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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.

This week Sean helps a reader with an African grey parrotCredit: Alamy
Sean McCormack, head vet at, promises he can ‘help keep pets happy and healthy’

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.”

Q) SHOULD I let my African grey parrot, Penelope, free fly?

I’ve been training her in a large aviary after seeing amazing footage of birds going out for walks on TikTok.

But do you think taking her into the open is too risky?

I have had her for ten years and I’d be devastated to lose her.

Kylie Brown, Plymouth, Devon

A) It’s very risky, and I am not going to advocate it to anyone, because the potential for things to go wrong is so high.

No doubt free flying is brilliant for captive parrots’ mental stimulation, exercise, behavioural enrichment and living more naturally, but you really need to understand your bird well and have an incredibly strong bond.

Sadly there is traffic, predators or even other birds mobbing Penelope to contend with if you did start.

So it’s up to you, but you need to be fully prepared for her to get lost and potentially not get her back.

Woman claims ‘talking dog’ said her name in ‘special’ moment caught on camera

­­Q) MY four-year-old French bulldog sometimes has trouble breathing.

Pepi doesn’t look any different to other bulldogs, but if he’s hot it gets worse.

I don’t put coats on him as a result.

Would you recommend ­considering an operation?

Cath Edwards, Leeds

A) Before recommending any surgery, I’d advise having him assessed and scored for a condition called BOAS — brachycephalic airway obstruction syndrome.

This is a genetic condition very common in French/English bulldogs, as well as pugs, due to our history of breeding them for flat faces which we consider to look cute.

The sad reality is we’ve ­created serious welfare problems as a result.

The fact Pepi is visibly ­struggling to breathe, especially when hot, suggests he has some or all of the BOAS anatomical issues: Narrow nostrils, a short muzzle, a narrowed airway and excess tissue in his throat.

The good news is surgery can help immensely, so I’d make that enquiry for an assessment with your vet.

Q) IS it fair to keep a cat as only a house cat?

I have a Burmese kitten and she takes a lot of interest looking out of the window.

Should I let her roam free?

Obviously I worry about wildlife and her going missing.

Spencer Shute, Exmouth, Devon

A) I’m seriously coming around to the idea of indoor-only cats, provided efforts are made to enrich their environment and provide for all of their behavioural needs.

It’s standard practice in many countries, and not only protects your cat from fights with others, from ­getting lost, road traffic accidents and diseases, but also helps local wildlife.

You can allow outdoor access with an enclosed “catio”, much like a giant aviary, or you can even cat-proof your garden boundaries to keep your cat on your property.

Q) OUR rescue greyhound Mist is really scared of loud noises.

We think it must be from when he used to race.

He broke free of his lead a couple of times and ran home.

What can we do as we worry sick when we are out in case he bolts?

Ken Broomfield, Ealing, Middx

A) Sounds like Mist could benefit from a programme of noise desensitisation, used for tackling phobias — during fireworks, for example.

It’s a gradual process and needs commitment, the idea being that through slow exposure to noises in increasing volume over time, your dog gets used to them and is less triggered as they learn nothing bad happens with sudden loud sounds.

You’ll need recordings of the types of noise that startle Mist — car engines backfiring for example, or metallic bangs.

The other thing to do in the meantime is attach a second long lead to his harness in case he slips his collar. Safety first.

Star of the week

GRACIE the retired racing greyhound has made Brintha Mahalingam’s new home complete.

The three-year-old pup was rescued from Battersea Dogs Home and is now learning to overcome anxiety with Brintha and her son Manesh, 31, an IT manager in Hastings, East Sussex.

Gracie the retired racing greyhound has made Brintha Mahalingam’s new home completeCredit: supplied

Financial accounts manager Brintha said: “When we completed our house renovations we knew there was one thing missing – a four-legged friend.

“She is calm, loving and so well behaved. She is Manesh’s first dog and she doesn’t leave him alone.

“Gracie is the perfect house mate.”

WIN: £280 litter box

WE’VE teamed up with Petsafe to give one lucky reader the chance to win an award-winning ScoopFree covered self-cleaning litter box worth £279.99.

Its clever design includes a health counter that tracks how many times the box is used.

And it rakes waste into a covered area 20 minutes after use.

For a chance to win, send an email headed PETSAFE to by March 9.


T&Cs apply.

Pet-friendly is tops for hol swaps

BUMPER numbers of pet owners are doing home swaps around the world to save cash on their holidays, Paws And Claws can reveal.

Holiday company HomeExchange says there has been a 42 per cent rise in pet-friendly home exchanges for getaways.

Bumper numbers of pet owners are doing home swaps around the world to save cash on their holidays – pictured the Bundock familyCredit: supplied

And this year there are 371 per cent more UK homes welcoming pets.
Jessica Poillucci, from, said: “House swaps take some of the financial stress away from holiday planning.

“If you have pets, you can likely find another dog or cat lover to swap with and either have built-in pet care included or be able to bring your fur baby on your trip.”

Cat owner Anna Bundock, 46, of Crystal Palace, South London, has been using Home Exchange since 2016 and her swappers love looking after her cat Pica.

Anna, who is married to Pete, said: “We have visited Gran Canaria, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany and many pretty villages around the UK.

“Quite often we end up swapping with families who have pets at their home. It is mostly cats but we have also looked after chickens.

“And at our house the guests say they have loved having Pica to greet them.”

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