Petplan Vet Brian Faulkner answers your questions about pet health

Brian Faulkner is a previous winner of the Petplan Vet of the Year award and has been practising for 18 years. You can ask him anything you like about your pet's health during our next live clinic on Facebook.

To reach the Facebook live clinics app, simply ‘Like’ Petplan’s Facebook page and keep an eye out for details of the next session.

Here, we present some of the most interesting questions and answers from recent live clinics:

Maggie S said: 'My Ragdoll cat is tortured with ear problems. She developed a bacterial infection a few months ago. Mites, fungal infection and allergies have all been ruled out. She's had three courses of antibiotics and regular ear cleaning treatment and was sedated for cleaning. She's no better.'
Brian the Petplan Vet said: 'Hi Maggie, sorry to hear about your Ragdoll's ear troubles. Bacterial infections in ears – and the skin generally – are always secondary to something else and the two main categories are parasites and allergies. Ear mites, fleas and other parasites are easy enough to resolve so I am happy it shouldn't be that. My money would still be on allergies. Cats can be allergic to many things from parasite saliva, house dust mites (most common) and foods. Some of these are detectable by blood sampling for allergies but food testing is less reliable. Sometimes though, the infection can become so deep-seated that it goes into the middle ear and acts as a pool of infection, even though the initial cause has gone away. That often requires surgery to resolve. Perhaps your vet could refer you to a veterinary dermatologist if things persist.'

Alexandra B said:
'I have a four-year-old house rabbit who seems in perfect health – she is eating and drinking well and happy in herself. She has always been a vocal rabbit and often "honks" around your feet. In the last week her "honks" have become quite raspy, almost as though she is losing her voice.'
Brian the Petplan vet said: 'Could be many things but rabbits are prone to respiratory issues which could affect the voice as well. The most common reason why they develop this in old-ish rabbits is maloccluded teeth. I'd get your vet to listen to the chest and look inside the mouth at the teeth. Any mucky bum? That's an early sign of teeth issues brewing.'

Rita H said: 'Hello. I have two Sh'itzu dogs (twins) who are five years old. They do not eat any dog food – they have packet beef which l cook daily. I have tried all sorts of dog food – ie wet and dry – and neither dog will eat any. Can you tell me what l can include in their meals to vary their diet?'
Brian the Petplan vet said: 'Hi Rita. Yes, little dogs can be fussy with food! Ideally I should recommend that they have a complete dog food and I see you have tried this. Sometimes mixing a little cooked chicken on top will encourage them to eat it eventually. The tough school of thought says they'll eat it when they are hungry enough! If you can't get them to do this, you can buy basic supplement tablets such as pet tabs that contain all the minerals and vitamins that are scarce in meat-only diets.'

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