From a stubborn English bulldog to a cat with cystitis — 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, 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) FOR the past two to three years my four-year-old shih tzu, ­Willow, has been a nightmare to take out for a walk.

I almost have to drag her everywhere.

Now my two-year-old English bulldog Mistee is doing the same.

It’s more like going out for a drag than a walk.

Have we done something wrong that neither dog now enjoys walking?

Catriona Tallack, Scotland

A) I can’t tell you without knowing more about these dogs’ histories and observing what is happening, I’m afraid.

Did something frightening happen at any point?

Is there a chance there could be pain or discomfort, or their collars or harnesses are ill-fitting?

Do they get rewarded in any way for stopping and dragging — if you coax them with a treat, for example?

Maybe they are playing you for treats?

I jest a little but there are so many things that could be going on here, it’s hard to tell for sure. A qualified animal behaviourist is your best bet.

Q) MY nine-year-old male cat Alfie has had cystitis for 10 weeks.

The vet gave him Cystaid Plus ­capsules and antibiotics, as he was peeing blood.

The vet said it’s stress- related because this happened about ten days after my other cat was put to sleep.

I’ve tried a Feliway diffuser but it’s made no difference. I’m so worried about him. What can I do?

Diane Bryan, Leicester

A) Feline cystitis is, in my opinion, one of the most stressful conditions for cats, their owners and vets.

It can be tricky to identify the exact cause but it often happens over and over again and has the potential to cause an emergency blockage, especially in male cats.

Any change in routine or home environment can trigger stress cystitis in cats but it sounds like your vet and you are doing a good job.

Diffusers are designed to help but are not a magic fix.

I’d advise a return to the vet, or at least bringing in a urine sample to see what the next steps are if he’s still peeing blood.

You can get plastic beads from the vet for his litter tray and then pipette out a sample.

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected].

Q) MILLIE, my rescue cat, is very affectionate and cuddly but recently she has started nipping when she licks us.

She will lick your hand and then give it a little bite.

A friend told me she’s being playful and it doesn’t hurt.

But my grandchildren are due to stay this summer and I’m worried about her doing it to them. What can I do to stop her

Maggie Hughes, Warrington

A) Biting is usually just a part of cats’ play behaviour, rather than being an aggressive thing.

If we rough-play with kittens with our hands, allowing them to bite ­fingers, this can lead to biting habits running into their later years too.

But it’s not too late to divert ­Millie’s biting play to more appropriate objects like soft toys.

It’s a case of never reprimanding her or fighting back when she play-bites because this may make her nervous or more prone to react with aggression or defensiveness.

Instead, divert her attention to an appropriate toy when it looks like her stimulation level is going up.

And when she play-bites with that toy, reward the behaviour with a tasty treat.

Despite what people may think, you can teach an old cat new tricks.

Star of the week

RESCUE bunnies Mia and Murphy are so pampered they even have their own bell to call them for dinner.

The pair were adopted from Foal Farm Animal Rescue in Biggin Hill, Kent, by vet nurse Zoe Blake, and live in Horsham, West Sussex.

Zoe, 44, says the two run loose in her large garden.

She added: “When it’s bedtime I walk up the garden, ring the bell and they come running into their hutch ready for their food.

“It’s like watching school kids at the end of lunch break.”

Win: Online training

KEEP your dog and kids entertained during the summer holiday with the Woofers Club from Dogs Are Family (

It’s a fun, online learning club for dog lovers aged eight to 15 who want to bond with their pet and train them.

We have four packs, worth £71.99 each, to give away. Each features a 12-month membership and a bag of goodies.

For a chance to win one, send an email entitled WOOFERS to [email protected]

  • Closes August 8. Terms and conditions apply.


Get your puppy vaccinated too

PUPPY owners are being urged to ensure their pet has its vaccinations so it is not at risk of serious diseases.

Record numbers of have been bought during the lockdowns, but many owners have not been able to visit vets.

Sarah Miller, head of canine health and wellbeing at the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, explains: “Parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parainfluenza are all threats to the life, health and welfare of dogs.

“Until a puppy has developed protection from these diseases, which is a couple of weeks after the second puppy injection, owners need to be extremely careful where they allow the puppy to visit.

“It’s important they do not come into contact with other dogs or environments which may pose a risk.”

Parvovirus can be deadly. In the first five months of this year, My Family Vets clinics around the country reported 89 cases of parvovirus – an 82 per cent increase from last year.

Sarah advises that if you get a pup, it is vital to talk to a vet about vaccinations and get booked in.

She added: “Your vet will take into account the prevalence of these diseases in your area, which is why speaking to them is so imperative.”

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