Your pet dog may need dental treatment with age. This can be costly for you and stressful for your pet.
Making sure you feed your dog a sensible diet is a must but some dogs, like some people, are more prone to dental plaque and associated problems.
Getting into the habit of cleaning your dog's teeth may not be easy but it could be cost effective and save your beloved pet the terrible pain of toothache and pain following tooth extraction.
Brushing a dog's teeth is never easy but, depending on your dog and its diet, it may be very necessary.
Poor oral hygiene can ultimately add to health problems and could affect the animal’s heart. Dogs hide their pain well and so your pet could be suffering a fair amount of pain or discomfort before you realise it has a problem.
Firstly think about what you are feeding your dog. Dogs should not have sugary and sweet treats. They are not good for their health, or their teeth. Many of the proprietary treats that claim to help clean a dog's teeth either do not work well, or are laden in calories with high amounts of protein. The first will make your dog fat and the second may make it hyperactive, so both are best avoided.
Many dogs love raw carrots and apples and vets often recommend these as a healthy treat, which will not damage a dog's teeth and may help clean them a little. Make sure though that your dog does not consume any apple pips.
Dogs usually love cheese also which can clean teeth a little but this is not really good food for a dog as it is full of fat. Obviously the occasional treat should do no harm, but give plenty of thought to your dog's diet for the sake of its teeth, weight, health and your bank balance. After all many shop bought dog treats are quite expensive.
So what is the best way to actually clean a dog's teeth, if and when you have to?
The best way is to introduce your dog to teeth cleaning when it is a puppy. That way it will get used to you touching its mouth, teeth and gums.
Normal toothpaste is not appropriate for cleaning your dog's teeth. Sometimes it may even make your dog ill or cause an allergic reaction.
Most veterinary surgeries and pet shops will sell proprietary dog toothpaste which is often meat flavoured, such as chicken and ham. These are less foaming than people toothpaste. The bonus is that dogs love this meaty toothpaste.
The first time you want to clean your dog's teeth just try placing the brush briefly in your dog's mouth. Use the smallest toothbrush available. Then try again later with a small amount of dog toothpaste on the brush. Gradually build up the time spent cleaning your dog's teeth.
Give the dog a chance to get used to the general feel of tooth cleaning and to understand that this practice will not harm him or her.
Either buy a child's toothbrush or a specific dog toothbrush, as you will only want to use a relatively small brush.
Finger tooth pads are useful for cleaning dog’s teeth. These are very convenient. They resemble finger caps which are sometimes used in offices to aid filing. The difference is there are small bristles on one side.
They can be purchased cheaply from veterinary surgeries. You simply slip this finger brush onto your index finger and then slip your finger into the dog's mouth. Most dogs seem to prefer this to a brush, as such. It is gentler, will reach even the back teeth and can access problem areas.
Do not forget though that despite your best efforts, just like people, some dogs will produce more tartar than others and may need some dental work.
Also as a dog ages teeth can become cracked and worn. Most vets will offer a scaling and polishing service for a dog's teeth. They will also be able to remove decaying teeth, if necessary.
Remember though that the dog will need to have anaesthetic and so the fewer times such treatment has to be done the better.
Overall try to establish a basic teeth cleaning routine for your dog as, in the long term, it will save you money on costly veterinarian bills and will save your much loved pet unnecessary suffering and pain.
Reading that a lurcher dog has been "found "confused and frightened" after apparently being abandoned outside a house in Peterborough" makes me wonder about the proud claim that "we are a nation of animal lovers."
The U.K. may have a better relationship with its animals than some countries but scratch the surface and you wonder if that is really true.
Jessie, our late girl above, came to us on a temporary basis after she was abandoned.
Aged around nine months she was left tied to a tree in the garden of her former home when her owners moved house. Jessie was in some ways one of the lucky ones.
Local dog rescue workers lived close by and her former owners knew that. She was not unscathed however from her early life experiences.
On the upside she lived with us more than 14 years, yes I know what happened to temporary, before she sadly died. Blind in later life she remained one of the sweetest-natured dogs we have ever had the pleasure of sharing our home with.
