Looking After Dogs

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A poorly little dog

dogs - little billy 4In dogs, as well as humans, health is everything.  We take it for granted until it breaks down.   This is Little Billy, an elderly and poorly Jack Russell, who has been brought in to us because his owners, who have their own health problems, can’t cope with him any more.   He’s been unwell for a long time and has been treated with tranquilizers (diazapam) and steroids.   He’s been getting worse and becoming more distressed, he’s started to howl for long periods and has become incontinent.

Little Billy has Lupus which is a disease of the immune system.  His body has broken down and the skin around his eyes is raw and looks horrific.  When he first came in he looked very miserable.  Lupus can cause the nose and skin in other areas to be raw too.   Little Billly’s condition is challenging but he is such a sweet little chap and we have seen other dogs improve dramatically with a holistic approach.  The other option was for his owners to have him put to sleep, the howling especially was a big difficulty and a sign of extreme unhappiness.   They have another dog and the two of them do not get on.  This may have been making Little Billy worse.  Feeling unhappy can be a cause of ill health.   We’ll make him comfortable (one of our specially cosy duvet beds) and put him on an organic diet.  We’ve stopped the tranquilizers, they aren’t doing him any good anyway.  He’s having lots of love and holistic treatment – it may not work but we’ll give it a try.dogs - little billy 2

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Get well Little Billy ……..recovery prayers please …….

Holly is scared of everything

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Holly is a sweet little terruer who was brought in this week  – she is a scared little youngster who cowers and cringes whenever anyone goes near her – mostly she is terrified of men.  We don’t know what has happened to her in the past but it hasn’t been good.  She is also very thin.   When she is on her own in her room she burrows down into her bed or runs and hides in a corner.   We’ve given her a den so she can feel safe but it will be a slow process to get her to feel confident and happy.

She is beginning to be a bit more confident with us and when we cuddle her she is starting to  relax, it’s just a question of gaining her trust.  She’s such a pretty little dog and when she realizes that she isn’t going to be hurt you can see her tail start to wag.  It is distressing to see a dog cower and cringe so much though.

Going out for a walk is fine unless she sees a sudden movement and then she hits the floor and puts her head and her tail down.   She has such a sad face.   She did a lot of shivering at first so we’ve put her a coat on and that is comforting for her.  Dogs like to be wrapped up warm when they are stressed.

If Holly doesn’t know what  something is she won’t go near it – even the feed dishes were a worry for her at first.  Now she’s eating well although it will take a while to get her weight up to normal.

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This is Holly when she first came in.

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They are making lots of fuss of me here ….. but I’m still not sure …..

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I’m cosy in my nice pink coat …..

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Lots of fuss – just what I need …..

Pets who comfort eat


Dogs and cats don’t need to eat as much when the weather is warmer.  They’ll usually go on munching away and loving their food even though it’s comfort eating, ;they are not hungry any more and its much more than they need.  Just like us humans, pets who overeat are prone to health problems – heart conditions, diabetes and joint pains. The amount of energy they use to keep their bodies warm in summer is less so their nutritional needs are too.

Research done recently at Liverpool University has proved that cats and dogs need more food in cold weather (well, that’s common sense isn’t it?).  It’s just as necessary to adjust their food when it’s hot.  We don’t use set amounts as every dog and cat is different.  Feeding by condition is best.  A dog’s skin should be glossy and supply, their bones well covered but without any overlying fat.

Cat’s soon develop a fat tummy so cutting back their rations and encouraging more exercise, perhaps through play, is helpful.  It’s easy to give a dog more walks but with cats you have to be a bit more subtle.  Try putting small amounts of food in different locations, a few biscuits in a dish upstairs or outside or on a high shelf is good.  Our cats like to climb on roof spars and the top of pens etc.   If you want to know where they are just look upwards – you’ll see cheshire cat faces looking down at you!   It’s a pity when cats don’t have the chance to do this – in most homes they wouldn’t be allowed to do this because the ornaments would be knocked down.  Isn’t it odd how cats tip over the best china and rarely break  a chipped saucer?

We’ve seen specially adapted houses where cat is priority and they have shelves nearly at ceiling height and branch climbing frames running up the walls.  Cat’s love them!  If you cat goes outside he’ll find lots of climbing, up trees and over walls and fences, and will exercise quite naturally.  As they eat a bit less they will get fitter and more adventurous – that’s the theory anyway!

