Tag Archives: Vet

Tilly with the cone

Neutering – making that choice

Tilly wearing her cone

The cone of shame or e-collar

Tilly is Scored

It’s been a sad month for us. We had planned to breed from young Tilly. Such a lovely, bright, happy girl. Full of fun and love for everyone. Having waited for a long time to find a German Shepherd with the perfect nature, we wanted to ensure that her physical health was good too, so we had her DNA tested for DM (Degenerative Myelopathy, also known as chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy – CDRM). Having had two GSDs with this condition, we wouldn’t risk perpetuating such a devastating disease. To our delight, she was clear. Next, we had hips and elbows scored. Her hips weren’t the best at 14, but the big let down was her elbow score of 3. It seems she has elbow dysplasia on the left side. This could be hereditary meaning she could pass it on to her offspring, but we will also have to deal with this painful condition that needs lifelong treatment.

X-Ray of Elbow

Choosing to neuter

Because of this, we made the difficult decision to have her spayed. It’s not easy to send a healthy dog under the knife, but we have two entire males in the house and it was the only sensible thing to do.

She came home from the op looking quite dopey, but we were certain she would brighten up later. Unfortunately, she didn’t and by 11 pm that evening, blood was dripping from her wound. We were told to expect some seepage and weren’t sure if that was what we were seeing.

A sleepless night followed and at 7 am the next morning, the blood was still dripping. By that time, there was a lot of it, so we couldn’t wait any longer and called the emergency vet. Back at the surgery, she was operated on again and the problem resolved. It was a really scary time and the guilt we felt for sending her in the first place was awful.

At the vet with a compression bandage to stop the bleeding

Cone versus suit

Thankfully, she has made good progress since then and it wasn’t long before her sore belly started to interest her. The inevitable cone or e-collar (Elizabethan collar) came out and she had to wear it. Everyone who has ever had a dog operated on will know the misery of the cone of shame. Shins, furniture, other dogs, nothing is sacred. It was a stressful week for all until we remembered a sample suit we had from the makers of the excellent Vetgood veterinary boots.

We used these Vetgood boots on Daisy to protect her feet when she was out and about and they were so brilliant, we decided we had to share, and now stock the full range.

We slipped the protective recovery suit on Tilly and hey presto, instant calm. Although it was a little big for her, it did the job and protected the site of the wound without causing upset to our girl or the rest of the pack and the gentle, constant pressure from the fabric had a dramatic soothing effect on her.

The two-piece design of the suit makes it easy to put on and take off when necessary. The vest and pants connect easily with Velcro. It’s made from 95% cotton with 5% lycra, so it stretches. It even has pockets inside where you can put ice packs, should that be necessary. It helps us humans help our pets heal and recover, and restores peace to a disrupted household!

We shall be stocking these suits very soon.

Tilly in her Vetgood Suit

Modelling the Vetgood Protective Recovery Pet Suit for Dogs and Cats

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Pumpkin and your Pets

Pumpkin Dog Biscuits

Last month Daisy was unwell. She had an upset stomach which resulted in bouts of diarrhoea. That is bad enough when you have a dog with four working legs, but for a dog that cannot walk unaided, it is deeply unpleasant. The vet advised a bland chicken and rice diet, which we had already begun, but he also prescribed some paste which did the trick and she was soon back to normal. We were relieved, but of course, the bill followed! Now, we don’t begrudge paying for her treatment, but it got us thinking about natural alternatives. In the distant past, we had given our dogs pumpkin when they were unwell, so since it is now pumpkin season, we thought we would revisit the idea.

Why is pumpkin good for dogs?

Pumpkin provides a natural source of many beneficial vitamins and nutrients:

  • Potassium – an electrolyte essential for muscular contraction and recovery from activity
  • Vitamin C – one cup of pumpkin contains at least 11mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for its antioxidant and immune system supporting effects
  • Beta-Carotene – beneficial for preventing cancer. The bright orange colour is an indication of how rich it is in beta-carotene
  • Alpha-Carotene
  • Fibre
  • Zinc – will help improve skin and coat
  • Iron
  • Vitamin A – which is important for your dog’s vision

One of the most common uses of pumpkin is for dogs suffering from diarrhoea. The natural fibre content of the pumpkin helps to slow down digestion by adding bulk to the dog’s stool. Experts recommend adding pumpkin to your dog’s normal dog food and this has widely been reported to act quickly to settle their stomach. We used to keep small bags of frozen pumpkin in our freezer for just that purpose.

