Dear PDSA Vet, My furlough is coming to an end and I’m going back to work full time. But I’m worried about leaving my Collie, Jasper, for longer periods than he is used to. How can I make it easier for him? Chris

Any sudden changes can be upsetting for Jasper, so it’s best to start leaving him for short periods and gradually build up to longer periods before you return to work. Remember, four hours is the maximum time that dogs should be left alone, otherwise they can become bored, unhappy and destructive. Nipping home for lunch to give Jasper some exercise and alleviate boredom may help him settle into his new routine. A professional dog walker, friend or neighbour can also be a great option if this is not possible. New toys and puzzle feeders can help prevent boredom too, but be sure to change them on a regular basis so that there’s always something different to explore.

Dear PDSA Vet, Our dog Marshall was at home during a break-in. He’s gone off his food, won’t sleep in his bed and is having accidents in the house. What should we do? Bryony

A combination of the break-in and all the changes around lockdown could be making Marshall feel unsettled at the moment, so it’s really important to keep to a set routine and provide him with a safe area to rest in, along with familiar, reassuring toys, bowls, beds and bedding. Give him plenty of loving attention and never punish him for his accidents as this will stress him further, making the problem worse. Pheromone diffusers, which release reassuring scents that only pets can smell, can also help to reduce stress and anxiety. Some of the symptoms you describe can also be caused by a medical problem, so it’s best to call your vet to rule these out; they will be able to give you more behavioural advice as well.

Dear PDSA Vet, Our ginger tabby has got black spots on his nose. Is this something to worry about? Jake

Black spots on the nose or lips of cats can be quite common, especially with ginger tabby cats. They often appear in middle-aged to older cats and are like human freckles. The condition is called lentigo simplex and results in harmless, flat, darker pigmented spots. If you notice any changes in your pet, it’s always worth discussing these with your vet to be on the safe side. This is especially important if the spots are raised, painful, itchy or if there is any redness or discolouration nearby.

Dear PDSA Vet, I think my rabbit, Poppy, has mites in her ear. Is there anything I can do to treat them at home? Paula

Ear mites are small insects which live in ears and can be irritating and painful for your bunny. It’s best to discuss this with your vet as they’ll be able to check Poppy’s ears for mites or anything else that may be causing problems, and provide a safe effective treatment. Keeping your rabbit’s ears nice and clean can help prevent mites (ask your vet how to do this safely), as can carefully cleaning their cage and environment. It’s also a good idea to examine your rabbit’s ears frequently for any signs of infection, such as ear scratching, head shaking or any smelly secretion coming from the ear itself. Ear mites spread easily between rabbits so it’s important that you treat Poppy’s companion too.