Pets Q and A

Q My cat's eyes are red and swollen and there is sometimes pus which I clean away, but it keeps coming back. What should I do?

A It sounds as though your cat has an eye infection and conjunctivitis, which could be linked to cat flu, which is caused by viruses and bacteria and can be fatal if left untreated. You need to take your cat to your vet, who may prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs. Your cat may also need to be put on to a drip if she has become dehydrated.

The condition can be highly infectious, so if you have other animals speak to your vet about how to control the risk. Some animals, once recovered, can also become carriers of the disease and may have flare-ups. It is much better to prevent cat flu than have to treat it, so owners should ensure their cat is vaccinated.

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Q I've noticed my poodle puppy sometimes eats snails in the garden, but I heard this can cause problems in dogs. He is quite lethargic now and seems to be having trouble breathing. Could this be because of the snail?

A You need to take your dog to your vet as it's possible he could be showing signs of lungworm. This is caused by a parasite that lives in the heart and major blood vessels supplying the lungs, which can be caught from eating snails or slugs. If this is the case he will need treatment immediately because the condition can be fatal. Symptoms include breathing difficulties, vomiting and diarrhoea, nosebleeds and becoming tired easily.

Treatment is available and if caught early most dogs make a full recovery.

Q My goldfish has white spot. I'm giving her medication from the vet and she is eating more now, but she still doesn't seem to have much energy. Is there anything else I can do?

A White spot is caused by a parasite. When fish have white spot they often appear unwell because of the effect of the parasite which lives on their skin, fins and gills. In affected fish, small white spots, like grains of salt, develop in these areas, as you will have seen.

The medication from your vet should help. Sometimes it might be necessary to raise the water temperature slightly to improve the effectiveness of the treatment, and it is important to eliminate anything that could be a cause of stress, such as dirty or poor-quality water. Water testing kits are available from aquarium suppliers.

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If she does not improve, or her condition deteriorates, you should return to your vet for her to be reassessed.

• Stuart McMorrow is based at Edinburgh's PDSA PetAid Hospital, 2b Hutchison Crossway, 0131-443 6178.