Vets and pets

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Stuart McMorrow answers your pet queries

Q I recently adopted my dog from a rehoming centre. He’s four and is really friendly and happy until he is left alone – then he howls and shakes until I come back. The neighbours have complained about the noise but I can’t get rid of him after everything he’s been through. What can I do to help him?

A It sounds as though he is suffering from a condition called separation anxiety. This is when a dog gets overly attached to one person, then can’t cope when that person leaves. They may howl, as your dog does, but affected dogs can also bark, pace, urinate, defecate or become destructive – chewing furniture and scratching doors. First, get your dog checked by your vet to ensure there isn’t a medical condition causing his behaviour. If he gets a clean bill of health, then your vet can advise you on kind and effective ways to help him learn that it isn’t the end of the world when you leave, and, that you will return. This can take time and patience, and your vet may suggest referring you to an accredited pet behaviourist, but it is worth it to see a dog that is much happier and can relax in your absence.

Q My white cat loves lazing in the sun, but I’m worried that his skin may burn as the weather starts to warm up. I don’t want to stop him going outside though, what can I do?

A Cats with white fur are at particular 
risk of developing certain types of skin cancer in response to sun exposure, especially on their ear tips. To prevent this, they 
should be discouraged from spending long periods in direct sunlight. You should 
also apply pet sun block to the ear tips to prevent burning. This is available from pet shops and pet supermarkets. Pet sun block is also advised in hot weather for other pets with thin or white fur, such as English Bull Terriers, Dalmatians and white Boxers, especially on sensitive areas such as the ears and nose.

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