From a whining dog to a rescue chicken – your pet queries answered

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.

Sean helps a reader with a whining dog


Sean helps a reader with a whining dogCredit: Getty
Pet vet Sean McCormack answers your questions


Pet vet Sean McCormack answers your questionsCredit: Doug Seeburg – The Sun

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.”

If you want him to answer a question for YOU simply email him at

Q) I GOT a beautiful ridgeback/lurcher cross in 2020 from our local rescue centre.

She’s now about two-and-a-half years old. She is called Bambi.

The problem is, I can’t discern any difference in her whines and can’t tell if she is happy, excited or distressed.

She sometimes starts if I stand too long talking to someone and always when we get into the car.

She only goes in the car to fun places like the beach or a socialising group where she loves to play.

She also whines when she drops a toy at my feet and wants to play or when she sees her friends passing the house.

So, do dogs have different whines that I can’t distinguish? Or do they just have the one tone? And is there any way to discourage it?

Joan Walker, Bishop Auckland, Co Durham

A) All of what you describe sound like excited whines, certainly the ones involving toys and friends.

Some whines might be saying, “I’m eager to get going, come on Mom”

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Or the car-whining could be anxiety if she doesn’t like the car. Equally, it could be “Yes! We’re going to the park to play! Hurrah!”

Got a question for Sean?

SEND your queries to

Some dogs are just more vocal than others, and it wouldn’t be something I’d say you should discourage.

Just accept that you’ve got a talker on your hands.

If it’s distressing not knowing, then do a session with a behaviourist, as they will teach you what each scenario means, by observing her body language at the time.

Q) I’ve been reading about how people are rescuing chickens.

I love the idea of adopting some hens and having a little homestead where I can go and get fresh eggs in the morning.

We already have a dog but she is very calm and friendly and we have introduced her to a friend’s chickens without any trouble.

What do I need to get started?

Jane Harris, Chester

A) Chickens are a great addition and so much fun to keep.

Even better is if you can rescue some that have had a stint on a commercial farm. Mine are called Nelly Frittata, Christina Egguilera and Hennifer Lopez.

They need a predator-proof coop, they are best in groups of three or more and you need to provide a good diet of layers pellets and corn with grit for digestion.

They are very entertaining, and enjoyable to watch free- ranging under supervision in the garden — and believe it or not, each has its own personality.

There’s excellent information on the British Hen Welfare Trust and Fresh Start for Hens websites.

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Q) I’m a bit worried about my puppy Sammy.

He’s not keen on people being in the house.

We got him in lockdown and he’s grown very used to it being just us.

But at Christmas we are planning to have the whole family here.

Is there anything we can be doing now to prepare for this?

Mary Harker, Bolton

A) Yes, now is a great time to get started with some guest-visitor training.

You want to help Sammy to make a positive association with strangers visiting.

So ask friends and family to visit individually first, on a regular basis.

Don’t have them make a fuss of him or get in his space, or force any kind of greeting if he’s wary.

Start by getting them to casually drop or throw him treats without any interaction or eye contact.

Only do it when he’s calm — not being pushy or jumping up and not acting fearful.

Gradually progress to them asking him to perform a command for a treat.

Over time, he’ll come to associate visitors with positive interaction and delicious treats, and lose his fear.

Star of the week

BRAVE Bert has defied the odds by walking again after three sets of painful spinal surgery.

The nine-year-old Collie-cross was taken in by Louise Cox as a rescue pup in 2012, to be a little companion for her Jack Russell, Dot.

Brave Bert has defied the odds by walking again after three sets of painful spinal surgery


Brave Bert has defied the odds by walking again after three sets of painful spinal surgery

But in May 2018 he began struggling to walk and a scan showed a slipped disc crushing his spinal cord.

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A final operation left his back legs paralysed.

But thanks to hydrotherapy and lots of TLC from PR consultant Louise, he is walking again.

Louise, 38, from Bedfordshire, said: “He’s still a little wobbly but can go on walks, play with Dot and cause mayhem. I never thought I would see him walk again. He is amazing.”


Win: Show tickets

LEARN all you need to know about mutts and see pups galore at Discover Dogs.

The Kennel Club event is at ExCel London from November 20 to 21.

We have seven pairs of tickets worth £36 each to give away.

To win a pair, email sundaypets@ uk, with DISCOVERDOGS in the subject line.


  • T&Cs apply. Closes September 26.

Saddle up for healing horses

WHILE dogs have been therapy pets since the 1800s, now it’s horses helping the humans.

Physiotherapist Louise Barrett founded the Reach charity in 2014 after seeing how horses could physically and psychologically help children and adults.

Louise says: 'I’d grown up with horses and knew how powerful being with a horse was for wellbeing'


Louise says: ‘I’d grown up with horses and knew how powerful being with a horse was for wellbeing’

Her charity provides Hippotherapy, a form of occupational therapy using horses, at her centre in Brentwood, Essex.

It can help with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, brain and spinal-cord injuries, and movement disorders.

Louise says: “I’d grown up with horses and knew how powerful being with a horse was for wellbeing.

“I became a Riding for the Disabled instructor then looked into providing Equine Assisted Therapy.

“We provide therapeutic riding, which helps improve balance, core strength and movement, and equine therapy – grooming and interacting with the horse – which can help autism, ADHD, PTSD, depression, anxiety, eating disorders and relationship problems.”

She supports 40 children with weekly sessions and has 50 volunteers, two physiotherapists and an occupational therapist.

She said: “It is incredible to see people transform.”


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