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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Where does the law stand on dog on dog attacks?

I've just heard today of an incident locally where a German Shepherd dog attacked and killed a Papillon. The German Shepherd was with its guardian but not on the lead [or under control]. The Papillon was being walked on a lead by its guardian.
The police were contacted, but have advised that they cannot do anything until the dog has killed three dogs? Is this correct, please?
Thank you
Nicki, by email

My family includes dogs, where can I holiday in the UK?


I own two dogs and would love to be able to take holidays in this country, however, every year I look around and can't seem to find anywhere that will take two medium large, or even more dogs, as I usually I go away with my Mum as well, who also has one dog.

I check caravans, cottages, hotels, all forms of holiday home and either have to just take two of the three dogs or I've even claimed to be camping next to the caravan to claim two dogs per pitch then slipped the dogs in when no one is looking! It has become so frustrating that I am seriously considering setting up my own no limit dog park! I have a lot of friends who have more then two dogs and most resign themselves to just never going away with them!

So I wonder if anyone is aware of the elusive holiday where more then two larger then Yorkshire Terrier size dogs are allowed?

Thank you

Jennifer Meers, by email

Dog breath


I use Maxi Guard for my 13-year-old Westie, on my vet's advice, after her having her teeth cleaned and tartar removed as last year.

She has been back for a check up recently and it seems to be working but her breath still doesn’t smell very nice, please can you advise me of anything I could try to make it more pleasant.

Kind regards,
Pam, via email

Humans only: renting with dogs

Hi, I'm am owned by a retired racer do what I can to support dog rescue and rehoming.

In the current uncertain economic climate many people are having to move home for a variety of reasons. Whilst we all love our dogs desperately when it comes to the roof over our heads some families end up with heartbreaking decisions to make. This results in much loved pets being reluctantly handed over to shelters and rescues. Many, probably most, landlords do not allow pets. Even landlords who are pet owners themselves often won't allow furry tenants in their properties. So, what can pet owners do to reassure potential landlords and what can landlords do to sensibly safeguard their investments?

Miriam Lindley, Plymouth

Treating kidney cancer

Has anyone any experience of treating their dog for kidney cancer?

I took my dog, a Rough Collie to the vet's yesterday for his normal arthritis injection and mentioned he was lethargic and drinking more than usual, after a blood test which showed massively raised red blood cells and then an ultrasound he has been diagnosed with kidney cancer! We are reeling with shock as he is now at the specialist who is trying to reduce his red cell count and rehydrate him so that he can investigate how far the cancer has spread and if he is suitable for surgery.

I love him dearly but at 11 and a half years old we don't know if it’s fair to put him through such major surgery and how successful it will be.

Dawn, via email

Researching toy breeds

Dear Dogs Today

I’m looking to buy a toy breed puppy but want to do some more research before I make a decision on what breed to get. A friend recently mentioned that a lot of toy breeds can get hyperglycemia. What exactly is hyperglycemia, how do I stop my future puppy from getting it and what do I do if he/she does get it?

I’ve been specifically looking at Chihuahuas but I’ve heard they’re prone to it, is this also true?

Hope you can help!

Josie, via email

Size zero

Our new addition to the family is a 12-week-old Maltese-Shih Tzu cross. As you can imagine she’s tiny and so we have a hard time trying to find anything to fit her. None of the pet shops we’ve been in sell anything small enough – not even the kitten collars fit!

There are many tiny dogs around and I’m certain some are even smaller, so there must be somewhere that sells tiny collars?

I hope someone can offer me some advice.

Linda Black, Guildford, Surrey

Bundle of nerves

Dear Dogs Today,

My 10-month-old Yorkie has terrible separation anxiety. I’ve had her since she was 7.5 weeks old and I understand now that she was too young to be taken from her mother. She follows me around the house, cries when I crate her at night and howls non-stop when I go out the house.

I’ve tried a DAP diffuser, medication from the vets and herbal medication from the pet shop as well as ignoring her when she cries but nothing helps. Last night she cried for six hours and I was so exhausted I let her into my bed so myself and everyone in the house could sleep.

