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Pets’ Corner

Dr Victoria Vidal, head vet at Heronden independent veterinary practice in Tenterden, answers all your pet-related ponderings...

Heard of Heronden Vets? We love this family-run, independent veterinary practice in Tenterden, where the service is all about providing excellent care to each individual pet – however big or small. So we asked Dr Victoria Vidal, head vet and owner to answer all your pet-related ponderings…

Q: What do you recommend for keeping dog’s claws a decent length? We live in the countryside, so my 2 year-old Golden Retriever doesn’t get too much ‘pavement walking’ time and her claws look quite long to me, can my vet clip them? From Hannah.

In short, yes, a vet can clip the claws. However, claw clipping can be one of the most stressful things for a dog to experience and can cause vet phobia. 

Dogs naturally have claws. They serve a purpose and unless there is a problem with foot conformation they usually wear them down through daily use, so please don’t worry too much.

Q: Is there a breed of cat – one with fur – that is good for people with allergies? I’m not convinced the ‘allergy-friendly’ cat isn’t a myth. My children would love a kitten but my husband is allergic. Is there a solution? Thanks, Rebecca

A: A common misconception is that cat fur triggers allergic symptoms, these allergic individuals are sensitised to one or more allergens that are present in cat saliva, urine and dander. 

However these allergens often stick to animal hair and are easily dispersed so long cat hair can exacerbate the problem. Regardless of hypo-allergenic claims, all cats produce a key allergic protein with males having a five times higher concentration. 

In short while there may not be any truly hypo-allergenic cat breeds, there are cats that produce less Fel D1 protein causing fewer allergy symptoms – Balinese, Siberian, Oriental Short hair, Devon Rex, Cornish Rex, Sphynx (has no hair) being among them. I would like to stress that prior to getting any cat it would be advisable to seek advice from an immunologist. 

Q: My son is obsessed with getting a pet reptile for his 10th birthday. I’m not mad on the idea – but thought I’d suggest a family-friendly one before he gets his heart set on something like a snake. (I won’t be helping as I’m not a fan!) Thank you, Chloe

A: Actually, one of the easiest reptiles to keep and manage is indeed a snake (I have four)! Royal Pythons tend to be very placid, only need feeding once every two weeks and their appropriate environment is relatively easy to maintain.  

Many of the exotic species- lizards and spiders and so on, require more specialist environments regarding humidity and heat, making them harder to look after.

It is important that snakes have access to water at all times and I would always suggest reading around the subject extensively before getting an exotic pet.

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