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Chicken oil


My three-year-old Labradoodle has suffered with diarrhoea on and off for about a year. She has had many investigations and was recently tested for food allergies, which came back positive for chicken, beef and some carbs. I am looking for a new food for her and wondered if it is OK to feed her one that contains chicken oil. Since she’s been diagnosed with allergies, I’ve spent a lot of time studying ingredients and noticed that this is a popular one.

Anna Cherry advises…

You’re right: chicken oil is a very popular ingredient, used in many commercial dog foods. Technically, you can feed foods that contain chicken oil to dogs with chicken allergies. This is because it is the protein that is believed to trigger the allergic response and not the oil. However, it is possible that if the chicken oil is not properly cleaned and filtered, it could contain traces of chicken protein, which may be enough to trigger an allergic reaction. Therefore, it’s vital that you only give your dog food and treats containing chicken oil that has been properly cleaned and purified.

To play it completely safe and eradicate this possibility, I would recommend that you try to find a chicken oil-free diet for your pooch. Fish-based diets often use fish oil in place of chicken oil, which could be a suitable choice for your dog. However, don’t assume that all fishbased diets will only use fish oil, as some will still contain chicken oil. Check the back of the pack carefully before purchasing.

If you are struggling to find a chicken-oil free food that meets your dog’s requirements, then feeding her a food that contains chicken oil should be absolutely fine. Just make sure that you select a high-quality food, made by a reputable brand that you trust. If in doubt, you can always contact the manufacturers directly – their contact details should be on the packaging – to ascertain that the chicken oil used has been cleaned and filtered thoroughly

Squirrel kill concern


I’ve got a two-year-old Lurcher who enjoys chasing squirrels in the woods. They’ve always got up the trees in plenty of time, but the other day we encountered a squirrel right in the middle of a field and it didn’t stand a chance! Since then, I’ve been really worried about what would happen if we met a small dog, like a Chihuahua, out in the woods? My dog has always been completely fine with all dogs, large and small, but will this squirrel kill have changed her? Would she be able to tell the difference between a small dog and a small furry?

Kristen Dillon advises…

Yes, she will be able to identify a small dog from a squirrel, as dogs are excellent at recognising their own species. However, you are right to be cautious in the wake of her first kill. It has nothing to do with blood – she won’t suddenly crave it or anything like that – but what may happen is the inherent instinct within her to chase may have been reinforced tremendously.

Sighthounds have a built-in desire to chase; some call this prey-drive, but it is more accurately described as instinct. Before now she has enjoyed the chase and has identified squirrels as providing this particular thrill. Since catching one, we have no way of knowing how rewarding it was for her, and whether that has changed her attitude to seeking out the thrill of actually catching her prey and how much this instinct takes over. Sometimes it can be strong enough to override everything else.

Work hard on her recall command, provide lots of chase games yourself on walks, using rope toys, flirt poles or similar, and try to avoid areas she associates with chasing for a little while. This will hopefully go towards breaking her chasing squirrels habit as the memory of her ‘catch’ fades and you become more rewarding yourself.

If you are in doubt, a lightweight long line attached to a well-fitting harness is always preferable until you do a little work with her and regain your confidence. Lastly, she may not have been affected at all and carry on exactly as before, but I would always err on the side of caution and safety for all concerned.

Canine campaigners demand a Wooferendum


Canine campaigners from all over the UK are barking out to demand a ‘Wooferendum’. 

The self-funded campaign has received support from volunteers as well as dogs and humans across country as it leads up to a huge march through central London, to Parliament, to call for a People’s Vote on Brexit. A ‘Wooferendum PETition’ has also been signed by dogs, leading public figures and celebrities and will be delivered to Downing Street, at the march, on Sunday 7 October 2018.

The campaign has also taken to social media as photos of dogs posing with ‘Stop Brexit #Wooferendum’ signs have been appearing in cities around the UK and online.

Cats have also been seen joining forces to stop Brexit…

The Wooferendum campaign highlights potential effects on animal welfare as well as public health, as a recent report from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons warns that we may see a shortage in qualified labour in veterinary surgeries across Britain. The report recognises that non-UK EU vets make up around 25% of the overall number of vets in the UK and Brexit could result in a major barrier of EU vets working in Britain.

A short film aims to inspire people and pets to get involved with the movement.  The Wooferendum Is Coming,’ a one-minute film featuring dogs taking the lead on the issue, has had over 120K views on Facebook. 

