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Monday, 28 February 2011

Is there anything I can do to help?

My eight-year-old spayed dog had been off and on her food for a fortnight. She is on Previcox for arthritis in her elbow but was also lame on her hind leg on the same side. When the vet weighed her she had put more weight on in spite of not eating so they wanted to give her a scan. This was on the Thursday and by Monday last, the 21st, it was obvious that something was very wrong. She was given a scan and blood tests, which showed that her kidney and liver were working all right, but the scan showed a growth. She was operated on and the extra weight was blood; her spleen and the tumour were removed but on the Tuesday her blood count was very low, from loss of blood, that she had a transfusion. I collected her later that day and up to Saturday we have had to take her back to the vet for injections of painkillers and antibiotics and she did not want to eat. As well as this she was leaking urine which made her very sore in spite of changing her bed, but ointment has helped a lot and she is now eating and much much brighter. We are waiting for the result of the biopsy and this is what I am afraid of, and would like to know whether there is anything that will help her.
Kind Regards

Has anyone else had a dog go through this procedure? I think Carol would value any insight into what the post operative situation has been like for others.

Alison Logan, vet, advises:

I feel guilty at not having seen your query before now because you are needing reassurance. A combination of school half term, extra hours at the practice and sunny weather have kept me away from the internet.

It is amazing how long dogs can accommodate problems without outward signs making them apparent to us. All too often I have encountered dogs of a similar age to yours who have suddenly started to show vague signs of being unwell, perhaps reduced appetite, reluctance to exercise or simply lethargy. There may still be no abnormality found on a routine examination, further investigations such as blood tests and imaging being needed to reveal the source of the problem.

Having a spleen removed is a major surgical procedure, on a patient who is not at all well. Together with blood loss, your dog has experienced a great shock to the system and will require a longer convalescence than from more routine surgery. The need for pain relief by injection, for example, is not surprising. Much like ourselves, the loss of appetite is to be expected in the immediate post-operative phase, and the fact that she had started to eat when you contacted the Think Tank is a sign that she is starting to feel better. Wetting her bed was, I would hope, probably more a reflection of being too sore and uncomfortable to reach the back door in time and should also have improved. Vaseline on the external genital area is a useful barrier against urine which can scald.

I would imagine that you are in receipt of the biopsy result by now. I sincerely hope that the growth was benign and that your dog has continued to make a smooth recovery.

Anxious of separation

We have recently given a home to a lovely little Tibetan Terrier. She is seven years old and an ex-breeding bitch, who has spent her entire life on a puppy farm. The poor girlie was so traumatised and timid when she arrived, but now after just five weeks she has settled really well and loves all members of the family. She has a particular affection for me as I spend the most time with her and, unfortunately, she cries when I leave the house even if she has another family member with her. This has started to improve slowly and I have faith that, in time, she will accept whoever is with her. However, the real problem arises when she is left alone in the house at anytime, she becomes totally stressed, pacing back and forth. She howls and cries, scratches at the door and rips at the carpet. The damage is not a huge issue, but the fact that she is so stressed is my real worry; her little heart races; she shakes and pants. I am trying to build up by popping out for short spells and making a huge fuss when I come back (if she has been quiet, which she will do for very short spells sometimes). The maximum that I would ever leave her is two to three hours and only occasionally. Incidentally, I can leave her strapped in my car and she is very happy.

Therefore I need some ideas please as to how best to deal with leaving her alone in the house.

She also has a habit of chewing and licking her paws; I read that the breed can be fussy about dirty feet, so I wipe them off when we come indoors. But the biting at her paws does worry me as this may have been a way of stimulating herself when she was stuck in a pen all day. She has no idea how to play and is not interested in dog toys; she does, however, love chews, but only if she has company and is happy.

I would really appreciate any tips on how to make life better for this darling girl, she has made such great progress with housetraining and walking on her lead, so we know she is a clever girl.

Many thanks.

