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Friday, 30 March 2012

Mange concern

Hello all

My 20-month-old gorgeous Whippet cross has contracted what I believe is sarcoptic mange, according to the description of the symptoms. He has lost most of the fur from his ears and much behind his ears, his ear tips are scabbed. He is not itching the area too much, but the condition looks sore and terrible.

The vet has seen him and prescribed Advocat and antibiotics. He was already dosed with Advocat monthly to protect against fleas and other conditions such as mange. These prescriptions had no impact and the condition is getting much worse. He has just had a further regular monthly treatment with Advocat.

I am now trying homemade remedies including use of apple cider vinegar both orally and in spray, and covering the impacted areas with olive oil or Vaseline which in theory, prevents the mites from breathing. In addition, he is washed using medicated wash, and I'm washing and changing his collars, bedding and blankets to avoid reinfection. Its early days with these remedies but they appear to have no impact so far and his ears still look very painful and dreadful. I have no faith in the vet as the last one gave him two minutes at most, did not skin test for mange (which is not definitive but could have been helpful) and they only seem to prescribe antibiotics whatever the condition - he's had two (in my opinion pointless) lots of antibiotics in six months.

Can anyone advise how to cure this condition and help my poor little man.

Many thanks - any advice appreciated.

 Maria Johnson, by email

Breeony Hunt, vet (BVM&S MRCVS) at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, advises...

Skin conditions can be really difficult to diagnose and treat. We often start by looking for what is common, and working down a long list!
Sarcoptic mange in dogs nearly always causes severe itching, so if you dog has never had this symptom, it would make the diagnosis less likely.
There is another type of mange that can affect dogs, called demodectic mange. This is diagnosed by your vet doing a skin scrape- scraping off a small area of skin cells with a small blade, and examining them under the microscope.
Some complimentary therapies can help skin conditions, but they should always be used under the direction of your vet. In fact, the frequent bathing you are doing may be washing off the mange treatment, making it less effective.
Skin infections often need prolonged courses of antibiotics to treat the secondary infection, but it is really important that you treat the underlying disease.
As you say your dog is uncomfortable, I urge you to find a vet and get started towards a diagnosis, so you can get him on the most appropriate course of treatment.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Help for new addition

Can you recommend a behaviourist that covers Chichester area of West Sussex? A friend of mine has just taken on a six-year-old collie cross bitch, who behaved very well with other dogs for the three months she was in kennels, including being in the rescue ambulance with other dogs when taken to the vets.

They have had her 10 days and are very pleased with her, except that she has started to lunge and growl at other dogs, including mine. I popped in to meet her few days ago and she greeted me nicely, very friendly, but when I opened the tailgate my little elderly Lhasa Apso who is great with all dogs, took one step towards the bumper and she was trying to jump in snarling at him, and Holly.

We moved the car out into the lane and let her calm down and I quietly walked Holly on a lead, on the other side, whilst my friend had Gypsy sit and give her treats. It was going quite well, when a local lady appeared with her three very well behaved Labradors, all on leads, when she did exactly the same thing to them. None of the dogs reacted to her.

We really don't want to see her go back into kennels, especially now that we will have to tell them about this, it will mean she will almost certainly never find a home, as although she seems very sweet with people, she is just a black crossbreed, that most people will not find particularly pretty.

Any advice you may have would be greatly appreciated.


Lynn, by email

Don't freeze your dog


I came across your webpage and whilst searching for guidelines on dogs in cars (

I try and take my dogs to work every day and in the summer will leave the boot open for them to keep cool.

However, I can’t seem to find any advice on what to do when the weather is cold i.e. should I still keep a window open?

I generally put rugs on them and open a window at lunch after they have been for a run but in the morning when it’s really cold I don’t know whether to have a window open or not? (If it’s really really cold I leave them at home).

Any advice would really be appreciated as I can only find info on summer months and dogs in “hot” cars!

Thank you

Amy, by email

Scratching the surface

Can you help?

My two-year-old Labrador, Maisie, is scratching an awful lot. It seems to be her whole body is itchy as she scratches her head/ears, and has taken to rolling over and rubbing her back along the floor.

