Ask Fanny


The mascot of Sugar Hill Animal Hospital answers questions about your pet’s health.

Q:  My Yorkshire Terrier “Bentley” drags his bottom on the carpet.  Does he have worms?    — Kaitlin B. (Suwanee)

A: When a dog drags his hindquarters along the ground, he is usually trying to empty his anal glands.  Dogs are in the same Canidae family as skunks and have similar glands that can get impacted.  The old wives’ tale of having worms is rarely true in dogs dragging their bottom.  Please see your veterinarian about having your dogs’ glands expressed or in chronic cases, surgically removed.

Q: “Chairman Meow,” my 14-year-old cat, has started meowing loudly at night and acting senile.  Do cats get Alzheimer’s disease? — Brianna J.  (Buford)

A:  The most common cause for a personality change in senior cats is due to hyperthyroidism.  Usually, this is caused by a benign growth on the thyroid gland.  The excess production of thyroid hormone can lead to increased appetite, weight loss, hyperactivity, and erratic vocalization.  Your veterinarian can do a simple blood test to check for this disease that can be treated by diet, medication, surgery, or even radiation treatment.

Q:  Should my dog be on a grain-free diet as recommended by my pet superstore? — Joey T. (Sugar Hill)

A:  In my opinion, the “grain-free” diet is simply a marketing strategy for pet food companies.  If a pet truly has an allergy to a specific grain (as confirmed by a 6-week true food trial), then, of course, they should be on a grain-free diet.  A significant increase in heart disease (dilated cardiomyopathy) has been seen in dogs lacking grains in their diet.  Most pets benefit from a balanced diet of protein and carbohydrates.  Be sure to ask your veterinarian for a recommendation for your specific pet.


Fanny’s helper this month is West Hamryka, DVM from Sugar Hill Animal Hospital. Dr. Hamryka is past president of the Georgia and Gwinnett Veterinary Medical Associations and is a guest lecturer at various veterinary colleges.

Have pet-related questions?  Ask Fanny at




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