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Friday, 28 August 2009

Park and ride

I am after a dog pram for my Border Collie, who can walk, but only for about 15 minutes. Does anyone know of any companies I can source a stroller from?
Dianne Evans, by email

Monday, 24 August 2009

Back to basics

Oh how I wish I had a dog that pulled on the lead! Forwards that is, but not backwards! I have a problem with my 10-year-old male neutered Westie, which is really spoiling our walks. He persistently yanks my arm backwards. This is because he has noticed an interesting smell and wants to stop to investigate, but it's driving me mad.
At the same time I walk my eight-year-old female spayed Westie, who walks nicely on the lead and when I am walking with my husband and I take the female dog, the walk is altogether different because she is less interested in stopping. The male dog has recently pulled my husband's arm backwards with such force he really hurt his shoulder. This dog is very strong and sometimes it is unbelieveable that a small dog can pull with such force.
I have tried everything I can think of - standing with him until he has finished and wants to walk again, telling him 'no' firmly every time he wants to stop to sniff, yanking him forwards regardless of what he wants to do, trying to keep the lead slack and gently encouraging him to walk forwards again, and keeping his lead really short, so that he has no opportunity to pull my arm backwards.
Is the male Westie too old to retrain in the art of walking nicely and not pulling backwards? I would be prepared to take him back to training classes if you thought this would be helpful.
Jane Hull, by email

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Where can I get a waterproof coat?

Is anyone able to recommend a supplier of waterproof coats for my 10kg mongrel who has a whippet-type build? Last winter I bought a well-made (not cheap!) padded coat with a waterproof outer. Unfortunately water seeped up the non-waterproof lining! I work as a dog-walker and therefore Misty spends at least half a day each day walking for 30 or 45 minutes at a time, and travelling between customers in the car. I love the look of Ruffwear's Cloud-Chaser Coat, but this doesn't appear to be available in a 'whippet-fit'. Any suggestions would be very gratefully received.
Claire Murison, by email

Monday, 17 August 2009

Clouding the issue

I have an 11-year-old Border Collie who is very fit and healthy. However, recently I have noticed her eyes clouding over. Could this be cataracts? It doesn't seem to have affected her sight in any way, but it is concerning me.
Chris Whitehead, by email

Claudia Hartley, Animal Health Trust senior clinician in ophthalmology, says…
As dogs age, like us, their lenses harden. We call this ‘nuclear sclerosis’ and it is the reason that we need reading glasses as we get older. In dogs, as they don’t have the visual acuity to read, even when in their prime, it doesn’t have any observable visual effects for them. It can make their lenses appear slightly grey or blue though, and this apparent cloudiness can be mistaken for cataracts. Your vet can distinguish between the two for you as nuclear sclerosis will still give a clear view of the retina whereas cataracts obstruct this view so to be sure it would be wise to book an appointment with your vet. Some dogs will develop senile cataracts so this is a possibility, but as your dog appears to be seeing normally I would suspect that this may be nuclear sclerosis.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Spot of bother

My three-month-old Pug is suffering from puppy acne - he has little pimples all over his face and chin. My vet suggested antibiotics to clear it up, but I would prefer to go down a more natural route. Can anyone suggest an alternative solution?
Natasha Long, by email

Elice Strickland, Natural Dog Company, advises:
Also known as “Canine Acne,” Puppy Acne is a disease of the chin and lips of young dogs starting around puberty. When an infection is present, dogs will typically rub their noses on carpet and furniture. Short-coated dogs are at increased risk for acne.
The cause of Puppy Acne is unknown although it is believed by some to be hormonal since it occurs mostly during adolescence. However, one should consider the skin is actually the largest organ of the immune system. So from a holistic point of view, we should consider both the endocrine (hormonal) system and the immune system.
Research has proven that Vitamin D helps support both the immune and endocrine system. Unfortunately, many pets are deficient in Vitamin D levels due to keeping them indoors. Dogs should get at least one hour of sunshine a day or supplement with a good liquid Vitamin D supplement.
Snout Soother is an excellent nose and snout balm. Snout Soother contains several ingredients that that can help rid your pup’s acne and also help with pain and irritation. Hempseed oil is a prostaglandin-mediating natural anti-inflammatory. Kukui nut oil is homeostatic, meaning that it helps to restore the skin’s natural balance. Jojoba oil is bacteriostatic, meaning that it inhibits the growth of certain acne-causing bacteria.
Lastly, stay away from plastic bowls as they are porous and tend to harbor bacteria that could trigger an acne outbreak. Try ceramic or stainless steel.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

It's back again

My six year old JRT x Yorkie Bitch had fractured ribs back in February. About a month or two after a big lump appeared towards the top of her spine and we went back to the vets once again to check it out. The vet suspected it to be a possible hematoma from the recent trauma of her fractured ribs but advised us to keep a close eye on it. Three weeks after, the lump did reduce in size and about a month after that it disappeared. However the past month it seems to be back again although it is much smaller in size then before. I'm just wondering whether these are likely to be recurring things now? Or whether her ribs haven't completely mended still and any trauma or impact to her ribs has caused the hematoma to surface again. She's currently in agility training, could this maybe be effecting her ribs still after all these months?

