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Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Looking for shoulder socks and shoes!

Our Golden Retriever has a very bad shoulder (very severe arthritis due to a genetic condition despite his very young age). The vet told us that we should avoid draft and keep his shoulder warm. We were wondering where we could find a sock or some woollen garment that will keep it warm. (via Facebook)


Any idea where we could get wee doggy boots for sister's Cairn who has just had her stookie off? Want to help her in snow.

Via Twitter: @SamDescartes

It is amazing what new facts I learn every day. I must confess that I had to look on the internet to find out what a stookie is, and now know that it is a plaster cast.
Over the years, I have experimented with boots for dogs with cut pads, making boots out of socks and inner tubes. Then boots for dogs began appearing on the market but I have had variable success with them.
That was until about a month ago when a client brought in her dog for me to examine her dog's paw. She had found a doggie boot on the internet which really impressed me. The dog was wearing it comfortably, and it stayed on. We are now using a similar version within the practice with great results, both as a form of protection for a paw and also over the top of a dressing to keep it dry and clean. It is neoprene with a reinforced base, and has two Velcro straps to hold it in place. The most impressive part is the cost which I think is very reasonable (less than £4).
Such a boot will not provide support but does protect the foot. I wonder what the vet treating your sister's Cairn Terrier advised? It will depend on the reason for the plaster cast as to whether some support is still needed, or simply to protect the paw whilst it recovers from being encased in the stookie.
Alison Logan, vet

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Looking to find a noisy toy

Here's a picture of my Cocker Spaniel Badger in the snow, he is nine and a half years and sadly his eyesight is going but he has a real zest for life.... Does anybody know if there is such a thing as a toy that makes a continuous noise when you throw it? He loves to play fetch, but is finding it hard to follow the ball now his eyesight is failing, and if it made a continuous noise he would be able to follow it, and therefore find it.
If you know it could make a little dog very happy...
Dawn Hart, by email

I'm thinking the Wiggly Giggly off the top of my head... but is it continuously noisy?Anyone got any other ideas?
Beverley Cuddy, Ed

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Long-term vision

On 11 May Tyler, my two-and-a-half-year-old Standard Poodle, was diagnosed with Bilateral Panopthalritis with retinal detachment and flatline electroretinogram. Pending investigation he was prescribed Predforte drops x 4 daily, Acular drops x 4 daily, steroids, antibiotics and Imuran.
Responding to treatment, the antibiotics were discontinued after two weeks and by end of June 60 to 80 per cent vision had returned. Steroids and drops were gradually reduced over two weeks.
Mid September Imuran was reduced from one tablet daily to half a tablet daily. This was further reduced to every other day due to low results on blood test.
Mid October his left eye clouded over so Acular x 1 drop twice daily was prescribed for this eye only (the clouding disappeared within 24 hours of administering drops). By this time Tyler's blood results had also improved.
Tyler is a happy, energetic, playful companion. He eats well. is 25kg, and enjoys his twice daily outings. He had his injections at 10 and 12 weeks with a booster at 12 months, nothing since.
His medication is now half an Imuran tablet every other day and Acular x 1 drop twice daily in his left eye. What should I be looking for regarding the long-term effects of this medication? Would Echinacea help his body systems cope or is there anything better? Although the treatment received from the eye vet saved Tyler's sight any comments would be greatly appreciated.
By the way I wrap Tyler's lower legs in horse bandages to stop snowballs a-gathering - being a boy, blue bandages of course!
Yvonne Smart, Taunton, Somerset

I am so glad Tyler's vision has been saved. It must have been a very worrying time for you.

Imuran is the trade name for azothiaprine which is an immunosuppressive agent used in immune-mediated diseases. In other words, it is used to control the body's inbuilt defence system in conditions caused by an inappropriately-directed and/or over-exuberant response of that system. As you have experienced, azothiaprine is given initially once daily until the condition is controlled, and then reduced gradually to a low alternate day dose. Tyler's ophthalmologist will be aiming to minimise side effects (bone marrow suppression in particular) whilst at the same time preventing a recurrence of the original problem.

Acular eye drops contain the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent ketorolac and are therefore an ideal way of targeting treatment at the site of the inflammation. Local irritation can be a problem but obviously this has not been so for Tyler.

I can understand your concerns about continuing Tyler's eye drops in the long-term but regular monitoring by his ophthalmologist should ensure no problems are encountered whilst keeping his eyes comfortable and able to see.
I will leave my complimentary therapy colleagues to comment on Echinacea and other alternative treatments.

Alison Logan, vet

Is my pup lactose intolerant?

We have a three-month-old Jack Russell who enjoys a bowl of milk each morning. (He also has fresh water available at all times.)
However, he frequently has diarrhoea and when I rang the vet she said he was probably lactose intolerant and not to give him milk at all.
I have now seen a brand of lactose-free milk in the supermarket, 'Ario Lactofree'. Would this be suitable for puppies?
Mrs C Gadan, Uffculme, Devon

As I so often say, 'common things are common'. Puppies are very like children, exploring with their mouths whether in the house or outside, so a bout of diarrhoea may be as a result of eating something intentionally which has been fed to him, or through eating something which he should not have eaten.

Whenever a client asks for advice about a puppy who has diarrhoea, my first question is invariably, 'Are you giving him milk?' If the answer is 'yes' then I will, like your vet, advise leaving out the milk. If the diarrhoea stops then the milk lactose is indeed the likely cause of the problem. This can be tested by giving your puppy a bowl of the milk as before - if the diarrhoea recurs, then a lactose intolerance is likely.

If the diarrhoea continues after you have stopped giving milk, then it may be in response to a different component in his diet (whether that is the food you are feeding or something else he has found to eat). Alternatively, simply overloading your puppy's digestive system may be the cause - I call this greedy puppy syndrome! The first part of your puppy's life was involved in competing for a nipple to access the dam's milk, and then competing at the food bowl with his siblings. It is therefore quite an adjustment to find oneself living without the need to guzzle as much food as possible in one sitting, and the result of eating too much at once can be diarrhoea. Feeding small frequent meals will generally solve the problem.

Once a puppy has been weaned off his mother's milk, and is eating a diet balanced to meet all the needs of an active growing puppy, then there is not the same need to offer milk. The dog is not a social drinker like us: a bowl of fresh water will meet his needs, whereas milk is more of a food. I quickly learnt with my children when weaning them to solids to offer water with the food, and reserve milk until afterwards. Otherwise they filled up with milk because they were hungry, and then had a much reduced appetite for the meal proper.

I looked up Arla Lactofree on the internet, and it is indeed lactose-free cow's milk but, by that token, not bitch's milk which would be more appropriate and is available, usually as a powder to reconstitute. However, personally I would not worry about giving him milk because now that he has been weaned his nutritional needs will be met by a balanced solid diet, plus the bowl of fresh water he already has available.

Alison Logan, vet

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Worrying about bloat...

I am very worried about that my Leonberger could get a bloat or gastric torsion. I have read that deep chested dogs can be prone and have heard some real horror stories - is there anything I can do to to prevent this?
I've heard conflicting information about raised feeding bowls, do they help or not?
What causes bloat?
Is any type of food better than others?
Any supplements?
Really grateful for any advice you can give me.
Jane Graham, Manchester

Hi Jane,

Bloat is a condition in which the stomach becomes distended by excessive gas content. It is also commonly referred to as torsion, gastric torsion, and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) when there is also stomach torsion i.e. the stomach is twisted, preventing the gas from escaping. People often use 'bloat' as a general term to describe excessive gas in the stomach whether or not the stomach is actually twisted.
The general advice seems to be to feed from raised feeders, do not exercise your dog or play active games during the hour before a meal and especially the hour after a meal, do not give water 30 minutes before or after food, take extra care with certain breeds or with deep chested dogs, feed wet food or soaked dry food, slow the dog’s eating so they swallow less air, feed small frequent meals rather than one large meal a day, avoid cereal-based food as they can be particularly bad at causing fermentation, and so on.  I have tried to sum up some of the proposed do’s and don’t for you there but for the full article on D for Dog please visit
From speaking to actual dog owners who have had dogs who have suffered from bloat, often they say there seems to be no rhyme or reason to when it occurs.  I am almost tempted to conclude that if a dog is susceptible due to shape, breed or inheritance then that is simply that.  The above precautions certainly can’t hurt but they don’t seem to be fail proof.  In my opinion the best thing would be to make sure you are aware of the early signs and symptoms of torsion and bloat because bloat becomes extremely serious very quickly and if it is spotted and treated early there is often a much better outcome for the dog.  A dog with bloat will need to see a vet immediately. Gastric Torsion is an extremely dangerous and urgent situation. All you can do is get your dog to the vet straight away and try to keep your dog as warm and comfortable as possible in the mean time.

