Ask The Doctor


Welcome to Wignall’s Ask The Doctor. Now you can ask us questions about veterinary medicine 24 hours a day! We’ll post submitted questions with answers from our team of veterinarians twice weekly. While you are on our website posting a question or reading answers, feel free to search our website for other free helpful information already available at your finger tips. Our own Dr. Nancy Kopec, a graduate of Purdue University, will lead our team of doctors through discussions on your questions and respond on our site. Please let us know how you like this new feature of our website! Submit your questions to

Remember, this is a forum for general knowledge animal health questions. Answers posted on the website should never be used as a substitution for veterinary advice from your own veterinarian. For emergency situations or specific information about your own pet’s medical conditionsor medical history, please consult your own veterinarian. To schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians, please call: Wignall Animal Hospital: 978-454-8272 or Lowell Veterinary Clinic: 978-454-0044

Q: I own a teacup yorkie and noticed yesterday when I got home from work there was a large wet spot on the pillow where he was sleeping. Throughout the night he was convulsing almost as though he was going to throw up but never actually does. Around his mouth has been wet which is where the large wet spot came from. I noticed he keeps licking his paws and his genitals. Finally I noticed he had an erection for quit some time, so i gave him a bath, which it did slide back into the shaft, but today it is back again. Wondering what could possibly be going on here?

A: As far as the large wet spot on the pillow and the retching is concerned, it sounds like your pup has been drooling a lot. Drooling most often rises secondary to the feeling of nausea, which would account for the retching as well. Some dogs that have severe dental disease or an oral foreign body may also drool a large amount. It would be best to bring him in so that we could evaluate his abdomen and his oral cavity to see if there is any obvious disease.

As far as his penis is concerned, this is called paraphimosis. Often the hairs (or other foreign bodies) around the prepuce can get stuck within the prepuce, making retraction of the penis difficult. The penis can become dried out and painful if left untreated, so you did the right thing by bathing him and wetting the area. If a bath does not help, often a sterile lubricant (ie: KY jelly) can be helpful in retracting the penis. If you are unable to get his penis to retract, he should be seen immediately as his urethra may be damaged if left long term.

Again, a complete physical exam on your dog would be extremely beneficial to help us get to the root of each of these issues. Please do not hesitate to give our hospital a call at 978.454.8272 and set up and appointment.

Q: Hello, I have a stray cat coming into my yard hes very friendly but he looks pretty sick, there is puss coming out of one eye (I’ve cleaned it many times) and hes very thin (I can feel all the bones in his back) but has a large stomach, I think hes got worms. I want to do something for him but money is very tight, What is my best option?

A: Stray cats frequently carry heavy burdens of parasites, including intestinal worms, fleas, heartworms and mites, to name a few. They serve as a reservoir for our pets and some of these parasites can cause zoonotic disease (i.e. be passed on to people)! Happily, we have many simple, safe, cost effective ways to treat and prevent parasitism.

We would recommend a physical examination for this kitty to assess his overall health, to determine if he has an ocular injury or perhaps an upper respiratory infection and to test and treat him for parasites. He may only require a small financial commitment, but a personalized estimate would be generated pending our physical exam findings. If he is not neutered we would also strongly recommend surgery once he is well to prevent unintentional breeding and the production of more stray cats. Please feel free to contact the clinic at your earliest convenience to schedule an exam.

If you are unable to take financial responsibility for the cat, the Humane Society of Lowell may be able to help place the cat if it gets along with people. The Animal Control Officer of Lowell is also an excellent resource. While this cat has been friendly with you thus far it is critical to keep your guard up and to not put yourself in harm’s way. We cannot know the rabies status of this cat and do not want you to risk potential exposure. Animal Control Officers are trained in safe and humane capture and can provide transportation for sick and injured stray animals, free of charge. You can contact them through the town/police department. Best of luck with you kitty, it sounds like he has wandered into a good yard!

Q: Hi, I have a wonderful appox 9 year old male Pomeranian. I rescued him from an abusive home when he was just a little over 1 1/2 years old. He has been a wonderful pet. He has terrible breath. I have tried special chew bones. He eats premium food and I alternate soft and hard chunks to help with plaque. The cost of teeth cleaning is beyond my means, so I am wondering if there is anything else I could do or try?

