Looking After Dogs

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Benji is doing better

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A day makes all the difference and Benji is feeling lots better.   We’ve spent many hours with him, sitting down, doing nothing in particular and just being there for him.  He’s still growling when someone he doesn’t know goes near but gradually he’s learned to trust us(and the chicken chunks have helped!) .   Gradually we’ve been able to touch him, then stroke, then fuss him and then there was a breakthrough when he wanted a cuddle.   He continues to be stressed by new people though,  it’s still early days.

Get ready for Fright Night

dogs - whippet 2Skullcap & Valerian help dogs stay calm.    Some dogs are alright with bangs and loud noises, others, like this rescued whippet, are terrified by them and here it comes again, bonfire night is only a few weeks away bringing misery for the animals who feel threatened and can’t understand it.

There’s a herbal sedative that helps dogs to stay calm and relieves their anxiety – we’ve used Skullcap and Valerian tablets for years – because they work.  We give them to dogs who are scared of fireworks and start several weeks before they are most needed.   If you start with a maintenance does now, the compound will get into the system and begin to have an effect.   A double dose nearer the time will top the effect.

These tablets are invaluable at calming excitable and apprehensive pets and are beneficial given before going to the vets, travelling or any new situation that might cause anxiety. We give Skullcap and Valerian tablets to dogs prone to epilepsy, a vet should also be consulted of course.

We have  Skullcap and Valerian tablets and most Dorwest Herbs in stock in 100, 200 and 500 quantities.  Phone or email for prices – call and collect or we can post out.

Lungworm danger to dogs

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Slugs are everywhere and we’ve had a dog come in recently with slight breathing difficulties, he’s not in good condition either and seems generally unwell.    Could he be suffering from lungworm?   The vet will confirm whether this is the case.  Diagnosis isn’t always easy though.   Dogs don’t catch lungworm from other dogs – it’s only by eating slugs, snails, frogs and lungworm larvae that the parasite can get into the body.   The worms live in the heart and blood vessels and make the dog seriously ill.  Haemorrages in eyes and , intestines and liver, even the spinal cord, are likely.

The problem is that there are so many slugs around in the present almost tropical climate.   It’s best to feed your dog indoors and not leave any food outside.  It’s a magnet for slugs and then if your dog eats it when it’s been slimed by a slug, he will be in trouble.

Your vet will have treatment for lungworm that is ninety per cent effective, but the condition is always serious and if a dog is severely infected the heart may be so damaged that the ‘cure’ may kill.  Talk to your vet if you think your dog may be at risk –  discard any food immediately that has slug trails on it and wash dishes thoroughly.   Prevention is definitely better than cure where lungworm is concerned – your vet will recommend a wormer that is effective.   Whilst it’s common in dogs, humans are not at risk from lungworm infection.

Jack Russell with skin problems

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This is Jacko who came in to us a couple of weeks ago.   Isn’t he a great looking little dog?   He has a temperament to match and is a real sweetie and full of character.   Unfortunately he has a severe skin problem and is out of condition generally.   His skin is dry and tight with patches where he has lost his hair completely.

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His general appearance is that of a poorly little dog, although he has a lot of spirit and still likes to go out for a walk and has a good appetite.  Jacko’s skin isn’t itchy and the vet has confirmed that this is not a parasite problem, more likely hormonal or as a result of unsuitable nutrition.

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Jacko is aged ten years, he looks much older though.   This breed of dog usually lives to late teens and they normally stay active.   Jacko came in to us when his elderly owner went in to hospital and could no longer keep him.   You are what you eat and that is the same for dogs.  We were told that Jacko has been complete dog food all his life.  Little dogs need even more careful feeding than the larger breeds.   Small meals should be packed with good nutrition and be easily digestible.

dogs - jacko 14Our aim in the first instance is to get him in better condition.   He’s having fresh food and natural ingredients and he loves it.   We’re using Dorwest Herbs too – a sprinkle of Kelp is a good tonic, also Keepers Mix and Garlic and Fenugreek tablets make a big difference.   An oily diet helps so it’s a portion of sardines and mackerel will help his skin.

Already we can see hairs sprouting through on the bald patches!  It’s never too late and we hope it won’t be for this lovely little dog.  We want to see him fit and well, full of beans and with a shiny, healthy coat,

Cheaper pet care tips for Budget Day

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It was white over with snow again this morning, the cost of living goes up and up and for most of us, keeping going is a balancing act. We don’t want our pets to suffer or go without but what can we do to cut the cost of pet care?

Lower pet food costs -CatsShop around for different brands – even cats who won’t eat some low priced chunks will say ‘yummy’ to another type.  We’ve found that most cats like Lidl’s own make.  Morrisons own brand is also popular with our sanctuary team of tasty cat food testers.

Most felines also enjoy a bit of toasted and buttered brown bread, cut up into very small chunks and with a bit of milk and a tiny sprinkle of sugar on top.   A pint of goat’s milk goes a long way, cats like it and it’s good for them too.  A small portion of white fish, lightly cooked in goat’s milk (cow’s milk isn’t good for cats) and mixed with brown bread crumbs, makes a substantial meal for a hungry cat.   You can make it into portions and freeze it for another day – kittykat ready meals.   Fish fingers are popular when cut up very small – the cheapest brands are fine – they are fresh fish just the same but not the types we recognize.