Common Symptoms
- Repeated attempts to vomit or produce a stool without success
- Distended stomach with abdomen feeling hard
- Evidence of abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive salivation and drooling
- Anxiety
- Restlessness
- Stiff legged stance with arched back
- Lethargic
- Heavy panting
- Pale/cold lips and gums (indicates the onset of shock)

Someone contacted me at D for Dog back in August I think it was, saying that raised feeders caused bloat.  I always try to stay abreast of these matters so of course looked into it immediately.  Like you I read conflicting information regarding bloat and raised feeders.
I did actually post a question myself on Think Tank around that time, asking about raised feeders and bloat.  Vet Alison Logan gave a helpful reply, which I will replicate here but I am sure Beverley can provide the Think Tank link for you if preferred.
“Bloat is one of many conditions where advice varies with time, reflecting the results of ongoing research. Yes, raising the feeding bowl was advised at one time and current thinking is that it is best to feed from the ground once more. That advice may well change in the future, if it has not already.”
“It may be a matter of by how much the feeding bowl is raised, so perhaps feeding off the lowest back-door step rather than raising it by twelve inches, for example? There are so many factors potentially at play in the development of bloat that the height of the feeding bowl may be insignificant or a relatively minor feature ii comparison with another factor, which may not have even been identified yet.”
“From personal experience, my Labrador Pippin has had her food bowl sat in a stand to raise it from the ground for the past six years or so. This is because she has intermittent episodes of neck pain which I feel date back to when a car went into the back of my car at high speed whilst I was stationary in traffic. She was lying down in the boot of my car at the time. I suffered a whiplash injury and chronic consequences, whilst she had times when she could not bend her neck to reach her food bowl on the ground. It was heart-breaking to see – a hungry Lab who simply could not lower her mouth to her food!  I found the stand at a local agriculture show and thought it was worth a try. The stand has been a revelation for Pippin so I do recommend raising the bowl for dogs who find it difficult to bend their neck to eat from the ground.” Alison Logan, vet

I hope that is of some use.

Kind regards,
Jenny Prevel

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

What would be Tetley's cup of tea?

Tetley, our beloved six-year-old German Shepherd cross is soon to arrive from the USA. There was lots of bureaucracy so I have got here before him! So, despite having records since birth and regular everything, we still had to act like she had never had a single shot in her life and she actually had to have two rabies shots within a month of each other as things must be done in a certain order or it's no dice.
In the States he was fed on Nutro after having some skin issues but you don't seem to have it here. What would be the nearest food to it?
She could do with losing a few pounds, but she should soon do that as there's some lovely walks around here.
Owen Jones, Chalfont St Giles

Are squeaky toys dangerous?

I have heard many options on the use of squeaky toys for puppies and dogs.
Many people think that squeaky toys should be avoided because they could
encourage hard biting in dogs. Whilst making a comparison, I've heard others
ask, 'Have you heard the noise a baby makes when crying'?!
I am of the opinion that dogs are slightly more intelligent than to think a
baby or a child screaming is a squeaky toy. They are self rewarding toys,
so probably not the best for most training situations but I don't think they
encourage biting puppies, babies, children or adults.
I would love to hear peoples opinions on this.
Tony Cruse

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Supplementary question

As a subscriber to your magazine, I really enjoy the articles and letters so I wonder if you can advise on a supplement issue for me.
I feed my 2 spaniels a mix of home prepared and raw food and would like to add a high quality general vitamin and mineral supplement in a liquid form. However I do seem to be having some problems finding one without additives such as sugar. There are plenty of tablet or herb versions but my one dog is very fussy with these types.
Can you recommend or suggest any products for me?
Many thanks
Julia Jones, by email

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Which dog behaviour book is the best...

I am interested in studying dog behaviorism and I would appreciate a good book on that subject focused on the causes and effects of physiology and psychology on dog’s behaviour.
I have gone through a big list of available books but I honestly do not know which one to pick. A good advice would be much appreciated.
Thank you for your help
Have a good day and take care
Evelyn, by email (from Greece)

Come on everyone which are your favourites. I'm going to say "anything by Ian Dunbar". But imagine this is Desert Island Disks, if you can only have one book - which one would it be?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Panic attacks in an older dog

Our little Jack Russell is now 20. She is, for the most part, very well and the vet is pleased with her although she is nearly deaf and has poor sight. She has been on Vetmedin for eight years so it must have worked! She occasionally has what I can only describe as panic attacks - a screaming bark and then a flight reaction, wanting to run off. She takes half an hour to calm down. Different things trigger it - sometimes a very high pitched noise sets it off or sometimes nothing very much. It is distressing to see her so distressed but we don't really want conventional medicine has to offer - sedation we gather. Can anyone advise - we try to prevent by keeping life calm and it nearly works apart from an odd occasion now.
Linda Smith

At the risk of being boring, can I be the first to suggest Vivitonin? While it's something you have to get from the vet it's a very unusual drug that seems to just improve so many things for older dogs. I've seen it make incredible changes, really like turning back the clock. There are very few miracle drugs - but this one is well worth a try. You can see it's effects within two weeks. If no change, stop. It makes the blood circulate better - and with better blood supply brain activity improves, muscles, coat - it really is like putting better petrol in the tank! I first used it 15 years ago and I have to say I was skeptical, but I was won over by the results. (And no - they don't advertise with us - GRRR!. I amd told that in Japan it has a licence for use on humans in connection with Alzheimers.
Twenty years is an impressive age - have you contacted our Golden Oldies section to see if she is eligible for a telegram from the Queen's Corgis? Email with the weight of your dog, date of birth and some general info about your dog. Also do send a photo. Every dog featured on the page gets a treat from Daisy's Dog Deli and the oldest each month gets a cake!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Like Beverley, I am a great fan of propentofylline (Vivitonin, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health), having seen some wonderful results over the years. When I first read this post, I had just replied to a query about improving demeanour in an old dog and the use of Vivitonin and did not want to repeat myself. Now that the snow has gone and normality is starting to return, I am back at the keyboard to escape from a blanket of freezing fog, and was surprised to see that there has only been one response to your query.
It also gave me a chance to re-read your query, which was when I realised that there is a difference here. I feel that this may be one of those cases where Vivitonin may not be prescribed readily by your vet after due consideration of your dog’s health and current medication. Your Jack Russell Terrier (unfortunately, you have not given us her name) has been on pimobendan (Vetmedin, Boehringer Ingelheim Limited) for the past eight years. This is a drug for congestive heart failure. Although Vivitonin has a very useful role in improving the demeanour of older dogs – I call it the geriatric pep pill – there are certain situations where its use must be with caution, if at all. Congestive heart failure is one of those health conditions, because of the effect that the active ingredient propentofylline has on the heart. Indeed, this is why Vivitonin is a POM-V or Prescription-Only Medicine, requiring it to be prescribed by and under the guidance of a veterinary surgeon. It is a drug and cannot be given to any old dog without careful appraisal of any underlying health problems.
I do wonder, though, whether I can suggest a non-conventional approach that may help your dog: Dog Appeasing Pheromone and in particular a DAP collar. This is worn all the time by the dog so that she is influenced by DAP all the time, the pheromone given out by a nursing bitch to soothe and calm her litter of puppies.
My Labrador retriever became very insecure this time last year when we were in the throes of first moving house, then settling in to our new home. She became very anxious and started acting out of character. In particular, at night when taken outside for a last wee she would wander off and then refuse to come back inside.
With the DAP collar on, Pippin returned to her usual self. That the collar had helped became apparent when I had reason to pop her into a kennel at work because it was yet again snowy, and therefore too cold for her to wait for me in the car. I warned all the nurses that she would in her usual manner bark once I had left her.
No noise. I returned to check on her to find her lying stretched in the kennel, sound asleep. The final proof of the pudding came when she woke up and I gave her a treat. Previously she had been so unhappy to be in a kennel at work that she had totally ignored a treat I gave her – a Labrador ignore food? This time, she readily took the dental chew and happily ate it at her usual rate. What was different? I then realised that she was still wearing her DAP collar.
Have a word with your vet and see what she or he thinks. Twenty years old is a fantastic age to have reached so it would be great to be able to help her with this problem,
Alison Logan, vet

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Desperately trying to save her dying husband's gift

Just had a very emotional conversation with Mrs Pritchard who approached Tailwaggers Club Trust for some help.
Having heard the full story I thought I'd open this one up as many brains may help untangle this one...
Mrs Pritchard's husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer and they had not long lost their beloved dog. He didn't want her to be left alone after he had passed so set about finding a new dog. They visited rescue sanctuaries but her husband couldn't find, "the one".
It was when they met a Sheltie that they realised this was the dog for them. They visited a breeder and Jack was found. A beautiful tricolour dog.
There was a lot of sadness in Mrs Pritchard's life. Not long after her husband died her ex husband was found to be terminally ill too. She nursed him and took in his dog, an elderly Corgi. Then Mrs Pritchard herself fell ill with Ovarian cancer.
Jack went in to be castrated, but shortly after coming home he couldn't stand up, he was falling over. His back legs didn't seem to work.
Lots and lots of tests were done at the vets but nothing could be found to explain his back leg weakness.
Jack appeared to get better, although he always did have a jippy tum. Mrs Pritchard put him onto James Wellbeloved and things seemed to calm down.
Then two weeks after his booster vaccine, Jack had some fits and was foaming at the mouth. He was hospitalised and more tests were done and the vet seemed to think the earlier problems were related and it could possibly be IBS.
Mrs Pritchard is a pensioner, a widow. The vet bills are massive and the problem as yet unresolved.
She has already cashed in an ISA and is now looking at extracting some equity from her house to pay the vet bills.
Jack is currently out of hospital and urinating every hour - which means she is getting up all night to let him out.
Jack means the world to her and she is worried sick about him. He is currently on prednisolone, zitac and netoclopranide. He has lost a lot of weight and his coat looks dull and seems to be changing colour.
She feels her vet couldn't try any harder, he wants Jack back in for more tests. He wants to look at possible Thyroid problems next.
Her total vet bills to date are close to £4k and rising.
I have suggested she might wish to consider a referral to a holistic vet - just to see what the alternative world can suggest in this case. Looking at perhaps changing the diet as if this is an extreme form of IBS then maybe a more simple diet may help. And also to try to reduce any further challenges to this poor dog's immune system by looking at blood testing before further routine revaccination.
It could just be coincidence that both health crisis have been after surgery and vaccination - but could this be an autoimmune condition that is flaring up after any challenge?
Money is very tight and after all the money spent to date Jack remains very poorly and without a clear diagnosis.
Mrs Pritchard says she is open to any logical suggestions and feels very worried for her beloved dog.
She lives in Cornwall between Plymouth and Tavistock.
Can anyone recommend a nearby holistic vet?
Mrs Pritchard said it had been lovely to talk to Tailwaggers as it has been so hard going through all this with Jack alone, but that she will go to any lengths to save Jack. She has every confidence in her vet, but would not like to leave any stone unturned.
I will set up a JustGiving appeal on the Tailwaggers blog for Jack as no matter what Mrs Pritchard who receives pensions credit is struggling with the bills she already has.
Anyone got any ideas? Anyone in Shelties seen or heard of something similar? Mrs Pritchard says that the stud dog owner has had some colitis problems in her dogs. Mum is apparently of Russian descent, but the breeder has moved so Mrs P can't contact her. The pups were reared on raw mince so it seems likely the breeder was a raw food feeder.
Here's a link to Jack's JustGiving page.
Beverley Cuddy, Editor and Chairman of Tailwaggers Club Trust

