Top Vet Advice on 5 Common Pet Problems

Our experts weigh in on pet owner's concerns.

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It's ear infection after ear infection for my poor puppy. Any prevention tips?

Vet Advice: Dogs with heavy, floppy or hairy ears—think cocker spaniels and poodles—are more prone to developing ear infections, says Camille DeClementi, VMD. Regularly cleaning the inner ear (especially after bathing or swimming) with a product marketed for dogs can prevent trouble.

My cat never drinks any water!Vet Advice: DeClementi encourages her felines to lap up more liquid by placing decorative glass floats at least 1 inch long (ice cubes work too) inside a clear bowl filled with H2O. "They like having something to play with," she says. "They may have so much fun that you'll find other toys end up in the bowl as well."

How do I get my cat to stop clawing the couch?

Vet Advice: She'll be less inclined to scratch furniture with shorter claws, so definitely aim for frequent trims. To keep the process positive, offer treats throughout and consider doing just one foot per session if that's your cat's limit. Also be sure to offer a good alternative to your furniture—Susan Konecny, DVM, likes the PetFusion Ultimate Cat Scratcher Lounge (amazon.com, $50).

My dog seems prone to indigestion. How can I help?

Vet Advice: He may need more fiber. DeClementi adds a small amount of fiber-rich canned pumpkin to her dog's meals. You don't need a lot—no more than a half teaspoon for a small dog (up to 40 pounds) or a tablespoon for a large dog (40 or more pounds). As with any food additive formulated for humans, touch base with your vet before feeding to your dog.

Should I be giving my pet vitamins?

Vet Advice: Good-quality commercially prepared foods are already nutritionally balanced, making supplements unnecessary for most healthy animals, says DeClementi. However, certain vitamins can be helpful for pets with diagnosed conditions like liver or joint disease—just discuss with your vet first.

Meet the Experts

Camille DeClementi, VMD, senior director and veterinary toxicologist at the ASPCASusan Konecny, RN, DVM, medical director of Best Friends Animal Society