Your Pet Questions Answered

Chris Troughton

Chris Troughton of Heath Vets answers your pet-related questions

We picked up a 2 month old puppy several weeks ago and when we took him to the vet for a check-up, he was found to have ear mites. We were given treatment which worked but a few months on, he seems to be scratching his ears again, although not as much as he did when we first got him. Do ear mites come back and if so, would using the same treatment lessen its effectiveness?

Ear mites are little parasites which live in the ear canals of dogs and cats and cause an intense itch, particularly in young animals. They are reasonably common in puppies and kittens, but because they need close contact to spread from one animal to another, once you have got rid of them you don’t often get recurring problems. There are three key points for successful treatment:
1. Use an effective drug. Over-the-counter pet shop remedies are rarely effective. You need to see your vet. We usually use ear drops, sometimes a spot-on insecticide as well.
2. Treat for sufficient time. Ear mites lay eggs which cannot be killed, so you must keep treating until they have all hatched out and been killed. In practical terms, this means treating for at least 4 weeks.
3. Treat all in-contact dogs and cats for the same duration to avoid the problem passing back and forth.
So, to answer your question, the ear mites could have come back if they weren’t treated for an adequate time or if an in-contact animal also has them. Equally, there could be a different problem. Either way, you need to get them looked at.
Using the same treatment again will not reduce its effectiveness – just make sure you do it for a sufficient time.

Is it possible for my cat to get flu? Several weeks ago, she was sneezing like crazy and looked like I felt when I have a cold! She was ok after a few days but it got me wondering!

Yes cats certainly do get flu – it is one of the main infectious diseases we have to deal with. Cat flu is different to human flu and we can’t catch it, nor can we infect our cats. It can be a very nasty disease, lasting several weeks and sometimes leaving permanent damage in the nose or eyes. But if you are lucky and your cat has a strong immune system, symptoms can be quite mild, as in your case. Cat flu used to be a very common problem 40 years ago, but now, thanks to widespread use of effective and safe vaccines, we don’t see so many serious cases.

There seems to be an increasing trend of dressing pets up in Christmas outfits. Do you think it’s unnatural and cruel?

I agree, there is a growing trend to dress pets up, and not just for Christmas. Unnatural? Yes, for the pet of course it is. But for many people these days, their pets are their children and it’s natural to want to ‘spoil’ them by giving them presents – edible treats, toys, or new outfits! However, I don’t think it’s cruel – animals are not embarrassed by the way they look, and the clothes are not uncomfortable; it they were, they would not be tolerated by the pet. Warm and waterproof coats can very useful for elderly animals or those with very thin fur.

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