Vets and pets

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Q My dog’s thick fur is normally enough to keep him warm, but it’s been so cold recently I’m worried he might be not be warm enough on his walks. Does he need to wear a dog coat?

A Dogs with fine hair (eg greyhounds and whippets), and dogs that are very young, old or unwell should always wear a dog coat when it is cold. They should also only be taken outside for short periods during cold weather. A healthy dog with thick fur should be OK without a coat for short periods, but pets should never be left outside without access to shelter and warmth. Being cold is unpleasant and if not addressed it can also lead to hypothermia.

Q We groom our long-haired rabbit almost every day, but his fur always seems crusty. Is there anything we can do?

A Crusting and scaling of a rabbit’s skin can be a sign of an infestation with a fur mite called Cheyletiella. This can cause a rabbit to become itchy and in heavy infestations there may be some fur loss. The mite can also transmit to humans, causing a rash. it can usually be treated with medication.

Q My cat Victor is naturally grumpy. He’s normally OK with me, but he can be quite aggressive towards other people and animals. Can I change his behaviour?

A To resolve problem behaviour in pets, such as aggression, it is vital to find out the underlying cause. Medical causes should be ruled out first, so you should take Victor to see your vet. If there is no medical cause for his behaviour, your vet may suggest referring him to an accredited pet behaviourist.

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