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Vet-iquette: Ask the Veterinarian

Veterinarian Will Draper, DVM answers your questions and provides tips for making your visits to the veterinarian more productive and less stressful.

Question:
We need to have our cat euthanized. What do we need to ask our vet about this kind of appointment?
Answer:

Talk to your vet about what you feel would be the best environment for your cat. Would it be better to have it done at the vet's office or at your home? Do you want to be present for the procedure or not? Be sure to communicate what you want done with your cat's remains.

Question:
My cat does not like going to the vet. Can I get a veterinarian to make a visit to my home?
Answer:

Yes. Many veterinary practices do house calls. There are even mobile vets who do nothing but house calls. It shouldn't be difficult to find one in your area. Ask your regular vet, or do an Internet search.

Question:
My vet wants to do a blood workup on my 10-year-old cat before he'll give her pills for a cough. But the workup costs $150! Do I have any less-expensive options?
Answer:

Your vet may want to see certain test result values that can be done with a less expensive blood work profile than what he's recommending at this point. Talk to your veterinarian. Don't be ashamed or hesitant to ask for other options.

Question:
The vet recommended a complete hysterectomy for my sister's cat. How dangerous is this procedure for the cat?
Answer:

This procedure, more commonly known as spaying, is a very common veterinary practice. Most vets do it every day. While no surgical procedure comes without risks, this procedure is generally safe. Make sure your sister is informed about post-surgical care and potential problems.

Question:
My cat's eyes keep running. The vet said that this condition cannot be cured. We were given some cream to apply to his eyes, but it doesn't seem to help.
Answer:

Many times "runny eyes" is a result of conjunctivitis, which can be the result of allergies or a virus. These cannot be "cured", but the symptoms can be controlled with eye ointments or drops. If the "cream" is not working, ask your vet about other options.

Question:
My 7-year-old 2 ½-pound Yorkie just had a seizure. We gave him Karo syrup and he came out of it. But now he's running around like he's confused. Is this normal? We have contacted the vet and have an appointment in a few hours. What do you suggest I ask the vet to look for during the visit?
Answer:

The running around after a seizure is not abnormal. It is considered the "excitability phase" after seizure activity. If Karo Syrup helped, the seizure could be related to low blood sugar. But your vet will know what tests to run to make a diagnosis. Be ready to explain the seizure episode to your vet as precisely as you can.

Question:
I have a 4-year-old Jack Russell and my son gave him a raw hide. He chewed the end off and swallowed it. Now he's had loose bowels for the last two days. He also seems to be in pain. Please tell me how I can help him. Or do we absolutely have to go to the vet?
Answer:

I would certainly say you should go to the vet. If he's in pain, the raw hide could be lodged in his intestines, which requires immediate attention.

Question:
My Yorkie has a hairless spot on his back. I took him to the vet months ago and was given a cream to put on the spot. The cream didn't work and the tube is empty now. The spot never totally went away and now it seems to be getting bigger. The spot doesn't seem to bother him, but I hate it. He gets groomed once every 3 months. What else can I use or do to make the hair grow back?
Answer:

You should return to your vet for a follow-up, and possibly a referral to a veterinary dermatologist. There may be a bacterial or fungal infection. Or this could be a topical reaction. There are some conditions that may cause the hair to never return. But a veterinary dermatologist will be able to determine.

Question:
I have a Great Dane and she has done something to her left back foot. She won't put any weight on in and I can't get her into the vet until tomorrow. Is there anything I can do to make her more comfortable until then?
Answer:

Keep her off that foot until you can get her to the vet. Restricted activity is the best thing you can do right now.

Question:
My cat has discharge coming from her eyes. She's lost her appetite and energy. What can I do from home to help her? I'm really short on cash and can't afford a regular vet bill. Are there low-cost animal clinics I could look for, in case I absolutely need to take her to the vet?
Answer:

There are low-cost animal clinics almost everywhere. Also, consider your local animal humane society, which normally has a vet on staff that offers low-cost options. Your cat has a few too many things going on for me to recommend you try to treat her at home. Seeing the vet is a must.

Question:
: I have a large 14-year-old mixed breed dog. She has a large internal growth on her right side. She's not exhibiting any discomfort, but our vet wants to operate. He's not sure if it is a tumor or a cyst. We don't have the money for the surgery. Is it OK to just have the vet watch her closely for any indication of pain or a change in her general condition?
Answer:

It is best to trust your vet and follow his recommendation. It also won't hurt to get a second opinion if you aren't sure about the first.

Question:
My dog has severe allergies. She has seen two dermatologists. We've tried shots, pulse dosing, diphenhydramine, special shampoo, hypoallergenic dog food… Nothing has worked. I keep taking her to the vet to no avail. Should I change vets? She is miserable and shedding like crazy.
Answer:

I wouldn't be so quick to change vets. But certainly consider another dermatologist if others couldn't help. Most cities have large specialty practices with a dermatologist on staff. Inquire with your vet. A veterinary school is also a good option since they also have dermatologists on staff.

Question:
My 7-year-old Shih Tzu has been coughing and throwing up a lot. I recently took him to the vet for him to be put on medication for kennel cough. The coughing is getting better, but he is throwing up more and more, and the vomit is a different texture and color now. I also found a bump on his skin that looks like a growth of some kind. It's kind of hard and raised. Should I be worried?
Answer:

The growth may be nothing to worry about. But only a veterinarian can examine your dog and tell for sure. With the continued vomiting, I'd strongly recommend a vet visit ASAP.

