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Friday, 28 February 2014

Feeding BARF without a freezer

I want to feed my dogs a natural diet but am unable to store raw food so it is not an option.

Can you advise on what options there are for those of us who want to give our dogs a good biologically-appropriate diet but without all the rubbish that’s in some foods?

Kind regards,

Mrs E. George, Wiltshire

Breed advice for allergy sufferers

My family and I are desperate for a dog. I’ve always lived with dogs, and my two boys (11 and 6) would love a dog. We live in a perfect place for a dog - we have a large, secure garden, surrounded by woodland.

My husband also wants a dog - but he is allergic to many things. Cats really set him off and some dogs, so we want to make sure we get the right dog for him. How can we find a hypoallergenic breed? Someone mentioned to me that there’s no such thing! How can we reduce his chances of reacting?

K West, by email

Internet shopping

Is it safe to buy a puppy online?

Dogs Today reader, by email

Rachel Cunningham, Blue Cross public affairs manager, advises…

Although many people now find their new pet online it is important to be vigilant when looking for a pet advertised on the internet. Although all the big animal rescue charities use the internet to advertise their dogs needing homes, and so do many reputable breeders – there are also many unscrupulous breeders and dealers that use classified websites to churn out low cost pups in high volumes.

We treat many sick pups that have been bought after being advertised online. We also take in and rehome all sorts of pets bought on a whim after being spotted whilst browsing the web. Blue Cross and other organisations have been working to improve the standard of online classified pet advertising, but it remains a totally unregulated area. Consumers should only look for a pet on websites that meet the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) minimum standards.

When looking for a new puppy, always do your research; follow all the good advice out there and make an informed and considered choice. Avoid getting swayed by the cute pictures and immediate availability because you may well get a lot more than you bargained for!

Not so easy rider

I’m after some advice for car journeys. My girl is not a particularly good traveller but we are fortunately to live in walking distance to woods so she doesn’t go in the car too often. She is a Cocker Spaniel.

I have tried a dog guard with her in the boot, but she does not like to be separated from the family and whines. I’ve also tried her with a harness that clips into the seatbelt plug so she can be with us, and she does like this better as she can sit next to one of my children, my partner or me, if there is someone else in the car other than the driver, but she does try to take the harness part off and is not happy when it is just me driving and her in the back. Is there something else I can try that will keep her calm and safe on car journeys?

Any advice much appreciated. Thank you.

Sarah Price, by email

Mega hope for Mega-E

Where can I get advice about feeding a dog diagnosed with megaesophagus? I have seen a video on Facebook where a a dog ‘stands’ on his back legs in a sort of three-sided box, flips a tray on a hinge across the front of the box, and the owner places the food bowl on the tray so he can eat comfortably. (

Are these chairs available in the UK or are they home made? I would love to know how owners have trained their dogs to eat in this way.

Home cooked meal


Is there anyone who cooks daily for their dog(s) that can either recommend a good nutritional recipe book to buy, or advise what to add as a minimum to a dog's daily diet should I prepare her food myself?

Would it be beneficial to your readers to run a series of articles advising on how to prepare and what to cook your own dogs daily food. Or maybe for you guys to publish a book, I am sure it would be a great seller at present.

Thank you,

Dianne Evans, by email

Let's be friends

Hello there, I'm after some advice please.

I have a six-month-old Golden Retriever and a four-year-old Chihuahua- Jack Russell cross. But I just can't seem to get them to get a long.

My retriever just wants to play but my other dog is just not interested and gets snappy with her. It even appears that it's bringing out a sign of aggression of my retriever, as they got in an argument over a plastic duck yesterday and ended to fighting. My retriever didn't mark my other dog but she bit my retriever’s ear and made it bleed.

Tessa (my retriever) has started to get funny about possessions of hers and even growls at me if I try and take something away from her that's not hers. Any advice would be much appreciated!

I have an 18 month old boy so want to have an aggressive dog around him. This only happens at home. If we are walking together there's no sign of aggression whatsoever.

Many thanks,

Kathleen, Cambridge

It sounds like there are a few issues here so I will try to unpick them a little.

Older dogs often do not want to play with a puppy. I like to give them a bit of time apart so the older dog can settle down rather than have to try to discipline a younger dog who really needs to learn a few manners. If the older dog is smaller than the pup, this can create other issues since the smaller dog cannot easily prevent the puppy from doing things and this might explain why she bit the retriever’s ear. Definitely give your older dog some space and time to herself and encourage your puppy to play and learn from other older dogs elsewhere, which will help.

