Lifestyle

From a dog traumatised by fireworks to vegan diets — your pet queries answered

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.”If you want him to answer a question for YOU simply email him at [email protected]


Q) MY Border Collie Susie was badly affected by Fireworks Night last month.

It was particularly noisy this time and ever since then she’s been a bit sheepish. If she hears a loud bang she cowers and she’s not running to the door like she did before.

It has been a good few weeks now and she is still doing it. Could it be some kind of post-traumatic thing?

Emma King, Walsall

A) Sean says: It can be an association-based fear, yes. She remembers being really scared and any reminder brings up those anxieties again.

Luckily, there’s a really effective behavioural technique to tackle noise phobias in dogs.

It is called desensitisation and involves slowly exposing them to the types of sound they are scared of, gradually building the volume until it becomes background noise and they are no longer bothered by it.

It takes time and patience but will really help. There are guides online showing how to go about it.

Q) I HAVE a black labrador called Mollie. She has always been on Wainwrights food and is happy with the turkey one.

But I am vegan and want her to be vegan too. Is it OK for dogs not to have any animal products?

Bethany Poole, Glasgow

A) Sean says: Using the parts of farm animals that we as humans choose not to eat for our pet’s diets is a really sustainable way to feed our furry friends.

Plant-based pet diets can actually use more resources or release more greenhouse gasses than using up the nutritious, delicious and natural animal parts from the human food chain that would otherwise end up in landfill. They are called “animal byproducts” but that doesn’t mean they are poor-quality ingredients.

Dogs and cats are natural meat eaters, so to deprive them of it because of our moral values doesn’t sit well with me. If you want a vegan pet, a rabbit is a great option.

Q) I HAVE a one-year-old Cockapoo, Toffee, who has become all clingy since I’ve gone back to work.

She has a dog walker who takes her out each day and she’s left for two hours either side of that.

At night she cries and I’ve been letting her in my bed. Am I making a rod for my own back or is it right to comfort her? We had crate-trained her but all that has gone out of the window now.

Adam Cox, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

A) Sean says: This depends what you want, Adam. You are creating a rod for your own back really by rewarding her attention-seeking behaviour and letting her in your bed when she cries.

You can’t train a dog not to be anxious — it’s an emotional response. But you can train them to gain confidence and be content again in a crate. Some people think of crates as a cage, or punishment. That’s putting human sentiment on things.

I say they are a dog’s own bedroom and should be used as a positive or neutral space for your dog to sleep and chill out.

So it’s up to you whether to start back at basic crate training or enjoy your furry bed mate.

Q) MY cat Sophie likes to lay on top of the radiator.

I worry that with winter coming, she is going to burn herself or overheat. Should I try to stop her?

JANE PRICE, Chester

A) Sean says: She is unlikely to burn herself, but never say never. You can get nice cat beds that fit over the radiator. Perhaps that is a good compromise and a nice gift idea for your cat.

Otherwise, you are likely to be fighting a losing battle. We all know cats win every time.

Star of the week

BELLA the Cocker Spaniel is helping to make life less stressful for anxious dogs.

The nine-year-old lives with owner Sarah Jones, 54, in Binfield, Berks, and was attacked by another dog when she was a puppy.

She became fright-ened of animals and people, so Sarah created My Anxious Dog collars, leads and harnesses that are worn by thousands of pets all over the world.

Sarah said: “I learned you could put a yellow ribbon on your dog to alert others they were anxious. But it wasn’t enough. So I made her a harness with ‘Keep Away’ and ‘Anxious’ on.

“It led to other people asking for them. Bella inspiring me to to help her has led to other dogs being able to enjoy life.”

WIN DOG HAMPER

ENJOY a pamper party with your pooch.

We have three Play & Pamper selections from Luxury Dog Hampers to give away, each worth £85 and packed with enrichment toys and goodies.

Indulge them with Busy Bees paw balm, Herbal Dog Co shampoo and conditioner and Woof & Brew herbal tea.

And play with eco-friendly toys from Beco, Smug Mutts and Ruffle Snuffle. See luxurydoghampers.co.uk.

Send an email with LUXURY in the title by January 9 to [email protected] sun.co.uk. T&Cs apply.

Don't give up on guinea pigs

GUINEA pig owners are being urged not to give up on their pets, as rescuers report a rise in small furries being abandoned.

Like most pets, guinea pigs were much in demand during the lockdowns. But now they are sadly being ditched and neglected.

There are 800,000 guinea pigs here, according to the Pet Food Manufacturers Association – or 1.2 per cent of all households. Lucy Meadway, author of The Happy Healthy Guinea Pig Guidebook, says: “The most common reasons (for being abandoned) are that the children have become bored of them, someone in the house is allergic or the owners simply don’t have time for them.”

Lucy, 30, from Sevenoaks in Kent, adds: “Guinea pigs can be just as affectionate as dogs.

“They love being stroked and will squeak to welcome you home. It’s important to make sure they have a hutch with enough space, plenty of hay and enrichment toys they can use to forage for food – cardboard tubes work just fine.

“Consider getting them a mate – and please don’t give up on them. They can make awesome pets.”

For further advice, head over to littlecrittercare.co.uk/resources.

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