Pet queries 31/03/2012

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Stuart McMorrow answers your questions

Q My lionhead rabbit lives by herself in our shed, and has complete run of our secure garden. I want to introduce a friend for her, but she’s very aggressive and territorial – going for birds and squirrels. I’m worried that if I put another rabbit with her she might fight and even kill him.

A Rabbits are very social animals and can get lonely and bored if kept alone. The best pairing is a neutered male with a neutered female, so first you should arrange to get your rabbit neutered if she isn’t already. This may also reduce her aggression.

Let the new rabbit live next to her, separated by wire mesh, so they can see and sniff each other. During this time, swap some bedding over so they can get used to each other’s smell.

Once they seem relaxed together let them meet in a place neither has been before. The idea is that in an unfamiliar environment they will want to stick together.

Once they are calm in each other’s presence, you can allow them to have further short, supervised meetings. A bit of chasing is normal, but if there are signs of fighting, separate them immediately, return to separating them with mesh, and then try again.

This can take from a couple of hours to a couple of months, but you will know they have bonded when they start grooming each other and lying together.

Q I heard that daffodils are poisonous to dogs. Is this true?

A All parts of the daffodil are potentially harmful to pets, including dogs. The bulbs are particularly poisonous, and eating even a small amount can be very toxic to a dog. Just drinking water from a vase of daffodils can cause pets to suffer vomiting and diarrhoea.

Make sure you keep pets well away from daffodils, and don’t allow them to dig or explore in beds or pots where daffodils are planted. If you suspect your pet has eaten a daffodil, or you notice signs of poisoning such as vomiting, diarrhoea, lack of appetite or tremors, call your vet immediately for advice.

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