My dog had a rash. I thought my vet had cured him but it’s back again. Should I see another vet?

Rashes, itchy red ears, hot spots and chewing at feet are incredibly common in dogs. These are normally caused by allergies.
Just like in people with allergic hayfever, eczema or migraines, treatment is often based on getting rid of the symptoms. We may use creams or tablets to get rid of the rash but we have not stopped the fact that the dog is allergic to something. When the dog is re-exposed to the allergen, we get another bout of itchiness and rashes.
If symptomatic treatment is necessary once or twice a year, we often don’t investigate the cause. If the problems are severe or ongoing, there are ways to investigate the primary problem. We can do skin prick testing (just like in people), blood tests and food trials.
Your vet may well recommend further tests now the rash has returned.

Why does my bird pluck its own feathers?

Feather plucking in birds is a very complex problem. There can be husbandry problems such as poor food and parasites, medical problems such as hormone imbalances and infections, and quite commonly behavioural problems like stress and boredom.
Feather plucking in some birds could be likened to obsessive compulsive disorders in people. This is a very tricky problem to solve. My advice would be to consult a bird specialist ASAP — once medical and husbandry problems have been ruled out, the behavioural issues can be addressed. The best chance of a solution is to get help early.

My dog rubs his bottom on the ground. What’s wrong with him?

We call this “scooting”. There are two common causes for scooting. Tapeworm infections can make a dog’s bottom itch and they scoot to scratch.
The other cause is full anal glands. Dogs have a gland on either side of their anus. When they do a firm motion, the liquid in the anal glands is squeezed out onto the poop. Dogs like to sniff each other’s bottoms and motions as the smell is quite unique — a “signature smell”. The smell is revolting. If the anal glands are very full or the liquid becomes too thick to expel, your dog will scoot.
Your vet can empty the anal glands and get your dog some tapeworm treatment.

My lovely old cat has lost weight. Should I give her a worming tablet?

While having intestinal (gut) worms can cause weight loss in any animal, there are some very serious problems that can cause an elderly cat to lose weight.
These problems include diabetes, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) and cancer. It is best to take your cat to your vet for a check-up, some blood tests and possibly X-rays or an ultrasound.
Early diagnosis of the cause of weight loss can see some great results. Conditions such as diabetes and hyperthyroidism are very treatable and these cats can have a great quality of life.
The diagnosis of cancer in an elderly cat has a variable prognosis. Some cancers are nasty and spread quickly, while others are treatable, especially if found early. It is unlikely that worms alone are causing your cat to lose weight so let’s work out what is causing the weight loss. ☐

Pet insurance - is it worthwhile?

Pet medicine and surgical treatment have advanced amazingly in the past 20 years. Our expectations are higher — we want after hours emergency services, advanced imaging such as specialist ultrasounds and CT and MRI scans, and surgeries that even people could not have done 20 years ago.
Unfortunately, these advances can be costly. As a vet who has done years of emergency work, I love pet insurance as medical and surgical decisions can be made solely for the good of the pet, rather than having to tailor treatments to suit an owner’s finances.
Insurance companies offer different levels of cover and excesses. Make sure you chose one that suits your pet.

Warning

Please do NOT use Dettol on your pet’s skin. Dettol burns cat and dog skin. If you need to wash your pet with a medicated product please get one from your vet clinic. Cats and dogs have skin that is quite unique and does not tolerate some human products.