Dear Vicki, My dog Betsy has se­vere sep­a­ra­tion anxiety – yes­ter­day I left the house just for an hour and she re­moved the door cas­ing and de­stroyed the wiring in the house alarm. I’m at my wits end as I can barely leave the house and it’s af­fect­ing my kids badly now. Any sug­ges­tions? Sep­a­ra­tion anxiety can cause very se­ri­ous prob­lems and it sounds like this is very stress­ful for Betsy as well as you and your fam­ily. Firstly, don’t ever shout at or pun­ish her – this will just make the anxiety worse. Have her checked over by a vet too, as un­der­ly­ing med­i­cal con­di­tions can be a cause. A tech­nique called de­sen­si­ti­sa­tion will help, but you need the sup­port of a be­haviourist to max­imise suc­cess. Try the As­so­ci­a­tion of Pet Be­hav­iour Coun­sel­lors ( to find some­one lo­cally. You won’t see re­sults overnight, but with time and pa­tience from all the fam­ily you should be able to im­prove ev­ery­one’s qual­ity of life. Dear Vicki, My trop­i­cal fish tank has al­gae and a friend rec­om­mended get­ting a cat­fish. Is it true they feed on al­gae? It’s true that cat­fish eat cer­tain types of al­gae, but in­tro­duc­ing one could be stress­ful to your other fish, which could cause or ex­ac­er­bate ill­nesses. A cer­tain amount of al­gae in fish tanks is in­evitable, but im­prov­ing the wa­ter qual­ity can help man­age this. For in­stance, de­creas­ing light lev­els and be­ing care­ful not to over­feed your fish can re­strict al­gae growth. Lo­cal aquar­ium spe­cial­ists are great for more de­tailed ad­vice, but re­mem­ber to be pa­tient – it will take time to achieve a bal­anced aquar­ium!

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