Flash is a 5 year old Beagle

Flash is a 5 year old Beagle

Beagles are a popular breed, but many people don’t realise that as well as having charming personalities, they also tend to have some challenging behaviours. First, they are often escape artists who love roaming (and so they need to be carefully enclosed so that they cannot get out). And second, they have a rich sense of smell, and they love exploring the world with their nose, eating anything remotely edible that they come across. When Flash is taken for walks, she heads off straining at the leash, with her nose pressed to the ground. When she picks up a scent, she follows it with determination: nothing Maureen can do will distract her from it.  And if she finds anything interesting while she is sniffing around, she eats it at once, so that Maureen never has time to stop her. She’ll eat food that’s been dropped to the ground, rotten leaves, wildlife carcasses, mushrooms, plants and pieces of wood. She’ll also chew any litter that’s lying around. In fact, Maureen feels that there’s very little that Flash won’t try to eat. There’s another reason why Maureen is nervous about letting Flash off the leash: she is not good about coming back when called, and she barks at other dogs. In public areas where there are other people and dogs around, it’s too risky to let her run free, but if Maureen finds an empty field, she will let Flash off the leash for a run. There’s another issue when she does this: it’s even more difficult to control Flash’s scavenging when she is running free. When Flash was younger, these...
Kiko is a 12 week old crossbred puppy

Kiko is a 12 week old crossbred puppy

The summer is the perfect time to get a new pet: children are off school so they can spend time with the new arrival and the weather is good, so they can all spend more time outdoors, learning to be house-trained more rapidly. Kiko was just eight weeks of age when she arrived into the family household, and she settled in well at once. Over the past month, she has grown bolder and more energetic, and she has now started to cause problems by nipping with her sharp baby teeth. When she gets excited, she rushes around, wanting to play when humans in the house are otherwise occupied. Kiko gets frustrated, and she uses her mouth to tear at the bottom of people’s trousers or their shoes. And if anyone bends down to give her toys, she’s started jumping up, grabbing the person’s hand and giving them a painful nip. Finally, if she is being held and she wants to get away, she turns around and nips the fingers that are holding her. Christian loves his new dog, but he’s beginning to lose his confidence with her. She has never drawn blood, but her teeth are sharp, and it’s painful when she uses them on him. The “nipping” issue is a common problem, often referred to as “play biting”. Puppies use their mouths in the same way as human toddlers use their hands, and they have to learn to do this in a controlled and gentle way. Pups normally learn to have a gentle mouth while playing with their litter mates. If you watch pups playing together, if one...
Sweep is a 12 year old cross-bred dog

Sweep is a 12 year old cross-bred dog

Florence originally took in Sweep from the DSPCA as a rescue puppy back in June 2002. Within a few weeks of her arrival, Sweep had started to get itchy, and by August in that year, she had to visit the vet for the itch to be sorted out. The usual investigations and tests were done to diagnose the cause of her itchiness, ruling out common problems like fleas, mange and fungal infections. The conclusion at the end of the work-up was that she was suffering from a condition called “atopy”, which is an allergic reaction of the skin to pollens and dusts in the air. She was given the standard treatment for atopy, including regular shampoos, daily antihistamines and an anti-inflammatory tablet called prednisolone, which she takes with her food, three or four times a week. Her itch responded rapidly to the treatment. That first time, back in 2002, Sweep’s itchiness had settled down completely at the end of the summer, and Florence hoped that perhaps it wouldn’t come back. Unfortunately, the following June, she started to itch again. She started to chew her paws, she scratched at her ears and she nibbled the inside of her legs. The skin on the underside of her belly began to look bright red and sore, as if she had been stung by nettles on her underside. Her back became scabby, and if Florence tickled her along her spine, the skin rippled, as if it was feeling intensely itchy. Her coat turned dull and greasy, with a characteristic strong fusty smell. Sweep had to go back onto anti-allergy shampoos and medication for...
Snoop went blind after developing diabetes

