from the same company. Her appetite is good. She has always been in good health except last year when she had a cancerous lump removed. She has had all of her shots and heart worm as well as flea and tick medicine. We are traveling in a motorhome so are not near our vet. Should I take her in to another one in this area or is there something else I should do?

A: This is a tricky one. When dogs get diarrhea it often is nothing serious, but especially in an older dog I would get into a veterinarian if it continues. The runny eyes could be anything from allergies to dry eye to conjunctivitis, etc etc. If these eye issues persist or worsen we definitely need an exam by a veterinarian. Finally, with the lump on the paw let's definitely get that checked out especially with the history you mentioned of having a cancerous growth removed. I wish you luck. Dog Has Lumpy Rash

Q: Hi my dog has a very red lumpy rash on his belly near his penis and his back leg is swollen and has a lot of heat in it... I don't know what to do and can not get him to the vet for a couple of days can you help? Thankyou Jenna

A: This certainly is unusual. Sometimes with infections dogs can get rashes and you can get involvement of lymph nodes that can lead to swelling of a limb. There are just so many causes of skin lesions and so many causes of limb swelling that this needs to be examined by your veterinarian. Good luck to you.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Scuffle Results in Swollen Jaw

Q: My dog got in a scuffel with the neighbor dog. only had a little scrape that bled. now his right jaw and neck are noticably bigger like almost a harder knott. im worried its infection, and cant make it to the vet right now.

A: This could just be tissue swelling or as you suggested this could be an infection. I know you said you can't get into the vet now but if this needs medication that's really your only option. It's difficult when unexpected expenses happen with our pets. Please review some of my previous posts for suggestions about various methods to handle veterinary expenses. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Breathing Problem

Q: hi i really hope you can help 15 days ago my cat got rushed to the vet he could breath had fluid on his lungs they sent him home with injections of lasix furosemide i gave him al his doses went back to the vet and they said he seemed to be fine but kept him on the lasix but in pill form and enacard which is in pill form also...he was getting better then relized that he had large scabs with a white kinda bubble on some of there is 4 and lumps under his skin could this be because of the injections of spent so much money already and i just wanted to see if you could give me some advice..they really dont seem to be hurting him and lets me pet him and look at them please could you maybe give me some advice thank you so much for your time

A: I cannot say for sure what this is. Certainly animals can get areas of inflammation under the skin after getting injections but it's pretty unusual. I would at least call your veterinarian and just ask what he or she thinks.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Constipated Puppy in Discomfort

Q: My puppy (Pepper Ann) has been whiny, and drawn up for 2 days not i noticed she was constipated the day before yesterday, she is drinking in little fluids of puppy formula, she is peeing but no bowel movement. i have tried mineral oil and a couple small drops of kayro syrup, she is a chihuahua pikanese mix i feel so bad its hard to get her comfy please help guide me in the right way,

i have noticed when she tries to eat she swallows then it sounds like air bubble in her belly and she does not want to be on her back she wants to stay curled up with her head far back crying soft then louder. Lethargy-Trembling-Crying, Whimpering. please help sincerely, Pepper Anns mom

A: In situations like this there is really not any advice I can give you to do at home. It sounds like your poor little puppy is feeling pretty poorly and is uncomfortable. It would be best to get her to your veterinarian to help make her comfortable and figure out what is going on as soon as possible. Good luck to you and Pepper Ann. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Sick Hamster

Q: my hamster has yellow fluid coming out of vagina, won't drink for 4 days, sleeps all the time,no energy! Wakes up, digs in her bedding and goes bak to sleep. Tries to get on wheel and falls off! She was perfect and full of energy 5days ago! What's wrong with my baby?!!!

A: Like you I am very worried about this hamster. Try to find a veterinarian willing to see small mammals. I am particularly concerned about an infection but cannot say for sure until she is examined. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Urinating on Furniture

Q: A friend of mine has a dog that had started urinating on her bed. She closed her bedroom door so she didn't have access to the bed. At that point she started to pee on the couch. She is a mixed breed, has been spayed and is a young, healthy girl. I would love your thoughts on this. Thank you.Vicky

A: Inappropriate urination can be medical or behavioral. First we need to rule out medical issues that affect the urinary system. I recommend bloodwork, urinalysis, and urine culture/sensitivity. Sometimes I will also take X-rays to look for abnormalities like bladder stones. If all checks out medically that's when we start addressing behavioral issues. Make sure to clean the areas in the house with an "enzymatic cleaner" to prevent the dog from being drawn back to these same areas due to smell. I know this is frustrating and wish you luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Should Feral Cat Stay on Lysine

Q: I have a feral cat who has recovered from a severe eye infection. It was a challenge, all products used had to be put in his food because he cannot be picked up. I am now giving him Viralys L-lysine supplement. suggested dose is 1/4 tea 2x a day . He is getting I dose daily. (sometimes I only see in in the morning) Is it harmful to cats to continuously give this product as a daily supplement? Should it only be used as needed.? Thank-you, -- Karyn

A: Wow, you have been wonderful to this cat. I would continue the lysine very long term. When it works it keeps the immune system stronger to help prevent infections. I know if he or she could speak this cat would thank you!.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua Has Several Swellings

Q: Hello, I have a 4 month old chihuahua and I noticed one of her eyes was swollen and later under her ear was swollen too. Also I noticed her vulva is red and swollen too. She seems fine and active with my other dog too. Any advice on what this could be? Thank u in advance!

A: As far as the swellings on the face this could potentially be an allergic reaction of some sort. Sometimes with bacterial infections like conjunctivitis or ear infections you can get facial swelling too. The swollen vulva could be due to horomonal changes or potentially an infection/vaginitis. At any rate, if this is abnormal for her and has persisted, your veterinarian needs to examine her. .-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua-Maltese Mix Has Health Problems

Q: I have a chihuahua and Maltese mix and I have always had some concerns about her health. She is a little over 8 months and is no more than 4 pounds. I got her when she was supposably 6 weeks old and she has never had the appetite that I thought a dog should have. I feed her wet Purina puppy food in the pouches whenever she will actually eat it..I sit it in front of her in a comfortable place and leave because that seems to be the only way she will eat is with me out of the room. Sometimes I even have to feed it to her. Other than her eating problem she has been a healthy regular puppy. She is very active, but just last night I woke up to her throwing up or dry heaving because I don't think anything actually came up. I finally got her to fall asleep. And she seemed fine this morning. But when I came home later today and tried to pick her up she yelped. I didn't know what was wrong in till I touched her stomach and she yelped again. So, her stomach seems to be sore and she has not eaten all day because her food has not been touched. I tried to feed it to her but she will not eat it. I know the best answer is to take her to the vet. I have an appointment already to get her fixed and was going to get her a check up then, but I wanted to make sure that it was okay to wait or if I needed to take her sooner. Thank you for any advice you may have.

A: With small dogs I worry more about them not eating. I really don't think this needs to wait. If you haven't already gone in please get her to your veterinarian.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Lab Puppy and Grown Maltese

Q: I want to get a black Labrador retriever(puppy only a few months old) and I have a seven year old Maltese do you think that's okay or will I have problems with them getting along?


A: This is a great question and the answer is that this totally depends on the temperaments of the dogs. If your older dog tends to do well with other animals then I would expect that the introduction will go smoothly. It would be a good idea to have a practice meeting where they could meet before you actually bring the puppy home to see how it goes. Good luck!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Terrier Mix has Problem After Grooming

Q: I have a 7 year old terrier mix. I took him to the groomers for the first time 3 days ago. They cut his hair, nails, have a bath and cleaned his anal glands. Ever since he has been licking his butt tons more than usual. It looks a little red and I'm worried the groomers either cut the hair too short back there or if it's from cleaning his anal glands. Is this normal so soon after going especially if it was a new experience for him?

A: It is not normal but it is relatively common for dogs that have sensitive skin to experience some irritation after being groomed. This does not necessarily mean that the groomer did anything wrong, but you should mention it so maybe next time they can not shave so close. It's not unusual after such situations to need to get to your veterinarian for medication to make the skin more comfortable and to make sure there are no problems with the anal glands.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Boston Terrier Puppy has Lump Under Skin

Q: Hello, my boston terrier puppy has something underneath his skin that I can move, it feels like a ball and I can move it from his ribs to his low side. He is 15 weeks and updated on all shots.

A: Sometimes puppies will get lumps underneath the skin where they have received vaccines. However your veterinarian needs to check this go rule out infection or any other abnormal growth. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golen Retriever Eating Other Dog's Poop



A: This is a relatively common issue in dogs. One way to handle this is to pick up the fecal material (being extra careful to wash your hands afterwards) so that it is not on the ground to be ingested.

Another option is to ask your veterinarian about a medication that you feed to your pug to alter the taste of the stool and deter you other dog from eating it. Sometimes this works great and other times it's not as effective.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua with Painful Lump

Q: Thor is a 9 year old chihuahua. No past medical issues. In the past two days, he has been whimpering when he moves a certain way. When he jumped on my lap, I noticed a soft lump about the size of a quarter that wasn't there a few days ago. The lump is on his ribs right by his shoulder It's obviously tender because he cried when I touched it. I hate seeing him in pain. Do I take him to the vet, or is a bump that he got from a fall?

Any help you give me would be sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

A: I'm sorry that there is no way for me to know the origin of this bump. It could be related to the injury or might be incidental. My biggest concern is for Thor being painful. If you haven't already, let's get him to the veterinarian for examination of the bump and to possibly get a safe pain medications.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Mini Dachshund has IVDD

Q: My mini dachshund was diagnosed with severe IVDD yesterday. Vet says she should have surgery but odds are not good that she will recover and it is expensive. I am not financially able. I don't know what to do. Vet has given us medication for her for 7 days. She is not eating. She does drink her water. I am worried about her pooping and peeing. Vet is hinting that we should have her put to sleep. I just can not do this. I don't know what to do. Can you help us?

A: This is such a hard decision. The best chance for a favorable outcome would be surgery. The bad thing about surgery is the expense, and not all dogs that have the surgery will improve. There are no guarantees.

There are some dogs that will slowly start to gain use of their legs again without surgery. The benefits of steroids are controversial but I usually try them just in case.

For dogs who do not recover on their own, some clients make the difficult decision to euthanize them due to concerns over quality of life. Others look into getting one of the carts that you can custom order for your dog.

Of course, being able to go to the restroom on her own is an issue too. Sometimes we teach clients how to express the urinary bladder.

Bottom line is that there are no right answers. You have to consider all of the options and do what is best for your individual dog. I will keep you in my thoughts.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

15 Year Old Cocker Spaniel Loses Control of Bladder

Q: My dog Jasper will be 15 in March. He no longer is capable to hold his urine. He goes into the kitchen when he has to go. I was concerned and of course took him the vet. He had a complete exam,blood work. His blood work came back remarkably well for a dog his age. That was a relief but I'm still dealing with cleaning pee all the time. At this point I'm thinking of getting diapers. I'm clueless. Thank you,Amina

A: If he knows that he is urinating he may have something called canine cognitive dysfunction. This is similar to dementia or senility in people. If you do an internet search for this disease the company that makes a medication to help treat it has a website with a checklist to help you know if your dog may have this.

Also make sure a urine culture and sensitivity has been done to absolutely rule out urinary tract infection. Make sure to tell your veterinarian if your dog is drinking more water as there are some diseases that can cause increased water drinking that may not readily show up on labwork (urinary tract infection, Cushings disease).

If you and your veterinarian decide that this may be cognitive dysfunction there are medications available that can help as well as certain specialty food with antioxidants.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Aussie Mix Drools Too Much

Q:Hi: We have recently rescued a wonderful Aussie cross - Lily. She is one year old and as is typical for her breeds (husky and aussie) she is busy, smart and a temptress to her friends at day camp - we take her once a week so that she can socialize with other dogs and to get used to being away from home in case we need to go away unexpectedly.

So here is the thing... Lily will sit on the chair and watch the world go by. We live on a very quiet street so there is rarely anything going by but she loves to look... while she is surveying her domain, she will start to drool ...not too excessively..looks like only one shoe lace coming from her mouth ( side of mouth changes) but we cannot figure out what is happening.. she also does this if she is outside running about. Also as expected she is quite the chewer!

Again, it is not excessive but it does make us wonder. We trust our vet implicitly as he has walked us through a dog with allergies from adoption to end of life - he and his techs are fabulous. So we know Lily has had a good examination or two so far.. just searching the web and found this site with your address..just wondering if you have any thoughts? thanks so very much --Sue

A:Dogs tend to drool when nauseated, nervous/anxious, or if there is some abnormality in their mouth. Some dogs just seem to tend to drool more than others for no known reason. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Q:My 4 month old dog is having mucous coming out of her private parts. why? Thanks

IA:t is probably no big deal but if it's a relatively new development for her you should have this looked at my your veterinarian. I suspect that she has vaginitis but she needs to be examined. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Recently Spayed Chihuahua Licks Incision

Q: Hi my names Carly and I own a 1 year old Chihuahua named Lucy i just got her spayed a week ago. Like the vet said i waited a week to take the cone off. The entire time she had to cone on her she was doing great. But the incision looked weird to me the day i got her back.The incision was a long slit and on on side of the slit was the stitch and on the other was a piece of the thread going through her skin. As she started to heal i continued observing her incision everyday to insure it was clean. About 5 days after her surgery i noticed that what appeared to be either dried blood or a scab was in the middle of her incision.

After I took the cone off of her i left for about an hour the same day thinking she would be fine since i waited the allotted time the vet told me to. After i got home i immediately checked her stitch and the "scab" was gone. It appears she has licked her stiches clean and even though the two stiches on the side are still there the scab in the middle is not and im beginning to worry that the "scab" was actually a stitch covered by dry blood, that she pulled out. The incision does not look infected but she is acting extremely strange. I took out her favorite treat and enticed her to walk over to me. Every other couple of steps she took she would stop and go to lick her incision. She is acting so weird im so worried that something is wrong with her. Should i take her to an emergency vet? Im so worried. Thank you!!

A: I don't know that this is an emergency (obviously I cannot say for sure since I cannot see her) but she needs to be seen. Incisions can become infected and sometimes animals can have reactions to the suture. There is also a chance that you will get her in and this will be no big deal. Thanks for being so vigilant with your dog. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Look-Alike Cat Raises Questions

Q: i really need some advice. i had this stray outside cat that i fed for quite sometime. he was not fixed, lean and long looking. i finally found him a home and after about 5 days in his new house he ran out and went missing. i found out about this about 8 days later and went out to look for him (i live about 18 miles from his new home) about 3 houses from his new home i found a cat that looked very much like him. he had the same hair loss on the back of the legs, same bump on his neck. he however looked a bit different. i noticed that the cat was neutered, his head looked a bit smaller, and he looked a bit thicker in the middle area. i asked the lady if this was her cat and she said yes. i explained that i lost a cat that looked just like this one but she just insisted that the cat was hers.

my question is after about 7-10 days after a male cat (4-5years old) has been neutered (and probably de-wormed) can the cat undergo these types of changes. the cat seemed to run up to me and acted like it knew me. he is in a good home, looks well cared for, and i would not take him away. but i feel that the lady is not being honest. i have been driving out to this neighborhood for about 6 weeks looking for him, 4 times a week at least. i just was wondering if this cat could be the one i've been looking for all this time. thanks --sandy

A: I'm sorry that it's impossible for me to answer this question. I would be surprised to see such noticeable changes in appearance so quickly but it could be possible. For the future, please be aware that you can have your pet microchipped. A microchip provides a means to permanently identify your pet if you were ever separated. Thanks for your concern over this kitty. !-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dachshund Treats Hing Leg as "Phantom Puppy"

Q: I have a female dachshund. She is around 9 years old. Within this past year, she started acting like her hind leg was her puppy. She has never had a litter, however, every so often she starts tugging on her skin above her hip and starts trying to walk while pulling. She is not biting herself, but she does whine the whole time because she can’t get her "puppy” to cooperate. She ultimately just ends of walking in circles trying to place the “puppy”. I have checked her from head to toe and she does not have any injury and does not do this all of the time. We have toys for the dogs to play with and would have thought if she was going through a “phantom pregnancy” then she would have picked one of the toys up to be her “puppy”, but she would rather grab her skin instead. Is this normal for a dog to do? I have had A LOT of animals in my life and I have never had one do this before and when I googled it, nothing came up.....HELP! What is going on with her????

A: I have never seen this either in a dog. It sounds to be more of a discomfort/possible skin issue. Try to video your dog doing this and take the video with your dog to the veterinarian. !-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Unspayed Lab Problem

Q: I have a 8 year old female lab who is not spayed. One of her utters has become hard and leaking fluid. I have tried using warm compresses and massaging to try and break up the lump and relieve some of the fluid. But it comes right back. Is there something I can be doing to clear this up at home?

A: I'm afraid that there is nothing to do at home. If she is uncomfortable you could apply warm compresses to the area for a few minutes at a time several times daily until you can get her to the veterinarian. Please don't do this if she is painful enough to get grumpy and bite you!

Since she is not spayed she could potentially be lactating (they can do this even when not pregnant), have an infection, or potentially a tumor. I recommend getting her into your veterinarian, it would also be a good idea to consider having her spayed.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

11 Year Old Rottweiler Problem

Q: My 11 year old rottie has 4 scabby sores that appear to be taking off the is half off and under it is white skin (hair and all coming off) they are also tender..what could it be? thanks!

A: This could be any of a number of things including allergy, infection, skin mites, or even skin cancer. You need to get to your veterinarian for an exam and possibly a skin biopsy. Good luck!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Great Pyraneese Puppy Problem

Q: Hello, We have a 7 week old great pyreneese. She has been licking her rear and after checking I see that it is very red. We haven't taken her to the vet yet and will be doing that tomorrow. I just want to make sure this isn't an emergency. Her nose feels warm and dry I am worried she has a fever. Any help or advice would be great. Thank you.

A: When dogs lick at their rear end I think it's important to rule out presence of fleas, anal gland issues, and intestinal parasites. If your puppy is eating and feeling ok otherwise this is not an emergency but you do need to keep your appointment that you mentioned. Please try to take a fecal sample to the veterinarian with you so that they will have a good stool sample to examine.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Back Pain in Maltese

Q: Hi I have a 6 year old Maltese. I took him to the emergency vet last night. He was uncomfortable and would yelp if you tried to touch his lower back or stomach, but I was able to pick him up with him not yelping. They told me they were 80% it is back pain and gave him 2 shots, a muscle relaxer and pain killer. I took him home and when I woke up this morning, about 6 hours after shots, he is still uncomfortable. Able to walk on his own and go outside to go pee. Do I wait a couple days to take him to the vet or should I take him back asap? I am a struggling college student so money is a concern. I will obviously pay anything to make sure he is ok. Just want to make sure taking him back to vet is what I should be doing. Thank you!

A: It's difficult in these little dogs to differentiate between abdominal pain versus back pain. If only they could talk to us! If he is eating and there is no vomiting or diarrhea, chances are this is more back pain. Sometimes dogs can get herniated intervertebral discs that can require long aggressive treatment and sometimes surgery to heal. I think you need to get your little guy back to the doctor. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Havanese with Drool and Dandruff

Q: Hi, My havanese has 2 issues. Since being groomed about 3 weeks ago he has what looks like dandruff on just his head area. Also, a few days ago I noticed him drooling. Ha is 4 years old. Has never had these symptoms. Could it be stress related? Hes a very clingy dog. Usually only behaves for me. Hates to be left at home alone. Although we do have another Havanese. His mother. Shes is fine. No flaking or drooling. Much less stressed out personality. Also, a member of family just moved away for a couple of years. Could that absence cause this?
N. Thomas

A: Sometimes dogs with sensitive skin can get skin irritation after being groomed. It's not that the groomer did anything wrong, just some dogs can get sensitive skin. I cannot rule out a skin infection though either. I need for your veterinarian to take a look to know exactly what this is.

The drooling could be nausea, oral abnormalities, and potentially anxiety. It sounds like you need to get your dog in to be examined to rule out medical problems. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Puppy could have Respiratory Problem

Q: Hi my yorkie puppy (8 weeks old) seems like he has phlem in his throat and he coughs it up but then he swallow it, and he also sounds congested ( when he plays, growls I haven't herd him bark yet either? But the only other thing is he has the Hic-up's at least 3 or 4 times a day! Which Is weird to me but maybe I'm wrong! He has only had his first round of shots he goes to vet for his 2nd round in a few weeks! I'm think he might have a respiratory infection of some kind? Any info would be helpful I just don't want him to die!! Please help!! Thanks alot !! Please respond a.s.a.p


A: The hiccups aren't uncommon in puppies. He very well could have a respiratory infection. Puppies have an immature immune system so you are right to be concerned about infection. Let's get this puppy into your veterinarian to see if antibiotics are necessary.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Tsu Sneezing

Q: Hello, I have a 10 year old Shih Tzu, and for the past 2 weeks he has been sneezing a lot. He will sneeze constantly for a few seconds, then stop and a few minutes later...he would do it again. He also keeps moving his tongue around his mouth, while he sneezes (it almost looks like he is trying to get something out of his mouth). He does this almost everyday, several times a day. He has never done this before, and I have checked his temperature..and it was normal. We have changed his diet, because he is overweight. We changed from Pedigree to Blue Buffalo, and he has been on Blue for about 3 weeks.I just want to know if this is something serious, before I pay a lot of money for a vet visit and it not be urgent. Thanks for all your help. Amber :)

A: My first reaction is to wonder if he has a problem tooth. The tooth roots on the upper half of the mouth are very close to the nasal cavity. An infected tooth root could cause the symptoms you describe.

You also need to have your dog examined to rule out tumors or foreign bodies in the mouth or nose. I appreciate you writing in and this is a case where you need to get your dog in to your veterinarian.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Weimaraner Puppy with Bumps on Back

Q: My 10 week old Weimaraner has 3 unusual bumps on his back the are under the skin. They don't seem to bother him even when I touch them. Do you know what they may be? Thanks a bunch,
Robert Ackerman

Q: Has this puppy had vaccines recently? Sometimes I see puppies with bumps under the skin from vaccines. Tumors are unlikely in young puppies but it's not impossible. Also sometimes skin infections or even allergies can manifest as bumpy skin. Have it checked out particularly if these bumps persist. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pomeranian Pup Limping

Q: Hello, I have a 7 month pomeranian male, and a few weeks ago my daughter dropped him and he started favoring his left hind leg. At first he would not put any weight on it. Now he still "hops" around on 3 legs, but when he's playing he runs full speed on all 4 and will stand on both hind legs when he wants my attention with no obvious signs of pain. There is no swelling, but I did notice that his paw pads on the favored leg have a white, almost chalky looking growth(?) On them. Any idea what this could be? He is an indoor dog but plays in the backyard, and we live Pennsylvania. Your thoughts are very much appreciated. Thank you.

A: If he is able to put weight on that leg it is likely not broken but x-rays would tell us for sure. More commonly with these symptoms we see soft tissue injuries like ruptured ligaments. It is important not to encourage heavy activity as rest would allow any injury that could heal on its own ( and not all of them can) to heal faster.

I'm not sure about the growth on the paw pad unless he's been licking at that area a lot from pain and has inflammation. This puppy needs to be examined by a veterinarian. I'd hate for an injury at such a young age to potentially result in lifelong problems. Just make sure that there is nothing else that needs to be done.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

2 Yr Old Chihuahua Has Hypoglycemia

Q: I have a 2 year old Chihuahua who seems to have only recently acquired hypoglycemia. He had an episode in August of 2011 where he became wobbly and his legs gave out on him. When I gave him Nutrical he was fine. He has remained problem free until December when he proceeded to have 5 more episodes within 3 weeks. I asked his vet if this had anything to do with the fact that he has developmental issues such as his reluctance to jump, poor eye/ paw coordination and a skip in his back step. The vet assured me that he was ok and that as long as I feed him every 4 hours he will live a long and healthy life.

I got a second opinion yesterday from another vet who told me that Hypoglycemia is very dangerous. She told me to give him Nutrical in the morning and the evening along with his 4 meals a day. She also sounds as if he has neurological and skeletal problems.

I would like a final opinion because I don't know what steps I should take. I am so worried that my dog will have an episode during the night and that I will lose him because of what the second vet said. I would also like to know what I should be feeding him to prevent another episode. He currently eats Natural Balance "Small Bites". I also leave food and water for him at all times.
Please advise.
Thank you,

A: You are correct that we worry more about hypoglycemia in little dogs and that it can be very dangerous. I always like to do a test called a bile acids test (after routine bloodwork including a complete blood count, serum chemistry, and thyroid test) has been performed. This bile acids will help us know if your little dog could have something called a portosystemic shunt. Some dogs are born with a shunt and it can affect their blood sugar. Although rare, I have had dogs that presented to me with low blood sugar and the cause was found to be a rare disease called Addison's disease. There are a couple of ways to check for this including a test called an ACTH stimulation test. Obviously make sure that your dog is not getting into things like sugar free gum that can affect the blood pressure and have your dog checked for intestinal parasites. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Siamese Cat

Q: I have a siamese indoor cat approx. 6 years old (adopted from a shelter so not sure exact age) and all of a sudden he started not allowing me to pet his back. When I would touch him in the "wrong" spot he would immediately start licking his side. I found that he has tons of little black tiny hard pebbles all over the back part of his back. It does look a little like "flea dirt" but he doesn't show any signs of having fleas now (winter) or this summer and neither do the 2 other indoor cats or our dog. He let me remove a good amount of the black pebbles (they are almost like grains of sand) and seems to be more tolerant of being touch in that area but he is still licking quite a bit. Do you know what this is or what is causing it? Should I try to give him a bath to get rid of the rest of them and if so what type of soap should I use? Thanks for your time.

A: I agree with you that this sounds suspicious for fleas. Cats with fleas are difficult because since cats are such wonderful groomers they often will pick off the adult fleas leaving only flea dirt. To know if it is flea dirt I recommend taking some of the black particles, putting them on a paper towel, and dripping some water on the paper towel. If it turns red then what you have is flea dirt, which is digested blood. Flea allergy dermatitis will make cats itchy to the point of acting really strangely when you touch them. I have even had cats brought to me because they owners think this behavior is a seizure. Check to see if this is flea dirt and remember that with cats you have to be extra super careful about what to use on them as a flea prevention. I definitely recommend talking to your veterinarian and getting a prescription strength flea product for your cat. Some over the counter products and especially products made for dogs can be deadly to cats. By the way, if your cat is really uncomfortable you may want to get him into your veterinarian to see if he/she can give your cat any medication to alleviate the itchy symptoms while you start to attack the fleas. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua Eye Problem

Q: Earlier today I picked up my 10 week old chihuahua to take him outside. While doing so I tripped and his reaction was to jump out of my arms. I think he fell on his head or face. He screamed for a few minutes till I picked him up and calmed him down. I looked him over and his eye is a little swollen and red in the inner corner where it should be white. He seems fine other than that but I tried to put a warm moist cloth over it and he screamed again. I dont know what to do! And I dont have alot of money to take him to the vet at the moment. Im worried he may have a burst blood vessel in his eye. Is there anything I can do for him at home?

A: Even if he had a burst blood vessel there's really nothing that you can do about that. I worry about him getting a scratch on his cornea (surface of his eyeball). Usually dog with a scratch/ulcer will squint the affected eye a lot or it will be very oozy. With an ulcer that really needs to be seen. However, if there is just mild redness and swelling but he seems fine otherwise it could resolve on its own. I cannot tell you exactly what is wrong over the computer but if he is eating and not squinting too badly then it is probably ok to just monitor your dog. Good luck!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rescued Boxer Drips Blood From Mouth

Q: Recently we found a Boxer dog on the side of the road and picked her up. She seems to be healthy, but a little skinny. I believe she is around 1 year old and she constantly drips a little bit of blood from her mouth. She doesn't like me touching her mouth to try and see where it's coming from. When she sleeps at night she drools and leaves blood stains. It looks light colored so I think it's only dripping after she drinks water or drools. We're finding little red spots dripped through out the house and I think we found a tooth in the floor. I'm not sure if this may be the cause of this, but I'm concerned and was wondering if you could help. Thanks for your time.