Caroline Harris, by email

Suffering from an allergic skin disease

My Japanese Shiba Inu has just been diagnosed with Canine Atopic Dermatitis (CAD). She is not four years old yet and I noticed she seemed very sensitive after I had had her for just a few days, so she has been tested for many things.
It is a horrible disease. She scratches - and not like a normal dog - she removes all the hair from parts of her body. She can’t go outside on a sunny day as she is so sensitive to heat and over the past few weeks has gone downhill and it has become very difficult to get her to go outside as she has no energy and spends most of the day sleeping.
I have a very good consultant who has tried putting her on steroids, but she has had a bad reaction. We are now trialing her on deflazacort, which is an anti-inflammatory, for the next two weeks to calm her skin. If this proves unsuccessful we will try her on a lower dose of steriods, together with antihistamine tablets. However, she has had antihistamine tablets before and they just knocked her out, and I don’t wish to tire her out anymore than she already is. She really perks up when she sees people so I have asked friends to come to the house and see her as she is just too tired to go outside. I am very worried I will soon have to let her go but am very much hoping to hear from anyone with a dog who has CAD and how you have coped with it. I completely trust my vet’s decisions but I do not want to keep her on steroids that cause her further problems and would rather she was at peace.
My vet says in his opinion it is hereditary and this is the first case he has heard of in the UK. Does anyone else in the country have a Shiba Inu with this problem, or know anyone who does?
Thank you very much.

D. Mills, by phone

A sting in the tail

I have a six-year-old Jack Russell Terrier who is obsessed with his tail. He has an exceptionally long and fluffy tail which curls over his back. He has never liked his tail since he was a puppy, and seems to view it as competition to himself. Now and again he would have a go at it, then he would forget about it for months and then start again for a few days. During these times, he did not severely attack it, drawing blood etc but within the past few months he has started to really attack it and draw blood. We have had to start putting on a muzzle to protect the tail. However, as soon as we take off the muzzle, he starts on the tail again. Any suggestions?

Ann Gillies, by email

Rolling in it

Firstly let me say how much I enjoy your magazine. My daughter has a problem with her Newfie in that when on a walk she will insist on rolling in anything smelly and nasty - why does she do this? Molly remains unconcerned when shouted at by my daughter to get up, then carries on with the walk and will do the same thing again.

Any advice would be most helpful.

Sallie Moorhouse, by email

Friday, 25 February 2011

Should I re-dose?

I dosed a four-month-old puppy (who is likely to have worms) with the correct amount of Drontal for its weight (3kg). I mixed the crushed tablet into a small amount of dog meat for easy application. A couple of hours later said puppy had his lunch-time feed of kibble. A further two hours later we embarked on a bumpy car journey resulting in sickness. The vomit looked like partially digested kibble but I am unsure what to do about the worming. As the puppy is likely to have worms, ideally if I need to re-dose I don't want to wait too long. But at the same time I don't want to overdose him, if he did have time to absorb part or all of the Drontal I gave him.

Does anyone have any advice as to what I should do?

Claire (aka scoutelicious on Blogger)

Dogs' - or frogs' - legs?

I've heard from a few people that when a dog lies on its belly with its back legs sprawled out (a bit like a frog), it means they have good hips.

Has anyone heard of this themselves and is there any evidence that this is true?

Claire (aka scoutelicious on Blogger)

Thursday, 24 February 2011

New dog = new car = spending frenzy!

While I obviously saved quite a lot of money by finding a fantastic rescue dog, I'm fast realising that the purchase price was always going to be the smallest bill!
My cute Smart car is far from a smart move now that I've got Chance!
I am looking for the perfect dog car and have to say I don't know where to start. What do you drive and why is it the best doggie car? I do like my cars to have personality and style - surely we don't need to give all that up just because we have a dog?
I'm also incredibly fussy about collars and leads and bowls.
What's the most gorgeous ones you have found?
How about coats, considering he's a stray he's now a complete wimp when there's a bit of wind or rain!
Chance may not have had the best start in life but I am dedicated to giving him the very best of everything from now on.
Do point me in the right direction of stylish, practical and irresistible doggie shopping!
Spencer Holden, London

Bright ideas for brighter nights

Thank goodness that we are now getting a good bit of playtime before it goes dark. I am enjoying playing with Mack my young Springer but would love some more interesting toys and things to do to keep him occupied and hopefully wear him out a bit!
Anyone spotted anything more interesting than the old tennis ball I've currently using! We're miles from a proper pet shop and there seems so many things online I really can't work out which ones will be worth a try.
Sarah Gordon, Cumbria

New me, new look

I've just lost two stone and I am joyfully chucking out almost everything in my wardrobe and am ready to start again - even my boots are baggy now!
I would love some ideas of what the new streamlined me could wear when out walking with my lovely dog who really helped me get fit!
I want a whole new look. What would you buy and from where? I used to hate clothes shopping - can't stop now!
Jenny Thomas, Manchester


Wednesday, 16 February 2011

What's the best way to clean my carpets?

