Pet Advice Guides for Pet Owners

RSS feed for this section

Coping with problem pets can be daunting without good pet advice. If you have encountered aggressive behaviour in dogs, cats who refuse to use their litter trays, overweight pets, nervous behaviour and fear of loud noises, excitability, skin ailments and general poor health, help is at hand. Our Pet advice pages are based on years of work with all sorts of animals. Through our dog adoption services, we have seen all sorts of behavioural problems. Sadly, this usually results in owners getting rid of the problem, often due to many months (even years) of trying to cope. Our aim is to educate, rehabilitate and create harmony between owners and their pets. We provide assistance, help, maybe just a shoulder to lean on, so you can enjoy a balanced, healthy relationship with your pet.

If you have a specific pet problem and would like some advice, let us know.
All our pet advice pages are provided as a free service for you to enjoy. If you find them useful, a small donation is always appreciated.

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.

Mini ponies come back home

ponies - come home

Our mini ponies have been enjoying winter grazing away from home over the past few months – there’s nothing better for them than fresh grass!   Now it’s time for them to come home and  they seem very pleased to be back.  We have to hire a horse box as we don’t have one in the sanctuary – it would be wonderful to have horse transport of our own so it’s on our ‘wish list’.

We’ve not brought them all just four good friends – Ruby and Daydream, Grace and little Pixie.   He may be only 26″ but here he is first off and out there in front.ponies - come home 3Daydream had a good look round as soon as her hooves hit the tarmac, they all knew where they were within seconds.  

ponies - come home 4Off they go to the stables, no persuasion needed, they know the way.

ponies - come home 5The ponies have been together in the sanctuary since they were first rescued many years ago.  They range from eight to 15 years now.  Ruby is the deep chestnut one and the oldest.  Daydream is younger and a very pretty red and white.  Grace is bright chestnut with a flaxen mane and Pixie is the dark brown boy pony who is tiny, although he thinks he’s a big fella racehorse sometimes!

ponies - come home 6Is there a feed waiting?   We’ll be fetching some of the other ponies back in the Spring.

ponies - come home 7It’s so good to be home …..

If you’d like to adopt one of the ponies please get in touch.  Let us know which one – a donation helps us to keep them in clover and we’ll send you a photo, ‘your’ pony’s story and an adoption certificate.   Sponsors can come and meet ‘their’ mini friend on our monthly pony days – first Sunday in every month between 12.0noon and 2.0pm.

Dmations by paypal, donate button on site or cheque payable to Pet Samaritans please.


Sister cats need a home together

cats - phoebe 3

This is Phoebe who came in to us before Christmas together with her sister Esther.   Sadly, their owner had passed away and they were home alone until a kind relative brought them in to us.   They are two of the nicest and most well behaved cats you could ever know.

cats - esther 2

Esther is just as friendly and polite as Phoebe.  They are best friends as well as sisters and need to have a home where they will always be together.   We took them to be vaccinated this week (thanks Geoff) and the vet thinks they are between three and five years old.

Phoebe and Esther are super friendly and love to be with you and sit on your knee.   They are clean and very sociable, these are easy going laid back cats who are very loving and easy to care for.

cats - phoebe 2Please get in touch if you’d like to come and meet them.  01246 4557767 or email.

How much sugar are you feeding your cats?

cats - sevvy 5

Cats like sugar.  Just like us, they become addicted to it and most pet food now has it as an added ingredient.  It keeps the cats coming back for more.  Is this why so many cats nowadays have dental problems?  We took one of our cats to the vet to be spayed recently and she had to have two teeth out while she was there.

So many cats now suffer from diabetes as they get older.  It is possible to keep them going for a while but usually it is a slow death for a cat.  In previous years we had never had a cat in with blood sugar problems and we think that is because they didn’t eat processed cat food then.

There was a fishmonger at the end of the street and fish heads were very popular.  Mince from the butcher and meat scraps from the table formed most of the cats’ diet.    Our pets were fit and well in those days and a visit to the vet unheard of except when there had been  an accident.

What about biscuits?   Do they help to keep the cat’s teeth clean?   In spite of all the hype we’re not convinced.  Would a diet of biscuits be good for your teeth?

The best food for cats is meat or fish.  They have to chew it and it keeps teeth naturally strong.  We put a sprinkle of Plaque Off on their food every day.  This is a natural enzyme (from Sweden) and works by dissolving the plaque on the cat’s teeth.   (You can get Plaque Off from us – by post or call in)

If you haven ‘t time to cook meat you can still feed your cat naturally with Nature’s Menu.  This is raw food and cats love it.   There’s two sorts – frozen nuggests that come in different flavours, just take a handful out to defrost and put them in the cat’s dish.  Job done.

