Q. Our 6-year-old Sheltie has developed a small lump under her right eye that started about 2 or 3 days ago. He doesn't seem to be sore, and I don't think he's been injured. His eye looks OK and he acts normally. I have a neighbor who used to work for a veterinarian and she says that he might have an infected tooth that is causing the swelling. Can a bad tooth cause such a sore? Is it OK to give him antibiotics if it is infected?
A. In many cases, a soft to slightly firm swelling below an eye can indicate an abscessed root of the upper forth premolar even though the tooth may appear normal. Most often, the premolar has been partially fractured or the gums have receded away from the tooth and an infection has set in. These are seen on routine examination of the mouth. Occasionally, X-rays are taken to confirm that the roots have become infected. If infected, the tooth is extracted and the tract into the bone above the tooth is explored in order to allow the abscess to drain properly. Antibiotics are given to help reduce the infection but will not stop the problem by themselves. Have your veterinarian examine your dog's mouth and confirm the diagnosis of tooth root abscess. Your vet may also recommend a dental cleaning for your dog while he is under anesthesia for the extraction.
Q. We have a 1-year-old female Persian kitten who is a pleasure to have except that she is constantly shedding hair and always licking herself. We try to brush her when possible but it seems to be a never ending battle. Is this normal for Persian cats? Could she have a skin problem? I have heard that cats get hairballs from grooming themselves and often get sick. Is there something we can do if she gets these?
Mrs. Joy Robbins,
A. Long-haired cats, such a Persians, tend to spend a large amount of time grooming their coats to help remove loose hair. By licking their coats, they often swallow a large amount of hair over a short period of time, all of which collects in the stomach and forms what is commonly called a 'hairball.' When this ball of hair forms, the cat generally gets rid of it by coughing or vomiting it. Occasionally, a cat can't remove the hair, which then can form an obstruction in the intestines or cause constipation. Give your cat a laxative medication, such as Laxatone or Petramalt to help your cat pass any hair that might accumulate. You also need to brush her daily to remove the excess hair that comes loose. You might want to have her checked by your vet to make sure the skin is OK.
Q. About 6 months ago, we bought a double yellow head Amazon parrot from a pet store in Northern California. He was missing some feathers from around his wings, but we thought he was molting. He is still losing feathers and has several areas where he is almost bald. We feed him a fresh parrot mix diet, and he gets plenty of exercise and attention. Could he still be molting or do I need to have him seen by a vet?
A. Since this problem has been going on this long, I do recommend that you have your bird examined by a veterinarian. The bird should be checked for topical parasites or any signs of skin infections. A blood test for thyroid function should be done and a good vitamin supplement should be started. You should also add fresh fruits to your pet's diet and allow him plenty of play time and attention. If his thyroid levels come back low, your vet will start him on a supplement that can be added to his food or water.