The excessive urination is probably being caused by the prednisolone - this
is a common and well recognised side effect of steroids. It may be possible
to continue with the prednisolone but at a much reduced dose.
As your correspondent Queenie says, there may be a Burns food which is
suitable for Jack. All our adult foods are very digestible and low in fat.
They will not cause irritation to the digestive system. The feeding amount
should be less than the recommended amount and should cost no more than
40-45 p per day and possibly less. Mrs Pritchard should not attempt to
manage this on her own; she needs to work in consultation with the Burns
Nutrition team.
When we decide what food to go with we would be willing to supply her with a
free bag to try.
Burns Pet Nutrition

Monday, 8 November 2010

My dogs love of others is dangerous!

I have a 16-month-old male Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. He is a very confident, sociable dog with no signs of fear or aggression. He loves meeting other dogs but the problem is he seems to like it so much that if he sees a dog in the distance that he can not reach or if a dog walks past him without stopping for a sniff, he starts barking excitably and trying to pull towards them and will not stop until they are out of sight. It is a little embarrassing as he will not listen when he is in this state and I would like to know how to stop it from happening or how to stop/control if it does happen. It also makes it impossible to let him off the lead at this stage as he would just bolt off after any dog he sees, with no concern for traffic or any danger. He was castrated a few months ago in the hope that it may help, but although he has calmed down slightly it has not stopped it.
Rebecca Otter

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Is the crate starting to grate?

Our awesome chewer Annabel got out of her crate/pen today and ate a lot of things. Shoes, baby wipes, more shoes, carpet, whatever she could. My concern is that she is doing this because she is sick of being in that crate, and who blames her. She goes in at 8am, comes out at 7pm, and goes back in at 10pm till the morning. This is too long, don't you agree? Any tips or suggestions on what we can do to have a happier dog and not have all our shoes chewed up?
Suzi, by email

I've asked Suzi some more questions, here's her reply:

I appreciate your response! I am most concerned too! Now I am even more concerned because of this email! I promise, I love my dog and take very good care of her!!
Annabel is will be nine months old on the 7th of November. She is a 40lb Golden Retriever/black Lab puppy. We got her when she was four months old. She has been through some puppy training, and is great in all other aspects other then the chewing. She doesn't pee in the house, she just eats everything in sight.
When she was little she was in the crate for less time, only about four hours at a time during the day and then out, then back in for sleeping. About a month ago, my boyfriend and my schedules changed for work, and she's been in longer.  Some days shorter, but I would say at least four out of five works days 8am to 7pm.  What we did when the schedule changed, was to buy an attachable pen for the crate, and she has a little more space to run around. She has now figured out how to get OVER that pen, even though it is almost three ft high.
So she has been getting out and chewing and destroying anything she can find, that she shouldn't be chewing. Forget her toys, forget the bones we leave, she chews shoes, and pillows, and even her bed!
I have never had a dog before, but my boyfriend has had MANY over his life time and has never had a dog like this!
Right now we are investigating getting a dog sitter. The only issue is that my boyfriend is a federal agent, and it's a security issue with having someone we don't know in the house.
We would let her out if she didn't chew everything.
What else information can I give you?

I've asked Suzi where she lives to see if we can find someone to help locally - but I'm guessing Suzi lives in the US.

I've spoken to Suzi again and suggested Doggie Daycare. She is lucky to live somewhere with lots of choice as this concept is well established. I've suggested looking at where they do some training as well as play.
I've asked Suzi to let us know how things go and what she decides.

Just wanted to send a long an update. We spent this weekend interviewing dog walkers as well as visiting doggy day cares. We are also revisiting our work schedules with our supervisors to find out if there is any flexibility. Furthermore, we bought an additional doggie gate. This gate allows for Annabel to have a lot more freedom within the house. AND we did a major clean of the house, being sure to get everything we could off the floor and out of doggie reach, as well as spraying bitter yuck on the things that can't be moved.
I think we are moving in the right direction. As I said before, I truly appreciate all the advice that was giving. The criticism given from some was quite unnecessary as I knew things weren't their best. Thank you for the think tank, for a new doggie mom it has been a blessing!

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Just nightmares or something to really keep me awake?

Our rescue collie x working Cocker Spaniel, who is now 12, has recently started howling in his sleep. It has happened around six times in the last few months.
He seems absolutely fine during the day - still very lively and doesn't have any other different behaviour.
When he does howl, he does it only once and doesn't appear agitated or nervous (though he is a nervous dog generally), and then goes back to sleep.
Could he be having nightmares?
He had a full vet check fairly recently which stated he was in great physical shape.
I have just started him on skullcap and valerian tablets but these night howls started long before that.
Does anyone have any ideas what might be going on and how we can help him?
Thank you.

This may sound like an odd suggestion, but I'd be tempted to ask your vet if you could try Vivitonin. It's not a cheap drug, but I've found it a bit of a wonder drug for my older dogs. I believe it has a licence in Japan for Alzheimers prevention in people, but the effects it quickly has on older dogs is stunning - or it simply does nothing at all and you stop. You know in 14 days if it is worth continuing. This is going to sound very unscientific, but I think it puts the spring back into the red blood cells and when the oxygenated blood is flowing better every bit of the dog seems to gradually reawaken and it was certainly like turning back the years when I used in on my old Sally. She was on it for many years and when she died at 16 she had the coat and muscle tone of a very much younger dog. Before Vivitonin she'd become a very 'old' old dog. Didn't realise who much she'd changed until the pills kicked in. It was originally developed as a heart drug, but these 'positive' side effects changed it use.
The brain is one of the first areas to get the boost of what is in effect better blood supply and if these night terrors are age related, Vivitonin might just help. Pity they don't make it available for humans on the NHS! Could do with some today. But having seen what it does I'm tempted to start using Vivitonin on all my dogs when they start getting a little older.
Or your dog could indeed be having a recurring nightmare, and as to what you do to stop those I really don't know!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Like Beverley, I have had some quite stunning results in older dogs showing signs of senility with Vivitonin (Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health), whose active ingredient is propentofylline. It causes an increase in blood flow within the body, especially in the heart and muscles. This effect is also seen within the brain which therefore receives more oxygen without an increase in energy demand.
I call Vivitonin the geriatric pep pill because it can really rejuvenate an older dog who has become less responsive, lethargic and less willing to exercise. Your dog’s howling at night might well abate if you were to try giving him Vivitonin; even if it does not then there are still the other benefits for him. It is a Prescription-Only drug so you will need to consult your vet, especially as there are situations where one cannot prescribe Vititonin.
Both my Border Collies were on Vivitonin in their twilight years. My first border collie Nan developed urinary incontinence when she was twelve years old and I found that this vanished when I started her on Vivitonin – a very welcome side-effect!
Scullcap and valerian is a herbal remedy. I will be interested to hear if this helps your dog because it is usually given for anxiety and travel sickness.
Alison Logan, Vet

Monday, 1 November 2010

Tricks but no treats

I have a four-year old-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel called Alfie. As a pup I took him to dog training classes using treats as a reward, which proved beneficial as he became my perfect dog, well trained and obedient.
Throughout the next few years now and again he would need reminding of particular things like walking nicely on a lead, no barking when getting ready to go out and the stay command when you walk away. Which we did again using treats like in his training classes which once again proved successful.
However in March this year Alfie was diagnosed with diabetes and is now on a strict eating plan, which includes NO TREATS due to his blood sugar levels and insulin. Recently his inappropriate behaviour has returned regarding the same things as before as well as barking at the yappy dogs next door in the garden. This time we are unable to reward good behaviour with treats so we have tried a variety of toys but he isn't interested in them and praise doesn't seem enough as he isn't responding.
I have searched the web but to no success as each time it is advised to use treats or toys as a reward with no further advice for people with dogs in our situation.
Any advice would be gratefully received as we wish to help Alfie by correcting this behaviour now before it gets too out of control.
Miss Louise Hawkins, by email

I would have thought that the answer for Alfie would be clicker training. I was very involved with obedience training with my border collies until I qualified as a vet when I found that I no longer had spare time on my hands thanks to on-call and long working hours. Unfortunately, having qualified in 1989, clicker training was after my time so I have no practical experience of it, but it is certainly training without treats which is what a diabetic dog needs.
Alison Logan, vet

Friday, 29 October 2010

Rescue plan needed!

