May issue

May issue
May issue

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Popping pills is a pain in the bottom

Dear Dogs Today

My six-year-old Wheaten-Irish cross, Brady, has been a very healthy dog until a few months ago, when he developed perianal fistulas.

The vet first tried shots and then switched to pills. After taking flagyl (one pill), antirobe (two pills), atopica (one pill) and ketoconazole (one pill) for five weeks, the condition seems to be much under control, but apparently it is a different condition to cure completely, and could recur at any time, so he will need to continue medication.

Getting him to take five pills a day isn’t easy. He’s figured out every way I’ve tried to hide them. He’s also gone off his food this week.

Do your experts have any advice to give? I’m interested in conventional and/or holistic methods. I should be so grateful for any help you can give me and perhaps other readers.

Thank you in advance,

Eileen Halliday, New York, USA

Good dog etiquette

I have a problem with my 11-month-old, female Whippet called Diesel, she is far too friendly!

On a walk, she always pulls on the lead to see other dogs or people to say hello. Also, Diesel always jumps up on people whenever she greets them - often people think she is being aggressive and are scared of her. It does not occur to her that it might hurt people who are smaller so she also jumps up on toddlers and children who are often smaller than her when she jumps up on her hind legs! This also happens with dogs - Diesel jumps on other dogs and scares them, it often ends in dogs thinking she is being aggressive when in fact she is the most friendly dog ever! I try getting her away with treats, spraying water at her - but nothing seems to work! She does not understand that people are scared of her when she is trying to be friendly.

Any ideas?

Anna Gorrod, by email

Friday, 27 May 2011

Sigh of relief needed

My 11 year old Jack Russell, Berkeley, is suffering from what the vet thinks might be Chronic Canine Bronchitis. There is definitely a problem with his lungs as he has very tight and wheezy in-breaths when at rest. But further tests to analyse the inside of his lungs would be too risky. So we are all assuming it is most likely, as I say, Chronic Canine Bronchitis. He is taking a low oral dose of steroids daily, 8 hourly broncho dilators and a daily puff (via an MDI and dog spacer) of Beclazone 50mcg (which I am thinking of changing to Flixotide 125mcg but have no info on this or what might actually be the best drug).

This issue started in April 2009 but his breathing has been particularly poor since February this year and as he suffers from anxiety, we (me and hubby) have not both gone out the house together for months because we know it will stress Berkeley out and that will make his breathing even worse. However, on Wednesday we had no choice and in the evening we had to go out for two hours. When we got home Berkeley was stressed, as we knew he would be. He did start to calm down but, as I feared, his breathing suffered and became alarmingly tight and sticky sounding with his ribs expanding massively in order to try to draw breath into the lungs. He was really struggling. By 1am I could see it was not going to improve on its own so I gave him a puff on his Salbutamol puffer, which the vet gave us for emergencies. Berkeley has used it once before with seemingly no ill effects (or advantage either but it is all we have) but this time things went crazy. He seemed to go into what I can only describe as a blind panic. He started to hyperventilate and became incredibly anxious… licking everything in sight. Licking is what he does when he wants to calm himself. His breaths were about 45 per minute, which sounded dreadfully fast. And it did not get any slower for 6 hours. It was very scary indeed and can’t have been good for his poor little heart.

Mostly I am asking please if anyone has any ideas for helping a dog in a panic and/or a dog who is hyperventilating? But also I would be grateful for any thoughts on lung conditions and what might make his life more comfortable? He is a happy boy and has no problems in the day but at night or when he rests his breathing is wheezy and tight. I wish we knew for sure what it could be. Chronic Canine Bronchitis seems to fit the bill in many respects apart from one big question mark… he does NOT have a cough.

Any thoughts much appreciated as our vet seems a little in the dark, as do we and I am starting to doubt what we are doing.

Thank you.


Friday, 20 May 2011

A friend in need

My six-year-old Miniature Schnauzer, Skye, is terrified of my friend. She used to love her until bonfire night last year when my friend came round just as the fireworks started. Now I think Skye associates her with the fireworks and gets completely stressed out when ever my friend comes round.

Skye sits and pants and shakes the whole time she is round. I have tried to get my friend to give Skye treats, which she loves to try, and get help but its not working and Skye will not eat any of the treats, even if my friend throws them to her from a distance.

I don’t want to stop having friends over but I can’t stand to see Skye so stressed out by her being there. Can anyone help us?

Allison and Skye, by email

Searching for a dog-friendly holiday in the Lakes

A friend of mine has just rehomed a four-month-old Jack Russell and is thinking of going to the Lake District for a walking holiday, just the two of them.

Does anyone know of any reputable companies that organise this kind of holiday, she doesn't want to be walking on her own but would like to be with other dog walkers.


Carol, West Sussex

Balloon phobia

My doberman is scared of hot-air balloons. He is four-years-old, and I have had him since he was eight-months.

