Friday, 19 December 2008

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Credit Crunch - Times Are Hard & Money is Tight - BUT The Vet Bills Keep Rolling In !!!

Firstly an apology!

I am sorry that I haven't written an entry since the beginning of November.
I like to write something of use or of interest at least once a week.

Well, I make a small living from selling used (and some new) stuff. Collectibles, Books, DVDs, CDs, etc. I do this mostly on eBay, eBid, and Amazon Marketplace. You can see from the right hand side of my blog that I promote my efforts! (And why not - you have to let people know what you do!)
This is all good recycling - first you re-use, then keep re-using until you HAVE to recycle. Much better than sticking it in a hole in the ground!

Times are hard and we are all being careful what we do with our money. My sales have dropped off, so I've had to focus hard on making a living. All my time and effort has been spent on doing just that!

End of apology and explanation!

The Vet Bills

Dogs get sick and have to see the vet - and the large bills have to be paid there and then.
Vets consulting fees can be expensive and so can the medication!

I am spending around £125 each month on prescription medicines and joint supplements for my lass Olive. She's over 12 and has arthritis and an enlarged heart. I also take her to the vet regularly for a check - another £30 or so.

This month she developed a deep ear infection, that was another £50.
Her ears were very clean in the upper parts, but there was a build up deep inside (where you can't see or access).
The vet said that this was unusual.
Olive was prescribed anti-biotics (a 5 day course of Noroclav tablets), plus Surolan drops (a steroid). I also had to clean her ears with Epi-optic ear cleaner.

The poor lass really squealed when I used the epi-optic. I think that it is a bit harsh.
Fortunately the treatment has worked.

Usually you know when a dog has an ear problem.
They will shake there heads a lot in an effort to dislodge stuff.
You will also see them hanging there head to one side.
Also the infected ear(s) may be held at an unusual angle.
Your dog might want its ears rubbed more than is normal.

I didn't see any of this until the day before I took Olive to the vet! Usually you will see signs of possible ear infection earlier.

I regularly clean the upper parts of my dogs ears. I do this with a large piece of cotton wool (NOT a cotton bud) which I wet (not soak) with warm water. Just gently wipe the easily accessible areas inside the upper ear.
If there is a lot of discharge this could mean the start of a problem.
Please NEVER put anything deep inside your dog's ears - this includes cotton buds! You can do serious damage to a delicate organ.
As my doctor once joked - never put anything larger than your elbow inside your ear!

So back to vet bills!

You can do one of three things - take out pet insurance, put money to one side, or pay as required (not good if the bills run into thousands)
Olive isn't insured, and I don't begrudge the girl anything. I've even sold some of my precious book collection to pay for her treatment.
When Spot, our old much-loved male greyhound, developed a spinal problem we spent over £3,000 in one month trying to save him. We would have remortgaged the house if we had to.

You can ask your vet for a prescription and buy the medication somewhere cheaper. VetUK is a good on-line site. It is run by a vet.
BUT I think that vets can now charge £15 for the prescription, so there may be no saving.

If you take out pet insurance do shop around and read the small print. You want a life-time policy, not one that stops paying out after a certain time.
I think that I will make another post about this topic soon.

That's all for now!

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Dogs and Fireworks - One of our dogs shook with fear.

More on dogs and fireworks. See my post of Sunday October 5th on the subject.

There were fireworks going off very close to our house last night. Olive was fine, but poor Boris was terrified. He curled up in his bed and SHOOK with fear.
I gave him Bach Rescue Remedy, which helped him. He stopped shaking and his heart thumped less. We also had the TV on quite loud to drown out the noise.
He refused to eat until very late (well after the fireworks had finished).

You can help your dog with Firework phobia and other loud noise fears.
This can be done with desensitisation and management methods.
Suggestions:
  • Desensitisation. CDs are available which help to deal with the your dog's fears. You can buy them from suppliers like http://www.soundsscary.com/. They are available for fireworks, thunder, and gunshots. The CDs come with instructions - it is a gradual method of increasing noise level. It is important that your dog doesn't show signs of fear during use.
  • DAP -dog appeasment pheromone. This is a plug-in diffuser - it has a calming effect.
  • Make a safe place for your dog
  • Close windows doors, curtains. Play music.
  • Do NOT reward your dog - No treats, reassurance, or petting! You ignore the noises, as if it were nothing.
  • Distraction. Play with your dog. It can also help if there is a non-fearful companion animal with them.
  • I find that Bach Rescue Remedy helps
  • Other Herbal Remedies like Valerian (liquid or tablets) and Skullcap can help. Consult your vet if your dog is on medication.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Crufts - Pedigree Pull Out Of Their Sponsorship Deal !

The fallout from the Pedigree Dogs Exposed program continues !!!

Well-respected organisations like the RSPCA and Dogs Trust have already severed links with the Crufts Dog Show. Last month they announced that they were withdrawing from the dog show. It now seems that other exhibitors may also quit.

Crufts main sponsor, Pedigree Pet Foods, have withdrawn their estimated £1.5 million deal. Pedigree have been associated with Cruft's for the past 44 years.

Some dog experts are now concerned for the show's long-term future. However, the Kennel Club have said that next year's dog show will go ahead as normal.

But will the BBC , who cover the show over it's four days, be there???

On a positive note, the Kennel Club and the Dogs Trust are to review breeding standards for over 200 dog breeds.
The first breeds to be reviewed will be : Basset Hound, BloodHound, Bulldog, Clumber Spaniel, German Shepherd, Mastiff, Pekingese, and St. Bernard.

Cruft's has been running since 1891. But will it continue without major change?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

A Look At Lurchers and Greyhounds

Gaze hounds, sight hounds, long dogs - whatever you want to call them - Greyhounds and Lurchers make wonderful family dogs.
At this point I must admit to being owned by two greyhounds, Olive and Boris, who are looking over my shoulder as I write - this is to make sure that I say plenty of nice things about them!
Whilst greyhounds are a well-recognised breed, a Lurcher is a crossbreed, traditionally a cross between a collie (for intelligence) and a greyhound (for speed). This, along with the varied coat (good for camouflague) , made the lurcher the ideal poacher's dog!
Nowadays a Lurcher is a cross between a sight hound and another dog, so that you can have a Saluki cross (loveable lunatics!), Whippet cross, Wolfhound cross, Borzoi cross, etc.
Lurchers come in all sizes and with a variety of coat types and colours.
If you breed two lurchers their litter of puppies can have a variety of coats and colours. It is hard to predict exactly what the progeny are going to look like.

Sight hounds are so-called because they hunt by sight rather than by scent. They have excellent eyesight and will often stare excitedly into the distance because they can see a rabbit from a mile away!

It is a common misconception that greyhounds need lots of exercise and are fierce because they wear muzzles when racing. NOT SO! They are sprinters , not marathon runners. After a good run they like nothing better than a good long sleep on your couch to get over it.
The muzzles are worn during a race in case of doggy disagreements ("turning the head"), and to protect the mechanical "hare".

Greyhounds are normally very good with children. Both of mine have been in schools for talks, and have been impeccably behaved. They should be called "GreyThounds".
Both greyhounds and lurchers love their fuss and you will often get the famous 'lurcher lean' where they put all their weight against your legs!

Sadly, both breeds can be exploited and mis-treated.

Lurchers are used for coursing and hunting - I've heard of bets up to £30,000 being placed on the outcome of a contest.
Significant numbers of Luchers come into rescue. They are often in poor condition with skin problems, sometimes mange. Quite a few will have been treated with Jeyes Fluid or oil! This doesn't cure anything - but it does burn the coat and skin.

Greyhounds start racing at 15 months and are usually finished by 4 years - sooner if injured or not good enough - and face a very uncertain future.
Thousands are destroyed every year because they no longer race and there is nowhere for them to go. The lucky dogs end up in rescue centres and find the loving homes that they deserve. Others may go to Spain or Thailand for a racing life and can sometimes endure horrible deaths if the owners no longer have any use for them.

Organisations like the Retired Greyhounds Trust (UK) and Greyhounds In Need (who do a lot of work in Spain) are doing a wonderful job. They are charities which rely on volunteers and donations from the general public.
There are also decent owners and trainers who will ensure that greyhounds who can no longer race are found a good home.
But the problem is huge!!!

Give a Gazehound a Good Home!

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Why Do Dogs Eat Grass - Why Does My Dog Eat Grass

While I was out walking my dogs Olive, my female greyhound, stopped to eat grass. She is very selective and usually seeks out goose grass - a very coarse grass with sticky seed cases. ( Not much of that about at this time of year, so she ate flat coarse grass)
I'm wondering if it helps clear her insides.
Wild geese eat very coarse grass before migrating. This is to clear themselves of any worms that they may have. (Research shows that geese have no or few worms after migration flights).
My girl doesn't have worms, so it may be some other reason.

So why do dogs eat grass?

Most dogs eat grass, and there are several possible reasons :

  • Your dog may be feeling unwell.
  • There may be something missing from their regular diet.
  • Grass may be a normal part of their diet. Wild carnivorous animals eat the intestines of their prey, and so ingest any grass and plant material that is present. Dogs are carnivores.
  • They might just like it! Some dogs search for particular types of grass. (That's what my girl does; in her case, goose grass)
  • Dogs are scavengers. If you are hungry you have to eat!

Do dogs eat grass because they have upset stomachs, or do their stomachs get upset because they have eaten grass?

Maybe there's something in grass that makes them throw up.The stomach will respond to what dogs eat.

Healthy dogs can eat grass without being sick. They usually chew it well first.

Dogs who are unwell don't chew grass carefully. They just swallow it. This may make them sick, and so clears their stomachs. If a dog finds that something works, it will do it again!

Be Careful What Grass Your Dog Is Eating

The grass may have been treated with chemicals. It usually states on the label if they are dangerous to pets. Keep dogs away from treated grass. The chemicals will usually break down fairly quickly, but they can be dangerous if your dog eats them while they're fresh.

On a final note, if your dog often eats grass to be sick there may be something wrong - so see your vet.

If your dog is in good health and regularly eats grass, then try adding some roughage like bran to the food bowl. (A couple of teaspoons will do).

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Dogs and Fireworks Don't Mix! What to Do to Help Your Frightened Dog

Dogs and fireworks should be on different planets!

The majority of dogs are frightened, and some are absolutely terrified by fireworks.
Dogs hearing is much more sensitive than ours, so the problem is magnified.

Fireworks can be heard at Christmas , New Year, Diwali, private parties, etc. as well as on Guy Fawkes Night. November 5th is creeping up on us, so start preparing NOW to help your dog with its fear.

So what can we do?

  • Make a secure, safe place for your dog. This can be done by placing his bed behind a sofa. Being in a quiet, dark corner with familiar things is very comforting to a dog.
  • Make sure he cannot escape from the house. Be vigilant and careful with doors. Dogs think that the explosions are inside the house and will want to get outside to escape them! Keep his collar on with home details attached, just in case!
  • Don't be tempted to 'comfort' your dog. This can make things worse. You ignoring the noises will give reassurance.
  • Close windows and curtains to reduce noise levels, and to hide flashes.
  • Have the TV or radio on. Research by Dogs Trust has shown that Classical music can have a calming effect.
  • Feed your dog and take him outside to empty himself BEFORE the fireworks start. Don't let him out on his own, just in case he tries to escape.
  • Don't worry if your dog refuses food.
  • Play with your dog - this is a good distraction.
  • I've used Bach Rescue Remedy on my dogs with some success. Give just before the noise starts! Repeat as per instructions on the bottle.
  • DAP - dog appeasement pheromone - can help. It calms anxious dogs.
  • In very severe cases of fear, it could be worthwhile to consult your vet or a dog behavourist.
  • look out for signs of stress (see list below)

Look out for Signs of Stress

The following are all symptoms of distress

  • trembling or shaking
  • restlessness or pacing
  • panting
  • whining
  • barking
  • hiding
  • destructiveness
  • attention seeking
  • trying to escape
  • messing or urinating in the house
  • refusing food

Please DO NOT take your dog to a fireworks display. This will NOT cure his fear, it will only make matters worse!

I love firework displays, but my dogs come first.

Boris the lad is frightened and curls up into a ball in his bed. He looks tiny and he is a big greyhound! He also refuses food. Boris knows well before we do when the fireworks are going to start. I always watch him closely, so I have early warning!

Olive the girl is very laid back. She stretches out on the couch and goes off to sleep!

Good luck with your dog!

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Most Popular Dog Names - Top 10 Favouites in UK , and in America

Choosing a name for a dog

This is great fun but can cause endless arguments! Everyone has their personal favourites and likes and dislikes.

A good approach is to think about your dog and its characteristics.

Here is an example. We had a very active young border collie who was constantly turning round to examine new things. 'Spin' was the name we decided on. It suited him and was ideal for a border collie.

Also consider what it will be like to call the name out loud!

If you want use the name of a friend or family member it is a good idea to ask them first - they just might object!

Top Ten Most Popular Dog Names In UK

1. Molly 2. Max 3. Charlie 4. Holly 5. Poppy

6. Ben 7. Alfie 8. Jack 9. Sam 10. Barney

American Favourite Dog Names (from the American Kennel Club)

Girls

1. Lady 2. Belle 3. Princess 4. May 5. Rose

6. Daisy 7. Grace 8. Baby 9. Molly 10. Maggie

Boys

1. Bear 2. Blue 3. Max 4. Duke 5. Buddy

6. Jack 7. Prince 8. King 9. Bailey 10. Rocky

Good luck with choosing a name for your dog!

Friday, 3 October 2008

My Dog Woke Me At 2.30 in the Morning! I Got Up and Here's The Reason Why...

Do Your Dogs Get You Up in the Night?... Mine Do!

So, you are wandering around some surreal Alice in Wonderland landscape, or even having a very pleasant dream! Then something starts to break through! You eventually surface and finally realise it's one of your dogs urgently crying. It is also some unearthly hour of the morning.
Do you ignore it or go back to sleep?
I always get up. My lass is old and it might be serious.

I've got two rescue greyhounds, Boris 6 year old male dog, and Olive 12+ year old female dog.
They stand at the bottom of the stairs and cry with increasing urgency, until I come down.
These are the various reasons why one or both dogs drag me out of bed!

Olive :
  • I need to go out.
  • I know I got you up not long ago, but I need to go out again!
  • I want a biscuit
  • I need my ears rubbed
  • Can you see me back onto the couch and give me a fuss
  • I'm a poor old girl

Boris :

  • I need to go out
  • I want a fuss
  • Can you make my bed comfortable
  • There's something in the garden
  • I need reassurance

Both Dogs :

  • We want to go out
  • There's something in the garden and we have to gallantly defend our family, our house, and our territory!

Should We Get Up or Ignore Dogs?

Once you start you can have an increasing problem. So ignoring may be the better option.

Giving a biscuit (as I do!) is rewarding unwanted behaviour.

But Olive is an old dog and I don't know how much longer we will have her. 12 years is average for a greyhound, and she's on a lot of medication now. She also drinks quite a bit and so needs to go out more frequently.

She's a very gentle old lady and we love her to bits. She gets what she wants now!

As far as Boris is concerned, its impossible to ignore him when he starts calling!

They are both very clean dogs and would hold themselves as long as they could. They would both be upset if they messed in the house. It isn't kind or fair to not let them out if they need to go out.

You just have to exercise judgement and be careful that you aren't creating a problem!

And then try to get back to sleep!

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Do You Fancy a Career with Animals? Would you like to Work with Dogs? Part 1 : Have You Got What It Takes?... Find Out Here!

So you want a career with animals. Good for you!
But working with dogs (or any other animal) isn't just a nice job - it's a way of life.

Please remember that I am speaking with the voice of hands-on experience!

And this is what it takes :

  • Infinite Patience
  • Compassion and a caring nature
  • Complete commitment
  • 100% Total Dedication
  • A strong sense of responsibility
  • Even more dedication!
  • Physical fitness and stamina
  • Good powers of observation
  • Attention to detail
  • A willingness to learn
  • The humility to realise that you are never going to know everything about animals
  • Good communication skills
  • People skills
  • Courage (mental, physical, and emotional)
  • Being prepared to do unpleasant jobs
  • You may have to make difficult decisions - including life & death ones.
  • Be willing to undergo further education & training

You must also :

  • Know your strengths
  • Even more, know your weaknesses
  • Be mentally, physically and emotionally robust

The welfare of a dog comes before your needs.....If an animal's welfare is compromised you stay until it is sorted - even if you have made plans to go out!

Good observation, even of something apparently insignificant, can mean life or death to a dog!

Most work with dogs is badly paid! You won't get financially rich, but you will become rich in many better ways.

Some things like communication and people skills can be learnt, others like observation and physical fitness can be improved by practice. Other things are down to your personality.

Knowledge comes with experience and training. You may have to take one or more courses and obtain qualifications. Learning is a lifelong activity!

