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Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Golden is tarnished by dry skin

Dear Dogs Today Magazine,
I have a lovely 11 week old Golden Retriever who, at the breeder’s and since he arrived has had dry skin flaking from his coat. We groom him regularly and when he is washed the flakes disappear only to reappear later. As he his growing and getting more food, this problem is becoming worse. The vet suggested that his food was the cause - he is currently on Pedigree Complete Puppy Food and has been since he was weaned.
Is this the only possible cause?
The vet recommended Royal Canin Retriever Puppy Food and Hills Puppy Food but we are unsure which to choose or if any other brands would be better.
What do you suggest?
Olivia Pickford

Hi Olivia
Whatever food you choose to feed I suggest you try Yumega Plus as a supplement as I have found it very quickly improves most skin/coat problems.
Feeding choices can be hugely personal and individual but all three foods you mention are of a similar type - ie premium complete. There are lots of different
foods out there and it may be someone more expert in this field may think your dog may have a specific food allergy and have some hints as to what to try.
I'm sure others will have lots of advice for you on feeding! Everyone thinks what they are feeding is the best.
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Richard Allport, alternative vet, says...
First, make sure your vet has checked your Retriever for Cheyletiella – a mite, found most often in young puppies, that can cause dandruff but also looks likes dandruff itself (it’s often known as ‘walking dandruff’).
If he is clear of this then food is the most likely cause, and in my view it’s vital you wean him off processed foods as quickly as possible and get him onto some real, healthy food – low carbohydrate and high protein, maybe with some extra Omega fatty acids (Evening Primrose Oil and especially some fish liver oils).
This real food should ideally be the famous and unbeatable raw meaty bone diet. If you want to make it a little easier you can use one of the companies who produce and deliver ready prepared packs of raw meaty bone diets, such as Darlings. If you really must give a processed diet, then choose a really good quality food, such as Lily’s Kitchen, Orijen, Fish4Dogs, or Markus Muehle, a German import which is cold processed and therefore healthier food.
An oatmeal based shampoo, such as Oatderm, will help clear the dandruff quicker and better than most shampoos, and extra Vitamin E in the diet (500mg daily) will also help, but a better diet is almost certainly the key to the flaking.

Paul Hunter, from Barking Heads, says…
Dry flakey skin sometimes also known as 'Scurf' is quite a common complaint we receive. After a clean bill of health has been provided by a veterinarian then the diet is the first point of action. Each dog is as unique as its owner and will have different needs and requirements but a good quality food should always be made a priority. At Barking Heads the ingredients we use is our number one priority and as in all our range our 'Puppy Days' contains correct levels of Omegas 6 & 3 and in their correct ratios which is key to skin and coat health. Along with Salmon and Chicken being key ingredients for growth and development you should start to see an improvement in your Golden Retriever’s coat from about 5 to 6 weeks as the goodness comes through and starts to condition their skin and coat. Barking Heads also offer a 100 per cent money back guarantee so you too can see the difference without taking any investment risks.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Getting to the root of the problem

I've tried the special stones in the drinking water, the tomato ketchup in the food, and rushing out to pour water where Nelly, my spaniel, has peed. Nothing seems to work.
It got so bad that the grass died away altogether, so I temporarily fenced off the lawn - Nelly can't get onto it at all - with the aim of reseeding it, even though this seems to be futile because once she gets back on to the newly-grown grass the patches will appear again.
Just recently, though, a thought came to me while walking her in the little park opposite our house that it might all be due to the type of grass. One day I noticed that the grass in our park, which is regularly mown and kept short like a lawn, has not a single brown patch on it, despite the fact that Nelly pees there almost every day, as do lots of other female dogs?
I then noticed too that in our other walking area, Wimbledon Common, no brown patches are to be seen.
I can't think why this hadn't occurred to me before but then, surely, if it was as simple as that, grass seed companies would have cottoned on to it and be making millions out of selling dog-urine-proof grass, as this does seem to be a universal problem for people with female dogs and everybody wants a green lawn. It would be a huge market. But if it's not the type of grass, why are there no brown patches in parks? Has anyone got any clues?
A dog walking friend has just told me that she believes the grass used in council parks - when they sow it from scratch - is different to the usual grass sold in garden centres and is more of a heavy-duty type. Bearing this in mind, I went to a garden centre and bought one that was described on the packet as being tough and containing "fescue" grass and have reseeded the bare patches with it. I'm not holding out much hope, but fingers crossed.
Just out of interest, I'm contacting our council parks department, hoping that they will tell me which grass seed they use.
I did hear that clover is not affected by dog urine because of its deep roots, so if my new seeds don't do the trick, and the council can't suggest anything different, I could try and track down some clover seeds, although that might be difficult.
Failing that, we will replace our dear little lawn with bricks.
Will let you know how we get on and if anyone has any better ideas, apart from those I've tried, do say.
Julia Lewis, by email

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Injecting some statistics into vaccination!

