Frequently Asked Questions

My dog is itchy

Itchy dogs are one of the most common cases that vets see every day. There are many causes and certain breeds are more prone to skin conditions than others. Some causes are seasonal such as allergies to plants, grasses and pollen and some can be dietary allergies to certain kinds of foods. There are also a lot of dogs that have a chronic skin itchy problem with multiple causes, and these can be a difficult problem to both diagnose and manage. A vet should be consulted to see if this is the kind of allergic skin condition your dog may have. Always examine your dog for any fleas especially on the back at the base of the tail. Your vet should examine your dog if the itch is chronic and lasts for more than a week or if the dog is injuring itself from biting and scratching.

Diarrhea is one of the most common health issues in dogs. This is often because dogs are naturally a scavenging type of animal that has no hesitation in eating a large variety of things- both living and dead. Eating the wrong kind of thing mostly can lead to diarrhea as the gut tries to get rid of the thing that is causing the problem. Depending on the part of the affected gut, diarrhea can take on a few different forms. Stop feeding for 24 hours and keep water always available. Always check for blood or mucous in the stool. If Diarrhea continues for more than 2 days or your dog is passing blood or mucous, it is important to get the patient examined properly by your vet as soon as possible.

Puppies and the food they eat are based on the fact that all young animals are growing very fast. They burn up calories at a prodigious rate and need to be fed small meals frequently to give them the energy they need to develop the bones, muscles, and organs needed to thrive. a diet based around raw, uncooked, fresh food mimicking how they would eat as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Raw meat( beef, chicken, kangaroo, etc.), vegetables, and fruit with a minimum amount of dry dog food are the perfect diet for rapidly growing puppies to set them up for a healthy and active life.

It is good to remember that puppies and kittens are completely different animals with different needs for their growing and adult bodies. While dogs are "omnivores" to some degree, cats are "obligatory carnivores". Cats and dogs are physiologically different as well. Especially their teeth. Raw and fresh meat ( preferably red meat . Not chicken) is by far and away the best diet for all kittens and cats. Using some dried biscuits to supplement this raw diet is OK, but it is very important not to leave these high-calorie biscuits down all day for your cat /kitten to "graze" on when they feel like it. This practice may feel like you are doing the correct thing while you are away at work, but it will rapidly lead to obesity. A growing kitten should have 3 small meals a day up till 12 weeks old then two meals a day will suffice. Always remember that cats do not naturally exercise for fun, unlike dogs. They have always been hunters but now lead sedentary lives, being delivered high-calorie, processed foods every day with no effort needed to catch them!  Basically, you have to teach your kitten to chew like a lion or tiger!

This has a very quick answer: No. Cats don't need baths; they are good at keeping themselves clean. As a rule, cats don't like standing in water or getting wet, so please don't bathe your cat without a very good reason. Cats will strongly resist any bathing, and they have four sets of sharp claws to let you know that they don't appreciate it!

I recommend you wash your dog every week in summer and every two weeks in winter. The reason for this is quite simple. Unlike cats, dogs do not clean themselves. Also unlike cats, dogs are very happy to get messy. In fact, the dirtier the better! Dogs will also like to roll in anything that smells - good or bad. Mostly bad! Dogs are OK to lie in the dirt and sleep on the floor. Some dogs love the water- Retrievers especially. Some dogs , like German Shepherds and small terriers are strongly against it! Try to use warm water when washing your dog and use shampoo formulated for dogs. Not human shampoo. Human skin is more acidic than canine skin, so the shampoos are balanced to consider this. Canine skin is also thinner than human skin, meaning it's more prone to damage by harsh shampoos and is generally more sensitive.

One of the most common reasons dogs cough at any age is an upper respiratory tract infection combined with the "kennel cough " virus and bacteria. This is commonly caught from playing with other dogs or at boarding kennels where many dogs are nearby. It is rarely a serious condition and can be easily treated by the vet. Try to keep your coughing dog quiet and rested during their time in recovery. A cough can signify a more serious heart issue if you have an older dog. This cough is often accompanied by a slowing down in exercise activity and should be checked at the vet. There are many other causes of a cough, but, as a general rule, if the cough comes on suddenly, a viral cause is more likely. If a cough is more chronic, develops over a period of time and does not resolve by itself over a week, then it is time for a vet check.

Coughing in cats is a much less prevalent problem than coughing in dogs. Most respiratory coughs in cats are in the lower respiratory tract - the lungs. Asthma is quite common in cats, particularly in the spring, as an allergic response to pollen, dust mites, smoke, etc. Treating asthma in cats is fairly easy after an examination by the vet. There are many videos of cats with asthma online. There can be more serious reasons for a cat to cough, so an examination by the vet to listen to your cat's breathing is essential.

