Welcome to Petplan’s blog, a space where you can read up on the latest pet-news, find out interesting facts and tips about keeping your pets happy and healthy, and share your views on hot topics.
Q: I have a one-year-old Labrador and, when we let her out in the garden, she often makes a beeline for the stream, which runs into a pond. How can we stop her doing this?
A: Labradors are a gundog breed and normally love water, so your bitch is displaying natural behaviour. It sounds as if she has made a habit of running straight to the stream and pond because it’s fun.
When trying to change any behaviour, think about what your pet enjoys doing the most. Does she enjoy chasing after balls?
Most Labradors also love their food! I’d recommend that when you let her out into the garden, you take a little time to interact with her.
You could throw a ball for her in the opposite direction to the stream, or play some search games with her by hiding treats around the garden for her to find. If she gets focused on these activities, this should help stop her making a beeline for the stream.
Q: My dog hates getting into the car but is OK once we are driving. Why is this?
A: I would check with your vet in case he has some movement problems and it is painful for him to jump into the car. Even young dogs can have hip problems.
Sometimes, dogs do not like to jump into a dark area. Has your dog ever been hurt as it jumped into the car?
A bad experience, such as a tail or paw being caught in the car door, can result in a dog forming a bad association with entering the car. You can now buy car ramps for dogs with mobility problems.
Otherwise, I would spend time playing with your dog around the car – for example, on the driveway or in a safe open area, with all the doors open (so the car interior is not so dark). Encourage your dog to get into and out of the car with treats and toys, so that it becomes a game.
Q: Our old Schnauzer, Ernie, has a bald patch near his tail that seems to be getting bigger. The vet has treated him for mange and fleas, but the bald patch still seems to be getting larger.
We are getting really worried now, and the vet doesn’t seem to know how to treat it. Any ideas?
A: This could be a case of the condition known as hypothyroidism, a hormonal disorder in which the thyroid glands don’t produce the correct amount of thyroid hormone. This can result in many changes, most notably a thinning of the coat.
More common in older canine patients, hypothyroidism can be tested for by taking a sample of blood from Ernie to test for thyroid hormone and thyroid-stimulating hormone. Discuss this possibility with your vet, as this condition can be easily treated with supplement hormone to eventually cover up Ernie’s patchiness.
Q: Our 10-year-old Labrador has developed lots of soft lumps over the years. Our vet told us that they are likely to be fatty lumps and that there were too many to test. Should I continue to point them out to the vet each time a new one develops?
A: It is very important to keep track of strange lumps and bumps on your pets and to report them to your vet whenever they are present. Fatty lumps called lipomas are very common in ageing Labradors, and tend to grow slowly while remaining smooth in texture.
Owners should be concerned if a lump or bump is growing quickly, or has changed in colour or consistency (for example, from soft to hard or from smooth to nodular), and this is always something that should be flagged up with your vet.
Q: My dog is disgusting – it eats the cat poo from the litter tray. How can I stop this?
A: This is known as coprophagia – the eating of faeces. A dog may eat its own, other dogs’ or other animals’ poo.
Cats eat a high-protein meat diet, so theirs is particularly attractive to dogs. Coprophagia can occur as a result of digestive problems.
You should clean your cat litter tray as soon as it is soiled, or place it where the dog cannot reach. Remember that dogs are scavengers and will eat all sorts of items that we find disgusting, so be careful about hygiene – particularly if you let your dog lick your face!
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