Vet Q&A: Biting dogs | Scratching cats

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STUART McMorrow answers your veterinary questions

We got a German Shepherd puppy recently, he’s nine weeks old but he nips a lot. When he does it we tell him ‘no’ and walk away, but he’s just getting worse. He growled at my daughter when she stroked him recently and I’m worried now.

Biting is seen in normal puppy play, but it can get a bit ferocious so it’s important that you start to teach him what behaviour is acceptable. Proper training and socialisation are also key to ensuring your puppy grows into a friendly and well-behaved dog. More information on this is on our website but also ask your vet about puppy socialisation classes, as these will help your puppy learn how to interact appropriately with people and other pets.

Can you help? My kitten Lola is seven months old and she’s suddenly started making mad noises and sticking her bum in the air all the time.

You need to get Lola checked out by your vet to see what is causing her to do this, but if she hasn’t been neutered then she could be in season, also called ‘on heat’. Cats have more than one season a year, and each one lasts for about a week. If she is in heat then you will need to keep her indoors to prevent her getting pregnant. I would recommend you ask your vet about getting her neutered.

I’ve bought our cat, Togs, a scratching post but she is refusing to use it, preferring to continue shredding my sofa instead.

Scratching helps to condition the claws and stretch cats’ back muscles after they’ve rested, as well as marking their territory. Many cats scratch at furniture when they wake up, so place the scratching post near to where Togs sleeps. Also make sure that it supports her weight and that it is tall enough for her to stretch up fully on her hind legs. If your cat still ignores the post, try covering it with a thick blanket layer and then a tight securely fitted layer of heavy fabric. You can also temporarily cover your sofa with heavy grade plastic sheeting your cat won’t scratch.