A: That was nice of you to pick this dog up. If you are not aware of her previous history be extra careful with her as dogs can carry diseases that can be passed to humans like certain intestinal parasites and even rabies.

A bleeding mouth could be from a bleeding tooth, growth in the mouth, trauma, a foreign object, or even a bleeding disorder. Certain toxins like rat poison can cause bleeding tendencies as can certain autoimmune diseases.

Bottom line is that she needs to get your veterinarian anyway to check for a microchip, heartworm test, fecal test (take one with you to have her checked for intestinal parasites), and for a good physical exam. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Loses Bladder Control After Spaying

Q: My female was spayed and the vet cut into her spleen. I've notice she loses control of her bladder which before the surgery she didn't.

A: Bladder control issues could be a result of several potential issues. I don't thinkit is at all related to the spleen. I typically like to do bloodwork and x-rays to rule out urinary tract infection, other systemic diseases that can affect the urinary system (like kidney disease or diabetes), and bladder stones. Remember that certain medications like steroids can sometimes affect urination.

If no obvious reason can be found she could be having a very common condition in spayed female dogs called urinary incontinence. In some spayed dogs the muscles in the urethra lose their tone and allow for leakage of urine. There is medication available for this. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

When Is It The Right Time To Put Your Dog Down?

Q: Hello my name is Stacie, my question is how to know when it's time to put your dog down? Daisy our lab has a large tumor in her spleen and several fatty tumors all over her body. She has always been a very good dog that has always been healthy. For a few years now she has slowly become arthritic and has a hard time walking and sometimes stumbles.

Recently she has started chewing and scratching in certain areas on her body. Which I think she is trying to get to the pain possibly? She chews on her front knee joint and hips to the point wear she has created a sores that bleeds. She also seems to be loosing an abundant amount of hair in chunks. I can't stand the thought of her suffering and at the same time when I look into her eyes can't stand the thought of putting her down yet.

I need help on knowing when it's "the right time to put her down." You should also know that she has seen her Vet regularly and it is my decision not to do any medical proceedures, given her age and the many things she has developed. Your input is greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and input --Stacie

A: This is such a common yet heartbreaking question for pet owners. The truth is that there are no clear cut answers. Having said that, I will share some of my opinions with you.

Make a list of things that your dog has always enjoyed. The list for some dogs can include things like eating, playing with a favorite toy, greeting you when you arrive home, going in the car, etc. When you start to notice that many of these things are no longer able to be enjoyed I seriously consider quality of life issues.

Remember that sometimes the greatest gift we can give to our beloved pets is to realize that if they are not doing well we can intervene to prevent them from having to get worse. It's very difficult for us to make this decision but when our pets are painful we have to make sure we are keeping them with us for the right reasons.

I can not tell you the answer for your specific dog. It sounds like there are issues with pain and discomfort. Sometimes in such cases when the owner is struggling with this decision I recommend a trial of pain medication for palliative care. If that doesn't seem to help then we know we cannot let the animal continue in pain. I will keep you and your dog in my thoughts. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Show Signs of Some Injury After Fall

Q: My dog was dropped on the brick of my fireplace, about 3 ft. high. She yelps sometimes when she walks, but she doesn't have obvious broken bones. She doesn't limp, but she's walks with her tail tucked in and her back has a curve, like she's not relaxed. She also yelps when I pet her on her forhead. (She didn't land on her head, she landed on her chest or possibly tummy or both) if its a fractured rib what could the vet do and why is she sensitive to me petting her on her forehead? What do I need to do

A: I'm sorry that this happened with your dog. Obviously your dog is experiencing discomfort. Please call your veterinarian to get your dog in for an exam and to likely get pain medication. Remember never to give human pain medication to dogs as certain ones can be extremely dangerous. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Older Sheltie Has New Lump on Hind Leg

Q: My Sheltie is 10 years old and we noticed a lump the size of a nickel on her back hind leg last weekend. It's raised, pink and has no hair on it. I took her to the vet and they put her on antibiotics to rule out infection. Today I noticed her hair is falling out in clumps just on her two hind legs, leaving an almost bald spot where the hair has shed.

Could these two things be related? The vet said it would cost $600-$700 to surgically remove the lump - we just don't have that kind of money. Do you have any idea what this could be? Please help.

A: This is a good question. Not all growths are necessarily cancers but dogs can get tumors. Unfortunately tumors are sometimes more common in older dogs. I like to surgically remove any growth that is not going away on its own.

Some masses need general anesthesia for removal and others can sometimes be removed with a local anesthetic. As far as the hair loss on both legs go, without knowing what this growth is its impossible for me to say.

Consider talking to your veterinarian to see if he/she offers payment options like Care Credit. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog With New Pups Acts Strange After Fall

Q: I don't know whats wrong with my dog. She had puppies three weeks ago. She fell off the bed the other day ever since then she has been using her back legs she is letting a liquid come out which has a really bad oder she doesnt let you move her or she bites you. We are a very less fortunate family we want to take her to the vet but its too expensive right now until friday but i want to know if you know whats wrong with her. She also wont sleep has her eyes wide open, but she lets you pet her anywhere and move her legs. Please if you could tell me whats wrong with her fast that would help a lot i love her a lot and i dont want her to go away yet! Thank you -- Renee T.

A: This could be caused by any of a number of problems including nutritional deficiency or infection. Having puppies is very hard on her body and proper veterinary care is essential both before and after having puppies. I know that it can be expensive to own a dog, and if you read through previous posts on this website I have mentioned potential ways to help with veterinary bills. I would recommend having her spayed after she gets better and her puppies are weaned. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Seems to be in Pain Frequently

Q: My rat terrior his name is junior, he just started yapping real loud and panting.. His penis seems to stay hard. I wish I knew what was wrong with him, the vet is so high.please help. He acts like hes in so much pain but not all the time.

A: This is not a situation where you should avoid going to your veterinarian. If he has repeated episodes of pain you need to have him seen. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Showing Signs of Agression

Q: Hi there, I recently acquired a 7yr old Yorkie and while I am sure she has not had time to adjust to her new environment as of yet, some of her behaviors are concerning me. I got the dog from her original owners, a family that allowed her to "rule the roost" when they were home. When they weren't at home she was left for long periods of time in the laundry room with her food, potty pad and a bed. She is a sweet dog, however when she wants attention, she will growl and bark at me. I spend long hours on the computer being a college student and this becomes quite annoying and distracting. I spend plenty of time with her cuddling and petting but I do it when convienent for me, not her. I also have a mixed breed neutered male that is almost 5 yrs old. I can see that the Yorkie is challenging his Alpha authority over her and I somewhat expected that given she needs to find her place, as well as her breed. We have had 3 altercations between the dogs thus far, two of which were instigated by the Yorkie. First time she became aggressive was when my other dog went over to her and attempted to play. I know it was play because he was crouching with rear in the air and tail wagging strong, head down, mouth closed and relaxed. She quickly made a growling noise and attacked him. After a short scuffle he put her on her back and held her there for a short while. Next scuffle was over the bed. My mixed breed sleeps at the foot of my bed. I know this is controversial for many people but I have well established my Alpha status over him and am comfortable with the arrangement. He would never attempt to sleep up by the pillows with me, he knows that is my place. My Yorkie was attempting to jump up onto the bed and was growling while doing so. My mixed breed got down off the bed and went over to her and as if to give her a warning growl to let her know he wasn't appreciating the growling and didn't want her on the bed. Next thing you know, my Yorkie attacked the mixed breed...a small scuffle with once again the mixed breed coming out on top and the Yorkie retreating. Then last night we had another potential scuffle I was able to prevent entirely. We were on the bed, Papi at the foot. Tiffany jumped up on the bed (this time no growling involved) close to the top. Papi saw this and instantly growled as a warning for her to get down. I could sense he was moving onto phase two of the warning when he turned, stood up and growled again this time tucking his lip up. Just as he was going to lunge I lifted my leg (covered in the blanket) and blocked him from getting to her. She instantly got down and went in the other room. This time I know that Papi was the aggressor. Papi doesn't particularly mind the presence of Tiffany. He has no problem with her on the couch, playing with toys, getting attention from me or my husband, nothing. Most of the time they are living in harmony occasionally taking a sniff at the others behind and generally ignoring each other. Tiffany has also randomly attempted to attack the cat when the cat is minding its own business just sitting somewhere. When that happens Papi takes off after Tiffany almost like he is attempting to protect the cat?? Are these behaviors actually aggressive behaviors or am I being paranoid? Is she just unsure of her environment and attempting to find her place in the pack? Am I doing the correct thing by paying her no attention when she growls and barks at me? I have gone as far as removing her from the room and closing the door and she will stand at the door repeating the same behavior. She is also a terrible beggar. She was free fed in her old home a commercial dog food. She is quite portly at the moment having an obvious pot belly. I have taken her off the commercial food and switched her to the same homemade food that my other dog eats and feed 2x a day. She seems to have an allergy to something, likely her food as the previous owners said she has scratched since they have had her. This poor doggie has sores all over from scratching and biting all the time. In changing her food and adding the supplements I have already noticed a slight reduction in the scratching. She is not food aggressive with humans but since I know my mixed breed is with other dogs I just feed them in separate rooms to be safe. If she sees someone eating anything she begs. I mean all out on the hind legs, jumping up and down, growling and forever staring at you and your food until you are done eating begging. Again, I ignore this behavior but it does make for a rather unpleasant meal time. I don't want to isolate her during meals because I really don't have the space in my small apartment to do so and I want her to learn that is not acceptable and she will not be rewarded for it. Any suggestions??? We have only had her for 3 days now and while I am not jumping to any conclusions, I want to be able to nip any potential issues in the bud.

A: Wow, it sounds like you have your hands full! It is very very common for animals to have to establish or re-establish a pecking order when initially introduced. As the days pass, your pets should settle into a system that works for them. For example, "Who will sleep next to mom?". Having said that, I have also had clients who have had serious problems with their dogs fighting to the point of hurting each other. There are some good sources of information related to such behavior issues. Get online and do a search for an organization called Animal Behavior Network. Please note that this company is not affiliated with this website but I have had experience with my clients using the services provided by that company. I'm not sure where you live but if you happen to live in my area of Savannah, Georgia please contact me and I can give you information on an amazing local behavior expert.

As far as her skin goes, food is one of several things that dogs can be allergic too. If this is allergies ( and your veterinarian would need to rule out other skin issues like mange, etc) often there are secondary infections. Therefore I'd have to defer to your veterinarian to know the best way to handle the skin issues.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Blue Heeler Mix has Problems Getting Up in the Mornings

Q: We have a wonderful 6 year old Blue Heeler/Dingo Mix as a family pet. He is a one of a kind. He Loves to Play and run, he does not like to stop! We have noticed the last couple of weeks when he plays hard or when we take him out running; the next morning his side swells up and has some lumps like someone may have kicked him in the side. When he does try and get up the next morning he yelps and screams in pain until he gets moving. Then he seems fine. It does not seem to hurt him when we rub it. In fact he seems to like it when we massage the area. Has he maybe torn some muscles in that area? Please help me figure out what I can do to help him. Thank You!

A: I have not ever treated a dog for development of swelling on its side after being active. The particularly concerning part is that it is uncomfortable to your dog. I would like for your veterinarian to evaluate the swelling. Could you perhaps record an episode of your dog acting painful and get photos of the swellings to take with you to your veterinarian?-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog has unpleasant Odor and Eye Discharge

Q: Hello,

Hope this works. My Tabbi-girl is really exuding quite an unpleasant smell from her body especially when she is warm, which she is a lot. She mostly has a lot of brown eye goop which needs wiping off maybe 3 times a day, a lot of it which will fly up onto the top of her head if not wiped off. It is brown when I get it on a kleenex.

I have used my own eye drops from the cabinet on her, several times. One was for pink eye and the other for dry eyes? I am careful! It doesn't look like a conjunctivitis. But she has those dark brown eyes so it is hard to tell!

She seems thirsty!

Does this sound like anything in particular to you? The vet bills are so high, I just couldn't take her in right now!

She also lived with our other jack russell, which my son has right now. He had a bone infection because of an abcessed tooth. It was removed and he alone was put on antibiotics. Could she have that same bone disease now? I don't remember Kipper having the goopy eyes though. This seems unusual.


A: When dogs (I'm assuming this is a dog?) have an extra unpleasant smell it usually indicates an overgrowth of bacteria and/or yeast on the skin. Such overgrowth is often related to skin allergies. Some of these dogs can become itchy.

As far as the ocular discharge goes, there are many reasons for dogs to accumulate matter on the eyes. This could be anything from infection to dry eye to ulceration to allergy, etc. I cannot stress enough that you shouldn't give your dog any medication at all without consulting with your veterinarian as often human medications are not safe for dogs.

The excessive water drinking that you mentioned could be normal for her or there could be a disease process going on such as kidney disease, diabetes, etc. I'm not telling you that she definitely has a significant disease but if she came to me I would want to do bloodwork to rule out such issues.

I cannot say for certain but it is doubtful that this is related to the other dog's dental disease.

I think you should consider getting your dog to the veterinarian. I realize it is an expense but if you scan through some of the previous posts on this website I've included some good information about options for paying veterinary bills. I wish you the best of luck.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shaking Maltese

Q: Help please! My 8 mounth old male maltese Flurry is shaking. This isn't the first time, this is the second time he has done this. I dont know why, but there are some people working outside(cutting grass ect) and it scared him a couple of times. Is that why he is shaking?

A: Some dogs do tend to shake when they are nervous. I suspect this is the issue with your dog. If this starts to happen more frequently or if your dog displays any other abnormal symptoms please take your dog to your veterinarian to rule out possible diseases.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Older Cat Starts Losing Weight

Q: Hello, I was given your website by my brother. I wanted to tell you what is going on with my cat, Murphy. He is 11 years old. He started loosing weight even though he eats and drinks just fine. I took him to the vet who did the senior wellness tests. The only test he didn't get was the urine as he was empty.( The still haven't done this one). The results all came back fine. I was feeling better, but he still did not gained weight and he started having diarrhea. He always had diarrhea when he got into or ate something he shouldn't, but it would only last one or two days.. but this diarrhea was ongoing for about a week. We took him back to the vet and he said that since he had good test results, it looks like it's intestinal. He first suggest that maybe it had to do with the pancreas.. so he gave him the Pro-pectalin gel for the diarrhea and also some prednisolone. He also told me to put in his food a pack of FortiFlora and Prozyme for the pancreas. After, he stopped taking both the gel and the prednisolone.. he started having diarrhea again even though he did gain a little weight. We took him back to the vet and he said that since the diarrhea had come back, it was probably not the pancreas so to stop giving him the prozyme.

He said that it left 2 things it could be. IBS or lymphoma of the intestines. He said that the only way to truly find out if it's cancer, is to do a biopsy and he didn't recommend it. So, he gave me more of the pro-pectalin gel and the prednisolone. taking 1/2 a tablet a day and also to continue that FortiFlora. He as been doing well, but when the pro-pectalin finished, he sometimes still gets diarrhea. He will on the same day, do a normal stool and then later some diarrhea. He still eats and drinks water and no vomiting. Do you have any idea what might be going on, is there something I should tell the vet to do?? Should I get another opinion. If it's cancer, should he be having any other signs? There just has to be something I can do... anything you can advise will be most appreciated. Sincerely, --Nelly M.

A: This is such a common complaint in older cats and it sounds like your veterinarian has done a great job. You mentioned that bloodwork has been done and I'm assuming this includes a thyroid level. Make sure that your cat has been checked for this. Also just to be complete make sure a feline leukemia/FIV test has been done.

Also I think it's a good idea to send multiple fecal samples off to a reference laboratory because sometimes if parasites are present you have to check multiple samples and often it's easier for reference laboratories to pick up on certain parasites like Giardia.

Having said that, it is likely that this will have to be narrowed down between inflammatory bowel disease and cancer. There is a test called a GI panel performed at Texas A&M University. This test requires a blood sample from a cat that has been fasted for 12 hours. This can check for multiple causes of diarrhea. The panel checks the pancreas, small intestine, etc. I think that this is a great test but it does not always give an answer. It's just something you may want to ask your veterinarian about. If you have access to a veterinarian who performs ultrasounds sometimes this is a useful non-invasive tool to evaluate the abdomen too.

There are many cases in older kitties where we find a combination of medications such as probiotics and steroids that work and we decide to keep them on that medication even if we don't know the exact cause of the diarrhea. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is this Dachshund pregnant?

Q: My dachshund got tied with another dog around October 15th and her teets are filling up & She's has gotten a little bigger belly. There are no other signs that's she's pregnant & if she is she would be over due what should I do

A: If she became pregnant on October 15 th she should have gone into labor between December 15-20th. Dogs can have false pregnancies that can make them lactate even when not pregnant. You asked what you should do. I recommend getting this of to your veterinarian to make sure that she is definitely not pregnant. (Could she have been accidentally bred at a time you we're not aware of?) I also think it would be a good idea to talk to your veterinarian about having her spayed to prevent potentially serious problems in the future. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is This False Labor?

Q: Hi, I emailed you a while back about my dog pooping and throwing up blood and also having puss all over her bottom. Well, she has gotten a lot better and has not thrown up or pooped blood. I have noticed she has milk coming out if her nipples. Could this all have been from a false labor? Or a miscarriage of some sort? Because she did not pick up weight or anything. Thanks, Megab

A: False pregnancy or pseudo pregnancy can cause lactation and symptoms similar to pregnancy (nesting, protective behavior). The puss and vomiting/diarrhea likely cannot be attributed to just a false pregnancy. I'm very pleased that your dog is doing better. Please talk to your veterinarian about having her spayed. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Has Red Eyes After a Fight

Q: My dog was in a fight now he's got red eyes what can be wrong?

A: A lot of dogs will get redness on the white part of the eyes (the sclera) from excessive straining or excitement. The blood vessels can fill with blood or even sometimes burst. Keep in mind that dogs can also get actual trauma to the eyes during a fight. Your veterinarian should check the eyes to make sure there are no ulcers. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cocker Has Persistent Ear Infection

Q: Hi We have been rotating ear gtts to oral antibiotic to the flush (blue diluted thing) that the two diff vets have recommended. The oral antibiotic is 500 mg ciproflaxin twice a day. My dog is only 30 pounds. My husband is 210 pounds and takes the same dose of the same drug when he is sick. Since the dog seems to get an upset stomach with this dosage I decreased it to half as much. But the infection gets so bad and it appears there are two growths that are actually blocking any view of the ear canal. She is 11 and I would like to avoid surgery and am starting to loose faith in the doc who said we just have to treat like this once a month forever. Do you think I should go back up to 500 mg? Thanks. Eileen

I'm so sorry for your dog having to go through this. Obviously I cannot give you specific advice about your dog because I don't know the exact nature of the infection or any other potential health issues that your dog has. I am able to outline what I normally do for these chronic ear issues.

First I try to determine the type of infection (yeast and/or bacteria), and rule out ear mites. If I am able to see into the ear canal I like to see if the ear drum is intact because sometimes it can affect which topical medications that we use. Often it is impossible to see deep down into the ear canal. With inflammation and swelling of the ear canal I typically put these dogs on steroids (unless there are other health problems keeping me from doing so).

Depending on the amount of debris in the ears it is important to keep the ear clean. Sometimes it is necessary to sedate for a really good deep cleaning.

If there are bacteria seen on my cytology I will use topical and oral antibiotics in addition to the steroids. If I am not making any headway with the antibiotics I will submit a sample to the lab for a culture/sensitivity. Not every infection will respond to every antibiotic and sometimes after the culture I completely adjust the type of topical and oral antibiotics that I use.

Some of these dogs are on medications very long term. Lastly, there are very refractory cases that I do sometimes refer to board certified veterinary dermatologists. You could always look online or ask your general veterinarian if there are any in your area. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pekinese Seems to Have Acid Reflux

Q: I have an 8-yr old Pekinese. She eats her fur and throws it back up. When she drinks water she throws some of it back up. She doesn't throw food up just water and fur. Its wierd she has acid reflux is what one vet said but shes keeping food down just fine. We've been going through this for about a year with no answers. Please help.

A: First of all, if she is eating her fur (I'm assuming you mean from chewing at her skin) that is abnormal and needs to be addressed. I see many animals with skin issues, especially allergies get stomach issues from ingesting hair.

Perhaps if she did not swallow so much hair this would not be an issue. If this turns out not to be the problem I recommend having bloodwork and x-rays done. Sometimes with chronic vomiting or regurgitation I do a test called a barium series where I give the dog an oral liquid and take x-rays through the day to make sure there are no obstructions.

This could be anything from irritation from the hair to food allergies, to inflammatory bowel disease, etc etc. Usually with long term problems I systematically perform diagnostic tests to try to rule in or rule out the cause of the problem. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie/Maltese Has Eating Problems

Q: I recently was given a 2 year old Yorkie/Maltese and am having a time getting him to drink more and eat more than a few laps and nibbles. He appears to start shaking at times for no apparent reason. Is this quite common for a small dog? The reason for the person giving her dog away, is that she has 4 others of the same type and he wants to be what she called the Alpha dog. We take him outside every 2 hours during the day and crate training him at night so that really is the problem. Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

A: Please keep in mind that some dogs do prefer to just "graze" or eat very small amounts through the day. It may be normal for him. Perhaps his former owner could give you an idea of how he normally eats and drinks.

As far as the shaking, some dogs do tend to do this but it could potentially be a sign of a problem. In this breed I particularly worry about neurological disease sometimes associated with liver issues.

If you haven't already, it is a good idea to take your new dog to the veterinarian to become an established patient. Even if these problems were not occurring a good exam needs to be performed. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Has Soft Lump

Q: My little Yorkie has a soft lump in her right crotch area. Is this something to worry about? She doesn't act any differently

A: Obviously a veterinarian would need to examine her to know what this could be. This could be anything from infection to hernia to a mass or abnormal growth. She needs to be seen to say for sure. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Black Lab Vomiting

Q: Hello my 3 year old black lab has been vomiting off and on for hours she hasn't been able to hold down water and hasn't ate in a day or so what do you think

A: You need to get your dog to a veterinarian. If your dog cannot keep anything down there could be dangerous dehydration that may develop. Also if we can determine the cause of the problem, proper treatment can be administered. If possible try to take a stool sample with you to examine for parasites.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Soft Red Bump on Pitbull

Q: I just found a small soft red bump under my dogs from leg like in his arm pit? He is a little over a year old male pitbull puppy and I already have a big vet bill from my other dog that had a huge softball sized bump in his neck, so I really don't want to take him to the vet since I already owe money. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

A: I cannot say exactly what this is. In a young dog the chances of a cancerous growth are low but possible. My thoughts are that this could be skin irritation or a growth of some sort. I know you were hoping to not take your dog to the veterinarian but that's the best way to figure out what this is.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat with Skin or Hair Problem

Q: My cat had fleas at the begining of last summer and he was the only one we would find the fleas on, not the dogs or the other cat. So to get rid of the fleas, we treated all the pets, sprayed the house furniture and we also sprayed the yard, even though the cat does not go out side. It seemed like that cat was the only animal that they liked so after everyting we did, I decided to shave off all of his hair and did the same to the other cat too. The other cats hair has all came back but the one who had the fleas the worst is comming in in patches and I want to know if he has an alergie form the flea saliva like my moms cat did or if it could be a different problem with his skin. He does not over lick spots it just grows really slow and he looks kind of bad. What should I do?


A: It does sound like this could be an allergic skin condition. Fleas are one of many many things that can cause allergies. Remember that not all animals are allergic to fleas and it is very common to have some animals that seem to not be bothered too much and others have a terrible time. Fleas are very hard to find on cats because cats are such groomers.

Besides allergies there are other skin conditions that can cause hair loss. I think that this is a situation where your cat needs to be examined by your veterinarian.

Also keep in mind that shaving the hair in some animals that have sensitive skin can cause some irritation. Good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat With a "Stinky Bottom"

Q: Hello. Thank you for this, first of all. The problem I am having is with my cat Play. He is neutered and is 4 and a half years old. I have noticed that his rear has been stinky for as long as I can remember and until recently thought that he was just a stinky cat. He is having either diarrhea with bloody mucus or has had an anal sac abscess. It smelled bad, not like poop, just bad and looked like what comes out of a bad staff infection. Then just after I cleaned that up, he urinated on the bathroom floor and it didn't smell like urine, it smelled as thought he was spilling protein- like he had just ate a bowl of cereal.

He has been using the bathroom in odd places, which isn't like him at all but he doesn't really act much different than he normally does. He did throw up last night and it was just food- hard food. No blood, foam or mucus at all. Just looked like moistened hard cat food. I don't know if this is a factor, but we recently lost his brother, Doc (he was an external extension of my being and I miss him dearly). He has shown signs of missing him. I can not afford to take my sweetie to the vet due to the high cost of the office visit that the vet will not waiver for the healing of my pet (aren't doctor's supposed to say some type of doctor's oath to promise to give help regardless of the patient's ability to pay?) Anyway, I can afford to order medicine online if I know what to order. But to do that, I need to know what is wrong with him. Thank you so much with any helpful advice you can offer. I greatly appreciate your help and your time in reading this letter. Have a great day! -- Christina K.

A:I'm sorry that you and your cat are going through this. Obviously without seeing him I cannot tell you exactly the cause of the problem. As you mentioned, it could be an anal gland abnormality or there could be stool with an abnormal texture. Often pain can be associated with animals urinating and /or defecating outside of the litterbox. The urine smell may or may not be abnormal for him. I think that you need to have this cat examined and please take a stool sample in with you so that it can be examined under the microscope for parasites.

You mentioned in your post that expense is an issue and I completely understand that. I know that you also understand that veterinarians have to pay their staff, pay for medication and other supplies, etc etc. I mention this only because as much as I would love to be able to treat every animal for free I just can't. There are a few ways that the veterinary industry has tried to address this problem. Many veterinary clinics are equipped to accept credit lines (such as Care Credit) that helps pay medical bills in installments. There is veterinary medical insurance available, and you could always call around to other veterinary clinics to see if there are any that have special funds set aside to help. You should be able to find a veterinarian who can discuss these options with you.

If this is an infection, it is likely that your cat may need medication available on the Internet. Remember that your veterinarian would need to give you a prescription first. As far as the oath that veterinarians take, it is easily found on the Internet by doing a search for veterinarian's oath. I wish you and your cat the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pit Bull Puppy Has Unusual Spots Q: Hello my name is Tim I had a question about my 7 week old pit bull puppy, and was wondering if you could answer it. She has circular shape spots under or on top of her fur on her face and neck. She has 3 on her face and 2 on her neck. A few of them have a hair growing out of it. I'm thinking they are just moles and nothing to wonder about. She doesn't scratch them and they don't seem to bother her. Is this common in pit bulls? Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thank you

A: Hi and congratulations on your puppy. It's hard for me to say exactly what the problem is but it doesn't sound normal. Obviously it is very important to get puppies into the veterinarian for her series of puppy visits. Ask your veterinarian to take a look at these areas. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golden Doodle Stepped on Mouse Pad

Q: I'm sorry that you don't know me but I have a big question. My miniature golden doodle stepped in a sticky mouse pad and well we took it off and we found out she was licking the stickiness off of her fur and also found out that she got the stickiness on her nose and mouth. We cleaned everywhere and got it all off but I really want to know is it poisonous to her that she lick it and that she got it on her nose? If so, you can type back ASAP when ever you get a chance thank you

A: Whenever we have exposure to products that you have purchased I recommend looking for a contact number on the label to call or better yet, you can call ASPCA Poison control. The toxicologists at poison control could let you know if there is a risk. You should have as much information about the product as you can when you call them. The ASPCA Poison control has a website with contact information. It is impossible for me to say if harmful or not without knowing the exact product.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Sick Dog

A: I have a question about my dog. She recently got sick and I don't know what could be the cause of her sickness. She has been vommiting and pooing blood. Her entire bottom is covered in puss because her vagina is leaking puss. She has been drinking water but will not eat. She does get up and walk some but she lays around mostly. It all started last night and I do not know what is wrong nor do I have the money to bring her to see a vet so I figured I would try asking around first.