Think long and hard, do some voluntary work with animals. Appropiate work experience can be an eye-opener!

I will give you two real examples of what I mean.

1) On observation. A man brought a stray female dog in just as I was locking up for the night. When I got her out of his car, I noticed a tiny spot of very dark blood on the blanket he had put in for her. I checked with the finder and he said it wasn't there when he put it in. ALARM BELLS! I checked her vagina for discharge by swabbing with some damp cotton wool. The result - a dark blood-like discharge. Potential pyometra. (Serious womb infection). I took her straight to the vet and she underwent a life-saving operation. If I had not noticed or had chosen to ignore the spot of blood, I would have found a dead dog in the kennels in the morning!

2) On dedication. A dog had been locked in a house on its own for 2 days. The owner had been injured and was in hospital. The local people were unable to deal with the problem. I waited at work until gone 6pm for a phone call from the police. Then, with a colleague, drove a 40 mile round trip to collect the dog. Once it was fed and settled, I locked up and then arrived back home just gone 8.30pm. The theatre tickets for that evening went in the bin!

Look out for Part 2, where I will write about the different sorts of work with dogs. I will also discuss qualifications and training.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Our Old Dog has Health Problems - Arthritis, Enlarged Heart and Fluid on the Lungs. This is what we did. The Vet Bills mount up!

Olive, our old female greyhound is over 12 years old now. With age comes health problems, although younger dogs can suffer the same health problems!

She has had arthritis for over 3 years. It is in her hips and in all four legs. She also has it in a small area of her back - this is quite a common problem for longdogs (greyhounds, lurchers, borzois, etc.) Ex-racing greyhounds can have severe problems in paws, legs and spine. These happen because of joint strain and injuries incurred during racing. (A human athlete will tell you the same!)

Dogs with arthitis need close observation and monitoring. Dogs are very good at hiding pain, especially the stoical breeds like Rottweillers.

Some signs to look for are :
  • increased stiffness
  • reluctance to go for a walk
  • excessive licking of joints
  • difficulty in jumping in & out of the car
  • slowness of movement
Changes in your dog's arthritis can be gradual and easily missed. It is only after some time that you realise that they have got worse!

We treated Olive with Devils Claw Root ( a natural anti-imflammatory ) and Cortaflex, a joint supplement. Cortaflex contains Glucosamine Sulphate, MSM and Chondroitin. These are substances which help lubricate the joints and promote healthy cartilage. I successfully used them to treat a lot of arthritic dogs (young and old) at the rescue.

But after a successful 2 years of using these products her arthritis became worse, and a trip to the vet was needed.

There are several drugs that a vet can prescribe for arthritis in dogs. Metacam, Rimadyl, PLT tablets. (PLT= prednoleucotropin).

Olive can't tolerate Metacam, it makes her vomit. She's fine with Rimadyl, but it wasn't effective. So the vet suggested PLTs. This is an older remedy which is an anti-imflammatory plus a small amount of steroid. She has had these for a year and they certainly help her. The vet advised us to have a blood test every 6 months to check the internal organs.

Swimming can help. This is best done in a controlled way in a purpose-built pool.
Olive likes water, but struggles to swim, so I lightly massage her legs and hips. This is NOT manipulation!

If the vet prescibes any of these drugs you cannot give devils claw because your dog will get too much anti-imflammatory. You can still give Cortaflex, but mention it to the vet.

Then a couple of months ago she started to breath harshly and really struggled to walk. Desperately worried, we took her to the vet.
She was checked for a heart murmur and had an ECG. Her breathing was carefully checked too.
Olive was found to have an enlarged heart. One of the 4 chambers of the heart has some enlargement. There was also a build-up of fluid in the lungs.
These problems increased the load on her heart and put her at risk of heart-failure. Hence the harsh breathing and reluctance to walk!
The Vet prescribed two drugs :
1) Fortekor for the heart
2) Frusemide to clear the lungs
Thankfully there was a marked improvement in a couple of days. She is continuing to do well on these drugs.

Olive decides what she wants to do for the day. If she doesn't want a walk she either feigns sleep, or puts out a pleading paw and gives you a sad look! She is very much an afternoon walk dog these days.
All the medication is maintaining her. That is PLTs, Fortekor, Frusemide and the Cortaflex (non-drug). She often dances around the room and I've seen her leap several feet through the air!
Walking her is a matter of judging how far & how slow. And remembering that you have to come back as well. Little and often is better than one big walk.
Boris, our younger greyhound, is very tolerant of Olive and slow short walks. But he also gets a longer fast walk without Olive to keep him fit & happy.

Vet Bills
All these drugs and check-ups cost money of course. We are spending over £100.00 a month on Olive's medication and Cortaflex. We don't begrudge a penny. If it would help my dogs I'd remortgage the house. We can't help but love our dogs can we!

To keep costs down you can ask your vet for a prescription and buy your dog's medication from a reputable supplier. This could save quite a bit of money. Have a look at VetUK's website. It is run by a Vet and you can get non-prescription items like wormers, as well as POM (prescription only medicine), as long as you have prescription.

If you have pet insurance you can claim for vet bills and medication. Choose your pet insurer carefully. Some have a lot of restictions or will put premiums sky-high once your dog gets older.
You also need to check the policy for ongoing problems. Some insurers will continue to pay out for life, others stop paying out after 12 months - no good if you have a dog who needs on-going treatment.
Be aware that once your dog gets to a critical age - often 7 years, but it depends on the breed - you will not be able to start a new pet insurance or change insurers.
Alternatively you could set up a high-interest account and pay in regular amounts.

When our old lad Spot had a spine problem he had MRI scans and surgery with a specialist vet. We spent over £3000 in a month. Neither Spot or Olive are insured. But I have insured Boris with PetPlan. That's a personal choice based on talking to other pet owners and on PetPlan's insurance for life. The best idea, I think, is to shop around. Use a GOOD comparison site, talk to other dog owners, and read the policy carefully!

On a final note good health to all dogs and my best wishes to owners who have sick or frail dogs.

Friday, 12 September 2008

Why Dogs Attack Their Owners! Dogs Dressed Up - This is a Humorous Dog Item!

I was sent these dog pictures -they speak for themselves!


Gremlin Dog!
Biggles Dog!

Pirate Dog
Dogs Gone Bananas!
Dog Vader!
Sir Dog!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Martin Clunes : A Man and His Dogs - A Most Excellent Program

Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this two-part program, A Man and His Dogs. Martin Clunes came across as genuine and enthusiastic. His love of dogs shone through. More please! And repeat it soon!
Martin had the same charm and enthusiasm for his subject that you expect from David Attenborough.

The scenes with the wolves , I thought, were excellent. I would consider myself priviledged to have my face licked by a wolf.

I was really taken with the snow hole scene and the rescue dog finding Martin Clunes so soon. When the dog dug down with such determination - well it justs showed the strength of the relationship between mankind and dogs.

The program explored the nature of dogs and what they are in biological terms. It also looked at the relationship between people and dogs.
There were plenty of AAAH! moments - Scrufts, Martin's own beloved dogs (a labrador and two cocker spaniels), as well as more serious matters like overbreeding (see Pedigree Dogs Exposed).

The scenes of the African Wild Dogs was very instuctive. The scene with the old female trying to join the new group were unsettling, but that is the reality of wild animals.
Also, the wild dogs ignored the humans - again a true wild dog and not a domesticated dog.

A wild animal can be tamed, but not domesticated. It may be tame, but it is still a wild animal.
Domestic animals are biologically different from their wild cousins.

A few thousand years ago ( I need to look the more exact figure up - the same thing happened with cats at another time) there was a genetic change in dogs, and they formed a relationship with humans. They became domestic animals. This was the key moment, and pet dogs came about!

Martin Clunes : A Man and His Dogs was a most enjoyable and truly excellent, informative program. More programs like this please!

An aside - you can go walking with wolves. There is an organisation doing this in the South of England, I think. I will look into it!

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Pedigree Dogs Exposed

Well there has been plenty of comment about the BBC program 'Pedigree Dogs Exposed'. I guess that it will continue for some time, and rightly so.

We had a lot of dogs dumped on us with hereditary problems like hip dysplasia and entropion (ingrowing eyelids). There are also behavioural problems like retrievers who can't and aggressive labradors.

There are responsible breeders , but some who don't care. I knew someone who bought a pedigree German wire-haired pointer as a puppy, and which started to have fits as it grew up. The breeder knew that the sire had fits but still bred from him and didn't warn people! Grossly irresponsible.

