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Thursday, 9 October 2014

Lumps and bumps

Does anyone have any experience or advice they can share about their dog getting lumps on the spine?

My rough-coated Lurcher has a solid hard lump on the tail end of her spine. Tests reveal only 'unidentified cells' within it, and her blood tests are normal. It doesn't cause her any pain despite growing steadily since January. She is happy, runs fast and is around eight to nine years old.

If the lump is removed, will it grow back? Has anyone had a scan done on a lump? I was quoted £2,500 for a scan – can a scan be done for less?

Her food is varied between cooked chicken and high-quality dried or tinned food. One theory of mine is that the growth hormone that chickens are fed has contributed to the lump.

I'm worried sick for her. I don't know whether to risk surgery or risk leaving it. 

- Anon. 

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Change of tune!

My 30-month-old male dog started lunging and barking at some other dogs about six months ago. It is quite random so I never know when he is going to do it and it is hard to hold even in a front clip harness or head collar. The only thing I can think may have caused this was at about 18 months old he was chased, bowled over and bitten.

Before that he loved everyone - dogs and people! Having said that, he was always very respectful when approaching another dog even as a puppy. He was well socialized from a puppy and has never been frightened of vacuums, fireworks etc. But he now twitches when he is touched and I can no longer clip his nails, although he loves being groomed and stroked, when he realizes I am not going to do anything to him. He was also neutered at 10 months.

I take him to dog classes to rebuild his confidence with some lovely dogs and a good trainer, he does very well in class but if I try the advice outside in the real world it doesn’t work! He must give off a nervous vibe as, again quite randomly, some dogs will ignore my friends dogs and chase or snap at him, again I don’t know when this is going to happen, but if I see someone put their dog on a lead I take him out of harms way, but not everyone does.

Some advice I have been given is to get people to walk past at a distance, but he is fine with most dogs especially with my friends' dogs! I can’t go up to strangers and say, excuse me, can you walk your dog in front of my dog to see if he is scary! I take him to local fun dog shows and he is fine, happy to meet all the dogs and shows no sign of a problem, everyone there thinks he is lovely and he always wins rosettes.

If I see another dog on a walk and get him to sit and start feeding him treats, he gets agitated and starts looking around as if the treats are the trigger! I have started clicker training with him, he has taken to this well but this also doesn’t work in situ.

He is a very loving dog, amazing with children, obedient in the house, crate trained, clever, but, I am getting worn out and am constantly embarrassed and disheartened on walks. I try very hard not to tense up as I know I contribute to the tension!

Sandy, via email 

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Cotton wool coat

I have a three-year-old neutered Golden Retriever.
Even though he is fed a good diet, his coat is like cotton wool!
I wondered if anyone could suggest anything to make it more silky and shiny - but not too high in calories as that is an issue also!

Wendy, via email 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Leaving his mark

Hello Think Tank,

I have a rescued an eight-year-old male Bichon Frise and I have had him for three years. When I first got him he was unneutered so I had him neutered fairly quickly.  He is very loving and a very good boy at home because he is very cuddly and doesn't wet in the house.

For three years he has been looked after at a dog sitters house where there are up to four other small dogs. He loves it there and is content.

But recently he has been lifting his leg and 'marker' weeing in certain places. Also he has been pestering a male dog for a lot of time during the day! He has never been bothered or interested in other dogs - until now!

I have tried using 'scullcap and valerian' tablets but they do not seem to work.

Can anyone help me to find a solution to this new behaviour please?

Thank you. 


Terri Sherlock

Nips and Nibbles

I have a German Shepherd bitch (Hope) who is about two years old, and recently bought two little pups (both girls, Nalah and Kitana) who are now nine weeks.

Hope is very maternal with the pups, and often keeps food aside for them and cuddles them to sleep.

Recently I've noticed Hope is nibbling Kitana all over her body, what does this mean? It's only ever Kitana, as she's the more playful one with Hope. Should we be worried about it? She's never hurt the pup, and the pup always goes back for more.


Beth, via email 

Monday, 8 September 2014

Food for thought!

Dear Dogs Today 

My German Shepherd has a pancreas problem, she takes panzym medication. I have been feeding her Burns chicken and brown rice but have just bought her new Oscar dog food complete dry food. 

It is hard to say which food is best as each day her motions range from fairly solid to loose, and in fact, they can change within hours. My husband will feed her sausages and chicken slices as he doesn't think it's fair not to give her any meat, but I don't know whether I should carry on with the Burns food or swap to Oscar chicken and fish. 

Can anyone help?

Lynne, via email 

Monday, 18 August 2014

New season trends?

How do the seasons affect dogs?
Does their behaviour change depending on the season? Humans can get SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) where we feel more depressed when the days are longer, but can dogs suffer from a similar thing? And does day length affect them?

Anon, via email.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Cartrophen concerns

My dog was prescribed four Cartrophen injections. For the first injection, the serum in the bottle was coloured with a tinge of yellow. The following three injections were a serum of clear colour.

When I asked the vet she said it was just old stock. I’m concerned as treatment has not been successful. What should I do?

Lance Bates, via email 

Monday, 16 June 2014

Laddie's new diet


My Affenpinscher Laddie keeps gaining weight! I have tried feeding him carrots and fruit but he wouldn’t touch them, nor would he eat boiled cabbage. I feed him Lily’s kitchen, which he loves and I have also cut his portion sizes down. I don’t want to put him on a prescription diet and I’m not prepared to starve him.

He’s regularly vet checked, and although he is almost nine and has a heart murmur he is very healthy. What can I try to keep his weight under control?  

Thank you 
S. Thompson

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Fleas a crowd


Please can you recommend a natural treatment to protect my dog (and cats) from fleas and ticks? 

