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Friday, 26 December 2008

What's your best tip?

Have you go something in your cupboard that you swear by? Is there something someone has recommended to you that has really impressed you?
For example, what's your best tip for a dog with an upset tum?
Have you ever used Thorn-it? If so, what for? Magnetic collars? Stumbled on a great treat?
Why not share you top tips here!
I'll kick it off with one of mine...
Crazy Dog Grooming spray.
Before I discovered I lived just around the corner from the dog groomer of the year, I used to buy Crazy Dog Grooming spray in bulk! This magical spray seemed to make the comb fly through the knots.
What's your best buy and why?
Beverley, Editor

There's a lavender-based horse detangler by NAF Care that's stunning for
dogs, btw - and much better value than any dog detangler. TH Whites sell it
- £7.50 for a big spray bottle. We use it to give us a fighting chance to
de-burr the dogs during the SPBS (Salisbury Plain Velcro Season).
Jemima Harrison

What’s your best tip?
My Labrador has always been a great one for rolling in fox muck. It is not just the shoulder but the whole dog. Not only does she always seem to choose a cold day when I would not be choosing to bath her, but you can also guarantee that time is in short supply with other pressing tasks! Not only is it unpleasant aesthetically, but the smell is simply awful! There is also the risk of sarcoptic mange, which Pippin has had once.
The best way to eliminate the smell, which seems to linger even after thoroughly bathing, is to rub in tomato ketchup. Go for the cheapest you can find, and apply it liberally. Honestly, it is very effective (thankfully!).
Alison Logan, vet

Cavaliers and wet heads

I have owned two male Welsh Springer Spaniels who both had a peculiar habit that I've never had explained. On off-lead walks, whenever we encountered a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, both dogs would pee on these little dogs heads. It was most embarrassing.
Neither dog was alive when the other was so it wasn't learned behaviour.
Never happened when we met any other breed of dog - probably happened 20 plus times over many years.
Any clues?
Graham Smith, Chobham, Surrey

Pondering grapes

We are all meant to know that real dark chocolate is bad for dogs and that grapes are, too. But as I was eating a grape this morning I started to wonder what it is that is so different about us and dogs that makes grapes healthy for us but deadly for them. We're both omnivores, but exactly how do they differ from us digestion-wise? There are probably many things they can eat that would make us ill so we must differ in a few ways - just wondering anyone out there know exactly how?
Beverley Cuddy, Dogs Today

I first learnt about the dangers of fruits from the woody vine Vitis vinifens and their dried derivatives (grapes, raisins, sultanas) as a throw-away comment from the lecturer on a day course in August 2004. We were all veterinary surgeons in first opinion small animal practice, and none of us there was aware of there being a problem, which has only really come to light over the past ten years or so. Like you, I have wondered just why dogs should develop acute renal (kidney) failure from eating grapes, raisins and sultanas, and have not managed to find an explanation anywhere.
The main problem is that the source of the intoxication has not yet been identified and therefore a mechanism of action cannot be formulated. It does seem that a bigger quantity of grapes can be eaten than of raisins before signs of intoxication develop, suggesting that the toxin is more concentrated, present at a higher level, in raisins. A bunch of grapes has been said to be equivalent to a small snack size box of raisins, for example.
There are also conflicting reports on the amount of grapes or raisins which poses a toxic threat. I suspect this relates to the fact that the owner often has no idea how many have been eaten, unless a bunch of grapes has patently gone missing which no human has owned up to eating. This is especially the case if the patient has been helping himself direct from the vine. It does also make one wonder whether the toxic component occurs at highly variable levels, or needs another contributing factor present.
My Lab Pippin is notorious for eating anything and everything, and especially fruit-wise. She will delicately pick herself blackberries from the hedgerow, and was eating plums from the ground in our garden as a puppy if I did not manage to remove them first, which gave me many sleepless nights. I did often see her spitting out the stones, but otherwise they simply passed through!
We do have three grape vines in the garden, which we planted when we moved here in 1992 and hence before the intoxication problem had become apparent. In the last two years, there have been bunches of grapes within her reach. I no longer wait for them to ripen but pick them as soon as I find them because I did catch her helping herself to a surreptitious snack. The following day, there were grape skins in her faeces but no other signs of ill health. Does this mean that the toxin is not present in our grapes?
Renal failure has been reported to occur at a wide range of levels on a bodyweight basis so it is best to consider any amount eaten as a health risk. Clinical signs become apparent rapidly within 24 hours, manifesting as gastro-intestinal upset, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and lethargy. Development of kidney impairment manifests as increased thirst, leading on to failing urine production.
Treatment needs to be initiated urgently, including:
- Induction of vomiting;
- stomach lavage;
- activated charcoal may help limit absorption of toxins, provided there is normal intestinal function;
- anti-emetics to stop recurrent vomiting;
- aggressive intra-venous fluid therapy to support the kidneys and maintain normal hydration for at least 48 hours;
- diuresis if urine output is inadequate.
Sadly, though, dogs have died as a result of acute kidney failure so it is wise to avoid your dog having access to grapes, raisins and sultanas.
Alison Logan, vet

