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Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m at home answering questions today from Pets Best Facebook page.
The first question comes from Tina and she asks, “Will neutering my male dog help with his marking issues? In the last six months he’s begun lifting his leg on various outdoor items and he never used to do this. Could it be jealousy over our toddler getting more attention or territorial? Will neutering help, and if not, what do you suggest I try?”
This is a tricky one. Absolutely, neutering may help because marking territories is often a testosterone-driven behavior. I think it would be important for you to be prepared for this to not go away completely. Behavioral modification might be helpful for you; maybe disciplining him when he marks things that he’s not supposed to or making it less desirable for him to approach those objects and mark on them.
Know that this is a frustrating behavior and consulting with a behaviorist might be helpful as well. In addition to potentially helping with his marking issue, neutering is going to be helpful in general for him, not only to prevent unwanted puppies but it will decrease his risk of certain types of testicular cancer.
The next question comes from Amy and she asks, “I have a 9-year-old Great Dane and he needs a dental cleaning. I’m wondering if it’s safe for a Dane his age to go under anesthesia.” This is a terrific question and I think it’s a really common concern for people with older pets. Great Danes have a shorter life span, so 9 is pretty old for a Great Dane. Obviously you’d want to have an exam by your veterinarian, but if he has no underlying heart issues and his blood work screens for any underlying disease, anesthesia should be just as safe for him as for a younger Great Dane.
Oftentimes the amount of disease in the mouth is more harmful to the pet than the risks of anesthesia. If you have an exam with your veterinarian and you find underlying problems, such as maybe a heart murmur, or blood work shows that there’s some elevations in certain of the enzymes associated with organ dysfunction, you probably want to talk with your veterinarian in depth about whether the risks of undergoing anesthesia are worth cleaning up the amount of disease that’s in the mouth. It’s not always straightforward but your veterinarian should help you make that decision.
Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m at home today answering questions from Pets Best Facebook page.
The first question is, “My black dog seems to have more dandruff than other dogs. It’s especially noticeable after I give her a bath. Is there anything I can do to get rid of it?”
Black dogs do seem to have more noticeable dandruff just because of the contrast between their black fur and the whiter flakes of skin. If you are noticing it right after a bath, you might actually be drying the skin out a little bit. You might try using either a leave-in conditioner or a conditioning rinse, or a shampoo that’s meant to condition the skin. There are some supplements that can help as well, like fish oil or omega fatty acids. These can sometimes improve the quality of the skin health.
The next question is, “My dog caught kennel cough at doggy daycare just as she was due for her six month vaccination for kennel cough. I understand she didn’t need to be vaccinated again since she caught it, but the daycare manager won’t allow her back until she’s vaccinated. What would you recommend?”
Kennel cough is a tricky thing to vaccinate for because it can be caused by a number of different organisms and the vaccine only protects against one. If your daycare center requires a kennel cough vaccine, I would get her vaccinated. There is no harm in getting her re-vaccinated even if she already caught it. Obviously you wouldn’t want to do it while she’s sick, but once she’s feeling better, go ahead and schedule an appointment to get her vaccinated again.
Hi, I’m Dr. Fiona Caldwell and I’m a practicing veterinarian at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. I’m at home today answering questions from the Pets Best Facebook page.
The first question is, “At what age should I switch my young dog from puppy food to dog food?” I like this question because every dog is a little bit different. If you’ve got a bigger breed dog, like a Great Dane or a Labrador, or something that grows really quickly, it’s pretty important that they be switched earlier than you might think.
Growing too fast with rich puppy food can sometimes cause some orthopedic problems in these bigger dogs so switching as early as four, five, or six months of age in the really fast growing breeds can be safe. A smaller breed dog, like a Chihuahua or Shih Tzu, can typically stay on puppy food longer, but remember that they stop growing quicker than big dogs do and so will likely need to be switched to adult food before one year of age.
The next question is, “My Chihuahua has a soft spot on the top of her head. She’s almost four years old and it doesn’t seem to bother her. Is this common and can it be problematic?” This is really common in Chihuahuas. We’ve bred them to have this sort of cute, domed forehead. Unfortunately, that makes them predisposed for the plates of the skull to not come together 100%. Most of the time it doesn’t cause a problem. If it’s small it should be fine, but do know that the soft spot is basically an area where there’s a little less bone covering the brain so it is important to make sure it’s protected as best you can that from trauma or anything like that.