May issue

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May issue

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Come fly with me


Just wondering if you could ask your readers for some advice or knowledge on transporting my 18-month-old Lab from the UK to America for a three-week hiking/camping holiday? It is something we have always wanted to do and our pup loves the outdoors as much as us so we would be gutted if he couldn't come to!

Any advice on best airlines to use, best ways to prepare him for travel, paperwork requirements and any other information on US requirements? We are not looking to go till next year and I am nervous on putting him into the hold of an aircraft although I am assured by others I have spoken to that this is very safe in the modern day and age.

We would like to make sure we have all the facts before we make a decision.

Many thanks in advance!

Stacie, via Facebook

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Play mate

Hello Dogs Today

Can you help me? My family and I have just adopted a Staffie. The rescue thinks she's about three or four years old and has had a few pups in her time - probably a breeding bitch.

She is wonderful with the kids and we love her very much, but the poor girl doesn't know how to play. I assume she's been kept inside for much of her life - the rescue did a lot of training with her before rehoming her with us, including walking on a lead, recall etc. We're taking her to training classes, too.

How can I teach her to play games such as fetch or other interactive, fun games? We've had puppies in the past and they've taken to playing from day one, but poor Gem just looks at the ball. We don't want to stress her out at all, but would love to see her having some fun.

Thanks very much.

The Morris Family, by email

Janet Garrett DipCAPBT (COAPE) MAPDT, advises...

Oh poor Gem - she has had no time to be young in her life so far. As you are making such wonderful progress with all her other training this bit should be fun, it might be very slow but your enthusiasm when she starts to ‘get it’ will be all she needs to carry on. I like to begin with dogs who don't know how to play by sitting on the floor with them very close. I usually try two different methods at any time so that you can keep swopping and keep things interesting for you both if progress is slow. Make sure the toys you are going to use for this are not on general availability in your house but are truly ‘special’. The first I try is ‘Be a Kongaholic’. With a large enough Kong in my hand and something really lickable on my fingers like a butter type spread melted in the microwave, I get my dog interested in my fingers and then rub them round the Kong so that as she licks my fingers she moves easily to the Kong and back to my fingers. I support the Kong so that she can lick away. The real trick is not to go too fast - don't be tempted to throw it or jiggle it around too soon, just let her lick the remnants of the butter, dip your fingers back in if necessary, keeping the Kong still. Try this whenever you have a moment and then watch as she starts to notice when you get the Kong out of the cupboard and continues to watch as you get it ready. Keep the sessions short but soon she will be nuzzling the Kong which may occasionally escape from your hand or being wedged under your shoe and she will have to pursue it in order to carry on her lovely game.

The second game I play is in a similar vein. Using a plastic ball that is bigger than the dog’s mouth I sit on the floor with my dog between outstretched legs. I squeeze a little of the Arden Grange Liver Treat spread on the ball and when she starts to lick I let go of the ball so that she has to go with it to continue licking. It’s important to go too so that you can trap the ball again and she is rewarded with another good lick and then allow it to go free. She’s playing - she’s learning to have fun! Top up the spread every so often and again stop the game and play more later rather than let her get fed up and wander off.

Weight off my mind


I find it hard to know if my dog's weight is right or not. It's my first dog and I don't know yet what is too thin or just right. He's a Lab and I know they're prone to putting on weight.

Is there a way of telling just by looking at him if he's too big?

Is there anyone I can get to just keep an eye on me without paying the vet for a consultation fee every time?

Pam Bass, by email 

Alison Logan, vet, says...

Let me start by asking you to contact your veterinary practice to find out if there is a weight clinic, often run by a veterinary nurse and if not free-of-charge then at a reduced price. Indeed, I am sure my practice is not unusual in having scales in the waiting room which you can use to simply weigh your dog and then have the weight entered on his record.
To address your query more fully: it is great that you have appreciated the need to avoid your dog becoming overweight. It is not, as you mention, a question of the actual weight in pounds or kilogrammes but how your dog is carrying the weight. A breed’s bodyweight average is meaningless if your dog is a particularly small or large individual. The weight of a dog who has stopped growing and developing (around fifteen months for a Labbie) can be recorded and provide a quantitative guide to change over time. Photographs will give you a qualitative guide to any change.
Body condition score is a numerical expression of how an individual dog is carrying his weight. The ideal is three out of five, able to feel ribs and a distinct waistline, with five being an obese dog (a footstool!). It does also depend on personal preference – some people like their labbies to carry a little more on the waist than I like and think my labbies could carry a little more.
Do remember that your vet will be happy to advise on bodyweight, exercise and diet at a routine appointment such as the annual health check.
I think all dogs are prone to putting on weight if they are allowed to have all the titbits they would like!

