Ginger was suffering with toothache

Ginger was suffering with toothache

Ginger lives the life of a typical modern Irish cat. He lives in a suburban house, and is fed on tinned food, supplemented by his own hunting expeditions. He has free access to the outdoors and enjoys going out and about. He’s sometimes gone for most of the day, and when he comes home, he’s prone to bringing back mice and, less commonly, small birds. Robert first noticed Ginger behaving strangely at meal times a couple of weeks ago. The cat normally has an excellent appetite; whenever food is put out in his bowl, he rushes towards it, lapping it up hungrily.  Now he paused as he approached his dinner. He’d stop, looking at the food bowl suspiciously, then move forward towards it hesitantly. He’d then take a few mouthfuls slowly, chewing cautiously. After a few moments, he’d shake his head violently from side to side, turn around, and bolt out of the room as if he was being chased by a dog. He’d then leave his food for a few hours, before coming back again. This strange behaviour meant that it was taking him all day to eat food that he’d normally scoff in five minutes. There was obviously something bothering him, which is why Robert brought him to see me. Ginger’s behaviour was typical of a cat with dental pain, and I expected to find an obvious abnormality when I opened his mouth to have an initial look. I was surprised to find that, in fact, his mouth seemed healthy: there were no broken teeth, and no evidence of periodontal disease or gingivitis. The second stage of...
Ally the collie developed a rash on her nose

Ally the collie developed a rash on her nose

Ally lives with Anita in Shankill, but in fine weather during the summer, they head off together on trips to the countryside. One week, they visited Carne Beach near Rosslare, where they’ve often been before. Ally loves charging up and down the beach, sniffing piles of seaweed and enjoying the fresh air and space. After the beach visit, they returned to the holiday home, which is on an acre of undeveloped land. Ally enjoys strolling in this small area of wilderness, finding her own corner to rest amongst overgrown nettles, brambles and undergrowth. Ally was completely normal when she went into the garden but when she came back into the house in the late afternoon, it was obvious that there was something wrong. Anita noticed that she had a couple of pinpricks on the bridge of her nose. It looked as if she’d poked her head into a thorny bush. It was only a minor problem, so Anita didn’t worry too much. By the following morning, things were much worse. Ally’s nose was now swollen, reddened and oozing, with several more small puncture marks. Ally was still bright and cheerful, behaving normally, but it was obviously beginning to bother her: she was rubbing her nose along the ground, and trying to paw at it. By the time Anita was able to bring her to the vet, Ally’s nose was even more badly affected. There was now a thickened, scabby area covering most of the bridge of her nose, and Ally was now dull and depressed. She continued to try to rub at it, which was only making it even more...
Mia the Golden Retriever had bad breath

Mia the Golden Retriever had bad breath

Mia is adored by Meaghan and her family, but last week, something happened that upset the close relationship between humans and dog: Mia developed foul smelling breath. Dogs may not normally have the sweetest smelling breath, but it shouldn’t be offensive. There’s normally no discernible odour when Mia exhales, but last week, when she breathed out within sniffing range of Meaghan, the smell could only be described as disgusting. If you can imagine sniffing a rubbish bin that ought to have been collected a couple of weeks previously, you’ll get the general idea. Mia seemed to be in excellent general health, full of energy and with a good appetite, and there was no obvious cause of the problem. Meaghan decided to try some simple home remedies first. She gave Mia a worm dose, and she bought a breath-freshening spray from the pet shop. The spray did seem to help initially, but its effect soon wore off, and within an hour, Mia’s breath smelt as foul as ever. Meaghan also gave Mia a good shampooing, in case the smell was coming from her coat, but this didn’t help at all. A week later, the foul smell was getting worse than ever. By now, even Mia seemed to be affected by it. She seemed quiet, and she was less enthusiastic about walks than normal. When Meaghan noticed a trace of blood-stained saliva by the food bowl, she realised that there was something going on that needed veterinary attention, so she brought Mia in to see me. I examined Mia carefully all over, and when I stood close to her head, I...
Percy and Alex the guinea pigs

Percy and Alex the guinea pigs

Lisa has had their guinea pigs for five months now. Both guinea pigs are female, despite their names, and they seem to enjoy each other’s company. Lisa adores her pets, and the first thing she does when she comes back from school every day is to take them out of their cage to play for ten minutes. Percy started to itch occasionally a few weeks ago, and a bald, reddened area appeared on her back, just above her tail. She stopped enjoying being picked up by Lisa, kicking and struggling rather than snuggling into her arms in her usual way. Both Percy and Alex were brought along to my clinic for a check up. Both guinea pigs seemed very healthy, and the only problem was Percy’s rash. She didn’t like it when I touched the area: it was obviously bothering her. The most common skin disease to affect guinea pigs is caused by a microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. This mite usually affects the head, shoulders, back, and flanks of the guinea pig, but may spread to the entire animal. Once the mite has caused initial damage to the skin, secondary bacterial infections can occur. A mild rash can easily develop into raw, reddened skin that looks similar to a badly grazed knee after a fall in the school playground. Some affected animals just have a mild itch, nibbling the affected area gently from time to time. In other cases, the itching is so severe that some animals are almost driven demented by the itch, scratching at themselves furiously, and continually chewing at the sore areas. Rarely, they may even appear to have seizures because they become so overwhelmed with the...
Timmy an 11 year old cross-bred terrier

Timmy an 11 year old cross-bred terrier

At nearly fifteen years of age, Timmy has been beginning to slow down. He used to be an energetic creature, loving to go on walks at any opportunity. These days, he prefers a quieter life. If he’s taken for a walk, he dawdles along at a gentle pace. He makes it clear that he’d prefer to be back at home, taking it easy. He has a set daily routine, getting up with the family at 7.30am every day. He has his breakfast with everyone else, but instead of going for a brisk walk like in the old days, he hops into the car to be driven around the school run. He enjoys the change of scenery, and the social aspect of being out with everyone, but he has no inclination to do anything more energetic. As soon as he returns, he gets back onto his couch to snooze. Often, he scarcely budges from the couch for the rest of the day. If Tom and his friends are playing football, Timmy forgets his age in his enthusiasm to join in, and if Tom’s mother is gardening, Timmy still enjoys going out with her. Otherwise, his outdoor activity is down to a minimum. Timmy is still strongly motivated by food. One day last week, he was woken from his resting place on the couch by Tom’s father preparing food for lunch. Timmy jumped off the couch, but instead of landing properly, he tumbled over onto his left shoulder. He tried to stand up, but he kept falling onto his side, unable to stand up properly. Poor Timmy became confused, and he...