Category Archives: Dogs

Before you get that dog. Vets advice


Purebreed puppy or adoption from a shelter?

Attitude to neutering pets has gradually improved in Ireland however there are still vast numbers of unwanted dogs in pounds and rescue centres throughout the country.

If you are looking for a dog the first piece of advice I would give is to consider adopting a dog if at all possible. A good place to start is the Dog’s Trust rehoming centre.

I know that many people have there heart set on a particular breed and are looking to buy a pure bred puppy.

If you are going down the purebred route please read the following advice carefully.

Common Misconception

1. A common misconception is Purebreed dogs are “better” or more likely to be healthy than a cross breed. The opposite is true. Crossbreed dogs have a larger gene pool and are less likely to suffer from hereditary problems. Years of irresponsible commercial breeding means that many of the more popular breeds in this country are plagued by genetic/hereditary problems.  Also kennel club papers are no guarantee of good health. Also one distant relative winning “best in show” does not guarantee your puppies good health!

2. Do your research. One benefit of a buying a purebreed dog is you can have a good idea how it will look and behave when it is older. Pick a dog that suits your lifestyle. Many people select a dog purely on looks but don’t consider its behaviour. An example of this is the increasingly popular Siberian Husky. This was bred to pull heavy loads long distances through difficult conditions. Don’t get one unless you are planning to walk at least two hours a day. The same can be said for many other working breeds.

3. Be aware of problems within the breed. Many breeds have known problems, try to find a breeder who is aware of the problems within the breed and is actively trying to breed puppies without these problems. Breeders like this are thin on the ground but there are some really dedicated people out there. Make sure you yourself have a good knowledge of the breed you are about to purchase – this way you can spot the dedicated breeder.

4. Go and see the puppies parents and conditions where the puppy was raised. A dog will be part of your family for anywhere up to the next 18 years. It amazes me how many people agree to meet a breeder at a petrol station half way between them and the breeder to save themselves a  drive. Most puppy farmers will offer to meet you half way. People who really care about their pups will usually want to know a little about where their pup is going to. They might even want to meet you more than once. For a really good quality dog you may even have to go on a waiting list.

5. Do not buy a puppy because it is in poor conditions and you feel sorry for it.

People often purchase a puppy despite finding it in poor condition. They will hand over money to a breeder because they want to “save” the puppy. While they are well intentioned they often end up with a problem dog.  Also the puppy farmer will quickly replace this puppy with another. If you are not happy walk away.

6. Ensure your new puppy has had its first set of vaccinations and a veterinary exam.

A good breeder will have no problem having their puppies checked over by a vet before selling them.  Vaccinations done at the correct time by a vet will usually mean that you can get your puppy out sooner. You will almost always have to bring the puppy to your own vet for further vaccinations after you buy.

7. Get your puppy to a vet as soon as possible after purchase.

I would have a vet check your puppy within 48 hours of purchase and make sure there are no visible health deficits. Also have the vet check the vaccination details and microchip details (if the pup has already had a microchip implanted).  A good breeder agree to take a puppy back if you are not happy. Do not accept an unhealthy pup because you feel sorry for it. It will just result in another unhealthy pup being bred to replace it.

8. Watch out for breeders offering more than one type of dog

This can be a classic sign of a puppy farmer. Also try to get an idea of how many pups your breeder is producing. Usually many bitches producing many pups equals less quality control. Again if you are not happy walk away. Again try to find the person with one or two bitches of a particular breed looking to improve their breed. Avoid people with multiple bitches or those who offer you a choice of breeds.

9. Timing

Timing is important – try to make sure you have some time off work to acclimatise your new puppy. Having said that, depending on the age of your puppy he/she may need to be kept in for a few weeks until vaccination courses are complete. So book your time off for when you will be able to take your puppy out and about with you.

Consider the cost

The purchase price is only the beginning of the cost of your new pet. Other costs you need to calculate are vaccinations, pet insurance, food, leads collars accessories, neutering, fencing, puppy crates, veterinary bills. Most of this will happen in year 1.

Arthritis in dogs and cats. Things you should know.

  • Arthritis is very common in older pets.
  • It is a painful condition.
  • The signs are not always easy to spot as dogs and cats are genetically programmed to hide pain.

Arthritis is caused by aging and wear and tear of joints, degenerative joint conditions, injuries. When we talk about arthritis in pets we usually are talking about osteoarthritis.

Signs to look out for in dogs

  • Difficulty rising after rest
  • Lying down or resting more than usual
  • Stiffness after exercise
  • Very slow particularly at start of a walk
  • Limping
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or getting into the car

Cats get arthritis too. Because cats are small and agile they are better able to cover up the signs. Because you know your cat best you are well placed to spot this condition

  • Reluctance to jump up or down from furniture/ through the cat flap
  • Watch for a cat that is sleeping more and is stiffening up
  • Look out for scruffy matted coat.
  • Changes in behaviour – often cats with arthritis are less tolerant around people.

What you can do at home to help

  • Maintain activity – try to continue with gentle exercise in dogs- just don’t over do it.
  • Make food, litter trays, beds etc. easily accessible to dogs and cats.
  • Get the best most comfy bed you can afford.
  • Avoid slippy floors for dogs, and keep them from going upstairs.
  • Control their weight.

What your vet can do to help

  • x-rays can be used for diagnosis.
  • Arthritis is a painful condition – so your vet may want to prescribe medications that relieve inflammation in the joints and relieve pain.
  • Joint supplements can be helpful.
  • Special diets are useful.
  • Sometimes surgery can be helpful – dogs can have hip replacements, they are expensive and they require a specialist but they can be done!

Costs for arthrititis medications vary widely – however for an average dog weighing 20kg medication would probably cost about €25 per month, perhaps another 10 -12 euro on supplements and maybe special diets. Add to this the cost of check ups and blood tests.

In our clinic if we have a patient with severe arthritis we would try a wide range of treatments to help them.

Ideally for an arthritic patient we would treat with a non steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (relieves pain and inflammation in stiff and sore joints). We would also use a joint supplement Arthri-aid which helps to nourish the fluid in the joint. We would feed the dog on Hills Science Plan j/d – a prescription diet which is helpful in dogs with arthritis. We would examine the patient  twice per year and do blood tests to help assess liver and kidney function. Sometimes we will recommend swimming, hydrotherapy or surgery.

Heavier animals cost more to treat as they need more medications (medications are given by weight.) Also you could expect to visit the vet twice per year for check ups.

There is a wide variation in the severity of the condition. For worse cases more careful management is needed. You the pet owner are the best person to assess your pet as you are with them every day. Your vet will help you with a diagnoses and a treatment plan if you are concerned about arthritis in your pet.

Lungworm in dogs. A potential killer


Lung worm – could your dog be affected?

A new deadly parasite has swept across Europe and the UK and is now effecting dogs in Ireland. Angiostrongylus Vasorum is a lung worm which dogs can infect dogs. The most common symptom is coughing however infected animals can present in many different ways as we have recently seen in our own clinic.

A case of lungworm….

A 2 year old female labrador presented to us with very vague symptoms initially. She deteriorated over a few days and was brought back having had a seizure. Blood tests and chest x-rays showed no abnormalities. Poor blood clotting alerted our excellent vet Jenny to the possibility of a lungworm infection and faecal samples proved her hunch was correct. Luckily our labrador made a great recovery – however this could have been fatal and it is so easy for vets to miss this condition as it imitates many others.  We have seen other suspect cases. There have been a number of deaths reported due to Angiostrongylus in Ireland over the past few years. It is possible that wetter warmer summers have increased the slug and snail population increasing incidence of this disease… read on…

How dogs get lungworm…

The most common route for lungworm infection in dogs is through eating slugs and snails that are carrying the worm. Often ingestion is accidental and dogs can become infected by ingesting slime from a slug or snail. Frogs are another potential carrier of this parasite.

The slug or snail is digested by the dog and this releases lungworm larvae into the intestine. The larvae goes through several moults and the adult worm works its way through the dogs body until it reaches the pulmonary blood vessels. From there its larvae make their way to the lungs where it causes most of its pathogenic effects.

Dogs with lungworm cough up larvae and then swallow them. The larvae are release into the environment from the dogs stools and from there enter into the slug and snail population – and so the cycle continues.

Signs of lungworm infection include

  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lethargy
  • Poor blood clotting
  • Behavior changes
  • Seizures

These signs can of course be caused by many other disease processes, and this is definitely something for your vet to figure out.


We have changed our worming protocol recently and are recommending to clients that they use a monthly spot on flea and worm treatment to prevent fleas, mites and lungworm.

Make sure your dog’s food bowl is washed and that there is no food left out for slugs and snails. We do not recommend using slug pellets as these are toxic to pets – so be warned!

Caring for your older dog


First question – what age is old for a dog?

That depends a lot on breed and size, as a rule of thumb giant breeds have a shorter life expectancy, most giant breed dogs will be lucky to see their 10th birthday. In general smaller dogs tend to live longer, however there are some exceptions. Generally cross bred dogs will live a little longer than pure bred dogs, and neutered dogs tend to live longer than un-neutered dogs.

We would generally consider dogs over 7-8 to be “senior” and have changing needs, while 11-12 and over would be considered geriatric patients.

Some  of the most common old dog problems are

  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Eye sight and hearing problems.
  • Dental problems
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney and liver problems
  • Heart disease

A check up once a year is advised for all pets, but it is essential for older pets. It is the equivalent of visiting your doctor every 7 years. Some senior dogs will require health checks every 6 months or more often depending on their problems.

Important things to look out for….


Is your pet stiff, sore or slow to get up after rest, lame or reluctant to exercise – any of these signs could indicate arthritis. Arthritis is extremely common in older pets. It is often a painful condition, however a dog’s instinct is to mask pain rather than to show it – so you need to know what to look out for.

If you suspect your dog has arthritis there are lots of things you can do to help, these include pain/anti-inflammatory medication (need a trip to the vet), joint supplements, special food (we are seeing great results a new prescription diet from Hills (j/d).  Weight loss also can be of massive benefit to dogs with arthritis and can reduce the amount of medication required. Typically if we diagnose arthritis in your dog we will give a programme of treatment to help keep him or her pain free and mobile. We also recommend regular blood tests for dogs that are on long term arthritis medication.


Cancer is common complaint in older dogs – keep an eye out for lumps and bumps and get them checked out early. Mammary cancer is common in females  – however neutering your pet early in life greatly reduces the chances of this. Neutered male dogs are less likely to suffer from prostate problems, and obviously neutering eliminates testicular cancer. Skin lumps can very in severity, many are harmless however some can be very serious.

Ears and Eyes

Ear infections are very common in dogs. Many older dogs can suffer from chronic infections and inflammation in their ears. Check ears regularly, watch for scratching, head shaking, red skin inside the ears, or ears that smell or discharge. Regular cleaning is advisable, particularly for dogs with long floppy ears.

Naturally the sight begins to fail in older dogs. Often this is irreversible however there are many changes that can be prevented. Dry eye (a failure to produce enough tears), glaucoma (increased pressure in the eye) and cataracts can be treated if detected early. Diabetic dogs are very prone to cataracts.

Heart problems

Certain breeds such as Cavalier King Charles and Doberman are prone to cardiac conditions. However any dog can develop heart problems. It is relatively rare for dogs to get heart attacks, a slower type of heart failure is more common. Symptoms of heart disease in the dog include coughing, reduced ability to exercise, breathing difficulty, swollen abdomen. Vets will diagnose heart disease on clinical exam as well as with x-ray and ultrasound (echocardiogram). Although heart disease and heart failure is bad news for dogs, recent improvements in medicines mean that dogs with heart disease have much improved quality of life and live longer. Always get your pets heart checked at their annual vaccination.

Diabetes (mellitus)

Common in dogs. Signs include include increase appetite coupled with weight loss. Also these dogs tend to drink loads and urinate more. If your dog appears to have lost toilet training diabetes could be the cause. Diabetic dogs frequently suffer from cataracts. Diabetes is treatable, however treatment does require a lot of commitment.

Kidney and Liver problems.

Symptoms can include excessive thirst, decreased appetite and weight loss. If suspected your vet will require blood and urine tests to confirm diagnosis. Ultrasound or x-rays can be helpful also. Prognosis varies with stage of disease.


About 40% of older pets are obese. Exacerbate heart disease and arthritis and can lead to diabetes. If you are concerned about your pets weight talk to your vet nurse. She can start a weight loss programme.


Bad breath? Have a look at the teeth – if you went 12 years without brushing your teeth you’d need a trip to the dentist too! In general many dental work will require a general anaesthetic in your pet. Don’t worry anaesthetics are very safe, even in the older pet.

Ho w to help your pet at home ….

Remember old age is not a disease – if your animal is behaving differently there may be something wrong and there may be lots of things you can do to help.

Food – you are what you eat. Dogs, cats and rabbits are living longer now due to better nutrition. There are prescription diets available for arthritis, kidney disease, liver disease and weight loss.

Around the house – changing needs – you may need to change the environment. Bedding, crucial – take a look at where its positioned, make sure it is soft and comfortable, big beds for old arthritic dogs and cats so that they don’t have to curl up too tight.

Flooring – slippery floors are a nightmare for arthritic dogs. Also investing in a few stair gates or a car ramp can make life that bit easier.

If your dog is blind – don’t move furniture about keep things the same. I would walk him along the same route every day. Leave different textured mats before steps etc – he will feel them under his feet and this way he will know his way about. Make sure he has a tag on his collar saying “ I am blind” and also with his address on it.

Grooming – older pets may not be able to groom themselves so well and fur can become matted causing skin problems. This is an area where you can give some extra care.

An annual trip to the vet for an older pet is the equivalent of a trip to the doctor every 7 years – a very good idea…..however you must get value for money, insist that your vet checks teeth, eyes  and ears, listens to heart and lungs, weighs your pet and comments on its weight. Examines any lumps and bumps and takes notes!  If you have noted any changes in your pets behaviour let us know – it might be important!

Toilet Training and Crate Training Your Puppy


How do I toilet train my new puppy

Toilet training your puppy is all about supervision.  You need to anticipate when he needs to go and then direct him where to go.

If your puppy has just eaten, woken up or had a drink, chances are will need to eliminate. He may start to sniff about intently and this means he is probably about to go. If you suspect he needs to go I recommend wherever possible bring him straight outside  to where you want him to go. He will usually go after you let him out of his training crate. If you can’t bring him outside then paper training is a good second choice.

The best way to ensure adequate supervision is to crate train him. There are other methods of training but I found crate training to be by far the best.

What if my puppy goes and I am not there?

There is no point in scolding your puppy for urinating or defecating indoors unless you catch him in the act.  If you come into a room where the puppy has defecated an hour ago, give out to him and rub his nose in it you will just make him nervous.  A puppy should always be greeted enthusiastically when he comes bounding up to you.  He will make no connection between relieving himself and you being angry with him an hour later. He will just get the impression that if he is left alone you will return and rub his nose in pooh! This makes him nervous.

So what is crate training?

A crate is a small enclosure for your puppy that he will see as his “den”. There  is just enough room for his bed, some toys and a bowl of water. Your puppy will not want to urinate or defecate in his bed so if at all possible he will hold on until he is let out.  I would recommend introducing your puppy to his crate slowly. Put his bed in there, and some chew toys and let him wander in and out. Once he becomes accustomed to his crate you can confine him for longer periods.

Whenever you let him out of his crate you can bring him straight outside and give him the command “get busy”. Ignore him until he goes to the toilet and then heap him with praise. Your puppy will be toilet trained in no time.

Crate training is can be helpful in many other ways for your puppy. It is useful for house safety and to prevent destructive behaviour.  If you are supervising your puppy and for example he tries to get into the rubbish bin you can tell him “No” distract him with a loud noise, or draw his attention to something else. If you are not present when he tries to get into the bin he may get a reward of some left overs for his bad behaviour! This behaviour will then be repeated! If you don’t catch him in the act there is no point in giving out to him for making a mess one hour later – he will have forgotten what he has done at that stage.  So while he is still being trained what is right and wrong restrict him to his crate or to outside when you cannot supervise him.

Is it not cruel to put my dog in a cage?

Young puppies can sleep for as much as 16 hours per day. Leaving them confined for short periods is not cruel, provided that they are released frequently to relieve themselves, they get sufficient time and attention to play and exercise. Most of the time your puppy spends in his crate he will be asleep. Leave him some toys to entertain himself. Your puppy will see his crate as his den, if you leave it open he will probably wander in himself when he needs to sleep, or when he wants some quiet time! You should not put him in his crate as a punishment.

What if he barks and cries when he is put in his cage?

If when you first close your puppy into his crate he starts to whine and bark the best thing to do is ignore him. Wait until he settles down then let him out. This way he will learn to settle quicker. If you let him straight back out he will learn to bark and whine and you (and your neighbours)  may have a problem on your hands. Remember behaviour that is rewarded will be repeated.

Do make sure that if your puppy has been in his crate for a while that if he starts barking he is not trying to tell you that he needs to go outside!

Will he need his crate forever?

Overtime when is toilet trained and he is house trained you will need the crate less and less. I always keep it handy if I bring the dogs to visit friends. This way they have a home from home! Dogs that are crate trained always cope well if they have to come into a veterinary hospital or if they are in boarding kennels.

Socialising Your Puppy


Puppies go thorough a critical period of socialisation between eight and 16 weeks of age. During this period of time they mature very rapidly. If isolated from external stimuli and not exposed to the outside world, they can grow up to be fearful adult dogs.

Litters of puppies raised in an isolated location such as a barn, a garage or an isolated dog kennel often have little exposure to humans except those feeding them. If puppies never leave their confined, isolated quarters where they have been raised, they may never experience any external stimuli such as automobiles, strangers, loud noises or children running and playing.

Poorly socialised puppies can also result when they have been raised in the wild by an abandoned, female dog. If these puppies are fortunate enough to be discovered by a human and receive handling while still very young, they have a better chance to trust humans and be less fearful. If they receive no human handling before they are 16 weeks of age, they may grow up to be very fearful adult dogs that are not acceptable family pets.

If puppies are not socialised at an early enough age, it makes little difference if they have been raised by a breeder, a private family or in a vacant building; the outcome will usually be the same. Puppies that receive little or no human handling between the ages of eight and 16 weeks of age often remain fearful when exposed to new situations. Meeting their new family for the first time, the car ride to their new home, their first trip to the vet, and meeting children, strangers or other dogs for the first time can be extremely frightening for these puppies.

We will never be able to affect puppies raised in the wild by an abandoned dog or by breeders who don’t know how important it is to socialise their puppies. What we can do is not allow our emotions to override good, rational thinking when making a decision about which puppy will make the best family pet. If you feel sorry for and want to select the shy puppy that avoids eye contact and doesn’t want to be picked up, you may be setting yourself up for future problems.

How can we make sure the puppy we purchase will be well-socialised and become a good fit for our family? When surveying a puppy or litter of puppies more than 16 weeks of age that have had little human handling and are very shy and fearful, realise that they may always remain somewhat shy and fearful. If handled with kindness, patience and love, some of these puppies may learn to trust their family members but still remain somewhat fearful of strangers. A puppy acquired at eight weeks of age is more likely to become a well-adjusted family pet than one adopted at 16 weeks of age.

Acquiring a puppy prior to eight weeks of age can also create problems. These puppies miss out on important interactions that take place with other puppies in the litter. A puppy selected too young may miss out on the consequences of biting a littermate too hard. This puppy’s new owners will then pay the price when it bites them too hard while playing. Eight weeks of age is the ideal time for a puppy to adjust to a new home.

How do we get our puppies socialised so they grow up to be well-adjusted, adult dogs that are comfortable meeting strangers, children and other dogs? The key is to make sure your puppy gets exposed to everything he may ever be exposed to during his lifetime, while he is very young. The critical age of socialisation is between eight and 16 weeks of age. If not exposed to new situations during this critical period, your puppy may always be fearful when exposed to new things in the future.

After you have chosen your new puppy and had it examined by your vet, you can begin to expose it to new things. Your puppy will not have had all his vaccinations yet, but you may still take him to a family or neighbour’s home to expose him to children or friendly, vaccinated dogs. If you have small children, dogs or cats in your family, you are fortunate. Your puppy will become accustomed to the screaming and active play behaviour of children and will be exposed to other pets.

If you are a single adult, a couple without children or a senior citizen, you will have to go out of your way to expose your puppy to children of all ages. You can invite well-mannered children into your home to have supervised play with your new puppy. If you don’t know anyone with small children, you can often find families with children at local parks. Keep some tasty treats available for the children to give your puppy so he associates them with food rewards.

When you have visitors come to your home, when the mailman delivers mail or the deliveryman brings packages, do the same thing. Give them a dog treat; have them make your puppy sit, and then give the puppy the treat for sitting. This will teach the puppy if he sits for strangers he will be rewarded. This is an excellent way to prevent your puppy from jumping up on people. Your puppy will also learn that visitors will come bearing gifts, instead of being something to bark at and to protect the family from.

Enrolling your puppy in a puppy kindergarten or a puppy training class will have many benefits. This will be a way to take your puppy out of the house once a week where he will be exposed to many new situations during a critical period of socialisation. Be sure to choose a puppy training class where the emphasis is on having fun and meeting new puppies and their owners. Instructors should use only a buckle-type collar and never a choker or pinch collar. Basic training using praise and food rewards for motivation will make you and your puppy enjoy going to class.

Choosing the correct puppy for you and your family that fits your particular life-style is critical. Exposing your new puppy to pleasant experiences such as strangers, children and other dogs between eight and 16 weeks of age, is critical to having a well-adjusted adult dog.

Puppy Biting


Puppies bite. This is not a form of aggression, but a form of play and communication. It’s important to train a puppy not to bite in play or to communicate, as this behavior can become unacceptable and even dangerous in an adult dog. This is a very important lesson for a puppy to learn.

For many puppies, all it takes is the owner “Yiping” when puppy teeth touch human skin for them to stop this behavior. Give a “Yipe!” and stop the game for about 15 minutes after you’ve had to yipe to get pup to take teeth off you. That’s what another puppy would do, and it helps the puppy understand.

This sound needs to be what a puppy would do when the idea is “Ouch! That hurts! I don’t like it! Stop it right now!”

In the litter, that offended puppy would then retaliate in some way, or refuse to play with the rough puppy for awhile. Some puppies have strong predatory instincts that are overstimulated when a person yipes, and for these puppies this would then not be an appropriate method.

Also, make sure no one is playing “mouth games” with the puppy, encouraging it to put teeth on humans for any reason. You need to react with your “yipe” or other intervention every time teeth touch a human, whether it hurts or not, so the puppy will understand this vital concept: no teeth on people. Even a gentle touch could get someone hurt if they jerk their hand away, and people will do that, especially kids.

My favorite intervention for a dog putting teeth on people in play is not a quick fix, but it has nice benefits and is very safe to do with most dogs. I simply hold the mouth closed for 15 seconds (work up to this time–at first it might frighten the dog to hold for more than about 5 seconds), while praising the dog. I say “[Dog’s name], Close Your Mouth. GOOD Close Your Mouth!”

This teaches the dog the words for the behavior I want–and eventually you can remind the dog about the mouth by just saying those words. But that stage won’t last long, because if you are very consistent about doing this intervention every time the puppy puts teeth on people, eventually the puppy will never do so at all.

By handling the mouthing from a positive point of view with praise–although it’s still a correction: done every time the dog mouths a person’s skin, it shows the dog the correct behavior of keeping teeth off people and praises the dog for doing it–you gain other benefits, such as accustoming your dog to being comfortable having someone control its mouth.

You do have to be consistent and stay with this over a period of time to get really solid results. Dogs not taught about teeth on people do not automatically outgrow it, so this is time very well spent training your dog. This method works on adult dogs as well as puppies, and is much safer for both you and the dog than harsh corrections.

Teaching a dog never to put teeth on humans is for family dogs. For some types of work dogs might do, the trainer may not want to create this strong inhibition against putting teeth on human skin. In those cases, the trainer may manage the puppy mouthing behavior by simply putting a toy in the dog’s mouth. We can definitely take a cue from these trainers by redirecting our dogs’ mouthing behavior into their toys, after we have carefully shown the dog not to mouthe us.

I also find it useful to teach the dog the word “Kiss” for licking. When the dog is highly stimulated in play and seems to need to touch me in some manner, I can remind the dog “Kiss” and then praise the dog for licking me.

In the early stages of working on mouthing behavior with a puppy or new dog, keep in mind that you want to teach any new behavior/command in a quiet situation with minimal distractions. So start teaching “Close Your Mouth” with the praise at times when the dog is quiet. Soon you can do it quickly and smoothly whenever mouthing occurs, even if the dog is excited. But you will in the process be bringing the dog’s excitement level down and helping your dog develop self-control.

The praise is important to helping the puppy or dog learn to have no fear of a human taking control of its mouth. You are praising the puppy for accepting the restraint at that instant, not for the mouthing done 3 seconds ago.

And be sure you don’t cause your dog to bite its lips or tongue when you restrain the mouth–it should be comfortable for the dog, as it should be any time you require your dog to obey any command of yours.

Thinking of a new dog


Many people acquire a dog on impulse and later regret their decision. They discover that their chosen breed did not suit their lifestyle. It is too big or too active. It takes too much time to groom. Any animal shelter worker will tell you that the list of reasons people use when giving up their dogs goes on and on! Ultimately, when the dog is abandoned, given away, or euthanaised, it pays the price for its owner’s thoughtlessness.

Considering that animals are living creatures, potential dog owners must do extensive research to ensure they select the breed that’s right for them. Here are some things that need to be thought about.

SIZE: Do you have the space to accommodate a large dog in your home, or your backyard? Do you have the physical strength to handle a large breed? Think about the puppy as an adult. Consider how big it will get.

TIME: How much time do you have to spend with a dog? Will the dog be at home alone all day? If so, would you be willing to pay someone to walk your puppy at lunch time? Will you keep the dog in a crate, or let it run loose in your home? Do you look forward to long daily walks, or would you be happier with a lap dog? Remember that time is precious. Do you honestly have enough free time to properly train, socialise, and care for a dog?

TEMPERAMENT: Most dog breeds have natural instincts that have been bred into them for generations. Terriers, for example, like to dig. Other dogs pull. Some breeds like to run. Some dogs are instinctively protective. Do your homework and ask what characteristics are common to each breed or crossbreed. Know what you are getting into.

TRAINING: Don’t confuse willingness to learn with intelligence. Some of the most intelligent breeds can be the most challenging to train. Talk to trainers, vets, and other pet owners to find out what type of dog best suits your lifestyle, your patience quota, and your training ability.

AGE: It takes a great deal of time and patience to properly train a puppy. Bearing this in mind, if you are a busy person, a puppy may not be a wise choice. But this doesn’t mean you couldn’t provide a good home for an adult dog. Adult dogs from animal shelters or rescue societies can make fantastic pets. Best of all, it has grown to full size so you know for certain what you’re getting!

Did you know that most giant breeds actually require far less exercise than many medium-to-small breeds? Don’t fall victim to the belief that big dogs need to be in the country and need lots of exercise. Many small breeds are more hyperactive and need hours of daily exercise!

SAFETY: Can you make an informed decision that enables you to select a dog for safety? While there are many things you can do to ensure your puppy grows up to be well socialised, some personality and breed traits cannot be changed. This may present you with more problems than you are prepared to handle. Regardless of what breed of dog you choose, it is always better to be safe than sorry. Never invite disaster by leaving your dog or puppy alone with small children.

The Bitch’s Pregnancy


How long does the pregnancy last?

Pregnancy, also called the gestation period, normally ranges from 57-65 days with an average of 63 days.

With all planned matings the date of mating should be carefully recorded. If there are two matings, make a note of the exact dates and expect whelping to occur between 63 and 65 days from those dates.

Immediately after my bitch has been mated, is there anything that I should do?

Make sure that she does not have the opportunity to mate with any other dogs. Remember that oestrus (heat) will continue for another few days.

Should I alter her food?

It is important the bitch is in good condition before she is mated, neither too fat or too thin. Prior to mating it is often worth having a veterinary check up and discuss any concerns at that time.

After mating food intake should not normally be increased during the first two thirds of pregnancy, i.e. until approximately six weeks after mating. If a complete diet is being fed there is no need to use additional vitamin or mineral supplements. There is evidence that over use of these particularly, in the large and giant breeds, can have adverse effects.

What do I do after the sixth week?

After the 6th week food intake should be gradually increased and high energy, low bulk foods are useful in order that the bitch is adequately nourished without too much bulk. As the foetuses increase in size, abdominal pressure increases and therefore smaller meals, fed more often, are helpful.

During the last three weeks food intake can be increased by up to one and a half times the normal level giving small meals more frequently.

How can I be certain if my bitch is pregnant?

Positive pregnancy diagnosis in the bitch can be extremely difficult.

Ultrasound or blood test is today the method of choice. Depending on the equipment, positive diagnosis can be made from about three weeks onwards. Most scans from about 28 days onwards are reliable. However any estimate of the number of puppies should be treated with caution. Ultrasound is not very reliable in this respect.

X-rays are relatively accurate during the last two weeks of pregnancy.

Should I change her routine as pregnancy advances?

As pregnancy progresses intra abdominal pressure increases together with food requirements. Therefore the number of meals rather than the quantity per meal has to be increased. Exercise most bitches determine themselves. This depends on the number of puppies and the amount of intra abdominal pressure. Do not over exercise. Check for any discharges etc and if at all concerned, do not hesitate to contact your vet.

New Puppy


Before you get your puppy we suggest you pop down to your nearest clinic to pick up some puppy food and some treats and toys to help it settle in.
The first step to take when you get a new pup is to allow a few days for it to adjust to its new surroundings and also for you to become acquainted with your new pup’s health status. After a few days, you should bring your puppy to your nearest Veterinary clinic to be checked by the Vet. At this stage you will be advised on all aspects of your puppy’s welfare and health care. This is the most important stage of your puppy’s life as the way you start your health care is the way you should plan to continue. Below are brief descriptions of the essentials that you need to be aware of when beginning with a new puppy. Further information can be found on our separate factsheets or simply asking any one of our staff, after all that is what we are here for.

  1. Vaccinations: The vaccination course for puppies can start at 6 weeks of age and ends at 10-12 weeks of age with their adult shots. Puppies should not be allowed access to public areas e.g. parks until after this. Puppies are vaccinated for Parvovirus, Distemper, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis and Parainfluenza. Annual boosters are given thereafter to maintain immunity.  These are all fatal diseases and vaccination is the only effective prevention.
  2. Worming: Most puppies have roundworms. The most obvious sign of this is a puppy with a potbelly. These worms are harmful to children and can cause blindness. We recommend that you treat puppies every 2 weeks until 12 weeks of age, then every month until 6 months old and thereafter every 3 months.
  3. Feeding: This is a vital aspect of your puppy’s health and is important to start on a right footing from an early stage. There is a huge range on foodstuffs available both tinned and dry, of variable quality. We strongly advocate the feeding of dry foods over tinned food. The quality of the food that you choose is very important and will determine your puppy’s overall development.
  4. Neutering: We recommend neutering for male and female dogs not intended for breeding. There is a lot of misinformation about neutering. This should be discussed with the vet at the time of vaccination. It is important to be fully and correctly informed as to the effects of neutering. We recommend, if you don’t intend breeding, that all bitches be neutered either before their first heat when they are six months of age. The time of first heat ranges from between 6 – 10 months. There is no evidence of temperament change, although neutered bitches (especially larger breeds) can put on weight if their diet and exercise is not properly monitored. Neutering your bitch will reduce the incidence of breast cancer to 0.5%, eliminate womb infections, false and unwanted pregnancies. Their life expectancy is also extended. Neutering male dogs reduces aggression, wandering, mounting and urine marking. The incidence of prostate problems and anal tumours is also reduced.
  5. Training: One of the most important parts of owning a pet. Training starts at day 1. House training and toilet training are the first things you will train your dog. We recommend also teaching your dog some basic obedience, at least sit, stay, down and leave it! One of the most important things to teach your puppy is to come when it is called. See our training fact sheets for more information.