Many dogs love to channel their inner cow and graze on grass. The truth is, no one knows exactly why. As long as the habit doesn’t become obsessive and isn’t accompanied by other signs of illness such as persistent vomiting, weight loss, poor appetite or diarrhoea, a bit of grass is ok.

Is it ok for my dog to play with sticks?

Sticks are often the weapon of choice for dogs, but we don’t recommend chewing, throwing or playing with them. Call it profession-related cynicism, but we've seen far too many serious stick-related injuries in our time to consider them safe.

Is it ok for my dog to eat cat food?

Not really.

Cat food has a much higher fat and protein content than dog food. In the short-term, consumption of cat food can lead to gastrointestinal upset in dogs. In the long term, it could result in nutritional deficiencies and kidney disease.

Can my dog tell the time?

It's highly unlikely. He basically lacks the internal motivation necessary to learn how to read a clock. Well, that's not entirely true. It's actually the grey matter he's missing.

But if you restructure the question and ask “Can my dog perceive time?” the answer is entirely different. Research suggests that yes, he almost certainly can.

Is it okay for my dog to sleep with me?

Reportedly nearly half of dogs sleep in their owner’s bed. We were shocked at this figure. More than half of you are not sleeping with your dogs?!

In all seriousness, whether your pup sleeps with you or not is a personal decision. Considerations
may include:
• Is it ok with my partner?
• Is my dog at risk of passing on any serious illness to me?
• Is my dog affecting my quality of sleep (if you own a pug, there is only one answer to this question!).

Is it ok for my dog to eat acorns?

The good news? Acorns are not toxic.

The bad news? They can result in intestinal obstruction.

The consensus: your dog is not a squirrel – discourage his delusion.

Does my dog have a cold?

The human cold cannot be passed to dogs.

However, there are other viruses that can affect dogs and can lead to a similar set of symptoms. If your dog shows cold-like symptoms, it’s probably a good idea to get it checked out, just in case.

Does my dog have a tick?

It is possible.

We see plenty of ticks on dogs in the ACT - some are harmless, but others are toxic. Skin tags, warts and nipples are frequently mistaken as ticks. If you think your dog might have a tick, we're always happy to take a quick glance for you. Better to be mildly embarrassed than miss a potentially life-threatening condition.

How much water should my dog drink?

The short answer is approximately 50mls per kilo (of dog) over a 24-hour period.

However, environmental factors and diet can have an impact. If a dog is consuming more than 70mls per kilo in a 24-hour period, we start to feel concerned. Increased water intake can be a marker for various diseases including kidney disease, diabetes and Cushing's disease.

Should I get pet health insurance?

After decades working in general practice, including five years spent in the Emergency Department, we've developed a healthy respect for pet health insurance.

Too many times we’ve witnessed heartbroken owners forced to make decisions about their pet's health and life based on finance.

Unless you have plenty of savings set aside ‘just in case’, we strongly recommend pet health insurance. When choosing a policy, keep in mind that most of the problems we are see are related to illness, so think twice about those ‘accident only’ schemes.

Why does my dog eat cat poo?

a) Because he thinks it tastes great
b) Because he isn't embarrassed to do so.
c) Because he can't perform a hazard assessment on his own. (that's your job! Best to keep your dog away from the litter box!)

Why does my cat hate me?

Your cat hates everyone. Don’t take it personally.

Why does my cat rub on me?

It's clearly a sign of affection, right?

Truth be known, it's more about them than you. There’s a surprise! Cats rub on people for a variety of selfish reasons – to mark their territory, to soothe themselves and create comforting familiarity by depositing their scent.

Why does my cat bite me?

It is your cat’s way of telling you that they’ve had enough of petting. It may appear to occur suddenly but chances are they told you earlier and you missed the message.

Watch out for these signs so you can end the petting session before your cat has had enough:

• Tail flicking - especially when the whole tail is involved
• Dilated pupils
• Fur standing up along her back and head
• Rippling skin. She has definitely had too much stimulation at this point.

Can my cat drink tea?

We wouldn't recommend pouring her a cup, but if she sips a bit from yours every now and then, there's no great risk.

Does my cat need to drink more water?


Cats are inherently poor at monitoring their hydration and some exist in a permanent state of dehydration. They’re also pretty fussy about their water source. Some of their discerning issues may include:
• The bowl is too full
• The bowl is too empty
• The water is too close to the food
• There’s a hair in it
• You haven’t changed it for 12 hours
• The water from the toilet/shower/plant pot/your cup tastes much better.

