May issue

May issue
May issue

Thursday, 27 September 2012

All above board


I am a happy owner of four Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and I do dog walking in my local area as well as other pet sitting.

I have had many enquiries about doggie day care and I am insured to do this, but I do not know if I need licencing. I know that if a dog stays overnight, I definitely need a licence. The owners are providing the dog's own food, if it needs a meal during the day.

I have contacted my local council but am still awaiting a response. I have researched the internet and for some councils you need a licence and for others you don't, so I am very confused.

Hope you can help,

Claire, by email

Toy story

Can anyone suggest any good toys for our wee baby Lurcher to chase on walkies?

The other two dogs have tennis balls and a rubber ring/a Safe Stix, so those are ruled out.

Frisbees are out too as I've heard they snap dog's teeth and destroy their hips after years of jumping into the air to catch the things.


Becky James, via Facebook

Hannah from KONG, who has a beautiful three-legged Lurcher, writes...

Lurchers are sighthounds and therefore love to chase, they also like toys that squeak which mimic a rabbit in distress. Although you will find each type of lurcher very different. The Lurchers with collie in them are often easier to train and are very owner focused whereas the Saluki Lurcher is often very independent. You need to find out what motivates your dog and what reward she likes for example food or toys and use it to enhance your training. I find some Lurchers need their rewards changing to keep high owner interest, making you fun and beneficial to be around. I would use a range of toys so they do not lose their reward value and she never knows which one she is going to play with, I would keep the high reward toys/food for training outside where they are more distractions.

Lurchers are born to run, so they need the freedom to go off leash and have fun. If you doubt your recall, then start off in an enclosed area like a horse arena or small paddock, use toys or food to interact with your dog so she likes and wants to be with you, as you are fun. Every time she comes back to you when called give her reward and praise, even if it has taken her 10 minutes as you still need to reinforce her coming to you.  

The toys which are strong favourites with sight hounds are KONG Squiggles, as they are fun, soft, great for tugging and they have two squeakers. The Aqua KONG makes a great throw toy on land, as it flies through the air making it great for chasing. KONG Plush toys such as the frog or bear, make great toys to reward your Lurcher as they are soft and squeaky. Every Lurcher should have a KONG Wubba Rabbit, they are great for chasing, shaking, easy to throw and are a nice shape for them to pick up.

Eco Dog Company says...

If you are worried about your dogs teeth on plastic frisbees, then we have a wool version called a 'Frizee' - it's soft for dogs mouths but still weighty enough to fly through the air. We also stock the Zisc, a frisbee style toy from Zogoflex.  The Zogoflex range are made from a durable rubber type compound and are bright coloured, making them easy for dogs to find. Our lastest toys are the new eco friendly rice husk rubber toys from Becothings. The BecoRope Ball is ideal for throwing long distance; the ball is solid and extra bouncy. Of course, I've only made a couple of suggestions but if you browse our website you'll no doubt find plenty of inspiration:

Lisa Jinks, from Barkitty, says...

One of my best selling toys, which are suitable for puppies upwards are the Planet Dog ‘Woof’ balls. I take one out for walkies with my own puppy and highly recommend them. They are durable, bouncy and buoyant for fun, as well as being mint-scented for freshening breath, and also holds the pups interest. They are non-toxic, recyclable and rinse clean. They are nice and spongy so pose no problems for growing teeth, and can be filled with treats to aid training. The bright colours make them easy to see and they are durable enough to last years. As if this wasn’t enough, 2% from each sale goes to the Planet Dog Foundation which Foundation celebrates all ‘working’ dogs that are enhancing and saving human lives!

£11.95 in lime or fuchsia

Michael, from Regal Paws, says...

We have a wide range of suitable toys available online for your young Lurcher to chase.  The Liquorice Launch Fetch Dog Toy is really popular and great fun for both dog and owner.  These are available from us priced at £4.49 - 

Another popular range are the KONG dog toys and we have recently introduced a number of new KONG products to the Regal Paws range.  If you're looking for something really different, we would recommend the Good Boy Lob It Space Lobber Dog Toy.  These are available in junior size priced at just £3.89 - 

We have a really wide range of dog toys available online for you to browse and offer 10% off your first order.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Nighttime blues

Earlier this year, Hungarian Vizsla cross Blue was hit by a train. Amazingly he survived, but was left with a punctured lung and needed pins in his spine, pelvis and both legs, and a nylon cord inserted to hold his left hip in place.

Blue has undergone extensive physiotherapy and care and is doing really well.

His owner, Debbie, has got in touch to say he has just started to pee in the house at night when the family is asleep. They are concerned as he has never done this before and are unsure whether or not this is related to his accident. Someone had suggested it could be a separation anxiety issue, but Blue sleeps in his own bed in Debbie’s bedroom as he needed round-the-clock care, so Debbie doesn’t think this is the reason.

Does anyone have a similar experience with their own dog? We have of course suggested Debbie asks her vet, with whom she is in regular contact following Blue’s accident.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Girl's best friend

One of my good friends has recently become the carer of a nine-year-old girl who loves her new housemate, a lovely dog (he really is!).

I would like some ideas on where to start with getting them both engaged in activity. We were thinking doggie dancing or similar. Are there any books or dvd's aimed at young kids that make it look super fun.

Any ideas are most welcome.

Judith, by email

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Big cat problem

Can you help please? We are the proud owners of a beautiful rescued GSD-collie cross bitch, Kira, who is about 18 months old and we have had her six months.

When she came to us she hadn’t been very well socialised, and after a lot of ground work she is now a dream to own. She loves everybody; the more dogs she meets to play with the better, and she comes back as soon as we call her. The problem is cats.

Our daily walk to the park becomes a nightmare if she sees one. At the moment she is on a Halti but if she sees a cat she tries to get out of it to chase the cat. I’ve owned three other GSDs before her and have competed in obedience and working trials with them, and I am now at my wits’ end. Please help!

Babs Sanderson, Stockport, Cheshire

Karen Wild, behaviourist, advises...

Hi Babs,

Well done so far on your efforts, I congratulate you as it sounds like you have already worked hard.

Chasing cats can be such a difficult issue mainly because the cats themselves are hard to control, and the dogs can smell them out and spot the movement (as they then run away fast!) long before we even notice what is happening.  It is a powerful predatory instinct and this is probably why you’ve found it harder to control as you are clearly an experienced trainer.

As you have already taught some basic control exercises, it is time to extend these to be part of a new skill. You have your toolkit – so let’s make it work for this problem. You have several options, and I would work on one at a time. Firstly, I would look for something that you can make into a cat ‘stooge’. This can be a cardboard silhouette or cuddly cat toy. Basically we are breaking down the task into easy to handle stages, so you would start somewhere quiet and enclosed so you are not fearing her escaping from the Halti. Have the ‘cat’ placed a good distance away. This might need to be 100 yards away! Then, practise your sit stays and recalls just as you would normally do, and expect your GSD to concentrate on you as she would normally in this exercise. You might have to play around with distance from the ‘cat’ to find out what the basic ‘dog does not react’ distance is. Remember that the stooge cat does not smell like a cat, nor does it move like a cat. Nevertheless you have to start somewhere!

You will find that as you get a little closer, your dog will start to look like she is about to chase. Don’t wait for a full blown chase. You know your dog’s reactions, so immediately call her away and put her in a sit stay. Then, reward her well as she is likely to become very frustrated otherwise! If you are using a toy to reward her, make certain you throw it in the other direction AWAY from the stooge. Chasing her toy needs to become far more exciting than trying to chase the cat!

It is hard to describe this whole process in detail here but what you will end up with is a dog that will be able to sit closer and closer to the ‘stooge’ cat, and to turn away from it back to you for a game. You can gradually extend this by placing the stooge cat somewhere on your normal walk (again where you know it is going to be, but your dog does not!) and working along the difficulty gradient once again.

I realise that using a real cat is going to be tricky – and unethical – but the control work will give you a really useful foundation. You can also work on calling her away from a toy you have thrown. It will teach your dog that no matter what she sees, if you call her back, it is not a chase object and is not something to get frustrated about either (because you have kept the training sessions fun and rewarding all the way along!)

An excellent book that describes similar training in detail is ‘STOP!’ by David Ryan -  I recommend this, not only because it is a great book, but you sound like the sort of person that really cares and will put in the effort to help your lovely dog.