It also sounds like there are issues to do with possessiveness and this is something I would consult a professional about, without delay. You can find an APBC member near you on - this is particularly important as you have a young child, who is probably not likely to notice any warning signals, as kids simply don’t spot these things. A registered behaviourist will be able to advise you on the signals to look out for, the possible risks and other ways to manage and prevent this behaviour long before it escalates.

Help my collie get back on track

I've been reading Dogs Today for a few years now but this is the first time I've asked for advice. My Border Collie has suffered an injury to his back. My vet thinks its a trapped nerve or a slipped disk and as given him anti-inflammatory (rimifin) tablets with six-weeks rest. If that doesn't work its not looking good as he's 12 years old.

Has anybody tried anything along the lines of hydrotherapy, Tellington touch or reflexology in cases like this, or could recommend anything to get him more mobile?

Any advice would be much appreciated

Ray Thrush, by email

My advice is to find a vet who practises acupuncture – check the website for details of vets in your area. Acupuncture has a good success rate in relieving pain and discomfort in all spinal conditions, and can often slow or stop deterioration of disc (and other spinal) problems.

Hydrotherapy and manipulative therapies such as osteopathy and chiropractic should be considered with great caution, as there is the possibility of aggravating the condition, and a definite diagnosis of exactly what is causing the symptoms would be necessary before any such therapy could be advised.

Massage therapies such as the Bowen technique and Tellington T touch may have some beneficial effect, as might reflexology, but none of these are likely to give the same level of improvement as acupuncture.

Natural herbal anti inflammatories such as Turmeric, Devil’s claw and Yarrow complex would be helpful and could well be effective enough to replace the pharmaceutical drugs your vet has dispensed, which often cause adverse effects in dogs, especially if given long term.

I’m sure there are natural treatments that will help your Border Collie – in my view 12 years is not old – it should be the prime of life!

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Bad Breath

I have a four year-old pug who has always had bad breath. I have noticed his teeth have a lot of plaque on them, especially the ones at the back. I don't want him to have dental problems later on in life, and I have tried brushing his teeth and using Lintbells products. He hates having his teeth touched so it's difficult for me to clean them properly, I really need something else to try! 

If anyone has any suggestions for me I would be very grateful! 

Jo, via email 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Cancer treatment questions

A reader has a six year old GSD who had been diagnosed with Lymphoma and the cancer has damaged her upper and lower intestines and thickened the bowel wall and colon. 
She will have to have 19 weeks of weekly chemo and weekly plasma. The vet says she can be 100% cured with the chemo treatment. The dog already has hip and elbow dysplasia, chronic arthritis and a vitamin deficiency. 
1) Has anyone else had a dog who has gone through chemo? 
2) How can the vet be 100% positive that the treatment will work?"
 3) Will the dog suffer much during and after the treatment? 
 4) Would it be as kind to allow the dog to pass away naturally?"

Please help them reach a decision. Have you been through something similar?

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Paws for thought

I have a new puppy who is 11 months old. She is a Bullmastiff-husky cross, but I can only see Bullmastiff in her. This is her third home - my son got her and my partner as fallen in love with her so we have kept her.

I'm not sure of dogs, even though I have grown up with them, because of all the dog attacks you hear on the news. I am giving her a chance, but the most important things in my life are my children and my grandchildren and nephew, who are 9 years old, 14 months, 5 months, and 3 months old, and are around the dog all the time.

I have never met a dog who is so loving towards my family and out of the house. She has never even growled at the wrong time, and when my grandchildren touch her toys she just drops it even if she is playing! I'm falling in love with her as she is so soft and loving towards everyone.

With her breed and her being so big, am I right to let her live around my family? I don't want to keep moving her around to different homes as she really is a brill dog. What do I do?

Name supplied, by email

Karen Wild, behaviourist, advises…

HI there – thanks for writing in as I am sure your question will help many, many parents and dog owners.

There are some risk factors that have been identified regarding this.

I am taking my quote from a fantastic article by David Ryan, who is a very experienced and well-regarded dog behaviourist and expert witness, but who is also, I am sure he will not mind me saying, a family man:

“Fatal dog attacks are thankfully rare in the UK, as they are in the rest of the world when looked at in the pro rata of population, but of course even one is one sad case too many. Even sadder is that there is a degree of predictability that makes fatal dog attacks preventable in many cases.

