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We’ve had The Puppy for eight weeks and now it’s hard to remember life without him.

Now I’ve managed to train the kids not to run away screaming every time he goes for their legs,  he’s settled down a lot and is content to just sit with them and be stroked.

Considering he had never put foot inside a house before he came home to us, he’s done very well.

After The Lurcher’s puppy hood, I was expecting months of puddles and poo inside and sleepless night punctuated by unhappy howling. The Lurcher never got on with her crate and we gave up after 4 sleepless months.

The Puppy doesn’t seem to mind his crate at all. He goes in at night without a whimper and can sometimes be found there during the day as well. We may have to buy him a new crate at some point though, as we thought he would end up the size of a collie but he looks like he might end up the size of a GSD instead!

He’s pretty good at toileting outside too, as long as we remember to give him the opportunity. We had 2-3 weeks of setting the timer for every 20 minutes, then every 30 minutes, then every hour, just to make sure he got outside in time, but now he seems to have the idea.

The Puppy does chew anything he can get his teeth into so the kids are quickly learning  to pick up their toys when they have finished with them. His favourite things to chew are empty milk bottles and soft toys. He has also been responsible for the sad demise of 3 My Little Ponies.

Now The Puppy is 15 weeks old and has had his vaccinations he’s enjoying coming out with us for walks.

I always let my dogs off the lead when they are young and a little unsure; this way they learn to follow you and you don’t end up with adolescent know-it-all dogs who think it’s fun to run away from you.

The Puppy loves The Lurcher and she’s learnt to tolerate him too. They expend a lot of energy playing doggy games with each other.

 

All those teeth do look a bit scary and sometimes the kids think they are fighting, but it is only play.

The Puppy is growing rapidly and changing as he does so. One of the fun things about getting a rescue dog is that you are never quite sure what they are going to end up looking like.

At the moment, the Puppy looks like this.

But who knows what he’ll look like in another 9 months?

Unfortunately, we lost our old dog about 6 weeks ago.

It’s not been easy without him; before he died he didn’t do much except join us on our walks, but he could always be relied on to bark at the front door if someone knocked. Now he’s gone, we might actually need to get a doorbell.

I miss him at odd times. I keep ‘seeing’ him lying beside my bed or in the hallway, or ‘hearing’ him move around upstairs. And I feel awfully lopsided walking only one dog.

I haven’t even managed to get into the vets we sent his body to, pay the cremation fee and pick up his ashes yet. I tell everyone that it’s because I’m too busy, but it’s really that I don’t want to. Having a small box with his name on, in the house will make it just too real in some ways.

The kids are coping fine; they stop now and again, look sad and tell me they miss him, but in the next breath are asking when we can get a new puppy.

The one who is really suffering is The Lurcher. She really misses her friend. The house sitters we had were good with her but when we got home we could tell she had lost weight. Everyone who has seen her recently has commented on how subdued she is and she seems to have lost a lot of confidence when we meet new dogs on our walks.

The kids are trying to give her lots of strokes and cuddles and she will play with them a bit, but you can tell she’s got one ear cocked listening for Old Boy coming down the stairs to join in. When we go for a walk somewhere I used to take the dogs together, she jumps out of the car and looks around madly, like she expects him to be there. Maybe she thinks we just left him behind somehow.

It’s heart breaking.

The only time she cheers up is with a bunch of other dogs that she knows. The dog walker says she is bright and cheerful when she’s out with him and his pack.

We always planned to get another dog sooner or later but it looks like we are going to have to do it ‘sooner’.

We want a rescue dog as there are so many dogs out there needing homes. We don’t want a pure breed. I’d like a collie x, DH would like a lab x, but any older sensible dog that was happy to play with The Lurcher and keep her in line would be ideal.

However, considering any new dog we get is going to need to be dog friendly, cat friendly, child friendly and small furry friendly, we are more likely to end up with a puppy. I don’t relish another round of toilet training but maybe this one will get the idea quicker than The Lurcher.

We have trawled all the dog rescues, signed up for email updates and I am checking for new dogs every day but quite a few Rescues don’t rehome dogs to families with children under 6, so we are ruled out immediately.

It seems a shame as we can offer a good home to the right dog. I’m home most of the time, we have a big garden and there are lots of lovely walks in the area.

Our next dog has to be out there somewhere, surely?

We just wish he’d hurry up and arrive!

I’ve seen this list on the web in various forums over the last couple of days but can’t find the original source. If anyone knows, please contact me and I will credit them.