Thursday, 25 December 2008

New Year COI resolution

What's the easiest software to use to calculate COIs and where do you get it from?
I'm not in the least techie, but it will be my new year's resolution to get to grips with this.
Can you tell me which one you use and what is the best and worst thing about it?

Sore paws

Woody, who is a cross, has always had very thin, soft skin on his paws which makes him very prone to injury. No matter how much he is walked on rougher surfaces, they never seem to toughen up. Is there any product I could try that could help him avoid cut pads? I now try to avoid road exercise as it makes his paws so raw. I'd heard that there was something owners with dogs in snowy climates apply to their paws to stop them getting sore. Does anyone know what it is called or any other things I could try?
Rachel Worley

A wee problem

My vet has asked me to collect a urine sample from my female dog. I wasn't really taking in what was being asked of me when I took the sample bottle from him so didn't ask him how I was actually going to achieve this!
Has anyone got any tips on how best to do this? Misty is quite a shy dog and might be a little intimidated by me following her around with the bottle!
Cameron Roberts, Shrewsbury

I'm a fan of the baking tray method myself. Follow the unsuspecting dog around and as soon as the flow starts insert the corner of the tray - you don't need to collect too too fill the bottle! Anyone got any tips for collecting a sample from a male dog, too - while we're at it! Beverley, Editor

Over the years, I have suggested all manner of collection devices deriving from the kitchen. One problem can be inadvertent contamination, especially if the receptacle previously held sugar which can linger. The presence of sugar in the urine is a common finding in diabetes mellitus and therefore a false positive is to be avoided at all costs.
There is a really clever plastic collection device called a Uripet which is so successful that it is easy to collect too much urine! Being plastic, it is not cold like a metal container which can make a bitch jump up from bopping! A universal container attaches onto the end and acts as a useful handle with which to slip the Uripet between your bitch’s hindlimbs as she squats. Seeing the urine flood into the universal container is very satisfying and virtually effortless! Then you simply detach the universal container, and screw on the lid securely. Fill in your details and the name of your dog on the label provided and attach to the universal container.
A uripet can also be used for male dogs because having the universal container attached does result in a useful handle. Otherwise, I generally recommend a long-handled saucepan. In theory, it should be easier to catch a sample from a male since they repeatedly cock their legs against all manner of objects, but they can just as readily move off as they see you approach with collection device in hand!
Do ensure that any homemade device is spotlessly clean, and likewise any container into which the urine sample is decanted. Label clearly. Also, do bear in mind that a sample of the first urine passed in the day is generally the most useful because it is often the most concentrated after a night asleep and therefore not drinking as much as during the day. It will therefore give the best guide to the kidneys’ concentrating ability, for example.
When I ask an owner to collect an early morning urine sample, my mind conjures up this image of the owner trotting around the garden in dressing gown and slippers behind his/her dog, and watched by the next-door-neighbour!
Alison Logan, vet

A major or minor chord?

I have a gorgeous male Bearded Collie, he has a great temperament, has passed all his health tests, and is simply stunning. There's just one little problem. He had an umbilical hernia when I got him from his breeder. I didn't spot it at first, it's not needed operating on and hasn't been spotted by anyone when my boy has been shown.
What should I do? I would very much like to use him at stud and retain a puppy. He is my perfect dog in every way other than this.
I've read that sometimes these hernias are hereditary but that sometimes they are just caused by trauma when the chord is severed. How can I tell the difference between something that might be passed on and something that will not? If he is healthy in every other way so long as I let him breed with bitches who don't have this problem would it be acceptable to breed on despite this problem? I want to be a good breeder, but no dog is perfect. What would you do if this really was the best dog you had ever seen? End the line or breed on?
Name and address supplied

Very responsible, my advice is check with your vet as sometimes it's easy to tell an acquired (congenital) rather than hereditary umbilical hernia. Even if it is hereditary in the vets opinion, as long as there are no other obvious hereditary traits, in my opinion you could still try breeding with him as long as:

1/ You select a Dam with no family history or clinical umbilical hernia.
2/ If the dam you select throws all normal pups, then OK if not, then try one other similar bitch (ie different dam) if still passing on then don't use him again.

