Q & A
Q: Recently our cat Pinot has been a little tentative around her food bowl, dropping the occasional piece of meat and drooling. She also has awful breath, but being such an old cat we are worried what the vet will say. Should we try to clean her teeth at home?
A: Please don't be frightened of your vet, as honestly it sounds like poor Pinot needs some attention. It is very likely that she has some sort of dental disease, maybe a rotten tooth or gum disease causing her discomfort and leading to the drooling. Even older cats can undergo anaesthetic with bloods taken prior to ensure her general health, and this simple procedure can greatly improve your cat's quality and quantity of life. Chronic dental disease can lead to all sorts of health problems such as liver and heart disease, so make an appointment to chat with your friendly local vet today.
Q: My beautiful Bengal cat Lydia is about six months and I am thinking of getting her speyed. The breeder said be careful where the vet clips her for the surgery, as her coat can change colour. Is this true and what can I do about it?
A: I have seen this happen in the occasional cat, and I must say I am not 100% sure why. It is likely the clippers irritate the skin and cause melanin (the skin's natural skin pigment) to be produced, or clipping disrupts normal cycles of hair growth and moulting, leading to the patch of coat regrowing with a slightly different colour. In cats such as Bengals where the coats are prized for being so delicate and beautiful, it would be best to have her speyed via a midline incision over her belly, where any change in coat colour will not be as noticeable. This strange reaction does not seem to happen as much in domestic breed cats, just in the more exotic of breeds like beautiful Lydia, but speying is always a good idea in all cats, so speak to your vet about this before the procedure is completed.
Q: My puppy has been vomiting off and on for the last week or so. I took him to the vet, and they suggested starving him then gave him some pills, which haven't really made any difference. He is bright enough and is eating, though less amounts, so should I be worried?
A: I would definitely revisit your vet, as just like a human baby, puppies are very delicate creatures and should not be allowed to be unwell for long. In this case, it could be that your little dog has swallowed something silly, like part of a chewed toy, which may be swirling around in his stomach and unable to pass. Otherwise he could be reacting to the food you are feeding him and needs a change, have an infection, or otherwise just be eating too much too quickly and needs to be slowed down. Either way, don't let this go on too long before considering xrays and further workup, as the weaker a puppy gets, the less strength they have to recover from illness. All the best.
Q: Our little kitten Tiggy recently had his first vaccination, and was really sad and quiet afterwards. We are worried that this will happen again and think maybe we won't do it. What do you think?
A: Discuss this with your vet, though generally I would say that it is much more important to have a young cat fully vaccinated then leave them open to the potential of catching the harmful and common viruses in our environment which vaccines protect against. To be a little quiet and off their food is a fairly normal reaction to a vaccination, very similar to how us or our children feel after routine jabs, though anything more severe should always be reported to your vet. If the reaction is deemed severe, then there are other vaccines on the market where the active ingredients are modified or ‘killed', offering some level of protection for your new kitten.
Q: Can you tell me any simple way to get a worming tablet down my cat Maude, as it is almost impossible without getting badly scratched? She is a cantankerous old thing, so I wondered is there any way to worm a cat without giving it a tablet?
A: Tableting cats is one of the most common difficulties experienced by feline owners. Best completed with two people, a cat can be carefully wrapped in a towel to protect all involved from their sharp claws. Using a plastic tableting instrument gained from your local vet clinic, tip your cats head back so that their nose points to the ceiling, gently opening the mouth before popping the tablet behind the tongue and quickly stroking the throat to encourage swallowing. If this process is impossible with Maude, there are some topical treatments in a liquid form available from your vet, which kill all forms of intestinal worm commonly found in UK cats. These treatments are placed on the back of the neck like many flea treatments (some of which also treat some gut worms), absorbed through the skin and into the blood stream, before killing the worms present in the digestive tract. Used routinely every three months, this spot-on treatment may be the answer to your hard-to-pill feline's internal parasite problems.
Q: It has got quite cold early last year, and usually I wait until the end of October to bring my bunnies indoors. As the cold seems to be lingering and we only have a small house with quite a few children, ideally we would like to leave them outdoors next winter, but is this even possible?
A: As the weather begins to get chilly, a rabbit would normally find shelter by burrowing deep underground. As that is not possible for a pet rabbit, we need to make sure that they have suitable shelter for the long British winter. As they are naturally equipped with the correct coat for cold conditions, you can look into heat lamps placed into a covered section of the hutch with appropriate dry bedding for a winter outdoors. The hutch is best kept off the ground if possible to avoid frosts, and out of the prevailing winds in a sheltered position. Your rabbit must be checked every day, and if there is a lot of snow, you may need to bite the bullet and bring your bunny indoors regardless. As your rabbits are lucky enough to make it inside this winter, just make sure you have bunny-proofed your home first, such as covering electrical wires, just so the little ones make it through til Spring alive and stay in your good books!
Q: I have a five year old springer spaniel and he is prone to weepy eyes. Should i take him to a vet or just keep cleaning hid eyes with cooled, boiled water from the kettle.
A: If the discharge is clear or brownish in colour, then this is normal tear production, possibly excessive because of irritation or allergy. If the discharge is yellow, then this is a bacterial infection that will need antibiotic medication from your vet to sort out. Many owners report that their dogs have weepy eyes during early spring, possibly associated with the increase in pollens and dust in the atmosphere. A good wipe clean with cooled, boiled water would be a perfect way to keep your springer's eyes clean and clear, so continue as you are unless infection does become apparent.