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Thursday, 19 December 2013

In memoriam

It might sound morbid, but I have kept the ashes of every pet I have lost. I couldn't bear to part with them, but it's a bit impractical to have urns dotted all over the house. A friend mentioned that you can get jewellery, such as lockets, that contain the ashes securely, so you can always have them close but in a beautiful piece of jewellery. I've heard that ashes can be turned into diamonds, too, but imagine this is very costly. 
Have you come across any such jewellery?

Vicky Wiley, by email

Alison Logan, vet, advises…

It is not morbid. We are all different. I have clients who simply want their pets cremated anonymously because the memories live on, others who request individual cremation with return of ashes for scattering, burial or, like yourself, to keep in the house. We are all different.

There are certainly items of jewellery available. When our dear Pippin was put to sleep last January, we had her ashes back and have buried them with a Cox’s orange pippin tree beside them, and bulbs all round. The pet crematorium did offer a silver locket with a token amount of her ash inside which my daughter has and it did help her to come to terms with losing Pippin. Your veterinary practice should be able to advise on what the crematorium it uses can offer. There are so many other possibilities now as containers for the ashes such as candle holders and pieces of sculpture.

Belly up

Do dogs have belly buttons? 

I imagine they must do, as all other mammals have, but I've not noticed a belly button on any of my dogs.

Katie Banner, by email

Alison Logan, vet, advises…

The umbilical cord attaches the unborn pup to the placenta to act as a channel for nutrients and oxygen to the pup, waste products away from the pup. At birth, the bitch bites through the umbilical cord and with time the remnant attached to the pup withers and dies, eventually dropping off. There is a scar on the belly which may be apparent if you look very closely, clearly visible when we clip up the belly prior to abdominal surgery, for example.

Humans naturally have a belly button rather than a flat scar, reflecting a difference in anatomy, perhaps to do with being bipedal, walking on two feet rather than four? A puppy may have a belly button if it has an umbilical hernia, where the body wall has not closed off properly as it should.

Carrying the weight of a thyroid problem

Does any one have a dog with a thyroid problem and on medication prescribed by a vet, who has had success with weight loss for their dog? It’s been a year now and my dog has not lost one pound.

I need to hear that someone out there had the same problem and that the medicine and diet worked!

Thank you, I have a very fat dog.

Pricilla O'Della

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Too much of a good thing?

I saw advertised in the January edition of Dogs Today, 3mega supplement (page 8)

I thought of getting some for my two-year-old Golden Retriever.

Can a dog have too much omega 3 ?


Wendy, by email

Monday, 9 December 2013

Of dogs and wolves

What’s the best way to keep a dog un-neutered and happy? If only the lead pair of wolves breed in a wolf pack, will he need to as well?

Do you have any blogs on this topic?

Thank you,

Sultana Zafar, by email

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Change of ways after spay

Good morning,

Is it normal behaviour of a 14-month-old Siberian Husky bitch to become aggressive immediately after being spayed? My normally placid dog was spayed on Monday this week and since has become aggressive and guarding of bones and toys.
Could this be as a result of my dog being in discomfort after the operation, and is likely to subside in a few weeks, or do I need to be more concerned? We are due at the vets on Friday for the post op check up but her sudden change of behaviour is concerning me.

Thank you,

Dianne Evans, Burnley

Alison Logan, vet, advises…

This kind of behaviour sounds to me like the nesting we associate with a false pregnancy. I wonder how long it was after she had been in season that your bitch was spayed? We aim to spay at the ‘quiet’ time of the bitch’s reproductive cycle, approximately four months after a season. Before that, the bitch is going through the changes of pregnancy whether or not she has been mated and is expecting a litter. 

A so-called false pregnancy can manifest with quite disturbing behaviour changes, nesting and even aggression, much as you describe. It is perfectly normal, but is a reason for spaying once all the signs have resolved, and there is a medication to help with this.

By now, you will have taken your bitch for her post-operative check and it will be a month after she was spayed so all should have settled down. At this point, I would advise you to have her weighed because a bitch can gain weight rapidly unless you have cut back on her ration. Spaying slows the rate of metabolism so she will need to eat less to maintain her weight. A spayed bitch does not have to gain weight, it just need vigilance to avoid it happening. Weighing every month is a good regime as it will allow you to pick up on weight gain at an early point and take action because the weight will be hard to shift because of the metabolism having slowed down.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Comfort factor

Anyone know of a more comfortable option to the cone of shame for dogs?

Jane Gordon, by Twitter

Friday, 15 November 2013

Calorie counting

I give my dogs two walks per day, but it is nearly impossible for a small (Affenpinscher) castrated dog fed good quality food not to be overweight. It’s only a little, but he has a serious heart condition, and needs to lose a small amount. He is genuinely hungry; I can’t give him any less than I do now. He needs a big scrummy biscuit with as few calories as possible. Please help us! He is eight years old and I won’t feed rubbish.
Sheila Thomson, Dunbar, West Lothians

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Firework phobia

I am at my wits' end, my dog Max suffers terribly from loud noises phobia, eg fireworks, thunder etc. He is 5 years old and is a rescue collie cross.

We have tried pherenomes and rescue remedies, a thunder shirt, desensitizing, Tellington Ttouch, Zylkelene, diazapan, Acp, and Xanax. He exhibits all the signs of stress/anxiety, has the tablets an hour before the fireworks, send him to sleep but he wakes on the first bang and is inconsolable for 5 or 6 hours until he falls asleep exhausted and sleeps for ages, but still wakes at the slightest sound and it all starts again.

