Pet answers: pet peeves

Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions - especially themed for festive felines and Christmas canines...

My dog has been diagnosed with osteoarthritis and he’s on medication. Is there anything else I can do to help him that doesn’t involve more drugs?
What an excellent question! Osteoarthritis is becoming a hot topic in veterinary medicine at the moment as we are now diagnosing it earlier in dogs and cats and want to manage it more effectively. Our first priority is to make sure that we have addressed any pain or discomfort and we’ll usually use anti-inflammatory medications to do this but there’s lots more you can do to keep your pooch comfortable in the cold, damp weather! A few easy changes include: buying a special orthopaedic dog bed which will support achy joints and prevent them from getting stiff overnight, putting a doggy coat on for walks to keep muscles warm whilst out and about and adding joint supplements to their diet. My own dog has arthritis in his hips and so he regularly has physiotherapy and hydrotherapy sessions to keep him fit and flexible. At the practice we will often book dogs in for an osteoarthritis clinic with our veterinary nurses to talk through all the options and come up with a holistic management plan that works for you.

I’ve just got a new rabbit and I heard that they shouldn’t eat muesli diets. Is this right?
Unfortunately muesli diets, the ones that look like ‘pick and mix’, are still being sold as suitable for rabbits in some shops and we now know that they aren’t great diets. Bunnies will often just pick out their favourite bits, a bit like us just choosing junk food and avoiding the healthy vegetables, which leads to them becoming overweight or having dental and intestinal issues. These days, we recommend feeding your bunny a ‘nugget’ diet that is nutritionally complete and stops them from just picking out the ‘junk’. Hay should be the mainstay of any bunny’s diet and currently we recommend a pile of hay the same size as your bunny, every day. Additional greens such as kale, carrot tops, herbs and dandelions can be fed but should be as treats and only occasionally.

My cat is fifteen years old and has started keeping us up at night! She just keeps miaowing at us and will stop if we get up and give her some fuss. What do you think it could be?
Fifteen years old! My goodness, that’s impressive. This is a tricky one as there are lots of things that could be going on. I’d firstly recommend seeing your veterinary surgeon for a thorough check over and perhaps a blood test to make sure that there isn’t anything underlying. Older cats are more likely to have conditions such as kidney disease, osteoarthritis, hyperthyroidism and even diabetes, to name a few, and these can all cause behaviour changes. Older pets can also develop dementia, just like humans, and this can show up as memory loss, disorientation or vocalising, a little bit like your cat. Dementia is something that can be managed by sticking to a routine, food supplements and little changes like leaving a night light on but unfortunately it is usually progressive. However, there are lots of supportive measures out there and your veterinary practice should be able to guide you.

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 practice partner at:

Peterborough Vets4Pets
231-233 St Paul’s Road
Tel: 01733 890777

Bretton Vets4Pets
Inside Pets at Home
Unit 2 The Bretton Centre
Peterborough, PE3 8DN
Tel: 01733 261094

Background photo created by jannoon028

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