Over-grooming in cats is very commonly a sign of stress. It is also often seasonal during the mating time for cats. Even if your cat is desexed, it can become quite stressed by the smell of other cats entering its territory during winter. Cats often stress in multi-cat households, and a proper diet can assist. Repetitive actions such as constant grooming can help alleviate stress for cats, but it can also lead to obsessive/compulsive disorders. Some medications may help these patients, but control of the living environment is often needed. Another simple cause can be fleas, although many products are on the market now that can quickly control these biting pests.

A lot of cats can develop urinary tract problems that can cause signs of cystitis (bladder infections). Depending on the cause, the vet can quickly assess and treat this problem. It is very important to understand that if you have a male cat showing signs of struggling to go to the toilet with no success, it may be a sign of having a blocked bladder. This looks very similar to a female cat with cystitis but is much more dangerous. A trip to the vet is urgent if you are concerned.  Constipation in cats is quite rare, and a dietary discussion with the vet is important to rule out serious bowel problems.

This is a common problem that the vet will see almost every day. Usually, it is not, as most people believe, caused by a worm infestation. If you have wormed your dog every 3-6 months with the correct product, it is unlikely to be the cause. More often than not, this "scooting" behaviour is due to the anal glands becoming blocked. The vet can express these glands with an internal examination and advise a dietary correction if required. These small ( and smelly!) dogs' ancestors used glands many centuries ago to mark out their territory and have ( like our appendix!) pretty useless. The glands can rarely become so blocked and infected that an abscess may develop. Blocked anal glands, although not an urgent problem, can be uncomfortable and a vet visit is needed.

Vaccines are essential in the pet world to protect against a number of deadly and not-so-deadly diseases. The Parvovirus pandemic in the early 1980s killed hundreds of thousands of much-loved pets before a vaccine finally stemmed the tide. Other diseases once commonly seen ( Distemper and Hepatitis) are rarely seen these days thanks to vaccination. Other "new " diseases like Leptospirosis will occasionally show up in small outbreaks in certain areas. Your vet's network will be alerted to any of these and notify you of the need to vaccinate. Generally, all puppies should have a vaccine at 6 weeks, 12 weeks and 16 weeks followed by an annual booster. This will also involve a thorough check-up by the vet for other problems that may not have been noticed.

Often, this head shaking is caused by an ear (or ears) being infected by various bacteria and/or fungal elements. Ear infections can be quite painful to the point, and even an examination by the vet may be difficult. Usually, ear drops containing a variety of antibiotics, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory compounds can resolve the problem, but care is then needed to prevent a recurrence. Left untreated, the constant and vigorous shaking may cause a blood vessel in the ear to burst, leading to a blood clot inside the ear. Early examination is essential. Do not attempt to put home remedies down your dog's infected ear. Sometimes, the ear inflammation and infection can become chronic and may become a part of a wider skin issue. Don't wait too long before seeing the vet for ear problems before they get out of control.

This problem of bad breath is a modern problem. Usually, it is due to the type of food you are feeding. Evidence for this can be seen in the fact that it is rare for large dogs to have teeth and gum problems, but extremely common for smaller breeds to have dental issues over their lifetime. I want to see pets escape processed foods as much as possible. Chewing bones are essential for all dogs when you consider the kinds of teeth dogs have. Artificial chewing products can't compare. Clean teeth and healthy gums are the absolute foundation of general good health. As the one responsible for all the food your pet eats, it is vital that you take this responsibility seriously and promote good dental hygiene for your pet. It is also necessary to have your dog's teeth examined by the vet as a part of an annual check-up. Sometimes, other problems can be caused by bad breath, such as wounds or cancers in the mouth.

Chocolate is quite toxic to dogs as they don't have the correct enzymes to break down some of the major ingredients ( Theobromine ). As a general rule milk chocolate is safer than dark chocolate. Signs of chocolate toxicity in dogs can be vomiting, diarrhea, agitation and panting. The vet can get your dog to vomit the chocolate early after ingestion.

One of the easy ways to know what is causing your dog to be lame on one of his legs is to divide the symptoms into two parts:

  1. Did it happen suddenly? If so, this can be a bite or sting from an insect in the park. This is often a front leg problem; your dog will lick and chew on the foot. Examine the front paws carefully for cuts or bites. If it is a back leg injury, the knee can often be the problem. The vet can make a proper assessment to decide.
  2. Did it happen chronically? Many older dogs suffer from osteoarthritis, particularly larger dogs and especially in the hind legs. New therapies can help relieve the pain and give your dog a new lease on life.

This issue is a common puppy problem when your new pup tries to play with a bee or similar biting insect! The release of histamine causes the face and lips to swell quite quickly. Sometimes, small lumps can appear across the body as well. This is easily treatable and will only be dangerous if your dog is showing difficulty breathing. The anaphylactic shock from insect bites and stings is rare, but the vet can help.

