Q&A: March 30, 2010
Q: Peggy Pendleton:
I have an old Rottie mix who keeps getting what seem like flesh eating sores around his face-mostly near nose and mouth. Antibiotics seem to keep them from getting too bad, but doesn’t prevent them. My vet says he’s never seen anything like them in his 30 years in practice. My two other dogs, despite licking him and being licked by him have no such problems so they don’t seem to be contagious. Once they heal they leave no really gnarly scars-are barely visible. But at their worst I worry that they are going to eat through his muzzle. Ever heard of or seen such a thing?
A: Thank you for your question! That sounds pretty nasty… I would be most suspicious of a food allergy, medication reaction, yeast, bacterial, skin mite infection, or an autoimmune disorder such as pemphigus or SLE. Skin biopsies while the condition is flared up may be the only way to get a diagnosis… but if it waxes and wanes and is causing no other issues, it may be something you never diagnose, but simply remain a bit grossed out by.
Q: From @Sizah1 on Twitter:
When my dog is frustrated, she chews her knees. hard. I mean like she is eating a bone. Why?? She’s on flea meds.
A: I know you. You’re a friend of mine. And I know your dog. She’s a nut. (I mean, really, people, that dog is off the chain) But that aside, some dogs relieve anxiety in this way. Your dog is a very wound up dog with a lot of energy and anxiety. You have done a great job thus far with training and behavior modification to help settle her down and communicate with her. Keep doing what you do to provide her with as many physical and emotional outlets. Keep redirecting her behavior to an appropriate chew toy or item. For lack of a better parallel, I look at these dogs that physically harm themselves in repetitive ways in response to stress as similar to people who cut or self-mutilate. Frustration and anxiety can make people and dogs exhibit very counter-intuitive behaviors.. but when studied and understood they actually make a lot of sense.
Q: From @comdown on Twitter:
My latest rescue eats poo. His, the cats, bats, bees, and frogs.. well… you get the point. How do I get him to stop?
A: Where do you live? That’s a lot of different kinds of poo. Seriously, that’s an impressive list… There are many reasons and speculations about why dogs do this… boredom, anxiety, hunger, pain, parasites, inadequate diet… just to name a few… Seriously for some dogs, they just like the taste of it and it’s fun to search and scrounge for… Prevention is the best way to start getting a hold of the problem… picking up poo he has access to or keeping him on a lead when walking so that he can not roam and find those tasty little treats. There are products designed to go into the food of dogs and cats to make their poo distasteful… one would think that is already the case.. but you could look into those products for your dog and cat so that when your dog sneaks a snack, it will not be tasty to him and he will lose his affinity for it. Also, keeping super yummy treats in your pocket to offer as alternatives and distractions can be helpful. Some people even spread popcorn or other safe goodies out around the yard so that the dog finds a new treat to look for and will ignore the poo. Often, over time, if you can break the habit, it will fade. Although, for some dogs, it forever remains the forbidden fruit that they just must have. Fortunately, generally, while gross, it is not harmful. It is more offensive to our senses than to their stomach.
Q: From @courtarms on Twitter:
My 13 year old cat drinks a LOT of water. Should this concern me at all? She is normal in every other way. She drinks with her paw.
A: If this has been a trait of hers since she was a young cat, then it may not be a concern… However, given her age and the fact that increased water consumption is a symptom of many common geriatric cat illnesses, it does concern me… esp if this is a fairly new development… Common causes of increased water consumption in older cats include diabetes, kidney disease, liver disease, urinary tract infections, and hyperthyroidism, to name a few… Your local vet can rule these out with a physical exam and some baseline bloodwork. As for why she drinks with her paw… well, she’s your cat so it doesn’t surprise me that she’s a little quirky and weird. (Do not be alarmed readers, I know @courtarms and have full license to say that as part of the answer)
Well that’s it for the first installment of “ask the vet”. Thanks to all who participated! Stay tuned for the next installment when we will answer questions about flea preventative product selections, how to stay sane and consistent when training your hardheaded hyperactive dog, and why a spayed cat may act as though she is in heat. Yeah, WTF?