Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions.
Q: How do I stop my cat from bringing me dead animals as presents?
A: I’m afraid this is one of the less pleasant aspects of cat ownership! Unfortunately, hunting is a natural behaviour that your cats need to be able to express and we don’t necessarily want to curb that. However, we do need to balance that with protecting our local wildlife. Bells and other devices that fit onto the collar are usually ineffective after time as cats learn how to hunt with them on. Despite their often sleepy appearances, cats do like to have plenty of play opportunities and it’s worth investing in a new cat tree or some interactive toys to keep them occupied. I would also suggest setting aside some ‘play’ time every day. I will also sometimes use special toys to put my cat’s food in and then hide them around the house. She gets the excitement and fun of a ‘hunt’ by earning her dinner! Some cats are happy to remain indoor cats, but if your cat is already out hunting, they probably won’t be impressed by a return to house arrest! Alternatives would include a ‘catio’ (a safe fenced area in the garden that they can’t escape from) or cat-safe fencing. It’s really a balancing act between allowing your cat to express their natural instincts, while protecting all those poor birds and little furries!
Q: Can I give my dogs ice-cubes when the weather is hot?
A: Of course! There always seems to be some controversy about ice cubes but they are as safe for dogs, as they are for you and I. In hot weather, I will often fill an empty yoghurt pot or a freezer bag with some dog treats and then top it up with water. A couple of hours in the freezer and you’ve made a doggie safe ice lolly for them to enjoy. These can get a bit messy though, so usually best fed in the garden and under supervision.
Q: In the recent warm weather, I’ve seen lots of dogs wearing ‘cooling coats’. Is this something I should be getting for my dog?
A: That’s a tricky one. Cooling coats can be great, if used in the right way! However, I often see dogs being walked with them on or wearing them for long periods in the garden, which isn’t what they’re designed for. Cooling coats usually need to be soaked in water first and then you place them on your dog; they can provide a good ten or fifteen minutes of cooling. After that, the dog’s own body heat will warm up the water in the coat and they are now effectively wearing a thick coat that provides no cooling effect at all! This effect gets even worse if dogs are being exercised and generating extra body heat which can’t escape from under the cooling coat.
For me, I use a cooling coat like I would a wet towel. If my dog has gotten a bit warm on a walk or in the garden, I’ll pop the coat on for ten minutes to bring their temperature down. If I want to keep the coat on any longer than that, I will top it up with cool water every ten to fifteen minutes. In all honesty, I use mine rarely and would rather keep my dogs out of the heat full stop!
Dr Holly Norman BSc(Hons) BVetMed MRCVS Veterinary surgeon and Practice Partner at:
- Peterborough Vets4Pets 231-233 St Paul’s Road Peterborough PE1 3RL Tel: 01733 890777
- Bretton Vets4Pets Inside Pets at Home Unit 2 The Bretton Centre Peterborough PE3 8DN Tel: 01733 261094