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Thursday, 30 January 2014

The six dog rule

Can anyone help me? My neighbour recently complained to the council because I have 7 dogs living with me. She said that the dogs are too noisy, but they are actually really well behaved. I have now been told I need to apply for planning permission from the council to change the use of my house to 'commercial use' because there are more than 6 dogs here. The dogs are my pets, and I'm not running a business!

Has this ever happened to anyone else? I'd never heard of it before and I want to know more! 

Anon, via email 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Splitting hairs

My non-shedding fluffball gets the occasional mat in the usual places - back end, tummy, armpits, ears. What's the best way to remove?

Combing them out is time-consuming and pulls on the hair, even if I hold the mat. Someone mentioned a mat splitter to me. I googled it and it looked like a torture device. How do you use it safely?

Any other ideas on mat removal, please?

Georgina Kay, by email

Ditch the itch


I would be pleased to have your opinion with regards to my cross Cairn approx. 9.1/2 years old. She was found on a very busy motoway here in Spain and we have had her now for 8 years. Obviously we do not know how she faired prior to this.

She suffers from itchy skin, but only in the summer when it is very hot here. she can get quite a few sores, loss of hair etc. The vet prescribes Atopica 50 mg. this we give her in the beginning for the hot weather, and she has Omega 3 all year round. Usually around July she has to have a cortisone injection which last approx. 6 weeks when the itching will start again, through the last 4 months of the year she will probably have 3 cortisone injections, which we know is not very good for her, but it makes her more comfortable.

It is very frustrating that we cannot seem to do much to help her. I have tried all the itching sprays without a lot of success.

I would like to here your views. She only has fresh turkey, mixed with Royal Canin Dermocomfort meal. daily with a few treats in between which cannot be the cause of her itching as she only itches during hot weather.

I look forward to your comments.


Carole Hall, by email

Rumbling tum


Can anyone put a light on the reason my 12yr old golden retriever gets a rumbling tummy after she has eaten her main meal, usually trip or fresh minced chicken. She has this meal about 2.30 and the rumbles go on into the night. She has live yoghurt at breakfast time as well as a little porridge then a few biscuits at bed time. Other than this she seems very healthy.


Jackie Nicholas, by email

Walk on the wild side

Having read about the wild boar in a recent issue of Dogs Today, are there other species that my dog might be affecting/bothering, without me realising? I know my dog should be on the lead in woodland in the spring, to protect ground-nesting birds, but are there other things I should be aware of?

Joy Shepherd, by email

Scott Passmore, volunteer wildlife conservationist ( advises…

As a dog lover, having rescued many dogs, of different shapes, sizes and ages, over the last 10 years, I believe dogs should be welcomed on any land/reserve/park where they will not be a cause of harm to wildlife or a hazard to other people.

It is also my belief that dog owners are responsible for their dogs’ behaviour and their safety and welfare, not the dog.
By taking a few small, but vital, points into consideration we can all enjoy the great outdoors at no expense to any flora, fauna or our pets.

Firstly, the Natural England Countryside Code says:

“When you take your dog into the outdoors, always ensure it does not disturb wildlife, farm animals, horses or other people by keeping it under effective control. This means that you:

·       keep your dog on a lead, or
·       keep it in sight at all times, be aware of what it’s doing and be confident it will return to you promptly on command
·       ensure it does not stray off the path or area where you have a right of access”

In some cases, intentionally or recklessly disturbing wildlife can be a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

At different times of the year dogs can become a challenge for many species of wildlife which are already in serious decline:

·       During the bird breeding season (April – July approx) dogs may cause birds, especially ground nesting, to leave and reject the nest, thus resulting in eggs not hatching and/or any born chicks dying
·       Some dogs are also known to attack birds they find in the undergrowth
·       Small mammals are at threat from dogs chasing, or thinking they are a toy
·       Any dogs disturbing wildlife may inadvertently chase the wildlife from the safety of their habitats; sadly this may mean into roads/paths of cars and/or separate mother from their young
·       Stressed wildlife can, and often does, die of shock. A worried animal may also retaliate and attack dogs, causing injury and an expensive vet bill.
·       Dog running uncontrollably in flora can cause extensive damage, maybe even destroy plants which provide habitat or food for animals

As well as looking out for wildlife we must not forget the natural hazards to our dogs:

·       Mammals like wild boar/badgers/fox will protect their young or defend themselves if threatened. The general rule if chased by a mammal is to let your dog go, as they can run away quicker without you on the end of a lead.
·       There are many toxic plants which if eaten by a dog can be fatal eg. ragwort, nightshades
·       Bites from poisonous species, like Adders, can be fatal to dogs, and if not treated fast can even make a human very ill., although human fatalities are very rare. Adders come out of hibernation when the temps rise, they have been unusually seen on really hot days in Dec and Jan, but usually they get active Mar/Apr and go back down in Oct/Nov time.
·       Other hazards for dogs in the countryside include being shot by farmers for worrying livestock grazing
·       Getting tangled on barbed wire and electric fences.

All the above can be reduced to a minimum and in return maximum enjoyment of our countryside gained for everyone just by keeping dogs should under close control at all times. Some tips for letting wildlife know you are coming include:

·       Talking loudly to your dog on walks, yes it really works J
·       Falconry style bells on collars, lightweight but effective

A few seconds advance warning for wildlife could be the difference between life and death for an animal, and a pleasant walk with no huge vet bill from injuries sustained to a dog unnecessarily.

Last but not least if your dog fouls anywhere in public please pick it up. It is a hazard to other walkers, unpleasant and can carry disease. Remember that school parties or people in wheelchairs, for example, may also use the area and disease can easily spread from wheelchair wheels to hands, or kids shoes to hands and onto food/into mouths.
Some Forestry Commission Districts do recommend on land they manage that you flick it in to the undergrowth, but ask that you never leave it in the open, or hang a dog bag on a tree for birds to become tangled in.

Leave the area how you wish to find it; let’s ensure wildlife is there for all in generations to come.

Dog-friendly holidays

I was wondering if you could help me? I remember seeing a post in October asking for suggestions for dog friendly holidays.

I am looking for somewhere in Anglesey or North Wales that will take 4 dogs, 3 of which are sight hounds. 

Many thanks,


Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Out of control

I have a huge problem and am having great difficulty in finding someone to help me resolve this. Whilst out walking my two GSDs in Windsor Great Park in December 2012 I was knocked over by a dog running out of control.

Windsor Great Park rules (posted at every entrance) clearly states that DOGS MUST BE KEPT UNDER STRICT CONTROL OR ON LEADS. This dog clearly wasn't and was completely ignoring its owner who was yelling at it to come back.

As a result I suffered a severe knee injury which resulted in hospitalisation and two operations, and 10 months off work, leaving me massively in debt.

The owner is insured and does have public liability but the insurers are refusing to pay for my claim as they have said the dog is friendly and skidded on wet grass!  My solicitor still believes I have an excellent case but is unable to take this forward on a no win no fee basis.
I am desperate! Please can anyone help me?

Karen, via email 

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Scaredy dog


I am hoping that people might be able to offer some advice to help our gorgeous two-year-old Labradoodle, Bella!

We rescued Bella at the age of three months. She had spent the first three months shut in a cage in a barn so she had had no socialisation and was scared of everything! We have worked hard with her - it took ages to housetrain her (she thought you used a crate!) and she is still not reliable. She is still very scared of going out and getting her out of the gate and along the road is pretty difficult. However, I feel she has made some progress. But she is terrified of fireworks and when people come to the door, she seems so agitated/ fearful that she attacks our other dogs ( we have two Italian Spinones and a PBGV). She seems to find it hard to relax and is on constant "alert".

She enjoys training and can sit, go down and is doing well with stay. She is a sweet, affectionate little girl and we love her to bits. We do realise that a lot of her problems stem from fear so we try to help her with rewards, putting her alone briefly if someone is coming and so on, but we would love her to be more confident.

Any thoughts/ ideas would be really appreciated!

Many thanks.

Nicola, by email

Lucky Bella as she has such a lovely, understanding owner now! It sounds like you are working really hard with her. I think you are doing a lot of really good things already, and I would certainly look at ways to stop the difficulties at the door. In situations like this dogs can often find it overwhelming and can redirect this to whoever is nearby, including other dogs. Can you teach her to run to her bed when there is a noise at the door for example? 

This is quite basic training, where you build on the normal ‘go to bed’ by adding on the door noise as a cue for her to run there for a treat, toy or cuddle – whatever she loves the most. You can in fact train all your dogs to run to separate places if you need to!

With regard to fireworks, this can be tough for most dogs and when working with an already fearful dog can be even harder.

I think asking your Vet for referral to a APBC behaviourist ( might be a good move, as you can set up foundations for future success this way.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Force of habit?

Has anyone heard of excessive licking of surfaces (carpet and sofa in Scamp's case) being tied to GI issues?

I read it recently, so am trialling Scamp on four meals instead of two, as he is definitely worse at licking after he eats, something I hadn't put together before.

Wondering if I should have a vet visit, but didn't want to sound stupid. After all this time it might be a habit.

Mina Ward, via Facebook

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Of cats and dogs

I was interested in Sarah Whitehead’s article in your February 2014 edition about names, “no” and nagging. My 14 month old GSD, Max, has always been obsessed with my two cats ever since he joined me as a 10 week old puppy.

The cats will sit provocatively behind railings, and when they are within his reach, Max becomes deaf to my commands and gets into an excited state, whining and trying to reach the cats. For a while I was telling him “no”, “off”, “oi”, “come”, but now the only thing that works is if I blow a whistle or pretend to run away. Food doesn’t work.

I’m wondering what will happen when those strategies fail, and indeed whether I should be saying anything at all. Perhaps I am nagging him, and he’s thinking “blah blah blah”. 

Otherwise Max is calm, obedient, gets normally excited during play and new experiences, when I get him to track scents he goes into a quiet stealthy mode, and he has no separation anxiety while I’m out. I would have thought that Max’s behaviour towards my cats would have become calmer over a year, but it is relentless, and I’m sure it’s because I’m perhaps encouraging this behaviour somehow by trying to stop it.

Here is Max just over a week ago!

Best Wishes

Peter Rafferty, by email

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Is a tattoo a do?

In light of increased dog thefts and not being able to prove ownership by microchip, I have recently considered having my dogs tattooed as well. In the past I have been against tattooing because of dogs having their ears cut off to remove the tattoo but now I am of the mind that it visible and may deter someone stealing.

Is there only one tattoo registry? Is it painful for adult dogs? Is there anywhere else on the body they are routinely tattooed?

Anyone had it done – what are the pros and cons? Sorry there are so many questions, really don’t know much about it!

Wendy Nutland

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Spring Cleaning

Can anybody recommend any tips or products that will remove dirty marks from furniture? The weather is so bad at the moment and my dog has managed to get muddy paw prints over my floors, furniture and even up the curtains! I need some effective products that can restore my mud-ridden household to a clean and tidy state!

Monday, 13 January 2014

Slip hazard

Hi - you covered an article on slippery floors, I think in 2011 or 12 and there were links to various products.

I’ve tried paw wax to no avail but in the article it had a cleaner that coated the floor (laminate) with millions of minuscule beads which enabled the dog to gain grip.

Many thanks,

Freda, by email

In bad odour

My dog peed in one of my boots. My favourite boots. Which now smell of Dettol, which is going to be almost as hard to explain as them smelling of dog wee.

Any suggestions for getting rid of dog pee smells please?

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Sounding out toys

Hi there,

just wondering if you or any of your followers could help me.

I have an eight-year-old Staffie cross who lost her sight to retinal eye disease just over a year ago. She still loves to play but is not so good at playing fetch anymore. She has a Kong, which she loves, but I'm struggling to find her other toys to play with.

She loves squeaky toys so I bought her a Squeaky Kong toy. She destroyed it within 20 minutes (she loved it too much!).

If anyone knows of any durable dog toys that focus on sound rather than sight myself and Kia would be very grateful.

Thanks so much.

Suzy Baines

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Slow motility

I’ve taken on a Jack Russell puppy who was brought into the veterinary practice where I work in late October 2013. She was approximately four to five weeks old, skeletal, with diarrhoea, and looking very close to death. She had been found at the side of the road.