That's the approach I took with my Lab bitch and in two litters with two different sires she was still throwing recessives so I spayed her.

Best and Happy New Year to all

Simon, a vet

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Is it an ill wind?

I have an 18-month-old male Whippet who is full of life and a really lovely chap. My problem is he suffers from rather a lot of farting! Most people seem to find it amusing but I don’t, as I am concerned that I am doing something wrong with his diet. It doesn’t seem to bother him and he loves his food, in fact he is rather greedy! However, I don’t let him overeat and I watch his diet carefully. He is fed in exactly the same way as my current and previous Whippets, and none of them have this problem (although two of my bitches did experience the occasional bout of colic and they were quite stressed). His diet is as follows; in the morning he will eat around 4oz of cooked packaged chicken and four small biscuits. At 12.30pm we play “find it” with a very small handful of James Wellbeloved Turkey and Rice. In the evening he will eat 6oz of raw tripe or tripe and beef, 3oz of good quality puppy meat, vegetables including carrots, peas, broccoli or cabbage and 5ml of flax oil. On alternative days I give him one Ultimate Nutrition vitamin tablet, and sometimes he will have a tiny drop of milk with some hot water, and plain yoghurt. Other foods I give him include white fish once a week, scrambled eggs (occasionally), small amounts of tuna; one or two Muchy Rawhide chews a day and tiny bits of cheese and sausage as training treats. His motions are usually fine but occasionally a little loose. He is never sick. As he is a very boisterous and excitable dog, I sometimes wonder if it’s just his personality. You may be interested to hear that all four of my whippets enjoy eating Cleavers Goosegrass, more than ordinary grass. Do you know why this would be? I hope you may be able to give me some advice about this.
Ruth Pritchard, Blandford, Dorset

Lovely alternative vet and Dogs Today contributor Richard Allport was very quick off the mark on this one, think windy dogs are a bit of a specialism!

"I believe some dogs are just prone to be old farts (or in the case of your Whippet, young farts) and that in this sort of case diet is not the prime cause, it’s just an innate tendency to ‘ferment’ internally.
Helpful supplements to stifle the smell and ditch the gas are:
Charcoal – give a teaspoon of charcoal granules with each meal (most pharmacies stock this). This helps neutralise the smell and decreases gas formation
Probiotic- give a good probiotic such as Lacto B daily, long term. This encourages growth of beneficial bacteria that are god for the digestive tract
Slippery Elm – this helps keep the stool firmer and aids absorption of food. Available in powder or tablet form, the oral tablet form is usually easier to administer.
Carbo veg – a homoeopathic remedy that helps stabilise the digestion and minimise gas production. Use Carbo veg 30c and give one tablet three times daily for a week, then one twice daily for a week, then one daily for a week, followed by one tablet twice a week long term.
These should all help keep your Whippet gas free!
As to Cleavers/Goosegrass, I think many dogs just enjoy the texture; it’s probably more satisfying to chew than ordinary grass. Cleavers is a herb long used by herbalists for treating arthritis, so older dogs would definitely benefit from eating it."

Richard Allport

Friday, 28 November 2008

Barking mad

I have two dogs, one Parson Jack Russel who is five and one 11 month old Yorkshire Terrier cross, the problem is with the Parson Jack Russel, she is well behaved when in the house, but when we take her out and she sees another dog, she just won't stop barking, even when she goes up to the other dog and meets him/her, she will bark really loudly in their face, the Yorkshire Terrier cross is well behaved out, she loves meeting other dogs but has started picking up bad habits from my Parson Terrier and tries copying her when she barks at other dogs, any advice please on how to cure this embarrassing and very annoying behaviour, so that it can be more enjoyable when going out.
Emma Rich, by email

Can anyone suggest anything to help Emma?

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Can you calculate COIs?

While I love Apple Macs there are times when having one does mean you are discriminated against.

For example, I would very much like to be able to calculate the coefficient of inbreeding for a particular dog. If I lived in Sweden I simply could turn to the Swedish Kennel Club website and type in the name of the dog and instantly I would have the COI. Well I would be able to if I had a PC. Even Sweden isn't Mac friendly.

As our KC is not that evolved no matter what type of computer you have, I needed to source the software to calculate the COI.
Guess what - it's all PC-only!

