Q My rabbit is drinking more than normal. Is this ok? Is it best to provide her with water in a bowl or a bottle?
A The amount of water a rabbit drinks can vary a lot, from 50ml to 150ml per kilogram of body weight, per day. It depends on things such as the temperature and what they are eating (if you’ve reduced the amount of greens or fresh grass in their diet, they won’t be getting as much water in their food). Drinking more can also be a sign of a medical problem, such as dental disease, or some rabbits may drink more if they are bored. Take your rabbit to a vet for a health check as a first step. As for bowls versus bottles – rabbits may drink more often from bowls, but the downside is that they are harder to keep clean and may get tipped over.
Q I’ve just brought a new puppy home, a collie-cross. I’ve looked at pet insurance but it seems very expensive. Is it really worth it?
A Pet insurance gives you peace of mind and is one way of helping to make sure you are able to afford the veterinary care your dog may need in the future. The treatment associated with a road accident, for example, can run into thousands of pounds. For these reasons, PDSA does recommend pet insurance.
Q My cat is 16 and has recently gone off her food. I’ve also noticed flea eggs on the furniture where she was lying. Are the two linked?
A These are unlikely to be flea eggs – they are barely visible to the naked eye. Your cat is in her senior years and could be off her food because one or more of her organs aren’t working as well as they should. Chronic kidney disease, for example, is common in geriatric cats and causes poor appetite. Take her to your vet for a thorough examination and may recommend doing a blood test to look at the health of her liver and kidneys, as well as to check for any evidence of infection. If kidney disease is diagnosed, this can’t be cured but can often be managed to improve your cat’s quality of life. Regular health checks are recommended for all senior pets so that age-related disease can be diagnosed early, allowing treatments to be started as soon as possible.
Q I’ve been thinking about getting my dog neutered but am worried it will mean she will gain weight. What is your advice?
A Neutering (called spaying in female dogs) stops a bitch from having unwanted puppies and reduces her chances of developing breast cancer. It also prevents her from developing a potentially life-threatening condition called pyometra (a serious infection of the uterus). Spaying causes a bitch’s metabolism to slow down, meaning that she burns energy less quickly, but by modifying her food intake slightly and exercising her properly, she won’t gain weight. Your vet can advise you on how to feed and exercise her when she is spayed.
* Stuart McMorrow is based at Edinburgh’s PDSA PetAid Hospital, 2b Hutchison Crossway, 0131-443 6178