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Ask The Vet


Q. When traveling with our 13-year-old male tabby, we normally seclude him in the rear bath of our motorhome with litter box, water and food. He also has a hammock bed but no windows, just a skylight. Bottom line – would he be better off in a carrier up forward with us? — William C., Winston, GA

A. Most cats do better with motion sickness when they cannot see the passing cars and trees in the window, but if the cat gets used the sounds and sites, they can travel quite well, even free in the motorhome. Just be cautious about letting the cat get under the gas or brake pedals. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I have a 4 week old long hair Chihuahua, and she has what I think may be a umbilical hernia. I think it’d growing; what should I do? Please help! — desiree d.

A. If this is truly an umbilical hernia, it represents a small hole in the abdominal wall. Fat usually fills the hole but if it is big enough, a loop of bowel can slip into it and get incarcerated. If this happens, the bowel can become obstructed and the pup can get very sick and die. My advice would be to keep a close eye on the size and feel of it, and get over to a Vet to see if it needs to be closed sooner than later. — Dr. Mitch


Q. My Pomeranian dog, 8 years old, is not properly opening his right eye for the last 2-3 weeks. it appears as if there is a transparent layer over his eye and little swelling over his lower eyelid! he keeps on rubbing his paws over the eye! slight watering eyes too occurs! please help fast. — nikita g.

A. If this problem started suddenly then most likely it is a corneal scratch or ulcer. This can be very painful and can lead to permanent blindness if not treated. Most of the time, treatment only requires antibiotic drops but occasionally minor surgery is needed. I recommend having a Vet take a look soon to confirm the diagnosis and prescribe the right medication. Good luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. We are taking our 5 yr old jack Russell on a ferry to Ireland she is very nervous of noises and shakes and pants, we have to leave her in the car on the ferry can we give her something like portion or what can you recommend? We don’t want her to be stressed. — Nora R.

A. Travel for many animals can cause a lot of anxiety, especially if they are not used to it. I think that desensitizing her to the noises before you go can be very helpful. Traveling with her in the car or taking her into a busy area of your town with lots of praise for her will go a long way. Your Vet can prescribe medicines that can help sedate her or reduce the anxiety but, in some situations, the animal can actually act worse. Over-the-counter medicines like Benadryl may make her drowsy but seldom help in a situation like this.

On another topic, be sure the deck of the ferry is not too hot. They may not allow the dogs inside the cabin or let you run your engine while onboard. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I am going on a 6 hour flight with my 13 week old 5 pound puppy. Is it safe to give them a mild sedative to keep them calm for the duration of the flight? — Lucy M.

A. At 13 weeks, I do not think you will have any problem. Most puppies will sleep once they settle in. Try covering the crate and traveling with them for a few short trips before the flight. It is safe to give 1 mg per pound of Benadryl (5 pound pup = 5 mg of Benadryl) which might have some sedating/calming effect. Good luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. My 7 lb yorkie gets very nervous while traveling. Can I give him something to help him in the car? — peggy m., salem, OR

A. Traveling with anxious pets is never easy. You can desensitize them by traveling on small trips more frequently with lots of praise. Using a covered crate to reduce the visual stimulus of passing cars and trees can be helpful. If these options are not working, there is always the medical route. This can be done with over-the-counter medications that can cause sedation like antihistamines and natural products like milk colostrum and melatonin or going to your Vet and getting a prescription medication that can decrease anxiety or sedate. Plan well in advance. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I am relocating from Ontario to Alberta and I will be driving to get there. I have an African Grey Parrot, and would like to know the best way to take her with me. A lot of people I talk to tell me that they don’t travel well, and she could die. I don’t want to have to give her up if I don’t have to, but given the choice of giving her away, or having her die on the road, I will obviously choose to give her away. Do you know if there’s a good way to take her with me? The drive is going to take approximately 3 or 4 days, with motel stops along the way. Please help. — Kevin F., Shelburne, ON Canada

A. I have many clients who make the cross country trip with birds. If they are in a suitable carrier and kept warm and covered, they all seem to do well. If the bird is sick or unhealthy, the added stress can certainly cause some problems. I would have an Avian Veterinarian take a look at her and help assess the overall health before you travel. Good Luck! – Dr. Mitch


Q. My poor Schnauzer has what we have been told are allergies but he is not getting any better. He is on allergy shots and has been for over 6 months and he is worse now than when he started. I feel so sorry for him – he has scratched his hair off all down his back and above his ears. Any suggestions? — Mary G, Tennessee

A. My best advice is to find a Vet that is willing to look at other options. Although immunotherapy works in about 70% of the cases, Schnauzer’s seem to never want the read the book on this one. Here are a few suggestions: be sure you have 100% flea control, consider a VERY strict food allergy trial with a hydrolyzed protein, be sure you have treated any bacterial, fungal or ectopic parasite problems with antibiotics or medicated shampoos, daily fish oil supplements, wipe his feet whenever he comes inside, consider Atopica from Novartis. Finally, if you have tried all this with no success, find a Veterinary Dermatologist.

These can be very frustrating and expensive problems, so be patient. Good luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. My 12 year old cat is on daily medication (Fortekor & Hyper-Y Earspot) for hyperthyroidism & renal failure. I’m hoping to transport her home to the UK from NZ but this is approx 30 hours boarding to final destination, via Singapore. I’ve heard that animal cages are locked on departure & not opened until final destination; if this is correct, would my cat be given her medication during the journey ie on the stopover? If not, what would the effect be of her missing 2 days’ worth of these drugs? Currently she is 6kg, playful & not showing signs of illlness. Thank you so much for your response. This is a brilliant website! — Sahrah M, New Zealand

A. If your cat is healthy, missing her medications should not have any drastic effects on her health. She will be hyperthyroid when she lands, but once she has settled back down and medicated, she will be fine. I cannot comment on whether someone can medicate her during the layover, but that may be more stressful than it is worth.

Have a safe trip,
Dr. Mitch


Q. How can I relax my dog when we have to leave him in his inside pen (4×4)? He licks at his paws and the floor until the floor is completely wet and slimey. I hate to leave him, but sometimes we have to. I am home every day with him, so is it just being mad? Is there anything I can give him to relax? — Pam D.

A. Not always an easy fix, but a staged departure can work. This means you have to use the crate more often even when you are home. Leave him for short periods of time with a treat or toy and lot of praise. Slowly increase your departure lengths. You may need a sedative or anti-anxiety meds, but you can get many safe “calming” supplements like milk colostrum, tryptophan, chamomile and melatonin over the counter. Consult your Vet and good luck. –Dr. Mitch


Q. Is it safe to use skin-eze tablets while cat is on d/d can food? — Christine M., Brantford, ON

A. If your cat is on d/d for food allergies it is important to not use any other food or flavored medicine that might cause a reaction. I’m not familiar with Skin-eze tablets but a little research should be able to tell you if it is flavored. There should be no medical problems using them in combination but ask your Vet to be sure. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. Is it safe to travel in the winter with a new shelter dog I have rescued on 11-10-12 or should I wait until after an amount of time…what should I bring for him besides food and water? Any suggestions.. thank you. *- Diane K., Ishpeming, MI *

A. Traveling with your new pet in the Winter will be fine as long as he does not get too cold for too long a period. The younger the puppy, the less equipped they are to regulate and maintain their body temperature. Food and water will be fine if you are driving but, if you plan to fly, be sure you have all the paperwork from your Vet within 10 days of travelling. Happy holidays. — Dr. Mitch