We rescued Bobby a Cocker Spaniel, aged two years old, from a well-known rescue organisation approx 10 days ago. We were told that he had been handed over by his single owner because he was being left for 10 hours at a time and had become destructive! The only other issue we were told about was that he pulled on the lead. Our two previous rescue dogs are no longer alive, but one had had no training and the other was a severe cruelty case. Now we have a young family, Bobby seemed right for our present situation, and we believed that we would have no problems training him.
Bobby is very bright, has responded well to training and with the use of a Kong and other activities has shown no signs of destructiveness. However, whilst on the lead, Bobby becomes extremely vocal and excited when he sees another dog, which appears to be from frustration. However, I took a risk and let Bobby off the extendable to see what he would do when approaching a group of dogs off lead and unfortunately, he attacked an elderly German Shepherd. We think Bobby has been exercised on an extendable lead, and for the time being are having to use one ourselves until we are sure of his behaviour, not least his recall. (He is learning to focus on us whilst out, but this will obviously take time).
I spoke to the person who runs the local dog training class and attended for the first time tonight. Unfortunately I ended up walking out! Bobby was extremely agitated and vocal and was upsetting the other three dogs. I moved further away from them, and then out of their sight, to help Bobby calm down and focus on me, but the trainer was not happy with that. I was also not happy with the suggestion that we use a Citronella spray collar on him.
I have come home and decided to initially get some help from Dogs Today! I will also try and find a COAPE trainer because I realise that a training class is not the place to help Bobby.
We are using a Gentle Leader to help with lead control and, as I said, are using an extendable to allow Bobby some space for running.
Until we find a trainer who can help us, can anyone give us any ideas as to how to deal with his frustration/aggression on his twice daily walks?
Donna Ely, by email

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Why is my dog bringing up bile?

My ( nearly ) eight-year-old terrier bitch keeps having recurring issues of bringing up bile and sometimes a diarrhoea like type sick. This seemed to begin after we returned from a holiday in June where Missy was quite unsettled and didn't eat for almost an entire week until the day before we left, she also had a bad bout of diarrhoea during our stay too.
At home she started eating again and that's when the sickness began. I know bile is normal and normally indicates an empty stomach and as she was throwing up over night I assumed she was hungry. So after advice from some other dog people on a forum I belong to I started giving her a night time treat to tide her over to breakfast and started adding a bit of natural live yoghurt to her diet. This had varied results but it seemed to help improve with her sickness. And then about a month or two ago she stopped altogether and we had a few good weeks with no sickness until, that is, she started bringing the bile and sick up again over night these past couple of weeks or so. This week alone it's been every night since Sunday with sometimes up to three lots of sick.
Missy is fed a good natural food once a day in the evenings with Applaws tins of meat mixed in as she will barely touch her dry food. She never eats breakfast and after years of trying to feed her two set meals each day I went with what she seems happy with. She does get treats during the day and late evening so I don't think it's hunger. She is perfectly fine in herself and is why I've perhaps been hesitant to take her to the vets, after being told (and knowing myself) that bile is normal and no change in Missy's behaviour.
I'm not sure if this is something to be concerned about or not. Although, one behaviour change in her is that she is almost obsessed with eating grass at times and occasionally along with the bile she has also sicked up pure grass too.
Any advice at all would be greatly appreciated.
Louise Nichol by email

Bilious vomiting first thing in the morning is a common complaint, and one where I would agree with the advice you were given, ie feeding a small meal at bed-time to give the stomach something to digest overnight. As you found initially, that is usually enough to settle the problem. When I was competing in dog obedience, a good friend had a beardie who simply had to have a plain biscuit before going to bed, and then a small meal as soon as she awoke in the morning, in order to avoid yellow vomits.
I am therefore concerned, like you, that the bilious vomiting has started again. Another possibility is that it could be a nervous reaction. It is interesting it began whilst she was on holiday when, you say, she was unsettled so I wonder whether there has been any change at home to set this off again. It could be something obvious like visitors or having the builders in, or a more subtle change such as a new suite of furniture or a change in your daily routine.
Otherwise, I do think an examination by your vet would be worth organising. There may well be an underlying problem which therefore should be diagnosed as soon as possible so that appropriate treatment can be given. It cannot be pleasant for your dog to be bringing up bile so the sooner a cause can be found and treated, the better. Eight-years-old is not very old for a terrier, but old enough to be wanting to rule out serious problems.
Alison Logan, Vet

Monday, 18 October 2010

Do dogs suffer bereavement like we do?

I have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, who are greatly loved and who greatly love, and I feel that I would like to introduce a third member to my 'pack' as they are inseperable, and if the worse happened they would be alone. Do dogs know that a member of their 'pack' either human or canine has died or do they feel deserted and wonder where they have gone? Would a dog have a greater understanding of loss if it came in contact with the deceased, again whether it be human or canine, would it then realise that nature has taken its course, rather than wondering what happened and accept the situation better? I realise a dog can sense illness and never really understood the whole death part. I would be extremely interested to hear your views on this.
Clare Reynolds, by email

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Stressing about splitting nails

I have a two year old male Border Collie whom I have had for five months. Someone knew he was looking for a home and I decided to have him.
He is an absolute sweetheart but he has rather large feet with long fast growing claws which are very brittle and keep splitting.
He is a very nervous boy but is slowly coming along nicely with me but I recently found out he had been hit quite a bit in his previous home so it's no wonder he is nervous. My problem is when I have taken him to the vet about his claws which have split, in spite of being muzzled, the vets cannot stop him from snapping and he gets very stressed and the only way they have been able to clip his claws is to anaesthetise him. This cannot be good for him in the long term.
The vet suggested giving him biotin but so far this hasn't done much.
He gets several walks on pavements each day but I am at a loss as to what to do for the best.
Incidentally when he came to me, his coat was dry and dull-looking and now it is lovely and glossy and he has gained  weight which he needed. So I think his diet is balanced.
Has anyone got any ideas because I don't want the poor lad to suffer too much more as he is gaining confidence and I want him to continue.
Sue Delaney, Worthing, West Sussex

We covered a similar question not long ago - so do check out the answers to see if there's anything that might be helpful. Click here.
As a Beardie person I'm always a little nervous when someone mentions nail problems as our breed is one of those that does suffer from autoimmune problems and nail issues can be one of the first signs.
SLO is an autoimmune disease of dogs which can cause severe claw problems in otherwise apparently healthy dogs. It can result in the loss of claws from more than one paw - eventually all claws may be lost. Other symptoms may include: receding quicks, secondary infection (often with a strong smell), claw splitting (usually down the back of the claw), pain, distorted/twisted claws and lameness.
Might be worth asking the vet whether he or she thinks the claw problems may be autoimmune related? It may just be he has suffered from very poor nutrition in his previous home and the nails grown in that period are weak, things may improve as the new nail growth starts coming through.
It might be worth investing in a tool which grinds down your dogs nails, then you'd be able to do this at home - but it would take lots of positive reinforcement to get him to accept the noise and the vibration.
I found a Dremel 761-03 Cordless Pet Nail Grooming Rotary Tool sale for about £36 on Amazon - and I believe Oster also do a version, too.
Dog groomers tend to be very confident at doing nails and a good local one may help you - especially as their shop would not have the same smells as a vet's surgery.
I would enlist the help of a good dog behaviourist who should be able to help you with a plan on how to introduce the nail filing tool and recondition your dog's behaviour so he is less fearful at the vets, too.
Do let us know how you get on,
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Career advice please!

I'm in my final year of my GCSE's at school and at the moment the teachers are all talking about A levels and even university. However, I'm not sure what subjects to pick. I know I want to work with dogs; they're my life and I want them to play an important part in my future. The only problem is, I have no idea what I'm going to do!
My predicted grades at the moment are six A*'s and three A's and so everyone wants me to become a vet. But I don't think it would be the perfect career for me as I'm certainly not good with coping under pressure or with animals in pain and distress.
I would be really grateful if anyone has any experience or advice on 'doggie' related careers which they could share with me.
Many Thanks,
Jessica Ellis

‘Everyone wants me to become a vet’ – this must surely be a very wrong reason to decide on a career as a vet so stick up for yourself. If you feel it is not the perfect career for you then it really is not a career into which you should be pressurised.
You have been predicted a strong set of GCSE results so keep on working and I wish you all success. They are not, however, the sole reason for deciding to apply to vet school. High grades at GCSE and then at A-Level are required by universities for entry onto a veterinary science course, in appropriate subjects, not just as a guide to a candidate’s ability to assimilate all the knowledge necessary but also because of the high demand for places.
Being a veterinary surgeon is a vocation, a life-style decision. It is very varied work – you do not always know how many legs your next patient will have, in any at all! You are also working with people who will be very concerned about their pet if he or she is ill or injured. In fact, liking working with people is, I feel, as important as a desire to work with animals.
The hours can be very long and under high levels of stress. Many practices use out-of-hours providers so there may no longer be the on-call rota but there are many other practices which do still provide their own out-of-hours cover. There is nothing quite like working 8am – 8pm during a week-day with limited breaks, then being busy with emergency call-outs through the night and another day at work starting at 8am. There is the buzz of fire brigade procedures (stitch ups, Caesarians, bloat and so on) and you certainly learn quickly when you have to stand on your own two feet without colleagues’ brains to pick, but time off becomes incredibly precious, if only to re-charge the tired batteries.
With these predicted GCSE grades, I would imagine you are planning to take A-Levels and in the subjects which you enjoy and which interest you. University choices is another year away so take one step at a time. A major decision you have made is that you do not wish to be a vet. Use the year to research all that is on offer out there. After all, it may be that your dogs will be an important part of your social life whilst you pursue an alternative career.
Alison Logan, Vet

Monday, 11 October 2010

Barking for their supper

I have two Bichon Frise's, Chloe aged 14 years and Flo, rescued from a puppy farm, is 'very old'. Chloe has recently been diagnosed with Cushing's disease and is on medication. Part of this disease is that she is always hungry. Before Cushings she was a very laidback girl especially at meal times.
She has now started barking while I am preparing her meal and Flo joins in. I have tried many ways of stopping this - to no avail.
Firstly, is this a usual change in behaviour with Cushing's? Have you any information on this disease?
Secondly, do you know how I can stop my dogs barking while preparing their meals?
Terri Sherlock, by email

