Ask The Vet
Dr Lochana Baney Gordon - Just FUR Dogs, Pune
Dear Dr Baney,
For the past month, I have been breaking out in hives and rashes when I pet our 4-year-old Spitz, Ratty. I never had this problem before. In fact, we used to even sleep on the same bed. What do you think could be causing this? I have checked my dog for fleas and ticks and he doesn't have any, nor does he have any skin infections.
Mandira Varma, Singapore
Your reaction of breaking out in hives after you pet Ratty seems to be an allergic reaction.
It is quite common for an allergy to suddenly manifest itself after a certain period of sensitisation (ie, being exposed to the allergen without actually showing any symptoms).
All dogs have allergens in their saliva, skin, urine or faeces. Even though the dogs' hair is not an allergen, your allergy could come from any of them being present on the hair. Most common allergies caused to humans by dogs come from the latter's mouths. Drooling or licking their bodies transfers the saliva onto their hair.
Another cause for your allergy could be the dander, which is released when dead hair is shed from dogs' follicles. The saliva on the dead hair, along with the dust and dead skin, forms a potent allergen, which can result in respiratory symptoms, as well as skin reactions.
Your reaction to Ratty also could be seasonal/transient. If that is true, then pollen from seasonal plants could have been collected by Ratty on his fur during walks, which you may have come in contact with through his hair.
Perhaps, that is causing the hives. To rule out fleas and ticks as the cause, use anti flea and anti tick products routinely on Ratty. Since allergies are not easy to trace their causes may remain undetected. It is, however, possible to minimise their occurrence through appropriate and regular grooming practices.
Dr Jasbir Singh Blue Cross Pets Clinic, Mohali
Dear Dr Singh,
What's the best way to treat a kitten with fleas?
Naomi Krishen, Goa
No chemicals should be used on kittens under 8 weeks of age. So, if your kitten is under that age, bathe it with warm water. The best way to do this is to fill the sink with warm water. Dip the kitten in the sink and gently apply a little Dawn dish washing detergent gently on the kitten. Avoid getting soap into its eyes. Then put it back in the sink to rinse thoroughly. After the bath, comb its hair with a flea comb or pick the remaining fleas with fingernails and put them in hot water in order to kill them.
At the same time, treat the mother cat with a spot on treatment such as Frontline, Advantage or Revolution. These are strong treatments and will kill fleas within 24 hours. Once the mother is free of fleas, kittens will not be re-infested. If there are other pets in the house, they also must be treated simultaneously. The kitten's environment must also be cleared of fleas by spraying insecticides on carpets, under the furniture and in floor crevices.
Dr Premlata Chowdhary, Dr Chowdhary's Pet Clinic, New Delhi
Dear Dr Chowdhary,
My dog has arthritis and I have tried many of the anti inflammatory pain relief treatments, but they have all upset his stomach. There seems to be nothing else to offer him. He is nine years old, so I'm sure he still has some time ahead of him. Surely, the poor thing cannot just be left to hobble around? Is it safe to give him a low dose of aspirin on a daily basis? Do advise.
Siddharth Engineer, Shimla
I suggest you immediately get a complete blood test done for your pet to detect any other problem existing other than arthritis. Get his chest Xray done and if possible, ECG, as sometimes, dogs have difficulty walking due to heart conditions. Once all other problems are ruled out, your vet will be better informed to prescribe the appropriate course of treatment.