Q. What can I give my 2 month old Chihuahua for congestion? — Chandra S., East Point, GA

A. You need to be careful medicating a pup this small and young. I suggest using a cool water humidifier temporarily. If the congestion lasts for more that 3 days or if you notice any drainage from the eyes or nose, it could be an infection and I would have a Vet take a look. — Dr. Mitch


Q. 3 weeks ago I adopted a 4 yr old English Setter. She is from ALabama (not abuse case). I currently have a 9 yr old eng. setter and a cat living with me as well. New dog is very sweet but very itchy, constantly scratching and chewing on herself. She has no fleas or ticks.I’ve bathed her in oatmeal shampoo, hydrocortisone shampoo. still scratching, I have her on salmon/ sweet potatoe food and 1/2 benedryl BID. (1 full tablet made her anxious) Still she scratchs. Stress?? or what else might I try? I had her to the vet for a check up. He said the itch was prob from prior flea allergy, which she does NOT have.(has been on frontline) Thanks. – Kit A., Norwood, NJ

A. Fleas are only one of many causes of itching. Bacteria, yeast, mites (mange) and allergies are also common causes. If the antihistamines did not work and there is no sign of infection (scabs or rashes) I would have your Vet do a skin scrape to rule out mites. Sometimes we just empirically treat for mites but until you are sure that mites do not exist avoid any more steroid based shampoos.


Q. We have a 4lb 3 years old. She scratches her self continually. Brought her to the vet and they said to give her Benadryl. Did not work. Tried shampoo for dogs with oatmeal, did not work. She will only eat can food made by pet smart co. I mix cooked hamburger with it some time and she loves it. What else can I do about her scratching. — Carla D., Palm Harbor, FL

A. It is important to try finding the underlying cause. First, be sure she does not have any infection; bacteria, yeast and mites can all cause severe itching. Food and flea allergies are common, but it will take 100% flea control and a very strict food allergy trial to rule this out. FInding a hypo-allergenic diet with protein and carbs that your dog will eat is the first step. No chicken, beef, grains, dairy or eggs. Try fish and potato or a hydrolyzed diet (ask your Vet). If you are striking out, an allergy profile may help or trying a cyclosporin-based drug like Atopica. Figuring this out is very important for your dog’s health and happiness, and I encourage you to push your Vet to figure this out or get a second opinion. Good luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. I have a chihuahua and for the last month she has starting biting bald spots in her hair, and catching and eating flies. Can this hurt her? –Jeannieq A., Houston, TX

A. Many things can make dogs itch and chew. Just like people allergies, infections and fleas, mosquitos and mites are common causes. Look closely for any rash or fleas and treat appropriately. If the cause alludes you, have your Vet take a look. I do not know of any harm that eating flies can cause. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I think that my dog may have mites. He had them when we first got him. How do you know if it’s mites or not, and how expensive is it to treat mites? – Sarah P.

A. Mites are microscopic so a skin scrape and microscopic examination is necessary to confirm. Treatment requires either oral medication, topical medication or medicated bathes. The cost can vary depending on where you live and how advanced the problem is. It should not be too expensive if there are only a few hairless areas without any other underlying problems. I recommend getting on top of it soon before it gets worse. Good luck! – Dr. Mitch


Q. Our pug has been licking her paws and hind legs constantly. Took her to the vet and she was prescribed dry duck and potato food. Hasn’t helped, she still licks constantly. We purchased a collar which has prevented her licking but can’t wear it all the time. With a $72 vet bill and $38-$39 for food, we don’t want to go back. What should we do? — MaryAnn S., Foster City, CA

A. Sounds like allergies and although “food allergies” are a possibility, it is much more likely seasonal allergies or atopy (grass, pollen, mold). My advice is to try antihistamines and possibly an aloe/oatmeal shampoo. Consider wiping her feet when she comes inside. Begin a fish oil supplement, assure no fleas and continue the hypoallergenic food. If you notice scabs, rashes, pustule or hair loss, it is very important to treat any secondary infections (bacteria, fungal or parasites). If you are concerned about the progress, tell your Vet. If they are unwilling to help further, get a second opinion. Also, try to avoid steroids, and treating the underlying problem is much better than using an E-collar. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. We live in our RV fultime. We just took our first trip, 8 hrs to AL, 8 hrs back. Our cat, who is 13, was fine before we left. She hid under the bed the entire trip and seemed sick when we arrived in AL. We were there only two days and traveled home. She again hid under the bed for the entire 8 hrs and now has been sick since. She vomits and will not eat. She drinks very little water. Will she recover on her own or do i need to take her to the vet?? — Frances D., Navarre, FL

A. This sounds serious enough that a visit to your Veterinarian is warranted. The list of possibilities is too long to speculate. If she was over-weight or had any other underlying disease like early diabetes, heart disease or a thyroid disorder, all of which are very possible at 13 years, the stress of the trip could make her very sick. Get to the Vet soon! — Dr. Mitch


Q. I am flying from SLC to LIT and its going to be about a 6 hr trip. i have a Schnauzer that will be traveling with me but he gets very nervous and barks at strangers i was wanting to know if there is anything i can give him to calm him down… he has something wrong with him were he gets very sick if he get stressed that is why i cannot leave him with my husband. Please help… — Vanessa N., Cove , AR

A. If your dog is this sensitive to stress, my best advice is to talk to your Veterinarian about anti-anxiety medicines and behavior modification. Traveling on a plane for 6 hours may be more stressful than leaving him home with your husband, but if not….your Vet may prescribe Valium, Acepromazine or other sedatives. Remember, all medicines can have potential side effects or not give the desired response. Sometimes it takes a few short trips to figure out the best dose. Good Luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. I am adopting a 6yr old female, English cream golden retriever, as owner moving away. how do I deal with shock caused by a new owner,house,surroundings etc & how long approx before dog adjusts? — Darryl H., Niagara Falls, ON Canada

A. The fact is that all dogs will adjust to these situations differently. Some very social animals will barely miss a beat while others may take months to adapt. What you must understand is that if the owner can not take the dog with them, then this will be the best long term situation. With a good caring home and the general easy going temperament of Goldens, the transition should be fairly painless. If you do perhaps run into problems, consult with your Veterinarian; there may be medicines that can help decrease anxiety short term. Good Luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. Have a 14 yr old Persian .It has been her and I only. Have done energy work with dogs before in kennels at SPCA. About 3 mos ago started volunteering with dogs at a rescue group and recently did a whirlwind trip from Vancouver, BC Canada to a couple of shelters in California.On the road trip home bonded with a 5 mos chihuahua/terrier mix. Should I even think about bringing this puppy into my home? Foster first. Could it bring about too much stress for my cat? Thank you for your thoughts. — J.Capella

A. Introducing a new puppy to an older cat can definitely be stressful. Most cats will usually learn to accept a new housemate but it may take a long time. If your cat is physically healthy I do not believe the increase stress will cause any serious health problems but I think fostering to adopt may be a wise idea in case you need an out. Good Luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. Hi – I have an 7-8 yr old lop bunny that I want to relocate to Europe from Vancouver with us this year. She doesn’t travel very well in the car and I am worried about her being alone in the cargo section of an airplane for a long time. She is not allowed in the cabin. Is there anything I can give her to make the journey (probably around 13hrs in total) easier for her? She’s in very good health and is very active. Thank you. — Jeni B., Vancouver, BC Canada

A. Unfortunately, most sedatives for rabbits do not last long enough (2-4 hours) or have potential side effects that outweigh their benefits. My advice is to bed her down in a lot of hay so she can stay comfortable and hidden. Be sure the carrier has plenty of air flow and a place to hang a good water bottle that won’t drip during the flight. Although the cargo area is pressurized, it is not always heated or cooled so be sure to watch the time of year you are traveling and communicate with the airline on any other details they recommend (ie., health certificates, etc.). Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. Hi there. I have 2 cats, one that’s just about 9 and the other is 5. The one that’s 9 is as spry as she can be and healthy as far as the our vet is concerned. I’m a student and i’m looking to relocate to Ottawa from British Columbia for school. I want to take them with me, but they’ve never been on a plane before. I would like to know what would be the best way to prepair them for such a trip (about a 6 hour flight). I found some websites helpful, but not completely. Is there a certain age that makes a cat not so healthy to travel by plane? what exactly deems a cat “healthy” for plane travel? will the pressure cabin hurt them in any way? would a tranquillizer be helpful (or harmful)? would should they eat or drink (or not eat/drink) the night before the flight? Thank you very much in advance for taking the time to answer my questions. — Alisha E.

