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Help! My ferret is going bald and he is only 3 years old! Is it safe to use Rogaine on him? Will it work?

A -- Do not use Rogaine on your ferret. Alopecia (hair loss) in animals is not the same as male pattern baldness in humans. Your veterinarian can check your ferret to find the reason for the alopecia, which may be related to skin conditions, such as parasites or infection. However, the most common cause of alopecia in middle-aged ferrets is an adrenal gland tumor. The adrenal gland is located in the abdomen near the kidneys. If this is the problem, surgery will be required. Removal of the tumor cures the problem and hair will generally regrow.

Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM

A hermaphrodite pup

Q -- My puppy had a testicle that didn't come down. It took extra surgery to neuter him and when I picked him up afterward, my veterinarian said he was unusual. She seemed a little excited. She said he was part female and had a uterus inside that she also removed. She also called him a long medical word. Can you explain this?

A -- I understand your veterinarian's excitement, as this sort of thing is relatively uncommon. I have personally seen only a few cases.

Your dog is a hermaphrodite or pseudohermaphrodite, depending on whether or not there was also evidence of ovarian tissue. This is a birth defect causing reproductive organs to form partially as both sexes and may also involve other abnormalities of structure, such as a displaced, unusually small or deformed penis.

Since your dog's reproductive organs have been removed (he's not a breeding dog) and his urinary system is working normally, he'll probably be a happy member of your family for a normal lifespan.

Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM

Spaying prevents rabbit troubles

Q -- My veterinarian did not recommend any vaccines for my pet rabbit but told me I should spay her. She's litter-trained and runs loose but never leaves the house. There's no risk of pregnancy but shouldn't I protect her from disease somehow?

A -- Contagious diseases are not a problem in pet rabbits and there are no vaccines available for them. However, female rabbits are very prone to developing potentially fatal uterine infections and also uterine cancers. Spaying prevents these problems and is definitely a good recommendation.

Melinda R. Burgwardt, DVM

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