So I have a choice - buy a new computer just to calculate
COI and the software. Or learn how to do cross platform stuff on my already creaky Mac - scary.
Or appeal through this blog for someone who might already have the software and a computer that can handle it to please, please, please calculate the
COI for this one particular dog.
We need to use the maximum number of generations as all the inbreeding seems to concentrate on the fourth generation onwards.
My manual research shows that 11 out of the 16 dogs in the 4
th generation are all line bred to three siblings! And of the remaining 5 dogs many of them feature one or other of those siblings parents.

Be very grateful for any help anyone can offer!If you manfacture COI software and could run this one out as an example we can give your product a plug for all those normal people who have PCs!
Do pass on if you know anyone who can help!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Can you tame this tiny terror?

Hi Beverley,
I would be really grateful for any advice on my Yorkie x JRT's behaviour. She's coming up for 6 years old in December and her problem is she's dog aggressive.
I've been trying to contact a behaviourist for the past couple of weeks but I'm not sure whether there's a problem receiving my emails as there's been no reply so far.
Missy was originally the dominant pup in her litter, she bullied her siblings and was basically the bolshy one, however I fell in love with her and thought no more of her being a dominant pup etc. We attended Puppy Parties at our local Vet's and then went on to Training classes where she did well. However now I look back, the early signs of her aggressive nature were showing through already. She had to have many "time outs" as she got to rough with the other puppies and used to corner them, not letting them move. The trainer at the time just said it was puppy development and that being a Terrier she was naturally more "pushy" then the other pups.
It didn't help that all the dogs we were meeting out and about on our walks were quite rough with Missy, she really only had two doggy "friends" that were gentle with her. The rest would pin her down, chase her, snap at her etc. Just before she was a year old she was snapped at by another JRT and it all escalated into a fight, I had abuse off the owner and cross words were exchanged between both of us. Missy has never been the same since. Things have just got gradually worse. I know if she was let off lead around another small dog she'd kill it, needless to say I do not allow her off lead unless there are no dogs around.
Funnily enough, she accepted my Lab x pup into the home when he was a pup and she's been fantastic with him, but he is extremely laid back and would never challenge her.
She has drawn blood on another dog before and walking her is a nightmare! She pulls, barks and tries to grabs dogs if they come to close to her and only the other day caught an old Labrador by the cheek which understandably distressed the dog. She's a complete Jekyll and Hyde and outside a dog that people avoid, which is a shame as I did everything possible to socialize her.
My question is, can she be changed? A lot of people (behaviourists I've written to on on-line forums) have said that if she has a dominant character she might just be that way inclined. But surely she's not inclined to kill every dog she meets? By reading her body language I wouldn't say she's fearful but I'm no expert. Can anyone please advise me on anything they think may be helpful.
Louise Nichol

Over to you!

How much is your vet charging for prescriptions?

One of our readers has just told us that her vet has just started charging her a whopping £10 plus VAT for writing out prescriptions for her rescued Great Dane which has heart problems.
We'd be interested to hear how much your vet is intending to charge you?
For the last three years vets have been able to give clients prescriptions to get their drugs elsewhere they have not been allowed to charge for this service. But since the beginning of the month vets can now charge an admin or "medical determination fee" for writing out a prescription.
Our reader phoned the office of fair trading who told her to shop around and she phoned all the vets in her area to see what their admin fees were. Her vet was the highest, there were a few at £6 plus VAT and one very near that is only £2.50 including VAT. She said it would
be interesting to see and compare what people are paying around the country. She is in South Devon.
Many people are still not aware that they don't have to buy their medication from their vet surgery and can buy online at half the price.
So how does your vet rate? What are they charging?
Can you post where you live (by county) and the cost and whether it includes VAT.

Monday, 17 November 2008

In need of a bone-us?

I have a diet question and am hoping you can help. I own four dogs from one year to seven years old. All are very active. Some of them have food allergies and after years of trying to find a natural food that they will eat, I have decided to try a raw diet, of sorts. They have a third of their daily food in the morning which consists of either puffed rice or a wholemeal mixer with manuka honey and live yoghurt. Then, the rest in the evening is meat and supplements, most of which are by Dorwest Herbs and recommended for natural feeding. Below, is their diet sheet showing the rough amounts that are altered for each dog:

1oz-2lb body weight daily
Ruby 6kg = 13lbs = 6.5oz total daily
Barney 9kg = 19.5lbs = 9.75oz total daily
Pearl 27kg = 59.5lbs = 29.75oz total daily
Jasper 27kg = 59.5lbs = 29.75oz total daily

Ruby 60g dry & 122g meat
Barney 91g dry & 182g meat
Pearl 277g dry & 556g meat
Jasper 277g dry & 556g meat
Total: 705gm dry, 1,416g meat daily

Mon: Fish, Tue: Lamb, Wed: Banquet nuggets, Thur: Tripe, Fri: Beef, Sat: Chicken,
Sun: Offal

Supplements: Plaque Off, Easy Green, Keepers Mix, Tree Barks Powder, Cod Liver Oil in the Winter, Garlic Granules, Wheat Germ Oil in the Summer and Glucosamine & Chondroitin (not Ruby).