A: Periodontal disease is one of the most common ailments of pet cats and dogs. Small breed dogs are especially prone to problems due to their oral conformation. Prevention is key as not only is local discomfort and infection an issue, but distant infections, including liver, kidney and heart valves are well documented. Daily brushing for ~30 seconds focused on the outer surface of the teeth with pet toothpaste is ideal. High quality rinses, chews and prescription Hill’s diet, t/d are excellent adjuncts. The Veterinary Oral Health Council is a great resource for information on quality pet dental products Unfortunately, sometimes we realize our pets are in need of dental care once the disease process is quite advanced. In some cases, brushing can be painful and counterproductive (pets can develop an aversion). In these cases it may be recommended to proceed with a cleaning/periodontal therapy as indicated under anesthesia. After this procedure your pet will have a “clean slate”. This is the time to double your efforts with home care to ensure lasting benefits. A physical examination is a good place to start. Your veterinarian can make specific recommendations based on the degree of oral disease present in your pet, your pet’s overall health and disposition, as well as what is financially feasible.

Routine dental cleanings may seem cost prohibitive, but keep in mind, similar procedures in humans are usually covered or defrayed by insurance. Also, in order to provide your pet with the standard of oral care he/she deserves, even routine preventative cleanings must be performed under general anesthesia. The additional costs for this level of care are not a part of routine human dental prophylaxis. Early intervention is not only an investment in the health of your pet, but it also minimizes the need for more invasive, costly dental procedures down the line.

Should you inherit a pet with advanced periodontal disease or become aware of issues late in the disease process, your Vet can guide you through treatment options and tailor a plan to meet you and your pet’s needs. There are programs such as Care Credit that can help spread out the cost of dental procedures and make financial constraints less of an issue.

Q: Can you recommend the best way to keep an outdoor cat tick free and keep ticks out of the house?

A: Frontline is our go to product to keep cats and dogs free of fleas and ticks. Many over the counter products can be quite toxic, especially to cats! Emergency visits for tremors and seizures are not infrequent. Frontline is a safe and effective means of control (it even has the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval). Topical Frontline should be applied monthly (check label for specific instructions). These parasites want to live on our pets and will be killed when they do so. Your veterinarian can tailor a parasite prevention program to meet you and your pet’s needs/lifestyle. Other parasites to consider include heartworm, and intestinal parasites. Frontline and similar family friendly products are available for purchase at our clinic under the guidance of our professional staff.

Q: Everyday there are several stray cats that go into my mothers yard to do their duty. Same cats everyday. Is there anything that is not harmful that she can do to keep them out of her yard.

A: If these are owned felines you may be able to solve the problem with the help of your local Animal Control Officer. Some stray cats have lost their way and a scan for a microchip or a phone call to local authorities/shelter/clinic may help track down the owner. Rabies tags are also useful for this purpose. If the cats are feral the local rescue group may at least be able to get them into a Trap and Release program to ensure they are not reproducing and to minimize the risk of disease spread. Always enlist the help of professionals as unknown animals may behave unpredictably and could injure a well meaning human via bite or scratch. Remember, these felines may not be protected against deadly zoonotic viruses such as Rabies.

There are several options available to help deter unwanted feline guests. Cats are very attune to scent. They dislike citrus, so one natural approach would be to spread orange and lemon rinds around the yard/garden. *Coleus canina** *or “Scaredy Cat” produces an odor that is offensive to felines. Brambles and roses may serve as natural physical barriers to the yard. There are also several commercial cat repellents available. *Havahart* is a good source for non-toxic products.

Cats are also quite sensitive to sound. An Ultrasonic deterrent can be purchased on Another excellent and humane deterrent would be a motion activated sprinkler. Most cats prefer to bathe themselves.

Q: My pet is limping after tonight’s walk, but seems happy and comfortable otherwise. Is there anything I can give him to make him feel better until I can have him seen?