She went into scratching overdrive about three weeks ago, which is around the time I got my yearly itchy eyes and runny nose, courtesy of pollen. I wonder if this is connected, can dogs get hayfever? A friend suggested it could be diet related, but she is fed a mixture of wet food and dry kibble and doesn’t seem to have any tummy problems or anything.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Diane Camping, by email

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

What you describe does sound very much as if Maisie has an allergy to environmental factors, or atopy. We develop the classic signs of hayfever such as sneezing and watery eyes, whereas dogs simply scratch and scratch at themselves in response to an itchy skin, classically affecting tthe head, ears, paws and underside of the belly (note – you describe Maisie as having itchy head and ears, but rather than scratching at her ventral abdomen she rolls around on her back to rub at that area. There may be a concurrent problem, of which more later!).

Maisie is also the classic age for first showing signs of atopy, being a young adult dog. The potential to be atopic is inbuilt. It would therefore be unlikely for an atopic dog to show signs of atopy as a puppy in the spring when he first encounters factors to which he is sensitive; the following spring, however, he may become itchy if exposed to them.

An atopic dog is generally allergic to several factors, again like the situation in us. A useful concept is the itch threshold: a dog can be coping quite well with the presence of factors to which he is allergic until there comes a point where the arrival of another allergen exceeds his itch threshold and then he starts scratching at himself. As you say, you started showing signs of hayfever at about the same time that Maisie started scratching, suggesting that a rise in pollen levels may have taken Maisie above the itch threshold.

As your friend suggested, there may be an element of food allergy which could have been ticking away without becoming apparent until exposure to pollen took Maisie above that magic itch threshold. It is worth remembering that as well as being allergic to ingredients in the food, which are eaten at every meal, a dog may become itchy only as the lower levels of a sack of food are reached, where forage mites may have developed. For my patients who are atopic, I recommend buying smaller quantities of food, rather than going for the economic option of bulk buying, to avoid the potential for forage mites.

That itchy back! Here is where I come to fleas. I could not advise on itchy skin without mentioning fleas! You describe Maisie as having an itchy back which does suggest fleas, atopic dogs usually rubbing at the underside of the belly. Fleas are a year-round problem and do need constant and effective preventive measures. If Maisie has had a break in flea control over the winter, she may well have picked up fleas hatching out in the environment with this warm spell of weather. Any atopic dog is likely to have a flea allergy, so the addition of fleas may, again, tip him or her over the itch threshold.

I would suggest you check for signs of fleas with a flea comb (finding just flea dirts is as significant as finding live fleas) and treat if found, including the environment. If you have allowed flea control to lapse over the winter, then I would resume effective control of fleas on all pets and the environment regardless of finding signs of fleas. If the itching persists then I would take Maisie to your vet for a full examination and further investigation. This incessant scratching can cause damage to the skin and predispose to a bacterial skin infection which itself is itchy, so that an itch-scratch cycle becomes established. Eliminating fleas will not stop the itchy skin if there is still a bacterial skin infection present, let alone other underlying issues as already mentioned.

The treatment of an itchy dog has progressed a very long way and it should be possible to formulate a management plan for Maisie, but you will both have to be patient. Working up an itchy dog takes time, but time worth taking.

Bad traveller

Dear Dogs Today,

Can anybody in the wide world of canine lovers offer my wife and I some advice?

About 18 months ago, we became foster parents to a lovely West Highland White Terrier, and she has proved to be a splendid, lovable companion. However, she has one rather irritating habit... whenever we try to take her out in our car, she barks constantly, which gets very frustrating, stressful, and even dangerous. We have her in the rear of the car, and my wife seems to think that she may be barking because she wants to get into the front with us, however this is probably illegal, not to mention dangerous too.

We have tried ignoring her, but to now avail. Even on long journeys, we have had constant barking for over three hours, which has sadly meant that we try and avoid taking her out anywhere at all now. It's a pity, because we would love nothing more than to be able to take her out 'normally' like other dog owners, for a day at the beach, or a walk in a park, or etc.

