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Dogs with disabilities

7 Aug

This is something i haven’t talked about yet, but is also something that i think isnt talked about enough. if you look at rescue centres, or anywhere online you will see that dogs with disabilities often find it more difficult to find a forever home. This could be because people think they are too much responsibility, too much money or because they think they cant do the things a “normal” dog can do.
When i speak of dogs with disabilities, i am talking about those with special needs. This could be anything from a missing limb, being blind or deaf, or having health problems such as epilepsy. Anything that means that they need a little bit more of a helping hand in life.
I personally have never owned a dog with a disability, unless you count my labrador who had arthritis, but he wasn’t affected to the point where he couldn’t get around, just to the point where some days he didn’t want to get around. I also have never really been around a dog that had a disability, not knowingly anyway. So this means i have had to do some research.
Lack of information:
I thought that if i typed “dogs with disabilities” into google, i would be given a wide range of information of different disabilities and how you can best care for a dog that needs extra help. I was wrong.
What i did find was lots of different adoption agencies that cater specifically for these special dogs, helping them to find the right home.
I also found this website, which provides a lot of information, much of which i am going to use today in this feature. So, here i would like to thank the source for being one of the few, and best sources of information on the internet for people who own or are considering owning a dog with a disability.
http://dogswithdisabilities.com/

What you need to know about a dog with disabilities:


1. They don’t know that they have a disability
2. We feel sorry for them, but they don’t feel sorry for themselves
3. They accept their life, take each day as it comes
4. Enjoy life the same way any other dog does
5. They are not a burden
6. Do what they can to live a normal life
7. They are not concerned about their status in the pack as long as we do our job in reasuring them that they still have it
8. They have a lot of patience
9. Don’t need to be told that we love them, they know that we do
10. Like all dogs, they live in the moment and dont think about the past or the future

As long as we look after these dogs in the correct way and give them the help and understanding that they need, dogs with special needs can live happy lives, just as those without. All dogs know how to live life to the fullest, and disabled dogs are no exception.

 

Mobility problems:
This could be anything from spinal problems, athritic problems that came with old age, los of limbs or problems cause through injury. For whatever reason, some dogs find it difficult to carry out daily routines due to lack of mobility.
Nowadays, they can cope much better because there is a wide range of equipment and products designed to help them get along. A dog that can no longer jump up and down, might be provided with a ramp or stairs which enable it to get in and out of the car for example. This is actually something that would have benefited my old labrador as he aged and his hind legs got stiffer, his movements slower and less agile. Similarly harnesses and slings can be used to aid walking or help your dog into a standing position where he does not have the strength to do so himself. These are a way of helping them to help themselves by lightening the load and the pressure.

 
Wheelchairs are something that is used more frequently now, and have only really been around for the last twenty years or so. These wheelchairs are perfectly fitted, and allow a dog that cannot walk due to being unable to use its hind legs to live a normal life. They are able to go on walks, run around and and even do his business normally.

 

 
When not in their wheel chair, drag bags can be used to ensure that pets that have to move around using their front legs only do not develop sores and abrasions from scraping their body against the floor.
Dogs that have suffered due to an injury can where leg braces and splints to give extra support and ensure that no further damage is made whilst the dog is moving around and acting like a normal dog. Dogs with missing limbs can also be fitted with prosthetics, allowing them to move around as though nothing had ever happened.

 

Spinal problems:


Spinal problems can effect anything from your dogs mobility, to its bladder function. depending on the problem a number of tools are available to help him live a normal as possible life. You can find a large amount of information on this using the website that i mentioned earlier. It is definitely worth a read.

 

Epilepsy:


Canine Epilepsy is broadly divided into idiopathic and symptomatic disorders.Idiopathic Epilepsy, also called primary epilepsy, means that there is no identifiable brain abnormality other than seizures.Symptomatic epilepsy (also called secondary epilepsy) has a direct cause such as an identifiable tumor or traumatic blow to the head – causing the seizures.
Usually a dog with epilepsy will be put onto medication or drug therapy, but this is something that may seem daunting to potential new owners. Again the website i mentioned provides a lot of information on how to care for a dog that suffers from epilepsy, what to look out for and how to recognize a seizure.

 

Blind dogs:


If you are a regular follower of my blog, you will probably remember what i said before about how dogs use their senses.
Scent
Sight
Sound

Their sense of smell is the most important sense. When meeting a dog or person for the first time, they will use their sene of smell first, sight second. What they see only comes second. This paired with the fact that they can also hear, means that a dog can get onin life perfectly well if he is unable to see clearly, or at all.
They pick up easily on our feelings and emotions, and do not need to see us smile to know that we are happy with them.
There are a number of things that you can do to help your dog get on in life. Things such as ensuring that your home is safe, that there is nothing he can accidentally step on or bump into that will cause an injury. You can attach bells to the collars of your other pets so that he knows where they are. Talk to your pet so that he knows when you are approaching and is not surprise when he feels your touch.
Visit http://www.blinddogs.net for more helpful hints and tips along with lots of stories from other people. As they say “dogs see with their hearts”.

 

As a dog lover, you probably will have heard of these two beautiful dogs. The dog who can see acts as a guide for the blind dog. Beautiful.

 

 

Deaf dogs:


Living with a deaf dog is something that i have actually seen in the media lately. I remember seeing one of the rescue organizations providing some information about how to train a deaf dog recently, though i am unable to recall which organization it was.

They only have one of their senses missing. This means that they can still smell, see and feel. Training can be easily done using hand signals alone. Something many trainers actually chose to do anyway with their dog. You can still speak as you sign, as this will help to convey your feelings. for example if you say something happy like “walkies” and you smile, your dog will know that it is something good.
Dogs do a lot through body language, and they know how to read ours as well as their own.
There are actually a lot of resources on the internet at the moment so i wont include any here, but type in deaf dogs into google and you will find resources from the dogs trust, blue cross and other organizations as well as articles from blogs and newspapers.

 

 

Disabled Pets
Most pets have the use of two eyes,
Some have one or none.

Most pets can hear through both ears,
Some hear a little, some hear nothing at all.

Most pets can eat anything and visit the vet but once a year,
Some need special food, shots or medicine.

Most pets go potty on a walk or in the yard,
Some wear ‘hot pants’ or go on a special matt inside.

Most pets walk in normal stride,
Some hop along or roll in wheelchairs.

Differences exist between most and some, but does it really mean that much?
All pets have such great big hearts and yearn to feel love’s touch.

Opening your mind, home and heart to a disabled pet will prove one thing for sure,
The love and thanks you’ll receive in return will touch your life like never before.

-Lynne Przychodzki, 2004

If you have ever owned or know someone who has owned a dog with a disability i would absolutely love to hear your stories and see your pictures. If you would like to share feel free to contact me (whichever way you like) and i would be more than happy to do a feature on you and your dog.

Punishment Vs Praise

24 Jul

I don’t know about you, but before i bought Maya into my life, before i even had chosen to bring Maya into my life, i began some research into how to “train” my little newcomer. I found a few books to read, but mostly i spend hours and hours searching the internet and reading different articles, blogs and papers.

So, here’s the thing. I don’t know about you, but i found it all very confusing. Mixing in what i read with what i learnt on my dog behaviour psychology course, what i believed in and what i had grown up with, really made no sense at all.

 

I’m going to break down some different concepts.

 

The grandparents method:

If your grandparents, or someone older that you know used to own a dog, or still do, ask them how they went about training it. The chances are they weren’t averse to punishing “bad behaviour”. In the “old days” if a dog was naughty or behaved inappropriately he would receive some form of punishment, often a smack on the rump, a quick tap on the nose or the old tap with a newspaper. I doubt many people would really hurt their dogs, but give a short, sharp shock, just as people would their own children if they misbehaved.

Back in the days of our grandparents, it was acceptable to punish a dog in order to teach him a lesson, just as it was to punish a child. Did it work? Well, it must have done. We don’t hear stories of all older people owning unruly dogs. Somewhere along the line dogs became more and more popular as pets, they became involved in a whole host of “jobs”. This couldn’t have happened if people weren’t able to control their behaviour. So this method must have worked.

Just as opinions changed on bringing up children, opinions changed on training dogs.

 

My experiences growing up:


This one is a little confusing. We believed in rewards, AND punishment. if our dogs behaved well or did something we asked, they would get some form of reward, even if it was just a cuddle and a well done, or good boy.
This being said, we also gave them a light smack on the bum if they misbehaved (for example our lab would always steal food, and recieve a smack for him) – he continued that behaviour, but i think thats a bit of a lab trait? Food was worth being shouted at or whatever my mum chose to do.

When it comes to house training, i remember the one and only time our year old, new dog peed on the floor. My mum rubbed his nose in it, sent him outside and he never had an indoors accident again. Nowadays you will probably find that you are warned off of that method, and actually in my experience, housebreaking took a lot longer than i had hoped (particularly with Max).

I was also brought up being told that the way to get a dog to walk to heel on the lead is by giving a short, sharp pull on the lead when he pulls to correct the behaviour. I have to say, that never really seemed to make much difference with my puppies now, though it must work because i know of people who swear by it.

 

Humane reward-based training:


This is the idea that punishment does nothing to teach the dog anything, except for to potential damage its relationship with humans. In this method, bad behaviours are ignored, and good behaviours rewarded. This can also include using tools such as clickers in order to mark the good behaviour, letting the dog know exactly what it did right.

The idea behind this came from Bradshaw who hypothesised that dogs descended from more sociable wolves. The idea of reward based training comes from the idea that dogs learn to and in fact strive to please humans. They will therefore learn best by being told that they are doing something right, something that makes us happy with them.

Here i will say that i use reward based training regularly, and it seems to have worked in teaching my dogs a number of “tricks” in a fairly short space of time. This is a very popular method today, something that i was taught in my course, something that i often see in the media, and something that seems to work.

 

Cesar Milan:


Firstly, i would like to point out that this is in no way aimed to promote, not slate his methods. A while ago i was very interested in the methods of Cesar Milan, and to some extent, i still am. This being said i have also done further research, gained more experience in my own training and as such, developed my own ideas.

Cesar Milan works on the hypothesis that dogs are descended from wolves, pack animals who have a strict heir achy and need order and balance in order to survive. He says that dogs need a calm and assertive pack leader in order to ensure that they grow up happy, healthy and balanced. This all makes sense, and i agree so far.

His methods however are often criticized, and yet, they seem to work. He is very strict in his actions and though he always points out that he does not hurt the dog in anyway, there are people out there who will argue differently. All in all, i think he goes back to the good old training ideas that our grandparents used, that dogs do not only need to know what they have done right, but what they have done wrong as well.

An idea that i do like is that he stresses that dogs feed off of our own energy. I very much believe this to be true. My dog always seems to know when i am sad, happy or angry. They feed off of our energy and react accordingly. Dogs are our mirrors. If you are not calm and assertive, your dog probably wont take you seriously. Will it become dominant and feel the need to be your leader as Cesar suggests, i dont know.

Confused yet?

Yeah, i was too.

The problem is, i ended up doing SO much research, that i just ended up getting in a muddle and nothing made sense. When i went back to basics and did what I felt was right, things seemed to fall in place and work.
I guess thats what i am trying to say. I dont think there is a right way and a wrong way, but more something in between. You need to do what works best for you and for your dog. That being said, there are things that you should probably not do, but i will leave that for you to figure out.

My biggest tip:
Keep positive and keep things fun for both you and your dog.

 

Keeping cool in the summer

21 Jul

I know i have already made a post on keeping your pets safe in the summer/heat, but since the UK have been given some heatwave warnings (an because i am lacking in imagination today) i thought i would give you a quick list of ideas of how to keep your dogs cool in this heat.

