Author Archives: Chryssa Rich

Dog Chewing on Paws, Recurring Ear Infections in Dogs


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 Jerry, who says, “My dog has red, raw, and chewed-on paws. What do I do?”

This is probably likely due to allergies. This is a really common problem at this time of year. Dogs are, obviously, walking on their feet and they’re going through grass and pollens and dust, and things can get on the feet and cause some contact allergies. You’re probably going to need to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out things like bacterial or fungal infections which can be a problem on those really red and irritated paws. Oftentimes, antibiotics are needed.

Things you can do at home to try to help would be to rinse those feet after you walk or go outside. Rinse the feet using a soothing shampoo, maybe something with oatmeal, to soothe the skin. This can sometimes be helpful. Work with your veterinarian on a treatment plan, whether it involves antibiotics, antihistamines or other things for underlying allergies.

The next question comes from Kim, who asks, “Could yeast be causing multi-ear infections and is there a home remedy that I can use?”

Absolutely. Yeast is a really common fungus that can live in the ear canal and sometimes cause some problems. It’s normal to have small amounts of yeast in the ear canal, but when it overgrows it can really be a problem.

Sometimes allergies can be an underlying cause. Dogs with floppy ears that tend to trap more moisture and heat in the ears seem to be predisposed as well. If you have a concern that your dog has a fungal infection, it’s really important that you get the correct medicine. You need to see your veterinarian and get prescribed medication.

If this is a chronic problem and you’re in the in-between where you don’t have an active infection but you just want to keep it from flaring up, there are some things that you can do at home. The number one best thing is going to be to use some type of an ear cleaner. What an ear cleaner will do is actually act as an astringent so it’s going to dry that canal out and make it a less nice place for yeast and fungus to live. I’m going to recommend that you buy a cleaner that’s meant for dogs with fungal infections from your veterinarian.

If you want to do something at home, acetic acid works really nicely as an anti-fungal. That’s just vinegar. A recipe that you could try is equal parts water and vinegar with a capful of rubbing alcohol. It’s really important, though, that the ear isn’t inflamed or red because alcohol is going to sting. If you think that you have an infection do not use this; go to your veterinarian. But if you’re just in between and need a cleaner, that might work for you.
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Cancer in Goldens and Post-Pancreatitis Diets

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

The first question comes from Barbara, who says, “I would like so much to have another Golden Retriever but we’ve lost two at an early age to cancer. Any opinion?”

Barbara, I’m so sorry for your loss. Golden Retrievers can be really prone to cancer. I know they’re really sweet pets, so I can see the lure of wanting to get another one.

Some options for you might be to try a Golden Retriever mix, something that’s mixed with that Golden Retriever so you still get that sweet disposition but maybe less of those potentially inherited cancers. Another option for you, if you really want a purebred, is to do some really good research on breeders. See if you can find a breeder who follows their line and can give you a guarantee that as that line ages they have less cancers, since there is such a hereditary component.

The next question comes from Aidan, who asks, “What’s the best food for your dog after pancreatitis?”

This is a great question. Pancreatitis is inflammation of the pancreas, which is an organ that secretes digestive enzymes into the stomach. It’s actually a pretty common disease for dogs and it typically stems from eating something rich. Usually, but not always, the classic dog gets into the trash or there’s a barbecue and they’re getting gristle and steak and hot dogs, and then they’ll develop pancreatitis.

Some dogs will have chronic pancreatitis where it will intermittently come and go. These are the ones that really need to be closely regulated in terms of their food. The current thought it that the best food for dogs with chronic pancreatitis or that have had pancreatitis flare-ups is a low-fat food that’s high in fiber. A prescription diet would probably be the most recommended, so you want to talk to your veterinarian about specific brands and diets that you could use.

You could try a commercial low-fat/high fiber diet. Make sure no treats, real bones, Beggin’ Strips, and those kinds of thing; all the yummy things that a dog likes. You really want to stay off those because it’s those rich treats that can really give them a flare-up. No people food, either.

Sometimes it’s really hard to cut these things out but it’s going to be a lot healthier for your dog. Alternatives that you can use are things like apple slices or carrots, and ice cubes are the ultimate low-calorie treat. These types of things are low in fat and they’re going to be a lot safer for your dog.

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Kevin and The Cat Doctor Part 4

Hello, I’m Dr. Jane Matheys with The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. I’ll be answering some questions today from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance.

We are continuing our saga entitled “Kevin and the Cat Doctor”. Kevin’s question today is, “My cat keeps trying to eat my plants. Where can I get that grass that’s safe to eat and won’t cost me an arm and a leg to keep restocking?”

