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Ask Anything: 10 more questions with Veterinarian Dr. Page Wages

Posted April 28, 2009

Editor's Note: Dr. Page Wages answered many of your pet questions last August. Here are some of the questions (and her answers) that we weren't able to feature at that time.

1

What kinds of fresh fruits can you give your dog? – Donna, Lillington

Dear Donna, dogs can have any fruits and vegetables other than grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic. Everything else is game!! I love baby carrots and melons for my dogs!

2

I am pregnant and have three dogs, what is the best way to introduce the new baby to the dogs? We have had the dogs since 2002, so they are very much part of our family. – Amber, Roxboro

Dear Amber, congratulations on your upcoming member of your family!! Most dogs and cats figure out babies as new members to families without much help. I typically recommend a slow introduction. Once you have the baby room/stuff all set up, let the dogs in the room, and let them smell everything and make it a part of their routine as well.

When you come home with the new baby, slowly introduce the dogs to the baby. Do not leave the dogs alone with the baby until you are comfortable. They will welcome the new member of the family!

Make sure you save time for your dogs as well, though. Don’t forget to take them for a walk and play with them, so they don’t become jealous of the baby. Good luck! And Congratulations in advance!

3

My Lab just had a fatty tumor taken off the side of his neck. What causes these fatty deposits? He has several more in various sizes on his body. – Paula Martin, Apex

Dear Paula, it sounds like your dog had a lipoma. This is a benign fatty tumor. There is no reason for the growth of these masses. They typically start growing with age and many older dogs develop more of them as they age. The good news is that they aren’t malignant, meaning they can’t really do much damage, other than look weird.

Some lipomas will grow in areas, such as the armpit or inguinal area that can obstruct movement. These ones need to be removed. Any that grow rapidly should also be removed. Any new lumps or bumps should be checked by your veterinarian to make sure it is a lipoma and not something more serious.

4

Our standard poodle mix loves the water. She loves to swim and even play with the hose. However, she continues to get ear infections! We have an ear wash and ear drops from our vet, but is there anything we can do to prevent this from recurring? Missy, Cary

Dear Missy, it is not uncommon for standard poodles to battle ear infections, especially those that love the water. The easiest way to prevent ear infections is to clean her ears every time she gets out of the water, using a cleaner that has a drying agent in it. My favorite cleaner is called Corium-20, made my Virbac. This cleaner not only has a nice smell and cleans out the wax, but it also has a really good drying agent in it, to dry up those wet ears.

Why are poodles prone to this? Many of the larger dogs with deep ears, like the Retrievers, Poodles, Bassets, etc. are prone to getting ear infections, especially after getting wet. This is because the vertical canal in their ears is very deep, making water harder to get out. Once water settles in the horizontal canal (the only part of the ear canal human’s have) at the base of the vertical canal, it makes a nice moist spot for bacteria and yeast to grow. As long as this area stays moist, it will continue to feed to infections. Cleaning those ears out as soon as your dog is done swimming, will dry up those ears faster and hopefully prevent any more problems.

When cleaning the ears, make sure you are using enough cleaner as well. Pour it in until it overflows, then massage the canal until it makes a squishing noise. Then let your dog shake her head really good. The massage and the shaking will allow the cleaner to get into the horizontal canal and then bring any goop into the vertical canal, to be cleaned out. Finally, get in there with some cotton balls and wipe out anything you see. Should take you about a minute!

On a side note, if your dog has been battling an ear infection or a recurrent infection that doesn’t seem to clear with medication alone, I would recommend speaking with your veterinarian about the possibility of your dog having a food allergy. It sounds strange, but it is not uncommon for allergies in dogs to manifest as skin infections. Hope that helps!!

5

My dog just turned a year old and still eats Purina Puppy Chow. When can I feed "regular" dog food? And what type do you recommend? – Chanel Porter, Durham

Dear Chanel, most dogs can be switched to adult dog food at about a year of age. The larger breed dogs, such as the Great Danes, need to remain on puppy food until about 15 months of age.