1. Drinking water:

Make sure that your dog is provided with a constant supply of fresh drinking water. You could even try adding a couple of ice cubes to their water bowl to cool it down that little bit more.

In our home we have two bowls of water in the house which are always kept filled, a bowl outside and then the addition of a full paddling pool, so we know they always have somewhere to get a drink. Then we always take water out with us on our walks.

 

2. Swimming;

A kiddies paddling pool is a great addition to your garden in the summer. Not only can it act as a giant paddling pool, but it is somewhere for your dog to have a paddle in, sit down and cool off.

When out on your walks (during the cooler part of the day) you could try taking your dog somewhere that he can swim. Perhaps a place with a lake, or the beach. Swimming in the sea on a warm evening is great fun for dogs, and they will love it if you get in with them!

 

 

3. Frozen treats:

Find some food that you know is healthy for dogs and try freezing it before giving it to them. Frozen banana is a favourite of Max’s and Maya’s. Another option is filling a kong or a bottle with either food or perhaps some water. This will take a while for the dogs to get into, be fun and cool them down a bit.

 

 

 

4. Shade:

Make sure that you provide a shaded area in the garden for your dog to rest. This could be under an umbrella, by creating a den with some old sheets or anything your imagination can come up with. This year Maya has dug out her own little area behind some plants and under a hedge. The soil is cool and she is in the shade when she lies there.

 

 

5. A fan:

If it is really hot and your dog seems to be uncomfortable both inside and out, try setting up a fan for them. I would recommend placing it somewhere out of reach (so that they can’t get into any harm). The dog can lie in the stream of cool air and just relax.

 

6. Somewhere cool to lie:

If you have a room with laminate, wooden or tiled flooring in your house, consider letting your dog sleep there instead of in its bed or somewhere carpeted. The cool floor will be much more comfortable

 

Summer Safety

30 Jun

 

 

I think i have made this post before, or something similar, but after a day or so of the British summer arrival (yes, today in Suffolk it was HOT, and i was at work) i thought it made sense to make another summer safety post.

Summer time is great for us, and our dogs. Its the time when we most look forward to getting out and about with our dogs and having some fun in the sun, but we need to remember that dog’s dont handle the heat in quite the same way as us, and we need to make sure that we keep them happy, comfortable and safe.

 

Would you want to wear a fur coat in the summer?

Fur can be problematic when its hot. Whilst it does provide some protection from the sun, it also prevents heat from escaping and therefore can be a factor in overheating. Keeping your dogs coat short can help reduce the risk of overheating, but you must be aware that too short can also cause the risk of sunburn.

 

 

Dog’s die in hot cars

We’ve all seen the adverts and the posters, but every year people make the same mistake. Studies have shown that within the space of 30 minutes, the temperature in a car can become lethal (even if the outside temperature feels fairly cool). Cracking the windows really doesn’t do much in the way of stopping the temperature from rising.

Think of it this way? Would you leave a child alone in a hot car? Probably not. Statistics also suggest that approximately 30 children die in parked cars each year. That’s bad, isn’t it? Dog’s overheat more quickly than children, they are also left in cars more frequently.

Hundreds of dogs die in hot cars every year.

 

 

Emergency prepared

When you are out for a drive or heading somewhere, make sure you back an emergency kit. Some water is key to help prevent your dog from getting too hot. You could also bring items such as a battery powered fan to help keep your dog cool if the air con breaks.

 

water

 

Not the time for exercise

When you are preparing taking your dog out for a run or even a walk, bear in mind the temperature. Exercise should be done at the coolest times of day, first thing in the morning and at night. Walking in places where there are areas for him to have a dip in cool water is also a good idea. Remember the drinking water! Be aware of walking on hot tarmac as well. We’ve all stood on the pavement in bare feet and had to hop around because our feet got hot. Dog’s paws are sensitive, and of course very important!

 

 

Home comforts

Make sure that your dog has somewhere in the shade where they can rest. The garden can get pretty hot and if they don’t have any shade, they have nowhere to cool off. Paddling pools are a great investment as it gives them somewhere to cool off as well as a large supply of water they can drink from. A breeze is great for keeping them cool. This can be accomplished outdoors or inside the house by aiming a fan at them. Of course, you need to be aware of the electrical parts etc.

 

 

The lobster look

Like us humans, some dogs worship the sun. My Maya is a great example of a dog who will absolutely refuse to lie anywhere but in the sunshine until she absolutely has to (or is forced to) move. Like people, dogs (especially those with light skin) can get sunburn and melanoma. Using some sunblock helps prevent this (especially on the belly and top of his nose).

 

 

Sink or swim

Swimming is a great way for your dog to have fun and to cool off, but beware, not all dogs can swim! Some breeds really are not able to swim, for example bulldogs and pekingese. Even those who are good swimmers could have issues in pools where they cannot find an exit route, or in the sea where there are strange currents.

Chemicals in the water is something else you need to be aware of. Chlorine for example can irritate the dogs skin and cause stomach problems.

 

 

Cooling a hot dog

If your dog becomes too hot, you need to cool them off slowly and gradually by placing him in cool water or draping a wet towel around him. They need plenty of water to drink to re-hydrate, but if possible try not to let them gulp it down too quickly.

Try to cool him until his temperature reaches about 39 degrees Celsius as it will continue decreasing from there. ALWAYS get your dog to a vet if he has become overheated as even those who appear to have recovered can have delayed and deadly effects later.

 

 

Barbecue season

Keep an eye on your dog if he is around a barbecue or camp fire. It isn’t stealing the sausages that is the problem, but stealing hot sticks or burning themselves. Lighter fluid is a poison, so keep that out of reach.

 

links

http://www.petside.com/article/how-keep-your-dog-safe-summer

http://www.cesarsway.com/dog-care/dog-health/How-to-Keep-Your-Dog-Safe-In-the-Summer

A dog’s dinner

16 Jun

Now, we have all been in pet stores and walked down the aisle past what seems like hundreds of variety of dog food. Some people seem to spend lots of money on dog food, others spend very little. Some dogs get a truly exciting diet of nothing but the same flavour of dry food day in day out, whilst others are fed home cooked food! The question is, what is actually good for your dog? And what do you need to look out for.

 

Age:

First thing is first, your dog’s dietary requirements will differ depending on his age. A growing puppy needs a special diet to aid growth, as does a pregnant bitch. The age at which puppies can be moved onto adult food varies upon breed, with larger dogs (which take longer to grow to their adult size) tending to be on puppy food for approximately a year. Older dogs will also often require a special diet that includes supplements to aid their general health.

Food types:

Dry complete foods: 

These dry foods come in a range of prices and ingredients. Sometimes they may seem expensive, but ultimately you feed less so the cost equals out. in my opinion you also have the added bonus of having no mess (a spaniels ears are long and get in the food bowl).

Tinned foods:

Tinned foods and semi-moist foods also come in a range of price and quality. Many people chose to mix in a small amount of wet food in with the dry food, giving it more flavour.

Home made food:

Some people feed their dogs home made food. This can be good, providing the dietary requirements are met. Some people make the poor decision to feed their dog like they would their children.

 

 

What the food needs:

So, when you pick up a bag of dog food, you need to take a close look at the ingredients. They should list the main ingredient first, and ideally you want this to be protein. The higher the protein, the better the food.

Protein:

In general, animal proteins have a higher value than vegetable proteins. So, if you see dog food which contains “55 % chicken protein” – then you know you have a good quality food.

Fat:

Fats provide energy as well as helping to maintain a healthy skin and coat. Whilst some fat is important in any animal’s diet, you need to be careful of how much fat your dog is consuming.

Carbohydrates

This will come from the vegetable matter in the dogs food. This is a direct source of energy.