We have told our vets that money is no object. What he needs is a sedative/tranquiliser to make him sleepy and something to keep him asleep. We do not want him paralyzed without being asleep. I do not ask for this lightly, I very much prefer homeopathic medicines but I will consider anything , his heart rate is so fast I am afraid it will just give out or have a lasting effect. He really is so traumatised we have considered having him put down rather than suffer.

Wendy Nutland

Walk on


I have been researching courses to attend to train to become a Professional Dog Walker. There are a number of different ones and I am not sure which one is best. I am hoping some Dogs Today readers might be dog walkers and can advise me?

Thank you

Zoe Pinhey, by email

Friday, 1 November 2013

Real rabies threat?

After the confirmed cases of rabies in two puppies imported from Bulgaria to the Netherlands, and in a kitten in France, I’m getting worried that it won’t be long before the UK is affected.

Should I consider immunising my Springer against rabies?

Judy Fitzpatrick, by email

Richard Allport, vet, advises…

Rabies is a frightening disease and a constant concern. Since the relaxation of the old strict quarantine regulations and the introduction of ‘pet passports’ there has been a massive increase in the number of dogs travelling into and out of the UK. So far – and being an island nation helps with this – we have been lucky enough to avoid an influx of rabies cases.

As a slight side issue here, we are not actually rabies free in the UK. A type of rabies does exist in some bats (in fact only in a single species – Daubenton’s Bat) and this is transmissible to humans, so do avoid handling a bat should you ever be in close proximity to one.

However, even on the continent cases of rabies in pets are very rare, and are (so far) confined to pets brought into Western Europe from outside the area, although as I am writing this the origin of the kitten in France affected by rabies is unknown. As far as the UK is concerned the risk is still very, very small, even though recent relaxations of the previous vaccination rules mean that dogs can now leave or enter the UK three weeks after a rabies vaccination, despite the incubation period for rabies being longer than this in some cases.

The real risk is from a dog or cat being smuggled into the UK, or arriving with false documentation; or of a dog with a pet passport contracting rabies whilst abroad due to vaccine failure.

There might appear to be a strong argument, therefore, for applying for a pet passport and getting your dog vaccinated against rabies. But a word of caution – Rabies and Leptospirosis, are the two vaccines that cause more side effects than all other vaccines. Adverse effects such as fever, loss of appetite, anaphylactic shock, and autoimmune haemolytic anaemia (amongst others) have all been reported. If you don’t have to give either of them, in this case particularly the rabies, best not to. In my view, at present the risk of your Springer experiencing adverse effects to the rabies vaccine is far greater than the risk of not vaccinating and possibly contracting rabies.

Of course, the situation could change, but at the moment I think our island nation is unlikely to be afflicted by this serious disease.

Down in the dumps

Can dogs suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? For the past couple of weeks both my Labradors seem to have lost their 'spark' - even the usually much-anticipated visit from the postman evokes nothing more than a whimper. Both are sleeping more than usual too. Do you think they are depressed?

Jane Kerry, by email

Chill factor

As you can imagine my 2-year-old Beagle, Fletcher, loves the great outdoors and we regularly go on 3-hour hikes across the beautiful Chiltern Hills. However, now with the temperature dropping over the last few weeks, I have noticed Fletcher shivering on occasion whilst we are out. As I wrap up well against the winter weather, I wondered if Fletcher should be wearing a coat or any other products to protect him against the elements? Do dogs feel the cold like we humans do?

Rebecca Morris, by email

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Weight on my mind


My Bichon, Bruno, is two years old and overweight.

He has been unwell and on steroids for an allergy which hasn't helped. He is also a very bad sleeper since bonfire night last year. All has resulted in weight gain. He needs to lose approx 2kgs.

We've asked the vet, who wasn't helpful - stating that he needs to lose weight but when asked the best way I was just told to feed less! I had thought of that! I've tried increasing exercise and my vet tells me Bruno's well apart from a nasty skin allergy to grass pollen.

I'd appreciate any advice. I work 3-4 days a week but he is walked twice a day, everyday. Has anyone else had this problem?


Delyth, by email

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Are raw potatoes toxic to dogs? It's being asked on a forum, and the jury seems to be out.


Christine, by email

Howling for mum or me?

Dear Dogs Today Think Tank,

I have two dogs; mum Staffie (Tally), seven years, and son (Marley), four years old.

When I take the mum out for a walk I found out that the son howls at the window, I found this out when my neighbour mentioned it. Apparently it had been going on for months and she said nothing.

The four-year-old Marley follows me about a lot like a lost puppy sometimes, but is it his mum he is howling for or me?

He does not howl when with his mum is with him, or when someone else is here.

How can I get him out of that howling when I take his mum for a walk?

They are far too strong to walk together.

I have heard the howls from across the road and they sound heartbreaking.

Hope someone can help.

Kind regards,

Simon John Wilson, by email

Monday, 14 October 2013

Two's company

I have a two-year-old, very lively but timid, Golden Retriever dog.

I have been told that I should get another dog for him to play with and also help overcome his nervousness.

I thought maybe an older, calmer, smaller dog.

Does anyone have any advice?


Wendy, by email

Monday, 7 October 2013

Shocking suggestion

Hi there,

I wonder if you can help me.

I have recently adopted a young female Saluki-Lurcher who is typical of her breed and likes to chase everything that moves and doesn't listen much to recall commands. I have tried the long lead and chicken treats but even her favourite food doesn't cut the mustard when it comes to distracting her from live preys or even an interesting scent.

I met a couple of owners of dogs with similar high prey drive (one was a Podenco - or Ibizan hound - and the other a Bedlington terrier/whippet lurcher) and they both recommended the use of training collars that deliver high pitch noises and mild electric shocks. They both said that they only needed to use the shock 2 or 3 times at the beginning before getting near perfect recall and that they don't need to use it any more. But I am unsure about using even mild and safe electric shocks on my dog. What do professional trainers think of these systems?

