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From an unruly dog to a rabbit with hiccups — 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 tails.com, 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.”

A Perro de Presa Canario can be a difficult first dog to own

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A Perro de Presa Canario can be a difficult first dog to ownCredit: Alamy
Sean McCormack, head vet at tails.com, promises he can 'help keep pets happy and healthy'

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Sean McCormack, head vet at tails.com, promises he can ‘help keep pets happy and healthy’Credit: Doug Seeburg – The Sun

Q) I RECENTLY rescued my one-year-old Perro de Presa Canario (Spanish mastiff) dog, Gunner, through a friend.

We weren’t told much about his history apart from the fact the original owners didn’t have time for him, he had basic training and was good around kids and dogs.

We have since found that although he is OK with kids, he barks or growls at strangers but also wags his tail.

Unfortunately though, he ends up trembling with fear and then barks and lunges towards other dogs when he hears or sees them.

We have tried to contact dog trainers/behaviourists but they are either too expensive or refuse to work with big dogs.

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He is un-neutered as we are unable to get him to a vet due to his issues with animals.

We have tried Adaptil calm spray, pheromone collars, calming biscuits/tablets and nothing has helped. We are really desperate.

Tonie Healey, Lambeth

Sean says:  I’m afraid if you are really that desperate you’ll have to find the funds to work with a trainer or behaviourist.

Or perhaps think about rehoming Gunner to an experienced handler that understands how to work on these issues, as well as the challenges that come not only with a large hunting breed, but one who sounds like he hasn’t been very well socialised to life in a typical family home and outside surroundings.

Presa Canarios are not an easy first dog by any means. It sounds like things are overwhelming for you and Gunner.

I can only advise you to seek urgent professional advice. Aggression from such a powerful breed is dangerous.

Speak with your vet about options too. If his growling is anxiety-related then neutering at the wrong time could make the problem worse.

All those aids you have mentioned are just that, ways to help, but they don’t address the underlying problems.

Q) WHEN I do yoga on Zoom at home why does my cat Felix want to get involved?

He gets on my mat and he seems to like meditation. I’m not the only one in the yoga group who has cats and dogs join in.

He ignores me the rest of the time unless I’m feeding him.

Julie Spicer, Leeds

Sean says:  Felix is a zen master Julie, isn’t it obvious? He’s trying to show you his moves, and gently guide you into a higher plane of existence.

He also tells me (via telepathic messages from Mystic Meg next door) that your downward dog leaves a lot to be desired but he does appreciate you feeding him.

In reality, I think Felix finds your yoga sessions pleasurable and it’s a nice calm space to bond with you and encounter some shared relaxation. Keep that up!

Hiccups is an unusual problem for a rabbit to suffer with

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Hiccups is an unusual problem for a rabbit to suffer withCredit: Alamy

Q) MY rabbit, Mr Bumpkins, keeps making little hiccup sounds when I cuddle him.

Has he got indigestion or should I be worried? He seems happy but I just want to make sure I’m not missing something.

My other rabbit, Fluff, who lives with him, doesn’t make any noises

Mary Cornwall, Bridlington

Sean says: Mr Bumpkins has the hiccups, eh? Well, that’s a new one for me, I think.

Hiccups in rabbits could be an indicator of a digestive issue, if he’s producing more gas in the stomach for example.

The other thing that it might suggest is a dental or respiratory issue or some oral discomfort that is causing a hiccup-like sound.

Rabbits, being prey animals, do not want to attract attention by doing something noisy or unusual, so if this is something that’s just suddenly started happening, I’d rest easier knowing Mr Bumpkins has had a full clinical examination from a rabbit-savvy vet from head to toe.

Hopefully all is well and it’s just a quirk of his.

Tails.com provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets

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Tails.com provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets

Star of the week

CARING Chester is a life-saver for his diabetic owner, as he alerts her when her blood sugar is low – despite having no training.

The eight-year-old golden retriever stops Carol Packer, 61, of Chard, Somerset, falling unconscious in her sleep.

Clever Chester woke his diabetic owner when her insulin levels were low

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Clever Chester woke his diabetic owner when her insulin levels were lowCredit: SUPPLIED

The former ambulance first responder said: “Chester woke me for the first time just after midnight last November as I was getting used to a new insulin protocol.

“Somehow he knew my blood sugar was very low.

“I didn’t feel right and I was able to treat it myself.

“He is such a clever, quick-learning dog. I’m sure he thinks he’s a person. He survived cancer when he was four and now he’s my constant companion.”

WIN: Top Trumps

WITH summer holidays nearly upon us, cat and dog lovers can discover amazing facts about their favourite pets with Top Trumps card games worth £6 from Winning Moves.

Battle your way to becoming the top trump, with dogs or cats sets.

And handy carry cases means they are easy to travel with, too.

There’s 21 of each to win.

To enter, send an email headed either CAT TRUMPS or DOG TRUMPS to sundaypets@the-sun.co.uk by July 17.

See winningmoves.co.uk. T&Cs apply.

High pollen affecting pets

OWNERS are being warned that “pollen bombs” are affecting their pets – with soaring numbers of dogs affected this year.

Rising temperatures following a warm but wet May has contributed to particularly high pollen levels and hay fever.

Caroline Reay, Head of Veterinary Services at pet charity Blue Cross, said: “Allergies may be increasing in dogs as it is in people. It can appear more in some breeds – West Highland white terriers, French bulldogs, Shar Peis and labradors to name a few.

“A sensitive individual will be worse if there is a ‘pollen bomb’.” Key signs including itching excessively, licking paws in cats and dogs, horses may itch and show signs of asthma, and ear problems can be a sign.

“Keeping your pet cool helps and shampoos may help to remove allergens. If they are scratching significantly or have visible redness, they should see a vet.”

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Dr Karen Heskin, Head of Pets at Pets at Home added: “Avoid going out when the pollen count is highest, usually around midday.

“Gently wiping your pet’s coat and feet after they’ve been outside will help remove pollen and washing their bedding and vacuuming can be beneficial.”





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