Allergies, infections cause enlarged tonsils

There's money to be made in scooping poop

During a recent trip to the vet, we found out that Oscar (our
4-year-old lab cross) has swollen tonsils. (I didn’t even know that
dogs have tonsils!) We asked his vet if this was anything to worry
over and he told us that Oscar needed some antibiotics and he’d be
fine. Three questions.
Q: During a recent trip to the vet, we found out that Oscar (our 4-year-old lab cross) has swollen tonsils. (I didn’t even know that dogs have tonsils!) We asked his vet if this was anything to worry over and he told us that Oscar needed some antibiotics and he’d be fine. Three questions. How will we know that the antibiotics helped him? Is this something we should worry about? Why do tonsils swell up?

A:

Tonsils are a part of the lymphoreticular system; they’re the body’s defense against pathogens that may enter through the mouth or nose. And just like lymph nodes in the neck, tonsils can swell when they actively fight an infection or battle allergies. But here’s a greater concern. Certain types of neoplasia or cancer can also cause the tonsils to change.

Assuming Oscar feels fine otherwise, and since there weren’t any other findings during his physical exam, chances are his tonsils were slightly enlarged due to a minor allergy or infection. On the other hand, there’s really only one way you can be sure that he’s OK. His vet should do a quick visual exam to assure that the medication was effective and everything has returned to normal. You should schedule another visit after he finishes his medication just to be safe.

Q:

Exeter, our 5-year-old Maine coon cat was at the vet last week for his annual physical exam and vaccination. He’s been very healthy and got a clean bill of health from his doctor. Afterwards, when we were paying our bill, the staff at the veterinary hospital asked us to bring him in for another visit in 6 months, not the usual year later. It’s their new policy, they told us. Are twice-a-year exams really necessary?

A:

This is a great question because many vet hospitals are now recommending semiannual exams. The goal is to find problems (should they exist) in the early stages, so that they are easier to treat. Traditionally, annual exams were considered adequate. But there’s evidence that twice-a-year evaluations can sometimes be helpful.

More frequent exams come with a cost, to be sure. And for some pet owners, vet bills might stretch the family budget a bit too far. Each of us has to make a choice that fits best with our needs and wishes. Semiannual exams are not the answer to all problems, so to speak. But they can give pet owners peace-of-mind that they’re doing everything possible for their favorite furry or feathered friend.

Q:

I heard the other day that there is an injectable medication that can sterilize or neuter a dog. Is this true? Are any vets using this new drug?

A:

There is a drug that’s been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as a sterilizing agent in dogs. The FDA approved Neutersol for use in puppies back in 2003. The companies producing this drug discontinued production in 2005 for reasons that are a little unclear. Last year, we expected the drug would, once again, be produced and available. But as yet, it hasn’t caught on in the veterinary market for general use. I’ve seen scattered reports of usage in wildlife. Recently, it was reportedly used to sterilize some unwanted dogs in the Galapagos Islands.

The concept of chemical sterilization is intriguing. It sounds simple, but the patient must be anesthetized to receive the injections. Still, the cost and the relative risk of the procedure might be less than surgery. Stay tuned. We’ll let you know if we hear more about this.

Q:

Can a female cat that was spayed ever have kittens? Our neighbor says his cat was spayed years ago. But she has had at least two litters of kittens in the past year. What gives?

A:

A properly spayed cat has had her ovaries and uterus removed, making it impossible for her to give birth. My guess is that your neighbor is telling you what he thinks you want to hear … and it just ain’t so. If that kitty was, indeed, spayed, something is terribly wrong with the way the procedure was performed. He needs to take her back and have a long talk with his veterinarian.

But I’ll wager that the poor kitty never went into surgery. Tell your neighbor that you didn’t “just fall off the turnip truck” (one of my father’s favorite expressions when he thought someone was fibbing). His cat is going to continue having kittens until she is properly spayed. And that should be done right away.

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