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Thursday, 14 March 2013

Tummy ache

Hi, I hope you can help.

As you can see I am up at silly o'clock as my spaniel, Lilly, was rushed into the vets yesterday.

She had cystitis three weeks ago and yesterday her pancreatitis hit for the very first time. She is a big dog but she is only fed the raw food diet, getting only one treat a day. I walk her every day with me as I am a dog walker and she spends most of the day with me. They are saying I must be feeding her fatty foods and gravy etc. I am a vegan so the only meat that comes into the home is for her and she never has it cooked. She had, in her previous home, eaten toys and the first two weeks of living with me she had to be rushed in and had to have two operations on her intestines and lost a bit of her small intestine.

I've worked with animals for over 13 years and none of my pets being fed like this have ever been ill and have lived to very old ages (20+ years). I am at a loss as to what caused this and need help to stop it happening again and don't feel the vets are helping, just accusing me.

She has always been big as she was the only pup her mum had, and has had lots of health problems which I keep on top of. I have attached a photo of Lilly and we need help please as she is a very important little thing to me. She is still in the vets and I have asked them to see if there is another underlying condition that caused both the cystitis and this as they have happened very near each other.

Claire McDonald, by email

A bum note

A question I get asked a lot (often during coffee break):

If a dog is on a good diet why does he regularly require his anal glands emptying? And is there any truth in 'once he has had them emptied as a puppy, he will need them emptying for the rest of his life?


Tony C, by email

Alison Logan, vet, advises...

There are two anal sacs, as they should strictly be termed because they do not have a lining of secretory cells. They lie just inside the anus at approximately 4 and 8 o’clock if you were to imagine the anus as the face of a clock. They fill with a foul, often fishy smelly fluid or thicker secretion which should be naturally emptied onto the faeces as they pass through the back passage. They can also be released when frightened, hence the smell you may notice if dogs have a confrontation or are scared.

There are so many stories and myths about anal sacs, and a true, full explanation has not yet materialised as far as I am aware! Certainly, I will always check the anal sacs if a dog presents with an ear infection or skin infection, and they are invariably full. Whether that is coincidence is hard to know. There are vets who boast of having never emptied an anal sac during their professional lives – lucky them! I do seem to have days when most consultations have involved this less than pleasant task. Sometimes there is an infection within the anal sac, indicated by the presence of blood in the material expressed, and occasionally a dog will present in a great deal of pain because of an abscess. Would these have been prevented if the anal sacs had been more regularly emptied? – who can tell?

Dogs who drag their rears across the ground, or scoot, often have full anal sacs. Some poor individuals need their anal sacs emptied on a regular basis, others once in a blue moon. Having the anal sacs emptied as a puppy is not a red light to me for a lifetime of impacted anal sacs – the gut of a puppy is developing, and the faeces are often variable, especially if there is a change in diet (intentional or inadvertent such as through scavenging!). Sometimes, though, the anal sacs are empty and the scooting is a reflection of an itchy backside associated with allergic skin disease, so a young adult showing perineal irritation for the first time may indeed experience this for the rest of his or her life.

I have also noticed that an older dog may start to need the anal sacs emptying, which I attribute to changes in the stance adopted when passing faeces, secondary to joint pain and arthritis.

Increasing the fibre content of the diet may help anal sac impaction. This is achieved by adding bran (not high fibre breakfast cereals which have other ingredients) or a specific canine high fibre formulation.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Limbering up

Where can I find printable dog agility plans? And beginner courses/practise turns etc?

From Celine BP, via Twitter

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Flat in or out?

Me and my partner have been thinking about getting a dog for a while and would like to rehome a rescue. I’m worried though that we won’t be able to get a dog from a rescue because we live in a flat.

We don’t have a garden of our own but there are communal garden areas and we do live close to a large park. We enjoy long walks in the countryside, too, so our dog wouldn’t just be walked in a park. We own our flat so don’t have to worry about getting permission from landlords.

If anyone who lives in a flat has successfully rehomed a rescue dog I’d be really keen to hear how easy it is.

Thank you.

Kayleigh Ash, by email

Catherine Gillie, Dogs Trust Assistant Field Director, advises...

At Dogs Trust we do not have blanket policies for rehoming and we would treat each case on an individual basis. Things that we may consider are : The flat its size and location, the surrounding area for exercise, family members, their other commitments, the type of dog considered age size and temperament exercise needs etc.