Or you can buy Nature’s Menu pouches.and the meat has been minced and then steam cooked in the pouch.  These are very palatable, our cats love them.  They have only natural ingredients and no sugar.   Varieties include chicken and turkey, chicken and salmon and tuna and beef and chicken.   The pouches are 65p each and make a substantial meal – very filling and nutritious.

We have Nature’s Menu frozen and steamed cat food in stock – call and collect or we can  post the pouches out to you.  01246 455777

Opening times – 10.0am to 3.30pm.

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!


Thanks to volunteers who help us socialize the dogs

zeta 2A big thank you to our wonderful volunteers (especially Geoff) who come all weathers to take our dogs out for walks and help to socialize them.  Zeta, shown above and who is a permanent sanctuary resident, looks forward to her walks and watches out for Geoff every day.  She would be bereft if he didn’t come!

Sophia and Misty escpecially need to meet new people, especially men.  They have to learn that humans are their friends and that they can trust us.  These two collie x young ladies can still only go for short walks, they have poor muscle tone and while their feet are hardening well they are still not hundred per cent.  The main thing, so far as we are concerned, is that they now enjoy their walks, look forward to the lead being put on (inst ead of screaming with fright) and have happy faces when they meet someone new.   Still a bit apprehensive sometimes though.

Socializing a young dog is one of the kindest things you can do.   We all have to live alongside one another, if a dog is afraid of people that is difficult.   A well adjusted, friendly, calm young dog is a pleasure – one that is terrified of strangers is a problem dog and often quite dangerous.  If a dog bites you because she’s afraid, it still hurts!

Baby hedgehog feeling better

hedgehogs - nov.We’ve had lots of baby hedgehogs brought in recently – this little chap came in yesterday – thanks Chris for all your rescues.  All the hoglets who’ve arrived so far are doing well, they come out for meals and that’s the only time we see them, otherwise they are in a hay nest and snugged up warm.

They are messy feeders and get stuck right in, feet as well sometimes.   It’s a good opportunity to check them over.  Although their spines are so sharp, their underbelly and the hair round their face is soft and silky.hedgehogs - november This little fella is one of the tamest, I think we’ve bonded over the tick removing session this afternoon.   We thought he had one tick when he arrived, when these blood suckers fed overnight they became more visitble – poor thing, he had ten ticks.  All safely removed but I’ll check him again tomorrow in case there are any little ones I’ve missed.


Staffi with separation anxiety

dogs - sasha 2Problem dogs- a call for help from a family with a staff who suffers from separation anxiety.

Hi I was wondering if you could help we have a staffi who suffers very badly from separation anxiety and also is scared of any noise including motor bikes, loud cars,kids clapping and banging. If left alone he destroys the house hurting himself in the process we have tried many things to
Combat this and nothing has worked.He has started showing signs of aggression when he is scared and has snapped at people in the house an also scratched me just because I was moving him to stop
Him jumping up we feel that there is nothing more we can do as we have children as young as 9 and also smaller children that visit frequently to the house we would rather him not be put to sleep if possible . If it is at all possible for you to rehabilitate him and find him a new home this is what we would prefer. He has been a member of our family for 4 years we had him from a pup but nothing we have tried works and we are concerned that he may turn on the children as he has already snapped at my youngest more than once . 
We would appreciate any help that you can give.
Hope to hear from you ASAP 

Dear L.B.
I'm sorry to hear of the problems with your dog. You obviously think a lot about him and there are several things you can do 
to improve his behaviour.  Have you tried giving him 
Skullcap & Valerian tablets?   They are calming and very helpful in 
combating anxiety.   We have them in stock and they are well worth a 
try.  Give a double dose to begin with and then go on to a maintenance 
dosage when he begins to be less anxious.  We've used these for years 
and they really work.

Also, an alteration in his diet may be the key to an improvement in his behaviour.  Sometimes these problems are as a result of food that doesn't suit the dog.  There are lots of additives in some pet food, it's an unregulated industry and factory made food isn't a natural diet.  It can make dogs hyper!  How do you feed him at present?

Does he have a quiet 'den' of his own?   Many dogs need a place where 
they can relax away from the rest of the family (pack).  If it's in a 
dimly lit corner so much the better.   The cupboard under the stairs (or somewhere similar) is ideal.  Or you could try a cage with the door open (we never recommend shutting a dog in a cage) and a blanket draped over the top.  Cushions inside and some of his toys and a chew stick and it's a relaxing environment.

The key to combating anxious behaviour is always exercise - lots and lots of 
it.   I realize that if you have a young family it may be difficult to 
give your pet as much as he needs. Can you enlist friends to help? A dog that is running about and having long walks and free running, as he would in a natural state, will be tired when he gets in and hardly likely to worry about anything. He'll just want his dinner and to go to sleep!
I hope this helps, do let me know about the food
all best,