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Pet Advice

Advice from our experienced team

  • Barking and Destruction
  • Basic first aid
  • If you find a stray dog
  • Neutering

Barking and Destruction

Dogs with separation anxiety cannot bear to be parted from their owners, and often exhibit problem behaviour when left alone. Putting your relationship on a more independent footing is the first step towards a more confident and happy dog.

Reasons for separation problems

There are many reasons why dogs exhibit problem behaviour when left alone. For example, boredom may be a key factor or young dogs may not have learned that it is unacceptable to bark, dig or chew household items. Others may behave in an unacceptable fashion because they cannot cope with being separated from their owners and become anxious.

What can happen?

No dog should be left alone for prolonged periods, but dogs with separation anxiety cannot be trusted to be alone even for just a few minutes. Some may become destructive, others are noisy, and some may become so frantic that they can mess in the house.

How can separation anxiety problems be prevented?

  • Teach your dog or puppy to tolerate short, planned absences. Leave your dog in the room where they will normally be left, close the door and walk away. After a short time (less than five minutes), go back in without greeting. Do this several times in one session and repeat the sessions throughout the day.
  • Gradually extend the period of time that your dog is isolated. If your pet becomes distressed, begins to bark, scratch at the door, or has chewed anything when you return, leave for a shorter period next time and progress more slowly.
  • Continue until absences of 30 minutes can be tolerated without a problem and then begin to go through the normal leaving preparations, such as putting on your coat and picking up your keys before leaving the dog alone in the room.
  • Exercise your dog, with a walk and by playing games, well in advance of leaving so that your dog has time to settle down.
  • Provide a small meal a short time before departure so that your dog is more likely to be sleepy.
  • When you go out, do not say goodbye – just walk out. The contrast between you being there and not being there is then much reduced.
  • Leave your dog somewhere where any damage done will be minimized. This should be well away from electrical wires and valuables, and where any barking is least likely to annoy neighbours. It is important to leave your pet in the house, where they will feel most secure, rather than out in the garden.
  • Leave the animal with something special to chew – a large rawhide chew with small titbits forced between the layers will keep your dog occupied and distracted during the first few minutes of your departure. It is in the first few minutes that your dog feels most distressed so this helps the animal cope and become accustomed to being alone.
  • Wearing an old sweater or T-shirt before leaving and putting it in your dog’s bed will sometimes help. You need to renew your scent on this garment each time you leave the house – leaving it at the bottom of the dirty laundry basket will save you from having to wear it each time.
  • Some dogs are comforted by the familiar sound of a radio playing, or you could record 30 minutes of your family conversation and play this as you leave. When you return, greeting rituals should be kept short and without great excitement. Do not, on any account,punish, scold or be angry with your dog. Consider it your fault if something has gone wrong and seek further help if necessary.

Working towards a permanent cure

In order to cope when you leave the house, your dog must first be comfortable without constant reassurance from you at home. The following tips will help to set the relationship between you on a more independent footing and prevent some of the over dependence that fuels separation problems.

  • Decide on set periods of time during when you either ignore your dog, or you play and give attention. This builds a more independent relationship than if you are constantly touching and talking to your dog as you move around the house.
  • Prevent your dog from following you from room to room. If you have taken on an adult dog, start this training as soon as you take your dog home. Close the door behind you when you go into another room so the dog is isolated for a few minutes until you return. Coolly acknowledge the pet’s presence when you go back in but do not make a big fuss.
  • With a newly acquired dog, arrange for your dog to sleep in the kitchen at night rather than in the bedroom so that the animal is not with you constantly for such a long period.
  • Keep departure cues, such as looking for car keys and putting on coats, to a minimum.
  • Steadily build your dog’s confidence by using only reward-based methods of training.

Symptoms of separation anxiety

  • Your dog follows you from room to room, unwilling to let you out of sight even for a moment.
  • A strong bond is formed with just one person in the household to the exclusion of others.
  • Problem behaviour begins as soon as you leave. The first 15 minutes are the worst, during which time the dog becomes extremely upset. All the physiological signs of fear may be present – an increase in heart and breathing rate, panting, salivating, increased activity and, sometimes, a need to go to the toilet.
  • The dog may try to follow ;you, scratching at doors, chewing at doorframes, scratching at carpets or jumping up at windowsills to look for a way out. Alternatively your dog may bark, whine or howl to try and persuade you to come back. After this frantic period, your dog may settle down to chew something that you have recently touched that still carries your scent.
  • Dogs will often chew scented items into small pieces and curl up in the debris so that your dog forms a “barrier” of your scent around them for protection.