The only time she relaxes without me there is when another dog is with her but I’m not currently in a good situation to buy a second dog. I really hope someone can help as it’s affecting my life. I’m not sure whether she’s doing it because she’s miserable or to control me?

Whichever it is, it needs to stop.

Maria, London, by email

Friday, 26 August 2011

Has anyone experience of pancreatitis?

Our 10 year-old Miniature Schnauzer Katie became very poorly Wednesday afternoon after being violently sick. We took her to the vet who gave her antibiotics and anti-emetics. The next day we took her back to the vet for an ultrasound, x rays, bloods etc. From the tests, our vet discovered she has pancreatitis and she has been at the vet hospital ever since.

Ever since she had the surgery to remove her digit two months' ago, Katie has had problems with her stomach (loose motions most days) - she has been given several courses of antibiotics and steroids, the latter which did help. We also tried various natural remedies (Richard Allport really helped with another of our dogs so we tried her on Slippery Elm, a probiotic etc) Now the vet thinks that she has had chronic pancreatitis since her surgery (according to the research we've done, it can apparently be brought on by trauma?) which has eventually got too bad for her body to cope.

We would appreciate it if anyone else has had experience of this awful illness and we are just hoping - and frankly praying - that she'll get through.

Sorry this summary isn't very well constructed it's v hard to sleep at the moment (Katie usually sleeps in my room and it's hard not having her here) so my writing skills aren't at their best!

Thanks again,

Poor Katie, poor you. I'm hoping one of our readers will know more and be able to share their experience. You must be worried sick. All our thoughts and prayers are with you and Katie.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Taking the fear out of fireworks

I know it’s a long way off, but I am starting to worry about the impact of the firework season on my three year old Border Collie. We seem to suffer excessively from over eager firework enthusiasts in the area where I live, and they start going off mid October and last well into November! Charlie, my dog, has always found it nerve wracking and cowers, shaking and salivating profusely under the table or in the cupboard under the stairs if he can get in there! – I got him as a rescue when he was only eight months old – but we don’t really know why he is so nervous. Ideally, I would like to find a natural cure or treatment, but am open to any suggestions! Can anyone help please?
Theresa Russell, Derbyshire

Dorwest Herbs emailed us to say: There is no need to panic this firework season with the help of veterinary licensed medicine Scullcap and Valerian Tablets and top ups of Organic Valerian Compound, thousands of dogs have stayed calm and laid back despite their firework fears and phobias. This year we have free leaflets which contain a count down calendar of top behavioral tips which can be downloaded from or picked up from petshops, groomers and veterinary surgeries throughout the UK.
Along with the handy leaflets Dorwest have dedicated advisers available very week day to answer question on how best to treat noise phobia in dogs, so if you need help or advice call 01308 897272.

It is sensible to begin to look for ways to help your dog in advance of what has now become the firework season – the bane of many dog owners lives. Fear and panic have physical effects on people and animals. Dogs who are noise phobic are often sensitive to contact around the hind quarters, ears and feet. This can simply be caused by the habitual posture adopted by a generally anxious dog. However, it is important to have your dog checked by the vet to ensure that he has no physical problems which could contribute to his issues with firework noise.
The Thundershirt is currently right at the top of my tool box to help dogs who are noise phobic. The physical effect of panic is that your dog loses control of his body and movement. The light pressure of the Thundershirt can help a dog to maintain physical control and this in turn helps him to retain emotional control. As a TTouch Practitioner I have used body wraps and t-shirts to help dog’s to cope with sound sensitivity issues for many years. Thundershirts are a very welcome addition to my tool box and have been highly effective in the majority of cases which involve sound sensitivity. The results of a recent survey carried out in the USA, where 1,999 dogs were surveyed and a Thundershirt was used for treating their dogs showed that Thundershirt had the best overall success rate: ie Thundershirt – 82% success Environmental Management – 77% ,Drugs – 76%, and Other Solutions Tried – 43% success.

