Can I determine if my pet is sick because his nose is wet or dry?

Cat's NoseThere isn't a clear cut answer for this question. A dog's (or cat's) nose may be very wet and cool one moment then be warmer and not-so-moist the next. All in the course of a day.

However, prolonged dry, cracked nose, particularly with loss of pigmentation, scabs or open sores should definitely be examined by your veterinarian. An ill animal will often have a warm, dry nose, and there are a host of dermatological (skin) problems that can be seen in this area.

One other note of caution: dogs, cats, horses, and other species are prone to sunburn (also known as "solar dermatitis") and subsequent skin cancer on noses, ear tips, and around eyes. Light coated, pink-nosed animals are at greatest risk. Check with your veterinarian about providing sun protection for your pet if they are in this category of risk.

My pet is scooting around on his butt. Does he have worms?

Scooting is most commonly caused by anal sac inflammation or infection. Anal sacs are located on either side of the anus. They contain a very smelly, oily substance that is normally expressed (squeezed out) when the animal defecates. Sometimes the secretions can thicken or the animal gains weight and they don't get expressed properly. This can lead to impaction and ultimately infection. The condition can be irritating, itchy and extremely painful at various stages. A trip to the vet is warranted for examination and expression of these sacs.

My pet is eating grass. Is that bad?

There are various conjectures and theories on the subject of grass-eating.

Eating grass seems to be a normal behavior for pets, despite what other things we think that their diet should consist of. There have been numerous studies that have tried to find a connection with grass eating and illness, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or lack of roughage in the diet. Unfortunately, none have produced any tangible connection to any particular problem.

Why does my dog eat poop?

Coprophagia, or poop-eating, is very common, and young puppies do this a lot. They will often outgrow it in a matter of weeks. Sometimes dogs do it for nutrients they are lacking in their diets, but if you are feeding a good quality dog food, this is unlikely.

Most of the time it is just because it smells tasty to them. You can try putting Tabasco sauce on the piles, but honestly, if you are right there, the best solution is just to pick it up right away.

I'm having difficulty motivating my cat to exercise. What can I do?

Play "catch with kibble" during mealtime. Flick one kibble at a time down a hallway for the cat to pounce onto. Incorporate environmental enrichment and new toys to encourage playful activity.

What's a "hot spot"?

A hot spot is a localized area of skin inflammation and infection. The infection can be superficial or deep. Other common names for this condition include: moist dermatitis, and acute moist dermatitis.