May issue

May issue
May issue

Friday, 29 May 2009

Noisy neighbours

Recently new neighbours moved in next door to my semi-detached, country home with a screaming baby, unneutered Tom cat and a Golden Retriever bitch. I have three German Shorthaired Pointers, one male and two bitches.
The Golden Retriever is shut out in their garden for 30-90 minutes at a time and whines to go back into the house. If I let my dogs out for a wee or a bit of fresh air, the Golden Retriever launches herself barking at the dividing fence. Fortunately I had this raised to above 6ft some time ago, so she cannot get in. The neighbours seem quite happy about her attacking the fence, whereas I have to ensure that my dogs hardly go into the garden, other than to answer the 'call of nature' and I stand there with them, telling them to ignore the other dog!.
The whining in the morning particularly distresses my male dog, who thinks the Golden Retriever wants to get into our garden and so he barks. The neighbour then complained and told me that my dogs needed a 'dog shrink' but it is his dog that is causing the problem.
Should I put my house up for sale? The previous neighbours did not have a dog, nor did they make as much noise as this new lot. What can I do?
Angela Boyd

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Road safety

I have just rescued a wonderful adult crossbreed, who comes everywhere with me. However, I am concerned about his safety when he travels in the car as he just lies down on the back seat and is not strapped in in any way. How can I make sure my dog is safe and secure when we go for a drive and what does the law say about dogs in cars?
Millie Stanton

There are currently no legal guidelines on car safety for dogs. However a dog harness, which attaches to the seatbelt, will help ensure both you and your dog are safe when travelling. The colliding force of an average sized unrestrained dog at 30mph (e.g. a Border Collie) would be equivalent to nine 12-stone men, according to RoSPA statistics, so you’re absolutely right to consider a restraint. RAC has a selection of dog harnesses in its webshop, visit These range in size from small to jumbo, prices start at £7.99. You could also consider a pet carrier, cage or guard.
If you and your dog are regular travel companions make sure you also build in plenty of stops on journeys and always have lots of water available to drink. The RAC shop stocks an excellent travel water bottle for dogs too.
Additional RAC safety tips for dogs in cars this summer:
• NEVER leave your dog in the car in direct sunlight - they can dehydrate and die quickly
• Park in the shade, leave them with a window open and a bowl of water. If you cannot park in the shade, always take your pet with you.

Restraining a dog when travelling in the car is vital, not only for your own safety and that of your passengers, but that of your dog, too! While crates are very effective at restraining a dog and preventing them from causing a distraction, many crates break-up on impact, thus resulting in loose pieces of metal and an unrestrained dog.
The CLIX CarSafe safety harness can be plugged directly into your existing seatbelt sockets and can also be used for walking your dog. Soft neoprene padding covers all points of contact to ensure maximum protection in the event of a crash, with particular focus on the central chest protector.
The unique 'X-Cross' design creates a comfortable and ergonomic fit, keeping the harness in the optimum position, even during movement. CLIX CarSafe harness is made from approved safety-standard seat-belt material in a continuous loop, to give extra strength.
Fitting and use are easy, thanks to the double-sided adjustable buckles which enable you to clip the harness together without having to manipulate the dog's legs. The harness can be securely attached by either plugging straight into the seat-belt socket or by sliding the seat-belt through the harness. The seatbelt connector can also be tucked away so that the dog can wear it off-lead, too.
Clare Butters, The Company of Animals

A Pet Tube might be the answer.
Pet Tubes, are made from the same lightweight but super-strong fabric and to the same high specifications as the award winning Dog Bag. However they come in a useful tube shape especially designed for use on the rear seats of cars. They strap securely to the back of the seat, allowing good ventilation and visibility while keeping your dog safely on the back seat. The large Pet Tubes can be altered in length to provide more or less room for other passengers. They also make a major contribution to keeping dog hairs etc. off the seats! Pet Tubes come in two sizes, and prices start at £59.95. Call 015396 21884 for further details, or visit
Lucy, The Roofbox Company

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

A wee problem

I have a border collie spayed bitch who is approximately 13 years old (she is a rescue dog so we are unsure exactly). Recently she has started leaving small damp patches occasionally while she is sleeping. She does not know she is doing this and is not asking to go outside. She has no discomfort going outside when she wants to. The vet did a range of blood tests earlier this year (for an unrelated problem) and nothing was flagged up. This seems to be becoming more frequent (2-3 days a month as opposed to once every 2-3 months last year). I'm aware that vets often prescribe either Propalin or Incurin for urinary incontinence when it gets to be a problem, but wondered if anyone has any alternative remedies that may be tried? We haven't seen any increase in water intake.
She is currently taking carprofen, glucosamine and cod liver oil for her arthritis.
Kathryn Cowin

Alison Logan, vet, advises:
Both my Border Collies, mother Nan and daughter Judy, developed urinary incontinence later in life, interestingly round about the thirteen years old mark. I confess that it actually took me some time to appreciate that Nan was leaking whilst asleep because the Vetbed on which she slept was so efficient at soaking up the urine!
This was back in the early 1990’s, when treatment options were limited. Vivitonin (Intervet) had recently appeared and helping urinary incontinence was mentioned as a potential beneficial side-effect. I often call it ‘the geriatric pep pill’ and it certainly stopped first Nan and then Judy from having urinary incontinence, as well as improving their general demeanour.
They each lived on into their sixteenth year with dignity.

