From a depressed gerbil to a labrador going deaf — your pet queries answered

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HE is on a mission to help our pets  . . . and is here to answer YOUR questions.

Sean, who is the head vet at tailored pet food firm, has helped with owners’ queries for ten years. He says: “If your pet is acting funny or is under the weather, or you want to know about nutrition or exercise, just ask. I can help keep pets happy and healthy.”

It’s all about the environment and understanding how gerbils behave in the wild

Sean McCormack, head vet at, promises he can ‘help keep pets happy and healthy’

Q) I HAVE read it is common for gerbils to get depressed.

I have two females, Bubbles and Brenda, who seem very happy but I want to keep them that way. Any advice?

Sarah Turner, Edinburgh

Sean says: It’s all about the environment and understanding how gerbils behave in the wild.

They live in complex burrow systems in the wild, so they must be given the opportunity to dig and tunnel in captivity.

Providing them with a deep, solid-sided cage or preferably an aquarium with deep litter will see them thrive.

There are lots of great articles online about how best to provide this.

A mixture of compressed paper bedding, wood shavings and hay provides ample opportunity for tunnelling. You should also construct a few underground chambers and tunnels with cardboard or plastic tubing.

Q) MY 11-year-old Border Collie Alfie was diagnosed with epilepsy six years ago.

I’d like to put him on CBD oil as well as his Epiphen and Libromide medication. He has a fit about every two weeks. What dose would you give? He weighs 26kg.

Neale Robinson, Stockport, Gtr Manchester

Sean says: My first thought is why? Is Alfie starting to get seizures again? If so then I’d suggest a tweak to the dosage of the medications with your vet’s input.

If not then the phrase “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” comes to mind. The reason I say this is that while CBD oil has many claims, some may hold promise and others are likely a placebo effect for people.

The fact is, we do not have enough studies to show the safety or efficacy of CBD in dogs. And it is not licensed for use in dogs, so I would steer clear until that changes.

Q) BELLA, my Labrador, seems to be going deaf.

She’s 12 and doesn’t hear people coming to the gate, and sometimes it startles her. I have to shout quite loudly to get her in from the garden. Is there anything I can do to help?

Sean Evans, Newport

Sean says: This is one of those things with our dogs getting older. I noticed it with my last dog Suki when she was about 12 too, and it gradually got to the point she was stone deaf at 15.

There aren’t really many options to prevent it progressing I’m afraid, but there are a few helpful things you can do now that will make things easier in future. Teaching Bella hand signals for commands is a good idea, but you’ll find getting her attention harder.

In public, keep her on a long lead so you can call her back, especially near busy roads.

Some people use a gentle vibration attachment on the collar, not a shock collar, and train their deaf dog to come and look for them when that is activated. Also, take care not to startle her from rest or allow visitors to stroke her without her knowing, as that can be scary for her. provides tailor-made nutritional food for provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets

Q) MY hamster is an escape artist. I’ve found him under the bed, he’s made a hole in the carpet and at one point we found him lurking in the bathroom.

Am I not entertaining him enough? He’s got toys and a wheel?

Cath Edwards, Carlisle

Sean says: Hamsters in the wild roam over large distances each and every night looking for food, mates and places to burrow.

Unfortunately most cages are just way too small.

So it’s vital you provide him with as large a cage as possible, rotate his toys, tunnels and accessories on a daily or at least weekly, and allow him out in the evenings.

I’ve seen some amazing videos recently on social media of hamsters being trained to complete homemade obstacle courses. Get creative!


CHEEKY Joey the Cavalier King Charles spaniel and his sidekick Eddie are obsessed with eating books.

The best pals, who are both three, are now using Woofz Training App after tearing up a Marian Keyes novel owned by Kelly Lee, 39, and fiancé Alex Hughes, 42, of Ashbourne, Derbys.

Cheeky Joey the Cavalier King Charles spaniel and his sidekick Eddie are obsessed with eating books

Kelly said: “Joey and Eddie can be mischievous if they are left alone and they always work as a team. But most of the time they are good boys.”

Natalia Shahmetova of pup training app said: “Many dogs have a cheeky side, or even a naughty one, which is why so many people turn to our app for advice and guidance on understanding what makes their pet tick.”


ANIMAL charities are urging people not to abandon their pets as the cost-of-living crisis worsens and rescue centres face unprecedented pressure to rehome animals.

The number of cats waiting to enter Cats Protection’s 34 adoption centres rose by 46 per cent in July 2022 compared to July 2021 (2,582 cats versus 1,766 cats).

The number of cats waiting to enter Cats Protection’s 34 adoption centres rose by 46 per cent in July 2022 compared to July 2021

The charity and the RSPCA have both issued urgent pleas for people to give pets a home.

 Peter Shergold, head of field operations at Cats Protection, said: “This is the worst situation in organisational memory in terms of the pressure on our services.

“The rise is directly linked to the cost-of-living crisis, such as not having the funds to afford the basics like cat food or cat litter or a much more serious consequence such as a loss of a job or having to move into rented accommodation where pets aren’t allowed.”

Six-year-old cats Tinkerbell and Wendy are looking for a quiet home after they were brought to Cats Protection’s Warrington adoption centre in July after their owner suffered financial hardship.

The RSPCA’s Animal Kindness Index found that the cost-of-living crisis is one of the biggest threats to animal welfare, with 68 per cent of pet owners concerned the price of  care was increasing.

RSPCA spokeswoman Amy Ockelford said: “We fear the cost-of-living crisis will see more animals being abandoned than ever before. We would urge anyone who is struggling to reach out for help and never abandon an animal.”

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