From nervous dogs to fish with swollen bellies— 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 your pets happy and healthy.”


Q) I’VE had my fish for many years in a pond outside.

I noticed one goldfish has a swollen belly.

It has been like that for about a year, so I know it’s not about to give birth! Should I worry?

Eileen Ashley, Essex

A) The fact it’s been like that for a year suggests it’s not a disease like dropsy, which can result in a swollen belly and protruding fins, giving fish a classic pineapple appearance.

Diseases like that are usually fatal or resolve quickly.

Another cause of swellings on fish is tumours. They tend to be slow-growing and can cause problems over time.

But in benign cases, fish can do fine with them for years. Sometimes surgery is required.

Q) MY Yorkie Betty is obsessed with my husband but ignores me.

I feed, bathe and walk her while he just gives her cuddles.

I can’t see why she’s rejecting me, as I am her main carer.

It’s making me feel quite low.

Julia Field, Chester

A) It sounds like Betty is just a daddy’s girl. But it’s important not to take these things personally.

She is a dog, not a human, so she doesn’t think, “Mum really does a lot for me, washing my bedding, feeding me, taking care of me.”

She just really loves your husband.

Sometimes dogs are turned off by needy people and love the more aloof.

Q) PLEASE can you help our Jack Russell, Sid? He is five, a rescue dog and we’ve had him a year.

He was found living in a cupboard under the stairs with his parents.

He was very nervous around men and is constantly licking his paw.

It’s so severe, it meant he had to have an operation to remove skin damaged by his habit, then tablets.

Neither worked. He still licks his paw.

Linda Lomas, Warrington, Cheshire

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to [email protected].

A) This is a lick granuloma, a toughened, irritated pad of skin caused by damage due to chronic chewing or licking.

It is usually due to behavioural reasons — stress and anxiety in Sid’s case, I imagine — but sometimes can be due to underlying pain or irritation.

Treatment aims to break the cycle while sorting the underlying cause.

A combination of behavioural therapy, anti-anxiety medication and limiting his access to lick, as well as surgery, are options.

I’d recommend getting a behaviourist to come up with a plan to help him cope.

Q) MY dog Sam keeps getting ear infections.

He’s had steroids from the vet but I’ve noticed he’s scratching more and has a few little lumps on his skin.

He’s regularly given flea and worm treatment, so I know it’s not fleas. What could be causing it?

Mandy Cork, Hull

A) Skin and ears are complicated and only with a thorough medical history, examination in person and potentially some tests could I make a diagnosis.

If he is a breed with floppy or long ears, he will be more prone to ear issues.

These types of ear have less air flow, so they are more likely to get yeast or bacteria overgrowth.

Hairy ears in poodles or bichons can also be more prone to getting waxy or irritated, which then can lead to infections.

The best bet is to get them examined by your vet and come up with a management plan.

Star of the week

LUCY the Dalmatian will always be remembered – because her owner has written a book in her honour.

Helen Haraldsen started writing The Dalmatian That Lost Its Spots, about her beloved dog, last year.

But sadly Lucy died suddenly on a walk during lockdown.

Helen, a teacher, says: “It was so shocking and upsetting. Lucy was a beautiful dog with a big personality. She made us laugh.

“At first, I gave up on finishing the book. There didn’t seem any point. But I decided to do it in her memory.”

Helen’s book is now on sale and she has a new Dalmatian puppy, called Bella, who is welcome company for Petra, Helen’s German shorthaired pointer.

WIN: Xmas boxes

WANT to treat your pet to some Christmas goodies?

Tails.com has ten of its Ultimate Christmas Boxes, worth £25 each, to give away.

Each box is packed with goodies including biscuits, waterproof bandana, LickiMat, soft toy and a festive turkey dinner.

You can buy them from tails.com – or to try to win one, email [email protected] the-sun. co.uk with TAILS.COM in the subject line.

  • Terms and conditions apply, closes December 14.

A quarter prefer pets to partners

TWENTY-eight per cent of us would rather spend time with our pets than our ­partners, a Paws and Claws survey reveals.

And one in ten (nine per cent) also admitted they enjoy spending more time with their pets to their partners every day.

Numbers were higher among those aged 24 to 39, with 41 per cent preferring their pets sometimes, and 14 per cent doing so daily.

More than 100,000 owners took part, with one even saying: “Sometimes my dog is better company than the rest of them, as he doesn’t play computer games or watch sports all the time.”

Those in Leeds are most likely to prefer their pets (39 per cent), followed by ­Birmingham (35 per cent).

The report – by pet wellness expert Itch – also found we are moving away from traditional pet names such as Rover or Rex – and 2020 politics could be influencing our choices.

There are 130 dogs in the UK called Boris, and even one called Big Bad Boris.

Zoe Costigan, from Itch, said the report “is a treasure trove of insight into the wellness of the UK’s pets, and with over a quarter of us preferring our pets to our partners, it’s easy to see how important looking after their health and welfare is.”

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