“A recently published review of statistics from fatal dog attacks in the United States shows factors that play a large part in many fatal attacks: Co-occurrence of potentially preventable factors in 256 dog bite–related fatalities in the United States (2000–2009) by Gary J. Patronek, VMD, PhD; Jeffrey J. Sacks, MD, MPH; Karen M. Delise; Donald V. Cleary, BA; Amy R. Marder, VMD published in the Journal of  the American  Veterinary  Medical  Association; 243:1726–1736; December 2013.

“An American study is useful because the factors are likely to be universal, and there are many more fatal attacks in the USA simply because there are both more people and more dogs. If we can predict these factors, through grouping them, we can also avoid them.

“So, what are they? Well, they will not be a surprise to anyone who deals with aggression in dogs. In order of predictability they are:

The absence of an able-bodied person to intervene (87.1%)

Incidental or no familiar relationship of victims with dogs (85.2%),

Un-neutered dogs (84.4%),

The weight range of most dogs was 23 to 45 kg (approx 50 to 100 lb) (79.3%)

Compromised ability of victims to interact appropriately with dogs (77.4%)

Dogs were kept isolated from regular positive human interactions (76.2%)

Nearly three-quarters of the deaths occurred on the owner’s property (74.2%)

Nearly half of victims were < 5 years of age (45.3%)

Four or more factors co-occurred in 80.5% deaths.”

I advise every parent to read David’s full article here:

In addition I think it is worth making sure that you are well-read on dog stress signals. This is not always immediately obvious but dogs can become a little perturbed at certain things, and humans do not notice. Every time a dog tries to move away, turns his head away, rolls his eyes, even licks his lips, every parent must immediately check the context around which this is happening. There are more signals and details – perhaps this is a good subject for my next article in Dogs Today.

In the meantime I would always advise every parent that ‘supervision’ is not a strong enough word around children and dogs. We must only let them be together when we are able to ‘coach’ them in these same signals – the dog is not comfortable with that. I know you think it is loving to hug the dog but he doesn’t think so – dogs think hugging is scary.

In my opinion the real problems vary hugely but good management and understanding counts for a lot more. Think of risks and how to control them – that is a very positive approach.

The Blue Dog project is an absolutely brilliant resource for parents:

Please share far and wide and never, never ignore the small signals. Ask a qualified behaviourist from the APBC to help you (I am also a member) as we are professionals in these matters and there to help family dogs with not only problems but also, prevention.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Keeping glossy

Dear DT readers

What natural remedies or supplements do you use to keep your dog's coat looking healthy and shiny? Can you suggest any products that you particularly like?

Monday, 10 February 2014

Mac for life

Hello Dogs Today team,

I’m after suggestions from other doggie people! Although its still the wettest the weather has ever been, I’ve found the air is quite warm and I’m getting hot on walks. I’m now on the hunt for a lightweight waterproof coat that can cope with dog walks across sodden ground, but doesn’t leave me sweating like mad.

Can any of your readers recommend their favourite macs?

Thank you very much.

Sue Butcher, by email

Monday, 3 February 2014

Catch off guard


I would really appreciate any advice you could give on my Patterdale Terrier.

His name is Gizmo, he's four years old. We got him as a rescue dog and we are his fourth owners. Before we got him we have heard he was owned by drug/alcohol addicts and has been beaten. Gizmo is scared of everything from wheels, walking sticks, people, noises etc.

He has always guarded his possessions but lately this seems to have increased, he guards anything he likes the look of; is there a way I can stop him from doing this? The other and worst thing he does, is biting people, mainly my mum who he has bitten around 5 times, however this is usually when my mum has been drinking alcohol, I was wondering if it stems from his old owners getting drunk and beating him? Gizmo was 10 months old when we got him and at first he seemed to improve but now seems to be getting naughty again, he only really listens to me and that's only 90% of the time.

I've tried writing a list of 'Gizmo' rules for my mum to follow to help Gizmo understand that she is also a pack leader along with me, ie. not to feed him off her plate or not to let Gizmo on her bed.

The reason I am so desperate for advice is because my mum says she has had enough and that she is going to take Gizmo to be put to sleep this week, I really can't bear this happening as I love him so much and I think he's a good dog he just needs the right guidance.
I know I could get a dog behaviourist but they are so expensive and I'm on minimum wage, plus as Gizmo doesn't do the bad behaviours constantly it would be hard to show the trainer the behaviours.

Please help, any advice greatly appreciated.

Many thanks,

Hayley, by email