May issue

May issue
May issue

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Is there a crown fit for my dog?

Now that the Royal Wedding is only a few days away I am beginning to think about how enjoyable the day is going to be. I will be watching it all with my dog, a gorgeous Labrador called Rosie. To make it even more patriotic I would love to find some suitably designed products especially for her, something in red, white and blue and perhaps items with a royal motif.

Laura Wright, by email

The Stylish Dog Company says:

To celebrate the Royal Wedding and illustrate British craftsmanship, The Stylish Dog Company might have just the thing, we have a specially designed dog tag – a crown set in silver on brass - that is quietly fabulous and extremely smart. The silver crown motif is individually textured, hand pierced and hand finished. Each tag can be hand stamped with all the information you need and costs £40. For something that Rosie can sit on in style and really look the part for the day (and the summer to come), then our red/white/blue deckchair stripe dog bed with memory foam cushion couldn’t be more perfect. I hope we have found the solution for you and especially for Rosie.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

How can I keep the spring in their step?

We have two working Springers who are fit and healthy, Ben is six and Ella is two, and my husband regularly works them. They are, obviously, very active dogs, enjoying long country walks too, and I’m wondering what I should do to keep them in prime condition. Our last dog became quite arthritic, and although she had regular hydrotherapy and massage sessions she did need to be prescribed pain relief towards the end of her life; also the costs of the treatment did mount up. I really want to do all I can to ensure that Ben and Ella enjoy an active and pain-free old age. Any tips?

Jane Foster, Andover, Hants

Christine Bailey, Dogs Today, said...

I’m sure you’ll get a lot of advice here. Some people (normally the manufacturers!) recommend using supplements such as glucosamine as a preventative, but when I’ve discussed this with my own vets their opinion is that while these can be effective at treating stiffness, there is no evidence that they work to prevent it. You’ll need to make up your own mind on that.
I was lucky enough recently to be offered a trial of a product called the Springs Things Massage Rug. It’s actually a coat that incorporates two “massage modules” that work on rechargeable batteries to give your dog an all-over body massage! Sounds a bit odd but it’s very effective, it’s simple to use and would enable you to give each of your dogs a massage a couple of times a week or as required. Some people are good at massage, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them, so this worked for me – well, for my dog, anyway! The rug has two settings, gentle for older or more sensitive dogs, and slightly stronger for heavily muscled, fitter dogs. I used the gentle setting on my 12-year-old Airedale, and although at first he seemed a little puzzled, he soon relaxed into it and enjoyed the sensation.
The massage lasts for ten minutes; there is an automatic cut-off so you don’t need to set a timer. Then you simply pop the batteries onto charge for the next time. The rug costs £199, which is pretty good value when you think of the cost of a professional massage! It’s available from

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Does my dog have hay fever?

My dog, Tony, a crossbreed, has started to itch and seems uncomfortable after returning from walks. He stratches and bites his body, and shakes his head from side to side. At first I thought it may be ticks or even fleas, but regularly check him over and find no evidence of either.
I have a feeling it may be an allergic reaction, almost like hay fever. Do dogs suffer from hay fever?
I'm desperate to find something to ease his itching - he's scratching so hard on occasions he pulls out his coat, and rubs his face on the floor, which doesn't look right. But I'm loathe to give him any chemical treatments - is there a natural remedy out there for Tony?

Philip Dunlop, by email

Dr John Howie, co-founder of Lintbells, says:

Dogs can indeed suffer from an allergic reaction to pollen and like humans they can be susceptible to hayfever. However, while hay fever in humans brings symptoms of sneezing and runny eyes, a dog is more likely to suffer the reaction to the pollen in its skin.

The signs of discomfort you describe in Tony – itching, shaking his head or rubbing it on the floor as well as pulling at his fur are all consistent with a pollen allergy. Many dogs with such an allergic reaction will show signs much earlier in the year than we see in human hay fever. This is because they are much more sensitive to tree pollen which is about from March, whereas human hay fever often starts in June with grass pollen.

