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ASK THE VET

Question of the Week:

Q. Does my dog really need to take heart worm prevention pills?

A. YES. Heart worm is a nationwide parasite that effects thousands of dogs (and cats) a year. Heart worm is transmitted by mosquitoes and is easily preventable with monthly tablets or topical medications. Your dog should also be tested for heart worm disease every
1-2 years and get the preventative year round or spring through fall (depending on your region).

Question of the Week:

Q. My neighbor thinks we should vaccinate our dog against Lyme disease because we take her to the cabin in Wisconsin. What do you think?

A. Lyme disease is a major concern for dogs that may be exposed to dear ticks which can be found in Wisconsin. A few things to consider before vaccination, however. First, the vaccine is not 100% effective so your dog may still get Lyme disease even if vaccinated. Second, there are other tick born diseases that your dog can get in addition to Lyme disease (i.e. Ehrlichiosis). My recommendation is to vaccinate for Lyme disease in addition to using a topical tick preventative if your dog travels to the cabin more than once a month. If she goes to the cabin with less frequency, I recommend only a tick preventative.

Question of the Week:

Q. My sister is very outspoken about dog health and wants us to switch to only raw and organic dog food. Is this a good idea?

A. The honest answer is it depends on who you ask. There are literally hundreds of choices for dog food. The question is which food is right for your dog and it may not necessarily be a raw or organic food. Regardless of the quality, certain foods may cause nausea, frequent or loose stools and even vomiting. This does not mean the food is poor quality, but that it is not right for your dog's digestive tract. The best advice I can give is to look for high quality ingredients and make sure the food adheres to AAFCO feeding standards. Please do not feed your dog any raw meat. Dogs can suffer from Salmonella and E. Coli just like us. If you would like to make food for your dog the protein source can be vegetarian or the meat can be cooked.

Question of the Week:

Q. My dog scratches all the time. Does she have fleas?

A. It's a common misconception that itching is caused by fleas. Certainly fleas can cause your dog to itch if the infestation is severe, if there is a secondary infection or your dog is allergic to fleas. In my practice we see many other more common causes for scratching. The list is extremely long but includes ear infections, food allergy, seasonal allergies, skin infections, or various kinds of mites. If your dog is very itchy, shaking his/her head, chewing or licking his/her feet or waking up at night to itch, please see your veterinarian.

Question of the Week:

Q. Why does my dog rub his/her butt on the floor?

A. The most common cause if impacted anal sacs. Dogs have a pair of anal sacs connected to the rectum that secrete fluid typically at the end of a bowel movement. For some dogs, especially smaller breeds, the sacs can fail to empty and continue to fill up with fluid. Over time this becomes uncomfortable and without the flexibility to scratch their butt, they "scoot". The treatment is very simple and your veterinarian can express the sacs. IN severe cases they can become infected and need antibiotics. If you would like, your veterinarian can demonstrate how to express them yourself. Let's just say it involves gloves and plenty of lubricant. Glamorous, huh?

Question of the Week:

Q. Why does my dog eat grass?

A. This is a very common question and hopefully Henry and Buster can shed some light on the subject. It's a question that plagues most veterinarians, and can be a symptom of a disease or just a nuisance. I have seen dogs eat grass to induce vomiting, after vomiting, as a sign of intestinal disease or for no specific reason. If your dog is consistently eating grass or vomiting, he should be seen by your veterinarian.

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