Paying the price for an uninformed decision

I always enjoy reading your magazine and wonder if you can help me.

Quite recently we sadly had to have our 11-year-old Westie put to sleep.

She had dermatitis on and off for almost four years and was prescribed steroid tablets, and in the last months, injections. She became very poorly and I was as she had been given steroids long term it had brought on diabetes.  At no time was I ever told this would happen. Perhaps there was no alternative to steroid treatment?

I do feel more information should be given by the vet to the owner about this problem, and that by not asking questions that I have let her down.

Please can you give me any information about this problem?

Many thanks.


Barbara Beard, Walton-on-Thames, Surrey

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

Your vet would have been fully aware of the problems which can occur with long-term steroid treatment. Westie skin disease can become so difficult to manage that steroid treatment is the only way to offer some relief. I would imagine your vet had tried all manner of treatments before resorting to steroids, which would have been kept to as low a dose as possible to control the skin disease to minimize side effects.

Treatment is often a matter of weighing up the positive and negative effects, with the overall aim of improving and maintaining the patient’s welfare. Indeed, it may be that, without the steroid treatment, you may have made the decision to part with her sooner because of her skin disease.

I do not think that you let your Westie down by not asking your vet more questions. Your vet was acting in your dog’s best interest, and would have told you as much as you needed to know.

My thoughts are with you at this sad time.

Stain removal

Dear Dogs Today,

I wondered if anyone could help with the problem of staining on my white Shih Tzu and Bichon. Both are rescue dogs who previously spent their lives in puppy farms, forced to have endless litters. They lived in squalor and on a very poor diet.

They are both about seven years old, and are now happy, healthy, and much loved. Bibi, the Bichon, has very mild staining around her eyes and mouth, but Bindi, the white Shih Tzu, suffers badly.

I’ve had her tear ducts checked and they are not blocked. I also bathe their eyes every day in warm water and try to keep the fur around affected areas as short as possible.

I have tried different food and avoid anything with colouring, preservatives etc. I’m currently feeding Trophy Holistic dry food mixed with a small spoonful of tuna or chicken, Tesco dental chews and white rawhide knots, plus a little fruit and veg. they love pears, carrots and broccoli stalks to munch on.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

Yours faithfully,

Helen Morton, Rye, Sussex

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

You can take the dog out of the farm...


I have a Border Collie that is from a farm and did not get socialised with people so when we take him on a walk he tries to nip people. We have worked on him and he seems okay when it is just one person walking by him- or herself but if it is more than one he tries to nip them.

He is our first dog so we do not have much experience in traing him. Please could we have some tips to stop this happening?

Tamsin (age 11), by email

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Every dog to her taste

Hi Dogs Today,

Can you help me please? I have noticed my senior dog’s coat is not quite what it used to be. She doesn't have any allergies that I know about, but can appear to have itchy skin from time to time also.

Unfortunately, being a fussy eater, if I add any supplements such as oil to her meals she turns her nose up at it, quite literally!

Is there any other way of getting some extra nutrients into her?

Thank you.

V. Matthews, by email

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Give us a sign

Could I ask has anyone heard about tying a yellow ribbon on a dogs lead to indicate please stay away for various reasons i.e. I am a rescue and am still a bit timid etc, and what do other people think about the idea?

Stephanie Vaughan, via Facebook

Good hair day

Dear Dogs Today,

Can anyone suggest a good brush for my mum's Sheltie, Sherry? Mum needs something that is easy to hold, and something that can see to Sherry's double coat.


V. Dixon, by email

Katie at FURminator says...

Due to the long coat length of your Sheltie, coupled with its breed size, we would recommend that you use a FURminator deShedding tool, specifically the Medium Size, Long Haired variety.

FURminator deShedding tools are not a blade but a specifically designed edge to cater for your pet’s exact coat and body type. The toothed edge safely removes all the loose undercoat without disturbing or cutting the top coat. With regular use you should see both a reduction of loose hair as well as an improvement to your pet’s top coat.

The ergonomic handle gives the tool ease of use which we recommend you do 1-2 times a week for 10-20 minutes each session.