DogsIf you want to feed complete then Dr.John’s is one of the best low cost brands around.   It’s by appointment to H.M.The Queen – the Royal Warrant so it must be good.   It’s palatable, good for sensitive tummies and with New Zealand Green Lipped Mussel as an ingredient, it’s excellent for keeping joints in good condition.   We’ve seen a difference in an arthritic dog within a few weeks.   And the price?   £14.59 for a 15 kg bag.  You can’t get much better than that for a quality dog food – we always have it in stock and every bag sold helps the sanctuary animals.

Keeping pets healthy – is one of the best ways to beat the budget – vet bills are a major worry if you are not insured.   A lot of people can ‘t afford insurance costs these days so it’s even more important to make sure your pet  is healthy.   There are many simple home remedies that work just as well as expensive ones – it’s always best to consult a vet though if you aren’t sure what is wrong with your pet.Cold tea – We use cold tea as a simple eye remedy.   Use a cotton wool pad and bathe the eyes, it’s very soothing.

Foot care –   we put Vaseline on dogs feet when their pads are dry, keeps them nice and soft and less likely to get sore..

Olive oil – We find that olive oil is good for dry itchy skin and encourages the hair to grow again on bald patches.  We put a drop or two of olive oil on our dogs dinners, they like it and it gives them a glossy coat.  It’s good to put a small amount on a dry nose too.

Turmeric – (yes, the spice you put in a curry) is a natural antiseptic, used through out the world on wounds, sores and grazes – we put it on small cuts and find they heal up quickly.   It’s good for skin irritation too – we put a pinch in the dog’s food and pat it into the sore skin for internal and external use.

Tea Tree oil – we use this as a natural flea deterrent – dilute with almond oil as it’s quite strong and then sprinkle on a rag and rub over your dog – he’ll smell nice to you but the fleas will hate it.    A few drops in his basket and on his bedding is good also.

Ears – we clean them out with witch hazel or olive oil.  We put a few drops on a cotton pad and clean the outer area – this works with dogs and cats.   Don’t poke in the ear though or you might do some damage.

Cardboard boxes for cats, cut price fleeces for dog blankets – we have lots more saving money pet tips coming soon …………….

Dog vaccinations what do they protect against?

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Serious diseases in dogs used to be common.   Dogs became seriously ill and often died from Distemper and Hepatitis.  Now vaccinations keep our pets safe but it’s as well not to forget how important these routine injections are and what they protect against.

Distemper – is a highly infectious and a killer.  Young dogs and those with a weakened immune system are most at risk.   The symptoms include the dog looking obviously very poorly and having runing eyes and nose.    There is some coughing and the dog may have fits.

Parvovirus – A quick killer – the dog doesn’t want to eat and becomes poorly very quickly.   There will be profuse bloodstained diarrhoea.  Dogs go downhill very fast with this one.

Canine viral hepatitis – Mostly seen in young dogs – there’s a high fever, vomiting, jaundice and the dog is poorly and doesn’t want to eat.   If your dog suddenly wants to drink lots of water be aware that this is one of the symptoms.

Vaccination will protect your dog from all of these serious canine diseases.  Check with your vet what age he recommends puppy injections – it will be done in two parts with a couple of weeks gap in between.

Booster vaccinations to maintain immunity usually follow at yearly intervals.  Again, your vet will recommend this.

Next – the symptoms of Kennel Cough, Leptospirosis and Parainfluenza virus.

Is my dog infected with lungworm?

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From Miss K.  Has my dog got lungworm?

My dog has been under the weather and snapping a lot when she usualy wouldnt.   Over the last 2 or 3 days she has also been very loose nd vomiting.  Is it possable she could be suffering with lung worm? I’d be grateful for any advice.
Thank you, Miss K.

Dear Miss K.   Your dog has typical symptoms of lungworm and you should take her to the vet without delay.  She can be treated quite simply if she is infected and if no lasting damage has been done, will make a good recovery.   Your vet will do tests and this is way to find out what is making her ill.

Dogs become infected from eating snails and slugs so it is a bit strange for her to develop these symptoms at this time of year when there are no slugs about. She may have a chronic infection though so treatimg her is imperative.

Lungworm it is a constant danger when the weather is warmer, it’s so wet now because of climate change, that slugs and snails are a real problem.   They go into feeding bowls if they are left outside so it’s best to take dog dishes  away as soon as your dog has eaten up and clean and disinfect them straight away.

Please let us know how she goes on.


Who’s a clever dog then?

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Most of us think are dogs are pretty bright but which breed really is the cleverest?   Number one is said to be the Border Collie, with Poodles coming in second place and those super brainy German Shepherds getting the third rosette.