Mitzi is ten years old now, and we don't know much about her first eight years before us, but she probably didn't go out in a car maybe? Is she even too old to change this habit even?

Any advice on how to keep our bundle of noisy fluff silent whilst driving would be fantastic and much appreciated!

Keep going with the splendid magazine, and we look forward to hearing from you soon,

Many thanks,

Paul and Beverley Thompson, by email

Vicki Milner, Canine Welfare Trainer at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, says…

Dear Paul and Beverley,

Many dogs, for a variety of reasons, do not like travelling in the car. This can manifest itself in several ways, including, refusing to get into the car, barking or whining constantly, panting, pacing or generally acting the clown. All of these symptoms are signs that your dog is actually afraid of the car or the motion of it. The cure for this problem involves changing your dog’s perception of the car from a negative one to a positive one. There are few things you can try to help overcome her barking behaviours.

Utilise food that will take a while for her to finish such as long lasting treats or food toys. At first you will want to get her used to these in the home, once she is happily entertaining herself with the food item move to the car. 

These steps should be practised once or twice daily and after a while your dog will soon start to associate the car with pleasant things. It is vital that you do not rush your dog, only move on to the next step when the previous one has been perfected.

Ask her to get in, putting her in the normal position and give the food item, wait for her to settle with it and reward any quiet behaviour. At this stage you will have all the doors open. If she starts to bark ignore the behaviour wait for her to be calm then bring her out and start again once quite.
Once she is comfortably eating the chew and not barking close the doors and move into the driver’s seat but don’t take it any further.
Build up so that you are stationary but the engine is running
Start taking very short drives with her.
Continue this process with one or both of you in the car varying the length of the journey
When she gets out of the car make sure she receives something rewarding such as food, attention or a walk but this will need to be once she is quiet.

Some other things that you can try:

Remember that your dog may have built up a bad association of travelling to unpleasant places such as the vet’s etc. Some dogs find this hard to forget. So you would need to start taking your dog to perhaps a person that your dog likes or perhaps drive a short distance to the local park.

Some dogs feel safer if they can’t see out of the window. The use of a travelling cage secured in the car with a towel draped over the top, to restrict the view, can often help them feel safe.

It is not advised that dogs travel up front with you. Some dogs travel better in the boot of the car compared to the back seat if possible try changing positions in the car as this can help to reduce the behaviours that have already developed

An oval dog bed with a soft blanket in it can sometimes help dogs to feel safer. It can reduce the likelihood of them being thrown off balance whilst the car is in motion. The blanket should be full of comforting and familiar smells.
Hopefully this should all help to reduce her vocal tendencies in the car and ensure that you all have more pleasant car journeys in the future.

Reading up on homeopathy


Please could you recommend a simple to use homeopathy book? I'd like one that has, for example, Bruising use Arnica and not indexed the other way round. Someone recommended The Complete Homeopathy Handbook by Miranda Castro but it's not what I'm looking for.

This has come about because one of my dogs had surgery last December and was in a lot of discomfort one night. A friend told me to use pure Aloe Vera gel and Arnica, which really helped her. I was annoyed with myself for not remembering the Arnica as I had passed on your article on the subject to my Mum years ago when before she had a knee replacement and helped her recovery a lot. I also suffer from ME so thought there may be some remedies I could try (hence the need for a simple/easy to read book).

Thank you in advance for your help

Clair Renfrew, by email

Richard Allport, vet, advises...

Clair – I know what you mean about the indexing. So many text books list the homoeopathic medicines and then describe what they are used for, but don’t list symptoms and diseases and then tell you which remedies are indicated.