Cushing's syndrome is a collection of clinical signs resulting from excessive levels of cortisol within the body. The most common signs are a ravenous appetite, excessive thirst, marked increase in the frequency of passing urine, pot-bellied appearance, and loss of fur from the flanks.
The change in appetite can be really marked. I will never forget the Irish setter which came to me initially because of his bloated abdomen. I subsequently diagnosed him with Cushing's syndrome and we started on treatment. Once he was stable, the owners then realised just how ravenous he had been - they noticed that he was no longer stealing food from their children's hands!
There are two possible explanations for why Chloe is barking when you are preparing her food. Assuming the Cushing's syndrome is well controlled, it may have become a behavioural habit, started when she was so hungry that meal times were the highlight of the day for her. The alternative is that she is still hungry because the Cushing's syndrome is not fully under control, or there may be another underlying reason for hunger such as diabetes mellitus. If you feel that she might still be hungry, then further investigation may be recommended by your vet.
If it is a habit, it will be difficult to break. Could you put the dogs in the garden or another part of the house before you start preparing their food, or will they simply bark at the door?
For further information on Cushing's syndrome, I would suggest look at the website
Alison Logan, vet

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Men cause the problem

My name is Jennifer and I am a qualified veterinary nurse, I am a dog owner and have been brought up with dogs since birth. I currently own four dogs and require some help with behaviour for one of them.
Bungle has started to bark at people walking towards us when out on a walk, sometimes chasing towards them.  I am unsure of the best response I can give to this.
The first time he did it a man stepped out on a footpath in front of us with his hood up and I was grateful for B barking.
He has done it occasionally since then if men are walking swiftly towards me but this has been manageable by calling him to heel with a treat.
His canine pack has changed dramatically and I am not sure whether he is showing off, is trying to protect us all or is lacking in confidence in this situation. When he came home as  a puppy he had four adult dogs to influence him, in the last 18 months we have lost three of our dogs and acquired two puppies through rescue. The pups are both entire males who are now 10 months old. B is a four year old neutered male and I have  a seven year old small crossbreed neutered bitch. I want to be sure I give the right and consistent response to this behaviour which has escalated.
He has a command to bark and I tell him to speak at times on his walk when nobody is around and treat him. His behaviour is heightened when the pups are with him and I don't want them to learn this is an acceptable way to behave so they are being separated for walks currently. He doesn't do it if he is on his lead and I am aware that I don't want to grab at his collar everytime I see someone approaching as this may heighten his response.
Any advice would be gratefully received.
Jennifer, by email

As you're a vet nurse, you already know you need to make sure there's no underlying health problem to account for the change in behaviour - but just mentioning it here for others reading who may not know! 
Beverley Cuddy, Editor


Monday, 4 October 2010

More than one way to spay?

I've been looking into how best to have my new dog spayed and I am wondering which is the best operation to go for?
I have heard that some vets take out the ovaries and the uterus, but others only take the ovaries. And that there are even some vets who are now using keyhole surgery to do this, but I guess there are very few vets with the equipment. What are the benefits of using this method? Can you be referred to a specialist?
I thought one of the benefits of neutering was the avoidance of pyometra - but if the uterus is left behind, could that still get infected, or does the lack of ovulation remove the risk?
Which of the methods is the least likely to result in incontinence?
And that age old question - when do you do the operation? After the first season, after the second? Earlier?
Paula Thompson, Cheshire

Edward Davies, Veterinary Surgeon, Cheshire Pet, says...

Hi Paula,

Here at Cheshire Pet we are regularly using keyhole surgery (or laparoscopy) to spay bitches. The main advantages are a significant decrease in pain with smaller incisions and a considerably quicker recovery time.

Postoperative recovery is so quick that often owners can’t tell their pets have had an operation; in fact, I actually did an exploratory procedure on my own dog, Henny, for a suspicious lump and my wife didn’t realise I had done anything, as Henny showed no signs at all.

We aim for the pets to leave the surgery as they came in – bright and alert and looking well – and we feel that the recovery period from laparoscopic spay is generally far faster than the traditional method of spaying – and a lot less painful.

I think the benefits of this technique will grow and I believe that perhaps in the not too distant future this technique will become the norm and will replace the standard spay procedure to a large extent. Bear in mind that this has only really been available in the UK for the last three to four years and at present it is only performed by very few practices, as the investment in training and equipment is significant. We feel really privileged to be able to offer this at Cheshire Pet.

Routinely only an ovariectomy is performed when a spay is done laparoscopically. (An ovariectomy is the removal of just the ovaries, not the uterus and the ovaries.) The uterus can be removed as well but it has been shown that this is unnecessary and of no benefit. Removing the uterus seems to be done as a historical technique in the UK rather than for clinical reasons. In most European countries ovariectomy has been performed for years, even using the traditional spay technique. It has been very well recognised and documented that once the ovaries have been removed then removing the uterus is of no value because the prolonged progesterone hormone production from the ovary is the drive behind the cause of pyometra. Once the ovaries are removed then that drive has gone and the risk of pyometra has gone.

I do not think the incidence of urinary incontinence is any different between laparoscopic spaying and traditional spaying. We would tend to suggest that if the dog is small i.e. less than 10-15kg then spaying before the first season is absolutely fine; however, in larger dogs spaying them between the first and second season seems to be preferable. This as we know avoids the risk of pyometra and can significantly decrease the risk of mammary tumours. The surgery – as with any spay – is best performed two to three months after the last season or in small dogs before the first season is anticipated.

Dear Paula,

Thank you for your letter, you have raised some excellent questions that are particularly topical at the moment given the increasing availability of key-hole procedures in veterinary surgery. I will try to address each of your questions in turn but unfortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, the veterinary profession does not have definitive evidence based answers for all of them!

Does the uterus have to be removed as well as the ovaries?

Historically, neutering or a 'spay' operation for a bitch has involved removal of both ovaries and the uterus to the level of the cervix (called an ovariohysterectomy or OVH) via an open approach (the surgeon makes a hole large enough to use their hands and fingers). Ovariectomy (OVE) is an alternative technique that involves removal of both ovaries whilst leaving the uterus in position and can be performed open or using a key-hole technique.

Ovariectomy has been the preferred technique in mainland Europe for many years because it can be performed through slightly smaller incisions, achieves the same overall effect as a 'traditional' spay, minimises the surgical trauma from neutering (by leaving the uterus in place) and does not increase the risk of urinary incontinence or pyometra compared to ovariohysterectomy. The uterus is only left in position if it appears normal during the procedure.

In theory, leaving the uterus in position could allow a uterine tumour to form in later life. In reality, uterine tumours are very rare in dogs and most are cured by removal of the uterus in the unlikely event that this becomes necessary.

What are the potential benefits of a key-hole spay?

Laparoscopic (key-hole) ovariectomy results in less tissue trauma than an open approach because the operation is carried out from within the abdomen which reduces the requirement to pull on the ovaries or uterus. In Humans, laparoscopic surgery has been shown to reduce pain, promote faster recovery and reduce hospital stay times. Accurate and objective pain assessment in veterinary patients is very difficult and whilst some studies have suggested that dogs spayed via laparoscopy are less painful than those operated via a conventional open approach, others have not been able to demonstrate a significant difference. Most vets who perform key-hole spays regularly do feel that the patients recover very quickly and suffer low levels of discomfort.

Humans obviously prefer to undergo operations that involve smaller scars, and many prefer the same for their dogs. Laparoscopic ovariectomy is usually performed by two or three incisions between 5-10mm long. In the unlikely event of a breakdown of an incision following laparoscopy, the small size of the 'hole' should minimise the risk of any vital structures becoming trapped. Many experienced veterinary surgeons are able to perform open spays through relatively small incisions but most are likely to be at least three to five centimetres long. Limiting any one laparoscopic wound to approximately 10 millimetres results in most surgeons allowing off-lead exercise sooner than they perhaps would following conventional open spay surgery.

Overall, key-hole spay surgery has a number of attractive qualities that can benefit veterinary patients, namely that of reduced tissue damage, excellent visualisation for the surgeon, and smaller wounds requiring shorter periods of postoperative rest. However, conventional spay surgery carried out by an experienced surgeon using an open technique usually carries a similarly low risk of complications and most dogs recover relatively quickly.

When should I spay my bitch?

Your last question involved the age-old debate of when is the best time to spay a bitch regardless of the technique used. The two main concerns are the possibility of increased risk of urinary incontinence after a spay but also minimising the risk from development of mammary tumours. Many of the actual numbers often quoted on this subject are not very scientific as they were based on reports written before veterinary surgeons appreciated the necessity for robust statistical analysis.

It is likely that the risk of development of mammary tumours significantly increases after the first season and then continues to rise slightly with each subsequent season thereafter for at least the first few years. Therefore, in order to minimise the risk from development of mammary tumours, bitches should be spayed before the first season, but there is also likely to be some benefit from spaying after later seasons until at some point, presumably during middle age, the benefit regarding mammary tumour development becomes minimal.

The risk of urinary incontinence is present following any neutering procedure, and unfortunately some bitches will become incontinent whether they are spayed or not. Investigations suggest that there may be some benefit from waiting for the urogenital tract to reach sexual maturity before spaying, to reduce the risk of developing incontinence, and therefore concerned owners may choose to wait until after the first or second season. It is also clear that urinary incontinence is the result of a complex interaction of many factors and therefore it cannot be simply attributed to an effect of sexual maturity alone.