Infection control

Dear Think Tank,

I've heard a rumour that there's been an outbreak of parvo locally. I have a very elderly small dog and I've not boosted her as she really is just pottering in the garden these days as she's happier where she knows now her sight and hearing are quite poor.

I'm aware you can walk diseases in on your feet, what can I use to cut down the risks of walking it in?

Many thanks,

Jo Rayner, by email 

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

As you intimate in your question, the best form of protection against parvovirus is vaccination. I can quite understand why you have not kept your dog’s vaccinations up-to-date, although I do hope you are still having her regularly examined by your veterinary surgeon so that any problems can be detected at as early a stage as possible.

It does, however, leave her vulnerable to contracting parvovirus even if she does not leave your garden. Parvovirus is highly resistant in the environment. Rumours can be unfounded but if you have any inkling of this rumour being credible then I think I would keep your dog confined to barracks, at home and in your garden. For yourself, I would limit the contact you have with dogs, and avoid going where dogs are walked because it can indeed be carried inadvertently by shoes and clothing. 

Parvovirus can be shed in the faeces of asymptomatic dog so you could be totally unaware of having been in contact with an infected dog. Removing shoes and outer clothing before walking into the house would be a sensible precaution. You could potentially set up a footbath at all the entrances to your home for you and your visitors to dip their shoes because, fortunately, there are disinfectants which will deactivate parvovirus.

I do hope this helps to reassure you. Please contact your veterinary practice for further advice should you have any more questions, and for an update on the situation in your area.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Help for rescue GSDs


I'm wondering if anyone can help.

This is about a small rescue for GSDs, and because of the recession and the difficulty of rehoming the dogs in care the rescue is likely to go under. All the dogs are vaccinated, wormed, defleaed and neutered before being rehomed, but as fosterers have not been available, the dogs are in kennels and the bill is mounting up. One dog has been in kennels since before Christmas; not because he is difficult, as all the dogs are assessed to fit the right dog to the right home.

I wondered if anybody has any good ideas for raising money to pay the bill or if there is someone in Wiltshire/Oxford who could perhaps foster?

Please this really is desperate. I myself have one of the rescue dogs and she is lovely, so if anyone can help we would be so grateful.

Thank you.

Kind Regards

Carol, by email

Thursday, 19 July 2012

You can't put a Corso in a Corsa!

Our Corso Neo is outgrowing the space in the back of our Kia Cee'd rapidly and it is very difficult to decide on which car would be best for him (and us). You can get an idea of scale from the following photo!

What cars do other readers with large dogs recommend?
Richard Horsfield

Are there any car manufacturers who woudl let Neo test drive their vehicles - Richard is a very talented photogrpaher and we woudl love to feature his experiences!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Do you need a passport?

We've just been asked on Twitter the question "Do you need a Pet Passport to take your dog from tthe UK to Southern Ireland?"
When I went with Sally many years ago before such things there was no obvious border control for dogs. Has it changed?
We received conflicting answers to our Tweet and people revealed that when they've researched it they've been given conflicting advice, too!
So which is it? Yes or No? Or is it technically yes but no one checks?
Have you ever been asked to show your dog's Pet Passport? Which crossing did you use?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor, Dogs Today

Priority passenger

I have a small Westie, approximately 14 pounds, who I always take on holiday with me.

I understand that there is now an EU Directive whereby you can take a small dog on an aeroplane in the cabin. This seems to apply to all European flights except England.

I have been trying to find out why it does not apply to England but without success and I wonder whether Dogs Today can give me a reason.

Gloria J Hutchens, by email

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Grumpy young dog

I have recently rehomed a beautiful Chinese Crested dog who is 11 months old; he is a lovely dog, well put-together with a good gait, but he really dislikes people! He is fine at home with us, but growls and snaps when people approach him, I am unsure whether this is due to poor socialisation or how he will always be? We would love to show him in the future, but as no one can touch him without him really growling or screaming, he is unlikely to show.

I have been taking things very slowly with him, introducing him to dog friendly people, with introductions on his terms etc. I have also booked a Tellington TTouch course next month to see if that helps.

Any ideas would be gratefully received. I will stress though that showing him would be a bonus, and certainly not the be all and end all; he is, and always will be, a very treasured pet, whatever the outcome!

Hope you and the readers can help.

Donna Davis, Strood, Kent

Monday, 16 July 2012

Fighting chance

Dear Dogs Today,

My six-and-a-half-year-old Yorkie has an underactive thyroid which he takes Forthyron 0.4mg for twice a day.

He also has dry eye, skin problems which affect his paws badly and weight problems, some days he seems depressed and doesn't want to play or do anything. He also gets out of breath very quickly.

Do you know what sort of lifespan he will have? Also how will we know when his quality of life is bad as i would hate to think of him suffering.