Nick Thompson, holistic vet advises:
Causticum 30 or 200c is the first homeopathic remedy to think of when dealing with mild incontinence in spayed bitches. It sounds like you've gone through diagnostic options with your vet. Well done. It can be a bit dangerous to just try remedies willy-nilly as leaking in older dogs can be signs of kidney disease, cystitis, Cushing's disease or diabetes, for example.
Causticum would be dosed twice daily for five days, then daily for 10 days to assess response. After this, dose minimally as necessary. The other two remedies I use in this situation as first prescriptions would commonly include: Pulsatilla (involuntary urination during sleep) and Kreosotum (leaking during deep sleep) dosed similarly.
I like using acupuncture in these cases. It's quick, easy and very effective, often. To find a veterinary acupuncturist near you check out the website for the Association of British Veterinary Acupuncturists (
Once or twice I've seen bitches who are otherwise okay getting leaky after severe exercise. Severe exercise for a 13-year-old collie is very different from that for a three-year-old, so you have to take this into account. I've also got an older bitch on my books who leaks when she is given a certain type of doggie treat (junk food - grrr). It's worth taking an open look to see if there is any association with food or exercise or any other predisposing factors, however weird or inexplicable they may seem.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Going through the motions!

Just been watching Victoria Stillwell on It's me or the Dog USA. She was invited in to a houseful of Pugs who were all eating each other's poo. Gross!
Victoria advocated a method whereby you train each dog to back away from a flag which the owners have to put in the poo to mark it.
And was it just me, but did you see the poo? It was really yellowy green and all slimy. The consistency of tomato paste! You couldn't have stood a flag up in that poo as it was just so liquidy. And as for the shovel method of disposal - forget it!
Made me want to ask the TV are those Pugs getting too rich a diet? Are Pugs less able to digest than other dogs? Do all Pugs poo yellow/green mush?
Which brings me on to my indelicate question!
What constitutes a good healthy dog turd?
There used to be a show on TV were a blond nutritionist was always looking at people's poo and telling them where their diet was going wrong.
What would a yellowy/greeny slimy poo say about a dog's digestion? And what is the perfect poo anyway?
Should it be bulky and brown? Should the dogs go once a day? Twice a day? More?
And while we are here... that old chesnut! Why don't we see white dog poo anymore?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor Dogs Today

How much time do we dog-owners spend thinking about dog poo?!
To put a different spin on an often-quoted addage, ‘What you poo reflects what you eat’. A dog fed a diet high in indigestible fibre will pass a bigger volume of poo more frequently than a dog fed a highly digestible diet.
There is also the individual dog’s digestive system to consider. Just like people have individual poo-habits with regard to frequency, nature of poo etc (what did possess you to start me on this, Beverley!), so to with dogs. One of the Border Collies of my childhood would poo several times during a walk, the poo becoming softer each time until he finally passed just a little faecal liquid, reflecting the expulsion of poo from higher and higher up the gut. Pippin, on the other hand, only poos once, ten minutes into a walk, and always at the same place if it is our regular dog walk.
Picking up after your dog serves the useful purpose, however, of enabling a check to be kept on your dog’s faeces. Any change from the normal consistency or pattern of frequency may indicate a problem which needs investigation. How my clients’ faces drop when I request a faeces sample! The lab does not require the full load in a poo bag so we do provide universal containers with really dinky shovels.
You are right about the white poo. I have not seen any in years. I had always thought it was old dog poo so perhaps it is a reflection of more dog poo being scooped nowadays, coupled with changes in dietary formulation because ‘Googling’ threw up the suggestion that it reflected a high calcium content in the diet.
Alison Logan, vet

Friday, 22 May 2009

Check out

We all know that choke chains are a big no-no in training, but what about so-called 'half-checks'? I assumed they'd be frowned upon too, but they seem very popular - even in training classes. Are they cruel?
Viv Green, by email