I’m not quite sure whether you are looking for a book for ‘human’ use and also one for pets, so I’ll suggest both. In my homoeopathic library at home my favourites are:

Introduction to Homoeopathic Medicine by Dr Hamish Boyd

Homoeopathic Prescribing by Dr Noel Pratt

(both about using homoeopathy for humans, both fit your criteria)

Everyday Homoeopathy for Animals by Francis Hunter

(self evidently this is about homoeopathy for animals – but does cover all animals from cattle to dogs, this might be more information than you need)

All these three books were published by Beaconsfield Publishers, but confusingly this company sold the rights to all their homoeopathic titles to a German publishing house, Narayana Publishers. However they are all available via the website:

I have a further suggestion. What about a book, laid out as you like it with lists of illnesses and diseases and the natural medicines to help treat them, focusing on dogs, with information not just about homoeopathy but also herbal medicines, flower remedies, supplements and much more, with advice an how to achieve a natural healthy lifestyle for your dog. This book comes with some lovely pictures of dogs, and is available for only £14.99 plus £1 p&p.

Not only that, but if you call 01707 662058 to order it and ask for the author to sign it for you, he will do so at no extra cost whatsoever. Just call and ask for ‘Heal your Dog the Natural Way’

Oh, and the author is someone called Richard Allport

Salon phobia

I wonder if you can help me with my Miniature Schnauzer Bobby, who is three years old.

As you know, he needs regularly grooming every two to three months. On the last couple of ocassions the groomers have been been unable to clean his ears and say he snaps when they try to approach them. The same with his claws - although they don't need cutting because he is quite active and fit. The vet recommended that I give Bobby some sedatives before his next cut, Zylkene, which I bought from the internet. I gave him this, but it didn't calm him down and again he reacted badly when the groomer tried to clean his ears.

I have just taken him to a different groomer - who was recommended and is male and very experienced - and fully explained all the circumstances of what had gone wrong before. Bobby became anxious almost as soon as he was in the groomers and snapped at the man when he tried to pick him up. Then after I left Bobby, he bit the groomer as he tried to pick him up to begin grooming him. All attempts to groom him were then abandoned.

The groomer said Bob is obviously terrified and must have had a bad experience previously and is reacting badly. The groomer suggested that the eventual solution would be to have Bobby put down because there was no guarantee he wouldn't turn on someone else when he was frightened. This horrifies me.

He also suggested that he may need to be sent away to a therapist, or alternatively anaethetised before he was groomed - if I can find a vet willing to do it.

Bobby is normally a very sociable and happy dog and is good with both adults and children - very friendly. I have never seen him show this level of aggression outside of being at the groomers. He lets me bathe him and trim bits of his coat - although he clearly doesn't like it, he has not been aggressive with me.

At this stage, I don't know what to do for the best. Can you advise?

I don't know whether its normal for a dog to snap or bite when it is frightened and if this can be trained out of him. Or how to stop Bobby feeling so frightened when he is being groomed and reacting badly?


Matthew Finnegan, by email

Karen Wild, behaviourist (, advises...

