From stick bugs to a dog that wets the floor – your pet has answered your queries

He is on a mission to help our pets. . . He is here to answer your questions.

Sean, the chief veterinarian at, a pet food company, has helped answer owners’ inquiries for a decade. He says, “If your pet is acting funny or being under the weather, or you want to know something about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”

This week, Sean helps the reader with a pet stick bugCredit: Getty
ADVERTISEMENT’s chief veterinarian, Sean McCormack, promises that it can ‘help keep pets happy and healthy’.Credit: Supplied

Q) I recently recommended stick bugs as a great pet for kids who love little monsters.

Can they live on their own and what would you recommend as best practice for keeping them? My son Toby is crazy and I’m thinking of getting him.

Josie Brown, Norwich

a) They can live alone, but it is interesting to watch them in a group to see how they interact.

There are different types. Indian stick insects look like delicate twigs, while some prickly or leafy insects are more dramatic in appearance.

There is always the possibility of small bugs with a group, or at least eggs that you can choose to incubate in a warm area or not.

Remarkably, however, some species can also lay eggs that hatch into clones of themselves without ever meeting a male of their own species.

Virgin birth!

Very cool creatures, interesting biology, cheap and easy to keep – it’s a yes from me to Toby’s new pet.

Q) How do I know if Hammy’s weight is correct?

Someone told me that if he can’t roll the ball to sleep, it’s not good for him. Is this correct?

And how much food can hamsters store in their cheeks? Seems like it will pop sometimes.

Kate Adams, Leicester

a) The problem is, hamsters don’t have an off switch.

They are designed to stock up on food for their deep winter hibernation in the wild, which doesn’t often happen in our centrally heated homes.

They also live short lives, and it is difficult to keep them trimmed unless they have lots and lots of room to run around.

So it is important to let them do this in as large an enclosure as possible.

Most pet store cages are too small for a creature that will cover great distances each night in the wild.

I always recommend avoiding mixed muesli-style hamster foods as they encourage selective feeding.

Your hamster will choose all sweet, tasty, and high-calorie items.

So they pile on the weight, but they may also avoid nutritious ingredients, resulting in an unbalanced diet.

Q) I’ve had a little Maltese Shih Tzu Penny for seven years and she was a little star – until about three weeks ago.

I have started wetting the kitchen floor during the night and every morning there is a puddle of water waiting for me. Water tests at the vet have been clear so far.

The vet put her on a course of antibiotics but nothing changed. I know she doesn’t like change.

We gave her a new food dish a year ago and she has never eaten from it. The only way you’re going to eat now is if we put the food on the floor.

We recently painted the kitchen and changed the blinds. I know it sounds weird, but do you think it might be due to the new decor?

Marilyn Shaw, Glasgow

a) I think these decor and bowl changes are likely just a coincidence, Marilyn to be honest.

And if these antibiotics don’t make a difference for Penny, I suspect enuresis.

And the fact that she’s overnight, when her bladder is normally full, and passively puddles where she lies in bed indicates “excess incontinence” that she wasn’t aware of.

Your vet might suggest trying a medication to see if that stops her accidents.

This is a good example of how sometimes we, as veterinarians, need to rule out certain medical issues first and then use empirical treatment as a diagnosis.

With the bowl, did the material, the size, the depth change?

There are many reasons why a dog might not like the pot.

With a Shih Tzu cross I think she probably has a flat face.

Could the new pot be too narrow or too deep?

The solution to this is to try a new pot.

star of the week

Meet Ragnor, the cat who thinks he’s a guard dog — and sniffs his owner whenever she shows up for a cup of tea with her neighbours.

The five-year-old rescued let himself slip through doors and windows until he found owner Holly Sum, 36 — and then escorted her home.

Ragnor the cat who thinks he’s a guard dogCredit: Supplied

Holly, from Plimpton, Devon, said: “Ragnor would make an excellent search and rescue cat – he would just work his way down the street to find me.

He always loves to grab a cup of coffee – or the neighbors’ parties.

“He’ll stay and then take me home.

“He is very loyal and more like a watch dog than a cat”

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PUG owners have been warned not to let them gain weight, as new research from the Royal Veterinary College shows one in five suffer from obesity.

In response, The Kennel Club revised the Pug Breed Standard—a guide for how a pug should look and act—to be clear about weight.

Pug owners have been warned not to let them gain weightCredit: Supplied

Globally, there has been a growing debate about flat-faced dogs, which can suffer from health and respiratory problems.

The Netherlands is taking action to stop the trade and import of cats and dogs with extreme faces.

Moonpig has announced that it will stop selling cards featuring images of the Pug and French Bulldog.

Animal rights charity PETA has called for the insurance company, Churchill’s mascot, the English bulldog, to be retired.

Pug experts say it should be up to the public to choose which dog they own, but they urge that they only use reputable breeders so health issues can be avoided.

“Obesity is extremely harmful for regular-shaped dogs, but the damage is much greater for flat-faced dogs,” said Dr. Dan O’Neill, who led the RVC research.

Hilary Lynette, of Conquell Pugs, added: “The key is for the public to do their research.

“Only use reputable breeders who test their dogs according to recommendations.”