From bulldog breathing problems to pups refusing to go – 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.

Today our pet vet helps a French bulldog with breathing problems


Today our pet vet helps a French bulldog with breathing problemsCredit: Getty
Sean McCormack wants to help keep pets happy and healthy


Sean McCormack wants to help keep pets happy and healthyCredit: Doug Seeburg – The Sun

Q) MY three-year-old cockapoo, Mabel, holds in her urine and refuses to go in the garden in the morning.

Then she will leave a big puddle at the feet of anyone who comes in the house, regardless of the time of day or whether she has emptied her bladder during a walk.

We’ve tried ignoring her and asking guests to go straight outside to greet her, but this makes no difference. Is this a poodle trait?

Claire Bickerstaff, Stockton-on-Tees

A) Not a poodle trait I know about, but also she’s a little old to be still doing it as puppy behaviour or because she’s excited.

My main concern would be why she isn’t going in the morning. Has she had any negative experiences in the garden? Dogs can sometimes feel vulnerable when going to the toilet.

Could you adjust her routine and take her for a walk in the morning, instead of letting her into the garden?

Sometimes activity more strenuous than a garden potter encourages them to go. If the excited wee continues, a behaviourist could visit for advice.

Q) SASHA, my Maine Coon cat, has beautiful long hair but isn’t keen on being brushed.

I need to brush her coat to keep it looking healthy but I end up covered in scratches. Do you have any advice?

Katie Hopper, Ely, Cambridge

A) I recently advised against overusing Dreamies or other high-value treats for a cat that refused to eat properly, but here I think you have to bring out the big guns in terms of bribery. 

Despite people saying otherwise, you can train cats. The trick is to find their weakness and take it slowly.

So light brushing, or even just tapping Sasha with the brush initially, in return for a treat is a good start.

Then gradually build up to accepting two to three seconds of brushing, and give a treat; six to eight seconds of brushing, then a treat. If she gets frustrated, give up and try again later that day when she’s hungry. Over several weeks, you may find Sasha realises being brushed is worth it.  

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Q) ANGEL, my 13-year-old cocker spaniel, has constant diarrhoea and her wind smells repulsive. Any ideas? 

Stuart Gillespie, Kirkcaldy

A) Poor Angel, and poor you too. There are so many questions to ask, but here’s a brief list of what could be going wrong.

A change in diet, a dietary allergy or intolerance, worms, digestive disorders like colitis, pancreatic problems, liver issues or a tumour.

Make sure her worming is up to date and take her to the vet with a sample of poo so they can test it if needed. It’s important at her age to catch anything serious early for the best outcome.

Q) SOMETIMES my French bulldog has difficulty breathing.

He’s six months old and it appears to be getting worse the older he gets.

His nose doesn’t look any more squashed than any other French bulldog’s. I believe there is an operation that can sort out breathing issues. Would this be a good idea?

Sarah Bigham, Brighton

A) It’s really sad we’ve normalised the flat face of French bulldogs to the extent they suffer breathing problems, as well as eye, skin fold and spinal problems. The list goes on. 

We need to change the breed standards to breed healthy anatomy. But that’s a debate for another day.

These poor dogs were born to struggle due to their flat faces and if he’s struggling to breathe at six months then it’s likely he needs BOAS surgery. He needs assessment by an experienced BOAS vet, who will decide the best solution.

Star of the week

LOTTIE the office dog has been voted employee of the month an amazing 15 times.

The border collie kept spirits up during the pandemic for staff at pet gift firm with a series of fun snaps.

Lottie has been voted employee of the month 15 times


Lottie has been voted employee of the month 15 times

It started when owner John Smith, 48, from Manchester, posted silly photos of Lottie, eight, posing with loo rolls and even dressed up as Tiger King’s Joe Exotic to cheer people working from home.

John said: “She kept morale up throughout the lockdowns and is a great asset to the team now we’re back. Dogs know how you’re feeling.

“Even five minutes of tummy tickling or going for a short walk with them can help reduce stress and calm you down on difficult days.”

WIN: Cat food subscription

KEEP your cat contented with a bespoke diet from Republic Of Cats (

Nutritionists tailor wet or dry food to meet your pet’s needs and health goals, be it keeping the right weight or making litter trays less whiffy.

Three readers can win a 12-week subscription, worth £90. Send an email titled REPUBLIC to T&Cs apply, closes October 24, 2021.

Did pet pile on lockdown pounds?

IF your pet got portlier in lockdown, it’s not alone.

Spending more time indoors – and enjoying extra treats – has added to our pets’ waistlines.

Caroline Taylor says dogs can live up to two and a half years longer if they're at a healthy weight


Caroline Taylor says dogs can live up to two and a half years longer if they’re at a healthy weight

In a report from animal charity PDSA, nine per cent of dog owners and five per cent of cat owners said their pet put on weight in the pandemic.

Seventy-eight per cent of vets reported a rise in obesity in animals over the past two years, with owners confessing to feeding them extra tidbits, giving them human food and not taking them for enough exercise.

Vet Caroline Taylor is on a mission to reverse that.

Known as the Slim Pet Vet, the 43-year-old from Knutsford, Cheshire, said: “Being overweight leads to wear and tear on joints, diabetes, heart disease, increased risk of arthritis and even cancer.

“But it is entirely preventable and a dog can live up to two and a half years longer when at a lean and healthy weight.”

With Wednesday being National Pet Obesity Day, now is a perfect time to check your pet’s weight.   

Caroline added: “If you have an overweight pet, it is possible to change their habits, routine and exercise regime and decide what food to give them. 

“You can help your pet to live a healthier life and enjoy more years together.”

Inside Texas’s two-story doghouse ‘mansion’ with a balcony and stained windows housing 16 rescue pups


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