Pest Questions

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Q I’ve been recovering from a bad illness but my dog won’t go for a walk with anyone but me, and she’s also started peeing around the house. She’s 12 so could it be her age?

A She may be peeing because she isn’t getting taken outside so often. However, there may be another cause, such as an underlying medical problem, and I recommend you take her to your vet. Older dogs should have frequent health checks, as diagnosing age-related conditions early can allow many conditions to be managed. Her peeing could be linked to the stress of your illness and her change in routine. She needs to get used to being taken out for walks by someone else. Once your vet has assessed her health, they can also offer advice on reducing her dependency on you.

Q I have just got a cat and would like to vaccinate him soon so he can socialise with other animals, but when is the earliest I can do that?

A The first vaccine can sometimes be given at as young as nine weeks, with the second usually given three to four weeks later. Booster vaccinations are needed because the body’s immune response gradually fades over time. They are often given every year, depending on the vaccine. Vaccines protect against serious diseases, such as cat flu and feline leukaemia virus. For more information visit www.pdsa.org.uk/cathealth

Q Can I use normal cleaning products when I clean my hamster’s cage? How often should I clean it?

A Your hamster’s cage should be thoroughly cleaned once a week. Leave a small amount of the old (unsoiled) bedding behind so their familiar scents aren’t completely removed. Hamsters dislike rapid change. Human cleaning products could be toxic to pets, but animal-safe cleaning products are available from pet shops. Warm soapy water, using mild washing-up liquid, is also safe, but rinse and dry the cage afterwards. For more information visit www.pdsa.org.uk/goldenhamsters

• Stuart McMorrow is based at Edinburgh’s PDSA PetAid Hospital, 26 Hutchison Crossway, 0131-443 6178