Skye is a 1 year old Staffy who developed a sore red rash

Skye is a 1 year old Staffy who developed a sore red rash

Skye first developed itchy skin on the underside of her neck when she was just six months old. There was no obvious cause of the problem: she began to itch her throat with her back legs for no particular reason. Within a couple of days, the skin in the area was red and sore, and she continued to scratch at it, making it even worse. Darren took her to his vet in Scotland and skin scrapings were taken to check for parasites. The skin scrapes were negative, so it was presumed that she was sensitive to something in her immediate environment. Darren was asked to stop using chemicals in his home such as floor cleaners or detergents used to wash her bedding. He started to wash the floor in just hot water, and gave her just bland brown paper to sleep on. At first this seemed to work, and the rash settled down, but a few weeks later, it flared up again. His vet then advised him to apply a protective, moisturising cream. This seemed to help, but from time to time, the itchy skin recurred. Last week, when Darren was visiting his family in Bray, the itch came back, and it was worse than ever. The entire underside of her throat, from her chin all the way back to her abdomen, turned bright red, as if she’d been stung by wasps. Darren brought her in to see me, and I decided that we needed to move to the next stage of investigating the problem. Skye was given a general anaesthetic, and a series of small skin biopsies were...
Tess a 4 year old Golden Labrador who had an epileptic fit

Tess a 4 year old Golden Labrador who had an epileptic fit

Tess sleeps in a large kennel in the back garden. One Sunday morning, at around 8am, Conor was in bed in the house, when he heard the scrabbling noise that Tess’s feet make when she puts on a burst of activity. At first, he presumed that she’d just spotted the local tom cat and she was seeing him off, but he then heard a clattering noise so he looked out of his window to see what was going on. He could see that Tess seemed to have fallen against some metal ladder extensions that were stacked at the side of the house, and that’s what had made the noise. Conor could tell at once that there was something seriously amiss with Tess. She didn’t respond when he called her; she continued to lie beside the ladders, with her legs paddling frantically. As Conor described it, “it was like she was running, but on her side”. He knew that she was having some sort of fit, so he ran downstairs to help her. In fact, there was little that he could do when he reached her. Her legs continued to thrash, and her head was stretched forwards, with her jaws champing. She didn’t respond when he called her name, so he just cleared a space around her to stop her from hurting herself by bashing into things. Conor was about to call the vet when Tess’s legs slowed down, then stopped thrashing. She went to the toilet a couple of times, then lay still. He continued to talk to her, and within a few moments, she lifted her head, and...
Sammy an 8 year old Collie who nearly died

Sammy an 8 year old Collie who nearly died

Sammy’s parents were farm dogs in Mayo, bred over generations to herd sheep and cattle around fields and hillsides. Sammy’s just a pet, but he’s inherited his ancestors’ high energy levels, as well as their love of chasing and herding. He’s taken for a walk twice daily in local fields, and he’s always loved chasing sticks. He’s being doing this since he was a young dog, but after an incident a few weeks ago, he won’t be chasing sticks any more. It happened one afternoon when Paul was out walking with Sammy. The dog had found a stick in the undergrowth, and it seemed perfect for throwing; it was about a foot long, and half an inch in diameter. In fact, the stick was a classic example of a dangerous object to throw, as the sequence of events was about to prove. At first, everything went well. The stick was thrown time after time and Sammy chased after it enthusiastically, grabbing it and bringing it back to drop at Paul’s feet so that he could throw it again. It was a game that Sammy played every day, and it seemed like the ideal way of burning up the dog’s energy. The crisis came when Paul happened to throw the stick into a softer area of ground. It landed like a javelin, with one end buried in the ground, and the other protruding at an angle. Sammy rushed up to the stick at full tilt, seizing the protruding end with his open mouth. It was as if he’d run onto a spear. The sharp end of the stick rammed straight...
Kiko the 1 year old Terrier who loves chocolate

Kiko the 1 year old Terrier who loves chocolate

Ella is my daughter, and Kiko is my own dog. The stimilant in chocolate is highly toxic to dogs, and every year, vets see dogs dying after eating too much chocolate, especially at Easter time. We’re more aware than most people of the risk of chocolate to dogs, but despite this, Kiko managed to catch us out. A visitor to our house had brought us a box of chocolates as a gift. This was left temporarily on the kitchen table, out of reach of the animals, or so we thought. Kiko was in the kitchen, as is often the case; she’s usually calm and well-behaved. We had only been gone for twenty minutes, but when we returned, the damage had been done. Kiko had managed to tear open the box of chocolates and was busily devouring the contents. We grabbed her but it was too late. There were 15 chocolates missing. I did a quick calculation: she’d eaten 150 grams (6 ounces) of milk chocolate. The toxic dose of chocolate for dogs is around 50g of milk chocolate per kilogram of body weight. Plain chocolate is even more toxic, but fortunately there hadn’t been any of these in the box. Kiko weighs 6kg, so that means that the toxic dose for her would have been 300g, which was twice as much as she had eaten. She hadn’t taken enough to kill her, but she had still taken enough to cause a serious problem. If I had done nothing, Kiko would have developed signs of chocolate poisoning, including an erratic heart rate, twitching and seizures. A severe dose of gastroenteritis...
Moose the 3 year old Cocker Spaniel became seriously lame

Moose the 3 year old Cocker Spaniel became seriously lame

The widespread use of mobile phones means that veterinary advice is now easy to obtain in an emergency, wherever it happens. Gill was out walking in the Wicklow Hills with Moose when the crisis struck, and she was able to speak to me within seconds. “Moose is in trouble”, Gill told me on the phone. “She seemed to slip while she was running, and she yelped loudly. She’s now holding her right paw in the air, and she’s still yelping.” There’s only so much that can be done over the telephone. Much as I wanted to examine Moose’s sore leg at once, it just wasn’t possible. I told Gill to bring Moose down the mountain in as gentle a manner as she could, and to bring her to see me as soon as possible. Poor Moose did not like moving at all at first, and Gill had to carry her for the first stage. Once they reached flatter terrain, Moose seemed happy enough to hobble along on three legs for the rest of the walk to the car. The worst bit of the pain had obviously settled already, and she was no longer yelping. Gill arrived at my clinic almost an hour later, and I examined Moose at once. She was still holding her right front leg up in the air, refusing to put any weight on it. When I checked her leg, the pain was focussed in her elbow. I was concerned that she might have suffered a serious injury to the elbow joint, so I decided to take a series of x-ray pictures to find out what...