Pet answers: weepy cats, bitey dogs and itchy hamsters

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

Q: My cat has had a watery eye for the past two days. She seems normal otherwise and I’m just wondering if I still need to take her to the vet?

The best option is always to take her to your vet to get her checked out. We often have people ringing the practice up to seek advice about eye conditions and it’s impossible for us to make a diagnosis over the phone.

There are numerous things that could be causing the watering, from conjunctivitis to an eye ulcer to dry eye to glaucoma – the list goes on. Some of these conditions may settle by themselves or with some eye drops whereas others could lead to complete disaster and losing the eye if left untreated. I’d always recommend an appointment to get your cat examined by the vet. They’ll often use an ophthalmoscope to check the inside of the eye and make sure there’s no damage to the retina signs of high blood pressure. They may apply a dye to the surface to see if there’s any ulceration or use little paper strips to measure tear production.

Once the vet has decided what is causing the problem, they’ll recommend a treatment plan, whether that be mediations, eye drops or even surgery. We’re very lucky to have a visiting specialist ophthalmologist who comes to the practice to see any of our complicated cases or perform the more difficult procedures. Eyes are precious and can quickly go from zero to catastrophic. When in doubt, get them checked!

Q: Whenever I leave the house, my dog chews everything including shoes, the chair legs, even his own bed! Help!

Oh dear! That’s not fun! There can be lots of different reasons your dog is displaying this behaviour. Firstly, you didn’t say how old your dog was. Puppies often chew a lot, especially if they’re teething and the strategy here is to offer appropriate things to chew on whilst restricting access to those things you don’t want chewing!

Young and adolescent dogs will sometimes chew items out of boredom or anxiety, especially if they’re a particularly active breed. It may be worth reviewing your current exercise program as breeds such as Border Collies, Spaniels or Huskies need a great deal more walking and stimulation than a Greyhound for example.

Separation anxiety is fairly common and dogs will become very distressed when their owner leaves the house, causing behaviours such as chewing, barking or even toileting in the house. This can be difficult to treat and I’d always recommend speaking to your vet and then a behaviourist or good dog trainer to start a treatment programme. It’s unusual for older dogs to suddenly start chewing and may be due to dental pain or an area of discomfort.

Hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas to think about but I’d suggest maybe having a conversation with your vet practice or a local dog trainer to get to the bottom of what’s going on!

Q: My hamster has suddenly become really itchy. What could be causing this?

Hamsters and other small furries can develop skin conditions, just like cats and dogs. The most common reason for scratching in these little ones is usually mites or lice that live on the skin and this can be treated with a specific spot on medication that kills off the creepy crawlies. Other causes include bacterial or fungal infections and these can occasionally be transmitted to people so need to be treated appropriately. This may mean an oral medication rather than a spot on. I’d suggest popping him into your local veterinary practice for a check over to see what’s causing the problem.

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 MRCV
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

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