Ty has always been a fearful dog but ever since a incident with a hot-air balloon letting the gas go right above us and very low when he was about a year old, his fear has worsened.

He now refuses to go out on his walk in the mornings, and is ok when he goes out in the afternoon, but refuses to go out again in the evening.

Hoping someone can help me help him.

Michelle, by email

How can I teach my dog some manners?

Dear Dogs Today Think Tank

I have a Pomeranian-Maltese cross who is 13-months-old, female, and unspayed at the moment. When I take her for walks she pulls really hard on her lead. She also barks and goes to attack any dog she sees on her walks.

I’ve tried dropping treats to distract her but this did not work - I tried for three months but no improvement. Then I tried spraying her in the face with water, but no improvement at all.

Please can you suggest anything else to try? There are no training classes in my area and I am getting desperate for ideas.

Tina, Southend-on-Sea

Monday, 16 May 2011

When and where should dogs be on leads?

I was wondering if anyone can help me out?

I live in Surrey, and in the area of which I live, there is a family who lives opposite us who own a large German Shepherd, a breed many people find intimidating because of their size.

Now, the problem is the owner leaves the dog in the back garden all day, everyday, and when he comes home from work, the dog is really pleased to see him. The owner though opens the side gate, and basically lets the dog run around the street, roaming in people’s gardens and run down the road, regardless of traffic. Later in the evening about 10pm, you can see the owner sitting outside, watching the dog run around with no lead. My Grandad came home from work the other night and the dog nearly knocked him over as it was dark and it is difficult to see the dog. I have reported this to the dog warden and to the RSPCA and they think it is perfectly ok to let this dog run riot. The advice they gave was that we could give the owner a few tips, but that was it.

We feel very strongly that it could be an accident waiting to happen as it could give out the wrong vibes around the area, giving neighbours the idea that they can do the same to all dog owners. I thought the RSPCA was there to protect the welfare of an animal. In America and Canada they have to be on leashes at all times regardless. I used to breed German Shepherds and although I kept them on leads people would still cross the road because they were scared of the dog.

Can anyone advise who is right or wrong?

John, by email

Lisa Richards, scientific officer from the RSPCA’s companion
animals department commented...

"The RSPCA appreciates the importance of exercise for dogs, as it is
not only important in providing physical activity/locomotion for a dog,
it also provides opportunities for toileting, investigation, exploration
and interaction with people and other dogs.

"However, the Society also believes that dogs should be kept under
control and not allowed to stray. Irresponsible dog ownership, whether
it is allowing dogs to stray, be dangerously out of control or
indiscriminately breeding them, causes significant problems for the
safety and welfare of both humans and animals."

Piers Claughton, senior local government advisor at the RSPCA, added...

"It is an understandable misconception that the RSPCA is responsible
for picking up straying dogs, regardless of whether they have strayed
accidentally or are simply what are generally regarded as ‘latch-key
dogs’ being let out roam for a period of time.

"Stray dogs is the sole and statutory responsibility of local
authorities. Given that this is one of the few animal issues that the
RSPCA is not the main responder for, it is important that the local
authorities fulfil their obligation.

"If someone is concerned that a dog is dangerously out of control in a
public place, they should contact the police, who are responsible for
dog control.

"It is wrong to focus on this example purely because somebody considers
a German Shepherd an intimidating breed. The focus instead needs to be
on the owner and ensuring they are looking after their pet

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Feeding quandary

I’m sending this as a last resort really, I’m not sure there is an ideal answer, but all suggestions welcome! I currently have two dogs, Louis and Maisie, both large crossbreeds. I have owned dogs for over twenty years and passionately believe that a natural, raw diet is best. This has posed a few problems in the past when we have been on holiday, but we have always either gone self-catering and taken our dogs with us or left them with my sister, who has raw-fed dogs of her own.

This year my husband has given me a wonderful surprise birthday gift – a trip to Australia! I admit, yes, it is a very special birthday, and half our family lives “down under”. Problem is, my sister is coming too, which is really lovely, but does leave us without an experienced dog-sitter. The dogs have never been in kennels, and I don’t want to go that route.

A friend has said she is very happy to have the dogs for the six weeks. My dogs know her well, she has a lovely Labrador of her own and we walk together every couple of weeks. I’m more than happy to entrust my beloved dogs to her care; the problem is that she is not prepared to feed raw. She has no experience of this way of feeding – though believe me, I have tried many times to win her over – and the idea of handling raw meat, offal and bones horrifies her. I think the whole idea of feeding bones worries her, which I do understand, and anyway, she doesn’t have a huge freezer, and lives twenty miles away from us.

What would be easy for her to feed, doesn’t require much freezer space, and is as close to natural as possible? Should I choose a grain-free kibble, or a canned feed? It all somehow seems second-best. Help!

