Expert vet Sean McCormack gives health advice to worried animal owners — from suspicious lumps to bad toilet habits

Sean, head vet at, is working to improve pet health and has teamed up with The Sun on Sunday to help readers.

Half of the nation’s dogs and cats suffer from obesity and can provide tailor-made food to get their weight under control.

If your furry pal is poorly and you need the Pet Vet’s help, send an email, contact number and pic of your pet to [email protected]

'Get any lump checked out'

Physiotherapist Kate Chamberlain found fatty lumps on her 12-year-old border collie Holly.

Kate, of Fence, Lancs, and her children Olivia and Isabelle, then spotted a growth on Holly’s paw.

Sean says: "Fatty lumps on dogs are often a benign tumour type called a lipoma.

"But the danger of making any kind of diagnosis based on a photo or description is that malignant or harmful tumours can be missed.

"My advice is never to guess, “wait and see” or hope for the best.

"Your vet can do a very simple procedure called a fine needle aspiration, or FNA, to examine the cells from each lump and put your mind at rest.

"It’s a tiny needle, so no more painful than Holly’s annual vaccination jab.

"The lump on her paw is certainly worth checking out, as that’s not a typical place for a lipoma.

"It’s always better in these cases to get a diagnosis early. Even if it’s harmless, in that location it could cause a lot of annoyance and irritation if it’s predicted to grow larger over time.

"It would be easier to remove it now when it’s still small and can be easily managed."

'Keep cat in at night'

Susan Williams, of Colwyn Bay, North Wales, owns five-year-old Russian white cat Izzy, who is overweight.

She can barely squeeze through the cat flap despite being fed low-calorie food. Retired nurse Susan, thinks Izzy is feasting at nearby houses and has enrolled her in a fat cat club. Sean says:

"You’ve taken the first step by getting Izzy to a pet weight clinic at your local vet. Well done for being proactive.

"The team there will work out exactly how much food she really needs based on her age, weight, body condition and other lifestyle factors.

"It’s so easy for us to over-feed, even if we think the portions we are giving look tiny.

"If Izzy is supplementing her diet with other cats’ food, fear not. It’s a really common problem but can usually be resolved easily.

"Place an engraved disc or preferably a note on her collar repeatedly over the coming weeks.

"Both should carry a message to say she has a medical condition and should not be fed. If she’s hunting, keeping her in at night can help reduce this source of extra calories."

'Use praise'

David Shipman, of Markyate, Herts, and wife Val, below, are at their wits’ end with cocker spaniel puppy Bonnie, who will only wee on the living-room floor – not outside on walks. Sean says:

"Don’t get frustrated when there’s been an accident. Otherwise, you could make your pup nervous to go to the toilet near you at all.

"Toilet training has lots to do with floor surface. Cover the floor with absorbent paper or puppy pads, so they can only go on that surface.

"Reward when they go on paper and use praise to build positive associations.

"Saying “toilet” is good, as it’s not easily confused with other commands. After a few days, reduce the size of the paper area.

"Puppies don’t like splashing, so they’ll naturally head for the absorbent surface. Once they’re going on that surface consistently, move the zone towards the door.

"They’ll head for the door when the urge hits. It should then be easier to know when they need to go.

"Using the “toilet” command outside helps transition them to new surfaces outdoors.

"Clean up accidents with a pet-safe product. Any scent of wee or poo indoors will tempt them to reoffend."

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