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: I’m going to begin training my dog soon. Which foods are best to use as rewards during training?
A: I always recommend using the lowest-value treats that your dog will work for. Using part of your dog’s daily dry-food ration is ideal and means that you can save extra special treats, such as little pieces of cheese or cooked chicken, as rewards for when he has done particularly well.
Q: Can I train my granddaughters’ rabbit? She won’t use the plastic tray that we bought. We don’t want her to be uncomfortable in a wet hutch.
A: Rabbits are generally very clean pets and will naturally choose one spot in their hutch to go to the toilet. Watch your rabbit over a number of days and you’ll see which spot she’s chosen, then place the litter tray there. Fill it with a safe litter, such as recycled newspaper or citrus-based litter, just in case she decides to nibble it.
Try placing a treat or toy in the tray as an extra incentive, and then just be patient. She’ll make a few mistakes, but if you watch her and reward her for going in the tray with a treat, she’ll eventually get the message.
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.
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