Thursday, 13 December 2018
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For the last few weeks my cat Bongo has been limping on his back leg. There are no signs of injury and it only seems to happen when he’s been sleeping or lying down for a long period of time. What could it be? Emma

Dear Emma, you should take Bongo to your vet so they can check him over. Limping after a period of rest can be a sign of arthritis, especially in senior pets. But there are many other causes of stiffness and limping including; something stuck in a paw (e.g. a grass seed or an ingrown nail; a pulled muscle, or a strained or broken ligament (though these are less likely to come and go). Cats with arthritis may give subtle clues that something is not well with small changes in their behaviour, such as resting more or not jumping up as much as they used to. They may also become more withdrawn or even irritable due to their sore joints. If Bongo does have arthritis, a few changes around the home can help him get around, and keeping him slim is essential to make sure extra pressure isn’t put on sore joints. Medication can also be prescribed to help control the pain and inflammation.

After plenty of research, we’ve eventually decided to get a dog and have chosen one from a rehoming centre. When she arrives home what can we do during the first few days to make it a stress-free move? Darren

Dear Darren, it’s great that you’ve done a lot of research before taking on a new pet. From that, you should have a good idea of everything you need for your new dog before bringing her home such as – a cosy bed, a food bowl and suitable food, a water dish, plenty of toys, and a large, secure space for your dog to run around. Make sure the rescue centre has given her a clean bill of health, and get her registered at a local vet. Get other paperwork like microchipping and insurance sorted out as soon as possible. When you first bring your dog home, allow her to approach new people slowly and on her own terms. Take your time to bond with her – some dogs will be your best friend right away and others take months to warm to you, though most dogs are somewhere in between. Establishing a consistent routine early on will help your dog settle in, so plan out a schedule for training, feeding and walking her and stick to it. Pheromone plug-ins or collars, which release a calming scent for dogs, can also be helpful in times of change to settle your new pet.

I have a rabbit and I noticed there is a white discharge coming from her nose. She has also been sneezing a lot lately. What could it be? Sandy

Dear Sandy, “Snuffles” in rabbits is one of the most common reasons they suddenly start sneezing. It’s a bacterial infection – usually with a bacteria called Pasteurella multocida and often causes a runny nose and watery eyes. Even if the infection appears quite mild at first, unwell rabbits often lose their appetite which can make them rapidly go downhill. In some cases, snuffles can develop into pneumonia and become very serious and difficult to cure. You should make an appointment for your rabbit to see a vet as soon as possible. The disease is also contagious, so make sure you get any bunny buddies that have been in contact with your rabbit checked out too and ask your vet what you need to do about hygiene. There are a handful of other causes of sneezing as well, but the vet will do a full examination and be able to recommend an appropriate treatment.

Dear PDSA Vet, I recently got a rat called Mildred, but I’m worried that she is bored in her cage while I’m at work all day. Would it be ok to leave her to run around the sitting room with the door shut when I’m out? Bebe

Dear Bebe, There are likely to be many hazards in the sitting room, such as electric cables – rats like to gnaw things like this! There is also the risk that someone may accidentally leave the sitting room door open and she could escape. It is better to have a large, secure, cage which contains everything she needs and that she enjoys spending time in. Her cage should be as large as possible, with a nest box and plenty of things to keep her occupied like ladders, ropes, toys and plastic tubes. Many rats also love hammocks, which you can get from most pet shops. Rats should have company and are best kept in pairs, which also helps to prevent them from becoming bored. Two females often get on well together, so I would advise you to get some advice on how to safely introduce a friend to Mildred.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.


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