A: Pets have very different metabolism than people and as a result, medications that are somewhat benign to humans can sometimes be toxic to dogs and cats. For example, a single Tylenol could actually kill a cat! The safest approach is always to bring the pet in for a physical examination so we can best evaluate the injury and prescribe a veterinary specific medication, as indicated. Fortunately, there are many pain medication options now available to us that have been tested and designed for our pets. In a pinch, small doses of buffered aspirin may be prescribed by your regular vet, but this can be contra-indicated in certain

Q: Briefly, I was ‘railroaded’ by a desperate shelter owner to socialize a so-called feral kitten 2 years ago. I had done it before and done trapping and colony feeding for over a year. However, she brought me a much older kitten, probably 4 months, and never had him medically checked nor neutered.

He bit almost through my hand during week one. The long and short of it is I now have him acclimated as much as he ever will be, but only to me. I have had to work towards figuring out a system to get him back in a trap or carrier for neutering, but no go. So now I have a carrier that opens on top and on side. He is entering and I am hopeful of getting this done soon.

My shelter friend and I split ways. I am on my own. He needs to be dewormed as it never was completed by the shelter. I did it with horse dewormer from another shelter about 6 months ago and his chronically foul breath cleared. It is back now. He is clearly uncomfortable and eating little. He is indoor only but apparently caught fleas from a next door neighbor (same house). (Strangely, loads suddenly of what appears to be flea dirt, but almost no fleas on his coat. He lets me comb him with a flea comb now).

Vets won’t consider giving me a tranquilizer to get him to the vet, nor prescribe meds without seeing him. I want to treat him with an all purpose dewormer (and ever the good ones are available without a prescription in some stores oddly enough). If I could treat him with a transdermal mix it would help me greatly, as I have not yet been successful giving pills, or having him tolerate meds in his food.

My question is how can I get a transdermal dewormer for him to treat and maintain him? I dearly hope his overall heath is good, since I never signed on for this, and live on a small disability income.

Can you help, or refer me to someone in this area? Any help will be greatly appreciated.

A: It is wonderful of you to extend a hand to this cat, but please always ensure your safety first as feral cats can expose us to several zoonotic diseased not limited to larval migrans from intestinal parasites, cat scratch fever, and rabies. Cat bites can lead to serious injury and it is always advisable to have these checked by your physician who may wish to prescribe antibiotics.

Difficult to handle cats are a constant challenge. Our goal is to accomplish as much as possible as safely as possible. If the kitty needs to be neutered the best plan would be to get him under anesthesia and accomplish a physical examination, vaccines, deworming, and altering all at once. Ideally a physical would be performed pre-sedation, but this is not always possible. Your regular veterinarian may be able to recommend a light sedative to place in his food to better enable you to get him in the carrier. If you can get him in the carrier, trained staff at the vet clinic can administer a more potent intra-muscular sedative/anesthetic, or inhalant anesthesia.

Regarding deworming, we are fortunate to now have multiple excellent topical options available. Revolution is a broad spectrum, monthly parasite preventative that protects against heartworm disease, kills fleas, mites, roundworms and hookworms. Profender is a topical intestinal dewormer that kills rounds, hooks and tapeworms (which can be carried by fleas or obtained via prey ingestion). Both of these are veterinary products and require a valid VCPR (veterinary client patient relationship) to be dispensed. (Oral dewormers are also an option.) Therefore, you may wish to proceed with sedation et al as soon as is safely possible. You should be able to enlist the help of your local ACO with transport/trapping of the cat if needed.

Foul breath and poor eating may indicate systemic disease or periodontal disease. A physical examination and blood work would help determine the origin of these problems.

Please feel free to contact the clinic for further info or to schedule an appointment.

Q: I’ve noticed a freckle with small balding on my cats belly. He is 2 years old. What is it?

A: Alopecia, or hair loss, can be the result of pruritis, or itching in a cat. Your kitty maybe having a reaction to a parasite/insect,another type of allergy,or an infection. Hair loss can also be a sign of endocrine disease in pets, or a manifestation over grooming due to stress or discomfort. A physical examination would help us elucidate the particular cause in your pet.

