From a chihuahua scared of water to a tabby with strange behaviour — 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.”


Q) MY eight-year-old chihuahua Martha is behaving oddly and seems scared of drinking water.

I have tried every type of bowl, dish, plate — even a paper one — but she does the same odd movements.

She happily drinks water off the pavement or carpet if she flicks any on to it, but not from a bowl.

I worry, as I feel she does not get enough water.

She will not walk on certain surfaces, won’t go up or down stairs and the latest quirk is she will not walk across a footbridge.

Diana Wilson, Hornsea, East Yorks

A) This is really odd and not something I’ve heard of before.

But the fact she is a chihuahua, the bizarre movements, and a reluctance to walk on certain surfaces or gradients makes me think this could be a neurological problem.

Chihuahuas are prone to brain problems due to their head shape, especially those with the really rounded “apple” shape.

I can’t obviously diagnose this from afar, so I think a full neurological exam by a vet would be a good idea as a starting point.

Q) I HAVE tried different things to stop our Sprollie, Shep, barking at strangers.

When he gets to know them he is fine but to begin with, he yaps a lot.

He hates cats too. You’re my last hope.

David Barnes, Paignton, Devon

A) The first part of tackling a behavioural problem like barking is to understand why Shep is doing it.

Various motivations are involved, and without observing Shep and your reactions in person, I cannot come up with a diagnosis.

A qualified animal behaviourist is your best bet for tackling this issue.

At least three separate motivations could be at play here, fearful or anxious barking at strangers to get them to back off or approach more slowly, territorial aggression and predatory aggression towards cats.

All of these scenarios are tackled in different ways. And I’m all out of word count.

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected].

Q) WE adopted our pet tabby Strypes about 11 years ago.

She is a lovely, well trained cat but during the last few months she has been showing strange behaviour.

First her sleeping habits changed — she would not go on her bed, she started to sleep next to us at the side of the bed, then in the bathroom by the toilet bowl, then downstairs near the front door.

Now she has moved outside into the wood store and only comes back to feed, then go back out again.

If we try to keep her in, she starts meowing and crying to go out again.

We took her to the vet and she had an ear infection, which has been treated, but she’s still behaving oddly.

Could it be her ears that are causing the problem?

Dennis Davidson, Grimsby, Lincs

A) It’s hard to say, but you don’t mention what age Strypes was when she moved in with you.

If she was a few years old then she’s becoming elderly now, so I’d be suspicious of senile changes with the behaviour and agitation you describe.

Dogs and cats get dementia too and symptoms include changes in sleeping patterns, disorientation, agitation, confusion or bumping into things.

At her age, I would also be mindful of arthritis so the change in sleeping areas might be to do with finding a comfier position, or even being restless due to pain or discomfort.

Indeed, pain anywhere, including her ears, could be affecting her, so another vet check-up is a good idea.

Star of the week

KIND-hearted horse JD has helped Jo Milnes regain her confidence and take the reins again after losing 8st.

Jo, 52, from Driffield, East Yorks, had not ridden for nearly 20 years, but with the 15-year-old cob, she is back in competition.

Jo, who runs gifting firm Distinctive Pets, said: “JD is my hero.

"When I returned to riding I needed a very safe horse that was fun too.

“JD is such a character. He always tries so hard and puts a smile on my face, even covered in mud.”

Win: Luxe bundle

KEEP your dog looking dapper and free of fleas with the Be:Loved Summer Grooming Bundle.

Its luxury pampering products for pups are inspired by traditional remedies using only natural ingredients (wearebeloved.co.uk).

The bundle is worth £50.95 and includes sunscreen balm, shampoo and more.

We have five bundles to give away. For a chance to win one, send an email with BELOVED as the subject to sunday [email protected]

  • T&Cs apply. Entries close August 15.

Olympic champ tries a bark run

GET fighting fit with your furry pal at your side.

Olympic cycling champ Victoria Pendleton and her dog Vala recently took part in Bark Run, an agility and running event backed by tails.com that encourages owners to enjoy exercise with their dogs.

Victoria, 40, retrained as a jockey after her glittering cycling career ended.

And she reckons CaniCross – running with a bungee lead between you and your dog – is a great way to bond with them and keep fit.

She says: “The dogs really enjoy it and you get exercise at the same time. You’re running as a pack and it feels really good.

“It’s like you’re a family. They’re in front and you’re following. It builds your bond and the respect your dog has for you.”

CaniCross surged in popularity in lockdown

At k9trailtime.com, sales of “starter kits” – including leads and a Y-shaped harness – rose 52 per cent in 2020 since 2019.

You should not run with dogs in hot weather but can try the kit by getting your dog to practise walking at heel. Victoria adds: “I would recommend using a running harness and a bungee lead.

"You can start training with heel-work first, so your dog knows to stay close to you.

“Have a pouch of nice treats for them as rewards to keep them motivated.

“Once you can run, you will find they enjoy it and you do too. Even if you are not big into exercise, you will find the time passes so fast and your dog is always happy to go out with you.

“If that’s helping you improve your fitness as well, that’s a great motivation for anyone.”

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