Dog Health

Thinking of getting a dog and worried about vets bills?

How often will a dog need to visit a vet in their lifetime?

A dog will probably make more frequent visits to the vet in the puppy and senior stages of their life.

A puppy may be more likely to pick up illnesses due to having an immature immune system as well as eating anything in sight!! If your dog has an underlying condition, they will need medication reviews which need to be done approximately every 6 months. Even if your dog is healthy and has no underlying health issues, you should have an annual check-up and vaccination each year, to make sure they are fit and healthy.

Torn nail

My dog has torn his nail – what should I do?

A torn nail needs to be attended to but be careful as when injured a dog will naturally try to protect itself so may not take kindly to you touching the area. Ideally you will need to remove the part of the nail that has torn off with clippers and wash the area with warm water. Often this type of injury leaves exposed tissue which will be sore and sensitive. Your vet may choose to bandage the area and use antibiotics or antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

Inflamed skin

I noticed a small area of inflamed skin on my dog this morning and when I got home from work it was much larger and angry looking. What is it?

This sounds like pyotraumatic dermatitis which is an inflammation and infection of the skin. They can be very small, localised areas but because they irritate the dog, the common reaction is for the dog to chew, lick or scratch the area, making it mush worse. There are many causes including fleas, mites, stings or bites, allergies, wounds and injury, matted fur or occasionally behavioural causes related to boredom. You will need to see your vet who will get to the root cause of the problem and prescribe a course of treatment.

Puppy vaccination question

My puppy has had their vaccination course, which was given two weeks apart when he was 7 and 10 weeks old. My vet has told me that he now requires a third vaccination for Parvo. Is this right?

This is a difficult one. Parvo is part of the puppy vaccination course but the maternal antibodies that can interfere with the vaccination can remain in the pup until they are 16 weeks of age. The only way to fully vaccinate against parvo is with this third vaccination. Some breeds like Rottweilers and Dobermans are more susceptible to this disease.

Dog swallowed a toy

I am concerned that my dog may have swallowed part of my child’s plastic toy. We found the toy chewed up but are missing piece about the size of a 20 pence piece. What should I do?

Depending on how large your dog is a piece the size of a 20p coin may or may not  pass through your dog. If your dog has swallowed the missing piece you would be looking for signs of a gastrointestinal obstruction such as persistent vomiting, inappetance or severe weigh loss. I would also check the faeces for it passing through. Usually most things will pass through in 48 hours.

Dog with sticky eye

My dog has a sticky eye with pus visible. I am bathing it with cool boiled water several times a day but it doesn’t seem to be improving.

This sounds like it could be bacterial conjunctivitis which will need to be treated by a vet with antibiotic eye drops. Your vet will also check that there are no ulcers or lacerations which have caused this. For any eye issues like this it is better to use an eye safe saline solution rather than boiled water. This need to be bought over the counter. Don’t be tempted to make salt water at home as it is difficult to get the quantities right which may cause irritation to your dog.

Limping dog

I have a 3-year-old German Short-Haired Pointer and have noticed that she has developed a bit of a limp when we are out walking, she seems okay in the house although favours her left leg (the right one is the one she limps on when out walking) and does hobble slightly when getting up after resting. What should I do?

Many ailments could be causing your girl to limp such as muscle strain/tear, joint pain/strain, ligament or cartilage damage or it may even be her paw that is causing trouble. You need to get her examined by your vet and in the meantime, I would recommend minimal exercise until she has been and the condition diagnosed. Your vet will examine her leg thoroughly and may be able to diagnose her injury without x-ray, in which case he/she will probably recommend, continued restricted exercise and they will prescribe you some anti-inflammatory medication if needed.

Coughing Labrador

Our 14-year-old Labrador is coughing a lot, he sometimes brings up a whiteish mucus and his breathing can appear laboured – what is this and what should I do?

The symptoms you describe can indicate several potential conditions, especially in an older dog, namely; congestive heart failure, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer. You should have him checked over by his vet so that he can be diagnosed accurately and prescribed the relevant medication which will help to alleviate some of his symptoms.

Smelly dog

We have a 10-year-old Westie who stinks! We bathe him nearly every week, clean his ears, clean his teeth, he has ‘fresh breath’ tablets (although it’s not his breath) we can smell his ‘body odour’ when we are just stood near him, what can this be?

This sounds very much like your dog has a yeast infection, these can be highly unpleasant to be around. Other bacterial conditions can co-exist with a yeast infection also. Speak to your vet about other possibilities as dogs with an underactive thyroid can also suffer with skin problems. Unfortunately, as you have discovered, simply washing your dog will not solve this issue and could potentially make their skin worse, your dog would benefit from seeing his vet so that the skin can be sampled for yeast or bacterial infections.

Dog chewing her paw

My three-year-old Dachshund keeps licking and chewing at her front paw and is making it red raw, I have checked the paw over and between her toes and can’t notice anything out of the ordinary, why is she doing this to herself?

It sounds like you need to get your dog checked over by a vet so that they can investigate this matter further, several factors can be contributing to your pooch’s itchy feet. This can be an infection at the base of the claw or in between toes – these are caused by a build up of bacteria and fungi, medication is usually needed to clear these ups. Your dog may suffer with allergies also which is causing her to itch and chew her feet, talking to your vet about your dog’s diet, lifestyle and skin condition will be very beneficial.

Car sick dog

Is there anything I can give my dog to stop her being car sick?

If the sickness is caused by the stress of travelling you could try sitting in the car with her for a while before you start moving to settle her down. You may have to experiment with this a bit by trying longer time periods if it doesn’t work at first. If the sickness is caused by the motion itself there are medications available from your vet which can help.

