Button had stopped eating and his mouth was sore

Button had stopped eating and his mouth was sore

Tom and his girlfriend originally had just one rabbit, Bugsy. As Bugsy matured into an adult rabbit, they realised that he was likely to be lonely, so they bought a second pet rabbit, Button, to be his friend. Button is 3 years old. The two rabbits are now close companions, living together in their hutch on the balcony of Tom’s apartment, with a view of Bray Head. Tom lets the rabbits out to play on the balcony decking all day, and in the evening, they’re allowed inside to mingle with the humans. They are clean animals, using a litter tray, just like cats. Most of the house has been “rabbit proofed”, with all cabling out of reach of their nibbling teeth. Despite this, so far they have managed to chew through Tom’s surround-sound wiring system, and they’ve taken out the home broadband on several occasions. The rabbits aren’t allowed into the bedroom, where there are just too many cables to conceal. Button usually has a tremendous appetite, so when he stopped eating recently, Tom knew there was something wrong. The rabbit started lifting his paw to the right side of his mouth, so Tom was fairly sure that he had some sort of pain there. He brought him in to see me for a check up. It’s easy enough to check rabbits’ incisor (front) teeth by just lifting their lips, but the molar (back) teeth are more difficult to inspect. Tom held Button firmly while I gently introduced a type of illuminated speculum first into the left side of his mouth (to check his left back teeth) and then...
Mandy the 10 year old Maltese Terrier

Mandy the 10 year old Maltese Terrier

Orla and her family have four dogs, a collection of cats and some horses. The animals generally get on well together, but last week, there was a major crisis. Orla’s dogs live in two groups: she has two “indoor” dogs, and two “outdoor” dogs. The indoor dogs, Mandy and Pip, are Maltese Terriers: small, white, fluffy dogs that enjoy being pampered. They live with the Gallagher family, sleeping in the kitchen and only going outside for exercise. The outdoor dogs, Jessie (a Collie) and Ralph (a Springer Spaniel), are bigger, more robust animals. They sleep in an outhouse, and they have a role as watch dogs as well as being family pets. Jessie, an eight year old Collie, was originally from a farm, and although she is good natured, she should have really have been a working animal. She spends her days watching Orla’s hens or the horses, crouching down and following them from a distance, as if wanting to round them up like a flock of sheep. Jessie had always dominated the other dogs, playing with them in a boisterous way, sometimes rolling them over and standing over them, as if to say “I’m the one in charge”. She was never openly aggressive to them, and there were never any serious fights. Two weeks ago, when Orla was out for the morning, someone let the two Maltese Terriers out into the yard. When they came back to check the dogs ten minutes later, there was no sign of Mandy.  Jessie was rolling something around on the ground with her paws, as if playing with a toy. To their...
Rosie and Socks are Jack Russell Terrier puppies

Rosie and Socks are Jack Russell Terrier puppies

Background: The two pups are amongst the first terrier pups in Ireland whose tails have been saved by a new Irish law When Seb decided to buy two Miniature Jack Russell pups earlier this month, he wanted to make sure that the pups had full tails. He searched on online advertising sites for terriers with tails, but he found it surprisingly difficult to check for this. In the photographs of puppies, the tails (or lack of tails) were often out of sight. The only way that Seb could be certain about the pups was to visit the breeder to see them for himself. He was delighted when he discovered that these two pups’ tails had been left alone. The tradition of docking puppies’ tails is an ancient one: this means chopping the tails off when they are just two or three days old. There is no logical reason for it: it’s a cosmetic procedure, done because people “like the look” of a dog without a tail. Hundreds of years ago, people believed myths about tail docking: it was said to prevent rabies, strengthen the back, increase the dog’s speed, and prevent injuries when hunting. All of these beliefs have long since been shown to be untrue. Additionally, over two hundred years ago, a tax was charged on working dogs with tails, so  dogs were docked to avoid paying the tax. Over the centuries, tail docking began to be seen as “normal” in many breeds of dog, from terriers to Boxers to Rottweilers and many others. Tail docking is a brutal procedure: a pair of scissors or a sharp knife...
TJ the rabbit and Molly the dog