The meat is all from Natures Menu frozen range. They have natural treats and chews to exercise their teeth and gums with the added Plaque Off. I really don’t want to add bones to the diet and was wondering if maybe a bone-meal supplement would be needed? They also have a small amount of the Natures Menu fruit and veg frozen nuggets added to their meat.
Mrs Sam Gallie

Can anyone steer Sam in the right direction? Any comments about this diet?

New problems will be added shortly. If you have a question you'd like answered please email it to me on and put "Dogs Today Think Tank" in the subject line so I don't lose it. If you find it difficult to post your replies to a current question you can email your response to me instead and I'll post it for you.

Rocky and Rambo on the rampage


I have had three behaviourists advise three different things about my dogs. One even said to put them on sleeping pills during the day!
I have two boys. Rocky is six and Rambo is five. I've had them both since they were 12 weeks old. I had a few problems with chewing but over come that and I think them being neutered helped. Over the last few months they have trashed my house each day when I leave them, whether for a few minutes or hours. Nothing has changed. We have the same routine as ever. No change of food either. I took them to the vet and they are in good health. I have to lock them in my kitchen and barricade the door so they can’t enter the main house or go upstairs. They have cost me over £3,000 in replacement carpets, walls, sofas…you name it, we've replaced it. I bought a Staff cage but they broke out and cut themselves - (they were okay, I took them to the vet).
I tried another cage but again they broke out of that.
Can you suggest anything that can help me and my boys?
They are so loving and great with people & kids. I love them so much, so why do they hate me?
Mrs Tania Day

Some more info from Tania:
I asked Tania some more questions after the first comment requesting more details . I asked if her neighbours say her dogs bark much while she's out - I guess I wondered if they did bark someone might be winding them up by shouting at them to be quiet. I asked how long they are left, what they are like when she returns and what the three behaviourists had said. If you want to know more, please do post a comment.

Dear Beverley
No they do not bark at all. Not sure if they enjoy wrecking as I'm not there to see, but when I get home the are very sheepish and go into a corner - as if they know they have done wrong,
I don't smack them at all , once I said "Who did that?" and they both wet themselves.
I have now employed a dog walker, so I take them at 0600hrs for 30 mins, she comes in during the day for 1 hour, then I take them again at night. This has helped, in the fact they are not chewing the walls anymore, but now they chew the kitchen chairs and are scratching the flooring, looks like a war zone. I paid over £400 for an iron gate to stop them from getting into the living area which works.
One behaviourist said a plug in spray would help - the smell reminds them of their mother!
Another said something on the lines of Prozac for dogs - which is a no no. Another said don't leave them alone - hence dog walker and my elderly neighbour who goes in four or five times a day to let them out and play. When someone is with them it's like butter would not melt... left alone they are devil dogs from hell
They continue to chew. I spoke to a Kennel they want over £110 per week to have them 0800-1800 these days that a lot of money .
I am still at my wits end - any help will be great.

I have to say I'm getting involved now and can't help asking more questions myself - here's my latest email to Tania who is having trouble getting on this site - she says it comes up in German. Has this happened to anyone else?

Hi Tania
Do the two dogs play together – I have two dogs also a year apart in age and they play together all the time, like pups. Could chewing have become a communal game – and could you replace it with one which is even more rewarding?
What is their relationship like – is one in charge or not? What are they like with other dogs and other people? Are they always confident or are they ever fearful?
When you are home do they follow you from room to room and even to the loo? If so does one do this more than another?
Have you tried leaving them stuffed Kongs? Chewing something that tastes nice may be more fun that chewing a chair. The neighbour could bring a fresh couple in for example. There is an art in stuffing a Kong – use something to die-for and stinky squashed into the top – for eg bacon or chicken skin, then wedge in bigger biscuits that are hard to get out and then fill up with smaller bits of kibble or treats that will spill out easily without too much effort. You can use cheese, peanut butter, liver cakes - cat food even, you can even use tasty liquids and freeze them, so the dog has to lick them for hours to get the treats out.
You can also get a device that releases a new stuffed Kong every hour or so on a timer – although with two dogs you might find you have to separate them if they are going to be competitive over food.
Do they behave well at night – do they sleep in the kitchen? Do you leave on some background noise when you are out, a TV etc so it feels like you are home even if you’re not.
Do the dogs ever lose their housetraining when left?
Are they exercised off leash – do they ever get tired by exercise or are they always still raring to go when you get home?
What do you feed them? Have you tried changing the diet at all? Are they fed once a day or more?
Sorry to ask so many questions!