If you can help the RSPCA track down the person who abandoned the lurcher at the start of this story:
There could be many reasons why the dog was abandoned.
But if you find you can no longer care properly for your pet abandoning should not be an option you even consider.
As for a nation of animal lovers - is that really a description that is fit for purpose in 2017?
Give a lurcher a home SOS
It can be relatively quick to adopt or re-home a dog or a lengthy process. Sometimes it is important that the dog becomes part of a home in the near future.
It is not good for a dog to be in and out of a shelter, no matter how good that shelter and rescue service is.
We have adopted in the past from local dog rescue service Hessle Dog Rescue and the RSPCA. The process is similar between most re-homing organisations. Tinka came by way of Hull Oakwood Canine Services and this is what the adoption process can entail.
Home check and requirements
Although there are many animals in need of a new home it is important that it is not just any household. Some dogs are better in a child free environment whilst others will blossom in a home full of kids.
Make sure you are fully aware of what a particular dog may need from you and be totally honest with the rescue service. It will help the adoption be a successful one.
A representative of the rescue service will visit your home to ensure that you have a suitable environment for a dog. This usually means ensuring that you have a yard or garden with fencing or walls of a reasonable height.
The cost will vary but it could cost more than you imagine. This is to ensure that you are making a commitment to your new pet. The money helps cover any costs your dog has meant to the rescue charity, for example medical bills and food, with perhaps a donation to the charity included. These charities are always financially stretched.
Neutering or spaying
These days rescue dogs are always either neutered, if a male, or spayed if a female. This helps to prevent more unwanted puppies and heartbreak.
Your donation will include a fee for this and probably also for microchipping.
Whether your dog is large or small it will cost you in time and money. If you are not prepared to give the animal 110% you should not be adopting a dog. Instead volunteer at the rescue as a dog walker or become a fund-raiser.
So the basic costs could include:
Quite a list but not an exhaustive one.
You can sometimes utilise items around the home. An old curtain or blanket could provide comfort in a dog bed. The bed could be a sturdy cardboard box rather than a costly one bought from a specialist supplier.
It is lovely to treat your pet to a new purpose bought bed but that is not an essential requirement. Ask advice at the rescue service.
In truth though if money is very tight adopting a dog is not a good idea.
Caring dog owners would never willingly inflict pain on their animal or animals. In fact the opposite is the case and feeding, exercising and grooming are usually done with loving care. You may decide to trim your dog's nails as you think that their length is causing your dog pain.
However, if you trim a dog's nails too short you will inflict some pain and distress to the dog. The pain caused could be worse than the animal would suffer with a slightly overgrown nail. Before you trim your dog's nails make sure that you have all the information necessary.
Assess the dog’s nails
Examine your dog's nails in order to assess what needs to be done. It may be that only one or two nails need trimming or perhaps all of the dog's nails will need some attention.
The nail’s blood supply
If your dog has pale coloured nails you may be able to see the blood supply, and where it ends, through the nails.
Where to make the cut
Your cut must stop short of the end of this blood supply. If it does not the nail will bleed and your dog will feel some pain. In turn this will make the animal nervous about such grooming in the future.
General advice for cutting a dog’s nails
Hold your dog gently but firmly.
You Will Need
Tips & Warnings
Why your dog’s nails may need to be trimmed
In an ideal world your dog's nails would never need to be trimmed or clipped. Sufficient time spent exercising on hard surfaces such as concrete would ensure that a dog's nails were kept short and smooth. These days though the reality for most of our pet dogs is a comfortable warm existence as a fully domesticated house dog. This inevitably means that sooner or later your dogs nails will need to be trimmed.
If you allow a dog's nails to become overgrown the animal will be in pain, have difficulty walking and may pull threads of material, such as carpets. You can take your dog to the groomers but why waste time and money having the hassle travelling across town with your dog? The tools needed for clipping a dog's nails do not have to be expensive. With a little time and effort your dog's nails will soon be in great condition, but it will not have cost you a fortune. Please note that the breed and size of your dog will have a bearing on the equipment that you need to buy.
