What top TV vet Joe Inglis doesn’t know about domesticated animals probably isn’t worth knowing.
He spent seven years on BBC's Vets in Practice, four as resident vet for Blue Peter, and regularly appears on The One Show. So, we were delighted to sign Joe up to offer advice to our readers, who've been emailing in droves with their pet problems.
Our inbox was creaking under the volume of enquires, and Joe has replied to as many as he can.
We’ll be publishing another batch of questions the same time next week.
We have recently adopted a pair of two-year old Staffie brothers (Jiffy and Toby) from rescue home and they keep eating grass. They are being fed a natural allegedly nutritionally balanced dry food and only have dog treats such as gravy bones - no human food.
Is this normal? Our previous staffies have occasionally eaten grass but not as much as these.
Grass eating is a very common phenomenon and to be completely honest no-one really knows for sure why dogs do it.
Some people think that it’s a response to a dietary problem causing a nutritional deficiency, others link it to dogs suffering from nausea or intestinal pain, and some believe that it’s more of a behavioural issue.
Personally I think there is likely to be some truth in all of these theories, but the main issue is almost certainly behavioural and grass eating is generally a habit linked to stress or some other factor.
I suspect that in this case it could be a reaction to the upheaval associated with being re-homed so you may well find they eat less grass as they settle down, however it is probably also worth trying a different food and seeing if that helps as well. Whatever the ultimate cause I wouldn’t worry too much as it’s very unlikely to cause any long term issues for them.
I have a five year old Springer spaniel with a habit – namely , he loves chasing shadows and barking if sun is out. I can stop him by throwing a Frisbee/toy etc but as soon as I stop he starts chasing shadows and barking again!
If it is cloudy he does ‘normal’ stuff like running, chasing, sniffing in the woods and so forth, but not barking.
To sum it up it’s like having two dogs. Any suggestions about the shadow chasing and barking issue as we thought he might grow out of it but obviously hasn’t. He is really noisy when he does it.
Shadow chasing and other ‘OCD’ like behaviours are quite common in dogs, particularly so in hyperactive breeds such as spaniels and collie which tend to be almost hard-wired for this kind of excitable behaviour.
It can be a hard problem to resolve but there are some things you can do to try and reduce these behaviours.
The best approach is to try to distract him whenever he’s about to start one of these behaviours – use food, or a toy or anything that will get and hold his attention. You can also use clicker training to teach him a command such as sit or lie down and then use this command to distract him from the hyperactive behaviour.
I have a puppy with white colouring. Is she more prone to skin conditions?
Yes – dogs and cats are protected from UV radiation by the pigment in their skin, just like people are, although pets also have the benefit of fur of course.
As with people, those with lighter or white un-pigmented skin are at more risk of skin conditions linked to the sun and solar radiation.
The main danger from sun is in the areas of the body not covered in fur such as the ear tips and nose, and it is a good idea to protect these areas with a specific pet sunscreen in the summer. The potential consequences of not protecting your pet can be very serious as skin cancer can be life threatening to pets just as it can be to people. In fact in some countries like Australia stray cats with white ears routinely have their ear tips surgically removed when they are neutered to prevent them becoming cancerous later in life.
We have a moggie, Badger, who despite us using Advocate de-flea treatment every month on him comes in almost daily with fleas on his ears.
The only thing I find to get rid of them is frontline spray which I rub on his ears wearing gloves.
What else can we do? I have also completely sprayed and washed all his bedding. He is a hunter catching lots of creatures, particularly baby rabbits at the moment.
He is also wormed with Milbemax.
Rosemary Comerford, on behalf of Badger (One year, six months old)
Joe says… Some cats seem to be particularly attractive to fleas and if they are exposing themselves to lots by hunting then they can be quite frequently affected like this. Advocate should be sufficient to protect Badger but the ears are likely to be the least well protected as the active components of most spot on flea preparations travel in the fat under the skin and there is obviously less of this in the ears than elsewhere on the body.
With this in mind I would recommend switching from a spot on like Advocat to a spray like Frontline as this attaches to the fur itself and therefore can protect all areas of the body more thoroughly.