Hi Beverley
They are so close, always together. Rambo is the leader, they eat together. All the years I have had them they have never had a fight.
They are great with people and children. Rocky is ok with other dogs really, he just ignores them. Rambo will ignore them to until they come over to him or Rocky or me, then he lets them know to go away. He has never bitten anyone or a dog, we walk at night with another dog
but we walk behind, after a few minutes he is fine. They are always confident unless they have done wrong then they cower down.
Yes when I am home they follow me everywhere loo, bath etc. Rambo is the one who will come with me, then minutes later Rocky will be there not sure if he follows Rambo or me.
Each day I stuff Kongs with treats, cream cheese bacon ham chicken, Neither of them are foodies, they have one each.
Rocky will chew on a treat, Rambo you have to break up small or he will leave it, he will not have a bone, where as Rocky will.
Rambo likes small bite size things where Rocky will chew for hours if I let him - he swallows big chunks, then I have to help him get it unstuck from his throat so I don't leave him alone when he has one. They are not competitive for food If Rocky has something he will either take it to Rambo or if Rambo wants it he will just walk away.
They are so good when I'm home, they sleep in my bedroom on a massive pillow I cant trust them alone downstairs. During the day I leave a the radio on, not too loud. They are clean dogs, no mess from them while left alone, only when they have had a upset tummy which cant be helped. Yes they do exercise of lead when we go to the park, when they get home they
go to the loo in the garden , then water then sleep for a while.
Food was a big issue they will only eat a handful of dry food. I have to pick out the green and yellow pieces - they have half dog food in jelly only not gravy with a pack of fresh liver or kidney or hearts that's at night. For breakfast, dry food and dog food. This is the only food they will eat, they were on fresh tripe but they got to big and over weight (they vet said).
I have to get a new floor in the kitchen, they are down to concrete now
Thanks for your help and suggestions.

Okay - folks lots more information now! Any food experts out there? Could the protein levels be too high? Itching to pitch in, but there are people with a lot more behaviour knowledge than me who could make some suggestions. But I'm thinking these are two very attached dogs...

More info:
Hi Beverley
Just seen a few comments
Video footage is my next option but I have to get a camera may take a little time though.
Yes my dog walker is CRB checked and I have a copy of her certificate. I have her home address and I popped round unannounced!
Not sure about going down the route of a behaviourist again, how can they help when they only trash when they are on there own.
If it is a case of "just playing" how can I stop this? They have a box of toys which they have during the day, and only a few of them at night.
I have tried not to be so loving and distance myself from them a little bit but its hard we all need love and affection

Hi Tania
It is tricky sorting these probs – but it may be that you’ve not yet found the right behaviorist. Where are you based?
There are so many people calling themselves experts, it’s hard to spot the good from the bad and even the bad usually mean well!
You have shown considerable dedication in trying to solve these problems already. That’s half the battle - not giving up.
As to becoming less loving – don’t think that’s the key. It just maybe the boys are hooked on attention and even being bad puts them in the centre of things.
My instincts are they are enjoying being destructive and it may need channelling and being used as a reward.
It may be you get loads of cardboard boxes for them to trash as a reward, maybe a digging pit outside to get those urges out of their system.
I do think you probably need to look at the diet, there’s a lot of protein going on and that can influence behavior. There were some studies on some dogs that were only fed fresh meat and they changed so much when a more balanced diet was introduced. What were they like on tripe? Any different?
I have a feeling on a healthy lower protein diet these dogs could calm right down. You know how food can affects kids' behaviour, it’s more intense in dogs as we make all their decisions for them.
Fingers crossed we can find someone to help sort this

Hi Beverley
I am based in Langley - Berkshire, Nr Slough & Windsor
How many more behaviourists do I need to pay before I find the right one, money should not be a issue when it comes to my dogs but they have cost me hundreds of pounds believe me.
They won't touch cardboard boxes even if I play with them and try to make them chew them they won't chew in front of me at all. I have a large back garden they can dig if they want, but they don't like getting wet or dirty. If it rains outside they won't go out for a walk I have to pull them out even the dog walker comments if it's wet out they don't want to walk but want to go home. When they are in the garden, I shut them out to go to the loo the scratch the door to come back in. I think I will put them back on tripe, they loved it but got big and the vet said they were overweight but they did not behave like this.
Sometimes my emails sound negative, but I've tried loads of things. I will keep trying anything as I am sure they are not happy by the look on their faces when they have been bad.