For example whilst it may be perfectly feasible for someone living in a ground floor flat, with nearby parks and garden to care adequately for a large breed dog throughout its life when they are perhaps working from home or at home with family all day, it would be very problematic for someone in the same circumstances in a second floor flat as a large breed pup would be problematic to house train without quick and easy access to a toilet area and an older dog may find stairs problematic but be too large to help up and down.

Living in a flat would certainly not prevent Dogs Trust from re homing a dog to a loving home, and we are happy to advise on potential problems and the suitability of specific dogs for flat dwellers.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Absence makes the dog howl louder


I have two dogs Mum (Tally) aged 6 and her Son (Marley) aged 4.

I had a neighbour who said the dog howls a lot, and I thought it was strange because he hardly ever barks so I recorded him while I took his Mum out for a walk.

I can’t walk them both together because as everyone know Staffies are very strong.

Anyway to my amazement when I returned back I played the recording and there I heard the most heartfelt howling and whimpering, I was only gone for seven minutes, how can I prevent this?

He almost never barks or makes any noise when I’m there.

Kind regards,

Sy John Ewing, by email

Monday, 4 March 2013

All the wrong noises

We have a gorgeous PBGV called Lexi who came to us at 15 months as his previous owner didn't want him. When we first got him, he was a little scared of city noises (he came from the country) but seemed to improve. Recently, however, he has regressed and is now very nervous when he's out for his walk - even though he really wants to go! Everything now seems to scare him, but especially people and very loud noises eg church bells etc. We do take him out with one of our other dogs to try and help his confidence.

We think that maybe he was scared by something when he was out for a walk and so he has now come to associate people as frightening.

He is friendly indoors to visitors  and an absolute gorgeous little boy who we adore! - and we want him to feel happy and confident while he's out on his walks. We have tried giving him treats when he's out - so that he associates positive rewards with being out and about - but he's too scared to take them.

Any ideas would be very much appreciated!

Many thanks.

Nicola, by email 

Food for thought

Each day we seem to hear another supermarket has taken food off its shelves as its products contain horse, and now today a council has announced a local school has been serving food to children with traces of horse in the meals.

How do we know we’re not eating dog? Is this kind of thing checked? Before this scandal I would have assumed that all meat was tested at some point.

Thanking you in advance.

Tessa Knox, by email

Horses for courses

Might my dog have eaten horse? He is fed meat from tins from a popular, well-known brand.

What does ‘animal derivatives’ mean? How do I know when the tin says the meat is beef or lamb that it is not horse?

John, by email

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA), says…
There is strict legislation governing pet food production and this includes what ingredients can be used. The legislation applies to both UK produced products and all imports. Furthermore, the PFMA Raw Materials policy requests that members only use meat from animals generally accepted in the human food chain in the UK.
Local authorities enforce the legislation and include checks on feed safety management systems at pet food manufacturers during their inspections and undertake sampling and analysis of pet food to verify the accuracy of its labelling. All plants producing pet food comprising animal by-products are subject to approval and regular inspection by the Animal Health Veterinary Laboratories Agency under Regulation (EC) 1069/2009 on animal by-products to ensure that the material used is suitable for pet food is handled safely and, where appropriate, is processed to the standards required by the regulation.
When sourcing all ingredients individual member companies operate their own stringent in-house quality assurance policies. These include strict specifications for material supplies, routine testing of all incoming materials and the use of vendor assurance schemes to monitor supply sources.
PFMA and its members are aware of current investigations into the presence of dog meat in pet food in Spain, the relevant authorities have been informed of the situation and all the necessary safeguards have been put in place. PFMA has advised its members to be extra vigilant about the raw materials they receive ensuring with their suppliers that these ingredients meet the requirements of the PFMA Raw Materials Policy.

The labelling requirements for pet food are less onerous than those for feed for farmed livestock. For livestock, the ingredients must be declared individually in descending order by weight, but pet food manufacturers have the option to declare them by category -- e.g. 'meat and animal derivatives', 'oils and fats', 'cereals', 'vegetable protein extracts'. Declaration by categories allows for fluctuations in the supply of the raw materials used and provides flexibility for labelling ingredients without incurring unreasonable cost.
The material of animal origin used by the pet food industry comprises those parts of animals which are either deemed surplus to human consumption or are not normally consumed by people in the UK, and derived from animals inspected and passed as fit for human consumption prior to slaughter. Animal material of this nature, which is not intended for human consumption, is classified as 'animal by-products' under the EC Regulation on Animal By-Products for which Defra is responsible, and assigned the lowest risk rating. This rating requires that the material be free of any transmissible disease, which therefore excludes material from dying, diseased or disabled animals.