Q: I have an 8 month Boston Terrier. Four days ago we woke up and found that he would not walk on his back left leg. He has not sustained any injury to our knowledge, and we thought that maybe he hurt it while playing with our other Boston Terrier. He is urinating and deficating normally. He is eating and drinking and is playful, and he is up to date with all of his vaccinations, including rabies.

A: Hindlimb lameness can have several etiologies. A physical examination, xrays and blood work can help determine a diagnosis.

A fracture or dislocated hip are emergency situations but usually are the result of significant force/trauma in a healthy pet. Growing animals can be affected by several developmental diseases of the bones and joints. For example, Legg-Perthes disease is a syndrome of small breed dogs aged 3-13 months in which the femoral head looses its blood supply and necroses, ordies.

In New England, we have a high incidence of tickborne disease. A common clinical sign of Lyme disease is lameness due to joint pain. Cruciate ligament disease, similar to the injury sustained by human athletes, are also common in dogs. Patellar luxation is another rule out that is more common in small breed dogs, like Boston Terriers.

The patella, or knee cap, is normally located in the center of the stifle, or knee joint. Aluxating patella is a knee cap that moves out of its normal location.

This dislocation occurs whenthe point of attachment of the patellar ligament is not on the midline of the tibia, (shin bone), where it should be. Aftermonths toyears of this abnormal movement, the inner side of the trochlear grooveof the femur, (hipbone)begins towear down, resulting in dislocation of the patella.

Clinically, the pet will exhibit intermittentdifficulty bearing weight on the leg. Depending upon the severity of the condition, it may be well tolerated and not require intervention. However, concurrent pathology in the knee, such as cruciate ligament injury and arthritic changes, especiallyas the animal ages,mayresult inpain necessitating a more aggressive approach.

Surgical repair is the gold standard if thedog has a persistent lameness or if other knee injuries occur. The surgeon will correct the luxation by transplanting the point of attachment of the patellar ligament to the proper location, deepening the groove in the femur so the patella will stay in place. And tightening the joint capsuleto minimize re-luxation. Your veterinarian may recommend longterm joint supplements or anti-inflammatories depending upon the extent of disease and presence of degenerative joint disease/arthritic changes.

Q: Recently , there have been several reported cases of Parvovirus in our area. I would like to present the facts to help our clients understand this disease better.

What is Canine Parvovirus?

This is a very contagious and serious disease that affects all domestic and wild dogs. It is caused by a virus that attacks the intestinal tract of these animals. It is spread by direct dog to dog contact and contact with infected feces . The virus can live in the environment for quite some time . It is very resistant to heat, cold and drying. All dogs are at risk, but the most vulnerable are the young and older dogs that have not been properly vaccinated.

What are the signs of Parvovirus?

Dogs that are infected become very ill in a short period of time- They are quite lethargic , have a loss of appetite and present at the hospital with vomiting and severe, often bloody diarrhea. The disease is diagnosed with a very quick fecal test that is run at the hospital. Once diagnosed, there is no specific drug available to treat this disease . Treatment involves replacing fluid and electrolyte loss with IV fluids, anti- vomiting drugs in addition to good nursing care. The idea is to support the dog or puppy until his own immune system is able to fight off the infection. Even with intensive care, a small number of pets do not survive.

How is Parvovirus prevented?

Vaccination and good hygiene are of the utmost importance . Follow the proper protocol for vaccination that your Veterinarian recommends . A very small percentage of vaccinated dogs do not develop the proper antibodies and can still be susceptible.

Hygiene is very important also- Do not allow your pet to come into contact with the fecal material of other dogs. Avoid contact with unknown dogs in parks or other areas where there may be many dogs . All hospitals immediately isolate any sick pets and properly disinfect any common areas where contamination may have occurred. All reputable day care and grooming facilities will require proof of proper vaccination and have well established cleaning protocols.

Lastly, this is a very serious disease but with proper vaccination and cleaning practices , the chance of exposure and illness becomes greatly decreased

– Nancy Kopec, DVM

Q: Hi, my name is Melissa and I have a 7 1/2 yr old cat. He is having a hard time deficating and nothing comes out when he trys. Is there anything we can do here at home to help him?

