- "What are those black spots on my dog's tongue?"
Usually, black spots on a dog's tongue are no more than pigment spots, also known as "freckles". If you notice a new spot, especially if it is raised, inflamed, or growing quickly, it is time to stop in and see your veterinarian.
- "Why is my cat's tongue so rough?"
The surface of a cat's tongue is covered with small hook-like projections which work to help remove meat from bones as they eat, as well as acting as a grooming tool. No amount of brushing can keep a cat's fur as soft and clean as grooming itself with its tongue.
- "Does my cat need to be on heartworm protection if they never go outside?"
Even indoor cats need heartworm protection. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, and none of us can say we've never seen a mosquito in our home. It only takes one mosquito to transmit heartworm disease, and one heartworm to kill a cat.
- "Should my cat have a bath every now and then?"
Most cats do not need baths. The exception to that is if the cat cannot groom itself or gets into something messy or toxic. Baths should be given only as needed, and a mild shampoo labeled for cats should be used. Baths can be very stressful for a cat. Ask your veterinarian if your cat is healthy enough to be bathed if you are unsure.
- "How often does my adult dog need a bath, and should I bathe my puppy?"
Adult dogs and puppies generally only need baths if they are dirty or smelly. Frequent baths can dry out a dog's skin, so typically a dog should only be bathed no more than one a month. If a dog has a skin condition, such as an infection, it may require more frequent baths with a medicated shampoo prescribed by your veterinarian.
- "Why do dogs have dew claws? Should I have them removed?"
Dewclaws are what remain of a 5th digit (i.e. the thumb) on a dog's foot. If they are firmly attached to the foot (not floppy) and the nails are kept trimmed, it is generally okay to not have them removed. Floppy dewclaws or claws that are not kept trimmed can catch or brush on objects on the ground, especially in dogs used for hunting. If this is the case in your pet, it is best to have these removed to avoid frequent visits to the veterinarian for torn toenails.
- "Why should my dog be on flea protection if he only goes outside in his own yard? And why should he be on it year-round?"
Probably the most common way for dogs in this area to get fleas is by contact with rabbits or areas where rabbits nest. All it takes is for your dog to stick its head in the bushes where the bunnies live, and it will come out with a head full of fleas. Unfortunately for our dogs (and our rose bushes), bunnies do not go away in the winter. It is much easier to prevent a flea infestation than to treat one once it is established.
- "How can I tell if my dog (or cat) is a good weight?"
Dogs and cats should have a waistline just like people should. If the animal has a curved-in waistline and you are able to feel its ribs without having to push in with your fingers, it is at a good weight. Ribs that are easily seen indicate an underweight animal (just a hint of rib is ok). If your dog or cat is straight or rounded in the middle – like a sausage – it's diet time.
- "If my pet's nose is dry does that mean it is sick?"
Animals can definitely have a dry nose when they are feverish, but it can also be due to something as simple as nosing around in the dirt. If all else is normal, don't panic about a dry nose.
- "Why does my pet eat grass?"
No one knows for sure. One school of thought is that they do this to make themselves throw up. Another theory is that they lack nutrients which can be found in grass. Animals in the wild eat grass to help cleanse their intestines of internal parasites or worms. Eating grass may be a sign of a stomach upset, but if your dog grazes daily, consider trying a supplement called "Barley Dog" (available in pet stores) to break this habit.
- "How long should I feed my new pet puppy/kitten food?"
It is ideal to do this for the first year or longer in slow growing breeds. As puppy and kitten food is higher in fat and proteins, it is important to measure the amount fed and reduce it is the animal starts to become chubby. Occasionally we will change to an adult diet if the animal is having a hard time maintaining a healthy weight on the juvenile diet.
- "My pet is dragging its hind end on the floor, does it have worms?"
Maybe. Scooting can be caused by internal parasites, anal gland impaction or infection, and even food allergies. Sometimes it is just the way a dog wipes its hind end (toilet paper anyone?). Any persistent scooting (ex. more than every once in a while) is worth a trip to the doctor.
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