Looking After Dogs

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Dog vaccinations what do they protect against?

dogs - Bella 4

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?

dogs - goldie

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?

dogs - Mr





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.

A New Dog Control Order



Don’t forget to take your doggy poo bags out with you – there’s a new Chesterfield Borough Council Dog Control Order and from 1st October, 2012 it will be an offence for any person in charge of a dog to fail to remove dog mess straight away.

Saying you didn’t know about the order or failing to have a bag with you won’t be an excuse, nor will saying you weren’t aware your dog had defecated.   The order applies to all land within the Borough of Chesterfield which is land that is open to the air.  There are one or two exceptions and full details can be found on the Council website – www.chesterfield.gov.uk.

If you don’t comply you will be liable on conviction to a fine of up to £1,000.  As an alternative to a prosecution, the Council may offer a Fixed Penalty Notice of £80.   Failing to clean up after your dog will soon be very expensive.


My dog is an insomniac

What do you do when your dog won’t sleep at night?   Gill H. emailed us yesterday asking for advice on how to persuade her terrier to have a good night’s sleep.   When it’s bedtime he wakes up and wants to play.  Even when he’s been walked and settled down again, Gill can hear him playing with his toys and bouncing balls and jumping around.  She can’t sleep either!

1. Make sure he’s had plenty of exercise – a tired dog is more likely to be ready for bed

2. Is his bed comfy enough?   Plastic dog beds must be so uncomfortable – our dogs have a thick mattress then a duvet on top.  They have room to sprawl.  Dogs need a bed that’s large enough for them to sleep flat out with legs stretched.   If the bed is hard and not cosy he may resist sleeptimes.

3. Get into a routine, exercise is the key to good behaviour and that includes sleep time.   It could take a few weeks of intensive walking but tiring him out is the best way to get in to the pattern of walk, food and bed.  You’ll get fit anyway!

4. A nice supper will help your dog to sleep.  That lovely full feeling when we’ve had a really good meal makes us all sleepy.  A bowl of dry biscuits just won’t do it.   Chappie is our food of choice, it’s nutritious and made from fish.  Most dogs like it and it is filling.  A natural meaty dinner would be good too.  A slice or two of toast?  A couple of fish skins?   A sausage and some mashed potato?   I’m feeling full and sleepy already.

5.  Is he warm enough?   Make sure his bed isn’t in a draught.   Once we start keeping dogs indoors they adapt to our central heating warm surroundings.  A bed in a chilly porch and he won’t want to go to sleep.  He’ll be thinking about snuggling up under the eiderdown with you.   Put an old fleece in his bed will give him something to make a nest with.

6.  Make sure he’s had a proper toilet break outside before bedtime.   Letting him out for a few minutes might not be productive, he could be off chasing dog next-door-dog smells and forget what he’s gone out for.   If he’s plaiting his legs all night he’ll want you to get up.   Taking him out  to the toilet at 3.0am is a habit you definitely don’t want to encourage.

7.  Check whether he has a medical condition that’s making sleep a painful experience.   Arthiritic pets can feel uncomfortable at night, those aches and pains!   Your vet might prescribe a painkiller to help your dog have a good night’s sleep.

8.  Do not play with him or feed him if you have to get up.   Make his bed, settle him down, tell him to go to sleep and leave him.   You could try putting some soothing music on the radio for him.   If your dog has persistent sleep problems it’s advisable to consult the vet and ask his advice.

Hope that helps Gill.   Do let us know how you go on.

Top 5 Summer Dangers for Dogs











TICKS – These parasites attach themselves to dogs and hook into their skin.  Their bloated bodies will be full of your dog’s blood.  Can give a dog (and humans too) a very nasty, sometimes fatal disease.  They are more often seen in summer months, if you walk your dog in long grass check for them when you get home.   They can suddenly appear from anywhere though.   Don’t try to pull them off – it’s a job for the vet or you can spray with Frontline (from the vet) which zaps them instantly.

GREEN SLIME - Who would think that a few slurps of slimy water would be a killer?   The action of the sun on the micro-organisms in still and stagnant water turns it green and it is then toxic and can prove fatal.   Keep water dishes clean and out of direct sunlight, change water often.   If you are out on a walk never let your dog drink standing water or even go into it.  A swim in green slime water may be his last ever.   Symptoms are shaking, slobbering, panting, distress – the only way to save your dog’s life is to get to the vet as soon as possible.