I know that there are also training collars with sprays but do they work as well? I would be grateful for some feedback on this and indeed any training tips to improve my dog's recall as I would dearly love to give her more freedom than she is enjoying at the moment.

With kind regards,

Isabelle, by email

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Allergy assault

Hi Dogs Today,

As the owner of an allergic Welsh Springer Spaniel, the last two years have been an ongoing search for the stuff that works and the stuff that is, at least for my dog, merely a clever marketing ploy. Anyone who has spent hours trying to distract or comfort a constantly itching and wriggling dog I'm sure will agree that you become an amateur encyclopaedia on soothing shampoos, skin supplements and the latest veterinary treatments. At the height of our annual battle with pollen following a hot summer, I find myself looking for anything unconventional or new that might help my poor girl where other treatments have so far failed. 

Bee pollen and stem cell enhancers have emerged as something I haven't yet tried. I don't need people to tell me about skin tests, allergy vaccines and the benefits of Omega 3 (alongside Vitamin E) supplements. I would, however, love to hear from others like me and, of course, the experts on the things they have tried and that actually, truly work. 

VonnyBee Pollen for Pets


Christina Savage, by email

Monday, 30 September 2013

Spot on

How many spots does a Dalmatian have?

Milly, aged 7

Christmas dinner

After discovering Christmas pudding was absolutely not for dogs in a Dogs Today article earlier this year, are there any other foods I should avoid feeding my dog this holiday season?

Nicola Bates, Information Scientist, at the Veterinary PoisonsInformation Service (VPIS), advises...

Christmas food hazards are:

Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical very similar to caffeine, which dogs do not tolerate very well. The amount of theobromine depends on the quality and type of chocolate. White chocolate contains very little and is generally not a risk but even a relatively small amount of dark chocolate (which is very high in theobromine) can cause agitation, hyperexcitability, tremors, convulsions and problems with the heart.  Dogs will not unwrap chocolate and can eat a very large quantity. The wrappers are not toxic but could cause obstruction of the gut. If there are dogs in the household or are visiting over Christmas do not put any chocolate under or on the Christmas tree.

Onions (and garlic, leeks, shallots and chives)
Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots and chives all belong to the Allium species of plants.  They can cause toxicity even when cooked. Initially there can be gastrointestinal signs with vomiting and diarrhoea but the main effect is damage to red blood cells resulting in anaemia.This may not be apparent for several days after ingestion.  Foods to avoid at Christmas include sage and onion stuffing.

Grapes and dried fruits (currants, sultanas, raisins)
Grapes and their dried products (currants, sultanas and raisins) are toxic to dogs.   Ingestion of even a small quantity can cause severe kidney failure. Don’t forget this will include food items that contain dried fruits such as Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies. Be aware that chocolate-coated raisins are available so there is the additional risk of chocolate toxicity with these.

Xylitol (food additive code E967)
Xylitol is a naturally occurring, sugar-free sweetener and is frequently found in sugar-free chewing gums and sweets, and some pharmaceuticals including nicotine replacement chewing gums. Xylitol is extremely harmful to dogs and can cause low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) and liver damage.

Dogs may help themselves to any alcohol left unattended including wine and liqueurs and it can cause similar signs in them as it does in their owners when drunk in excess.   Dogs can become wobbly and drowsy and in severe cases there is a risk of low body temperature, low blood sugar and coma. 

Bread dough
Uncooked bread dough that has been left to prove can be hazardous to dogs. The dough expands in the warm, moist stomach and this can result in bloating and obstruction. Also the yeast produces alcohol and this can cause additional effects (see above).

Macadamia nuts
Macadamia nuts can cause lethargy, increased body temperature, tremor, lameness and stiffness. Be aware that chocolate-coated macadamia nuts are available so there is also a risk of chocolate toxicity with these.

If there is any food left over at Christmas, be careful to dispose of it promptly and appropriately. Mouldy food (including yoghurt, bread and cheese) can contain toxins produced by the mould that cause rapid onset convulsions in dogs.

**Ed’s note – the toxicity mechanism regarding grapes/raisins and dogs is not fully understood by scientists. This means any amount could be fatal to a dog of any size. The advice from the world’s top scientists is NOT to give you dog any grapes, raisins, sultanas, or any products containing them such as Christmas cake, pudding, and/or mince pies. Even if dogs have been fine eating these products before, because the science is not understood, it is not safe to say that these dogs will be ok with the next grape they eat. Please avoid these foods to avoid tragedy this Christmas.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Big softy

I am looking for an oval cushion/mattress for my dog's plastic bed.

I want one with a cover for washing as when I have washed his old cushion (which came with the bed, with no cover) it has gone all lumpy!

Can anyone recommend one?

His bed is approx. 90cm x 54cm


Wendy, by email

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Watch this space

Hello Dogs Today,

I'm emailing to ask if you can help? I’m looking at ways of saving space in my house. With one daughter in primary school and the other soon to start nursery you can imagine the number of toys in our house!

I was considering getting a new bed for Bella, our Westie, and was wondering if any of your team or readers have experience of corner beds for their dogs? Are there any good ones that give dogs enough room to sleep comfortably but also take up little room?

Any other space saving ideas very welcome!


Helen Slade, by email

Chip in or chip out

My friend has a large, Mastiff cross, and the vet is refusing to microchip him until he's 9 months old, saying the chip would move, as he's a large breed. Never heard that before - is it true, or just an excuse from a poorly skilled vet?!

Marnie Cohen, Forest of Dean

Throw in the towel

I’m on the hunt for the most efficient, highly absorbent towels for drying a dog after walks/swimming etc. Can anyone recommend a good one?