Breeding for looks only is not a very good idea. There is a divergence between working dogs and show dogs.
If you look at old pictures of dogs you can see huge changes in some breeds. The bulldog is a good example of bad breeding practice. They used to have longer legs and more open faces and could work. Look at them now!

Here are some examples of what I think is bad breeding to 'standards'.

  • Bulldogs - The body is now a strange shape. Many show dogs cannot mate without human assistance, or give natural birth
  • Boxers - Suffer from life threatening issues such as heart disease, high rate of cancer, brain tumours.
  • Pekingese - Breathing difficulties and overheating
  • Pugs - Breathing problems, slipping patellas (knee joints), entropion (in turning eyelids)
  • GSDs - Severely sloping back: 'half-dog, half frog'
  • Golden Retrievers - High cancer rates, hip dysplasia
  • Cavalier King Charles - Most have heart problems. Nearly a third have skulls too small for their brains - an agonising condition
  • Shar-pei - Suffer from entropian (in-growing eyelids, a painful condition)
  • Dalmatians - Deafness

There are more examples!

If you are interested in letting your views be known or in signing a petition here are some links.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/make-the-kennel-club-change-their-breed-stand

http://www.petitionthem.com/default.asp?sect=detail&pet=4262

Dogs Trust are suggesting you write to:

Lord Rooker, Minister for Sustainable Food and Farming and Animal Health at Defra,
Nobel House
17 Smith Square
London
SW1P 3JR

For interesting and informative comment from good sources try these.

http://www.dogstrust.org.uk/press_office/pressreleases/2008/pedigree.htm

http://www.coldwetnose.blogspot.com/ ( Beverly Cuddy editor of Dogs Today magazine)
http://www.k9magazine.com/
http://www.k9magazine.com/viewarticle.php?sid=15&aid=2294
http://www.terrierman.com/ (click through to the blog)
http://www.dogsworld.co.uk/ (a trade paper - out of fairness)



The Kennel Club has released a statement in defence of pedigree dogs:

The Kennel Club feels that the programme, Pedigree Dogs Exposed (BBC1 19 August) missed a real opportunity to progress the cause of dog health. It appeared to have a very specific agenda repeating prejudices, providing no context for the debate, and failing to put forward constructive proposals. It left viewers with the mistaken impression that all pedigree dogs are riddled with a wide range of health problems and that the dog community is doing little or nothing to improve the situation. This is patently not true.
Whilst the Kennel Club was shocked and saddened by the dramatic imagery used in the programme, and accepts some of the important issues raised. What it does not accept is that these problems apply widely across the 200 plus breeds in the UK. Pedigree Dogs Exposed also failed to show the real progress being made by both the Kennel Club and responsible breeders in improving dog health or to recognise that 90 percent of dogs will not suffer from health problems that have a detrimental impact on the quality of life.
More than that, the programme drew upon a new study on dog genetics by Imperial College to underline its criticisms of dog breeding, without acknowledging the fact this study was entirely enabled by the Kennel Club as part of its commitment to health research. This research will now provide the Kennel Club with a valuable scientific platform to enlist the support of breeders in tackling key health problems where they occur.
Commenting, Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club spokesperson, said: "In reality the gap between some of the views expressed on the programme and those held by both the Kennel Club and most responsible breeders is very small. Over the last 20 years we have been working to develop tests and health screening schemes to identify and eradicate problems, many of which are historic. One example of this is the elimination of canine leucocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD) in Irish Setters, that caused early death in puppies which was eradicated through the concerted efforts of both the Kennel Club and Irish Setter breeders.
"However, it is important to put this into context. The Kennel Club has no legal standing, unlike some similar bodies in other countries. We have to work on these issues through partnership and persuasion – not coercion. The danger of introducing draconian measures is that some breeders could choose to operate outside the Kennel Club’s jurisdiction; with absolutely no controls. That cannot be the best way forward.
"The programme also made some sweeping, and far from accurate assertions. The Kennel Club refutes that it would put ‘looks’ above the health of pedigree dogs, in fact we actively discourage the exaggeration of features in any breed. The standards have been, and will continue to be amended when necessary to ensure the breeding of healthy, well conformed dogs. Dog show judges are also educated to judge to those standards ensuring that dogs with obvious problems that could affect their quality of life do not win, and that the rewards go to fit, healthy dogs. All of this of course is dependent on the responsibility of breeders and owners – and this is where our efforts must be concentrated."
"We can state categorically that the majority of pedigree dogs in the UK are healthy. We increasingly have in place checks to monitor health issues going forward. In those few breeds where there are problems, including those highlighted in the programme, we have been and will continue to work with breeders to improve long term health through the development of tests and screening programmes."
Kennel Club health initiatives include: funding research to identify problems and develop efficient screening for health, such as eye testing and hip scoring; the introduction of the Accredited Breeder Scheme, to act as a ‘kite mark’ for responsible breeders; and most recently the launch of a major campaign which seeks further to promote health improvements across breeds - ‘Fit for function – fit for life’. This, in conjunction with breed clubs, focuses on tackling unnecessary exaggeration in some breeds, whether that is of coat, weight, skin, angulation, eye formation or shortness of muzzle. All dogs should be fit for function, even if that function is to be a pet - all dogs should be able to see, breath and walk freely.
"By their lack of context, programmes such as Pedigree Dogs Exposed, far from helping the situation run the risk of damaging the work already being done. This work will not be carried out by TV production companies – but by the hard work of the Kennel Club and the country’s responsible breeders," said Caroline Kisko.
In summary, health issues are of primary concern to the Kennel Club but changes cannot be made overnight. We are working proactively with breeders to make these changes – but we are dealing with the legacy of 100 years. What we need is the support of experts such as those featured in the programme, not their condemnation – support which we have indeed received from a number of respected bodies such as The Animal Health Trust, The Blue Cross and the British Veterinary Association


Terrierman (an excellent blogger) has already had a good read of the report and here is his summary :

1. The study is based on a 10-breed sample of 2.1 million dogs in the Kennel Club's electronic pedigree data base. The Kennel Club's database contained records of a total of 5.7 million dogs from 207 breeds as of the end of 2006. The Kennel Club's electronic data base was begun in 1970.

2. This is the first systematic attempt to study Kennel Club population structure using The Kennel Club's own pedigree database.
3. The 10 breeds examined were: the Rough Collie, the Golden Retriever, the Boxer, the English Bulldog, the Chow Chow, the Greyhound, the German Shepherd Dog, the Labrador Retriever, the English Springer Spaniel, and the Akita Inu.
4. The researchers note that inbreeding condenses and exacerbates genetic disorders with a population:
"Dog breeds are required to conform to a breed standard, the pursuit of which often involves intensive inbreeding .... This has adverse consequences in terms of loss of genetic variability and high prevalence of recessive genetic disorders. These features make purebred dogs attractive for the study of genetic disorders, but raise concerns about canine welfare."
5. The researchers note that many dog breeds are associated with specific genetic disorders that have been magnified by inbreeding:
"Many diseases affecting dogs have high prevalence in one or a few breeds, such as Addison’s disease, common in Portuguese Water Dogs (Chase et al., 2006), interstitial lung disease in West Highland White terriers (Norris et al., 2005), and dermoid sinus in Ridgeback dogs (Salmon Hillbertz et al., 2007)."
6. The authors found disturbingly high levels of inbreeding within most Kennel Club breeds they looked at:
"We find extremely inbred dogs in each breed except the Greyhound, and estimate an inbreeding effective population size between 40 and 80 for all but two breeds. For all but three breeds, more than 90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations, indicating a dramatic effect of reeding patterns on genetic diversity."
7. The number of generations studied ranged by breed from 5.9 in Greyhounds to 9.0 in the German Shepherds, with an average over the ten breeds of 8.0 generations of dogs analyzed.
8. Popular sires are part of the problem, but not all of the problem.
"Popular sires (defined here as > 100 recorded offspring) are evident in all breeds except Greyhound. Golden Retrievers have the largest proportion of popular sires (10%), and conversely the lowest proportion (5%) of male dogs that are sires. . . . Highly-prolific dams (> 40 offspring) are concentrated in three breeds: German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever. Most dams have just one litter recorded."
9. A closed registry system is the core of the problem.
"Dog registration rules have only been rigidly enforced for about 50 years, prior to that occasional outcrossing was still possible."
10. The Kennel Club needs to change the way it does business.
"We have found that the loss of genetic diversity is very high, with many breeds losing over 90% of singleton variants in just six generations. On the basis of these results, we concur with Leroy et al. (2006) that remedial action to maintain or increase genetic diversity should now be a high priority in the interests of the health of purebred dogs. Possible remedial action includes limits on the use of popular sires, encouragement of matings across national and continental boundaries, and even the relaxation of breed rules to permit controlled outcrossing."

