Making It Through Winter: Occupying Your Dog Until Spring

People may say they find it difficult to keep their kids occupied and busy all the way through winter, but it’s even harder when you’ve got a dog! Energetic and playful, many dogs tend to need a lot of exercise and stimulation so they don’t make your life hell. Here are some tips on how to keep them busy through winter when you can’t take them out quite as much…


Even if you think you’ve already trained your dog, chances are that only means that they’re housebroken, that they can walk nicely on a leash, and that they sit on command. If you have enough space in your home then you can practise any tricks there. You could teach your dog how to give high fives, how to roll over and how to play dead. Honestly, staying inside in the winter is pretty boring for all of us, not just dogs – teaching them tricks is a great way for you to have some winter fun too! Invest in some toys from as a reward for great behaviour.

Keep Your Dog Warm


It’s a good idea to invest in a coat for your dog, particularly if she’s small. During the coldest weather, you could also get her to wear boots – touch the ground and imagine how you’d feel if you had to walk barefoot on snow and ice! The pads on dogs’ feet are very sensitive so you need to make sure that you protect them. When you get home from walks, make sure that your dog’s feet are dry and that you give her ample time to warm up. You should also make sure that your dog’s sleeping environment is as cozy as possible. Even if she’s an outside dog, put fleecy blankets and a heater inside the kennel, and make sure it’s insulated well.

Feed Your Dog Well


Your dog may gain a little weight over winter, because he needs to cultivate an extra layer of fat to keep warm while it’s cold out. First of all, yes, you could also use this an excellent excuse as to why you’ve piled on a few pounds over the festive season – and second of all, it’s okay to feed your dog a little more over the winter, although you should make sure that you aren’t overfeeding him. Make sure you monitor his weight and that clean water is provided at all times so he doesn’t get dehydrated.

Go Hiking


Use your dog as an excuse to get yourself and your family out of the house. Your dog needs exercise and so do you – but your dog will be a whole lot more vocal about getting it than you and the rest of your family are. Wrap yourself up warm – include the dog in that, and buy him or her a doggy coat! – and go to your nearest open space or hiking spot for a bit of recreational walking. You could even let your dog off the leash for a while if she has good recall – she might be a lot easier to spot in the undergrowth if it’s been snowing than she usually is!

Setting Up A Veterinary Practice – Key Things To Bear In Mind

Setting up vet practice

There are all sorts of reasons why someone might want to set up their own veterinary practice. It might be that you have seen so much poor practice, and you would like to change things for the better. Or maybe you have the funding already secured, and you would like to put it towards something useful. Whatever your core motivation, setting up a practice of this kind is not something to do lightly. There is a lot to take on board if you want to get it right, and it goes without saying that you do. If you are thinking about it, however, then this might help. Let’s have a think about some of the main aspects involved in setting up a veterinary practice.


Probably the most important element of all is the staffing. After all, without decent staff, the practice might as well not exist. As with any medical practice, the quality of the staff takes precedence above all else. That’s why this is the first thing you should think about when you are getting into this. A good rule of thumb is to spend a long time on the recruitment process, as this will make it more likely that you end up with the right people. You want staff whom you can ultimately trust, and who are passionate about their work. This is a strong foundation for any practice.


Of course, it does make a considerable difference where your practice will actually be located. This is particularly true if your practice is going to be taking emergency calls as well. You ideally want to find somewhere which is relatively central to your local area. Being too far out of the way can make it difficult for people to find you – no good in an emergency. However, being too much in the thick of it can mean poor health for the animals. You don’t necessarily want to be in a city centre either! Choose your location well, as it will be a long time before you can change it or upgrade it to somewhere better.


Before you even open the clinic, you need to spread the word about it. Without a decent amount of promotion, you can’t reasonably expect people to use your practice. And if nobody uses it, then it is unlikely that you will stay open for very long. Promoting a veterinary practice might seem like a difficult thing to do, but the solution is to get a little creative. You could use pet theme promotional items to spread the word, for example. And don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.


It is unlikely that such a venture will get far without a proper degree of funding. If you are unsure about how to go about securing funding, it is worth looking into before you do anything else. It can sometimes take a long time before you are approved, so you need to be prepared for that. Consider as wide a variety of funding sources as you can find.

Whats in a name? (Day -235)

Dog name tags on collar

One of my favourite books growing up was The Wizard of Earthsea. This book is the story of a wizard that has great power – yet this power is dependent upon knowing the name of something. Without this it doesn’t matter how great the power you have, you are powerless.

When you are doing surgery some doctors believe it is useful to dissociate yourself from the patient as that way you can do what you need to do without emotion. Personally however I believe it should be all about the patient. A name takes it from being just a dog or cat to a patient, someone that should be looked after and cared for to the best of my ability.

The first question that I will ask a pet guardian is the patient’s name. Something I have come to realise in doing this is that is not only does it give me someone to look after, when asking such a simple question in what are often traumatic times can help create calm. It’s such a normal thing to ask.

And in veterinary medicine calm is good – animals are so good at picking up on human emotion that if we are upset or stressed then they are upset and stressed. So asking for a name is a step down the stress ladder.

The pet guardian realise then that it is not just another animal to you, they realise you care, and they feel they are in the right place.

Dog in red collar with name tags

Being in Slovakia gives me another view on how medicine works. It’s amazing the time’s I’ve walked in and asked what is their name to find out that no one knows.  In the UK it is something I’ve never come across – we are good at getting the paperwork right – and we are expected to know the pets name.