1. My life is likely to last 10 to 15 years. Any separation from you will be painful: remember that before you get me.

2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.

3. Place your trust in me- it is crucial to my well being.

4. Do not be angry at me for long, and do not lock me up as punishment.

5. You have your work, your entertainment,and your friends. I only have you.

6. Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice when it is speaking to me.

7. Be aware that how ever you treat me, I will never forget.

8. Remember before you hit me that I have teeth that could easily hurt you, but I choose not to bite you because I love you.

9. Before you scold me for being uncooperative,obstinate,or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I might not be getting the right food, or I have been out too long, or my heart is getting to old and weak.

10. Take care of me when I get old; you too will grow old. Go with me on difficult journeys. Never say: “I cannot bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there, even my death.

Remember that I love you

Ethylene Glycol ( EG) is a clear, odourless liquid that is reported to have a sweet taste. It’s most commonly found in antifreeze but can also be found in photographic developing fluid, hydraulic brake fluid, some cosmetics, some plants, radiator coolant, decorative snow globes and air conditioning coolant.

Studies have suggested that it’s unlikely that dogs or cats will consume any form of EG if clean drinking water is also freely available. But a thirsty animal may well lap at it, it may also be groomed off the coat and there have been cases where it has been intentionally mixed with something appealing for the purpose of poisoning the animal.

Unless you see your pet actually drinking something containing ethylene glycol, it is very unlikely that you will know that your pet has ingested any.  At first they may merely seem a bit wobbly on their feet, after which they might act as if they are drunk on alcohol. Stumbling, vomiting and depression are common signs and may be followed by seizures, then thirst and increased urination.

Then, for a short while your pet may seem like it’s  briefly ‘back to normal’, but give it another 6-12 hours, your pet will become depressed, go off its food, appear hunched up and begin vomiting.

These are classic signs of  acute kidney failure, which is usually what kills these animals. This is caused by products formed when the body breaks down EG and once it occurs, the only treatment available is supportive.

There is an antidote for Ethylene Glycol poisoning but to give it needs to be given as soon as possible after ingestion of the poison.  In cats, any treatment after 6 hours after consumption is probably too late to prevent a level of kidney damage that depends on the amount of EG swallowed. Dogs have a little longer before it’s crucial they are treated; 24-72 hours. Again, the level of damage depends on how much EG has entered the blood stream.

Once kidney damage has occurred, then the prognosis for a poisoned pet is very guarded indeed.

If ethylene glycol poisoning is suspected in a dog or cat, blood tests may be able to help with a diagnosis, but often not until it’s too late to prevent kidney damage. So if you have any reason whatsoever to suspect your dog or cat has had access to anything containing ethylene glycol, then get them to your vet as soon as possible.

This is an emergency!

 

Many people spot an unaccompanied dog on the side of, or even on, the road and worry it’s going to get run over. It’s only natural to want to rescue an animal in this situation but please make sure you don’t put yourself in danger while doing so.  If you are driving, make sure you park your car sensibly before trying to catch the stray, and take care crossing any necessary roads.

Don’t go racing up to a strange dog and grab its collar. If you are a dog owner, you may have a spare lead in your car. If so, and the dog seems friendly, try and slip the lead on as calmly and carefully as possible. In the absence of a lead, use rope, string, a belt or item of clothing can be used to restrain the dog. You may need to lasso the dog with your ‘lead’ rather than attach it to the dog’s collar if it looks like it might object to being touched around its neck.

This is a good time to see if the dog is wearing an identification tag; by law every dog should wear a tag bearing their owners details but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t have one. If there is a phone number and the owner picks up, you are in luck. If not, then you’ll need to decide what you are going to do with your stray dog.

Any unaccompanied dog can be handed over to your local Dog Warden. If you can’t wait for them, or the dog appears injured or ill, you should take it to your local Vet clinic. They will check it over, scan it for a microchip and contact the Dog Warden who will come and pick it up.

Please don’t take it to the police station; the police no longer look after lost dogs. However, if the dog is aggressive or is running around in traffic then you should ring the police with a description of the dog, how it’s behaving and its whereabouts.

If the dog is merely resisting capture, don’t follow in hot pursuit. If you have the time, you can follow it at a distance,  and it may be worthwhile ringing the local dog warden and describing the dog and the direction it is heading in. Ring any local veterinary clinics and give them the same information.

