Recently, Dr. Ontiveros was a featured speaker at the New Year’s Pet Solutions event at The Watering Bowl in South Austin. This gave attendees of the event the opportunity to ask Dr. O some simple health questions about their pets. Here is the some of the Q&A from the event:
Q: How can I tell the difference between fleas and skin allergies for a dog with sensitive skin?
A: It is possible your dog could have both.
Environmental allergies can cause red or irritated skin around the paw pads, on their belly. Licking and scratching would be an indicator that the skin is irritated and your pet could be experiencing allergies.
Normally, when looking for flea allergies, the irritated area is at the base of the tail or your dog will chew down their side where they can reach. A flea comb will find signs of flea dirt or fleas. “Flea dirt” looks like dark dirt on your pet. If a drop of alcohol turns the dirt red, it’s a sign of fleas, as the “dirt” is dried blood that fleas have passed. Please note that over-the-counter flea medications will probably not be very effective in treating fleas on your pet, so talk to your vet about medications that will be more effective.
Q: How can I help with my dog’s dry skin?
A: A few things. Omega 3s are great for your dog, for many reasons. Look for Omega 3s with a high EPA and DHA. Also, a good dog shampoo (make sure it’s specifically designed for dogs) could help also. If it’s an over-the counter shampoo, look for one that is oatmeal-based. If the skin is looking red or irritated, it may be a sign of allergies. In that case, contact your veterinarian.
Q: My doodle gets irritated ears. We clean them regularly, but how do we know if it’s time to see the vet?
A: In general, dogs shouldn’t have ears that need to be cleaned regularly. If you see excess buildup, it might mean infection. Additional signs of an ear infection would be head shaking, scratching, redness, and odor. OR, if your dog’s ears seem painful, that could be a sign of infection. If you are seeing any of these symptoms, be sure to contact your veterinarian.
Q: How often should dogs get their teeth cleaned?
A: How often you need to have your dog’s teeth cleaned really has to do with your dog. Just like people, dogs will develop tarter and gingivitis at different rates depending on their breed and diet. You can see tarter and gingivitis in your pet’s mouth. There will be buildup on the teeth and gingivitis will present itself as redness appearing at the gum line. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet’s teeth every visit and will discuss the timeline for needing a dental cleaning. In the meantime, dental chews approved by your vet, water additives, and brushing can help maintain a healthy mouth.
Q: Does our 8-year old dog need supplements?
A: If your dog is on a well-balanced, AAFCO approved diet, they shouldn’t need additional nutritional supplements. Omega 3s, however, are good for your dog’s heart, joints and kidneys. Larger dogs might see the benefit of joint supplements to help prevent Osteoarthritis.
Q: Can you explain the vaccine titer test?
A: Some people will opt to do a vaccine titer test instead of boosting their pet’s vaccine. Unfortunately, if you do this and avoid vaccinating your pet, the titer test may not give you the correct information to know if your dog needs their booster or not. Vaccine boosters are set on a schedule to be safe for your pet while keeping them vaccinated. The risks to your pet are very low. Talk to your vet if you have questions about vaccines or titer testing.
Q: Why do my dogs love to eat grass so much?
A: Dogs will sometimes eat grass it if they feel queasy. Sometimes, eating it will help settle the stomach. Ultimately, though, it is probably instinctual for dogs to want to graze on vegetation. While it may seem like an odd habit, dogs are omnivores, and eating grass is not harmful to them.