After i/v fluids, prokolin, panacur, food and TLC for a few days, she survived, and has managed to go from strength to strength. However, she does have some problems though as a result of her poor start.

We suspect she has ‘slow motility’. Where a dog would normally pass faeces in one go, Gracie passes numerous small pellets throughout the day and night. It’s also as though she isn't always aware she's doing it.

I was feeding her Pedigree puppy wet and dry, but I'm toying with a more natural/raw diet. She’s currently on boiled chicken with vegetables and some natural yoghurt.

I am trying to find anyone who has been through ‘slow motility’ with their own dog and can offer any advice.

Thanks in advance,

Sally and Gracie, by email

NB: only a qualified vet can give vet advice, but hearing what has worked for dogs in similar situations can really help owners to work out the best solution for their own dog.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Best shot?

How often should I vaccinate my dog? I have done a lot of research on this and advice is conflicting. I want what is best for my dogs, not what’s best for companies, whether they sell pharmaceutical vaccines or nosodes.

Can you provide me with some solid advice?

Mary Elliott, by email

Has parvo gone viral?

Dear Dogs Today,

I am hearing about outbreaks of parvovirus across the country. Should I be worried that parvo is on the increase, is there a new strain, or is it simply that in this age of technology and instant information we are more likely to hear about these things?

If parvo is on the increase, why is this? I vaccinate my five-year-old bitch, but could she still catch it?

I do hope for some accurate advice and look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Mrs Patterson, Exmouth, Devon

Painless pedicure

Does anyone have any tips on how to cut long nails without cutting the quick? My dog is a black Lab and I’m finding this particularly tricky. I don’t want to keep bothering my vet with a task that I’m sure many dog owners find very simple, but neither do I want to injure my dog! 


Christine Stoner, by email

Spot on

My dog is a wriggler and doesn’t like to stay still. She’s due for her flea and tick treatment next week (I asked my vet to help last time!) and I’m worried about spilling some on a part of her fur where she might be able to lick it up. If this does happen, what should I do?

Mike, by email

Chipping lanes

My puppy was microchipped soon after we rescued her. She is now seven months old and I’ve noticed it has migrated from her down to her below her shoulder.
Might this present a medical problem?

And also, if she is ever lost and scanned, will a scanner pick her chip up as it has moved from her neck? Should I have her chipped again?

Charlotte White, by email

Shiny whites

I am after some tips on how to remove tartar from my Lurcher’s teeth. Can you help?

Martin Land, by email

Does it wash?

Can you wash your dog too much? This wonderful weather has meant my two Springers (aka the mud monsters) come back caked in dirt and I’ve been both hosing them down and bathing them on particularly dirty days using dog shampoo.

Thankfully they enjoy bath-time, so its not a struggle, but I’m worrying whether washing them with shampoo several times a week might be damaging their coats or skin?
Anne Owen, by email

Baby teeth

At what age do puppies lose their teeth?
Hayley McCaul, by email

Face to face

My Lurcher has recently started running up to other dogs on our walks and barking in their faces. It is highly embarrassing and not a good behaviour. How can I stop her from doing this?

She does need a certain amount of off-lead running each day, so I don’t want to confine her to lead-only walks forever, but at present I am faced with uncomfortable episodes when another dog appears from behind a tree. It doesn't happen with every dog, but it is happening too often.

Any advice you could give would be very much appreciated.
Maxine Dyer, by email

Night fright

My rescue Staffie, Harley, who featured in Dogs Today (as Domino) last year as needing a home, has started suffering separation anxiety. Strangely he seems to be fine when we go out in the day, it’s when my dad and I go upstairs at night. He's driving my mum nuts. Does anyone have any suggestions to help him with this?

Drinking fountain of youth

I'm raising my first dog, Cocker Spaniel Dora, as naturally as I live my own life. She is fed a raw diet and we avoid chemicals in the products we use.

I give Dora filtered water to drink, but can I give her bottled mineral water? I mentioned it to my mother, and she seemed to think it wasn't good for dogs.

Josie Branning, by email