Q. My son has an almost 4-year-old Lab mix. These past few months, her fur seems to be coming off in patches around her body, and it scabs and bleeds at times. She seems to be losing weight as well. We don’t know what’s causing this. We want to take her to the vet, but the costs are so high, so we bathe her and put coconut oil on her in hopes that it cures her. So far, no changes, but more patches. Any idea what may have caused this?
A. Hair loss can be symptomatic of many things, like parasites, fungal infections, diseases or allergies. Your dog could have Demodex or Sarcoptic mange, which causes hair loss, or ringworm, which can be contagious. It’s not good she also is losing weight.
I know it’s stressful to go the vet when money is an issue, but for the cost of an office visit, she will receive an exam and your son can talk to the vet about what could be wrong. At a minimum, the vet may shine a black light on her skin to see if she has ringworm or do a skin scraping to see if it’s ringworm or mange. The vet may even recognize the problem without a lot of tests and be able to prescribe medication or a topical ointment for her.
If the vet doesn’t recognize the illness and needs blood work or diagnostic tests to determine what’s wrong, he or she can at least let you know what might be wrong, so you can plan accordingly. Your vet might also offer some alternative treatments if diagnostic tests cannot be done at the time.
Let me know what you find out.
Q. I have a problem with Buster, my 2-year-old Jack Russell terrier. Buster loves attention, especially from new people or people he doesn’t see often. The problem is, he pees when he gets excited. I’ll let him out beforehand if I know someone is coming. I also have unexpected guests go to the back door when they come in. This has been effective.
My real problem is when company comes over for a few hours. Buster gets so excited and focused on playing with guests to the point where he will start leaking on the floor without warning. And then he keeps playing like it never happened. Other times he will realize he has to go, and will run to the door, possibly leaking. Either way, I’ll let him out.
This can happen again in as little as 10-15 minutes. I am constantly asking Buster if he needs to go out. I understand he’s amped up, but Buster doesn’t do this when he’s just around us. Even if he’s rowdy, Buster will let us know if he needs to go out. On regular days, he can sleep eight hours straight without any issues.
Any advice besides avoiding people? He’s neutered, if that makes any difference.
New York City
A. If you had said he did this all the time, I would say Buster suffered from incontinence and should see a vet, since there are medications that can provide bladder support. He still may benefit from such medications. But since Buster can hold his bladder when there are no guests around suggests he is showing signs of submission urination.
Submission urination is basically when an insecure dog lets people around him know he is not a threat. Some dogs do this when they meet people and once they calm down are fine. Others may do it when they feel intimidated or excited. It can be difficult to manage.
Buster doesn’t have to give up people. Instead, ask your guests to greet Buster in the yard when possible, to be low-key in their greetings and to not bend over him to pet him as this is a dominant posture that can trigger his peeing. During the visit, ask guests to stay calm around him so he doesn’t get overexcited. And train Buster to sit and let guests offer him a treat, which puts him in a more positive stance that generally reduces submission urination.
These tips, however, are not likely to remove the problem completely, so you may consider putting a doggy diaper on him when guests come over to reduce these accidents.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, city and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal