Sunday, April 24, 2011
Canine warts likely need care, not worry
Paws & Claws
Jill Bowen has practiced veterinary medicine in England and Texas. She lives in Blacksburg now, and answers local pet owners' questions every week in The Roanoke Times and roanoke.com.
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Q Our Shih Tzu, is 11 12 years old. Her diet is Kibbles and Bits, Hills Prescription Diet mixed with boiled skinless chicken and a daily nutritional supplement. She has had several warts since she was a year old; some have been rather large and have been removed surgically by the vet. The warts are becoming more numerous and we find new ones each day. Our vet does not feel that they present a problem, but our concern is that she could scratch one and it would become badly infected. Is there something in her diet that could cause these warts, or some deficiency?
A Canine warts are due to a papillomavirus and can occur in three forms. The oral form, which are benign tumors in the mouth, is self-limiting. These are typically seen in younger dogs, 6 months to four years of age. The ocular form, where warts appear on eyelids, cornea and conjunctiva, is much less common.
Finally, there is the cutaneous, or skin, form that is commonly seen in older dogs. Normally these warts are benign and cause no problem. Very rarely do they become malignant.
Treatment consists of surgical removal of any problem warts. Take care when grooming an older dog with skin warts so as not to make them bleed.
If this does happen, treat the wart with an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection until the wart heals. Sometimes crushing several small warts stimulates an immune response.
Some people have recommended a wart vaccine, but its efficacy is unknown. Diet has no bearing on the occurrence of the warts. A nutritious diet such as the one you are feeding is very adequate.
Q We have two bitches, a Jack Russell terrier and a whippet. Both are spayed. First the Jack Russell and now the whippet have taken to standing on their front legs only when they urinate, they look as if they are doing a hand stand.
A There are two possible theories as to why your dogs have adopted this slightly bizarre posture. I suspect that your whippet merely copied the Jack Russell.
One explanation is that the terrier is trying to make her urine mark higher to fool other dogs into thinking she is bigger than she is.
Spayed bitches do sometimes lift a leg like males when urinating and equally sometimes male dogs will squat like a bitch, both are quite normal behaviors.
We had a whippet that used to stand on her front legs to urinate when the grass was particularly long and especially if it was wet.
There have been many reports of similar behavior in Jack Russells and also cairns, possibly because both are short-legged athletic dog breeds, so it is not difficult for them to balance on their front legs. I have never heard of any of the larger, heavier breeds such as Rottweilers or Labradors showing this behavior.
Q Our lovebird has developed an odd habit; whenever we put a new piece of sandpaper in his cage he nibbles at it and cuts out some crescent shaped pieces and puts four of them between his tail feathers and hops about the cage.
A First, your lovebird is a hen, not a male. This behavior is characteristic of a hen's courting and nesting behavior in the spring.
The hen carries nesting material in her tail feathers, just above the lower back. It acts to attract a mate and the behavior will last for a relatively short time.
Instead of sandpaper, which is abrasive, give her some apple twigs that she can use whole, or if larger green twigs are offered, she will strip off the bark before inserting it between her tail feathers. Sometimes they will even lay a sterile egg on the floor of the cage. By summer all should be back to normal.
Reference "You and Your Pet Bird" by David Alderton