HE is on a mission to help our pets . . . and is here to answer YOUR questions.
Sean, who is the head vet at tailored pet food firm tails.com, has helped with owners’ queries for ten years. He says: “If your pet is acting funny or is under the weather, or you want to know about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”
Q) MY niece had a pair of gerbils who were devoted to each other, and when one died we tried to replace it, as we know they are sociable little animals.
The problem is Gertie, the old gerbil, fights constantly with the new one, Harry. Is this unusual?
Steph Williams, Durham
Sean says: It can be hard to introduce gerbils when they are older. Bonded pairs get along best when raised together from an early age.
You need to introduce them slowly behind a barrier at first, either in two cages side by side, or with a divider in the cage.
Each day, swap them to the other cage or other side so they get used to each other’s scent.
Then introduce them on neutral territory, in a pen or box, with lots of toys and hiding places. Gradually they should come around.
A word of warning though — same-sex couples work best unless you want lots of gerbil babies.
Got a question for Sean?
SEND your queries to email@example.com.
Q) I LOVE the idea of keeping koi carp in a pond in our new garden, but am wondering how big it needs to be and if it requires lots of maintenance.
Do you know how big koi can get and what sort of environment suits them best?
Naomi Waterland Margate, Kent
Sean says: The bigger the pond, the better. And depending on how many koi you intend to keep, you will need some pretty hi-tech filtration too to keep the water quality high.
Such large fish produce a lot of waste, and the secret to fish-keeping in general is not actually keeping fish — it’s keeping clean, pristine water conditions.
Koi live a long time, upwards of 30 years easily, and grow to nearly a metre in length eventually. So this is not a light undertaking.
Why don’t you try to find a local koi keeper and go around to see their set-up and learn more. Then decide if it’s a hobby for you.
Q) MY dog Buddy hurt his back paw last year. As a result he lost a toe and the middle one got infected.
He has been on antibiotics for nearly six months. It’s starting to heal but the other night I put him to bed and in the morning he had been biting his other good, back paw. It’s a mess so I’m back to square one.
Dan Duddy, Durham
Sean says: Oh no, that’s very frustrating. It sounds like the infection got into the bone and when it’s that deep it can take a long time to resolve.
Buddy chewing a paw — understandable as it’s obviously painful — won’t do it any favours. Despite the myth, dogs’ licks are not antiseptic, quite the opposite.
Your vet will probably want to sample the infection and culture it this time around to make sure Buddy goes on to the very best antibiotic.
Limiting his ability to chew or lick is the other key to success here.
Q) WHAT should a male five-year-old Labrador weigh and what would be your recommendation for how much an adult should eat daily?
My daughter’s dog seems under-weight. He currently has dried food and biscuits. Is there a set chart for dogs’ weight?
Stephen Kinsey , Rotherham
Sean says: There’s not really a single answer to this as every dog is different and some genetic lines of Labradors are smaller than others.
Those bred for the show ring, for example, tend to be a lot stockier than athletic, lean, working lines.
The way to determine if your dog is the correct weight is to learn a technique called “body condition scoring”.
See my video on the tails.com YouTube channel for instructions.
Star of the week
PATRICK, a miniature horse, is only 75cm tall – but he has a huge heart and is changing lives.
The eight-year-old family pet is a therapy animal at HorseBack UK, a Scottish charity that helps war veterans with life-changing injuries and students on youth development courses.
Co-founder Emma Hutchison said: “From the moment you go into his paddock he wants to come up and say hello, play and put his nose against yours.
“He’s so much more than a pet. He has helped veterans with life-changing injuries.
“Yet, in a way, his best therapy comes not from his training and his skills, but from his heart.
“He is such a generous, funny little fellow, you can’t help smiling. He makes people laugh, and that’s the best therapy.”
Follow Patrick at horseback.org.uk.
WIN: Pass The Pugs game
POPULAR game Pass The Pigs has been given a doggie twist called Pass The Pugs.
To win one of 25 sets, in which you throw the doggy dice and get points for the position they land in, send an email headed PASS THE PUGS to firstname.lastname@example.org by March 27. See winningmoves.co.uk. T&Cs apply.
Truth aches with dental hygiene
CALLS for tighter legislation to help lost and stolen pets be reunited with their owners are being made to mark Dog Theft Awareness Day tomorrow.
Puppy thefts have soared in the past year.
And although new legislation was set out in the Government’s Kept Animals Bill in November to make pet abduction a criminal offence – with up to five years in jail – the law has yet to be introduced.
Debbie Matthews, daughter of the late Sir Bruce Forsyth, is a key campaigner for change and co-founder of Sampa (the Stolen And Missing Pets Alliance).
Debbie, 66, told Paws and Claws: “We need the new law to be implemented as quickly as possible as pet theft is still seen as a low- risk, high-reward crime.
“Puppy theft is rising as puppies are changing hands for many thousands of pounds.
“Once the law is in place it will be a deterrent. We are also calling for other species, including cats and horses, to be included.”
Debbie suffered the theft of two dogs from her car in 2006. They were later recovered.
She added: “Many missing pets are never reunited as it is optional for vets to check microchip registration.”
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