There are some breeds with a particular predisposition for development of incontinence and therefore consideration should be given to spaying after the first or second season, or perhaps not spaying them at all. On the other hand, those breeds with a low incidence of urinary incontinence can be considered for early neutering, and this offers the maximal potential benefit in terms of mammary tumour development in later life and also of avoiding unwanted pregnancy.

Overall, when considering the issue of the timing of a spay surgery, your vet will be the best person to help you weigh up the factors relevant to your own dog. In many cases, neutering after the first season may represent a balanced compromise.

Chris Shales MA VetMB CertSAS DipECVS MRCVS
European Specialist in Small Animal Surgery
Willows Veterinary Centre & Referral Service
Highlands Road
West Midlands
B90 4NH
Tel: 0121 712 7070

Friday, 1 October 2010

Same difference

My dog Alfie, a three-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, was suddenly taken ill with sickness and diarrhoea and was rushed to the vet, where pancreatitis was dianosed after emergency treatment. He is now home but I have been told that he as to go on a low fat diet eg Chappie. His previous food was either Butchers or Winalot wet food with a sprinkling of Wagg.
I also have another dog, a 13-year-old Staffie cross weighing 16kg and they are both fed the same food. Can anyone advise me on what food would be suitable for both my boys.
Josephine Glenton, by email

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

IBS is a pain in the bum

Ronnie was an Irish stray. He ended up in Meath pound and was found a lovely new home via Jemima Harrison's excellent Black Retriever X Rescue.

Unfortunately, since he's been with his new owners he keeps having blood in his stools and the runs.
He's now been diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. He was on Burns (Pork and Potato) when he was with Jemima and was fine, but fed on Burns in his new home Ronnie has been, well, runny. (I have asked whether the new owners kept on with this same variety, but am still awaiting a response!)

The vet switched Ronnie to Royal Canin Sensitive and things have improved, but the owners are finding it very pricey. Is there a cheaper alternative?
Is there a support group for doggie IBS? Or anyone out there with loads of experience to pass on?
What's in - (or rather not in!) - Royal Canin Sensitive? Is there a difference between IBS and a food allergy/intolerance?
Posted by Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Monday, 27 September 2010

Not so happy feet

I wonder if anyone can help me firstly with a cure and secondly with some preventative measures. My three year old Staffie cross has very itchy back paws, she is constantly licking and chewing them, and they are going quite red, she
seems to have this same problem annually at this time of year.
Last year she chewed them so much they were bleeding, and although the problem cleared up as quickly as it started we don't know if it was something that we did (we tried various creams and sprays) or if it would have gone anyway.
She hasn't been walked anywhere out of the ordinary, we haven't used any different treatments in the garden and we haven't changed her diet.
We thought possibly it could be some sort of allergy to grass seeds, but it is only her hind paws that are affected.
Any advice short or long term would be greatly appreciated.
Emma Jannotti, by email

Friday, 24 September 2010

What do you want for Christmas?

I know it sounds a bit early, but it isn't really. 
Now is the time for our loved ones to be researching and finding that killer present that really shows they care and are totally in tune with our tastes! (No pressure, obviously!)
So come on, share! 
What's the best thing you've seen, what's the top of your really must have list - obviously with a doggie theme, although I would still be fascinated to hear which outfits from Figleaf you've got your eye on!
As a woman who has seen almost every conceivable doggie-related gift, here's the latest gift idea across my desk that had me saying, "Well I've never seen anything like that before!"

These are incredibly realistic miniatures made out of your own dog's hair! The website is fascinating. Lucy Maloney has a rare talent.
Now I am relying on you guys to top this with something even more fantastic and tell me all about it. Please share your unbeatable Xmas pressie ideas and we'll put the best in December's magazine.
Do you know someone that makes something really special? Or maybe you do yourself? Come on let's share our little black book secrets with each other!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Monday, 20 September 2010

Snap decision

Sadie is a four-year-old English Springer Spaniel bitch (spayed). She is very affectionate with people and loves attention but she is behaving oddly on walks. If another dog approaches she is sometimes fine (especially with dogs she has known since puppyhood) but has started to bark and snap at strange dogs no matter how friendly.
This weekend she had a real go at a young dog (male) - she did no damage and the owner was understanding but I was horrified by her behaviour and at a loss to explain it. I put her on a lead now when other dogs are around but she is still acting up if another dog approaches. Sadie has only been the victim of bad dog behaviour once when she was about two years old - she was on a lead when a loose dog got nasty - Sadie was frightened but not hurt.
I am unfortunately not in a position to pay a dog trainer (circumstances have changed since I became Sadie's owner) but I am happy to undertake any training that would help. There are no signs I can see of impending trouble - a mutual sniff and then POW!
At the moment I am putting her back on the lead and ignore the other dog. I reward quiet behaviour and try to ignore the bad. Any help would be most welcome.
F James, by email

Friday, 17 September 2010


My two-year-old Leonberger dog has suffered from bouts of diarrhoea since I brought him home at eight weeks of age. Many of these 'bouts' have been quite serious and the treatment has proved to be expensive due partly to his size. It is also very unpleasant to deal with this problem on a regular basis.
Tests showed that Tallis suffers from an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut and it was suggested eventually that he should take Synbiotic D.C. (Probiotic & Prebiotic powder) administered as one tablet per day.
This I'm glad to say is extremely effective and, as this is a non-prescription medication, the cost is approximately 50p per day per tablet.
However, glancing through 'Healthspan Directory' I noticed that the 'human' equivalent Probiotic costs approximately 13p per tablet, which leads me to wonder is there in fact any difference in these apart from the cost?
I should be very grateful is anybody could inform me as even over one month the saving would be considerable.
Mrs B Newton, Hertford

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Risk assessment

What is the risk of a dog contracting salmonella from being fed raw chicken? Upon being told that I feed a raw diet, one vet politely said that she would be concerned at the risk of salmonella - and another (who is a close friend) told me I was absolutely crazy to feed raw chicken. The latter believes that all chicken is contaminated by the time it leaves the processing plant. Needless to say I am horrified that I may have been unnecessarily putting my dogs' health at risk - and my family's too. I can't recall coming across any mention of salmonella in the books and articles I have read on feeding a raw diet. Incidentally I transport chicken home from the supermarket in a coolbag and then freeze it.
Name and address supplied

Richard Allport, alternative vet, advises:
Well, let’s start with how you or your family could pick up Salmonella bacteria: poultry, eggs, melons, lettuce, sprouts, salad mixes, tomatoes and peanut butter can all be contaminated with Salmonella.
Your dog could pick up Salmonella from poultry and other meats and also from dried dog food. There is an assumption that processed pet food is ‘sterile’ – it isn’t, and there have been several cases of dogs contracting Salmonellosis from eating kibble type dog foods.
However, it is true that it is statistically more likely that dogs will pick up Salmonella from raw chicken than from processed food. Keeping chicken cool during transportation then freezing it will certainly help, it doesn’t kill the bacteria but it does stop it multiplying, so there will be fewer bacteria present.
However, picking up Salmonella doesn’t mean picking up Salmonellosis. Confused? OK – tests have shown that some dogs fed on raw chicken passed Salmonella in their faeces. But these dogs were perfectly healthy, with no digestive upsets. They had the bacteria but no symptoms. Salmonellosis, as a disease, means that the bacteria multiply rapidly and cause food poisoning symptoms. This rarely happens in raw fed dogs, possibly because as they are raw fed they have good immune systems and don’t succumb to the condition.
So even if your raw chicken contained Salmonella and your dog picked up the bacteria, it is most likely that your dog would remain perfectly healthy and (this bit is very important) as long as you follow normal hygiene precautions about handling raw meat, you and your family will not be at risk.
I have been feeding raw chicken to my dogs for years, as have many of my friends and colleagues. I have never yet met anybody or heard of anybody feeding raw food who has had a case of Salmonellosis in their dogs or themselves.
Nothing in life is risk free, but the risk of Salmonellosis to you, your family and your dog by feeding raw chicken is absolutely tiny, if you are sensible about hygiene (don’t forget that dogs can pick up Salmonella from processed dog food too). The health benefits to your dog from a raw food diet are huge and far outweigh any minute risk from Salmonella.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Going deaf and getting depressed

I wonder if you can help as I can’t find anything in any of the back-issues I have, but my 13-year old Border Collie, Beau, has over the past 12 months or so been loosing her hearing and it is now almost gone.  I took her to the vets to check her over as the stage from not hearing bits of what was said to her to hearing very little of what you said was very quick.  The vet said that it was not unusual and it was probably due to age.  Unfortunately that doesn’t help Beau, who being a Border Collie doesn’t do ‘age’ and still thinks she is a pup.
Over the past two months I have noticed a real decline in her and I can only put it down to depression, in that she thinks no-one is talking to her.  I have been trying to teach her sign language, and have just got her a vibrating collar – only problem is I really don’t know where to start without scaring her with the vibrations.  I am trying to get a book called ‘Hear Hear’ which I think is about training deaf dogs, but I was wondering if you had covered anything like this in your magazine as I am sure, like people, there are lots of dogs who go deaf when they get older but would still like to join in and be part of the rest of the family!
Anything you can do to help would be appreciated by both Beau and me!
Janine Lodge, by email

Barry Eaton who wrote the fantastic Hear Hear does sometimes stop by here, hope he and others can give you some help and support at this worrying time.
Beverley Cuddy, Ed

