Ask a vet about your dog

Our pet expert, Lena C. France, DVM, offers free advice for pet owners

Q: My dog is losing hair on her ears. She doesn’t have a rash or dry skin. What can I do about this?

A: See your vet for an exam. Hair loss can have many underlying causes, like allergies, parasites (fleas, ticks or gnats) or an endocrine disease (like Cushing’s or hypothyroidism). If parasites are causing the hair loss, your vet will likely prescribe a flea-and-tick-control product to apply to your dog’s skin. If allergies are the problem, oral or injectable steroids are the usual choice (although allergy testing and treatment may be necessary). If your dog has an endocrine condition, your vet will probably prescribe oral medications.

Q: Sometimes my dog eats so fast that she throws her food right back up. How can I get her to slow down at mealtimes?

A: If competition with other pets is the root of the problem, you can change the behavior by feeding them in separate rooms. But often there is no clear reason for this common occurrence. In that case, feed her smaller meals more frequently. Or feed her out of a muffin pan; with the food divided among the cups, it will take her longer to eat. However, she could have a medical problem such as hyperthyroidism, so if these tips don’t help, see a vet.

Q: I can’t get rid of my dog’s fleas. She has a flea collar, but they keep coming back. What can I do?

A: This is a common and frustrating problem. First, switch to a different flea-treatment product. Talk to your veterinarian about topical medications, such as Frontline, Revolution or Advantage, that you apply monthly to your dog’s skin. They can be effective. Keep in mind that adult fleas live on your pet, but their eggs and larvae can thrive in your carpet, furniture and other areas. So you should also have your house treated by a professional pest-control agency, once a month for about three months, to prevent the fleas’ return.