Danville Express

Living - November 9, 2007

The Pet Vet says… Treating bald spots on dogs

by Dr. Heidi Strand

Q. I have a small, 2-year-old female Chihuahua. She has had a small bald spot on her back leg for several months. I've taken her to a vet and was told it was an allergy. She was given prednisone and children's Benedryl. Is there anything to put on the spot to make the hair grow?

A. The treatment depends on whether your dog continues to lick at the spot. If she will not leave it alone, you need to treat the cause of the allergy first, and then prevent her from licking it. You can treat the spot with over-the-counter hydrocortisone or Benadryl cream as long as you distract her from licking after you put it on, such as by going for a walk.

If she can't stop licking, she may need an Elizabethan collar (an "e-collar") to prevent her from reaching the spot. These can be purchased at a pet supply store.

If she is no longer bothering the spot but the hair is not growing back, it is possible that because of scar tissue the hair will not re-grow. A skin supplement such as Lipiderm may be helpful in encouraging hair growth, and can also help with skin health.

Q. I have a 5-1/2-year-old cat and he always seems to have a pink or red eye that accumulates junk. What should I do for him? I have taken him to the vet and was told that this is normal and nothing to worry about, but sometimes I catch my cat rubbing his eyes.

A. While a little bit of eye discharge can be normal, persistent redness and irritation can be signs of either allergy or infection. Both of these conditions are treatable. Even herpesvirus infection, which can never really be completely eliminated, can be managed to make the cat much more comfortable.

If you take your cat in while the eye is "flaring up" the veterinarian will be better able to evaluate the problem. If you still are not satisfied, you may want to try getting a second opinion, possibly from a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Dr. Heidi Strand is a veterinarian for the East Bay SPCA in Dublin. She has lived in the Tri-Valley for 10 years with her family and an assortment of four-legged friends. Questions can be mailed to 315 Diablo Road, Suite 100, Danville 94526; or e-mailed to hstrand@eastbayspca.org. Her column runs every other week.

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