Interestingly enough, while pumpkin is a great remedy for diarrhoea, it is equally effective at easing constipation. Naturally increasing the amount of soluble fibre in your dog’s diet will also help move things along in a comfortable way. Pumpkin is gentle, unlike some conventional drugs designed to relieve constipation. Once again, pumpkin can be added to your dog’s normal food in small quantities whilst ensuring that they have plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can have a direct link to constipation and will certainly make a pre-existing condition even worse.

Since we are in pumpkin season, it’s also an excellent opportunity to make some pumpkin treats for your dog, so we have a couple of recipes for you that are as easy as pie! These make great Jackpot treats so you can incorporate them into your training.

Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Bones

Always check your ingredients for Xylitol before using.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

or Ingredients for grain-free

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup organic peanut butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil melted then slightly cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Stir until a stiff dough forms.
  4. Roll out dough to approx 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
  5. Use a cookie cutter to cut out dog bone shapes, or just bake into little circles like cookies.
  6. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Treats should have a slightly golden colour around the edges.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Can be stored in airtight containers for up to three weeks.

Carob Icing For Pumpkin Bones

Pumpkin and Carob Dog Biscuits

Unlike chocolate, carob is safe for dogs. You can buy it in various forms such as bars, chips or powder and it will turn your treats into something a bit special. Melting carob can be a little tricky – it doesn’t melt as easily as chocolate. The easiest way to melt carob chips is with a little coconut oil in a double boiler on the cooker.

  1. Fill a saucepan a 1/3 full with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, turn it down to a simmer.
  3. Place a heatproof bowl on top of a saucepan. It should fit tightly on top of the saucepan and shouldn’t touch the water. Make sure no steam gets into the bowl or it will ruin your melt.
  4. Put 1/2 cup carob chips and 1 tablespoon coconut oil into the bowl. After a couple of minutes start to stir them around. Continue stirring until mixture reaches a smooth consistency and has no more lumps.
  5. Dip biscuits into the melted carob immediately.

Make the carob icing when you’re ready to use it because you can’t successfully melt carob a second time. Store iced treats in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer!

Remember, once Halloween is over, pumpkins will be cheaper than ever. Why not buy a batch, chop, roast, puree and freeze for use throughout the year or alternatively check out these other super pumpkin recipes.

Cats can benefit from pumpkin too

Is Pumpkin good for Cats?

One of the key nutritional qualities of pumpkin is that it is rich in fibre (the material from plants that cannot be broken down by enzymes in the body).  Fibre can beneficial to cats in the following ways:

  • Weight control, fibre promotes a feeling of fullness, even if fewer calories are being taken in.
  • Treatment of diarrhoea. Pumpkin contains soluble fibre, and this can absorb excess water in the digestive tract, reducing or relieving diarrhoea.
  • Constipation. Conversely, a pumpkin’s high fibre content can act as a laxative. The combination of fibre and moisture can be of great benefit in creating bulk that stimulates bowel movements.
  • Hairballs in cats can be relieved by pumpkin through the same mechanism as it relieves constipation.

Fresh roasted pumpkin seeds, without any salts or spices, can be fed to cats. They have been rumoured to help with worm infestations. Although we don’t see as much of it in the UK, you can buy canned pumpkin without additives, spices or sugar which is also perfect for your feline friend. And lastly, you can feed fresh pumpkin that has been baked until soft.

It is advisable to start with very small amounts of pumpkin if you are planning to add it to your cat’s diet and, of course, for expert advice, speak to your vet first, especially if your cat is unwell.

If this has piqued your interest in the humble pumpkin as a superfood, then you can read more about the subject in Did you Know your Pet can Eat Pumpkin?

Blood Donation, it’s not just for humans

Could your pet save a life?

Back in 2015, Jack was rushed to the vet for an x-ray which led to an operation to remove part of a hard rubber ball that was firmly lodged in his gut. Thanks to our quick reactions he made a full recovery, but we were very wary of his tendency to pick up and eat rubbish he found in the field and kept him muzzled for several months whenever he was outside.

We felt it wasn’t fair to do that forever, so we stopped muzzling him hoping he had grown out of his obsession and indeed, it did appear that he had.

Muzzled!

However, earlier this month he began displaying the same symptoms, vomiting, refusing to eat and not being able to settle. Not really much to be concerned about in the dog world as a lot of dogs have off days, eat a bit of grass and are sick afterwards. But with Jack’s history, alarm bells started to ring.

We stayed calm, left it a day, but there was no improvement, so off to the vet he went. Whereas usually the vet might have checked them over, advised starving for a day (no need for that, he wasn’t eating anyway) and taken their temperature, Jack went straight in for an x-ray, followed by an ultrasound.

Both were inconclusive. Nothing could be seen apart from the fact that he had an enlarged gall bladder, but it didn’t mean that there was nothing there.