A. Age is not a disease so if the cats are truly healthy, then it does not matter how old they are in order to travel safely. My only concern this time of year is the temperature, especially in Canada. If you are going to bring them into the passenger area, no problem with pressure or temperature; if they are going to be “checked” into baggage, be sure to speak with the airline; they have some very strict rules. There are pressurized compartments beneath the plane that will be safe but, again, they are not always heated or cooled. As far as tranquilizers go, if they travel in the car well, then I would recommend against it. This usually has a negative effect, making them more disoriented and confused and harder to maintain body temperature. Eating/drinking the night before will be fine; I would not feed them much the morning of the flight. Good Luck in your travels. — Dr. Mitch


Q. What do you feel is the best type of food for cats — canned or dry and why? — Shelly P., Clearlake, CA

A. The current thinking is to bring cats back to their carnivorous roots. Higher protein, low carbohydrate diets are the best. With this said, the meatier canned foods are more highly recommended but there are many “wild” diets on the market — both canned and dry. The higher water content of the canned foods may have the added benefit of keeping the bladder/urinary tract flushed and the cat well hydrated. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I noticed today that my cat had a film (I believe it is the inner eyelid, only she’s not blinking it back like they normally do) over her eyes just like her two deceased sisters had before they died. But I can’t really describe that film over her eyes, it’s only part way. But it grows to the point where they cross the road at the wrong time or they don’t see a predator at night. There is no redness or white, everything is its normal colour. What’s going on and how can I help her? — Christine M., Innisfail, AB Canada

A. When the third eye lid is up, it usually means that there is fever or inflammation in the eye. It could be from bacteria, allergies, fungal or viral causes, also sometimes trauma or pain. If the cat is eating, drinking and otherwise acting normal, I suspect allergies or a virus like Feline Leukemia or FIV. I would have a Vet take a look. An inexpensive drop may be all it takes to help. Good Luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. Which is best for identification purposes, pet tattooing or pet microchipping? What happens if a location does not have the same ID system to read your pet’s microchip? — Jaylynn H.

A. Most, if not all, Veterinarians, Shelters and Animal Control facilities have universal readers which can detect the presence of pet microchips and read their number. Unless you tattoo your phone number onto your pet, the random numbers or letters mean nothing to someone who finds him. Also, pet microchipping is quick and almost painless if done right, while tattooing will require sedation and possibly anesthesia. — Dr. Mitch


Q. Hi there, I adopted my male cat at 7 months from a shelter. He’s turned into such a loving and playful boy! Since we live on the second floor in a complex, we let him play outside during the day but on weekends when we visit our parents, we leave him inside with enough food and toys (His litter tray is on the balcony so at least he can go outside when we’re not there). We’re going on holiday for 2 weeks and we don’t know what would be the best option for our cat. I don’t want to put him in a kennel because I got him from a cage, and I don’t want him to think I’m deserting him. So, I can either leave him at home and have someone look in on him every 2nd/3rd day, but he’s never been alone for that long and he needs a lot of attention. Otherwise, my parents have offered to take care of him (they have a friendly Yorkshire terrier), and I’m liking the idea, but what would be the best option and how would I integrate him into my parents’ place without freaking him out to much? — Marianka E., ZA

A. I think that taking the stress of introducing him to your parents’ dog is better than the risk of leaving him home alone for 2-3 day periods. If you can have your parents just isolate him to a small room for the first day or two so he learns where his food and litter box is, he should be fine. If the pup hates cats, it may be necessary to keep him isolated, but I still think this is better than the kennel and the staying home idea. Have a safe trip. — Dr. Mitch


Q. My 13 yr. old indoor Persian has been treated for months for a uri with no success – clavamox, orbax, and interferon. Symptoms: multiple sneezing, & a staggered breathing sound through her nose, not mouth. She eats fine & feels fine. She has occasional small scabs around her neck/head area. (use revolution for fleas.) My other cat has none of these symptoms. What else could it be? Vet mentioned allergies (food, litter, dust) but since no recent changes, seems that wouldn’t just start suddenly. Can you suggest steps to take, & anything to clear her sinuses, prescribed or herbal/natural? I am not working now so can’t continue spending $100’s at vet with no resolve. Thanks so much. — Virginia J., Newnan, GA

A. If there is was any response while on antibiotics but the infection returns when off it, I would consider Zithromax. Also other infectious things like fungus are possible. I agree with your Vet that some kind of allergy may be triggering this but at 13 years, you must consider cancer and polyps. If you have not done so yet, be sure that feline leukemia and FIV are not a factor; they are notorious for preventing simple infections from healing. Good Luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. Hello, My little shih-tzu is 9 months old. He has a terrible problem with eating poop. I have wormed him, tried to spank him, and tried to explain it is not good. I can see that he struggles with his desire to eat poop and in the end he loses his battle and eats poop. What can I do? Will this stop? — Natalia L., PA

A. At nine months, you should be able to break this habit with some training. Keep him on a leash in order to control him when he approaches a pile and tell him no, then redirect him by telling him to sit and praise him for sitting. You may need to do this for months until he gets it. If he is eating his own feces there are several products on the market (Forbid is the one we use) which, when sprinkled on their food, has no taste going down but apparently makes the taste of the feces less appealing. Ask your Vet for more advice or pick up a training book; most will have a chapter on this type of behavior. P.S. Don’t let him kiss you on the mouth until he breaks this habit. Good Luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I have a goldfish with swimbladder disease. I have tried peas and antibiotics but she has been at the top upside down for 6 weeks. Otherwise she is fine. I have to put her in a bowl to feed her otherwise she can’t get the food before it sinks. I think she needs to have air extracted from her swimbladder with a syringe, but I can’t find an aquatic veterinarian. What should I do to help her? — Deborah R., Bristol, DK

A. If you cannot find a local Vet willing to help you out, you may need to attempt this one yourself. Some of these cases are actually a displaced air bladder rather than just a “full” air bladder and require surgery to suture back into place. I remember a Vet many years ago actually sutured a cork to the dorsal fin of a fish to compensate for the buoyancy. I unfortunately do not have a good answer for your problem. Any aquariums in your area, they usually have an aquatic Vet on payroll. Good luck. — Dr. Mirch


Q. We are moving from Bensalem, PA to Boynton Beach, FL in October. We will be driving with our 24# dog & not only need pet-friendly hotels along the I-95 corridor, but an accommodation when we get there until our furniture arrives for our new home. Foxy is 5 yrs old, a rescue dog from the Humane Society & has had some obedience training. We’ve had her for 4 yrs. She is part pomeranian & part husky. Should we keep her shaved? She is very fluffy when not trimmed. What should we know or do for this journey & new surroundings? Should she have some sedation? Any advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated. — Meyers M.

