Trent the 9 year old rabbit lives in the garden

Trent the 9 year old rabbit lives in the garden

Trent is an independent rabbit. When he was young, he lived in a small hutch, but everyone felt sorry for him, so they made a chicken wire run to give him more space. When Trent escaped from this run, he couldn’t go far: the back garden was walled in on all four sides. June realised that Trent was far happier enjoying the space of the entire back garden rather than being confined to his hutch. Why not just let him get on with it? At first, she made sure that the hutch door was left open for him, so he could get back in if he felt like it. After a few weeks, this wasn’t needed any more: Trent had created his own bed area underneath the garden shed, and he stopped going into the hutch altogether. June still worried about the rabbit: there was a big cat who used to sit on the garden wall. Surely he would pounce on Trent, and that would be the end of him? June kept half an eye on the situation, in case of trouble. She was watching the first time the cat jumped off the wall and moved towards the rabbit, and she witnessed something dramatic. As the cat drew closer, Trent rapped firmly on the ground with his hind feet: even from twenty yards away, June could hear the “thump-thump” noise. The cat ignored this warning, and moved closer still, and that’s when Trent sprang into action. The rabbit leapt towards the cat, standing up on his two back legs, boxing furiously with his front feet. The cat screeched in...
Lulu the 4 year old King Charles Spaniel with bladder stones

Lulu the 4 year old King Charles Spaniel with bladder stones

Lulu is a lovely, good-natured dog, but like many pedigree animals, she’s had more than her fair share of health problems. She developed severe epilepsy before her first birthday, and since then, she’s been on permanent daily medication to prevent her from having seizures. Thelma took her on as a rescued dog after the diagnosis of epilepsy; she has known from the start that Lulu is a “special case”. Lulu’s latest problem started three months ago, when Thelma noticed that the little dog was crouching to pass urine far more often than usual. She’d go out into the back garden and squat down half a dozen times rather than the usual once or twice. And she kept wanting to go back out into the garden to do more. Thelma brought her to our clinic, and the initial suspected diagnosis was a bladder infection, known as cystitis. Lulu was given a standard course of antibiotics. In a simple case, this would have solved the problem. She did respond well initially, but when the course of antibiotics finished, the problem recurred. This time, as well as squatting repeatedly to piddle outside, Lulu started to have accidents in the house, leaving wet patches on the kitchen floor. When she was brought back to the vet, we knew that it was time for a full work-up, with an ultrasound scan and laboratory analysis of her urine. The test results confirmed what we suspected: Lulu did, indeed, have cystitis, but this was complicated by the presence of tiny stones in her urine. These develop when mineral-like chemicals in the urine settle out into a...
Josh a 15 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who has liver cancer

Josh a 15 year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who has liver cancer

Claire clearly remembers meeting Josh: he was a tiny puppy in a big cardboard box, gazing up at her with his brown eyes. Claire was only eight years old, in second class at National School, and the puppy was a present for her first communion. Fifteen years later, Claire is studying for her Masters in Biomedical Science in London. She comes home as often as she can, and Josh always has a warm welcome for her, wagging his tail and squealing in delight as soon as he sees her. For much of the past five years, Claire has been living in the UK, and she’s had to say many tearful goodbyes to Josh. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are not renowned for their longevity, with many only living to twelve or thirteen years of age. Whenever Claire has headed off for a new term at college, she’s given Josh a final cuddle before stepping out the door, thinking to herself that there was a chance that she might not see him again. Up until now, Josh has defied the odds, remaining in excellent health at all times, and showing few signs of the advancing years. Last week was the first time that Josh had a health crisis. He suffered a digestive upset, and he became dull and unresponsive. He didn’t want to get out of his bed, and he wasn’t interested in his dinner. When I examined him, there were no initial signs of any significant underlying disease, so I wondered if perhaps he had just eaten something that had disagreed with him. I gave him general supportive treatment overnight,...
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...