I'm not the most house-proud person in the world, I don't think you really can be when you have three dogs! But I'm really at my wits' end at the moment. It's so wet and muddy everywhere, and though I do try to clean/dry the dogs' paws when we come back from a walk, you can't do that every time they come in from the garden, and my carpets are really suffering. You should see my car boot, too, despite using vet bedding!

We moved into a new house towards the end of last year, and it is beautifully carpeted throughout; unfortunately not in the colours I would have chosen - they are a pale cream colour. The carpets were practically new when we bought the house, they are beautiful, just not very practical, and we simply cannot afford to replace them. But the dirt the dogs are bringing in is taking its toll, and, even worse, I'm hoping for a new addition to the pack in the spring.

Our ground floor is open-plan and I can't easily contain the dogs in one area. I have looked into professional cleaning but it's very expensive, and it's going to need doing regularly. What's the most cost effective way of cleaning carpets? Or should we just save up for new, mud-coloured ones...

Jennifer James, Fleet, Hants

Going on record

I've seen articles in magazines where behaviourists have used recording equipment to see what is going on when owners are out. My video recorder only lasts for half an hour before dying, so can anyone tell me what they use and where I can buy/hire it?
My neighbour has just told me that one of my dogs is regularly barking when I am out, all is quiet when I return, and as I have four I really need to find out which and why, so I can address the problem before it becomes a complaint.
Any help would be appreciated.

Ann Button, by email

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Looking for information on pannus

I have two Greyhounds. Bimbo, a female, will be three years old in March, and developed an eye problem (in the right eye, but we were told there is evidence that the left eye is affected as well) at the beginning of December last year. It is believed to be pannus, also known as Chronic Superficial Keraritis (CSK) or Uberreiter's disease.

Pannus is an inflammatory condition of the cornea, immune-mediated and characterised by an infiltration of the white blood cells into the cornea. What I was told is that, in plain language, a dog's own immune system is not recognising the cornea as its own, but as a foreign body, so it tries to 'cure' the cornea by sending defensive white cells to that area. That results in pigmentation and the extension of the blood vessels onto the cornea and the appearance of a purple/white film-like cover.

Pannus is not curable, but is treatable and is thought to be triggered by exposure to UV light or the sun glare from snow. If left untreated, pannus can cause blindness. Treatment is to be continued through the dog's lifetime.

It is believed that this is a hereditary condition and it is most commonly found in German Shepherd Dogs, but is also found in Greyhounds, Belgian Tervurens, Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherds and Border Collies.

As you can see, I have done my research on the internet, but I would really appreciate it if any of your experts or readers can help by telling me more details about this disease.

Bimbo's therapy started with Maxitrol (Steroid) Eye Drops, which have cleared much of the purple/white film, although there is some scar tissue still there. After that, she was prescribed an Optimmune Eye Ointment (contains Ciclosporin or Cyclosporin), to be given twice daily.

She is still 'squinting' with her right eye, and I am beginning to wonder if she was correctly diagnosed in the first place. Should I insist on Veterinary Ophthalmology Referral, or am I being paranoid? Is there any alternative ways of addressing this illness, any diets or supplements to follow?

Also, I can not find much information about it affecting Greyhounds, mainly German Shepherd Dogs. I would be extremely grateful to hear from any other Greyhound owners to hear their experiences.

Bimbo is my first ever dog, and is much loved. One of the reasons I opted for the Greyhound is that I consulted your Perfect Pup section, where all the dots are white and there is no mention of any hereditary disorders, so this came as a big surprise. However, I would not change her for the world, and am very much concerned to find the best possible treatment for her.

I am very much obliged to you for your time, and hope that you will be able to help out by addressing this issue in your fantastic magazine.

Many thanks.

