Boots seemed to lose power in her back legs

Boots seemed to lose power in her back legs

One Saturday morning, Boots started to behave strangely. She had difficulty walking properly on her back legs, and when Maria went up to her, she rolled on her back in a peculiar way. She started to make strange noises, like a cross between purrs and miaows. She sounded more like a bird chirping than a cat. Something strange was going on and Maria called her sister because she was worried. Just over a year ago, the family’s elderly cat Tabs had also started to have difficulties walking. Sadly, she was diagnosed with a blood clot in the main artery to her pelvic area and in the end, she had to be euthanased. When Boots started to walk strangely with her hind legs too, Charlotte and Maria feared the worst: Boots was only 10 months of age, but could she have developed the same problem? When they brought her to see me, I asked a few questions. Boots is an indoor cat, so she never goes out and about, and never meets other cats. She has not yet been spayed. She was still eating hungrily, with no other signs of being unwell. Charlotte and Maria had noticed that she was licking herself under her tail more than normal, but they hadn’t seen anything else unusual other than her odd way of walking and her peculiar behaviour. When I examined Boots, she had a strong, healthy pulse in her back legs, and the legs were normal, with no weakness or paralysis. If a cat suffers a clot, the pulse is absent, and the hind legs are completely floppy. As I ran my...
Sonny was badly injured on his evening walk

Sonny was badly injured on his evening walk

At thirteen years of age, Sonny lives the quiet life of an older dog. He goes out for a walk on a leash every morning and evening, and for the rest of the time, he stays around the family home, in a quiet cul-de-sac. Now and again, he’s allowed out into the front garden to do his business and he sometimes goes for a short stroll to the end of the cul-de-sac before coming home. He knows this routine well: when he’s ready to come back in, he barks at the front door, asking for someone to open it to let him back inside. A couple of weeks ago, Sonny was allowed out as usual on a Saturday evening. Fifteen minutes later, he was barking at the front door, so he was allowed back in, as always. The family noticed that he was acting a little oddly, hiding behind the couch and being less active than normal, but at first they didn’t think anything of this. Perhaps he was just having a strange mood for no particular reason. But when they noticed a trickle of blood on the kitchen floor, they realised that something must have happened to him  and they took time to examine him carefully. The first injury that Mikaela found was a cut on the underside of his chin. It was big enough to need to be stitched, and at first she thought that this was where the blood had come from. But when she examined him further, she got a big fright: when she put her hand on the underside of his body, it felt swollen,...
Lily the rabbit had a problem with her leg

Lily the rabbit had a problem with her leg

Lily is a free-range rabbit: she is allowed to run around the family’s walled-in back garden. To protect her against the possibility of night-time predators like foxes or large cats, Jackie locks her up in a safe, warm hutch every night, but she’s let out first thing every morning. During the short days of December, it was difficult for Jackie to get a good look at Lily: it’s nearly dark when she’s put to bed in the evenings, and Jackie goes out to work in the half-light of the early morning. Saturday was the first time in a while that Jackie had been able to check Lily over carefully in the full light of day. And straight away, Jackie found something that concerned her a lot: Lily’s back right leg was sticking out at an odd angle. She brought her in to see me on Monday morning. Lily didn’t seem to be in pain when I examined her leg. Her foot was sticking out in a strange way, but when I put her on the ground, she could hop around easily enough, and she didn’t try to pull away when I felt her odd-shaped leg. It was impossible to tell exactly what was going on by just looking at her, so I took her in for the day to take some x-ray pictures. Soon Lily was deeply sedated, and she lay there, quiet and relaxed, while I took some x-rays of her crooked leg. A few minutes later, the images on the screen showed me exactly what was going on. Lily had suffered a broken shin bone. The unusual aspect of her...
Archie is a six year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Archie is a six year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Marie first mentioned Archie’s eye problem when she brought him in for his annual health check in September. At that stage, she told me that both his eyes seemed red, and they looked as if there was some sort of film over the surface. When I looked at him, I agreed that Archie’s eyes seemed to have a duller surface than normal. The most common cause of this problem is “Dry Eye”. The tear glands in one or both eyes stop producing as many tears as normal, so the eye literally dries out. This dryness causes increased friction between the inside of the eyelids and the surface of the eye, resulting in a painful, uncomfortable eye. Some breeds, including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, are prone to Dry Eye, especially in middle age. I did a simple test on Archie to confirm the diagnosis. The test is called the “Schirmer Tear Test”:  a short strip of filter paper is placed into the eye, and the amount of tears produced is measured in millimetres over one minute. A normal dog produces more than 15mm of tears; a dog with advanced Dry Eye may produce no tears at all. Archie’s test result was normal in his left eye, but the tear production in his right eye was reduced, at only 9mm. Archie was in the early stages of developing Dry Eye.  I gave him a course of eye drops to treat any underlying infection which could be temporarily decreasing his tear flow, and I arranged to see him a month later. When he came back in October, the tear flow in his...
Defor works as a drug sniffer dog for the Irish Customs service

Defor works as a drug sniffer dog for the Irish Customs service

Sniffer dogs have been used by the Irish Customs service since 1984. There are now about twenty dogs around the country, at ports and other centres. The dogs are an important part of the battle against illegal imports of drugs, explosives, tobacco and cash. Geraldine joined the Customs Service ten years ago as an Enforcement Officer. She found herself working alongside a sniffer dog team: she had grown up with dogs, and she was fascinated to see the dog in action. When there was an internal competition for a new dog handler position, she applied and was successful. She was issued with her first dog, Alfie, after two months training: he was a fully trained sniffer dog, so the two of them became an instant working team. Alfie was a drugs detector dog  who had been trained to sniff out Class A drugs — herbal and resin cannabis, heroin, cocaine and amphetamines. He was involved in many big seizures throughout his working career, with his final one of €1.2 million worth of Herbal Cannabis only a  few weeks prior to his retirement. He was nine years old when he retired: he still had a good sniffing nose but he was beginning to slow down. He now lives as a pet at home. Geraldine’s new dog, Defor, an 18 month old English Springer Spaniel arrived at the beginning of October. They had two weeks training together, and then they were ready to go. Defor had already been trained by a private dog training company in the UK. He a “dual scent” dog: as well as sniffing out drugs, Defor can pick out cash...
Maisie the Golden Retriever puppy broke her tooth

Maisie the Golden Retriever puppy broke her tooth

Maisie is the latest addition to the household, and she’s become an enthusiastic playmate of Ted, the two year old Corgi. The two animals burn up energy by wrestling over toys together, often playing tug of war with a favourite object. The dogs growl noisily as they do this, but it’s all good-natured fun, and they never have a serious fight. One Sunday morning, the dogs spent time playing on the beach. Shortly after they returned home, Chris noticed that Maisie had developed a swelling over the front right side of her muzzle. He thought that it was some type of sting: perhaps she had played with a jelly fish or something odd like that? Over a couple of hours, the swelling grew bigger, and Maisie started to whine. The area was painful to touch, and it was getting worse rather than better. The family decided to take Maisie to the emergency vet. After a careful examination, the vet made the diagnosis. Maisie had fractured her right upper canine tooth: the long pointy one. This had probably happened during a tug of war with Ted: Maisie still had her “baby” teeth, which aren’t as strong as Ted’s permanent teeth. She was given injections of pain relief and antibiotics, and an appointment was made to see me the following day for more detailed dental care. There is no such thing as a “dentist” for pets: all vets are trained in basic dentistry. While it is possible to have your pet referred to a vet who specialises in complicated dental procedures (such as root canal fillings), your local vet is always the first...