Stuart McMorrow answers your pet health queries
Q: I am concerned about a neighbour’s cat that seems to have a really bad rattle in her throat when she breathes.
She has also stopped grooming herself properly, and her coat is now very matted.
A: There are many reasons. One of these is cat flu – a very infectious disease caused by two viruses. Initially, affected cats sneeze a lot, and have runny eyes and noses. They may then go off their food, with a fever and general depression which can make them too tired to groom. A secondary bacterial infection can result in a very thick nasal and eye discharge plus a cough. It’s important for your neighbour to get her cat checked over by her vet.
Q: My 15-year-old Labrador Lucy’s pads have become dry and brittle and some are cracked, two quite deeply although they do not appear to trouble her as yet. She is getting ‘wonky’ on her hind legs. I tried cracked heel cream then read on the internet that human hand cream would make the pads too soft.
A: One of the conditions that cause footpads to become hard and cracked is called nasodigital hyperkeratosis. The pads are dry and rough and have an excess of the skin layer. It is painful for an affected dog to walk. It can occur as a disease in older dogs where there is no known cause, or as a component of other disorders, such as a food allergy, an immune problem or a bacterial infection. It is important for you to contact your vet to get her checked over.