PDSA Q&A session

Your questions answered by PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing.

Dear PDSA Vet, I’d like to get a hamster, but I’m not sure how long they normally live for. Do they get any common diseases like other pets? Raquel

Dear Raquel, Generally speaking, a hamster’s life expectancy depends on their breed, lifestyle and living environment. Russian hamsters, for example, live for a year-and-a-half to two years on average, whilst Golden and Chinese hamsters have a slightly longer lifespan of around two to three years. Hamsters are prone to certain conditions such as wet tail (a serious gut infection), respiratory infections and abscesses. However, as with all pets, making sure they have the right environment, diet and exercise is essential for them to live a happy and healthy life. You can always speak to your vet for advice if there’s anything you’re unsure of, or you can find more information on hamsters at www.pdsa.org.uk/smallfurries.

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Dear PDSA Vet, We have just brought home a baby rabbit called Patch. One of his ears stands up straight, but one flops over. Could it be broken, or is this normal? Benji

Dear Benji, There are different categories of rabbit ear positions, including erect ears, full lop ears and half lop ears, so this could be completely normal.

Their ear position can change as they grow and develop too. However, mites and other ear infections can also cause one ear to flop over. Usually you will see other signs, such as Patch shaking his head and crusty areas around his ears. Sometimes bites from another rabbit can cause ear problems, as can other traumas. I would recommend taking Patch to see your vet, who will check his ears and offer advice on how best to care for him, including information on vaccinations, neutering and diet.

Dear PDSA Vet, My German Shepherd, Pootles, has been diagnosed with allergic dermatitis. I’ve read that this could mean he is allergic to my cat- is this possible? What can I do to help him, as I don’t want to have to choose between them? Arty

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Dear Arty, Although rare, it is possible for dogs to be allergic to cats. However, it is much more likely that Pootles is allergic to something else such as pollen, grass, or even something in his food.

It can be tricky to find out exactly what your dog is allergic too, and it can be more than one thing, but the good news is that it’s not always necessary to know the exact triggers because most skin allergies are treated in the same way.

Make an appointment with your vet who will be able to recommend any necessary testing and treatment.

Visit the pdsa.org.uk/weighup-pr site for more vital help and information for your favourite and best cat, dog or other pet.