Half checks come under various names, such as Martingale collar or 'combi' collar, and as the name suggests, part of the collar is made up of a chain, with the rest being like a traditional flat collar.
Like a full choke chain, the potential is there to use a half check inappropriately - to stop the dog from pulling by the collar tightening around the neck and effectively choking the poor animal. But then, a standard collar can be used cruelly too if the handler is intent on using harsh methods when training.
Half checks have their advocates. Some owners of heavy-coated dogs sometimes prefer half-checks, as they do not affect the neck coat as much as an ordinary collar, and they also stop narrow-headed dogs (such as sighthounds) backing out of a collar and running off. And for those with arthritic hands, who may find buckles difficult to negotiate, they are easier to put on a dog.
"The APDT has no issue with members using half-check collars for these reasons, provided they are fitted correctly and not used to jerk and copy the action of a full choke chain in any way," said a spokesperson for the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.
Correct fitting is crucial, to ensure they do not inflict harm. "They should be fitted so that, when tightened, the two rings actually meet around the dog's neck, with sufficient space for two fingers to be slipped against the neck, under the collar, in exactly the same way as a flat collar would be fitted. This ensures that the half-check collar cannot be used as a choke collar when the lead tightens.
"However, if fitted so that the two rings do not meet, half-check collars can, of course, be used to copy the unpleasant and painful action of a full choke chain. Unfortunately, some unenlightened owners still use the collar with the intention to jerk, choke and intimidate dogs. To make matters worse, it has recently become fashionable again to fit collars that slip, tight up behind the dog's ears. This disgusting practice, seem by some as a 'miracle' that stops dogs from pulling, does so because when the lead tightens the collar causes extreme pain to the TMJs (temporomandibular joints - hinges of the jaws) and the pressure points at the base of the skull. The UK APDT does not endorse methods of training that cause pain and discomfort so would take seriously a complaint against a member using this collar contrary to our code of practice and ethic of kind, fair, effective training."
The APDT concludes by saying, "It is most definitely against the UK APDT policy to use any collar to jerk, pull or choke a dog."
Claire Horton-Bussey, Dogs Today

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Why has my dog gone lame?

I don't know if anyone out there can help shed any ideas regarding my Lurcher 'Rea'. She is a rescue, and we think she is now about 10 years old. I have had her for over four years and love her to bits but over the last few months, little things have been happening that have been causing concern.
We noticed her tail stopped wagging and was hanging slightly limp - she didn't appear to be in any pain, although she had earlier been running with our other rescue Saluki 'Dino' and the two of them had clashed and Rea had rolled over onto her tail and yelped. As she appeared to recover from this, we just carried on as usual.
A short while later - as in a month or so - one of her back legs has become lame. She isn't dragging it, but seems to be forcibly holding it off the ground. To get around she has been relying on her one working back leg which doesn't
look very comfortable at all. We took her to the vet as this didn't clear up after a day or so, and clearly was causing her discomfort. The vet prescribed anti-inflammatries and lead walks etc. She got on ok with these although after a bit, it needed the dose to be increased. Still, she was not really putting any pressure on the leg. We returned again to the vet, and this time X-rays were taken. It appeared to show a displaced hip which the vet feels she has possibly had since birth. She also felt the X-ray showed either arthritis or a tumour - she isn't sure which. She carried on with the treatment for arthritis.
We went back again for more tablets and she is going to conduct more X-rays. She feels that the length of time that Rea has been on the medication, she shouldn't really be as lame as she is on this leg, unless something 'bigger' is going on which she is not sure of. I feel it's just happened so suddenly and lasting for longer than I had anticipated, that I am not sure what it is. I am not sure whether the displaced hip is causing arthritis and would it be this severe that she really doesn't want to put pressure down etc. The vet is hinting that it may possibly be a tumour, but is not too sure until the other X-rays are done. Has anyone any other ideas? I really just want to ensure that Rea is as comfortable as possible and that we have covered all possiblities of what the issue may be. I would really appreciate it if everyone took some time to consider and respond.

A common cause of hindleg lameness in older dogs is damaged or ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. This is located in the stifle joint. This might explain the sudden onset lameness. Perhaps your vet has already checked this but it might be worth another look.
John Burns BVMS MRCVS, Burns Pet Nutrition

I can understand how worrying this must be for you because we expect our dogs to run around and enjoy their exercise. A lame dog who does not improve on anti-inflammatories certainly needs further investigation so that a diagnosis can be made and appropriate treatment instigated, if possible.
You mention that your vet has found that Rea has a displaced hip. I imagine this is actually hip dysplasia because action would have been undertaken in an attempt to replace an acutely displaced or luxated hip. Hip dysplasia is a developmental problem where the hip joints are not the tightly fitting ball and socket joints one expects. It can become apparent at a young age, or be diagnosed at routine hip score assessment, or it may be picked up later in life on investigation of lameness when the effects of the body trying to stabilise the hip joints has resulted in arthritis. It may therefore be an incidental finding in Rea’s case, especially as she has not improved with anti-inflammatory painkillers.
I am intrigued by your description of Rea seeming to be forcibly holding a hindlimb off the ground. Is this the classic ‘tiptoe’ stance of a dog who has acutely ruptured a cruciate ligament? If so, then the problem lies within the stifle, and I wonder whether this is the joint your vet is planning to radiograph next?
Now, and this may be a red herring in your description, you do mention Rea’s tail hanging limply after the traumatic episode which seems to have started her problem. Although you say that she seemed to recover from this, so I assume you mean that she is now wagging her tail once more, I wonder whether she hurt her back when she was bowled over. The hindlimb lameness could therefore be sciatica, for example.
So, although one always worries about something sinister lurking, there are still possible orthopaedic explanations for Rea’s hindlimb lameness. Routine radiography may be sufficient to enable a diagnosis; otherwise, more involved procedures involving contrast media or different imaging methods may be necessary.
I do hope a diagnosis is reached which enables Rea to be treated and resume an active life once more.
Alison Logan, vet