Why punishment makes it worse

It is natural for owners to be angry if they return to find damage to their home, mess in the house or annoyed neighbours. Sensing this anger, dogs show submission in an attempt to appease the owner and reduce any punishment they might otherwise be subjected to. Unfortunately, a submissive posture (ears flat, head lowered, crouching, tail between legs) is often misinterpreted by owners as guilt. They often say, 'See, he knows he has done wrong'.

Any punishment given on returning home is ineffective. Dogs associate punishment with what they are doing at the instant they are punished and so your dog will not associate the telling off with their actions before you came home, even if you take the animal over to the scene of the crime. It is not that your dog cannot remember what happened, just that it is natural to think the punishment is for what is going on at that moment, rather than what your dog did hours earlier. Punishment is not only ineffective, but it is also likely to make the problem worse. Now, in addition to being anxious about being left, the animal is also worried about the owner returning.

Basic first aid

In emergency situations:

  • First ensure the safety of yourself and others. Keep calm and assess the situation before acting. Injured animals are frightened and in pain and may try to bite anyone who touches them.
  • Contact the vet. Keep your vet's phone number to hand and know the name of the practice.
  • Always phone first, whatever the situation, as staff may be able to suggest immediate action you can take before you attend.
  • Have a pen handy in case another number is given. Treatment can be provided more quickly if the dog is taken to the surgery, rather than if the vet is called out.
  • If there is a risk of biting, put a muzzle on the dog, or wrap tape around the nose and tie behind the ears, unless the dog has difficulty breathing. Small dogs may be restrained by putting a thick towel over their heads.
  • Never give human medicines to a dog – many will do more harm than good. Do not offer food or drink in case anaesthetic is needed.
  • Drive carefully when taking the patient to the surgery.
  • If you do get bitten, see your doctor.
  • Ask that you are met at the door for a member of staff to help you in with your pet.

Is it an emergency?

Sometimes, outside normal hours, it is difficult to decide whether urgent attention is needed. You can always call and ask for advice.

You should phone the vet if:

  • Your pet seems weak, is reluctant to get up, or is dull and depressed
  • There is difficulty breathing, or it is noisy or rapid, or if there is continual coughing causing distress
  • There is repeated vomiting, particularly with young or elderly animals. Diarrhoea is less serious, unless severe, bloody or the animal seems weak or unwell.
  • Your dog appears to be in severe pain or discomfort
  • Your pet is trying to urinate or defecate and is unable to. Blockage of the bladder sometimes occurs, especially in males, and can kill if not treated urgently.
  • There are sudden difficulties with balance a bitch, with suckling puppies is agitated, shaking and shivering and will not settle. It could be eclampsia, which needs urgent treatment.

Call your vet for advice about any symptoms that worry you. The surgery will advise if your pet needs to be seen urgently.

Road accidents

Prevention is better than cure. Even a well-behaved dog should be kept on a lead anywhere near traffic, including slow moving vehicles. Do not have the collar so loose that the dog can get free or on an extended flexi-lead.

If the worst happens, beware of other cars. Talk gently to the dog as you approach. Move slowly and avoid making sudden movements. Put a lead on if possible and, if necessary, muzzle before handling. If your dog can walk, go to the vet, even if there appears to be no pain. There may be internal injuries that are not immediately obvious.

If the dog cannot walk, small dogs can be picked up by placing one hand at the front of the chest and the other under the hindquarters. Improvise a stretcher for larger dogs with a coat or a blanket. If the dog is paralysed, there may be a spinal injury, so try to find something rigid, such as a board. Slide the patient gently on to this if possible. Cover with a blanket to reduce heat loss.