Petar Matic, by email

Monday, 14 February 2011

Helping my dog's nervous aggression

We have had a rescued German Shepherd bitch for four years, who is now about nine years old. Since she came to us we have seen two behaviourists as she suffers from nervous aggression towards other dogs and also people if they approach too closely or try to touch her.
We have followed a program produced for us over the years, including once-a-week sessions with a vet-recommended dog trainer, on a one-to-one basis where we worked in a large paddock with different dogs, all on leads and walking at a distance that our dog can cope with without reacting.
For the past year we have been unable to improve her any further than that. We enquired whether any calming drug would help, but the most highly qualified behaviourist, who is also a qualified vet, did not think it would be a good idea. I believe the reason was that if she became too relaxed and over confident, she would maybe loose her "bite control" or "inhibition"? (She has never bitten, but has air snapped as a warning.) With us though, she has never shown a single act of any aggression whatsoever and is a perfect pet.
We are hoping that you would give us your opinion on whether any natural product could possibly help her. I know Dorwest Herbs sell calming products for fireworks etc and have seen advertised a product called Zylkene, but have no idea if anything would make any difference and we certainly don't want to risk making her any worse, as we have got to a stage where she is manageable. It's simply a case of it being a bit difficult to admit to ourselves that there is no more hope of any improvement.
Thank you if you have time to reply.
Bronwen and Keith Gould, by email

Stopping a Greyhound from licking its wounds

Can anyone suggest something to stop my Greyhound, Joker, from licking the stitches on his back leg. He fell off a wall a few days ago (don't ask!) and scraped a load of skin off the inside of one of his back legs. This has been sorted out by my vet who, of course, has given me a "lampshade" for him. The problem is that he is a very big dog, with very long legs, and I live in quite a small house. His bed is in the space under the stairs which is also storage for all my homemade preserves on shelves and a rack with wine on it. There is no way I can use the lampshade as he would be sweeping everything off the shelves everytime he turns around on his bed, apart from the havoc he would create in the rest of the house as his head is well above the level of the dining room table.

I need something that I can spray or wipe on the wound that is antiseptic and tastes horrible. Any ideas?

Genny Stallabrass, by email

Alison Logan, vet, advises:

I was not a fan of the ‘lampshade’, also known as Elizabethan collar, until I was forced into using one on my own dog when she would not leave her sutures alone. Pippin had had to have the tip of her tail amputated after an unfortunate accident, and I had visions of repeat surgeries, with her poor tail becoming shorter and shorter, if she would not leave it alone. The Elizabethan collar was wonderful for her because she accepted it readily, as if she was relieved to be prevented from licking at her poor tail tip.

As you rightly point out, there are physical problems with the Elizabethan collar. Your description of where Joker lives under the stairs with your homemade preserves conjured up a nightmare picture in my mind. Being a Greyhound means he has a long snout so would need a longer collar than Pippin my Labrador Retriever, in order to be prevented from reaching his sutures. No, an Elizabethan collar is probably not ideal for you and Joker.

Have you come across Nurtured Pets’ Anti-LickStrip Prevent plasters? Have a look at the website I think this could well be the answer for you and Joker.

Bertie's nervous of all sorts

I have an eight-year-old Jack Russell, Bertie, and in the past three weeks he has developed a problem similar to the 'firework night' problem; he is hyperventilating, listening for something to come, because he has the run of the house and sleeps in our bedroom he's jumping up and scratching us to wake us up and wants us to touch/reassure him, this lasts for ages; in fact, we have arrived at the situation where we put him in my car so we can sleep! He had always been a laid back dog for a Jack Russell, he's our fourth one.

So far we have taken him to the vet, who duly examined him. Bertie's in very good condition and the only problem is his teeth need cleaning, but not urgently. We were advised the DAP diffuser, which hasn't worked, and I have some alternative health Bach Remedy - which also didn't work. It has been suggested that he is picking up on a health problem my husband has, other then the above we don't know what else to do - please help.

Penny Davis, by email

Richard Allport, alternative vet, advises:

I’ve seen very poor results with DAP diffusers in general, and in this kind of anxious behaviour in particular. It will obviously help if you can find out the exact reason why Bertie has developed the anxiety. Now this may sound a little odd, but why not contact an animal communicator? He or she may be able to ‘talk’ to Bertie and find out what he is so worried about, which will naturally make it easier to find a solution. As a starting point, look at the website of an animal communicator I can personally recommend, Pea Horsley ( and then take things from there.