Some kitties really do like to chew on greens. We want to keep them away from lawn grass because most often that’s going to make them vomit. The grass that I recommend is just good old wheat grass. You can get this pre-grown from many stores. It’s typically organic, to stay away from pesticides. That’s really the easiest thing to do. If you’re concerned about cost, check your pet stores because they also have little packs that you can grow. Probably the most economical is to start from scratch and actually plant your own natural catnip or other grasses for your kitties to chew on.

The second question from Kevin today is, “How can I tell if my cat has a fever?”

A cat’s normal body temperature is a few degrees warmer than ours so the kitty is always going to feel a little bit warm to us, so that’s not a good way to tell. The only true way to tell is by taking the cat’s temperature. Unfortunately, the most common way to do that is with the rectal thermometer. Cats don’t appreciate it very much, but again, that will tell us for sure whether your kitty is running a fever and has a problem.

And finally from Kevin, “Cats seem to naturally know to use the litter box but can they be taught to hack up their hairballs onto an appropriate surface?”

That’s a good one, Kevin. I know exactly what you mean. I have a vomiter at home and she immediately heads for either the carpeting or a piece of furniture. I’ll tell you what. If you can figure out a way to train them to head for the linoleum, let me know. I could make a fortune on it. Thanks for your questions.
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Straight Answers to Icky Pet Questions


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

The first question comes from Leslie. She asks, “My five-year-old cat is healthy and rarely has hairballs, and is really good about using her litter box. She’s regular and rarely has gastrointestinal problems but recently she went outside of the box on the carpet. It was diarrhea, not vomit. I don’t think she ate or drank anything besides her normal food and she hasn’t had any problems in the past couple weeks. Should I still take her to the vet?”

This is a great question. Dogs and cats can have isolated incidents of illness that can resolve on their own. If she’s acting completely normal in every other aspect and it was just one isolated bout of diarrhea, she’s probably fine if she’s otherwise healthy. If it continues to be a problem or something else comes up, I would recommend that you take her to the vet.

Her second question is, “I also have a three-year-old Chihuahua mix who has anal glands that express when she gets very relaxed, usually in my lap. We have her glands done every two weeks. Any suggestions?”

Anal glands are basically under-developed scent glands that dogs have. They’re designed to express a little bit every time the dog defecates or if they’re trying to mark their territory as sort of a scent. Obviously, dogs don’t really need them anymore as house pets, but unfortunately they’re still there.

Something you can do to help with this problem would be to increase the fiber content of her diet. She sounds like a little dog so you would want to use just a couple tablespoons of something like canned pumpkin. Metamucil is a good supplement as well. What this will do is actually bulk up her stool a little bit so that when she defecates it can help express them.

I would also recommend that you continue to get them expressed regularly. If they stay empty, they’re less likely to empty on your lap. Probably the best thing to do is just continue with keeping up on the problem and going in at least every two weeks to have them expressed.
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Kevin and The Cat Doctor Part 2


Hello, I’m Dr. Jane Matheys from The Cat Doctor Veterinary Hospital and Hotel in Boise, Idaho. Today I’m answering some questions from the Facebook page of Pets Best Insurance. Also, we are continuing our series that we call “Kevin and the Cat Doctor”.

Some questions here from Kevin. The first one, “The animal shelter insists on fixing my kitten before I can take her home. Is it really that safe at such a young age?”

Yes. The shelters are very good at doing these early-age spays and neuters on the kittens. There are a few more possible complications because the kittens are so young and so little, but done with the proper anesthesia and proper monitoring of the anesthesia, it is very safe and we have good results. Most importantly, it assures that the cats will no longer be able to reproduce and it can really help to reduce our problem of pet overpopulation.

Next, Kevin asks, “I got my cat chipped for her protection, but do the RFID implants have any long-term negative health consequences?”

I’m happy to say that no, we have not seen any problems with those microchip identifications. It is a very good way to permanently identify your kitty-cat in case she gets outside or lost. I do highly recommend them for all cats.

Then, Kevin asks, “My cat will tell me when she’s happy and when she’s mad, and even when she’s sad, but why not when she’s sick?”

Actually, Kevin, your kitty does tell you when she’s sick. We sometimes just don’t notice it. The signs can be very subtle, so it’s really best to watch your cat carefully. Know what your cat’s normal behaviors are so that you’re more likely to be able to identify when she’s acting differently.

Some of the main things that you want to look for to indicate that she might be ill are backing off on her food, not eating as much or if she totally stops eating. Another thing to watch for is any type of weight loss. Sometimes if they are pulling away from you, hiding or not interacting with you as much anymore, that can also be an indication that she’s feeling ill. You want to, of course, be looking for things like a smelly mouth, odors, diarrhea, vomiting, and things of that sort.

Cats are pretty stoic and they can often hide their illnesses very well. You have to pay close attention to what your kitty-cat is doing so you can identify problems early and get her to your veterinarian.
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