Q MY budgie is seven and has always been very healthy, but recently he’s started to breathe quite rapidly and his feathers are fluffed up. He’s also stopped eating so I’m very concerned. What could be wrong?
A It sounds like your budgie is suffering from a respiratory disease. These can be caused by both bacteria and viruses and some can cause quite serious illnesses, so it is very important that you take your budgie to see your vet as soon as you can. One possible cause of your budgie’s symptoms is a bacterial infection called psittacosis. The signs of this condition are very wide ranging and some birds affected with it appear quite healthy, but others in the acute stage of the disease can have problems breathing, ruffled feathers and a discharge from their eyes and nose.
Q My dog, Captain Jack, loves drinking from puddles, but I’m worried he will catch lungworm. What are the symptoms, and can I protect him against this?
A Lungworm is a parasite which develops inside slugs and snails. Dogs can become infected if they eat an affected slug or snail, or even if they drink from puddles, as these can contain the larvae of the parasite. Take your dog to the vet if you see him eating a slug or snail or if he shows any of the signs of a possible lungworm infection, including difficulty breathing, coughing (possibly coughing up blood), vomiting, nosebleeds and lethargy.
Q I’m getting a new hamster. What is the best sort of cage?
A A hamster needs a home that is large enough for it to get plenty of exercise, but not too tall as hamsters can break a leg if they fall. It also needs to be secure and made of material that is strong enough to resist a hamster’s persistent gnawing. Some cages have tunnel systems attached and additions like a solid tread wheel – both of these are good because they encourage activity and exercise. Your hamster will also need a nest box to build a quiet place to sleep.