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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