Sunday, 12 June 2011

TVV Blog Has Moved.

You can find it here.

Monday, 6 June 2011

How Not To Be A Good Dog Owner.

I've just been to the park to walk the dogs while it's not raining.

While there I met up with a lady who owns a one eyed lurcher and we had a chat because her dog is now a one-eyed, 3-legged lurcher. The dog developed bone cancer in one of her hind legs and although has had it amputated, she's doing really well. She's now a very distinctive dog and I doubt her owner gets far on their walks before someone asks about her pet.

This lovely lady took one look at The Lurcher and said, 'Oh, she's been in the wars too'.
At first I couldn't work out what she was talking about and then I realised she was pointing to the 2 remaining staples in the almost-healed wound on her side. This not the wound she got from jumping into a tree, but the one that was inflicted by The Old Boy, about a week later.

The Lurcher likes to tease our older dog but is sometimes just that bit slow about getting out of the way, and The  Old Boy's teeth are still sharp enough to do some damage. It hadn't been a very big hole, so I left it for a couple of days before I decided I did probably did need to intervene. So The Lurcher had a light sedation, and I cleaned and stapled her up on one side, and removed the staples from the other side at the same time.

The first 'bad-owner' thing I did, was not leave an Elizabethan Collar, or 'lampshade' on her for long enough. The Lurcher is devastating with one of these one, marking furniture, knocking down children and damaging shins as she goes. So I took it off after a couple of hours and as a result she ate 3 of the staples out herself.

The second was leaving the staples in for too long. I should have removed them about a week ago but was distracted by half term. The remaining 2 staples were firmly embedded in the skin and one had turned back to front as a result of her harassment. They were more difficult to remove than they should have been

But it was all okay in the end despite my 'bad owner' tendencies. But I'm a vet and can fix things if it all goes wrong. I'd advise you to listen to your vet when it comes to Elizabethan collars and suture/ staple removal..

The other example of a Bad Dog Owner I want to bring to you today, isn't me.

On the way home I spotted a big, white dog ambling along the footpath, who then strolled out into the middle of the road and stood there. I parked the car and he walked back onto the pavement. A lady with a couple of small, toy breeds came out of the park entrance and I asked her if she'd seen anyone looking for a dog.

There was no one obviously looking for a dog in the park, but it seemed to be hanging around a particular house on the street, so I knocked on the door. There was no reply so I got a lead onto its choke chain so it couldn't wander off again.

He was a big, handsome boxer/ mastiff type dog and seemed quite young. I didn't quite trust him though, he was an unneutered male and was nervous, which can turn to aggression when a dog feels threatened.

The lady with the small dogs lived nearby, so she dropped her pets home and came back with some friends, one of whom offered to walk the dog down to the closest vet clinic where it could be scanned to see if it had a microchip. The dog was not keen on getting into my car, and there was no way we were going to be able to force him!

I drove down ahead of them, and about 10 mins later the guy turned up with my lead, but no dog! It seems the owner met them as he was walking back from the shops and was hugely aggressive about the fact that some stranger had his dog. Luckily our good Samaritan was okay about being abused for his attempt at a good deed but it certainly makes me wary about trying to help in this situation again.

But lessons to be learnt from this are : make sure your dog can't get out of the garden, make sure your dog has a collar with a name tag on and make sure it's microchipped.

I would lay money on the fact this dog wasn't chipped, which means it would have been picked up by the dog warden  from the vet clinic, and probably ended up in Battersea by the end of the day. If the owner was keen to get it back, he would have found him in the end but it would have cost him a bit of time and some money as well.

Monday, 23 May 2011

It's Rabbit Awareness Week.

Years ago, rabbits were childrens' pets. No one thought twice about sentencing them to a dreary life at the bottom of the garden in a tiny cage, because no one knew any better.
Most vets had no idea what to do with a rabbit and treated them as small dogs or as cats.Animal behaviourists considered them stupid and boring, and beneath their notice.
Now all that has changed.

We now know that rabbits are very different from cats and dogs. They are prey animals rather than predators and as such have very specific behavioural and environmental needs. They are herbivores, not carnivores and they need lots of exercise and lots of fibre. And they need company, preferably in the form of another rabbit.

 Rabbits come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can be kept indoors and outdoors. This versatility has made them the 3rd most popular pet in the UK, behind cats and dogs. Britons keep 2 million rabbits as pets and one recent study estimates that 75% of these are not having their basic welfare needs met by their owners. 

As a bunny owner, there are 5 areas you must meet your pets requirements for. If you have a rabbit as a pet, or are considering getting one, please read on to see if you are really giving your pet all it deserves.

In the wild, rabbits have a large territory and exercise and feed in. This keeps them happy and healthy. 
Rabbits require a hutch for warmth and shelter, but should never be confined to it 24/7. They need a run attached to their hutch; this should be tall enough to allow the rabbits to stretch up to full height and they should be able to run, rather than just hop. A suggested minimum size of run for most rabbits is 8ft x 4ft x 2ft high.