In general the following natural supplements all help to calm and soothe anxious dogs:

Kalm Aid (a good combination of two anxiety relieving amino acids)
Skullcap and Valerian (a calming herbal mixture)
Dr Petals Fears (a flower essence complex that does what the name on the bottle suggests – calms and soothes fears and phobias)

If you would like any more information on any of the supplements mentioned do contact me on

The pros and cons of annual injections

I am a subscriber to your magazine and remember a keen discussion about the pros and cons of annual injections. My friend's Jack Russell has just had his annual injections which seem to be the reason he has turned into a nervous wreck. He has become afraid of the dark and of going out for his walks. Thank you for any help you can give.
Margaret Rogers, by email

Richard Allport, alternative vet, advises:

Two points here – first, are annual vaccinations (or indeed any vaccinations) necessary? Here is my own personal advice on vaccinations:

Vaccination advice

· 1st vaccination: 12 weeks (or later)

· 2nd vaccination: 16 weeks (or later)

· (leave at least four weeks between vaccinations)

· Booster at fifteen months (or later)

· Any further boosters at not less than three yearly intervals

· Consider Leptospirosis yearly only if your dog is at risk and if the manufacturer can guarantee their vaccine contains the strains of Leptospirosis likely to be encountered by dogs in the UK.

· Consider requesting blood tests to check antibody levels, rather than administering regular boosters. Many dogs are found to have sufficient antibodies for anything from five to ten years following the last vaccination.

Do not vaccinate if your dog:

· is not in good health

· is on any medication

· has had a previous adverse reaction to a vaccination

· is otherwise at risk (e.g. family history of autoimmune disease or epilepsy)

Whenever vaccination is to be given, help protect against adverse reactions by giving homoeopathic Thuja 30c:
one dose three times daily for three days before, and five days after, vaccination.

If your dog cannot be vaccinated for one of the reasons mentioned above, consider administering homoeopathic nosodes. Nosodes are not guaranteed to confer immunity, there is no proof of their efficacy, but they may give at least some protection. It is important to obtain nosodes from a reputable supplier and dose according to the recommendations of a qualified homoeopathic vet.

Please note this vaccination advice is my own personal view and your own veterinary practice may suggest a different regime of vaccination.

Secondly, if the stress of the vaccination has triggered the acute fear of the dark and walks, the Jack Russell in question would certainly benefit from the help of a suitably qualified and recommended behaviour therapist, together with natural calming and anxiety relieving agents such as:

Kalm Aid (a good combination of two anxiety relieving amino acids)
Skullcap and Valerian (a calming herbal mixture)
Dr Petals Fears (a flower essence complex that does what the name on the bottle suggests – calms and soothes fears and phobias)

If you would like any more information on any of the supplements mentioned do contact me on

Friday, 11 February 2011

Allergic to almost everything...

We have been contacted today by a desperate reader who has no internet access. She has two Newfoundlands, actually full brother and sister, but from different litters. Both suffer horribly with Atopic Dermatitis, mainly affecting their ears and eyes. Their ear-flaps are very red, they have sore, weepy eyes, and have lost the coat around their eyes. The male also has sores on his rear.
The vet suggested allergy testing, and they have tested allergic to beef, lamb, pork, dairy products and fish, and certainly the bitch to rice and chicken, and have an allergy score of 1 to dust mites. Their bedding is washed three times a week in a powder for allergy-sufferers. They are groomed daily and blasted with a dryer to remove any dander.
They do not actually have ear mites. They are treated monthly for fleas, but the last treatment with Stronghold appears to have exacerbated the symptoms.
This poor lady is looking for recommendations for a dry feed which excludes all of the above, and any suggestions for treatment of this distressing condition.

I can really sympathise with this dog owner. To have not one but two Newfies with atopic skin disease!

Since they have had skin tests, they must be under the care of a vet with an interest in dermatology. Having found that they are sensitive to various dietary proteins, he will be as keen to find a hypoallergenic diet for them as their owner. He should also be told about the apparent worsening of their condition after treatment with Stronghold.

This is one situation where I would strongly recommend contacting the treating veterinary surgeon who is best placed to advise how to proceed.

Alison Logan, vet

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

A treat we can share?

Isn't it such a shame that we find chocolate so fantastic, but that it's so deadly for dogs?
I know some clever folk have managed to take out the hard to pronounce ingredient that is really bad for dogs but I've always wondered how do they extract it and if they can do it, why don't all chocolatiers take it out of our chocolate, too!
Does theo-what-its-name do anything to us? Do we like the taste or the reaction it causes? Would we miss it if it wasn't there?
Could I eat doggie chocolate? I do like to share things with my dog and this maybe the solution!
Charlotte Lasky, London

Anne Holt, Armitage Pet Care, says:
Good Boy Choc is the safe choc for dogs as none of our recipes contain cocoa - the ingredient in human chocolate which is poisonous to dogs.
Cocoa contains theobromine, a naturally occurring chemical, which although perfectly safe for us humans, is poisonous to dogs and if eaten can cause diarrhoea, restlessness, nausea and vomiting. Serious cases can be fatal.
Just like us, dogs enjoy a sweet treat and Good Boy Choc is completely safe for dogs to eat. It is enjoyed by dogs worldwide with 32 choc drops consumed every second.
For more information about our range of yummy Easter chocolate treats go to

Career advice please!