I'm just wondering, does anyone have any data on outbreaks of the diseases we vaccinate against?
I heard on a forum that there have been no cases of distemper for more than 50 years. Yet on another forum I heard that distemper was becoming much more common in dogs in council pounds.
Which is true?
Also, last time I looked into vaccines I was told that the Leptospirosis vaccine was very old and not very effective - only covering some of the strains and not lasting more than six months. I thought I read something about a new Lepto vaccine - does it last any longer or cover any more of the strains? Any news as to whether anyone is working on a better vaccine as my vet told me last time that Lepto was probably the thing we'd most likely encounter and was very nasty indeed.
And what's the story with parvo these days? Are outbreaks on the up with people falling out of vaccination? Does anyone have any data?
I'm totally up to speed on the case to vaccinate less frequently, but it's all pretty academic for me as I have an elderly relative who sometimes needs my help at very little notice so my dogs have to be ready to go into kennels and that means keeping their vaccines up to date. Are there some brands licenced for longer than a year? Would most kennels accept that?
Finn Hall, Weybridge, Surrey

Catherine O’Driscoll, Canine Health Concern, says…
No-one records outbreaks of disease in dogs. Intervet did ask veterinary practices whether they had seen any of the diseases in their practice a year or so ago. This was in order to publicise the need to vaccinate for their 'National Vaccination Month' sales campaign. However, they colour-coded the diseases and didn't give any numbers, so we're not really any the wiser.
Distemper is a very rare disease, and most vets will tell you that they haven't seen it in at least ten years. However, because modified live virus (MLV) vaccines are used, it is always possible that vaccinated animals can contract the disease from the vaccine. This is because the live modified virus is designed to multiply in the host over about ten days, stimulating an immune response. Ideally, the dog will mount a response and combat the disease, but if the animal's immune system is compromised, the vaccine can overwhelm the animal and frank disease is the result. In the Canine Health Concern vaccination survey, 55.6 per cent of dogs in the survey who had distemper contracted it within three months of being vaccinated. MLV vaccines can also shed into the environment (in recently vaccinated dogs' poo and pee) and revert to virulence, which is probably where any potential outbreaks might start.
Parvovirus is also now a relatively rare disease, although it does seem to pop up in rescue centres occasionally. My belief is that, as with the distemper vaccine above, rescue dogs are stressed and probably malnourished when vaccinated. This means that their immune systems are not functioning optimally, so the MLV vaccine can multiply and overwhelm the dogs. The problems I have heard rumoured occuring in gypsy camps are also probably to do with the fact that dogs who are stressed and malnourished are more at risk of viral disease than healthy well-fed dogs.
The thing is, duration of immunity (DOI) studies have shown that dogs, once immune to viral disease, remain immune for years, and probably for life. These DOI studies showed that dogs vaccinated once and challenged with viral disease every year for seven years did not contract the diseases. They were then blood tested for antibodies for up to 15 years, and they still had circulating antibodies, indicating protection.
Because of these DOI studies, veterinary bodies around the world have adopted the approach that we should seek to vaccinate all dogs and cats, but vaccinate them less frequently. They say that if you vaccinate a dog who already has antibodies to a disease, the antibodies merely cancel out the vaccine and no more immunity is provided.
It must be added that some dogs are unable to develop immunity to viral disease, particularly some of the black and tan breeds such as Rotties and Dobermans. There is no point revaccinating these dogs, because they just aren't going to develop immunity.
The Leptospirosis issue is a controversial one. Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can be contracted by humans. As such, there should be a government body recording the incidence of lepto. But there is none - presumably because it's so rare?
Leptospirosis is a range of bacterins, so no vaccine can give permanent immunity. The Lepto vaccine is thought to carry two or maybe three of the hundreds of strains. Also, its protection is short-lived, ranging between three and six months (although Intervet claims it has a lepto vaccine that protects for 12 months). This means that if you vaccinate against lepto annually, your dog could meet one of the hundreds of strains not covered by
the vaccine, and the vaccine's effectiveness may have run out months ago.
The other issue concerning the lepto vaccine is that it is the one most commonly associated with severe adverse reactions, including brain damage and anaphylactic shock, which can mean death. Dr Ronald D Schultz, the world's leading expert in this field, does not advocate the use of this vaccine, even in endemic areas.
There was a very good article about the leptospirosis vaccine in Dogs Today, and we carry this on the CHC website - It's on the main page.
I would also suggest that it's worth looking into the homoeopathic nosode as an alternative to vaccines. Also, many kennels are now accepting titre (blood) tests showing antibodies to viral disease, rather than insisting upon shots.