Claire, by email

Sleigh ride

Dear DT team,

I hope you can help as I love your mag. Barney, my Schnauzer, went to the bridge three months ago and I am waiting until the time is right to get another dog. I love looking through the rescue pages each month.

My partner and I both love dogs and have wanted to go on a holiday where we can go husky riding for years and I think the time is now right. Preferably somewhere snowy! Do you know of any good ones? We’re prepared to be hands on. I was hoping you could put my email on your Think Tank so other readers could recommend.

Thank you.

Claire Baines, by email

First timer

Hi Think Tank,

I’ve found you online and need some advice. My wife and I are thinking of getting a medium sized dog and we’re not bothered about what type it is, as long as he’s friendly and likes walks. We’ve never had a dog before and are thinking of getting a rescue dog but will we be allowed because this would be our first dog?

Do you know of any animal sanctuaries that we could contact in our situation?

Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Thomas, by email

Monday, 16 September 2013

Muddy paws

Can any fellow dog owners recommend a good mud-removing mat for after we come in from muddy walks? For years I’ve been putting towels on the kitchen floor before we go out in the rain, but I’ve seen a mat that claims to remove mud from paws and I wondered if it is any good. Has anyone used one?

Beverly Riley, by email

In the dark

A few years ago I bought a flashing collar for my Golden Retriever for autumnal and winter evenings which broke earlier this year. No idea where I got it from in the first place so can you recommend a good replacement I can use to keep Bailey visible?

Mark McLaughlan, by email

Nut to crack

Is peanut butter OK for dogs? Are both types (smooth and crunchy) OK? And are actual peanuts OK, or are they harmful in any way?


Summer Clark, age 12

Nicola Bates, scientist at the Veterinary Poisons Information Service, advises...

There is not very much information on peanuts in dogs. We at the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS) have had some enquiries. Many dogs remain well but some develop vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy discomfort. We have a few cases where the dogs have developed convulsions after ingestion of (mostly) salted peanuts and this is probably due to salt toxicity. Other dogs have eaten peanuts left out for the birds that have gone mouldy. This can also cause convulsions (this is due to the mould). We only have one case of peanut butter ingestion and that dog appears to have developed an allergic reaction. There is also the risk of choking and blockage of the gut if a large quantity is eaten. On balance I think it would be best not to give dogs peanuts and peanut products. Chocolate covered peanuts are also available and they should definitely not be given to dogs because of the risk of chocolate toxicity.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Off the menu

My GSD is allergic to beef, pork, venison, rice and most cereals.

Does anyone have any recommendations for any other chews or bones I could use? I want to make sure my GSD has something to chew on in order to keep up on her dental hygiene.

Tony Harrison, via Facebook

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Caring career

Can anyone tell me which is the best website to look on for animal care jobs in the UK please? I'm sure there must be somewhere they are all collated together.

Karen Wallace, via Facebook

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Insurance policy?

I have a nine-year-old Beagle, who is insured with Direct Line...she has recently had an op to remove a large lump from her back leg and a smaller lump from her right side...unfortunately we got the news that the large lump on her leg was actually a very advanced mast cell tumour, and although they removed all they could see, her condition is terminal.

My vets did a direct claim with Direct Line (as the usually do) and Direct Line has decided they are going to charge me 2 separate excess fees (£80 each), as they pay our per condition, and as each lump is a different type, this classes as 2 different conditions.
Has anyone else heard about this? I have spoken to several different people at 
Direct Line  but just keep being told it is policy, and to pay the difference to my vets immediately.

I just presumed that as it was one procedure to remove unidentified lumps it would all count as one claim?!

I'd be grateful for anyone elses input!

Claire Ruston, via Facebook

Monday, 2 September 2013

Food for thought

After reading your dog food feature in the September issue I’m keen to try my dogs on raw. 

Any advice on how I start? Both are male Labs and currently eat a high-quality tinned food.

D. Barretto, by email

Afraid of the dark


I hope you can help.

My dog (a medium-sized Heinz 57) has a nervous personality. She was rescued and was mistreated in her early years. She’s approximately 4 years old and we’ve had her since last summer.

On Halloween last year she was spooked by there being a lot of people around her, making funny noises on her evening walk, and didn’t want to go out in the dark for the next few nights. We managed it using treats and lots of hugs and encouraging words, but I don’t want a repeat of this this year as it really set back the training my family and the resuce had done to rehabiliate her from her horrid former life. The kids go back to school this week and although she's been fine throughout the summer I'm worried as the nights draw in she will become worried about waling in the dark again.

Do you have any advice as to how I can prevent her being scared in the dark, and how to help her through it if she does freak out again?

Mark Wall, by email

Fact finding mission


I hope you don't mind me contacting you but I am in bits about the loss of my dog and need some answers from someone who really may know.

My beautiful lurcher who was around 12 died on Sunday after a sudden illness, by the time we had the blood tests back showing liver failure it was too late.

Yesterday I was told the liver biopsy was non specific hepatitis, but the bloods indicated high titre levels for Weils disease. Our vet says the fact we have been back and forward with non specific "not right" issues for a few months may mean this was incubating or getting weaker and older made her less able to fight it.

She was vaccinated and boostered every year we had her (10.5 years) as a rescue dog we signed a contract to do this. However in May the vet did not give her booster as she wasn't quite herself he took blood and urine that showed very slight kidney damage and nothing else. we got involved in pain relief for her hips and kidney diets. Now she has gone I am told the lepto vaccine is only effective for <12 months, there are more strains than the vaccine can protect against and no indication a booster would have helped In this case, diagnosis is not 100% just based on the facts above.

