By Eugene Magazine

Can dogs be allergic to grass?

Yes. Like humans, dogs can be allergic to a wide variety of things, including plant pollens, molds, dust, insects, and even some other animals. There have been cases of dogs who were allergic to humans! Allergies in dogs usually result in itchy skin rather than runny eyes and nose like people experience. Grass allergies are relatively common and present in one of two ways. For some dogs, inhaling grass pollen leads to an itchy rash usually around their face, armpits, and belly, but can involve the whole dog. Some other dogs experience a contact allergy to grass. They will itch on the parts of their bodies that touch the grass — usually feet and their bellies if they lie on grass.

What is acupuncture for a pet like?

An acupuncture visit generally starts with the pet being free to wander and explore while the veterinarian observes the pet and gathers a detailed history. Many of the questions are unique to traditional Chinese veterinary medicine (TCVM), such as: “Does the pet prefer hot or cold areas?” or “How do they get along with other pets?” The veterinarian will then perform a physical exam and arrive at a TCVM pattern diagnosis.  

Treatment usually involves the placement of fine needles in specific acupuncture points. Pets may experience a small “zing” when the needle is placed, but most pets are comfortable with the process. Needles are left in place for 15 to 45 minutes. Sometimes the needles are attached to a mild electric current, which is particularly helpful with painful conditions. Other times a small volume of sterile saline or vitamin B-12 is injected into specific acupuncture points. 

While most pets do relax and seem to enjoy it, there are some who are not suited to receiving acupuncture treatment. Some pets experience an immediate post-treatment “high” and marked improvement in symptoms. Others are sleepy and their symptoms improve the next day. For some it takes two or three sessions before they show improvement. The positive effects may last days or weeks.   

How can I be sure my cat is drinking enough water?

Some house cats are reluctant to drink — but there are ways to tempt them. Be sure to dump, clean, and refill their water bowl daily. If you have a multiple cat household, or if your cats cohabit with dogs or other mammals, place water in a few different areas. Many cats prefer to drink running water, such as from a feline drinking fountain. I have left a faucet dripping to entice an older unwell pet to drink. You can feed your cat some canned food and even add a bit more water to it. 

Why does my cat pull her hair out?

There are several reasons why a cat may tear its hair out, or “overgroom.” The first and very common reason is fleas. You may not see fleas on your pet, but an itchy cat will feel that flea and immediately bite it to remove the irritation. The good news is we have a lot of very effective and safe flea treatments available. Please call your veterinarian to get advice on which products to use, as not all of them are safe. Cats can also be allergic to pollens, molds, dust, or food items. Third, overgrooming can be an expression of stress or anxiety. Lastly, cats may overgroom a painful area to soothe themselves. For example, a kitty with a bladder infection will lick their belly, or an older cat with arthritis will lick their knee.  

My dog’s ears seem really dry. Is this normal?

Healthy dog ears should be slightly shiny, light pink in hue with no stink or discharge. Very dry ears, and especially if they are flaky or crusty, may indicate an ear infection or allergy. 

What is Integrated Veterinary Medicine? 

Integrated Veterinary Medicine is the practice of using the most appropriate tools from a variety of Western and alternative traditions in a combination that best serves the patient. A good example is providing care for a stiff and painful senior dog. This dog may receive NSAIDS (a commonly used Western medicine treatment for pain control), acupuncture to resolve qi stagnation (the basis of pain in TCVM), cold laser therapy, and veterinary medical manipulation (similar to chiropractic care for humans) to free up spinal and joint movement. Another case might be a cancer patient being treated with Western chemotherapy but also using Chinese herbal medications to support appetite and improve quality of life and comfort. 

The Veterinary Hospital, 175 Silver Lane, 541/243-7677,

Dr. Nancy Johnson has been a veterinarian since 1984. She became a Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist in 2021 and also holds certification in Veterinary Manual Manipulation Therapy. She is the owner of The Veterinary Hospital, a family-owned business serving the Eugene community since 1962.