Dear PDSA Vet, should I let my cat have a litter before spaying? Kat 

Hi Kat, it’s a myth that pets should have a litter before neutering, there are no proven benefits to this.

Neutering has many health benefits, which include stopping the chance of developing cancer of the ovaries or womb, as well as pyometra – a potentially deadly womb infection.

Neutering can also calm the urge to roam in order to look for a mate, not only reducing the chance of picking up infectious diseases though sexual activity and fighting, but also reducing the risk of straying onto roads and getting involved in road traffic accidents. It also prevents adding to the thousands of cats already in need of loving homes.

I’d recommend getting cats neutered at four months old, but speak to your vet about what’s best for your cat. Find out more:  

Dear PDSA Vet, I sometimes give my dog a few scraps from our Sunday roast, but I’ve heard onion and garlic can be bad for dogs. Is this true? Brian 

Hi Brian, onion and garlic can be poisonous to dogs even once cooked. Stuffing and gravy frequently contain onions, so definitely avoid these; gravy is usually high in fat and salt too, both of which can make your dog very poorly.

Other human foods that can be toxic to pets include chocolate, grapes, currants and sultanas. A bit of lean meat and steamed vegetables (no sauces!) from your roast as an occasional treat would be fine.

Try not to get into the habit of feeding treats too often though and make sure they don’t make up more than 10% of their daily food allowance, otherwise your dog will start gaining weight. Extra walks, fuss and attention are healthier ways to show our pets how much we love them. 

Dear PDSA Vet, my guinea pig has problems going to the loo – sometimes she doesn’t poo for days and then it comes out in one big lump. I’m not sure what to do to help her, what can you advise? Olivia 

Hi Olivia, guinea pigs should regularly pass well-formed faeces, and not doing so can be a sign of a problem, which can become serious, even life threatening, if ignored, so arrange for your vet to check her over.

Your guinea pigs diet is extremely important for their gut health. Guinea pigs need plenty of fresh growing grass and good quality hay (separate from their bedding). This should be available for them at all times and it should be their main food.

They will also need a tbsp of guinea pig nuggets and a teacup of guinea pig friendly herbs and vegetables each day, they can also have a small piece of suitable fruit as a treat. Make sure she has constant access to fresh clean water too – change this at least daily, more regularly if needed. Check out our website for more advice   

Dear PDSA Vet, I have a nine-year-old Labrador who is pretty fit. He's not overweight, but how far is it safe to walk him now that he’s getting older? Jayne 

Hi Jayne, I’m glad to hear your dog is in such good shape! Older dogs can start to suffer from diseases such as arthritis or other problems as they get older.

A regular vet check is a good idea – speak to your vet about this so any problems can be picked up early. You can also speak to your vet about the possibility of adding joint supplements to his food to help support his joints if needs be.

Older dogs may benefit from shorter, more frequent walks, rather than one long one. Be led by your dog on this – if he’s showing no signs of slowing down or reduced mobility, he can continue to have longer walks. 

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