Monday, 18 May 2009

Help for the carers

Hi there,
I have a gorgeous, almost two year old mixed breed bitch. My girl has a very rare cancer called 'angiofibrolipoma'. It started in a mammary gland but now goes down her right hind leg, through the hole in the pelvis and is quite close to the spine. She limps as the back leg is affected. I have been assured that she is NOT in pain.
The original prognosis was that she would manage about another six months!! That date came and went last autumn.
For a young girl she sleeps alot and sleeps deeply! But oh boy she can certainly run and jump. I can always see when she's overdone it!! On a couple of walks she has even collapsed, all she needs is a few moments and then she's up again.
I was advised to let her run, live and enjoy life. There is no cure. I would love more information on this elusive demon. Most of all I would love to speak to someone who's been through or is going through what we are now, with this particular tumour.
I am aware that it will be a miracle if you can help me!!
Yours most sincerely
Miss Jill Dickson

This certainly is a rare tumour – when I ‘Googled’ it, the Think Tank with your question was the third entry to appear!
What you are really wanting, however, is reassurance now that your dog has been diagnosed with this mass, at such a young age. Your description of the location of the mass indicates that it is inoperable, so it is all about quality of life, and by that I mean for everyone, patient and carers.
A priority is, rightly, pain relief and you have been assured that your dog is not in pain. Having been in pain ever since a rear-end shunt RTA more than five years ago, pain relief is always my first priority. Pain takes over your life, whether animal or human, and it certainly reduces your quality of life markedly. Additionally, however, drugs for pain relief often have other effects on the patient. You are lucky that your dog is not in pain, but do be aware that the situation may change. Be on the look out in particular for changes in behaviour or appetite, for example, which may indicate the development of pain. There are so many options for pain relief available now.
I think you can't better the advice you have been given to ‘let her run, live and enjoy life’. Being so young, she remains young at heart despite the mass, but therefore needs more sleep than might be expected of a dog of rising two years of age. That she wants to run and jump is great, especially as she makes a quick recovery when she has overdone it. After all, it will be hard to stop her if that is how active she wants to be.
Giving an estimate of expected life expectancy after diagnosis is always hard because it is based on experience from other similar cases, and especially so with a rare condition. Having exceeded the life expectancy that she was given from diagnosis, I would simply enjoy the time that you have with her now.
Store up all the memories of your dog being so active and happy because they will always be with you.
Alison Logan, vet

As far as I can see from veterinary reports, the first case ever of angiofibrolipoma was only reported in 2002 and there have been very few since then, so she certainly has a rare cancer indeed. However, this doesn’t mean that there is any less chance of it responding to treatment. Though I wouldn’t hold out hope of a cure, there are many natural medicines and supplements that will have a good chance of slowing down the rate of growth, or even stopping further growth for a while.
If you have been reading DT for the last few months you can’t fail to have seen the cancer treatment CV247 discussed. I am seeing more and more good results with this, so it is well worth considering.
There are many other natural products, including the ‘magic mushroom’ Coriolus versicolor, antioxidants such as Selenium and Vitamins A, C and E, homoeopathic medicines including Carcinosin, Viscum album and Dr Reckeweg R17. I could go on, but the list would become very long and a little boring. I would strongly advise that you ask your vet about referring her to a vet specialising in natural therapies, and particularly one offering treatment with CV247 if possible. DT has the list of those vets that do!
Richard Allport, alternative vet

Friday, 15 May 2009

Lost service?