My name is Vicky and I wonder if you can help me with my question. I would like to know how I can get into writing for magazines such as yourself, I'm 25 and have worked with dogs for eight years and although I am a groomer I would like to try something else and writing has always interested me. Can you give me any advice how I can achieve this? 
Thank you for your time

Hi Vicki
There are lots of ways to get involved in Dogs Today and get your words printed (click here for details), but to be honest the chances of turning doggie writing into a career are very slim! Full time vacancies at the magazine are as rare as hen's teeth and the most of our freelance writers are specialists for those writing is an add-on for them not the full time career.
I did a great evening writing course when I lived in London that was totally geared towards writing for publication and gave you some great hints for writing for your market and selling your work as a freelance, but being a freelance writer is one of the most competitive jobs there is. There's a great book called the Writer's and Artist's Year book that gives lots of pointers as to markets for freelancers and how to get commissioned.
Good luck with the writing and do have a look at our ways of getting your words into print.
Regards Beverley, Editor Dogs Today

Not such a wee problem...

I am currently caring for a puppy who has not had any training done with him since he was acquired at eight weeks of age. To put it lightly, they are completely novice dog owners with little clue just how much time, patience and effort and training a puppy will need to behave appropriately in the house.
I am trying to put this right. I have had him for nine days so far and have just under three weeks left before he goes back to his owners. I was hoping to have him at least fairly well toilet trained and be able to advise them on how to keep this up.
To give you a bit more background information, he has got into a six week habit of being able to toilet wherever takes his fancy, having the free run of their large bungalow and not being taken outside or to a toileting area anywhere near often enough.
When I collected him from his owners and brought him to my house, he was urinating AT LEAST every 15 minutes, wherever he happened to be standing at the time, he did not show any signs of needing to go. He was also defecating in the house very regularly. I was taking him outside every 10 minutes (for three days) and giving him huge amounts of praise each time he toileted in the garden. Each time he toileted in the house I picked him up immediately and placed him outside.
After much perseverance I have got the timing down to around every half hour. If I do not take him outside he will simply go with no warning, with no pattern on where he chooses to go although some of the time he will attempt to go on the newspaper near the door he is not very reliable with this.
What is currently challenging me is that overnight he goes in a crate and does not toilet at all, for eight hours or more, which means he doesn't have a problem with holding it. So why, when he is out of the crate does he need to go every half hour?
I feel that because of his poor start he literally considers anywhere other than his bed as a place to toilet.
What else can I do? I don't have the resources or space to build up his roaming space slowly. I don't mind taking him out every half hour or more if he is improving but I have seen no improvement for around six days and if I over-run by a few minutes he will go in the house. I have started to get a bit firmer with him, saying a stern "ah-ah" when I catch him doing it and I then place him in the appropriate toileting area which is the newspaper by the door and of course praise him if he goes there.
I don't know if his character can be contributing in any way, but he is an extremely strong willed puppy. I have worked with hundreds of puppies in my job and NEVER come across a puppy this persistent and stubborn in his general character.
Any advice greatly appreciated! I wondered about trying those puppy training sprays to attract him to the newspaper but don't have the money to waste if they don't work.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Help! My dog's being pestered

I have a strong interest in Labradors as pets and working them on a shoot as a hobby.

I have had female Labs all my life. I have taken the last two (one chocolate, one black) shooting, both of whom were spayed and observed no odd behaviour from the male dogs we met shooting.

When I take my friend's female chocolate Lab (Finn) on a shoot all the male dogs behave as if she is in season, ie they follow her around with their noses up her backside, try to mount her and generally are a pain in the rear. This week, two of the males had a set-to over her when one tried to sniff her, which another didn’t approve of as he had his eye on her. It is beginning to be a problem rather than just a nuisance.

Finn is eight years old. She had a litter of pups when she was three and then was spayed. This happens every time I take her, October, November and January (I didn’t take her in December). Finn usually ignores the dogs who are pestering her, although sometimes she might snap at them. (I have taken Finn shooting since she was a pup, I think this behaviour started after she was spayed, as far as I remember, and gets worse as time goes on.)

