Dear PDSA Vet: I have two 9-month-old guinea pigs but one of them, Dorie, squeals when I pick her up and I’m not sure why. Is this normal? Angela

Dear Angela, guinea pigs can be frightened about being picked up, especially if they’ve not been handled frequently from a young age. Always approach your pets quietly and gently. Restart their training by calmly sitting outside their run, offering treats on the ground. As they become bolder, offer food from your hand for a few days. Once they’re happier in your company remove the barrier between your piggies and yourself so they can investigate you while you’re sitting quietly. Once Dorie takes food happily, introduce gentle stroking until she’s comfortable, this may take a few days. When she’s calm and trusts you, try gently scooping her up onto your lap as you are sat down, that way if she wriggles or jumps she won’t fall.

Dear PDSA Vet: My Jack Russell, Lucy, always attacks the vacuum cleaner when I use it. I’ve tried keeping her out of the room but she still goes mental, barking at it whenever she hears it. Why does she do this? Arnie

Dear Arnie, Lucy may be fearful, extremely sensitive to the noise of the vacuum or very excited about this strange, noisy thing in her home, which she doesn’t understand. Depending on what’s causing Lucy to behave like this, it could be very unpleasant for her but there are different techniques that can help. Don’t tell Lucy off for her behaviour as this will only add to her anxiety. Speak to your vet and they can advise on what would be best to help Lucy. You may be advised to use de-sensitisation techniques or find an ABTC accredited pet behaviourist to help her. More information on these is on our website –

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? Nigel

Dear Nigel, it sounds like your cat has really itchy ears, which can have a number of causes, including ear mites, infection or something stuck in the ear, such as a grass seed. Ear mites are relatively common; a dark brown waxy discharge is often the first thing owners notice. If this condition isn’t treated, a cat’s ear can become infected, causing pain and discharge. Ear problems need investigating and treating; 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. They will be able to find out what is causing your cat’s ear problem and recommend a suitable course of action.

Dear PDSA Vet: My dog Basil has a pink growth in the corner of his eye, I was told it was a stye but someone else has said it might be a cherry eye. What’s the difference, and how can I help him? Terrence

Dear Terrane, a stye is when one of the small glands on the eyelids becomes blocked, infected, or inflamed, so it swells and looks like a small growth. They are usually treated with eye drops and sometimes antibiotics. Cherry eye is when the tear gland in the ‘third eyelid’ in dogs and cats pops out and sits in the corner of the eye. It can sometimes be treated with medication, but in most cases surgery is required. Both conditions can be quite painful, so you’ll need to go back to your vet to check this out and get the right treatment for Basil.

PDSA is the vet charity for pets in need, preventing unnecessary suffering through treatment and education. Support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.