From a foul-mouthed parrot to yappy dogs — your pet queries answered


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.”

Today, our pet vet helps a parrot who won’t stop swearing
Sean McCormack, head vet at, promises he can ‘help keep pets happy and healthy’

Q: MY parrot Polly swears like a trooper.

It’s my kids’ fault. If anyone rings on the phone, she shouts obscenities in the background. It’s embarrassing. Can I get her to stop?

Gareth Dougherty, Edinburgh

Sean says: Let’s just first admit this scenario is never not funny! I always found it hilarious in my consulting room in clinic when a parrot told me to “Eff-off!”

Even funnier when they were shouting profanities in the waiting room.

Anyway, the way I see it is this. Rehome Polly . . . or rehome the ­children, Gareth.

Q: BELLE, my Maltese dog, is three years old and won’t stop ­yapping and barking at every little noise, or at people, at home and outside.

We tried the reward method but that didn’t work. Now she just sits by her treat cupboard barking.

Christine Blackburn, Stansted, Essex

Sean says: Maltese can have a ­reputation for being vocal — partially to do with genetics, partly “small dog syndrome”. But interestingly, some of the behaviours we see in certain breeds can also be influenced by their owners.

The basic rule of all dog training is to ignore unwanted behaviour and reward the desired behaviour.

It is hard to ignore a little yapping dog — but if you ignore it 20 times and reward it once with a treat or attention, Belle will do it again 30 times on the next occassion, as she will think a treat or attention is coming. It’s really a battle of wills.

Bear in mind, any attention is rewarding. Even shouting at her to stop might make her think: “Yes! Mum is barking too!”

Q: I HAVE a six-month-old healthy Lhasa Apso called Willow.

But over the past two weeks, eight of her baby teeth have fallen out. Is this normal at her age? Or should we be worried?

Steven Robertson Blantyre, South Lanarks

Sean says: Totally normal! Willow is becoming a young lady and unlike people, who are totally gummy kids when the Tooth Fairy needs to visit, dogs’ adult teeth come through alongside the baby teeth, eventually pushing them out.

It’s common for owners never to notice them, as dogs swallow them. To a dog, what’s the difference between a bone and a bloody tooth? They’re all tasty treats! provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets provides tailor-made nutritional food for pets

Q: DUE to Covid, I recently had to move back home and brought my two cats with me.

My mum has a ten-year-old cat. My cats are brothers and are 18 months old.

They were outdoor cats but I kept them in for three weeks, as advised, to get used to their new home.

Now they are afraid to go outside through the front door, as they are used to coming through my window — and one of them keeps attacking my mum’s cat. Nothing helps.

Lauren Barnett, South London

Sean says: Can you segregate them? One upstairs, two down or vice versa.
If yours can leave through an upstairs window and have a safe route down to the garden, maybe that would take some of the pressure off them all competing for the one exit.

Cats are subtle creatures and aggression is common when they are competing for a single resource, like a toilet area, exit route or feeding bowl.

I’m guessing it’s uncertain how long you will be back home, so this seems like the best solution that will allow them to gradually get used to the idea of a multi-cat household.

Star of the week

ADORABLE Yorkshire terrier Mr Pelucchi has saved the lives of other animals by providing fire crews with pet oxygen masks.

The ten-year-old dog, who lives with owner Zoe Le Carpentier, 38, in Berkshire, became a fire safety ambassador after Zoe posted fun photos of her pup dressed as a firefighter.

Mr Pelucchi has saved the lives of other animals by providing fire crews with pet oxygen masks

She said: “We did a calendar with Mr Pelucchi in his uniform and raised enough to supply Royal Berkshire Fire & Rescue with pet oxygen masks.

“We’ve also raised £1,500 for the Firefighter’s Charity.

“It’s lovely to see my little dog helping so many good causes.”

Reducing pet’s carbon footprints

PET owners are increasingly searching out products that are kind to the environment, with 78 per cent saying sustainability helps shape what they buy, according to Beco pet toys.

So to find out how to tackle our pets’ carbon pawprints in 2021, Paws & Claws spoke to sustainability expert Jo Baker.

Paws & Claws spoke to sustainability expert Jo Baker about pets

Jo said: “There are lots of simple things to do, like ordering food in bulk – meaning less deliveries and reduced packaging – and choosing aluminium or paper packaging that can be fully recycled.

“With poo bags, there are lots of compostable ones you can put in a dedicated pet compost bin at home or a wormery to reduce plastic going to landfill.

“When it comes to collars, leads, harnesses and toys, try to choose hardwearing brands, or consider buying pre-loved on eBay or Facebook Marketplace.”

Jo, who runs Collar Club, an eco-friendly subscription box service, added: “Your local shelter will often be happy to take beds and any items your pet doesn’t use.”

Other popular pet-friendly New Year’s resolutions include getting fit (37 per cent) and travelling more (24 per cent), according to a poll by GoCompare.

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