A: I'm so sorry that your dog is so sick. My biggest concern is a pyometra, which is an infected uterus. This can happen in unspayed female dogs and often is life threatening. It can make the entire body sick and it is common to have inappetence, lethargy, kidney failure, and stomach upset. You need to do everything that you can to get your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Good luck to you and your dog.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Four Year Old Dog has Knee Problem

Q: I brought my dog to the vet for his distemper shot and heartworm test and the vet checked him over and the vet gives me all his results on paper and one was Musculoskeletal (abnormal)and under that it said Medial patellar luxation, right, grade 2 out of the 4. Patella (knee cap) moves out of intertrochler groove when the knee is flexed and extended. this creates increased instability in the knee and may require surgery to correct. When I left his office I forgot to ask him if this surgery wasn't done would if it would harm the dog because I can imagine this type of surgery would be very costly. Is there medication for this type of problem? He is 4 years old. Thank you as always Angela

A: This is an excellent question. Luxated patellas are very common especially in smaller dogs. Basically it means that it is easy for the kneecap to "pop out of place." There are varying degrees of severity ranging from very very mild with hardly any signs of lameness (Grade 1) to horribly lame and painful on a regular basis (Grade 4). The only way to correct the actual problem is with surgery. Surgery makes the knee joint more stable so that there is less discomfort.

Some owners tell me that their dogs are hardly ever lame. In those cases I have them monitor the dog and call me if problems start. I do like to consider starting any dog with any joint abnormality on a quality glucosamine supplement made for dogs and an omega fatty acid supplement. There are wonderful prescription strength foods amazing for the joints as well. Please discuss these options with your veterinarian before starting them.

If this is a situation where your dog shows signs of lameness on a regular basis I do think it is justified to consider surgery. If surgery is not an option I will put these dogs on an appropriate safe pain medication made for dogs and of course the supplements listed above to at least control the pain. I have seen dogs that seem fairly comfortable develop worsening lameness and arthritis the longer this condition continues. Let us know how it goes.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat Problem

Q: Hello. Thank you for this, first of all. The problem I am having is with my cat Play. He is neutered and is 4 and a half years old. I have noticed that his rear has been stinky for as long as I can remember and until recently thought that he was just a stinky cat. He is having either diarrhea with bloody mucus or has had an anal sac abscess. It smelled bad, not like poop, just bad and looked like what comes out of a bad staff infection. Then just after I cleaned that up, he urinated on the bathroom floor and it didn't smell like urine, it smelled as though he was spilling protein- like he had just ate a bowl of cereal. He has been using the bathroom in odd places, which isn't like him at all but he doesn't really act much different than he normally does. He did throw up last night and it was just food- hard food. No blood, foam or mucus at all. Just looked like moistened hard cat food. I don't know if this is a factor, but we recently lost his brother, Doc (he was an external extension of my being and I miss him dearly). He has shown signs of missing him. I can not afford to take my sweetie to the vet due to the high cost of the office visit that the vet will not waiver for the healing of my pet (aren't doctor's supposed to say some type of doctor's oath to promise to give help regardless of the patient's ability to pay?) Anyway, I can afford to order medicine online if I know what to order. But to do that, I need to know what is wrong with him. Thank you so much with any helpful advice you can offer. I greatly appreciate your help and your time in reading this letter. Have a great day! -Christina Karlson

A: I'm sorry that you and your cat are going through this. Obviously without seeing him I cannot tell you exactly the cause of the problem. As you mentioned, it could be an anal gland abnormality or there could be stool with an abnormal texture. Often pain can be associated with animals urinating and /or defecating outside of the litterbox. The urine smell may or may not be abnormal for him. I think that you need to have this cat examined and please take a stool sample in with you so that it can be examined under the microscope for parasites.

You mentioned in your post that expense is an issue and I completely understand that. I know that you also understand that veterinarians have to pay their staff, pay for medication and other supplies, etc etc. I mention this only because as much as I would love to be able to treat every animal for free I just can't. There are a few ways that the veterinary industry has tried to address this problem. Many veterinary clinics are equipped to accept credit lines (such as Care Credit) that helps pay medical bills in installments. There is veterinary medical insurance available, and you could always call around to other veterinary clinics to see if there are any that have special funds set aside to help. You should be able to find a veterinarian who can discuss these options with you.

If this is an infection, it is likely that your cat may need medication available on the Internet. Remember that your veterinarian would need to give you a prescription first. As far as the oath that veterinarians take, it is easily found on the Internet by doing a search for veterinarian's oath. I wish you and your cat the best of luck.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Causes Cat to Lose Weight?

Q:/b> A friend gave me your email address and suggested I email you about my Sister's cat who has lost a lot of weight, but he eats and drinks well. He does throw up about once a day... He is eating the same food he always has. The vet has checked and it is not worms nor bugs.

I would greatly appreciate any information you can share. I figure the more minds working on this the better the chances for the cat. Regards, -- Luis M.>

A: I'm glad that you wrote about this cat. The first thing that came to my mind when I read this post was that this cat needs to have bloodwork done. Starting off with checking for parasites was excellent as well. I like to do a laboratory panel in cats that includes a complete blood count/serum chemistry/thyroid/urinalysis. I am particularly interested to see if this kitty is hyperthyroid. Have some bloodwork done as a next step and we can go from there. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Treatibng Red Mange in a Pit Bull

Q: Hi, We have a 1- 1/2 female pit bull. She was a stray and we took her in because she was so thin and looked horrible. We took her in for shots and she was diagnosed via skin scraping and confirmed it was Demodectic Mange (red mange) at around 6 months. Since that time it has been a vicious cycle. First we put her on 3 weeks of antibiotic and then we started dipping her with mitoban every two weeks and on the 2 dip she had skin infections and we stopped the dips for 3 weeks and put her on 3 weeks of antibiotic once finished we would start the dip again. She has a couple of times grew her hair back and almost looked normal but then she would get an infection and we would start all over. Our vet has never given antibiotics and dip at the same time. Our vet also tried ivermectin once a month while dipping for a couple of months and that is when we got the best results unfortunately it didn't stay that way. She gets hair on the dip but gets the secondary skin infection and then when we have to go back on the antibiotic. all the sores do clear up but she loses her hair. I am not sure where to go from here. Do you have any suggestions or something else maybe we can try. She is such a sweet dog and she knows we are trying to help her but I don't want her to suffer if we are not going to get anywhere. Thank you for your time. Happy New Year!! :) Thank you, -- Shelley W.

A: I'm sorry she is going through this. Demodex is actually normally present in the hair follicles, but in dogs who are immunosuppressed it can grow out of control. We need to make sure that there are no obvious reasons for her immune system not working well. For example, is she on steroids or any other medications that could affect her immune system? Is she spayed? If not, we need to have that done as it often helps dogs with Demodex.

I typically start out treating Demodex with oral ivermectin in most breeds (some breeds are very sensitive to this medication and we avoid it). The amitraz or Mitaban dip is also commonly used. I just use the oral medication out of habit. Since secondary infections are rather common, antibiotics (oral and sometimes topical) are often indicated. I tell my clients that I use the oral ivermectin for a minimum of one month and many times we do have to continue to refill it until we achieve a cure. It is pretty common to use antibiotics long term as well.

Obviously I do not know your specific dog so we have to rely on your veterinarian for more help. Sometimes oral ivermectin can have side effects but I use it very safely very often. Just remember to be watchful for side effects, make sure your dog is heartworm negative before you use it, do not give heartworm prevention while on it (but certainly get on heartworm prevention when done), and talk to your veterinarian about certain medications that should not be given with oral ivermectin.

Finally, there is a wide dose range for ivermectin that sometimes needs to be adjusted. Sometimes with really chronic or unresponsive conditions it is a good idea to try to contact a board certified veterinary dermatologist. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Bulldog Mix Has Breathing Problems

Q: Hi. I have an English bulldog, French bulldog mix puppy. When I brought her home that night she fell right to sleep with me in my bed. I woke up to her snoring worst than my grandfather. At first I thought it was hilarious. But then when she wasnt sleeping her breathing sounds like she has a lot of boogers. I would say about 3-5 times a day she will gag like she has something in her throat. When she breathes it almost sounds like gurgling. She has brownish, sometimes greenish or creme colored boogers in the corner of her eye. She has a runny nose as well. I don't know if it's her breed to be this loud when breathing. But if you could help me that would be great. --JeNnA

A: You asked if her breathing is due to her breed. My answer is yes and no. Bulldogs and bulldog mixes are what we call "brachycephalic" meaning that their airways are "smushed." This makes their airways smaller than a non-brachycephalic dog of the same size. They tend to have smaller nostrils, a smaller trachea, and an elongated soft palate. It is pretty common to have the nostrils enlarged and sometimes the elongated palate corrected when they are youngsters.

Having said that, it very common for puppies to get upper respiratory infections too. As you may imagine, having a respiratory infection is worse when you have smaller airways to start with. I think she needs to be seen by your veterinarian to make sure no medications are indicated. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Boxer Pup Has Low Red Cell Count

Q: My 5 month old boxer went in to get spayed this morning and they called because she has low red blood cell count, the vet said it is not critically low but enough to where they are postponing her surgery and we are sending blood samples to the lab for more testing. She did say she is growing more red blood cells that she can see under the microscope so that was a good sign. Any ideas???? -Jill R.

A: You certainly have a wonderful veterinarian to be so careful about monitoring prior to surgery. Anemia in puppies is relatively common. In fact, puppies usually have a lower hematocrit (percentage of their blood made of red blood cells) than an adult dog. Your puppy must have been even lower than that to cause concern.

Anemia can be caused by a variety of diseases including parasites (both internal and external), infections, bleeding internally or externally, nutritional deficiencies, autoimmune diseases, and cancers. Since you have such a young puppy the chance of this being anything too serious is slight but your veterinarian is doing the right thing to be cautious about surgery. Please let us know how this turns out for your dog. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Female Boxer Drips Urine When Walking

Q: We have noticed that our female boxer drips urine while we are walking Jennie. Should we be concerned? When we are walking Jennie she urinates a lot like most dogs. Please let us know what you think. Jennie appears to be in good health and doesn’t seem to hurt any where. Thank you for your help. Sincerely, -- Roger and Linda

A: I'm glad that Jennie seems to be feeling well otherwise and I appreciate your patience. I have been out of town and am getting to these questions as I arrive back. When we have urinary leakage issues I always like to start off ruling out medical conditions that can affect the urinary system. I like to submit bloodwork and urine to the laboratory for complete blood count/serum chemistry/thyroid/urinalyses/urine culture and sensitivity. It is also a good idea to take x-rays to make sure we see no stones in the bladder or kidneys. If all tests are normal I typically treat for urinary incontinence.

It is very common in female spayed dogs to have decreased strength of the muscles in the urethra which can predispose to leakage. There is medication that many many dogs are on that prevent his problem. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Chihuahua Displays Symptoms of Pain

Q: Hi I have a 23 month old female Chihuahua who has been sick for 3 weeks now, we have taken her to the vet 2x and stayed all day for observation, her blood test came back normal (blood count, chem. Panel), her xray only showed that she is constipated and she got an enema, she finished Albon for 10 days now on metronidazole and clavamox for 10 days, she eats, drinks water, pees and poos but she is still not 100% better, she wakes up and gets up very gingerly, with her back hunched, walks slowly and yelps when touched by shoulder blade and tummy, she has periods of normalcy, where she runs, barks, goes up the stairs, what else could be wrong with her Thank you for your response -- Maricar

A: I'm so sorry about this. Obviously I can't say for sure what is wrong with her but she sounds painful. Sometimes in little dogs it's hard to distinguish back pain from abdominal pain. With intervertebral disc disease (herniated disk in the back) it often won't show up on x-rays. Sometimes with pain animals hesitate to go to the bathroom because it hurts and they can become constipated. It may not be an issue at all, but I'd explore that possibility and perhaps do more testing or try appropriate pain medication. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Terrier Suddenly Has No Energy

Q: Hello, I have an 8 year old West Highland Terrier. Today he suddenly started acting strange; no energy, looking at the floor; and now he has begun to shake as if he was cold or scared and he is just laying on the floor. He has not eaten anything different, and this is very out of character for him. Thank you.

A: If you haven't done so already I recommend getting your dog to a veterinarian. My first thoughts after reading your post is that there is pain in the neck or the back. However, other conditions like nausea, painful abdomen, or even neurological disease could cause this. If you brought your dog to me I'd likely start with a complete physical exam and bloodwork. Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pom Mix May Have Problems Switching From Dry to Moist Food

Q: Hi, I saw you website and was wondering if I could ask you a question. I just adopted a Pom Mix a week ago. I noticed that she wasn't eating much dry food so I switched to moist and about 48 hours after switching she got diarrhea and has had it every since. It has been two days now, is this caused by the switch in the food? What should I do?

This morning I went to change her puppy pad and noticed that there was a drop of blood next to her diarrhea and a few small drops on the puppy pad. I went to wipe her and noticed the fur by her vulva was a little red so I think thats where the blood came from. I also noticed that since I got her her nipples and vulva have been swollen. She has been spayed. Any advice? We have a vet appointment this afternoon.

A: Hopefully by now you have already been to your veterinarian. Certainly changing foods can cause loose stool but there are a variety of other reasons for diarrhea too. Obviously we need to confirm the source of the bleeding (urinary versus digestive tract) and treat accordingly. I like to check a stool sample to rule out intestinal parasites and if I suspect bloody urine I like to check x-rays to rule out bladder stones. I hope that your puppy does well. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Boston Terrier Has Multiple Eye Problems

Q: My 11 year old Boston Terrier has cataracts in both eyes, just before she was to have eye surgery for this, another vet found a cancer tumor in her eye, it was to big to operate on and has since developed into gluacoma and he thinks she has no vision in that eye at all at this time , he gave me drops for the glaucoma and said possible she may get some vision back. The other eye is healthy but cataracts are getting worse and vet refuses to operate til her vision is as worse as it can get due to she is a Boston and a high surgery risk for cataract surgery. I took her to the best Vet Hospital in Philadelphia, I just need to know if I'm doing all can do for her, as her favorite past time is looking out the window.

A: I'm sorry you are going through this. I think that it is essential that a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist is working with your dog. I know that with multiple ocular problems you do sometimes have to make decisions about what treatment is most important. If at all possible seek referral to an ophthalmologist -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can Raw Meat Diet Mean More Scratching

Q: I have a boxer-lab that i acquired from another owner that tied him up to a 3 foot run every day of his life. Needless to say Bens life has changed dramatically,we have 20 acres and he is free to be untied and leash free. My problem is that every once and a while Ben acts like he has a hard time swallowing and sometimes he gags. Ben was put on all organic dog food when i got him a year ago. He immediatly got shiny,his eyes got white and he looks like the bill of health. I did change him over about a month ago to a raw meat diet and i did notice he seems to scratch alot more. Ive had the Vet check him out and he doesnt seem to see anything wrong-- any suggestions as to what can be wrong? Also sometimes he acts like he cant catch his breath.

A: It sounds like you are giving him an awesome life. First of all I want to say that nutrition in dogs is a very hot topic. I want you to know that raw food diets are very controversial. If you noticed more scratching associated with change in food--raw food or not--- there could be a food allergy. I think it's always a good idea in these situations to go back to the food he was on or to consider a prescription strength hypoallergenic diet (unless there are other significant medical issues necessitating another type of food).

As far as the problems swallowing/gagging and difficulty catching his breath please make sure a heartworm test has been done and x-rays are also a good idea to make sure the respiratory system looks good. General bloodwork including complete blood count, serum chemistry, and thyroid check would also be a good idea. Finally, just to be complete, make sure a stool sample has been analyzed for parasites. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Brussels Griffon Puppy

Q: My three month old Brussels Griffon puppy had an intra-nasal bordetella shot this morning and now has sever congestion/runny nose and seems to be dry heaving. What should I do I can't afford the fee @ the emergency vet. She is still playing.. ~Keri~

A: It is possible that this could be a vaccine reaction. You certainly need to let your veterinarian know so that he or she can take measures to prevent this in the future. Sometimes with vaccine reactions diphenhydramine can be helpful. I cannot recommend specific doses without having ever seen your dog. I would recommend at least calling your local veterinary emergency clinic. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Poodle Paw-Pad Trouble

Q: Hi...I'm writing to you about my friend's 9 year old poodle. She has a chronic cracked paw pad that does not heal despite her being on various meds. She has been diagnosed with Lyme disease for which she was given a round of Rimadyl and Doxycycline. Her paw still is not healing and she only gets up and walks when necessary to go outside and do her business. Otherwise she is in too much pain to walk around so she stays off of her foot. What causes this wound and what would be the best course of action? Is there an analgesic medicine that she could take for pain which would enable her to be active again? Also, she is now taking prednisone. Is there something else she could take to promote healing if this is not effective? Thanks for your help.


A: I'm so sorry for this poor dog. There are chronic diseases that dogs can get that affect the paw pads. The best treatment really depends on exactly what is causing the problem. Often to know exactly what is causing this requires a biopsy of the tissue to send out. Some of these diseases do best with long term topical treatment, and others do need systemic or oral medications long term. I would recommend either trying to get this dog into a board certified veterinary dermatologist. If that is not possible then I think we need to try to have a biopsy performed and treat accordingly. I wish the best of luck for this little dog.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golden with Swimming Skin Problems

Q: I have a 5-6 yr old Golden (male) who absolutely loves the water - we go to a lake and he will retrieve sticks and balls all day, doesn't come out of the water but rather will stand chest deep, even sticks his head under water to look at fish or for rocks he drops in the water (seriously - I have never seen anything like it).

Here's my problem - whether we dry him off with towels and then let him dry naturally or dry him off initially and blow dry him later, our dog is initially OK, but then develops profuse shedding - in clumps. He also tends to develop "hot spots" (usually just one per swim event - I now have to limit his swimming).

It is not because of the water content - this occurs as a result of any lake water (we have gone in the past to two separate lakes not close together - same results).

First - what is this condition? and Second, what can I do about it? As I said, I hate to keep him from the water because he likes it, but the vet bills, groomer bills and monitoring of hot spots (coning) doesn't make it something I want to put up with, either.

Thanks for your thoughts.


A: Golden retrievers are one of the breeds that most commonly get skin allergies. In fact when I think of Goldens, even though they are wonderful dogs, I almost always see them for skin and/or ear issues. This could likely happen whether he swims or not. Allergies are usually caused by one or all of the following: fleas, food, and the environment. Make sure he is on a prescription strength monthly flea prevention (orally preferably since he is in the water so much). I would ask your veterinarian which prescription strength hypoallergenic food that they recommend and keep him on this only for a minimum of two months to see if this helps. As far as the environment goes, you have to treat symptomatically unless you totally change his environment (which we obviously don't want to do).

Since you have been to the vet so many times I'm sure you are familiar with steroids, antibiotics, topicals, etc. With allergies, these dogs are much more likely to get skin infections and the infections can cause as much itching as the original allergy. Many of my patients have good luck with consults with veterinary dermatologists. If you are open to this idea I'm sure your veterinarian could refer you to one. Board certified veterinary dermatologists are able to do certain types of testing not generally available in general practices.

If this is not possible some of these dogs need to be on antibiotics and/or antifungals sometimes for weeks at a time. Often steroids are used succesfully. When steroids are required to keep them comfortable I often try to replace the steroids with a medication called modified cyclosporine. Cyclosporine works like a steroid but does not have the same side effects. I know how frustrating this is and it is important to make sure that this really is allergies and not another condition like skin mites. This is exceedingly common especially in this breed and often with age it only gets worse. Talk to your veterinarian about a consult with a dermatologist if possible. Good luck.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

English Mastiff has Toe and Leg Problems

Q: Rugar is a 7 yr old male english mastiff and he seems to have lost the feeling in his back toes. When walking him more times than not his toes seem to roll under his paws (like he is walking on them). He is showing no signs of any pain but it really hurts me to see him like this. Usually around this time of year it seems he also begins to limp on his back legs also. Any information you may offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,
Lisa From NC

A: I am so sorry that you are worried about him. I love mastiffs and know he must be a sweetheart. It sounds like a neurological problem. Sometimes with back issues we will see the dogs "knuckle" like this. With a herniated disk there usually is pain involved but there are many other potential issues in the back besides herniated disks. This is likely an issue where he would benefit from a consult with a veterinary neurologist. If you are unable to get to a neurologist I would recommend starting with x-rays and bloodwork. Sometimes with issues like this I do a trial of a steroid as long as the other diagnostic tests don't reveal another problem that would indicate that steroids could be a problem. Your veterinarian will have a better idea of what is the most appropriate thing to do. Please get him into your veterinarian if you have not already. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What's Wrong with My Chihuahua?

Q: I have a female chihuahua named Ashley. She is around ten years old and recently has been having some sort of health issue. Sometimes she will cough like there is something she is try to get out of her throat. My main concern is that she goes into these episodes where she just stiffens up and starts yelping/crying. It only happens when she is lying down and sometimes she will pee when it happens. She seems out of it for a few seconds afterwards and then she is back to her normal perky self. What could be wrong? If I got a video of it, would that help? Thanks.

A: I'm sorry she is going through this. These episodes that she is having could potentially be due to low oxygen levels in her bloodstream. I say this because you mentioned a cough. Sometimes heart conditions can cause this. Also some dogs can have severe tracheal collapse. In this case you really need to get her to the veterinarian for an exam, possible x-rays, and bloodwork including a heartworm test.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Welsh Corgi has Bumps

Q: Hello,
I have an eight year old Welsh Corgy who has developed two hard bumps on both sides of her mouth right where her mouth lines end. She looks like a hamster with stuffed pouches. The seemed to have of just appeared over the last few days so I was wondering what it could be.

Thank you,

A: There could be infection, allergy, or an abnormal growth. Please get her to the veterinarian so that appropriate treatment can be prescribed.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

13 Year Old Lab Mix

Q: Suddenly our dog refused to get off his bed to go outside. he barks continually and eventually my husband and I have to drag him to the door at which time he gets up and walks outside. he continues to eat- urinate and defecate outside- only problem is his apparent fear of leaving his room- he is not crated and has always slept in our mud room- At night the behavior reverses itself as he refuses to enter the room Help this is a 105 lb dog and we are not young. Thanks

A: I'm sorry that this has happened and I am not certain what is going on. First of all we need to decide if this is behavioral or medical. Did something scare him outside of the room? OR Could he have arthritis or some sort of pain making him reluctant to get up? I recommend getting him to the veterinarian for a complete physical exam to see if any diagnostics need to be performed. If it is decided that this is anxiety then treatments can be discussed. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat With Ear Mites

Q: Hi, Im pretty sure my cat has ear mites. She has been scratching until her ear is raw. I made an appointment with the vet, but she cant be seen for the next two days. But I feel like its getting worse because she meows when she is scratching and I am wondering what I can do to ease her pain temporarily until she is seen?

A: I can't think of a way to treat an ear issue at home. There may be ear mites but I find that ear infections (bacterial and / or fungal) are just as common. If she is in this much discomfort I don't think it needs to wait two days. Do you think you could call your veterinary clinic and explain that this cannot wait to see if they could work you into the schedule? You could also check to see if there is an emergency clinic around that sees walk ins. With potential ear problems you need to be careful what you put into the ear because sometimes the ear drum can be abnormal.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golden Retriever Gets Bitten

Q: My two dogs recently got into a fight and my beagle punctured the skin on my golden retriever daisy. It bled for a while and I treated the site so there would be no infection. Now a week later she has a mass near the area that she was bit. It appears that the mass is not bothering her at all. I am a bit concerned about the mass but do not have the money to get her checked out. Do you think that this is something that will go away with time? Thank you for your time! Jamie welsh

A: Sometimes dogs will get scar tissue or areas of inflammation under a puncture wound that will resolve with time. My biggest concern is that an infection may also be present. Even with cleaning and proper topical treatment sometimes puncture wounds can introduce bacteria deep into the tissues. Sometimes we need the appropriate oral antibiotic to get deeper into the tissues. If you can't get into the veterinary clinic now please keep a close eye on this abnormal area as there could be infection. Sometimes with dog fights there can be parts of teeth stuck under the skin. Remember it is important to make sure both dogs are up to date on rabies vaccines. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cairn Terrier with Skin Problems

Q: I have a three year old Cairn and he has a recurring rash on his tummy. when he gets this I shampoo him with a sensitive dog shampoo as he smells really strong , as he is getting older it seems to be getting worse and he scratches all the time. Is there a natural remedy for this as I don't want to give him antibiotics all the time. he is fed James Welbeloved dry food.

A: With the symptoms and the breed it sounds like allergies. There are three categories: flea allergies, food allergies, and environmental allergies. Make sure your dog is on a prescription strength flea control product prescribed by your veterinarian. I would recommend a food trial in case of food allergies. Every veterinarian has their own preference in terms of the food. For a food trial you want a prescription strength hypoallergenic diet and for two months that is ALL that the dogs eat (there are hypoallergenic treats available too).

Environmental allergies need to be treated symptomatically. Some dogs can be maintained well on antihistamines and others need stronger drugs. With allergies it is common to get secondary skin infections that last itch just as much as the actual allergy. Please talk to our veterinarian about these options to diagnose the types of allergies. Some clients like to get their pets into board certified veterinary dermatologists to treat this very common issue. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Unusual Biting Around Private Area

Q: I have a 3yrs weiner dog and she has had 3 liters of puppies before and i dont know if she is pregnant or not but she keeps bitting her private area and she keeps doing so until we stop her . we thought it was because she needed a bath but after we give her a bath she still does it and what could that be caused by?

A: Dogs can do this for many reasons. Some dogs do it if there is an infection of the genital or anal area such as anal gland infection. Allergies and fleas can cause this too. Obviously she is in significant discomfort if she continues to do this. I recommend letting your veterinarian examine her to make sure she does not need any medication. Young Kitten Has Blood Around Genitals

Q: Hi I found and caught a kitten bout a week ago and I estimate her to be about 4 weeks old and today my fiance said he noticed she had some blood around her gential area, but I have an 8 month old male cat too, what could that be?

A: Bleeding could be from the genital area or the anal area. Sometimes with young animals intestinal parasites could cause bleeding from the gastrointestinal system. It is possible that there could have been some sort of trauma. It is possible that there could be a urinary tract infection. We don't want to take any chances with such a tiny kitten. Please get her in for an exam. .-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Siberian Husky Keeps Biting Leg

Q: I have a 7 week old siberian husky named Luna. Not so long ago my roommates noticed she kept biting her leg. So we decided to cover it so she wouldn't make it worse. I took the rag out because it smelled so bad. Her leg is now wed mixed with some green/yellow discharge. I don't know if i should take her to the vet immediately or see if she gets better?

