Vets and Pets

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Stuart McMorrow answers your pet queries

Q: My cat is only one year old, but he grinds his teeth whenever I touch his face. Why is he doing this?

A: This may simply be a habit that your cat has learned and may be nothing to worry about. But it might also be a sign of pain, such as dental disease. Gum disease is uncommon in cats of his age, but he may have a fractured tooth or an infection. Take him to be checked by your vet as soon as possible.

Q: My Jack Russell, Bo, is seven years old and is losing a lot of hair. Is this something hereditary, or could she be lacking something in her diet?

A: Some dogs lose their fur because they scratch themselves a lot, perhaps because of fleas or an allergy. Others lose fur because of a hormone imbalance – one cause of this is a condition called Cushing’s disease. Often these hormone-related diseases cause other signs, such as an enlarged belly or tiredness, so I would be keen to know whether you have noticed any other changes in Bo as well. It may not be as simple as something lacking in her diet and this would be unusual if she is being fed a complete commercial dog food. As there could be a number of causes, you should take her to be checked by your vet, who can advise on the likely cause, and what treatment would be best.

Q: My goldfish, Fin, has a sore red patch near his gill. Will this go away by itself, or is there anything I can do to help him?

A: Goldfish can suffer from skin ulcers and bacterial infections, which could be the cause of this. Ulcers are usually pink-white open wounds, typically with a white edge, whilst bacterial infections often cause reddening of the skin or fins. You should take Fin to your vet to see if treatment is needed. Poor water quality can cause illness in fish, so make sure Fin’s tank is properly filtered and aerated, and check you are cleaning the tank often enough. You can check the water quality using testing kits that are available from aquatic centres and pet shops.