Ask The Vet

Biting or nippy behaviour may also be a signal of their desire for play and interaction with the owner. ST PHOTO: TIFFANY GOH QI QI

Puppy likes nipping at the heels

I would like to know how to stop my seven-month-old puppy's peculiar biting habit. He likes to nibble members of the family without any provocation. When he follows us around the house, he tries to bite our ankles.

Esther Yeo

When it comes to potential behavioural issues in pets, it is important to consider when these the issues arose and the specific characteristics of such behaviour. Did they develop recently or were they present all along? Are there potential triggers or sources of anxiety?

"Mouthy" behaviour in puppies is usually normal and can be modified with the help of a competent trainer. Puppies often use their mouths to explore and learn about the environment around them.

Therefore, it is important to provide appropriate outlets, such as chewing toys, to give puppies the opportunity to fulfil their motivations to chew and explore.

Biting or nippy behaviour may also be a signal of their desire for play and interaction with the owner.

It is advisable to seek assistance from a qualified trainer to teach your puppy to redirect such behaviour towards more appropriate objects, as well as more desirable behaviour in place of nipping to seek attention.

For instance, the puppy can be taught to sit calmly in front of you instead of nipping your hands or ankle when looking for attention.

Lice infestation in shih tzu

Recurrent parasite infestations in dogs and non-response to treatment may indicate an underlying medical issue. PHOTO: YUEN LAI KEUN

My nine-year-old shih tzu Mickey has been infested with lice since February. In July, he started the first dose of Frontline Plus lice therapy, which seemed effective. In September, we applied the third dose. But when I showered him recently, I was shocked to see the lice infestation had returned. What should I do?

Madam Yuen Lai Keun

Did your shih tzu have similar issues prior to this? Is he on a regular parasite treatment or did he only start receiving it after the infestation? Has he also been diagnosed by a vet?

Regular parasite treatment at the correct dose and frequency is an important preventative measure to keep pets healthy and free from parasites.

Serious cases of parasite infestation, including infestation of lice, may lead to itchiness and other downstream issues, such as excessive scratching that may eventually cause skin damage and skin infection.

Recurrent parasite infestations and non-response to treatment may indicate an underlying medical issue.

Many parasites such as fleas and lice can survive in the environment for some time, and getting rid of them involves environmental management such as frequent washing of bedding and toys with hot, soapy water.

These are in addition to administering a parasitic treatment to your pet. Visit your vet to obtain an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.

  • Answers by Dr Teo Boon Han, a veterinarian in the Animal & Veterinary Service under the National Parks Board. Dr Teo graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in Britain and is an adjunct lecturer in veterinary programmes at institutes of higher learning in Singapore.
  • Have a query about your pet? E-mail it with clear, highresolution pictures of at least 1MB, if any, and your full name to stlife@ We reserve the right to edit and reject questions.

The Animal & Veterinary Service is conducting a webinar on responsible pet ownership from 11am to noon on Saturday (Dec 19) on the AnimalBuzzSG Facebook page. Its pet expert Alwyn Tan will talk about pet adoption and how to be a responsible owner. For more information, go to this website.

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