We always recommend that you brush out any matts or tangles from your pet’s coat before using your deShedding tool. A suitable brush or comb can be found within the FURminator grooming range.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Calling the shots

Hi Dogs Today

I foster for a couple of rescues that import puppies and dogs to England from Ireland. This time around we got two adorable 12-week old puppies (pictured) which had already been given the first dose of their vaccinations. The brand used in Ireland was 'Vanguard'. When it came to booking the pups in for their second jab, our local vet told me that they had to start over because they used a different brand and the two weren't compatible. I called another who said the same thing. Thankfully, a third seemed to take a more common-sense approach and reassured me that there was absolutely no difference and that the puppies only needed the second half.

I am the only one who considers this an issue?

1. Can there really be such a fundamental difference in the contents of these dog vaccines; something that is clearly a standard drug?

2 . With all sort of illnesses and conditions potentially linked with vaccinations, isn't it irresponsible to insist on pumping two little puppies full of extra drugs that they might not need (aside from the two mandatory injections of course) for the sake of a brand name?

It smacks a little bit of pandering to the drugs companies or implementing a 'computer says no' policy for the sake of making an extra £10 for the full course of vaccinations.

Kind regards, 

Christina, by email

A Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons spokesperson says...

This isn’t a matter about which we offer vets specific advice as the decision over which vaccination to use is a matter of professional judgement for the individual veterinary surgeon. However, he or she should prescribe responsibly and with due regard to the health and welfare of the animal, and should  also take into account relevant information about the products themselves – for example, about contraindications or advice from the data sheets for the vaccines.  

A BSAVA spokesperson says...

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) believes that vaccination plays a very valuable role in the control of infectious disease in companion animals. The BSAVA strongly supports the concept that a thorough risk /benefit assessment on an individual case basis should be discussed with clients when deciding on timing of vaccination and use of particular vaccines for particular animals.

The initial vaccinations given to a puppy require a series of injections to be given in order to induce a primary immune response to ensure the puppy is protected against the important diseases at an early age and throughout its lifetime.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA), of which BSAVA is a member, has produced guidelines for the vaccination of dogs and cats which recommends initial vaccination at 8-9 weeks of age followed by a second vaccination 3-4 weeks later and a third vaccination given between 14-16 weeks of age.  Where puppies have been in a shelter environment or mixed with a number of animals of unknown disease status WSAVA recommend vaccination prior to or immediately on admission with repeat injections every 2 weeks until 16 weeks of age if the animal is still in the facility.

The problem of compatibility between different brands of vaccine is more complicated. There are differences in components between brands, some minor some significant, and different vaccines are now authorized with different vaccination schedules and duration of immunity.  While there may be theoretical reasons to assume that vaccination with different brands of vaccine should be effective in stimulating an immune response this is not something that has been tested, and could leave both the veterinary surgeon and client without support from the pharmaceutical company in the case of a “vaccine breakdown”. 

Catherine O'Driscoll, Canine Health Concern, says...

Unfortunately, and with the greatest respect to the veterinary profession, vets aren’t very well educated about immunology in college. They’re probably doing their best to provide advice, but in this case there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding. Dr Schultz, a leading player in the WSAVA Vaccine Guidelines Group, actually states publicly that vets aren’t qualified to offer advice on immunisation! This is probably why the RCVS and the BSAVA are so woolly in their answers – to save faces.

However, Dr Schultz –the independent scientist who actually conducted the duration of immunity studies to prove that we don’t need to vaccinate annually – only vaccinates his own dogs once as puppies, at 14-16 weeks, and he never repeats the exercise again. The scientific premise Dr Schultz established is that once a dog is immune to the core viral diseases (distemper, parvo and adenovirus), he is immune for years or life.

The trouble is that if you vaccinate earlier than 14-16 weeks, the vaccine won’t necessarily work.

The question then arises … why do we have to give a series of vaccines to puppies? The answer is ‘just in case’. The thing is, puppies benefit from ‘maternal immunity’. This is a temporary immune system given by the mother. Newborns don’t have an immune system, the mother passes on immunity to their young until their own immune system develops. In dogs, maternal immunity doesn’t necessarily wane before the pups are 14-16 weeks old. The problem is that if you vaccinate a puppy below this age, maternal immunity might cancel the vaccine out, leaving the pup unprotected.