A: Yes, you need to get the puppy to the veterinarian. It sounds like your puppy has irritated the area to the point of causing an infection. Many conditions can make puppies want to chew on their limbs including skin mites, infection, fleas, and allergies. With a young dog like this we need to get the infection under control quickly.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat is Clumsy

Q: y cat seems to be having quite a few issues here lately. She has been vomiting a lot the past few days. I've taken her into the vet and he has ran blood work on her. He says she was very dehydrated, and has had her on fluids for two days. All the blood work has come back fine and she has not been exposed to anything that could have poisoned her. Other problems include elongated gate, occasionally falling over when walking, falling off the back of the couch, veering to the left when she walks, drooling, and her head wobbles(not all the time). I had her declawed six months ago. Could something have happened during surgery or maybe she's still having a hard time getting used to no claws? She was never a graceful cat but it was never this bad. It's quite confusing.

I also forgot to mention the weight loss. And the vet said she has bad teeth and has an infection, will that cause any of these symptoms?

A: I'm very sorry that your cat is going through this. If the symptoms began immediately after the surgery I suppose there could possibly be a relation. However, with the abnormal walking and drooling it sounds like there are some issues with balance and equilibrium. This can cause nausea which can cause drooling and vomiting. Sometimes ear infections can cause signs like this. I have seen cats that have ruptured ear drums that caused this problem. Having said that, there are other neurological diseases that can manifest this way too. Sometimes to really get a deep look into the ear canal of a cat it is helpful to sedate them. Make sure a feline leukemia/feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) test has been checked. If the symptoms persist you may want to consider a consult with a veterinary neurologist. Good luck.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten with Infection

Q: Thanksgiving day we noticed our kitten's head was swollen but couldn't find a sore. I called the vet the next day and she said to bring Zoey in. Sometime before we got there it had burst open and green infection came pouring out. The vet said one of my other cats must of bit her but I wasn't convinced as I have never had trouble with the cats fighting and there was no wound when it was swelled. Anyway, the vet squeezed her head and gave her a shot for the infection. She said it was draining on its own and shouldn't be a problem. One week later and not only has it not improved but now there is another sore. I took her back to the vet the following Friday and they sent me to another vet because they said she needed to be sedated to put a tube in to drain the infection and they were closing in an hour. Long story short, that vet said she didn't need a tube and gave her a double shot of antibiotics' he also squeezed out infection. He did send home a dual acting cream to help with infection and promote new skin and also a neck cone so she couldn't scratch herself. He also told me to soak the sore with a warm washcloth if it started scabbing over. I have done what he said (although the cone was a lost cause) she gets her paw in there and we can't keep it on her. It has now been 5 days. The original sore looks better but the bottom sore still looks nasty. I squeezed her head and green infection came out around the sore that looks like it is healing. I am really concerned. I love this little kitten with all my heart. She has had her first rounds of shots, de-wormed and was treated for ear mites. They didn't think she had them but since her siblings did they treated her anyway and sent me home with a second dose of de-wormer. Both her siblings live with my son and are doing just fine. So my question is - should there still be infection coming out? She has been on a antibiotic shot for 12 days and now a cream for 5 days. I have been to the vet 3 times and can't afford to keep going. In three weeks I am suppose to take all 3 kittens to be spayed/neutered. That is what I agreed to with my son cause he couldn't afford the vet and I wanted them to have a good home. Please help. I am desperate. I thank you in advance. Kris

A: I am sorry for this little kitten. Sometimes when kittens have trouble with wound healing it can be a sign of a weak immune system. Make extra sure that your kitten is tested for feline leukemia/feline immunodeficiency (FIV) viruses as these viruses can affect the immune system. Sometimes when I have problems with non healing wounds I do a test called a culture/sensitivity where I collect a small sample of the infection and send it to the lab to see exactly what kind of organism is growing and to see which medications should help. Some infections require antibiotics that we don't normally use everyday. Keep in mind that some infections are not caused by bacteria, and could be fungal. Finally, sometimes to achieve adequate wound healing you need to sedate the cat to really clean out any unhealthy tissue and place a drain if appropriate. Make sure to be really careful about washing your hands well after handling this kitty because animals can carry infections that can be spread to people.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

English Mastiff Ate Boyfriend's Lunch!

Q: I have a year old English Mastiff that got my boyfriend's lunch for work and ate two sandwiches wrapped in seran wrap. Yes he ate the seran wrap too! Will he pass that through or what should I look for if not? I called the vet waiting on her to call me back.

A: Luckily for you you have a large dog. Chances are it will move through just fine but there are never any guarantees. I have seen smaller dogs pass larger items and larger dogs have problems with small objects going through. Monitor him for loss of appetite and vomiting. Actually if any abnormal behavior occurs he needs to be seen. Otherwise monitor his stool carefully and I wouldn't be surprised if you saw some of the saran wrap again. Let us know how he does.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shepherd's Penis is Out

Q: Hi,
I have a 7 year old German shepherd who's penis has been out every since he had a small surgery from a fatty lump he had around his lower rib cage. Before that, his penis was always inside not showing in public unless he sat sometimes, but ever since he had that surgery, his penis is outside and it shows to the public basically. What does that mean? Why is it not going in back to normal? We tried KY Jelly that the doctor said and it did not work. can you please give me a tip on what to do. Thanks! Jaime

A: It is not uncommon for male dogs to get this. It usually happens after the dog has been excited for some reason. Usually when a dog comes to me for this problem I try to apply an ointment to the exteriorized tissue and gently work the skin back down over the penis. While this is a common issue, it can be a problem particularly if the genital tissue is exposed for too long. If this continues I would try to get him into your veterinarian to let him/her take a look. Good luck.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Causes Continuing Paw Pain

Q: Our 6 year old dog has been experience pain on her right paw. She refuses to put pressure on it, and limps when she walks. We took her to the Vet, they gave her Metacam an analgesic, but it doesn't seem effective. What should we do? Sincerely, --Vicki G.

A:It is pretty common with lameness to try a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory as you received. I'm sorry it is not helping. With front limb lameness it can be caused by problems with the bones, joints, soft tissue (such as ligaments, tendons), and I have even seen neck pain cause limping on one or both front legs. Sometimes you have to add another pain medicine, and institute strict rest for your dog. Sometimes x-rays are needed to rule out bony abnormalities. Often for orthopedic x-rays it is less stressful for the dog and easier on the veterinarian to sedate the dog. To evaluate the spinal cord in the neck for a herniated disk more advanced imaging is often needed and sometimes referral to a specialist is indicated. Keep your dog quiet and give your veterinarian a call to let him or her know that the medication is not helping. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Q: Hello , Over the past weeks my blue, baby pit has had a red rash on the inside of her hind legs that spreads towards her stomache along with bumps that look like hives. Also, I noticed when she walks her back and front legs will just fall from under her. and when she lands she falls straight down she will not land on her feet.

A: Clearly you need to get this puppy to the veterinarian. Skin issues are extremely common in puppies and reasons could include skin mites, infection, allergy, the list goes on and on. The legs going out from under him the way you describe is not normal. Puppies need to have regular visits to the veterinarian anyway to make sure they are up to date on vaccines, free from internal parasites, and to get started on long term preventative medicine like heartworm prevention. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Q: My 6 week old puppy has a hard time having bowel movement and her behind is swollen. What can I give her and what can I put on her behind. Thanks

A:If the puppy is eating food on its own you could mix a little canned pumpkin in the food to add some fiber. However, if truly constipated the puppy needs to see your veterinarian. I have had to administer enemas to young puppies before. Do not try to give an enema at home as certain enemas can be very dangerous. At six weeks of age it is time to get his puppy into the veterinarian anyway. You could get a warm damp cloth and gently rub its rear end to try to stimulate it to have a bowel movement. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Q:Hi ...I hope you can help. I'm fostering a 9 wk old male golden retriever. This afternoon we noticed he has a lump on the lower left of his penis area. It looks red almost like an ingrown hair follicle and is hard to the to touch. What could it be? His adopters are coming tomorrow and I'm wondering if we need to re schedule the visit? Thank you... -- Noreen

A:It is probably nothing serious. Puppies are very prone to getting bumps on their skin similar to acne. If he is feeling fine otherwise I would not be too worried. Having said that, a veterinarian should take a look since I cannot actually examine this. As you know puppies really need several visits to the veterinarian the first few months of life. I'm sure during one of these visits this problem can be addressed. If he starts acting like he's feeling badly I wouldn't wait. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Half Grown Kitten has Infection

Q: I found a stray cat last week and wanted to take him in. I have an appointment this coming Monday to get him neutered and have all his shots. I noticed a small lump on his left shoulder and it was getting bigger the past few days. I came home today and noticed it was gone, but I also noticed the dried up "goo" that was on his shoulder as well. When I went to bathe him I noticed a strong bad odor coming from the spot where his lump was. After his shower I found a wound where the puss might have come out from and it was about the circumference of a pencil eraser. The spot is still al little swollen, but I didn't know if you could possibly give me more information about what it might be. He is not a kitten but is not yet a full grown cat either. Please send some feedback. I appreciate it so much! Thank You

A: Without seeing your kitty, I can say that this sounds most like an abscess. Cats are very prone to getting infections under the skin that fester and eventually break through the skin. They are associated with a foul odor and often a "hole" where the pus comes out. I'm glad you are getting him into the veterinarian. Make sure that you have him tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (this is a simple blood test performed routinely in cats). I would also try to take in a stool sample if possible to examine for intestinal parasites. Thanks for taking such good care of this little one. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Poops in the House When Left Alone

Q: We adopted a 1 yr old Maltese/Poodle mix about 10 days ago. He was in a kennel outside where we rescued him from but we know nothing about his past before he got there. He seemed to adjust well to our family and was instantly housebroken. He immediately got attached to me and follows me all over the house and makes a point to keep me in sight. (I am a stay at home mom so I am home most of the time....I am rarely gone more than a couple of hours.) At night and when I leave, I put him in the bathroom that is in our bedroom with a baby gate up and he started off doing great with that.

The last 3 days, every time I leave, when I put him in the bathroom so we can leave, he whines and howls. When we get back, we discover that he has pooped all over the place. And it's not like he goes over to a corner or something, he does it right at the gate where he stands and its like he doesn't even notice! He has done this three days in a row and now I am afraid of even leaving the house because I don't want to deal with cleaning the whole bathroom covered in poop (and also the dog). He is great about going to the door during the day to go potty outside and he sleeps through the night and controls it. Please help, I am desperate for advice. My husband says if this keeps up, we will have to take him back but he doesn't deserve that. I want to fix the problem because other than this, he is the perfect dog.

A: It sounds like your dog may be suffering from separation anxiety, a common behavioral issue in dogs characterized by acting agitated when left alone. Sometimes they will act destructive (causing damage to furniture, the carpeting, etc) and they can even do things like have accidents in the house. This is a very common condition and it can be treated. I recommend making an appointment to talk to your veterinarian about this. Your veterinarian may recommend a wonderful product called D.A.P. (dog appeasing pheromone). You can get this as a "plug in" that releases pheromones to help make your dog relax. It is also available as a collar that goes on the dog and releases this substance.

It is very important to try to make your dog associate you leaving with good things. Sometimes you can get a food puzzle which is a dog toy that you can hide treats inside (peanut butter, dog food, etc). You can give this to your dog when you leave. Not only is this something positive that happens when you leave to make him happy but it will keep him occupied trying to get the food/treats from the toy. Finally, some dogs require actual medication for this problem. There are medications made for dogs to specifically help with separation anxiety. Please give your veterinarian a call. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Puppy Has to Deal with 2 Adult Cats

Q: We just got a 2 month old yorkie. I already have two 9 year old cats with claws. One is a Maine Coon and the other just a black short hair. There is some tension between them right now. Is it or when will it be safe to leave the puppy and cats alone together?

A: The answer to that question varies from household to household. It is important that throughout the house you have areas that the cats can get to that the dog cannot. That way if the puppy tries to play too hard with the cats they will have an "escape" to jump up on rather than feel cornered and possibly biting or scratching your puppy. I recommend a slow introduction and when they are around each other it needs to be supervised. With supervision if they do well you can consider increasing amounts of time alone. Animals are unpredictable and we never know exactly how they will respond to each other. We just need to take it slow and make it as stress-free as possible. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Kitten Has Bowel Problems

Q: I took this kitten in at 2weeks old it's about 6-8 weeks old now it's mommy had abandoned it. it has done good until now it seems it can't control its bowl movement it comes out in dot from not real runny but some he has been litter trained from day one I know there is something wrong and it's not done on purpose I can't afforded a vet I was laid off 3 months ago so please tell me what I can do to fix this problem and I thank you for your time.

A: I'm sorry your kitten is not doing well. Unfortunately this is a situation where you need to get to the veterinarian. All kittens need to go in for a series of kitten visits to get tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, to have as stool sample examined for intestinal parasites, to start vaccines, and most importantly for physical examinations. My first concern in an animal this young would be intestinal parasites so make sure if you go to the veterinarian that you take a fecal sample with you. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Pomeranian Displays Aggression

Q: We have an 11 month old Pomeranian female. She has been a very happy, playful, energetic puppy for most of the time we have had her, but recently she has begun growling at us when approached. This is a very different personality than she has exhibited for the past 8 months or so we have had her. We did just move recently, but she was doing this even before we moved to our new house. Also she seems to eat ok but when you pick her up she feels so skinny. She doesn't appear to be in physical discomfort as she still has playful times and runs and plays fetch and everything. She has vomited several times (intermittently) over the last week or so, and also has defecated in the wrong places (although that may be just getting used to the new house). Any thoughts about what might be going on with her personality shift would be appreciated.

A: I'm sorry this is happening. Like you, I cannot say where this aggression is coming from. Is she spayed? If not, she may be having some horomonal changes causing this behavior. Certainly pain, not feeling well, and anxiety can manifest as aggression. One thing is for sure: if your veterinarian can find no medical cause for this we need to find a reputable dog trainer because this could get worse. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Causes Shaking and Panting Behavior

Chihuahua shakes and pants for about 2 hours every once in a while.When he does this he just wants to be held for the whole time. I'm not sure why this happens. Please help?

A: I'm not sure why your dog is doing this either. Sometimes chihuahuas tend to shake but there can be medical abnormalities that cause this too such as neurological abnormalities, pain, nausea, low blood sugar, etc. I think I'd get your dog to the veterinarian for a complete physical exam including bloodwork to rule out medical issues. Also remember to make sure these little dogs are nice and warm! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Small Bumps Seem Painful for Female Pit Bull

Q: My 2 year old pit bull female has several medium to small bumps on the outside of her vulva. She delivered a litter about 14 weeks ago and has stopped with her discharge. They appeared suddenly and they are sensitive to the touch. She was licking them but stopped suddenly as if they were causing her pain. When I tried to touch them with a warm wet paper towel she laid her head on top of my hand which is what she does when she doesn't want me to touch something painful. Can you tell me what is causing these bumps. If is is a venereal disease like herpes, what should I do. She has not been in contact with the male since mating.

A: I cannot tell you without seeing her exactly what is causing this but with the possibility of infection I would be concerned about potential bacteria. If possible call your veterinarian to talk to him/ her to see if antibiotics and/or pain medications are indicated. If she is still nursing we need to be careful about which medications we give her. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Very Young Puppy with Red Anus

Q: My 6 day old puppy has a very red anus it is way bigger than normal different shape, and inflamed. Last night it looked wet like an open wound and this morning he had a very light green on the fur in the area it looked like dry puss maybe. I know he needs to go in but my father will only take our animals in if they're in danger of dying! I also put some neosporin on it and he started screaming cause it hurt! They're mom is really good at squishing them all the time she doesn't respond to their screams could she have squished him bad enough?!

A: I'm sorry about your little puppy. It is possible that his mom could have accidentally caused some sort of internal trauma. Puppies can get constipation as well and parasites can cause irritation to the hind end area. Since he is painful I think you should at least call your veterinarian. This could potentially be a lifesaver for this puppy. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Chews Front Paw Excessively

Q: Max was passed around when he was younger, he is now 12. We have had him for 7 or 8 yrs now. Max is like my child, and it kills me when he is in pain. I took him to the vet for excessively chewing on his right front paw. They told me it was allergies, I changed his food for 6 months. I tried all sorts of things that would taste bad to keep him from gnawing on it, he didn't mind any of the tastes. Ive tried wrapping it up so he couldn't get to it, cleaning thourghly first of course. It will be ok for a week afterwards. But back to the same old chewing. Now he is having bad spasms at night that drive him crazy were he doesn't care if we catch him doing it anymore, and it smells rotten. I can tell where he has laid when we are gone or sleeping cuz of the smell.. It's also bloody and raw, and he gets so nervous when I want to look at it. Is there a herbal medicine I can give him to help heal it and keep it from bothering him. He won't eat anything but purina dog chow.

I think its an obsessive compulsive thing cuz nothing the vet recommended helped. Please help, my husband and I can't take it anymore. I need to know a safe way of cleaning it without causing him more pain also. Anything will help, I'm lost and so worried he has caused nerve damage.

A:I'm so sorry about Max. I suspect he has something called a lick granuloma. This is an area usually on the front limb that the dog cannot stop licking/chewing. It could have been started by any irritation including allergies but persists because of obsessive compulsive disorder. This is pretty common but can become very severe. Most dogs require oral antibiotics for often several weeks to months. Often medications to help with anxiety are needed too. One thing that is absolutely important is to prevent them from being able to chew, and most of the time that means having your veterinarian fit an Elizabethan collar and leave it on often for a few weeks. You are correct to worry about this but it is treatable with the proper treatment given long term. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Female Pitbull Suddenly Goes Stiff

Q: Hi I have a female pitbull dog that is 4yrs old. She had pupies 3 weeks ago. Today I went to check on her and she is stiff. She is warm. She moves her eyes but she cannot move her body at all. Please help. I don't know what happened to her. She is a healthy dog. She seems like she's paralyzed. What happenned to her

A: It is imperative if you have not already that you get her to a veterinarian. Just like with people, pregnancy puts a lot of stress on the body and we can see issues like internal bleeding or dangerously low calcium levels. I cannot say exactly what her problem is without seeing her but it sounds like she needs to be seen as soon as possible. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Mini Pincher Pinches

Q: Hello, I rescued a mini pincher(name is George) in Las vegas three years ago. Without being an experienced dog trainer or dog person, I learned to love this amazing dog. He is probably one of the smartest dogs anyone has ever seen, and he has a corky yet very protective attitude. My question is this, every time when he seems happy or annoyed he starts pinching his hair of his arm with his teeth. He does the same thing to my arm and it gets to the point where it starts to hurt because he rips the hair off. On his legs and body he does not have any rashes or any place where there is missing hair. Why does he do this? Is this just a way for him to vent? Or is it something that gives him pleasure? Because it almost seems like he is enjoying it. Your help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

- Igor Krichmar

A: As the owner of a min pin I understand how smart they are and how "interesting" they can be. My dog does not do this but many dogs often display compulsive behaviors like this when they get "worked up." I think that we need to try to redirect his excitement. Have other things handy. For example, when he normally may go for his or your arm consider giving him a toy filled with treats (you can find food puzzles online and at most good pet stores). There are also very safe and good pheromone collars that release a substance that makes dogs feel more relaxed in an effort to prevent these nervous like behaviors. Your veterinarian should be able to get you one of these. Finally, in extreme cases we sometimes have to put dogs on medications. I hate to do this if it is not essential. Let us know how it goes. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM


Q: I have a 4year old chihuahua I got her when she was 8 months old she's the love of my life. Back on Sept 27,2011 it was a normal day for her she had had her nightly treats went poop on her puppy pad walked out of the room and collapsed. Her body was limp her tongue was hanging out of her mouth she was barley breathing and she had some poop come out I rushed her to the vet they took her back they thought she ate something toxic keep her over night. Her liver levels were elevated I brought her back 2weeks later to have some blood work they recommended her liver levels were still high so they started her on Denamarin. On November 14,2011 I was visiting family in a small town about 6hour from where I live at 8a.m. in the morning my dog did the same thing went poop and collapsed. She couldn't move she was limp her tongue hanging out of her mouth I took her to the small town vet where I was he said her heart rate was 30 and should be around 80 he gave her a shot to boost her heart rate, but that did nothing. Her blood sugar was 200 he said that was high normal. He didn't have the things he needed to treat her and suggested I take her back to town. I did. It took her 4 hours to start moving again and she was so tired I rushed her to her normal vet again they did lots of blood work ruled out a liver shunt or liver problems and recommended me to a internal specialist. The specialist did a bunch of tests and ruled out her heart. I've spent $2500.00 in the last 2 months and no one knows whats wrong with my dog. I love her and can't imagine life with out her. She has never had any heath problems and has always stayed current on her shots. I was wondering if you had any suggestions? I have no problem running more test I just want her to be o.k. shes fine in between these spells. Thank you for your time. Thank You, Teresa Lipford

A: I am so sorry that you are going through this. You mentioned that the specialist tested her heart and ruled out heart disease. When I hear about symptoms like this in a chihuahua I consider neurologic disease, shunt, cardiac disease, and hypoglycemia. Do you have any idea what her blood sugar was at the time of the collapse? I would recommend getting her to a facility that housed several different specialties together like a veterinary school. That way a neurologist could evaluate her as well as other specialists. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese Puppy has Bubble Above Penis

Q: Hi, My name is Kelly and I have a 2 month old Maltese male puppy I just got. I noticed that he has a bubble right above his penis. Its about the size of a dime and is soft. He doesn't seem to notice it but I'm very concerned by it. He acts completely normal and plays and eats fine. Should I be concerned?

A: It is probably nothing to be overly concerned about but I would let your veterinarian take a look just to make sure. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dachshund Constantly Itches and Scratches

Q: I have a question about my red male dachshund. He licks himself all the time..he scratches himself all the time. He has places under his loss on his rear end. Took him to get a bath & flea dipped and they told me he had some type of allergy! He cries & wines all the time...just drives us all crazy..him too I bet! What can I do for him? Please help.... Thanks, -- Stacy

A: This is very very, very common. Most likely this is a skin allergy. Your veterinarian needs to make sure that nothing else is going on. I'd hate for your dog to be treated for allergies if the problem was something else. Causes of allergies include fleas, food allergies, and environmental allergies. I recommend getting into your veterinarian for an exam to determine if this is allergies and discuss options. I often recommend a prescription strength flea prevention every month, a hypoallergenic diet, omega fatty acid supplements, and when the allergies are really flared up sometimes medications like steroids are indicated. Remember that the skin is the largest organ of the body and when it is unhealthy it is very uncomfortable. While waiting to get into your veterinarian I would get an oatmeal based shampoo to bathe your dog as that can temporarily soothe the itching. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is Green Poop OK?

Q: Hi my name is Le'quan I have a red nose pit bull , I feed him Shep and he poops green is this ok ?

A: Sometimes dogs can have green stool but usually it is more brown in color. The color of the stool is determined by many factors and certainly diet can be one of them. I am not familiar with the food you mentioned. If this is new for your dog or if there are any other abnormalities I would get your dog into the veterinarian. Make sure to take a fecal sample with you for the doctor to see. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can I Use a Bark Collar on My Poodle

Q: I have an 10 lb poodle and I was wondering is it safe to use the neck collars that zaps the dog to stop him from barking? He is 4 years old and lately barking every time someone walks by or comes to the door. I don't want to buy one if it is not safe to use or if it would hurt him. Thank you as always -- Angela

A: I have never personally used them as I prefer to try positive reinforcement for training. Having said that, I know how frustrating it can be. I would recommend you find a reputable trained dog trainer. I like to start with websites such as Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Vaginal Fluid in Young Pit Bull

Q: My Pit Bull Gucci is 2months old. When she is inside the house at times I pick her up to hold her and I see that her vaginal area seems to be some sort of liquid like a greenish yellowish color what exactly is that?

A: This could just be a relatively mild condition some puppies tend to get called vaginitis. To make sure that this is nothing more serious I recommend letting your veterinarian perform an examination. A two month old puppy needs to see a veterinarian on a regular basis anyway for regular puppy visits. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Poodle-Maltese embarasses her owners

Q: My two year old poodle/maltease mix that we got at an animal shelter, has started licking herself a lot. This is an embarassing problem with her. She will actually do it long enough that she is pleasuring herself...(how do you explain that to guests?) is driving us crazy...she is a wonderful dog, very playful and affectionate and we wouldn’t consider getting rid of her, but we need help getting this stopped. She is taken to the vet often and doesn’t have any health issues. Please help us with this. Thanks....

A:Have you specifically taken her to the veterinarian for this problem? Sometimes when dogs lick it is an indicator of infection or discomfort. It is essential to rule out medical problems before assuming this is behavioral. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Swollen Lip Can be Sign of Allergy

Q: I have a female pitbull. Recently I have noticed her licking her left front paw almost every few minutes and then rubbing at her left lip area. When I checked her lip; it was droppy compared to the opposite side as well as red, swollen,and very dry. Her paw too was bigger then her opposite and between the sacs very red... I am not sure whats going on. We have two other dogs but neither have these issues. I also have fruit trees in my back yard but this is all new with her.. Please if you can ease my mind id appreciate it

A: I think that you need to get your dog into your veterinarian. Allergies do commonly cause a dog to lick at his or her feet and infections can form. The lip will appear irritated if she has been rubbing at it. I think that you need to get her into your veterinarian to treat for allergies and to make sure that there is nothing more significant going on. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pup with Diarrhea. Is Prune Juice the Culprit?

Q: I have a 6 month old Maltese he is my first puppy and he has some strange symptoms. This morning on 11/18/2011 he woke up went to the bathroom and he went number two and it was normal and nothing seemed weird. then when i prepared his food and i put it done he didn't eat anything at all. he normally gobbles it all up. and then when he went to the bathroom he had loose stool and a little bit of it got stuck on his bum. and his nose is dry as well. i just don't know what to do. and his stool that was stuck on him was a light brown color.but the stool its self was a normal color but it looked was weird and gross. but i think i know what it is, last night 11/17/2011 my dad spilled some prune juice on the floor and Flurry (that's my puppy's name) licked a little bit up. Is that the problem? If so what should i do? Will it pass? Will i have to take it to the doctors?Will he live? please answer me ASAP please.i am very worried. P.S i left his food out and he still wont eat it. please please please help me. thanks

A: When puppies have diarrhea one of the most important things to do is to have your veterinarian make sure that there are no intestinal parasites. To do this they need a sample of the stool. Now, it is possible that the prune juice could have upset your dog's stomach and caused some loose stool. This is likely nothing serious but since there are so many causes of diarrhea in puppies I think it would be a good idea to take your dog into your veterinarian. Make sure to take a stool sample with you if you can. Also remember to wash your hands very well after picking up a dog's stool as some internal parasites that dogs have can be transmitted to people. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Vommits after Heartworm Pill


A: This is a great question. Call your veterinarian and ask what he/she thinks. The answer largely depends on the breed of your dog and the type of heartworm prevention. Good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Havenese Dog in Dire Straits

Q: Hi, My family dog, Max, an 8 year-old Havanese has really bad teeth. He also has a bad heart, so he can not go under anesthesia. Because of this, he has also not been neutered. When my sister took him to the vet on Monday, they gave him medicine for the pain, but he barely eats it. They also did a blood test and wanted $600 for other tests to check his heart again (but I can't afford it). We only did the blood test. I struggling giving it to him daily and try to give it with peanut butter and Max barely licks it. He is also very grouchy and mean (I would probably be too if I was in that pain). He used to be the sweetest dog. He is really thin and I'm afraid he won't live long if this continues. I am also a recent college graduate with little money. I am willing to do payment plans, but obviously don't have enough money and don't know where it would be best to invest money in. Food, more tests? I've also heard of dog insurance? Would this cover everything that needs to be done? Please help. I'm hopeless and have no idea what to do.


A: I'm so sorry that you are going through this. It is tough when older dogs have multiple problems and it is also tough when the dogs are becoming challenging in terms of temperament. As far as helping with the cost there is a plan that some veterinary clinics offer called Care Credit. It is like a credit card that you get to help pay off medical expenses in increments. As far as the pet health insurance, it certainly does help a lot of clients. You could do some searching on the internet to see what would be involved. I'm a little concerned that it may be difficult to get coverage for a dog that is already sick but it is worth looking into.

