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Got questions about your pet’s health? We’ve got expert answers!

130 replies

CeriMumsnet · 27/12/2023 12:42

Keeping on top of your pet’s health can be a handful, especially as your furry friend can’t always tell you when something feels wrong. John Lewis Pet Insurance veterinary expert Martin Stevens is here to help, providing answers to your questions, whether they’re big or small. Ask us what you want to know in the comments to get a veterinary opinion without even having to leave the house. Martin will be back online in a couple of weeks to answer a selection of your questions.

All Mumsnet users who submit a question will be entered into a prize draw for a chance to win a £200 voucher. Mumsnet Insight T&Cs apply

About the Expert 
Martin joined Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance Limited (John Lewis Pet Insurance provider) in 2016, and graduated as a qualified veterinarian from Glasgow University in 1997. Prior to joining RSA he spent almost 19 years as a vet in a variety of small animal practices, from small one-vet branches to large multi-vet hospitals. He has also handled many insurance claims for practices, so he understands the importance of getting things right for our customers and vets.

Martin says: “Being a vet working within the pet claims department means that I’m part of a close-knit team dedicated to doing what is right for our John Lewis Pet Insurance customers all over the country.”

Here’s what John Lewis Finance had to say:
"We know that pets are more than just companions; they're part of the family. With John Lewis Pet Insurance, the health of your pet is always top priority. There are six levels of vet fee cover to choose from, up to £12,000, so you can pick your cover to fit your pet’s needs. Regardless of what level of vet fee cover you choose, the full range of benefits are included, such as our Annual Online Health Check and 24/7 access to the vetfone™ helpline for all customers. For the level of care your pet deserves, with the quality you’d expect from John Lewis."

Thanks and good luck with the prize draw!

Got questions about your pet’s health? We’ve got expert answers!
littlecottonbud · 22/01/2024 15:07

I worry about if a ball gets stuck in the throat of my dog - she plays upside down with a ball (tennis ball size) - what should I do if this happens - is it the same as an infant - on your knee with a sharp pat on the back ?? or is there any other advice (other than don't give them a ball)

MartinTheVet · 25/01/2024 11:58

Ladybird69 · 04/01/2024 01:45

I’ve got a 15 year old Tom cat fully neutered and chipped. Basically sleeps all day long, however comes 12.30 am he starts!!! He scratches at my bed for attention so I follow him into the kitchen and he sits at his full food bowl! So I top up his biscuits and wet food. Then he goes to the front door but doesn’t go out, then he goes to the back door and doesn’t go out and then goes to the patio door and doesn’t go out. There is a microchip reading cat flap in the back door also for him to use. He likes going out and as I live in a very small cul de sac he can go outside to play with his friends or just stay in the enclosed back garden with the house cat.
I also have a house cat and she uses a litter tray in the bathroom. The Tom cat started to use it so I bought another in the conservatory and 2 for different areas of the garden. But lately I’ve found him squatting down next to my bed! Argh. So I’m paranoid about him peeing everywhere. It’s like this every night between 12.30 am and 8am. He’s now scratching to go out. It’s now 1.27 am and I’m on a continuous loop of me escorting him to full bowls and doors that he doesn’t want to go out of and waryily letting him in my bedroom just in case he decides to have a random wee. Someone said it could be dementia? I just know that I can’t go on like this. Any advice would be greatly appreciated

Hi Ladybird69 - There are a large number if things that could cause some or all of these signs - including, but not resticted to bladder problems, thyroid problems, kidney problems and senile brain changes - so I would advise a trip to the vets to have him checked over.

Experts' posts:
MartinTheVet · 25/01/2024 12:23

Montydoo · 04/01/2024 13:15

Can dogs see colour - or just black and white - something i've always wondered ?