A. Pomeranian/Husky is an unusual mix; it sounds like a lot of hair! I think keeping the undercoat combed out is the best thing you can do, and be sure to give her plenty of time to acclimate to the warmer climate in FL before you leave her outside for any extended period of time. If she travels well around town, then I think she will make the trip without major problems. If she is a poor traveler, you may want to talk to your Vet about a sedative. You can find pet-friendly hotels on the PetTravelCenter.com website. Have a safe trip, and when you arrive, find a restaurant called Boston’s on the Beach, and ask for Millie. Good luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. Our female 1 1/2 yr old German Shepherd is very protective and we would like to take her camping but are afraid of any incidents. Help with any suggestions. — Jo H.

A. If you bring an overprotective, unpredictable pet into an unusual situation, you may be asking for trouble. I would start by addressing her behavior problems at home where you can control the situation. Most towns have trainers which can help, and every Vet has worked with these behavioral problems. German Shepherds can be very one family- or one person-oriented, and without a lot of work with socialization, can exhibit this protective behavior which can grow into aggression. Be careful, and consider professional help before it gets worse. Good luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. My dear black lab, Louie (14 yrs old), can no longer walk well, hasn’t been able to climb nor desend stairs for a couple yrs, falls frequently, eats very little, and incontinent now. At what point am I prolonging his misery and not his life? He has been such a great companion, loves to travel, and has brought our family such gratitude and happiness. We don’t want him to suffer but are so sad for his condition. He looks at US like he is worried for US. We tell him it’s ok to go – but we are wondering if it’s more humane to ‘put him down’. — Mary C., Roanoke, VA

A. Determining quality of life on a pet is not always easy. If you have explored all your options on pain meds and joint support formulas and feel it is getting close, then I always recommend letting a good “friend” go sooner than later. You will feel much worse if you wait until he is obviously suffering and in pain to make the call. If you had 14 good years with a lab, you’ve done very well but, the good ones are never put on this earth long enough. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I adopted a 6 yr old chihuahua 2 yrs ago May from the animal shelter (so she is approx. 8 yrs old). She was a stray so they knew nothing about her. She is a very sweet timid dog and doesn’t bark at all (she can I’ve heard her). Question is, when I’m home and awake she will go outside to potty (has a doggie door), but if I’m gone or asleep she will pee just inside the door on the floor. I put a pad down and she will go on that, but since I don’t see her do it, do you have any suggestions how I can help to change that behavior? Thanks! — Lara L.,Garden Grove, CA

A. The first thing you have to do is break the cycle. My best advice it to crate her while you are not home or asleep. It is rare for dogs to pee where they sleep. It may take a few days for her to get used to the kennel but most do so without much problem. When you are home rather than just letting her use the doggie door, physically take her outside and praise her when she goes (your neighbors will think you’re nuts), and make a big deal about it. You can attach a leash from her collar to your belt loop and be able to keep an eye on her when she needs to go. Most dog training books will have a chapter on inappropriate urination problems if you do not find my advice helpful; swing by a book store and take a look. One other thing, although this sounds very “behavioral,” if you think she is straining to urinate or going more frequently, you may want to have your Vet check a urine sample to rule out a bladder infection. Good Luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. Is it normal for my 3 month old puppy to be sensitive towards light? He prefers to be in dark places. Is that normal, or should I take him to see his vet? — Elva Q., Modesto, CA

A. Photophobia, or sensitivity to light, is not necessarily abnormal in young puppies. Their light reflexes mature around 3-5 weeks but some are delayed. Look closely at the eyes, and see if the pupils are dilated in normal light. Now, shine a bright light in the eyes and watch the response. If the pupils do not constrict, it would be worth asking your Vet. If they do, then don’t worry about it now. — Dr Mitch


Q. We bought a 6 month-old Jack Russel (male) doggie at the SPCA. His backlegs were a little paralyzed although he can walk on them – sometimes they just fold under him. They said he was born like that. What can we do to improve the muscles? — Annelize C., Sabie, ZA

A. The first thing to do is have the problem diagnosed. If it is medial luxating patellas or other orthopedic issue, the problem may be able to be corrected surgically. If, on the other hand, it is a genetic or congenital defect or a problem with the spinal cord, there may be little you can do. Making sure there is no pain and providing physical therapy may be helpful. Ask a local Vet for details on PT and exercise. Good Luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I have a female bunny that is about 7 months old. As I was playing with her yesterday, I noticed she has a red blot in her back. A small amount of hair in this area is very short and looks as if it’s shaved and the skin looks like she has scurf. I visited a vet today after work and showed him some photos I took of the area since I couldn’t take her with me at the time. He told me it’s a mycosis and gave me an ointment to apply twice a day. However, since I live in a village here in Greece and the vet I visited is the only one to be found here (who by the way I don’t think knows that much about bunnies), I am worried maybe it’s something more serious. I examined her fur thoroughly for fleas but found nothing. I don’t see her scratching more than usually and her ears are clean. Do you think it could be something more serious? — Karola G.

A. Fungal infections on rabbits’ skin are common and most topical antifungals are safe and effective. I would take your Vet’s advice for now, but if there is no improvement or any more spots show up within 10 days, I would bring your bunny in for a skin scrape, cytology and possibly a fungal culture. Good Luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. We will be traveling in our RV for a 10 day trip this weekend. We have pair of Maltese who we intend to breed one day but did not plan on it during our trip. Yet the bitch has come into heat. We have a good boarder to leave them with but I will miss them so much. Any suggestions? — Debbie P.

A. If the dogs are less than two years old, I do not recommend breeding them yet. Whether you are going to board them or travel with them, be sure to keep them apart. — Dr. Mitch


Q. My cat has CRF and receives Sub Q fluids every other day. However, ten minutes after I administer the fluid, she vomits. Is that common? And if not, what can I do to stop that from happening? — Juju N.

A. Giving fluids under the skin to help improve the quality of life in cats with chronic renal failure is a very common practice. I have not seen cats vomit routinely after receiving fluids in my experience. My first suggestion would be to warm the fluids to body temperature (cat’s – 101.5F) prior to administering. If no improvement, antacids like pepcid AC may be helpful. Finally, if your Vet has not talked to you about Epakitin or Azodyl, check it out. They seem to be helping many of my “kidney cats.” Good Luck! — Dr.Mitch



Q. My mouse had an abcess in his eye; it was stuck out and the eyelid didn’t close over it. I took it to the vet and they gave him some respitory track medicine (didn’t even treat the eye) but I suppose all antibiotics are the same for mice. Anyways, two weeks later, the mouse is blind I believe from that side. The eye is back in the eye socket from what I can see, but there is a clear discharge all the time. The eyeball is not clear; in fact it looks deflated if that is possible? The antibiotics are done in two days; what do I do? Will he be ok or do I need to give him more antibiotics? Enrofloxacin was given, and vitamino, nothing topical. Enucleation obviously is not an option since a mouse may not live the anesthetic. Please help! — Chrissy A., Orleans, ON Canada

A. It sounds like the eye was proptosed (popped out) to begin with, then as it dried out, it got infected. There is a good chance that as the eye infection progresses, it will spread to his body. I think the risk of anesthesia and enucleation is better than doing nothing. Many towns and cities have experienced “exotics” vets who could perform this procedure. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. What sedative (non-script) could I give my 8 pound Yorkie for a 3 hour airplane trip? I tried Benadryl. It didn’t work. — Patrick I., Holmdel, NJ

A. There is no other safe, over-the-counter medicine that I know of that causes mild sedation. The next level of sedative drugs must be prescribed by a Veterinarian. They are very safe and inexpensive but somewhat unpredictable as to how long they will last and how profound of an effect they will provide. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I would like to ask what to do because my dog ate a bone of chicken. Please give me a piece of advice. Please reply ASAP. Thank you! My dog is a Beagle. — Che G.