Bleeding

Keep the dog quiet and calm. Put on a tight bandage. Improvise with a towel or some clothing if necessary. If blood is seeping through, apply another tight layer. Only use a tourniquet as a last resort. For places you cannot bandage, press a pad firmly onto the wound and hold it in place. Get to the vet straight away. If you have bandaging materials, place a non-adhesive dressing on the wound and cover with swabs or cotton bandage. Then place a layer of cotton wool. Cover this with more cotton bandage. Stick this to the hair at the top with surgical tape, and cover the would with adhesive bandage or tape. Do not stick elastoplast to the dog’s hair. When bandaging limbs, the foot should be included or it may swell up. Never leave a bandage on for more than 24 hours.

Broken bones

Deal with serious bleeding but do not apply a splint – it is painful and can cause the bone to break through the skin. Confine the patient for transport to the vet. Smaller dogs can be put in a box.

Burns and scalds

Run cold water over these for at least five minutes, then contact the vet. Do not apply ointments or creams but if there is going to be a delay getting to the vets, you can apply a saline soaked dressing to the area. Keep the patient warm. Contact your vet immediately for a chemical burn and gently wipe away the chemical agent. Do not use water or any dressing unless advised by your vet.

Poisoning

Try to find packaging from the substance swallowed and have it with you when you phone the vet. If chewing plants is suspected, try to find out the identity of the plant. Call the vet immediately. Do not make your dog sick unless the vet says to do so.

Swollen tummy

If this happens suddenly, treat it seriously, especially if the dog is a deep chested breed such as a Boxer or Mastiff. There may also be gulping, dribbling of saliva and attempts to vomit. It could mean there is a lifethreatening twist in the stomach. Phone the vet immediately – do not delay.

Ball stuck in throat

Get to the vet quickly. Or you may be able to push the ball out by pushing on the throat/neck from the outside. If the gums or tongue are turning blue or the dog has collapsed, try the following. You will need someone to help you. One person holds the mouth open, while the other reaches inside. Be careful not to get bitten. If you cannot pull the ball out, lay the pet on their side. Push down suddenly and sharply on the tummy just behind the last rib. The person holding the mouth should be ready to grab the ball as it reappears.

Coat contamination

If a substance such as paint or tar has got onto the coat or paws, prevent the dog from licking, as it may be toxic. Use an Elizabethan collar (obtainable from vets) if you have one. Always call your vet for advice. Never attempt to cut fur with scissors or bathe the pet or use chemicals to remove the contamination. Your vet will advise what to do to avoid further harm.

Heat stroke

If on a warm or hot day your dog is panting heavily and is distressed, and especially if the dog is short nosed (eg. a Boxer or Pug), overweight or has been playing or exercising, think heatstroke! Put the dog somewhere cool, preferably in a draught. Wet the coat with tepid water (cold water contracts the blood vessels in the skin and slows heat loss) and phone the vet. You can offer a small amount of water. Draping your dog with a towel soaked in cool water is a big advantage.

Fits

If your dog is having a fit, do not try to hold or comfort the dog, as this provides stimulation, which may prolong the fit. Darken the room and reduce noise. Remove items, especially anything electrical, away from the dog so they cannot cause injury. Pad furniture with cushions. Call the vet.

Fights

If your dog seems shocked, dull or distressed after a fight, call the vet. Otherwise, look at the wound. Puncture wounds to the head or body mean you should consult a vet right away. Injuries to the limbs may not need immediate treatment, but call your vet for advice.

Eye injuries

If the eye is bulging out of the socket, apply a wet dressing, prevent rubbing or scratching and call the vet to be seen immediately. If chemicals have got into the eye, flush with water repeatedly (preferably from an eye drop bottle) and call the vet to be seen immediately. All eye problems should be seen by a vet within 24hours of detection.

Drowning

Never put yourself at risk by attempting to rescue a dog. Wipe away material from the mouth and nose. Hold the dog upside down by the hind legs until the water has drained out. Give resuscitation if breathing has stopped. Even if your pet seems to recover, always see the vet as complications afterwards are common.

Electric shock

If a high voltage supply is involved (non-domestic, for example, power lines), do not approach. Call the police.

In the home, turn off power first. If this is impossible, you may be able to use a dry non-metallic item, like a broom handle, to push the dog away from the power source. If breathing has stopped, give resuscitation. Call the vet immediately.

Stings

Pull out the sting below the poison sac, then bathe the area in water or use a solution of bicarbonate of soda if available. Applying ice will help to soothe. If the sting is in the mouth or throat, contact the vet as it may swell and interfere with breathing.