Barry Eaton says:
Age related deafness is not uncommon - even in Border Collies. Ideally it would have been good to put in place visual signals with verbal ones over the last 12 months so as the deafness progressed the visual cues would take over from the verbal ones. As it is, I'm afraid you'll have to start teaching Beau visual cues from scratch. But don't worry - it's not difficult. Start with something simple, like getting him to sit using a food treat as a lure and developing a hand signal at the same time. All the basic commands you need to know are explained in my book 'Hear, Hear'. Have a look at Body language and facial expressions are very important when communicating with Beau. If he gets something right, smile, have an open body posture and give him lots of hugs. Always talk to him during training (and at other times). If you just think 'good dog', your face won't light up with delight when he gets something right. If you actually say 'good dog' and mean it, you can't help your face from showing how pleased you are. If you are teaching something and he hasn't quite got it, show no expression on your face. Eventually, Beau will learn that your happy, smiley face means he's done good and a blank expression means he's not quite got it. It doesn't matter what hand signals you use as long as they are clear and simple.
I generally recommend deaf dog owners to take great care when using vibrating collars. There is nothing guaranteed about them. It may work; it may not. It may work for a long time; it may work until Beau becomes accustomed to it and chooses to ignore it. It may be scaret; it may not. As you already have a vibrating collar, it might be worth trying it and see what his reaction is. But if he really doesn't like it, do not persevere with it. Just put it down to experience and throw it away. If however he accepts it, it's best to get him conditioned to it in the same way a dog is conditioned to a clicker. So instead of click/treat, you would vibrate/treat until he feels the vibration and looks to you for a reward. Most people would like to use a vibrating collar for a convenient recall but that would limit its use to just one command. And just as hearing dogs someimes go conveniently deaf when they are called, so Beau could conveniently ignore the vibration knowing he's supposed to go back to you. The biggest problem most owners have with deaf dogs is getting their attention. So I suggest, if you can use the collar, you use it for just that - to get his attention. Once Beau has felt the vibration, you need him to look at you (which he should do if he has been conditioned to it) then you can give him any command you have taught him. There are many vibrating collars that can also be used as an electric shock collar. If you have one with such a device, never, never use it - under any circumstances.
As you know, collies are very bright and mentally (and physically) active. I'm sure he'll relish a new challenge of learning hand signals and body postures. Once Beau has responded to his first visual command you've taught him, you will feel a real 'buzz' of excitement and, hopefully, will be encouraged to carry on teaching him more and more commands. The sky's the limit. I train my hearing dogs with verbal and visual commands and they respond better to visual commands. So in the meantime, if you think he's feeling depressed, interact with him more, play with him; have fun.
Best of luck and have fun training.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Car crash fears

I just witnessed a horrible crash on the motorway and it really shook me up. It has made me worried about driving with my dog. The crashed car's tailgate had opened during the crash and I am worried what would have happened if there'd be a dog in there.
I have a portable, adjustable generic dog guard in my car and now that I look at it I do wonder how it would stand up to the force of a crash. My dog is quite a large one and I just fear that a collision from the rear might mean they'd hit the guard hard and it would come loose and probably him me on the back of the head and that my dog could end up going through the front window.
I realise I'm probably just in shock after seeing an accident and I'm now imaging all sorts of ghastly possibilities.
What is the safest way to transport a GSD in an estate.
Up until today I was just tethering my dog to a point in the back of the car and using an extendable dog guard that stretches to fit the gap.
How can I do it better?
Tessa Harold, Watford

I’m convinced that my Barjo tailgate guard saved my dogs’ lives. I was driving along the A34 one afternoon last July in stop/start traffic and when the car in front of me stopped I did too, but the large white van following me didn’t and smashed right into the back of me. My first thought was that from that impact the dogs must be dead; it was so powerful that it had damaged even my driver’s door and I could not open it. An Army driver in front managed to wrench my door open and I was amazed to see my dogs appeared fine. 
The police appeared on the scene almost immediately, and were absolutely fantastic. One of them in particular was very knowledgeable about dogs and helped me get them out. The tailgate was so badly damaged that we could not open it, and we had to entice the dogs over the top of the back seat, and out onto the dual carriageway. Luckily I had a couple of spare leads in the front of the car, as there was no way I could retrieve the ones I had left in the back, and this is something I would recommend to any owner – controlling dogs on a busy road without leads would be a nightmare.
My car was a complete write-off. I was of course shaken up but my two Goldies were totally unhurt. Without the guard they would not be here today. When I got my new car, the first thing I did was have a Barjo tailgate guard fitted!
Pat Hillier

Alfie: What's it all about?

About a month ago me and my partner got an eight-month-old Shih-tzu cross - Alfie. A friend at work bought him when she was drunk - she got the impression that he was just going to be abandoned.
She only had him for the weekend before giving him to me (as she couldn't cope). Although my partner has always had dogs as a child, I have never had one. I am a dog lover, but really don't know what I'm doing.
When we first got Alfie was very unsettled and my partner (who was then out of work) couldn't leave him alone. He would bark constantly - we live in a flat and we worried about the sound. My partner now has a job, we both have to leave before 6 am, so we started taking him to my partner's mum on the way to work - as she is not working. Whenever she went out and left him he would wee and/or poo - sometimes on mats left for him, but not always.
My partner's mum recently went away for a few days, so I took his cage over and put him in it while I was at work - he had his food, some treats and a couple of toys in with him. He went mad when went to pick him up. He had made a right mess - his water was all tipped over there was food everywhere and the treats were outside the cage. The next day when I went to pick him up - he greeted me at the door - he'd got out!! He had chewed off three of the bars! A neighbour lent us their cage which seemed much stonger - but he still managed to chew off on the bars on that cage too. I don't want to use a cage anymore as I'm worried about him hurting himself. He obviously is really distressed whenever he's left on his own - but we have to go to work. He still has his balls, but we are hoping to get him neutered very soon - but I don't think that will stop his anxiety. I also would like to be able to leave him at home, and not keep moving him around. Please can you help, how do we stop this behaviour?
Sally Neatham, by email

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Grass roots

We have a four-year-old JRT, Molly, who has an allergy to grass. We have fields at the back of our house and every morning she rubs her face along the kitchen mats and is constantly chewing at her feet.
She's on ZD dried food, Courtevance spray and a porridge oats bath. I feel that the ZD is a waste of money. Is there anything else we could try? I feel so helpless and even if we don't go for a run over the fields she is still the same. Can anyone help?
Nick Page, by email

Time to go back to your vet! The fact that Molly is on a prescription diet and a POM-V spray means that she is under the care of a vet so let him or her know that Molly is no better or else he or she will have assumed that Molly has responded well.
Your description of Molly chewing her paws is a classic for a dog with atopic dermatitis or itchy allergic skin disease. For the vet in practice, the complicating factor is that there can often be a food allergy as well, which will be why your vet put Molly onto Hill’s z/d, as a dietary trial. The thinking behind z/d is that it is balanced nutrition and hypoallergenic because the protein has been hydrolysed and reduced to such a small size of molecule that it should not be detected by the immune system.
If Molly is no better when being fed z/d, do first check that she is being fed exclusively on this food. A dietary trial is pointless if the patient is still having a rawhide chew or sneaking table scraps, for example. If she really has eaten no other food at all, and she has been fed just z/d for at least six weeks, then this suggests that she does not have a dietary allergy (and ruling that out is a positive result). There are rare occasions when a dog with a food allergy does not improve on z/d (if allergic to potato which is found in z/d, for example) but common things are common!
Cortavance is a steroid preparation as a spray which is applied to alleviate itchiness. It is not absorbed so many disadvantages of steroids are avoided, but it is really addressing the effects and not the cause of the itchiness. Also, it will have limited effect if Molly is simply licking off it off again. This can be avoided by distracting her with a meal or exercise immediately after spraying the area.
The porridge oats bath conjures up a great vision in my mind but I think that you mean an oatmeal shampoo which does again help ease itchy skin. There are however other shampoos which may be more effective, such as a shampoo containing ceramides which will help to improve the barrier function of the skin.
A suspicion that Molly is allergic to grass needs further work-up because immunotherapy can be very successful. There are two ways of testing a dog to identify allergies: intra-dermal skin testing, or serology which involves submitting a blood sample to a specialist laboratory. (Incidentally, the food allergy component could be finally ruled in or out with serology as well if requested on the laboratory submission form.) Based on the findings, a hyposensitising vaccine could then be requested containing those environmental components to which Molly is allergic. If serology did reveal foods to which she was allergic, then it would simply be a matter of avoiding them through careful scrutiny of labels on dog foods, or home-preparing her diet.
A successful course of hyposensitisation involves sub-cutaneous injection of the specifically formulated vaccine at increasing concentration over a schedule of increasing time-length between injections. The results can be spectacular!
Finally, do remember to ensure that Molly does not have fleas. If she has a grass allergy, then she is very likely to also be allergic to fleas which will simply complicate the picture. Strict flea control on Molly, all other dogs, cats and rabbits living with her and also addressing the environment should minimise the chances of her being bitten by a flea.
Molly is still young, which is generally the case with atopic skin disease, so I would definitely go back to your vet for further help. Best of luck!

Alison Logan, vet

Monday, 6 September 2010

Social services

I'm bringing my new Schnoodle puppy home in about five weeks time. I want to take her out and about to socialise her as much as possible, but I'm not sure which establishments she will be allowed in. I know that food stores, restaurants etc are out of the question but can I take her into banks, newsagents, hairdressers etc? Providing there isn't a sign on the door saying 'no dogs allowed' can I assume it is okay? I'm also unsure about public transport. Presumably she will be able to come on the train with me (does she need a ticket?) but what about buses?
I live on my own and will be the only one going out with her, so I won't be able to leave her with someone outside the shops. I do see some dogs fastened up outside shops but I wouldn't want to leave her on her own in case someone decided to take her.
Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.
Sheila Whetnall, by email

Friday, 3 September 2010

Chips in France? No, not frites...

