Ask Ben

Frequently asked questions, answered by our top vet, Ben.

Ask Ben

Frequently asked questions,
answered by our top vet, Ben.

Ask Ben

Frequently asked questions, answered by our top vet, Ben.

Ask Ben

Frequently asked questions, answered by our top vet, Ben.

From our video series

My pet is gaining weight, how can I get their health back on track?

That's a really good question and it really depends on why your pet is gaining weight.

It could be because they've started to eat a bit more, they're getting more offered to them, or it could be because they're doing less exercise. It’s a little bit like humans.

Another reason may be that our pets are just getting a little bit older, and as they get older, their metabolism slows down, and they store a little bit more fat.

Older pets might be slowing down because of underlying diseases such as arthritis, which can be painful and mean that they don't want to move around so much.

There are several options available to manage weight and an overweight pet. And some of these are the premium nutrition brands that offer a lower energy, lower carb diet, so that they can eat the same amount of food without putting on the weight, and it will help them lose weight.

View the products recommended by Ben for a pet who has gained or is gaining weight.

Why is my cat sneezing a lot?

Sneezing cats are fairly common. There are a couple of main things that cause cats to sneeze.

A sneeze can be caused by a foreign body getting up the cat's nose, like little bits of grass. But it could be a bit more serious and be to do with viruses or bacteria.

Most cat sneezes are really something that should be checked out by your vet.

Why is my pet limping, but shows no physical signs of being hurt?

Limping is a sign of pain, and unlike, humans pets can't really put that on.

So, there will be a cause of that pain, and we really need to find out what that is. If this goes on for more than a day and doesn't get better, then it would pay the go to your vet, just to get that checked out.

The reasons for persistent lameness or limping in your pet could range from a thorn in the foot, but it could be the start of arthritis as well. It may be soft tissue injury, or it could even be cancer.

So you need to go to the vet to get that checked out. Often they'll take some x rays, have a good feel of the leg and try and work out exactly what the cause is so that they can do something to help you fix it.

Why are my cat’s eyes weeping and getting goopy?

There can be several reasons for your cat’s eyes to be a bit more goopy than usual.

Reasons that are sort of fairly common are when we have a change of season. There is lots of wind, some pollen, those sorts of things can irritate the eyes just like they can with humans. They probably don't need a vet visit.

But if the discharge is becoming yellow or very milky then potentially we've got a bacterial infection in there, and it would be really good to go and get it checked out for peace of mind with your vet.

Should I clip my dog's nails?

Clipping your dog's toenails isn't always necessary, particularly if you're exercising them on hard ground, this will naturally trim the nails day to day.

There can be instances where you will have to have your dogs nails trimmed. But you'll notice this, the nails will start curling over, they’ll start getting caught and things. And then it is probably best to get them trimmed.

What does it mean if my pet has begun licking around their urinary area?

It really depends, this could be normal grooming, or it could be the start of a medical problem.

Check your pet is urinating okay for a start. Make sure it's not urinating more than normal, it's not painful when it's urinating, and certainly there's no signs of blood in the urine because that would indicate that there is a medical problem.

If urination is abnormal, you need to give you a vet a call, and just get your animal checked out. If you have a male cat who is trying to go to the toilet, and can’t. This could indicate a blocked bladder. Now this is a really serious condition, so you need to seek veterinary advice straightaway.

What are the health differences between dry and wet pet food?

There isn't a lot of difference between the wet and dry scientifically formulated foods. The main difference is, of course the moisture content. So the wet food has a lot more moisture and water content compared to the dry food.

It is quite important for cats who absorb a lot more moisture out of the dry kibbles to have a little bit of wet food in their diet.

So there's two examples of when you might change your diet, and your pet.

So if your pet is overweight, you may want to look at a weight loss diet. If your pet is underweight, you might need to have a diet with a bit more energy in it, just to help increase and get to the ideal body condition.

The other one is when an animal changes life stages so when you move from a puppy to an adult, you have different nutritional requirements. For example, you may go from a puppy food to an adult food.

Similarly when your animal moves from an adult until it's more senior years and nutritional requirements for change. So that's when you would move from an adult to a mature, or a senior diet.

Our cat has become extremely aggressive at us in our own home. How can we make them feel safe again?

Well, it sounds to me like your cat is pretty stressed. That's the main cause of aggression or increased aggression in cats.

We need to first address environmental factors. Is there a new baby in the house, have you introduced another pet, or has a new pet moved in next door which is stressing your cat out?

There are a few products available to help calm your cat down. Feliway is a great product, particularly in multi-cat households, but also for a single cat.

And then there is a diet that you can feed your cat called Calm from Royal Canin, which is very effective. It’s made with some pretty special ingredients that help relieve stress in cats.

