Apr 20

Fin’s allergy test results


Fin’s Sensitest allergy tests were ready and we wanted to discuss these with our vet, Andrew at Donaldson & Partners (see the link to the right of this page) what to do next.  see http://www.heronbank.co.uk/2011/04/allergies/

We knew that Fin has multiple allergies including yeast, colourings, preservatives and the like, but we wanted to get a fuller picture so that we could eliminate as many allergens as possible from his environment.

The list (and this is by no means exhaustive) includes beef, lamb and chicken, egg, maize (corn). We can eliminate these from his diet, so no problem there.

2 different families of grasses.  Not so easy to avoid, but our back garden has no grass, and we can lead-walk him on the paths in our local park – no more running through the woods and fields for Fin!

Storage mites (two common types were tested) and house dust mites (a teaspoon of dust may contain over 250,000 mite droppings and is the most common cause of allergy in the UK).  These last two are invisible to the naked eye, so you can never be sure of eradicating them, the best you can hope for is to reduce their numbers.

Damp dusting and regular, thorough vacuuming of carpets, curtains and soft furnishings will help, as will keeping a window open for ventillation.

Storing of dry food in an airtight container and cleaning of the container before another pack of food is emptied in is a must.

These procedures actually did help.

The last two things he reacted to – and this was by far the strongest reaction – was the yeast and bacteria on his own skin.  Apparently these occur naturally and normally live in harmony, but antibiotics can knock the bacteria out and “Malaseb” shampoo can knock out the yeast.  We agreed to leave antibiotics alone for the moment and use Tea Tree Oil shampoo, to try and restore the balance of the naturally occurring yeast and bacteria on his skin.

it was an uphill struggle but we got there in the end.


…  Anne


Apr 16

Fin – anal glands and sensitest



Fin went to see Andrew at Donaldson & Partners Vets for a check-up after his Anal Gland operation.    There was a small problem (isn’t there always with Fin!) as, due to the post operative infection which he had, (see http://www.heronbank.co.uk/2011/04/fin-update/) there’s a small hole where his anal glands were.  This did diminish, and he had another check-up at the end of May.

As he was (relatively) infection-free at that moment, we took the opportunity to have some bloods taken for a Sensitest – which we hope will highlight Fin’s allergies. see http://www.heronbank.co.uk/2011/04/allergies/

And the really good news is that Fin’s infection was clearing up, his skin was less inflamed and his fur was definitely growing back. see http://www.heronbank.co.uk/2011/02/fin/ It was slow progress, and a constant battle, but we won in the end.

Fin is usually better in the summer months, but I can honestly say that he was particularly good at that time.

…  Anne

Apr 14

Fin goes camping

Fin soon after arrival

Fin soon after arrival

It was a Bank Holiday.  We were taking our dogs on a favourite walk for many dog-lovers, up through the woods, down the field and back by the river.  (This was before we got the results of fin’s allergy tests back).  This was a walk we had taken many times before.  However, on this occasion a family were camping just out of the wood (an ideal spot, you would think) – obviously they were unaware that they were just off the dog-walking trail!

The family were having a meal.

I called the dogs to follow us, but unfortunately, Fin had got the scent of food!  He rushed over to their camp with me in hot pursuit – not a pretty sight I can assure you – I’m not built for speed – also I’m getting too old for that sort of thing!





He ran away just as I approached.  I apologised to the family – “It’s OK” was their reply – but obviously it was NOT OK – Fin had a slice of bread in his mouth – and we know he’s allergic to Yeast!  I turned my attention to Fin but he was having none of it – he was going to eat that bread if it was the last thing he did!!!

We knew we’d be in for another bout of allergic reactions from him, so all we could do was to ride it out and make him as comfortable as possible.  Within 24 hours his skin had flushed very red and was itchy and hot.  Infection increased on his body and legs, and we bathed him in tepid water each day until it gradually subsided.

Eventually he became more comfortable and we were left with the infection to clear up (2 courses of antibiotics).

Fin has always been food orientated – for a dog with some serious allergy issues this is not good!

…  Anne

Apr 10

The day Fin swallowed a dead blackbird!

FinWith all Fin’s allergies, Blackbird was definitely not on the Menu!!!

However he was totally obsessed by food of any kind and there was a day when he found a dead (and it has to be said, rather desiccated) Blackbird under some bushes in our garden – presumably one of my cats was the guilty party.

When he did not respond to my call, I went to investigate, and found Fin, with the dry and crackly blackbird half-way into his mouth.  I shouted at him to “Drop it … No … Leave it …” but this seemed to have the reverse effect as he tried to swallow it!

He had a grip on it like a pit-bull!!!

