Author Archives: Chryssa Rich

Tear Stains on White Dogs and Dog Food Refusal

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page today.

The first question comes from Jennifer. “Any recommendations to help clear up tear stains?” Tear staining is really common in the small, white breed dogs. More of the tears actually spill out from the eyes and cause a rust-colored stain on their white fur. Using a product that’s meant for tear staining can be effective, something like Angel Eyes, which has an antibiotic in it. It’s a mild antibiotic call Tylosin that can be used somewhat long-term and sometimes provides some relief from this.

If you’re really careful you can use a really small toothbrush and actually brush the hair. Protecting the fur from the tears would be another thing you can try. If you spray a little hairspray on that toothbrush and then use that to coat the hair, sometimes that can help. Obviously, be sure to avoid getting any products in your pet’s eyes.

There is an old wives’ tales of using parsley. You could try it. It might not work but it certainly isn’t going hurt. You want to use either dried or fresh parsley, probably about a half-teaspoon or so, sprinkled on the food. Some people say that works really well.

The next question comes from Pam, who says, “I have a very spoiled 1½-year-old Border Collie/Lab mix that was diagnosed with a knee problem which resolved, but the anti-inflammatory medications messed up her appetite. I made her human meals using hamburger and grilled chicken to get her to eat and now she refuses her dog food. I’ve tried several different kinds, wet and dry. Any suggestions?”

This is really common. Dogs are smart, especially Border Collie-type dogs. These guys are really smart and they know that if they refuse their dog food, eventually you’re going to cave in and give them people food. What I would I have you do is get your resolve together. She’s not going to starve herself. I would put her dog food down and if she doesn’t eat, pick it up and feed it to her for dinner. I would do this for at least 48 hours. If she doesn’t eat anything in 48 hours, you might contact your veterinarian about what to do next and to make sure that there isn’t something else going on with her medication that’s causing a serious problem. Most dogs will eat when they’re hungry.

Snake Bite Vaccinations and Sunscreen for Dogs

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m answering some questions from Pets Best Facebook page today.

The first question comes from Lee, who asks, “I heard recently about a local vaccine clinic holding a snake vaccination clinic for dogs. What’s this about? I’ve never heard of it. Is it new?”

This is a great question. The vaccine that you are referring to is the rattlesnake vaccine. The way that this vaccine works is it helps keep your dog safe if it were bitten by a rattlesnake. If you live in an area or have the type of lifestyle where you may come in contact with a rattlesnake while you’re hiking or that type of thing, it’s a good idea to think about this vaccine.

It’s given yearly. After the initial dose it has to be given a month later. It is not a substitute for veterinary care if your dog was bitten by a rattlesnake and has had this vaccine. You still need to seek treatment. It just helps them to ensure that they would get better from a rattlesnake bite.

The next question has to do with sunscreen. It comes from Jasmine and the question is, “Is it safe to use sunscreen in the summertime on my dog?”

This is a great question. Dogs with fair skin or with white hair can absolutely get sunburned, just like people can. They can even get skin cancer, just like people can. Sunscreen is safe. You’d probably want to use one that is meant for children or is a more gentle formula. Sprays are really nice, rather than the lotion which can kind of gum up the hair a little bit. Be sure to avoid getting it in the eyes. You want to apply it just like you would for yourself before you go out into the sun.

Cat Health Issues: Limping and Hair Loss

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital, and I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.

The first question is from Crystal who asks, “My 13-year-old male cat, Jake, is limping and holding his paw in the air. It’s a little sensitive to the touch but he doesn’t like to be touched anyway. Any ideas, and what do I need to look for? Thank you.”

You’re going to have to go to a veterinarian for this one. There are a lot of things that could cause a paw to be sensitive. It could be something serious, like a broken bone, or a thorn in there or an infected nail bed. If it’s sensitive and he’s limping on it, it probably needs to be evaluated.

The next question comes from Tannan [SP] who asks, “I have a 6-year-old Persian cat that I adopted last December. She has recently, since I came back from a long vacation, been losing hair around her neck. What could be causing this?”

There are some stress-related conditions in cats that can make them lose their hair. For example, we leave for awhile and come back, or something changes in their routine. Usually they don’t really lose the hair. Instead, they’re licking that area and causing the hair to come out.

This is generally cosmetic and goes away when the stressful situation goes away. There are some other things that can cause hair loss, like ringworm or parasites, or you put flea medication on there and it’s causing a reaction. These would need to be diagnosed by your veterinarian.

Dog Dewclaws and Fast-Growing Toenails

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page today.

The first question comes from Hadley who asks, “Why to dogs have dewclaws and is removal necessary?”

Dewclaws probably don’t really have a purpose anymore. It’s probably just left over as an evolutionary trait when there were five fingers. Some dogs are born without them and some dogs have them. There’s not really a problem with leaving them there. The biggest problem that I see is that because of their location they often don’t wear down appropriately and therefore need to be trimmed more frequently.

Occasionally I’ve seen them kind of get snagged on things, especially the really active dogs that are outside a lot. If your dog is an adult and it has a dewclaw I wouldn’t recommend removing them. If you have a litter of puppies who are days old, that’s when removal happens. If you’re planning on breeding dogs and want to prevent the dewclaws from occurring you would want to do this when they’re first born.

The next question comes from Chrissa. She asks, “My dog has eight black toenails and two white ones, and one of the white ones grows insanely fast. It’s always at least half an inch longer than the rest. Any idea why?”

I’m not sure. There’s a possibility that this could be an outside toe that’s not wearing down as quickly as the others. It probably doesn’t have anything to do with the color. Dogs sometimes have a combination of black and white nails. It’s possible that there was an injury at one point and that caused the nail to grow abnormally. It’s not likely to be related to a problem; it just probably means that you have to trim it a little more frequently.

Schipperke Stomach Issues and Poop-eating Dogs

Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital and I’m answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page today.

The first question comes from Donna who asks what I would recommend to feed a Schipperke with a sensitive stomach. She’s tried various formulas with salmon as the main ingredient but he doesn’t like it.

Schipperkes are a little, usually dark-colored haired breed with kind of fluffy hair. I wouldn’t say necessarily that they’re prone to sensitive stomachs, per se, as a breed in general, but sensitive stomachs as a whole in the population certainly can occur.

There are some things that you can do to try to find a dog food that’s going to work well for him and also provide the nutrients that he needs. Make sure when you purchase food from a pet store or wherever you’re getting the food to see if they have a money-back guarantee. A lot of times you can return these bags of food if he doesn’t like it. That way as you’re doing your experimenting to see what he likes and what works for his stomach, you can return these bags in the meantime.

There are a lot of brands that are actually advertised as meant for sensitive stomachs. That would be a great place to start. You could also contact your veterinarian. There are some prescription diets available that are formulated to be really easy on the stomach.

The next question comes from Kristin. “Why isn’t the smell of poop disgusting to my dog and why will she eat it when humans can’t get near it?” This is unfortunately a common thing for dogs, especially young dogs and puppies, and it is really disconcerting. There is probably an evolutionary reason for it. In the wild, dogs were trying to get the most nutrients as possible from their food so by eating their stool they might be able to get another kind of second run.

Obviously, in this day and age, this is not a behavior that you want to encourage because it can help perpetuate the life cycle of certain types of internal parasites. There are some medications available that make poop less interesting to dogs. This seems a little counterintuitive but they are out there. A lot of them are over-the-counter. Given to pets, they can sometimes help them to recognize that this isn’t something that they should eat.

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