I own three Weimaraners. A couple of years ago we became members of Missing Pets Bureau who I am sure you are aware have gone into liquidation this year. Two of our dogs were 'paid up' for life and the youngest was about three months away from being a lifetime member.
We joined Missing Pets Bureau because they offered a great service if our dogs were lost or stolen, keeping a DNA profile of all our dogs, helping in the advertising whether it be on TV, radio, papers etc and if our dogs were found injured we had given them authority to get them medical attention immediately whilst we were on our way to get them (Pet Back Med Alert).
We have now been contacted by Consumer Savings Bureau advising us that for one year free of charge they have taken over the database of Missing Pets Bureau and will offer a reunification cover only.
I would be grateful if anyone could advise us regarding the above as although I have written to Consumer Savings Bureau I am not satisfied that they can provide us with the level of service Missing Pets Bureau did. Is there another company that can offer a great service for the peace of mind that we require should anything happen to our pets?
Susan Parkin

Susan Hipperson, Managing Director, Pets Bureau says...
I too care passionality about pets (having four of my own) and when I heard that Missing Pets Bureau was in difficulty, I wanted to help - hence the Pets Bureau service was formed in association with Consumer Savings Bureau.
It has however been an enormous task and we immediately reintroduced the reunification service revovling around the unique Pet ID Tag and the microchip and we are looking at how other parts of the service could be reintroduced over the coming months.
The Consumer Savings Bureau was formed due to a "crying out" need for people to save money and all old members are being givin the opportunity to optionally join this service free of charge which will also incoporate their Pets Bureau membership. All the owners need to pay for is if they require new or replacement ID Tags and they may register up to five pets free of charge!
We would ask all old MPB members to bear with us and we will be opening more services over the next few months to meet customer demand.
Should any Dogs Today readers or old members like to take advantage of this free service they may register online by going to Should anyone have any questions after having looked at this website, please then contact me by emailing me personally at and I will be pleased to assist.

DogLost says...
Following the liquidation of the Missing Pets Bureau (MPB) we at Doglost have received countless calls from concerned dog owners who have paid for life time protection and have effectively been left in the lurch. Especially upset are those owners who chose various pet insurance policies who offered the 12 months free membership of MPB as an incentive to sign up with them. The various pet insurance companies are now refusing to take any responsibility for including the MPB in their 'package'. What happened to underwriting?
To address your concerns on DNA profiling, having helped to reunite nearly 10,000 dogs with their owners, we at Doglost (a free service) question with a capital Q the effectiveness of DNA testing when local authorities and rescues are struggling to have funding for can they possibly afford to DNA test?
The best form of identifying dogs are the microchip, ear tattoes and the good old fashioned collar and tag. By law this should have the contact details of the owner and not a third party, unless as an extra disc to owners' contact disc. But if someone finds your dog they are more likely to contact you directly rather then phone an automated call centre, so to sum up from our experience this and similar schemes are a very expensive way of buying a dog tag - who in their right mind would pay up to £199 for a dog tag?
Having had so many concerned dog owners ring we will be shortly announcing our pet registration scheme, where details and photos of people's dogs can be stored on our site in advance as people cannot always function well when their pets are missing, we can then email the details out to all dog related organisations in the area as well as all dog owners registered with us within 30 miles and automatically email owners a poster that can be printed off. In our experience POSTERS work!
0844 8003220

Keepsafe says...
Keepsafe says…
Keepsafe recommends microchipping as proof of ownership, and it is a legal requirement if you want to take your pet abroad. But did you know that 9 out of 10 pets are found by the public. We know too that the public don’t have a scanner and they don’t know where to find one. The dog warden or a local vet may have one, but the public don’t often know who or where the local vet is or indeed the dog warden’s telephone number, and they don’t want to spend the time to find out. Finders are of course going about their own activities and whilst they are happy to help a pet be re-united with its owner, they want to be on their way very quickly. Getting a pet scanned and reunited by a vet or dog warden can be very expensive because there is a fee to pay before getting your pet back; this could be up to £75 – a cost that could easily be avoided.
Our experience over the past 10 years tells us that there is no better way of ensuring that a pet is re-united other than by having a tag with a phone number to ring. Pets don’t often stray very far from their homes so a Keepsafe tag will ensure that your pet comes back home as soon as possible, without the trauma of spending time at a rescue centre or wardens van. An even more valuable service is the Keepsafe VetAlert service, which provides emergency veterinary treatment if a pet is found injured while straying and reported by a vet as needing emergency veterinary treatment, Keepsafe will pay up to £500 directly to the vet.
We are very proud of the service we offer. We are open 24 hours a day and all our staff are based in modern air-conditioned offices just on the outskirts of Cambridge. Each call is handled by a member of our staff, not an automated text message service. Many of our call handlers have been with the company for many years, and have pets themselves so the calls are handled with great compassion and understanding.
The owner of Keepsafe, Judy Fella, was for 14 years personal assistant to the disabled Cambridge scientist, Professor Stephen Hawking, and besides managing a 24 x 7 rota of nurses and the admin for someone so disabled, she understands only too well how to deal with stressful situations and much more, including how precious pets are.
As well as looking after Keepsafe’s 1,400,000 customers, the company also handles all the out of hours calls for veterinary surgeons from Cornwall to the Outer Hebrides. This also means that we often know who and where a veterinary surgery might be in a particular part of the country.
We don’t currently offer DNA testing because from our experience we felt that it simply wasn’t worth the investment, because in 10 years and with over 1,000,000 owners there has never been a need for such a service. In very rare cases where a pet has been stolen, the DNA testing has not been needed. BUT we would love to hear from you as to whether or not you think it would be a good idea. If enough of you respond we will quickly look into the viability of such a service.
We can be contacted on 0870 60 500 60 at any time, so if you have any questions please give us a call. Our Lost and Found Cover only costs £49.95 for the Lifetime of your pet. With the average life of a dog being about 7-8 years and cats much longer, this is terrific value for money. We even have a parrot who is covered with us!!!!

