Pet Questions

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Q I’ve had my cat, Bonkers, since she was a kitten (she’s now eight), but suddenly she seems very skinny. She’s eating as normal and always seems hungry - what could be causing this weight loss?

A There are a number of medical conditions that could be causing Bonkers to lose weight despite a good appetite, so you need to take her to a vet to find out what is wrong with her.

Certain diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease and hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, along with increased appetite or thirst, or increased need to urinate. Tell your vet if you have noticed any other changes in her habits or behaviour.

Many of the conditions mentioned can be managed with medication, so the sooner a problem is diagnosed, the sooner you can help Bonkers.

Q I’ve heard that chinchillas need something called a ‘dust bath’. How often do they need one and why?

A Chinchillas need a daily dust bath to keep their coat in good condition. Without dust bathing, their fur can become matted because of oily secretions from the skin. The dust bath should be large enough for the chinchillas to roll in and should contain chinchilla sand to a depth of at least 4-6cm. The bath and suitable sand are available from pet shops. Don’t leave the dust bath in with the chinchillas. Instead, give it to them several times a week for ten minutes at a time. Otherwise, they may start using it as a toilet, and excessive dust bathing can cause eye disease.

Q My dog, Manny, gets a lot of sleep in the corner of his eyes. Do I need to do anything about this?

A Whether or not this is normal for Manny depends on the appearance of the discharge and whether there are any other signs of eye disease. These would include signs such as reddening of the conjunctiva (the skin around the edges of the eyes), loss of fur around the eyes, partly closing his eyes or rubbing them. If the discharge was thick and sticky, or red-stained, this would also indicate a problem. Some build-up of “sleep” may be normal for Manny and may only require you to gently bathe it away each day with some tepid water. But I would get it checked out by your vet to make sure there are no underlying medical problems.