Vitamins:

Most dog foods will already contain the vitamins your dog needs, but many people do provide extra supplements. Vitamins are necessary for many of the body’s chemical reactions.

Minerals:

Again, these should already be found in the right portions in good balanced and complete dog foods. If you are providing supplements you need to be careful not to over do it.

 

 

 

The feeding routine:

Now that you have chosen what food to feed your dog, the next thing you need to consider is how much, how often and when to feed your dog.

How much:

If you read the packets of dog food you buy, you will see that they provide guidelines on how much to feed your dog per day, usually based on the size of the dog and sometimes the age as well. You do need to take these guidelines into consideration, but remember, they are  guidelines. For example, if your dog receives treats throughout the day, you probably want to reduce the amount of food they receive slightly so as to remove the risk of overfeeding. You will be able to visibly see if your dog is not receiving enough food or too much food and can adjust accordingly.

How often:

My old dog used to be fed once a day (in the mornings). This worked well enough, but he was also a pro at scavenging. We later gave him one meal in the morning and one in the afternoon, and this actually reduced (slightly) the amount of food he would thieve during the day.

Some dogs are prone to bloat, something that can occur through eating too much too quickly. This can be reduced by feeding your dog a small amount of food at spaced intervals throughout the day. Puppies are usually fed three or four times a day, whilst adult dogs are often fed once or twice.

Leaving food out for your dog all day is not a good idea. Where some small mammals such as rabbits and even cats, can have their food left out all day and will just eat a little at a time, and only when they are hungry, dogs will just eat. They will eat more than they need just because they can.

When:

Fitting in the feeding around walks is something that i have seen many opinions on. Some people say to feed their dogs before the walk (my parents used to do this so that the dog could then do his business whilst on the walk, and not in our garden). Others, (like myself) like to feed the dogs after their walk, the food then acting as a reward for the walk activity. I have also seen it mentioned that you should wait a certain amount of time (an hour or two) between feeding and walking (another thing linked with reducing the risk of bloat).

I have recently gotten into the habit of feeding the dogs when we sit down to eat. This way they are in their kennel eating their food, and not hovering around the table trying to get to ours.

The routine:

This varies from person to person. Some people probably just plop the food bowl down in front of their dog. Others make them work for it first. Some dogs will share from a bowl (not the best of ideas),  others will be fed individually, one at a time, in separate areas.

My routine:

I always leave the house first to go into the garden (something Max has not yet come to understand, but that Maya knows and respects). I then fill their bowls, wait for them to sit and make eye contact. Put the bowls down and then give them the go ahead to eat. They only eat when i say they can.

Why is food important:

Not only is the type of food you give your dog important for his health and well-being  but it can also have a major impact on their behaviour. Just like giving sugary sweets to a child is a bad idea, giving a dog the wrong type of food can make them overactive and hard to control.

Final note:

I was recently told, “don’t be fooled by the pretty packaging or the fun adverts, those are usually the food that you want to avoid”.

Happy Holidays for your dog

12 Jun

Hey everyone, I am really sorry i missed out on Sunday’s post after promising to post on a regular basis. First i suddenly became quite ill and needed bed rest and then i spent the weekend gallivanting around Paris so never got around to preparing a post. 

SAM_0482

 

Anyway, i thought this would be the perfect opportunity to look at what you can do about finding care for your dog(s) whilst you are away on holiday. 

 

1. Take your dog with you:

I’m sure this is an option that many of us would like the opportunity to do, and of course, there are places that are dog friendly. There are also things you need to consider before making the decision to take your dog on holiday with you:

1. Where are you going to stay?  (is the hotel dog friendly? will you be in a caravan?) 

2. What will you be doing on your holiday? (will the activities be dog friendly? or will you end up being restricted because the dog cannot join in?)

