Regardless of what is causing the rash, applying a little over-the-counter hemorrhoid cream twice a day can be very soothing. "Choose the type with cortisone in it, which helps stop the itch," says Lori A. Wise, D.V.M., a veterinarian in private practice in Wheat Ridge, Colorado. And use latex gloves when you apply it.

Helping your pet stay regular will increase your chances of keeping her backside rash-free. Many dogs and cats have sensitive digestive systems that don't take well to new foods or even to tasty leftovers. It is a good idea to keep them on their regular diets and to make sure that they are getting plenty of water since this helps prevent hard bowel movements and will also keep them regular. It is especially important not to give them bones, which can irritate or even damage their digestive tracts as well as skin around the anus, explains Dr. Wise.

You can tell if your pet has tapeworms by looking at her stool or the area around the anus. Little specks that look like rice are the telltale sign of tapeworms. While tapeworms are creepy, they are not too difficult to get rid of. Pet supply stores stock a variety of tapeworm medications. Or your vet may give you a stronger type that is likely to be more effective, says Dr. Wise.

In addition, it is important to rid your house of fleas, since fleas can transmit tapeworms. Thoroughly clean the areas where your pet spends time and run her bedding through a hot wash. Then give her a bath with a medicated flea shampoo and spray or powder her with a flea-stopping product, says Dr. Wise. Once you get rid of the fleas, the risk for tapeworms will also drop.

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Copyright 1999 Rodale Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

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