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Dear PDSA Vet: Can I feed my guinea pigs natural plants and forage that I’ve collected myself? Esme

In the wild, guinea pigs would spend their days foraging for fresh grasses, herbs and  wild plants, so they really benefit from being offered a variety of fresh food in their diet. If you do feed your furry friends plants that you’ve foraged yourself, be sure to avoid collecting from areas where weed killers or pesticides may have been used, as these can be highly toxic to animals. It’s also extremely important that you can identify any plants that you forage to ensure that they are safe for guinea pigs to consume. Guinea pig-safe, wild-foraged plants include dandelions (in small amounts), dried nettles, bramble leaves, and clover. If you ever have any doubt about a plant, it’s best to leave it out of your furry family members’ diet! For more information visit https://www.pdsa.org.uk/guineapigdiet

Dear PDSA Vet: My Alaskan Malamute, Digby, has just been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. What can I do to help him? Saoirse

There are several things you can do to support Digby with his hip dysplasia. It’s vitally important that you help him maintain a healthy weight to avoid putting any extra stress on his joints. If Digby is carrying too much weight your vet practice will be able to advise you on a weight loss plan. However, you will also need to control his exercise so he isn’t jumping or running around too much, shorter more frequent walks may be more comfortable for him, too. It’s a good idea to speak to your vet about Digby’s specific needs, as they may be able to refer him for physiotherapy, hydrotherapy or offer other treatments. You can find more information at https://www.pdsa.org.uk/hip-dysplasia

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Dear PDSA Vet: I can’t afford to buy toys for my rats, Bert and Ernie, but they need something to stop them getting bored. Do you have any advice on what I could make? Kimberly

Creating a stimulating habitat is very important for smaller pets, both mentally and physically as they live most of their lives in captivity. Make areas that they can climb on, hide in, forage and investigate. Household items like cardboard boxes, toilet and kitchen roll tubes make great toys – you can stuff them with hay and hidden treats for even more interactive fun, or connect them all together and make an adventure playground. Hiding vegetables around their cage can be another stimulating activity for your small pets, as they use their senses to locate it and paper for them to shred will also keep them entertained. Be sure to supervise play to keep them safe.

Dear PDSA Vet: My dog, Gary, has recently become a picky eater. He’s fine with treats but won’t eat out of his bowl. Is he being fussy or could it be something more serious? Aoife

Gary may be expecting treats and has learnt that if he doesn’t eat his dinner, he’ll be offered something even tastier. However, it’s important to have him checked by your vet in case there is an underlying issue affecting him. Additional treats aren’t necessary, instead take out a portion of his measured daily food allowance to use as a reward – that way he won’t be having more food than he needs in a day and he shouldn’t be too full up to eat his meal. If Gary gets a clean bill of health from your vet and the issue persists, try changing where you’re feeding him, to somewhere quiet or feed him at a different time. For more information you can go to https://www.pdsa.org.uk/changing-dogs-food

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PDSA relies on donations to deliver life-saving treatment to hundreds of thousands of pets across its 48 Pet Hospitals in the UK.

To keep families together this winter, the charity is urgently calling on the public’s support more than ever to prevent vulnerable people having to make a truly heartbreaking decision.

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To find out more about PDSA’s vital work during the cost-of-living crisis, or to donate, visit www.pdsa.org.uk/costoflovingcrisis


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