Thursday, 14 May 2009

The first cut is the hardest

I am a new dog owner and I have to say the thing I'm most terrified of is the prospect of clipping my dog's nails. I'm getting into such a state thinking about it never mind him! I am just so scared I'll hurt him.
He has black nails so you can't see where the quick is - is that how you spell it?
And how do you know your dog's nails actually need cutting? Do all dogs?
Any tips?
Charlotte Wilson

Hi Charlotte,
I have a confession - it freaks me out, too! Our dog groomer does our dogs for me! The vet might help, too and show you how to do it at home. While some dogs will wear down their claws if they get lots of roadwork you still have to check the dew claws (if they are still in place) as these can grow round in a circle and stick in if not trimmed back.
There's a great device I've seen advertised that grinds down the claws rather than cuts which may take some of the angst out of the procedure!
Don't forget to get your dog used to allowing you to touch his feet and reward him for letting you hold his paw while you pretend to cut - so he starts to get used to the whole thing.
And you really need one of those styptic sticks to hand to stop bleeding in case you do cut through a quick.
Good luck, I think I'd need hypnosis to be able to do it!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Black claws are a real problem because, as you rightly say, you cannot see the quick (and that is how to spell it). Even six years at vet school with seeing practice, followed by nearly twenty years in small animal practice, have not given me extra powers so that I can see where the quick is. It is simply a matter of taking off a little at a time, constantly re-assessing the length of the claw and whether the centre of the cut surface looks as if it might be going pale which can be a sign of the end of the quick approaching. it usually means that black claws are left longer than white.
It is simple enough to stop any bleeding with a special stick, but no-one likes hurting a dog. I am a notorious coward when it comes to cutting black claws, and always pre-warn owners that black claws will not be cut as short as white claws.
A good clue to whether your dog’s claws need cutting is if you can hear them clattering across a hard floor surface. Some dogs simply do not need their claws cutting because they wear down naturally, although that can change with inactivity as they age. The claws should just touch the ground when the paws are fully weight-bearing. As Beverley said, don’t forget to check the dew-claws. Some dogs have hind dew-claws as well, which can be particularly dangly. It is not unusual to have dogs brought in with claws which have overgrown to such an extent that they have actually entered the pads – now they are sore!
Ask at your veterinary practice whether your vet or a vet nurse will show you how to clip your dog’s claws. Paws are very private to some dogs so if your dog really resents you cutting his claws then ask if they can be clipped at your veterinary practice, or by a dog-groomer. At my practice, the vet nurses hold their own clinics and one of the services they offer is to cut claws.
Above all, you do not want to spoil your relationship with your new companion.
Alison Logan, vet

Does anyone care when dog kills dog?

Last week a lady was walking her small friendly rescue dog on a lead on the upmarket housing estate that is near my shop, when a large dog (American Bulldog type we believe) came from nowhere and took the little dog by the neck and dragged it off into the bushes ..... apparently the little dog was killed, but the dog ran off with the body.
The distraught owners rang the council (dogwarden came out, said they couldn't do anything as it was quote "dog on dog".) Rang the RSPCA (didn't want to know - no surprise there!) Rang the police ..... very little concern, nothing really done ... again "dog on dog" didn't really seem important to them?
The people found out where this dog lives (it has attacked other dogs in the area over the past couple of years) - went round with dog warden but the people wouldn't let the dog warden into the garden to see if the body of the dog was there, and were not willing to talk to anyone - certainly no apology or remorse. They said that the dog in question was no longer living there .. we believe it has been sent to stay with friends for a while, and apparently the people have now told the police that it has been stolen!
Everyone on the estate is horrified .... people are afraid to walk their dogs now, and say they won't even let their young children out to play on the estate. There is a petition which everyone is signing to give copies to the council and the police - asking for something to be done so that people feel safe again. My shop is a focal point for all this activity, as all the local dog people come here and use the shop to pass on messages.
So what is the law? Everyone is saying that the dog must be a danger to children as well as to other dogs. Where do we go from here?
Advice welcome.
Mary Sanders

Monday, 11 May 2009

Don't see the point anymore!