L. Nichol

Alison Logan, vet, advises:
I think you should take your dog back to your vet because this is one of those occasions where my hands are itching to have a feel and a real examination of your dog! It does seem strange to have recurred after all this time, so repeat radiography may be in order to see exactly what is going on. This is particularly important given that you take her to agility training. I often say to owners that negative results are actually better than positive if it means that there is nothing of concern – far better to resume agility training with a clear mind than to continue without knowing if she is coming amiss through taking part.

Friday, 7 August 2009

A sorry tail

I have a two-year-old GSD rescued last December from the RSPCA. He had been a 'yard dog' chained outside with another five-year-old female GSD (possibly his mother) who sadly, due to self-mutilation resulting in the loss of part of her tail, had to be put to sleep. My dog, Charlie, is a beautiful, very large GSD with a slightly deformed front leg.
Our problem is that he has a cyst about a third of the way down his tail which has turned ulcerated on two occasions, each time subsiding after treatment with antibiotics from our very kind vet. As it is a rather large cyst our vet has recommended surgery to remove it if or when it becomes ulcerated again (which I am sure it will). If surgery takes place the wound will apparently have to be treated as an 'open wound' as there is not going to be enough skin to join together and the worst scenario appears to be amputation! This is not a road we want to go down so can anyone offer any suggestions on what to do or how to treat this ailment?
Lesley Phillips, Shepperton, Middlesex

Alison Logan, vet, advises:
I can sympathise with your dilemma from both sides of the consulting table. I remember one Labrador whose tail was successively shortened after initially damaging the tip because it would not heal. We fought as hard as we could over months but to no avail, and she ended up with a stump which did heal (and she went on to live into old age).
As an owner, our Labrador’s tail was accidentally caught in a door so that the tip had to be removed. Pippin is a real monkey when it comes to dressings and sutures, so all were removed within hours of surgery! I re-dressed it repeatedly, but after a week was reduced to tears when it was weeping pus! I simply did not want her to lose any more of her tail, especially as I knew we would simply be back at square one with a renewed battle for it to heal.
I had not been a fan of the Elizabethan collar, but did resort to fitting one on Pippin. She became a model patient, allowing me to remove it for her to eat at meal-times and then sitting for me to put it back on. It was almost as if she was glad that she would not be able to lick and nibble at the end of her poor tail.
With Elizabethan collar in place, the shuttlecock-like tail-tip protector worked like a dream. She wore the collar increasingly intermittently but especially at night and when left on her own, and the shuttlecock all the time. Two months passed, and I began to wonder when I would dare to leave them off altogether. As so often happens, the decision was made for me when we drove up to the north Norfolk coast to look at the seals in the wild. Somewhere along the beach, she shed the shuttlecock, and that was it! She paid no attention to her tail, the fur grew back (even over the end) and you really would not know to look at it, bar the 2cm shortening.
So, I would explain to your vet your misgivings, if you have not done so already. With this cyst being prone to ulceration, then removal of the mass is a rational step to take next. I would have thought that you would be stacking the odds in favour of a successful outcome if it is removed when not ulcerated, rather than waiting for it to ulcerate again. Healing will require much dedication on your part aided, I would suggest, by use of an Elizabethan collar.

Pennie Clayton, Canine Bowen Therapist, says...
By the sound of things this lovely dog has had an awful lot to contend with in his life. He will have experienced a lot of stress, and grief in his previous life, especially after losing his companion (whether it was his mother or not).
It is not surprising in these cases that ill health of one kind or another occurs after these sorts of experiences. A dog who has lived a life such as he had before you rescued him, will have suffered from stress. Long term stress leads to tiredness and an inability to deal with both physical and mental needs on a day-to-day basis, resulting in low energy, health problems and ultimately a body is unable to cope or function as well as it should.
While Bowen Technique does not treat specific conditions it can be incredibly beneficial in cases such as this. Bowen often starts by addressing the least obvious problems and often very small changes (which are easy to miss) will be the priority of a dog's system. (In cases like this dogs may first appear to be more chilled or energised before any healing is observed.)
In the case of a cyst like this dog is experiencing, which seems to be a recurrent problem, Bowen therapy by promoting relaxation can help the dog's body to return to a stage where healing can start to take place. Bowen is a great therapy in cases like this, and I have worked with a horse who had appalling injuries, that healed faster than predicted by her vet, when her antibiotics were backed up by a Bowen session once a week.
Bowen is also a good step to take as it is very gentle and non-invasive and will not cause discomfort when it is received. It is recommended that dogs receive at least three sessions of Bowen so that the maximum amount of benefit can be received. Because each dog is an individual, each Bowen session will be tailored to how much your dog needs, and it is important that any recommendations that the therapist makes are followed up.
Visit to find a list of fully trained and insured Canine Bowen therapists in your area.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Fear factor

Milly, my one-year-old crossbreed, ran back from the back garden crying in fear and would not return out there. I don't know what was the cause but I suspect the neighbours may have put some device to repel dogs (electronic or ultrasound perhaps) because they don't like it when she occasionally barks at them over the fence. Would this be legal?
Alternatively, could she have met a toad which sprayed her? (She was also licking herself as if she felt sore.)
I would be grateful for your advice.
V.Cesareo, London