Thursday, 26 February 2009

Please visit the Think Tank...

I think it's time to draw your attention to our sister blog the Think Tank. We'd really like as many of you to get involved as possible and share your knowledge. The more people thinking about the questions the better! Do stop by as often as possible as stories develop on there every day. For example the very sad story of Poppy the Boxer traumatised by a burglary - we've just sent Think Tank behaviourist Amy Hatcher to make a site visit and we're hoping that Poppy will be blooming again sometime soon. Do keep checking for updates.

Here's some of the recent questions we still need answers to, if you can help do either leave a comment on the blog or email me and I'll post your reply if you're finding it tricky.
If you click on the title it will take you direct to the page on the blog where you can leave your comment - or you can email thinktank@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk.
If you have a question you'd like answered email thinktank@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk who edits this section of the magazine.
Much of the Think Tank will end up in print and will be even wider read and the answers will stay searchable on the blog to help others with similar problems, so please do share your experiences.

Retraining a deaf dog
I rescued a seven-year-old Neapolitan Mastiff with severe ear problems about a year ago. He has had a number of chronic ear problems in the past, left untreated by his previous owners, which have now caused abnormalities in both ear canals. Yesterday the vet had to perform a bilateral TECA/LBO and he is now completely deaf.
Does anyone have any experience of retraining an older dog who has lost his hearing? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Kim Stock

Manic Morph
I’d like some advice regarding my recent family addition; a two-year-old neutered male Border Collie called Morph, who’s been living with us for seven-and-a-half weeks. I know very little of his history as he was a stray.
We discovered he was microchipped, but when we spoke to the people he was registered with they told us they had lost him four months previously, had seen him walked by someone else and he looked so happy they didn’t want him back, which sounded a bit suspicious to me.
I decided to give him a trial and he hit it off with my Border Collie bitch, Ebony. It has become evident, however, that he has received very little training or stimulation of any sort. He pretty much has every problem an under-stimulated collie could have. He chases everything (including my cats), he stalks cars and sometimes he tries to catch them, throwing himself at them. Ebony also had this problem when we first bought her and I managed to stop it, but she was younger and a lot easier to hold on to than Morph!
He also takes food from the worktops and barks constantly when he’s in the car. I’ve tried a humane collar that shoots out air when he barks. It was fantastic at first, but then he discovered that it was just as fun to bark at the air coming out of the collar. When he’s not barking he’s licking the windows or grating his teeth on them. I don’t know whether this is because car journeys are stressful for him or whether it’s because he wants to chase the cars.
When excited, Morph tends to use us as springboards. He also fixes his sight on various things (quite often light bulbs) and just stares at them and jumps straight up at them. He also chases his tail; in fact he’s chewed the end of it off.
I love him to pieces and I know that he hasn’t been with us very long, but I’m wondering if I’ve taken on a dog that’s too much and if he would be better off with someone who had more time to devote directly to him. I’m self-employed and the dogs are with me as much as is possible. They also have a three-hour (minimum) walk each day.
I know he’ll be the most fantastic dog once he’s trained. I just want what’s best for him. I’d rather rehome him sooner or later if I have to, but directly, and not via a rescue centre. Is there any advice you can give me with his multitude of problems?
Amy Britcher, by email

Ashes to Ashes?
I'm wondering if anyone else has read what's in their dog food and has gone ugh!
I feed a really top notch food that's meant to be really healthy - yet even that has 5% Ash in it.
What is Ash and why is it in seemingly in every prepared dog food? Is it just something to bulk it out - surely it can't be healthy eating ashes?
Will Holmes, Weybridge

What's a Belly Band?
Just heard that the KC have concerns about the misuse of belly bands, I'd never even heard of them before then. What are they, what are they meant to be used for and how could they be abused?
Sarah Stevens, Slough


A Belly Band seems to be an American invention - it's a wrap secured by Velcro that goes around a male dog's middle stopping them weeing or even mating! Correctly used they stop dogs from scent marking - particularly useful for hard to housetrain dogs or dogs that may be incontinent. Incontinence pads can be used inside the wrap. The KC are worried about these wraps being too tight or being left on for too long.

Heavy Price to Pay
I had to change vets recently due to having no transport to travel to the practice I have used for 20 years, which is 10 miles away.
The medical records were transferred for my dog Millie who has a heart problem. She has been taking Fortekor 5mg, for which I have been paying £26.54 for 28 tablets. After a consultation (as a new patient) I was given the usual tablets but was charged over £42 for them. When I questioned the price difference I was told that this was the price they were charged from their supplier. I explained I would find it difficult to afford this price and she then said that perhaps they could do a 'deal' and suggested £31.50.
Is it a common thing for medication to vary so much in price between different vets? I find it quite shocking.
Deborah Lyons, Leicester

Reprogramming Needed
I have a five-year-old Westie bitch who has increasingly taken to attacking the television whenever a programme or an advert comes on that has a dog in it (sometimes other animals too) – in fact there is one advert in particular that really sets her off – the Specsavers sheep shearing one! She actually launches herself at the television, barking and growling and trying to paw at the dog or animal. I have tried to use a distraction but to little avail, even the odd food treat when she leaves it alone has no impact; I have even shut her in another room until she calms down as advised by another dog walker. If I put her on the lead she does calm down and settles almost to watch it but I do not want to keep having to do this to her every time I have the television on. Any suggestions would be most welcome!!!

Reaction or just a coincidence?
Is it possible to have a reaction to other injections - not just a vaccine?
I have heard of a dog developing a lump on the site of an anti-biotic jab. What could cause that? Is their any other ingredients in an antibiotic jab that a very sensitive animal could have a reaction to? Or could the antibiotic itself set off a lumpy reaction? Or could it just be a coincidence?

Fading Away
I've noticed that sometimes my dog's nose and lips can become less brown. It's usually when she's about to come into season. Is it an old wives tale or could this be a sign of a lack of iron?
An old breeder friend says to give her kelp - but where do you get it? Someone else recommended Brewer's Yeast. But how much and how often? (She's a Springer Spaniel)
Should I go to my vet and get her checked out? Could this be a symptom of something more serious? I read on a forum that autoimmune can be linked to fading pigment.
Sarah Stevens

Eye Don't know
My dog has quite unusual eyes, but they seem to have changed colour as his coat has got lighter and darker. Is this just an optical illusion? Or is it possible for dogs eye colour to change?
My dog is a Beardie which is one of the few breeds to have the greying gene which means their coats change colour all their lives. Could this be true of the pigments in his eyes, too?
Beverley Cuddy, Editor

The Big Sneeze
Can dogs catch colds? I have had a very heavy cold over the past week and now my dog has a runny nose and keeps sneezing.
Karen Hughes

The Lawn Ranger
We have a two-year-old neutered male Labrador who enjoys the run of our back garden. However, after he wees or poos he kicks up great lumps of turf with his back feet. I understand that he is marking his territory, but how can we stop him from digging up our lawn?
Megan Owen

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