Rabbits are intelligent and social animals, but have only been recently domesticated so their needs are very close to those of their wild relatives. They need a large enclosure and opportunities to run, dig and jump. They need to be able to hide if scared, and a change of scenery every so often. Regularly rotating their toys, and introducing new ones regularly will help prevent boredom.

Rabbits are happiest with the company of their bonded bunny or a small friendly group. The best combination is a neutered male/female pair or two neutered females. Un-neutered does often go on to develop uterine cancer, and can be very grumpy so it's best for everyone if they are spayed.
Rabbits shouldn't be kept with guinea pigs, as they often bully them and have different dietary needs.
Humans shouldn't replace another bunny for companionship but often provide a welcome supplement.

As for most pets, there is a long list of things that can cause a rabbit to be unwell. Most vets these days have  some idea of how to treat common bunny diseases but it's always worthwhile asking around to see if there is  a vet who is especially interested in rabbits near you.
Treatment can be involved and expensive.Some pet insurance companies do offer policies for rabbits, and you might want to consider taking some out.

Rabbits are fragile and flighty, and can break bones very easily, so if your pet suddenly seems lame or reluctant to move, you need to see a vet pretty quickly. Many rabbits hurt themselves leaping out of their owner's arms after being picked up, so it's wiser to leave them on the ground. If you have to cuddle them, sit on the ground and let them come to you.
A rabbit that isn't eating is in serious trouble and should get medical attention as soon as possible. If they don't have food coming in to their stomach, their gut stops moving and they can quickly die.
A lot of rabbits have teeth problems which cause them pain and illness. Bad breeding is a common cause of dental dysfunction as is a poor diet with not enough fibre in it.
Keep an eye on their poos. You should see round, hard individual pellets but if you see long strings of pellets stuck together or watery faeces then, again, see your vet.
All bunnies should be checked around their rear ends at least daily, as fly strike can develop within hours; but if you have a rabbit with diarrhoea or open sores, they need to be kept clean and checked twice a day. You can get fly repellent which can be applied to bunnies and will help keep them fly-larvae free, and fly netting around their cages can also be useful.
All bunnies should be micro chipped, in case they escape and vaccinated against Myxomatosis and Viral Haemorrhagic Disease, which are spread through flying insects.

70% of a wild rabbit's time above ground is spent foraging for high fiber foods, such as grass and plant. The continual chewing helps grind down the rabbit's constantly growing teeth and keeps their gut healthy.
Good quality grass and hay should make up the majority of your rabbit's diet. The remainder should be small amounts of extruded pellets and a few bits of fresh vegetable.

If you want more detailed information on any of these welfare areas, then check out the Rabbit Awareness Week website. You will find lots of information on all aspects of Bunny care, as well as details of Rabbit Awareness Week events near you.

Friday, 13 May 2011

When Dogs And Trees Collide.

I dared to go into London on my own yesterday and got a phone call towards the end of the conference I was attending.

It was the dog walker saying The Lurcher had bounced sideways and got stuck on a tree. Then she had bounced off again and torn a couple of holes in herself.

It's not much good being a vet when you are an hour away from your injured dog, and anyhow it was too bad an injury for me to attempt to repair at home, so I sent her off to a friend of mine.

By the time I got home, she had been cleaned up and the wound had been stapled together.

She was recovering from her sedation but still a bit wobbly and once we got back to the house she retired to the pool cover.

Today she's fine. I had her on the lead in the park but she's been doing speed laps of the garden this afternoon to make up for it. She is a dog of very little brain.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mix With Care

Some pets just should not be kept under the same roof.

The trouble is there are no hard and fast rules about what combinations will, and won't, work and sometimes it's just a matter of try it and see.

For example we have the Lurcher and we used to have 2 cats. Some lurchers and greyhounds get on fine with cats, others can't live in a house with them, or any small furry animals, because of their excessive prey drive. We got our lurcher as a puppy, and she was brought up around a number of different animals, so the chances were good that she would learn not to chase our cats.

Unfortunately we had not reckoned with the temperament of our cats. Our cats have lived with the Old Boy, our 9 year old collie cross, for years, without any inter species friction. But along came the puppy, who yapped a bit, the cats took off, the puppy chased them, and so a habit was born.

If even one of our cats had been a bit tougher, and given the Lurcher a sharp whack across the nose for being so nosey or just stayed sleeping, rather than fleeing the room I'm sure things would have been different.
But now we have two cats who refuse to enter the house but deign to enter our separate utility room now and again. We leave food out for them and replace it when necessary, but they are obviously eating elsewhere as 7.5 kgs of dried food has now lasted us almost a year!