I was not at work for 3 days then we had weekend off. My dogs we really good, on Friday I had workmen round to tile the floor in the kitchen.
On Saturday I went out for three hours and my husband took them out for a
walk for over a hour. They were shattered when they came back. We left them for 1 hour 20
mins came home to utter chaos they had chewed all the boxing-in work I had done, ripped off a
metal corner edge, chewed a hole in plaster board. Blood every where but I could not see where the blood came from - I checked them both.

We have now had no choice but to put them into a large cupboard, it's like a larder cupboard over the stairs. With a gate so they can see out. It is a large space I can walk into it
then it slopes down. It sounds bad, but we have no other choice if we want to keep them and I do. But we can not go on like this. I am so upset, yesterday all day they slept, so why can't they do that when we are not there?

Every week they cost us money, sometimes just a few pounds, replacing rugs or mats things like that I don't mind really but it is getting to much, I dread going home at times.

I am upset that they are unhappy.

I have more picture of the damage if you want them.


Dogs Today Think Tank behaviourist Amy Hatcher has been to see Tania, Rocky and Rambo.
Here's an update.

Dear Beverley
Happy new year to you, things are going okay, I have been off work for two weeks so I have had time to spend with them and put into practice what Amy has told us to do.
Sometimes they are good, but still when we leave them Rambo does chew a little we still have not left them out to have to run of the house as Rambo pulled all the cushions of the sofa when I left him for 10 mins only.
Amy suggested putting tin foil on the sofa's which would stop them from jumping on them, I did this but came downstairs to find them curled up and asleep on the foil!
I have photos for Amy of this which I will get to her soon.
They do seem a lot more mellow this is a change of food I think, they still play as normal, but must admit they have calmed down
Today is the first time they will be left a full day in four weeks as I am at work and my husband is away until this weekend, so this week will tell.
All in all I think the change of food has made a difference, but like I said I don't think I can keep them out have the run of the house yet - which is our goal.
I will keep you informed
Thank you & Regards

Might be Fox mite... might not

Can you help me with the problem I have with my dog George. He is an 8-and-a-half-year-old Airedale. About two months ago he started scratching his front legs and badly biting his paws. As he would not go into the car, I sought help from the internet. I purchased products called Stop It All and ear drops. As this did not clear the problem I had to get my passenger seat taken out so that I could get George to go in the car. I took him to the PDSA and asked the vet if it was fox mite which she said it wasn’t and cleared his anal glands instead and gave antibiotics. After one week he had bad diarrhea and I had to stop the antibiotics and take him back to the vet. His anal glands were emptied again and different antibiotics and steroids were prescribed. On the third visit his glands were okay but he was still scratching and biting. I asked if his ears could be checked as he was rubbing them a lot. On doing this the vet said that he was suffering from fox mite. She applied a pipette to the back of his neck and I am to take him back in four weeks if the matter has not cleared. The vet said he will have to be bathed, like a sheep dip. I am very worried about this. Is there any alternative? As he has suffered for the past two months I have been advised to give him Protexin to boost his immune system. Can you please give me any advice on this problem.
Mrs L Clowes

Any idea for Mrs Clowes? What a very understanding owner taking her car apart!

I am glad you took George to be examined by a vet, even if it meant removing the passenger seat from your car! Fox mite, or sarcoptic mange, can be hard to diagnose because it simply causes areas of skin irritation, classically on the ear flaps, elbows and hocks. These patches of skin are incredibly itchy – rubbing an affected ear flap will provoke kicking with a back foot in an attempt to reach the itchy skin!
A definitive diagnosis needs identification of the mite in a scraping taken from a suspect area of skin, but more often than not no mites are seen. A diagnosis is then reached through exclusion – eliminating bacterial infection with an appropriate antibiotic, and allergy through steroid treatment, leaving specific treatment for sarcoptic mange, which is what your vet has done.
If the itching all stops and the skin heals up after the spot-on, then sarcoptic mange is the diagnosis. A second treatment a month after the first is often recommended, depending on the spot-on preparation used. I know you say that your vet wants you to go back if it has not gone away, but if it does clear up I would ring to check that a follow-up spot-on treatment is not needed.
I really hope that the spot-on treatment has worked. If not, then a dog biting at his paws and rubbing at his ears does sound as if he is reacting to something, although signs of allergies generally become apparent from a young age. Have you used a carpet cleaning solution recently? Returning him to your vet for further examination would be sensible because it is distressing for him to be itchy, and for you to see him in discomfort – I do hope you have not replaced that passenger seat yet!