A: Constipation is not uncommon in cats. Often dehydration precedes constipation and can be due to underlying thyroid disease, renal disease or diabetes, to name a few. We utilize blood and urine tests to rule out/diagnose these diseases and imaging to help assess the severity of constipation/to rule out a space occupying lesion such as a tumor. It is always critical to ensurea cat is not actually straining to urinate. These postures are only subtly different and straining to urinate can become a life threatening emergency if urinary obstruction occurs and the cat cannot pass urine/excrete potassium.

Constipation is often responsive to fluid therapy. Home remedies include increasing water intake (can mix in with food, leave faucets dripping, add additional bowls, add small amt tuna flavoring to water, purchase kitty water fountain, or offer canned food- tends to increase water consumption). Adding a small amount of canned pumpkin to the diet can also help. We would recommend an examination for your cat to assess his particular situation and to discuss treatment options (may include IV fluids, enema, oral medications, etc). Chronic constipation and certain neurologic anomalies can necessitate deobstipaton (the need to manually evacuate the colon under anesthesia).

Q:We recently adopted a puppy, she is a Boxer/English Bulldog mix, and we noticed that her tail is growing in curly. We were wondering does her tail need to be amputated? Or will it not effect her? She does have a hard time controlling her back legs, whether or not that has anything to do with her tail, or her just being a puppy, we don’t know. She is 9 and a half weeks old, if this does need to be done, could you please let us know by what age it needs to be done, and what the the cost will be?

A: Oftentimes with Bulldog/Bulldog mixes we do see what is referred to as a cork screw tail – it’s part of what gives them their charm! It’s not always a guarantee though that it would require amputation. That would only be an option if it caused her pain or if she developped persistant infections in that area. If that surgery was required though, it would likely have to be performed by a board certified veterinary surgeon. There are many important nerves and vessels in that area and if the surgery was performed incorrectly, there could be permanent damage. I would probably recommend an exam for your puppy at this point in order to evaluate the conformation of her tail.

In regards to her seeming to lose control of her back legs, that is something that is unlikely related to her curly tail. That can be something as simple puppy incoordination to certain types of congenital (born with) bone abnormalities. Again, an exam would allow us to completely evaluate her to assess how best to proceed.

Q:My dog is shaking and his tail is down. He is not jumping up or excited please help!!

A: Shaking/trembling and holding the tail down can both be signs of discomfort. We would recommend scheduling a physical examination for your pooch as soon as possible. Some common rule outs include tick borne disease, back pain and pancreatitis. At this time of year we are always suspicious of ingestion of foreign materials/decorations and seasonal foods, especially in labrador retrievers who tend to be very food motivated and sometimes curious to a fault! :) Ingestion of holiday baked goods is quite common. Signs of chocolate toxicity can include tremoring and restlessness, seizures, and vomiting. The type and quantity of chocolate ingested greatly affects the severity of side effects and rapid intervention helps ensure a good prognosis, so never hesitate to check with your veterinarian or poison control if you think your pet may have gotten into anything out of the ordinary. Wishing you and your family a safe and happy New Year!

Q:I moved into a new apartment community at the beginning of October, 2008. After a month or so, my 14-year old (not totally sure of her age, but around there) Golden Retriever started getting friendly with my neighbor’s five-year old rescued greyhound.

To preface, as far back as July 2008, I noticed my dog started getting rhinitis and a little bit of sneezing I figured it was seasonal or from the A/C.

A few weeks ago, I started to notice that my dog had a moist, hacking cough when excited, after exercising or after drinking a lot of water. It had gotten worse, so I brought her to the vet and she’s been on Timiral and Orbax for two weeks without much response, so my Vet diagnosed her with CHF and she’s supposed to start on Enalapril, Furosemide and Pimobendan.

Here is my condundrum:

My neighbor’s greyhound has been displaying similar symptoms, because I watched him over thanksgiving and my neighbor confirmed he is still coughing and sneezing, just like my dog.

