Q: I have a 5-year-old female golden retriever that has hip dysplasia, according to X-rays. Dusty’s tail hangs straight down. She licks one side of the tail and the spot where she licks becomes red but there is no indication of any permanent sore. After getting an injection from the vet plus a couple of days’ worth of oral medication (one-half tablet of phenylbutazone 2 to 3 times daily), her tail would come up but go to one side only. The tail would not go to the side where she licked. The vet then gave her a prescription for prednisolone after X-rays showed no fracture.
She seems healthy enough. Her nose is wet and cold and she continues to beg for her tennis ball. Please advise as to the next course of action.
Mickey Wright, Costa Mesa
A: Since Dusty has been diagnosed as having hip dysplasia, which is a degenerative disease of the hip joints, you may have your veterinarian evaluate the lower spine and the lumbar-sacral junction for similar signs of degeneration. If a nerve had become entrapped because of the degenerative disease, Dusty may be losing function to the muscles that control part of the tail. You may be able to detect some atrophy or loss of muscle mass to one side of the tail. You may also have your veterinarian check her anal sacs for possible infection because she is licking the area and may be very sore. Being overweight may also have some effect on her ability to move her tail properly. And you should consider the possibility of an early tumor growth around the tail base that may be inhibiting tail function. A biopsy from the area may be necessary.
Q: Do flea collars really work? We have put collars on both of our cats and yet we occasionally find fleas on them. Since they do go outside in the daytime, I expect them to come into contact with fleas but why doesn’t the collar kill them? My cats do not like being sprayed and bathing is really difficult, so we depend on the flea collar to help. What do you suggest?
Lance Newell, Garden Grove
A: Flea collars have value in the control of fleas but they are not by themselves a complete method of flea control. Flea collars do release a chemical that will kill fleas that come into contact with the chemical. It is not an immediate kill but occurs after exposure and in most cases, after the flea has left the animal. Flea collars are not repellents and that is why you can still find fleas on your cats.
You should also use other methods of flea control in the environment as well as on your pets. It might be easier to spray the flea spray on a cloth and wipe your cats rather than spray them directly. If they need a flea bath, have your vet do it for you. Never use a dog flea collar on your cats or use more than one collar on an animal. If the collars become very dirty or wet, they may have to be replaced.
Got a question about your pet? Write to: Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask The Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.