How can I help my pet? Your big animal questions answered

Our vet helps you with your pet problems (Image: Getty)

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Sign upWhen you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. Sometimes they’ll include recommendations for other related newsletters or services we offer. OurPrivacy Noticeexplains more about how we use your data, and your rights. You can unsubscribe at any time.Thank you for subscribingWe have more newslettersShow meSee ourprivacy noticeInvalid EmailMy eight-year-old daughter has two one-year-old female rabbits. They are littermates and have plenty of space, are seemingly content and don’t mind being picked up. I’ve noticed that one of them has some dandruff along its back. Do you know why?

David says: "This is a problem best looked at by your vet, as it is very likely they will want to take some samples to check for mites. This is a common problem.

"Many cases are almost asymptomatic and cause no apparent distress to the rabbit.

"There are several reasons dandruff could develop, ranging from failure to groom properly due to mouth problems or obesity, to development of an allergic response.

There are several reasons for dandruff in rabbits (stock image)
(Image: Rex)

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"The mite, which is called cheyletiella, was first discovered more than 100 years ago, yet still causes problems to the present day.

"Dogs and cats have their own varieties of the same mite, but all three common species can transfer between dogs, cats and rabbits if there is contact between them.

"It is less common in dogs and cats, most probably because they are routinely treated for fleas, which also kills mites.

"Most rabbits display few symptoms, as mentioned, but some do develop dandruff along the back and especially between the shoulder blades.

"The mite can cause a rash in people so advise your daughter not to handle the rabbits until after they have been examined and treated. There are several effective spot-on preparations you can get from your vet."

We have a one-year-old Yorkshire terrier. We have noticed recently that when she is walking along, she hops on her right hind leg every now and then and keeps it up when running. What could it be down to and will she grow out of this?

David says: "These are typical signs of a dislocating kneecap. It is a very common genetic problem in small dogs like yours.

"The kneecap sits in a groove of cartilage in the knee joint, and usually when it slips out of the groove it moves to the medial (inside) position.

Small dogs can struggle with dislocations (stock photo)
(Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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"Your vet can easily pick this up with a physical examination. Specialist veterinary orthopaedic surgeons have devised a grading system that helps decide on the best course of action.

"Grade one is when the kneecap can be displaced by the vet but otherwise stays in the groove with no surgical intervention necessary.

"Grade two means the kneecap dislocates intermittently.

"Grade three is when the kneecap is permanently dislocated but can be pushed back by the vet.

"And grade four means the kneecap is permanently dislocated and cannot be pushed back.

"If my diagnosis is right, then your dog has grade two dislocation, but obviously this would need confirmation from your vet. See one sooner rather than later, as there is a risk of arthritis developing in the joint, caused by kneecap movement.

"Unfortunately this isn’t something your dog will grow out of. For grades two, three and four, some form of surgical correction is required to stop it dislocating.

"To decide which operation is required, radiographs or more advanced imaging may be necessary."

David Grant MBE was a vet at the RSPCA Harmsworth Hospital for Animals. Email questions to him at [email protected] David is unable to enter into individual correspondence