If you manage to catch the dog and are an experienced dog owner, and feel you can care for it yourself, you are allowed to take the dog home, as long as you give its details to the council’s Dog Warden service. They will want to know;

  • Your contact details. This includes your name, address, telephone number and email address.
  • A description of the dog including the type or breed of dog, its colour and size, approximate age and any features that might help to identify it. They will also want to know if it has a collar.
  • The time and date when the dog was found
  • Where the dog was found
  • Where the dog currently is and where it can be collected from
  • Other important information such as whether the dog is injured or ill.

It’s also worthwhile informing your local vet clinics that you have found a dog and giving them the above information as well.

In fact, it may be a good idea to take the dog up to the vets and get it scanned, as it may have a microchip inserted in its neck and the staff may recognise the dog. It’s worth remembering that if you choose to look after the dog yourself, and it gets ill, then you may be liable for any veterinary costs incurred.

 

 

 

Because I’m a home visiting vet, I obviously believe that having your pet examined at home is a good idea.

But sometimes it’s not possible, or practical. In the UK, there are not yet enough mobile vets, so in some areas a home visit is just not an option. And sometimes it’s obvious that surgery or intensive medical care is going to be required; there are lot of things that are better dealt with in a purpose built surgery. They have the equipment and the trained staff  available who can give your pet the care he or she needs.

If your pet is really sick, they are not usually a problem to get into a clinic. If you are stuck for transport, it’s worth while asking the clinic you are trying to get to, if they know of any animal transportation or pet taxis in your area. It can be tricky getting people to agree to let you take your dog in their car, but if you are desperate and try all friends and neighbours, you will often find someone.

Cats are easier, as a lot of minicab companies have one or two drivers who will allow a caged cat, or other small pet in their vehicle. It’s always wise to ask at the point of booking though, so you don’t get a driver who turns up and then refuses to transport you and your poorly pet.

Don’t forget pets are allowed on public transport, although if they are really poorly you are probably not going to want to take them on the tube or bus. But it’s there as a last resort.

If you have a dog that is not keen on visiting your vet, it’s worth checking their collar isn’t too lose before you get to the front door, so they don’t escape. Once you are inside, let the receptionist know your pet isn’t  keen, so they can alert the vet to utilise their best bedside manner.

The biggest complaint cat owners have, is that they can’t get their cats into the cat carriers. Even a quite poorly kitty is capable of putting up a good fight; cats are sharp at all 4 corners and will bite without a second thought when they feel threatened.

Firstly, if you have a choice, buy a top loading instead of a front loading cat carrier. It’s much easier to lower your pet in through the roof than try and shove them through the front door. And once you are at the vets, it’s up to them to get the cat out, plus they will load them up for you once they have been examined. So, all you need to do is get them in their carrier once.

If all else fails, get a big towel, drop it over the protesting feline, wrap it well and place the whole bundle in the cat carrier. Your cat may be a little cross but they won’t suffocate. Just make sure all the carrier doors are locked firmly and don’t open them again until you get into the consult room.

Oh, and before you put your cat in any kind of carrier, it’s a good idea to put a good, thick layer of newspaper down on the floor…

This cat carrier advice works well for any small, furry animal really.

Please don’t take dogs without leads, or cats or any other small, furry animal  not in a cage into a waiting room. It’s important to have your pet under control in such stressful surroundings.

If you don’t, you could make an already ill animal even sicker.

 

It’s that time of the year again- Flea Season.

There are reports of flea infestations all over the UK with this spring. It may be wet, but it’s not cold and these conditions are perfect for fleas to reproduce.

But don’t get jealous; my step by step guide to getting your very own flea infestation will have you itching and scratching in no time.

1/ Get A Cat.

Cats are more prone to fleas than dogs, especially if they are allowed outside. The way they share observation points and routes with neighbouring cats, and range over a larger territory than the average dog makes it more likely that a pet cat will bring fleas into your house, and so initiate an infestation.

I have seen many, many flea infestations where the only pet in the household is a cat. It’s much more unusual to see a full infestation in a home with only a dog, but it can happen.

Remember, any fleas you see on your pet(s) are only 5% of the problem. So if you see 5 fleas, then you can count on there being at least 500 immature fleas spread out around your animals living area.

That’s what you call value for money!

2/ Have More Than One Pet.

If you have more than one dog or cat sharing your home, you are more likely to get fleas.

All you need is one adult flea to bite one of your pets, and start to lay eggs which get scattered anywhere that pet goes, and you have the beginnings of a flea infestation.

It’s not hard to understand that the more pets you have, the more likely it is that you’ll get flea eggs in the house. And where you have flea eggs,  you’ll find larvae, pupae and newly hatched adults.

This is the holy grail of parasitic infestations; a complete flea life cycle. Once you get to this stage, your flea infestation will be with you for weeks, no matter how much you spend on pet or household treatments.

3/ Wait Until Your Pets Have Fleas Before You Treat Them.

As mentioned above, once you see your pet scratching or actually see fleas on them, you’ve already got a household of blood-sucking guests just waiting to hatch or pupate.

And if you go away on holiday while you have a household flea infestation, the life cycle continues up until the pupal stage, then stops. Before they hatch, the pupae need signs that  there is something nearby for them to feed from.  These signals of humidity, vibration and carbon dioxide stimulate the baby fleas to hatch, but if these signs are absent, everything stops until you get home from holiday and walk into the room. Then suddenly all those pupae get the signal to hatch and emerge, ready to leap on the closest warm blooded thing to feed.

So if you arrive home from holiday, and suddenly notice tiny insects using your ankles as a snack bar; congratulations, you are now the proud owner of a household full of newly hatched fleas.

4/ Don’t De-flea All Of Your Pets.

Just treat the ones that come inside the most, or the easiest ones to treat, or just the dogs, or even just the cats. But don’t treat them all.

That way, the untreated ones can reinfect the treated ones, and your house can still get infected as well.

Despite your spending good money on flea treatment for those pets you do treat, you’ll be dealing with a flea infestation before you can slap your ankles and start scratching.

5/ Treat Your Pets With ‘Alternative’ Remedies.

Don’t bother buying tried and tested veterinary approved flea treatments.

They are expensive and if they can kill fleas, then who knows what they are doing to your pets and household?

Instead go online and google ‘natural flea treatment’. Instantly, you’ll have half a dozen proven remedies to hand.  If the first one you try doesn’t seem to work, then just move onto the next.

By the time you’ve run through the entire list, you’ll be being bitten by hungry fleas every time your feet touch the ground.

Of course, if you’ve come to this post looking for information telling you how NOT to get fleas, then you’ll need to read this post, instead

 

 

If this is your problem, don’t panic.

You are most likely to need to show your pet’s vaccination card if they go into a kennel or cattery. Some dog training classes will ask for proof of vaccination as well.

A vaccination card should be filled in correctly, and signed, by your vet and as such is a legal document. You should keep it in a safe place, but if it does go missing don’t get too stressed out.

An original vaccination is a valuable document but it can be replaced. Get in touch with your vet and they will happily write you out a new one. If you have switched vets at some point during your pet’s life, your present vet may only be prepared to include details of the vaccinations they have given themselves. Don’t panic; double check with the organisation asking to see the vaccination card but most likely they will only be interested in whether your pet was vaccinated during the last 12 months.  However, it is possible a vet may charge you for this service.

Things can be trickier if your pet is a rescue animal and the history is unknown. A lot of rescue organisations and shelters vaccinate animals themselves before they re home them, so it’s worth contacting the organisation you got your pet from. It’s highly likely they will be able to get you a replacement card.

If you have got a rescue animal from a private source, and have no way of finding out where they were last vaccinated, you may have to just bite the bullet and get them vaccinated even if you know the last vaccination’s Duration Of Action isn’t up yet. It’s not recommended to have vaccinations too close together but it’s unlikely to hurt your pet, just the once.

And when you have that new card, remember to put it somewhere *really* safe!

 

 

 

If you are reading this, hopefully you will have read my previous post, here, and already have a short list of recommended pet insurance companies that you think might be worth checking out.

Now is the time to ring around a few and get some quotes.

Remember that premiums for pets living in and around London may be up to twice as much as for pets living out of London, and that it’s often cheaper to insure an animal listed as a ‘crossbreed’, than it is to insure one with a listed purebred parent.

Once you have found an insurance policy that appears to tick all your boxes, then work your way down the following list and make sure you know exactly what is, and isn’t covered by the policy you are considering. Don’t be afraid to ring the company concerned and ask questions if the small print seems open to interpretation. (continue reading…)

This is a question I get asked time and time again, but one that I find impossible to answer  concisely.

There are so many things to consider.

So, I’m doing the sensible thing and writing a blog post on the topic.

First of all, pet insurance is a gamble. You  pay out money each month and you might get it back in payouts or you might not; but since 1 in 3 pets will visit their vet unexpectedly each year, there is a fighting chance of you being able to claim.

But Pet insurance is not essential. If you can find at least £400-500 in a hurry if your pet has a horrible accident, or becomes seriously ill, then you may not need it. But if this amount is out of your reach, or you’d prefer to be able to claim the money back again, then you should take out insurance. (continue reading…)