Plenty of food for thought there.

On a final note, I think that banning Crufts won't achieve anything. There is a real need to stop the breeding of dogs which have serious problems. Possibly by having all registered breeders dogs checked by independent Vets and the compulsory neutering of dogs and bitches if there is a serious problem.

Monday, 25 August 2008

That's a Fine mess You've Got Into - Dog Mess That Is! Clean Up Your Act & Scoop The Poop!

Dog mess is unpleasant to step in and nobody wants their young children getting it on themselves.



It doesn't take many irresponsible dog owners to create a noticeable problem and we all get the blame for it.



Local Councils are taking strong measures to deal with the problem of dog faeces :
  • Big fines for dog owners
  • Banning dogs from certain areas like playing fields and children's play areas
  • Insisting that dogs are kept on lead in all public places. This includes fields with a public footpath running through it.
  • Threats of CCTV surveillance

All we have to do is take a supply of bags with us and clean up as we go.


I buy purpose made bags at a local petshop. They are cheap. You can use carrier bags, but be careful of the holes!

I have found it useful to buy 2 types of bag, one is longer than the other and a bit more expensive. The bigger bag is useful for a large output, or if it is sloppy, or in long grass.

I don't use any special tools. All I do is turn the bag inside out, put my hand in it, pick up the mess, pull the handles back over and tie off. Then drop it into the nearest bin. You can legally do this if the bag is securely tied. EASY! No problem. Everyone is happy.

Notice how the black bag comes further up my arm - better for bigger problems!I've picked up the mess at this point

Bag tied off and ready for disposal.

Lost, Stolen or Strayed Update. Useful Internet Links for Lost Dogs

Just an update to my last blog entry on lost dogs. (Monday 18th August)

I forgot to add the power of the internet in trying to find your lost dog!

Useful links in no special order :

There are others of course. Just enter 'lost dogs' into you search engine and take your pick.

Finally, a true story on the usefulness of microchipping your dog.

A stray Jack Russell terrier was brought into the rescue by the local dog warden.

We scanned it and found a microchip. Fortunately, the owners registered details were up-to-date (very important!) and we were able to reunite the dog with the joyful owners.

The little dog had been stolen from the Bristol area the day before and ended up in the East Midlands!

There are 3 lessons to learn from this :

  1. Have your dog chipped
  2. Keep your details up to date
  3. Search nationwide for your lost dog - not just locally. A stolen dog can be moved a long way in a few hours. This is where the internet can be of great help. You can register with a lost dog site and upload details of your dog plus a photograph.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Lost, Stolen, or Strayed - What To Do If Your Dog Goes Missing

Losing your pet dog is upsetting and worrying, but there are practical things that you can do to find your missing dog. All common sense things to do, but, in the panic of the moment, easily forgotten.

If you are on holiday still do this. Your dog won't be familiar with the local territory unless it has been there before.
  • Search the area systematically and call your dog's name loudly!
  • Your dog may find its way either to the car or back home, so phone home and keep checking the car.
  • Ask other people to keep a look out. Give them a contact number.
  • Put up posters with a clear picture of your dog, a description and your dog's name. Add your contact details. Consider offering a reward.
  • Contact the local dog warden. They work for the council.
  • Contact all animal rescues in the area.
  • Contact local vets
  • The local radio station may have a spot for lost animals or may put out an appeal.
  • Try the local police station. The police no longer have a responsibility for strays, but may have had a report. Also, they will know if dog thieves are operating in the area.
  • Go nationwide if necessary. Put an ad in the dog magazines and papers. (e.g. Dogs Today, your Dog, Dog World)
  • Don't give up. Check with everyone at regular intervals. Missing dogs do turn up - even after some time.
  • If your dog has pet insurance, you may get a sum of money to help you recover your dog, e.g. to pay for advertising.

Prevention is better than cure, so I advise doing the following.

  • Make sure your dog is wearing a collar with an identity disc securely attached. This should have your name and address (this is required by law) and a phone number. Keep the details up to date.
  • Have your dog microchipped. If it loses its collar or disc the chip is still there. Dog wardens, vets, and many animal rescues have scanners and will check any stray that comes in.
  • Make sure that the microchip registration details are kept up to date.
  • Don't leave your dog tied up alone outside of shops, etc. They can be stolen in seconds.
  • If you have to leave your dog alone in a vehicle (with windows open enough for ventilation and in the shade!) make sure that it is in public view.

One last thing - dog theft. This is a nasty business which the police are starting to take seriously. Dogs can be stolen because of their value. They can also be kidnapped (dognapped is a term sometimes used) for ransom. The people who do this sort of thing are scum. Threats of mutilation and death are made. I've heard of dog owners paying thousands of pounds to get their much-loved pets back.

Good luck to anyone in this position and don't give up hope. There's a lot of goodwill and help out there.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

Taking Your Dog On Holiday - Pet Passports, Dog Ticks, Dogs In Cars, Pet Friendly Accomodation

Continuing on the holiday theme!

There can be quite a few potential problems when taking your dog on holiday.
- Are you going abroad with your dog?
- Do I need to worry about dog ticks and Lyme's Disease?
- Is your dog car sick or travel sick?
- Where to stay with your pet dog?
- What if my dog falls ill?
- What to do if you have to leave your dog in the car.

Going Abroad with Your Dog - Pet Passports

You will need to plan ahead and allow plenty of time to organise the paperwork, vaccinations, microchip, and rabies blood tests. You also have to arrange to see a vet before you return home.

Refer to my Dogs A-Z blog archive for 23/02/2008 and 10/02/2008

Also I suggest visiting the following links:

- the DEFRA site : http://www.defra.gov.uk/animalh/quarantine/pets/index.htm

- the British Veterinary Association (BVA) :

http://www.bva-awf.org.uk/resources/leaflets/Taking_your_pets_abroad.pdf



Ticks On Dogs and Lyme's Disease

Ticks have to be remove completely and carefully as soon as possible. The bite must then be very thoroughly cleaned.

Lyme's Disease is curable if caught early. If you suspect any problems get help at once - don't wait until you get home.

Please refer to my Dogs A-Z blog archive for 19/03/2008 , 19/07/2008, 10/05/2008

Als0 visit the following links :
http://www.responsiblepetlovers.co.uk/aboutticks.asp
http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/lymedisease1.shtml
http://www.defra.gov.uk/
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-403237/Fears-Lyme-Disease-ticks-flourish.html

Is Your Dog Travel Sick?

- Your vet can prescribe drugs, but they can make your dog very drowsy for much longer than the journey time.

- Get a car sick dog used to the car. Feed it in the back of your vehicle while it is stationary - the dog then associates it with something nice! Take your dog on increasingly longer trips ( stop before it gets sick!)

- Ginger settles the stomach. A ginger biscuit given before the start can be beneficial.

- Take plenty of breaks. Give your dog a short walk.

- Make sure the dog is comfortable (my greyhounds have their quilts to lie on)

- Ensure plenty of ventilation through the vehicle

- Only give a very light meal before departure - or possibly starve.

- Important. If travelling by air speak to your vet and the airline. This is also a good idea if taking a long sea crossing.

See my Dogs A-Z blog archive for 23/02/2008

Where to Stay with Your Dog

Pet friendly accomodation is so important.

- Look out for 'Pets Welcome' or 'Dogs welcome' signs and descriptions.

- There is usually a dog symbol in holiday guides

- Speak to your friends and colleagues

- Ask the locals if your stuck, including the local Tourist Board.

- Always check with the owner that they will accept your dogs

Finding somewhere to eat can be problem.

- Again ask the locals

- Don't be afraid to walk into a pub and ask if dogs are allowed. You can almost always sit outside with them at tables.

What if my dog falls ill on holiday?

- Look on the internet or yellow pages for vets in the area where you are going BEFORE leaving home.

- If your dog is on medication make sure that you have enough.

- Take your vet's phone number in case they need to be consulted.

- Make sure your pet insurance is valid and take the certificate or policy details with you

- Take a doggy first aid kit. You can buy these.

- I suggest that you have the following items: a) claw clippers, b) tick remover c) muzzle (if your dog needs one for vet type things) d) salt to make solution for bathing cuts etc. e) wound powder for small cuts etc. f) blunt ended scissors g) micropore tape h) cotton wool i) kitchen towel j) tweezers

Dogs In Cars

A potentially serious problem! AVOID doing it.

Obviously try to avoid leaving your dog unattended for long periods.

