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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