Molly an eight year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Molly an eight year old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Kerri was just three years old when Molly arrived in her life as a puppy. Kerri was so young that she finds this difficult to remember, but she was the one who chose Molly’s name, and the two of them have since grown up together. These days Kerri is clear that Molly is her best friend, and they spend several hours a day playing together. Kerri takes Molly for a walk in the park for an hour twice daily, where they are well known to other people walking their dogs. Molly is a calm, good-natured dog who gets on well with every person and animal that she meets. Her tail is always wagging. Kerri often pets and hugs her, and Molly has never growled at her nor shown any sign of unfriendliness. There is just one area of mild disagreement: tooth brushing. Kerri is very particular about looking after Molly’s appearance. She brushes Molly’s coat several times a week, teasing out matted fur and putting it out in the garden for the local wild birds to use to line their nests. Kerri also knows that it’s important to look after Molly’s dental health, but when it comes to the important process of tooth brushing, things get more complicated. The subject of Molly’s dental health came up recently when she was brought to me for her annual check up and vaccination. Molly is a typical middle aged dog: her teeth are beginning to loosen and fall out because of tooth and gum disease, but the family hadn’t realised that this was happening. It’s all hidden behind Molly’s lips, and unless...
Five dogs and four cats in Greece

Five dogs and four cats in Greece

Holidays can be an expensive luxury: as well as the cost of air flights to reach your destination, you need to pay for accommodation and often a rental car to get around. For many years, “house swaps” have provided a way of easing the financial burden: you allow someone else to stay in your home, and use your car, and in return, you get to stay in their home and drive their vehicle. This set up suits some people, but the idea of opening up your home to someone else doesn’t appeal to everyone. A website called trustedhousesitters.com, takes a different angle: if you agree to move into someone else’s house and to look after their pets, they allow you to stay there, and to use their car, for free. I came across the website when planning our family summer holiday a couple of years ago: I found that pet sitting assignments are all over the world, in many desirable destinations. A city centre apartment in Paris, Rome or New York? A farmhouse in Provence or Spain? A villa in Italy or Switzerland? I signed up to the website, paying €42 for three months membership, which allowed me immediate access to new petsitting jobs as soon as they were posted. I then had to create a “pet sitter profile” for myself, including a short video message and references from people who could vouch for my ability to care for pets. Once I’d set this up, I was able to browse through pet sitting assignments, searching for one that would provide that dream holiday for myself and my family.  An...
Maya a six year old cross bred Collie

Maya a six year old cross bred Collie

Maya rushes everywhere, as if she is eager to experience as much of life as possible. Sharon takes her out for regular long walks, which they both enjoy, and until now, Maya has never suffered any injuries or lamenesses. This past weekend was typical: on Saturday, Sharon took Maya along the cliff walk from Bray to Greystones, then after refreshments, they walked all the way back again, making a total of around 10km. Maya enjoyed the exercise, showing no sign of getting tired. Then on Sunday, they went for a shorter walk around the Killruddery estate in Bray. Maya went to bed as normal on the Sunday evening, tired, but with no sign of lameness or discomfort. It was first thing on Monday morning that Sharon knew that there was something wrong: when she woke up, Maya was outside her bedroom door, as if she had been waiting for her. Maya normally sleeps in the kitchen, and she usually stays there until Sharon comes downstairs. Sharon talked to Maya, as people often do to their pets: “What’s up with you, Maya? Why have you come upstairs?” As if in reply, Maya held up her right front paw, and when she tried to walk on the leg, she couldn’t put any weight on it at all. Sharon checked her leg carefully. There was no sign of any cuts or sore areas, so it was difficult to work out what could have gone wrong. There was a dead bee on the kitchen floor: could Maya have tried to play with the bee and been stung? Later in the day, Maya was...
Peanut the pug needed a tracheostomy