If you are keen to try natural treatments for your dog it is first worth ensuring that his own natural skin defences are working as well as they possibly can. Skin health can be improved by adding Omega 6 and 3 oils to his diet to increase the essential fatty acids which they provide. Yumega Plus will provide the correct balance of these oils and will help calm the irritation and sensitivity in his skin. It will also make it more difficult for the pollen to penetrate the skin, so he would want to scratch less often. One of the natural ingredients in Yumega Plus is fresh salmon oil, which most dogs like and there is also more vitamin E than standard Yumega, to help dogs with sensitive skin.

Do make sure you brush his coat to remove any dirt, debris or trapped pollen and, at peak hay fever times, try wiping his coat with a damp towel after a walk to remove any pollen. Washing his bedding and brushes regularly will also help and, of course, do keep his flea control up to date.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Searching for a reputable breeder

Firstly I'd like to say what a lovely photograph you have of a Pointer on the cover of your May issue. It put a lump in my throat as it is the spitting image of my Bronte, an English Pointer who sadly died a few years ago.

I wonder if you can help me, but I'm looking for a reputable breeder of Poodle-collie cross and wondered if you know of any especially in the Gloucestershire/Worcestershire/Warwickshire area?

Suzanne Wynn, by email

Issues of consistency

I have a five-month-old Labradoodle who is vaccinated and wormed. I feed him a complete puppy food - one feed in the morning and another in the early evening. When he goes to toilet in the morning his stools are normal. However, when he toilets for the rest of the day they are much lighter in colour and runnier (the consistency of runny ice-cream). I also have an adult collie-GSD cross that I feed a complete meaty food and her stools are normal. Why do his stools change throughout the day and what can I do to get them normal?

Kim Farthing, by email

Can I stop him cocking?

Would it be reasonable to ask and enforce that a male dog does not cock his leg in our garden?

My husband and I would like to get two dogs and the advice seems to be that a male and female generally get on best. We used to have a female dog and she didn’t use the garden for toileting at all, I think because we walked her first thing and last thing. We would keep this routine with the newbies and they will be adult dogs. They will be welcome to pee and poop on the lawn; however, I don’t want the pee high up on shrubs and flowers. If it is reasonable to stop the male dog cocking his leg in the garden should I start this straightaway or should I at least let the dog settle in his new home so as not to stress, confuse or frighten him?

Laura, Oxfordshire, by email

Fitting advice

My sister's chocolate Labrador, Keane, has epilepsy and is having multiple fits every couple of months. He is currently on four tablets of Phenobarbitone twice a day, and this has been increased each time he has had seizures. He is constantly hungry and ironically is now not so keen on long walks which is leading to weight gain. It is heartbreaking to see such a wonderful and good natured dog go through this and I wondered if any Dogs Today readers could offer any advice?

Sarah Taylor, Cheshire, by email

We are very sorry to hear of the problems caused by Keane's epilepsy, and would suggest the Phyllis Croft Foundation for Canine Epilepsy as an excellent resource for owners of epileptic dogs, as the foundation is able to offer valuable advice and support.

Will a nebuliser help my dog?

My 11-year-old rescue Jack Russell has been diagnosed with Chronic Canine Bronchitis. He started having difficulty breathing in about 15 months ago and only now have we finally been able to get a diagnosis. It is tentative as further tests are not going ahead due to the risk involved with the anaesthesia. The vet and I are happy enough that the diagnosis is most likely correct. The symptoms and the lung x-ray certainly seem to support that conclusion, although he doesn’t have a cough, which is odd.

Unfortunately there is no cure and all we can do is hope to manage it. Steroids have had no worthwhile positive effect so far, but he is still currently taking 10mg a day of Prednoral to give some relief. He also takes a bronchodilator in pill form (Millophyline three times a day) and will continue to do so for the time being. No other treatment is being given at the moment but I am looking into the possibility of administering drugs via a nebuliser for dogs. The drug I have been recommended by the nebuliser company is fluticasone diproprionate (trade name Flixotide). They say I would only have to give it twice a day for five breaths (or approximately seven to ten seconds). That doesn’t seem too bad, but I know Jack Russells and I know my Jack Russell, and am wondering if he would let me do this? Also is there anything else I could be doing for him?

Does anyone have any experience or ideas regarding the management of Chronic Canine Bronchitis or has anyone had any experience using a nebuliser (‘puffer’ variety) on a dog please?