The designers are so confident in the effectiveness of their product that they offer a full refund to purchasers who find that it has not helped their dog to calm down. It is excellent to be able to offer clients a solution which does not involve giving medication to the dog. Thundershirts are available from Xtra Dog or by telephone on 0330 088 3647.

In addition, stay as neutral as possible when firework noise begins. If you look or sound concerned, your dog will think that you are frightened by the noise too. Make sure that he has a safe place to go and lie down – if he has an indoor kennel, cover it with a blanket but make sure the door is left open so that he is not trapped. If he will take a few treats that may also help to calm him.

Tellington TTouch is an excellent training method to help your dog to gain confidence and self control. You can find a TTouch Practitioner to help you

Marie Miller, Technical Consultant to Xtra Dog, Tellington TTouch Practitioner Level 3, member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers no. 130

DforDog emailed us with this: Bonfire night can be a real ordeal for many dogs. Of course, fear is a normal reaction which is important to survival but fear that is out of proportion to the danger can be problematic. There are a number of things you can do to plan ahead for bonfire night and actually on the night itself to make things more bearable for your dog. You are right to start early as desensitisation, which we will discuss first, is best done slowly over time, way before the firework season starts.
By introducing your dog in a gradual and controlled manner to the sounds they fear, you are in effect desensitising them to the sounds. This is relatively easy to do but must be done very slowly over a number of months and with constant monitoring of your dogs responses. It is important not to rush any of the stages.
You can create your own sound recording or alternatively there are a number of CDs available on the market designed specifically for this purpose. Once you have made or purchased your sound recording, play the sound very quietly as background noise while you both go about your usual day-to-day activities. Do not draw attention to the sound or fuss your dog. Gradually, for each session, increase the sound volume. The time you need to take on each stage can vary from dog to dog. Take your cue from your dog and do not proceed to the next stage until they are completely happy with the current volume level. Eventually the sound will become insignificant to your dog and they will ignore it. This is desensitisation.
Alternative Treatments
There are a number of natural products that could help a fearful dog. Dog Appeasing Pheromone (D.A.P.) plug-in diffusers emit a synthetic substance that claims to mimic the reassuring pheromone produced by bitches for their puppies. Homoeopathic remedies may be useful, such as Bach Flower Remedies. Other natural remedies such as skullcap and valerian act as a herbal anxiety-relieving combination and claim to help at times of stress.
Thundershirt is an anti-anxiety vest for dogs. It is a drug-free solution for dog anxiety. Whenever a dog is anxious, fearful or over-excited, Thundershirt's gentle, constant pressure can bring calm and focus. Thundershirt applies gentle, constant pressure on a dog's torso, and this pressure has a dramatic calming effect for most dogs. Pressure has been used to successfully reduce anxiety for many years
Remain Calm
During the time of the fireworks you must make sure that you do not inadvertently reinforce your dog’s fearful behaviour by paying them extra special attention. This will only lead your dog to think that it is right to feel fear and also that by showing fear they gain your attention and comfort. This will reward their fear response and make it more likely to recur. Instead, remain calm and act as you usually would. Ignore fearful behaviours and reward calmness. If you remain calm then you encourage them to remain calm. Dogs also learn from each other. If you have a friend who has a dog that is not afraid of fireworks, invite them round for the evening. Your friend's dog will help set the right example. A word of caution - learning by example can work both ways. If the visiting dog becomes anxious after observing your dog's fear, do not continue.
Tired Out
If your dog has been for a nice long walk and is physically and mentally tired out, they will be much more likely to settle in the evening and less likely to worry about the noise, lights and activity outside.
Comfortable Surroundings
Take simple measures to make your dog comfortable such as closing the windows and curtains so that the sounds are not as loud and your pet cannot see the fireworks going off. It might also help if you provide your pet with a safe house such as a cosy den full of blankets. Make sure your dog views his den as his safe house by providing treats for him while he is in there and making sure he generally associates it with nice things. Ideally, start this a week or two before fireworks night.
Comfort Food
Some dogs can also benefit from being fed a meal high in carbohydrate (such as well-cooked rice or pasta) which will help them to feel sleepier that evening.
Other Precautions
- Find out the exact date of local firework displays.
- Ask neighbours to warn you in advance of any private displays.
- Make sure your dog is wearing a collar and ID tag incase they escape in fear.
- Top up your dog's water as an anxious dog may be more thirsty than usual.
Jenny Prevel

