Welcome to launch of our regular vet pets column with animal charity PDSA
PDSA is the UK’s largest vet charity, on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.www.pdsa.org.uk
PDSA advice on new pet ownership
If you recently introduced a new pet to the family, you may be considering having them neutered to prevent unplanned pregnancies or unwanted behaviour.
Neutering offers many benefits for your pet and can improve their overall quality of life.
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing said: “Neutering a pet is a procedure regularly carried out by vets and one that your vet or vet nurse will happily chat through with you, so you can weigh up the pros and cons.
"While there are some cases where neutering isn’t advisable, it is recommended in most cases.Positives for pooches
“For canine companions, the best age for neutering is typically from six months old. If your pup is a large breed, however, it may be beneficial to carry out the procedure further down the line."
Nina added: "If in doubt, you should always speak to your vet, as they will be able to offer advice on when would be the best time for your pet.
“Neutering prevents male dogs from developing testicular cancer and can reduce the risk of prostate disease. It can also reduce the likelihood of them roaming away from home.
“For female dogs, neutering reduces the chance of developing breast cancer and stops the risk of a very serious infection of the womb called pyometra. It can also reduce the risk of false pregnancies, which can be very upsetting for some dogs.
“Think about neutering your feline friends from four months old, which is recommended as otherwise you could be dealing with a litter of kittens that you’re unprepared for.
"This is equally as important for house cats, especially if you have given a home to two cats that are opposite sexes - even related moggies will produce kittens if they live together when unneutered.
“Just like female dogs, spaying can protect cats from developing pyometra, as well as preventing cancers of their womb or ovaries.
“Neutered male cats tend to be less inclined to fight other cats, reducing the chances of them contracting feline AIDS (FIV) from bites. Once males are neutered, they will be less likely to spray.
Rest and recovery
“Neutering is a relatively quick and straightforward operation that is carried out under anaesthetic.
"While any operation comes with risks, vets routinely carry out these procedures every day, and the chances of serious complications are very low. Your vet will discuss any concerns you may have.
“Recovery is usually a swift process – your furry friend will usually be sent home the same day. Just make sure you keep them well rested and pay attention to any aftercare advice your vet provides.
“It’s always much safer to have your cat or dog neutered while they’re younger as the risk of developing health problems tends to increase with age,” added Nina.
Ask our expert
PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing answers all your pet questions
Dear PDSA Vet, having recently rehomed a ferret, I am wondering what is the best diet to keep him healthy. Do you have any advice? Liana
Dear Liana, ferrets are obligate carnivores, meaning meat is an essential dietary requirement for them as it contains important nutrients which can’t be found in other foods.
Commercial ferret nuggets are convenient and nutritionally balanced but you do need to be careful your ferrets don’t become over-weight, and provide plenty of fresh water.
Another alternative is raw food diets; you’ll need to provide a ‘whole prey diet’ – one where they eat the whole small animal, including organs and bone. Keep your new pet’s diet as fresh and nutritious as possible, making sure you remove any leftovers before they spoil.
Ferrets turn food into energy very quickly, meaning it passes through them faster so they need to eat every few hours. For more information, please visit www.pdsa.org.uk/ferretdiet website.
Dear PDSA Vet, my nine-year-old dog Brody keeps slowing down on walks and spends a lot more time sleeping than he used to. What could be wrong? Martin
Dear Martin, there are many reasons this could be happening, so I would recommend making an appointment with your vet to check Brody over – symptoms like slowing down (exercise intolerance) will need investigating.
Brody might be finding walks a bit harder if he’s struggling with joint pain, which could be due to arthritis, a condition that affects joints and causes them to become swollen and painful when moving.
If this is the case, your vet can advise you on treatment options and may suggest anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce Brody’s pain and swelling, joint supplements may be helpful too.
Hydrotherapy is another helpful way of treating arthritis, especially as it doesn’t put too much strain on joints.
Dear PDSA Vet, my cat has come home with a limp and it turns out there’s a small cut on her paw. Should I be worried? Nikkita
Dear Nikkita, first examine the leg to make sure there aren’t any other injuries.
If the wound is deep or gaping it may need stitches but if it’s only a small, shallow cut, it should heal on its own in a few days.
Keep the wound clean by bathing the area twice daily using cotton wool soaked in a salt-water solution.
Make this with 1 tsp of salt in a pint of boiled water that has cooled down, using a fresh solution each time.
Pop a cone collar on your cat, so she doesn’t try and lick the cut. Contact your vet if you have any concerns about the size of the cut or how it is healing.