Our vet says that we did all we could and we followed all their advice to the letter, but I am in such a state. Would she really have been unprotected 16 months after her last booster?, are there really lots of strains the vaccine does not protect against anyway?

I am fairly dog knowledgable, but had no idea lepto was such a weak vaccine or that as a swimming/ wading dog she was at risk. With metacalm for her hips she was running around and swimming like a youngster right up to the week before she died.

Any knowledge you have most welcome.

Thank you.

Kindest regards,

Carmella Delargy, by email

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Allergic reaction

Has anyone had any success with taking medicine or other treatments for allergies to dog fur?

Snr Giz, via Facebook

Friday, 23 August 2013

Getting shot of a cough

Has anyone ever had any problems with their dogs after vaccinations?

My rescue Staffie always got a terrible cough every time he had his vacs and was quite poorly so I now get him tested to see if he needs them and to see if they were linked. So far he hasn't and he hasn’t coughed at all and has been healthier than when he was getting vaccinations annually.

I've done the same with my Labrador but I wanted to take him to training/activity clubs for more stimulation and no training school would accept the vets report stating tests had been done and he was fine so I had him vaccinated and he now has a cough.

I have done some research and understand they can react after the vacs but I'm interested to know if anyone else has experienced the same problem as two separate vets are saying they've never heard of that kind of side effect.

Helen Gordon, via Facebook

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Grieving for a lost friend

Hi my doggy friends, can anyone give me advice please.

I lost my faithful old friend Ryan a couple of weeks ago. He was nearly 14, the most beautiful Lab/Ret you could ever wish to meet, but I also have a young two-year-old Lab/Ret and she is grieving terribly. She is not eating properly and is so lethargic.

Does anyone have any tips on how to deal with this? I know how I feel, I still cry for him myself, so I can’t imagine how she feels.

Amanda Beevers, via Facebook

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Second opinion


Recently we were approved by a well known Golden Retriever rescue society to adopt a dog from them, and a few weeks later I went and viewed a castrated Golden Retriever, which was a four hour round trip away. This dog was described as 'good with other dogs', and although in his write up it was stated that he had been put into rescue because he had reportedly bared his teeth at somebody, the rescue and foster carer didn't think that this was an issue.

When I went to see the dog, I took our four-year-old chocolate Lab bitch with use, who has been spayed. The two dogs were walked together and seemed to get on ok, and in actual fact, didn't take an awful lot of notice of each other once the initial sniffing had finished. After the walk we returned to the foster carer's home where the two dogs were allowed to play in the garden. The foster carer doesn't have another dog, but the assessment on this Golden's temperament was presumably carried out during his meetings with other dogs while on lead. I thought he was a beautiful dog, though didn't think he was pure Golden, but possibly had some collie in him as well, but if the dog was the right one for us then this wouldn't matter. His play was a little rough, but I know that this sometimes happens and that dogs will settle down after a while. Ruby, my Lab, went indoors though to 'escape' his attentions and he was put on a lead for a while, then later he was let off-lead again, and things seemed to become settled.

I decided to adopt this dog, and take him home. He travelled well in the back of the estate car with Ruby, and two hours later at 10.30 pm we arrived home. The dogs went into the garden first for a toilet break, then we went indoors. This is when the new dog turned into an animal that I hadn't expected. Within minutes, he had gone for Ruby when she took a toy from her toy box. He flew across the room to get to her to do this. I didn't think any damage had been done to her, but took the toy box up anyway. Then the dog turned his attention to his bed, which he 'bonked' so much that I took this up as well! His attentions then turned again to Ruby, who was by now on her bed. His play was lively to say the least. Anyway we eventually went to bed, and the new dog decided to join me on the bed, which I don't generally allow, but it was late and we were tired. Ruby has her own bed in my bedroom, and I hoped that I would be able to do the same with the new dog. We slept until 4.30am, when the new dog woke up and decided that he was going to 'play' with Ruby. She didn't want to do this, so I ended up putting new dog on lead and keeping him on until 7am when I fed the dogs their breakfast.

What followed was a total nightmare. New dog made continued dives onto Ruby with what at first looked like he was playing, then losing control of himself and going for her. He was put on the lead again. They later went into the garden and because new dog seemed calmer I let him off again, where he made several unprovoked aggressive attacks on Ruby. I couldn't see any immediate damage, but my main concern after checking Ruby out was to get in touch with the rescue and tell them I wanted to return the dog. I told them all that had happened, this dog was literally hanging off the side of Ruby's face, neck and head. We had to wait until the evening before the foster carer could be there to take him back, so at 6pm we left to do the two hour trip to return the dog. Ruby was on the back seat, looking more than a little traumatised after her day. The other dog screamed the place down and scratched to be let in when he was shut in the kitchen for a short while! Ruby just wanted to be near me all the time.

A week after all this happened Ruby starting scratching at the top of her head, neck and side of her face, and during the next two days wet eczema developed and we took her to the vet. During the trip to the vet, she tore her face open with her scratching, and it was so bad that when we reached the vet she was kept in overnight, while she was sedated, clipped over the large affected areas and given antibiotics and steroid cream. During the next week it was awful for her, and difficult trying to keep her from scratching, and we returned to the vet as arranged a week later where she was given another week's worth of antibiotics and a steroid injection. Thankfully today she was discharged, but this has left us £170 out of pocket, and last week my husband decided to try and claim off the rescue's insurance for the vet bills incurred. However the vet says he can't confirm one way or another whether a dog bite would have taken this long (a week) to cause the problems that it had, so won't support our claim. We are absolutely certain that as the trauma has occurred in the areas that Ruby was bitten, that damage even if it was to soft tissue was the cause of the problem.

