Dear PDSA Vet

Our guinea pig Simon’s long-haired coat is full of knots; how can I get rid of them? Nicola

Dear Nicola,

I’d recommend popping along to your local pet shop or vets who cater to small pets to pick up some guinea pig grooming equipment – the staff will be happy to help you choose the most appropriate brushes and combs for Simon. You may need a ‘dematting tool’ to start with, to tease out the mats in his coat. Long-haired guinea pigs need daily grooming to prevent more mats from forming, even if they groom themselves. He’ll love all the extra time with you though, and it’s great for giving him a check-over. If the mats can’t easily be brushed out, you’ll need to take him along to see your vet who can clip them out professionally for you, possibly with him sedated as sometimes it can be too painful to do awake. The vet can also give him a check-up, as issues like obesity or dental disease can cause reduced grooming.

Dear PDSA Vet

I’ve got a new budgie and have bought him a spacious cage. But what toys should I get him? Joan

Dear Joan,

It’s great that you’re researching the best toys for your budgies, as they need lots of stimulation to prevent boredom. You can give him rope ladders, swing perches, toys with bells, spinning things, and anything with mirrors. The more you can provide him with, the better! Make playtime interesting: use different toys each week to vary his fun. It’s also important to give your budgie room to fly, whether that’s in an aviary or a large ‘indoor flight’ – he can’t actually live in his cage, think of it more like a ‘bedroom’. And finally, let’s not forget that these are very social birds, so the best way to prevent budgie boredom is to make sure he has a friend – and to avoid unwanted budgie babies, make sure it’s another male.

Dear PDSA Vet

How can I stop my cat scratching my wallpaper? He has a scratch pole, which he does use, but he also keeps going to the wallpaper too. Donna

Dear Donna

Scratching is normal behaviour for cats, which helps them communicate and conditions their claws. Don’t punish him if he does sneak a scratch at the wallpaper; it won’t make him stop, but could make him fear you. Scratching poles and posts are widely available, however different cats like different shapes and textures to scratch, so look for one that’s similar to the wallpaper – perhaps upright, wide cardboard scratchers would suit your cat best. Make sure that the scratchers are tall enough (your cat should be able to fully stretch up on his hind legs), support his weight and are in the right place. Put one next to his sleeping area, and one near his litter tray. Once you’ve got an alternative, limit access to his preferred wallpaper by covering the area he likes to use and putting his new scratcher right in front of it. By making the wallpaper unsuitable, your cat should start to use the scratcher instead.

Dear PDSA Vet

I have a 14-week-old Lurcher that keeps eating her own poo. We feed her well, so can’t understand why she is doing this. Steve

Dear Steve

It’s quite normal (if gross) for puppies to eat their own stools. It often starts in the litter, when mum eats her pups’ poop to keep the den clean and tidy. As puppies are still learning how to be a dog, they will often copy mum - but you are quite right in trying to discourage this before it becomes a habit. The best thing you can do for now is try to distract your puppy with something more interesting (for example their favourite toy or a food treat) after they go to the toilet and get the stool picked up before they can do the deed! Dogs receiving a well-balanced diet should grow out of this by the time they are around one-year-old. If your Lurcher continues beyond this age, speak to your vet, as there could be other causes such as boredom, stress and poor digestion.

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