Dear Matthew
This can be a common problem so please do not feel that Bobby is the only one. Firstly, a dog that is fearful is highly likely to snap and bite no matter what they are like the rest of the time. Bobby has a specific fear of being groomed and this may not mean he is likely to bite at other times. When I deal with aggressive dogs in my behaviour practice work, the owners are always worried that their dog will somehow be labelled 'bad' or 'difficult' when actually, their behaviour is perfectly normal given the situation they are in. The rest of the time they are in their comfort zone so are happy and relaxed, loving pets! Grooming may not be something they welcome, and taking them to a stranger who has to give them close examination and use noisy metallic things around them can make them very unsure.
So let's be proactive. Firstly you need to find a groomer who is happy to take their time. We are lucky to have a fantastic one near here that I can send my clients to after working with their dogs on behaviour modification. Secondly, you can do a lot of the work at home - not only learning how to groom Bobby, but also teaching him that grooming can be enjoyable. Make a list of all the things he might not like; having his ears touched, hearing the clippers, being gently restrained, having his feet picked up... it may be a long list! Then, put the list in order with the things he likes the least down at the bottom of the list. Start with the easiest one at the top of the list - this may be having clippers held close to him. Make sure he is quite hungry and keep your clippers nearby. When Bobby is eating his dinner, or when you are petting him, hold the clippers in one hand and offer him a really smelly, tasty treat such as ham or chicken with the other hand. He has to learn to associate a nice, relaxing time with these things being around, long before you switch them on or even try to groom him with them. Gradually work your way towards having the clippers closer, and eventually switched on, but this must be done with care and forethought and may take several weeks. An APBC behaviourist will be able to help you with this in a lot of detail ( and may assist you to clicker train him to accept being handled although use of a clicker is not essential.
Once you have worked your way through this list - calmly, and enjoyably associating the whole process with fun and delicious food for Bobby, you must tackle the next stage which is getting someone else to do the same thing. Not complicated, as you can follow the same procedure, but you do need a sensible groomer that will support your efforts and will not mind taking their time and may even do a home visit and teach you how to groom him yourself. They may want additional money but you are paying for their time and expertise and I am sure Bobby is worth it!
For goodness sake do not even consider having Bobby put to sleep without proper expert advice from an APBC registered, qualified behaviourist. In my profession we work with dogs that are fearful in similar ways that have bitten repeatedly, and they often show excellent progress. We do have to consider everyone's welfare but this is a situation where Bobby is being put under specific pressure. If we can remove that pressure by changing how he feels about things, he will not need to 'defend' himself. If there is a risk of him biting, you can teach him to enjoy wearing a muzzle whilst you are working on desensitising him.
If all else fails and you have tried your very best, with expert help, sedation is sometimes offered by Vets to prevent the dog becoming overly stressed. Whilst this is very much your Vet's decision I would strongly recommend you follow the above advice with expert help first.

Vicki Milner, Canine Welfare Trainer at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, advises…

Dear Matthew

This is not an uncommon problem; unfortunately some dogs build up negative behaviours from going to the groomers. Bobby is expressing his feelings of concern and the only way he can do this is through body language and snapping which can on occasions lead to biting.

Fortunately you can help him, the first thing we need to do is make the experience pleasant for him, and this may take some time. I would suggest that discuss with your current groomer their feelings about trying again, but it may be best to look for an alternative one. Ideally research various groomers taking the time to explain Bobby’s behaviour, looking into the different options of taking him to a salon or a mobile groomer, ask them how they feel about his previous behaviours and ensure they are prepared to be flexible with regards to how long it may take to get him groomed again in the future. It is important that the experiences he receives from now on are a positive as possible.

I would suggest that whilst doing the following training that it may be best to get him used to wearing a muzzle this will ensure that he is comfortable and relaxed when wearing one and you and the groomer may feel more at ease if he did try to bite. Take your time and do this slowly so that he is relaxed when wearing this.

To be able to work on his handling issue you will need to take some steps prior to introducing him to a new groomer you will need to build up positive good associations to being handled first. This can be done at home utilising food, toys or affection. It is best to use the reward that he enjoys the most, but finding a really tasty treat that he loves will be most beneficial.

When he is at his most relaxed such as after a walk or a play session start to do some gentle handling with him, ensure that he remains relaxed when doing this and offer him food as a reward, keep these sessions short to begin with and concentrating on areas that he is most comfortable with at first building up to the more sensitive areas as he becomes more confident. You will need to stop the sessions as soon as he becomes anxious or stressed going back to an area that he was relaxed with and building it up again from there.  This may take a few sessions keep them short and it is best to go slow to prevent him building up yet more negative associations with been handled. 

Once he is happy to be lightly handled all over you can now bring in grooming equipment and start the process again. Once you are happy and confident with his behaviours at home discuss with your groomer about the next steps this could be them coming to you or if they have a salon you taking him over.  The smell of groomers may bring back all those negative experiences so at first we just want to make the visits as positive as possible. Take him to the groomers and allow him to meet the staff especially the person who will eventually groom him and spend some time helping him to relax utilising food, toys and affection when he is calm. If at any point he starts to become anxious or stressed remove him from the situation and start again, this may take some time. This process will may need to be repeated a few times. On the first time he is left with the groomer it may be best that he does not have any grooming done, this is so that he does not build up a negative association with being left at the groomers meaning that he is then going to be handled and pulled about.