Hi Montydoo - People used to think that dogs could only see in black and white, but this myth has largely been dispelled and they can certainly see yellows and blues They appear to lack the correct rods (colour cells at the back of the eye) to see reds at all, and greens are very faded and almost yellow or blue. For this reason some people say that blue and yellow toys are the best toys for dogs. My dog prefers brown toys, but he is brown himself so he is perhaps biased :)

Experts' posts:
MartinTheVet · 25/01/2024 12:24

changer2010 · 04/01/2024 13:17

My cat seems really picky about food, and changes her mind even when she's liked something previously. What can I do?

Hi changer2010 - For me the answer depends on whether when you change the food she eats well (in which case I wouldn't be overly worried), or whether even when you change it she still doesn't eat well (in which case I would go to your vet). If she develops weight loss, vomiting, diarrhoea or other signs that she is unwell then I would also go to the vets with her.

Experts' posts:
MartinTheVet · 25/01/2024 12:27

iloveeverykindofcat · 05/01/2024 06:21

I have a senior cat who is in excellent general health and still very active at 13 years old. A couple of years ago she broke her front left ankle badly, and required pancarpal arthodesis (still not entirely sure how she managed this - it was out of the house!). At the time, the vet told us that the plate would stay in until the bone fusion was complete, and then it should be removed. The surgeon did a great job and the fusion was very successful - she has 90% range of motion, no pain, and can run, jump and climb without issue (though her dew claw no longer retracts, it doesn't seem to bother her). We then moved house, changed vets, lockdown hit, and between one thing and another - well, the plate is still in there. Given that it doesn't seem to trouble her in any way, is there any actual reason to get it removed? Like, could it break or something? I'm fairly sure I can feel the plate/screw if I massage her ankle, but seeing as she lets me do this with no reaction, it obviously doesn't hurt. She's insured, so cost is no issue, but whilst her health is great I'm not going to put a 13 year old under a GA unless there's any real need for it.

Hi iloveeverykindofcat - Whether or not to remove a plate (or indeed any other type of metalwork used to repair a fracture) depends on a number of factors eg the type of plate used, the position of the plate, the level of healing both of the fracture and if bone has formed over the screwholes, how the patient is walking, whether the plate is causing a problem. As you can see this is not a simple yes or no decision and one to be discussed in detail with your vet, perhaps in conjunction with looking at the original post-operation x-ray pictures.

Experts' posts:
MartinTheVet · 25/01/2024 12:27

RainSteppes · 05/01/2024 06:29

My 17 year old cat is losing weight, was vocalising excessively and is always hungry. She is regularly wormed. I suspected thyroid issues, but vet did basic thyroid, kidney and liver blood tests and everything was within normal range. Vet suggested going back in a month and doing a slightly more in depth kidney and liver blood test, but this is abother £250ish on top of the £250 I've already paid and I'm wondering honestly would they find anything that would actually be treated at this stage?

She's definitely since the first test lost more weight and is a bit less happy. She also seems a bit senile, stopping eating and miaowing at me/walking towards me then returning and eating voraciously again when I show her where he bowl is.

I just wonder at this age if I'm going to be paying out lots of money to get a diagnosis that yes she's sick but the treatment is too much for her eg she has a cancer.

Hi RainSteppes - As she's lost more weight since the first set of blood tests I definitely feel it is a good idea to take her back to your vets. They may wish to repeat the blood tests and see if there are any changes. Having a normal set of blood results is great, but we also like to look at changes. For example a second set of blood tests may still have results within the normal range, but if one of the values has doubled then that is still a change and may point to an early on set of disease.

Experts' posts:
MartinTheVet · 25/01/2024 12:29

Spendonsend · 08/01/2024 20:23

We keep chickens and have a dog. When there are no restrictions re bird flu our chickens roam around. Are there any diseases that the chickens or dog can give each other.

Hi Spendonsend - The biggest concern would be if your dog eats chicken faeces as they may contain bacteria (eg Salmonella), fungi or protozoa (eg coccidia) which could make your dog ill. I think the best advice is always to try and stop our pets from eating other animal's faeces, but this is sometimes easier said than done!