As far as the best place to spend the money on tests I think you need to have a heart to heart with your veterinarian and ask if they can in their opinion decide on the most important procedure. If he is in pain because of his mouth sometimes I have clients that would say that they want to address the oral condition even though it is risky with the heart. I do not want to sound mean or callous but in our animals quality of life is such a huge issue that when our pet friends are suffering sometimes we are forced to make some pretty difficult decisions. Sometimes even with unlimited funds it is time to think about euthanasia if they just are doing poorly.

I recommend having a long talk with your veterinarian and letting them know how you feel. Hopefully together you can come up with the best plan. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can a Kitten Be Allergic to Another Cat

Q: My kitten George - he's about 10 weeks - has a red eye. Not the actual eye but the outline, I have taken him to the vet and she gave me a gel to put in his eye daily and it seemed to solve the problem after a week so I stopped using it, but today (a week after using the gel) I have noticed, after playing with his sister Kitty all night we're back to square one and the outline is red again. There seems to be no problem with the eye itself but he is definitely squinting that eye and I am worried he is in pain. Is there any possibility that he is somehow allergic to the other kitten, because it seems to get worse when he plays with her. Please help! I want to get him better.

A: I'm sorry for you and your kitten. I doubt that this is an allergy to your other cat. Typically with young cats that have eye issues I worry about infections, especially viral infections. They can be persistent and difficult to clear up. Also with playful kittens they can accidentally traumatize the eye. I think you need to call your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

New Dog Won't Eat

Q: Hello, I am starting to get very worried about the 9 yr.old dog I just got. The first day he did have a couple bowel movements. But the last two days he has not has any bowel movements nor will he eat his normal dog food kibbles and bits. He will eat a little table food but I really don`t want to get that to be a habit. But that has came to a stop also. I don`t know what is going on. Could it be that he is upset beacuse he was with his other owners since he was a puppy? What can I do to help him! I give him lots of attention and he goes everywhere with me! he is very attached to me! Please help me! Thanks. -- Heather

A: Some dogs can be very picky when they eat. Like you, I am not a fan of getting him used to people food. At this point I recommend getting a canned dog food and mixing some with the dry food. If this continues please call your veterinarian for an appointment. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cat's Asthma-related Problems Keep Recuring

Q: Good day, I am trying to get some additional information or perspective. Our 13 year old cat was diagnosed withe Asthma late in the spring. She had Asthma attacks and also the accompanying vomiting and loss of appetite. Our vet ( who I think is excellent) put her on oral Prednisolone, Cerenia, and half a Pepcid AC tablet daily. Her blood work showed that her Kidney markers are at the borderline for CRF, but her urine looked good as far as concentration. Chest X Rays were also taken to confirm the Asthma and to rule out other possibilities.

Quickly after starting this her breathing improved, vomiting stopped and eating went back to normal. Shortly after that we stopped the Cerenia without adverse effects. After a couple of months the vet wanted to get her on inhaled Fluticasone and start the weaning process off the Prednisolone. I got all the required stuff and started that, her breathing continues to show no issues, but once we got into the weaning phase of a pill every third day, the vomiting and eating issues have returned. We now have put here back on the Cerenia which stopped the vomit, but did not turn back to normal eating so there does appear to be a relationship between the Oral Prednisolone and eating, perhaps inflammation in her GI or Pancreas?

The vet is going to start her back on a stimulant first and then the Prednisolone if that doesn't get her back to eating well. There is also some discussion about ultrasound to get some better organ pictures down the road. I just wonder if you have any addition perspectives or thoughts? I know this is alot of information. Thank You, -- Ray

A: Wow, it sounds like you and your veterinarian have done an excellent workup. I have had excellent luck with the inhalant steroid too. I'm so sorry that the low frequency of steroids has resulted in vomiting and decreased appetite. I also understand that it would be nice not to use oral steroids with borderline kidney values. I am a big fan of appetite stimulants in cats and tend to use mirtazapine for this.

As far as the vomiting/possible pancreatic issue submitting a GI panel to Texas A&M University can help with this diagnosis. I wonder if a hypoallergenic diet may be helpful. Finally, there is a product just now coming out for use in cats called modified cyclosporine that is a powerful anti-inflammatory. I don't know yet if it is indicated for use in GI inflammation but it's worth looking into. I plan on attending some educational seminars on this product and I'm sure your veterinarian has the same opportunities to look into this. Note that the modified cyclosporine so far has only been approved for use with skin allergies. It has not been evaluated for other uses.

And yes, an ultrasound could be helpful to evaluate the abdomen. Just curious if a heart worm tet has been performed. Please keep us posted. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

This Dog Chews on Everything

Q: Hello! I have a 2 yr old Black lab/pit bull mix who just loves to chew up all of mommy and daddy's stuff. We came home the other night and he had chewed up some Christmas ornaments and a cat's flea collar. Yesterday when I got home from work the right side of his mouth was very swollen. I gave him some ice to chew on and looked in his mouth but didn't see anything. I went to walmart and came back home and then his right eye was very red and swollen. It seems better today but I wasn't sure what might be causing this and what I could do to make it better. Please help!! Thank you

A: Some dogs are so bad about chewing/ingesting foreign bodies. Not only is it irritating but it can be very dangerous and can require surgery sometimes. Certainly chewing on some items could irritate the mouth. I have seen animals that chew on electrical cords get irritation on their mouths (very dangerous!). With the swollen eye I wonder if he could have ingested or been bitten/stung by an insect and had an allergic reaction. I would call your veterinarian and ask for the appropriate dose of diphenhydramine to keep on hand in case this happens again. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Should Senior Dogs Get Vitamins

Q: I have an eight and a half year old Jack Russell-Aussie mix. He's healthy, happy and friskey now. But our vet says he is, at his age, considered a "senior"dog! Is this true? Also, I've heard several times lately, including from a veterinarean on television, that seniordogs shold receive vitmin supplements, particulary anti-oxidents, in additional to their regular food for older dogs. So I've been giving my boy anti-oxident bisquits, which he likes. But they are quite expensive, and though I don't begrudge the expense at all if he needs them, I wonder..... Does he really? What do you think?

A: What a great question! I consider most dogs to be senior citizens after the age of 8 years. Certainly some breeds like our giant breed dogs age more quickly. I do think that antioxidants are quite important for geriatric patients. There are some wonderful dog foods made specifically for our older dogs that have these ingredients added. I love the product made by Hills Science Diet for mature dogs. I prefer to do routine bloodwork on my older patients because sometimes I pick up on problems or abnormalities early before it makes the pet sick. For example if there was any evidence of kidney abnormalities I would choose a diet more geared towards kidney health. If bloodwork looks good and we are healthy otherwise I tend to recommend the mature dog food and recommend that owners give omega fatty acid supplements. Be careful about giving extra vitamins/minerals as too much of these can potentially cause problems.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

<>BSmall Lump on Skin of Golden Causes Concern

Q: My son was petting our Golden Retriever, Buddy and felt a bump on Buddy's stomach/lower chest area...He hollered for me and I took a look and he has a red bump about dime size that sits on top of the skin and you can lift it and move it, it's not attached to anything under the skin.. My son and I are very worried we have had Buddy for 6.5 years and he is our best friend!! Today is Saturday so we have to wait till Monday to call the vet to make an appt . Do you have any suggestions as to what this could be, is there anything I can put on it to help it?? Any ideas of what this could possibly be would be greatly appreciated !!! Thanks in advance!! -- Dee

A: Hopefully by now you have had the opportunity to call your veterinarian. With any type of skin abnormality unless it is an obvious infection I often remove the abnormal tissue to send to the laboratory to find out for sure what we have. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pug has Discharge after Giving Birth

Q: My pug dog had 5 puppies yesterday and now has green this bad? Thanks for your help

A: Congratulations on the puppies! It is normal for the dog to have a vaginal discharge sometimes for several days after giving birth. As long as she is doing well otherwise I would consider this normal. Obviously I cannot see her to be able to say for sure that there are no problems. If she acts ill at all please call your veterinarian. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie has Breathing Problems

Q: Hi, my Yorkie has problems breathing, I have had her to the vet all summer long and have given her so much medicine, but it doesn't help much. She started out sneezing a lot and had mucus in her nose that has a very bad smell to it. The medicine that she is on right now is Prednisolone Tablets 5mg, 1/2 tablet every 12 hours. It helps some with the sneezing, but she still has a very hard time breathing and the problem seems to be up in her nose.

She dose not have a cough, but it sounds like she tries to blow out her nose, it sounds like a sniff, but she is blowing out. Her nose seems dry now, but she stills sniff and the odor is really really bad. She is on a natural food without wheat and she is a good eater. She is not sick, she runs and plays, but hard to breathe. I have had her teeth cleaned and one tooth pulled and the vets have checked her throat and nose as far up as they could see and they don't really know what to do with her. Any help would be appreciated. Thank - you, -- Leslie

A: I'm so sorry that you are going through this. Sometimes when I have patients with chronic nasal issues I anesthetize them and while they are asleep I will get a long skinny tube and flush sterile saline into the nose to try to clear any obstruction and try to suck some of the fluid out so that I can send it to the lab to be evaluated. A lot of times a good nasal flush is very beneficial to make the dog feel better and there are even times that we will flush something out like a piece of grass or seed that has become stuck farther in the nostril than we can see. If we find nothing obvious I will send the collected samples out for cytology to look for any abnormal cells, and for cultures to look for bacterial and fungal infections.

When I sedate to flush out the nose and collect samples I also examine the teeth very very carefully because infected tooth roots can cause problems as well.

I have had instances where I just cannot find a reason for the problem and will refer to veterinary institutions that can do very specialized imaging into the nasal cavity with procedures like a CT scan. I hope this helps. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shepherd Has Stubborn Rash, Itching

Q: Hi, First I want to thank you very much for having this site so people can ask questions. I have a two year old all black German Shepherd. About 10 months ago she started developing a rash on her stomach which spread to pretty much every where on her body. She was itching so bad she started lossing her fur and the rash became more of bumps and started to open because she was itching so bad. I went to a vet about 100 times for just this problem and I even switched vets a few times for the fact that I wasnt getting any answer. She was put on predisone a steroid and an antibiotic. The steroids helped her itching a lot and the antibiotic got rid of the rash. She was better then ever while she was on the meds.

Now she has been on meds for the 10 months now and the problem with her is just not getting any better. Everytime she is finished with her antibiotics she get a secondary infection of some type (ear infections, conjunctivitist, uti, bacteria infec) all things that happen right after she finishes her last dose of meds. Now we have her currently still on steroid and no more antibiotics just to keep her comfortable. She is still very itchy and she is starting to get flaky again and her fur is not as shinny.

When she gets this rash coming back she has a very strong dog smell and she never smells like this normally. I have no clue what is wrong with her I am not getting any answers and I am very worried about my dog. She had allergy testing done and it came back negative to everything. I do not know what more I can do and I dont know how much more I can afford. any guidance or answers would be highly appreciated thank you sooo much!!!!!

A: Wow, for such a young dog she has been on a lot of medications. I would search online or ask your veterinarian if there are any board certified dermatologists in your vicinity. It will be worth it to you to see someone who specializes in skin. I'm wondering if your dog may have an auto-immune disease affecting the skin. I am not saying that she does, but it's possible. Have any biopsies of her skin been performed? Has anyone performed bacterial and fungal cultures? I will say that biopsies taken while steroids are still in the system are often not accurate because steroids can affect the cell populations that pathologists look for. For this reason it is often best to try to be off of medications for at least one month before a biopsy if your dog can tolerate that.

There are different kinds of allergy tests available. It is my understanding that the most accurate kind is called an intra dermal allergy test and I have to refer my patients to a dermatologist to have this done. If this problem was just allergies I often have my patients on omega fatty acid supplements, medical grade hypoallergenic diets, and a medication called Atopica. Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Jack Russell has Tight Belly

Q: My Jack Russell has an extremely tight belly , she seems to hurt when I pick her up. I have taken her to the vet for fear of her having an obstruction they said no she has a thyroid problem. she looks like she is going to pop and now makes like a grunt when she is lying down almost like she is having a hard time breathing. Also when she is lying down she is always swallowing a lot more. She eats very little as well. I am so concerned she is my baby. Please help! Thank you -- Kim

A: I think that you need to get her back to the veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic for a recheck. It sounds like it is time to take some x-rays or recheck x-rays if they have already been taken. I hope your dog feels better soon. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Male Cat Licks Fur off Stomach

Q: Hello. I have a male cat who is not quite a year old yet and I am very concerned because he has literally licked the fur off on his stomach, around his private area. I did some research and it says its either allergies or blocked urinary tract. He mainly stays outdoors so I do not see him use the bathroom to know if this is the cause. He seems normal, he still eats and drinks water and is just as lovable as always and shows no sign of pain. Any diagnosis you could give would be greatly appreciated. It's the weekend and my vet is closed but I will take him in on Monday. Thanks again, -- Melissa

A: I'm sorry it took me a couple of days to get back with you. Hopefully you have already been into your veterinarian. I agree that skin issues can cause cats to lick. Also discomfort in the abdominal area including urinary abnormalities can cause this. It does not necessarily have to be a blockage. I have also seen cats that have psychogenic grooming, which is kind of like an obsessive compulsive disorder.

Typically it is important to rule out medical causes of this before we assume that it is behavioral. Please let us know how your kitty does. I would make extra sure that you keep your cat on a prescription strength safe monthly flea prevention because sometimes in cats fleas like to congregate on the abdomen. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

One Year Old Pomeranian Has Eye Problems

Q: Dear Vet Several weeks ago I noticed that my pet seemed to have conjunctivitis and seemed unwell, preferring to hide in a dark place - I took him to a vet and he gave me an antibiotic and cream, however there was no change. He then referred me to a specialist, and it was revealed that he had no pressure behind his eyes and to stop the antibiotic and cream..

My pet however, is no better, seems to be quiet, lack of energy and his eyes are half closed, wimpers occasionally. Don't know what is wrong, can you help? Worried --Marg

A: I'm so sorry for you and your dog. Eye issues sure can be painful and make an animal feel poorly. I think that you need to call the eye specialist and let that doctor know what is going on before you do anything else. Without seeing your dog this one is pretty hard for me to even speculate on. Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golden Retriever has Lump in Ear

Q: We just noticed that our 10 year old female Golden Retriever has a “liquidy” feeling lump or swollen area in her lower ear lobe. The lump is about 2 inches in length and 1 inch in width. There is no redness, evidence of bites or wounds. Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

Steve & Linda

A: From your description I wonder if this may be a hematoma. I see a lot of Goldens that develop ear infections and/or allergies. When they scratch or shake their head it can cause small blood vessels to leak and you end up with an accumulation of blood. If this ends up truly being a hematoma often a small surgical procedure is needed to stop the buildup of fluid. Please make an appointment with your veterinarian to see if this is a hematoma, to determine the best treatment, and to discover the underlying cause. Let us know how it goes.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rescued Kitten

Q: Hi, I have a kitten that was abandoned and I got her all the essentials, except she has not seen a vet yet, She slept with me last night and I woke up this morning with medium red bumps on my leg. Am I allergic to cats? My leg itches really bad it kind of looks like hives I have never had this before is this because of the kitten or maybe flee bites, but it doesn’t look like that. Do I put her outside? Also can I catch anything from a cat?

Thank you, Stacie

A: Congratulations on your new kitten. As a veterinarian I cannot give human medical advice but I can tell you that your skin abnormality could be related to the cat. Animals can carry zoonotic diseases which are diseases that can be transmitted to humans. Such diseases include fungal infections and certain parasites. I am not saying this is the case with you. One of the essentials of owning a young animal is getting it to the veterinarian for an exam. You should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian ASAP and to play it safe I think you should call your physician too. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese with Brown Spots

Q: Hi my 2 year old female maltese has brown (speckled) spots around her vagina. They showed up about a week and ago and got darker over time. I thought they might go away, but they’re still there. I also feed her wellness for small breeds, and only bathe her in dog shampoos and conditioner and I use baby soap on her face. What could be causing it, and is it something I should be worried about? thanks! sign worried mommy

A: Give her age, this likely is not serious but it is not normal either. She may have an infection (vaginitis). I do think it is a good idea to let your veterinarian take a look at her. Good luck!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese Puppy with Ear and Dental Problems

Q: Please help me. I have a couple of question. I have a 5 months old male Maltese, he's my first puppy. He has been scratching hes ears a lot and really his whole body has been itching. He doesn't have fleas or ticks or any bugs but I do give him a bath 2-3 times a week and I think that his skin is just dry.What do you think?and what should I do?

His ears are a different story. He scratches them a lot and now his hair in his ears are brown (he is an all white dog) and hes ears have an oder to them. I have asked a good friend of mine (who has plenty of experience with dogs) about his ears and she said that they might be mites or something of that nature and she said to put a small amount of oil in his ears. So I did but it didn't do much. But after I clean his ears with a wet paper towel, brown ear wax comes on the paper towel, which also has an oder to it. I just don't know what to do. And one more thing he has EXTREMELY bad breath and he is just a puppy, but really the only main health issue with this breed is dental care and he does have a few brown looking teeth should I brush his teeth? or is it something more serious. If i should brush his teeth what kind of brush and paste sould I use? Thank you.

A: Congratulations on your new puppy. This breed and dogs this age are prone to skin and ear issues. It is very important at his age to get him to your veterinarian to check for ear infection (dogs do get ear mites but all too often people assume it is ear mites when it is really an infection). Putting oil into the ears is not going to help. There could be skin allergies, infection, or even mange. Only your veterinarian can check for this. As far as the breath goes let the veterinarian check it out. You can get toothpaste made for dogs (never use human toothpaste) but if there are brown looking teeth and an odor that is not normal. Call and get him in to your veterinarian and I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Does Puppy have Flea Bite Problem?

Q: Hello, I saw your site well on the search of pictures and research. Maybe you can help.. because I'm at wits end. I rescued a pup. He was born in July with five brothers and 2 sisters. Investigation of fleas horrible from what the lady told me when she got them. She told me she treated them and he was fine. I purchased him and he's been with me for two months. Two days after I got him, I was playing on the floor with him and noticed little pimple like bites with yellow filled puss in them. I contacted her and she told me they were part of the after math of the fleas to put proxide on them and they will clear up. I went out that day purchased flea collar and shampoo. Now I've been doing that..however a week after my friend called me telling me her son has these same pimple like bites on his body..neck legs hands however the puss is yellow. She took her son to the doctor. They called it scabies and he's still fighting the infection..last night they did another cream treatment on him... the doctor told her its possible it came from my dog. He hasn't been near my dog in weeks. I have 3 children which none nor myself have any of these bites.. I contacted the lady telling her what my friends doc and son had going on. She told me scabies is mange and if my dog had mange he would have hair missing and be real sick. So, what could this be? Could her son catch this from my dog and none of my family has? My dog has these on his stomach pretty much where there is no hair. Like near his private area..lower stomach area..and under his arms is really dry skin like arm pit area but no bites. I do know he doesn't itch or scratch nor lick them. He doesn't seem to even notice or be bothered by them. Please let me know what you think.Thanks, Cassandra

A: Congratulations on your new puppy. Skin issues are very common in young dogs as they naturally have a weaker immune system than an adult dog would have. There is no way for me to tell you without doing some skin tests what is wrong with your puppy. I typically do check for mange in puppies with skin issues. Usually a puppy with scabies is very itchy but you need to ask your veterinarian to do a simple test called a skin scrape to know for sure. This could be related to an allergy to the fleas that were present or could even be a common condition in puppies called pyoderma. Pyoderma is similar to acne in children and may or may not require antibiotics. It is important to get puppies into the veterinarian on a regular basis anyway so you need to get this checked out. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Puppy's Skin is Breaking Out

Q: My puppy broke out with what I thought was a rash a few week ago... I got her some spray for it but now its spread all over her chest stomach area legs and butt... I got some oatmeal shampoo and gave her a bath now a lot of the bumps have scabs over them and her hair is falling out from them... what is this??!!

LaTrease Carter

A: Puppies are very prone to skin conditions. It could be one of many problems including bacterial infection, fungal infection, "mange," allergy, or more rarely autoimmune diseases. If I saw your puppy for an exam I'd do a series of tests to try to determine the exact cause of the abnormality so that we could come up with a treatment plan. Remember that the skin is the largest organ of the body so you should get your puppy to the veterinarian before this gets worse.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Another Puppy with Skin Problems

Q: Hi, I have a 3mos old blue pit. I took her to the groomer yesterday for the second time. everything went great, but I noticed a few hours later her constant scratching and licking. I turned her over and looked at her belly and she has tiny little red bumps all over her belly and under her arms and legs. poor thing was up all night scratching. what can i do to help her, could this be an allergic reaction to something? Thanks in advance for your help!

A: Some dogs with sensitive skin will get irritation after being groomed. This in no way means that the groomer did anything wrong. You could call your veterinarian to ask for a dose of an antihistamine that may help. Sometimes stronger medications are necessary. If your dog is still uncomfortable bathe with a soothing shampoo (I like shampoos with oatmeal) and please call your veterinarian ASAP. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

9 Week Old Chihuahua
Shows Signs of Sickness

Q: Hello. I just added a new bundle of joy to my home, a 9 week old Chihuahua named Joy. Me and my daughter have been sick and now she's acting like she's sick. She's sneezing, runny eyes and vomiting. Please help. I don't know how to treat her and the vet doesn't open until Tuesday. Thanks in advance!!!

A: I worry about such a young tiny dog being ill especially with the vomiting, as these puppies can get a dangerously low blood sugar. I really think you should check to see if there is an after hours veterinary clinic in your area or a veterinarian that is opened before Tuesday. If your puppy stops eating or continues to vomit you could rub karo syrup or a product called Nutrical on the gums so that some energy can be absorbed into the system. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Red Nose Pit Bull Has Penis Abcess

Q: I have a five yr old male red nose pit bull and he has goten a small abcess on his penis and it has gone away but this time it has come back a lil bigger and red in color and raw what can I do at.home to fix it if you could help please and thank you

A: With a true abscess often systemic antibiotics are necessary. You need to call your veterinarian about this. In the meantime keep the area cleaned and try to prevent him from licking at the infected area. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Tsu with Leg Problem

Q: I have a 13 year old Shih Tzu (Moe). He has started to drag both of his back legs and can not even go up 3 steps anymore. There are times he starts crying so we rub him to help soothe the pain. The vet I had, has gone up to 125.00 just for the visit and he always charges extra for anything, like telling me his teeth needs cleaning, we paid the $300 to have all that done. At this time we can't afford to pay out money like this. We are self employed and it's been terrible here in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2006. Is there some kind of herbal creme I could rub on it to take the pain out and help him out? I can't take seeing him in pain.

Thank You if you can help with any information.

A: First of all I am so sorry that Moe is not doing well. From what you have written I am really worried that this could be a problem with his back/spinal cord. Unfortunately there are no over the counter home remedies that will help with this. I know that it can be expensive to go to the veterinarian. Maybe you could call around and see if there are any veterinarians that maybe has a lower charge for an office call. I really think that he needs to be seen. I will keep you in my thoughts. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Tsu puppy with stuffed nose

Q: I have a 5 week old Shih Tsu litter, in the last couple of days, one of the puppies has developed a stuffy nose. Can I use saline solution on her? We noticed that her nose is smaller than her siblings. What can I do to help her, it worries me to see her stuffed, It almost seems like she is struggling to breath.

A: It would be safe to use saline solution to wipe her nose. I would not squirt it up into her nose as I would be afraid that she may inhale some of the fluid. She could have a condition called stenotic nares where her nostrils are very small. That is something that is able to be corrected with surgery when she gets older. While stenotic nares are relatively common in some breeds a stuffy nose is never normal. I recommend that you get her into a veterinarian so that your veterinarian can determine if she needs any antibiotics. Good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Skin Problems Prove Hard to Treat

Q: Hello, I hope you can help. I have had my dog to three different vets for skin problems. I get different stories from all of them. One said its grass allergies. One said its a bacteria that all dogs have and that my dog's immune system has lost its ability to fight back. The other story I can't remember. In each case, these vets prescribed the same thing, prednisone and/or clavamox. The combination of prednisone and clavamox seems to work the best, but it does not clear up the problem entirely. My dog's symptoms are small bumps all over his body. They get crusty and if I pick at them, he acts like it itches. The itching seems more prevalent when I give him a bath. When he is left alone and I don't pick at the bumps, he does not try to scratch himself. One of the vets gave me Keto Chlor shampoo to replace the Pyoben that I had been using and it doesn't help any more than the Pyoben. The drugs help some, but they do not clear up the problem and as soon the prescrition runs out, its back to bumps all over my dog again. I use Frontline Plus and/or Advantage for flea control and have not found any fleas on him, so I do not think this is caused by allergies to fleas. Needless to say, the trips to vets are very expensive and worse--they don't seem to have any idea what the problem is. My frenchie is 8 1/2 years old. Can you help-please?

A: Your story is so common. I think that skin issues are the most common issue that I see dogs for in the clinic where I work. The problem with allergies is that you cannot cure them. When a dog is allergic to something or many things they typically are always allergic to them. It is very frustrating as a veterinarian to not be able to achieve a cure. I always tell people that there are three big categories of allergies: fleas, food, and the environment.

As far as fleas go, if you have a dog that is at all allergic to fleas even one flea can cause horrible itching. That is why in dogs with allergies, even if there are absolutely no fleas seen you should use a monthly flea prevention every single month. I will leave the exact product up to your veterinarian as not all flea products are appropriate for all dogs.

As far as food allergies go, it is my understanding that the best way to decide if a dog has these is to do a food trial. You need to get a prescription strength hypoallergenic diet and let that be the ONLY thing that they eat for two months (other than the medications that your veterinarian prescribes). There are many over the counter hypoallergenic foods but I always trust the prescription diets because they are really limited in the proteins and carbohydrates that are used. I usually tell my clients that if we do a food trial the foods come as dry or canned and there are also prescription strength hypoallergenic treats. Food allergies can develop in any dog at any age whether they have had a recent diet change or not. Even if only part of the allergies are to food then putting them on a hypoallergenic diet really can help. Your veterinarian can tell you the ones that he/she regularly uses.

The most frustrating cases involve issues with environmental allergies. Unless we ask you to move then you cannot eliminate environmental triggers the same way you can eliminate fleas or change the food. With environmental allergies we typically have to treat symptomatically. That usually involves steroids to really get the itching under control and an antibiotic because allergies do predispose them to skin infections. Sometimes I have good luck in dogs putting them on a product called Atopica that you may want to ask your veterinarian about. It is often considered safer than keeping them on steroids long term.

Finally, there are veterinarians that are board certified dermatologists that can do things that I cannot do in my general practice. This includes performing intradermal allergy testing to know exactly what the dog is allergic to. A lot of my clients balk at going to a specialist but then decide to give it a try. If you have a veterinary dermatologist in your area you could ask your veterinarian how to get a referral to go for a visit. I know that this is frustrating and I wish there was a magic cure. Let me know how your dog does. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Can Dogs Develop Dimentia?

Q: I have a 14 yr old Shih Tzu-Yorkie mix. She's having accidents more frequently the past 6 months. She's also not recognizing door openings and other usual surroundings. And, she's become slightly more aggressive. Her last check up in June was ok. Do dogs acquire dementia problems like humans?

A: This is a very interesting question. We do think that dogs can develop dementia and in the veterinary world we call it "canine cognitive dysfunction." There is a really good website you will find if you do a search for CCD (canine cognitive dysfunction) that has a checklist that you can use to see if your dog fits the criteria. It is very important to rule out other problems and I always run bloodwork and a urinalysis when I suspect CCD. There are treatments that can be tried. Since nutrition plays such a vital role in overall health there is actually a special food made for animals that have components to aid in mental health. There are medications that your veterinarian may want you to try as well. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Young Cat starts Vomiting

Q: Hi my cat has vomited several times and is getting goey stuff around his eyes. He is five months old. He is up to date on all shots and is an indoor cat. What is wrong with him? Should we take him to the vet or wait it out? Thank you.