Basic resuscitation

  1. Put the animal on their side
  2. Check that breathing has definitely stopped (hold a wisp of fur to the nostrils)
  3. Open the mouth, pull the tongue forwards and check for obstructions, such as blood. Be careful not to get bitten when removing any material.
  4. If breathing does not start, extend the head (nose pointing forwards). Hold the mouth closed and blow into the nose about 20 times a minute. If you cannot feel a heartbeat, push on the chest just behind the front legs every second. Give two breaths into the nose for every 15 compressions of the chest. If this is unsuccessful after three minutes, recovery is unlikely.

If you find a stray dog

If you’ve found a stray dog, check to see if they’re wearing a tag with the owner’s details on. If they are, and you’re happy to do this, contact the owner and arrange to give them back the dog.

Otherwise contact your local authority dog warden via your local council 01926 456734 or 01788 533859.

They are legally responsible for stray dogs and will come and collect the dog from you and take them to a holding kennels while they wait to see if their owner will claim them.

Register the dog as "found" on DogLost, which is a national online lost and found website.

Although it might be tempting to keep the dog, you're legally required to let the local authority know about any stray dogs and, if you don't, you could be accused of theft.

There may be a loving owner out there who is desperately searching for their missing dog and, if the dog is microchipped, it could be really easy to reunite them.

You can take them to any veterinary surgery for them to see if the dog has a microchip

It's very easy to get attached to a dog the longer you keep them, so please do let someone know as soon as possible.

What to do if you’ve lost your dog

By law, your dog should always wear a collar and tag with your name and address on when out in public.

It will also be compulsory for all dogs to be microchipped by 2016.

If your dog is wearing a tag and is microchipped, this will hugely increase your chances of being reunited with them if they go missing.

If your dog has gone missing, here are some things you can do:

  • Call the microchip database they are registered with and report them as lost or stolen. Make sure your contact details are always up to date.
  • Contact your local authority dog warden, via your local council 01926 456734 they are legally responsible for stray dogs and may well have picked up your pet. They will hold on to stray dogs for seven days but, after this time, dogs will be rehomed or put to sleep if no home can be found for them.
  • Contact neighbouring local authorities too as dogs may move across local council borders.
  • Call local kennels/charities – it’s possible someone has found the dog and taken them to a local rehoming centre or kennels. The Dogs Trust Honiley is our largest local re-homing centre 01926 484398.
  • Contact local vet surgeries or animal hospitals – if your dog has been injured, they may have been taken there for treatment.
  • Check online lost and found websites and notice boards in your local area. Register your dog on DogLost, a free national database which is run by volunteers who will help you to search for your dog.
  • If you think your dog has been stolen, call the Police
  • Put up notices in your local area with an up to date photo of your dog
  • Visit places where other dog walkers go and ask them to keep an eye out for your dog

Keeping your dog safe

  • Think twice before leaving your dog tied up outside a shop. You will make them a vulnerable and tempting target for opportunist thieves.
  • Don’t leave your dog alone in the car, even for a few minutes. Thieves can easily break into your car to steal your precious pet.
  • Make sure your dog is microchipped and that you keep your contact details up-to-date, especially if you move house or change your telephone number.
  • Your dog should always wear a collar and ID tag with your name and address on it. This is a legal requirement when your dog is in a public place. Avoid putting your dog’s name on the disc.
  • Take clear photographs of your dog from various angles, and update them regularly. Make a note of any distinguishing features.
  • Have lots of photographs of yourself with your dog, to help you to prove ownership if needed. Train your dog to come back when called, and never let him off the lead if you are not sure he will come back to you. If in doubt, use an extending lead, especially if you are in an unfamiliar area where your dog may get lost more easily.
  • Take care when choosing someone to care for your dog if you are going away from home or need a dog walker whilst you go to work. Use a reputable company or boarding kennels and check references for people who provide dog or house-sitting services.
  • Beware of strangers asking you questions about your dog.
  • Vary your times of walks and routes; some dogs are actually targeted and snatched during walks.
  • At home, make sure your garden is secure and fit a bell to the gate so you hear if anyone opens it.
  • Keep your dog in view in the garden, don’t just leave him outside unsupervised.
  • If you breed puppies for sale, take great care when inviting people in to view; ideally have someone else present and limit the number of people you allow in at a time. Show the puppies in one secure area.
  • Decide who owns the dog in your household. Discuss who would own the dog in the event of bereavement or break up and draw up documentation to this effect. This may seem unnecessary, but pets can become the centre of ownership disputes in these circumstances.