I don't like using spot on drops on them - my dog has a reaction to them and I think it may have caused my old cat to have nerve damage. Do you know of any alternative natural treatments that are effective?

I hope you can help. 

Thank you
Sian, by email 

All stressed out

We have an eight year old rescue entire German Shepherd who has been living with us since January this year. He has settled in well at home, but we are now concerned that he is showing signs of stress.

He moves his ears back when we stroke him, put his lead on or approach him, and he used to pant a lot. He also constantly bites his dew claws and sometimes his front claws. Is this also a sign of stress?  Should we get his dew claws removed? Or is it best to leave him alone and hope it will all settle down?

Any advice or ideas will be very welcome.

Mel Edwardes, via email.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Operation recovery

My female Shih Tzu cross had a luxating patellar operation, and I have been restricting her exercise ever since so that she recovers well. 

What is the best aftercare for a knee operation like this? I haven't seen much of an improvement in her walking yet, so I don't know if her muscles are fully recovered or not. Has anybody had a similar experience?  

Sally, by email

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Man's best friend

Dear Dogs Today 

I have been unwell for two months now, and it’s having a strange effect on my three-year-old bearded collie.

She used to go everywhere with my husband, and they loved going out for a long walk at lunchtime each day. She followed him loyally when out walking, and at home she would sit right next to him.

Since I have been unwell, she won’t go out with my husband at all. I don’t know what has changed her behaviour, and I’m hoping that when I feel better she will return to her normal behaviour.

Thank you for any tips you can give me.

Vera, via email

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A bumpy ride

Dear Dogs Today 

I have a four-month-old collie puppy who has a problem with cars. If she knows she is being taken to the car I struggle to get her out the front door, and I eventually have to pick her up and put her in the car. She then goes to the furthest point away she can in the car and lays down and doesn’t move again until the car stops. Her car journeys are normally to go for a lovely walk or flyball competition so they don’t have a negative outcome.

When out walking her it’s clear to see that she has a fear of cars. She either tries to get away from them to the point that I've had to put in her in a harness to stop her from slipping her collar, or she chases them. I’m not sure if playing with her near my car with a tennis ball or giving her treats and getting her closer to the car (but not actually moving the car) would work. I have had dogs all my life but this little girl is the first with this problem. We travel in the car quite a lot and I would like to help her to be happier with it.

Sue, via email 

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Do seasons make dogs grumpy?

My springador girl was due to be spayed in February but the day before the op she came into her first season. Since the season she seems to either snap at or run away from dogs she doesn't know. She's also started barking at people. I'm just so worried she might bite someone. Before her season she was never like this. 

We would suggest Leigh gets a vet check to rule out any other health issues as it does sound a very sudden change, and that she gets some help urgently from a good positive dog trainer or behaviourist who can see the behaviour in situ and work with Leigh at changing the behaviour and that using something like a basket muzzle in public until this is sorted would be sensible...

But could we discuss the question - can just having one season ever change a previously happy friendly dog into a snappy, barky reactive one?

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Fancy Feet

I need some boots for my Rhodesian Ridgeback. My ridgeback has arthritis and needs boots to help with his special awareness and general mobility. He is also always slipping on my laminate flooring and I need some that will allow him to grip!

Can anybody recommend any that would be suitable?

Thanks for your help.

Gail, Shropshire

Monday, 28 April 2014

Bright Eyes

I am looking for a solution to treat dog cataracts. Can you recommend any eye drops which would be suitable?

I know there are many on the market, and I have heard of Ethos Bright Eyes, but I am unsure how effective they are as a treatment. I am sceptical of reviews online, as the drops could be an expensive con.

Thanks for your help. 

Jenny, via email 

At a loss

Since losing my 13-year-old Italian Spinone before Christmas, my 7-year-old Airedale has become manic (well, more than usual!). Having always had a senior companion, the rise to becoming top dog in the house has gone to his head. He barks at everything, especially in the car. He seems to think he has to protect me and vehicle from everything he sees!

We live in a rural area but I take him into town where he meets other dogs and our friends visit with their dogs. The problem is that he loves them to death.  He won't leave their side, and is always licking and pushing them to make them play or respond.  

He is still reasonably obedient, except when these situations arise. I keep reminding him of his basic training commands but these go out the window when he's with his friends.

Could I neuter him at this late stage and would it make a difference? Or would a new companion help his behaviour? We had hoped to be a one dog household, but I am willing to try anything to change his behaviour!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Easter treats dogs should avoid

What foods should I ensure my dog doesn’t get his paws on this Easter?

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


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.

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 Hot Cross Buns. 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, 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.

British Veterinary Association president, Robin Hargreaves, advises... 

Every year vets treat thousands of cases of chocolate poisoning in pets and sadly the poisoning is sometimes fatal. The majority of the cases we see are accidental chocolate consumption. Dogs have a keen sense of smell and can easily hunt down hidden Easter eggs.

Owners should try to store chocolates well out of reach of their animals to avoid an emergency trip to the vet at Easter.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested chocolate don’t delay in contacting your vet. The quicker we can offer advice and treatment the better. Vets will want to know how much chocolate your dog has eaten and what type.

Make sure you know how to contact your vet out of hours and over the bank holiday weekend when opening hours may be different.

The effects of chocolate poisoning in dogs usually appear within 12 hours and can last up to three days. First signs can include excessive thirst, vomiting, diarrhoea and restlessness. These symptoms can then develop into hyperactivity, tremors, abnormal heart rate, hyperthermia and rapid breathing. In severe cases dogs show fits and heartbeat irregularities and some cases can result in coma or death.  

The Animal Welfare Foundation provides information on a range of household items that may be poisonous to pet animals in its leaflet ‘Pets and Poisons’ which can be downloaded from