Puppy food is a higher calorie food, high in both fat and protein, which a puppy needs as he/she is growing. If their body is done growing and they continue to eat this high calorie food, it doesn’t take long for a dog to become obese. We want to prevent this as much as possible. As with any food change, you want to make sure you are gradual with the change, usually mixing it in over two weeks. This way, your puppy won’t develop an upset stomach or diarrhea.

In terms of the type of food, I would speak with your veterinarian to determine what he/she recommends. I typically like certain brands of foods for certain breeds of dog. My favorite maintenance food is the Science Diet, but Eukanuba/Iams is also good. And the Purina One products can work for most dogs.

Some dogs need a sensitive skin or stomach formula, and others that are more picky may eat better with the Bil-Jac products. Have a conversation with your veterinarian since he/she knows your dog and his/her needs to determine which diet is the most appropriate food for your dog. Good luck!

6

I have a 5-year-old lab and understand they are prone to hip/joint problems. At what age should I begin giving him something preventative for this, like glucosamine and chondroitin, and are there any good ones I can purchase over-the-counter? – Erica Hinton, Raleigh

Dear Erica, Retrievers, Shepherds, Rotties, and Bulldogs are just some of the breeds that commonly battle with hip and joint problems as they age. Glucosamine/Chondroitin supplementation is the way to go to help prolong the onset in these guys. You are right!!

This supplement works by building up fluid within the joints, preventing the rub of bones, which is what creates arthritis. There are several forms of this supplement for dogs on the market. All of which are over the counter. My favorite is Cosequin or Dasequin. These are made by Nutramaxx and are the only ones that have been FDA approved.

There are others, such as the Synovicare products which work as well. Typically, there is a loading dose for a month when this supplement is started, then a maintenance dose for life! There are several foods and treats that claim to have glucosamine within the ingredients. This is a good addition, however, the levels are not therapeutic and a separate supplement is needed. Hope that helps!

7

I have a 9 pound Maltese male who is 6 years old. I've tried using over-the-counter flea and tick repellents that are to be applied to the base of his neck to the base of his tail. Unfortunately, the repellents I've used seem to irritate his skin (it turns red and is extremely itchy for him). What other flea and tick remedy alternatives exist for dogs who have sensitive skin? Thank you! – Laura, Durham

Dear Laura, the over-the-counter flea and tick repellents contain a pyrethrin, which can be irritating to the skin of some dogs. I would recommend trying something that does not contain this product and see if you notice a difference. The Frontline controls both fleas and ticks and contains fipronil as the active ingredient. I would recommend purchasing a single dose of this product to see if it irritates your Maltese’s skin.

If he continues to react, I would recommend using an oral flea prevention, like Comfortis. This is a fairly new product and only does fleas, but it really good for those dogs with sensitive skin. It is a pill given monthly and helps prevent fleas. This product is only available through veterinarians. Hope that helps!

8

I have a 13-year-old Cocker Spaniel that has been fighting an ear infection for over four months now. My vet has tried three different antibiotics and four different ear medications and nothing seems to be able to cure this problem. We clean and medicate it each night. Is there anything you might suggest? – Mike Brown, Stedman

Dear Mike, chronic ear infections can be very difficult to treat. Ear infections are either caused by yeast, bacteria, or both. Sometimes the infection can be so severe, it gets into the inner ear and while the outer of the ear is treated, the inner ear can still harbor an infection.

I typically recommend an ear flush under sedation to clear the ears out and take a peek at the ear drums. Radiographs of the ear canal can also be done to determine if there is any infection or fluid within the bulla of the ears (bony base of the ears). Sometimes ear infections can become resistant to antibiotics being used to treat the infection.

Has your veterinarian done any culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests to make sure the bacteria in the ears are susceptible to the medications tried?

Chronic ear infections can also be a sign of a skin allergy. Allergies in dogs create irritations on the skin in dogs that makes the skin predisposed to reacting to its own skin and yeast, creating infections. While the medication does treat the topical infection, it can return because the underlying cause is not cleared.

I would recommend talking to your veterinarian about some other options and possibly trying a food designed for dogs with food allergies. You may also consider a referral to the Dermatology department at the N.C. State Vet School. Good Luck!