I have a four-year-old German Shepherd bitch, recently while checking her teeth I noticed the tips of all four of her canine teeth are flat, like they have been chopped off. Her teeth are very clean and she has no problem eating. A friend was in the vets and asked the vet about this, he said it could be hereditary, I was wondering do you have any ideas on what this may be or if it may just be hereditary?
Thank you
Mr Charles Moy

Does she chew? Does she play with stones? It is possible to wear down teeth with excessive chewing. It's also quite possible to break them if you've got a dog that likes to play with stones.
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Sheila Wills, Head of Internal Medicine at the Animal Health Trust, says...
Does your dog chew stones? Or is she kept in a wire cage at any time and chews on the bars? The most common cause of flattening of the incisors in dogs is stone chewing. I’d recommend a visit to your vets to get them checked out.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Hip, hip dismay

I have a wonderful one-year-old Samoyed named Teddy. He started to display signs of hip problems a few months ago. He seemed to have trouble sitting down and getting up after lying for some time and his hips would make an awful clunking noise as he moved around. He has a very big soft bed which seems to help but a lot of the time prefers to sleep on the hard wood floor to keep cool. He has never shown signs of being in pain and it is not slowing him down or stopping him from being a normal, happy Samoyed puppy. He is very lively and clumsy so I thought maybe he had just injured himself.
The first vet I saw was almost certain it was Dysplasia which I was terrified would be the case. He was put on anti-inflammatory pills and after two weeks I took him back to the vet. This time I saw a different vet and
she was fairly certain he had just injured himself which I was very pleased to hear (pleased that it wasn't Dysplasia, not pleased that he had injured himself). Each vet has suggested I build up his rear end muscles with swimming but he has given swimming a go and his coat bogged him down and he didn't like it.
I want to try cod liver oil or any kind of supplement that can help his joints. I have searched endlessly on the internet in magazines and asked people I know about why this happened and what I can try to help him but I have failed to come up with any straight answers. I'm now left feeling very confused. Each different article I read comes up with a different answer. Can dogs take normal cod liver oil tablets that are meant for humans? Will they do any good? Are there specific products on the market for dogs with this problem? And if so are they ridiculously priced and contain the same things as the human equivalent?
Is there a reason this has happened? I feel terribly guilty when I see Ted hobbling around in case I could have done something to prevent this. I have also tried to find ways of getting in touch with owners of Samoyeds who have hip problems to find out
how they have helped their dogs but I have found nothing.
Emma Douglas

Well, Emma, my feeling is that the cause of the problem hasn’t really been investigated sufficiently. Hip Dysplasia is very difficult to diagnose or rule out without taking X rays. If it was an injury, what kind of injury and why hasn’t it cleared up after several months? My advice is to ask your vets to X ray the hindquarters, or refer to an orthopaedic specialist if they don’t want to carry out further investigations themselves.
Whatever the underlying problem, supplements may well be helpful in relieving the symptoms. Cod liver oil is indeed a good supplement for bone and joint problems (about 500mg daily for a young Samoyed) and there is no special veterinary cod liver oil – ordinary human products will be just as good! Other joint supplements that can help include Glucosamine, Chondroitin, MSM and Hyaluronic acid (the best product containing these ingredients, in my opinion, is Cortavet). Turmeric is a herb with a natural anti inflammatory effect, and Yarrow complex, a combination of several herbs, is another anti inflammatory treatment.
For weak muscles, vitamin E seems helpful and there is a really good supplement of a natural oil that helps strengthen and bulk up muscle for dogs, with the inspired brand name of Muscle Dog.
I could go on – magnetic collars, acupuncture, type 2 collagen, homoeopathic medicines, green lipped mussel, deer antler velvet. All might help. But you do need to find out exactly what is wrong with Teddy first!
Richard Allport, alternative vet

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Destructive diet?

I have an SBT Boxer cross dog who is around 18 months old. When we first got him, he suffered from separation anxiety in the form of destructive behaviour.
We attended a couple of training sessions with him where he generally was hard to control although we did make some progress with him. One of the trainers suggested that we change his diet to one with less protein in and after consulting a friend who has SBT crosses too, we changed him to Cobby Dog.
This change initially seemed good and much to our pleasure the destructive behaviour stopped, however after a couple of months, our dog had lost weight and I felt I had to return him back to the meat and buscuits he was on previously, he has now put the weight back on, but much to our dismay the destructive behaviour has returned.
I am convinced that the return of the destructive behaviour is due to the food we are giving him. Would you possibly be able to give me some advice as to a dog food that is low protein and not going to let my dog loose weight?
As a further note, we have just got a puppy who is a GSD Border Collie cross and we have continued to feed her the James Wellbeloved puppy food she was on, but I would rather feed her the same as our older dog when she is old enough.
I really do hope you can help me, my home and belongings are being destroyed!
Verity Brown

Best food for the credit crunch?