Terrier not using his leg

I have just rehomed a 5 year old Cairn terrier. I have noticed that although he seems to run about OK he tends not to use his left rear leg. This is especially noticeable when he is going up or down stairs. He is happy to let me touch his leg and I have examined his paw and it doesn’t look swollen or sore. What might the problem be?

It sounds as though he may have a luxating patella. In plain speak this means that the kneecap on the affected leg moves in and out of the correct position. When it is in its normal place your dog will be able to run around without a problem. When the kneecap moves out of position he will carry the leg. This is a common problem in small breed dogs because the groove which carries the kneecap is particularly shallow. Many dogs live with this condition throughout their lives without it causing a problem. If however, you see it causing your dog pain or distress speak to your vet who may recommend corrective surgery.

Do spayed bitches need hormone supplements

Do spayed bitches need any supplements such as hormones?

Spaying bitches is always a controversial issue. It has both social and medical benefits but does involve the removal a natural part of the anatomy and hormone cycle. The vast majority of dogs will have no problems whatsoever. Some will have a tendancy to gain weight but there are neutered diets available to control this. A small percentage of animals will seem more subdued following a spay and some will suffer changes to the quality of their coats. With regard to supplements – again this is a topic that provokes a lot of debate. Many people swear by Evening primrose Oil but there has not been enough scientific studies done for us to be able to offer a definitive answer.

Hip scoring results

I have a 6 month old gsd. The hip scores on the kennel cough certificate are: sire 5/6, dam 4/9. Please could you tell me if these are good scores.

The simple answer is yes, your pup’s parents both had good hips. The hip scores are a mark out of 50 for each hip. The higher the number the more severe the hip dysplasia.

Dog with flatulence

My dog has really bad wind. He breaks wind very often and they stink. What can I do?

Flatulence is mainly caused by bacterial fermentation of digested nutrients and sometimes by swallowed air or a high concentration of worms. So firstly make sure he is wormed. Then pay attention to his diet. Diets high in fibre or vegetables, especially soya, bran and wholewheat can cause excessive gas. Dietry intolerances can also cause problems. Initially we would suggest changing to a low fibre diet. Cheaper diets often contain a large amount of fibre or contain a lot of soya and/or wholewheat meal. You could also try a hypoallergenic diet. You will need to allow a bit of time for his digestive system to get used to a new diet. If this doesn’t work it would be worth seeing your vet as there may be an underlying cause.

Should I trim the fur around my dog’s eyes?

I have recently bought a Tibetan Terrier and I was after advice about whether I should clip her around her eyes. The breeder I got her from says I shouldn’t as the fur will keep dirt out of her eyes.

Dogs with hairy faces often have their field of vision restricted which can make them nervous and often makes it difficult for other dogs, and humans, to read their body language. Quite often the hairs around the eyes can actually attract dirt which is then transferred to the eyes so we would advise trimming the fur unless you are going to show her.

When should my puppy start teething?

I have a 4 month old Boxer pup who hasn’t shown any signs of teething. Should he be teething by now?

Generally puppies will start to get their permanent teeth between two and seven months of age but some may be later. The important thing is that all the temporary teeth are lost before the permanent ones replace them.

Weimaraner with brittle nails

I have a two year old Weimaraner bitch. When she runs on tarmac her claws split and bleed. My other dogs have always run in the same area and not had this problem.

It is unusual for a healthy, young dog to have a problem like this. Brittle nails could be a sign of a deficiency in her diet. If you cannot resolve the issue you may have to restrict her to running on grass or buying her a set of boots which are available from specialist manufacturers.

Dog with warts

My dog had developed a number of warts along her back. She is 9 years old. What should I treat them with?

You need to check with your vet that they are just warts. There is no treatment to stop them growing. If they are just warts or cysts they are fine as long as they are not irritating your dog. If they become too large or start to irritate they can be surgically removed.

Aggresive German Shepherd

I have a 14 year old German Shepherd who has always been as soft as a brush and gentle with people. Recently though her personality has changed and she has become slightly aggressive and snaps if anyone tries to stroke her head. Is this just a sign of old age and is there anything we can do to get her back to her old self?

Old age in itself is usually not responsible for the majority of behaviour in older dogs. Failing eyesight and poor hearing can often make an older dog nervous, often taken by surprise when someone touches them. The personality change could also be due to pain. Dogs are very good at hiding pain so she could be suffering from toothache, earache, backache or arthritis. If she only snaps when you touch her head it may be worth checking her teeth and having a feel of her head, if safe to do, to try to identify any tender spots. Your vet will be able to give her a thorough examination to see if there is an underlying cause for the behaviour change and recommend a suitable course of action.

Fur not growing back

My 5 year old Labrador developed a skin infection 12 months ago which was successfully treated by our vet. We were told that the fur would take time to grow back but we didn’t think it would be this long. We are ashamed to take her for walks because she looks neglected with her bald patches. Should her fur have grown back by now?

The skin does take a while to return to normal after an infection but I would have expected some return to normality after 12 months. I would suggest you take your dog back to the vet to have her checked out as there could be some underlying cause such as a hormone disorder.

Discoloured tooth

My dogs tooth has started to go discoloured and according to the internet it is Pulpitis. What exactly is this and what happens next?

Firstly we would never advocate diagnosing conditions on the internet it is always better to have a vet diagnosis. Pulpitis is inflammation of the dental pulp tissue and is often caused by blunt force trauma, often from dogs chewing on hard substances such as antlers or bones. The tooth will eventually die and an abscess could form. The cheaper option is to have the tooth removed but if you want to save the tooth you will probably need to be referred to a dental specialist who may be able to do root canal work.

Can I walk my bitch when she’s in season?

Is it OK to take my female dog out for walks when she comes into season and what should I do if a male dog tries it on with her?

Your dog will be in season for around 2 to 3 weeks and during that time we would recommend that you keep her completely away from un-neutered male dogs so they can’t try it on. Don’t even leave her unattended in your garden as male dogs will go to great lengths to get at a bitch in season.

How long before my puppy can go out?

How long after vaccinations do I have to wait before I can take my puppy on a walk or he can mix with other dogs?

In general we would advise that you wait until a week after the second vaccination but recommend that you ask your vet who will give you the specific manufacturers guidelines for the vaccine they have used.. Your puppy’s immunity will start to build up after the first vaccination and be boosted by the second. This will give your pup immunity for a year.

Smelly dog

My German Shepherd has started to smell all over. It is noticeable when he is dry but really bad when his coat is wet. We first noticed the smell about two months ago and have tried bathing him but the smell was still there. What could be causing it?

First check his teeth and gums for signs of infection that he could be transferring to his coat when grooming. Also check deep down in his fur for any skin infections and then check his back end to see if the anal glands are leaking. Again although this is localised it can be spread when he is grooming. There is also a condition associated with a discharge around the anus called anal furunculosis which is pretty smelly. It would be worth a vet having a good check over him to identify and treat the problem.

Dog with smelly ears

My dog has smelly ears. What is causing this?

Bad smelling ears are usually a sign of an ear infection. Other symptoms may include ear scratching or head shaking, tilting of the head, a discharge from the ear, swelling and redness around the ear and a reluctance to have their head touched. Some dogs are more prone to ear infections because of the size or shape of their ears but they can also be caused by frequent swimming or hair growth in their ears. Your vet will be able to clean the ears out and give you medication to clear up the infection.

Westie with ear infection

My Westie regularly gets ear infections and I always struggle to get the drops in his ears. Is there an easier way?

The usual way to treat ear infections needs drops applying twice a day for several days which can be quite a challenge with some dogs. However there is a new ear gel product available that only has to be applied once and keeps working for 7 days which should make your life a lot easier.

Dog with blood around her nostrils

I have a 14 year old crossbreed and I have noticed some spots of blood around one of her nostrils. She does seem to be sneezing more but I may just be being paranoid. Any advice?

Ok so there is a problem but what we don’t know is if the bleeding is being caused by her sneezing and bursting a blood vessel or some other cause. Firstly, is there something in her environment that has changed – have you recently decorated, using different household sprays etc.

If you cannot think of anything obvious then she could have something stuck up her nostril which is causing her irritation – a blade of grass, or it could be a polyp or an infection

Why does my dog drag his bottom on the ground?

Why does my dog drag his bum along the ground – does he have worms?

Worms can cause this behaviour but a much more common cause is a problem with their anal glands. These are two little sacks just inside their bottom which are normally emptied when they go to the toilet.

In some dogs they do not empty themselves. This is called impaction and is common in small dogs. The impacted glands irritate the dog and the dog will either drag their bottom or chew at the area. They can be emptied manually – but it is not a pleasant job. Your vet will be able to do this. If the problem persists it is possible to have them removed.

If worming your dog doesn’t cure the problem see your vet.

Dog with plaque on her teeth

I’ve noticed that my dog has plaque build- up on her teeth, what should I do?

Ideally you should be brushing your dog’s teeth daily, just like you would your own to stop the build-up of plaque. There are special dog toothbrushes and toothpastes available. As your dog already has a build-up of plaque she will need a scale and polish at the vets.

Golden Retriever with hip dysplasia

My 8 year old Golden Retriever has recently been diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia , can I do anything to make her more comfortable?

Hip Dysplasia is a condition, frequently seen in larger breeds (German Shepherds, Labradors, Retrievers etc). It is caused by the thigh bone not fitting snugly into the hip socket which causes an erosion of the cartilage. In most cases this will lead to arthritis. Weight loss if appropriate and a controlled exercise program will help in most cases. . Ice packs, heat pads and massages may ease the aches of a flare up. For a long term solution your dog will need prescription anti-inflammatory medication and in severe cases surgery will be needed.

Is it alright for dogs to eat tomatoes?

We grow tomatoes in a greenhouse and when we open the door our dog makes a bee line for the tomato plants and tries to eat the fruits. Is it OK for dogs to eat tomatoes?

Tomatoes contain a substance called alpha-tomatine which is found throughout the plant. Tomatine can be toxic to the heart but is poorly absorbed so your dog would have to consume vast quantities before the heart was affected.

Tomatine is much more concentrated in the leaves and stem and is only present in small amounts in the green unripned tomato fruit and in tiny amounts in a ripened red tomato.

Some dogs can have a mild stomach upset from eating tomatoes, but that’s about it. We would always advise small quantities of any food that’s not part of a dog’s normal diet.

Can my dog have Piriton?

I have a 8 year old choc lab who has all the systems of hay fever. Can I give her a Piraton tablet?

Whilst we do use anti- histamines regularly I would always recommend that you have him/her checked out by your vet first.

When should my puppy come off puppy food?

My pup is 1 year old, when is it best to take her off puppy food?

Most foods recommend swapping to adult diet around 1 year of age. Some then go onto a juvenile diet whereas others go straight onto an adult diet. As always it is best to introduce any new diet gradually over a few days.

Cleaning a dog’s teeth

Can you tell me the best way to get dogs teeth clean he has small amount of tartar building up. I have tried toothpaste but he will not let me brush his teeth so what can I do / give him to help clean his teeth ?

