What should I do about my clingy dog after lockdown? 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.”

Q) WE haven’t been able to get our pup Rosie out and about as much as we would have liked during lockdown.

I am worried about this. She is an eight-month-old ­Cavachon and is quite clingy. She cries when we leave her even in the next room. Is this just what her breed is like or are we doing something wrong?

Lucy Evans, Ealing, London

A) Both these concerns are common now. And I think puppies born during the pandemic will potentially have two big issues to overcome when we come out the other side.

Firstly, they may have missed out on important socialisation during the learning window of up to 18 weeks.

Secondly, separation anxiety can be a real problem as our lives return to normal and we can’t have our dogs at our sides 24/7.

But the good news is you can start working on buillding Rosie’s independence now.

There are some great guides and videos on tackling separation anxiety online. But ensure any advice you follow is from an accredited ­animal behaviourist.

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected].

Q) IT is two years since I lost my beautiful Basset Hound Isla to Lyme Disease.

Isla came to us in 2016 at the age of ten and a half, as her owner had sadly died. We gave her a good life.

In June 2018, we went to Somerset on holiday and she got ticks all over her body. We went to the vets, but two months later she became so ill we decided to end her life.

Now, I am wondering if we didn’t remove all of the ticks and that was the cause of her suffering.

Kath Eaton, Ashbourne, Derbys

A) Nothing you did caused her suffering. Ticks only remain on a dog (or human) for a couple of days to feed before dropping off.

So you definitely didn’t miss any in the two months after. It’s while feeding that ticks transmit the bacteria causing Lyme disease. So careful removal as soon as possible after they attach is really important.

For anyone who takes their dog to areas where ticks are abundant, there is now a Lyme vaccine for dogs which is worth considering.

Q) HOW can I stop my spaniel Charlie chasing birds?

He is such a gentle dog but he has a thing about birds. I went in the garden and he’d got a baby bird from a nest and killed it.

Melanie Spencer, Altrincham, Cheshire

A) Unfortunately it’s pretty much hardwired into Spaniels to have a fascination with birds.

That’s what Cockers and Springers are originally bred for. Recall training and using a technique called response substitution will help.

During gundog training, spaniels learn to inhibit their drive to chase, so it might be worth getting help from a dog trainer experienced with these breeds.

Q) I’M splitting up with my partner and I’m worried about our cat, Bonnie.

She’s a rescue moggie and was very timid at first. We gave her lots of treats to settle her and she became overweight. Our vet helped get her down to a healthy size.

She’s staying with my partner and he spoils her, so I know she’ll put weight back on. What’s your advice?

Frank Harker, South Shields

A) Does your partner realise the damage and health problems?

Obesity puts cats at higher risk for certain cancers, heart disease, diabetes, painful joint disease like arthritis, high blood pressure, urinary issues. The list goes on.

Can you come up with a strict feeding plan your partner will stick to? Ultimately you might have to consider taking her yourself.

Star of the week

BAGGY the black Labrador is helping the environment as the country’s first pollution-detecting dog.

Last year owner Tom Hunt, 14, put a monitor on her collar to assess ground-level air quality and found kids and babies in pushchairs are exposed to more bad air than are adults.

Now, thanks to Baggy and Tom, baby brands are making prams safer.

During lockdown Tom, 14, and mum Candice, 42, of Chesham, Bucks, also created eco-friendly pens with the help of Baggy.

Candice said: “Baggy loves finding sticks, so she has collected the wood we need to make them.”

WIN: Peek-a-Bird cat toy

KEEP cats happy if left at home – with a Peek-a-Bird. The automated, motion-activated toy, for felines of all ages, has a feathered teaser that pops out, shakes then disappears.

It has two modes – one where the bird goes in and out for ten minutes, another where a motion sensor sets it off as your cat walks past.

It is available at uk.petsafe.net but we have eight – each worth £29.99 – to give away. To be in with a chance, send an email marked PEEKABIRD to [email protected]

  • T&Cs apply. Entries close April 4.

Help pets be home alone again

PET owners are worried how dogs and cats will cope when they are left at home on their own again as restrictions ease.

A Kennel Club study found about a quarter of dog owners are unsure how their pet will adjust. Cats tend to be more independent.

But even so, a study by Feliway – which makes diffusers that help to relax cats – found 42 per cent had become more “clingy” of late.

Sean McCormack, head vet at tailored dog food firm tails.com, advises dog owners: “Leave your pet for short periods to build up independence. Have them settle in one room while you work in another.

“Set up false departures where you go through the motions, gathering keys, putting on your coat, but then stay – so they know it’s not cause for anxiety.

"Ask other family or friends to walk your dog occasionally to build independence and encourage detachment as a positive experience.”

For moggies, advice from cat litter firm Natusan is to create a nesting place and settle there, then practise leaving and reward them with treats. Start with short periods, build up their time alone and create a routine of feeding and playing.

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