Question:
My dog and my cat each seem to be favoring their right ear, shaking their heads and scratching at that ear. The vet didn't see anything wrong when I took them in a few weeks ago. What can I do? Should I take them back to the vet since the behavior hasn't stopped?
Answer:

You certainly should. And if your vet still doesn't find anything, seek a second opinion. It's unusual that both your cat and dog are favoring the same ear. It may be caused by two different issues. But if they're still scratching and shaking their heads, there's probably an issue.

In dogs, the most common cause for such behavior would be an external or middle ear infection. In cats, an ear infection or ear mites could be the issue, especially if your cat is allowed outdoors.

Question:
My dog has not eaten in 15 days and the vet didn't find any reason for it. I have been giving him Ensure, but he is throwing it up. He's losing so much weight. What can I do? Should I take him back to the vet, or maybe find another vet?
Answer:

If your dog hasn't eaten in 15 days, and your vet can't find any reason for it, I suggest you seek another opinion, and ASAP. There must be a reason your dog hasn't eaten for over 2 weeks. The longer this continues, the more serious the issue may become.

Make sure you find a vet who can perform diagnostics -- blood work, X-rays, ultrasounds. And be ready to provide a good medical history for your dog.

Question:
My cat, Keyboard, is 11 years old and he's been having constipation issues. We took him to the vet, who gave us a stool softener to give him four times a day. We've been using it for the last three days but he's still having problems passing stool. Any suggestions?
Answer:

Return to your vet for a follow-up. If they haven't already done it, talk about having some tests run on Keyboard (great name, by the way), such as blood work and X-rays to start. If the issue doesn't subside and your cat is uncomfortable, have him rechecked.

Question:
My dog has been running a fever, although he's acting normal. This morning he was shaking so I took him for a walk so he could go to the bathroom. He was normal during the walk and went to the bathroom as usual. But after the walk he got into the car and began pacing and shaking. He feels warm and won't drink any water. I'm worried something is wrong. What should I ask my vet to look for during our appointment?
Answer:

It's important to give your vet a full history about what you've noticed and what's going on. Provide diet information, sleep habits, bathroom habits, activities, behavior, etc. The vet staff will take vitals (temperature, pulse, respiration) and do a complete exam. Upon doing this, your vet will know where to go from there.

Question:
This is my first cat, so I'm unfamiliar with their habits. My first thought was that my kitten, Heidi, was dealing with a hairball. But now I'm not sure. Her purr has become erratic and a little strained. She's constantly coughing. She's wretched a few times. I don't know how long it takes cats to expel a hairball, but after two days I'm getting worried. I don't want to bother my regular vet if she's just going to inform me that this is a routine thing with kittens. What do you think is going on? Should we go see the vet?
Answer:

Don't ever worry about "bothering" your vet. We are here to answer questions and ease pet owners' minds. There's no such thing as a stupid question when it comes to your pet. Find a new vet, if your vet makes you feel, otherwise.

If your cat coughs a lot, have her checked out by your vet as soon as possible. As a kitten, it could be a hairball. Or it could be some sort of upper or lower respiratory issue. Your vet will know how to determine the issue, and provide you with answers.

Question:
Our 5-year-old Bassador suddenly became paralyzed in her hind quarters. The vet did a steroid treatment that worked minimally, but she cannot urinate on her own. He is recommending euthanizing her. What are our options? I imagine her issues are greater than expected since she had a reaction to the steroid treatment.
Answer:

I recommend asking your vet to refer you to a veterinary specialty practice that deals with internal medicine and veterinary surgery. A specialist can give you the answers you need, which will allow you to make a more informed decision.

Question:
My dog has a skin allergy. Can my vet do any testing to determine the cause of her allergy?
Answer:

Most general practitioners don't do in-house skin allergy testing, but a veterinary dermatologist can. Your veterinarian should know a dermatologist that he/she can refer you to. Talk with your vet about your options.

Question:
I took my cat to see the vet yesterday. He squeezed her bladder and urine came out. Why did he do that? Does this mean her bladder is functioning properly or not?
Answer:

He may have done it to collect urine or to make sure her urinary tract wasn't blocked. If your cat is not leaking urine at home, I'd guess that her bladder is functioning properly. However, the vet who examined her can give you a better answer on this, so be sure to reach out to him.

Question:
My dog is almost 6 years old. For the last couple of months she's been sleeping a lot, but is otherwise acting normal. She seems to be slowing down. Should I take her to the vet or is this normal?
Answer:

This is not unusual as pets age. But you should definitely get her checked by your vet, who can conduct the necessary lab work. As dogs age, they can suffer from hypothyroidism, which will slow down their metabolism and cause lethargy. She could also be suffering from arthritis or heart disease, both of which could cause her to be less active.

Question:
My daughter's kitten has been sleeping a lot the past two days. She cries when she is picked up. Her nose is cold and damp. Her paws aren't hot but, her body feels warm. She's still eating, drinking, and using the restroom as normal. Do you have any idea what may be wrong or if she needs to go to the vet?
Answer:

Her behavior could be caused by a number of things, like intestinal parasites or respiratory infection, among other things. I definitely recommend taking her to the vet and the sooner the better.

Thank you for joining us for WebMD Ask the Veterinarian. Be sure to check in on Thursday, April 19, at 1 p.m. ET, when we will discuss "Pet Ownership Challenges". Sign up if you'd like an email reminder the day before the event.

WebMD Ask the Specialist Transcript

Reviewed by William Draper, DVM on March 13, 2012

The opinions expressed in this section are of the Specialist and the Specialist alone. They do not reflect the opinions of WebMD and they have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance or objectivity. WebMD is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on WebMD. 

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