The male dogs react similar to her daughter Kasey, who is also spayed and is five years old, but they are not so insistent with Kasey.

Could someone please explain what is happening? Will I ever be able to take Finn to enjoy her day out without being pestered?

Tracey Hammond, by email

Which breed is best for me?

I have always had dogs in my life, from childhood onwards, and often two or three at a time. However, six years ago, our last remaining dear old dog went over the Rainbow Bridge. As my married children live 300 and 400 miles away, I have been staying with them at regular intervals in order to help with their babies and toddlers, so it was just as well I didn't have a dog at this time. Now my youngest grandchild is about to start pre-school, suddenly I am not needed nearly so much.
I find for the first time in years I can actually think about having a dog once more, and sharing the joys with my grandchildren whose parents do not have the time or money to have dogs of their own.
I am beset with the worries of 'starting up' again, and wonder if other readers of grandmotherly age have had the same concerns.
In the years I have not had a dog, so much has changed. The tragedies of inbreeding have come to light, the pros and cons of immunising, the jump in vet bills, the cost of insurance, so many areas becoming less than dog friendly, and - I find my biggest worry is about potential allergies!
My daughter always said she thought it was the Peke's undercoat that caused her streaming nose, and my daughter-in-law has various intolerences/allergies, is frightened of dogs and doesn't like them at all! My older grandson says he wants a dog, but I notice he is extremely wary of them, not to say terrified - ever since a collie grabbed a tennis ball from his hand when he was only two.
I think I'll have to restrict myself to the list of breeds I have been given that are less likely to cause allergic reactions, none of which I am familiar with at all!
Although the Tibetan Terrier is on the list, my info on that breed says they do have an undercoat and do moult. They may also be too bouncy for little ones and nervy adults. The little Lowchen may have been a good choice but their gene pool is so small I worry I might be buying into a lot of ill-health, expense and ultimately, much sadness. I wondered about the tried and tested 'low allergenic' Poodle, with such a choice in size, but they seem to have quite a potential for being or becoming nervy themselves. It may not be good for a Poodle to have the house to himself for stretches at a time, and then to have three or four grandchildren sharing it with him, and being very boisterous and wild.
I go round and round in circles, and wonder if I will ever take the enormous step required to get back into my doggie world, and introduce my grandchildren to their delights. Having Dogs Today to read throughout my dogless years has been a great mainstay. Suggestions/ideas gratefully received.
Lois Taylor, Winchburgh, Scotland

Is my dog's diet appropriate?

I have just received the February issue of Dogs Today, and can't believe how much wonderful information it contains. I was especially interested in the article 'Wet, dry or raw?' relating to different feeding options.
I have a Bichon Frise called Lily who is 15 months old and the love of my life, so I want to feed her properly. Could you tell me if what I'm feeding her is appropriate and nutritious?
Lily has breakfast and dinner comprising roast chicken or liver or lambs' kidneys, mixed with either a little kibble or rice with veg (carrots or sprouts). I cook all this daily for her as she likes her food warm.
I also make her treats myself by roasting thinly sliced chicken and beef chunks until dry and crispy.
I want to keep Lily fit and well so would appreciate your comments and advice.
I can't wait for the next issue.
June Bailey and Lily, Westbury, Wiltshire

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Recovering from a cruciate injury

My very active seven-year-old Jack Russell has been diagnosed with a cruciate ligament injury. The vet seemed pretty sure that's what it was, but was unable to affect the classic 'drawer movement' in Trevor's knee because he has such strong hamstring muscles. My vet was very thorough and offered immediate x-rays and surgery, but I was reluctant to put Trev through it on account of the fact that he's quite vet phobic and very sensitive. (My other two dogs aren't - I think it's in his genes.) Anyway, Trevor is still walking and running on the affected leg and would be willing to do stairs/jumping into car etc if I'd allow him, but I don't. His problem only becomes apparent when he's been asleep/resting for a while and then stands up. He hobbles initially, but only has to walk round the room a couple of times or go in the garden for a wee and he is walking normally again. I have given him Yumove joint support tablets which I hope are helping. This has been going on for about nine weeks now. I would like to avoid surgery if possible but want to do the best for my boy. Has anyone else's dog recovered from a cruciate injury without surgery? How long will it take? Is there anything else I can do for him? Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you.
Rachael Marlow, by email