9

I have an 11-year-old Weimeriner who now has a problem of dripping urine all over the house. I have taken her to the vet who advised there is a medicine which may prevent the dripping but could raise her blood pressure. At this point the problem is getting very bad and I need to do something. The vet advised it would be around $165.00 a month to put her on this medicine which is way out of my price range. I don't want to put her down just for this problem; she is in great health other than the dripping. Please advise if there is a cheaper way to get this needed medicine. – Greg, Clayton

Dear Greg, dripping urine is usually the sign of urinary incontinence. But, it can also be caused by a urinary tract infection. I typically recommend a urinalysis and bloodwork be performed to rule out a urinary tract infection or renal disease prior to starting the medication for urinary incontinence, so a more severe problem is not masked.

If your dog has true urinary incontinence, there are two options for treatment. The first is called Proin. This is a synthetic medication called Phenylpropanalamine. The other medication is called Diestylstilbesterol (or DES). The cost of these drugs vary depending on where you get it.

I would recommend talking with your veterinarian about other options to help with your dog’s problem. Good luck!

10

Hi Page! I worked in Student Services when you were at NCSU CVM. My question for you: We just got a new pup from the SCPA, that has some skin allergies. They told us (along with our vet) to give her Benadryl if she is doing a lot of scratching until her skin calms down. She had had a flea problem. Fleas are long gone, but skin is still red. How long do we keep her doped up on Benadryl before we need to do something else? IS there something we can put on her skin to help? She's a Dalmatian mixed with whippet. Thanks Dr. Page! – Amy Kunkle, Garner

Dear Amy, congratulations on your new puppy!! It sounds like your new pup has a flea allergy. With flea allergy dermatitis, a single flea can create an inflamed response in the skin. While antihistamines, like Benadryl, help some, most dogs need a short course of steroids and sometimes even antibiotics to calm the skin down. (Even if the fleas are gone!) You may also want to consider bathing in Relief Shampoo and Cream Rinse.

I recommend aggressive flea prevention for dogs with flea allergies to avoid reactions in the future. Topical preventions, such as Frontline and Advantix reapplied every 3 weeks in the summer is the first step. The second is to double up with the new oral monthly flea prevention called Comfortis. Together, your new pup should be protected against any more flea reactions. Hope that helps!

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7 Comments

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  • NCSUJB May 1, 2009

    The food recommendations are disgusting...I would never feed my dog any of those. Look at the ingredients!!

  • LRB Apr 30, 2009

    I use Comfortis on my dog and it's great. She takes it once a month orally and she has never looked better. She suffered with a flea allergy for a long time and this was the only thing that really worked.

  • 4Paws Apr 30, 2009

    Many flea and tick products are toxic to our pets, but many people are not aware of this because veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies promote the products. I am one of the unfortunate pet owners who believed these products were completely safe. Boy was I wrong. My dog became deathly ill after an application of one of the spot on flea and tick preventatives. She was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and spent two weeks in ICU at NC STATE's Vet school. I am so thankful that they were able to keep her alive! But after the 12 thousand dollar vet bill, I have learned my lesson with these products. Check out the links below. Even the EPA is now questioning their safeness.

    http://www.greenpaws.org/products.php
    http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/health/flea-tick-control.html

  • Nikka Apr 29, 2009

    I don't trust anyone at Care First Animal Hospitals, bad news.

  • canes4ever Apr 29, 2009

    OOOPS! Wrong date listed before - class is on MAY not MARCH 12th...

    NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine is offering a class called "What Your Dog Should Expect When You're Expecting: Preparing Your Dog for the Arrival of Your New Baby" the evening of Tuesday, May 12th. More info at http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/conted/expecting.html

  • canes4ever Apr 29, 2009

    Regarding Amber's question about introducing babies and dogs, NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine is offering a class called "What Your Dog Should Expect When You're Expecting: Preparing Your Dog for the Arrival of Your New Baby" the evening of Tuesday, March 12th. More info at http://www.cvm.ncsu.edu/conted/expecting.html

  • fourfivesix Apr 28, 2009

    my vet said i could give my 50lbs border collie with extreme flea, pollen, and food allergies zyrtec or claritin. she currently takes 1 generic zyrtec every morning w/ food. it works great. we couldn't keep up the frequent dosing of benadryl and its efficacy was decreasing. ask your vet before switching medications though.