Pet answers: young and old

Pets can have problems at any time of life...

I have a new puppy coming soon and want to know what is best to do in our house.
How exciting! It is always both scary and wonderful bringing home a new puppy but it is easy to forget what it is like for them. The key is to let them settle and make sure everything is geared towards this. On the day you bring your puppy home it is important to have the time to spend with them to help them explore, find some food and to play with them – but at the same time make sure there is not too much noise. This is especially important with young children at home as they will want to play and often get overexcited around the new arrival. Let the puppy have a sniff around and show them where their bed is (it is great if there is something from their previous home there that has a familiar smell to it) and when they are tired let them sleep; don’t wake them up!

Keep other pets happy by giving them lots of fuss and attention but keep them separate and introduce them slowly to the new addition, especially around food. It is also important to get them settled in. For the first few nights, your puppy will probably be restless and whimper when they’re left alone but don’t worry too much – they’ll soon feel at home. When you check a whimpering puppy it is important that you enter the room in the instant they are quiet – this way the puppy is rewarded for quiet behaviour and doesn’t learn that you visit them when they cry. This is a handy technique to follow and is referred to as ‘Ignore the bad, praise the good and interrupt what you can’t ignore.’

My old cat is spending a lot of time meowing at night and seems confused. Can cats get dementia?
Simply put, yes. It is often called cognitive dysfunction syndrome and it has been reported that over 50% of cats over the age of 15 have it to some degree. It leads to changes in awareness, deficits in learning and memory, and decreased responsiveness to stimuli. Although the initial symptoms of the disorder are mild, they gradually worsen over time, a process also known as ‘cognitive decline’. These signs can be anything from vocalisation (especially noticeable at night), toileting in inappropriate locations, aggressive behaviour and aimless wandering. The exact cause is unknown and there is no definitive treatment although changes can be made to food and routine that can help, and your vet may suggest some medication. It is important to rule out any underlying medical conditions before reaching a diagnosis of CDS and in an older cat these tests have much merit anyway.

I’m worried my cat will get run over – are there ways to stop her going to a road?
Unfortunately cats will always want to roam and it is very hard to determine where they will perceive their territory if they do go outside. You can keep your cat indoors, although this is hard if your cat has already been an outdoor cat, you can cat proof your garden (many systems and professional installers are out there but it can be expensive and very visible) or you will have to accept the risk. It can help to let your cat out at less busy times of the day on the road but there never will be a safe time. Reflective collars may make her more visible but again it only reduces the chances slightly. For male cats it helps to ensure they are neutered

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

ceesbennettsmallCees Bennett 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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