CORN COBS – When it’s barbecue weather (although we’ve not seen much of it so far this year) we all love a hot buttered corncob – and so will your dog.   But while we have the sense not to eat the hard stalky inner, your dog might  just be thinking butter and wolf the lot down.   You might not see him do this.   He could have gone on a dustbin recce and found a corncob in the trash.   When he suddenly becomes ill and miserable a few hours later, it will be a mystery what has caused it.  Only a trip to the vet and an operation to remove the cob will save him.  Corncobs cause blocked intestines and are usually fatal unless surgically removed.   A big op… a very poorly dog …. and a big bill.

SLUGS AND SNAILS – My dog would never eat a slug so what’s the problem here?   It’s always best to use organic and harmless to animal slug pellets just in case.   The ones with pesticides in will cause untold problems if a dog does decide to go French and gobble one up.   I’ve seen cats eat them.  Ugh!   Their poisonous so deal with these slimy pests so that your pets aren’t tempted.  (half a grapefruit will be full of slugs in a few hours – or a saucer of beer – how you dispose of them is up to you!)   If your dog isn’t eating them he can still become very ill by licking their slimy trail and catching lungworm.   This is a serious and horrid disease that can make your pet very ill.   If you have lots of slugs in the garden and your dog is coughing a lot, ask the vet to test for it.   Treatment for lungworm is successful if caught in time.

STRAYING – When the weather is warm we tend to leave doors open more than usual.   It’s a temptation for a dog to go off on a walkabout.   The trouble is that they sometimes go farther than they think, or get picked up by well meaning people who take them out of the area in an ill-advised rescue attempt.   We’ve heard of dogs taken to Sheffield from the Barlow side of Chesterfieldk and then of course, they’re handed in to a Dog Warden in another area.  How can you ever find your dog again.   If your dog does go missing, advise (by phone and in writing) every Local Authority Dog Warden Service within 100miles.   Get your dog microchipped if you want to get him back home.  It’s the safest way to find him again.

Canine Nail Care



It’s surprising how many dogs we get in here with overgrown nails.   It must cause a great deal of discomfort for the dog, if not actual pain.   The first thing it tells us is the dog hasn’t been having enough exercise.   Walking, especially on a hard surface, will naturally keep the nails short.  It might be because the dog is arthiritic or unwell and can’t get out so much though.   This is something to watch out for if you have an older dog, long nails make all the problems worse.

A regular weekly check on nails is advisable, don’t forget the back feet too.   It’s easy enough to clip the nails yourself, choose a clipper with a guard so you don’t take too much off at once.   The nail has a ‘live’ quick in the middle and if you cut into this it will bleed and you will hurt your pet.   If you do accidentally cut it a liberal sprinkle of wound powder and a bandage will help stop the bleeding.   It does often look very alarming although it usually stops within a short while.   If this happens remember that there is an open would there and keep  the foot clean and dry until it heals.   Have it checked out with the vet if there is pain or swelling or if you are worried.

Taking a little bit of the end of the nail off at a time is all it needs.   You can rasp the end of the nail down afterwards with a nail file.    If you are uneasy about cutting nails you can ask your vet to do it or your grooming salon.   It only takes a few minutes and makes all the difference to your dog’s comfort and wellbeing.

Flea collar danger










Are flea collars harmful to pets and their owners?    It’s routine in this country to use flea collars on cats and dogs but in other parts of the world they are banned.   Now veterinary experts have called for a ban on certain types of flea collars used here.   If they contain dimpylate (which is also called diazinon) they are believed to pose a risk to both pet and owner.   This applies to both cat and dog flea collars by the way.     Diazinon is an organophosphate which was used as a nerve gas in World War II (why would anyone want to develop such a horrible weapon – humans are crazy!) so this is not something you want near to you or your pet.   There is a ban on dimplymate4 in France and all flea collars containing it have been removed from sale.

If you already have one of these collars we suggest wearing gloves to remove it and dispose of it safely.   Is this why so many of our dogs are getting diseases of the nervous system as they get older?    Organic is best – use a safe flea product only and check with your vet to make sure.  We rub dogs and cats over with a cloth sprinkled with tea tree or lavender or rosemary aromatic oil  – it makes them smell nice and the fleas keep away.