Peanut the pug needed a tracheostomy

The Pug is a popular breed in Ireland: their small, big-eyed, snub-nosed, round-faced appearance ranks them high in the cuteness stakes. There’s one serious problem: they have been bred more for looks than function,and many Pugs have serious breathing difficulties due to their squashed-up breathing passages. The problem is known technically as “brachycephalic syndrome”: it’s so common that it’s considered normal for pugs to have noisy breathing when they get excited or after exercise.. For many pugs, the breathing problems are not serious enough for owners to be too concerned, but in Peanut’s  case, a life threatening crisis meant that emergency surgery was needed. The first event happened when he was just eleven months old. He was playing with Lee in the kitchen at home, when he started to struggle to get his breath. The little dog began to panic, making the problem even worse, and he then collapsed, falling onto his side and losing control of his bladder. Lee stayed beside him, reassuring him as he slowly regained consciousness. Lee took him to the vet straight away, and an immediate referral was arranged to a respiratory surgery specialist at the veterinary teaching hospital in UCD. A full work up, including x-rays, showed that Peanut had been born with a combination of serious issues with his respiratory tract: he had an abnormally narrow windpipe, squashed nostrils that could not open wide enough, and a combination of deformities of the back of his throat that prevented the normal passage of air from his nose to his lungs. His first operation attempted to correct these issues: his nostrils were widened, and...
Troubles is a 4 year old Guinea Pig

Troubles is a 4 year old Guinea Pig

Paddy was given an instant “family” of pets by a classmate at school who was returning to Canada and could not take his animals with him. There were three guinea pigs and one rabbit, who all lived happily together. Strictly speaking, rabbits are not meant to be kept with guinea pigs because they don’t always get on, but all four animals seemed to be good friends, so Paddy decided to continue to keep them all together.  The creatures came with their own purpose-built two-storey hutch, which includes four separate bedrooms (one for each animal). It has a secure, fenced-in, steel run attached, so that animals are safe from predators while they graze on the lawn. The hutch is cleaned out every couple of weeks, and the run is moved on to a new area ever week, so the little animals never run out of fresh grazing. Paddy had been told that all four of his new pets were boys, and he had no reason to think otherwise: in the past three years, there had been no sign of any babies. The guinea pigs, especially, are playful creatures, often running and jumping together. Paddy had noticed that the two other ones often seemed to pick on Troubles, jumping on his back, but he presumed that this was just the way that guinea pigs played, and Troubles never seemed to mind. This summer, the family went away for a couple of weeks on holiday, so Paddy’s grandparents were caring for his pets. When Paddy went to collect them after the holiday, he noticed was that Troubles had put on weight. He...
Bluebell is a ten year old cat

Bluebell is a ten year old cat

As an older cat, Bluebell lives a calm, quiet life. She spends her day snoozing in the sunshine or strolling around the garden, never venturing far from the house. She usually stays in at night too, although she is free to come and go as she pleases through the cat flap. The family live in a bungalow, and last Monday night, Marguerite was woken at three in the morning by  the sound of a fearsome cat fight immediately outside her bedroom window. The caterwauling of the two animals was astonishingly loud, with screeches, wails and screams. Marguerite opened the window, and Bluebell jumped straight in, as if she had been waiting for an escape route. The security light outside had been activated by the cats, and Marguerite could clearly see a large, well-fed, grey tabby cat skulking off into the night. He looked like a pampered pet cat rather than a lean hungry feral animal, but he was obviously no less aggressive for his posh background. At first, Bluebell seemed completely unfazed by the incident: she was in good form, behaving normally, with a good appetite. It was as if nothing had happened. But thirty-six hours later – the morning after the morning after – she developed a dramatic lameness. She was unable to put any weight on her left foreleg, and she was limping around the house, holding it in the air. Marguerite brought her in to see me. The story of the cat fight gave me a useful clue about the cause of Bluebell’s lameness: cat bites are the most common cause of painful legs in cats....