“Dogs were never consulted about Brexit,” says seven-year-old terrier Archie, one of the ‘spokes-dogs’ for the campaign. “Millions of us are sad and worried. Brexit is turning into a dog’s dinner and people deserve a say. We are worried for our future, and that of our two-legged friends. That’s why we are barking out. If your best friend was in trouble, what would you do?”

“The enthusiasm for Wooferendum has been incredible,” says its founder, Daniel Elkan, who has been canvassing the opinions of canines and their owners for months. “People and dogs jump at the chance to express their feelings about Brexit, which is a tough topic, in a more friendly, engaging way. The movement is growing and the Wooferendum March on Sunday 7th October it will be a fantastic day out.  We want to create the biggest bark in history – by the dogs, for the people. The campaign might seem barking mad – but it’s not as mad as Brexit.”

Chiswick House Dog Show returns bigger and better than ever


One of the UK’s most exciting outdoor dog festival- Chiswick house Dog Show, returns this Sunday bigger and better than ever.

There will be so much to see and do on Sunday 23rd with 18 classes, over 40 stands, food and drink, celebrity judges, doggy dash and My Dog’s Got Talent. The event is free and is a fun day out for all the family, running from 11am to 4pm. 

This year is also circus themed to commemorate the first ever circus held in the UK and will see popular classes like Next Top Model return from last years show!

There is more information about the event and classes on their website, and to find where the Chiswick House Dog Show is held follow this link

Travel with pets: Car hire with a dog


Are you planning to hire a car, hit the roads but don’t want to leave your furry friend behind? No problem, just take him with you.  We know that leaving your dog alone at home every day of the week is as stressful as leaving your child in school or childcare. Dogs can be the best travel companions; always ready for adventure, they ask no questions, and they don’t hold grudges. But there are some things you need to know before you hire a car and embark.

Things you need to know and do before you hire a car

If your dog enjoys the ride and you two are ready to travel the world together, here is our advice on hiring a car:

Contact car rental broker

Contact the car hire company and gather all the information on their pet. Some car hire companies have a blanket ban on pets. Find a pet-friendly rental policy (read their Terms and Conditions). We recommend you contact the rent-a-car broker, that will advise you which rent-a-car agency is best for you.

Visit the Vet

If you’re travelling abroad with your dog, he needs to be microchipped, treated for tapeworm, and vaccinated for rabies in order to receive a veterinary health certificate.


Sure, it looks cute when you see a dog with his head outside the window, enjoying the fresh breeze, but it’s not safe. Secure your dog with a seat belt harness attached to a seat buckle or use a pet carrier to keep you and your dog safe.

Clean the car

Clean the car after drop-off. When you return the vehicle, you need to clean the car seats, windows, etc. Using a waterproof seat cover is also an option. Most of the car hire agencies will apply extra fees for cleaning.

Health and comfort

The temperatures inside the car can rise to 70 °C. Never leave your best friend in a parked car – cracking the window open isn’t going to make a change.

Stop for a short walk every few hours for a quick stretch and a ball game – tired dog in a car is a calm dog.

Your dog will get thirsty on a long car journey – keep your furry friend hydrated.

Don’t feed your dog right before the ride. Try to feed him a few hours before the trip.  You don’t want him to be carsick.

If you own a Boxer, Jack Russell Terrier or some other hyperactive breed, try with chew toys. They will keep your dog occupied. Hopefully.

Advice from Vehicle rent

Exercise for an ageing dog


My Labrador is now 11 years old and is less able to run and exercise the way he used to back in the day. What can I do to help to keep him happy – both physically and mentally – as he enters his senior years?

Nick Jones advises…

This is an interesting question, as all dog owners will be confronted with the same situation at one point or another. Learning to adapt to your dog’s changing physical and mental needs is important to ensure a happy and fulfilling life to the very end.

Older dogs are often quite happy to go on more sedate walks that simply involve taking in some fresh air and scenting the ground. My old Vizsla, Amber, now sadly passed away, would happily run to pick up a retrieval dummy or two very late in life. This gave us mutual enjoyment and satisfaction. It doesn’t particularly matter what activities you do with an older dog, as long as it remains within your dog’s abilities and you both continue to enjoy that activity together.

One of the lovely things about elderly dogs is that they do not mourn the loss of their youth as we might, or take self-pity in the discomfort of arthritis, for example. They just live in the moment. In this respect, they set us a great example.

So, gentle, shorter walks if you feel that’s appropriate for him – and talk with your vet about joint supplementation too, if you feel that may help. Simply spending quality time with your dog can be just as valuable as walking or doing the things you may have done in days gone by

Veterinary charity is stamping out canine blindness


A 10-week-old puppy has been saved from blindness thanks to Suffolk veterinary charity, the Animal Health Trust (AHT).

