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Pet Subjects: Telegraph vet Pete Wedderburn answers your questions

Pete Wedderburn
Pete Wedderburn Credit: Patrick Bolger

Dear Pete

My wife and I recently rescued Poppy, a six-year-old Welsh Springer bitch. She won’t come to me and often hides when I am around. I never find this difficulty with other dogs. Will she ever like me?

DN, Lancashire

Dear DN

It’s most likely that Poppy hasn’t had a lot of experience with men and is fearful. Keep a distance away, and throw treats to her. Let her make the choice if she wants to come towards you. Avoid eye contact, and don’t stand over her, as she may feel threatened if you do this. Ignoring her is far less threatening, and she’s more likely to engage with you that way. This will be a challenge and you need patience, but if you can win her around, it will be immensely satisfying.

Credit: Nature Picture Library / Alamy

Dear Pete

We have two Russian Blue cats and a three-year-old mixed breed called Troy. The two other cats chase Troy around the house, not aggressively, but we think he is sensitive. He has started licking his coat compulsively and has lost hair on his stomach. Could this be stress related?

TW, London

Dear TW

First, check with your vet that there isn’t a physical cause of the hair loss. However, over-grooming like this can start as a displacement behaviour, acting as a coping mechanism for stress, and poor Troy certainly will feel stressed if he’s being chased around his home by two highly territorial cats. Your only solution may be to create a Troy-only territory in your house, with litter tray, cat gym, toys etc, in a room which the other cats can’t enter (use a microchip-coded cat flap). A Feliway calming pheromone diffuser will help to create a peaceful atmosphere for him in his private room.

BIG PROBLEMS

Nearly half of dogs and a third of cats seen by UK vets are obese and only 13 per cent of pet owners are aware of the five basic animal welfare needs (health, behaviour, companionship, diet and environment). New guidance from the University of Nottingham aims to help vets address these issues effectively during routine vet visits. See here.

RESCUE PET

Lilly

Lilly is a talkative 10-year-old who loves scratching posts. Contact Cats Protection’s National Cat Adoption Centre on 01825 741 330 or visit cats.org.uk/ncac. To view outcomes of rescued pets, see petethevet.com

Send queries to [email protected] or tweet 
@PeteTheVet. All sick animals should be taken to a vet.

Pet Subjects by Peter Wedderburn is published by Aurum Press (£12.99). To order a copy  visit books.telegraph.co.uk