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) WOULD a ferret make a good family pet? My partner is really keen on the idea but I am worried that they would stink the house out.
I’m not sure I could ever get used to that musty, earthy smell they have, so is there a way of getting rid of it? Of course we would keep it clean, but if you have any other tips that would be great.
Nicky Bowden, St Ives, Cornwall
Sean says: Ferrets make amazing, fun, family pets. But there is no escaping the pungent odour.
You can certainly reduce the smell by feeding a good quality diet and they will tolerate regular bathing, which helps.
We used to also recommend neutering ferrets, but surgical neutering can lead to health problems later on.
So now the recommendation is to use a contraceptive implant that achieves the same result without unwanted side effects.
Got a question for Sean?
SEND your queries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q) I HAVE a one-year-old female tuxedo cat called Millie who used to eat wet food. But since she got neutered a year ago, she no longer likes it.
I’m a little worried, as while I give her water all the time to drink, isn’t dry food just very boring for her to eat throughout her lifetime?
Marcia Monteiro, London
Sean says: It’s easy to think that eating the same foods for your whole life might get boring. But I do feel this is overly humanising our pets.
They eat to survive and, yes, enjoy their food. But they don’t have the same palate, the culture around food, eating as a social occasion, the luxury of sampling global cuisines.
So as long as you are feeding a complete and balanced food that they enjoy, it is fine to stay on the same food, or brand of food, with the occasional switch up of flavours if you wish. Some cats are fussier than others. But introducing too much choice can make them even fussier.
Wet or dry or mixed isn’t a concern as long as she is drinking enough. A water fountain can help as cats like moving water.
Q) OUR nine-year-old West Highland white terrier Lexi has taken to licking her front paws, especially at night, which has resulted in them turning brown.
Can you shed any light on this matter? We have read that it could be stress but to be honest, she has nothing to be stressed about. How can we get her to stop licking and get her feet back to being white?
Eileen Nicolson, Livingston, West Lothian
Sean says: Most likely she has itchy paws caused by environmental allergies — a condition called atopy or atopic dermatitis.
Westies are genetically prone to this. Sometimes treatment is aimed at finding out what she’s allergic to and avoiding triggers. But that can be impossible if it’s pollen, for example.
Other options are to give medication long-term to stop the itch.
Or you can even treat with a type of vaccine to encourage her immune system to stop reacting to the trigger.
I would discuss options with your vet. It’s not always a quick fix.
Q) CAN you tell me why my dog Dougie licks other dogs’ pee?
It’s so gross and I worry it’s going to make him sick one day.
Danny McBride, Glasgow
Sean says: It’s basically doggy social media. They sniff each other’s butts, and stop to stick their nose at the base of every lamp-post urination station to find out who’s been past that day or even that week.
They can tell a lot of information by getting a good sniff. Or, in some cases like Dougie, having a taste, too.
There is a disease risk here, but making sure your dog is fully vaccinated protects them from most problems. Regular worming is vital, too.
Star of the week
SHELBY the macaw is an Instagram star that is helping to improve the lives of captive birds.
Owner Carlie Thomas, 33, a digital marketing executive from Harlington, Beds, and partner Dan Norrish, 38, an aircraft engineer, have taught the two-year-old to “free fly” and return to her owners.
Carlie said: “Shelby’s free flying teaches people that birds need much more than being kept in a cage and fed seed all day to be happy.
“Not only has she given me so much joy, but also to tens of thousands of others who watch her flights online.”
Shelby also lives with the couple’s kids Ben, 16, Kason, ten, Phebe, nine, and Elissa, six, plus rescue cat Elsa, mixed-breed dog Shadow, both three, and parrot Tommi, two.
See the videos on Insta @shelbythemacaw.
WIN: three-tier hutch
DOES your rabbit or guinea pig deserve to have a home upgrade for Easter?
One reader can win Home & Roost’s new 5ft Chartwell triple-tier hutch, worth £299.99.
It includes two sleeping areas and a ramp connecting each floor.
To enter, send an email with the heading Home & Roost to email@example.com by April 3. See homeandroost.co.uk. T&Cs apply.
Dogfather tips you can’t refuse
WITH dogs suffering from post-lockdown stress, TV’s Dogfather Graeme Hall is sharing five simple steps to fix issues about socialising.
An estimated 3.2million households welcomed a new pet into their family during the pandemic. But Graeme, from Channel 5’s Dogs Behaving (Very) Badly, believes half of them suffer fear and aggression.
He said: “Stranger-danger reactive behaviour is affecting over half of the pandemic puppies I see, particularly when guests visit homes.
“But it can be sorted. The first thing is don’t force your dog to engage with visitors.
“Next, practise with visitors ringing the doorbell and coming in, but ignoring your dog.
“Thirdly, if your dog is being aggressive, a muzzle allows you to practise safely. Fourth, if you use a lead for safety’s sake, don’t keep pulling your dog back as that will have the opposite effect.
“Last but not least, don’t forget to praise the good behaviour.”
Graeme is embarking on a 43-date tour with a 90-minute show full of tricks, memories and advice.
Readers can get 50 per cent off with our exclusive QR code. For venues, see graemehalllive.com.