Snoop went blind after developing diabetes

John thought that Snoop was a normal, healthy yorkshire terrier when he brought him to see me for his booster vaccination in April 2012, so he was shocked when I broke the news to him. As part of Snoop’s usual annual health check, I asked a few questions about his daily habits. John mentioned that Snoop had been drinking more water than usual, and that he had had a few accidents, urinating in the house, which was completely out of character. A quick urine test in my consulting room showed that Snoop had glucose in his urine, and a blood test confirmed that his blood glucose was much higher than normal. There was only one possible cause of this: diabetes. Snoop was started on twice daily injections of insulin, given by John as part of a new daily routine. His blood glucose returned to normal within a week, and since then, he has been a stable diabetic dog. John is careful to keep to a standard routine, with just the right amount of food and exercise. Snoop’s thirst has remained normal, and he has had no more accidents in the house. Blood tests from time to time have shown that the insulin injections are keeping his blood glucose at just the right level. One year after Snoop had been diagnosed as diabetic, John noticed another problem: Snoop’s vision suddenly seemed to be fading. The first clue was that Snoop started to hold his head to one side, glancing around nervously, looking baffled, as if he could not understand what was going on around him. In the back garden, Snoop...
Mac and Tosh two West Highland White Terriers

Mac and Tosh two West Highland White Terriers

Mac and Tosh (Mac ‘n’ Tosh) have been a double act since the day they arrived as puppies back in 2006. They have done everything together, with each adopting their individual style. Mac is a bigger, slower dog, with the classic determined attitude of a terrier. Tosh is smaller, leaner and more energetic, but equally stubborn. The two dogs were house-trained together, vaccinated and wormed at the same time, and they were even castrated on the same day. They get on well, eating dinner in adjacent bowls and sleeping close to one another. They even had an adventure together a few years ago. The family had been out at a funeral, and a friend was looking after the two dogs for the day. They somehow managed to escape from the back garden, going for a wander around Bray. Mac was found within a mile of the house on the same day, but Tosh had vanished altogether. Luckily, he had been microchipped, and the following day, a call came in from Dun Laoghaire, eight miles away: he had been found. Tosh had been seen getting off the DART in Dun Laoghaire on his own, and the woman who had spotted him took him home with her. She had then taken him out for a boat trip on her yacht because the vet was closed, and she couldn’t have his microchip checked till the following morning. Tosh enjoyed the trip so much that after dropping him home to Bray, the lady told the family that he could come back for another boat trip whenever he liked. Apart from enjoying adventures together,...
Kaypo the 8 year old cross-bred Labrador

Kaypo the 8 year old cross-bred Labrador

Kaypo has an unusually complicated family history for a cross bred dog. Her mother, a pure-bred Labrador called Bibi, was imported from Australia to Singapore, where she became the much-loved pet of Therese’s niece. Bibi became pregnant by mistake when she was six years old, to an unknown male dog, and six pups were born. Kaypo was the only one that was kept by the family: this meant that from the day she was born, Kaypo was never out of sight of her mother, Bibi. Therese’s niece moved back to London a few years later, bringing the dogs with her. She travelled extensively as part of her job, and so the two animals ended up spending much of their lives in County Wicklow, with Therese, who adored them both. Kaypo was always doted on by her mother, Bibi. The two animals did everything together: exercising, playing, sleeping and even eating their meals side by side. Bibi was very attentive to her daughter, taking time to lick her face thoroughly every day, with the younger dog sitting patiently in front of her while she did this. They were a contented couple of dogs: they both had a spring in the step and a glint in the eye. Life was as good as it gets in the dog world. The years passed – as they do – and last year, Bibi began to show her age. She was thirteen, and her hind legs began to fail her, with the usual arthritis that’s so common in elderly animals. Eventually, she was unable to get up, and the difficult decision was made to...