We advise starting with a small amount of pet toothpaste just on the end of your finger and using your finger to run along his teeth and gums initially. After doing this it is important to reward him, either with a treat (even though that seems counter-intuitive) or a game or belly rub depending on his preference. It is about getting him used to having is teeth brushed and can be dropped when he is used to it.

Once he is ok with you using your finger get a finger brush which looks like a thimble and fits on your finger with nice bristles to help with breaking up the plaque.

For some dogs especially the smaller breeds this remains easier than trying to use a brush but again if they are used to the finger brush then moving on to the toothbrush is the next step.

If this doesn’t work there are a variety of dental chews on the market which can help but if you are using these regularly you may need to cut down on his meals as they can have a significant calorific value.

Border Terrier aggressive towards Black Labrador

My Border Terrier gets on well with all dogs except Black Labradors. I have had him since he was a pup and he hasn’t had a bad experience with one. Why does he behave like this ?

Some dogs can develop a fear reaction without us being aware of what triggered it in the 1st place. Speak to your vet about it and they may refer you to a specialist pet behaviourist to see if the problem can be corrected.

Thirsty Staffy

I have a 10 year old female Staffy. I have noticed that she is always thirsty and she is not eating as much as she used to. Is this just old age?

Excessive drinking can be a symptom of many different conditions and when it is combined with a loss of appetite it is a cause for concern. You need to get her checked over by a vet who will probably want to run some tests.

German Shepherd salivary gland problem

I have recently got a German Shepherd and a friend told me that they are prone to salivary gland blockages. Is this true and what should I look out for?

All dogs can get salivary gland blockages but German Shepherds are more susceptible. The blockage is a mucus filled sack that will look like a blister on the underside of the tongue. The symptoms to look out for include one or more of the following; facial swelling, oral pain, blood in the saliva, difficulty swallowing, eye pressure and pain and respiratory problems. We treat blocked glands by draining the fluid and then a course of antibiotics. In some cases surgery is needed to correct the problem.

Dog with broken claw

My dog has caught his claw and it is now sticking up out of his foot. What should I do with it ?

If the claw is sticking up it suggests that it is broken – similar to us tearing a fingernail or toenail. Depending on where it has broken it will either need to be removed completely or trimmed back towards the toe. This is best done at a vets as sedation may be required. The claw will usually grow back without issues.






Can I use flea treatment on a nursing dog?

Is it safe to de-flea a female dog while she is nursing 3-4 week old puppies as the fleas are now on the pups. Also how can the pups be treated safely for the fleas ?

There are many flea products on the market but the majority are not licenced to be used on nursing dogs. If you call your veterinary surgery they will be able to tell you which products have been tested and obtained a licence. Unfortunately, due to legal restrictions on advertising prescription drugs we cannot print the names of these products for you in this column. Treating the mum with these products will help to reduce the flea population and so you shouldn’t need to treat the pups individually.

We would also suggest that you use a household flea spray

Buying a Labrador puppy

I am thinking of buying a Labrador puppy and wonder if you could advise me on what to look for when choosing a pup.

From a medical point of view there are three generic problems associated with Labradors -Hip Displacia, Elbow Dysplasia and GPRA (a problem with the eyes that causes blindness, often by three or four years of age).

The parents of the pup should have been checked for these conditions and be able to show you the results of the tests.

Hip scoring is done to check for hip displacia. X-rays are taken by a vet who submits them to the British Veterinary Association. They assign a score to the animal ranging from 0 (lowest) to 53 (highest) for each hip. The breed average combined score for both hips is 16 so anything below this would indicate good hips. Elbow scoring is a newer scheme but is done in exactly the same way. Elbows are scored from 0 (excellent) to 3 (badly affected with the problem)

The test for GPRA is done by a specialist veterinary opthamologist and a certificate is given showing whether the animals are affected or unaffected. The test needs to repeated every 12 months so ensure the certificate is current.

Remember these tests are carried out on both parents of the puppy you are looking to buy not on the puppy itself.

Budgie with runny poos

My budgie is eating and drinking as normal but has very runny poos. What could be causing this ?

Diarrhoea in budgies can be caused by dietary changes, stress and internal parasites. If you have changed the diet this will most likely be the cause. Stress can be caused by a change in the environment – have you moved your budgie or has there been a disruption in the room ? Stress can also be caused by a sudden temperature drop. If none of the above applies it is time to consult a vet who will be able to check for an internal problem.

Walking a dog with a heart problem

My dog has been diagnosed with (a heart problem) for which he is taking medication. Should I reduce the lengths of his walks during Summer ?

Hot weather increases the stress on the heart, especially if your pet has heart disease. So you do need to be careful with exercise. I would suggest that during Summer you avoid walking him during the hotter parts of the day and stick to early mornings and evening walks when it is cooler. To judge the right length of walk check that he isn’t panting as this is a sign that he is getting too hot.

Puppy teeth

Could you explain to me what will happen with my puppy’s teeth. Will he have milk teeth like humans and if so when will he lose them ?

Yes, puppies have two sets of teeth. Generally they will have 28 temporary teeth that start to appear from the second week of age. These will generally fall out at around 4 months and be replaced by 42 permanent teeth. The first teeth to go are the incisors, followed by the canines, pre-molars and finally the molars. The temporary teeth are generally swallowed with food. Occasionally they are retained and will need to be removed by a vet.

Dog eating his own poo

Why has my 18 week old puppy started to eat his own faeces ?

