Pets Q&A: Is everything ok with the smallest of the litter?

Cumbrian pet owners questions answered by PDSA Vet Nurse Nina Downing.

Dear PDSA Vet: My dog ​​had five puppies about a week ago, but one of them is much smaller than the others. He keeps getting pushed out of the way and I’m not sure if he’s getting enough to eat. Should I do anything to intervene? Elsa

The first thing to do is to weigh the puppies each day to make sure they’re gaining weight. If the puppy isn’t gaining weight as he’s being pushed out, you may need to move the other pups to one side so he can feed first, but if he’s too weak to do this, you may need to hand rear him – speak with your vet for advice on bottle feeding. Hand rearing puppies is a big commitment – in the first couple of weeks of life, pups need to feed every 2-3 hours.

Dear PDSA Vet: I have just brought home my first hamster and every time I try and get her out of her cage, she goes back down her tunnel or runs away from me as fast as she can. Why is she doing this and is there anything that can prevent her from running away? Michael

Your hamster needs time to settle into her new home and get used to you – running away is an instinctive behavior that helps to keep hamsters safe in the wild. Approach her calmly and gently, never from above, and avoid waking her up during the day as hamsters are nocturnal. Offer her favorite food from your hand, so that she learns to associate you with something nice. Then, when she seems happy to approach you, try gently scooping her up from beneath her in your open palms, remembering to always hold her near a surface in case she falls.

Dear PDSA Vet: My big gray cat, Pascal, is ten and he’s always been quite heavy, which I think is due to his breed. But recently he seems to have lost a lot of weight – is there something wrong with him? Callie

There are a number of medical conditions that could be causing your precious puss to lose weight despite a healthy appetite, so you should take him to a vet to find out what is wrong. Certain diseases, such as diabetes, kidney disease and hyperthyroidism can cause weight loss, and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as increased appetite or thirst, or increased need to urinate. Many of these health problems can be improved with the right treatment, so I’d always recommend visiting your vet to identify the root cause and discuss how you can help your furry friend feel better.

Dear PDSA Vet: My five-year-old dog has recently developed a lump on her face, but it doesn’t seem to cause her any pain. What should I do? Layla

Even if she doesn’t appear to be in any pain or discomfort, it’s a good idea to take your pooch to the vet to have the lump checked. They can give her a full examination to determine whether the swelling is a cause for concern – it could be anything from a skin tag, wart, cyst, or the development of an abscess. It may be that your vet concludes that the lump is nothing to worry about, but it’s best to be on the safe side. It’s always a good idea to keep a log of any changes you notice in the lump, you can even track it over time by taking regular photos. For more information about lumps on dogs, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/lumps.

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