Looking After Dogs

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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

dogs - scooby 6

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?

dog - rita 5

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

pet food - plat

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!).

pet food

Snuggling up to keep warm

cats - and dogs

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

dogs - benni jumping

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

dog - anxiety

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.

New Year Pet Resolutions


Top of the New Year Resolution list is for podgy pets to lose weight.  When dogs are too fat it’s usually because they have stodgy food and not enough exercise.   It’s a vicious circle though, when they are overweight they don’t want to run around.   Obesity is life threatening for dogs as well as for people, so this is our top Resolution for 2014.

It’s not so hard, a few simple changes and your dog will soon be sleek and fit again.   Try a raw meat diet, there are no fillers and fatteners in natural food.  Either buy Nature’s Menu which is frozen and easy to feed – defrost and put out for your dog, it’ll be wuffled up in minutes.  You can get this from us and it’s in many different flavours – beef, lamb, chicken, fish etc.   Or just buy raw meat!   Mince is good or stew steak is much liked.  We cook chicken pieces and also have ready cooked chicken in stock.   What could be easier and dogs love it.

A piece of fish is a good meal, buy the cheaper and sustainable varieties.  You will find that your dog is satisfied with less because it’s a more nutritious and wholesome food.   Read the label on canned and complete dog food and see how little meat and how much filler and animal derivatives there is in there.

A slice of wholewheat toast goes down well with raw food.  Or you could buy some weight-watchers biscuits – we like Burns which is made in Scotland and is all natural.  A handful (or spoonful for a little dog) on the side gives a bit of crunch.

When your dog is starting to feel better because he’s having a better quality of food, he will be ready for more exercise.  This should be increased gradually, building up to fitness again takes a while.  Playing ball and fetch is a good keep fit strategy too.

Next New Year Resolution coming tomorrow ……

Watch out for Dognappers

topper 3A recent report by a Dog Lost organisation is saying that dognapping is back, with reports of stolen dogs going up by a fifth in the last year.  Did dognapping ever go away though?  We get regular reports of dogs who have suddenly disappeared.  It’s a heartbreaking risk for owners of certain types of dogs with Jack Russells being especially vulnerable.  They’re small, easy to transport and sell on.

You might think that microchipping your pet will save him.  In our experience this doesn’t make a lot of difference.  The people who steal and those why buy a dog in a pub car park, aren’t likely to check the chip.

Keeping your dog safe is the only answer to this despicable trade in dogs.   The thieves are ingenious because it’s so lucrative, with dogs changing hands for several hundreds of pounds, they can clear thousands in just a week.

So how do they do it?   A dog in a garden with an unlocked gate is an easy target.  They hold out a succulent piece of meat and the dog comes running.  A slip lead, a van parked round the corner and the dog is away.  Children are often sent to catch the dog.  If they are caught in the act, they pretend they are just wanting to play.

When puppies are advertised for sale, thieves pretend to be buyers to get to know the layout and then come back later.   No bother whether the pups are fully weaned.  A valuable puppy was recently taken by a man posing as a buyer, who asked to see the pedigree.  While the owner went to get it, he whipped the pup away and was gone.

Being aware of the problem and keeping your pet in a secure environment is the only answer.  Lock that gate!    Keep a file with a picture of your pet and details of microchip numbers and any identification marks.

Of course, not every dog is at risk – the dogs popular with dognappers are sporting dogs and then it’s only if they are young.  Spaniels, border terriers, jack russells are all targets as are small breed pedigree dogs.   Nobody ever steals staffis!