The right tools for the job
It is no good attempting to trim a dog's nails with human nail clippers or scissors. A dog's nails are just too tough. Shop around for suitable dog nail clippers.
There are many types of dog nail clipping devices but a cheap, strong basic dog nail clipper will usually suffice and have longevity.
A guillotine dog nail clipper will give a clean, painless cut, is cheap to buy and very easy to use.
[Remember though if unsure have your dog's nails trimmed by the vet or at a local dog groomers]
Assemble what is needed
Gather together the dog nail clippers, scissors for trimming long paw fur, perhaps a soft towel to help hold your dog still and anything else that you may need
Assess the dog’s nails
Gently groom your dog so that it is relaxed. As you do so check out the condition of the dog's nails. If necessary trim any excess paw fur and soak very long, hard nails, in order to soften them. This will make the trimming easier.
Take your time and ensure that any other pet's, especially other dogs, are not in the same room.
If your dog has very long fur, like my dog Leo at the left, it may not be easy to see its nails.
However, you must ensure that you do not cut into the nail's quick.
For very long nails the best advice is to trim a little nail and then leave it for a week, so that the quick can recede.
You should then be able to trim a little more, and so forth, until the dog's nail is the desired length.
How to hold your dog
If you are a responsible dog owner you should know your dog well. Is it a nervous dog? Does it get frightened easily? All of this will dictate how you need to hold your dog.
If you are lucky your dog, with a little encouragement, may sit well for you and even hold up each paw. However for some this will only happen with time and for others it may never happen. If you need to hold your dog gently but firmly.
If you are not alone one of you can hold the dog, whilst the other person trims your pets nails. If you have to trim the nails on your own hold your dog in something such as a fleece throw or a large bath towel. Leave just the paw that you are working on exposed.
Trimming your dog’s nails
Now that the preparations have been made it is time to trim your dog's nails. Remember to make a safe cut and avoid cutting into the quick or kwik. The quick grows with a dog's nail and if you cut into it the vein will bleed.
As already said remember to remove and safely store any equipment when you have finished.
Give your dog a huge amount of praise, especially if it was still and quiet whilst you trimmed its nails. Even if your dog wriggled rather a lot, a good cuddle and plenty of praise may make the task easier next time.
Of course a welcome dog treat, or two, will be the order of the day. If you trim your dog's regularly the quick should recede right back.
Read How to avoid cutting a dog's nails too short in conjunction with this guide.
As with so many tasks. maintenance is always much easier than playing catch up.
You will need
Tips & Warnings
You can hurt your dog trimming its nails. If you feel unsure let your groomer and our veterinarian take care of it instead.
The Cupid in this story is not Valentine's related but it wins my heart.
It is potentially a feel good story though it has a bad start and an uncertain end.
The Toronto Sun, Canada, has been following the story of a puppy dog born without front legs; a dog that at eight-weeks-old was found in the trash can.
When rescued Cupid stunk of garbage was dehydrated and in a very sorry state.
And he was initially rejected by an animal shelter because of his birth defect; the staff on duty felt the shelter was ill-equipped at night to care for the pup. The shelter is however looking into addressing that.
After some tender loving care Cupid is improving and proving to be an Internet sensation but he still needs the right forever home.
Cupid's rehabilitation and recovery has included getting to grips with prosthetic limbs.
As a young dog though there is still plenty of growing to do and a long road ahead. Cupid is a great pyrenees cross which means he will probably be a large adult dog.
Cupid will need a very special forever home but this woman is a great believer that there is a forever home out there somewhere for each and every dog rescued.
Cupid got his name due to his heart shaped nose.
Animal shelter staff often struggle to find names for rescued animals, sometimes choosing ones on their minds at the time, hence fudge, cookie and muffin!
But Cupid is a heart stopper and what better name for this sweetheart?