Plan of attack

I have three lovely Westies - two elderly ladies, one 15 plus, one 13 plus, both with medical problems since before Christmas, limiting their ability to go out for good runs, and a boy of three, a really affectionate and friendly dog whose only dislike is fluorescant jackets.
My little boy and I go for long walks in the park, common etc and he meets and greets everyone amicably. He loves playing with all the other dogs, whatever the breed, big, small, with no problems.
However, mid-December I met a lady with a delightful black male Lab, a lovely dog, but my boy took against him. I was amazed. He flew at this dog, barking and attempting to bite its bottom and tail. The other dog fortunately went on ahead with its owner - rushing away from us - with me chasing to catch my dog and apologising profusely.
I have kept an eye out ever since, but was caught out last week when the same dog was in the care of a professional dog walker. It all happened again. Luckily my dog failed in his attempt to bite the Lab's tail and bottom, but the person in charge was understandably livid and said I had a dangerous dog, out of control and he should be muzzled. My protestations that this was an isolated incident didn't placate her and I fortunately caught my dog and went in the opposite direction. My Westie then went on happily to play with all the other dogs he met, including Labradors with no problems.
We nearly met again, but I saw the person coming and caught my dog - but believe it or not even from a distance he knew and once again was tugging at his lead barking. I am at a complete loss to understand this. It sounds stupid but could this dog be smelling of something that my dog dislikes. I am completely stumped, worried and being very careful and aware when I am out. I feel so awful as the other dog is so nice.
Any theories or answers would be much appreciated.
Jillian Paul, Reigate, Surrey

Karen Wild, Canine Behaviour Counsellor, says...
It can be such a shock to have your dog suddenly decide that another dog is not going to be one of their usual playmates! Please don't feel bad - I often come across cases where a dog has taken a particular dislike to a specific dog. It sounds like your Westie is attempting to chase away what he interprets as a threat. It may be that something about the other dog (or a similar dog) has 'spooked' your Westie in the past. This could indeed be scent, although there are many other combined influences on what your dog is reacting to. It may be that this other dog has or has not been castrated, that it may 'stare' at your own dog or offer other unwelcome body language - sometimes, even just size or colour of another dog can affect response. This said, it is essential that you look at regaining control of your Westie so that the other owner does not feel that your dog is going to hurt theirs. Calmly working on a rock solid recall command, with your own dog on a long line so you can reinforce the behaviour, is a good idea. You should also work on desensitising your dog to the sight of the other dog so that he is rewarded for calm behaviour and begins to feel that the appearance of the other dog is actually enjoyable. I would consult a professional behaviourist who uses kind methods, as you do not want your dog to feel this way about other dogs in future. If you take proper precautions now, you are less likely to be accused of your dog being out of control in public. If you are concerned that your dog may bite, you should consider a muzzle, at least in the meantime while you are calming your dog and re-training reliability to your command.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Looking for a gem to go with Ruby


I own Ruby, a two year old Jack Russell x Patterdale Terrier spayed bitch & I was thinking of getting another dog.
Ruby is well-socialised although does occasionally growl at other dogs who are boisterous around her & can be protective off me. We have attended a basic obedience course & have been doing agility for over a year. She gets at least one 30 min off lead walk a day (with a ball launcher!) and two walks around the block. She is never left for more than four hours a day, if I'm working longer my mum looks after her for me.
I would like to get a Patterdale terrier as a companion for her but have heard conflicting advice! I would prefer a bitch although I have been told that two terrier bitches would fight due to their feisty nature. I have also been advised not to have two terriers of similar breeds. Ruby has a instant recall but I would worry that two dogs may encourage each other to run off!
Also, as I live alone with Ruby we have a close bond. Would introducing another dog upset this? How can I prevent her from being jealous &/or protective of me or the puppy?
Thanks for any advice!

Friday, 19 March 2010

Bassets eating all sorts....!

I have three Basset Hound's, Daisy aged nearly 11, Obi aged one and Wellington aged five months. I have a problem in that Obi & now Wellington eat Daisy's poo (nice eh?). They don't eat each others it is just Daisy - they are driving me insane!.
I have spoken to the vet and they said it is habit and a hard one to break, I have tried feeding Daisy Pineapple as this I'm told makes the faeces taste horrible (which I find rather ironic that we need to make it taste vile). I have tried shouting at the other 2 (which I hate doing, but I also hate seeing them do it) & I have covered the faeces in very hot chili sauce to stop them eating it (worked for a while). I have also changed Daisy's food, but Nothing works.
I am now at the stage where I go outside with Daisy every time she goes out so I can clear up immediately giving the other 2 no opportunity to get it. This is a nuisance as I am always conscious & watching when they are all outside in the garden playing.
I don't know what else to do - the vet assures me that to them it is not dirty, sometimes a sign of a clean dog & I have done a little research into this and all sorts of things can cause it as I'm sure you know - in this case I think it is a pack dominance issue as Daisy is very much in charge of them both. Wellington didn't used to do it but of course he has copied Obi.
The only thing I can think of trying is putting cayenne (not sure how this is spelt) pepper to see if that stops them and using a water spray when they go for it. I've even thought of buying muzzles for Obi & Welly so they can't get it to see if this would break the habit they have got into. It isn't possible to segregate the garden so Daisy can be left alone - although believe me I've thought about it!. Daisy get's quite distressed about it as you can imagine and a couple of times she has stopped herself going to the toilet which is not good.
I know that dogs are very food motivated, basset's especially, but the minute I try & distract Obi & Welly with a biscuit Daisy stops what she is doing and comes over for a treat to so that doesn't work.
I would appreciate any help & advice, I know dogs eat vile things and that's just normal to them, but this is obsessive and they follow her around which annoys her & me!. I really want to be able to leave the dogs in the garden without watching all the time.
Any advice gratefully received!
Many Thanks
Kind Regards
Jayne Bradshaw

Size matters

I have a beautiful and well behaved liver Dalmatian. She is four years old and has two hours free running every day with a group of dogs of different sizes and breeds.
When she was a puppy I made sure she was well socialised with other dogs however I think I made a mistake letting her play with bigger dogs. She did get hurt on a couple of occasions whilst playing, and now has been showing aggression towards bigger older dogs for a while now - she doesn't bite them she just tells them off. I try to keep her away from them but some owners will let their dogs come over to her and if they stay sniffing too long she will snap and growl at them. The owners then look on in horror so I tell them she is afraid of big dogs but they still don't call theirs away.
I have tried two different dog trainers, one was a bit forceful and did agility in the same class which i didn't want to do and the other was training towards Good Citizen Awards which again I am not interested in.
I am getting a bit desperate now so can you help?
Lilian Wright, by email

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

I don't want to sound paranoid, but...

I have a beautiful, gentle Bull Terrier cross and I just live in fear of her being stolen and used for dog fighting.
I have a part time job and I have to leave her for three hours a couple of times a week but I find I am constantly fretting about someone breaking in and taking her.
What can do to keep my fears in check?
How about a webcam? Or a tracking device?
Any ideas?
Charlotte Holmes, London

The Retrieva collar should help you relax. I've been trialling them on Oscar and Tess and they are remarkably simple to use and a huge comfort. I've not needed to use one in panic yet, but just knowing they are there reduces my blood pressure!
You can set a predetermined area that you'd expect your dog to stay inside while you're out, should she set foot outside that zone you'll receive a text alert. Plus you could check her position at any time you're having a worry via a mobile phone or on a computer with Google earth. 
The collars can be locked on to your dog with a key so that if your dog was lost or stolen the technology would act like a tracker in a car so you'd have an accurate idea of where to search. T
The collars are very hard to remove without the key and will automatically send you a text alert should someone try to tamper with them.  Someone taking a dog in a rush would be unlikely to expect a dog to be wearing a tracker or if they did have the time to remove it. The collar, which is remarkably light considering the technology it carries, might be mistaken for a collar used with an electric fence by the uninitiated.
Here's the Retrieva website for more information.
Do hope it helps!
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Woof - and it's gone! Food is too fast

Can you help!
My Labrador spends all day looking forward to his dinner, yet when it does come it's virtually inhaled! Are there are hints for slowing him down as I do really worry that he is gulping down his food and it can't be good for him. I'm feeding Natures Menu in cans but the speed its disappearing I don't think he's tasting it!
Jason Western, Reading

Here's a few ideas from me to kick things off. Why not take your dog's food ration and spoon it into several large Kongs and give them to your dog over the course of the day? I feed Natures Menu too, so I know it is the right consistency! Press it down so it's quite hard for your dog to easily get out.
As food is such a highlight why not make it last? Plus this way your dog has to work a little to get his food.
In summer you could try freezing it for an interesting twist and making the experience last a bit longer. 
Anyone else got any tips?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