As the charity celebrates its Cures4Paws week – a national fundraising initiative for research into canine diseases – new statistics demonstrate the effect a simple DNA test is having on the health of one dog breed in particular.

The AHT launched its DNA test for primary open angle glaucoma (POAG), a painful condition which eventually leads to blindness in the Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen, in 2015. At the time, one in 20 Petit Bassett Griffon Vendeen puppies were believed to be affected by the disease.

Three years later, through responsible breeders using the DNA test, there have been no affected puppies in the UK reported to The Kennel Club.

The results mean that 10-week-old Clover, from Scotland, and hundreds of puppies like her, will never develop the blinding disease. It also shows how DNA testing can lead to the immediate disappearance of a recessive disease.

Viv Phillips, a breeder who is seeing the benefits first-hand, says, “As the breeder who first announced I had a dog affected by POAG I was delighted to work with the AHT and Prof Peter Bedford for 18 years in the research into this disease. I know how tough it is to not be able to avoid your dog going blind at a relatively young age. When the AHT discovered the DNA mutation in November 2014 which was subsequently launched at Crufts in 2015 it was the most wonderful result.

“I tested the PBGVs I still had, including their older parents, and was able to ascertain that puppies I had bred were either at no risk of going blind or sadly carried the gene and therefore treatment could be started to prolong their eyesight. Since this time I have bred 12 puppies and I am delighted that I know they will not be affected as a result of using the DNA test.

“Worldwide approximately 1800 Petit Basset Griffon Vendeen have been tested, and in the UK no puppies have been recorded as affected in the last three years. It is not a numerically large breed and if we can continue to spread the word worldwide and convince breeders to test their breeding stock, we can – with the help of the AHT – look forward to eliminating this awful disease completely.”

Clover and many puppies like her will never develop Poag. Credit: Animal Health Trust

Dr Cathryn Mellersh, Head of Canine Genetics at the AHT, says, “Years of work went into developing this DNA test which makes it even more rewarding to see it used so well to stop these lovely dogs from going blind. Glaucoma is a very debilitating and painful disease and some dogs have to their eyes removed as a result.

“We are studying glaucoma, and many other blinding diseases, in lots of dog breeds. These mutations can also affect cross bred as well as purebred dogs, so as the popularity of cross bred dogs continues to rise, DNA health testing is more important than ever to make sure you’re breeding, or buying, puppies that are going to have the very best start in life. Great things can be achieved through genetic research and as humans suffer many of the same diseases as dogs, there is always the possibility that our research is going to help human medicine as well.  Unfortunately research is expensive and we always need more funding to be able to continue to maintain and expand our research of inherited diseases, including more complex diseases, such as epilepsy.”

Throughout Cures4Paws week, the AHT aims to raise awareness of the work it is doing to combat cancer, epilepsy and blindness which affect thousands of dogs across the UK everyday. Find out more at www.aht.org.uk/cures4paws

Battersea takes over window displays to spread important message


Shoppers on London’s Tottenham Court Road last night discovered that Battersea rescue dogs had taken the best sofa spots in the flagship stores of DFS, Dwell, Futon Company, Heal’s, and West Elm.

The Battersea takeover of Tottenham Court Road was aimed at reminding commuters and shoppers that no house is a home without a rescue dog. Animal welfare charity Battersea Dogs & Cats Home teamed up with the leading home and lifestyle retailers in a bid to find more loving homes for its lonely dogs.

10 of the animal charity’s rescue dogs and their handlers made themselves at home on the sofa and stretched out amongst the comfortable soft furnishings on display on the bustling London street. For many of the dogs it was their opportunity to enjoy some time out of kennels and show just how happy they’d be in a new owners’ front room.

Battersea’s Rehoming & Welfare Manager Becky MacIver says, “In a Battersea first we took over the shop fronts of the leading retailers on Tottenham Court Road with our dogs to try and find them new homes. It was a lovely experience for our dogs and an opportunity for them to shine outside of our kennels, but there was a serious message behind this and that’s to remind people that if they are seeking a sofa companion (or sofa hogger!) that rescue is best.”

Earlier this year Battersea revealed that it had seen a drop in its rehoming figures as it faces the growing challenge of people buying pets online or social media. The charity hopes that by raising the profile of its rescue dogs and showing them in a more natural home-like setting that more people will consider a rescue pet instead of buying online.