A. Most dogs can eat bones without any problem if it is not a large amount, spoiled or splinters. Once the bone material is chewed and in the stomach, it will digest just like in wild carnivores. The problem is when the amount of bone is too great or the chewed pieces splinter and perforate the stomach or intestines. If your dog is not vomiting and acting fine otherwise, it may be worth just observing for 24 hours. If you are concerned, your Vet can take an x-ray in order to determine the amount of risk. — Dr. Mitch


Q. What would be a good over-the-counter cat sedative for an 8 hour drive? — Cindy P., Waltham, MA

A. Sedating cats is not easy with OTC meds. The only safe medicine would be Benadryl (Diphenhydramine) but its sedating effects on an anxious cat is minimal. If you cannot get to a Vet for a “real” sedative, I suggest a carrier with a dark sheet to cover it and a pair of ear plugs for the other passengers. Also, don’t forget a roll of paper towels for any clean up. Happy Trails! — Dr. Mitch


Q. I have a chubby dog, and I’ve tried and tried to get the weight off her. Our best guess (combined between my vet and me) is that she’s a beagle/border collie/Australian shepherd mix. She’ll be 6 in January and has been overweight since she was about 18 or 24 months. I’ve tried diet foods with very little success, and any weight she does lose, she manages to pile back on. I’m stingy with treats — only give little pieces at a time, and they’re low cal. She’s about 60 lbs., and the vet would like to see her between 50 to 55 lbs. She was 45 lbs. at about 9 or 10 months old (spayed at 6 months). She gets 2 cups a day of vegetarian kibble (she’s developed food allergies and there’s no weight loss low allergen food) and limited treats. We walk for 40 minutes twice a day. We’ve never missed a check-up and besides environmental and food allergies, she’s in perfect health. Thyroid was tested just over a year ago and it’s fine. My vet keeps telling me to cut back on her food. But, if I cut her food back any lower than 2 cups a day (1 cup twice a day), she’s insanely hungry and won’t settle. She’ll “surf” the counter, help herself to the garbage, anything to get a morsel of food if I cut her back any further. I don’t know what else to do to get (and keep) the weight off of her. Can you help? — Deborah C., Toronto, ON Canada

A. It does sound like you are doing everything right but still not making any headway with her obesity. The vegetarian diets seem to all be high in fat and very quickly digested, leaving the dog hungry within hours of eating. I suggest you look at novel protein diets like Duck, Fish or Venison. These may work for the allergies and satisfy her hunger better. IVD (Innovative Veterinary Diets) by Royal Canin even makes a “novel protein” light food. My next thought would be a new medicine called Slentrol by Pfizer. You can get more information at https://www.slentrol.com. You can read the details, but it helps block fat absorption without blocking the absorption of essential nutrients. Finally, hugs and pats on the head are a lot lower calorie than even your low cal treats. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. My 3 month old Shih Tzu will eat his feces if I do not remove it right away. Is this common, and how can I get him to stop? — A. Brown

A. Coprophagia, or eating one’s feces, is a common yet disgusting problem for dogs. If the feces has undigested food particles in it or if the dog is hungry due to under-feeding or intestinal parasites, this might increase the chances of starting this habit. Most will grow out of it, but the ones that don’t need to be trained, and both positive and negative reinforcement techniques are used. If just cleaning up the mess in a timely matter is not helping, there are products which can be put on the dog’s food which supposedly impart a bitter taste when coming out the other end, thus discouraging the act. Ask your vet for more advice, or consult almost any dog training book for details. — Dr. Mitch


Q. We will be leaving for Canada by land soon, and I would like current information on what documentation we need for our dog to enter Canada and also return to the United States. Thank you for your quick response. — Dianne M.

A. A current rabies certificate from a licensed U.S. veterinarian is required for traveling to Canada with a dog over three months of age. For more information, check out the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency website for details on the importation of pet dogs.

Traveling with a cat from the United States to Canada also requires a valid rabies certificate from a licensed U.S. veterinarian. Again, check out the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency for more info on the importation of domestic cats into the country. Hope this helps! — Dr. Mitch


Q. Hi, my 18 1/2 yo female spayed, dachshund who up until April 08 had no medical problems or history. First growth came up on ridge of snoot, between ridge but lower than the eyes. This resolved to smaller but is still present. In June, a larger growth began to grow above the right eye and measures approximately one inch + more vertical than horizontal. There is a nasal congestion, appearing as there is a communicating problem with swallowing and breathing. Incessant sneezing, wheezing, snorting. The initial laboratory reports were suggesting cushing syndrome, but for the most part not treated on that. The lab panel was within normal or high out of range for the normal Glu, alk pho, K, Na, etc. However, she still manages to eat one meal a day, she goes outside to eliminate and seems to enjoy her surroundings; she is responsive, knows her surroundings. Local vet says MRI, followed by invasive workup, chemo and radiation. Not looking for a cure for cancer (if that is what is most probably is) but asking if anyone shares this and if so, any suggestions for what could be done. I thank you, in advance, for any suggestions or comments you might be so inclined to give. Thank you. — Anne S.

A. If the Glucose and Alk Phos are out of range, Diabetes and Cushings is likely but this would not require MRI or invasive work-up to confirm. Usually some simple blood tests give the answer and treatment is medical and can be started at home. I would get a second opinion from another local Vet before making any big decisions. — Good luck, Dr. Mitch


Q. We want to RV with our Amazon and African grey parrots. Are there any states that won’t let us bring in our parrots? I have current avian vet checkup records, and they are microchipped. — Barb V., Lebanon, OH

A. To the best of my knowledge, there are no states that restrict Amazons or African grey’s. To be safe, a health certificate would be helpful. Your avian vet should be able to provide one for you. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. My 50 lb. beagle does not travel in the car very well. He paces back and forth on long trips. We stop a lot but he doesn’t calm down. Is there anything we can give him to calm him down for a 6 hr. trip? — Janice W., Stacyville, ME*

A. For longer trips, it may not be worthwhile to sedate your pet, though it may help it through the first part of the trip. The risks of tranquilizing your pet must be weighed against the benefits. Some pets become more anxious when a tranquilizer begins to take effect. An unusual reaction to tranquilizers can make a pet agitated and excitable. It may be worthwhile to have your vet examine your pet and see what he or she recommends based on your pet’s age, temperament and size. Your vet may recommend a “test run” by giving a dose of the medication a few days before travel so as to observe its effects on your pet.