I was reduced to pulling bits of dry blackbird from the side of his mouth.  He was still trying to swallow it, and seemed to have succeeded very largely, so, fearing that a bone could be lodged in his throat, we bundled him into the car and rushed him to the main surgery of our Vets, Donaldson & Partners.

Have you ever noticed how this sort of thing always happens out of Surgery hours?!!!

After an initial examination, the on-duty vet decided that for Peace of Mind’s sake an x-ray was necessary (thank Goodness for Fin’s Insurance).

Fortunately no obstruction was found, and there were no ill-effects as far as his allergies are concerned – obviously he’s not allergic to blackbird!

…  Anne


Apr 08

Pet Insurance – a blessing or a curse?

It cannot be denied that good pet insurance does not come cheap but in my experience over the last forty years it is well worth it.  However there are pitfalls to avoid.

Cyda following her knee operation

Cyda following her knee operation

It is important that your pet is insured from the word go.  Every puppy that leaves a breeder and is registered with the Kennel Club should come with 4 weeks free insurance – see www.kcinsurance.co.uk

During this period you will be contacted by them to enquire whether you wish to continue after the free period.

In my view you should shop around.  This insurance may not be the best in the world but equally it’s not the worse either but whatever you choose please insure your pet at this stage.

Why? You may ask – there is nothing wrong with puppy?

The reason is that any ailment, condition that puppy suffers between now and when you do take out insurance with not be covered by the insurer.  They call it a pre-existing condition.

So unlike your energy supplier, credit card supplier etc., switching is not a good idea.  Hence I recommend that you get it right from the start.

So what should you look for when picking pet insurance?



Firstly, look for “cover for life”.  There are some insurers out there who will give you cover for one year and at the end of that time will not continue to insure any condition for which you have already  claimed.  So look for the best value and make sure it is “for life” and for each and every condition.  Insurers will not cover routine treatments like fleas, worms and regular annual vaccinations.

As an example, read about Fin and his allergies on http://www.heronbank.co.uk/fin/.  When we rescued  Fin at three years of age, we immediately got him insured, but he is not insurable for his pre-existing conditions (his allergies), but thankfully he is for anything else – like his anal gland problem.

I say thankfully because vets don’t know what to charge these days (sorry vets!!).  His treatment for his anal glands is still ongoing but the bill is heading rapidly in the direction of £1000.  Fortunately we only pay the policy excess of £70 plus 10% of the balance which works out at approx. £150 at the moment.

Cyda's Cavalier Puppies at four and a half weeks old

It is not the purpose of this blog to recommend any particular insurer but we have found MoreThan very competitive see https://www.morethan.com/Process/Pet/PetYourQuote.aspx.

Anyone living in the Kirklees area could do well to check out insurance being promoted by our vets, Donaldson and Partners, see  http://www.donaldsonandpartners.co.uk/insurance/.  In addition to meeting all the criteria I have indicated above, they also give discount vouchers for routine treatments –  a case of prevention as well as cure.  Yes I know they are our vets – so why don’t we use their insurance  –  pre-existing conditions!!

I hope this has gone some way towards simplifying the complex insurance issues we all need to address these days.

…  John

Apr 06

Allergies in dogs

Fin soon after arrival

Fin soon after arrival

An allergy is the body’s immune system’s response to a common substance called an allergen.  These can be found in foods, tree, grass and flower pollen, mould, dust and mites.  These allergic responses can occur at any time – they can occur straight away, or it can be hours or even days before they show themselves.

Allergies can present in a number of ways:

Skin problems – itching, chewing, hot spots, rashes, constant licking, hair loss

Ear problems – soreness, itching, swelling

Digestive problems – diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight problems

Low energy levels and behavioural problems.


Fin looking good

When Fin came to us, he had all these problems except 1 – there was nothing wrong with his appetite!  In fact he always was very food orientated.  All the other symptoms, however, were there in abundance.

If you suspect that your pet has an allergy, I would recommend that you consult your vet immediately.  Allergy tests are expensive and only test for a limited number of allergies but if the allergens can be pinpointed it makes the job a whole lot easier.  Most allergy tests involve skin tests but  Sensitest which uses blood from the affected animal to test, thus causing the animal minimal discomfort, might be worth a try!

…  Anne

Apr 04

So you want to buy a puppy?

Here are some notes which may help in your choice of a new puppy – whatever the breed.

Puppies need to be exposed to human company, handling, and the sights, sounds and smells of a normal home – music, washing machine, vacuum cleaner etc from an early age.

Puppies should not be allowed to leave their mother too early as she is vital in teaching them social skills.

