Pet queries

Q My dog loves to lick everything he comes across. It is starting to become a major problem. How can I stop this habit?

A Changes in a dog's behaviour can be caused by certain medical conditions, including liver disease or disease of the central nervous system, so you should take your dog to your vet to have him checked over.

If there is no medical problem, your vet will be able to discuss possible behavioural causes and associated treatments.

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For example, if your dog gets attention from you or others when he licks things, even if he is being told off, he may have learnt that carrying out this behaviour is a way of getting attention.

By retraining him, with your vet's advice, you should be able to stop the behaviour.

Alternatively, your vet may suggest referring your dog to an accredited pet behaviourist.

Solving problem behaviour takes time and patience, but the end results are very much well worth it.

Q My cat Garfield has lost a claw and his paw looks sore and painful. Should I leave it to heal by itself or take him to the vets?

A I would advise you to get Garfield's paw checked. If it is looking sore and painful, the vet may prescribe some pain relieving medication and may bandage the paw to protect it while it heals.

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If infection is present, your vet may also prescribe a course of antibiotics. If your vet doesn't feel the paw needs a bandage, you may be advised to gently clean it each day with a salt solution. This can be made by mixing a teaspoonful of salt with a pint of tepid, previously boiled water.

You should soak some of the solution in a piece of cotton wool, then squeeze it above the affected area to let the solution wash over it.

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Q My cat has a pink rash and red spots under her chin which has made her lose her hair. It seems to have developed after I changed her food. Can you give me any advice?

A It sounds as though your cat may have feline acne. This is a condition in which the hair follicles produce more oily secretion than usual and then become infected, especially underneath the chin.

You need to take your cat to your vet to find out what treatment is required.

If a skin infection is diagnosed she will most probably need a course of antibiotics.

You mention you have changed your cat's food recently, but this may just be a coincidence. However, your vet will have a better idea once your cat has been examined and a diagnosis made.