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Welcome to Petplan’s blog, a space where you can read up on the latest pet-news, find out interesting facts and tips about keeping your pets happy and healthy, and share your views on hot topics.

How to help your arthritic dog build stronger legs

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This article contains: dog exercise arthritis hydrotherapy bones

Q: Our beautiful Alsatian has suffered badly with his hips as he’s got older, and has now developed osteoarthritis. An anti-inflammatory liquid keeps him comfortable, but his legs are shakier than ever, and the vet said there was very little muscle tone left. Is there anything I can do to help him rebuild muscle tone without making his hips more painful?

A: Hydrotherapy may be the perfect way to help stimulate the rebuilding of muscles in your German Shepherd’s back legs. With an inflatable harness placed around them, dogs are placed in a deep tank and allowed to swim. This builds up muscles and is a perfect non-weight-bearing exercise for arthritic joints.

You should also consider the use of chondroprotectants such as glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which will help to regrow healthier joint surfaces in your ageing dog.

Does spaying affect a cat’s coat?

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This article contains: cat spaying colour fur coat

Q: My beautiful Bengal cat Lydia is about six months old and I’m thinking of getting her spayed. The breeder said to be careful where the vet clips her for the surgery, as this could affect the colour of her coat. If this is true, what can I do about it?

A: I have seen this happen in the occasional cat, and I must say I’m not certain why. It is likely that the clippers irritate the skin and cause melanin, the skin’s natural skin pigment, to be produced, or that clipping disrupts the normal cycles of hair growth and moulting, leading to the patch of coat regrowing with a slightly different colour.

With cats such as Bengals, whose coats are prized for being so delicate and beautiful, it’s best to have them spayed via a midline incision over the belly, where any change in coat colour will not be as noticeable. Strangely, this unusual reaction does not seem to happen as much in domestic breeds as in more exotic varieties such as beautiful Lydia, but spaying is a good idea for all cats, so speak to your vet about your concerns before the procedure is completed.

Do car journeys stress out your cat?

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Q: My son has a one-year-old rescue cat that is generally calm and friendly, but pees and poops whenever she travels by car in her cat carrier, even if she has used her litter tray shortly beforehand. Can you suggest why this could be?

A: Most cats are not used to travelling in cars and it can be very stressful for them. They are placed in a carrier, removed from their home territory and put in a noisy car.

Fearful situations such as this can result in a loss of bladder and bowel control. I would line the carrier with newspaper or old towels that can be thrown out after the journey.

Spraying the inside with a product called Feliway (available from vets or veterinary websites) 10 minutes before she is put into it may also help. To minimise any travel to veterinary appointments, your son could ask whether his vet offers the option of home visits or a mobile surgery

Is it safe to put your puppy under anaesthetic?

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Q: Our fun-loving pug puppy has just started ‘getting a little funny’ around other male dogs, and my vet suggested castration. We’re really worried about Kato being put under anaesthetic for a procedure that isn’t essential, so should we steer clear?

We’ve researched the different types of anaesthetic and it seems that gas is the safest. Do all vets use this?

A: Castration is not a necessity, but it will help to reduce male-dominance aggression and the potential for prostate problems later in life, so it’s definitely worth considering seriously.

Almost all – if not all – vets in the UK use gas to maintain a pet under anaesthetic. Having said that, injections are also usually involved; it is very uncommon to solely ‘gas-down’ a canine patient for surgery.

I would suggest contacting your local vet to discuss the types of anaesthetic they use. This should help you feel more comfortable about the procedure, and to decide whether you want to go through with it.

What to do if your puppy is vomiting

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This article contains: dog vomiting puppy food

Q: My puppy has been vomiting for the past week. The vet suggested withholding his food and prescribed medication, but these don’t seem to have made a difference.

He is bright enough and is eating again, although less than before. Should I worry?

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. It could be that your dog has swallowed something, such as part of a chewed toy, which may be swirling around in his stomach and unable to pass.

Otherwise, he could be in need of a change of food, or be eating too much, too quickly. Or it might be an infection.

Don’t let this go on too long before considering X-rays and further options, as the weaker a puppy gets, the less strength they have to recover from illness.

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