Can anybody with veterinary experience give their opinion on this please? Coincidentally this afternoon we bumped into a walker also with a chocolate Lab bitch, who was similarly attacked a while ago, and developed wet eczema on the bite area a week after the attack.

This has really put us off getting another rescue dog, although our beautiful Ruby is a rescue herself, and came with issues, as most rescues do. However rescue societies need to do a proper assessment of dogs going up for rehoming, and owners handing their dogs over to rescue should be honest with the problems which they are handing over with their dog. I am an experienced dog owner and trainer, but have never witnessed the behaviour shown by this dog, during nearly 30 years of being around dogs.
Many thanks.

Name supplied, by email

Friday, 16 August 2013

Wetting the bed


I have an 11-year-old Westie. He was recently treated for a suspected UTI and seems much brighter but he is still wetting his bed! Every night without fail. He isnt leaving puddles anywhere else. He has never had accidents before. His UTI was diagnosed when he started peeing in the house and also in his bed following jumping in a filthy pond.The vet suspected he'd picked up some infection. Urine tests showed suggested a mild infection, blood tests were negative, but to be sure he was prescribed antibiotics for 7 days. Peeing in the house stopped as soon as the antibiotics started, but wetting his bed hasn't. Now what? I am washing him daily as he stinks and he HATES baths!!!

He is really strong usually, rarely ill and no skin complaints!! I worry this constant peeing and washing will trigger a skin complaint though.

I'd be grateful for any advice.


Janie, by email

Monday, 12 August 2013

My Border's barking

Hello Think Tank,

This is a very recent problem that we have with our three-year-old Border Collie cross. It started whilst we were all on holiday last week and has continued at home. If my husband goes to get out of his chair, our dog goes mad and really barks excessively at him. I then have to shut him in the dining room for him to calm down, which he does do quite quickly.

He has done this to our house bunny when there is a sound in the house he doesn't like and as soon as he has reacted I have sent him to the dining room. His barking at our rabbit has been less and less to almost nothing because of this.

We are just a bit worried that he has now started this with a member of the family as apart from this he gets on well with all of us.

Hope you can help.

Julie Smith, Berkshire

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Choosing puppy chews

Can anyone recommend any good quality, natural, puppy chews for 14-week-old Heidi?

Christine Bailey, Dogs Today

Monday, 5 August 2013

Home from home

I'd like to know what others have done when they go on holiday. I have three dogs and would like to find someone who can either have them or stay in my home. It's such a minefield of websites etc so how do I know who is reliable and affordable?

Any advice welcome.

I live in Surrey.

Roz Kadir, via Facebook

Winter blues

Dear editor,

I was wondering if any of your other readers have noticed their dogs suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder)? We have a young Labrador who clearly displays all the symptoms seen in humans.

During the summer months he is full of energy and life, always looking happy and ready to play, well into the late evening. However as the days become shorter he becomes quieter. When winter really draws in he still goes for walks but is much calmer and on overcast days can look quite miserable. Like most of us his favourite place is on the sofa in front of the log fire during the dark winter days. Out other dog, who is the same breed and age, does not seem to be affected.

I would be interested to know if anybody has experimented using a light box for dogs, similar to the type used to help humans who suffer with this condition?

Yours sincerely,

Lucy Hardwick, by post

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Does your pet have what it takes to become Buyagift's Next Pet Model?

Buyagift and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home are on the hunt for furry fashionistas!

In association with one of the UK’s leading animal rehoming charities, Buyagift has launched an exciting competition that will see the most photogenic pet win top prizes including a pet pamper day at a top London spa! The lucky owner will also receive £1,500 to donate to Battersea Dogs & Cats, which they will present to the guys at Battersea in person – before going on their very own tour of the shelter!

Simply visit the BuyagiftFacebook page, upload a picture of your pet looking his or her best, and remember – the more creative the snaps, the more likely they’ll win!

For further details, see:

Friday, 26 July 2013

Age concern

My Golden Retriever is now 10 and is a lot slower than she once was. Is it worth me switching her to a senior diet? What I want to know is what differences there are between adult food and senior food, and if the dog’s body changes to the point where a change in diet if necessary.

If you could provide me with some information I would be very grateful.

Mrs P. Austin, by email

Has anyone invented the top dog transporter yet?

What is the dream van for transporting several large dogs in comfort and safety?
And by several I mean up to six Labrador-sized dogs.
Here's my wish list:
Individual crates for each dog to keep them safe in the event crash.
Really good reliable air conditioning that can be turned on even when the van is stationery.
Do you have to buy a van and kit it out for yourself or does someone already produce these to order for you?
There must be a market - dog walkers, dog competitors and dog charities and the police force all must need to transport dogs safely.
What is the best dog carrier you have ever encountered?
What is the dream MDV - multi-dog vehicle?
If money was no object but dog safety was the aim what would you get?
Caroline Smith, London

Friday, 19 July 2013


Do dogs know their own gender? My collie cross is a girl yet she cocks slightly her leg slightly (not the whole way) when she scent marks. She does squat to actually wee. I don’t mind and it’s not a problem, I am just interested to see if anyone else’s dog does this too. It might not be anything to do with gender!

We think she was about a year when we got her and she is spayed. She was found straying at a few months old so we don’t know her background – perhaps she never had a female role model?

A. Jackson, by email

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Force of habit

I was just wondering if any of my fellow dog owners could help me understand why my dog sneezes just before doing a poo. It is a mystery that I would like to get to the bottom of (excuse the pun!).

Helen Ruth, by email

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Be cool

Dear Dogs Today,

Please could you advise me how I can keep by Bull Terrier puppy cool this summer? He is white and I have been told that suncream is a good idea. Can I use human suncream on my pup? And how can I avoid him suffering heatstroke?

