From a flatulent bulldog to a cat who wants to go for walks — your pet queries answered

M92EYN Brown and white bulldog with her tongue out

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.”

Sean helps with a flatulent bulldog

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

Q) DO you think taking cats for walks on a lead is cruel?

I’m thinking of getting a little ­harness for my cat Heathcliff as he likes to follow me on walks, but he only goes so far then he heads home. Is that a bad idea?

Pam Morris, Dorchester

Sean says:  It’s not necessarily cruel at all. Many cats enjoy a walk, and it can be safer for them not to be crossing roads or wandering off alone.

It does require a bit of training though, and  you’ll probably get some funny looks.

One word of warning, however: Be careful if bringing cats into crowded areas or places where dogs roam free.

In these scenarios, being on a lead can be a risk as your cat’s escape route is hindered.

Q) WHAT are the best toys for a leopard gecko? And is it worth getting her a pen to go outside?

I have a one-year-old female called Chocolate and want her to be as happy as possible as I know she will live for up to 20 years. But is it wise to change things   too much?

Sam Davies, West London

Sean says: Toys aren’t as important as physical or environmental enrichment for geckos (and other reptiles).

You want to basically mimic their environment in the wild, with plenty of branches and rocks to climb on and caves to hide in; some dry and warm, some damp, some at the cooler end of the tank.

A damp hide is very important. It  can be a Tupperware container with some sphagnum moss or damp sand inside and a hole to come in and out.

Place it in the warm end of the tank with some bark or something covering it to make it dark and cosy.

This will prevent your gecko having shedding issues. Putting them outside is a recipe for disaster — escape or predation being two big risks.

A low-ultraviolet-spectrum bulb is a good idea — say two per cent UVB — to mimic the amount of sun exposure they would get in the wild at dawn and dusk as they emerge.

Change up her decor regularly too for more enrichment and exploration.

Q) WHY does my bulldog Max break wind so much?

He’s on gastro-intestinal food. But it’s beyond a joke.

Emma Smith, Devon

Sean says: Bulldogs are right up there in the “most flatulent dog breed” stakes, I’m afraid.

One serious reason is that these extremely flat-faced or brachycephalic breeds swallow more air when they eat.  

They can also have diaphragmatic hernias related to their altered anatomy, and that can lead to changes in how they digest their food and gassy build-up in the intestines.

They also have more sensitive digestion and a higher rate of allergies than other dogs.

Overall, bulldogs are not a healthy breed. We could and should be doing better in how we breed them.

A hypoallergenic diet with digestive support such as prebiotics or ­probiotics added might be worth ­trying next to see if you can reduce the pongy wind. But it may be that you can never quite get rid of Max’s frequent eruptions. provides tailor-made nutritional food for provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets

Q) MY daughter Emily, 16, likes  to give milk to our five-year-old rescue cat Marmalade.

He laps it up, but is it good for him and should I get her to stop?

Jane Davies, Leeds

Sean says: Cats love milk. But it’s actually not great for them.
Not only is it difficult for them to digest, as most cats are lactose- intolerant, but it’s also highly calorific.

A saucer of milk for an average moggy like Marmalade might be the equivalent of us drinking a few pints of beer.

Add that up every day and you’re going to   see a bit of spread in the waist department.

So hold back on the milk and ask Emily to play active games with him instead   to show him love. Fishing-rod toys are a great start.

Star of the week

15-year-old cat Poppy is our star of the week

FIFTEEN-year-old Poppy is the face of the Cats Protection charity’s Mature Moggies initiative, which aims to find homes for unwanted older felines.

She lives in Eastbourne with owner Donna Appleby, who fell in love with her after her dog Diesel, 13, died last June.

Widow Donna, 49, said: “I instantly felt for Poppy. I was concerned that because of her age she would be passed over by people tempted by the younger cats.

“I was struck by how affectionate she was. She’s made my house a home again.”

Daniel Cummings of Cats Protection, said: “Cats can help prevent feelings of loneliness in all sorts of ways.”


Whitstable a pets hols haven

There is a surge in holidaymakers wanting to take pets away too

WHITSTABLE in Kent is the UK’s most pet-friendly holiday destination.
And holidaymakers are getting more adventurous, taking their dogs, cats, horses and even BEARDED ­DRAGONS on staycation.

Camping expert Pitchup compiled the top ten based on pet-friendly campsites, beaches, pubs and restaurants, vets, walks, tourist attractions and pet shops.

Whitstable had 11 pet-friendly campsites, 39 hotels, two beaches, 11 pubs, seven vets and seven pet shops.

Second was Torquay, Devon, due to its pup-friendly beaches, pubs, shops and cafes.

Third was Bognor Regis, scoring highly for its walks and beaches.

Three Cornwall hotspots – Padstow, St Ives and Falmouth – feature in the top 10.

Pitchup founder Dan Yates said: “More and more people have been searching for the ideal UK-based staycation.”

Aimee Witherington from pet-friendly travel site pets said: “We have seen a rise in people wanting to take their dog on holiday with them. We have also booked properties for cats and even a bearded dragon.

“We have property partners that have stables too.”

 The top 10 pet-friendly destinations: Whitstable, Kent; Torquay, Devon; Bognor Regis, W Sussex; Eastbourne, E Sussex; Weymouth Dorset; Falmouth, Cornwall; Padstow, Cornwall; Bakewell, Peak District; Whitley Bay, Tyne & Wear; St Ives, Cornwall.