Q. I have a small mixed breed dog that I picked up about 4 yrs. ago. Recently I noticed blood in her urine. What kind of tests are available to determine what is causing the problem? I don’t just want antibiotics. I want to find out what this problem is. Have any idea what this might be besides a urinary infection? — Carmela T., Angleton, TX

A. Urinary tract infections are the most common cause of blood in urine; however, polyps, cancer, bladder stones and kidney infections are also possibilities. I would start by bringing a urine sample to your vet for analysis. They will quickly be able to check for infection. If it is just blood and no sign of infection, an x-ray will help rule out bladder stones or tumors. I would not wait on this one. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. We are preparing to travel to a beach location time share that doesn’t allow pets. Since the dogs will have to be boarded somewhere, I am wondering if it would be better to leave them at boarding services at home; or if they could travel with us and be boarded close to where we would be staying so that we could pick them up and have them with us during the day? One way we leave them once and are gone for an extended period of time; the other way, we leave them often for shorter periods of time. — Laurie M.

A. I’m not sure there is one correct answer for this one. If your pups travel well and adapt well to change in routine, then I would definitely take them along. You may have some great opportunities to share some fun times. On the other hand, if they don’t travel well (i.e., get car sick) or if they are social and adapt well to kennel life, it may be easier to leave them behind. Remember, dogs do not have any true sense of time, so whether you are gone for one day or 10 days, they will be just as happy to see you when you return. Enjoy the beach! — Dr. Mitch


Q. Hi! We have one cat, Dani, who is just over a year old, and a kitten, Maia, who is about 7 months old. Maia and Dani get along great, are always cuddling, etc. Dani is very sweet to us, cuddly, and loving. Maia, however, is terrified of us. She won’t come out from under the bed if we’re within 5 feet of her. She has always been skittish, but it’s getting to the point where it feels like we only have one cat, since we never see Maia. When we do get close enough to pick her up, despite our efforts to hold her close, keep her feeling safe, etc., she begins to breathe very fast and make tiny mewing noises. Is there anything we can do? We also have two dogs, and they all get along great. Help is appreciated! Thanks. — Nora P., FL

A. Cat psyche is never easy! Because there may be “skeletons” in little Maia’s closet that we will never understand, I think you should prepare yourself for a one cat household. I do think you should continue to try bonding with short periods of holding Maia, lots of positive reinforcement with treats if possible (tuna might work) and no loud noises or quick movements. If all else fails, you may want to talk to your Vet about anti-anxiety meds. They are inexpensive, safe and have little to no sedative effects. Good luck. — Dr. MItch


Q. I am living in Egypt and rescued 3 abandoned feral kittens at about 3 weeks old that are now about 3 months old and I have another rescue feral kitten I rescued at about 2 weeks old and is about 4 weeks old now. The problem is that access to pet foods here is limited and also extremly expensive when it can be found. My kittens eat well but have become accustomed to eating fresh meats (chicken). My husband and I have a trip planned and will be leaving in 1 week to be gone for 2 weeks. We had planned on leaving them enough food and water for them for 2 weeks as we managed to buy some dry food and an extra litter pan. Over the past couple of weeks I slowly tried introducing them to the dry food by slowly moistening it. They would reluctantly eat it but only if they became very hungry. Now the older 3 kittens refuse to eat the completely dry food and if I moisten it while I am gone it will get molded and go bad. The little one that is 4 weeks, although eats fresh meat with no problem, will not eat the cat food at all. If we leave enough dry food and water for them, will they eat if they get hungry enough? Will they starve themselves? They are normally very hearty eaters when it is something they like such as fresh chicken or fish. I am extremely concerned over this for all of them, but speicially the little one. There is no way for us to cancel our plans, as we made them and paid for them several months ago before we ever took in the kittens. Our original plan was to take them in and nurse them to health and release them, as feral cats run rampant here in Egypt, but they became attached to us and we are afraid they cannot fend for themselves, and now we want to keep them and bring them back home with us to the U.S. next year. What is your advice on this? I look forward to hearing back from you as soon as possible. Thank you. — Lisa A., Egypt

A. Remember that cats are amazing survivors. If the little kitten is already weaned (eating solid food), I believe it will eat when hungry. You need to check this theory before you leave by not feeding them fresh food for 24 hours and observing. If they still refuse, you may need to find a friend to take care of them or pay someone. Two weeks is a long time to go without food or fresh water, especially for such young cats, so even if you get them to eat the dry food on their own, I encourage you to find someone to look after them while you are gone. One other quick point, be sure to research a complete diet for the cats if a prepared cat food is not available. By the way, weren’t cats first domesticated in Egypt over 2000 years ago? Surely, they have cat food! Good Luck! — Dr. Mitch


Q. How do you groom a small animal that does not hold still and that will bite you? — Sara G., Indianapolis, IN

A. These little guys can be tough. Training is the key. You didn’t identify what type of small animal you have but, assuming it’s a small dog, you can start by gently petting your dog with the grooming brush with lots of praise. Slowly increase the sessions until your dog gets more comfortable. If you need a muzzle in the beginning to be safe, eventually your dog will get used to it. Sedatives may also be needed, but that will have to be under the direction of a veterinarian. Good Luck. –Dr. Mitch


Q. I’m going to be traveling from state to state next year. What documents/shots are required? Do I need a health certificate to travel by car within the US? That is the big question. Thanks. — Hualapai, AZ

A. Traveling the United States by car with your pet requires no health certificates or other official paperwork. I do strongly recommend having your pet current on vaccines, heartworm preventative, flea and tick control and microchipped. Also, keep a copy of these records and a picture of your pet on hand just in case you need to seek veterinary help or your pet gets lost. Happy Trails. — Dr. Mitch


Q. We have been trying to get our cat used to travelling by car for our upcoming move to Spain. She will have to travel by ferry, 10 hours flight (in the cabin) and five-hour bus or car ride. It doesn’t seem to be making any difference; she still cries in the car. She obviously just doesn’t like the motion, but she’s fine when just in her carrier walking around. We`ve heard it is very ill-advised to give her a sedative. Do you have any tips? Would be much appreciated!

A. This might be a very long trip! If you have tried to desensitize her by traveling short trips with no positive efffect, it may be worth considering mild sedatives. Most are extremely safe with no long-term side effects. The main question will be — is the negligible risk of the sedative greater than the risk of 20 hours of traveling stress? I wish I could give you more advice, but be sure to ask your vet for details on the sedatives available. — Best of luck, Dr. Mitch


Q. This winter I’ll be taking my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel on American Airlines from Chicago O’Hare to Skyharbor Phoenix AZ airport in the cabin in a pet carrier. I’ve read all that AA has to say about it. My question is what does AZ and IL require upon entry? Thanks! — Jeanette, Haineville, IL

A. Traveling by plane with your pet in the cabin is the safest way to travel when weather conditions are uncertain. All you will need to travel is a pet health certificate from your veterinarian filled out within 10 days of travel. Have a safe trip. — Dr. Mitch


Q. We recently had to put our 15-year-old dog to sleep. Will we have a problem introducing another dog to her 14-year-old housemate? Any rules? — Rhodanne A., Lake Havasu City, AZ

A. There are no specific rules for introducing a new pet to an existing pet household, but it is very important to go slow. If, for example, your older pet is a bit grumpy or has arthritis, he may not have a lot of patience for a rambunctious new puppy with razor-sharp teeth. If your dog is great with new situations, other animals, etc., you should have no problems. One other suggestion: Have a Vet give the new kid a good exam. Check for intestinal parasites, fleas, ticks, etc., and get started on vaccines and heartworm preventative. The last thing you want to do is get your other dog sick. Good luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. My dog has a small umbilical hernia. Barley is small, one-year-old Shi Tzu. How common are these? Is it dangerous to let it go, watch it to make sure it doesn’t get bigger, or is this something that needs attention right away? — Tracy K., Shepherd, MT

A. Umbilical hernias are quite common in many small breed dogs and in themselves do not pose much risk. They do represent a small opening and potentially weak spot in the abdominal wall which, depending on its size, could allow a loop of bowel to “slip” through. If this were to occur, it would be dangerous and potentially fatal. If it is small and easily reducible, I would watch it carefully and have it corrected when it is time to spay/neuter your pup. My best advice would be to have your vet take look and help you make the best decision. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I was wondering, how many cups of food should I feed my 50 lb. two-year old dog? Thanks so much! –Laura A., USA

A. A 50-pound beagle and a 50-pound Great Dane would obviously have much different needs. Besides breed, it would be helpful to know what kind of activity your dog has. If you get on Purina’s website, it will help you get a “body condition score” on your dog, which will be very helpful in fine tuning your dog’s perfect nutrition. –Dr. Mitch


Q. I had an interesting situation happen over the weekend that I thought maybe you or one of your cat experts can shed some light on.