Thank you,

Jen Greenfield, by email

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

In the spotlight


I’d like to discover if my dog, Peaches, has what it takes to enter the world of modelling.

She is well behaved and calm, and has been on a few sets before because I'm a make-up artist so like to bring her to work with me when I can. She has been photographed while on photoshoots with me, too, so is defiantly not shy of the camera!

Who should I contact?

I look forward to hearing from you.


Michelle Court, by email

Solid decision

Dear Dogs Today,

I picked up your magazine as we’ve put our names down for a Cocker Spaniel pup when the litter is born later in the year and before we welcome him into our family I’m doing all the research possible. I hope you can help me please.

We’re first-time dog owners and I’m unsure of how best to introduce our pup onto the food we’ll be feeding him. At what age do pups start eating dog food, and should I ask the breeder to start feeding our choice of food while he is still too young to leave his mum? If so, what age is this?

Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanking you in advance.

Sarah Lane, by email

Monday, 1 July 2013

Taste of home

Hello Dogs Today,

I am moving to the UK from the United States with my standard Dachshund, Fritzi. Over here there are a couple of companies that sell very thick US-made rawhide that last my dog for several weeks and do not upset his stomach.

As well as stuffed Kongs, they are an excellent way of giving him clean indoor recreational chewing. Chews from China or outsourced US hides are too fragile and cause diarrhea. Are there any companies in Britain that sell sturdy British or European-made rawhide chews?

Thank you very much for your time.

Nicole Larson, by email

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

A friend in need


Please could you point me in the right direction?

I am looking for an assistance dog for my friend's little boy who is in a wheelchair and has special needs. The family sadly lost their pet dog last year and really would like a dog that could help their son in friendship and in his everyday needs.

We have already approached Canine Partners but they do not supply dogs unless you are 18 or over, and this little boy is only five years old.

Thank you for any help on this matter.

Kindest regards,

Caroline King, by email

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Latex-free toys

Hi Dogs Today magazine.

You may have been asked this before but I'm wondering if you can help.

As you probably know a lot of dog toys that are durable are made from latex. Usually this isn't a problem unless you have a latex allergy. I am currently hunting for a durable (Staffordshire Bull Terrier-durable) latex-free toy.

I've searched the copies of your magazines I have in the house in hopes of finding an advert or even an article but no luck. I'm hoping that you may have something or may consider doing an article about it as even organic toys can contain enough latex to cause serious problems.
Many thanks,

Carol-Ann Winterbourne-Welsh, by email

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Refusing to walk


I'm a dog walker for the Cinnamon Trust and walk a pair of Dachshunds twice a week. One is an old lady coming up for 15 and the other is about 4 years old. She had limited experiences as a very young dog and is thought not to have left her previous owner’s garden. Consequently she had to get used to all the outside world brings from the age of about 2, when her current owner took her on.

She's done really well until recently but now refuses to walk if I try to go a way she doesn't want to. Instead she becomes completely flat to the floor and if I pull gently on her lead to encourage her she rolls over onto her back. This behaviour started with having to be carried to leave home but once a few metres from the house she would happily walk. Now she will only walk a few metres from being put down and then stops. I used to be able to get her moving again by simply changing direction and taking a different route for the walk but now she will only go a few metres in any direction before stopping dead. I end up carrying her until we're about half a mile from home and then she will walk home.

She appears very anxious when out of her home environment. She will not take food, talk to people or other dogs and likes to walk right by the edge of the path or against the bottom of a wall. She has no physical problems which would stop her walking.

Any suggestions on how to help her to enjoy her walks again would be much appreciated.

Best regards,

Louise Wilkes, by email



I am 13 and own a one-year-old black lab. Even though there is tonnes of dogs in our village (proven by a fun dog show) I normally only see a couple of dogs on my walks. I was thinking about putting up a poster for a group dog walk, maybe weekly or more depending on people's flexibility. It wouldn't be a commitment and no one would be obliged to turn up but I thought it might be a nice idea for dogs and dog owners alike.

What is your opinion? Would you be interested if something like this was advertised where you live?

Thank you,

Emily Mitchell, by email

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Daddy’s boy

I wondered if anyone could explain why my 20-month Golden Retriever prefers my husband to me!

I walk him, feed him, groom him and generally take care of him, and spend most days with him.

Yet when my husband’s not at work, he follows him around, wants to be in the same room as him, lies at his feet, and comes back for him.

What do you think I'm doing wrong?

Wendy, by email

Testing allergies

My dog Cassie is a cross breed, approximately nine years old. We’ve had her from the age of nine months from a rescue centre. Over three years ago, Cassie starting sneezing and producing a copious amount of mucus. The vet did exploratory work and eventually had to refer her to a specialist vet in respiratory conditions. He performed a rhinoscopy to check her airways, and found nothing. He tested her mucus for bacteria or fungal infection and came back inconclusive and therefore he diagnosed her with allergic rhinitis.

Her symptoms are mainly nasal discharge and runny eyes. She has these symptoms all year, being worse at different times of the year, spring and winter being the worse. Antihistamines don’t appear to work. We have tried all sorts of medication including several types of antibiotics and steroids from the vets to homeopathic remedies. At the moment, the homeopathic remedy Pulsatilla really helps her because it thins the mucus down enabling her to sneeze it out, so that she can breath more easily. Before this, we had also tried all sorts of remedies/products to help her with her symptoms, things for allergies, asthma (as the vet thought it might be asthma), including inhalers, dehumidifiers, ioners, we also removed any household products which may trigger her symptoms, i.e. cleaning materials, candles, sprays etc., all of which we feel has not helped. It is difficult to remember everything we have tried over the last three years, but we have run out of ideas.