Your dog is a part of your home and needs to be able to fit in and have a place in the pecking order. Although you should not pander to an animal it deserves love and care from you. No-one forced you to take a pet into your home and so, as a responsible owner, you owe your dog, your family and your neighbourhood a well-adjusted, happy and healthy dog.
If you can calm a nervous dog down it will be much easier for you all to live together and be much healthier for the pet. Make sure that your dog has a quiet corner for his or her bed so that when the going gets tough and noisy around the home the dog can find its own peaceful place. After all, everyone needs their own quiet time and animals are no different from people in this respect.
Some dogs are nervous and highly strung, no matter how hard you try and calm them down. This can partly be because some breeds are more excitable on the whole, or just because it is the dog's nature. However, some breeds will nearly always be calm and reliable.
Of course there are dogs that will only get nervous in certain situations.
We all know people who are always calm and others who are constant nervous wrecks. Similarly some people are frightened of the dark or thunder and it is only these things which make them nervous.
Finally, surroundings and the animal’s upbringing can affect dogs and make for a nervous disposition. If a dog has been mistreated and perhaps had some stressful puppy years the damage may have been done then. Never forget that dogs, like children, pick up on a person’s mood and outlook and tend to follow the leader.
So how can a nervous dog’s owner help ease the situation and improve the quality of life for all concerned?
Obviously if you have a dog from a very young age you will be able to train it well. Dogs need to socialise and be around plenty of other animals, people and different situations in order to cope well with life.
If a dog has never seen a vacuum cleaner in operation before, it may be terrified when you get this monstrosity out of the cupboard and begin cleaning. Try to make sure that your pet is around normal everyday objects and gets used to them from a young age.
Socialising is important for your dog and this means with people outside of the family unit as well as other dogs. The more a dog socialises the less nervous it will be.
Having said that our elderly bitch had the jitters when we changed from an old cylinder vac to a new Dyson vacuum cleaner. It was noisier than our old one and a little bulky but she got used to it in time. Ignoring her behaviour and just getting on with the cleaning helped. Often the attention you give a dog when you shout at them, or maybe put them outside whilst you use what scares them, will just compound the problem. Like people they need to confront their fears but in a slow and gentle way.
A dog may appear fearless with just about everything but be terrified of thunder or fireworks. November 5th, bonfire night in England, can be a nightmare for the pet. A vet will supply a tranquiliser if necessary for such occasions including New Year’s Eve which these days in the UK is like bonfire night. Too much stress will damage a dog's health and a tranquiliser may be the kindest option in the short term. A veterinarian may suggest a mild tranquiliser for the sake of a dog’s general wellbeing.
Just as it is known that exercise can help a person’s psyche it can also help a dogs. In people with depression exercise is vital in releasing feel good hormones which can aid recovery. These endorphins will help ease a dog’s nerves also. A nervous dog will benefit from plenty of exercise as this will help tire the dog out and release some of its excess energy.
Owners of nervous dogs need to have a calm and confident personality and the dog’s surroundings need to be as settled and calm as possible. Dogs look to their humans for guidance in many things and they will soon pick up on your moods. If you are highly strung and nervous then no doubt your dog will follow suit. Try meditation and breathing exercises to calm you down so that you can set the right mood for your dog.
Massaging and stroking
Massages can help nervous dogs to calm down. This does not mean just stroking them but giving them a proper head to toe massage. I suppose just gentle stroking for a period of time will help but it would be worth learning the proper technique for massaging dogs. This would give maximum results.
Finally think of the general atmosphere in your home. Is everyone always shouting and screaming? Do the children tear around the home as if there is no tomorrow? Are loud rock music and the television constantly blaring out? All of this will add to a dog’s stress levels and make for a nervous dog.
Turn the volume down on everything, including your voices.
When you are stroking or massaging your dog try playing some calming, soothing music. It could be classical music but be careful what you pick as some of this can be loud and powerful stuff. Go for something like Fleetwood Mac’s Albatross or a little Vivaldi. Even pop music would be alright if it was the slow, calm and melodic kind.