Firstly you will not be alone in experiencing this as it is quite common with puppies. There could be a medical reason such as anemia, malabsorbtion of nutrients or behavioural reason behind it.

One school of thought is that puppies may not be absorbing all the nutrients they need from their food. It may be worth trying a higher quality food which will also result in less poop.

Some people swear by adding a couple of drops of fresh pineapple juice to the puppy’s food – which makes their faeces taste awful.

Preparing your dog for having their companion dog euthanased

I have two dogs, one elderly and one much younger. They are well bonded to each other. We are facing the fact that our elderly Labrador, Sophie, may have to be put to sleep soon and was wondering what we can do to reduce the stress to our other dog Chester ?

We don’t really know how much dogs understand about death but we do know that  life can change dramatically for a dog who loses the companionship of another dog. Dogs are pack animals by nature and two dogs living together will have established who is the leader and who is the follower and will have established habits, routines, boundaries and rules which in return will give them confidence, certainty and familiarity.

What we do know is that when a dog loses a canine companion their behaviour can change, for example appetite, where they sleep, affection levels etc and it is widely believed that dogs will pick up on our own emotions.

It is important with any dogs to establish yourselves as the ‘leader’. There are many good dog trainers who can help you with positive training to reinforce the bond between dog and handler. The dog(s) will then look to you for assurance and confidence and at this very sad time it important that you do not relax the boundaries or rules you have established.

In your own particular case there are things you can do now that will help Chester when you finally need to have Sophie put to sleep.

Do separate activities with Chester and get him use to having a ‘life’ away from Sophie, in other words establish yourself as the pack leader. He will then look to you for leadership in the future.

When Sophie finally passes away take Chester on more outings and create rituals that he can look forward to each day. Don’t necessarily get another dog but try to meet up with another dog owner so he can get some ‘doggie playtime’

Suitable breed for a retired couple

My husband and I are due to retire at the end of the year and we are looking for a small, quiet, healthy breed of dog – some would call it a lap dog. Can you recommend a suitable breed please?

In my opinion a Lhasa Apso or a Shih tzu would make an excellent companion.

Can dogs have human painkillers?

My dog suffers from arthritis. Can I give him ‘human’ pain killers ?

No. Many painkillers that are formulated for humans are extremely toxic to dogs. For instance Ibuprofen can prove fatal. There are licenced veterinary painkillers that have been extensively trialled on dogs and are proven to be safe to use.

West Highland Terrier eczema

I am looking at getting a West Highland Terrier puppy but have been told that they all suffer from eczema which is expensive to treat. Is this right ?

Westies are certainly more prone to skin problems than many other breeds but not all Westies have skin problems. Of those that do, some respond to shampoos, some to antibiotics and others to regular medication to control the problem and yes, these can be expensive. Westies make excellent companions so don’t let this put you off, get a good insurance policy from the start that covers condition for the life of the pet and then if your puppy develops a skin problem in the future you know that he is going to get the treatment he needs without it impacting on your wallet.

Dog with eye discharge

My dog seems to be in perfect health but has a discharge from his eyes. Is it something I should be worried about?

Dogs have the same self cleaning mechanism as humans for cleaning their eyes – tears and eyelids which clean the eye as the close and reopen. This cleans out all the small particles of dirt and dust which moves to the corner of the eye as small brown crusts and this is normal and not to be worried about. If the discharge is a yellow or green mucus it is probably indicative of an infection. If just one eye is runny it could be indicative of a blocked tear duct.

Dog with fatty lumps

Our Labrador has ‘fatty lumps’ on his back. I am told that they are nothing to worry about but have been given the option to have them removed. What would you advise ?

I am going to make the assumption that it is a vet who has described the lumps as ‘fatty lumps’ and told you not to worry. If not please have a vet check them out and he will probably do a biopsy. If they are just fatty lumps (lipomata) then they are common, especially in older dogs. They are benign tumours of fat cells and are not a cause for concern. They only really cause concern if they are located in areas which compromise mobility or rub causing the surface to bleed and get infected.

Urinating Springer

I have a 10 month old Springer Spaniel bitch. She has always urinated when she gets excited since being a pup. She was spayed at 6 months old. Will she grow out of it or can you suggest something I can do to stop this ?

Springers are certainly excitable and in time she may grow out of this behaviour but it may be worth a visit to a vet to check that there is no contributory physical problem and if she gets a clean bill of health then I would advise speaking to a pet behaviourist.

Scientific diets

Why are some dog foods described as ‘Scientific Diets’?

Scientific diets are formulated to give the correct amount of minerals, vitamins, nutrients and calories for a pet at a specific stage of their life, to manage a medical condition and sometimes the diets can be breed specific. For example in general puppies need more protein and calcium, older dogs need less calories to prevent weight gain and some giant breeds eg Great Danes need a high energy giving food without overfilling them.

Dog eating slugs

Our dog loves eating slugs even though they make her vomit. Why is she eating them if they are making her sick ?

It never ceases to amaze me what dogs find appetising and slugs are certainly high on many a dog’s menu. Slugs themselves do not generally cause sickness but she may have eaten slugs that have ingested slug pellets which can be toxic to dogs. Look at where she has access to and ask your neighbours if they use slug pellets. Also has she always vomited after eating slugs or is this a new thing. It could be that the cause of the vomiting is unrelated but coincidental. I would advise a chat with your vet. Also make sure that her worm treatment is up to date and that the product you are using is effective against lungworm as this is transmitted via slugs.

Jack Russell with torn cruciate ligament

My Jack Russell has torn his cruciate ligament. He has been prescribed Rimadyl and he is definitely better than he was. Will he fully recover or will he eventually need surgery ?