Beware of dog thieves!

Plenty of ventilation - all windows left open by at least 4 inches/ 10 cm. (the width of your hand)

Leave the car roof open - hot air rises!

PARK IN THE SHADE - an absolute must. Temperatures can soar in minutes inside a vehicle - even with ventilation

Offer your dog water to drink at regular intervals

Check often

Take it in turns for somebody to stay with the dogs with the doors open if possible

The hottest time of the day is around 3pm in the UK.

A Final Word On Going On Holiday With Your Dog

Prepare everything in advance.

Take plenty of poo bags

Don't forget your dogs food, bowls, toys, leads, bedding, medication.

Above all Relax and Enjoy!

Saturday, 2 August 2008

We Took the Dogs on Holiday to the Lake District - Our Greyhounds Loved It.

We've recently got back from a great holiday in the Lake District just south of Coniston. The weather was fantastic. It was warm enough to have a swim in the sea! There were very few visitors where we were staying. Our two greyhounds loved it.

The dogs love the car (an estate) and are really good travellers. In fact, greyhounds are good travellers.

We stayed in a cottage on a farm. You can walk straight out onto the fell. Dogs are very welcome.

A lot of the local pubs are dog friendly. We were able to have the dogs with us while we had a meal, as long as no other diner minded them being there. Good local food and beer.
One pub we went to was The Greyhound Inn near Broughton-in-Furness. Dogs welcome (subject to the approval of the resident dogs!). They have a Pharaoh Hound. I can highly recommend this pub. More details at http://www.lakedistrictletsgo.co.uk/greyhoundinn.html

This is Olive our greyhound girl (12 years old) refusing to leave the beach!


There was a strong wind blowing the sand so we had to watch the dogs eyes. If this happen gentle bathing with clean warm water or salt water (a teaspoon per 500ml) will usually clean the eyes.


She also enjoyed the sea! (which was good for her paws - another corn has appeared.)




Olive doesn't do much uphill work now. She has arthritis. So when we went up on the fell we were able to leave her behind in the cottage. Now that is dog friendly accomodation!


Boris, our 6 year old greyhound dog, loves the fell. So did our old boy Spot. We put some of his ashes upon the fellside.


To make for easier walking I use a long lead rein instead of the usual clip lead. It only cost me £2.50. By putting a knot in the end of the rope you have a good hold. We don't let the dogs off lead on the fell because of the sheep that roam free.


The fells are covered with tall bracken at this time of year (July/August). Tick country. So I had to remove a few from Boris. We also had to check ourselves as well as the dogs. This particular place isn't too bad (Woodland Fell), but a couple of miles away we've had a big problem with ticks.


There is normally a visible path through that lot!

Anyway a good time was had by all!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Ticks - Danger in the Undergrowth - A Timely Reminder for You and Your Dog

Summertime - holidays - country walks - hill walking - great fun for you and your dog.... BUT danger lurks in the undergrowth - to you, your children and your dogs.


TICKS - not just one but masses of them!


All you have to do is brush against a fern or a long piece of grass and you have one or more ticks on you! One of my dogs relieved himself and ended up with 8 ticks on him!



Ticks can carry Lyme's Disease - a permanent, debilitating, incurable illness. They are an increasing menace.

What can you do?
- Be vigilant. Examine your dog, your loved ones & yourself after every walk.
- Wear full length trousers & long-sleeved shirts. Tuck your trousers into your socks.
- Carefully & completely remove ticks.
- Wash the area thoroughly.
- Monitor for at least 2 weeks for infection.
- Seek medical help immediately if there are any signs of infection (inflammation or a red ring).
- DO NOT WAIT UNTIL YOU GET BACK HOME.
- It can be stopped with anti-biotics IF caught early enough.
- Ask the locals, the land-owners, estate managers, nature reserve wardens, look for notices.
- Talk to your vet.
- Visit the DEFRA website for free information.
- Look at previous articles in my Dogs-A-Z blog archive.

How Do I Remove a Tick?
This is an inexpensive, very effective tick removing tool. You can buy it from vets & pet shops.



Push the button down to open the clamp



Place over the ticks's head and release the button. Do not tug at the tick. Gently rotate anti-clockwise with a slight pull and the tick will come away. Kill the tick by crushing its head. Examine the bite and clean thoroughly.



A tick on a dog - note the bloated body

This link has useful pictures & information:

http://www.oes.org/html/how_2_identify_different_ticks.html

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Dogs and Gardens. What Plants are Poisonous to Dogs.

I recently wrote a piece on Why Do Dogs Eat Grass (10 May 2008). This got me to thinking about dogs and gardens.

I used to have a lawn that became a piece of grass. It is mostly a sea of mud in winter! All thanks to my dogs tearing around.

There are other problems too. I never eat the herbs from my herb garden or the good rhubarb that I grow. The thought of what the dogs do on it rather puts me off!

The obvious way to protect your veg, herbs, and other plants is to fence them off or have raised beds.

I found a cheap way of fencing off - use tree stakes and chicken wire (you can buy a big roll very cheaply from an agricultural merchant).

Raised beds involve more work, but can look very good.

At the moment I am taking my garden apart and re-designing it. Plenty of work and cost involved.

I'm making sure that the dogs can't get to some things and, more importantly, making sure that the garden is dog friendly.


There are plants which are poisonous to dogs, some are fatal.

I have a list for you below. It isn't a definitive list but I think it covers most of the ones that you will normally plant in your garden.

Plants That Are Poisonous To Dogs

Coco Shells.
This is sold for use as a mulch. It makes your garden smell like chocolate! Be warned that it contains the same ingredient found in human chocolate which is poisonous to dogs. I have heard of dogs eating it, so it isn't worth the risk.

Bulbs
Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, Daffodil, Day Lily, Elephant Ears, Gladiolas, Hyacinth, Iris, Lily of the Valley, Narcissus, Orange Day Lily, Tulip
Ferns
Aparagus Fern, Australian Nut, Emerald Feather (aka Emerald Fern), Emerald Fern (aka Emerald Feather), Lace Fern, Plumosa Fern
Flowering Plants
Cyclamen, Hydrangea, Kalanchoe, Poinsettia
Garden Perennials
Charming Diffenbachia, Christmas Rose, Flamingo Plant, Foxglove, Marijuana, Morning Glory, Nightshade, Onion, Tomato Plant, Tropic Snow Dumbcane
House Plants
Ceriman (aka Cutleaf Philodendron), Chinese Evergreen, Cordatum, Corn Plant (aka Cornstalk Plant), Cutleaf Philodendron (aka Ceriman), Devil's Ivy, Dumb Cane, Golden Pothos, Green Gold Nephthysis, Marble Queen, Mauna Loa Peace Lily, Nephthytis, Peace Lily, Red-Margined Dracaena, Striped Dracaena, Taro Vine, Warneckei Dracaena
Lillies
Asian Lily (liliaceae), Easter Lily, Glory Lily, Japanese Show Lily, Red Lily, Rubrum Lily, Stargazer Lily, Tiger Lily, Wood Lily
Shrubs
Cycads, Heavenly Bamboo, Holly, Jerusalem Cherry, Mistletoe "American", Oleander, Precatory Bean, Rhododendron, Saddle Leaf Philodendron, Sago Palm, Tree Philodendron, Yucca
Succulents
Aloe (Aloe Vera)
Trees
Avocado, Buddist Pine, Chinaberry Tree, Japanese Yew (aka Yew), Lacy Tree, Macadamia Nut, Madagascar Dragon Tree, Queensland Nut, Schefflera, Yew (aka Japanese Yew)
Vines
Branching Ivy, English Ivy, European Bittersweet, Glacier Ivy, Hahn's self branching English Ivy, Needlepoint Ivy
Misc/Uncategorized
American Bittersweet, Andromeda Japonica, Azalea, Bird of Paradise, Buckeye, Caladium hortulanum, Calla Lily, Castor Bean, Clematis, Fiddle-Leaf Philodendron, Florida Beauty, Fruit Salad Plant, Golden Dieffenbachia, Gold Dust Dracaena, Heartleaf Philodendron, Horsehead Philodendron, Hurricane Plant, Mexican Breadfruit, Mother-in-law, Panda, Philodendron Pertusum, Red Emerald, Red Princess, Ribbon Plant, Satin Pothos, Spotted Dumb Cane, Sweetheart Ivy, Swiss Cheese Plant, Variable Dieffenbachia, Variegated Philodendron

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

My List of Dog Articles, Dog Topics

Hi, I thought I would list the main dog information that I've written about so far - Just for quick reference. The list is in some sort of alphabetical order!

