Vets and pets: Your queries

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Stuart McMorrow answers your pet-based questions.

Q My dog recently got a tick and a friend tried to remove it, but a part of it seems to still be stuck in his skin. How do I get it out?

A Ticks can pass on a serious illness called Lyme disease, which can affect both humans and dogs (though this is uncommon). If you spot a tick it should be removed as soon as possible. It can be difficult to remove the whole tick, so you need to use the right technique. If the mouthparts are left in the skin, these can cause inflammation and become infected. A “tick hook” is a useful device which grips the mouthparts close to the skin. Your vet can show you how to use these and they can also advise on the best approach to remove the remaining part of the tick.

Q I recently had to take my gerbil to the vet to have her teeth trimmed. What can I do to stop them from growing too long again?

A Gerbils’ teeth grow continuously throughout their life so they need things they can gnaw on to wear their teeth down, or they can grow into the skin, causing pain. Make sure your gerbil always has access to a gnawing block, which you can buy at pet shops. You can also try giving her branches of soft woods such as apple or willow, but make sure these are washed and not treated with any chemicals.

Some gerbils have teeth which do not meet, which makes it difficult for them to gnaw and keep them worn down properly. If your gerbil has this problem then she will need to have her teeth trimmed throughout her life, so take her to the vet if they become overgrown again.

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