Bruder developed a mystery lameness

Bruder developed a mystery lameness

Bruder is a “rescue dog” – Anna found him at Collon Animal Sanctuary (www.collonanimalsanctuary.com) as a young adult. He has turned out to be a gentle, good-natured and loyal individual, and he has one over-riding passion: exercise. His collie ancestry means that he has an inborn desire to run for long distances. His forebears would have spent their lives herding sheep across hillsides and fields. Some collie-type dogs end up having behavioural difficulties, such as digging holes in the garden, or barking continually, and this is often because they are not given enough opportunity to burn up energy with exercise. Bruder is a dog with model behaviour, and it’s partly because Anna has recognised his need for plenty of physically demanding activity. She takes him for a walk for at least an hour every day, with plenty of off-lead running. Anna lives close to the Wicklow mountains, and so there’s plenty of free space for Bruder to stretch his legs. Bruder normally has a graceful, even running motion as he charges up and down hillsides. It was very obvious when he developed a lameness of his left foreleg. He started to run in an awkward, jerky way. At first, Anna thought that he must have just sprained a joint, because as she puts it herself, Bruder is prone to being “a little crazy”.  Anna took the same action that she would take if she had a mildly sprained ankle herself. She just rested him, stopping all walks for a few days. In many cases of lameness, this is enough to fix the problem. Rest allows damaged tissue to be...
Gizmo is a two month old puppy

Gizmo is a two month old puppy

Lisa has always been a dog lover, but as her life’s circumstances have changed, so has the type of dog that she’s chosen. Ten years ago, she bought a Boxer puppy, named Lucky, who  has grown into a gentle giant of a dog.  Lisa now has two children, aged six and three years of age. Lucky has always been very good with the  children, allowing them to pet him, and quietly moving away when he’s had enough of their attention. But he’s too big for small children to take for walks, and Lisa felt that it would be useful to get a dog that they could relate to more closely. Pets bring many benefits to children, and research has shown that children who grow up with pets around them are more confident and more socially adept. Dogs are more than just companions: they help us learn about aspects of life such as responsibility, and they teach lessons about social skills such as body language. Lisa began to think carefully about what sort of dog would be most suitable. She wanted a dog that would be a successful part of her family for ten or fifteen years. Lisa knew someone who had taken on a small puppy in the belief that they were getting a small house dog. As time passed, the dog kept growing and growing, and by the time he was a year old, it was obvious that he was a huge cross-bred Doberman. Another of Lisa’s friends gave a home to a lovely young terrier pup, but by the age of six months, he’d turned into a...
Grey suddenly developed a severe head tilt

Grey suddenly developed a severe head tilt

ASH Animal Rescue has a high profile. Most of their work involves dogs and cats, but ASH is committed to any animals in need of help. Sometimes they have some rabbits in their care. Grey has been with ASH for six months. Her original owners had to rehome her because they had a large dog that didn’t get along with her. It was decided that the safest option was to send her to ASH to live her life in peace and safety. Her current health crisis developed overnight. One morning, Helena noticed that Grey had developed a severe head tilt to the left, and she could no longer walk properly. She had become stuck in a corner of her run, and when Helena took her out, she kept trying to walk in circles to her left. Grey normally loves her food, but she’d lost her appetite, even when food was lifted up to her mouth. Helena brought her in to see me. Head tilt is a common problem in rabbits. There are several different causes, and it can be difficult to identify precisely what is happening. It’s sometimes associated with sore ears, but when I examined Grey’s ears with a scope, they were normal. This meant that the problem had to be due to disease in one of two areas: the middle/inner ear, or the brain itself. It’s quite tricky making an exact diagnosis. The best answer is to carry out a series of investigations, including blood tests and analysis of a sample of fluid from around the brain. X-rays can be helpful too, and the ultimate diagnostic tool is...
Renji the boxer had a rash on his body

Renji the boxer had a rash on his body

One day during the summer, Renji was having a normal day, sniffing around the garden, lounging around the home, and generally taking things easy. It was around 2pm that Ansa noticed that something was wrong: his eyes looked puffy. Renji has a long history of allergic reactions, so Ansa has experience of dealing with this type of problem. She waited for a while, to see if the swelling would go down by itself, but over the next few hours, the situation deteriorated. Renji’s face and neck became puffy, like a child with mumps, and his skin developed red, blotchy swollen areas. Ansa called the emergency vet, and Renji was given immediate medication to counteract the allergic reaction. He recovered from the worst of the signs rapidly, but the rash on his skin has only been improving slowly, and is still present a week later. Allergic reactions like this are very common in pets, and they can be dangerous: if Renji had not been given the emergency drugs, he could have gone on to develop an even more serious allergic response that could have caused breathing difficulties and other complications. Poor Renji has been blighted by allergic disease since he was a puppy. He was only five months old when he first visited the vet with itchy skin. His problem was investigated in depth: he was checked for fleas, mites and other parasites, he had blood samples to make sure that he had no hormonal abnormalities, and he was put onto a special diet to ensure that he wasn’t allergic to something that he was eating. In the end, a...
Fuzzypeg is a 6 month old African Pygmy Hedgehog

Fuzzypeg is a 6 month old African Pygmy Hedgehog

When Mary saw the baby African Pygmy Hedgehogs in the pet shop in Dun Laoghaire, she knew that she wanted one. Hedgehogs have been domesticated for the past thirty years, and they are now bred in captivity. They live for around six years, similar to other small pets like guinea pigs and rabbits. Mary saved up her money, and bought Fuzzypeg, along with her large plastic cage, a small “igloo” house, a food bowl, water bottle and litter tray. Fuzzypeg is litter trained, like a cat, and she can be let out of her cage to run around the house. She moves more quickly that you’d imagine, running so rapidly, like a ferret, that it’s difficult to catch her. She likes to wriggle into small holes to hide. Mary has learned that she has to block up all small openings, such as gaps in the skirting boards, because otherwise Fuzzypeg will get herself wedged into inaccessible places. She also likes to climb up and down objects, so when she’s out she needs to be watched carefully, or she might be found later, wedged down the back of the sofa or inside a cupboard if a door had been left ajar. She’s fun to play with – she even has a small football that she likes chasing around – but she obviously isn’t cuddly. If nervous, she tenses up, sticking out her spines, and after a minor “prickle” injury, Mary has taken to wearing garden gloves when handling her. Fuzzypeg has some unusual behaviours: when she comes across something strange (such as a new toy), she licks it and nibbles...
Four hens – Ruby, Ginger, Snowy and Penny

Four hens – Ruby, Ginger, Snowy and Penny

When I visited Steve recently during a trip to the UK, he had a few questions about his new livestock. He had recently become an amateur poultry keeper but he had a problem: his hens weren’t laying any eggs. Steve had been inspired to start poultry-keeping when he came across the eight hens that are kept by his children’s school as part of an “eco-school” idea.  The school scheme works with the help of parents on a rota: when it’s your turn to look after the hens for a weekend, you get to keep the eggs. After tasting the fresh eggs, Steve liked the idea of producing his own. He spent some timing researching the subject on the internet, and he bought a book about home poultry. His birthday happened at around that time, and a large parcel arrived, gift-wrapped for him by his family: it was a flat-pack hen kit. After an hour of fiddling with Allen keys and screwdrivers, it was ready: a little wooden shed with perches inside and a nest box at one end. The kit included a water drinker and a food-hopper.  Steve added on a home-made hen run, made with timber and chicken-wire. He visited a local animal feed store, buying wood chippings for bedding, layers’ pellets to feed the birds, and some ground-up shells to aid their digestion. He was ready to get started. He bought his hens from a local breeder, as “pre-point of lay pullets”. These are almost fully grown, at 16 weeks of age, but they don’t start laying till 20 weeks, so the idea was to give the...