Pets Q & A

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Q I had two goldfish and one had a black stripe on his tail. The other one died a couple of months ago, and the remaining one has now lost the black stripe. Why is this? Is he lonely now?

A A goldfish’s scales can change colour for a few different reasons. If the fish is knocked or injured, the skin can turn black where it is healing. Or their colour can change if the fish is unwell, or if there is a problem with the tank’s water quality.

Kits to test the water quality are available from aquarium suppliers and some pet shops, so I would recommend that you use one of these first.

You should also watch out for any other signs of possible disease and take him to your vet if you are concerned. I am not aware of this being linked to the loss of another fish, but goldfish are social animals and should usually be kept together.

After you have checked the water quality, your local aquarium supplier will be able to advise on how to safely introduce a second goldfish.

Q My dog has a pet passport and I’ll be taking him to Spain for our summer holidays. Will he need any vaccinations, and if so when?

A Foreign travel is not always in a pet’s best interests as the long journey can be very stressful and they may not always cope well with temperatures that they are not used to.

If Ralph is likely to find the holiday stressful, arranging for a dog sitter would be an option.

Dogs, cats and ferrets travelling under the Pet Travel Scheme must be microchipped and have an up-to-date vaccination against rabies at least 21 days before travelling.

Visit the vet at least three weeks before travelling – they will advise if any preventive medication is needed.

Before you return to the UK, dogs must be treated for tapeworm by a vet one to five days before they are due to arrive in the UK. Further info can be found at www.defra.gov.uk/wildlife-pets/pets/travel

• Stuart McMorrow is based at Edinburgh’s PDSA PetAid Hospital, 26 Hutchison Crossway, 0131-443 6178