My fish Boo has been swimming round in circles and is losing scales off the top part of her back. She is not eating as much as before. What should I do?

There are different things that could be causing your fish’s condition. Possible causes of a change in a fish’s swimming behaviour can include bacterial infections, problems affecting the swim bladder (an organ that allows fish to control their position in the water) or the fish’s environment being unsuitable. A fish’s scales should be smooth, lie flat against the body and be unbroken.

Scale loss can be the result of physical injury, when a fish bumps into something or rough handling, parasites, a water quality problem or skin infections. If there is an infection there will be additional signs, such as a reddened area.

All of these can be linked to the fish’s immune status which in turn can cause swimming changes. I’d recommend that you get in touch with your vet as soon as possible to try and find out what is causing these changes.

My Jack Russell, Bo, is seven years old and is losing a lot of hair. Is this something hereditary or could she be lacking something in her diet?

Some dogs lose their fur because they scratch themselves a lot, perhaps because of fleas or an allergy. Others lose fur because of a hormone imbalance – one cause of this is a condition called Cushing’s disease. Often these hormone-related diseases cause other symptoms, such as an enlarged belly or tiredness. It may not be as simple as something lacking in her diet. As there could be a number of causes of Bo’s fur loss, it’s best to get in touch with your vet.

My parents are due to go travelling in the summer and, for the first time, there will be no-one at home to look after their 20 year old cat, Missy. She could stay with me but I’m worried she won’t know the area. What are their options?

Some catteries are happy to take older cats and have a good set up for them. However, Missy may be happier staying in her own home so a house sitter might be a good option. Try ringing your local vets and asking if there are any pet sitters who they can suggest. She may find this less stressful than moving to a new area temporarily.

Dusty, one of our guinea pigs, went lame in both of her back legs and the vet gave her some anti-inflammatories. But this doesn’t seem to be helping and she struggles to move around. Will she get better?

I’d strongly suggest taking Dusty back to your vet to review her condition and see how it has changed since her last visit. In the meantime, make a note of any differences, good or bad, that you have noticed.

Your vet may suggest tests to try to work out the cause of her lameness, such as x-rays. Dusty’s quality of life is the most important factor in her treatment though. When vets suggest a treatment course, there is usually one of two aims: curing the illness or managing the condition.