From cats with sneezing problems to an aggressive dog— 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. 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) I HAVE got a neutered male cat, called Ginger Puss, who has been with me for about six years.

He has never had any health ­problems before now, but for the past two months he has been experiencing long bouts of sneezing spread throughout the day.

They do not appear to bother him

He has no discharge anywhere and has a very good appetite

He also appears happy and healthy. How can I help him?

John Lawn – Newport, South Wales

A) This sudden, persistent sneezing in a previously healthy cat makes me think of something mechanical — perhaps a growth, obstruction or foreign body lodged in the back of the throat or the nasal cavities.

Grass blades or seeds are often found when we investigate these cases, as are benign, harmless growths called polyps.

As there is no ­discharge and ­Ginger Puss seems well in himself, it is less likely to be an infection.

An allergy is also less likely, but not impossible. It’s time for a trip to the vet, I think.

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected].

Q) WE have a seven-month-old cockapoo called Rolo who keeps digging up the flowers and the fencing around the garden beds.

Please can you advise us as to what we can do to stop this.

We have had to put netting around the beds in an attempt to stop him.

Garry Whitaker – Bexleyheath, Ken

A) Netting around flower beds sounds like a great temporary solution.

Digging is just a natural puppy, and dog, behaviour.

First, correct Rolo with a firm “No” when he starts to do it.

Don’t leave him unsupervised in the garden as the more he does it and enjoys it, the more that behaviour becomes desirable and ingrained.

And, most importantly, ­provide him with a defined area in which he is allowed and encouraged to dig, such as a sandpit.

Offer loads of reward-based training for him digging his toys out and ­performing this fun ­behaviour in the right place. Sorted!

Q) OUR golden retriever Lola has just turned two and has always been the most gentle of dogs.

But recently, if she is on a lead she growls, barks and snaps at other dogs.

She was attacked last year by a collie, and two small dogs also on leads went for her. Could this be connected?

What do I do to stop her from reacting like she’s a nasty dog when we are out lead-walking please?

Debbie Finney – Staffs

A) These incidents are absolutely why she is reactive on the lead like this.

Basically she feels worried or ­insecure that another dog is going to attack her again, and while on the lead she has nowhere to run and feels trapped

So she barks or growls to tell dogs: “Back off — don’t come any closer.” And it works most of the time so it becomes an ingrained behaviour.

It’s a common problem and there is plenty of excellent advice online about reactivity on leads and how to improve it.

Have a look and consider a session with a qualified animal behaviourist.

Identifying the problem and how to solve it will come from direct observation of Lola and also how you react when it happens.

Star of the week

SALUKI Wizard nearly died on the streets, but after being adopted he helped his new owners cope in lockdown.

Blue Cross took in the two-year-old after a dog warden found him on the streets of Swindon in February.

Vanessa Margrave, of Blue Cross, says: “As Wizard was a stray, we didn’t have any history for him. He was underweight and nearly bald on several parts of his body.”

After some nurturing he was quickly rehomed with Claire Meadows and her husband Keith, whose beloved spaniel Susie had just died.

Claire, 39, says: “He wears jaunty bandanas which emphasise how handsome he is. We love him to bits. He’s great company.”

Win: Dog DNA test

WHAT makes your pup one of a kind?

Wisdom Panel ( is giving away two DNA swab testing kits, developed by geneticists so you can find out about your pet’s health and history – including genetic conditions related to drug sensitivities, vision, weight and mobility.

Learn their ideal weight range and trace their ancestry back to their great-grandparents.

To enter, email [email protected] and put WISDOMPANEL in the subject. Entries close July 5. T&Cs apply.

 Training boom as pups venture out

SALES of pet products and training classes are booming after millions of us got new four-legged friends in the pandemic.

There are now 17million UK homes with pets – up more than three million.

Lizzie Benge, of Leading Paws in Maidstone, Kent, says: “We’ve seen a huge surge in demand for our events and our puppy classes are selling out soon after they go online.

"We’re also receiving many requests for training adolescent puppies that might have forgotten skills during lockdown. We went online during lockdown but nothing can match the real-life environment, with all its distractions, to train pups.”

This April, three times as many animal lovers booked into pet events on ticketing/event platform Eventbrite than in April 2020.

These included dog training and young puppy play and socialisation sessions, dog walks, pet ownership workshops for young people, canine first-aid and small pets care classes.

The company’s Sebastian Boppert adds: “We’ve hosted online pet events but now people are booking outdoor events to meet in person.

“That’s good for the animals’ welfare and the mental health of owners.”

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