Again continue to have discussions with your groomer on how you would like to proceed perhaps at first it may be best that they only groom on the areas he is most comfortable with at first building up to the difficult areas as he relaxes more, it is important that you continue with the positive associations as home so that he continues to remain relaxed when been handled and groomed. As he becomes more at ease with the situation having other members of the family help with this will aid in reducing his anxious and worried behaviours.

Hopefully this should all help to reduce his anxieties and ensure that he starts to enjoy the grooming process.

Back in the harness

Dear Think Tank,

Can anyone tell me if it is possible to purchase a Tellington TTouch-style harness which does not fasten with clips?

My stray rescue dog, Pip, a medium sized black crossbreed of varied ancestry, is very strong. When I adopted her she was thought to be old, but spaying and TLC have rejuvenated her and now she is bounding with health and energy! I am lucky that Pip is loving and very well behaved. The only problem is that when setting out for our walk she is so excited and impatient to get to the lane where I let her off the leash that she almost pulls me off my feet and I worry in case I fall. She wears a "non pull" harness to avoid choking but it has no effect. On the way home she walks nicely beside me.

I bought a harness with a double lead which gives more control, but I am 78, living alone, and my slightly arthritic fingers are unable to unfasten the clips. I've tried unsuccessfully to find one with buckles or alternative fastening, and a friend looked at Crufts for me but says they all had clips. I'm sure there must be others who find these clips difficult - most collars seem to have them too - and would appreciate any advice. I watched the Tellington TTouch video on YouTube and was impressed.

Best wishes,

Mary Robinson, by email

Daily dose?


My dog has recently been diagnosed with benign tumours under his tongue and on his soft palate. I am keen to start giving him Selenium plus vitamins A, C and E. However, I am unsure about dosage and where to buy a low dosage, as mostly all I can find on the net are human dosages of about 200mcg.

I did read somewhere on the net that for a dog you should give 1-2 mcg per lb of body weight. My terrier is 11kg (24lbs) so I am thinking I need about 24-48mcg of Selenium for him daily. I can’t find an amount this low that also includes Vits A, C and E.

Another concern is whether Selenium would interact with other drugs he is taking. He is taking steroids by injection every other day (to try to reduce tumour inflammation) and doxycycline twice a day for Ehrlichiosis. So I don’t want to give him anything that may interfere with those.

Can anyone help with dosage (is that dosage information accurate?) or where to buy low doses of Selenium plus Vits ACE online please?

Thank you.

Jenny, by email

NB: Selenium is not a prescription drug

Richard Allport, vet, advises...

Jenny, your choice of the mineral Selenium and Vitamins A, C and E is a good one – these are all powerful anti oxidants that are helpful in treating cancer (of course you might want to consider other medicines such as CV247, Coriolus, homoeopathic medicines and so on, but that’s another story!)

Re dosage – it is hard to find a reliable guide to dosages of any of these supplements for dogs. It is true that Selenium can potentially be harmful if given in overdose, but I have never come across a case of toxicity.

There is (or used to be) an authorised supplement for dogs available in the USA called Selotoc, which contains Vitamin E and Selenium. The suggested dosage for this product is 500 micrograms of Selenium and 34 iu of vitamin E per 10lbs bodyweight. However, AAFCO (the American Association of Feed Control Officials) guidelines state a maximum of 570 micrograms of Selenium a day for any size dog is advisable, so as you can see advice varies!

The supplement I use contains (per tablet)

200 micrograms Selenium

400 micrograms Vitamin A

24 milligrams Vitamin E

80 milligrams of Vitamin C

I give this at a dose rate of one tablet daily for dogs up to 20 kg bodyweight, and two tablets daily for dogs over 20 kg. Using these dosages I have seen no adverse effects and a very positive beneficial effect. As far as I’m aware there is no risk of Selenium interacting adversely with any other product, natural or pharmaceutical.

If you’d like more information on this or other treatments for cancer, do e mail me at

Friday, 9 March 2012

Paws off my food

Tye, my five-year-old male, neutered GSD, has suffered hyperactivity and nervous tension since the age of seven months, though what actually triggered it we do not know. Such is his sensitivity to any preservatives, colours or additives that he will react within 24 hours of having them and symptoms will prevail for up to seven days afterwards.