And I can now tell you exactly how embarrassing it is to have a neighbour from across-the-way and down-a-bit come over to you and ask if you can scan the 'stray' cat that's been hanging around their house for the last few months, for a microchip.Of course, I didn't need to scan it; when she described the big ginger tom that  was camping out at theirs, I knew it was one of ours. 

You can't tell a cat where to live, so while she doesn't want to adopt Ginger, she's agreed to feed him for us and will notify me if he needs any veterinary attention.

We don't know where our other cat is eating, but it's obviously somewhere  with generous proportions as he's looking a lot rounder than he used to. He is long haired and really needs regular grooming, but obviously isn't getting this atm so needs to have his knots shaved. I'm going to have to wait until I find him in the utility room to have a go at sedating him so I can give him a good grooming.

On the other hand, we have rats, and used to have guinea pigs, that the Lurcher has showed no interest in at all. It's only cats she hates; this is something it would have been useful to know before we got her.

Cats are a common factor in many inter species problems as they can be both 'prey' and 'predator'.

Many a pet rodent, bird or fish has met it's end via the family cat. I've also been told a story about a family cat who ate 3 newborn chihuahua pups, when the owners were out at work. I'm inclined to believe it; puppies of that size would make a convenient meal for a cat bored with dried biscuits.

This doesn't mean you can't have a bird/rodent/fish if you have a cat, but be sensible. Don't let the prey species roam freely around a room/house with a cat in it. Not even if it's a geriatric cat with arthritis and kidney failure. Cats are killing machines and some will respond  energetically to the presence of prey even while on deaths door.

Make sure the cage or tank you use to house your small pets is sturdy enough to keep the possible victim in, and the cat out. It's a case of you get what you pay for. Bars are better than plastic enclosures for small furries, but check the clips that hold bars to plastic trays are not going to give way to a determined cat. It's a good idea to keep the cage in a room that can be closed off from other pets when the house is empty of humans.

Our cats were regular hunters of mice and brought in the odd bird, but they were uninterested in both the rats and guinea pigs that shared our house with them. 
It goes to show that you just can't tell.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Back To Reality.

We've been out of the country over Easter, and one of the countries our family visited was Sri Lanka.
We've been to Asia a few times in the past, but only to places like Hong Kong and Singapore, during stopovers on long-haul flights. Sri Lanka was a new experience for us.
 Driving through Colombo, we saw how genuinely poor people live; crowded into makeshift wooden shelters that most people in the UK would be ashamed to have as a garden shed.

When we travelled south to our villa, just out of Galle, people seemed slightly better off. The walls of their houses were made of concrete blocks, and the roofs looked at least waterproof. There still seemed to be too many people to possibly live in one small room, but the houses looked solid, permanent.
In the area we stayed in, there were a lot of ruined buildings especially on the coast road. Of course these were remnants of the 2004 Tsunami, in which at least 30 000 people died.

Sri Lanka has many stray dogs. We did see some dogs wearing collars, but if they were pets they seemed to spend a lot of time wandering along the roads with all the rest.
Most of the dogs we saw were obviously unowned, with signs of skin disease and lameness but there were very few that looked like walking skeletons. Most seem to get enough to eat by hanging around restaurants, hotels, villages and temples.

Dogs in Sri Lanka appear to have a lot more road sense than dogs in the UK. I saw many of them check the road for vehicles before stepping out into the traffic but I guess they learn this the hard way.

And you'll see by my photos, that a lot of these dogs look similar. The ones we saw were all the size of small Labradors and most had a short coat in some shade of brown.We did see a couple of German Shepherds at a guest house, but I'm pretty sure they must have been imported from somewhere. And we did see one smaller dog, living on an island that had a black and white shaggy coat; so was maybe a collie cross of some kind? No one spoke enough English to satisfy my curiosity, so I'll just have keep wondering.

I asked our driver what people did if they found an ill or injured dog and it seems ill dogs are avoided due to the risk of rabies. He did mention the possibility of taking an injured one to a vet, but most vets specialise in farm animals, so are mainly concerned with production. in most areas, there simply isn't usually the money available for specialised equipment or drugs for companion animals.

Many people in the UK consider their pets a right, not a luxury, but a visit to a less wealthy country should be able to convince most reasonable people otherwise. We didn't witness any animal cruelty on our travels, but it's obvious that people in Sri Lanka struggle to provide their families with the basic necessities of life, so the needs of animals such as dogs must be way down that list.


Saturday, 2 April 2011

I Hope They Name Him 'Lucky'.

Coastguards patrolling the coastline of Japan for survivors that may have been washed out to sea by the tsunami that hit the country's north-east coast three weeks ago, have rescued a dog found living on the roof of a floating house.

If you watch the video found in the link above, you can see that the dog is obviously hungry but appears otherwise healthy.

This must be the luckiest dog on the planet, surely?