Dear PDSA Vet,

We’ve got a five-year-old cat that can’t stop scratching his ears and shaking his head. Could he have fleas or possibly an ear infection? Antigone

Dear Antigone, there are lots of different things that can cause ear problems, such as ear mites, an infection or something stuck in the ear, such as a grass seed. From July to October, harvest mites can be found in and around the ears and often you can see them as small red-orange dots. Other ear mites can also cause uncomfortable problems. All ear problems have to be taken seriously as they can be extremely uncomfortable or painful, and infections can spread from the outer ear to the inner ear, causing balance problems and other serious symptoms. The best thing to do is to make an appointment for your cat to see your vet. Once you’re able to find the underlying cause then your vet will be able to advise the best course of action to get him feeling like himself again.

Dear PDSA Vet,

We groom our long-haired rabbit almost every day, but his fur always seems to be full of flakes. Is something wrong and is there anything we can do to help? Emma

Dear Emma, It is great to hear that you are grooming your long-haired rabbit daily, as this is an important part of their care routine. Crusting and scaling of a rabbit’s skin can be a sign of an infestation with a fur mite called Cheyletiella parasitovorax, also known as ‘walking dandruff’. This can cause a rabbit to get scaly, crusty areas and in heavy infestations there can be some fur loss. Usually, an infestation doesn’t cause excessive itching unless your rabbit has very sensitive skin. The mite can also bite humans in contact with the rabbit, causing lesions. You should take your bunny and any other rabbits that he lives with to your vet to be checked over as soon as you can. If Cheyletiella is diagnosed, it can usually be treated with medication. Your vet can also check for other parasites that might be causing this problem.

Dear PDSA Vet,

I’ve noticed my cat has developed bald patches in random places on her body. He’s the only cat we have but I’ve noticed a tom-cat near-by that she doesn’t like. Could these be related and what can I do? Tammy

These areas of hair loss, also known as alopecia, could be caused by a number of reasons. It’s important that your cat gets seen by a vet first to rule out any underlying medical conditions, such as allergic skin diseases or a hormone problem. Some health problems can cause cats to over-groom, and they give themselves bald patches. If your vet is unable to find a medical cause, then there may be a stress element to the alopecia. If she is worried by the tom-cat then you can install a microchip scanning cat-flap to make sure he doesn’t invade your cat’s home; make sure he has quiet and safe spaces to hide around the house and try using a pheromone diffuser to help him feel calmer.

Dear PDSA Vet

My golden Labrador, Peggy, is three years old and keeps going to the toilet inside my house. She refuses to go out on walks, and even when she has constant access to the garden, she goes inside. How can I stop this behaviour? Dylan

Dear Dylan,

It sounds like Peggy needs to be seen by your vet for a check-up, to make sure there are no underlying medical conditions such as a bladder infection, kidney problem or diabetes. These conditions may result in her going to the toilet more frequently. If she gets a clean bill of health from the vet then you will need to work on training Peggy. Encourage her to go outside regularly, or if she is showing signs that she is about to go to the toilet, such as sniffling and circling. When Peggy does ’go’ where she’s supposed to, immediately give her plenty of praise and a healthy treat. Also, make sure the area in the house where she goes is cleaned thoroughly with a suitable cleaning product to get rid of any ‘smell’ triggers. It will take time, but with persistence she will eventually learn to associate going in the right place with something nice. If she does go in the house, don’t tell her off or punish her as this causes stress and can slow learning. For more information about dog training visit and for professional support from an accredited trainer, visit

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.