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Week 3 - July 08, Weekly Ask a Vet Q&A


  • Question : The hind legs of Ben, a 13- or 14-year-old rescued Spaniel mix joy, are tremulous when standing. On x-ray our vet has noticed some arthritis developing in the hip joints. Could anything else be implicated? Any remedy for this? Many thanks
    Maurice, LA
  • Answer : Hind Leg weakness and trembling are quite common in older dogs with degenerative joint disease. With the arthritic changes evident on the x-ray this is most likely the cause. A condition of the nerves called Degenerative Myelopathy may show these signs in the early stages however is a lot rarer. You may like to consider a supplement high in glucosamine and chondroitin such as Sasha’s blend or Glucosamine tablets which help in cases of  arthritis and degenerative joint disease
  • Question: I have a 3-year old flat-coat retriever who has allergies and is constantly scratching, chewing and rubbing this time of year. I've tried every thing on the market to try to ease his suffering and was wondering is there anything else I can do?!
    Melissa W, Inverness, FL

  • Answer:One of the most common reasons that dogs itch, chew, scratch and have irritated skin is because of an allergy. Treatment involves reducing the allergen (the cause of the itch), moderating the response that the pet has to the allergen and treating any secondary complications such as bacterial or fungal skin infections.

    To reduce the amount of the allergen, depending on what the allergen is, involves doing different things such as keeping dogs away from plants, grasses etc. that they are allergic to, eliminating fleas, changing diets etc. Washing with an appropriate shampoo reduces the amount of allergen on the coat.

    Reducing the response to the allergen may involve supplementing the diet with a fatty acid supplement rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids and possibly medications such as anti- histamines, cortico-steroids, cyclo-sporins. Veterinary dermatologists can formulate vaccines against many allergens which are given to desensitize the pet against the allergen.

    Treating secondary complications may involve washing with medicated shampoos such as Malaseb to treat fungal and bacterial infections or a course of antibiotics.

    Melissa, I stress that it is important to have cases of allergies thoroughly investigated by a veterinarian experienced in such diseases to determine the exact cause. A suitable treatment plan can then be instigated.

    A few things that you can try are:
  • Make sure he has absolutely no fleas. Try using an effective treatment such as Revolution, Advantix or Frontline Plus.
  • Start on a fatty acid supplement.


  • Try a shampoo and conditioner shown to reduce the irritation such as the Aloveen shampoo and conditioner.
  • Try changing to a low allergy diet such as fish and potato or a commercial hypoallergenic diet.
  • Consult a specialist veterinary dermatologist.


  • Question: My cat "Chelsea" is 16 1/2 yrs old and all of a sudden has lost a lot of weight. She does not have much of an appetite and is really lethargic, but purs when you pet her. I even tried to give tunafish, her favorite, and she refused it. Her "meow" is very faint though. We just got 2 kittens 1 month ago. I knew she would have a hard time adjusting to new family members, but did not think it would affect her health this way. Could her body just be shutting down slowly? It has been suggested that she could have thyroid problems or diabetes. How would I know and does that cost a lot to diagnose or treat?
    Kim, Lake Dallas

  • Answer:I think you should take her to see a vet. There are a number of diseases that affect older cats causing weight loss and loss of appetite. Hypothyroidism and kidney disease will cause these diseases. Some are successfully controlled without costing too much. Your local vet is the best person to talk to about these diseases and the costs involved.