For some background, I have 2 two year old cats – neither one has ever hissed, bitten or scratched – I always say that they forgot to go through the temper door. My brother has watched my cats dozens of times while I am away – they love him as much as us.

My brother came over our house while we were out to feed the boys. He came in and pet Wally on the head and was there about 20 minutes before he went into the kitchen to get the boys their food. He bent over to pick up the food bowls and Wally started hissing and growling at him, showing his fangs, stood on his hind legs (my brother said he was like a mad animal).

Anyway, my brother went into our porch and closed the door to let Wally calm down. Wally dove through the open window to go after him. So, my brother thought it was best to leave so he had to go through the house again – backwards – because he was afraid that Wally would attack him. An hour later, he went back – got half way up the stairs and Wally started all over again with the hissing and the growling and the showing of his teeth. So, my brother left.

I came home later that night, and Wally and Eddie were as calm as ever – like nothing ever happened.

My brother had sealed his driveway on Saturday a.m. Although he had changed his clothes, do you think that odor could have triggered something in Wally to make him react that way? Wally also had his FVRCP booster a week prior – could that be the cause?

Thanks for your insight.

A. First, I would be curious to know how the cats react to your brother now that they are back in their normal routine? I suspect that there was some odor, scent, pheromone, etc., on him that provoked this defensive posturing. It is instinctive for cats to be protective and territorial if they feel threatened. If they are still reacting this way towards him, you should find a product called Feliway. It is a “happy” cat pheromone which may calm their fear of him. Good Luck. — Dr. Mitch


Q. I feed my two-month-old puppy adult Purina dog food and the third bowel movement it had, there was blood in the stool. It was bright blood, and it looked like drops of blood, not just mixed with the feces. Could it have to do with the food or something else? Puppy very active. — Yesenia H., Modesto, CA

A. Blood in the stool of a young puppy is usually caused by stress, diet change, intestinal parasites or an infection. Because some of the viruses that can cause this can be very dangerous in young under-vaccinated puppies, I strongly recommend a trip to your local Vet to be checked out. Stress, diet change and parasites are usually very easily treated. Good luck, Dr. Mitch


Q. I have a five-month, three-week old Yorkie. She has not been eating as much as before, and she is still as active. Should I be worried, and why is she doing it? — Emanuel V., New Bedford, MA**

A. Decreased appetite in a young, otherwise healthy pup should be watched carefully and checked out by a vet if it get worse. — Dr. Mitch


Q. What type documentation do we need to take our Yorkie to Canada and return? — Gene D., Springtown, TX

Q. We will be traveling by motorhome into Canada. Do I need anything other than proof that they have had their shots? — Kathleen M., Bush, LA

A. Since we received two similar questions this week about traveling with pets to Canada, we’ll answer them both together.

Traveling to Canada with a dog over three months of age only requires a current rabies certificate from a licensed U.S. veterinarian. For more information, check out the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency website for details on the importations of pet dogs.

Travel to Canada from the United States with a cat is also quite easy. All you need is a valid rabies certificate from a licensed U.S. veterinarian. Again, check out the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency for more info on the importation of domestic cats into the country. Happy Trails! — Dr. Mitch


Q. I recently got two kittens and one of them (which I think is a girl but I am not sure) has a reddish-like pimple on her bum. My husband thought it may be a hemorrhoid from straining when going to the litter box, but I do not know for sure if she is straining or not. I had to have my four-year-old cat put to sleep two weeks ago and now I am very nervous and overprotective of my kittens. Thank you. — Maureen S., St. Johns, NL, Canada

A. This “pimple” like thing may just be a sore, which should heal quickly on its own, but because such a large percentage of kittens have intestinal parasites, it would be wise to have your Vet check a fecal sample and take a look under the hood. If she is not straining to defecate, having diarrhea or in obvious pain, I do not believe this is an emergency, but you should still have it looked at. — Dr. Mitch


Q. We want to introduce a kitten into our family but we already have a 17-year-old female, Abyssinian cat who has an overactive thyroid and slight renal failure. Would our cat cope with this change? —Bridgette G., Melbourne, Australia

A. This may be quite stressful to an old cat fairly close to the edge. Hyperthyroidism and early renal failure may not do well with added stress. If you can keep the two of them fairly isolated with separate litter boxes, food and water, and ample places for the older cat to hide and rest, you may be fine. Good luck.


Q. What basic shots do I need when driving from Arizona to Minnesota via NM, OK, etc.? I had a certificate of health done before and found out they are not required within the U.S. — just out of the country or air travel. Is it true I don’t need it if driving? Do I only need rabies shots? — Ann W., Arizona

A. While traveling within the United States, the only vaccine required by law is a current Rabies. Proof of vaccine, including a rabies tag attached to a collar, is wise. I also recommend bringing a copy of any medical records if your pet has any medical issues that may require a visit to an out-of-state vet. Happy trails!


Q. I want to take my puppy to the Ukraine; where can I get a passport, or how do I get one for my pet? — Julia F.

A. Oversees travel with a pet is a very long process, which may take more than six months so plan ahead. The first thing you need to do is contact your veterinarian for the phone number or website of the country’s agriculture department. Most vets have this listed in the American Veterinary Medical Association directory. This will lead you to the particular rules and regulations, and special testing and vaccinations that will be required. Once you have this material, your vet should be able to help get through it. Bon Voyage!


Q. We have an 8 year old border collie mix with high separation anxiety. She can be left at home without problems but in the trailer it is impossible to leave her alone without damage. We tried the cage but she howled (according to neighbours) for 2 hours. Is there anything natural or medicinal that might work short term? I have tried rescue remedy, gelsemium, and Relax-UM without much success. Any suggestions? She has had training but it goes by the wayside in those circumstances. Thank you. — Jeanne B., Shelburne, ON, Canada

A. Border collies are a special breed. They are selected genetically to herd and protect their home. When we put them in different situations that takes them out of their routine, they often have trouble adapting. I think short trips with lots of positive reinforcement is important. Anti-anxiety drugs may be helpful, and you may need to get more advanced professional training help. Don’t give up, but remember you are facing a big challenge.