With your description of your dog looking forward to his dinner all day, I assume I am correct in thinking that you feed once daily? I really do feel that twice daily feeding is better for adult dogs for that very reason – waiting all day for a meal which is hoovered down at a rate of knots because of the extreme anticipation.
            There are two specific cases where I recommend feeding more than once a day:
-       regurgitation of food shortly after eating it, having bolted it down too quickly;
-       bilious vomiting in the morning on an empty stomach.
My routine guidelines for frequency of feeding, which are not cast in stone but simply guidelines which must be adapted to suit not only the individual dog but also his/her owner and family; are:
-       four times/day up to twelve weeks of age;
-       three times/day up to six months of age;
-       twice daily thereafter.
There are those dogs who prefer to eat just once a day - which might be in the morning or, more usually, in the evening – and the morning meal may be more of a snack. Timing with respect to exercise, work and so on also needs to be taken into consideration.
            It is worth pointing out, however, that you do not suggest your dog is suffering from any ill effects to his health from bolting his food after waiting for it all day. Labradors are probably the most likely to wolf down their food, whether fed once or several times per day! Being a Labrador, the other important thing to avoid by feeding the daily ration as two or more meals is inadvertently increasing the total amount of food fed. Weight gain is all too often an easy thing to happen to a Labrador, and can be very hard to shift!
Alison Logan, Vet

We have quite a few customers that present with the same food bolting issue and, unsurprisingly, the vast majority of them do tend to be Labradors!  

I can, however, recommend a few things to try:

1. Try feeding your lab from a raised feeding bowl (available from all good pet shops), as it will encourage your dog to take smaller mouthfuls at a more comfortable height rather than scooping up his food in large chunks.
2. Spilt his food into two, or even three meals a day to lessen the anticipation of the “big event”. Make sure you carefully weight out his daily allowance first before splitting it into the separate meals to avoid over or under feeding.
3. Try hiding some of his food allowance in an interactive toy such as a Kong. This will not only slow him down, but will also make him use that big Labrador brain!
4. As Labs are working dogs, you may also wish to go one step further and teach him to “find” a hidden stuffed Kong using his natural instinct to retrieve.  However, if you are planning on working him or entering field trials, skip this step as it will only encourage him to mouth the dummies!
5. Be very careful adding things such as balls or toys as I know of several cases of Labs inhaling the object along with their food!  If you do decide to try this tip, make sure the objects are large enough not to be swallowed.  To be perfectly honest, this tends to have the least success rate as most dogs end up removing the object or they get so frustrated that they end up knocking over their bowls.
6. You could also try a specially designed dog bowl which has been split into sections to slow the consumption of food.  Based on feedback from our customers, these bowls tend to work in some cases, but not in others, so I can’t say for certain that it will solve your problem, but they are definitely worth a try.

Good luck! 

Claire Goyer, The Haslemere Pet Company

Friday, 12 March 2010

Any business angels out there?

Hi there, 
My name is Nicola and I'm 20 years old. I'm currently doing a home learning course on Dog walking through Compass Home Learning ( which I found the ad in your magazine!) But I'm confused as how to start the business when I complete my course, and was wondering if you knew of any books or websites that may help me.

Thank you
Nicola Orr

Anyone out there been there and done it able to point Nicola in the right direction? Is it better to buy a franchise or start from scratch?

Hi Lucy,

Owning your own business can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it does involve quite a lot of time and hard work!

Getting qualified in your chosen field is an excellent first step, but that’s really only the start.  You’ll need to do your research with regards to insurance, accounts, VAT, and marketing (to name a few) but there are lots of excellent services out there to help you on your way.

In terms of your chosen industry, have a look at the National Association of Registered Petsitters ( ).  They have quite a lot of information on their website, and some of it pertains to dog walkers.  Becoming a member of a recognized association is a good idea, as you can give your customers piece of mind that you are insured, abide by a Code of Practice, as well as distinguish yourself from other dog walkers who simply “hang out a sign” and then take on clients.

For business information, you really can’t beat the government’s Business Link service ( ). Their website is FULL of essential information, and they also offer a free of charge one on one session with a Business Link advisor in your area.  They can help you with VAT registration (if need be) or you can contact HM Revenue and Customs direct ( The VAT office has an undeserved reputation in my opinion, as I have always found them to be extremely understanding and very helpful whenever I’ve rung.

Another good place to try is the Free Business Forum UK ( which is an excellent resource full of helpful professionals and first time business owners.

Don’t forget to canvass your local pet shop, veterinary office, dog trainers and behaviorists as these groups are constantly being asked for recommendations from their clients. Ask them what they look for in a good dog walker, and then take their advice on board. You may find that they will become a real lifeline when you are ready to grow your business.

Best of luck!
Claire Goyer, The Haselmere Pet Company

Any help for nasal tumours?