Phytoforce sent us the following email: November 5th is looming large once again and it is a night that often proves very distressing for pets particularly dogs which can be absolutely terrorised by the sound of fireworks going off. Leading veterinary surgeon, Ray O’Mahony MVB MRCVS CVH, who specialises in veterinary herbal medicine and is creator of his own range of herbal tonics called Phytoforce, takes a look at phobias in dogs and offers tips to owners on what to do to overcome and deal with them.
“First off avoiding these phobias is the most effective way of dealing with this distressing issue,” Ray states. “Puppies have a sensitive period up to about 12 weeks, so the more encounters you can fit into this sensitive period the better as puppies with many different experiences tend to form fewer phobias and are less anxious in general. Loud noises should be introduced and if the puppy does exhibit any distress just reassure them and they will quickly get used to them, after this sensitive period they have a juvenile period and the first month or two of this period is almost as important as the sensitive period so make sure you continue to with the various stimulae in order that your puppy learns that new experiences should be met with curiosity rather than fear.
“In older dogs where these phobias are already formed then dealing with them is more difficult but there are many aids to desensitising your dog. Firstly start desensitising at any other time of the year than Bonfire night. Start with lower levels of noise and gradually increase the intensity, there are a number of commercially available CDs for this purpose. Try to associate positive rewards around the noises, something the dog really likes, be it food, play, grooming or praise whichever your dog enjoys most. This method is referred to as counter conditioning and can prove very effective. You should however refrain from giving excessive comforting or attention if the dog starts exhibiting signs of fear as the dog may well interpret this as a positive reinforcement of its fearful demeanour, i.e. when it acts fearfully it gets more attention. Your dog is very sensitive to your feelings so try to project a calm and confident demeanour when dealing with any stressful situations.
“For some severely affected dogs where the desensitising attempts have not worked completely you may need to introduce calming aids. There are a number of options available from pharmaceutical drugs such as Valium, to Homoeopathic remedies such as Phospherous 30C, or Herbal formulas containing herbs such as Chamomile or Valerian, remember when using herbs that a multi herb formula will always work better than a single herb remedy, or pheromone therapy such as the Dap diffusers. “
Phytoforce’s Relax Tonic is an effective blend of calming herbs that combine to give stressed out dogs, and owners, a bit of peace. The tonic relaxes without sedating allowing them to enjoy life to the full. Its unique formula acts on a number of levels, reducing immediate anxiety and nervousness while also acting longer term as an adrenal tonic to bolster and support timid dogs worn out from their anxieties. They begin to feel more secure and react in a more positive way. This tonic may prove useful for any condition where fear, stress or boredom is a factor. For daily use give 1 pump /12kg body weight twice daily. During times of acute stress this amount can be doubled. Relax is most effective if given for a period of time before the dog becomes stressed as it allows him to deal more effectively anxiety and fear. Higher doses may have sedating effect and individual responses vary so dosing should be tailored accordingly. At maintenance dose lasts 40 kg dog 2 months or 10 kg dog for 6 months. The unique foil pouch ensures activity is maintained throughout extended periods of use. The product retails for £29.99 and can be bought online at
As with all complex behavioural issues a multi pronged approach is the most appropriate and the one most likely to achieve success for you and your dog. In our clinic we generally advise the creation of a ‘safe’ place by using a Dap diffuser, start on an appropriate herbal formula and then begin desensitisation and counter conditioning exercises months before bonfire night. Remember the older the dog the longer and slower the desensitisation process will be. Remember also to keep up with the exercises regularly even after your dog is used to the sounds as the more often they hear it the less likely they are to relapse into a fearful response. An approach like this is applicable to many of the behavioural problems encountered in dogs, and cats.
Prior to the big night make sure your dog gets lots of exercise and has a little extra in his dinner bowl. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin making him less nervous and helping him sleep more soundly.
Speak to your vet or local animal behaviourist for more advice on the desensitisation and counter conditioning exercises mentioned above.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Wanted: natural remedy for poorly liver