  • 01/02/08 Animal Welfare
  • 02/02/08 Arthritis
  • 25/03/08 Pet Bereavement
  • 03/02/08 Dog Blood Donors
  • 03/02/08 Dog Books and Magazines
  • 09/04/08 Dog Breeds
  • 07/02/08 Complementary Therapies
  • 03/02/08 Cortaflex product review
  • 06/02/08 Dog Medicines and medication
  • 24/03/08 Greyhounds are great
  • 11/04/08 Greyhound pictures
  • 17/02/08 Microchipping
  • 16/02/08 Dog Names
  • 11/02/08 Dog Parasites
  • 26/02/08 My Dog won’t Eat
  • 10/02/08 Pet Passports
  • 23/02/08 Pet Travel
  • 23/02/08 Poodles
  • 27/04/08 Rabies
  • 07/02/08 Tales of Rescue Dogs
  • 04/03/08 Dog Rescues
  • 19/03/08 Troublesome Ticks
  • 10/05/08 Why do dogs eat grass
  • 24/02/08 Zoonoses

See you again soon, Ti

Friday, 9 May 2008

'B' is for Dog Breeds - A List of Dog Breeds and Groups

There are a huge number of different dog breeds, of widely varying abilities, temperaments, shapes, colours and sizes!

This list consists of those breeds recognised by the Kennel Club of Great Britain. I have used the same groupings as the KC - Hound Group, Gundog Group, Terrier Group, Utility Group, Working Group, Pastoral Group, and Toy Group.

Hound Group

These dogs were originally used for hunting either by sight or by scent. Examples of sight hounds are the Whippet and the Greyhound. The Beagle and the Bloodhound are examples of scent hounds. They require a significant amount of exercise and can be described as aloof and dignified, but make trustworthy companions.

Afghan Hound
Azawakh (no breed standard currently)
Basenji
Basset Bleu De Gascogne
Basset Fauve De Bretagne
Basset Griffon Vendeen (Grand)
Basset Griffon Vendeen (Petit)
Basset Hound
Bavarian Mountain Hound (no breed standard currently)
Beagle
Bloodhound
Borzoi
Cirneco dell'Etna
Dachshund (Long Haired)
Dachshund (Miniature Long Haired)
Dachshund (Smooth Haired)
Dachshund (Miniature Smooth Haired)
Dachshund (Wire Haired)
Dachshund (Miniature Wire Haired)
Deerhound
Finnish Spitz
Foxhound
Grand Bleu De Gascogne
Greyhound
Hamiltonstovare
Ibizan Hound
Irish Wolfhound
Norwegian Elkhound
Otterhound
Pharaoh Hound
Portuguese Podengo (Warren Hound)
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Saluki
Segugio Italiano
Sloughi
Whippet

Gundog Group

These dogs were originally trained to find live game and/or to retrieve game that had been shot and wounded. This breed group is divided into four categories - Retriever, Spaniels, Hunt/Point/Retrieve and Setters although many of the breeds are capable of doing the same work as the others. They make good companions, their temperament makes them ideal all-round family dogs. They are perhaps the most intelligent of the breeds, resulting in their wide variety of uses and their ease of training. They are active dogs requiring plenty of exercise and attention.

Bracco Italiano
Brittany
English Setter
German Longhaired Pointer
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Wirehaired Pointer
Gordon Setter
Hungarian Vizsla
Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla
Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Setter
Italian Spinone
Kooikerhondje
Korthals Griffon (no breed standard currently)
Lagotto Romagnolo
Large Munsterlander
Pointer
Retriever (Chesapeake Bay)
Retriever (Curly Coated)
Retriever (Flat Coated)
Retriever (Golden)
Retriever (Labrador)
Retriever (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling)
Slovakian Rough Haired Pointer (no breed standard currently)
Small Munsterlander (no breed standard currently)
Spaniel (American Cocker)
Spaniel (American Water) (no breed standard currently)Spaniel (Clumber)
Spaniel (Cocker)
Spaniel (English Springer)
Spaniel (Field)
Spaniel (Irish Water)
Spaniel (Sussex)
Spaniel (Welsh Springer)
Spanish Water Dog
Weimaraner

Terrier Group

Dogs which were originally bred and used for hunting vermin. 'Terrier' comes from the Latin word Terra, meaning earth. These hardy dog breeds were selectively bred to be brave and tough, and to pursue fox, badger, rat and otter, and others above and below ground. Terrier types have been known in the UK since ancient times, and as early as the Middle Ages, these game little dogs were portrayed by writers, and painters. It is believed that the British Isles is the origin of most terriers.
Originally, these brave canines were bred for the purpose for which they were used, and looks didn't matter. Nowadays , due to the efforts of breeders over the decades, the terriers have become attractive, whilst still retaining jovial, comical and in some cases fiery temperaments. Terriers are definitely dogs of character!

Airedale Terrier
Australian Terrier
Bedlington Terrier
Border Terrier
Bull Terrier
Bull Terrier (Miniature)
Cairn Terrier
Cesky Terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Fox Terrier (Smooth)
Fox Terrier (Wire)
Glen of Imaal Terrier
Irish Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Lakeland Terrier
Manchester Terrier
Norfolk Terrier
Norwich Terrier
Parson Russell Terrier
Scottish Terrier
Sealyham Terrier
Skye Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
Staffordshire Bull Terrier
Welsh Terrier
West Highland White Terrier

Utility Group

This dog breed group consists of various breeds of dog mostly of a non-sporting origin, including the Bulldog, Dalmatian, Japanese Akita and Poodle.
The name "Utility" basically means fitness for a purpose and this group consists of a very mixed and varied bunch, most breeds having been selectively bred to perform a specific function which isn't included in the sporting and working categories. Some of the breeds listed in the group are the oldest known breeds of dog in the world.

Akita
Boston Terrier
Bulldog
Caanan Dog
Chow Chow
Dalmatian
Eurasier
French Bulldog
German Spitz (Klein)
German Spitz (Mittel)
Japanese Akita Inu
Japanese Shiba Inu
Japanese Spitz
Keeshond
Korean Jindo
Lhasa Apso
Mexican Hairless (Intermediate)
Mexican Hairless (Miniature)
Mexican Hairless (Standard)
Miniature Schnauzer
Poodle (Miniature)
Poodle (Standard)
Poodle (Toy)
Schipperke
Schnauzer
Shar Pei
Shih Tzu
Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Terrier

Working Group

These dogs were selectively bred to become guard dogs and search and rescue dogs. The working group has some of the most heroic dogs in the world, helping people in many walks of life, including the Boxer, Great Dane and St Bernard. This group consists of specialists in their field who excel in their line of work.

Alaskan Malamute
Beauceron
Bernese Mountain Dog
Bouvier Des Flandres
Boxer
Bullmastiff
Canadian Eskimo Dog
Dobermann
Dogue De Bordeaux
Entlebucher Mountain Dog (no breed standard currently)
German Pinscher
Giant Schnauzer
Great Dane
Greenland Dog
Hovawart
Leonberger
Mastiff
Neapolitan Mastiff
Newfoundland
Portuguese Water Dog
Pyrenean Mastiff (no breed standard currently)
Rottweiler
Russian Black Terrier
St. Bernard
Siberian Husky
Tibetan Mastiff

Pastoral Group

This dog breed group consists of herding dogs that work with cattle, sheep, reindeer and other animals with cloven hoofs.
This type of dog usually has a double coat to protect it from the elements when working in severe conditions. Breeds such as the Collie family, Old English Sheepdogs and Samoyeds who have been herding reindeer for centuries are just some included in this group.

Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Shepherd
Bearded Cliole
Belgian Shepherd Dog (Groenendael)
Belgian Shepherd Dog (Laekenois)
Belgian Shepherd Dog (Malinois)
Belgian Shepherd Dog (Tervueren)
Bergamasco
Border Collie
Briard
Catalan Sheepdog (no breed standard currently)
Collie (Rough)
Collie (Smooth)
Estrela Mountain Dog
Finnish Lapphund
German Shepherd Dog (Alsatian)
Hungarian Kuvasz
Hungarian Puli
Komondor
Lancashire Heeler
Maremma Sheepdog
Norwegian Buhund
Old English Sheepdog
Polish Lowland Sheepdog
Pyrenean Mountain Dog
Pyrenean Sheepdog
Samoyed
Shetland Sheepdog
Swedish Lapphund
Swedish Vallhund
Welsh Corgi (Cardigan)
Welsh Corgi (Pembroke)

Toy Group

These dogs are small companion or lap dogs. Many of the Toy breeds were bred for this (some have been placed into this category due to their size). They should have friendly personalities and love attention. They do not need a large amount of exercise and can be finicky eaters.
They are intelligent companions but owners must be careful with their attention as spoiled dogs can become protective of their owners. Ideally these dogs are extroverted companions and not 'just for show'.