Of course, we need to roll out there are no medical issues causing the stress. If you think that there could be some pain or you've ruled out all the other environmental causes of stress, you should really get that checked out at your local vet.

My cat has started breathing heavily and panting in the car. What does this behaviour mean?

Sounds to me like your cat might be getting a little bit anxious or even stressed about the car travel.

There are a few things that you can do to help your cat in those situations.

Using something like Feliway is really effective for relieving stress.

But also when they're in the carry cage all you need to do is just put a blanket over the cage and that can really help to calm your cat down and make it feel a lot better about its journey.

Why does my dog keep getting rashes under its legs?

There are a number of causes for getting rashes under dogs legs.

They could have bacterial infections or most likely it could be an allergic type reaction.

Like humans, dogs can have allergies to environmental conditions like house smites, some of the pollens in the environment, but they can also react to some of the food that they eat. Some of the proteins in some foods can cause a food allergy.

What we need to do is rule out a food allergy, we can do this with some of the Royal Canin diets. They're hypoallergenic or they're an-allergenic, but if it’s an eczema type of problem, then we can use something like the Hills Derm try and help.

The other thing we need to rule out is fleas. Fleas are very common in households throughout New Zealand and will cause itchiness as well.

So if you've treated your pet and the environment for fleas and the itch persists, then would really pay to go and get your pet checked out and just make sure that there's not something there that the vet can't fix.

Why is your medium to long furred cat losing it's hair?

Hair loss in cats is mainly due to overgrooming, which you may or may not see. A lot of cats groom in private so it can be hard to see if this is the case.

Stress has previously been thought to be a cause of overgrooming, but most likely it could be a skin condition, so you may need to consider a thorough flea treatment regime for your cat, or the vet may suggest a particular diet or other regime.

There are a few products available for managing grooming in your cats and overgrooming.

You can use Feliway, which can manage stress, but also you have the grooming products so you can help groom your medium- to long-haired cats.

And don’t forget your Cat Lax, because medium- to long-haired cats can suffer from furballs, and Cat Lax is a fantastic product for getting rid of these.

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From our lovely customers and their furry friends

What is the best way to stop a puppy from nipping?

It is quite normal for a puppy to go through a period of biting and chewing, especially during teething. To help with this, provide chew toys for your puppy to play with.

  • Different texture chew toys
  • Different shapes and sizes (appropriate to your pups size)
  • Have 2 or 3 toys at one time, swap them around regularly to keep pups attention.

Your puppy needs to learn what is acceptable to chew and what is not (i.e. people and their clothing, shoes etc). Do not encourage hand games with your puppy as this will encourage him to bite.

When your puppy bites or mouths you, pretend that it really hurts and squeal, then as your puppy stops, praise him for this. If he does it again, squeal again then ignore him for a few moments. He will soon learn that biting you is unacceptable.

Are they more mouthy when tired / just woken up?

  • If tired, put them to bed
  • If they have just woken up and are still a little tired distract your pup by playing or training.

Tips for a grumpy cat?

Some cats are people cats, some aren’t, it can be as simple as that. Slow and steady wins he race, be persistent with soft and gentle interactions. There could also be some anxiety at play. There are some great products for Anxious cats for example Royal Canin Calm cat food. As well there is a great product range from Feliway which may help calm your cat down.

How can you calm a cat with anxiety/pacing behaviour?

There are some great products for Anxious cats for example Royal Canin Calm cat food. As well there is a great product range from Feliway which may help calm your cat down.

How can you calm a dog with anxiety issues?

There is a great product range for anxious dogs Adaptil. There are collars, sprays and diffusers which offer pheromone support.

Is there a topical wormer?

Profender® is an easy and stress-free way to deworm your cat. Profender® combines powerful broad-spectrum treatment with the ease and convenience of a topical application.

How do I stop my dog from chasing my cat?

This comes down to training, right from the very start. I recommend you join a Puppy Pre School, Unfortunately, puppies do not come to us pre-programmed, so it is up to us, as responsible dog owners, to teach them the meaning of the commands we give them.

At any age, you can give positive reinforcement a go - this means praising and rewarding the desirable behaviour your dog displays and ignoring the negative behaviour such as chasing your cat, or providing a distraction when he is not behaving as you wish him to.

We do not recommend any form of physical punishment as this causes your dog to lose confidence and make him anxious around humans. Ensure you have plenty of suitable toys on hand to distract your dog with when he is displaying unwanted behaviour.

 “NO” is the word to use. It can mean: don’t jump, don’t dig or don’t bark etc. However, it doesn’t mean anything unless it is followed with a command for the desired action and subsequent praise.