A: I'm so sorry! Yes, get your kitten into the veterinary clinic. If possible take a stool sample in case your veterinarian wants to check for parasites. Make sure that your kitty has been tested for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (commonly tested for in cats with a simple blood test). Many young animals are prone to eating things that they should not (strings, rubber bands, etc). You veterinarian may want to take an x-ray to see if it looks like this is possible. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Rescue Boston Terrier Develops Skin Modules

Q: Hello, I just want to say that I really appreciate what you all are doing by answering people's questions about their pets. I have had my Boston for about 2 or 3 months, and I got her from a rescue. She was used at a puppymill and has had 5 litters of puppies. She is only a few years old. She was kept in a cage for most of her life and has had a rough time of it. She is still a really sweet and loving dog. I am very fond of her, and very attached. She has been spayed, chipped, and wormed. She suffered from anemia due to a hook worm and tick infestation way before I ever got her. Now here is my question. At the site where her hysterectomy was, there are many small nodules and there seems to be one that came up to the skin and ruptures then is somewhat still there but flatter. My question is, is this cancer or soundl ike it ? I am going to take her to the vet but its just so expensive and I have to save a little for the first visit because it is so much. I do feel like a bad owner, and she deserves the best after the hard life she has had. Thanks for your time and patience, -- Michael

A: Michael, Thanks for your kind words. Thank you for rescuing this dog. Obviously I cannot tell you the exact problem since I cannot see this in person. If this is actually on the spay incision line and if the surgery has occurred fairly recently it could be that she is having a reaction to some of the suture material underneath the skin. I have seen dogs before that will get bumpy areas on the suture line from the sutures underneath the skin. You asked if this could be cancer. I cannot say for sure but agree that this needs to be checked out. Is there anyway you could have the veterinarian that performed the surgery recheck her? I ask this because this would be the person most familiar with her particular surgery. If that's not possible it is fine but I just wanted to ask. Please keep us posted. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Kept Outdoors is Constantly Sneezing

Q: We just moved into this new house in February, and the owner kept our dog outside chained up for about 6 months. My boyfriend was finally able to talk the owner into letting him stay with us in the garage (our room). We have had him in here for about 3 months now. He is a German Shepard and Lab mixed and is about 2 and a half years old. I just got him his vaccinations a few days ago which included rabbies. Ever since he has been with us he has been sneezing constantly, and he might have a runny nose, too. He also threw up a couple times. Another thing is that he has some kind of whitish greenish ooze come from his penis every once in a while. Oh, and he doesn't eat that much. I don't know if he could have picked up something from being outside for so long or something? If you could please tell me what you think could be wrong with him that would be wonderful! I'll take him to the vet if I have to, but I just really don't have that much money. Is there anything I can do for him without going to the vet? I take really good care of him. I give him fresh water and food every day, and I take him out whenever he needs to. I even take him for walks and play with him all the time. Please help!

A: It sounds like you have done a good thing for this dog. It is great that you gave him vaccines. After vaccines are given it takes about two weeks for them to really do a good job to help with immunity. It is very important that he go back in 3-4 weeks for booster vaccines if these were the first vaccines we know of. When he received his vaccines did your veterinarian perform a physical examination?

Vaccines are important but a physical exam, heartworm test, and fecal examination are equally as important. I think that you need to get him in to the veterinarian especially for the sneezing and runny nose. It can be normal for male dogs to have this sort of discharge from the genital region. As far as the appetite I really need you to have him checked for parasites. To check for heart worms a simple blood test is done. To check for intestinal parasites you need to take a stool sample to your veterinarian.

I know that it costs money to get into the veterinarian but it is much less expensive to have these minor issues checked out now rather than risking him getting worse and having the extra expense of hospitalization, etc. Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

15 Year Old Red Nose Pit Bull

Q: I saw your site while looking at possible answers to the symptoms my dog is having and hope you can help me target what may be wrong. My dog is a Red Nose pitt and has been a inside dog since he was a puppy and will be 15 years old next February. For going on 3 months now, he has been sneezing a lot, especially of the mornings and he also has a raised area across the top of his nose. My husband thought it might have been where he accidentally hit him with the door but, it never went away. He appears to have problems breathing sometimes and while I know he can't live forever, I don't have the heart to put him to sleep just yet. Oh and his eyes run a lot to, more on the left than the right. Could he have a clogged sinus cavity or maybe a tumor? I know it's hard to diagnosis without actually seeing him but, I was laid off in June and can not afford to bring him to the vet. Any suggestions of what this would be ...would be deeply appreciated. I have started to give him 1 Advil Liquid Gel a day and use hot compresses across his nose. I thought maybe if I could use Saline in his nose it might help it if it's clogged but, he will not allow me to do this. Thank You -- Cindy Lacy

A: I'm sorry that your dog has this going on. I'm a little bit nervous about you giving the Advil. Many human anti-inflammatories can have harmful side effects in dogs. Unless your veterinarian recommended using that, I think you should discontinue the Advil.

As far as what is going on, you are right in your thinking that it could be one of several problems. I am wondering if your dog could have an infected tooth root. Also we do have to consider other infections (bacterial or fungal), abnormal growths/tumors, and even though less likely, allergies need to be ruled out. Get him to your veterinarian when you can.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Mini Doxies

Q: I would appreciate how I should handle this problem that has occurred the past 3 nights:

We have 2 female mini doxies. They are both half sisters (same father) one (Sasha) is 19 months and weighs 8#. We got her in Feb. Bridget will be 1 yr. old in Dec. and she weighs 6#. Sasha came to live with us in Feb. 2011 at 1yr.old, and Bridget came to us in March 2011 at 3 months old.

Everything went well with them being reunited at our home (since they both were together at the Breeders until coming to our home). They shared the same crate when going to bed for the night. They got along just fine and not a whimper out of them!

My dilemma: All was going well until about a week ago. Sasha didn't want to enter the crate going to bed for the night. She held back and Bridget was already inside waiting for her to enter. We had to literally set Sasha inside and lock the gate at which time we heard some growling and a little fuss. They got through the night and in the morning when I went to let them out of the crate I noticed the bed was wet! Which one peed I don't know who? This went on for 4 nights in a row.

I finally decided to separate them and put them to bed in the same room only different beds. Since then no sign of wet beds. Is this behavior common? Did they just need more space or was it because Bridget seems to be the dominant one and Sasha is very passive in her behavior?

How should I handle this sleeping arrangement as I am looking into putting them both together in a larger crate out in our garage and installing a Doggie door for them to get out of the garage when need be.

I would appreciate very much any suggestions you can give me. I look forward to your reply. Thank you very much.
Barbara Irvin

A: Oh no! I'm sorry that your girls are having problems. I think that first we need to make sure that both are fine medically. If Sasha is feeling poorly for some reason it could make her act a little aggressive.

It could also be that she is starting to show dominance issues toward her sister. If she was aggressive towards Bridget, Bridget may have become scared and had an accident.

I think that it is a good idea to let them have their own sleeping space. I also think you should let your veterinarian check them both out to rule out medical issues. Keep us posted!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Two-week Old Orphaned Kitten>BR>Needs Constant Care

Q: I don't know anything about kittens, this kitty mother died, feeding w/ syringe goat's milk will not take the kitty formula this little kitty has not had a bowl movement in 3 days what can I do?? Please help me I don't want this little kitty to die.

A: You may need to get this kitten into your veterinarian for its best chances. It will be your responsibility to stimulate urination and defecation. You need to get a warm damp rag and with mild pressure wipe the rear end area. Actual kitten milk replacement formula is probably best as it is specifically formulated for kittens. Again, your veterinarian could give you tips to get this kitten to eat better. Remember these guys need to be fed every couple of hours. .-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten Nurses on Female Jack Russell

Q: I have a 10 year old female Jack Russell. I got a kitten about 2 months ago that started nursing off of my dog. At first I didn't think anything of it but now the kitten won't stop nursing and my dogs nipple looks very infected and enlarged with little bumps around it. What should I do?? Is this something urgent I should go to the vet for or will it go away on its own?? I am very worried. I don't want to take her to the vet if I don't have to. I tried a hot rag it didn't do anything. Please get back to me as soon as you can thank you!

A: It is actually pretty common to see kittens do this to dogs. I don't worry about it unless it is hurting your dog and it sounds like this little kitty's mouth is causing some damage. It is possible that the kitten could have irritated the skin enough to cause an infection. Whether your dog needs to go to the veterinarian or not depends on how severe the infection is. If there is irritation it will not heal if the kitten continues to do this. I know this sounds kind of crazy, but could you put a t-shirt on your dog so that it covers the abdomen to prevent the kitty from being able to get to the skin? Another obvious solution is to separate the animals which may or may not be possible for you. .-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog with Sneezing Problem

Q: My dog has had an issue with her nose. She has been sneezing and blowing her nose constantly for about 4 months they have probed her nose and found there is nothing up there, she has been on atibiotics and cortizone shots, but nothing helps. She is up most all night gurgling threw her nose or blowing through it.

A: I am so sorry that you are going through this as I know you are worried. When I have cases of chronic nasal discharge I think about infection (bacterial and fungal), foreign bodies (like blades of grass, seeds, etc), allergies, and unusual growths/tumors. Unfortunately, sometimes the best way to visualize deep inside the nasal cavity is with advanced imaging like CT scans. Your veterinarian will know where you can have this done in your area.

Before we get to this point I usually sedate my patient, flush the nasal cavity, and try to get samples for bacterial and fungal cultures. Depending on the quality of the sample sometimes I try to get a sample for cytology to send to a pathologist to look for abnormal cells. I hope this helps.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Llaso Apso

Q: My 10 yr. old female spayed Lhasa Apso has a swollen vulva. Just noticed this yesterday. There's slight redness and feels bumpy around the base surrounding the vulva. One side looks slightly more swollen. She doesn't seem to be in pain and is eating and urinating normally. She's been licking the area since swelling but it doesn't seem like there is discharge. Please advise...

A: This is an interesting case. Make sure that no one in the family is on any type of topical steroid medication (such as estrogen creams) as I have had cases where dogs have licked the cream and developed symptoms related to having too much estrogen such as a swollen vulva. There could be an infection causing swelling and/or inflammation. If this is a definite abnormality for her I advise you to get her to your veterinarian to get a better idea of what is going on. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Drinking Water Hurts Dog

Q: My dog acts like his mouth or tongue hurt when he drinks water. What could this be?

A: I am not sure why your dog acts painful when he drinks. This certainly could be an issue related to the teeth, tongue, or inside of the mouth. Some dogs with neck pain also seem painful when they drink because they have to lean down to take the water in. I think that you need to get to your veterinarian for a good exam, including an oral exam to try to decide the exact nature of the problem. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltese Poodle with Spots on Stomach

Q: My Maltese Poodle is almost three years old. She has red dots all through her fur. Some spots on her stomach are pencil sized; some are thumb nail sized. Her behavior is normal, eating is normal, and there is no hair loss. Do I need to take her to the vet?

A: I think that you do need to take her to the veterinarian. This could be something as simple as skin allergy/infection or something as serious as a form of bruising due to lower than normal platelet count. I'm sure that if your veterinarian could examine your dog in person he/she could give you a much better idea of why these bumps are present. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Skinny Shih Tsu

Q: My shtiz tzu is really skinny on his back end, why is this ?

A: I cannot say without knowing more about your dog and examining your dog why he seems "skinny on his back end." Some dogs that have arthritis will get muscle atrophy (decrease in muscle mass) and seem thinner on the hind end. There are other reasons for this too. To be able to realistically decide what is going on with your dog you would need to have your veterinarian examine him. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Tzu Seems Constipated in His New Home

Q: We just got our 3 year old boy Shih Tzu and he has only pooped once since he has been with us, and that was the first time we left him alone when we went into town for an hr. Is it ok that he doesn't poop daily? Our should I change his diet our feeding habits? The lady we got him from had him on Purina Dog chow 1 cup a day. Not sure what food he was on before she got him, she was keeping him for a friend since she moved. I'm just concerned he will get constipated. Thanks.

A: I guess it depends on how long you have had him. If he has been eating well and has not had a bowel movement in over two days I may try to get him to the veterinarian. Obviously if he has not been eating well he is not going to need to defecate. If you see him squatting as if he is trying to go with nothing coming out you need to get him to your veterinarian. In all honesty it is always important when you get a dog to get established with a veterinarian to do a health check and make sure you have everything that you need including heart worm and flea prevention. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten Drags Hind Legs

Q: I have a three month old kitten and about a month ago he was dragging his legs like they were numb and walking on hands only he didn't seem to feel it. I made him sit in the sun a lot and he slightly started pressuring them but it seems like they aren't improving more than that and he started to pee involuntarily while sitting or whenever someone picks him up

I have no idea why this happened to him if it was just like that or because of an injury because at that time we had a child in the house and even if he did step on him or something he'd never say. So please help me the cat is really pitiful and despite my efforts my dad refuses to make a trip to the vet for the cat's sake please help him

A: I'm so sorry for this poor little kitty! The inability to use the hind legs combined with the urinary incontinence makes me think that we have a neurological issue going on. It may be a back issue. If it has been going on for a long time with no improvement we need to think about this little kitty's quality of life as no one wants to see suffering. I know you said you are having issues getting the cat into the veterinary office but like you, I know that is what is best. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Male German Shepard/Lab Has Lump Near Nipple

Q: Hello, I have a question. I have a 13 year old male German Shephard Lab mix and I noticed while I was scratching his belly that he has a huge lump on his stomach so i looked closer and it seems to be his nipple but why would it be a huge lump like that? I brought it to attn to my mother and she said that I probably shouldn't be to worried bc hes old and was recently at the vet for a diarrhea virus but this dog as anyone Im sure tells you is truly my best friend and I am just concerned.

Do you feel I should be worried or could it just be like a cyst bc I know my boyfriends 3 year old female shephard gets them but they go away. If you could please respond it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much, -- Michelle

A: Hi, Dogs can get growths around their nipple areas. Given his age the incidence of certain growths can be increased. You need to get him into your veterinarian to know for sure. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Older Maltese Loses Appetite, Vomits Defy Diagnosis

Q: I have a very strange situation with my 11 year old Maltese. First let me say the he was born with a PDA which was resolved with surgery 10 years ago. About 6 months ago he started loss of appetite and vomiting for no reason. Bloods all were unremarkable except for massively high Liver enzymes 3000 range. The ultrasound showed nothing. He was started on Cerenia, Clavamox and liver support. After 6 weeks of treatment the enzymes are still fluctuating from 2000's to 3000's. Vomiting now comes and goes with no end in sight. He has great days almost as if there is nothing wrong then bang here we go again. The swing is what's getting to me. It's so unsettling, he is on such a rollercoaster.

It is now being suggested that we start him on Pred. I don't know what to do as the side effects of pred can be quite serious. I will take any suggestions you may have. Thank you --Debra

A: I'm so sorry because I know that you are worried. Has your veterinarian checked your dog for Cushing's disease and Addisons disease? It is common with Cushing's disease to have elevations in liver values. Addisons disease is tricky because it can look like anything. It has a waxing and waning course.

It's great that an ultrasound has been done. I will say that I have had dogs with liver disease that an ultrasound could not pick up on. Typically with these liver cases I do a test for Cushings/Addisons (same test), bile acids test to actually measure liver function, a test for an infection called Leptospirosis that can affect the liver, and sometimes a screening for diseases carried by ticks.

If the Cushings test is positive typically we treat with a medication called trilostane. If it is Addisons disease then steroids are the mainstay of treatment. If an infectious disease is found then we treat with an appropriate antibiotic. Sometimes I will put these dogs on Doxycycline antibiotic just in case, if a bile acids test is done and reveals that the liver is actually not working like it should then we often go to get a biopsy of the liver which is the best way to know what is going on.

As far as biopsies go some facilities have the capability to get an ultrasound guided biopsy. If that is done then you want to have a very experienced ultrasonographer ultrasound the rest of the abdomen too to make sure the rest of her abdomen is normal too.

Other times it is more appropriate to go to surgery to do an exploratory surgery to evaluate all of the organs. It sounds like you and your veterinarian are doing a very thorough job. Keep us posted! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Pug Pups Having Trouble Breathing

Q: Hi , I have a litter of pug puppies, been breeding for 17 yrs, never had a litter like this, one little female at 3 weeks old showed signs of struggling breath, a little coughing, but mainly kinda like crying fits about 4 times a day where she cries real loud and struggles for breath, ran to vet thinking it inhaled pneumonia, put her on antibiotics, now on 2 a day, not a ton better, and now have another pup with same issue, put her on meds too, now when they have these crying, struggling breathing fits, stuff comes out of their noses? What the heck is it? Is it the asperated pneumonia that the vet said? It's killing me, and what can I do to help them get better?


A: Has your veterinarian actually examined the puppies? We need to make sure that there is no evidence of cleft palate which could allow food to go into the respiratory system. Your veterinarian may decide to take some x-rays to make sure that there is not a lot of fluids in the lung field. I hope those babies get to feeling better. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golden Panting

Q: My 10 year healthy, not overweight, golden started panting and breathing rapidly 40-70 resp/min while at rest, over 5 weeks ago. This started one day out of the blue. He has no other symptoms. He has had just about every test possible, liver is and biopsy- normal, heart echo-normal. Blood work normal. Testfor cushings- normal. Chestxrays showed fluid in lungs started on antibiotics and 5 mg pred 2x/ day which was decreased to 2.5 mg2/ day b/c the panting increased. After a week his lungs were clear. He remains on the 2.5/2 times a day pred and his panting continues. My vet is awesome but is at a loss. We are hoping the pred is causing this, but she says its a very low dose. I will start weaning him off next friday. He is eating, sleeping, peeing and pooping, barking and playing normally. Any ideas? Thanks,

Kathleen Clayton

A: Please also realize that sometimes as a general practitioner, I do find myself "at a loss." There are times that I refer my patients to a board certified veterinary specialist. Often specialists have access to equipment and tests that a general practitioner may not have access to. I am not in a position to decide what is going on with your dog based on an email but if you elected to seek referral to a specialist he/she may do additional tests (example: measure for hypertension in the lungs) to try to figure out the exact problem. I wish you the best of luck.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Not Eating

Q: My dog has not drank or eaten since yesterday morning. He also keeps throwing up. I was wondering, could this possibly just be a stomach virus that I can treat at home (my husband has just gotten back to work) or should I take him to the vet? Thank you

A: Certainly there can be infectious causes of vomiting but there can be many other causes of inappetence and vomiting too. If this continues I worry about dehydration and other complications. Please make an appointment with your veterinarian.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Problems After Grooming

Q: Hi There,
After we brought our dog home from grooming, he has been constantly licking his genital anus area. He has never done this before. This is a new groomer and he got shaved closer than ever before.

The anus appears red, but that's it, the rest of the area around it and the genital area appear normal.

Could it be anything besides the possible itchiness that could be caused from the close shave in those areas? Could his Anus be red due to the anal glands being squeezed?
Thank you

A: Without seeing him myself, I can't say exactly what is going on but I can offer speculation based on experience. It could be that the anal glands are irritated and if you go visit your veterinarian he or she can determine if that is the problem. I have seen several dogs who get skin irritation after grooming. The groomers have typically done nothing wrong at all, but some dogs just have extra sensitive skin and respond like this with closer cuts. If he is really uncomfortable, your veterinarian may be able to prescribe medications to help your dog feel more comfortable. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Tzu has Belly Rash

Q: Hi,
My female, 10 month old shih tzu has these small yellow, red, and dirt like bumps in her belly. When she was 5 months, I had her stool examined and she came back clean. She scratches all the time, and if I press the yellow bumps with my nails, it falls off her skin, leaving a small wet spot. It is all around her belly and they go up her sides as well, her skin is really bumpy to the touch. Can I give her some antibiotics or is there a cream I can try?

A: I think you need to have this examined by your veterinarian. The skin is the largest organ of the body, and especially in such a young dog, I would not take any chances. Hopefully it will be no big deal but you need to get her in. Good luck!-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Medication Can Be Used

Q: I have a 9.8 pound Yorkie with an anal sac infection. It is draining and she has a vet appointment Monday morning. In the meantime I would like to start her on an antibiotic. I have 500 mg ciprofloxacin hcl and I would like to know what dosage to give her. I have been cleaning, expressing and putting antibiotic ointment on the outside of the gland. She is on 1/4 tab tramadol for the pain Thank you - Kat

A: I'm so sorry about your dog's infection. I cannot give a dose of medication for an animal that I have not personally examined. Is there any way to contact your veterinarian after hours or visit a local emergency veterinary clinic? I hope your dog feels better soon. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Border Collie Cleaning Habits

Mother Cat Seems to Cause Skin Problems on Young Kitten

Q: Hello my mother's Sphynx just had a litter of 6 male kittens a week ago. Everyone has been doing ok until 3 days ago when I noticed one of the kittens had lesions on his neck. She will not stop licking and biting him, it's awful and is on his neck (both sides), head, ears, front legs and half way down his torso on the back side. The bites are terrible. I have tried to seperate him from her but he is needing to nurse. She is making him bleed with open wounds. He cries all the time now. I am worried I will lose him. She doesn't do it to any of the others. Please help me. --Gina

A: I am so sorry that this is happening to the kitten. First, if she is harming him so badly you need to separate them and he may need you to raise him with a bottle. This is a time commitment as kittens require bottle feeding with kitten milk replacement every couple of hours until they can eat on their own. You will also need to stimulate them to urinate and defecate by gently rubbing their rear end area with a warm damp cloth.

You need to get this kitten to your veterinarian for an evaluation as he may need antibiotics. You also want to make sure that there are no other additional problems. Good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Border Collie Cleaning Habits

Q: I found this address online, and I have what might seem like a silly question. My 15 yr old border collie does not clean her private areas at all during the day. At night, after dinner she cleans herself for about 1/2 hour off and on. I know she is not cleaning or licking during the day because she comes to work with me, so I see her constantly. Should I be concerned? She is not peeing or drinking more than usual. Is this normal to just clean herself at nightime? She did have an incident of blood in the urine and she was on a course of antibiotics. I check 2 x a day and have not seen any more blood in the urine so far.

Thank you

A: This is an interesting question. I typically don't think of dogs as "grooming" themselves like cats do. Sometimes when dogs lick an area it is because there is pain, irritation, and sometimes compulsive behavior. Having said that, if she just has a habit of "cleaning" daily as long as she has a clean bill of health from your veterinarian I am not concerned about it. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golden Retriever

Q: My dog has dark matter attached to the hair around his anus. I could not scrape it off. What is this? A parisite? joyce

A: To know if your dog has parasites you need to get a stool sample to your veterinarian to microscopically check for parasites. Certainly parasites can make the stool a little loose which can cause accumulation near the rear end. Based on the information I would also want to rule out anal gland problems. It would be a good idea to see your veterinarian about this.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

English Bulldog Puppies

Q:I have a 5 day old English Bulldog , the mother is helping to take care of him but as most who raise bulldogs know mom can't always take care of them because she tends to sit on them so we keep him away from her when she isn't feeding and bathing him. My question is this we know to keep the whelping box and room draft free and warm for the baby. Usually we keep it 85 degrees for him but in the past DAY he has been crying because he is getting too warm. We haven't changed any thing and I was wondering if they can change the need for heat that quickly or do you think something else is wrong with him. As soon as he is taken to another room where it is about 79 degrees or so and he cools off he stops crying. Normal? Thanks -- Britney

A:Sure, it's possible that he's crying from discomfort or being too warm. I also wonder if he's crying because he is alone in the box. Puppies can cry when hungry, when constipated, when hurting, etc. It's too bad they can't talk to us! Before I just that the puppy is too hot I'd consider getting him to your veterinarian for an exam. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog's Penis Remains Out

Q: Hi This might be a silly quetion, my dog's penis got stuck out, (he was humpimg a cushion i think). It looked swollen and sore. Its gone back in now and he seems fine. But im worried about him. Is he ok?

A: Obviously without seeing him I cannot guarantee that he is fine but I can tell you that this is something that happens from time to time in male dogs (especially in ones that have not been neutered). It is usually no big deal unless it happens all of the time or unless the penis stays out for an extended period of time. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog's Breathing Changed After Surgery

Q: My dog had surgery 3 days to remove 2 - qtrs, a dime and a nickel from his small intestine. Snce he has been home I noticed a change in his breathing, his breathing seems heavier as though he was hot. Is this normal after surgery?

A: It is not typically normal. Dogs that are warm will pant. You will need your veterinarian to make sure that there is no evidence of post surgical infection. Also being a bit sore can cause this as can certain pain medications. I recommend contacting your veterinarian about this. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cattle Dog's Wheezing Causes Concern

Q: My 11 year old Cattle Dog has been wheezing when he pants... and he seems to be panting more often. It's worse when he is hot or runs for a little while. His energy level has dropped. Everything I've read online mentions cancer and heart problems. Our pet ER is absurd so I can't get him seen at our vet until Monday (8/12). I don't have insurance, and I don't have a lot of money... could this be his last leg? I guess I'm really concerned that I'll have to have him put down... Any extra info would help at this point. Thank you. -- Tessa M

A: I'm sorry that he is not himself. The truth is that this may or may not be serious. If he were my patient I would likely start with a good physical examination and then discuss possible tests. I would likely want to perform x-rays and likely would also recommend bloodwork including a heart worm test. If your veterinarian recommends diagnostics and you are unable to have them done, sometimes we try medications to treat the symptoms. This is usually not as effective but could potentially offer some relief. Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Light Bleeding After Surgery

Q: My 12 year old female Blue Heeler just had a tumor removed on her left side where her anal gland would be. Surgery went well and now she has been for her second day. This morning I noticed a light blood color with an odor coming from her rectum. I did not notice her havea stool movement. Is this something I should call my vet on, it is Sunday?

A: Yes, I would call your veterinarian about this. Your veterinarian may even tell you that this is to be expected for that specific surgery but you need to make sure. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Crated Lab Develops Skin Problems

Q: My lab is being crated and had a long day in one day and peed....her towel was wet and she then developed a rash on her belly..her crate is metal. i have tried to keep the rash clean and keep her linens changed out frequently. now the rash is patchy looking with some red here and there. it is on the lower part of her belly and the backs of her legs. another thing-- we live in a big neighborhood with lots of trees/vegetation, etc. and lots of dogs in the neighborhood as well. i walk saide and she got worms as she loves running through other's grass along the edge at times. i have been treating her with dr. clarks wormwood black walnut mix....but saw another worm yesterday...this is ongoing now for about 3 mos...see a few worms...then treat....then a few weeks later...another worm....please help!

A:There are many causes of skin rashes in dogs. Certainly if dogs are in contact with urine for long periods of time we can see "urine scald" which looks like skin irritation. It is possible that this is the reason for your dog's skin disorder but if it is persisting you should have your veterinarian take a look.