Don’t forget, it’s just as important to increase the rations when winter comes, it;’s quite disturbing to note how many really hungry and thin dogs we see, even though they are in a ‘good’ home situation.   It’s all down to following instructions on bags maybe – instead of looking at the dog’s size, metabolism and condition?

Good manners, good dog

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Many of the dogs we get brought in to the sanctuary have behavioural problems and a period of re-hab and re-training is necessary.  This isn’t the case with Scooby who is very well behaved and a pleasure to look after.  He is polite, good mannered, sociable and charming as well as walking calmly on the lead.  Dogs who pull are not good to take out and if they haven’t been taught their manners as puppies, they are difficult to handle.

This is why so many are thrown out as young adults, a boisterous ‘teenage’ dog is a handful.   Teaching puppies how to behave is so important, it’s much harder for them to learn their lessons when they are older.

Training classes are good ways to socialize young dogs, it helps to avoid the nightmare of the nervous adult who shows fear aggression.   Most of the training is done at home though, by example and consistent routine.   If you let your dog sit on the sofa when he’s a baby dog, it’ll be hard to stop him doing it when he’s grown up.

Why do dogs attack babies?

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With some dogs you can see their aggression straight away.   Whenever we meet a dog there is an interchange of reaction.  Without being conscious of it the dog is eyeing us up and we are doing the same.  It’s obvious that some dogs would attack a baby or child or even an adult.   What makes a family pet behave in this way though?

It’s down to scent and familiarity.   A baby is new to the household and a dog has no concept of how important this small human is to us.  Dogs are pack animals and governed mainly by instinct.   The baby is an intruder and on the lowest level of the pack, to the dog he or she is of little importance.

However, adult dogs, even those with an aggressive nature, rarely attack puppies, even though they are vulnerable and at the bottom of the pack.  At the same time they will keenly attack a new born lamb, kid or rabbit.   The birthing process leaves a food scent to a dog or other predator.  Puppies have their scent (dog) so they leave them alone.

The difference is in the smell of the baby.   We love the fresh washed talcum powdery smell but to the dog this is only masking the exciting scent of the birth and milk and the nappy.   Put a nappy on the floor and any dog will immediately go to investigate.  Then the dog will start pulling it about, he will be intrigued by the smell.

A dog will see a small human as a possible food source.  It isn’t his fault, how could he know any difference – milk, blood, nappy?   With a family pet who is normally friendly, it isn’t aggression, it’s inquisitiveness.   It starts with a lick, then a nip and it’s too late.  The baby screaming only serves to make the situation worse.

The only answer is never to leave any dog near a baby or young child for even a second.   As the baby grows up and scents change the dog will have a different perception.  The child will have more importance in the pack.   In a small house it’s difficult to keep dog and baby or young child apart and, in our busy lives, to monitor the situation all the time.  One failure can lead to disaster.  It’s a risk no one should take.

Great dog food at low cost

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What price are you paying for your complete dog food?   £30?  £40?   It’s a big expense and we think that a lot of the products on the market are overpriced.  Are you paying for the advertising, hype and marketing?   We have to keep our costs down and feed a healthy diet too.   One of the best dog foods around is Dr.John’s Platinum and we’ve been using it for years.

At only £14.49 for a 15kg bag it’s one of the most reasonably priced complete food around and bnest of all – dogs love it!  Dr.John’s suits dogs with a delicate digestion and we’ve never had an upset tummy.  It’s also excellent for older dogs and those prone to arthiritis because one of the key ingredients is Green Lipped Mussel from New Zealand.  This is believed to have an anti-inflammatory effect on joints and muscles.  It works and we’ve seen big improvements in mobility and wellbeing.

Dr.John’s dog food has the royal seal of approval and is a complete food rich in chicken and with rice.  The Platinum is the variety we use and recommend, there is also a Gold and a Silver blend, both with lower protein and a lower cost.

The price is right and at £14.49 a 15kg bag you can’t go wrong.  We have Dr.John’s Platinum in stock and every bag sold helps the sanctuary (only by a small amount but every little helps!).

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Snuggling up to keep warm

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It’s lovely to see cats and dogs getting on well together and snuggling up to sleep.   This is Mischa – the ‘salt box cat’ who came in to us about twelve years ago.  She was found in a salt box at the side of the road together with four kittens.  We still have her daughter her with us – Myrtle is still devoted to her mother and is usually not far away.  She was in a cat basket nearby yesterday when this picture was taken.  Mischa likes to sleep on the dog bed by the radiator and Heide, one of the Miss Whippets likes this place also.   No problem they’ll share!

