Pet answers

Don’t settle for pet theories, get pet answers! Veterinary surgeon Holly Norman answers your animal health questions.

Q: My dog can sometimes bark or growl at other dogs when we are out walking. I’ve tried to tell people not to let their dogs come up to me, but it keeps happening. Help!
A: Oh dear. I feel your pain. I have one very friendly dog and one very grumpy dog that doesn’t like other dogs running up to her. First of all, don’t worry, this is really common. Same as humans, I wouldn’t want every stranger in the park running up to me and giving me a big hug if I didn’t know them! As dogs get older, they typically end up with a circle of ‘friends’ that they know and like, and don’t always appreciate unknown dogs approaching them. To help with this, many dog owners will have a yellow ribbon on their dogs lead or a yellow bandanna. This indicates that their dog ‘needs space’ because it may not be friendly to other dogs or may be recovering from an operation or undergoing training. There is a great website called which explains it all; my naughty dog will wear her ‘I Need Space’ bandanna on walks to let other walkers know that she doesn’t want to meet other dogs.

Q: I’ve always wanted to work with animals or in a veterinary practice, but I just don’t know where to start?
A: Fantastic! Working with animals is the best job in the world! Firstly, I’d probably start by contacting your local vet practice for some work experience. Most vets accept work experience placements and it’s worth spending a couple of weeks in practice to see if it’s actually for you. It can often be very different to how you imagine it! If you decide that the veterinary world is definitely where you want to be, there are options such as Animal Care courses or Veterinary Nursing courses that can be done whilst working, and some practices will pay the tuition fees for you. If you are hoping to become a veterinary surgeon, then have a look at the UCAS website as the veterinary medicine courses usually require you to have at least three A-levels and take between five and seven years to complete at university. And finally, good luck!

Q: My cat keeps scratching at her ear. Do you think it might be ear mites?
A: Good question. It most possibly could be ear mites but ideally your vet is going to have to have a proper look to find out. Ear mites are tiny little parasites that live inside the ear and feed off ear wax. They are often very itchy and your cat would be shaking her head and scratching at the ear. Bacterial infections, yeast infections and allergies can also cause similar signs, so your vet will usually examine the ear with a scope and may take a swab to check what is causing the irritation. Then they can make a decision on what is the best treatment. And if it is ear mites, don’t forget that other animals in the house can catch them too!

Dr Holly Norman BSc(Hons) BVetMed MRCVS Veterinary surgeon and Practice Partner at:

  • Peterborough Vets4Pets 231-233 St Paul’s Road Peterborough PE1 3RL Tel: 01733 890777
  • Bretton Vets4Pets Inside Pets at Home Unit 2 The Bretton Centre Peterborough PE3 8DN Tel: 01733 261094

Do you have a pet or animal health question? Send it to us at: Holly will endeavour to answer all questions, whether published or not!

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