Affenpinscher
Australian Silky Terrier
Bichon Frise
Bolognese
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Chihuahua (Long Coat)
Chihuahua (Smooth Coat)
Chinese Crested
Coton De Tulear
English Toy Terrier (Black and Tan)
Griffon Bruxellois
Havanese
Italian Greyhound
Japanese Chin
King Charles Spaniel
Lowchen (Little Lion Dog)
Maltese
Miniature Pinscher
Papillon
Pekingese
Pomeranian
Pug
Yorkshire Terrier

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

'R' is for Rabies - A Killer Disease in Dogs and Man

A couple of days ago I spoke about the quarantine kennels where a rabid dog had bitten 3 people.

So I've decided to write a more technical article on the subject of rabies in dogs and people.


Rabies (Lyssa) is one of the oldest known zoonotic diseases; an animal disease transmissible to humans.
It is caused by rhabdoviruses of the genus Lyssavirus and can affect all mammals including humans.
Transmission occurs when there is direct contact to infectious saliva; via bites, scratches and broken skin. The incubation period can range between 2 weeks and 3 months depending on the site of infection, the amount of virus and the virus strain.
Due to its neurotropism rabies viruses cause neurological symptoms that may differ in animals and humans.

After a bite, when the virus has travelled from the nerve pathways of the muscles into the central nervous system (CNS), it replicates quickly and spreads into many parts of the brain. The brain becomes inflamed and many functions of the CNS are affected.

Once symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans, except in very rare cases.

Clinical signs in animals

All animals exhibit certain neurological signs as a result of rabies. These symptoms may differ slightly between species.

Prodromal stage: After a certain incubation period, the onset of clinical symtoms follows. During this first stage which usually lasts for about 1-3 days minor behavioural changes can occur, e.g aggressiveness in pet animals, daytime activities in nocturnal animals, no fear of humans in wild animals or abnormalities in appetite.

Excitative (furious) phase: Eventually, the prodromal stage is followed by a period of severe agitation and aggression. The animal often bites any material. Rabid dogs, for example, may develop a typical high barking sound during furious rabies. Death may follow convulsions even before the paralysis stage.

Paralytic (dumb) phase: This stage is characterized by the inability to swallow, leading to a typical sign of foaming saliva around the mouth. Some animals may develop paralysis beginning at the hind extremities. Eventually, complete paralysis is followed by death.

Rabies is one of the most feared diseases which affects people.

Endemic canine rabies contributes to more than 99% of all human rabies cases; half of the global human population especially in the developing world lives in canine rabies-endemic areas and is considered at risk of contracting rabies.

In the developing world tens of thousands of people die from rabies every year. African and Asian countries are particularly affected by rabies. There are often insufficient controls and inadequate healthcare.

In developed countries, widespread vaccination and animal control programmes have reduced the incidence of the disease in people to low levels. Human cases are now rare in Europe, except for the Russian Federation.

Dogs are of great importance in the transmission of rabies to people, particularly in countries where there are cases of rabies in pet, feral and stray dogs.

The greatest risk of bringing rabies to the UK is either from human travellers (who are highly unlikely to pass the disease on to animals or people) or imported animals - the most important being pet dogs and cats.

Rabies has been associated with long incubation periods - that's why there is a six month quarantine for imported pets. However studies on rabies shows that incubation periods are normally between 2 and 12 weeks.

Once clinical rabies has developed, with rare exceptions, death is inevitable within a few days. There is no immune response in the incubating animal or person. The virus cannot be reliably identified in tissues before the onset of clinical signs, so there is currently no possibility of diagnosis of rabies in the incubating animal.

As well as affecting the central nervous system, rabies virus can also live in the salivary glands which allows the transmission of rabies by infected saliva through bite wounds – the usual route. Animals may pass the virus by this route before the development of clinical signs - up to 13 days in dogs.

While treatment of clinically infected animals and people is of no avail, post exposure treatment of people with vaccine and hyperimmune serum is used successfully. This remedial treatment is only partially successful in dogs and other animals.

Vaccines are used successfully against rabies and can give up to three years immunity, although vaccination does not preclude the possibility of rabies infection, as confirmed cases of rabies have occurred in previously vaccinated dogs and cats.
Nevertheless, overall, they provide a high level of protection. The protection they can offer is measured by the antibody level they stimulate.

Control

Since 1793, the Rabies in the United Kingdom Quarantine Act has been the main control method used to keep the UK free from rabies. The result of this policy is that there have been no indigenous human cases of rabies in UK until 2002 when a bat conservationist died in Scotland., afetr being bitten by a rabid bat.
Two cases of rabies have occurred in dogs after they left quarantine so additional measures, which included vaccination against rabies on arrival, were introduced in 1972, to help avoid cross
infection in quarantine kennels. Since then, quarantine measures have been completely successful.
Import of pets through quarantine is controlled by the Rabies (Importation of Dogs, Cats and OtherMammals) Order 1974, and its amendments.


The message is clear - don't smuggle animals into the UK. Keep It Out!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

Rabies - a deadly disease - Keep It Out!




This is a picture of a rabid dog.

(It isn't the puppy mentioned below)











Did you see the report on the puppy with rabies at the quarantine kennels?

It bit 3 people - 2 members of staff and someone from the dog rescue involved.

Fortunately they were vaccinated against rabies, so only had to have boosters just in case. All the same, they have to wait and see. Not very nice for them. I wish them well.

Rabies is a very nasty slow painful death. It is spread by saliva - which is why a bite is so dangerous.

If it is not treated before the virus gets to the brain, then death is the outcome.

UK quarantine laws guard us against it becoming a problem here.

Imagine we had rabies here. Would you go anywhere near a strange dog? And what sort of measures would the government take? Would all domestic pet dogs have to be muzzled in public? I'm not saying that would happen, but as there seems to be a liking for heavy-handed measures in the UK now, who knows?

It was suggested on the news that the quarantine laws were going to be relaxed - it didn't say how. This is crazy considering what has just happened!

The quarantine system may be a nuisance for pet owners, but it does seem to work.

The pet passport scheme will NOT prevent rabies from coming to the UK. What it does is to allow responsible owners to take their dogs with them to some countries without having to go into quarantine on return to the UK.

I knew a guy who was bitten by a rabid dog some years ago. He had to have 20 injections into his stomach. Not nice, but it saved his life. Vaccinations have improved a lot since then!

It is possible that somebody will smuggle an infected dog into the country. The dog may seem very friendly but could be infected - the rabies virus may have not yet taken hold. Please don't ever feel tempted to bring a dog in without going through quarantine. No matter how appealing the poor stray is, or how bad the conditions from which it needs rescuing - don't do it!

You can always contact the British embassy, find out if there is a rescue who can help. If not they can tell you what you need to do to bring it home. If it is a bad case, how about contacting the media and drum up some support?

Just a few thoughts on the problem! Bye for now, Ti

Friday, 11 April 2008

Greyhound Pictures

Hi, I've decided to add some pictures of my greyhounds.

This is a picture of Spot (standing) and Olive. Spot was our much-loved male greyhound, who we lost at the age of 12 years. He was a dog of great character





This is Boris and Olive having a rest at the holiday cottage in Scotland





A handsome greyhound!







Hope that you liked the pictures. Cheers, Ti

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Pet Bereavement - The Loss of a Dog - And The Rainbow Bridge

Yesterday I wrote about my greyhound Spot. It seems to me to be useful to write some more about the loss of a much loved dog.

When we lost Spot I felt as if my right arm had been cut off. Even now, I can feel great sadness about his loss, but it is tempered with wondeful memories.

Every dog lover knows the great joy that they get from their dogs, and the terrible pain at losing them.
Anybody in that situation has my deepest sympathy.

We all cope with our grief and come to terms with our loss in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
It is worth talking to other dog owners - you will get a sympathetic listener in most people.

There are pet bereavement counsellors who can help at this difficult time. Ask other pet owners, talk to your vet. Your local animal rescue may be able to help. You will also find information on the internet.

Many dog owners who have suffered loss have found comfort in The Rainbow Bridge poem.

Its origins are unknown.

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.


When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.


All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigour; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.

The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had been left behind.


They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together

Author unknown

My sympathy to all of you in mourning, Ti