I asked my vet about “Canine Influenza” and told him about the greyhound’s symptoms. He shrugged it off as coincidence and said that my dog has been vacinnated for canine parainfluenzaparainfluenza. In other words, it appears he does not know about the other canine influenza that started with greyhounds being fed horsemeat in2004.

And every vet I talk to in this area seems unclear on this new virus as well, so I’m really not sure what to do at this point.

I realize my dog is old and CHF is a very likely possibility, but should I just rule out Canine Flu and hope that these heart meds do the trick?

I just want to make sure she has the right diagnosis and treatment. I adopted her only 3 years ago. She’s my angel–you know how it goes :)

ps. she has been running a slight fever.

A:Canine influenza is an emerging disease about which we still have a lot to learn!Canine contagious cough can be caused by a number of agents, many of which we can minimize with vaccination.A canine influenza vaccine is unfortunately not available at this time. Dogs with traditional “kennel cough” or canine bronchitis complex often have viral and bacterial infections. Vaccinated pets tend to have less severe symptoms (like a person vaccinated against the flu) and sometimes will just have an upper respiratory infection/self limiting cough. More severe cases of bordetella and Influenza can involve pneumonia (lower respiratory tract disease). Pets with Influenza tend to be sicker and severe outbreaks have been reported in intensive housing situations (not your typical boarding facility). For both bordetellosis and influenza without pneumonia, the primary treatment is supportive care and time. However, dogs can have pneumonia in the absence of a fever, so radiographs of the chest should always be considered, especially in a pet not responding to traditional supportive care, in a pet that is particularly depressed, or to rule out more serious disease. Once the respiratory tract has received the first “hit” it is all the more susceptible to opportunistic pathogens and secondary bacterial invaders. A tracheal wash can allow us to obtain a definitive diagnosis via cultureand virus isolation. Testing for influenza can also be done with serum (blood test), or a nasopharyngeal swab. Unfortunately, none of these methods is 100% and the timing of the testing can affect accuracy.

Cough can absolutely be a sign of heart disease in pets, but fortunately this type of cough is not contagious. Most dogs with a cardiogenic cough will have a concurrent murmur on physical examinationpointing us towards a diagnosis. This is not always the case with cats. Sneezing can be a sign of rhinitis and allergies, but is not associated with heart disease. We utilize xrays of the thorax and an echocardiogram, (ultrasound of the heart), to characterize heart disease and to assess for congestive heart failure.

It is possible your pooch may be fighting more than one disease process atthis time (often the case in our senior pets)! We would recommend scheduling a physical exam for any pet exhibiting a new cough or a chronic cough and can tailor a diagnostic and treatment plan to meet their specific needs.

Q: I have a white, blue-eyed female dwarf rabbit that I adopted from a fair a few months ago (she’s about 15 months old). She lives in a pretty big 3 story cage (really two stories with a step in between that she loves) in my spare bedroom. I give her plenty of fresh vegetables, pellets, timothy hay and unlimited water as well as at least 30 minutes of floor time daily (though it is usually more).

About one month ago I heard thrashing coming from her cage, and when I entered she was splayed out on the bottom of her cage unable to get up. I picked her up gently and placed her on her feet where she began to run in circles. I picked her up and held her, where I realized she was limp and lethargic, and truthfully, I thought she was going to die. She was breathing deeply and made a slight noise, relatively high pitched, while doing so.

As I held her, I called Angel Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston, where I brought her in through the emergency room. At this point, she became lively, much like herself again, and seemed to return to normal. They took blood tests, looked in her ears etc. At the vet, I did notice she was shaking her head a lot, which is unlike her, so I convinced myself she had an inner ear infection.

Well, she didn’t continue to roll, nor had any signs of head tilt so the vets suspected it may be E. Cuniculi but she had no lameness in her limbs.

Tests came back moderately positive and the vet felt as though she didn’t need to begin treatment as it was not affecting her life and the side affects can be harsh.

For one month, she (in my presence) has been incident free until tonight, where she experienced another one of these episodes.