The vet seemed keen to open him up and take a look but we decided to hold off. He stayed overnight on a drip and we collected him the next day, Saturday. There didn’t seem to be any improvement from the time he went in and despite the tasty chicken and rice we had prepared for him, he still wasn’t eating. We had the option of taking him in for an op on the Sunday, but due to the fact that nothing was actually visible in his gut, we came to the conclusion that we would wait a bit longer, after all, it’s a big operation and not one that should be carried out lightly.

Finally, Sunday evening, he ate a couple of tiny cubes of chicken. We were ecstatic. Monday morning he was back at the vet having actually pooped as well, hooray! He had more antibiotics and very gradually started to improve.

He’s now back to normal, thank goodness albeit with a shaved and itchy tummy. No Cone of Shame for him this time! We are glad that we held out and decided against the exploratory op, although it was a tough decision.

The Cone of Shame!

However, the whole episode got us thinking about operations on dogs and particularly canine blood donation. We had considered it once before when Amy, our now sadly departed GSD, was ill and Sophie (her litter sister) was lined up as a potential donor.

There is a national canine donor service run by Pet Blood Bank UK, which launched in 2007, and is the only charity that provides a canine blood bank service for all veterinary practitioners across the UK. It is similar to the human blood service. Dog owners register their canine companions to give blood at one of the many sessions across the country and every unit of blood can help save four other lives, saving thousands of lives every year.

And cats can save a life too at Cat Blood Donors.com. Register your feline companion and help save a cat’s life.

Register your pets as blood donors

This year National Blood Week is 10-16 June, with World Blood day falling on 14th June. If you are considering signing up as a blood donor, why not also consider signing up your pet as well?

And should your pet be unlucky enough to be one of the animals in need of a blood donation and recuperation, have a look at our KONG Product Review which offers a number of ideas and enrichment products to keep your animal occupied in the recovery phase.

Toby dresses up as a lamp

We could do with some shin pads…

Lambing is just about done, and we have a lovely crop of cute babies this year, although there have been some triplets which means we have had to bottle feed, topping up the mother’s milk. There is just one ewe left lounging in the maternity suite, but since we didn’t get them scanned this year we can’t be sure she’s even pregnant, we think she’s just enjoying the extra special treatment!

So, just when we thought we could go back to sleeping at night, Toby stepped up and put a stop to all that. First of all, he had a bad tummy upset, of course, it started at the weekend. On Sunday we cracked and took him to the emergency vet where he got antibiotics and some paste for his gut. We also discovered that the ‘starve them for 24 hours’ rule was no more. Apparently, it’s been decided that that isn’t effective. Toby was pleased, as despite his upset stomach, he was his usual ravenous self.

Sunday evening he set off for his walk and made a mad dash across the field where the rabbits hang out, smashing into a metal gate hinge on the way.

The result was a painful yelp and a limp for a few minutes. When he came inside afterwards, we spotted a small gash at the top of his leg which actually looked quite deep. A night of groaning followed and so Monday morning first thing he was back at the vet! They took one look and decided it needed to be closed up, so he stayed in and had quite a big operation. There was more damage internally and, of course, bruising, so now he has a shaved leg and plenty of stitches!

When we got him home, he was like a zombie for about 24 hours, but now he’s recovered slightly, and regained his energetic bounce.  We really didn’t want to put a cone on him as no dog enjoys wearing one, so he started off wearing an old pyjama jacket buttoned on his back to prevent him getting to his stitches. Sadly that didn’t last long, and as they began to itch, he began to nibble at them. We had to put the cone on him and felt so guilty because he was clearly stressed by it, however, a clicker and some chicken breast worked their magic, and he soon cheered up!

He’s now discovered the true power of the cone and uses it to great effect to manoeuvre around the house with everyone keen to clear a path for him. Heaven help our shins, and the rest of our bodies come to that!

Muzzled!

We are worried when Jack falls ill

Jack has always been a bit of a chewer and a scavenger.  He likes to pick things up and before you can tell him to “leave it”, it will disappear down his throat.  Back in August last year, he swallowed a piece of rubber ball and had to have surgery to remove it from his gut.  Not long after that he was poorly again and we rushed him straight to the vet for an x-ray.

We realised that we couldn’t keep this up so decided that the only way to prevent him “snacking” on his walks, was to put a muzzle on him.

He wasn’t keen at first but he quickly got used to it, and after a while he developed a technique that turned it into a useful scoop to get things into his mouth – like snow or sheep poo!  He was also very adept at using it as a weapon on the other two, Daisy and Archie.  We called it his “warhead”!

After several months without incident we thought we would try him without it, as we really didn’t enjoy making him wear it, even if ultimately for his own good.