  • Question: i have adopted my grandaughters bunny he is a good bunny and aprox. 2 years old . i need to know what is the best brand without perscription for fle drops for this bunny he weighs maybe 5 to 7 lbs please help my new bunny kid .....
    Tessa, Joplin, MO
  • Answer:Advantage is a very effective and safe flea control for Rabbits. The manufacturer has not sought registration for this product for flea control in rabbits in the US however it is registered for flea control in rabbits in the UK and other countries. You do not need a prescription to buy this product from our site. I suggest the large cat size would be the most suitable for most rabbits.
  • Question: my daughter and son in law lost their house in a natural gas explosion. Luckily their cat made it through...looks tough but alive. She spent three weeks in the hospital. What can we do to help her now that she is home? Her pads are pretty sore yet and her hair is starting to grow we wah it? Do we put anything on the pads? they did give her a bath before she left the hospital.
    Betty , Ortonville, Minnesota
  • Answer: I’m glad to hear that she has survived such a tragedy. She is lucky to be alive! She is one lucky little girl. You should be able to wash her at this stage– but use a gentle medicated antibacterial shampoo such as Malaseb and be very gentle so that you don’t damage any off the new skin. Dermaclens is a medicated cream which promotes the growth of healthy tissue. It is a product that i recommend using for burns. I would suggest using that twice daily. It will speed up the time for the wounds to recover.

  • Question: I saw my kitten for the first time, drag her butt on the ground. I've seen dogs do this but never cats. What does this mean? She's about three mos. old and is in good health.
    Donnita, Altadena, CA
  • Answer: It may only be a one off occurrence, however you should worm her for intestinal worms. A common regime for worm treatment is to worm kittens every 2 weeks of age from 2 weeks old until 12 weeks, monthly from 3 months until 6 months then every 3 months as an adult cat. Another cause could be blocked anal glands which is more rare in cats then dogs but does still occur.
  • Question:  Our 10 year old cat has this large sist-like growth on her back, by her hips. It doesn't feel like it is solid. It feels like it is full of fluid. Is it a "BURSA"? Seeing that  it is located over her hips? Would this be a sign of arthritis?
    Robert A, Orlando, FL
  • Answer: It’s hard to say what the exact cause is. You should have her checked over by a vet. It may be an abscess developing, a cyst, a fatty growth or some other cause. A Bursa is a small fluid-filled sac which provides a cushion between bones and tendons and/or muscles around a joint. There is not one situated around the hips of cats and swellings such as you described are not typical signs of arthritis in cats.
  • Question: My cat weighs about 10 lbs. The groomer said to give him benedryl before he is groomed to calm him down. How  much should he have?
    Terry I, Washington
  • Answer: While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, diphenhydramine can cause side effects in some animals. I would not recommend that you administer any medication to your pet without checking with your vet first.

    The usual dose in cats is 0.25 to 0.5  mg of Diphenhydramine HCL per pound of body weight orally. It is very bitter and will cause many cats to foam from the mouth

  • Question: I Have a 75lb. Collie that the vet had suggested Frontline and Interceptor for. When I was looking at your site I see Revolution will handle the flea, tic and heartworm problem. Is this a smart move? Thanks.
    Steve, Pennsylvania
  • Answer: Yes the Revolution is a very good alternative to giving Frontline and Interceptor to your dog. Revolution is eliminates the need to use separate flea and heartworm preparations each month. It is a multi-purpose product containing Selemectin that kills fleas, ticks, prevents heartworm, controls lice, ear mites and sarcoptic mange mites in dogs with monthly spot on application. With the Revolution you will need to give a separate all wormer to treat the intestinal worms such as Drontal or Canex every 3 months.
  • Question: My Dog seems has a lot of bald spots on her. Her legs are the worst area. What do you suggest we use that is not expensive. We are wondering is she is allergic to grass because sometimes when the grass is wet we have to force her on just so she goes to the washroom.
    Elizabeth, Ottawa, ON
  • Answer:

    Dr Mark's respond is similar to No 1 Question.
  • Question: I have an 11 year old, female, beagle/border collie mixed dog and each May, I cut her hair for the summer to 1/4 inch. This year when it started growing back slower in some areas by her hips, tail and shoulders. Will it all eventually grow back to the same length, or do I need to have my Vet see her?
    Dorothy W, Maquoketa, Iowa

  • Answer: This does occur in some older dogs – the hair grows back at different speeds. Assuming that there is no infections or other diseases there is not a lot you can do about this. The hair usually does grow back but slowly.