Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions
My new kitten is desperate to start going outside. When is the best time to start letting him go out?
Kittens are such curious creatures, it always seems that they need to explore everything and everywhere! I usually recommend that before kittens are allowed outside, they must be fully vaccinated (to prevent them from catching germs from other cats), micro-chipped (in case they get lost), neutered (so that no one gets pregnant) and up to date with flea and worm treatment (as no one wants any extra ‘visitors’ in the house!). For most kittens, this will all be completed by the age of five to six months, depending on your veterinary practice. The outside world is an exciting place for a kitten and so it’s worth putting a few measures in place before you actually pluck up the courage to let them loose.
I try and get kittens to respond to their name by shaking a bag of cat treats or their cat food to call them to me and then rewarding with a little treat. If you do this regularly, they will quickly realise that it’s a good thing to come running to you when they hear that sound and you can use this to get them back inside again once they are allowed out. When they first start going outside, I recommend letting them out in the morning before they’ve had breakfast, stand out there with them for a few minutes and then call them back in for their meal. If you let them out with a full stomach straightaway, they will be far more inclined to go off exploring and it can be tricky to persuade them back into the house. You can then repeat this routine at dinner time and then slowly build up the time your kitten spends outdoors.
I’ve taken on a Staffordshire Bull Terrier from a rescue and he’s perfect in every way apart from the fact that he seems obsessed with chasing his tail! Is this normal?
Congratulations on your new furry friend! It’s so lovely to hear about rescue dogs finding their forever home. Tail chasing is usually a behavioural issue that can stem from a number of causes. The first step is to get him assessed by your veterinary surgeon to see if there is a health issue or any discomfort that could be causing this behaviour. If there isn’t a medical issue, your vet can normally recommend a behaviourist to discuss the best way to address this as it can often turn into compulsive behaviour.
I went to my vet to get my rabbit vaccinated and they mentioned a new vaccine that I’d not heard of? Should I be getting this one as well?
Good to hear that your vet is on the ball! Previously, we’ve vaccinated rabbits against Myxomatosis and Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease (RHD1). However, we are now discovering that there is a second strain of RHD and this can be much more serious. Signs of RHD2 include weight loss, lethargy or jaundice (yellowing of the skin) but some rabbits may be infected and yet show no signs of being unwell at all. Tests of blood and faeces may confirm the infection in rabbits that are showing signs of illness, however for a rabbit that shows no obvious signs of being unwell, it may only be possible to confirm the presence of the virus after the rabbit has died.
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