HE is on a mission to help our pets. . . and she 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) WHAT type of snakes make the best pets? We would like one that is fairly docile and can live a long time in captivity.
I don’t mind handling dead rats but I really wouldn’t want to have to deal with live food for it.
Mark Holick, Reading
Sean says: Corn snakes. You can’t beat them as a great beginner snake pet.
They are docile and easy to handle, and they eat well, unlike the other popular choice, royal pythons.
Corn snakes are also more active. They come in a huge range of colors and without a lot of the health issues associated with royal python color morphs.
They eat dead mice or small rats. Give them as large an enclosure as you can, make it naturalistic with vegetation and plenty of branches to climb on.
They make fascinating pets if kept properly and allowed to express natural behaviour. Whatever you do, don’t keep them in tiny boxes.
Got a question for Sean?
SEND your queries to [email protected].
Q) CAN goldfish get depressed?
I had two, but one passed away and my remaining one, Bob, seems to not move around as much as he used to.
Sean says: I wonder if it’s less about depression and more about the conditions that caused the other fish to die.
When you keep fish, what you’re really keeping is clean water.
Goldfish are particularly prone to poor water conditions caused by overfeeding, lack of filtration or being kept in bowls and tanks that are just too small for them.
If your feeding or cleaning routine has changed or Bob is now getting more to eat, there could be more waste products polluting the water.
Also, a lone fish may just move around less as they don’t have the stimulation of a tank mate.
I’d consider another but make sure your tank is big enough. Ideally though, a pond is the best place for goldfish to allow them to reach their full size and give them space.
Q) I AM thinking of getting a puppy for my six-year-old son Frank so they can grow up together.
There’s a lot of dogs for sale on online forums but I’m concerned about puppy farms. I’m not worried about a pedigree, so are breeders the way to go? Or should I try a rescue?
Jackie Edwards, Cleethorpes, Linc
Sean says: You are right to worry about puppy farms and even irresponsible backyard breeders who don’t do any health testing or take care to choose the right parents to breed from.
A lot of dog breeds are really suffering because people see breeding as a cash cow or get-rich-quick scheme.
A good local rescue will match your family to the right dog. Some aren’t keen on rehoming to families with small children, so ask around.
If you do buy, make sure you see pups with mum a few times. A good breeder will vet you just as much as you check them out.
Q) MY seven-year-old long-haired chihuahua Sonny has started to want to go out during the night
Could it be diabetes?
Richard Shanks I, Jarrow, Tyne & Wea
Sean says: If he’s weeing and drinking more then yes, diabetes would be one condition I’d have in mind for a dog of Sonny’s age.
I’d also want to check his kidney function and, depending on what I found, check for some hormonal disorders too.
I don’t want to alarm you as sometimes these changes in toileting habits can be behavioral.
In any case, a vet check-up is needed, and if you can bring them a pee sample that will really help.
You can catch some by popping a tray under Sonny when he cocks his leg and decanting into a clean jar.
stars of the week
VERLIN the Labrador is on the staff at a Somerset school – and has enabled his owner Fiona Airey to fulfill her dream of becoming head teacher.
The eight-year-old pup, trained by charity Canine Partners, transformed the life of 49-year-old Fiona, from Yeovil, who suffers from the genetic condition Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, which causes agonizing joint pain.
Fiona, head at Elmhurst Junior School in Street, said: “Having Verlin has enabled me to fulfill my dream of becoming a head teacher this year.
“From first thing when he turns on the light and brings me my slippers, to picking up items I drop and even telling me when I’ve been sitting down for too long at school, he has changed my life.
“His photo is on the staff board. He is a part of me and I’m a part of him.”
WIN: Bird Feeder
LOVE to feed wild birds?
Five readers can win a Henry Bell essential four-arm complete feeding station, complete with Henry Bell fat balls, seed, peanuts and mealworms, worth £50 each.
To enter, send an email marked HENRY BELL to [email protected] by March 6. See henrybell.co.uk.
Terms and conditions apply.
Bring smiles with paws on floors
A VOLUNTEER army of cats and dogs is being sought to bring joy to the nation.
An appeal to put “paws on the floor” by charity Pets As Therapy (PAT) aims to find new therapy dogs and cats to visit people in hospitals, hospices, schools, prisons and residential care homes.
There are currently 50 PAT cats and 4,500 dogs – but there are 7,500 establishments on the waiting list for visits.
PAT’s Matthew Robinson said: “There is a huge demand for our service, but not enough visiting cats and dogs.
“Chihuahuas, Irish wolfhounds, moggies and Maine coons – as long as your pet is friendly and has a good temperament, they’re halfway to being a PAT Pet.”
University administrator Josie Hughes, 48, of Northampton, has an eight-year-old Maine coon cat Benjen and nine-year-old Tamaskan rescue dog Woody.
She registered them with PAT after taking them to visit her stepfather in a care home and being asked if other residents could see them too.
She said: “Benjen now visits one lady at a care home who is 103 and misses her cat. It literally changes someone’s life.”
Registration opens on March 1. See petsastherapy.org.