As far as the worms go, it is imperative to take your dog to the veterinarian for an exam and make sure to take a fecal sample with you so that your veterinarian can microscopically identify exactly what type of worms are present. I am not familiar with the reworked that you mentioned and would recommend that you get a prescription for a dewormer if needed from your veterinarian. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Lhasa Apso medication mix

Q: I gave my lhasa Apso a 1/4 Tramadol and also gave her 1/2 of a benadryl tab. Should I worry about this mix? Thank you

A:I do not know the exact size of your dog nor the health status. In general I would not worry about these medications given together if it was a healthy dog and you used an appropriate dose. Please note that all questions are welcomed here but for potentially emergency situations you should contact your veterinarian as the inquiries that I receive are checked periodically but not constantly during the day. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Sick Bulldog May Bitethe Vet

We're visiting in Pooler. My English Bulldog has had diarrhea for two weeks and really needs to see a veterinarian BUT I'm afraid to take him because he will bite when he is afraid or when a stranger tries to touch him. How does a veterinarian deal with this? Could I give him a tranquilizer or other drug before the visit? Thank you

I understand that it is stressful to go to the veterinarian with a dog that can get so upset. Here are a few options. You could call your regular veterinarian and see if he/she would feel comfortable giving advice to you. With a client/patient relationship it might be appropriate for your regular veterinarian to offer advice over the phone.

If that is not possible then you may need to get your dog into a local veterinarian. We see a lot of dogs that get aggressive and we do the best that we can to examine them. Some dogs and cats are prescribed sedatives before veterinary visits but to prescribe these they need a valid relationship with a veterinarian.

If your dog is not doing well I would make an appointment with a veterinarian and please please make sure to bring a good stool sample with you. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Changing Poodle's Diet

Q: I have a 9 lb male Poodle. the vet said the walls of his intestines were thick and put him on Royal Cain HE Intestinal dogfood (kibbles) I stopped at a Health store for Dogs and she was so against Royal Cain and Science Diet she preferred raw food, but I told her that I wasn't to sure of that. she said there was another kind that is natural and healthier for the dog it is called SoJos I looked it up on the computer and it is a dog food mix with wholesome Grain-Free pre-mix that you combine with water to create your own fresh homemade pet food. Made with USDA Freeze-Dried raw meat and all-natural ingredients. I was concerned because my dog all of a sudden is like only eating 1/3 cup of the kibbles, I leave the food down and sometimes later at night he will eat more. When I mixed it with some canned Royal Cain he gobbles it. I am not sure what to do I was wondering what you thought of this product SoJos

He is 4 years old and I am afraid to change his food thinking he will get diarrhea, but she said to give him canned pumpkin, if he does. I plan to ask my vet about this change but value your take on this as you have helped me in the past. The ingredients, on the bag are Sweet potatoes, USDA turkey, whole egg, broccoli,celery,apples, flax meal, pecans, tricalcium phosphate, pumkin,cranberries, basil, dried alfalfa, ginger root, dried kelp, zinc sulfate, vitamin E acetate, vitamin D3. I would appreciate your advice on this. thanks Angela

A: I am a huge fan of both Science diet and Royal Canin foods as are many of the veterinary specialists that I consult with. These foods are formulated specifically to meet the needs of animals with specific health problems. These are so specifically made that they often require a prescription to obtain them. I am not familiar with the other diet that you mentioned.

I would like to take this opportunity to state that there is a lot of conversation about various types of dog food. My advice to you is that you will hear advice about food from everyone and not everyone has taken nutrition courses or attended veterinary school. Follow your instinct and trust your veterinarian's recommendations. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shepherd Skin Infection Q: My 9 year old German Shepherd developed a 2" round scab-like sore on his back nearly 8 months ago. He has been treated with (increasingly expensive) anti-biotics - prednisone, caphalexin, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, and most recently, cefpodoxime proxetil. He has had medicated baths, topical prescription drug applications, and a change of food, but the sore spot continues to hang on. Following some baths, pus can be seen if part of the scab comes off.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated by both of us.

Thank you!

A: Skin issues are so common (and often frustrating) in dogs. Based on your description, if you came to my office I would probably recommend surgical removal of this area. Then it could be sent out to a laboratory for histopathology and for cultures to check for infection. Depending on the exact location of the lesion and the temperament of your dog sometimes skin masses can be removed with a local anesthesia. If that is not possible, sometimes general anesthesia is needed. Certainly before that, I'd want to do bloodwork and an extra good physical exam to make sure that your dog seems like a good anesthetic candidate. I hope you and your veterinarian are able to fix this problem as it sounds like everyone involved is trying very hard. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Neutering Hematoma Question

Q: How long must we wait to play, jump, run, after surgery? Surgery was August 16, and we are still icing twice daily. Sac is much smaller but still a little dark on the bottom third. He (and we) are becoming frustrated and anxious for SOME exercise. I hope we needn't wait until total sac becomes pink again. That could be weeks more!

A: Post surgery recovery times vary widely from animal to animal. It is my experience that most routine dog neuters are up and active within a few days and certainly by the time the sutures are removed after two weeks. Certainly we can see dogs that heal slower and with swelling and bleeding less activity is better. I am not comfortable telling you exactly when your dog can go back to normal activity but your veterinarian should be able to. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

3 Year Old Jack Chi







A: I'm sorry you are having to go through this and can tell how special your dog is to you. I am wondering if part of this abnormal behavior could be related to her hormones. You may have heard of "pseudopregnancy" in dogs. With this condition their body is kind of tricked into thinking that it is pregnant when they are not pregnant. With this condition dogs often seem to become pre-occupied or even overly protective of a toy or toys. Some of these dogs even produce milk in their mammary glands.

Certainly hormone fluctuations can affect appetite and energy level too. I cannot stress enough that this is just speculation on my part. You need to have her examined by a veterinarian to make sure nothing else is going on. If it is determined that this is hormone related the best way to prevent things like this is to have her spayed.

Spaying not only controls the pet population but prevents many other disorders including pseudopregnancy, pyometra (life threatening infection of the uterus), and certain cancers. Get her in to your veterinarian to see what he/she has to say.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih Poo Seems Less Energetic After Nine Days of Boarding

Q: I just returned from picking up my shih poo TiLaan from boarding with my brother and his family and their chihuahua Tito. She was with them for about 9 days. After picking her up she seems kinda laid back where normally she's VERY energetic. Also noticed that both of her ear are puffy on the flaps (towards the bottom of both ears). There aren't any lumps or anything rather they are both just puffy. Apparently they are not causing her any pain as she doesn't mind me touching them. Needless to say I'm concerned because this is not normal for her; the ears and her lack of energy.

I'm hoping you can help. Should I take her to the vet ASAP? Please let me know. Thank you for your time and your response.

A: If TiLaan and Tito spent the past nine days playing together it could just be that your puppy is tired. Especially in a new environment with a playmate your dog could have used much more energy than normal. Obviously if this continues or if any other symptoms occur (low appetite, vomiting, etc) you should get to your veterinarian.

Having said that, I would get her to the vet to get the ears checked out. Sometimes what you are describing can be from allergies but you need to have your veterinarian make sure that nothing else is going on -- like an infection. Ear infections could potentially make your dog feel not so great and contribute to lack of energy. I hope all goes well! Keep us posted! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Puppy Suddenly Develops Stomach Blisters

Q: Hello my 4 year old Chihuahua Taco woke up this morning with blisters all over his stomach . Here is a picture. I have scrubbed him and put a&d on them. I can't afford a vet so I gave him benydryl 1mg per pound . Please help I'm scared.

A: I know it's difficult when you have a dog that develops problems. Unfortunately, sometimes like children, dogs can develop unexpected problems and therefore can be an expense. The Benadryl that you gave could benefit your dog if this was an allergic reaction. Keep in mind that all dogs with skin allergies will NOT respond to antihistamines like Benadryl. Those dogs that will respond to antihistamines will not always respond to every antihistamine.

If this is not an allergy it could be an infection or any of many other skin diseases that puppies are prone to. I would try very hard to get the puppy in to the veterinarian especially if this problem persists. The skin is the largest organ of the body and when it is diseased it really can affect the dog.

I want to share some information regarding expense in veterinary medicine because some people are not aware of ways to handle unexpected veterinary bills. Many veterinary clinics accept a program called Care Credit which is like a credit card to use for medical bills. You can find lots of information about this if you do a search on the Internet. Also be aware that there are several companies that offer very reasonable pet health insurance to help with medical costs. I appreciate that you are worried about your dog and wish you all the best! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Puppy Has Small Hard Skin Bump

Q: Hello I have a 4 month old maltipoo. As I was brushing her hair out yesterday I noticed a small hard round bump with a red outline around it. I am very scared and don’t know what it might be. She just has one.

A: It is probably nothing serious. Skin lesions in young dogs are fairly common but you need to have it examined just to make sure. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Where to Find Obedience Training in Savannah

Q: Hi. My husband and I adopted a German Shepherd 7 wks ago from the Ga German Shepherd Rescue. We live on Whitemarsh Island. I would love to take her to a basic obedience class. The only one I know of is at Petsmart and it is at night. My husband and I are 70+ so we don't drive all the way to the other side of town at night. Do you know of any other classes or groups for obedience? Thank you so much, -- Ann G.

A: Congratulations on your new dog! I recommend you call certified pet dog trainer Kevin Ray, owner of Canine Therapy Center (912- 661-3027). He is wonderful and I have had clients that have been very happy with his dog training including puppies. It is my understanding that the training sessions occur at your residence. His company has a website Contact him and see what he has to say. Best of luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

[Here is another choice -- recommended by the Humane Society and Best in Savannah. You might want to compare price and services -- --Cima]

Swollen Ear is Probably a Hematoma

Q: My female pitbull is pregnant & her left ear is swollen inside & she scratches it & shakes her head a lot. What if anything can I give her for it?

A: A swollen ear flap usually means that there is something called a hematoma. This happens when small blood vessels leak from scratching around the ears or shaking the head. Often this is from an ear infection. You need to get her to your veterinarian so that they can determine if there is an infection and also what kind of infection. If this is a hematoma sometimes it requires a minor surgery to correct. Since your dog is pregnant surgery may not be recommended. This can be an uncomfortable condition (the ears) so I would make an appointment to get her in. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Kitten with Multiple Symptoms Could Have Parasites

Q: I found this kitten and she has a runny nose, bad breath, red eyes, goopy eyes, sneezing and wheezing, dhiarea, and vomiting what could be wrong with her?"

A: It sounds like your kitten has obvious respiratory issues and gastrointestinal problems. You need to have your veterinarian check a stool sample for intestinal parasites. Most parasites have to be found using a microscope. There are many parasites that can cause loose stool. If there are no parasites then your kitten may need an antibiotic.

As far as the respiratory issues it is important to keep in mind that young animals are very susceptible to both bacterial and viral diseases because they do not have strong immune systems. Your veterinarian will likely talk to you about a blood test for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus to see if your kitten has either of these diseases.

Please keep this kitten away from other cats as such illness can be contagious. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Cavalier King Charles Responds Badly After Surgery

Q: Four weeks ago I took my Cavalier King Charles spaniel (mix breed) to the vet to have minor surgery by removing a small benign tumor from the top of his ear. He is 9 years old and before this surgery my dog was a happy dog, would roll over, kick his legs and run get the toy for me. He is over weight (has been most of his life) and every illness he has ever had the veterinarian always blames whatever is going on with him on his weight (same vet throughout his life) Now to the point, after his surgery he has been in so much distress (sounding like his airway is possibly blocked partially) also cannot lay down at all on either side or back now, barely can lay on his stomach to sleep. He sits up constantly and does noisey heavy panting, shallow breathing and constantly looks exhausted. He is miserable and I have taken him back to the vet a few times about his condition now and he has put him on high dosage of prednisone and tramadol and says its from his weight and that is causing problems with his back but like I said he was fine before surgery.

I really don't see much improvement in him though with the meds. They have ran blood test, thyroid test, 10 x-rays but only they really know whats on those x-rays. My husband and I are at wits-end trying to just get help for our dog and I truly believe they are just treating him with the prednisone and pain killer hoping that whatever is really wrong with him will pass??? I don't know, I just believe they are not telling us everything. Something I believe happened that day of surgery to cause my dog to be in such misery and I don't know what to do. We have spend over $1,000.00 now from this simple surgery so we are not really in a position to go get a 2nd opinion of what may really be wrong with him because I am sure it would cost a lot more on top of what we have already paid, which was way over our budget but this dog is like a person to us and we have already went to great lengths to get him help and we feel like while we are spinning our wheels trying to help him our poor dog is suffering each and every day and not improving.

Please give me any suggestions that you may have. I was looking on internet trying to find some answers and came across a definition of "shallow breathing" and it describes that it is seen in dogs with broken ribs and severe bruising of the chest wall and that pleural effusion restricts breathing by interfering with the range of motion of the chest and expansion of the lungs. A dog with shallow breathing compensates by breathing more rapidly. This sounds like it describes our dog exactly which makes me wonder if during his surgery something possibly happened that injured his chest wall or maybe cracked ribs?? Would a veterinarian go so far as to cover something like that up knowing the dog is suffering from something they did?

I know that is a million dollar question but I just wonder if they would stoop that low. If we do decide to go have a 2nd opinion we would be at a loss as far as who we could go to and actually trust. This situation has completely taken over our lives the last 4 weeks. I just want my baby dog to be well again. Thank you if you read this whole letter because I know it is long winded but I didn't know how to describe what I wanted to in fewer words. Thanks, I look forward to hearing what you have to say. -- Diane deL

A: Diane, I am so sorry that you are going through this. I definitely have been keeping you in my thoughts since I read this posting. I want to start off by saying that as a veterinarian even though the vast majority of animals do very very well under anesthesia unexpected complications can occur. From what you have written it sounds like your veterinarian is working hard and doing a lot of tests to try to determine the cause of these unexpected symptoms.

Everything that I'm writing is just speculation as I obviously have not seen the x-rays or looked at the labwork. Could your dog have had a pre-existing heart condition that was aggravated by the anesthesia? If so this can cause breathing issues. Is there anyway that your dog could have lung issues now after anesthesia like a pneumothorax (air outside of the lungs in the chest cavity)? A lot of smaller breed overweight dogs can have obvious breathing issues from "collapsing trachea" which can be aggravated by anesthesia.

Also, dogs can breathe differently when they are in pain. I wish I could be more helpful and tell you the exact cause of the problem. I know you have spent a good bit of money already and that you are worried about your dog. In your message you did mention that perhaps you aren't completely comfortable with the way that this is being handled. If this is the case then I say that you get a copy of your x-rays and bloodwork and just make an appointment to get a second opinion just to talk to another veterinarian that could examine your dog. I am not insinuating that your veterinarian has done anything wrong but it may make you feel better just to have a second opinion. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Causes Yorkie Head Trembling

Q: Hello! we have a 2 yr. old Yorkie, we noticed 2 days ago that when she lays and stays still her head starts to tremble, she is not asleep during this. She tries to control them and she also whimpers a little. Can you tell me what could be going on with her?

A: What you describe is very interesting. There are several possibilities that could cause this. I am concerned about the potential for otitis (ear infection/inflammation), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and even neurologic issues like seizures or portosystemic shunt (congenital disease more common in smaller dogs). Please keep in mind that this may not be anything serious at all but is certainly worth getting your pet in for a checkup with your veterinarian. If you have any way to record your dog doing this so that you could show your veterinarian I bet it would be helpful. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Bulldog Puppy Starts Frequent Urination

Q: My 8 week old American bulldog is urinating frequently and her urine is crystal clear should I be concerned. This just started today..

A: Hello and congratulations on your new puppy. This could just be that she is still a "baby" and her housetraining has not kicked in fully. However, puppies can get urinary tract infections and even have congenital urinary problems (where they are born with urinary systems that do not develop completely normally). I say if this continues I'd get her in to your veterinarian just to make sure that there is no evidence of anything medically wrong. After all we want to pick up on any potential problems early! Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Multiple Tests on Older Pekingese Provide Mixed Guidance

Q: I wrote to you about my thirteen year old pekingese who was on prednisone eye drops for five months for what looks like a benign tumor on her iris. Her bloodwork was excellent when she first started the drops. Five months later her BUN and her Alkaline phos jumped. ALK phos from 147 to 351. After six months on this vet took her off and admitted it can cause raise in alkaline phos and ALT. ALT still normal but has gone from 38 to 59 while on prednisone and a simple test given three weeks off prednisone and on flurbiprofen eye drops which are anti inflamatory but not steriod it was 383 for alkaline phos and 95 for ALT and 40 BUN.

The vet I went for the second opinion to uses U of Tennessee for Cushings Tests and University of Michigan for Thyroid. The thyroid came back in a week as moderate to borderline with the TSH ten above normal and a suggestion to simply retest. The Cushings ACTH came back as increased adrenal activity. The clucocorticoid and sex hormone pathways are affected. the cortisol was normal range after the shot, and the alddosterone was also normal however the Androstenedione was 9.34 when normal isup to 3.97 and the estradiol was 113.8 when normal is up to 69.2 and the progesterone was 2.12 when normal is up to 1.50 and the progesterone was 2.68 when normal is upto 1.62 the aldosterone was normal.

To confuse things the vet Ihave gone to for years did a urine cortisol/creatinine test two days before I started the meds and it was negative. It was first urine of the day before she even drank and free catch. It was urinecortisol 19.0, urine creatinine 230.7 and the urine cortisol/creatinine ratio 26. The internal med doctor at Red Bank said that this is a very sensitive test that rules out Cushings.

She is now on twice a day melatonin 3mg capsules and 1/2 teaspoon of flax hull. Is this safe?

I was told she is atypical but am wondering if she really has this. She does not have a good appetite, her specific gravity is1052 once in awhile she will drink very frequently but a lot of the time she does not drink much. She is on dry food and I am giving her hamburger, boiled carrots, zuccini and stringbeans to encourage her to eat. The thyroid is not being retested or treated at this time since the vet thinks this is Cushings.

Thanks so much I am very worried and just spent five hundred and fifty dollars to be told she is atypical but except for her tail not being as full as I remember and her skirts not as super thick the rest of her coat is very thick but not as shiny as it was before the eye drops, except for panting (she has a healthy but enlarged heart according to this one vet) and not walking around the development like she used too, she does not have the symptoms of a Cushings Dog. Plus her alkaline phos has been raised since she was first diagnosed with a low titer for Rocky Mountain.

Diagnosed again three months after I complained that she went through a period with hindleg problems which went away about a week to ten days after she had a dog tick on her. Her alkaline phos went up to 300 something at that time then was 147 almost normal six months after treatment with doxycline and around the time she started the prednisone eye drops. I stopped them when I came back from vacation. They were once a day by that time and had been for nine weeks but I had dog walkers taking care of her so don't know if they always stuck to that. I was told I could just stop them and did.

Hope all this information helps. -- Liz M.

A: It is good to hear back from you again and I know that you are worried and frustrated. I am happy to comment on what you have written but cannot stress enough that I am absolutely limited since I'm not seeing her myself. It sounds like even if she was here in front of me this is a tough case to figure out, which unfortunately happens a lot in my job. I remember you telling me about your dog previously. It seems like the steroid eye drops were discontinued in an effort to see if her liver values returned to normal. If the liver values were elevated just from the steroid eye drops I'd be surprised that the alkaline phosphatase and ALT actually increased. It looks like her BUN is a little on the high side as well. If her urine specific gravity is 1.052 then it seems like the kidneys are working well to concentrate the urine.

I agree with rechecking the thyroid levels at a later time. There are so many factors that can influence the way that the thyroid level shows up on bloodwork including medications (steroids included) and even being sick with a non-thyroidal illness can make the thyroid level look falsely low. I wouldn't forget about the thyroid horomone but would want to give it several more weeks before you considered having it rechecked.

As far as the urine cortisol:creatinine ratio goes, this is a test that I use from time to time. I always like to make sure that the owner catches it at home because the cortisol is going to be elevated just coming to the vet to let us catch it. I usually tell owners that if the ratio is low that the likelihood of Cushing's disease is quite low. If the ratio is high then it is not a definitive answer for Cushing's disease but gives us another piece of the puzzle to try to do more testing. Usually if the cortisol:creatinine ratio is high I get permission to do an ACTH stimulation test. You said that the test showed increased adrenal activity? Usually when I test for Cushing's disease I look at the cortisol levels and if they are normal then that rules out our typical Cushing's cases. I also think it is unusual to see a dog with Cushing's disease have such a concentrated urine of 1.052.

I hope that I am not being too repetitive or mentioning something that has already been done, but I think that your veterinarians have done a great job with these tests. When I have dogs with abnormally high liver values the tests that I consider doing are: x-rays to check for an abnormal looking liver, an ultrasound to visualize the liver and possibly to use to get a biopsy, a bile acids test (blood test to see how well the liver is working), bloodwork to check antibody levels for infectious disease like tick borne disease and/or leptospirosis, and certainly the tests for Cushings.

I think that the melatonin and flax seed oil is safe for her. Since you have spent so much time, effort,and expense on your little dog I wonder if there is a veterinary specialist (internal medicine or endocrinology) in your area that you could travel to to have them review all of this labwork and give their input. Sometimes a board certified specialist has more experience in these very unusual cases and can help you out. I will keep you in my thoughts. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

What Causes Itchy Red Spots and Bumps on Dog

Q: My dog has red bumps and spots all over her chest, belly and inner legs. She scratches and licks them. I tried putting benadryl on it and also tried to clean it with chlorhexidine skin and wound cleaner. She's had it for a few days now but its getting worse.

A: What you are describing sounds like either a skin infection or allergic reaction. Often they both occur at the same time. If this is an allergy--and to know for sure you would need an exam by your veterinarian--the treatment depends on the cause. I tend to categorize allergies as being related to fleas, food, and/or the environment. Dogs that are very allergic often have allergies to multiple categories. It is not unusual to have an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast on the skin of dogs with allergies.

Sometimes chlorhexidine works wonderfully but often times animals with infections need systemic antibiotics. Likewise, benadryl is effective in some cases but not others. You have done a good job with what you have tried so far but it sounds like you need to get your dog into your veterinarian to make sure that nothing else is going on and to come up with a treatment plan together. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltapoo Pup Swallows Plum Pit

Q: My 7 month maltapoo, Pixel, ate a plum pit. Should I take her to the vet? My immediate concern now is that it won't be able to pass through her system and it might get stuck and create a blockage. Thanks for any information you have to offer! Sincerely, -- Sunshine H.

A: I do think that you should take her to your veterinarian's office. Like you said, I worry about physical obstruction with such a small dog. Good thinking on your part and good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Swelling of Pit Bull Tail and Foot

Q: My pit bull puppy's tail is swollen at the end, along with his right foot, its also loosing hair on the end of the tail where its swollen. The swelling of his right foot makes it hard for him to walk, so he limps when he walks. What is wrong with him? Please help.

A:,/b> I am so sorry that your puppy has these multiple issues going on. I worry that any swollen area on the body could indicate a problem underneath the skin like an injured bone. Swollen areas on the skin can also indicate infection. I simply cannot tell you what is wrong with him based on this description because it could be so many things. Since it is a puppy with a growing more fragile health status it is very very important to make an appointment with your veterinarian. Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Unexplained Fever Troubles Yellow Lab Mix

Q: I rescued approx. 30 dogs last summer volunteering and decided to keep one of them. He is now about 20 months old, 80 pounds and is a blonde/tan yellow lab mix with Border Collie I have been told. He started having some problems 3 months ago. He got a fever and I checked it and it had gotten up to 104 degrees, nose running clear out of both nostrils, red patches around his mouth, kept using back foot and was pressing it into side of his head like his head hurt, bad breath, and eyes were cloudy where is was supposed to be white around the pupil it was red and cloudy grey. I took him to the vet and she drew blood and did a white blood count and said she only found low sugar.

I had him there for 6 days. I brought him home and checked his temperature and he still had it. His ears were hot, his paws were hot, and so now he had the temperature for 7 to 9 days now. I called back very upset and more or less demanded antibiotics and she still had some of his blood and did a red blood cell count and came back ok. I went and picked up doxycycline 100mg and told to give to him twice a day and she gave me 84 tablets. As soon as I ran out he was ok for a week and Solomon started having the same symptoms again but this time without the fever. I called and asked for more antibiotics and she gave me enough for 2 more weeks. In the meantime, he got bit or stung a few days ago and had to bring him in and he was given benadryl.

Well, he had an allergic reaction to it severely and I threw them away. He has about 4 days left of antibiotics. Right before I started giving him this last bout of 2 weeks antibiotics he was licking his penis constant and yellowish pus was starting to come out of it. This was not a normal thing like dogs do, but excessive. He is also now shaking his head like he has something in his ears. I give him every 6 wks or so frontline for fleas, his teeth were checked, he has beautiful teeth, and I keep him clean and always am brushing him. I do not have the money to do an a blood allergy test on him as my unemployment just ran out and I have also had to file for permanent disability as I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis while on unemployement.

I will be 58 this month and this dog has been a God-send and is pure joy to me but I don't know whether I should have him put to sleep as I can't handle any more stress. Everything has happened all at once. I live in a very small town in New Mexico 7 years now from California and was healthy all my life till recently. Based on what I have told you do you know what is wrong with him. I give him very good Dog food, I go to the Pet store to buy and when he is sick I boil chicken and rice. He has been in the house for 6 months now and is under my supervision all the time even he has to potty, as I want him to get better. Please help and thank you for your time! Sad and Frustrated in New Mexico --Dianne

A: I am so very sorry that you are going through this. With very complicated situations like this I cannot stress enough that this is only advice and it is pretty impossible for me to say exactly what is going on. With the fever I typically think of infection and/or inflammation. There are even certain autoimmune diseases that can cause fevers.

When I read your post I had to wonder about the possibility of an ear infection with the pressing the side of his head with his back leg and the shaking of his head. You mentioned that an allergy test is not possible now. If your veterinarian has mentioned an allergy test to you then he or she is obviously concerned about the possibility of severe allergies. I have seen dogs with severe allergies become very uncomfortable and even get skin and ear infections that can lead to fever.

As far as the genital discharge, if it truly is more than just normal discharge that we sometimes see I would be worried about infection of some sort. I know that there are many issues going on. I don't know without seeing him if all symptoms are due to one problem or if there are multiple diseases.

Often with puzzling cases I am forced as a veterinarian to do one test at a time to try to figure out what is going on. Sometimes it takes many tests and many days to try to get answers. It sounds like your veterinarian has done a good job starting with bloodwork. I know you are struggling with some pretty difficult decisions now and that it gets expensive. Do you think you could call your veterinarian to try to seriously discuss the prognosis to help you make a decision for the long term? I will keep you in my thoughts. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shepherd with Rectal Drainage

Q: We live in NC and I can not afford to take my 7 yr old to the vet, I am on workmans comp, and well you know the rest. Anyway, he has a drainage of some sort from his rectum and it seems to be poop. Can you tell me what I should do, before I have to take out a loan to have him helped? He leaves stains all over the house and it really smells. Thank you so much, Kim Stanley

A: I'm sorry that you are having this issue with your dog. Certainly dogs can have fecal incontinence and that could look like he has a discharge. You have probably heard about anal gland issues in dogs. Sometimes when there is leakage of the anal glands it can manifest as a very stinky discharge from the anal area. Finally, this breed has a tendency to have a condition where they can get little openings or "fistulas" around the anal area. Unfortunately, we need to know which of the problems your dog has so that the best treatment plan can be made. If it is at all possible to make an appointment with your veterinarian please do so.

I know that you mentioned that this could be difficult financially and I understand this. I wanted to just use this opportunity to let readers know that there are very affordable and convenient health insurance plans available for our pets. Many clients are purchasing this when they first get their puppy or kitten so that they have it in case an unexpected situation occurs. I just want to acknowledge that I understand that pets can be expensive and those who may not know there are plans available that can help with some expenses.

Good luck to you. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Maltapoo Eats a Plum Pit

Q: My 7 month maltapoo, Pixel, ate a plum pit. Should I take her to the vet? My immediate concern now is that it won't be able to pass through her system and it might get stuck and create a blockage.

Thanks for any information you have to offer!

Sunshine H.