However, we all want to get our puppies out there and socialised, and we are also looking at the pups coming from a more risky shelter environment, so vaccine manufacturers have come up with the multi-jab concept in the hope that some protection will be provided sooner. The first booster (at a year) is designed to provide immunity to the puppies who didn’t get immunity through their puppy vaccines, which was potentially blocked through maternal immunity.

So, do you need to start again if you’re using different brands?

A full puppy shot series would cover distemper, parvovirus, adenovirus (hepatitis), and probably Leptospirosis.

I can think of no reason why a different brand would make any difference in the cases of distemper, parvo and adenovirus. All brands introduce the same modified live viruses into the puppy in order to produce an immune response. ‘Modified’ means that the vaccine is attenuated (heated) to ensure (hopefully) that it can’t cause the disease you’re vaccinating against. They then add various substances such as cow serum, formaldehyde, peanut oils, antibiotics, and so on. None of these is designed to interfere with the immune response, but to enhance it. And each vaccine is only licensed when the manufacturer has submitted data to show that the vaccine works.

It’s not as though they are using different forms of viruses. All vaccines would contain the same viruses – they’d have to in order to protect against the viruses out there that they tell us are a risk. Some of the companies even share the same seed stock.

It can’t even be because vets are worried that the previous brand didn’t work. One shot, if the puppy’s immune system is capable of responding, will provide protection for years or life.

I would think that the difference, if there is one, might be the different serovars in the Leptospirosis component of the vaccine. Leptospirosis is a range of over 200 bacterins, and vaccine manufacturers include two or three of the serovars – the ones they consider are relevant in any particular area. However, the WSAVA has stated that outside of America, no-one really knows which strains are around in each particular country. This is why they call the Lepto vaccine ‘non-core’ (optional). They further state that it’s not very effective, it’s short-lived (3-9 months), and it’s the one most associated with severe adverse reactions. Added to this, leptospirosis is thought by the WSAVA to be a rare disease.

Where the BSAVA says, “different vaccines are now authorized with different vaccination schedules and duration of immunity”, I can’t see this as anything other than a red herring. ALL the core vaccines are licensed with at least one year’s duration of immunity (i.e., are supposed to protect for at least a year), but others are said to protect for 3-4 years. This makes no difference to whether one brand can be used as a follow up to another for these puppies.

However, this may be more to the point. They say: “While there may be theoretical reasons to assume that vaccination with different brands of vaccine should be effective in stimulating an immune response this is not something that has been tested, and could leave both the veterinary surgeon and client without support from the pharmaceutical company in the case of a “vaccine breakdown”.

Basically, what they’re saying is that although it should be ok to use different brands, if the vaccine fails to protect (no manufacturer will guarantee that a vaccine will provide protection), then they could wriggle out of paying out or compensating if the puppy gets a disease the vaccine failed to protect against. This, however, has very little to do with switching brands, but more to do with the vaccine – of whatever brand – failing to protect in known instances, and no-one wanting to take responsibility for it.

Having quoted the WSAVA, the BSAVA failed to include something else the WSAVA says, and this is the statement that starting a full puppy series again if an adult dog has ‘lapsed’ (i.e. those vets who still think a dog needs an annual booster), is dangerous and unnecessary. I would think it would be even more dangerous for a young puppy whose immune system is immature and fragile.

A spokesperson for the Veterinary Medicines Directorate says...

The VMD regularly receives queries concerning the situation where an animal has received the first dose of a primary vaccine course at one veterinary practice and then transfers under new ownership to a second veterinary practice for subsequent doses. In such situations, as long as no suspected adverse reactions were experienced by the animal, it is preferable to use the same vaccine for the subsequent doses as this is how the safety and efficacy of the vaccine will have been supported for the authorisation of that product.

However, where this is not possible, the primary vaccination schedule can be completed using a different vaccine which contains the same ingredients, including types (strains) of virus/bacteria and at an appropriate vaccination schedule.

It should be borne in mind that to complete a primary vaccination schedule with a different vaccine is off-label use, as the data presented to the Regulatory Authorities to support a complete primary vaccination schedule will have been generated using a single product.