My budgie scratches a lot. We’ve sprayed him with mite spray but his skin still looks red and sore under his feathers. Does he need to see a vet? Yes, these are signs of skin disease so you need to get your budgie examined as soon as possible. Scratching and skin redness could be due to various causes, including mites, an allergy, an underlying infection or drying of the skin. Dry skin can occur if your budgie lives indoors and isn’t getting enough fine mist water spraying – misting encourages proper preening and is especially important during moulting to help the feathers shed. If further treatment for mites is needed, your vet will be able to recommend one that is safe and effective. I’ve taken on a six-year-old Westie called Sugar. We live on a busy road, so when traffic and people come past our house she goes mad, biting the furniture and ripping things up. People and cars passing by are a common cause for excitement in many dogs, but it can also cause anxiety in some. As Sugar is showing ‘displacement activity’ by tearing up cushions or running around, it’s likely she is expressing that she’s stressed out. As you know the trigger for this behaviour, the next step is to see if you can reduce its impact. In the short-term, curtains and white noise can help to hide the trigger. In the longer-term, you’ll need to teach Sugar that there’s nothing to be anxious about through a ‘desensitisation’ programme. This will involve exercises encouraging Sugar to stay calm – for instance, getting a friend to pose as a ‘passer-by’ and then only praising and rewarding her when she remains calm.