Total Pet Health Month: Veterinary Expert Q&A

By on September 6, 2012

As part of Total Pet Health Month, in partnership with flea and tick control from Norbrook, we've compiled some of your most frequently asked questions to put to Rebekah Dudek, Veterinary Advisor for Norbrook Laboratories.

Q. I'm worried my dog might have fleas so I'm going to treat our house. My dog doesn't go upstairs, should I still treat upstairs and how long should the house be empty after treating?

Rebecca says: Your dog may not be able to go upstairs, but fleas can easily be carried by clothing or household items (including your vacuum cleaner!) to areas your pet has never ventured. It is therefore important when treating the house, to treat the WHOLE house.

Top tips for household treatment are:

1. Treat all of your pets with a topical flea treatment
2. Wash all of your pets bedding
3. Vacuum thoroughly, including in all cracks, crevices and along skirting board edges
4. Remove animals, children and cover or remove fish from the house until treated areas are dry.
5. Close all windows and doors. Using a reputable household treatment, spray lightly over all areas of the house, including in cracks and crevices, along skirting board edges, sofa’s, mattresses, curtains etc. It is also a great idea to spray the inside of your vacuum and don’t forget the family car!
6. Leave the room for 30 minutes with the windows and doors closed
7. Open windows and doors after 30 minutes to allow treated areas to dry.
8. Once dry, vacuum again

Q. Can dogs or cats catch colds?

Rebecca says:  Dogs and cats can certainly suffer from colds, but the type of viruses that causes the common colds cats or dogs suffer from are different to those which affect humans. The illness is not communicable between species – or, at least, a cold virus that can has not yet been discovered.

Our pets may suffer the same symptoms as us if infected with a cold virus - sneezing, coughing, runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes. It is worth mentioning however, that other conditions can cause similar signs. So if concerned, it is always worth taking your pet to the vet for a check-up.

Q. My dog seems to be obsessed with eating poop. Is there anything that could be missing from her diet and the reason she seems to want to eat it?

Rebecca says: Dogs eating poo – believe it or not it’s a natural and mostly normal behaviour! While it may be disgusting to us, there are lots of things dogs do and enjoy that are vastly different from us. Think about it, when was the last time you drank from dirty puddles or rolled around in fox poo grinning all the time?

The idea that eating poo is linked to some sort of deficiency is for the most part, completely untrue. Sure very occasionally it can be a sign of mineral deficiencies or pancreatic disease, but with all the commercial diets readily available today, so long as you feed a “complete” food your pet should want for nothing.

Mainly the act of eating poo is a behavioural thing. Pups who develop this habit do tend to grow out of it in time with some simple training. However, you may have noticed cat poo is high on the agenda of “wants”? This is because cats need a higher amount of protein in their diet, so consequently their faeces is also high in protein – making it an irresistible snack for some dogs. As for other types of faeces – your guess on why they would taste so nice is as good as mine!

Bottom line, do not worry about this. For almost all animals it is simply a behavioural trait that they will either grow or need training out of.

Q. My dog has liver problems and I've been told to steer clear of flea treatments. However I'm worried that if my other pets catch fleas she may need to be treated. What treatment would you recommend?

Rebecca says: There are some forms of topical flea treatments you can use in animals with liver disease. These products are only effective on the outer layers of skin, spreading over the body through the skins oil glands. They never actually enter the body into blood etc. My advice would be to ask your vet to check the products available to them to find one suitable.

Another tip would be to ensure your dog’s companions are always fully up to date with their flea prevention. This should hopefully help to prevent them bringing unwanted visitors to your home.

Q. You hear so many different things about how often you should treat dogs and cats for fleas and ticks. What's the truth and what's the best course of action?

Rebecca says: The best way to treat for fleas and ticks is to ask advice on the most suitable product from your veterinarian. Often they will have a selection of prescription only products available which will provide fast, effective, reliable and most importantly safe treatments for your pet.

Q. My dog has suffered from ear problems since she was young. We check her ears regularly but every so often she seems to have an episode where she scratches herself so bad that she needs antibiotics. Is there anything we should do on a regular basis to help treat her ears below the surface from what we can see?

Rebecca says: Ear infections in dogs are extremely common. This is due to dogs having a super long ear canal compared to humans. This does mean they can hear sound much better than us, however unfortunately it also means the inner parts of the ear are very far away from fresh air, predisposing to bacterial and yeast infections.

There are ear cleaners available which are tailored especially for the needs of dogs and cats. These are often suitable for use in animals with even the most sensitive ears. They take the form of a liquid which can be administered into the ear canal (providing the ear drum is intact) and act to loosen and remove debris from right within the ear. If used on a regular basis, for example once weekly, these can help to reduce the incidence of ear infections.

Q. Where is the best place to go to buy veterinary treatments such as flea and tick treatments? And is there a shelf-life on treatments?

Rebecca says: The best place to buy veterinary treatments is your vet. They will know your pet’s history and so are able to give appropriate advice on tailoring medications specifically to the needs of your pet. The medicines you buy from a vet are also guaranteed to be effective, reliable and safe, containing exactly what it says on the outside packaging. If you have any questions or concerns regarding medications, your vet should always be able to answer these for you as well. In other words, from your vet you do not receive just a product, but a complete package of help alongside.

All medications, inclusive of flea and worming treatments have a shelf life. This should be stated on the pack in the form of a date. Always stick to this and do not use out of date products. Not only can the safety not be guaranteed, but the effectiveness as well.

For more information and advice on pet health products available, visit Norbrook’s pet health website http://www.norbrook.com/pets-health/

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