Based on the information I’ve provided to you, do you think these are likely symptoms of E. Cuniculi? The reason I ask is I noticed that there is a higher level of Idiopathic Epilepsy in white haired blue-eyed rabbits, which she is, and I am not fully convinced these are E. Cuniculi attacks based on what I’ve read – though they also don’t seem like full blown seizures as I’ve never caught her in a rigid state, just when she has collapsed and all four limbs are splayed on the ground.

A: Your rabbit’s clinical signs are certainly suspicious of Encephalitozoonosis, or infection with the parasite Encephalitozoon cuniculi. Neurologic episodes and seizures can be extremely distressing to witness. While we all want to help our pets the family’s safety must be a priority. Behavior can be unpredictable both before and after a seizure and calm, gentle pets could unexpectedly and inadvertently cause their owners harm. It is best to move the pet to a safe place where they are less likely to injure themselves, for example moving chairs away from a dog, or placing a barrier between your rabbit and the edge of a counter top.

E. cuniculi testing is not always definitive, and based on the severity of the patient’s clinical signs of neurologic disease we often treat empirically for the most common etilogies while diagnostic test results are pending. This might include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medication and anthelmintics. Response to therapy can be utilized as a diagnostic tool in appropriate cases. Based on your girl’s history we would recommend you contact the clinic at 978-454-8272 to schedule a physical examination. It is important to bring a copy of previous records so we can determine what testing has already been done and come up with a plan.

Q: I have a cat who is about a year and a half old. And she is peeing blood. How it started is that she would sit in her litter box for about 2 or 3 minutes trying to pee and barely anything would come out. I thought she may have been dehydrated so i refilled her bowl of water, and she drank it. And later tha night she sat in her litter box again for awhile and barely anything came out again, only this time it was blood. I’m really worried and I really would like to know what is wrong. Any ideas of what it might be?

A: Cats can suffer from a syndrome called feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) or feline urologic syndrome (FUS). Straining and discomfort on urination as well as blood in the urine can be signs of infection, crystals, bladder stones or inflammation. We use a urine sample and imaging, such as radiographs and ultrasound to help us make a diagnosis. In some cats there is no etiologic agent identified (i.e. urine sample is relatively inactive, imaging is normal). These cases we call feline idiopathic cystitis. Certain factors can predispose cats to having episodes of lower urinary tract disease, such as stress (cats are huge creatures of habit!), obesity, or diet. Offering plenty of fresh water is absolutely key. Many cats will require more encouragement than a dog bowl. Some prefer a dripping faucet, or a kitty fountain, for example. Unfortunately this syndrome can be quite uncomfortable and potentially life threatening if the urethra becomes so inflamed so as to be obstructed (in which case urine cannot pass) or should a plug of crystals or other material block the passage of urine. It is critical to monitor cats prone to this disease for straining, multiple trips to the litter box passing only small amounts of urine (or none at all!), blood in the urine, accidents outside the box, or excess grooming of genitals. Due to their anatomy, males are at highest risk of the most severe manifestation of this syndrome i.e. urinary obstruction. We would recommend that you have your kitty seen by a doctor as soon as possible. You can call the clinic at 978-454-8272 to schedule a physical examination.

Q: I have a guinea pig and lately, she’s not eating very much. She’s gotten very very skinny. I just never seemed to notice. Also her eyes have crusty white gunk in the corners, and her eyes are pussing. What do I do, I’m really scared.

A: Thank you for your question. Guinea pigs can suffer from many of the same illnesses as cats, dogs, and people. These “pocket pets” are prey species and as a result are hardwired to hide illness. Unfortunately, this means we sometimes do not notice anything is wrong until they are quite sick. The guinea pig gastrointestinal tract is quite sensitive and they can suffer from ileus (intestinal slow down) when they are ill, further worsening their condition. This is why it is important to seek medical attention as soon as you notice your pig isn’t acting right. Routine physical exams are also critical to recognize potential problems, for example guinea pigs are at risk for dental malocclusion that can lead to discomfort, anorexia, infection and ileus. I would recommend you contact the clinic at 978-454-8272 to schedule a physical examination for your pig so we can assess her particular situation and address her medical and nutritional needs.

Remember that this answer should never be used as a substitute for seeking medical attention from you veterinarian about your specific pets needs.