May issue

May issue
May issue

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