Read All About It: Andrew answers questions for the Sunday TimesAndrew Doori Small

If you haven't already been following Andrew in the Sunday Times, it's best you rush out this weekend and grab yourself a copy!

The Sunday Times now has a pet section amongst it's Home pages, and our very own Andrew Prentis writes for the Vet's Corner.

Some of the questions answered to date include;

Q. I am the proud owner of an English setter called Harvey. He is beautiful, charming and affectionate, with a great sense of humour, but the breed is in danger of dying out. How can we stop this?
Joy Considine, by email


A. What a good question! My great-grandfather was Tom Steadman, the celebrated breeder of the Mallwyd kennel of English setters around the turn of the 20th century. He had a multitude of show winners, including supreme champions at Crufts. One of the issues in the canine world now is that too few pedigree dogs are bred for their working abilities. The obsession with form over function has led to dozens of breeds and countless thousands of dogs being affected by inherited diseases. This animal-welfare issue has recently been highlighted by the BBC and is the subject of a dispute between the RSPCA and the Kennel Club. Rather than slavishly following fashion, where pets become accessories rather than necessities, let’s not forget some of the great old breeds. They were great for a reason.


Q. I have four cats, and one of them keeps peeing on the front doormat. Why does he do this?

A. He may have a medical problem. Cystitis, bladder stones and infections can all cause irritation that will make a cat urinate outside the litter tray. Have your cat checked by your vet — and, before you ask, collecting a urine sample from a cat in a vet’s clinic is easier than you might think.

Alternatively, it may be a behavioural problem: cats are naturally solitary animals. They are territorial, and can become stressed and anxious if there is competition. They can show this in many ways — one of which is marking their territory with urine.

Where you can, give them a choice of food and water bowls, not all grouped together, and allow them to feed separately. Most cats like to “graze”, feeding up to 20 times a day.

Provide a selection of raised sleeping places from which they can survey their territory and see the entry and exit points of a room. Provide more than one litter tray, scoop out waste regularly, change the litter at least every other day and scrub out weekly. If the tray is old, buy a new one. Experiment with different types of litter. Finally, you could try a Feliway diffuser, a synthetic copy of the feline facial pheromone, which will reassure the cat that its territory is secure (Feliway).

Q. We have two dobermans that developed bloat, but were saved by our vet. What symptoms should we look out for so this doesn’t recur?
Gill Arney, by email

A. Bloat, or gastric dilatation and volvulus (the dreaded GDV), is a serious and life-threatening emergency. It mostly affects mature, large, deep-chested breeds, and is more common in anxious dogs and in males.

It occurs when the stomach fills with air until it starts to compress other organs and blood vessels in the abdomen. It can then rotate on itself, cutting off its own blood supply. This needs to be corrected immediately to save the dog’s life.

So what are the symptoms? A swollen and painful belly, repeated retching or trying to vomit with nothing coming up, restlessness, rapid shallow breathing and attempts to stretch the abdomen (the sphinx position). Treatment is difficult, so it’s best to focus on prevention. If you have a susceptible breed, feed them in small amounts several times a day. Avoid sudden changes in diet and vigorous exercise for an hour before and two hours after feeding. Feed your dogs separately and in a quiet place.

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