With time and patience most dogs will settle down well, and just as people mature and calm down with age, so may your highly strung puppy dog.
Amazing hearing dogs
I first encountered hearing dogs for the deaf at an animal demonstration arranged by our local veterinarian. The only word that seems suitable for describing my reaction is AMAZED.
Hearing dogs aid a deaf person and carry out a multitude of tasks such as emptying a washing machine, alerting the person to the door bell and raising the alarm in the event of a fire.
Having watched the display I was in awe of both the dogs and their trainers.
Look at the image above. I know that as a dog lover I am prejudiced but how cute is that; so cute but yet working hard to provide a service.
The service that these dogs provide to a deaf person or someone who has a hearing impairment can make such a difference to the person's quality of life.
Remember that in a worst case scenario these dogs are life savers.
Hearing dogs for deaf people - As this UK charity states:
With almost 9,000,000, 1 in 7, people in the UK suffering some sort of hearing loss the Hearing Dogs for Deaf people charity is very important. It can offer the difference between retaining some independence and living a normal life or not. Sadly there is no Government funding for this charity and it has to rely on fundraising and donations.
The hearing dog's mission is to:
"Offer greater independence, confidence and security to deaf people by providing dogs that are trained to alert them, to chosen everyday sounds".
As usual this leaves me wondering how come these valuable charities do not receive any funding at all. They provide a huge service which can make such a difference.
It seems that the UK took its lead from America, as far as hearing dogs go. When in 1979 Professor Lee Bustad detailed the work already underway in America, he caught the interest of Dr Bruce Fogle. After the lecture Dr Fogle was told by Lady Wright that although the disability of deafness was often sorely neglected in the UK. However although this was the case she knew that deaf charities already had a huge burden and that there was no way they could fund a hearing dog scheme.
In 1981 Dr Fogle and Lady Wright visited the States, in order to learn as much as they could about the American hearing dogs program. With help from various financial supporters the hearing dogs for the deaf charity was launched in the UK in 1982. It was actually launched at Crufts, the UKs world famous dog show.
From then onwards this charity has progressed considerably, yet surprisingly it is still relatively unknown in the UK. The display that I watched left a marked impression on me and such events will hopefully raise awareness. This should then increase donations. Hearing dogs for the deaf displays usually involve real life scenarios with their trainers acting in the role of a deaf person. The dogs can:
Here is a timeline from the hearing dog website detailing how the hearing dogs for the deaf UK charity has developed and grown over the years:
The 21st century saw other changes such as Lady Wright dying and the charity celebrating its 21st anniversary. The celebrations included the first Hearing Dog Week. This charity has carried on expanding and these days it has some dogs trained as both a sight and a hearing dog.
This charity's army of dogs includes rescued dogs recruited from animal centres around the UK.
Training and research has recently taken place so that the dogs can detect cancer.
In 2005 the second dual purpose dog was placed with a deaf and visually impaired lady
In 2007 the Hearing Dogs for Deaf people celebrated its 25th birthday. This was held at Crufts with a press reception. Also Molly one of the Hearing Dogs won the BBC and Crufts 'Friends for Life' competition. A pilot project was launched in 2008 to investigate the benefits of placing hearing dogs with deaf children.
As you can see from this brief history Hearing Dogs for Deaf people is a desperately needed charity. The work it does is so important to so many people.
One can only hope that this and similar charities go from strength to strength. They certainly deserve to.
Source: Hearing dogs for deaf people website
The death of a beloved pet is never easy. More often than not it involves the owner making the painful decision to euthanise the pet to limit the animal's suffering.
Our elder dog Jessie collapsed Saturday September 12, 2015, and that was the outcome.
The wounds are still raw and her story is on hold a little while longer.
So for now this is the story of her companion Tinka and the effect Jessie's death had on him.
Tinka was a rescue dog like Jessie. He came to us aged about three, almost fiver y years ago.
His name was Tonka which was at odds with his small build. He was fairly timid but he had a past and it involved biting.
We were told his owner, an elderly man, had died and Tonka as he was at that time had been passed around a few homes. Tinka took it hard and grieved for his owner.