Dear Dogs Today,

I hope you don’t mind me writing to you but I have hit a brick wall and don’t know who else to turn to. I read Richard Allport’s articles every month in Dogs Today which is why I have chosen to write to you. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old Large Munsterlander bitch named Elsa. She is very dear to me. Last January she began to show signs of illness and my own local vet was not sure what was wrong and finally after trying but failing to treat her referred her to a specialist centre. At this point her stomach had swelled up and she was very thin. She was there, after a couple of exploratory procedures and blood tests, diagnosed with Granulomatous Hepatitis (they are not sure how she contracted it but think it was bacterial) and put on 10 weeks of two different antibiotics. The signs were good and a blood test at the end of this time showed her liver results to be normal – which I think actually surprised the vet who had little hope because of the damage she had already caused to her liver. But a few weeks later after another blood test showed her liver results going up again she was put back on the antibiotics and is now on her fifth month. Her results do seem to be coming down again but I am worried because my insurance cover which is for up to £7000 is nearly up and after that time I won’t be able to afford the antibiotics which are costing about £350 a month. She is due to have another blood test next week and I am to carry on for at least another month of antibiotics even if her results are good. I will only be able to claim for a further two months or antibiotics before I run out of funds and I’m frightened about what will happen then.

I was hoping that maybe you could suggest a natural remedy I could try as I don’t want to just give up once the antibiotics are finished. I have no idea if she will relapse again and can’t bare the thought of watching her get worse each day without trying something else. She is such a sweet happy dog and even at her worst when her tummy swelled up she still looked happy. At the moment she is still underweight – her appetite is poor but she is eating. Her tummy has gone down and she isn’t drinking excessively.

Hoping you can offer some advice.

Karen Arevalo, Oxford

Richard Allport, vet, advises...

I can understand how concerned you are about Elsa. First of all here is some information about granulomatous hepatitis:

Granulomatous hepatitis is a condition in which the liver is inflamed. Further complicating this condition is the growth of inflamed tissue on the liver, a condition that is then referred to as hepatitis granulomatous (where a granuloma is a small area of inflamed tissue). This condition is most commonly due to fungal infection, but it can also be brought about by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or cancer.

Hepatitis granulomatous is relatively uncommon in dogs, but can be seen at any age and in any breed.

Symptoms can include:

Lack of appetite



Weight loss


Increased urination

Increased thirst

Abdominal pain

Yellowish discoloration of the skin and the whites of the eyes due to jaundice

Distended abdomen


Causes include:

Fungal infections

Bacterial infections

Parasitism (liver flukes, visceral larval migrans)

Neoplasia/cancer (lymphosarcoma)

Immune-mediated disorders (involving the immune system of the body)

Drug reactions

Idiopathic (cause unknown)

It’s unusual in my experience to need such a long time on antibiotics, and it may be worth considering further investigations such as abdominal ultrasound and/./or liver biopsies to get to the root of the problem, if these haven’t already been carried out.

As far as natural medicines/therapies are concerned, herbal Milk Thistle, together with Zinc as a supplement and extra Vitamin B complex will aid normal liver function. Another very good liver boost is Hepatosyl plus, a supplement that contains SAM-e and Silymarin (an ingredient of Milk Thistle), an excellent liver support remedy. There are also several homoeopathic medicines that can help, including Lycopodium, Nux vomica and Berberis – depending on individual symptoms.

Finally natural anti infective agents such as Propolis and Royal Jelly would help reduce the need for antibiotics.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Can anyone advise us on Ehrlichiosis?


This is the first time I've written to the Think Tank and hope people can help. I have a nine-year-old GSD who takes 5mg prednisilone twice daily and 50mg tramadol twice daily for pain in his back. He has always suffered with spinal problems and had a disc removed when he was two. Despite this he has always been big, bouncy and loud! He eats well and loves to play tennis ball.