A couple of weeks of freedom later and he had severe diarrhoea.

We starved him for 24 hours then fed him cooked chicken and rice for a couple of days, but it made no difference and we were off to see the vet.

His temperature was on the high side of normal so the vet gave him something to get his gut working, a wormer, and suggested we carried on with the bland diet.

Over the weekend he didn’t improve at all so we took him back on Monday morning where he got a steroid injection and had blood tests.  We also had to provide a faecal sample.

Still no improvement, we were heading towards another x-ray but decided to wait for the test results.  In the meantime he had a course of steroid tablets to make him more comfortable and we were cooking him fish, chicken and rice every day.

All the test results were negative, we couldn’t find the cause of his ailment, so the vet put it down to colitis.

Just as we were at the end of our tether, he finally began to improve and is now back to his normal self, but with the muzzle reinstated!

 

Jack has a ball

After baling, we needed a break, but it wasn’t to be

We finally managed to get some hay baled but thanks to the continuing showers, it was very damp.  Fingers crossed that it doesn’t go mouldy and that we have some decent fodder for the beasts this winter.

Just when we were hoping for a bit of downtime and an opportunity to enjoy some outings with our guests who were here for a couple of months, Jack suddenly became unwell.

At first, we weren’t concerned.  He had vomited and was off his food but was still full of life, racing around the field with the others.  However, after a couple of days, he still wasn’t eating so we took him to the vet as a precaution.   They didn’t seem worried, just gave him some antibiotics for an upset tummy and steroids to get his appetite going.  We were told to give it 48 hours.

After 24, he still wouldn’t touch his food so we took him back on a Saturday morning.  He’s a chewer so we were thinking he may have a blockage.  The vet agreed, x-rayed him straight away and discovered that he had a large foreign body inside him.

We had no choice, they operated immediately.

Inside him, they found a piece of hard rubber ball which could have been chopped up by the mower.  He probably came across it in the field and swallowed it!

The operation went well and we bought him home on the Sunday resplendent in his Elizabethan collar, which he quickly learned to use as a battering ram.  There was a danger of peritonitis so we had to watch him closely 24 hours a day.

We spent the next week on constant Jack alert.  We couldn’t take our eyes off him for a minute.  Despite the collar, he was constantly trying to get to his belly.

Thankfully our guests joined in with the dog sitting, so we did get some breaks.

He’s had his final vet visit and has healed well.  Now all we have to worry about is making sure he doesn’t do it again.

The ginger one

Getting to the bottom of Fin’s problem

It’s been a difficult month with regard to our 13 year old rescue boy Fin.  We adopted him from Vigil German Shepherd Rescue when he was just 2 years old (who can resist a ginger GSD!), and for most of his life, he has been fit and healthy.  However, last year he was struggling to go to the toilet, and since he absolutely refused to be examined the nearest diagnosis we could get for his symptoms was colitis.  He had a course of steroids which affected him quite badly at the time but seemed to cure the problem, along with a complete change of diet.  He was doing pretty well until recently.

The symptoms were back so we returned to the vet and this time he was sedated to allow a thorough examination.  The conclusion was anal furunculosis, also known as perianal fistula, which may have an underlying allergic or autoimmune cause.  We had no knowledge of this horrible disease so set about researching it online and joined a group dedicated to it, which was very useful.

Although steroids helped last time we didn’t want to risk the side effects again so, along with our vet, looked for other options.  The most popular treatment seemed to be Cyclosporine (Atopica) which is incredibly expensive and although we were offered an alternative drug, it ran the risk of pancreatitis.  We rejected that and plumped for the cyclo, combined with Ketoconozole, which reduced the cyclosporine dose and therefore the cost.  Having agonised over it and made the decision, we discovered that the keto had been withdrawn due to severe side-effects in humans.

We were back to the Cyclosporine on its own, although once the problem was under control, we could use a cream to keep on top of it.  We requested a prescription from our vet, which they gladly supplied, and sourced the cyclo from an online pharmacy at a considerably lower cost.

Once again we had to change his diet to a “novel” protein to try to rule out food allergies.  Given that our dogs are raw fed and we raise a lot of our own meat here on the croft, it was difficult to find something that he had never eaten.  Buffalo or kangaroo came to mind!  In the end we chose duck.  He has started his diet and seems quite keen on it and we are awaiting the arrival of the drugs.

We will let you know how he gets on and if anyone has any experience of this disease or advice to offer, we would be pleased to hear from you.

On another note, lambing has begun with three sets of twins so far and the cameras are worth their weight in gold – no more spending hours in the freezing cold watching the sheep puffing and panting!