You can encourage your cat to drink more by offering multiple water sources, such as a drinking fountain.

If your cat is unwell and you want to ensure she remains hydrated, you can also add some warm water to her wet food.

My cat sleeps most of the day. Is she unwell?

No, she’s a cat. Cats sleep on average 16 hours a day. By the time your cat is 9, she will have slept away 6 years of her life.

Having said that, if your cat is sleeping more than what is normal for her, then she may be unwell.

Is it okay to dress up my pet at Halloween?

The answer to this question is somewhat species-dependent. Dogs are generally affable creatures and most won't protest to being dressed as your superhero. However you need to be attentive to their signals - if your dog appears to be even a little distressed by the activity, please desist.

Try dressing up your cat and you're liable to lose your face.

Dressing up a rabbit or bird is both cruel and unusual.

Do killer rabbits really exist?

No, they do not. But Leporiphobia, the fear of evil bunnies, does!

The killer rabbit of Caerbannog is a fictional character from the Monty Python series.

The killer bunny in Minecraft, though terrifying with his pure white fur and blood-red eyes, is also fictional.

In April 1979, the headline “President Attacked by a Rabbit” was splashed across the front page of the Washington Post when a rabbit, being chased by hounds, reportedly swam towards President Carter who was on a solo fishing expedition.

Why does my rabbit wee on me?

Inappropriate urination is a common problem in rabbits.

If your rabbit has already been desexed it can represent a behavioural or medical problem, so we recommend bringing your bunny in for a consultation.

Why does my rabbit bite?

Rabbits bite for many reasons. They can be sexually frustrated, responding to a perceived threat or experiencing pain.

Can I blow dry my rabbit?

Theoretically yes, but we don't advise it. Most rabbits find the activity distressing. It is also potentially dangerous if not performed with care. That being said, why is your bunny wet?

Why does my snake sit in water?

There are a number of possible reasons your snake is spending a lot of time in the water bowl:
• It may be about to shed its skin
• The cage might be too dry or too hot,
• Your snake may have reptile mites

Once you've ruled out the above reasons, you can assume your snake just likes a good soak.

Can my snake sleep with me?

We don't advise it. For the snake's safety as much as yours.

Why does my snake have cloudy eyes?

Your snake may have retained eye caps and will require examination by a Veterinarian.

Is getting a mini-pig as a pet a good idea?

It could be. But mostly it isn't.

In our experience, mini-pigs belie their name before they reach their first birthday. Sure, they may be miniature compared to their commercial counterparts, but 90kg of hog is still a lot to contend with in a suburban environment.

Also be aware that there aren’t any true miniature pigs in Australia. Both the Pot-Bellied and Kune Kune breeds are prohibited imports into our country.

If you still have a passion for a pet pig, we suggest you consult this guide first:

What should I feed my pig?

Pigs, like us, require a varied diet to remain healthy. It is illegal to feed pigs swill in Australia. Swill is any food which has been in contact with, or contains, meat. The feeding of swill has been known to spread diseases such as Foot and Mouth Disease.

Why does my chicken squat when I approach her?

Chickens will stop, drop and squat at your feet when they are approaching egg-laying maturity. Squatting is also a sign of submission – this means she may squat in response to you, a rooster, or a hen higher in the pecking order.

Why won't my duck quack?

Some ducks never quack and others seem to quack with little provocation.

Despite common misconception, ducks are often more inclined to squeak, grunt, groan, chirp, hiss, whistle, bray or growl than quack.

What happens in an after-hours emergency?

If your pet needs urgent attention after hours, contact The Animal Referral Hospital in Fyshwick or Canberra Veterinary Emergency Services In Gunghalin.

Both emergency centres are open between 18:00-08:00 on weeknights and 24/7 over the weekend.

Phone: 6280 6433 (Fyshwick) or 6241 1132 (Gunghalin).

Can I visit my dog in hospital?

Yes, we think that would be lovely.

We have a visiting room so you can spend time together comfortably, without being disturbed. Please call in advance to arrange a suitable time.

Does my dog need an appointment to see the Vet?

Unless it is an emergency, he’ll need an appointment. You can make an appointment by phoning us on 02 6113 0542. Alternatively, fill out a request form online and we will get back to you shortly.

I have a sick Macaw. Will you see it?

Yes! We’re happy to see exotic animals like macaws and pocket pets like pygmy hedgehogs. Both Dr Damien and Dr Amanda have years of experience treating rabbits, guinea pigs, rats and birds.