In 2009 we moved to Spain and despite being regularly Frontlined, Yassko developed Ehrlichiosis, which is a tick born disease found in the Mediterranean. He was diagnosed at Christmas time and given four weeks of doxiciclina antibiotics. Another blood test showed he was clear. We recently visited the UK and saw our usual vet who was as concerned as we were with his general scruffy appearance, weight loss and nose bleeds and general lack of energy. He looks like he is depressed. He had raging bloody diarrhoea in the UK and had to have antibiotics. His blood tests show his liver levels are rising.

Back in Spain the vet here did blood tests which show he has anaemia and his liver levels are still rising. A scan shows pain in the pancreas and enlarged liver and spleen. She wants us to reduce his steroids and tramadol, which I am reluctant to do as we have seen the effects this has on his back and skin. He is on vitamin B once a day, doxciclina twice a day, and 225mg destolit for his liver twice a day. I've ordered some denamrin from the internet and have been feeding him extra pasta, rice and potato with his James Wellbeloved dried food as advised by our UK vet.

Does anyone have any experience of this disease and what is the likely prognosis? It is not nice to see our big boy wasting before our eyes. He is still eating well, has normal stools and is trying to play on occasion so I guess that's a good sign.

Wendy Halling, by email

Searching for alternative treatments


I hope you are still running your advice section in Dogs Today magazine as we would appreciate some help about our dog's health problem outlined below.

We have a beautiful five-year-old Bernese Mountain Dog called Skye. Recently she has developed a strong limp where she can put hardly any weight on her back right leg. After many trips to the vet and an x-ray of her spine and hips the diagnosis is still unsure. The most likely cause we have been informed of is that it is a neurological disorder, where a trapped nerve or other spinal disruption is affecting Skye’s right side, because her right front paw is also weak and less responsive. Quite often her front paw will bend in on itself and Skye is unable to notice and flop it out the correct way again. However there is also the possibility that these problems are the result of a brain tumour. To investigate this fully would involve an expensive MRI scan which we are not in a position to do.

The vets have assumed it is a neurological problem and as such have put Skye on large painkiller tablets (Gabapentin) and some smaller steroid tablets (Prednicare) to act as an anti-inflammatory. Skye has experienced bad side effects with both of these, the painkiller causing diarrhoea which we have now cut out of Skye’s diet so that has stopped, and the steroids causing excessive thirst meaning that Skye cannot go through the night without needing to go in the garden. The main issue is that despite all these tablets Skye’s limp is no better and she still struggles to walk normally. We have been exercising her daily with very short walks of about 10-15 minutes which she definitely enjoys and once she gets going sometimes her limp eases off slightly.

Are there any alternative medicines or exercises we can try to cure Skye’s legs and have her running around as she once did?

Many thanks,
Beth Leedham, by email

Which joint supplement is best?


Can anyone tell me which are the best joint supplements for dogs? I use them because my eight-year-old JRT had a leg injury a few months ago (cruciate, but not complete tear) and although recovered, has days when he limps and looks sorry or himself. He's very active and hard to keep from 'doing too much'. I use Vetroflex (for cartilage regeneration) with success, and also Yumove (for pain relief, I hope!).

I have noticed that some of the well known supplements 'boast' that they contain NO Devils Claw and some say NO Glucosamine but they don't say why not. Are there any of these 'typical' ingredients which shouldn't be taken in conjunction with each other? Help, I'm confused, any ideas please?

Thank you
Sara Marlow, by email

Irresponsible dog owners - what can we do?


I'm emailing on behalf of my mum and myself. We are very concerned about a French Bulldog puppy that our neighbours have recently acquired. To our knowledge, they haven't owned a dog before, although the owner's mother also has a French Bulldog. The problem that is worrying us is that the dog, who is not yet a year old, is allowed to roam freely outside with the children, who are both very young and have hardly any knowledge or respect for dogs (the youngest child runs up to our own dog when we walk past and touches his face, something his mum warns him not to do but does not make any effort to stop him).