Unfortunately we did not realise that this behaviour was related to his diet until 12 months ago and so Tye has endured almost four years of these symptoms. Initially we were told that he was just a hyperactive dominant dog who needed strong handling to sort him out. In effect this was exactly the opposite of what he needed and has caused many more problems than it has helped. Consequently we have taken into account the modern approach to “dominance” and feel that us being the “Alpha” figure does not come into the equation any more.

A typical reaction to something will begin with either one or both of Tye’s ears becoming itchy and inflamed and extremely sensitive, followed by him being very vocal, with high pitched uncontrollable barking and frantic pacing or running around whenever someone arrives at the house or walks past the car he is in. He will have a horrible stare in his eyes and will stalk around with his hackles raised, often accompanied by a low growl. He will exhibit “guarding” behaviour towards me, placing himself between my husband and I and warning him away. When taken out for a walk in this state he will “bounce” along the ground as if the floor is hot beneath his feet and seems to be hyper sensitive to anything and everything often lunging at other people, dogs and livestock. These symptoms will typically last for five to seven days before he comes “down” again and during this time he needs to be handled with extreme care as he is prone to mouthing and will also adopt the “bite first” approach if taken unawares or surprised by something. The inflammation in his ears is also the last thing to clear up.

Tye has improved greatly since going onto a raw diet consisting of chicken wings, brown rice and fresh vegetables plus a natural source of vitamins and he looks fit and well. However, he recently had his booster vaccinations and has experienced exactly the same reaction as he did when on proprietary dog foods and treats. When in this agitated state he will not respond normally, appears to suffer anxiety and exhibits stressed behaviour. Obviously we are concerned that because we do not know what triggers this reaction it is impossible to know when such bouts are going to occur if he requires medication etc.

If anyone has had experience of similar problems/behaviour and can throw any light on the subject it would be much appreciated.

Ruth Downing, by email

Karen Wild, behaviourist (, advises...

Hi Ruth

I am sure Alison our vet will add enormously to this, but just to say that it would be well worth getting a behaviourist from the APBC in to help you with Tye's problem behaviour as and when it flares up. Even though this is motivated by the health issues that he has, you still need to have safety management procedures in place that will help.

It sounds like you already deal with this brilliantly and know what to look out for but this is the kind of case where the vet and behaviourist work together on a solution and this is one of the reasons that an accredited behaviourist always works on vet referral. Only a vet can truly identify and diagnose symptoms of an underlying health problem, as you have found! 

Unfortunately as you have said, old-fashioned theories of dominance do nothing to help a dog in Tye's situation and could make the whole thing a lot worse. It would be worth making sure that you are safe at these times and to make sure he is as happy and relaxed as possible when his ears start to flare up. Well done on what you have done so far!

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

The signs you describe do sound like a behavioural response to an extreme allergic state.  So-called atopy tends to appear in the young dog, and for Tye this began at seven months of age. Inflammation of the ears is a commonly described sign.
The immune system of the atopic dog is generally reacting to inhaled factors such as pollens, house dust mites, forage mites and human dander, for example, and there may also be an element of food hypersensitivity. It is therefore interesting that Tye has improved with the raw diet which may suggest that the major part of his problem is a food hypersensitivity.
That the behavioural signs returned after his vaccination is not altogether surprising since a vaccination is designed to stimulate the production by the immune system of protection against specific diseases. It may well be that medications such as antibiotics and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agents, for example, will not trigger Tye’s behavioural response.
Tye would be a good candidate to work with a behaviourist so that you and he can learn managing strategies when something triggers his extreme agitation. It would also however be useful if one could identify the triggers with allergen testing, either with blood and/or skin tests, and then, taking it a step further, having a tailored hyposensitising vaccine formulated.
Do not despair. Through working with a behaviourist,  your vet and/or a veterinary  dermatologist will hopefully ease Tye’s problems and make life easier for all of you.