We were his last chance as he was due for the chop because of his biting.
We decided to take a chance and he is a gem although there have been problems.
He has bitten me more than once; one time I needed hospital treatment and the wound on my hand took its time to heal.
But the biting is out of fear.
If he gets anxious he trembles, or shakes, and if pushed he lashes out; he is quick and has sharp little teeth that do damage quickly.
One time his bite was following surgery when he was still woozy and in pain.
When he came to live with us Jessie had been here at least 8 or 9 years. Our rescue dog Leo had succumbed to an enlarged heart and died a few years earlier.
When Leo died a part of us all died with him and that included Jessie. The oomf went out of her and fast.
Tinka breezed in and was a breath of fresh air; he was complicated but there was always a sweet dog in there trying to get out.
Jessie was a calm, good-natured dog who looked like a pony compared to tiny Tinka but they got on well.
So just as Jessie grieved for Leo, Tinka is mourning the loss of Jess. They had a different, and briefer, relationship to Jess and Leo but there was still a bond.
For the first week following Jessie's death Tinka slipped back into timidity.
When the vet arrived to euthanise Jessie, Tinka stayed in another room, sat on a chair and shook from head to foot.
We reassured him as time allowed and of course since that day have continued to work with him to rebuild his confidence.
But here is one telling fact.
The veterinarian came into the house through our front door; Tinka then refused to leave the house through that door.
Due to his 'issues' you cannot simply grab him or lift him out as he may attack if scared.
We found that opening the back door of the house, then the garage door to the tenfoot and calling him worked well.
Tinks would come running through and allow his lead to be attached to his collar.
We would then take our 'walkies' coming back into the house through the front door.
Each time we would try to coax him to the front door first and in time it worked but it took time and patience.
Dogs have bags of heart and a good memory; for a while Tinka associated the front door with the vet and Jessie's body being taken out of the house, never to return.
He may not have been able to make sense of it but he sensed it was not a good outcome.
The lesson has to be-when you are grieving the loss of a pet dog spare a thought for other dogs that may live with you.
They too will be grieving but they do not understand language and cannot be told what has happened and why. That may not be rocket science but people do forget.
Tinka's needs helped us through this sad time but we all need to grieve and that takes time.
And remember tjat goes for family pets too.
The continued good health of your pet should be your priority but what about the cost of health care which can be huge at times?
Pet insurance is a good idea but as usual one size does not fit all. You may find the cost of insuring your pet when he or she is young relatively cheap but in time the premiums could rise and be beyond your income.
It is important to consider if you can really afford a pet, in cost, time and effort, before you take one or more into your home but life is rarely so straightforward. Your financial circumstances may change for the worse during your pet's lifetime or the animal may need extensive treatments running into thousands of pounds.
Make sure you research the best value veterinary care in your local area taking into account customer reviews and references. You do not want "cheap" if it offers a bad service; look around for a vet's that will fit your animals need and costs if possible.
Our local vet offered vaccinations for life for £100 when rescued Tinka came to live with us more than four years ago. That price includes an annual health check which in turn has little extras such as nail trims.
You may think that chancing a set fee is not a good option but surely you are hoping your pet will live with you for many years? Tinka was aged around three or four when he came to live with us but in a year or two that £100 will have proved to be money well spent.
One of the most costly treatments for a pet can be medicines. Simply giving an animal the equivalent medication that a person would take is not appropriate.
However if you can source the medication cheaper through a local pharmacy or online paying a fee for the animal's prescription could come up trumps; it is especially good value for money if you pet needs ongoing medication possibly for the rest of his or her life.
The Citizen's Advice service has some advice on animal prescriptions online - find that here
A note of caution: Buying medication for you, your family members or your pets online can be dangerous. Finding a reputable source is imperative. It is OK trying to cut costs but not at the expense of good health.
Discuss the medication options with your vet and local pharmacy.
RCVS, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, also has advice which you can find here; part of that is reproduced below:
10.2 Veterinary surgeons must: