Pet Q and A: 02/02/13

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Pet expert Stuart McMorrow answers your questions

Q. I have four cats but one is over-grooming until he is bald down one side, and around his rear end. The vet said there was nothing wrong with him other than this, and he seems healthy. But I’m worried about letting him outside for too long in the cold weather. What can I do to prevent him making this worse?

A. Over-grooming can be a sign of stress in cats. Cats are very susceptible to stress, which can be caused by disturbance to their routine such as building work, a new pet or a new baby. A common cause of stress is having to live with other cats, especially those that are not related. My advice would be to take him back to a vet, for his over-grooming to be investigated further. Medical causes will 
need to be ruled out, 
such as a food allergy, and the vet may recommend doing some further tests.

Q. My five-year-old Labrador, Marley, keeps getting a strange rash on his nose; boil-like lumps keep appearing. They don’t appear to be painful and the vet prescribed antibiotics which helped, but the lumps keep coming back. Why is this?

A. It sounds like Marley is being treated for a skin infection, and sometimes quite long courses of antibiotics are needed to fully treat the infection. So I would recommend that you take Marley back to your vet to see if further treatment is needed. The vet may feel further tests should be done to better understand Marley’s condition. These could include a skin biopsy, where a small sample of affected skin would be taken and examined. Then treatment will be based on the findings.

Q. I’ve always wanted a chinchilla as a pet and am planning to get one soon. Where can I get information about how to care for them?

A. I would always recommend doing plenty of research before taking on an animal to ensure you will have the time, space, money and knowledge to meet the animal’s needs. For advice from vets, visit