3. Are you going abroad? (taking a dog abroad obviously is a lot more difficult, and you probably wouldn’t do this unless you were moving abroad)

4. The location (it isnt just where you are staying that needs to be dog friendly, but also the location)

5. The journey (will your dog get too hot travelling by car for a long time?)

6. Laws and local “rules” (you need to be aware of any areas that your dog MUST be kept on lead for example). 

 

 

 

2. Stay with a friend:

If you have a family member or friend that would be able to house your dog during your holiday this could be a great money saver as well as a much nicer experience for your dog. Things to consider:

1. The behaviour of your dog (if your dog is a bouncy, out of control hound with no idea of boundaries, it might be unfair to expect other people to take him into their home) 

2. The members of the family they will share the house with. ( are their children? Elderly people? People with allergies? Other animals?)

3. The dogs requirements. (can your friend provide enough exercise, something that is important for the dog but will also prevent boredom and destructive behaviour). 

4. Where will the dog sleep. (is he used to sleeping in a kennel but would now have to stay in the living room?) 

 

3. Stay at home:

This could either be with a friend or family member coming to stay in your home with your dog, or perhaps someone who will pop in throughout the day to entertain your dog. Things to consider:

1. Will they get enough attetion? (popping in before and after work for half an hour each day isnt really enough). 
 
2. Keeping up with house rules. (your dog will already know its house rules, but will probably try to test them under the supervision of someone new)
 
4. Kennels:
 
Our dogs have always been put in kennels when we have gone away on holiday, and i have to say, most of the time this has worked out just fine for everybody. There are different types of boarding establishments out there and a lot that needs to be considered when picking one:
 
1. The type of establishment. (some boarding kennels are just kennels, others allow dogs inside the house)
2. Socialisation (is dog-dog socialisation allowed and in what way?)
3. Human interaction (i know that some kennels provide very little human interaction, whilst others will dedicate much of the day to spending time with the dogs, and not just mucking out).
4. Qualifications (do the people working there have any qualifications? In this i would also include how long they have been running) 
5. Prices (boarding your dog can be expensive, but i would suggest that cheaper isnt usually better)
6. Walks (you should ideally look for a kennel that will walk your dog at least twice a day, some dont at all)
7. Reputation (listen to word and mouth, people will recommend a good place)
 
 
 
 

There are probably plenty of other ways of keeping your dog happy and safe, and also plenty more to consider. Let me know how you give your dog a holiday when you go away. 

Dew claws: what claws?

2 Jun

Those of you who regularly follow me will know that Max had an issue where he needed to have his dew claw removed, which in turn cost a fortune and took weeks of bandage changes following an operation (including being neutered much earlier than most dogs in the uk).

So, first things first, what is a dew claw?

Well, basically the dew claw is just an extra claw (the equivalent of where the human thumb would be). They have no real use, although some people might suggest that they have seen their dog using them for example to aid in holding a bone. Many dogs are born with dew claws on both front legs (and these generally cause no problems providing they are looked after). It is the dew claws on the hind legs that often become a cause for concern. Some dogs have them, others don’t. usually if your dog has them, he will have a pair (on both hind legs for example), lucky for us, Max only had the one. These claws grow up higher on the foot and do not touch the ground when the dog stands (so if your dog has one and it is not removed, be sure to make sure that it does not become overgrown as it wont be filed down through normal wear and tear like the other claws).

Dew claw removal:

There is some debate whether removal is necessary, and often these claws are not removed.

However, in some breeds they are removed in order to achieve a sleeker and neater look, in these cases they are usually removed when the puppy is very young and the procedure is simple. Other breeders will also remove them early, simply to ensure that no problems ensue later in life (i.e. snagging, overgrowing etc).

In Max’s case, the dew claw was not removed by the breeder and by the time he came to live with us (10 weeks old) the dew claw had become ingrown and had to be surgically removed. In this case he was put under anesthetic (and we had him neutered at the same time). When surgically removed the healing can take a long time, requiring stitches, numerous bandage changes and of course, no walks.

Overall, unless there is any cause for concern, it is down to the owner to decide whether or not dew claw removal is something they want to go through with.

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Poor Max with his cone of shame and bright green bandage.