We have also done food trials, starting with the basic chicken and rice for six weeks. She did not improve. But when we stopped rice, she seemed to improve overnight. We were overjoyed but this was soon short lived, and although her symptoms were slightly better, they have never gone away fully. We did some more food trials and we think Cassie is allergic to starch, so we have cut out all starch. We also realised that starch is present in the makeup of some tablets we were giving her, so had to be careful to chose tablets that did not contain starch. She now mainly eats cooked chicken, beef, and homemade biscuits.

We therefore thought we might be dealing with two allergies, food and environment. Cassie does not suffer from any skin disorders at all; she is otherwise fit and healthy.

Does anyone else out there know what might be causing Cassie to have such symptoms? Or can you recommend anything we can try to ease her discomfort. I would love to find out a cure for her. She is such a lovely dog. I have been told by various vets that Cassie is a special case, we know she is special but just wish it wasn’t for these reasons – can anyone help?

Here’s hoping.
Debbie, Wolverhampton

Monday, 3 June 2013

Healthy renal diet

Any advice on feeding a renal diet for my nearly 13-year-old dog (for early stages kidney failure – that shows in blood, but not behaviour)?
Fat content of prescription diet seems high (22%). For the price I could feed pre-prepared raw (presumably more balanced than I could prepare myself), or other good protein food, but how to lower phosphorous levels?
Happy to research but don't know where to start! It doesn't have to be raw, I am opening my mind to any helpful food.
Any clues please?
Tamsin, by email

Friday, 31 May 2013

Common culprit

I have a two-year-old Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier who scratches a lot and her skin is a bit flaky. She just looks so uncomfortable, poor thing. My vet has confirmed she doesn’t have mange and has suggested it might be an allergy to an ingredient in her food, so I have changed brands but this hasn’t had much affect.

A friend at training suggested I try an elimination diet to see what the cause might be. Could you tell me if you think this will help, and if so, what are the common culprits as I think I should begin with one of those?

Ms Sanders, by email

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Gone with the wind

I know this is not a nice subject but I do need some help for my dog and the ambiance inside my house! She is prone to passing wind quite a bit and it really does not make for a nice environment. I already feed her a premium range canned food.

Please help!

Mrs B. Coles, Edinburgh

If you’re on the banned list, you’re not coming in

We’re looking at going camping this summer for our family holiday in Europe, either in France or Germany and have started the process of getting our Staffie a pet passport. A friend has says she thinks Staffordshire Bull Terriers might be a banned breed in Germany. Is this true, and if so, where can in the EU can we take our soppy dog, who is very well socialised, camping with us?!

Karen Parks, by email

All aboard?

My husband has been offered a job in Australia. It’s something we’re having to think long and hard about as a family, and one of the considerations is our five-year-old Pug. I’ve heard it’s difficult to travel with a Pug and other brachycephalic breeds due to airline restrictions, but she is part of our family. Can you tell me my options?

Dogs Today reader, via Facebook

Cabin fever

When I was delayed for nine hours (!) at a Tenerife airport after a summer holiday, I saw a lady boarding a plane bound for Madrid holding a carry case containing her dog. It was toy breed-sized, but I’m not sure of the actual breed. I’ve never seen a dog in the cabin on a flight in the UK. Are the rules preventing this? This lady was going from Spain to Spain, so perhaps Spanish internal flights have different rules. I’d be interested to know.

Kate Conway, by email

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Falling foul of the law?

I attended a seminar by a dog law specialist who said not all assistance dog were exempt from clear up after their dog and that it is only Guide Dogs. How can someone in a wheelchair clear up after their dog? I have an assistance dog and most times I find it totally impossible.

It seems unfair that assistance dogs registered by one particular charity should receive special treatment over those trained by other, just as reputable charities.

Can you clarify the law?

Name supplied, via Facebook

Philip Biggs, Assistance Dogs (UK) Access Group, advises…
Dog Control Orders are made under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Dog Control Orders replace the previous system of byelaws for the control of dogs, and also the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996, which has been repealed.

The Dog Control Orders (Prescribed Offences and Penalties, etc.) Regulations provide for five offences which may be prescribed in a dog control order:

(a)   Failing to remove dog faeces;

(b)   Not keeping a dog on a lead;

(c)   Not putting, and keeping, a dog on a lead when directed to do so by an authorised officer;
        (d)  Permitting a dog to enter land from which dogs are excluded;

        (e)  Taking more than a specified number of dogs onto land.

Dog control orders provide exemptions in particular cases for registered blind people, and for deaf people and for other people with disabilities who make use of trained assistance dogs.
Anyone with any type of assistance dog is not subject to a Dog Control Order excluding dogs from specified land (d) in respect of his or her assistance dog.
Anyone (assistance dog user) other than a registered deaf person (whose disability will not prevent him or her from being aware of and removing dog faeces) is similarly exempt from a Dog Control Orders on the fouling of land (a)
These exemptions are not relevant to the other three offences which can be the subject of dog control orders.

It can be seen from the above that all assistance dog users are exempt from removing their dog’s faeces other than deaf people who use trained hearing dogs (this is assuming the deaf person is not also registered blind or has any other additional disability that would prevent him or her from removing their assistance dog’s faeces).  All assistance dog users are exempt from any Dog Control Order which excludes dogs from specified land.  Assistance dogs spend a very substantial part of their day under close lead control or in harness, it is vital for their wellbeing that they are able to have free running exercise during the day. Exclusion from land may place assistance dog users at a substantial disadvantage if they are unable to travel to land which is not subject to a dog control order.

All assistance dog users are not exempt from (b) (c) and (e) above.