We think lots of other types of dogs are super smart too with some x bred dogs topping the list.dogs - Morrison 2


If you’d like to find out just how bright your dog is, here are some quick tests to help you to do just that:

The Hide a Treat Test  Let your dog see you hide a treat, don’t let him get to it though.   Now take him outisde and go for a short walk of just have a play in the garden or another room.
When you bring him back in, tell him to find the treat.   If he couldn’t care less – 1 point.   If he’s a bit interested but can’t find the treat – 2 points.   Hunts round and finds the treat in approx. 1 minute – 3 points.   An intense sniffing session and he finds it in 15 seconds – 4 points.   Instant search and find – 5 points.

The Smiler Test   –  Keep looking at your dog and give him a big smile.   So what – he couldn’t care less.   1 point.   If he stares back and goes to sit in his basket.  2 points.   Looks pleased and wags his tail but doesn’t come towards you.  3 points.   If he saunters across to you – 4 points.    I love that smile!  – He comes straight to you looking super pleased – 5 points.

The Obstacle Test – Put some small twigs across the path where you normally walk your dog.  If he won’t go near them – 1 point.   If he flies past them and knocks them all flying – 2 points.   If he jumps across most of them – 3 points.   He’s trying to clear them but misses a few – 4 points.   Clear round – he hasn’t touched them – 5 points.   Well done.

A high score and you have a super brainy pooch.  Fewer points?   You still love him don’t you?  

More dog intelligence tests coming soon…..

Help for dogs with heart disease



A dog with any kind of heart disease needs a vet’s care.   There are still things you can do to help your dog have a good quality of life though.         Keeping her weight down is a big help, if she’s overweight, her heart has a lot more work to do.   A slimmer’s diet is what’s needed and will benefit joints and bones too.

Small meals – Try feeding smaller meals, a portion of lean meat or fish is full of goodness without being too fattening.  Commercial dog food usually has only a bit of meat – the rest is filler.   Read the labels before you buy.   We think that fresh food is best for dogs with heart problems.  Well, it’s really best for all dogs if you can manage to get it.

How can you tell if your dog is overweight?   If you run your hands over her sides you should be able to feel her ribs easily.   Your vet will help with a weight loss plan and a weigh-in on the scales is a regular part of a vet check up.   You can monitor your dog’s progress each time you visit the surgery.

It’s best to feed your dog several smaller meals than one big dinner.  A huge bowl full of doggy dinner can put a strain on the heart.   Two or three little meals, maybe a smaller dish will help and it will keep her hunger pangs at bay without putting a strain on her heart and digestion.

Oily fish – Fish oils are good for dogs with heart problems.   Giving a dog omega-3 fatty acids can help to lower blood pressure and reduce blood clots.   You could feed fresh or tinned fish – mackerel is good because it’s not an endangered species and is fairly inexpensive.   Or you can get capsules from your vet or pet shops.

Check the salt – If you want to feed commercial pet food check the salt level.   Dogs with heart problems need to be especially careful about the amount of salt in their diet.  Check the salt in everything you feed.

Exercise – The heart is a muscle and dogs normally benefit from exercise to keep it working at peak capacity.  Don’t overdo it though, build up gradually and ask your vet for advice, especially if beginning any new exercise programme.   Keep to walking on the flat and watch your dog closely for sign’s she’s had enough.  We let dogs with heart problems take us for a walk!

Brushing teeth – Keep teeth clean – there’s been a lot of research showing the connection between bad teeth and heart disease in dogs.  It ‘s t he same in humans.  Bacteria gets into the area around the gums and then enters the circulation, settling on the heart valve.  It can eventually scar the area.   What can you do to prevent this?   Keeping the dog’s teeth is the only answer – give raw carrots to eat, hard rubber toys to chew and brush the teeth daily.   Doggy tooth brushes and tooth paste in a variety of meaty flavours is available.  A sprinkle of “Plaque Off”on your dog’s food is worth a try.  Many people swear by it and have dogs with gleaming teeth into old age.  It’s said to remove tartar and plaque in three to six weeks.   We’ve tried it and it does make a significant difference.

Vitamins – Giving your dog a vitamin supplement can help.   Antioxidants can help neutralize harmful molecules in the cells.   Ask your vet for advice.   We give our dogs cod liver oil supplements and they do very well on them.   The really senior-seniors get a sprinkle of wheat germ oil too.

Does my dog have heart disease?






One of our elderly resident dogs has heart problems and this is fairly common in senior pets.   Whilst dogs don’t suffer from heart attacks as much as people do, it is one of the reasons for an older pet to have regular vet check ups so that any symptoms can be investigated.

What are the indications that the heart is working as well as it should?  Breathing difficulties, coughing (it’s not always kennel cough), a blue tinge to the inside of the lips which is a sign of oxygen deprivation.   A swollen tummy could be another worrying indication.   Any of these and your dog will need vet help and fast treatment.

You can check your dog’s pulse yourself – and this is another sign of how well, or poorly, the heart is working.   To check the pulse put your hand against the dog’s chest just by her left elbow.   A dog’s heart normally beats anywhere between 60 – 160 beats in a minute.   It depends on the breed and the type of dog.   Count how many beats there are in 15 seconds and then multiply by four.   If you do a check at fairly regular intervals you will know what is normal for your pet.   If it’s suddenly slow, erratic or fast, you’ll know that something is wrong and can take your dog for a vet check up.