Vets and Pets

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Stuart McMorrow answers your pet queries

Q: MY cat Missy always goes into my daughter’s room, either at night or early in the morning, sits on her pillow and eats her hair. Why? How can I get her to stop?

A: It is important to rule out a possible medical cause whenever a pet’s behaviour changes or seems unusual, so you should take her to be checked by your vet. If she is found to be well, Missy probably does this because she has learnt it gets her attention from you or your daughter. She knows that if she eats your daughter’s hair, she wakes up and probably gives her some fuss! To get her to stop, your daughter will have to ignore Missy completely when she does this, though I realise this could be difficult. Eventually Missy should stop because she isn’t getting the attention that she wants. A simpler solution might be to make sure she has somewhere comfortable to sleep at night and to keep her bedroom door closed during the night.

Q: MY dog Barney has quite a nasty habit – whenever I let him off the lead, he finds and eats other dogs’ poo. I’m at my wits end and don’t let him off the lead any more. Why does he do this and how can I stop him?

A: This is often a problem that starts in puppyhood. It can affect puppies raised in an environment with not enough things to keep them occupied, so investigating and eating faeces becomes interesting for them. At home, clean up immediately after Barney has gone to the toilet. You could also put something bitter on the faeces, such as tabasco sauce or cayenne pepper, so that he learns to dislike it. You should also teach him “leave” and “come” commands so that you can stop the behaviour. Making sure Barney has plenty to do on walks is also important, such as running around and opportunities to play with suitable toys.