Jenny Prevel, by email

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Pulling on the lead - a Think Tank casebook

Here is a special report from Liz Dixon, Commercial Director of Dogs Today...

Office dog Ferris is a young German Shepherd dog, just over a year old - a happy, healthy boy with a fantastic temperament and a lovely disposition.
He is my second GSD – I had a boy before – Jack – but this one is different in so many ways not least his desire to jump into every lake and river he encounters! A joy to walk off the lead, his exuberance and sheer delight at all he encounters is in turns entertaining and hilarious but the minute he goes back, or even starts on the lead, the trouble begins!
He leans into the lead like a plough horse – his objective seemingly to pull me as quickly as possible to the nearest field, tree, friend or foe and, at times, to try to dislocate my shoulder or his neck!
It had got to the point where I dreaded taking him anywhere on a lead and had restricted his walks to the fields opposite my house – boring for both of us, but essential for the well being of my back.
Working for Dogs Today Magazine has afforded me the opportunity to read about and talk to various experts about lead training. To say I had been blinded by science was probably an understatement and I was getting desperate for a cure. Christine, in the office, suggested we offered Ferris’s behaviour as a challenge with a view to seeing if we could find a cure and it was while talking about this to Alex Wilson at Xtra Dog, he offered to be the first to try to cure my hauling hound.

Xtra Dog specialise in and promote Tellington Touch, including Tellington TTouch ground work which creates balance and harmony in a dog’s posture ensuring that it walks comfortably alongside its owner rather than pulling.
Alex first demonstrated the concept with his own dog – Arapahoe (a beautiful Siberian Husky) and then it was Ferris’s turn. We had chosen to meet at Richmond Park, so a more distracting place could not have been found – we were contending with deer and their seemingly very entrancing droppings, rabbits and their equally diverting contribution, other dogs, walkers, bikers and a whole myriad of smells. Ferris was in seventh heaven and he was off like a rocket. We gave Alex a very clear demonstration of how well Ferris pulled – he would make a great sled dog!
The next thing was to fit Ferris into one of Xtra Dog’s special harnesses. I had sent over his measurements prior to meeting Alex and so, we were pretty much spot on first time. These harnesses have a ring on the breastbone and also in the middle of the shoulders, which allows for the double-ended lead to be attached. This lead, also, is special as its connectors are different sizes – the front (chest) one being smaller so as not to irritate the dog.
Once fitted, we set off with me holding the lead, hands up and apart with my right hand slightly in front of Ferris’s head. The idea is to pull gently and equally and then, as the dog gets into the correct position, gently ‘melt away’ the contact. At first, this was a constant interaction – pull and release (or ‘melt away’), pull and release – but gradually, Ferris started to slow down and respond to the gentle pressure, gradually walking to heel without any intervention from me at all!
We carried out some simple exercises designed to make the dog concentrate and slow down, and despite the many distractions, Ferris responded well to these tasks and did very well. The first one involved creating a ‘labyrinth’ on the ground through which we had to walk slowly, pausing at each turn for Ferris to sit and the second one was a series of lines over which we had to step which meant that he had to be careful about where he was putting his feet. I have to say that Alex’s ingenuity was impressive – he used long and narrow plastic pipes to designate both the maze and the ladder, which worked very well!
Lastly, Alex demonstrated a calming and attention grabbing method of stroking the lead upwards and away from the dog, pulling it towards you and ensuring any loss of concentration is quickly regained.
I was convinced!

Ferris was actually walking to heel and I was actually enjoying the experience! Hurrah!
But, I couldn’t help worry, what would happen the next day when I took him out for his normal constitution?
Well, I am pleased to report, I needn’t have worried… If anything, he was even better in his own neighbourhood, and didn’t pull at all. He now walks beautifully on the harness and lead – I even got to try it with one hand and it worked!
I know that I’ll have to keep up the ‘training’ and exercises, as I cannot expect a year’s bad habits to disappear totally in one day, but, so far, so VERY GOOD!
Thank you Alex and Xtra Dog – you have made my back and my dog very happy!
Liz Dixon, Dogs Today