Alison Logan, Vet

Naturally repellant

I am keen to find a natural supplement to give to my two Border Collies to help repel fleas and ticks. I have recently bought CSJ Billy No Mates which is great but one of my dogs will not eat it as it has Mint in. The smell puts him off totally. I have heard that Neem is very good, but I am finding it difficult to find out the best way to safely administer it. I also give my dogs other supplements, for example; G-Paws for joints and Beau Oil for coat and skin. I've even considered baking my own dog biscuits and adding Billy No Mates that way but I am unsure whether the cooking will devalue the strength of the supplement? Please can you advise on anything suitable for this problem.

Gosh - I must look up Billy No Mates, never seen that product before! Any one got any hints for Emma?

Two out of four cats getting bullied!

Roxy: Guilty of cat crimes

I have a one-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Roxy. She is a lovely friendly dog but she has started to bully our two cats. She barks at them and chases them every time she sees them and when she starts to bark at them my other three dogs start to bark too. But as soon as I take Roxy away the others stop barking. It isn’t fair on my two cats as they have to stay in one room. I do have two additional cats but Roxy doesn’t bully them because they are quite confident cats whereas the other two aren’t. I would love any suggestions to get the problem sorted so we can be one happy family.

Any advice please?

Monday, 3 November 2008

Problem number two!

I am hoping you can inform me as to what is the exact legal situation regarding the following.
Adjacent to one of the walks that myself and other dog walkers in the village use is land that belongs to a property where two Mastiffs and a Rottweiler live. These dogs are constantly loose and roaming over their owners land - which is only enclosed by post and rail fencing - and also over the land that the public footpaths are on. This has resulted in us dog walkers turning back and retracing our steps, which when you have an elderly dog such as mine, means a much too long walk. So far none of the dogs have made any attempt to attack us, though it appears that we have seen them before they have seen us so avoided the situation. We do not know if they are aggressive but three large dogs together are very intimidating.
This has been going on for a number of months and number of us have contacted the dog warden - who said they are always receiving calls about the dogs roaming - at the local council who has said if they are on their own land then the owners could construe it as harassment if the warden asks them to keep the dogs in.
Surely these people are obliged to keep the dogs under control as much as I and my fellow dog walkers are, and by letting them roam on land that is not securely fenced then they are not doing so.
I read with interest the True Case History in the October issue of Dogs Today regarding the provisions of the Dangerous Dogs Act and that if a person feels threatened by a dog in a public place even if the dog does not actually do anything then it is a matter for the police.
Is it possible for you to clarify this as on going on to the web site and reading the DDA it does not make it very clear. These dogs are spoiling the walks which are surely there for all to enjoy.
Hoping you can help in this very awkward situation.
Doreen Hoyle, by email

If you have a helpful advice for Doreen please do post a comment. A selection of the best replies will feature in a future magazine.

A new problem will be added shortly! If you have a question you'd like answered please email it to me on and put "Dogs Today Think Tank" in the subject line so I don't lose it. If you find it difficult to post your replies to a current question you can email your response to me instead and I'll post it for you.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Any suggestions?

I wonder if you can help, my friend’s 22month old German Shepherd called Cairo has recently been diagnosed with allergies to beef, pork, wheat, gluten and dairy products. Getting alternative food for him was not a problem but we cannot seem to find anything that he can actually chew! He can still be a bit destructive if being left but loves a rawhide chew bone which keeps him occupied for ages obviously he cannot get these anymore. We have tried him with a Kong but he looses interest in this very quickly. Do you know of anything similar that he could get?
Sheena Dickie, by email

If you have a helpful suggestion for Sheena's friend to try please do post a comment. A selection of the best replies will feature in a future magazine.

Just had this email:
Re. Sheena Dickie's note to you about alternative chews for Cairo the
German Shepherd with alergies, I am Cairo's Mum. I wanted to post a
thank you to everyone for their suggestions, but was unable to do so.
If you would pass this on for me I would be grateful. I am going to
give the ostrich chews a try. Fingers crossed!!!

Margaret & Cairo

A new problem will be added shortly! If you have a question you'd like answered please email it to me on and put "Dogs Today Think Tank" in the subject line so I don't lose it. If you find it difficult to post your replies to a current question you can email your response to me instead and I'll post it for you.