Their puppy does not wear a collar, which we thought was illegal, and is dangerous in itself since there is nothing for the owners to hold on to. Earlier today, when we were walking our own dog, we attempted to cross the road near their house, and the puppy appeared out of nowhere and ran into the middle of the road to follow us! Thankfully there weren't any cars about at the time. We live in a cul de sac, which is usually relatively quiet, but the people in question live near the entrance to our road, and cars often come speeding down. We stopped and one of the children (their mother was no where to be seen) came running to pick the dog up, but he had a struggle as the puppy is growing rapidly!

On our return from the walk, the mother was on the front with the children, holding the puppy in her arms. My mum told her what had happened and she exclaimed "Really?" but then went on to tell one of the children off - it was like we hadn't said anything!

We'd like to think of ourselves as responsible owners, and as a big dog lover myself I'm very worried that the puppy will be hit by a car. Their overall lack of canine knowledge (when they first got the puppy they were literally clueless, having no idea what a KONG looked like or the purpose of crates) makes me wonder why on earth they have a dog in the first place.

Is there anything that we can do?

Name and address supplied

Monday, 8 August 2011

When things go wrong

Dear Dogs Today

My dog is very ill. He went into the vet's about a month ago for routine treatment and unfortunately the medication he was given has made him worse and he is now undergoing specialist treatment with a different vet. He was discharged to me following treatment and a stay in the vet's with the vet telling me he was healthy - as I collected him I discovered he was not and rushed him to a separate specialist, who treated him for something very nasty and undetected by the vet just hours before.

What has upset and astonished me the most is what was written in my dog's notes in 2008. The same vet practice had written in 2008 that my dog had had a severe reaction to this medication and should not be given it again, nor any other similar medication which may produce similar side-effects. I was unaware of this until a couple of weeks ago, when I asked to see all of his notes. Due to the effects of this medication on my dog leading to a serious problem, which also went unnoticed, he could die.

Please could you tell me where I stand on reporting this vet? Who do I report the vet to? Would I have a civil case or is it a matter for a veterinary authority? Due to all of the treatment my dog has now undergone as a result of this bad practice, I have racked up an incredibly expensive bill, into the thousands of pounds, and am facing the very real possibility of losing my dog. I don't want to lose my boy, the money is, of course, secondary, but I don't think I should fit the bill for the vet's mistake. I would like to make sure this is resolved and it doesn't happen again to anyone else.

This is very upsetting and stressful. I would be ever so grateful for some advice and information on where I stand legally.

Thank you.

Name supplied, by phone

Claire Millington, spokesperson for the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, replied...

I’m sorry to hear about this sad situation and do hope that your dog makes a full recovery. As you rightly suggest, veterinary surgeons are subject to regulation, and the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) is the authority responsible for regulating their professional conduct. I can’t comment specifically on your case as the RCVS considers all complaints it receives through a formal complaints procedure. However, I thought it might be helpful to at least to say how complaints can be made, and a bit about what the RCVS can and can’t do.

The College has a duty to consider all complaints that it receives, however, it can only act on those which may mean someone is not fit to work as a vet. Alternatively, if you consider the veterinary surgeon or practice has been negligent, and in effect should pay compensation, then you can consider pursuing this through the civil courts with the advice of a solicitor and of any relevant veterinary expert – complaints about negligence are not generally matters the College can act upon. Mostly, when something goes wrong at a practice it’s best to try to resolve things with the practice first though. You can usually ask to speak to the practice principal or manager if you don’t feel comfortable discussing matters directly with the vets involved.

Complaints can be made to the RCVS by using the complaints form available from our website or from our Professional Conduct department (see below). All complaint forms that the RCVS receives are assessed to see if the issues fall within its remit. Then, if they do, the RCVS investigates further which involves getting evidence from all those involved, and can mean visiting the person making a complaint and also the veterinary practice. The RCVS also considers if a case could be made against the veterinary surgeon at a Disciplinary Committee hearing.

