Pet Q&A: I've noticed a very strong smell coming from my gerbils' cage

Q I've noticed a very strong smell coming from my gerbils' cage. I change the sawdust, bedding and sand regularly, so what could be causing this?

A If you have changed their diet recently or are giving them new treats, this could have changed the smell of their urine or faeces. You should also get your gerbils checked by your vet because it's possible that one of them has a medical problem. Kidney disease or diabetes, for example, can cause the concentration of urine to change. If the urine becomes highly concentrated, it may become strongly smelling. Both of these conditions can cause water intake to increase, so their drinking water might going down more quickly. Get them checked over to be on the safe side.

Q Can you explain why my dog keeps eating soil? He's a puppy and is always rooting around the garden. How do I stop him doing this?

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A One possible cause of this would be that your dog has a nutrient deficiency, but this is rare now that most puppies are fed nutritionally balanced foods. If you're unsure whether your puppy's food is suitable, ask your vet.

It's normal for puppies to explore things with their mouth, but you need to keep an eye on him as they will accidentally eat all kinds of things that can be dangerous for them. When your puppy's outside, play with him using puppy-safe toys. Don't give him attention if he eats soil, or he will learn that doing that is a way of getting attention, and he will do it more.

Q My kitten is constantly chewing wires and cables around my home. Why is she doing this and how do I stop her?

A It is normal for kittens to explore things with their mouth, but

she may be chewing because of boredom, so devote some time each day to actively playing with her. Toys that she can chase and pounce on are best, like fishing rod-type toys. I would also suggest you get her checked over by your vet, to make sure her teeth are growing properly.