From a rabbit chewing his paws to choosing a dog — your pet queries answered

HE is on a mission to help our pets  . . . and is here to answer YOUR questions.

Sean, who is the head vet at tailored pet food firm, has helped with owners’ queries for ten years. He says: “If your pet is acting funny or is under the weather, or you want to know about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”If you want him to answer a question for YOU simply email him at

Q) BENJI, my pet rabbit, has a habit of chewing on his paws.

The vet can’t work out why.

Is there anything I can do to stop him? They have become quite red and sore.

John Carrington, Glasgow

A) It might be worth trying to find another vet that specialises in small furries like rabbits.

My concern would be something is causing Benji irritation – rabbits can be very prone to urine scalding on the feet, if not cleaned out enough – and he is now in a negative cycle in that his foot is sore/irritated, so he chews it, making it worse and so on.

Dental pain can also lead to chewing and licking behaviours so his teeth should be checked too.

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to

Q) MY ten-year-old son is desperate for a dog for Christmas.

He wants an Alsatian but I don’t think that is a great idea.

We live in a town and there are no parks close by and I am told they need loads of exercise. What do you recommend?

Lisa Swift, Coventry

A) An Alsatian, or German Shepherd as they are known, is not a good choice as a first/kid’s dog.

In fact as the parent, any dog is really your responsibility.

And a big, active, super-clever dog like that will need lots of exercise, play, training and brain stimulation to prevent behaviour problems and frustration.

All dogs need walks at least twice daily and plenty of attention at home, so it’s a myth that the dog’s size matters.

It’s more useful to consider what the breed has been bred for, its personality and drive, and whether you have the time and energy to meet their needs.

A Border Terrier is a good all-rounder, happy to go out and get active but equally chilled at home on the couch.

Lots of personality and fun, but not hyperactive.

Consider going to a local rescue centre which will match the right dog to your family lifestyle.

Q) I HAVE had my six-year-old ­Border Collie since she was 12 weeks old and she has started to wee on the armchair.

Tests for urine or kidney infection came back clear.

But at 25kg, she is overweight, and we have her on a diet. Is her weight causing this issue?

Brenda Burgess, via email

A) It’s not clear from your question if it’s intentional urination or urine that has leaked on to the chair while she has been lying there.

If it’s always a specific spot, I’d be inclined to think it’s behavioural and some retraining is needed.

Speaking to a certified behaviourist may help. If it’s happening wherever she lies it may be early incontinence.

Whatever the reason, make sure to clean the area thoroughly, with an enzymatic pet stain remover.

This breaks down the organic compounds found in wee, helping to neutralise the smell as well, which could be tempting your dog back.

A) MY dog Kiloh is nearly ten and funny with his food.

He has allergies and we give him food we know he’s OK with.

Sometimes he eats fine, other times he turns his nose up.

The other issue is he bites at his skin sometimes.

Caroline Paterson, Stirling

A) If Kiloh is otherwise happy and maintaining a good weight and this is something he has always done, it’s likely this is just him.

If it’s a more recent change and he has not had a vet check recently, it’s worth doing.

Just like us when we get older, different parts of the body can wear out and sometimes a little extra help is needed.

It might even be worth keeping a diary for a few weeks to see if there is a pattern — e.g. if he doesn’t fancy his food, has he had a few too many treats or a particular type of food that maybe doesn’t suit him quite so well.

Star of the week

LOVABLE Leo brings smiles to children on the wards of Southampton Children’s Hospital.

The nine-year-old golden retriever heads a team of therapy dogs and has been visiting five times a week for seven years with owner Lyndsey Uglow, 54.

She says: “Leo loves getting to know a patient and will gently place a paw on their bed to reassure them. I’m proud of what he has bought to the many families we’ve supported.

“He’s been by my side with patients in good times and bad, making special memories for thousands of families.”

Leo has a Kennel Club Hero award and Lyndsey has written a book called Leo & Friends: The Extraordinary Dogs With The Healing Touch.

WIN: At-home cat DNA test

CURIOUS about your cat’s ancestry?

Basepaws is the first at-home genetic test for cats.

Via a cheek swab, you can learn about their breed, health needs and how like various wild cats they are.

We have three Breed & Health testing kits, worth £90, to give away.


To enter, send an email titled BASEPAWS to sundaypets@the-sun.

T&Cs apply, enter by November 14.

Beware poison perils in garden

COULD your garden be making your pet ill? A range of plants can be poisonous for our furry friends.

Gardening expert Calum Maddock says dog owners should look out for acorns and conkers as these can be mistaken for toys and chewed, particularly by pups, and are very toxic.

Calum studied the most dangerous plants for pets for website and other nasties include hydrangeas, crocuses and yew and horse chestnut trees.

Four other plants are completely toxic for pets and should be removed – amaryllis, chrysanthemum, oleander and ragwort. Even a small dose can be fatal.

Calum said: “If you have any of these in your garden, you may want to take precautions. Careful training, plant barriers or the removal of the plant or tree are all options to explore.”

The Sun’s Pet Vet Sean McCormack says owners should look out for signs that their pet has ingested something dangerous.

He adds: “You can usually recognise the signs one to six hours later, but it can take a couple of days.

“Signs may be noticeable in your dog’s vomit or stool, but a less common symptom is a rash or swelling on the eyes or around the lips.

“If you think your dog has swallowed an acorn or conker, seek veterinary advice straight away.”

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