Some cases can recover with strict rest and pain relief as you describe. However if there is significant instability in the joint then surgery is often recommended to speed recovery and minimise long term damage like arthritis. We normally assess each case on its own needs.

Dog with weak bladder

I have a 9 year old Labrador. She is healthy but suffers from a weak bladder. Is it just old age or can something be done to stop this ?

This can be common in older bitches especially if they have been spayed. There are a couple of drugs available which we have found to be very effective in curing this in most cases.

Dog with bald patch

Our 3 year old dog, Poppy, is scratching and now has a bald patch on her back. She has not been treated for fleas but I cannot see any in her fur. What could it be ?

It could well be fleas. Check by using a flea comb to check for flea pooh. Tap the contents onto a white tissue paper and then dampen it. If there is a reddish hue then fleas are present. The irritated patch will need treating with antibiotics and anti-inflamatories and then you will need to use a flea treatment regularly to prevent the problem re-occuring.

Coughing dog

My King Charles Cavalier developed a cough a few months ago. He is 8 years old and seems to cough when we are out on walks. It is as though he is trying to cough something up. Can you suggest what is causing it?

Unfortunately King Charles Cavalier Spaniels are prone to heart complaints and this occurs more frequently from the age of 6 upwards. Coughing is one of the main indicators of heart disease. As the dogs age the heart becomes less efficient and enlarges to compensate which can result in the heart pressing on the airways causing the animal to cough. It also causes a build-up of fluid in the lungs which is why it sounds like he is trying to cough something up.

The good news is that there are several drugs available to help with this condition and help to prolong life and the sooner you start the better the effect so please make an appointment to see your vet.

Anal gland problem

My Collie is emptying his anal glands on what seems like a daily basis. I have been told that they can be removed. Would you recommend this to stop the problem?

Removing anal glands is possible but usually only done if they are prone to infection. There is a risk with the surgery that he could be left incontinent as a result of the surgery. A dog should empty their anal glands on a daily basis when they go to the toilet. If your Collie is emptying his at other times it could be caused by diarrhoea or if it is persistent it could be caused by a lack of fibre in the diet.

Drooling Labrador

Could you tell me why my 3 year old Labrador has started drooling ? He has never done this before.

It is common for dogs to drool and usually not a cause for concern. However, if he has suddenly started to drool or is drooling more than usual it could be a problem with his teeth, sore gums or an ulcer on his tongue. I would advise that you have him checked out.

Westie with a skin problem

I have a 6 year old Westie. He has a skin problem which starts off looking like dandruff but then gets red and sore. I have tried special shampoos and a hypoallergenic diet but nothing has worked long term. Can you suggest anything ? 

Many Westies suffer with allergic skin disease so a visit to your vet would be recommended. Often these conditions need to be managed long term and medications can help a lot to receive the soreness.

How long will my dog be on heat?

I think my dog is on heat, how long will it last and how often will she be on heat ?

It normally lasts about 3 weeks and they normally come round every 4-6 months

Why does my Collie roll in cow dung?

My collie dog loves rolling in cow dung when we go out for walks – why does she do this ?

There are several theories from dogs doing it to cover the scent of man made shampoos etc that we bath them in, or they are doing it to let you know they have found something interesting but probably the best theory is that they have some evolutionary hangover that makes them want to disguise their own scent to aid in the hunt even though they may show no hunting instinct.

Dog missing her companion

We have recently lost one of our dogs and our other dog keeps looking for him. They were together for 7 years. Is there anything we can do to help her cope with the fact that her ‘best friend’ is missing ?

Dogs are pack animals and some do seem to grieve for missing companions. Keeping some old bedding can be comforting for them in the short term but like ourselves time is often the best healer. Keep them busy with walks and attention. If appropriate a new pet can be a new friend.

Is it safe to clean my dog’s ears with cotton buds?

Is it safe to clean a dogs ears with cotton buds ?

They can be used but with great care. In small dogs and ones that wriggle and struggle it could be possible to damage the eardrum. Generally I would use them to clean the folds of the outer ear mainly.

Sneezing dog

My dog has been sneezing a lot recently – will it be a cold ?

Usually a sneeze only lasts a couple of days. It may be nothing to worry about but I suggest you do get him checked out by your vet. Sometimes dogs can get something lodged in their nose and this can be quite uncomfortable. It would be worthwhile checking whether there is any discharge and whether it is only one nostril or both.

Are dogs colourblind?

Are dogs colorblind?

Dogs are not colour blind but their chromatic acuity is significantly less than humans which means that the colours they see are pale or faded, it is thought to be like red/green colour blindness.

Dogs are, however, much more sensitive to lower light conditions and therefore have better night vision than people.

Do cats or dogs make better pets?

Do cats or dogs make better pets?

It all depends on your life style, personality and what role you want a pet to play in your life.

A pet is just like having a child. If you are a working individual that won’t have the time to exercise a dog morning and night and ideally have somebody to at least let them out at lunchtime then a cat may be better. Dogs are usually more interactive and social animals and are a great reason to get out and keep fit too.

Some cats like Siamese are more ‘people’ orientated and can be more dog-like in their desire to interact with people like dogs do.

To bring another species into it:- It’s horses for courses!

Dog with diarrhoea

My dog often has diarrhoea even though I don’t swop and change her food. She seems fine in herself – what could be the cause ?

Persistent diarrhoea needs investigating as if left untreated can cause dehydration which in turn can cause a number of other issues. Vets have a wide range of tools at their fingertips to help them diagnose the cause – urine tests, blood or faecal tests, ultrasound, endoscopy and even MRI scanning. In a case like this a simple blood test may reveal the cause and then the correct treatment could be recommended.

