Dear PDSA Vet, my old cat has arthritis, is there anything I can do at home to help ease the pain? Jemima

Dear Jemima, with proper management it is possible for cats with arthritis to enjoy a good quality of life. Your vet may prescribe medication to help control the joint inflammation or reduce any pain, and they should discuss lifestyle changes too. This is because it is important to ensure your cat is a healthy weight, as any extra pounds will put additional pressure on their joints. If he is overweight then ask your vet about a suitable weight loss diet, but even if he is a healthy weight, feeding him correctly will help prevent any future weight gain. Gentle exercise is also important and cats with arthritis will benefit from small amounts of regular activity, although this can be difficult to impose on a cat! You can play with them using a variety of different toys and games. Make sure they have lovely padded beds in easily accessible locations. Keeping his joints warm may also help, as can certain massage or physiotherapy techniques – ask your vet for advice though as what will be beneficial to your cat will depend on his individual condition.

Dear PDSA Vet, my eight-month-old Cocker Spaniel Benji has started chewing everyone’s shoes. We try to hide them away but my sons sometimes forget. How can I stop Benji doing this? Chris

Dear Chris, chewing is normal behaviour for young dogs as they explore and play in the world, but its best if they chew safe objects that are given to them. First, make sure Benji has some dog-safe toys that he finds interesting, and use them to play games with him. Get a few toys, but only offer one or two at a time – keep the others stored, then rotate them from time to time to maintain his interest. This will also give you an opportunity to clean the toys. You will need to make sure that he will drop items when you tell him to. It’s important to teach dogs a “leave” or “drop” command for their safety, especially if they’ve picked up something dangerous. To find a dog trainer who uses kind, reward-based methods in your area, visit

Dear PDSA Vet, I'm thinking of getting my six-year-old ferret, Benny, a friend. How will I know that they'll get on with each other? Solomon

Dear Solomon, ferrets are very social animals, so they should be kept together in most circumstances. The best option is usually to keep littermates of the same sex who have grown up together. But Benny can be successfully introduced to an unrelated ferret if it’s done carefully and with a little TLC. Don’t mix an unneutered male with an unneutered female, as they are likely to breed, and you should check the new ferret is healthy, so that no diseases are passed on. Before the ferrets get into close proximity, first steps can involve a scent swap, where some bedding or toys from each ferret are swapped over to introduce their new smells. Initially, they should be housed close to each other, separated by wire mesh, allowing them to see and sniff each other to get used to the other’s scent. To prevent territorial aggression, their first meeting should be somewhere where neither of them have been before and don’t feel as protective over. This should be somewhere safe where you are able to intervene easily if they start to fight; a bathroom, a friend’s house or an outside playpen can help with bonding. You should do this for short periods, a few times a day, supervising all meetings carefully. There may be the occasional scuffle, but with gentle management then, over time, they should enjoy playing together. As a general rule, it’s best to wait until they are curling up with each other and very comfortable before housing them in the same pen. You should also discuss neutering options with your vet – females can get a fatal disease if their hormones aren’t managed, and various hormone treatments can be effective protective measures.

Dear PDSA vet, my French Dwarf Lop rabbit, Sooty, has very watery eyes which sometimes look a little red. My vet prescribed antibiotic drops but they didn’t appear to help. He said if it was no better then Sooty could have a blocked tear duct that may need flushing out. He is well and eating and drinking normally though, what could be wrong? Kayleigh

Dear Kayleigh, there are quite a few different things that can cause eye problems in rabbits and one of these is an inflammation in their tear duct called ‘dacryocystitis’, which usually has a bacterial infection too. This is a relatively common condition in rabbits and is normally caused by an obstruction from dental problems, as the narrow duct passes over the roots of the teeth. The blocked duct can get infected causing a white discharge to come from the eyes and/or nose. The eyes may also look red, or have difficulty opening. Sometimes eye drops are able to help, but as Sooty doesn’t seem to be improving he may need the affected tear ducts flushed out, as your vet is proposing. If your vet suspects that Sooty also has an underlying dental problem he may need x-rays to see if treatment for this is needed as well. I’d recommend taking Sooty back to his vet again for further treatment. Diet has a huge role to play in the management of both dental and eye problems, so for more information on the best food to provide and caring for your rabbits visit