Linda Ashcroft, by email

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Lungworm facts

Can anyone tell me what the actual prevalence of lungworm is in the UK? I've seen a lot of ads about it and wonder if parts of it is scaremongering, but then I have noticed a huge increase in the amount of slugs and snails with all the rain we've been having.

How likely is it that if my dog touches a slug or a slug's trail he will get lungworm? And can they catch it from frogs, too? My dogs do eat grass, what can I do to protect my them? Are there any more natural remedies I can use to prevent it?

Thank you.

Sarah Leswell, by email

Christine Bailey, Dogs Today, says

There certainly are an awful lot of slugs and snails about this year! I don't like to give my dogs chemical treatments unless absolutely necessary, so I've just sent off samples of my dogs' poo for testing. The company I used is called For just £6.50 per dog they send you a sample pot and a form to fill in your and your dog's details. Getting the sample in the pot is of course the worst part, disposable rubber gloves are a must! Stamp and send off the pack, and bingo, the very next day the results appear in your email inbox. Brilliant service, and in the case of my dogs no trace of any worm eggs at all, toxocara, tapeworm or lungworm. If I knew there was a problem I would obviously treat the dogs, but if not why subject them to chemical wormers and their potential side effects?

Docking station

Does anyone know of any Dock Dog clubs in the UK? I know its a US-based group and they come over for shows such as All About Dogs, but don't know if its something you can get involved with more regularly.

I'm in Shepperton, Surrey.


Rachel Worley, by email

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Mucky pup

I've bought Madi a new Buster Cube, but I don't know how to clean it!

It's a red one that doesn't come apart as the old blue ones used to. I can see it's got a lot of dirt from the garden in it, where she's thrown it around and pawed it to get treats out. I'm not sure a dishwasher would get into all the nooks and crannies.

How on earth do you clean them?!

Claire Horton-Bussey, Dogs Today

Mark Derby, from the makers of the Buster Cube, Kruuse, says...

Thanks for the question. Bit confused as, to the best of my knowledge the Buster Cube had never been able to be opened. However please find our cleaning instructions listed below.

Thanks for your help – if you ever need any other info don’t hesitate to ask

1.      Take out the centre, fill the cube with warm water and a mild detergent and leave to stand for ∏ hour.

2.      Put your hand over the whole and shake .

3.      Empty out the contents and rinse with warm clean water.

4.      Then place in the airing cupboard upside down with hole down on newspaper.

5.      Reuse when dry

Monday, 9 July 2012

Chip, not snip

Hi there,

Here's my first question for the Think Tank! Where is the best place to
buy a grooming table for small - medium sized dogs to have at my
training centre to use when microchipping dogs? I don't need arms, or
for it to be adjustable or on wheels, as once it's in place it won't
move. More important is that it's sturdy and won't tip over or move, and
I can have it in a corner.

Would accept second hand if in good condition if one of your contacts
has one, but must be easy to clean.

Thank you!

Linda, by email

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Veggie supplements

Does any body know anything about vegetarian glucosamine for dogs?

My dog can not have the ordinary stuff due to a shellfish intolerance. I want to give her some nutritional support for her hips and knees as she has had a problem in the past.

I would like to know if it is effective, and which is the best brand, and where I might be able to get it from. I really would appreciate any comments and experiences other readers have had with vegetarian glucosamine.


Lesley Noke, by email

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Another supplementary question

Thanks everyone for your response to the question regarding supplements for older dogs. We've noticed a fair few people saying they've given their dogs supplements since they were pups, and thought this might make an interesting feature for the next issue.

So, if you wouldn't mind, can you share with readers which supplements you give your dogs, old and young? Which ones work well for your dog, and do you know why?

Do you have any questions we can put to the manufacturers?

Do you give your dog any natural remedies? What can you recommend?

Thank you!

The Dogs Today team

House hunting

I am looking for any tips or advice to finding a rental home with dogs. I have a Golden Retriever and a German Shepherd and am having trouble finding us a new home despite months of looking. Just today I viewed two properties and was told that my Golden would be fine but not the GSD as they shed too much!

I am of course happy to pay a higher deposit and/or have it professionally cleaned upon leaving but no luck so far. Never in a million years would I part with my dogs so I am rather stuck.

Any renters with large dogs care to share their stories? 

Lisa, by email

Monday, 2 July 2012

Old timer

Hello Dogs Today,

My Lab, Molly, is getting on a bit now and doesn’t enjoy such long walks anymore. A friend suggested adding supplements to her diet to ease her joints, but I’ve had a look online and there are so many that I don’t know where to start. Some make quite substantial claims that they can perform miracles too.

Can you tell me which supplements would help Molly along a bit, and how they work? If any readers could recommend any good ones I’d be grateful.

Thank you,

Sally Probert, by email