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FAQ's - "Ask Doc"

PAW BULLET Can I use human triple antibiotic ointment on my dog?
Category: Canine
My dog has a small sore on her ankle. It is not swollen or hot to the touch. Can I use Neosporin or Polysporin for humans on it?

Yes, for simple scrapes and abrasions.
It is okay to use human triple antibiotic ointment on simple scrapes or abrasions, but if your dog's skin lesion is more extensive or does not resolve itself within three to four days, you should have your dog checked by your veterinarian. Some skin lesions have an underlying cause that needs to be diagnosed in order to determine the treatment necessary to allow the wound to heal. In some cases, what appears to be a superficial wound is actually a small puncture that is festering below the surface. If you find that the affected area becomes swollen, tender or reddened, it needs the care of your veterinarian.

PAW BULLET My puppy keeps urinating in the house.
What is the best way to clean up the mess?
Category: Canine
My puppy is constantly relieving himself all over the house. It's driving me crazy! Can you suggest a way to clean it up?

Use an odor neutralizer.
Most puppies have at least a few accidents during the housebreaking stage. These need to be thoroughly cleaned up so that the puppy does not return to the same spot in the future. If your puppy is having many accidents, you should readjust your housebreaking techniques. The best way to clean up a spot of urine is to soak up as much of it as possible. If the spot is on linoleum or another hard surface, paper towels and disinfectant can be used. If the urine spot is on a rug, cover the spot with a paper towel and some layers of newspaper. You can stand on the spot to draw out as much urine as possible. Once the urine is soaked up, it is necessary to use an odor neutralizer to eliminate the lingering odor of ammonia. If a dog smells any residual urine odor, it is likely to urinate in the same area again. Many pet stores and veterinarians carry effective urine odor neutralizers.

Remember that your puppy is just like a baby and needs to be monitored at all times. Most puppies will show subtle signs that they need to go to the bathroom prior to having an accident. If you can't be right there beside your puppy at all times, it should be left in a crate. A dog views a crate as a private den that it will not want to soil with urine or feces.

It is also important to establish a set routine and stick to it every day. Most puppies need to eliminate frequently when they are young, especially after heavy eating or playing. Paper training is used by some owners, but this method should be viewed as a temporary approach to training. Crate training is a much more efficient means of housebreaking a dog.

PAW BULLET How can we rid our pets of fleas?
Category: Canine, Feline
We have two cats and two dogs, all of which are severely infested with fleas. I have used dips, sprays, and flea collars, and have treated the yard as well. We still have fleas, and they are driving our animals crazy. What should we do?

It takes a lot of work.
Fleas continue to be an important problem of animal husbandry despite the advances in flea-control products. Using conventional insecticides, one must address fleas on the pet, in the house, and in the environment, a three-pronged approach.

Dips are not safe when used often enough to be effective. Flea collars are not generally useful, and sprays must be applied regularly to have maximum kill. The yard products, such as organophosphates, should help eliminate environmental fleas. You may wish to treat the shady areas of the yard, under bushes and trees, where ultraviolet light does not penetrate, especially if the pets lie there.

You did not indicate whether the animals enter the house or garage, or if they go in the car, but all areas that your pets visit must be treated, especially with growth hormone regulators. The entire environment and the pets must be treated concurrently; the clean, flea-free animals must be housed in a flea-free area while the premises are treated. After vacuuming the area rugs, be sure to throw the vacuum bag away. Despite the apparent expense of the new, topical products such as Frontline or Advantage, these products have proved themselves highly effective in such situations. They should be safe for all members of the household. Please discuss their utility with your veterinarian. He or she will assess your situation and customize a flea-control plan for you as economically as possible.

PAW BULLET Since my male dog was neutered, his appetite seems to have increased.
Is this normal?
Category: Canine
I had my male dog neutered recently, and since then, he's been hungry all the time. Is this normal?

Watch those extra calories.
Neutering is an important part of pet health care. It prevents unwanted litters (millions of animals are destroyed each year!), and eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer. It also greatly reduces the risk of prostatic infections as dogs get older.