Barbara Clements, Brighton, East Sussex

Dogs Today’s Christine Bailey says...

I feel like Superman! I believe I have the ideal solution.

For the past few weeks I’ve been trialling a new dog food on my little dog Pandy. This food has only recently been introduced into the UK, it needs no refrigeration, it’s lightweight, has a long use-by date, and it’s RAW!

This miracle food is called K9 Natural, and the secret is that it is freeze-dried. It’s made by some clever bods in New Zealand, and is to our knowledge unique – as far as we know there is no other freeze-dried raw dog food on the market. It’s made with 85% lamb meat, offal, blood and bone. The balance is fresh fruit and veg, eggs, and a little garlic and cod liver oil. It contains nothing unnatural, nothing cooked, and absolutely no grain. It’s lightweight because it contains no moisture, you add that back just before feeding. Simply weigh out the K9 Natural into your dog’s bowl, add warm water, allow to stand for a few minutes and serve. It is pleasant to handle and doesn’t have a strong smell. Although the manufacturers suggest adding in bones, this is purely for the dog’s enjoyment, the food itself contains all the calcium he needs.

The food comes in 500g and 4kg packs, which make up into four times that weight of food when you add in the water. You don’t say how much your dogs weigh, but if they are, say, 25kg, and you normally feed about 500gm per dog per day, this would be just 125gm of the food as it comes out of the pack. A 4kg pack makes up into 16kg of food, which, if my abacus is in good working order, would feed two 25 kg dogs for 16 days. So three packs weighing just 12kg would be all your friend would need to store to keep the dogs going for the six weeks. She might even be persuaded to switch her Lab over!

Check out all the scientific info at

The world once more saved. Please just don’t make me wear the outfit….

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

How can I get my Jack Russell back on her best behaviour?

Dear Think Tank

Could I have some help please with my four-and-a-half-year-old Jack Russell Terrier?

We’ve had Mabel since she was six weeks old and our vet, and also our dog trainer, quickly identified a problem with her insofar as they realised that she was a puppy farm dog. Unfortunately I bought her on impulse from an advert in the paper and it soon became apparent that she had not been socialised. Well, I made the mistake so I have to live with it and, to be fair to her she has made a great improvement since then. We’ve had JRs before but these have always been rescue dogs so we are used to our share of little problems until they settle in.

Generally, Mabel is a nice-natured dog, quite neurotic, certainly the most neurotic JR we have ever known but she’s good-natured with our four young grandchildren and also with our eight-month-old Labrador puppy.

When we got the Lab puppy last autumn, we thought we might experience problems with Mabel but actually the opposite happened and she settled down to mothering the seven-week-old puppy and was very kind and gentle towards her. She also calmed down a lot in herself and eased-off on some of her neurotic behaviour and there have been no problems whatsoever up until recently.

For the past month or so she has taken to needing to be between my feet wherever I go, whether I am in the kitchen cooking, or just generally walking about the house or garden. She always needs to be between my feet and, if I stand still, she sits on my feet. She also has to walk in front of me wherever I go. I am finding this quite tiresome and am concerned that it is quite dangerous as I don’t always see her and have stumbled over her on several occasions. She has also taken to trying to escape from our pretty secure garden and, today, managed to do so and ran off down the road. A very kind lady slammed on her brakes to avoid running her over and I am now quite stressed about my dog.

I have tried being extra calm and kind around her and towards her, thinking that this would calm her down but it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. I’ve tried giving her extra attention and treats and also walking her on her own in case she is jealous of the Labrador. I’ve taken to putting her in the Labrador’s crate whilst I’m in the kitchen as I really can’t have her under my feet (as well as the young grandchildren) when I’m cooking etc but I’m worried that this is just isolating her and not really dealing with the problem. This is a very busy household, with young grandchildren coming to stay every week and a busy social life as well, but we have always managed both our dogs pretty well up until now. Her behaviour towards my husband hasn’t really changed, she likes to sit quietly at his feet when he is around in the evening but she seems quite content with him. It’s her behaviour towards me that has deteriorated and I am perplexed as to why this is happening. We haven’t had any major changes in our lifestyle recently. I am retired so am at home for most of the day, on and off. She doesn’t appear bothered when I go out and settles down easily and quietly. She is happy with the Labrador pup and doesn’t show any signs of jealousy or resentment. We take them both away with us on holidays. She’s in good health and has good energy levels but I get the feeling that she is a bit miserable and that I am probably the cause of it - although I really can’t understand what the problem is.

She is on a waiting list to attend an agility course run by our dog trainer in the summer but, at the moment, I don’t think I could take her as she won’t even obey simple commands like ‘sit’ any more. Currently, she is demanding - and receiving, more attention that our rather laid-back puppy and I’m beginning to feel as thought she’s a rather spoilt teenager.

Any help would be much appreciated. Many thanks and best wishes,

Sherida Burgess, by email