Pet answers: clean and clear

Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions

How often can I bathe my dog? I don’t want to ruin his coat!
Oh dear! That’s not fun! This is a tricky one as there isn’t a right answer! It really depends on you and your dog. I have two very excited Springer Spaniels who may not need bathing at all during the summer but during the winter, they seem to seek out the smelliest, dirtiest puddle and throw themselves into it with regularity! If your dog lives outside, it’s wise not to bath him too often as you can strip the oils from the coat with the shampoo and this will affect his ability to keep warm in the winter. However, as most of our pets live inside with central heating, this isn’t too much of a problem. Regular brushing will get rid of dead hair and prevent mats forming, and a shampoo once a month or so will get rid of any build up. But it entirely depends on you. If he looks clean and smells clean, he probably doesn’t need a bath. If he’s rolled in fox poo, get him in the tub!

My dog has been coughing a lot and my friend said that it could be Kennel Cough? But he doesn’t go into kennels!
I’m afraid it’s difficult to give you a straight answer without seeing your dog as I’d have to listen to his chest and give him a physical examination to properly find out what’s going on, but I can certainly offer a bit of advice. Kennel Cough is an old fashioned name for the type of ‘honking’ harsh cough that dogs sometimes catch from being in close contact to other dogs, typically in a closed environment like boarding kennels. It can be caused by different viruses or bacteria and is usually very contagious so it spreads quickly between dogs. The good news is that it rarely causes more than a sore throat and a cough for a week or so and usually gets better on its own. It can be more serious in very young or old animals or those that have got other underlying illnesses. We know now that Kennel Cough can be caught from any other dog or from simply being somewhere that lots of dogs visit, as the viruses and bacteria can live a long time in the environment. Perhaps we should rename it ‘Anywhere Cough!’ I would suggest that if you’re concerned, you pop him down to your veterinary practice for a check over as there can be lots of different reasons that make dogs cough and even if it is Kennel Cough, there are some medications to help him feel better and get him back on his paws as soon as possible.

I have a white cat and I’ve heard that I should be putting suncream on her in the summer? Is this true?
You’re right! Dogs and cats with white ears or noses are susceptible to getting sunburn, just like humans. In severe cases sunburn can develop into squamous cell carcinoma, which is a type of skin cancer and this particularly affects the ears of white cats. During the summer months we would recommend applying a sunblock to pale ears and noses at least once daily and many pet shops and vet practices now stock cat and dog friendly sun cream.

Do you have a pet or animal health question? Send it to us at: . Holly will endeavour to answer all questions, whether published or not!

Dr Holly Norman BSc (Hons) BVetMed MRCVS veterinary surgeon and Joint Venture 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   


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