I need to ask if anyone has any experience with nasal tumours in dogs.  I've just found out that my 13 year old Golden Retriever has a tumour, it was thought at first that he had aspergillosis but test for this have proved negative. He's had blood tests done and his liver and kidneys are fine, also no sign of diabetes.  I'm totally shattered by this news, this is now my third dog to be diagnosed with cancer, (one Goldie with throat cancer, one Dalmatian with bone cancer in her shoulder).  I have read about CV247 and wonder if this would help Gyp, he is having problems with his breathing through his nose whilst asleep.  He is still fairly active, (still insists on going for a walk even though it is a very short one) and loves his food and a potter round the garden.  My vet has got him on Metacam but I am not keen on giving this to him as I like to keep to a natural approach to treatment if at all possible.  I already feed my dogs a natural diet of raw meat and veg and don't vaccinate my older dogs any more.

My vet has said that there is a chance the tumour could break a blood vessel as it grows and Gyp already has had some nose bleeds.  I just don't know what to do for the best, my husband is thinking that having him put to sleep would be the kindest thing and if he had other health problems, (with his kidneys or anything) I would agree, but I am relectant to do so without trying anything else.

What is it with my dogs, three in a row, and I've got three more apart from Gyp, I'm beginning to think that I must be doing something wrong when I am trying so hard to get it right.

Any advice would be very gratefully received.

Many thanks,

Margaret Ansell 

Also posted on the CV247 blog 

I have experienced nasal tumours in dogs from both sides of the consulting room table, so to speak, and they are certainly a very distressing form of cancer. I would totally agree with the advice your vet has given you about the possible effects and course of the tumour. Nose bleeds are a very common consequence of tumour growth within the nasal passage. Once a patient starts to have nose bleeds, the outlook is not at all good.
I appreciate your desire to follow a natural course of treatment, but do please bear in mind that your vet prescribed meloxicam for pain relief. For any patient, the desire to spare pain is paramount and especially for those with cancer. Pain affects so many aspects of everyday living so changes in demeanour and appetite are two common ways of assessing for pain. It may be that meloxicam relieves the pain now, but may not as time goes by. Fortunately, there are other weapons available to fight pain, and alleviation of pain really must be your top priority. Pain definitely depresses quality of life – believe me, I have been there myself…

Alison Logan, vet

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Best ways to keep a car clean!

I've just got given a not particularly dog-friendly company car (saloon and velour seats - eek!) and I have two Labradors! How can I keep the car in reasonable condition while allowing my Labs to enjoy their walks in all weather? I really do need fitted car seat covers and something to cover almost every interior surface as I'll end up getting in serious trouble if I have so much as a hair out of place when I hand this car back. Be great to be able to whip off the covers off quickly if I ever do need to use the car to transport a client, too!
Geoff Wilson, Woking

Looking for a blind dog...

Anyone out there trying to adapt to life with a blind dog? We have been sent
a copy of a book called "My Dog is blind - but lives life to the full!"
which is newly published by Hubble and Hattie (
It's up for grabs to the first person who asks!
Christine Bailey, Dogs Today (whose desk all new books end up on!)

Email christine@dogstodaymagazine with your address and why you want the book please!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

How can our deaf dog still run free?

Dear Dogs Today Think Tank
The Brittany lives and loves to run – fast, far and wide.  At the blink of an eyelid it can be in the next parish and, before whistle reaches lips, the next county.  Annie at 11 and a half years remains thus, maybe a little slower.  In the 18 months before we bought her, she was neglected in many ways, her natural instinct to hunt being allowed to heighten and reinforce.
Over very many years of perseverance, and huge amounts of rewards, we trained her to be fairly acceptably controllable by voice, whistle and body signals.  We believe she can lip read in some circumstances.

In the last few weeks she no longer hears voice or whistle.  With such a busy breed, body signals are of only limited use. The vet has confirmed her deafness is age related.

We have tried a loud hailer but she is so deaf that its use is negligible if at all.  It is also heavy and cumbersome for me so is ruled out.  We are seriously considering a vibrating collar but want to learn more before investing in something else which does not prove effective.

To keep Annie on even a Flexi retractable lead all the time is an affront, tantamount to cruelty to such a vibrant, vivacious, energetic dog, even diminishing her acquired, now almost confident, happy relationship with the numerous humans and dogs whom she meets on walks.

We do have safe areas where we could let Annie off lead but these areas are shared with others (including the aged, children of all ages and those who have some physical or cognitive disability, dogs on leads for various reasons, dogs under control, horseriders) who too have the right to the peace and enjoyment undiminished by an active Brit.