Becky MacIver adds, “Unfortunately, some people do have misconceptions about rescue dogs, believing them to have lots of issues that will come out once they get them home. In fact, if you visit your local rescue to rehome a dog or cat, you’ll get a full picture of your new pet as it will have had a full medical and behaviour assessment. You’ll know exactly what to expect when you get your new pet home, and then will be supported by our staff after you’ve rehomed. Something you most probably won’t get from buying a pet online.”

“We hope that seeing our dogs snuggling on the sofa with their handlers, or nestling by their feet on a soft rug, will help people see that our dogs are ready to be loved. We’re extremely grateful to all the retailers involved for joining us in spreading the rescue is best message.”

To find out more about the dogs and cats that are ready to be loved at Battersea, visit www.battersea.org.uk

Abandoned puppies named after characters from The Bodyguard


The RSPCA is investigating after six puppies were abandoned outside a charity veterinary hospital in London.

The eight-week-old lurcher puppies were found by a member of the public in a black, metal crate at the side of the road near the PDSA’s veterinary centre in Abbeywood.

RSPCA Inspector Nick Wheelhouse, who is now investigating, said, “The member of the public found the puppies at around midday on Tuesday (11 September) and took them straight to the PDSA’s clinic nearby.

“The staff at the clinic reported the puppies’ abandonment to us and looked after the dogs overnight for us. They’re now in our care and are having various health checks before we can move them to private boarding so they can be assessed and then begin their search for new homes.

“A lot of my colleagues are huge fans of The Bodyguard so we decided to name the pups after some of the main characters. Hopefully this means they’ll be lucky and find new homes where they’ll be protected as fiercely as David Budd protects Julia Montgomery!”

The pups – three males called Budd, Charlie and Montague, and three females called Chanel, Ella and Vicky – were not microchipped and had no collars or ID tags so the RSPCA has now launched an investigation to trace where they’ve come from.

Georgina Roberts, vet nurse team leader at Thamesmead PDSA Pet Hospital, said, “We’re not a rehoming charity but a concerned member of the public spotted the puppies abandoned in a crate near to the PDSA Pet Hospital and brought them in.

“Sadly the puppies were in an extremely poor condition; they were very underweight, covered in faeces and infested with fleas and worms. We cleaned the puppies up, and gave them fluids to rehydrate them as well as vaccinating them and administering flea and worming treatment.

“It’s really sad that these adorable puppies were left abandoned in such a dreadful condition. It reinforces the need for people to get their dogs neutered to prevent unwanted litters.”

“It’s obviously completely irresponsible to dump these puppies in this way and I’d like to speak to whoever was responsible,” Inspector Wheelhouse added.

“I’d urge anyone who recognises the pups, knows where they’ve come from or saw anyone in the area acting suspiciously on Tuesday morning to get in touch with us by calling 0300 123 8018.”

Although these puppies aren’t yet available for rehoming the RSPCA has thousands of other dogs looking for new homes. Visit the charity’s website for more information about adopting a rescue dog and to begin your search for the perfect match.

You can also donate to the RSPCA and help them rescue more animals by following this link

Tetanus in dogs


Can dogs get tetanus? Should I be worried if my dog cuts his paw on something rusty? Would he need an injection, as a person would?

Graham Finch advices…

Yes, dogs can get tetanus, although it is a rare infection. I recall seeing one case and that was at veterinary school more than 30 years ago now! Tetanus is a clostridial disease – the clostridial bacteria being present in soil. This gains entry via wounds and then toxins produced by the bug affect the nerves and, by association, muscles as well. Typically, this can affect the jaw nerves and muscles, causing paralysis, which gives the disease its colloquial name – lockjaw.

In the early stages of the disease, this produces stiffness and pain in the limbs. It takes several weeks for signs to appear, by which time any wound may have healed. If left untreated, the disease becomes progressive and goes on to affect the respiratory muscles, resulting in paralysis and death. Reports indicate a variable mortality with estimates between 52 to 90 per cent of dogs surviving infections, though this variability will be affected by small case numbers.

Treatment involves supportive care and intensive nursing; hence the case I saw was referred to a specialist centre, as the patient may be unable to stand or eat. The good news is that antibiotics such as metronidazole can be very effective, and the case I saw made a full recovery after about 10 days of hospitalisation. There is no vaccine for our canine patients. I have read about tetanus antitoxin being used, but I have no experience of this and reports suggest this may or may not be helpful.

This is a rare condition and I could not find any investigations into the incidence of the disease in the UK. Compare this to horses in Morocco, where vaccination does not routinely occur, and there were 56 cases reported between 2003-2004. Horses are a species that can be susceptible to tetanus and so a vaccine has been in use in the UK for decades now. This is one reason I do recommend a short course of antibiotics for dogs with wounds.

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