From a partially blind cat to a sick cockapoo — your pet queries answered

HE is on a mission to help our pets . . . and is here to answer YOUR questions. 

Sean, who is the head vet at tailored pet food firm, has helped with owners’ queries for ten years. He says: “If your pet is acting funny or is under the weather, or you want to know about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”

Q) OUR cat Tabitha is now 18 and partially blind.

She’s fit for her age, eats well, is happy with our other two cats and goes out. But she keeps howling as if she is in agony.

We have taken her to the vet and were told it is dementia but they won’t do any tests because of her age

The howling starts every day around 6am. It is an awful noise.

Robin Fletcher, Stourbridge, West Mids

A) Poor Tabitha. That is distressing for you to deal with too.

We’re not quite sure if all cats experiencing dementia are in distress when they vocalise, or just mildly confused, or even if they remember afterwards that they were distressed.

What we do know is that there are medications that can improve blood flow to the brain and reduce the number of times these incidents happen, meaning Tabitha and you can feel less stressed.

here sadly comes a time, though, when we have to decide if our elderly pet is enjoying life

If they are confused and disorientated all the time, it may be kinder to let them go.

Speak with your vet now about those decisions as it’s best to prepare a little in advance.

Q) MY grandson has a four-year-old Jack Russell called Reggie.

He wants to move in with his girlfriend, who has a young cat called Obi.

They don’t seem to get on. Is there any good way to train either in a way that might help?

Les Gibbs, New Romney, Kent

A) Ooh, this is a tricky one, because it’s very much in a Jack Russell’s nature to chase and perceive small animals as prey.

Yes, they certainly can be trained to accept and get along with cats, but it’s difficult, especially if Reggie already has a strong prey drive towards them.

The whole experience is likely to be very stressful for Obi too, and there’s no guarantee it will work, or a clear answer on how long it will take.

I’d recommend working with a qualified animal behaviourist to see if they think it will be possible.

They’ll be full of practical tips to make it work.

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected].

Q) WE have just had to make a very difficult decision to have our seven-year-old cockapoo put to sleep.

She was running round the field on Saturday and the next day was at the vet’s on a drip.

On the Tuesday she could hardly walk or breathe and was bloated.

The vet had no idea what was wrong. On the Wednesday she was worse and had to be put to sleep in our arms.

At the same time, the vet received a laboratory test report diagnosis that she had toxic shock syndrome.

The vet had worked there for 17 years and not seen a case before. We are still in shock

Please can you help us to understand why this happened.

Colin Owen, Leicestershire

A) This is an impossible question for me to answer because there are so many unknowns.

I feel for you as not having answers makes the tragedy even more painful.

We still don’t know all of the risk factors for this disease but we do know it’s caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus canis.

The infection by this bacteria causes organ failure in affected dogs, similar to septic shock in humans.

The bacteria can enter the dog’s bloodstream from the environment through cuts or being ingested while drinking or eating.

Whatever the cause, it’s a very rare occurrence.

I know that’s little comfort for losing your lovely dog, but I do want to say it’s not your fault and you couldn’t have prevented it.

Star of the week

COCKER Spaniel Charley has helped raise more than £2,000 for the charity that saved her life.

Her owners took her to the vet saying she was lame and aggressive and asked for her to be put down.

But the vet pleaded for her to be handed to Spaniel Aid, a charity, and they arranged for Kim O’Donnell, 59, from Staffs, to adopt her.

It inspired Kim to start Leo, Charley and Me, a pet accessory business, donating 15 per cent of each sale to the charity.

Kim said: “Charley is an absolute delight.”

Win: Beco hamper

TREAT your pet to toys that are fun and kind to the planet.

It’s Plastic Free July and a reminder to choose sustainable products for our pets and this week’s giveaway is for a hamper from Beco (

It contains hard-wearing toys made from recycled plastic plus compostable poo bags and a bamboo food and water bowl.

To be in with a chance to win one of five hampers worth £50, send an email with BECO as the subject to [email protected]

Beware of snakes in the grass

PET owners are being warned to look out for snakes in their gardens.

Thanks to lockdown and fewer people out and about, snakes have been spotted slithering around on paths, moorlands and beaches.

You could even find one in your garden – and if your dog or cat gets to it first, it could get nasty.

Animal behaviourist Sarah-Jane White explains: “Snakes prefer to avoid humans, but in lockdown they’ve become bolder. There are three species in the UK that can cause harm and they are adders, grass snakes and smooth snakes.

“The adder and grass snake are the species you are most likely to come across. If you spot one in your garden, they are most likely to have been hiding in your compost heap where it is warm and damp.”

Sarah’s advice is to keep your pets and snakes apart, but if they are bitten, to take them straight to the vet.

The Animal Poison Line states that signs of an adder bite include rapid swelling, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, panting and lameness.

Sarah added: “If you suspect your pet has been bitten even though they appear fine, don’t wait, get to your vet immediately.

“Keep them calm and don’t make a fuss as this can make the bite’s effect worse. If given anti-venom the prognosis is good.”

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