I would really appreciate your help with the complete dog food I currently use.
I am the lucky owner of a beautiful rescued German Shepherd Dog, who is seven year this year and rather large at 45kg (but not at all fat).
I have fed him on chicken Eukanuba complete dried food for the last four years, which he does well on, but with the price now escalating to £46.99 for a 15kg bag which lasts six weeks, and his insurance with Pet Plan at £45.60 a month (which I don't want to change), I would like to try a cheaper alternative.
I did try him on James Wellbeloved, but even after introducing it really slowly, he still ended up at the vets with diarrhoea.
I wondered if you could suggest a complete chicken based food which would be comparable to Eukanuba, as any money saved would be greatly appreciated.
Obviously my dog's health is paramount, so if there is no alternative for him, I will keep him on it.
Thanking you in advance for any guidance you can give to me.
Yours faithfully
Harlow, Essex

Is anyone else trying to scale down the bills but retain as much quality as possible? Anyone got any recommendations for the cheapest quality food for those on a budget?

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Total recall

Please can anyone help us with a recall problem. We have a two-year-old spayed bitch, who is perfect in everything, apart from when she refuses to come back to you when off lead. It is not every time she does this, you can take her out for a few days, or a week, let her off and she comes back. Then the next time you let her off there is no way she will let you get close enough to her to get her lead on. It is as though it's a game, but then she knows she has done wrong, as when you do get her home she goes under the table.
We have tried coaxing her with titbits, squeaky toys, hiding from her, playing ball, ignoring her and walking onwards, but nothing seems to work. We have a long line which we have used, and that is not a problem, she goes to my husband and myself, as good as gold, and as I say it is not happening all the time, it's as though she knows she has us where she wants us.
The dangerous part is that if we go out of the park, we are next to the streets, and if you try to go to get her lead on she runs into the paths of cars. We have also tried sitting, waiting patiently. but have done that for almost two hours at times, until someone helps us get her. If it wasn't for the fact we live in a village, it would be dangerous.
We hope someone, or a few people can give us some help. or suggestions, or anything they think of that we may try to stop this dangerous thing of hers, as I said she is great in all other ways.
Stan Tennant

It sounds like your dog has started a bit of a habit. I think the behaviour will also be partly down to how much
pressure you put on her, in other words how much of a hurry you are in.
Always take her out for a walk with plenty of time to spare, you don't say what breed you have and correcting this problem does depend on breed as some are quicker thinkers than others. I'd start by allowing extra time to walk her. How ever much time you are walking her for try to increase this by an extra 20 minutes if you can. It is also really important to walk her somewhere different most of the time. This way a habit will be harder to form. On a good day you need to put her on and
off her lead several times, randomly throughout the walk. Always finish your walk in a different location, even if you park in the same place you can put her lead back on at random times and random places so you are entirely unpredictable.
If she does mess you about try not to get wound up, try to do some training with her instead and when she does return stroke her, touch her collar but let her go again and repeat a few times before placing her on the lead.
It's always a good idea to combine exercise with training so try to add this to your daily routine and make it part of her walk.
Amy Hatcher, Canine Behaviourist & Dog Obedience Trainer

Friday, 1 May 2009

Fussy eater

I have a 15 month old Welsh Springer Spaniel. From a pup he has always been really picky with his food. He is active and lively and weighs 17.2kg but just lately has been turning his nose up at his morning feed, he eats his meal in the evening which is usually cooked chicken breast or turkey mixed in with a complete food, he eats the odd treat throughout the day. When I can get him to eat in the morning it's usually a small tin of Ceasar as he will not touch anything else wet or dry and I just end up throwing it away. I have spoken to my vet who is not unduly concerned but she has said he is a little on the lean side and could do with building up. Can dogs at his age survive on just one meal a day with some treats. I would appreciate any advice as it is really worrying me and I don't want people to think I am under feeding him. He is not a working dog but does have a good 1 -2 hrs run around off lead every day with my daughter's Beagle.
Many thanks
B Lear

When I was growing up and we had lots of dogs it was my mum noted that the male dogs seemed to go through a ribby stage between 12 months and two years irrespective of how much they seemed to eat. They also didn't seem as food obsessed as many of the females. I'd always speculated that maybe it was hormonal as castrated males didn't seem to go through a skinny phase. We have also found that one dog alone often doesn't have much interest in food as there's no rush to finish a bowl as there's no competition and we have known dogs try to train us to offer more and more tasty and tempting food by turning their nose up at the first offering. It is easily done! We had one dog that had to be hand fed at the height of this madness. We took advice and started putting the bowl down for only so many minutes and then taking it back up whether or not any had been eaten. After an hour or so we'd offer the same food again. Anyone else got any tips?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor