Bull Mastiffs

The Bull Mastiff is a big, strong, intelligent dog that was originally bred from an English Mastiff and an Old English Bulldog in the 19th Century. Gamekeepers used them on large estates to help keep them free of poachers.

Even though Bull Mastiffs are big dogs they are sensitive, loving and can make good family pets because they are very loyal and protective.  They are great with children and will watch over them as well as being an excellent guardian of the home.  Bull Mastiffs are generally quiet and rarely bark, however, if they sense a possible threat they will make a lot of noise and will raise the alarm.  They are very territorial so will make natural guard dogs and they will protect you with their life.

When you read about Bull Mastiffs they sound wonderful. They are laid back, unless there is danger, faithful, eager to please, fearless and have unconditional love for people. However, there is one BIG messy downside………………SLOBBER!

These dogs are well known for their drool and slobber so you will need to have an old towel or rag in every room of the house. Also, have a few spare ones near the front door so you can give them to visitors who enter your home.  They do not discriminate when it comes to sharing the slobber.

Due to their size and stubborn nature, Bull Mastiffs need training from early on before they get too big. They need to be trained not to pull on the lead.  Also, it is good to socialise it with other dogs at an early age so it develops into a reliable and well behaved dog.

bull mastiff dog

Health Issues

As with most dogs there are certain types of hereditary problems associated with this breed such as Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Entropion, Hypothyroidism, Lymphoma Cancer, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Arthritis and Bloat.

For more information on some of these issues we have other blogs on our website and also our health advice pages. The links are below.  Also, as well as our main Facebook page we have a sister page which relates to our Orthopaedic Services and covers issues such as Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia.  Click here and it will take you directly to the page. Please click the “like” button so you can keep up to date with information about the subject.

If you have any questions about this please give us a call at the clinic where someone will be able to help you. Alternatively, you can leave a question on our Facebook page

Blog Links

Hyp Dysplasia Part 1 – Click HERE

Hyp Dysplasia Part 2 – Click HERE

Elbow Dysplasia – Click HERE

Cruciate Ligament Rupture – Click HERE

Arthritis – Click HERE

Bloat – Click HERE

Dogs and Car Travel

If you own a dog then you may, at some point, have to put him/her in a car. Whether it’s a trip to the vets or a longer journey there are several things to consider when it comes to the safety and comfort of your best friend.

Harnesses, Guards and Crates

We wear seatbelts and we make sure our kids are safely secured too. The same should apply to your dog.  They might be well behaved and sit quietly on the back seat. However, if you need to brake suddenly or if you bump your car, they could be thrown forward and get injured.  In a more serious bumb they could become a missile that will shoot forward and injure any of the people in the front of the car.

When deciding how to secure your dog, there are several choices available:

Dog Guard – This is a mesh which can be fitted between the boot and the back seat. This stops the dog from climbing over the seats. However, it doesn’t offer as much protection as your dog will not be protected from impact with the rear or side windows.  They need to be sturdy and properly secured in place to be effective as protection in case of accidents.

Crate – If you are going to put your dog in a crate you need to ensure, firstly, your car is big enough to hold it and secondly, the crate is big enough for your dog.  You need to make sure your dog is able to stand at full height and there is room for them to turn around and lie down in a normal position.  Make sure the dog can see out of the container and there is enough ventilation.  Also, by adding bedding to the crate it will help prevent the dog from slipping around.

Harness – If your dog is too big for a crate or you would prefer another option, then it’s worth considering a padded car harness that secures your dog by linking in with the seat belt system. Make sure to measure your dog to make sure you get the right size.  We have read these are not entirely safe as the straps can dig into the dog’s skin during an accident.

By choosing one of these options, it will ensure your pet has a safer journey. However, there are still other things to consider if you are going on a long journey:

Before putting the dog into the car, make sure they have exercised beforehand. This will help them settle as they will have burned off some excess energy.

Some dogs get motion sickness/car sick. If you know you are going on a long journey, don’t feed them before you travel. Leave it a couple of hours. Also, don’t give them food whilst travelling.  Keep them calm and give them a new toy to play with so it takes their mind off being in the car. If this is a problem then we do have medications that can assist with travel sickness and ease their stress.

Make sure you have plenty of water and take regular stops so your dog can stretch its legs.

Don’t let your dog stick its head out of the window.  It could result in injury. We have had dogs at the clinic that have done this and have had particles or small stones flicked up by tyres  that shoot into their eyes.  Also, some dogs may try to jump out.