TJ the rabbit and Molly the dog

Molly was nine years old when TJ arrived into Marie’s household: he was just a baby rabbit, and Molly took to him at once. At first Marie was cautious about allowing her dog get too close to a young creature which might be viewed as prey, but Molly made it clear that she wanted to be friendly with the new arrival. It was as if she wanted to mother him: she tucked him into the curve of her body when she curled up to sleep, and he enjoyed the attention, snuggling into her as if she was a replacement for his own mother. Marie’s two cats also accepted the young rabbit as a friend rather than an enemy. TJ is kept as a “house bunny”, living free-range in Marie’s house, using a litter tray like a cat, and doing exactly as he pleases. He was neutered when he was one year old, because he was starting to be a bit too adventurous, trying to follow the cats out through the cat flap and even attempting to hop over the garden wall outside. Since the operation, TJ has settled down, and he now lives happily indoors, spending most of his daytime hours in Molly’s company. He hops around after her, and if she settles down for a snooze on the sofa, he’ll jump up beside her and tuck himself in at her side. Molly and TJ are even fed together, with their food bowls side by side: there’s no competition for food, because Molly’s a carnivore, and TJ is a herbivore.  In the evenings, both Molly and TJ sit with...
Elle the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a blood donor

Elle the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a blood donor

Celine’s husband suffers from allergies to animals so when Celine decided to get a family dog, she wanted one that shed as little fur as possible. Celine also wanted a gentle, good-natured dog for her two young children.  The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, a native Irish breed, fitted this description. She contact the Irish Kennel Club and found an experienced breeder who was very helpful. Elle was carefully chosen to be the family pet in Celine’s household. Elle had originally been destined to be a top pedigree dog show winner, so she was well socialised and trained as a puppy. It was only as she matured that it became clear that her coat was “too white”, so that she would be unlikely to win top prizes in the show ring. She was six months old when she was offered for sale. Celine wanted an older pup in any case, to avoid the complexities of dealing with a young puppy in a busy household: Elle was the perfect choice. The breeder carefully checked Celine’s household out too: she wanted to be sure that this much-loved pup was going to a good home. Elle has turned out to be the ideal family pet: a furry best friend for Celine’s children. When she came to BrayVet last springtime for her annual check and her booster vaccination, the vet asked Celine if she’d consider volunteering her as a blood donor: as an easy-going, large dog, she’d be perfect. Celine agreed, and Elle’s name as added to our list of possible blood donors. There’s no official blood bank for dogs in Ireland, but from...
Daisy is a twelve year old Shih Tzu

Daisy is a twelve year old Shih Tzu

I remember meeting Daisy for the first time back in 2002: she was a lovely, gentle puppy whom Celine had just acquired from a prestigious line of Kildare Shih Tzus. She went on to live the healthy life of a fit active adult dog, and I rarely saw her until 2011. It was during her annual check up three years ago that Celine mentioned a new problem: Daisy had started coming to a full halt on her walks. She would just stop, and sit down, refusing to budge. Celine had to carry her home to avoid being stuck out in the cold for ages. When I checked Daisy over, I could find nothing dramatic wrong with her. She had a mild heart murmur, but that’s common in older dogs, and there were no other signs of heart disease. She had some arthritis, with slightly creaky joints, but it’s rare to find an older dog that is completely clear of this type of issue. I could find no single reason for Daisy refusing to walk, so I suggested that Celine try simple training methods to try to encourage her little dog to keep walking. Celine did her best: she used tasty treats to try to tempt Daisy forwards. She tried walking her in new places to make the strolls more interesting and exciting. She tried a special harness to gently pull her along. She tried pleading with her. She tried getting cross with her. Nothing worked. Daisy is a determined little dog, and once she had decided that she didn’t want to walk anymore, that was that. She just stopped...