Experts' posts:
ooooohnoooooo · 25/01/2024 12:37

My cat vomits all the time. Before eating, after eating, in between eating.

Tried dried food , prescription food, easy digest food, pure meat wet food, tinned food, pouch food. Each introduced gradually. Tried a licky mat, a feeder thing that they use with their paw, and a raised bowl.

10 years now and nothing seems to stop her. Our carpets and furniture are stained from the constant onslaught. Bloods and vet checks all normal.


youareonlyhereonce · 25/01/2024 15:02

Do you recommend dry or wet food - or is it best to make your own dog food of meat and vegetables, and if so is this ok to give cold from the fridge (there is a company advertising cold dog foot straight from the fridge - I like the concept but not the cost) I am worried about any harm feeding really cold food to a dog also

Montydoo · 26/01/2024 11:16

Why is my dogs nose not wet ? should I be worried, he's 11 and seems healthy in any other way.

pushchairprincess · 27/01/2024 07:49

My dog has started to moult - a LOT more than usual - everytime she shakes there are hairs everywhere, and when grooming we get brushloads of hair - seems so much more than usual - should I be worried ? (golden retriever)

TheGirlWithGlassFeet · 27/01/2024 08:24

I've got a three year old lab. Should I start giving him joint supplements now or wait until he's older? Thanks

itsywitsy · 27/01/2024 09:32

My dog has gone from being bouncy and healthy to really subdued and sleepy, he will go a full morning without a drink or food, then comes around and looks and behaves fine - but is sleeping about 75% more than usual - could he be depressed - can dogs (and other animals) get depressed ? any advice other than keep taking him out for walks in the fresh air (part of me thinks he is fed up of the wind and rain)

Ilostmyhalo · 27/01/2024 15:44

My dogs dew claw is really sharp - I think he has caught it somewhere - can you file or clip a dew claw - if so my how much,

littlecottonbud · 30/01/2024 12:30

How long can your dog go between it annual vaccines - I have just noticed he is 6 months over his annual jabs ?

DinkyDaffodil · 31/01/2024 08:51

We are thinking about getting another dog for the family, who will love alongside our current dog, what tips would you recommend before going ahead to make both dogs transition smoother ?

lillypopdaisyduke · 01/02/2024 13:05

Any tips when I take my dog to the vets or groomer, he literally shakes like a jelly in the car, pants and looks pretty terrified. It's too far to walk.

Uncertain111 · 01/02/2024 14:28

is platelet rich plasma or stem cell therapy something you consider beneficial in treating soft tissue injuries in dogs eg Iliopsoas tendinopathy for example?

Willmafrockfit · 05/02/2024 07:24

would you operate on a 11 year old jack russell who has a cancerous lump on her tail?

youareonlyhereonce · 08/02/2024 09:07

What advice would you give for a pet owner, who now cannot afford pet insurance due to the COL crisis, would a vet have a 'hardship' fund to help ?

DanBenandBud · 10/02/2024 07:01

My dog is 11 with really bad teeth, and needs a deep clean under anaesthetic, I think he is too old for this, what are the risks or leaving his teeth in need of a clean, and a GA (he's a small terrier)

JacCharlton · 11/02/2024 07:31

My dog is a 'grazer' to eats his dry dog food from his bowl as little and often as he wants, my MIL said I am doing this wrong and should feed twice a day - which it correct (He's a small breed)


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littlecottonbud · 12/02/2024 13:52

When operations can cost £1,000's and my dog has already had knee surgery, my insurance renewal was £2,500 a for the next year - is it worth the risk - I cannot afford to renew and would be temped to risk and save the premiums I would have paid - what are your thoughts ?

DinkyDaffodil · 12/02/2024 14:04

How often should you brush your dogs teeth - and when is the best age to start brushing ?

Lyn29 · 12/02/2024 14:26

My 17 month golden retriever got diagnosed with colitis a few months ago. Is there any supplements that you can buy that make the attacks to the bowel less frequent and angry as it really affects him?

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