Hot-air balloons can be terrifying on two fronts: visually (huge coloured objects dropping out of the sky) and acoustically (the burners make a loud roaring noise). You should create a safe den for her where she can hide when nervous: somewhere that’s screened from both the sight and sound of the balloons (for example, a cupboard under the stairs with a radio on inside, and an Adaptil diffuser to reassure her). Train her to settle there on command, and at the first hint of a balloon, tell her to go to the den. The use of anti-anxiety medication may be needed to help her to be relaxed enough to cope at first. You’re likely to need the help of a professional behavioural specialist to solve this one.
My rabbit has been ill with a suspected hairball problem. The rabbit has recovered, and an experienced rabbit breeder suggested that papaya enzyme might help prevent recurrence. I also groom them and give them plenty of hay. Would it be safe to give one tablet to an adult dwarf rabbit that weighs just 1kg?
EC, by email
Rather than trying to break down the “hairball”, it can be more beneficial to make sure that the rabbit is well hydrated, with plenty of fluids and a high-quality diet. To reduce the chance of such digestive upsets, I’d focus on providing a good balanced diet with regular dental checks from your vet to make sure that everything is being chewed properly. I don’t think that it would harm a rabbit to have papaya enzyme given as per the label, but I’m sceptical about the benefits.
We live in the Middle East and are considering transporting our three female cats to the UK. All three are neutered, vaccinated regularly and have passed the rabies testing process. I worry about the length of the flight. Many pets are left here to be re-homed but I don’t want to abandon them. What do you think?
Many animals undergo long air journeys without seeming to suffer from any adverse consequences. You should introduce them to the cat carriers in the few months before travel. Leave the carriers around the house, with treats and toys in them. Take the cats for short, easy trips (e.g. in the car for 20 minutes) just to familiarise them with the idea. Use pheromone sprays (e.g. Feliway) to make the carriers more acceptable to the cats, and on the day of travel, too. Talk to your vet about the use of non-sedating anti-anxiety medication for six to eight weeks before travel.
Paws for progress
The Scottish Prison Service (SPS), Dogs Trust and a postgraduate student from the University of Stirling are collaborating on the first prison-based dog-training programme in the UK. Known as “Paws for Progress”, this pioneering programme involves young offenders training rescue dogs from a local Dogs Trust rehoming centre. The aim is to help offenders address their behaviour and develop employment skills in preparation for release. To find out more, visit pawsforprogress.wordpress.com.
Rescue pet of the week
This week’s rescue pet is Tiggy, a three-year-old female domestic long haired cat. She can be a little bit shy with strangers but when she makes friends she enjoys a bit of a fuss. Often she prefers her games, she particularly loves playing with fishing rod toys. She would prefer a home with older children as youngsters scare her a bit and she isn’t too keen on other cats. For more information about Tiggy please contact The Blue Cross in Torbay on 0300 777 1550 or see all Blue Cross animals needing homes.