We dream there might be something to help restore Annie’s hearing to even a small degree.   Does anyone have any practical, considered and useful advice to enable us to give Annie freedom in safe places yet keep her under the proper degree of lead free control.

Assuming that Annie will have to be kept on the lead all the time, is it known whether the flat-shaped webbing tape Flexi retractable lead weighs the same as the equivalent length of a corded Flexi retractable lead.     We have a corded Flexi retractable extending lead 8 metres in length.  We would love to find a longer one; any knowledge of something longer would get the Brit appreciation award!

Over my 74 years, this is the fifth dog to go deaf in older age.  However it has never been much of a problem before.  But this is a Brittany!

Mrs Audrey Powell

I'd suggest Barry Eaton's book(let) 'Hear Hear', which contains brilliant info on training deaf dogs. You can use a longline, while you train the recall. Dancing like a  monkey can help get attention (even if you do feel silly) & raising arms in Y (think YMCA dance).

You can teach recall to a torch (flick on & off). Or you can use a  pager collar. With the pager you to have to spend time getting the dog used to the vibrate sensation (pair it up with the feeding of tasty treats and go really slowly) so the dog doesn't get scared. Once the dog is comfortable with the vibrate sensation, you can work in the garden to train recall.

They sell pager collar here, it is sound & vibration (NOT shock collar one).

Good luck.
Kirsty MacQueen, via email

The dog whistler?

I really want to whistle train my dog and I was just wondering if anyone recommended a certain whistle? Does it not matter or are there some really good ones out there? Any tips for the training?
Dave Smith

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

CDRM help needed

My dog has just been diagnosed with early stages of CDRM and I've been doing some research on this horrible disease and I managed to find an article you did online but it's low res and hard to read... is there anyway I could get a copy as a PDF or image to read as I think it would be really helpful for me and my dog Elle.
She is a cross Alsatian Lab. She's 12 and has been slowing down a bit ... we put it down to her age. But we took her to the vets the other day as she cut her paw. He did a simple test, by turning the paw over and said shes got CDRM. Initially i was relieved it wasn't arthritis... but after Googling it ...I wish it was! I became aware just how horrible it can be. Am aware it's not curable, but will try anything to slow it down! Am taking her to hydrotherapy and would even consider homoeopathy or acupuncture! So i would be interested in any info about CDRM or treatments.
Plus any ideas where I can get boots to protect my dog from scraping her paws?
Many thanks
Andy Jackson

Poor Elle, CDRM is a terrible condition. We heard recently that there is now a DNA test available for this, but it doesn't seem to be widely used.
Our article on CDRM was in the December 2007 edition, we've sent Andy a copy of the article but a limited number of that magazine is available as back issues.
Can anyone who has been through this help advise Andy the best things to do?
Beverley Cuddy - Editor

Check out this link which gives links to the CDRM DNA test. Plus there's mention of a drug that is currently only used for humans that would seem to be possibly helpful - but very expensive.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Waste not, want not

We rescued an nine-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, Bonnie a year ago. At the time she weighed in at a massive 44 kilos! She could barely walk, let alone run, and sat down every few feet when out walking. She is now a much healthier 32 kilos and it is wonderful to watch her running and swimming along with her friends.
Bonnie has been fed for the last year on a dry veterinary diet food, which has obviously been successful, but the problem is that she poos for England! Four or five times a day she delivers a pile of solid waste often strung together with grass, of which she scoffs copious amounts. Our spending on poo bags is astronomical! Does anyone know of a diet that would make this easier?
Chris Pace, by email

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Slugs and snails and puppy dogs

Just back from the vet's. He asked what worming/flea regime we were using. he warned us there had been cases locally of dogs getting very ill from eating slugs and snails. He used lots of big words and I found myself just nodding and accepting the stuff he recommended. He prescribed a drop-on called Advocate that seems to get rid of everything, fleas, worms and these nasty slug-related things. Have vets only just discovered there's a problem with dogs eating snails and slugs? I've never noticed our dogs paying any interest in these things, but I guess you can't be too careful. What is the problem with slugs and snails and what are the symptoms to watch out for if you're not using a special treatment?
Jimmy Williams, Camberley

It's very interesting that there has been immense publicity about snails and slugs since one pharmaceutical manufacturer got its parasite treatment officially licensed to treat lungworm - this is the worm that can be picked up from these slimy molluscs. Lungworms have a two host cycle, this means they have to develop in a slug or snail first; and then the little slimeball has to be eaten by a dog for the worm to be infective to the dog. If your dog doesn't eat slimy things, then there is very little to worry about.
Lungworm infection is quite unpleasant, causing coughing, nose bleeds, lethargy and anaemia. It is treatable when it occurs, but rapid diagnosis is important.
Lungworm used to be a rare condition, confined mainly to the Southwest. There is some anecdotal evidence that it is spreading to other areas, mild winters have been blamed for an increase in slug and snail populations - so perhaps the recent severe winter will reduce the incidence.
It's quite possible that there is more lungworm around. But there are no facts or figures I know of to prove this, and in my opinion no reason to give extra worm treatment unless your dog actually has lungworm.