The mother – and where possible – the father of the litter should be observed, including the bitch’s interaction with her puppies. This will give an indication as to their temperament, and therefore the likely temperament of the puppies.  Puppies from pet shops or puppy farms are likely to have problems in adulthood.  They are often removed from their mother as young as 4 weeks old and can suffer from fear-based aggression or excessive barking as a result of forced isolation and painful experiences.   On the other hand, puppies who leave their mother as late as 16 to 24 weeks, if they have not been socialised, can show an increased fear of other dogs and traffic.  The optimum time for socialisation is 6 to 8 weeks.  Socialisation should begin in their birth-home and continue in their new home.

The puppies‘ new home should be as similar as possible to their old home to minimise stress.  Don’t immediately take puppies out to visit Aunty and Gran – they need to settle into a secure environment first.

Thereafter, and following a period of confinement following their second injection, they should be exposed to new people, cars, trains, parks etc in a non-confrontational way so as to reduce their stress levels when encountering new experiences.

…  Anne


Apr 02

Worming in puppies and dogs

Pregnant bitches can be wormed using Panacur liquid wormer prior to the birth of their puppies.  The recommended dose is 1ml per 1kg bodyweight, per day, from day 40 of pregnancy to 2 days post-whelping.

Puppies are born with worms, and need worming regularly to rid them of these parasites.  I use Panacur Paste, as it is easy to measure and dispense as it comes in it’s own graduated syringe.  The dosage is 1 graduation per 1kg bodyweight, given on 3 consecutive days.  It is recommended that puppies are treated at 2 weeks, 5 weeks and 8 weeks.  After that puppies should be wormed monthly until 6 months of age, then 3-monthly for the rest of their life.

I used to use Drontal wormer for my adult dogs, at the dose of 1 tablet per 10kg bodyweight. this is still a good wormer but there is also milbemax tablets which treat most internal parasites.

This ensures as far as possible that dogs are free from internal parasites.

…  Anne

Apr 02

D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone)

Lactating bitches, in common with other mammals, release a substance – called appeasing pheromone – from the area around the mammary glands which calms and reassures her offspring.  It is produced from around 3 to 5 days after the puppies birth and increases bonding with the mother and sends the puppies signals of well-being, making the puppy more confident in it’s environment.

There is a synthetic version of this appeasing pheromone called D.A.P. (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) available as a collar, a spray or a plug-in diffuser.  This effectively mimics the properties of the naturally produced pheromone and will help not only puppies but older dogs cope better with the more stressful times in their lives, like moving to a new home, car travel, visits to the vet etc..   Preparation in advance of these situations is well worthwhile to make situations less stressful to your pet.

…  Anne


Mar 18

First Aid Kit for Dogs

As the weather warms up, many dogs find themselves spending more time outdoors with their owners and this leads to more accidents.

This is an excellent time to familiarize oneself with the basic principles of first aid.

Always be prepared!  Make a first aid kit and have it on hand wherever you go.

It is worth having several kits, such as a large fully stocked kit for home and a smaller kit for the car or family outings.


Within your First Aid Kit you should have:


the telephone number of your vet and the nearest vet to your intended destination – just in case

water for drinking / cooling and flushing out wounds

tweezers and nail clippers

a blanket, – this can be used to cover or as a makeshift stretcher

a roll of gauze (can also be used to create a makeshift muzzle if needed)

square gauze to cover a wound


first aid tape to stick the gauze or a bandage in place

Anti-histamine cream for itchy insect bites

If an emergency occurs:


Take a moment to look around and fully assess the situation. For example, if your dog was hit by a car, don’t immediately rush out in traffic. You won’t do him any good if you end up in the hospital yourself.

Secure any other pets with you so they can’t get hurt too.

Carefully approach your pet and assess his condition:

Is he breathing? If not, you will have to breath for him – hold his mouth closed and breath into his nostrils, sit up, take a deep breath and repeat.

Is he bleeding? Cover with the square gauze and stick in place.  Apply direct pressure to the wound.

Remember to handle your injured dog gently and carefully. Even the gentlest dog may bite when scared or in pain.  Keep your face away from the dog’s mouth (unless you need to breath for him), and resist the urge to hug your dog to comfort him as this may scare him more or worsen his injuries.

Manny and Toby

Use a calm soothing voice to reassure your dog – if you appear excited or distressed, this will make your dog worse.

If you need to transport him and his wounds are painful you should place a muzzle on – you can make one out of a roll of gauze. If your dog is small, wrap him in a blanket or towel and carry him. Larger dogs can be transported on makeshift stretchers such as a large blanket to make a hammock-style sling.

Finally, remember that first aid is not intended to be a substitute for veterinary care, it is meant to stabilize the animal until proper veterinary care can be given.

Any first aid care given to your dog should be followed by immediate veterinary attention, either by your usual veterinarian or the nearest animal emergency clinic.

…  Anne


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