Following castration (neutering), some dogs will experience a decrease in desire for exercise. They also tend to become more interested in family members, and food also takes on an increased importance to them. Because of the decreased exercise tendency, and the increased interest in food, castrated male dogs are more prone to obesity than intact males.

You can protect your pet from the host of problems that accompany obesity by keeping his weight within an appropriate range. If your dog is on a high calorie diet (such as a performance diet), then consider switching him to a regular or low-fat or light adult diet. By decreasing the calorie content in a cup of food, you can still feed a reasonable volume without adding calories (and weight) to the dog. Break his daily feeding into two meals. If a dog is fed only in the morning, he is more likely to beg for food at night. Monitor his weight on a weekly basis and adjust his volume of food to maintain an ideal body condition. When offering treats, give one treat, not several. Also, many dogs like low calorie treats such as rice cakes or carrots as much as some of the higher calorie treats. Check with your veterinarian regarding treats and diets if your dog has any dietary sensitivity.

Because your dog's initiative for exercise may be decreased, make it a point to encourage a regular exercise program. With vigorous daily exercise, the appetite tends to be more regulated, and your dog's health will be improved. Sedentary dogs will gain weight and are more prone to orthopedic problems. By encouraging and joining him in regular exercise, you will find it easier to maintain his weight, and have the added benefit of spending some quality time with him.

PAW BULLET My dog has pus pockets or pimples all over his belly.
He is very itchy and is constantly scratching. Could you tell me what causes this and how I can treat it?

Pyoderma may present as "pimples."
What you are describing could be a pyoderma, which is a bacterial infection of the skin. The most common bacteria are Staphylococcus intermedius. This condition may present as "pimples" with white-heads or red bumps all over the skin. A pyoderma can be the result of several things including skin parasites, endocrine diseases, a poor immune system, fungal infections and allergies.

Superficial pyodermas typically involve the dog's abdomen and back. Deeper pyodermas often affect the dog's chin, nose, legs and feet, as well as other areas. It is not uncommon for dogs to develop pyodermas, which can cause them to be itchy and uncomfortable. Pyodermas, and other conditions with similar signs and symptoms, have to be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian.

Pyodermas are not contagious to people.

I recommend taking your dog to your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. Treatment typically involves prescribing oral antibiotics for two or more weeks, depending on the severity of the infection.

PAW BULLET How can I remove ticks from my dog and cat without harming the pets?
Category: Canine, Feline

Apply tweezers to the tick's head and pull gently.
Animals easily pick up ticks in their fur from the outdoors. Ticks will attach themselves to the skin for several days, until they are full of blood sucked from their host. During this period, they can transmit serious diseases to cats and dogs and should be removed as soon as they are detected on the animal. Some diseases can be prevented by early tick removal, since the transfer of the infectious agent can take up to 72 hours.

Ticks should be removed with tweezers applied to the portion of the tick's head closest to the skin. Pull gently and with steady pressure. Examine the tick to be sure the entire head was removed. Afterwards, the bite wound should be cleaned with antibacterial soap and rinsed well.

Several options are currently available to prevent ticks from attaching themselves to your pet, and to kill the ones that do. Frontline® is a safe and effective topical flea and tick control product that is applied to the animal's skin once a month. A Preventic® tick collar, although not a flea deterrent, is an effective method of preventing and killing ticks for up to three months. There are many shampoos, dips, and sprays that can be used to kill ticks in certain animals. However, kittens, puppies, and some adult cats can be sensitive to these products. Consult your veterinarian about which products are appropriate for your pets.

PAW BULLET My dog eats feces every time he goes outside. Is this unhealthy?
Category: Canine
Every time my dog is let outside, he ends up eating the feces of other dogs. This is a disgusting habit. Is it unhealthy, too?

Feces may contain parasites
Coprophagy, or eating feces, is an unpleasant but common behavior of dogs. Unfortunately, dogs can become infected with intestinal parasites by ingesting excrement, which may contain microscopic parasitic eggs. Since your pet has been eating feces, it is very important that your veterinarian evaluate a stool sample to look for infection. There are several proposed causes for coprophagy. Boredom is one of them; the behavior is more prevalent in dogs that are crated for long periods of time without stimulation. In addition, dogs may eat their own waste as a way of "hiding the evidence" if they receive punishment for inappropriate defecation. Uncommonly, there are also some underlying medical conditions that are thought to be associated with coprophagy, such as a poor diet that is lacking in essential nutrients or vitamins. The problem also may be caused by a pancreatic enzyme deficiency.