Use this word to distract your dog from the undesirable behaviour and then teach him what you would rather he do. Always use these words loudly in a firm, deep tone. Do not repeat it, or they will learn to ignore it. Always follow it with a command such as sit, and then praise your dog for the correct behaviour.

“YES” lets your dog know they are displaying the desired behaviour, so we say “Fluffy sit” , once sitting say “yes” in an excited tone and reward, repeat saying “yes” with all new commands you’re teaching when they display correct behaviour.

What to feed a diabetic dog?

Very much the same as humans, our pets with health issues need to stick to a strict diet to maintain health. Royal Canin Diabetic dog food is one of the foods your vet may recommended once a diagnosis has been made. As this is a complete diet formulated to assist in the nutritional management of dogs with diabetes mellitus, there is no need for any other food sources. A suggestion if you’d still like to treat your dog, is to have a separate “tin” of these biscuits, away from the usual feeding zone, treat them with some kibble from your pocket, or in a puzzle toy.

Supplements including green lip mussel for giant breed dog with developing arthritis?

BomaZeal Mobilize is a safe palatable tablet that is a natural alternative for the management of symptoms of mild osteoarthritis in dogs.

MyBeau Bone & Joint is a liquid nutritional supplement formulated for bone and joint health.

Do you recommend adding in joint supplements to a dogs diet as they get older?

It is a good idea, especially if there are early signs of mobility issues. Supplements can be a natural remedy that enhances the health and wellbeing of dogs. Look at it the same way we humans take natural supplements and vitamins etc in addition to our dietary requirements.

How can we keep our outdoor cat healthy as he ages?

There are great senior diets, bone and joint diets and also supplements which can keep older pets healthy. Most vets have a senior pet check-up. This would be the best place to start, you can discuss suitable diet with your vet at the same time, as it may depend on the result of the check-up.

What are your recommendations for puppy exercise?

While puppies can appear to have endless energy, it is important not to over-exercise them during their growth period. This is especially important for large breeds. In terms of ‘formal’ exercise, i.e. walking on a lead, generally you should work on 5 minutes for each month of your puppy’s age.

For example, if a puppy is 3 months old, 15 minutes of formal exercise is plenty. Ideally this should be broken up into two sessions for large breed puppies.

Generally speaking a small breed puppy will be fully mature by around 9-12 months of age, a medium breed puppy by 12-15 months of age and a large breed puppy by 18-24 months of age. Giant breeds may not be fully mature until 36 months of age.

Is it ok to take my 9 year old dog with a Grade 5 heart murmur on walks?

It is generally considered good to exercise to maintain body weight, mental health and cardiovascular health/strength but will need to be gentle exercise. We advise you check with your vet as they know your dog best, regarding exercise frequency and duration.

What is the best age to introduce solids to kittens?

Generally start at 3-4 weeks of age as a supplement to mothers milk

My dog has a collapsed trachea, how can I help sooth his throat?

Most affected dogs improve after loosing weight so feeding a weight loss diet especially if overweight will help. Using a harness rather than a collar and gentle exercise is still important

Why does my dog chew it's nails?

This is due to habit, or even as simple as boredom - try new toys or chews, have texture chew toys, different shapes and sizes, swap them around regularly to keep their attention.

My old dog is still antisocial and deathly afraid of cats. Should I care at this age?

It is always good to keep your dog well socialised - not just for their wellbeing, but also the other animals and people they interact with. You could consider obedience classes. Just like humans, it is never too late to educate or learn new things.

Tips for helping a sun damaged dog nose.

  • Keeping your dog out of the sun at it's hotest point, between 11-2
  • Filtabac or Filtaclear are good products.
  • A sun visor could also be worn by your dog to protect the nose further.

My 18 month old male cat is very territorial - will he get better as he gets older?

It may get better once the territory is established, but will kick off again as soon as newbie comes in again. Cats don't change their core behaviour - so age will only affect how successful he is in maintaining his territory.

How do I stop my dog eating cat poop?

Clean up the cat poop regularly which will stop them having access to it in the first place. If they do eat it, encourage your dog to drink water to wash it away.

How do I know my 7 & 9 year old dogs are getting sufficient exercise?

If they are keen and not suffering with stiffness etc following exercise then all is well. Walking morning and evening is fine. 7-9 is not old enough to worry about slowing them down. At this stage of life, reducing their exercise would only lead to decreased fitness and weight gain which would be more harmful.

What is a good dental treat for a kitten?

There aren’t any dental treats on the market with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal (meaning they have evidence they work) targeted towards cats under 6 months of age. That said, 3 months of age is a brilliant time to start brushing or offering gentle abrasive action using a cloth or wipe on the kitten’s teeth.  

Certain offal meats (ie chicken hearts) and fresh meat chunks won’t control plaque accumulation however will provide some abrasive action to keep the teeth free of debris.  

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