Very Importantly, do not leave your dog in the car, especially on a hot day.  Whilst in the car, ensure the dog is not in direct sunlight.  Leaving a window open a crack is not sufficient as the inside of the car can get very hot and every year dogs die unnecessarily because they have overheated in cars.

These are a few hints and tips which we hope you will find useful. If you want more information, please call us at the clinic or leave a message on our Facebook page and someone will get back to you.

A close call at Christmas

One of the joys of having a dog is their playfulness. When they are happy and bounding around it cannot fail to put a smile on your face. However there are rare occasions where their exuberance can result with an injury.

Just before Christmas we had had an incident where a dog was bought in with a Christmas decoration lodged in its eye.  We spoke to owner to find out what happened.

Ruby 4

Ruby1

My wife and I were preparing for Christmas by getting all of the decorations from storage in the garage. Our chocolate Labrador, Ruby (always inquisitive), also joined us in the garage. However, she just got in the way. We shooed her out but unfortunately she knocked against a crate holding decorations and a branch type decoration that had eye loops at the end caught her on the head as she was moving out and the end lodged into her left eye socket. She darted away yelping loudly through my wife’s legs and the free end of the decoration caught in her trousers causing the decoration to become firmly hooked into Ruby’s eye lid. I then grabbed Ruby securely holding her to prevent her paws from aggravating the injury, whilst my wife unhooked the decoration from her trousers. My wife ran to get the pliers from my tool box in the kitchen. I cut the decoration to remove the majority of it. We were unable to remove the wire that was firmly fixed in Ruby’s eye lid. We then got ourselves ready and departed to the vets.


Ruby 2When Ruby was bought in Kim Woods, the duty vet, could see the 2 inch piece of metal poking out from the dog’s eye. Kim quickly realised it was hooked under her upper eyelid. As Ruby was quite distressed she was sedated and Kim had to cut the metal piece further as it was so curved and manoeuvring it further would have risked damage to the eye. Kim managed to get the piece of metal out but it left a hole in the conjunctiva, however, this healed well with the aid of antibiotics and pain relief. Luckily and almost unbelievably the eye itself was undamaged and there should be no permanent effects from this close call.

 

 

Ruby 3Ruby 5Over Christmas and New Year we have had to deal with many different types of pet injuries. They have been bought in to us inside and outside of normal working hours. Luckily, as we offer a true 24 hour service, our own vets and in-house nurses have been able to help no matter what time of day or night it has been. We think this is an important service as the pets and owners deal with people they know and trust.  Remember, if you and your pet need us we will be here for you 24 hours a day 365 days a year.

Labradoodles

iStock_000003966207_Large (1)What a great name that is! As most people know Labradoodles were created by crossing a Labrador retriever and a standard poodle. However, not a lot of people know they were originally bred to be used as guide dogs for people who are allergic to fur.  The idea was to combine the low shedding coat of the Poodle with the trainability of the Labrador. However, the experiment didn’t work and out of the first litter of pups only one passed the allergy test.

There is a myth that Labradoodles are hypoallergenic, however this is not true.  This is due to the unpredictable variations in their coats. It can be anything from wiry, soft, straight, curly or wavy.  No dog is allergy friendly, but poodles are a safer option as they are a low shedding breed.

iStock_000009396815_LargeGenerally, Labradoodles possess the gentle disposition of the Labrador and the intelligence and bounciness of the Poodle.  They are great with kids and for people who have special needs.  They are also highly intelligent, non-aggressive dogs that are easy to train. However, they will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation.

Although most Labradoodles are healthy, they can suffer from certain congenital health problems associated with both parent breeds. Labradors are susceptible to hip dysplasia and other joint problems. Labs are also at risk of developing eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts and retinal dysplasia. Poodles could develop problems such as hip dysplasiapatellar luxations, progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and seizures.  As with all dogs, make sure you see your vet as soon as possible if your dog shows any signs of eyesight problems

If you look online and in the papers you will see many adverts and sites selling Labradoodle puppies. However, the majority of these will not have checked the health of the breeding dogs and/or the pups. Sadly, it will all about the money rather than the wellbeing and future health of the puppies.  If you are looking to buy a Labradoodle puppy we would recommend you do your homework and only buy from a reputable company.  The breeders should be able to supply documentation to show the health checks the parents and pups have had and will be able to offer information and advice about the possible health issues mentioned above. Also, it may be worth asking what generation of Labradoodle they are. For example, if they are pups from a Lab and a poodle or if they are bred from two Labradoodles.

If you are getting a Labradoodle or already have one we recommend your vet regularly checks them to ensure any issues are spotted at the earliest opportunity.

As always, if you need advice about buying a pup or if you have a Labradoodle and want more information  about any of the health problems  please call  the clinic or leave a question on our Facebook page

A white labradoodle flops his tongue out while looking at the camera
A white labradoodle flops his tongue out while looking at the camera

 

Cruciate Ligament Rupture

Like us, dogs have knees and there are two ligaments that help to hold and stabilise the knee joint. These ligaments are the cranial (anterior) cruciate and the caudal (posterior) cruciate and they cross over one another within the knee joint helping to secure the thigh bone, knee cap and shin bone together. Sometimes these ligaments tear and this is called a rupture.  When the tear occurs the tibia moves freely from under the femur and it is this movement and rubbing that causes the pain. You will probably have seen athletes or sportsmen or women pull up suddenly and be in considerable pain after a ligament has ruptured. It is very similar for dogs and they will usually show lameness in a rear leg.  Whilst not life threatening, it is extremely painful and needs immediate veterinary treatment. Failing to get treatment can cause arthritic changes that can lead to long term lameness.

So what causes a cruciate ligament to rupture and what can you do to help prevent it?

Sometimes it is just their sheer athleticism and over exuberance that can cause the tear. Healthy dogs might land wrongly from a jump, turn too quickly or just over stretch. Overweight dogs are at greater risk due to the excess weight carried and weakened joints. Over time degenerative forces acting on the knee joint can also lead to a tear.  Certain breeds are more prone to cruciate rupture so it is likely genetics play a part too.

So what will your vet do?

Initially your dog will be examined in a consultation and the vet will manipulate the leg to try to establish exactly where the pain is happening. Watching how your dog walks (its gait) will also assist in making a diagnosis for a cranial rupture. If your vet thinks it is a cranial rupture they will likely manipulate the femur and tibia to check for instability. Something they will look for is a cranial draw sign where the tibia moves forward independently of the femur. Also, a test called the tibial thrust will be performed. If the signs are not clear then your dog may need to have x-rays .

In the majority of cases cruciate injuries will require surgery, but your vet may consider a more conservative option first  with pain relief, anti inflammatory drug medication and a number of weeks of cage rest. The most common surgical treatment at Cherrydown is a TPLO (Tibial Plateau Levelling Osteotomy) which is conducted by our orthopaedic specialist J.B. Lefebvre. It is a complex operation and involves altering how the knee joint works to allow it to function without the cruciate ligament. During the operation the tibial plateau is rotated and a metal plate inserted to keep the bone in its new position. Over several weeks and with the dog restricted to cage rest only, the bone will heal into the new position. Following cage rest, further examination and x-rays will be required to make sure the surgery was a success and the joint is healing properly. Successful surgery is usually long lasting and dogs can go on to lead a normal active life.

What are the costs?

Where surgery is required there are considerable costs involved due to the complexity of the operation. If complications occur this will add to that cost. At Cherrydown we aim to cap surgery prices in advance and you will be given a fixed price to better enable you to manage your finances. If you are a client of Cherrydown and your pet is insured then you may be eligible for Direct Insurance* where we will foot the bill until your insurance company pays out. Typically a TPLO operation will cost between £2500 and £3000 and this is one of the reasons we strongly recommend that pets are insured and that the policy will cover at least this amount. Cruciate ligament ruptures, hip and elbow dysplasia and fractures are fairly frequent occurrences among dogs and each of these can cost a significant amount for treatment. Without insurance would you be able to meet the cost to give your best friend the best chance of a full recovery?

Big Dog – Training and Socialising your Big Dog

Dogs are a lot of fun. They can be loving, energetic, mischievous, playful and can make you cry with laughter at some of the things they get up to. But equally, without the right training, socialisation & stimuli, they can be aggressive, destructive or fearful.

Training and Socialisation are two of the most important things you can do with your dog to make sure they fit into your life and that of your family.

Different breeds have different attributes and these need to be researched carefully before deciding which to get. Why do you want the dog? Who will it be around? Where will it be living and are there other pets there are all important factors when choosing your dog and training it.

Socialisation is the process by which a puppy learns how to recognise and interact with living things i.e. other dogs, people, cats etc. By learning how to interact with other animals the socialised dog develops important communication skills. If getting an older dog, it is important to know it’s background, any training it has already had and the sort of environment it is used to.

Habituation is a process by which the puppy becomes accustomed to environmental stimuli i.e. non living things e.g. cars, washing machines etc.

The most effective socialisation period is at ages 3-12 weeks. This is also known as the sensitive period. Appropriate experiences with people, dogs and the environment are essential during this 3-12 week period if your puppy is to develop into a suitable pet. Failure to receive this experience is a major cause of behavioural problems in dogs later in life.

The importance of socialisation in dogs has been shown in a number of experiments. One such experiment kept puppies in isolation and were introduced to people at staggered intervals:

-puppies introduced for the first time between 3 and 5 weeks were fine

-puppies introduced between 5 and 7 weeks showed increasing apprehension.

-puppies introduced at 9 weeks were completely fearful

-puppies kept in isolation until 14 weeks behaved like wild animals

Similar experiments have shown a similar time scale is applicable for habituation.

Training from an early age is also essential and the earlier you begin with simple commands, the quicker and easier they will pick it up. Training can be made fun and part of play where your dog can also learn basic social skills. This can progress to formal training at one of the many recognised dog training schools. Exercise and walks can also be used for training. Making sure your dog walks to heel and won’t dart off and drag you off balance are simple skills that they can easily be taught. Releasing a ball, sitting or laying down are things that can be practised in the home in a fun way that will benefit both you and your dog.

 

Big Dog – Is getting a big dog the right decision for you?

When we talk about a big dog, we are thinking of the following – GSD, Rotties, Doberman, Great Dane, Wolfhound, Mastiff types, Bull Dogs, Bull Terriers- English and Staffie, Labradors and a few others.

The first consideration when getting any dog is whether you have really thought the decision through carefully.

Dogs undoubtedly make wonderful companions but can you genuinely answer YES to all the following questions:

  1. Do you have time for a dog? Dogs (and particularly puppies) require an enormous amount of time and patience from their new owners. House-training, grooming, socialising, training, feeding, exercising etc take a long time to achieve. These are most successfully achieved if someone is with the dog most of the day at home. If you want a puppy and it is going to be on its own 8 hours a day while everybody is at work, then think again.
  2. Does everyone in the home want a dog?
  3. Can you afford a big dog? After the cost of buying the dog, there are feeding costs, veterinary costs, vaccinations, flea and worm control, bedding, toys, boarding kennels, collars and leads, training classes etc. Getting a big dog will be more costly than getting a smaller one in almost every way, are you prepared for this?
  4. Can you provide a safe and secure home for, possibly, 15 years plus? Remember, circumstances can easily change so think long and hard about this one.
  5. Have you fully researched what owning a large dog entails by speaking to other owners, visiting shows, talking to breeders/vets/dog trainers.
  6. Have you considered what breed to get? Some are better with children than others, some do not like being left alone & can suffer separation anxiety, some are more prone to certain medical conditions while others require more exercise or grooming.

A big dog comes with a big responsibility, but thankfully as with children, the enjoyment you get from a dog can make it all worthwhile. Owning a dog can be very rewarding,  help to keep you healthier and add another aspect to your social life. Training classes  and walks are a great way to meet like-minded people, swap stories, tips and ideas. 

Breed related diseases in Dogs – Labrador

Breed related diseases in Dogs.

Welcome to our new series of blogs on breed related disease in pedigree dogs. Unfortunately, certain pedigree dogs are prone to certain diseases. We thought these guides would be helpful for people who own the breeds so that they can be more aware of some of the diseases their pet may suffer from and will be able to pick up the symptoms of disease more rapidly. We also thought they would be useful for people thinking of buying a specific breed so that they can be aware of some of the problems that may exist.

Please note that this is not an exhaustive list of all the diseases that each breed can get- just the more common ones that we see regularly.

So, to start with, let’s look at the Labrador Retriever:

  • Allergic skin disease including Atopy and Food allergies
  • Hip dysplasia (animals used for breeding should be screened for)
  • Elbow dysplasia (animals used for breeding should be screened for)
  • OCD of hock and shoulder
  • Cruciate ligament rupture
  • Lipomas
  • Entropion
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital eye defects such as Generalise progressive retinal atrophy (animals used for breeding should be screened)
  • Laryngeal paralysis
  • Ectopic ureters

If you have any questions about any of the above, please feel free to contact the staff to discuss them.