Jack Russell weight

What is the average weight of an adult male Jack Russell ?

An average adult Jack Russell dog should weigh approximately 7kgs though like ourselves, there can be a broad variation. It is more important that they have a defined shape with a visible waist.

Is it OK to give my dog raw carrots?

Is it OK to give my dog raw carrots ?

Yes, carrots are an excellent way of supplementing your dog’s diet, especially as a substitute for a chew. Like everything though they should be given in moderation. Not all vegetables, however, are good for dogs – toxic vegetables include onions, garlic, green parts of tomato plants, potato peelings, raisins, grapes, rhubarb leaves and broccoli.

Wasp and bee stings

What should I do if my dog gets stung by a wasp or bee?

In most cases the sting will just cause a minor swelling and localised itching. If the sting is still in remove it and then cool the area with a damp cloth. The area can be treated with Benadryl.

In extreme cases the dog could go into anaphylactic shock, characterised by symptoms including difficulty in breathing, fever, low body temperature, wheezing, trembling, wekness, vomiting, diarrhea and rapid breathing, and they should be seen immediately by a Veterinarian

How often can I bathe my dog?

My dog loves to roll around when out on walks and needs bathing frequently -how often can I bath my dog without causing a problem?

The simple answer is your dog will need washing whenever it is dirty or smelly. It is important to use a reputable shampoo developed specifically for dogs so that you do not strip the fur of its essential oils.

Can cats and dogs eat each others food?

I have a cat and two dogs. It doesn’t matter where or when I put the food out they eat each others. Is it harmful ?

Cat and Dog food is produced specifically to give the right types of nutrients and the right balance of proteins, vitamins and fat for each species. Dog food lacks a substance called Taurine – an amino acid that is essential for cats. Dogs love cat food but as cat food is much higher in calories it is sure to cause obesity if dogs consume it over a period of time. Dogs can also sometimes suffer from gastrointestinal upset if they eat cat food.

Chihuahua pants on car journeys

I have a Chihuahua who is normally very placid but when he gets in the car he really starts panting even when it isn’t hot – I think it must either be stress or excitement. Is it normal for small dogs to do this ?

Dogs panting can be a sign of stress. Try gradually introducing animals to the car whilst it is stationary for short periods until they get used to the environment and then gradually build up journey lengths. If the problem persists there are stress relieving products available

Westie goes into a trance

My elderly Westie occasionally seems to go into a trance – is it just old age or should we be worried ? 

Dogs can suffer from senior moments too. There are drugs that can help a dog suffering with cognitive dysfunction. There could also be other causes so it would be well worth having your dog checked over by a vet.

Dog nibbling his ears

Our dog keeps nibbling his ears as though they are itchy. Do they need treating ?

I am assuming we must be talking about a breed with floppy ears ! The problem with breeds of this nature is that the ears end up dangling in everything so it could be that they have dangled in his food and are tasty or have dangled in something that has irritated them. Regular washing of the ears should solve the problem.

Dog with swollen paw

My dog has a swollen paw and I have noticed a tiny bump on one of his pads. I have tried bathing it with warm water and it doesn’t seem to be getting any worse and there is no puss coming out. Will it sort itself out ?

It sounds as though there may be a foreign body in the pad and even though you may not see a cut it could have been in there a while and now moved to a position where it is causing discomfort. I would take him to a vet who will inspect the pad and if necessary open up the pad and remove the object.

Dog with gooey eyes

I have a dog that is about 2 and a half years old. He has a substance oozing from both his eyes. What should I do about it ?

If the substance is clear or white it could be conjunctivitis caused by an allergy, dust in the eye, an ingrowing eyelash or even the shape of the eye but if it is yellow or green it is almost certainly a bacterial infection which needs to be treated with antibiotics. It is worth having it checked out by your vet as eye discharges are often a symptom of a larger problem.

Weeing puppy

I have a female Lhasa Apso puppy who wees when she gets excited, for example when visitors come to the house and make a fuss of her. I have been told that she will grow out of this – is this right ?

Many puppies will go through a stage of weeing and grow out of it but this sounds like it is behaviour related. Some dogs will wet when they are excited or anxious so the solution is to try to avoid these situations. Ask visitors to ignore her when they first enter the house as fussing her will just compound the problem. Do not chastise your dog when she wets as this could cause more anxiety.

Spaniel with broken tooth

My cat has just given birth to kittens. How long should I wait before having her neutered ?

A cat can get pregnant as soon as eight weeks after giving birth so we would recommend having her neutered as soon as she has stopped producing milk.

Parvo symptoms

Could your vet please tell me what the symptoms of Parvo are ?

Parvovirus is a severe gastrointestinal disease. It initially causes weakness, depression, and lethargy. After a few days to it causes vomiting and lack of appetite. The dogs develop a very high fever. Very severe diarrhoea ensues, often with blood and tissue. Because of the vomiting and diarrhoea, the dogs become very weak and dehydrated. Puppies may also suffer from heart disease caused by the virus, causing sudden death

Dog’s phantom vomiting

My dog occasionally goes through the motions of being sick but nothing comes out. She is a 6 year old German Shepherd and we have noticed that she has been doing this a couple of times a week over the last few weeks. What do you think could be wrong ?

If this lasts for a few days and her eating habits haven’t altered it is unlikely to be a reaction to a batch of food and could indicate that she has parasites, an infection, food allergy, gastritis etc.

A vet will be able to run some tests for allergies and infections.

Repeated anal gland problem

My dog has a problem with her anal glands. We regularly have them drained but our vet has suggested having them removed. Will there be any side effects ?

Removal will provide permanent relief for your dog. A small number of dogs can have complications following surgery and develop faecal incontinence which can resolve itself in time with some cases but in other cases will remain.

Smelly Westie

We have a 10-year-old Westie who stinks! We bathe him nearly every week, clean his ears, clean his teeth, he has ‘fresh breath’ tablets (although it’s not his breath) we can smell his ‘body odour’ when we are just stood near him, what can this be?

This sounds very much like your dog has a yeast infection, these can be highly unpleasant to be around. Other bacterial conditions can co-exist with a yeast infection also. Dogs with an underactive thyroid can also suffer with skin problems. Unfortunately, as you have discovered, simply washing your dog will not solve this issue and could potentially make their skin worse, your dog would benefit from seeing his vet so that the skin can be sampled for yeast or bacterial infections.

Dachshund chewing her toes

My three-year-old Dachshund keeps licking and chewing at her front paw and is making it red raw, I have checked the paw over and between her toes and can’t notice anything out of the ordinary, why is she doing this to herself?

It sounds like you need to get your dog checked over by a vet so that they can investigate this matter further. Several factors can be contributing to your pooch’s itchy feet. The cause could be an infection at the base of the claw or in-between toes because of a build-up of bacteria and fungi, requiring medication. Alternatively our dog may have an allergic reaction to something in her environment or food suffer which is causing her to itch and chew her feet.

When can puppies leave their mum

How old do puppies have to be before they can leave their mun ?

We generally advise that they should be around 8 weeks old.

Tibetan terrier with seasonal cough

My Tibetan Terrier has a hacking cough that he seems to get every spring. It generally lasts for a few weeks and then goes away. He doesn’t go into kennels so I don’t think it is kennel cough. What do you think ?

Firstly, despite its name kennel cough can be picked up anywhere that dogs come into contact with each other such as a park etc. The fact that the cough is happening at the same time each year would tend to indicate that it could be allergy based or that he is getting something stuck in his throat during spring walks.

Labrador with a weak bladder

I have a 9 year old Labrador. She is healthy but suffers from a weak bladder. Is it just old age or can something be done to stop this ?

This can be common in older bitches especially if they have been spayed. There are a couple of drugs available which we have found to be very effective in curing this in most cases.

Boxer with itchy feet

Our Boxer has developed itchy, sore looking areas between her toes. She continually nibbles and licks them and the fur has gone an orangy colour. She is on antibiotics and antihistamine but it doesn’t seem to have helped. What would you suggest ?

It sounds like a classic case of Pododermatitis – an inflammation of the skin.Your vet has advised the right treatment. If the condition doesn’t improve it may need a course of steroids or other anti-inflamatories to get it under control.

Collie eating compost

My collie has started eating compost from the tubs in the garden. He is 16 years old and has never done this before. He is eating all his dog food every day so cannot be hungry. Can you offer any advice ?

There are a number of reasons why he may be doing this. The first is that, like humans, as dogs get older they can undergo ‘senile’ changes which can result in odd behaviour. It could be due to a deficiency of a mineral substance in his diet but if you have not changed his diet recently this is unlikely. The third reason is a change in your dogs metabolism which means he cannot absorb the minerals he needs. It would be worth seeing a vet who can run tests and advice on the correct course of action.

Poodle eye problem

My poodle always seems to have ‘sleep’ under his eyes. What is the best way to clean it ?

Firstly I would advise having him checked out by a vet just to ensure that there isn’t an underlying problem – especially if it is a new condition. You can clean the ‘sleep’ with an eye wipe, soft tissue or damp cotton pad but remember to use a separate one for each eye and use a fresh one each time.

Non-surgical castration for dogs

I have been told there is an alternative to dog castration that involves hormone treatment. How does it work and what does it cost ?

There is a non surgical alternative to castration using a hormone implant which is injected under the skin by a vet.
The implant works to prevent the production of testosterone. It usually last for at least 12 months but can be repeated. In smaller dogs it often lasts longer.
The cost depends in the size of the dog as there are 2 sizes of implant but roughly costs the same as castration itself.

Reducing house moving stress for a dog

We are moving house soon. How can we minimise the stress for our dog ?

A house move with a dog is usually less traumatic than a cat. Cats have hunting territories based around their location whereas dogs are more concerned about people and familiar belongings. As long as all your dog’s familiar items – bowl, bed, toys etc are taken to the new house you shouldn’t have much of a problem. The stress of seeing their items removed from a house into a removal van could be more traumatic so it may be better to leave your dog with a friend or relative on the day of the move.

Labrador skin infection

My 5 year old Labrador developed a skin infection 12 months ago which was successfully treated by our vet. We were told that the fur would take time to grow back but we didn’t think it would be this long. We are ashamed to take her for walks because she looks neglected with her bald patches. Should her fur have grown back by now?

The skin does take a while to return to normal after an infection but I would have expected some return to normality after 12 months. I would suggest you take your dog back to the vet to have her checked out as there could be some underlying cause such as a hormone disorder.

Discoloured dog’s tooth (Pulpitis?)

My dog’s tooth has started to go discoloured and according to the internet it is Pulpitis. What exactly is this and what happens next.

Firstly we would never advocate diagnosing conditions on the internet it is always better to have a vet diagnosis. Pulpitis is inflammation of the dental pulp tissue and is often caused by blunt force trauma, often from dogs chewing on hard substances such as antlers or bones. The tooth will eventually die and an abscess could form. The cheaper option is to have the tooth removed but if you want to save the tooth you will probably need to be referred to a dental specialist who may be able to do root canal work.

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