Pete the vet: My dog ​​licks his paws

My dog ​​is licking his paws. He does it calmly and almost languidly, usually when he’s relaxing on the couch with us. However, my friend told me that it was a sign that the dog was stressed and that I should watch his diet to see if he was lacking in nutrients. Is it true? What could he be missing from his diet?

Your friend is partly right and partly completely wrong. Paw licking has absolutely nothing to do with missing nutrients, but it can sometimes be related to stress. Perhaps the simplest comparison is nail biting in humans: paw licking may be a distracting behavior dogs do to pass the time when bored or feeling anxious. However, more importantly and significantly, it’s usually linked to something your friend didn’t mention: a condition called pododermatitis which is inflammation of the skin under the feet, causing itching. Dogs then lick and chew their paws in an attempt to relieve that itchy feeling. There are many possible causes of pododermatitis, but allergies and sensitivities to substances in the environment top the list. Try to reduce possible irritants in his environment (for example, stop using floor cleaners that are not rinsed off), try to reduce his exposure to possible outdoor allergens (less walking on grass, washing his feet in the water at the end of each walk), and address the stress aspect by offering alternative fun activities such as chewable plush toys (eg Kongs or K9Connectables). If it continues, you should take him to your veterinarian to discuss other possible causes and other helpful treatments.

We had a ‘Covid puppy’ two years ago. This summer will be the first time we go on holiday abroad and I don’t know what to do with our dog. Should I look at kennels – I’ve heard dogs can be in kennels for much of the day. Our dog is used to being with us all the time, I’m afraid she will be lonely and sad without us for two weeks. Should I consult a dog sitter or what do you recommend?

— Marion, County Dublin.

While the best kennels can provide an enjoyable experience for dogs, with careful attention to socialization and exercise, there are new alternatives online that many people may not be aware of. First, there are websites dedicated to providing pet sitters, who care for your pets in their own home, such as petsittersireland.comtarget=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>. is another site worth checking out. These websites allow you to connect with pet lovers who have been vetted to ensure they have reasonable knowledge of pet care, and you can read other people’s reviews of their abilities. pet sitters (similar to AirBnB) to reassure you that they are competent. Websites have often added extras such as insurance to cover your pet’s health while in the care of the caregiver.

I’m afraid our Covid pup will be lonely and sad without us for two weeks

Another option is a website called which allows you to list your home (and your pets) on the website as a vacation destination, allowing you to choose an animal lover from afar to come live. in your home, take care of your pets for free: their “remuneration” is the fact that they can stay with you for free for the duration of your absence. Again, the reviews on the site allow you to see the person’s background for yourself. These new options allow pets to have a very different experience from traditional boarding. By the way, if any pet-loving readers are looking for cheap vacations abroad, Trusted House Sitters lets you find homes all over the world with pets to care for.

Our front yard and side shed stink of cat urine. There are two new cats in the area. Are they trying to intimidate our neutered cat? Do they mark territory? Our cat goes out less now. How can I stop them from doing their business around my house?

— Laura, County Kerry.

Tom cats love to mark new territories with their strong-smelling urine, and it’s very likely that’s exactly what happens. Their behavior often forces other cats in the area into submission, so they stay indoors more (sometimes these cats are visibly terrified when they go outside). There’s no easy way to physically prevent cats from doing this, short of building a cat-proof barrier around your yard (and yes, you can: try ProtectaPet.comtarget=” _blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>) . It would make sense to neuter these new cats: it reduces fighting and urine spraying behavior by 80%. If the cats belong to a neighbour, you can offer to do so; if they are feral cats, without an owner, you can ask the volunteers to arrange for the cats to be trapped, taken to the vet and sterilized. You will be asked to contribute to the cost of this, but for an odorless garden and shed, this may be a price you will be happy to pay.

My one-year-old rabbit’s front teeth grew way too long and my vet had to cut them. Three months later, they became too long again. Will it last his whole life?

—JR, Yougal

Overgrown front teeth (incisors) are a common problem in rabbits, related to genetics and possibly to rabbit nutrition and lifestyle. Although cutting the teeth can temporarily alleviate the problem, the complete extraction of all four incisors is the best long-term option. This is a major procedure under general anesthesia, and you should discuss it in detail with your veterinarian to fully understand the risks and possible complications.

If you have questions about your pet, send them to [email protected]

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