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.
Q: For ten years now my tabby has been waking me up in the night by licking my ear, purring or walking on my head. He won’t stop until he gets food. He gets in even if I lock my door. What can I do?
A: Because you have been feeding your cat in the night, you have, inadvertently, been rewarding him for waking you! Try hiding bits of his food around the house during both the day and night, so that he gets some exercise searching for it.
Give him a comfy bed in the kitchen and leave him in there overnight. As he has become accustomed to having snacks during the night, using an automatic timed feeder in the kitchen may help to break his association of waking you up for food.
Q: My vet says my eight-year-old cat’s teeth are in poor condition. I’ve fed her tinned food and have never cleaned her teeth. Is this just old age?
A: In an ideal world, we should brush our pets’ teeth twice daily. Imagine the state of our teeth if we hadn’t brushed them for eight years!
In the wild, a cat would naturally keep her teeth clean with what she eats, but as we feed our pets food that is very different from their natural diet, we need to take responsibility for their dental health, too.
I suspect your vet may have advised a dental treatment under general anaesthetic. If so, this is a good time to start actively maintaining your cat’s teeth.
She is unlikely to tolerate your brushing them after all these years, but there are dried diets available that effectively act like toothbrushes, with textured nuggets that don’t shatter but allow the teeth to sink through them. There are also specific dental chews for cats.
Q: My rabbit has fleas. Could she have caught them from our cat, and can the same treatments be used for different species? I usually use Frontline for my cat.
A: Rabbits can catch fleas from both cats and dogs, resulting in the same itchiness and inflamed skin problems they get. However, some flea treatments for cats and dogs can cause adverse reactions in – or even kill – bunnies. For safe, effective removal of fleas, you should speak to your vet about flea treatments specifically designed for rabbits.
Q: My Labrador bitch is pregnant. Is it OK to treat her for fleas now, or should I wait until after she’s had her puppies? What about when she is nursing them?
A: Most flea treatments are a little vague about treating a pregnant mother, though I’d suggest you hold off on treatment until the puppies are born. It’s worthwhile checking with your vet if the specific flea treatment can be used on a lactating mother. Most products suggest not treating puppies until they reach eight weeks old or are more than 2kg.
Q: Our dog Maisie is scratching a lot and now has a bald patch on her back. She’s never had fleas and I can’t see any on her black fur. Also, will treatment sting her skin?
A: It sounds like Maisie is suffering from Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD), a condition that leads to the itchy, angry skin patches you mention. FAD can be caused by the smallest number of flea bites if your dog is allergic to the proteins in flea saliva.
The first reaction is severe itching (known as pruritis) and a once healthy-looking coat can soon become a patchy, scabby mess. Your vet can treat FAD with antibiotics and anti-inflammatories but prevention is always better than cure.
Checking for fleas is easy: use a fine-tooth comb to search for flea dirt, tap it onto white tissue paper and then wet it. Flea dirt is basically broken-down blood and has a reddish hue.
Treatment is usually applied between the shoulder blades, so it shouldn’t affect the patch on Maisie’s back, and is effective for one to two months. Buy it from your vet to ensure its effectiveness and safety.
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