Beverley Cuddy, Editor says
I'm normally a pretty cynical sort, too but one of our staff's relatives who lives locally has had a dog pick up lungworm in the last year - the dog died not long after. There was no post-mortem so there may have been no link. We've had a few readers report having dogs contract it, too. As there have been cases in our village, I've switched to Advocate as it covers lungworm as well as fleas and normal worms. Tess will indeed eat anything that moves, no matter how slowly!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

She'll never walk alone with me

My wife (Ann) and I got a puppy in September 2008. She is a Labrador-Springer Spaniel cross, very energetic and intelligent. The problem is that she will not walk with me on my own.
Ann does not work and so Daisy is with her all day. I am first up in the morning and feed and groom her and let her into the garden to relieve herself before going to work. I have trained her to do basic obedience in the house and the back garden. Daisy will retrieve and will drop a ball for me (most of the time) whereas she is more reluctant with my wife. She will play with both of us in the park with a ball or stick. She will come and lie on either or both of us in the evening whilst we watch the TV.
When I take her out of the door on a lead, she will go a few yards, then look round and look for Ann. If she is not coming, Daisy's head goes down, she stops, put her paws down at an angle and refuses to move forward. Even dragging her a bit or giving her treats will only get me a few yards.
If we go out together, I can have the lead and she will happily walk. If my wife walks at the front and I follow 20 yards behind, that is also fine. If we go to the supermarket, she will happily walk round quite a large carpark a couple of times until Ann comes out of the shop.
We have tried Ann walking behind us and then dropping off down a side road or doing the same in front. Each time Daisy notices that this has happened she refuses to move.
We would both love to find out what I have done or not done to cause this problem.
Bob Davies, by email

Monday, 1 March 2010

Greenham Common Protest!

Yesterday we took the dogs for a lovely walk on Greenham Common. This is a vast area, and I was dismayed to read a notice on the gate stating restrictions on the use of the land, which include all dogs to be on leads from March 1st to July 31st inclusive, allegedly to protect ground-nesting birds.

Cattle roam free on the common, as presumably do deer, foxes, badgers and other wildlife. I can't for the life of me understand how a dog's paws could cause more damage to birds' nests than a cow's hooves! It seems to me that these restrictions are becoming very widespread; it almost seems like a campaign against dog owners. I would not expect to run my dogs in a nature reserve, but I most certainly do on common land or council-owned parks - there is a similar restriction on a country park close to the office.

I have hit a brick wall complaining, the rangers simply state that the birds need to be protected; well, I'm sorry, but dogs need exercise as well. I suspect that if I go to the common next weekend exactly the same number of dogs will be running free, so I've two queries - are these restrictions enforceable in law? And how can one lodge an objection?

I can see the day coming when we have small, probably crowded dog parks as they do in the US, and dogs will have to be on lead elsewhere. It's the thin end of the wedge! What can be done?

Christine Bailey

Dog poo disposal dilemma

Please, please can you help?
We have two dogs who produce quite a lot of poo in our garden.  I have bought "Dog Toilets" from two different manufacturers and have to say that both are totally useless.
Do you know of any method of making a dog loo for the garden.  There are composting toilets for human waste used in rural areas. What do boarding kennels and dog breeders use? 
We have a large garden and although the dogs get plenty of walks on the moors etc, they still produce about two or three piles each per day on the lawns.
I really hope than you can come up with some suggestions. I am not happy about burying the poo, because we live in a very rural area and do not want to attract vermin.
David Wilson

Quite by chance I recently came across a company with a very memorable name - Whoopsies Away. This would seem to be the kind of thing you're searching for. Anyone else got any bright ideas or know a UK distributor?
Just had another product pointed out to me by @airdmoss on Twitter
Looks easy to install, only 30 minutes! And not too expensive. And they also do flushable poo bags. A whole world of poo disposal has been opened up to us by this question!
We've just checked out legally what we're meant to be doing with our dog poo and were surprised to find this advice from the Government:
If possible, you should encourage your dog to use your garden - you can then either bury the mess or flush it down the toilet. Do not put dog mess in green garden waste bags or rubbish bins.

Beverley Cuddy, Editor