Sometines Mischa will lick Heidi’s head and give her a good grooming.  She loves it and they are the best of friends.

If only all owners would teach their dogs to get along with cats.  So many of the dogs we get in for re-homing are confirmed cat chasers — if not worse.  Once they’ve been taught to chase cats it is very hard to retrain this behaviour.  Rearing dogs with cats and forbidding aggression is the answer.

Dogs need bereavement help

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Life turns upside down for dogs when their owner is no longer with them.   Do dogs love certain people?   There is no doubt that this is true.   Our communication with dogs is not so good, how can we let them know that they will still be cared for and loved when the person who has looked after them for years is suddenly gone?

Benni was unsure of himself when he arrived but he is settling down just fine now and the distraction that a change of home brings can help.  A new routine is beneficial, just going for a different route on the walk, a run in the country, a trip to the seaside – these are all good for dogs who have been left behind when their owner has passed on.

Letting the dog just mope will lead to him or her feeling even more miserable.  Whilst they may not feel like playing, there are still things to catch their interest.  Meeting new dogs is sometimes the answer (so long as they are friendly).  Dogs socialize with each other and if it’s the right pal, they will start to play and look forward to mealtimes.

Familiar belongings are a help and we would never take a fleece or rug away because it was a bit grubby.   The scruffier the better at this vulnerable time.   An old jumper from the person they are missing will be a consolation for a while.   They will gradually shift their attention as time goes on.   Now is the time to offer comfort food – something they specially like and that is easy to digest.   It’s a shock to be left alone and we must make allowances and try a bit of pampering.

Sometimes wrapping your dog up is a great comfort.  This isn’t just for bereavement help but whenever your pet is feeling poorly or a bit under the weather.   A fleece blanket is ideal, wrap it loosely round him in a cocoon and sit a stroke him for a while.   A cuddle blanket isn’t just good for babies!

Music is a great healer and that goes for dog listerners too.   Try soothing music to begin with, Mozart is good.  Then you can move on to country and western and easy listening.   There’s nothing like conversation and talking to a bereaaved pet is all to the good.  Do dogs understand what we’re saying?   You bet they do.  It’s us who don’t understand them most of the time.

More on dog killer disease

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Here’s an update on the lethal dog disease that’s new to the U.K. and for which there seems to be little treatment if your dog is infected.   The disease causes kidney failure and internal breakdown – it has now spread to Nottingham, Norfolk and Northumberland so it’s getting nearer to this area.  Scientists are still struggling to find a cure, the only chance of saving your pet is to get veterinary treatment as soon as possible.

The first symptom seems to be an infected cut so any injury no matter how small should be seen by a vet.   By the time the area round the cut is red and swollen it’s too late.  There is usually swelling as well.  Sometimes the symptoms come on so quickly that if you are out on a walk your dog may have trouble getting home with you.

If anything like this happens you need to go to the vet straight away, if you dog is put on a drip quickly enough he just might recover. The condition leads to kidney failure, it’s similar to Alabama Rot which is well known in the U.S.   In this country only one dog, a little terrer,  has so far survived and vets don’t know the reason except that she did receive treatment from the vet right away and was on a drip for nine days.

All breeds and types of dogs have so far been affected, symptoms also include loss of appetite, vomiting and lesions.  Post mortem effects show stomach ulcers and internal bleeding in previously fit and healthy dogs.  Nobody seems to know as yet whether this is an infection and transmitted between pets or is it because of contamination?   If you spot any cuts or lesions on your dog our best advice is to take him to the vet straight away.


New dog killer disease in U.K.

dogs - lilly 3A number of dog walkers in Hampshire have found their pets to be suffering from kidney failure after a walk in the woods and no one knows for sure what’s causing the trouble.  It strikes quickly and att least a dozen dogs have already died.   It’s thought it could be picked up from contaminated water or some kind of poisoning.   Vets think it could be linked to a toxin produced by e-coli.  Dogs who go splashing through slimy puddles or swim in murky ponds could be most at risk.  Pets should also be kept away from possibly contaminated bird or animal carcases.

There’s a similar disease in the U.S. called Alabama Rot and this too has fatal consequences.  Veterinary Health Authorities are investigating a link and whether it has spread to the U.K.

So far, dog deaths have only been in the south of England but it would be sensible to watch out for any signs of illness after your woodland dog walks – the only chance of saving a dog who has picked up the disease, is immediate  veterinary attention.  The Department of the Environment has ruled out chemical contamination from water. It’s a mystery illness and one with very serious consequences.