Dogs, like us, can get allergic conjunctivitis. This condition can present with weeping and swollen red eyes. Both eyes are usually involved. This condition is often seasonal. As long as the eye structures are not damaged, an antibiotic cream can fix the problem. If, on the other hand, only one eye seems to be affected, it is very important to have the eye structures examined. Particularly if your dog has had damage to the cornea, ulcers on the eye's cornea can develop quickly. The vet can do a simple test to check for damage to the clear cornea in front of the eye and prescribe the correct medication and pain relief.

Cat fights are very noisy, with both combatants determined to protect their territory. Cat's mouths contain some nasty bacteria, and with very sharp teeth , serious infection can result and develop into pus-filled abscesses. Early attention to prevent this is vital. Your cat will resent you touching and feeling the wounded area and may scratch or bite you- putting you into the same problem with an infected bite wound! So get to the vet and get the correct treatment. The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is also spread from cat to cat by bite wounds, so if your cat has not had a vaccine for FIV and is a likely repeat offender in the fighting arena, ask the vet for a test and a vaccine.

These days, it is unusual to see many dog fights as responsible owners leash their dogs in public places. The first rule of dog fights is to be extremely careful if you try to intervene. Even your dog may attempt to bite you in the heat of battle! Bite wounds in dogs are not like bite wounds in cats. Dogs have very powerful jaws and can cause severe crushing-type injuries . The muscle tissue around the bite can die from this pressure wound several days after the fight, leading to severe damage and infections. See the vet as soon as possible.

This is not unusual. Dogs are very smart, and like young children, they will try to "train" you into giving them what they like to taste. As a good parent, we would never offer a 3-year-old child a choice between healthy food and a Big Mac and fries for every meal! Remember that your dog knows nothing about nutrition, but they certainly knows what tastes good! Also remember that some dogs have food allergies that can be made worse by certain types of  foods. Your vet can advise on these cases before they get too chronic. Generally, a raw fresh diet is the best basis for a dog's diet. Remember that your dog cannot shop and cannot open the fridge. It's all up to you!

Many owners will ask this question: should they cut their cat's claws to prevent this behavior? Unlike dogs, cats' claws should not be cut unless long and caught in carpets or furniture. Cats in the wild will naturally sharpen their claws on the trunks of trees to keep them sharp and remain in the best shape for hunting their prey. Domesticated cats often have a substitute "scratch pole" made from appropriate material such as carpet or rope. Natural wooden logs from a garden center or your backyard are the best material for cats to maintain healthy claws. Your vet should do any other necessary cat claw cutting.

Around about 12 weeks of age, all puppies begin to lose their temporary ( "baby") teeth, which are pushed out by the new adult teeth coming through the gums. Like babies who are "teething," puppies have sore gums at this time, and chewing is a natural way to help this normal process happen. Chewing natural and healthy items is also an excellent time in your puppy's life to teach them good dental hygiene.

It is good to remember that you must ensure your puppy has had a full set of vaccinations and check with your local vet if there are any other infectious  disease outbreaks in your local area. It is good for your puppy to have social contact with other dogs, but remember that he or she must always be under your control until he or she understands social etiquette. Pups are naturally social animals and often too young and inexperienced to read signals from older dogs who may see your pup as more annoying or threatening and respond accordingly. Also, remember that your pup will spend the most time in their lives with humans. Both at home and, more importantly, in the world outside. So learning to behave calmly and socially in your local café over coffee is a good way to start.

These days, the medical and surgical care you can access for your pet is easily on par with what you can access for yourself and your family. These highly skilled levels of care can be expensive so Pet Insurance is a good idea. Your vet cannot recommend any specific Insurance Company under the rules, so do your research online thoroughly. Emergencies can happen at any hour of the day or night, and your normal vet will often be unavailable. Emergency Room visits to 24-hour care centres are available but expensive. Check where your local 24-hour vet hospital is in your area and keep their number handy.

As pets get older, hearing loss is common and, unfortunately , incurable in most cases. You may find they cannot hear you when you rattle your keys or are hard to wake up verbally. Take care not to startle your old friends when they are in this condition. Heavy treading on the floor can alert them of your presence. Some older, deaf dogs can still hear "silent" dog whistles at much higher frequencies than we can hear. It is a good idea to check with your vet if there is a wax build-up or infection in the ears.

Cats are not regular exercisers. Dogs usually love to go for a walk. Cats not so much. The old saying that dogs have masters and cats have servants often comes into the causes of your cat putting on weight. As humans, obesity can easily occur if you lead a sedentary cat lifestyle and eat a lot of high-calorie dry cat food. Cats are hunters. they do this when they are hungry. Hunger drives activity and activity burns off calories. You will never see a fat lion or a fat tiger. Feed raw, red and fresh meat that your small tiger wants to attack with vigor and do not leave large amounts of dry kibble/biscuits on the floor for your cat to "graze" like a cow.