Hi Beverley
Is there such a thing as a national microchip registry or is it just kept by the companies that supply microchips - ie. Petrac and Petlog? The reason I ask is that as our dogs are in France a few weeks of the year I have registered them on the French database but I need to know if its possible for a French resident who's dogs were chipped in France and will be spending time in the UK to register with a UK database? Any ideas?
Many thanks
Annette Pemberton, by email

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Can dog share work?

My own dog, A Jack Russell Terrier, died last year aged nearly 18. Since then I did a lot of dog sitting and dog walking for neighbours and through an agency.
One dog, a four year old Miniature Schnauzer, is my favourite. I have him quite often, every six weeks for a week or so and twice had him for six weeks in a row.
The owners have now asked me if I want to keep him as they think he has a better life with me. They have three children and don't have much time for the dog, who is
alone very day until 3pm. I work from home and have enough time to go on long walks with him twice a day and he is never alone for a long time.
But my husband has been diagnosed with cancer and my job is not the safest one. I need to spend quite a lot of time to go with my husband to hospital appointments etc and also if I lose my job and need to find another one where I can't work form home, what do I do?
I love that dog so much but I think this is to much responsibility at the moment as I have no idea which way things will go.
I suggested the family to "share" the dog, by which I mean coming to an arrangement where I would have him every month for a week or so but his home would still be theirs. They think it might be too confusing for the dog. But I had him quite often anyway and he is totally fine. I am also not sure about sharing vet bills, insurance etc. Right now I buy his food when he is with me.
What do people think, would it be too confusing for the dog?
Kind regards
Claudia, by email

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I'm anxious about my dogs anxiety

I am dreading firework season, although this will be the first one for my young dog. As she is already quite nervous of thunder and gunshots, I think we'll have trouble.
I'm using a CD to try to slowly get her used to bangs, but is there anything I can give her to make her less anxious both while I'm using the CD and as we get nearer to the night itself?
Helen Lindsey, Barnsley

If she is anxious while you are doing the CD then you are proceeding too quickly for her and you need to start from scratch and slow the whole process down.  The CDs work by introducing your dog in a gradual and controlled manner to the sounds they fear.  You are in effect desensitising them to the sounds. This is relatively easy to do but must be done very slowly over a number of months and with constant monitoring of your dog’s responses. It is important not to rush any of the stages. Jumping ahead before your dog is ready will have the opposite effect to the one you want to achieve. To begin with play the CD very quietly as background noise while you both go about your usual day-to-day activities. Do not draw attention to the sound or fuss your dog. Gradually, for each session, increase the sound volume. The time you need to take on each stage can vary from dog to dog. Take your cue from your pet and do not proceed to the next stage until they are completely happy with the current volume level. Eventually the sound will become insignificant to your dog and they will ignore it. This is desensitisation. Apart from the sound CDs, there are other things you can try. Some people have claimed success with Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P.). You can purchase D.A.P. plug-in diffusers. These emit a synthetic substance that mimics the reassuring pheromone produced by bitches for their puppies.  D.A.P. is also available in a spray form for more local applications to bedding or indoor kennels.  I have also seen calming/relaxing dog collars in our local pet shop. They look like flea collars but are for stress management. Homoeopathic remedies can be useful, such as Bach Flower Remedies. Rescue remedy treatment should ideally be started a few days before bonfire night. Put about 5 drops (read the label) into your dogs food or water each evening.  Other natural remedies such as skullcap and valerian act as a herbal anxiety-relieving combination and can help at times of stress. The TTouch Body Wrap also claims success, using moderate pressure to comfort the mind and body during periods of stress and anxiety. Apart from lotions and potions, there are things you can do to help your dog when the fireworks start. Remain Calm - During the time of the fireworks you must make sure that you do not inadvertently reinforce your dog’s unwanted behaviour by paying them extra special attention. This will only lead your dog to think that it is right to feel fear and also that by showing fear they gain your attention and comfort. This will reward their fear response and make it more likely to recur. Instead, remain calm and act as you usually would. Ignore fearful behaviours and reward calmness. Lead by Example - Your dog will mirror your attitude. Giving your dog cuddles could make it seem that you are fearful too. If you remain calm then you encourage them to remain calm. Dogs also learn from each other. If you have a friend who has a dog that is not afraid of fireworks, invite them round for the evening. Your friend's dog will help set the right example. A word of caution - learning by example can work both ways. If the visiting dog becomes anxious after observing your dog's fear, do not continue. Tired Out - If your dog has been for a nice long walk and is physically and mentally tired out, they will be much more likely to settle in the evening and less likely to worry about the noise, lights and activity outside. Comfortable Surroundings - Take simple measures to make your dog comfortable such as closing the windows and curtains so that the sounds are not as loud and your pet cannot see the fireworks going off. It might also help if you provide your pet with a safe house such as a cosy den full of blankets. Make sure your dog views her den as her safe house by providing treats for her while she is in there and making sure she generally associates it with nice things.  Ideally, start this a week or two before firework night. All the blankets provide the perfect place for your dog to bury and hide when the noise starts. Comfort Food - Some dogs can also benefit from being fed a meal high in carbohydrate (such as well-cooked rice or pasta) which will help them to feel sleepier that evening. Distract - Take all focus away from the fireworks by playing music and start a game with your dog, generally keeping her busy. Maybe treat your dog to a new toy and save it especially for Bonfire night. Some tasty treats will also help to create good associations with this time of year. Other Precautions - Find out the exact date of local firework displays. Ask neighbours to warn you in advance of any private displays. Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag in case they escape in fear. Top up your dog's water as an anxious dog may be more thirsty than usual. Jenny Prevel,

My initial reaction to your query is concern because of the heading and your first sentence – if you are anxious, then your anxiety will easily transmit to your dog, inadvertently reinforcing her anxiety. With her being a young dog showing noise phobia, you are right to be wanting to help her sooner rather than later.
Fortunately, management of noise phobias has moved on a long way from the days when acepromazine (‘the yellow tablet’) was prescribed. I remember well the requests which filled the dispensing pages during the week or so leading up to Guy Fawkes, and the requests on the day itself which really put pressure on us to fulfill them in time. ACP is a sedative and is now recognised as being inappropriate because being sedated does reduce or eliminate the anxious behaviours, but equally means that the dog cannot take any avoidance actions which it feels necessary.
Different drugs can be prescribed which act more appropriately. However, it is much better if the dog can be trained to cope and that is where a desensitisation programme comes in. It needs to be taken at a pace to suit the individual. It cannot be rushed, so you have quite rightly embarked on it this much before Guy Fawkes night.
Along with the changes in approach to noise phobias is the additional problem of fireworks being let off not just on 5th November. They are far more readily available than they used to be, and often discounted to encourage bulk-buying which can mean they are kept for use at other times of the year. Not only is there the problem of public and private fireworks displays from a week before to a week after 5th November, but there are also 31st December, Chinese New Year, weddings, birthday celebrations, etc., etc. In fact, I was reading in my local paper that a company has started marketing fireworks for use at funerals to commemorate the deceased. This all means that fireworks can potentially be a problem at any time of year.
Jenny mentioned Dog Appeasing Pheromone (plug-in diffuser, spray, collar) and herbal treatments which are indeed ideal to use in conjunction with a desensitisation programme. I have had great successes with the DAP collar in all manner of behavioural problems. It has the advantage of enabling the dog to take the DAP with him or her wherever he or she goes.
My Labbie Pippin became very insecure when we began packing up to move house so I fitted her with a DAP collar and she chilled out overnight. In fact, I had to work for a full day shortly afterwards so I bedded her down in a kennel at work and warned the nurses that she would howl. On the contrary, she curled up and went to sleep. Later in the day, she even took a dental chew and worked on that. I could not make out what had made the difference because previously she had barked incessantly and totally disregarded any food put in with her (yes, she was that unhappy!). Then I remembered that she was still wearing the DAP collar!
With your dog being only young yet already showing sound phobias, I would also suggest you seek professional help. Your vet will be able to offer individual advice, and may prescribe a drug to help your dog on specific risk times such as Guy Fawkes and New Year’s Eve in the short term. Your veterinary practice may offer a behaviour clinic with a veterinary nurse or vet, and should be able to recommend a dog behaviourist who will be able to work with you and your dog.
Alison Logan, vet

Nick Thompson, holistic vet, says:
You may be dreading the ‘season of sounds’, but you’re preparing early – well done. CD is a good idea – to be played as frequently as possible, especially in the evenings, to mimic what will happen in November. Well done.
However, there are a number of things that we can do in conjunction. The best thing would be, of course, a vet trained in homeopathy and herbs, to get a specific prescription, but if this is not possible, then I’d suggest ringing Dorwest Herbs to discuss the use of their Scullcap and Valerian tablets, which I find can be very good to help relax things. Start trialling them as soon as possible, so you know exactly how to dose for your dog, when the season comes. The orthodox approach is to use products such as Valium and Zylkene; it’s worth having a chat with your vet just so you have knowledge of the entire armoury at your disposal.
Homeopathically, I’d contact one of the many homeopathic pharmacies in the UK (Freeman’s, Helios, Nelson’s or Ainsworth’s, to name a few) to talk about getting a mix made up in a 200c potency. They are able to prescribe over the phone where vets are not. The remedies in the mix will differ, depending on the presenting symptoms (whether hiding under the bed, or clinging to you; whether over-excitedly chasing every rocket that goes up or responding by standing stock still, hoping they’ll not be noticed, and so on), but I usually look at Phosphorus, Borax, Gelsemium, Aconite, Belladonna or Stramonium, for example.
Your behaviour is really important, too. I would suggest getting into a routine in the evenings where you are very calm, have loud music (bombastic Proms-type tunes or Heavy Metal works well) playing and act as if nothing is happening. If you get into the habit now, it’ll seem like second nature when the season is upon you both. Best of luck.