Disciplinary hearings are held in public, reported to the press and, if the Disciplinary Committee decides a vet is not fit to practise, he or she may be suspended or removed from the Register. These are the only sanctions the RCVS has and must be used to protect animals and the public, rather than to punish vets. Complaints are usually closed prior to these hearings and the RCVS does not make these complaints public, although it does keep information which it can use if it receives further complaints about a vet. The RCVS can also now consider complaints made against registered veterinary nurses (RVNs), under a similar system.

There is no checklist to use to determine that someone is fit to work as a vet – it’s about more than just ticking the boxes. Instead, the RCVS Guide to Professional Conduct sets out the RCVS’s expectations of veterinary surgeons and you can read this on the RCVS website. This approach means that all relevant circumstances can be properly considered in each individual complaint. You can also read on our website about the cases that the Disciplinary Committee has heard over the past three years, and the decisions the Committee has taken.

Need more information?
About making a complaint:
What makes a vet fit to practise:
Recent Disciplinary hearings:
Or contact the RCVS Professional Conduct Department ( or 020 7202 0789)

Friday, 5 August 2011

How do I organise a doggie day out?

Dear Dogs Today

Over the past couple of months I’ve been to quite a few dog shows and have loved them. Skye, our Border Collie, is our first family dog (although I grew up with many dogs) and we’ve really enjoyed being able to take her for a day out with the kids. I’ve read Dogs Today for a about a year now and want to help out the smaller charities that really need help at the moment, and I thought organising a Fun Dog Show might be a fun way to fundraise, as well as providing a day out for the local community.

What is the best way to organise a dog show? Are there any health and safety things that need to be considered (I’m sure there are!). Would we need to register with the Kennel Club even if it was just a fun (not seriously competitive) thing? We’ve just enrolled Skye at beginner’s agility so I’m hoping to get our club involved too. I know its coming to the end of the spring/summer season now but I’m think ahead for next year as it comes around so quickly.

Any information or advice would be great.

Thank you.

Marie, by email

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New addition

I am seven months pregnant and am worried about how my dog will react to my baby when it is born! I have a rescue dog (medium-sized crossbreed) who has lived with us for just under a year, she is approx three years old and has a lovely temperament, but she is nervous with new things and still jumps at unexpected noises. I want to make it easier for her to accept the new addition to our household!

Please can you suggest anything?

Lesley Jones
, Hitchin, Hertfordshire

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Help for hip dysplasia

Does anyone one have experience of using homeopathy or a canine chiropractor for hip dysplasia ?

My two-year-old American Bulldog has hip dysplasia and is currently having glucosamine (100mg daily) and Carprieve. Having read about the benefits of using a chiropractor to help realign and strengthen the back and hind quarters I am interested in using it to try to get his hips and body into as good a condition as they can be. Can anyone recommend a canine chiropractor in the Cambridgeshire area or East Anglia?

I am also interested in using garlic and fenugreek, Vitamin C, Pulsatilla 6c and/or Rhus tox 6c. Does anyone have experience of using these?

Many thanks

Rebecca, by email

A sizeable problem

Can anyone help?

I have a Jack Russell who, like any other dog, loves running around off lead. She plays very well with smaller dogs and we quite regularly meet a Cairn and Yorkie on our walks. The problem is, I do worry about her when larger dogs bowl her over in play. I don’t for a minute suggest these larger dogs should be kept on a lead, why shouldn’t they be allowed to enjoy their walks too? But I was wondering if anyone has any advice or experience of how to keep a small dog from being bowled over?

I haven’t had any experience of any aggressive dogs at all, they all want to play, but I often walk along the towpath of the local canal and would be interested to hear how other owners of smaller dogs cope when on a small path where it is difficult to avoid other dogs. My Jack Russell is very sociable and I do not want to deny her the chance to play, but I worry that due to the size difference between her and larger dogs she could become injured. I used to have a Border Collie and I used to make her go down when a larger dog approached that she may have been nervous of, or when a smaller dog approached that she might have made nervous, but I have tried and can’t do that with my Jack Russell!

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. Like I said, I have not found these larger dogs to be at all aggressive and know they simply wish to play, I just worry because she is often very much the smallest dog in the group playing.

Thank you.

Jenny Jessop, Hillingdon, Middlesex