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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.

Could your cat have gum disease?

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This article contains: cat bad breath dental drooling gum disease

Q: Our cat has started to be tentative around her food bowl, dropping pieces of meat and drooling. She also has awful breath. Given that she’s quite old, we’re worried what the vet will say. Any ideas what could be wrong?

A: Please don’t be frightened of your vet, as it sounds like your poor cat needs attention. It’s likely that her discomfort and drooling are due to a dental issue – maybe a rotten tooth or gum disease.

Even older cats can undergo anaesthetic as long as tests are done beforehand to ensure their general health, and this could greatly improve your cat’s quality and length of life. Chronic dental disease can lead to health problems including liver and heart disease, so do go and see your vet.

 

What to do with an aggressive cat

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This article contains: behaviour aggression cats bite feeding

Q: My 12-year-old Burmese has started biting me hard whenever he wants food or attention, and generally grabs whatever food he can find. He doesn’t attack anyone else, but his behaviour towards me is becoming intolerable. Help!

A: Because your cat is 12 and has only just started to display this behaviour, I would take him to your vet in the first instance.

Some medical conditions can make cats irritable and constantly hungry, such as hyperthyroidism, and your vet may well recommend blood tests. In the meantime, as the aggression is mainly linked to eating,

I’d get into the habit of scattering a little dry food on the floor for him just before you walk out of the kitchen, so he’s kept busy looking for it. This would be part of his normal daily ration.

Providing a food activity ball may also help. Also, ensure you’re well protected, with thick slipper boots, thick trousers and socks.

If there is no medical cause, seek professional behaviour advice. Cat aggression can be a real problem, as cats carry bacteria in their mouths, and deep bites from them can cause potentially serious infections.

 

The dog ate what?

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This article contains: dog eating accident swallow

Watching what you eat? Start keeping an eye on your pets too, if these latest X-rays are anything to go by

Ask your vet about animals they’ve treated who have eaten things they shouldn’t have, and chances are they’ll have more than a tale or two. Because besides the odd mouthful of grass, our pets seem to have a strange – and sometimes dangerous – approach when it comes to snacking.

Here at Petplan, we’re seeing a growing trend in pets swallowing things they should steer well clear of, with claims coming in about Britain’s pooches eating everything from rubber ducks to golf balls and even cutlery. It’s not just dogs that are ultra-inquisitive either. Our feline friends also partake in culinary disasters, including one curious moggy that ended up gulping down a darning needle.

Vet Brian Faulkner has seen many cases like this throughout his career. ‘It’s important to be careful when leaving items lying around the house as pets love to explore and often end up eating things. Not only can this be painful or expensive to resolve, it can be potentially life-threatening.’

Barney, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, managed to swallow a rubber duck after retrieving it from inside the bath tub.

Bobby Kirk, an eight-month-old West Highland Terrier, chowed down on a horse from a child’s play set.

A poodle crashed a dinner party and helped itself to a not-so-tasty spoon, straight off the table.

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.

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