If the worst happens

If your dog is lost or suspected stolen, it is important to act quickly.

  • Report the loss to your local council’s Dog Warden and those in all other neighbouring local authorities.
  • Visit places where dog walkers go such as local parks and public places and talk to people, asking them to keep an eye open for your dog.
  • If you believe your pet has been stolen, report it to the police and insist it is recorded as a theft and not a lost animal.
  • Report the loss/theft to the microchip database, this will ensure that if anyone tries to re-register the chip number, you will be informed.
  • Make posters and display them in areas local to your home and also in relevant places such as vets, local parks etc. The poster should include a clear photograph and details of the circumstances.
  • Make sure local vets are aware in case someone takes your dog in for treatment.
  • Report the loss on as many as possible of the missing animals websites – there is no single national missing animals database, so you will have to place the same information on all of them to ensure a widespread appeal.
  • Contact local animal shelters and rescue charities and send them posters to display.

Neutering

What is neutering?

Neutering means surgically preventing pets from reproducing. In males, the operation is called castration and in females it’s called spaying.

During castration, both testicles are removed which takes away the main source of the male hormone testosterone. With spaying, both the ovaries and the uterus are removed which means the female is unable to become pregnant.

Dogs do not know that their owner has made a healthy decision on their part or think about what has happened. They are just as happy after the process as before, with the benefit of living longer and minus certain hormonal frustrations.

What’s involved in the process?

Both operations are carried out under general anaesthetic. This is why it is a veterinary procedure and you should have an appointment with your vet for a health check and full information about any operation.

Your canine will spend a whole day in the surgery and a team of vets, veterinary nurses and animal care assistants will be involved in your pets care throughout the day. Your pet should be able to go home the same day as happy, well and comfortable as before the surgery. Following surgery, you can expect two post-operative check-ups to have any sutures removed or to check that dissolvable sutures have dissolved.

How much does it cost?

The cost can vary a lot depending on the sex and type of dog you have.

Several charities, including The RSPCA and Dogs Trust can help with the cost of neutering so contact your nearest one to find out more.

When should I get my dog neutered?

Female dogs can be spayed from around six months old and there’s no benefit to waiting until they’ve had their first season. Some of the health benefits of spaying are actually reduced if you wait until your dog has had a season. We prefer not to spay whilst a bitch is nearing or in season. There is no upper age limit.

Male dogs can be neutered from around five to six months old although the exact age varies depending on their breed, so speak to your vet – but don’t leave it too late otherwise the benefits associated with neutering start to reduce. There is also no upper age limit.

Why should I get my dog neutered?

For Male Dogs:

  • Neutered male dogs are less likely to roam, which means they’re less likely to go missing, get hit by a car, get in a fight and get hurt.
  • Unneutered dogs can become frustrated and may try to escape.
  • Castration significantly reduces the chance of them getting prostate disease and reduces the risk of some cancers.
  • An unneutered dog is more likely to show aggression to other dogs, whether they’re on or off the lead.
  • An unneutered dog is more likely to be the target of aggression from another dog.

For Female Dogs:

  • Neutering greatly reduces the risk of them getting mammary cancer, particularly if carried out before the first season, and infection of the womb (called pyometra). Both of these are seen quite often in older, unneutered dogs and they can be fatal.
  • Pregnancy and birth can be risky to the mum.
  • Many unneutered female dogs have a false pregnancy after a season and, although this is natural, it can cause behavioural and even medical problems.

What happens after the surgery?

Some people worry that their dog’s personality will change. This isn’t true but you might see a fall in certain behaviour – roaming, mounting, fighting or spraying urine.

People also worry that their pet will get fat. If their diet is suitable and they are exercised normally there is no reason for a neutered pet to increase in weight. Old wives tales say that it can affect the coat condition.

Feeding the correct diet ensures that the coat will not change and with dietary advice may actually improve. 

Neutered dogs can be shown according to Kennel Club rules.

We also offer laparascopic spaying - please contact us by phone to find out more information.