Scratching post

Bailey, my three-year-old chocolate Lab, has wet eczema on his face. He is already taking piriton for a separate matter - because he is allergic to several types of tree and has very sensitive skin. We have been giving him monthly autoimmune injections too and last week the vet gave him a steroid, which was a last resort and we didn’t really want to give it to him. I don’t want to keep pumping him full of different things because he is so sensitive. A friend has suggested evening primrose oil may help but if anyone has any suggestions of anything else I can try for both Bailey’s wet eczema and his hayfever (and other allergies which are bound to appear!) I’d be really grateful as he just looks so sad! Thanks very much.
Dianne Woodrow, Camberley

Richard Allport, alternative vet, advises:

It’s certainly very worrying when a three-year-old dog has already had to have an anti histamine (Piriton), hyposensitization injections, and now steroids – all these treatments can have side effects and all tend to work less well with time, in my experience, and/or new allergies develop that don’t respond.

I would strongly advise you ask your vet to refer you to a vet using holistic therapies such as homoeopathy and herbal medicine, in the meantime I’d expect the following supplements to help any dog of a similar size with these symptoms:

Vitamin E 1000iu daily
Royal Jelly 500mg daily
Fish Liver Oil 1000mg daily
Evening Primrose Oil 1000mg daily
Dermagel (herbal gel) – apply to any sore area of skin twice daily
Kelp (Iodine) sufficient to give equivalent of 600 micrograms of Iodine daily
Zinc 15mg daily

These will all help general health and vitality too.

Finally look at diet – preferably give my old standby, a raw meaty bone based diet; if you don’t want to make your own up, use a company like Darlings ( that provide ready-made balanced raw food diets. If not, choose a diet that is low in carbohydrate, definitely wheat-free and preferably organic, such as Lily’s Kitchen ( Again, not only is the allergic problem likely to be less evident, but Bailey will be happier and healthier all round.

If you would like any more information on any of the supplements mentioned do contact me on I do hope Bailey manages to keep off those steroids in the future!

Leading the way

I am really desperate for some advice on dog-lead clips. We have a Whippet puppy who is five months old. He is lively, as all Whippet puppies are.

Harry has escaped four times, because all the leads seem to have trigger clips these days. He has detached the trigger clips of four different leads, including leather and nylon leads, from various collars, all purchased in an effort to find a safe one.

He was nearly killed when this happened on the pavement adjoining a dual carriageway near us, it was only thanks to the wonderful reactions of the drivers and cyclists that he lived.

I cannot trust a trigger clip, and would be so grateful if you could recommend a lead manufacturer that uses a safer alternative, like the old-fashioned leads that had a shackle-type clip. I have tried some internet exploration, all to no avail.

We have to use sailing shackles on ropes or double-loop leads which my husband has made. And these are not easily detachable for obedience classes! I would really appreciate your help please. We cannot be the only ones to have had this happen.

I love your magazine, which I've been reading since we have had Harry.

Jenny Elliott, by email

What happens when the chips are down?

I recently bought a German Shepherd puppy and was looking for information on getting him microchipped. However, I came across no information with regards to how old a puppy should be before you get them chipped.
I was also shocked to find that there are in fact many places that do no have the appropriate scanning technology and some 'universal' scanners cannot even detect the chip.
I am all for the safety of our pets, which is why I looked into the microchip, but what happens if they do get lost and the institute that finds the dog then doesn't have the correct technology to detect the chip?
Isn't that the whole point of the microchip?
Kelly Howe, by email

Helping dog - and owner - breathe easier

My lovely boy Max, an 11-year-old Viszla, has just been diagnosed with laryngeal paralysis. Luckily, so far it's just one side of his layrnx that is damaged, so it could be worse, but I still don't know if it is likely to progress further or how he will manage to breathe and control his temperature when we get warmer weather (if that ever happens!). I am waiting for a referral to Liverpool University.

I have read Dogs Today for years but can't remember seeing any queries about this condition in the past, and only have limited info from the internet. I know there is an operation available but I am really worried about complications and if I would be able to give him the necessary aftercare required, as I work part-time. Is it better to have surgery early, or wait till he gets a lot worse? Or, worst case scenario, if the op is not a realistic option, how will I know when to make the heartbreaking decision that enough is enough?

Reading online, it says it is a fairly common condition in older large-breed male dogs, but I don't know anyone with personal experience who can give me an idea of what might be best for my boy Max.

Any information would be gratefully received.

Carole Adshead, by email