Some behavioral experts feel that coprophagia may be related to a dog's instinctual nature to scavenge for food. It is also possible that dogs eat their feces as a way of playing, learning, and sampling their environment.

Treatment of this problem can be challenging. The first step is to keep the area where the dog voids meticulously clean. This often means following the dog and immediately cleaning up the stool. In addition, covering the stool with an ingredient that the dog dislikes may be helpful. Compounds such as red pepper sauce or bitter-tasting substances, which are available in pet stores, may discourage dogs from eating feces. You can also try sprinkling dog food with Accent meat tenderizer or MSG -monosodium glutamate- since these products may help discourage the eating of stool.

Try to deter your dog from this behavior early on, before it becomes a habit that is difficult to control.

PAW BULLET Why does my indoor pet need vaccinations?
Category: Canine, Feline

Why does my pet need vaccinations? He rarely goes outside--and even then, only when I am with him.

There's always a risk of infection.
Although your pet may have a low risk of getting diseases from other animals, vaccinations are important because infection is always a possibility. Some viruses can linger in the environment for some time, long after the animals that deposited them have passed. And some viruses, such as parvo, are severe enough to cause death. We feel that we cannot emphasize enough the importance of having your pet regularly vaccinated against rabies. Rabies is a fatal virus - not only in many pets, but also in other mammals, including humans. Consequently, rabies vaccination is required by law in all of the United States.

Rabid animals act very strangely, lose their fear of humans and other animals, and could approach you and your pet even in the middle of the day. Further, bats are known to get inside houses accidentally, and could spread rabies indoors. If your pet is not current on its rabies shot, and it bites or nips a human being, your regional health department could require the euthanasia to test your pet for rabies. The cost of a rabies vaccination is very cheap, especially when compared with the heartache that could be encountered if it is not done.

The decision to vaccinate against other contagious diseases is one that each owner has to make on a case-by-case basis. Because not all pets have the same risk of exposure to certain diseases, not all pets need the same vaccinations. Certain vaccines, such as that for feline leukemia, are recommended only if a cat is spending time outdoors, where it could be involved in a fight. Your veterinarian will make a recommendation depending on your pet's individual situation. But as a general rule, it is much easier and safer to prevent contagious illnesses than it is to treat them.

PAW BULLET Sometimes my dog makes a weird gagging, snorting noise. Is this a problem?
Category: Canine

What is wrong with my dog when it makes this coughing, snorting, gagging noise while trying to breathe in and out? It only lasts for a few seconds or minutes, and then it goes away.

The backwards sneeze.
This is known as a reverse sneeze. It is common in small-breed dogs, especially when they get excited or are drinking water. Owners become concerned when their pet makes these noises; some even fear that their pet cannot breath. In general, it does not cause the dog any harm and does not lead to any significant breathing problems. Reverse sneezing usually goes away within a few seconds to minutes. It may be helpful to massage the neck and try to calm the animal if it was previously excited. Some animals can have this condition for their entire lives, or it may develop as the animal ages.

Causes of reverse sneezing include allergies, viral infections, excessive soft palate tissue, and nasal mites. Some cases of reverse sneezing are idiopathic, which means there is no identifiable cause. A reverse sneeze results from irritation to the nasopharynx. This irritation causes the loud inspiratory and expiratory snorts that prompt the owner to take the dog to the veterinarian. The nasopharynx can be thought of as the part of the throat just above the soft palate. The soft palate is a soft, fleshy tissue extension off the hard palate, or roof of the mouth. If this problem continues, or appears to be severe, you should consult with your veterinarian. However, most of the time there is nothing to worry about.
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Located in Brunswick on Glynn Avenue / Hwy 17 Near Gloucester Street   ::   Convenient To St. Simons & Jekyll
Golden Isles Animal Hospital • 9 Glynn Avenue • Brunswick, Georgia 31520 • Locator Map
Phone: 912-267-6002  •  Fax: 912-267-9471