A: I do think that you should take her to your veterinarian's office. Like you said I worry about physical obstruction with such a small dog. Good thinking on your part and good luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

English Bulldog Has Brittle
Hair at the Top of the Nose

Q: I have a 3 to 5 year old English Bulldog, her age is unknown being that I rescued her. I have a question about her nose it seems every time I go to the vet I forget to ask and I don't think anyone notices unless I point it out. I am not even sure myself if her nose has always been this way and I just never noticed but a few months ago I noticed that at the top of her nose the very top part has these hard stiff and pretty thick hair like stuff that is the same color as her nose, this stuff is brittle and dry and grows out straight but the most part of her nose that looks normal is not dry. She is very healthy as far as Bulldogs go, she has had few health issues, but I just have never seen anything like this on any dog before. I have searched on the net and I can not find anything that describes what I am seeing. Thank you for your time! -- Crystal

A: It is not unusual for dogs to get crusty areas on their nose. It is usually not a problem and often your veterinarian can recommend topical therapies to help this. As with any other dermatological conditions it is important to point this out to your veterinarian to make sure that it does not look suspicious for any other types of diseases. There are other diseases that can affect the surface of the nose including but not limited to infectious disease and autoimmune disease. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Boxer Shows Pigment Loss Around Nipple

Q: My 2-yr-old female Boxer shows a slight pigmentary loss (from brown to pink) in one of her largest nipples. I would like to know possible causes. Thank you. --G. Maduro,San Juan, Puerto Rico

A: Sometimes as dogs get a little older the normal pigment of their skin can change. There are some actual diseases of the skin like infections or abnormal growths that can also cause color changes. I would make an appointment with your regular veterinarian to make sure that this is just normal pigmentation. If your veterinarian is not sure he or she may recommend a biopsy of the area. Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

German Shepherd has Odor

Q: I have a 10yr old female part German Shepard. Good health except for a few bladder infection (the vet said she was spayed too young).

Currently she has a smell of dog feces. Can her anal glands be full? I had a Pekineses that had to have them squeezed every so often. She was drinking alot of water last week, but it was very, very hot here in St. Louis. ( heat index over 100) she is in the house all the time except to go potty. I don't know what that smell is. Please advise.

A: Unfortunately, "smelly" dogs are seen very commonly in my job. Obviously many things can smell on a dog. I have experienced a lot of dogs with severe ear infections having a distinctly bad odor. Also if there is a skin allergy or skin infection it can be very stinky. The anal glands could absolutely be full. As you know, when a dog has full anal glands or even an anal gland infection they can sometimes "release the contents" of the glands and it has a very distinctly bad odor.

I do think that you should get her to your veterinarian just for a good exam to make sure that there is nothing else more serious going on. One thing that many people forget to consider in dogs is that as they get older a lot of bacteria can accumulate in the mouth and sometimes dental disease can make a dog smell pretty bad too. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Eleven Month Old Chi

Q: Dear Doc,
My eleven month Chi puppy came into heat about 10 days ago. She has an extremely enlarged Vulva, Some bleeding a bit of depression, and she is constantly licking. She was supposed to be spayed on Several times but due to a severe collapsing trachea and some very bad attacks, it was suggested we wait to see how she does. How long does heat last and are her symtoms part of her first heat cycle? I will take her to a specialty vet hospital to see if she can be safely spayed under anesthesia. Thanking you
Diana Bendzel

A: When a dog goes into heat, they usually do have enlargement of the genital area. The signs of heat can last from several days upwards to weeks at a time. The licking and behavior changes could be related to her cycle. Having said that, if she has become really abnormal in terms of how she acts, I would have your veterinarian examine her to make sure that there is also not a second issue going on. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Is Vaginal Discharge in a Puppy Serious?

Q: Hi. I have a question. I have a non spayed 7 month old puppy who sometimes gets yellowishgreen discharge coming from her vigina -- not all the time but once in a while. What can this mean?

A: This is likely not a major problem especially if your puppy seems to be feeling well. It is relatively common for female puppies to have a condition called puppy vaginitis. Having said that, it is important for your veterinarian to rule out the presence of other more serious infections like a urinary tract infection or infection of the uterus. Remember that having your female dog spayed is important to prevent her from getting a potentially life threatening infection in her uterus called a pyometra. Get her into your regular veterinarian to have this checked out. Good luck with your puppy! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

9-yr Old Dog Has Leaking Urine Problem

Q: My dog, Max, has a leaking urine problem. He is 9 yrs old, neutered 4 yrs ago. The vet did a urine culture June 10, 2011. He called and said that everything was ok. Max is still leaking, more now. What do I do now? Different vet for second opinion? HELP. Thank you

A: I'm glad that a urine culture was done. I will comment on this case as best I can without having actually examined your dog. When I have male dogs that "leak urine" if the urine culture/sensitivity is negative I would consider blood work, prostate exam, x-rays, and ultrasound to better evaluate the prostate. I do have to say that prostate issues causing leakage would be much more likely in a dog that had never been neutered.

While unusual in male dogs they can have urinary incontinence and there are medications available to help "strengthen the muscles in the urethra." If your veterinarian decides to treat for urinary incontinence he or she may use a combination of medications that likely will include hormones. I wish you the best of luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Steroids Can Cause Excess Urination

Q: I have a 9 year dog that weighs 55 pounds. She seemed to have arthritis in her back and the vet gave her a shot of cortizone 5 days ago and prescribed 2 x 4 mg. daily with food of dexasone. For the last 2 days she has been excessively thirsty and has been drinking so much water that she has urinated in the house twice. Could this be caused by the dexasone? Can I discontinue it right away? She is supposed to be taking a single pill for the next 5 days. Thanks for your help. --Lynne

A: Hi Lynne, This is a very good question. The answer is that steroids can caused increased water consumption and lead to increased urination and/or accidents in the house. I would not adjust the amount that you are giving before you talk to your veterinarian. In most circumstances it is very important to wean them off of the steroids so that the body has time to adjust. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie in Danger

Q: I took my yorkie to the vet last week for being lethargic. She had a temp of 104 and had been in heat the week before. They ran labs and they came back fine. Last night after giving her the antirobe on day 7 she started shivering. 3 hours later she had mucus coming from her vulva with a temp of 105.3. She later started throwing up mucus and diarrhea. I have taken her back to the vet this morning, but they have not called with any results. She has a sister, same litter, and I am wondering if this is contagious. Also, do you think my baby Darcie will live? She only weighs 5 lbs. Please answer soon, very upset and nervous! Stephanie

A: Stephanie, I was sorry to read about your dog and hopefully by now you have a better idea of what has been going on. Since this is such a serious case and since I cannot actually see your dog or the workup that has been done, it is impossible for me to give you a diagnosis or prognosis.

The first thing that I thought of when I read your message was that she could possibly have an infected uterus. This is called a pyometra and is a condition that we worry about in female dogs that have not been spayed. There is no way to know which dogs will develop this and which ones will not. Some of these infections can respond to antibiotics and others need surgery.

I suppose that I would also want to make sure that there is no chance that she could be pregnant and having complications with that. Certainly, there are other diseases that can cause a fever. The potential for her illness being contagious completely depends on what exactly caused her problem.

I hope that everything is going ok with her. I know you are very worried. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Jack Russell Leaking

Q: I have a 9 yr old male Jack Russell mix, 45 lbs. Why is he leaking urine now? Today was the worst day. Before he was leaking some during the day, also at night. Took him for a ride and he leaked on the front seat. Vet said he was ok, took a urine sample 2 weeks ago. What can we do? Help!!!!Thank you, Sid

A: Urinary incontinence is a relatively common problem in spayed female dogs. In those cases the muscles of the urethra can "relax" and allow urine to leak often when the dog is at rest. In my experience I just don't see this problem much in male dogs.

Whether we have urinary abnormalities in a male or female dog it is good to rule out other causes of incontinence before we just assume that the urethral muscles aren't working. In male dogs that have never been neutered, you can get certain diseases of the prostate gland that can cause inflammation and sometimes leakage of urine. An enlarged prostate gland can be detected by your veterinarian in most dogs depending on the size of the dog. An ultrasound is useful to look for abnormalities as well.

Other causes of inappropriate urination or leaking could include urinary tract infection and even bladder stones. A urine culture/sensitivity is the test used to check for infection. Bladder stones can be detected using x-rays and/or ultrasound.

There are other diseases that can affect how much water a dog drinks and therefore could make him produce more urine. A blood panel could help check for other systemic diseases such as kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, Cushings disease, etc. Also any type of neurological disease could affect the urinary bladder.

I know that I have given many possibilities and I typically try to rule out one issue at a time. Continue to work with your veterinarian if the problem continues. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM


Q: Hi I have not had to e-mail you for a few years.

My thirteen year old pekingese, Sassy Sugar Plum, had rocky mountain spotted fever twice. Since December 2009 she had an elevated alkaline phosphate. I was gone for three days in March 2010 since my husband was hospitalized with third stage prostate cancer. He is doing great, but when I came back Sassy, had a tick embedded above her eye. A week or two later her hindlegs were giving out. The local vet had her run, walk, etc. and examined her and said no physical reason. I told him about the tick and he just looked at me. Anyway, three months later her alkaline phosphate had gone from around 200 to just over 300 and my regular vet tested for Rocky Mountain again at my request. Her titer came back again as 1.0. She was treated with baytril plus a new liver enzyme. After ten days, her good appetite went away, and I tried different dog foods plus rice and boiled hamburger with veggies. Anyway her titer slowly went down and I went to our famous Red Bank. She had an ultrasound which was normal in December and I was told to try a different food. A month later, her excellent eyes had a melanoma tumor in the right iris. I went to Red Bank and was given prednisone drops, 5ml twice a day. Three weeks later, once a day and after two months I brought her back for the exam and she had inflamation in her other eye but it was not serious, and she was on one drop in one eye and two in the other. Meanwhile, around the time she first started the eye drops I had the full bloodwork done. The Rocky Mountain was gone and her bloodwork was great. BUN 23 creatinine 1.0 alkaline phosphate 147 when normal ends at 131 everything else was normal except for lymphosites that were 70 below normal and her specific gravity was 1050. The vet was super happy. Five months later, I brought her back for the heartworm test and her coat did not look as good (she was now on the eye drops for five months) and the bloodwork was normal except her BUN was now 38 their normal ends at 31 and her alkaline phosphate had jumped to 352 in those five months. Her thyroid had gone from 1.4 to 0.9, just below normal. I was also seeing small patches of urine on my white bedspread where she sleeps in several places. Before this started for a year or two, I would sometimes find pale orange discharge on my bed in small patches. Sassy is a super clean dog and would pant and clean herself and bite at her privates at night and now I am wondering if she is having urine leakage. It was the worst it has been last night with several larger stains on the spread.

Dr. Cummings is afraid of Cushings disease but said her specific gravity is very high 1050 and she does not have a great appetite plus the only raised bloodwork was the BUN and she is on a high protein food for the first time in her life since Red Bank thought that was okay because of her kidney function being really good. Her bowels are great once a day twice at most since I got her off the WD. Is this anything to be concerned about? I am having a very thorough thyroid panel done in about a month.


Liz McMahon

A: First of all, this is obviously a complicated case involving more than one problem. It sounds like you have done a wonderful job taking care of Sassy as have your veterinarians. I will do the best that I can to comment based on the information that you have provided. The elevated enzyme, alkaline phosphatase can be influenced by steroids. I know that she has been on a steroid eye drop and these medications can be absorbed systemically and you can see changes on blood work. Keep in mind that alkaline phosphatase can also increase due to other reasons as well, like actual liver disease. If she has been on a steroid eye medication long term, I would consider it to be a likely cause of the changes in blood work but we have to know that this is not the only cause of increases in alkaline phosphatase.

Steroids can also make the thyroid level appear sometimes falsely decreased. I am not saying that she is not hypothyroid but just know that steroids will affect this reading on the lab work. Sometimes if possible, I recheck this value later when they are not on steroids. Remember never to stop any medication without direction from your veterinarian.

Many female dogs develop urinary incontinence and will "leak" in their sleep. Since steroids tend to cause increased water consumption and therefore increased urine production, if she had a problem with incontinence, the steroids could make it seem worse. Something to always keep in mind when animals have been on steroid therapy long term, is that steroids do suppress the immune system, and it really can predispose many animals to urinary tract infections. A urinary tract infection could cause abnormal urination and I have also seen instances where the infection can affect the kidneys causing an increase in the BUN. A urine culture/sensitivity would be the best test to know if there is such an infection. Other diagnostics like x-rays could help rule out other abnormalities like bladder or kidney stones.

As far as Cushing's Disease goes, it is common to see skin changes with this disease. The dogs I have seen with Cushing's usually have a lower urine specific gravity but I would not feel comfortable diagnosing based on specific gravity alone.

Steroids are wonderful and very necessary medications that I use on a daily basis for my patients. As you know, they can be associated with many potential side effects. Sometimes you can very slowly taper dogs off of steroids to see if these problems improve. Sometimes it is just not possible to get the dogs off of steroids though. Never stop or change doses of steroids on your own as this can be disastrous in some situations. Sometimes if dogs don't do well on long term steroids there are other medications that can be used instead. It just depends on the specific animal and situation.

Keep up the good work and I wish you the best of luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Desperately Frighted Owner of Irish Wolfhound Mix

Q: My dog this past week has become lethargic, not eating well, not willing to play, run, swim. Sensitive on the right side of the stomach below the ribs. Seems disoriented at at times. He is drinking water and sleeps a lot. He is an Irish wolfhound/shepherd mix and is 10 years old he is 32" high weighs about 105 lbs. Tiger loves to swim and lives to play ball until recently. He is not playing as long and now the past few days will not play at all. He will go fetch his ball but walk with it in his mouth and go lie down. I have checked him over good and the only time he seems uncomfortable and not always, is if I give a small squeeze below his ribs on the tummy on his right side. He seems to be out of it too, he will walk in a room and just stand there as if he does not know where he is or what he is doing until you speak to him.
I am scared for him.

A: I know you must be worried. Since giant breed dogs do suffer from some unique health issues, honestly the best advice I can give you is to get him to your veterinarian. He or she may want to do some imaging, like x-rays, to make sure everything looks ok internally. Also, it may be warranted to run some blood work. Get him in, and we wish you the best. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Male Poodle with Strange Discharge

Q: My Miniature Poodle has a smelly discharge, clear in color, coming out of his rectum. The smell is awful, but it definitely is not feces. What could be wrong? Should I take him to the vet?

A: I'm sorry for both you and your dog. The first thing that came into my mind when I read about this was that your dog could have expressed its anal glands/anal sacs (the terms are often used interchangeably). Dogs have these two structures located internally in the rectal area. The glands/sacs will get a buildup of a very stinky material. Most dogs will empty their own anal glands/sacs when they have a bowel movement but they can empty at other times too especially when the dog gets very excited.

Sometimes these structures can become infected or even get abnormal growths. Dogs with abnormal anal glands/sacs often will lick a lot at the rear end area and sometimes will "scoot" a lot dragging their rear end on the ground. Sometimes infections can result in painful abscesses that can necessitate surgery.

If this continues to be a problem or if it has been an ongoing issue I would go ahead and take your dog to your veterinarian. That way your veterinarian could determine if the anal glands feel abnormal and to rule out any other diseases of the rectal area. Your veterinarian also may ask you to bring a stool sample to rule out internal parasites that can cause inflammation/irritation of the intestines. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Shih-Tzu Develops Skin Rash

Q: I have an 11 year old Shih-Tzu male dog that has developed a problem on his chin for the first time. I first noticed several small, brown scabs already off the skin and coming down towards the end of the hair on his chin, but still close to the skin. Since then, they have gotten bigger and thicker.

Over the past couple of weeks, the area has gotten bigger, still scabbing, but I never see the scabs directly on his skin. It is about all the way across his chin now and going towards his throat about an inch or two. I never see a sore on his skin, but I have noticed some loss of hair where the scabs have been and the skin has been left red, sensitive, and with decent sized bumps. The skin seems thinner than it was. He has been licking his legs/belly quite a bit lately, but I haven't noticed anything unusual down there. Could he have gotten into a plant or bit by something? Please let me know what I should do to help get rid of this. Thank you, -- J. Rodda

A: You asked if he could have gotten into a plant or been bitten by something. While possible that this could be an allergic reaction secondary to a plant or bug bite that would be pretty unusual unless you have seen him rubbing his chin on a new plant or something really obvious like that. My first thought when I read this was that we could have some sort of allergy with a secondary infection going on. I have seen dogs with allergies get lesions that start on the chin. Having said that, I have also seen other skin diseases that can start around the chin and spread.

I think that this is a case where it is important to get him into your veterinarian for some skin tests. The problem with just treating skin issues without having an idea of what (or what is not) causing the problem is that treatment for one skin disorder could potentially make another disorder worse. Since this seems to be spreading I would not hesitate to get him into your veterinarian. The last thing I'd like to comment on is that animals can have diseases that can be spread to people. I don't see it very often but have seen cases where skin diseases like ringworm or certain skin mites can affect humans. I am not saying that this is the case here but it's just another reason to have him checked out to make sure. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Yorkie Mix Draws Blood

Q: Please help me with this problem, as my vet told me ASHA needs to be spanked with a flyswatter. I have a Yorkie mix Chihuahua. She is one year old. I got her when she was five months old, due to the fact that her mother stopped nursing. I have always groomed her since she was a baby. During the last four months, she has started fighting me, to the point of biting and making me bleed. I am unable to cut her hair around her eyes, face, ears, body, and nails. She goes after me like a pit bull. She's fast, and I get bitten every time. Blood is on me and her.

I got a muzzle for her, so I could cut her nails, and trim her hair. She wiggles so much, she slips the muzzle off, and bites me. I bought a dremel and she seems to tolerate it, just barely. She has to settle down before I can do her toes, and I must be quick or she'll bite me, and usually does. Her eyes -- she won't let me clean the goo, she'll bite and does. I can't clean ears she bites, and draws blood. When she sees the scissors, she goes crazy. Once I pick them up, she is already growling, biting and drawing blood. I have gotten to the point where I want to give her away, but I know she is unadoptable and will be put down. I feel like a failure. I have even gotten calming pills for her. Which aren't helping.

Any other time, she is a perfect angel. She is spoiled and spends all the time and days with only me. She can be a lover. She doesn't bite visitors, just barks, and sits by me. She'll allow them to pick her up, and squirms to come to me. But she won't bite. She plays with children and never bites. She walks on the leash and meets strangers, neighbors, and animals, and never shows aggression. Only during grooming. Can you please help me -- P. King

A: It sounds like you care for "Asha" very much and I can imagine how frustrated you must be. I am sorry that she becomes so anxious during her grooms but am grateful that you say she is a "perfect angel" otherwise. One of my jobs as a veterinarian is to sedate or anesthetize animals for grooming when it is appropriate. This is usually not a problem if done every once in a while but we don't like to sedate regularly and if there are ways we could get around ever having to sedate we would prefer that.

I admit that as a veterinarian I am most comfortable discussing medical disorders and often I must seek help from individuals with intensive and focused training in behavior issues. I have referred many patients to such experts and have had wonderful results. I specifically look for trainers that are "certified pet dog trainers" (CPDT) and with a search online I'm sure you could locate such a reputable and professional trainer in the local area.

Please continue to be careful as I do not want you or "Asha" to become injured during one of the stressful grooming sessions. Let us know how training goes.-- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Doberman Puppy has Problems

Q: I have recently purchased a six week old doberman pincher female puppy (which I feel is a couple weeks too young, but due to supply and demand issues, I didn't want to risk losing her by waiting). This small female is very wobbly, walking in circles and falling down. Other than usual whining and nervous transition to new environment, this seems to be the only issue. We are beginning shots next week if this is not an urgent matter I can wait. Is this normal growing young puppy behavior or is there something possibly wrong? P.S. she was the smallest in the litter of 8.

A: I know you must be excited to have a new puppy. The "walking in circles and falling down" that you describe is certainly not normal for a dog of any age. Certainly young dogs may have times where they are a little unsteady as they learn to manipulate their new environment but it is not something that is normal.

There are several possibilities for what could be causing this including hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), anemia (low red blood cell count), infection with a bacteria or virus, and there are even certain parasites that can manifest as neurological issues. We cannot rule out past trauma where the puppy could have unknowingly been hurt. There are also congenital diseases that some puppies are born with such as a "portosystemic shunt."

In conclusion, without actually seeing your puppy I cannot say for sure what the problem is. I am very glad that she found a good home with an owner that is concerned about her. Please call your regular veterinarian and set up an appointment for an examination. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Swollen Abdomen Could Be Signs of More Serious Problem

Q: My dog has recently gotten over balanitis. Now he has what feels like fluid in his abdomen. He is happy and plays, but he eats less. He seems like he may be sore in his hind end. His tail right next to his rectum looks swollen as well. He has had very watery diarrhea. There has been no blood in his stool and it is a tan color. He is lab, chow, pit bull mix.His mom was full pit bull and the dad was lab and chow mix. He has been on keflex for less than a week. He had the fluid when the balanitis came on. He penis has gone back to normal, the shaft is almost gone back. It looks normal when he is laying down but when he stands it is a little bigger. I was told when he stands the fluid drops with gravity. I am ready to take him to the vet, my vet does have an E.R. as well. Thank you so much for your time. I am really greatful. Loki is my life.

A: Poor Loki! I know that you must be worried about him. It sounds like you do need to get him to your veterinarian. I cannot say exactly what is going on with him since I cannot see him in person but anytime it looks like an animal may have fluid in the abdomen it does concern me. Certainly there are some dogs that will get diarrhea secondary to being on antibiotics but since we have more than one issue going on I think it would be best to get him to your veterinarian. I wish you the best of luck. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Swollen Abdomen -- a few hours later

Q: Since I wrote you last I have noticed that my dog Loki has filled with more fluid. I took him out and noticed as soon as he stood up he looked a little bigger. We went out and walked around the yard and he seemed fine, he urinated fine. He had gone poop twice earlier today,it was diarrhea that was a tan color. He had just eaten his dinner around 12.30 am and it is now 3:20. When we came back in he wanted to get next to me on the couch so I let him. He got up a little slow but then when he laid down he started whimpering a little. I could tell the angle was pushing the fluid around. I asked him to get down and come with me,when he got down he seemed fine again. He went to his bed next to the couch and laid down on his side. He was wheezing for a few minutes lightly then when he fell asleep his breathing was more normal. Thank you in advance.

A: Oh no! I am sorry that he seems to be a little worse. You mentioned that he looks "a little bigger" and that makes me nervous. Anytime there is swelling in the abdominal area we have to consider the possibility of fluid buildup or even a growth of some sort. Certainly when there is anything abnormal in the abdomen it can cause abnormal breathing because it can put increased pressure on the chest. Sometimes problems that start in the chest can cause fluid in the abdomen too. I do think that this is definitely a situation where you need to get him in to see your veterinarian to try to figure out where this fluid is coming from and also to see if we can make him more comfortable. -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Golden Retriever -- Strange Behavior

Q: My 4-yr. old GR was playing fetch on a pretty hot day when she suddenly collasped. She tried to get back up but had difficulty standing and walking. After a few minutes she walked to me rather strangely with a disoriented look about her. I put her in the house for a few hours to cool her down and pushed water. Within a few hours she was rested and back to her old self. She didnt fall or anything prior to this strange behavior. Could this be heat exhaustion or a poisonous bite or a sign of an emerging disease? Thanks for your time and response.

A: I am so sorry that this happened to your dog and I know that it must have been scary to see her collapse like that. This is a tricky case because the symptoms that you describe could be attributed to any of a number of conditions. The fact that these symptoms began after she was playing on a hot day do suggest that she could have been too hot. Any dog can suffer from "heat stroke" and it can be life threatening in many situations. It would have been helpful to know what her body temperature was the moment that this happened but I understand that you were not exactly expecting this.

Some dogs seem to be more sensitive to elevations in body temperature than others. There is a syndrome called "exercise-induced collapse" that is most associated with Labrador Retrievers. I have heard of veterinarians that also wonder if this could occur in Golden Retrievers. There is a genetic test available that you could discuss with your veterinarian to see if it would be appropriate to try to diagnose this problem in your dog. A similar problem called "hyperthermic myopathy" has been reported in many dog breeds. Both "hyperthermic myopathy" and "exercise-induced collapse" commonly manifest as signs of exercise intolerance after strenuous activity.

In addition to heat-related problems there are a variety of other diseases that could result in her symptoms. For example, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) or anemia (low red blood cell count) can result in animals being low in energy and collapsing with exertion. Any type of cardiovascular disease or laryngeal disease could cause collapse during or after exercise. There are also other metabolic and neurological diseases that could cause the signs you described.

I think that it would be a good idea to take your dog to your veterinarian for a complete physical exam. Your veterinarian may want to run a blood panel that includes a complete blood count, serum chemistry, electrolytes, and thyroid level. Additionally he or she may want to do tests to evaluate the function of the heart, lungs, and even the larynx as these can affect how well the body is oxygenated. Especially if this problem recurs you and your veterinarian may want to consider specific tests for diseases like "myasthenia gravis."

If this happens again I would definitely try to get a body temperature immediately IF she allows (DO NOT risk getting bitten) and get her immediately to your veterinarian. I think that you handled the situation well by getting her indoors and offering water. You asked in your original question if this could have resulted from a poisonous bite. I cannot rule out that she got an insect bite or sting while outside. Animals can have allergic reactions to bites/stings and when they have a severe allergic reaction they can collapse. Usually with severe allergic reactions they don't recover so quickly on their own but I cannot completely rule it out.

I would monitor her very closely especially when there is potential for her to get hot. Obviously I would avoid strenuous activity during the peak heat of the day. Please get her to your veterinarian for an examination and testing. Good luck! -- Allison K. Witherow, MS, DVM

Dog Itches and Scratches

Q: My mixed Dashound, Lab, Pit male of 3 years scratches and chews almost all the time and has a bad odor even very soon after his bath. I realize it's time for him to shed and that the warmer weather makes him uncomfortable enouph , but I don't understand all his scratching and chewing his tail base so much. I see some differrent medication systems that treat some of these symptoms and claim to ncure some over time...and they mare expensive. I do want my pet to be comfortable, but I don't want to spend money on some "claim" then find I've made him worse instead of better. His vet says it is a flea allergy and prescribes him antibiotics, but afterwards, the symptoms come back and get even worse!!! What is your advise on the next thing I should try???

A: If it gets better but then recurs it likely is allergy based - flea or other. Allergies are caused by an over-reaction of the immune system. Unfortunately there are no cures for allergies. There are, however, lots of management options for the environment and him.

I would discuss with your veterinarian about oral medications (like antihistamines) and topical products like shampoos/sprays and supplements like Omega-3 fatty acids that can help control the allergies.

Aggressive flea control is very important as well as even in non-allergic dogs fleas can cause itching.

Secondary skin infections can increase/cause itching and with the smell you ars noticing he likely had a skin infection (bacterial and/or yeast).

Itching can be a very difficult thing to diagnose the cause of and find a good treatment for. Often it is about trial and error to works through the more common causes. So a trip to your vet and together make a plan to hopefully find some relief for him.-- Rachel Peeples, DVM

ShiTzu exhibits unexplained anxiety

Q:Hello, I have a 6.5 year old ShiTzhu named Mistee who is usually a good sleeper. For the past week, she has been waking up at around 3am, pacing, panting and barking. She is not a barker and usually sleeps the night. There is the odd time that she wakes up to go from her bed on the floor and into our bed.She is acting like she does when there is a storm. All spooked and lost.

We give her some natural calming pills, but is it more serious? I've also been noticing that she seems to snore more. She has all her shots and regularly goes to the vet. There does not appear to be anything wrong with her going to the bathroom either and her appetite also appears normal. Thank you. I cannot lose my precious girl. -- Lou

A: While it definitely sounds behavioral I think a trip to your vet for a thorough examination is a good idea. Sometimes medical problems like low thyroid can start/have behavioral signs. -- Rachel Peeples, DVM

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