Q. I have a 1 1/2 yr old boxer (Riley). She has always loved water but has recently become excessively thirsty all the time. Our schnauzer loved water, but grew out of it after 6 months or so. Riley seems as though she is addicted to water. If she could, she would drink all the water in every toilet bowl and then eat every bit of snow outside until she vomits and then do it all over again. She forgets to go to the bathroom because she is too occupied in drinking, so she messes in the house. She doesn’t like to eat, and if she does, it’s maybe one meal every 3-4 days — huge loss of appetite. She has lost 4 lbs in one month. I’m not sure if this is relevant, but approximately 6 months ago Riley was running at the park and fainted. It lasted about 1 minute and she was back to normal. Blood work was taken and everything was normal. This episode repeated about 2 months ago. The vet advised that the dog over worked itself and, as a result, fainted. Her lack of eating, increased drinking of water and weight loss worries me. Please help with any suggestions. Thank you. — Gary G., Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada

A. This situation needs to be investigated more completely. There are many “diseases” that cause increased drinking but, with her young age, I do not believe it is anything too bad. The most common cause of this level of water obsession is called psychogenic polydipsia. Essentially, these dogs drink so much water that they “wash out” their kidneys’ ability to retain water. Once this happens, it can become dangerous to simply restrict her intake. Now with anorexia, weight loss and “fainting,” you need to have your Vet get more aggressive and diagnose the underlying problem before it is too late. Good Luck.


Q. My dog gets travel sick, drooling and vomiting on car journeys. This is on journeys that last from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. I’ve tried not feeding her before the journey, and I have tried travel eze tablets and neither of these worked. We don’t bring her in the car very often. Is there anything else I can try? — Tabatha F., Wexford, Ireland

A. This is a very common problem with many dogs and cats. I first suggest searching the past few entries in the “Ask the Vet” section of this website. If traveling more frequently on short trips to desensitize her to the anxiety of travel does not work, I suggest having your veterinarian prescribe a mild tranquilizer to help.


Q. Our two cats (both three-year olds) travel fine after about the first three hours. They both get motion or anxiety sickness during that time. They get sick, dry heaves go on after their stomach is empty and, after all that, they settle down, find their ‘spots’ and seem to enjoy the trip. The only time they get sick is after a long delay in starting to travel again (day or two). Any ideas?

A. Motion sickness is the same for cats as it is for dogs. Once they get into the “groove,” they typically will be fine. Yet, for some animals, they never seem to get over that initial period of sickness. My best advice for these animals is to ask your veterinarian for a short lasting tranquilizer. These usually last anywhere from 2-4 hours and, if given about a half hour before traveling, usually help get over the hump.


Q. I just adopted a 10-month old, 40-pound spayed German shepherd/retriever mix (Lucy) 10 days ago from the Humane Society. She is very sweet and an excellent pet. I am retired and a snowbird driving from CT to FL every year ( I am very mobile). Lucy is not afraid of the truck, and will sit with me comfortably. However, She has severe motionsickness. She will empty her stomach after even 10 minutes of driving. What are my odds of beating this problem?

A. Unfortunately, there is no way of predicting the outcome here. If she was not introduced to travel at a young age in a positive manner, you may be behind the eight ball on this. I wouldn’t give up just yet though. Begin with playing and feeding in a parked car, then start the engine for a few minutes with her inside. Then try a short trip around the block on an empty stomach, slowly extending the length of the trips. Do all of this over the course of a few weeks or longer. If this fails to to decrease the motion sickness, you should try medication during the training period; ask your vet. I have not found any difference between males and females in regard to incidences of motion sickness. You may find more info in one of many dog training books. Good Luck!


Q. Is pet insurance really worth the monthly investment? I would like to know how it really works regarding veterinarian fees and how much the insurance really pays. I know it depends on the insurance but I would like some examples according to insurance you have come across… Thanks! — Carmela T., Angleton, TX

A. Regarding pet insurance in the veterinary practice: These policies are third party pay which means that you pay full price to your veterinarian for whatever service has been provided, then you submit a form along with the itemized bill for reimbursement. Depending on the policy, you may or may not be eligable for reimbursement.

I personally have several clients with policies, some of which cover all yearly physicals, vaccines, heartworm preventatives, as well as up to 80% of sick visits. Most healthy dogs average less than $300.00 per year for vet costs and cats closer to $150.00. Now if you have an English Bull dog, (sorry Bull Dog lovers) or other high maintenance breeds, the insurance may actually pay off in the long run.

One other situation you might run across is policies offered directly by your veterinarian; many large corporate chains have these. I would simply ask your vet for the price of the typical yearly wellness items (exam, vaccines, heartworm test, fecal, etc.), compare them to the cost of the policy, then roll the dice. Remember, insurance companies are not in business to lose money. For more information on the cost of particular policies you will need to consult an agent.


Q. I may travel frequently with my 5th wheel in and out of Canada. I always have at least 3 dogs with me. What papers do I need for them? Also, does Canada acknowledge 3-year rabies shots? I show my dogs; do I need their AKC papers?

A. Whenever traveling outside the country, you should check with the province, city or town of destination because things change quickly. When going into Canada with a dog over 3 months old, all you currently need is a valid vaccination certificate, issued by a licensed veterinarian, in either English or French, which clearly identifies the dog and the state that it is currently vaccinated in. This certificate should identify the animal’s breed, color, weight, and indicate the name of the licensed rabies vaccine used, including serial number and duration of validity. Rabies vaccination or certificate is not required for pups under 3 months old. AKC papers are not required.


Q. Our 10-month old puppy does not like to travel — he gets anxious just getting in the car and often gets carsick. We have tried the short trips & trying to make it fun for him, but so far nothing has worked. Do you have any other suggestions?

A. At this young age, it is typically just a matter of persistence. Empty stomach, lots of praise and short trips around town. If this fails, ask your Veterinarian for a mild sedative. Although I do not like going to my medicine cabinet for these type of training issues, by decreasing the anxiety, you may be able to better reach your goal.


Q. I’ve heard different opinions about sedating pets before they travel. We’re planning a trip by car this fall that will take us two full days to get to our destination. Is it advisable to sedate an otherwise healthy dog who has never traveled or take our chances and hope that he doesn’t get sick and ruin it for the rest of us?
– Joseph P., Grand Rapids, MI

A. My advice is simple. Before embarking on a long trip like this, prepare your dog with a few short trips. First around the block then maybe 15 minutes, you get the idea. Most dogs, even older ones, can be desensitized to motion sickness with practice and positive reinforcement. If your pet reacts adversely to these short “test” trips, you may want to consider a sedative or anti-nausea medication. Most of these medications are very safe but only last a few hours and some may even make your dog more anxious. Consult your vet for proper drugs and doses. Many are over the counter.


Q. We’re getting ready to take a family trip with our dog but concerned about how hot it’s been this summer. Would it be safe to leave him in the car when we stop for lunch if we leave the windows cracked?
– Cambria C., Lewisville, NC

A. Summer heat can be deadly and temperatures can rise very quickly in a parked car (even with the windows cracked). Heat stroke is a very important issue concerning your pet’s health. Heat stroke is a common and lethal problem. Heat stroke is due to an increase in body temperature generally related to high environmental temperature or inadequate ventilation. The process involves the dilation of blood vessels in response to high body temperature. As blood begins to collect in the vessels, the blood pressure in the body drops rapidly. With blood circulation down, the bodies’ own cooling mechanisms stop and core body temperature can reach over 109°F (normal = 101.5°F). As the body temperature continues to rise, sensitive cells (including those in the brain and lining the intestinal tract) die. The progression of clinical signs starts with weakness and blank/dazed expression, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramping and shaking, eventual collapse and death. If you think your pet is experiencing heat stroke, the best first aid is to submerge him in cool water then seek treatment. Prevention is simple. Provide plenty of fresh, cool water daily and a well-ventilated shelter. Animals should NEVER be locked in a car even with the window cracked, or tied up in a yard or pen without shade. If you suspect your pet may have become overheated, please call your veterinarian immediately.