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...
Figo the 4 year old Bichon Frise is a telly addict

Figo the 4 year old Bichon Frise is a telly addict

Figo is an unusual little dog: he enjoys watching television. Every evening, he settles down on his favourite cushion with Maria and her husband, gazing at the television, just like his owners. Many dogs barely seem to notice television, as if they can’t even recognise what’s on the screen. Perhaps they’re similar to humans from tribes that live in remote areas who’ve never seen television before. At first they can just see light and dark shapes on the screen, then suddenly, they realise that they are moving pictures, and then there’s no going back. Figo has obviously made a similar leap of comprehension and he can see the pictures. He’s become a telly addict. Like most humans, Figo has his own preferred type of television programme. It’s obvious that he’s bored by most of the evening schedule. Maria’s husband enjoys watching news and documentaries, but these do nothing at all for Figo. He slumps dejectedly on his cushion, looking around the room to see if there’s anything else interesting happening and even yawning from time to time. It’s a different story when Figo’s own choice of programme comes on. Predictably, he loves anything at all that features animals. When animals appear on the screen, Figo wakes up. His ears prick, he jumps to his feet, and he’s suddenly full of energy. He stares avidly at the screen, taking in all the detail, his head tilted to one side as he strains to listen to the sound as carefully as possible. He often gets over-excited, rushing at the screen, barking. He even jumps up, pawing at the tv, as if...
Scruff is a 4 year old Yorkshire Terrier who had dandruff

Scruff is a 4 year old Yorkshire Terrier who had dandruff

Scruff was originally found wandering the streets when he was eight months old. He was in poor condition, half-starved and covered in fleas. Lynn took him on as a pet, gave him the treatment that he needed, and he’s matured into a fine healthy adult dog. There is one problem that remains: dandruff. If you closely examine the area of skin along his back, between his shoulders and the base of his tail, he has white, flakey scales lurking in the depths of his fur. If he was a human wearing a suit, there would be small white flakes gathering on his shoulders and the back of his neck. Lynn has tried various treatments, including an anti-dandruff shampoo that she bought in a pet shop, but Scruff’s problem is as bad as ever. It doesn’t bother him at all; he isn’t itching, and he doesn’t know that there’s anything wrong, but Lynn would obviously prefer that he had normal healthy skin. Dandruff is a word that isn’t generally used in veterinary medicine: skin specialists prefer to use the term “scaling disorder”. Normal, healthy skin is the result of a complicated natural process, starting with the cells replicating at the base of the skin, then maturing into fully fledged adult skin cells by the time they reach the skin surface. It’s like a continual microscopic elevator: as old skin cells fall off at the top, new ones come up from beneath to replace them. In healthy skin, this continued replacement happens in such a gradual way that it’s invisible. Nobody notices tiny skin cells falling off into the surrounding environment....