Then again it can also cause problems when you rely on the computer and the records are out of date. I’ve heard stories where a pet has passed on across the rainbow bridge, and the guardians are in with a new pet who you naturally assume to be the pet that has passed. That is never a good situation however one that is easily fixed.

A name attaches the responsibility to you. When something goes bad you are sad because of the name. When something goes right you are happy because of the name.

Now my memory is absolutely awful for people, however I remember every single patient I have every treated.

Ultrasound on the inside, what is intraoperative ultrasound? (Day -236)

Vet student intraoperative ultrasound

Many people know about ultrasound, its used all the time for pregnancy check-ups in women. However did you know it can also be used inside of an operating theatre during surgery when the body is open? So instead of looking through the skin you are directly looking at the organ.

Now when you first see an ultrasound like this it is a little bit strange – as you are so accustomed to seeing the skin and muscle in front of the organ of interest. So when we put the ultrasound probe directly onto a kidney it looks very different.

In this case I’d come into the operating room during a surgery on an exploratory laparotomy just as the surgery had stalled. You see the most important thing in surgery is information – and here there was a kidney that was enlarged with an enlarged ureter (tube from kidney to bladder) which contained a stone about halfway down its length.

Now here was where a decision that was going change the cats life needed to be taken. Was the correct action to remove the stone from the ureter and place a catheter from the bladder to kidney to keep the ureter working whilst it healed? Or was the correct course to remove the kidney?

A few months before this I had read an article on intraoperative ultrasound on sonopath (they give a free student membership!) which is the best ultrasound guide I’ve come across. This basically said that using ultrasound inside the body was even better than using it outside especially with surgery so that you could take samples from lesions identified by normal ultrasound before surgery. Even when you see a lesion on ultrasound, once you open the abdomen it can be very difficult to find the lesion to take a biopsy from it so using ultrasound during surgery helps with this.

The great thing about this that I remembered was that it did not need any specialised equipment; you can simply fill a sterile surgical glove with ultrasound gel and insert a ultrasound probe into it. Then you just use the probe through the glove in the area of interest (on sonopath is suggests using sterile saline between glove and viscera however I did not remember this at the time).

So randomly I just suggested that I bring an ultrasound machine in and we take a look at the structure of the kidney before we made the suggestion. After explaining that it could be done with a glove and some gel I was sent to get the machine and sonographer. I think the weirdest part of the entire experience was that as with normal ultrasound we turned the lights off in the operating theatre to see the picture on the screen better.

Now on ultrasound it was obvious that the kidney was no longer functional, and so the best option going forward was relatively obvious. The problem here however was that we did not know the status of the other kidney – kidneys only show clinical signs after around 75% of the functional part is destroyed – so the owner needed to decide which was a bigger risk leaving it or removing it and hoping the other kidney worked. The decision was made that the kidney was going come out (a nephrectomy), and after discussion with the owner this was what happened.

The patient was sitting up completely different (partially due to the good analgesia) and now 3 weeks after the surgery the patient is doing well and is at home.

Pet Owners: Surprising Reasons Why Your Dog Is Shedding Excessively

A girl and her dog

It’s completely normal for your dog to shed hair in their home. After all, it’s a natural way for them to get rid of old or damaged hair. And it’s also a good way for them to get rid of the thick coat that they developed in winter! But when your pooch starts to shed more regularly, there might be something going on. Here are some surprising reasons why your dog is shedding excessively.

Your dog is under too much stress

A lot of pet owners don’t realise that their pet is under stress. But it can cause health problems for your dog. And one of these is excessive shedding. The first thing your family should do is work out why your pooch is stressed. Have you moved home recently? Or have you got a new pet? It might be something as simple as their bed is not in its normal position. Once you have figured out why your dog is stressed, you can sort the issue. However, if there is no explanation, you can buy a calming remedy for your dog. It might be a calming spray that you plug-in, or some chews which will help reduce anxiety.

Phelps was really stressed out this morning. You can tell.
Source: Flickr

Your pooch is eating a poor diet

If you have been scrimping on pet food, it could be the reason for excessive shedding. Low-quality dog food might not have the adequate nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy. Therefore, you should buy an excellent quality dog food which will stop the excessive shedding. As well as making sure the food is good quality, you need to make sure your pooch hasn’t got any allergies to particular food. As this article says, experiment with different brands to find one which will help your pooch’s coat to stay thick and healthy.

Importanance of dog diet
Source: Flickr

Your pet has fleas

I think fleas are the biggest pain pet owners face. Once your pet has them, it’s hard to get rid of them quickly. And you might not realise that excessive shedding could be down to fleas. After all, your dog is trying to remove them quickly from their body. Therefore, buy a flea comb and look for any signs of the pests. If you do spot them, you need to buy some flea treatment as soon as possible. And buy some preventive tablets, so that it won’t be a regular occurrence. Also, make sure you clean your home to get rid of the flea-infested fur; you can click here to find a good vacuum to remove dog hair in your home!

Your dog has an underlying medical problem

Unfortunately, if your dog is shedding, it might be down to something more serious. Underlying medical problems such as kidney or liver issues could be causing the excessive shedding. In fact, excessive shedding is a symptom of kidney failure. Therefore, it’s time to take your beloved pooch to the vet so that they can check everything is okay. The sooner you take them, the more likely there will be something that they can do to help your pet.

Dog at the vet

And make sure you go to see the vet if the shedding is causing bald spots and skin irritation. They will be able to suggest a treatment which can help to reduce the shedding and give your pooch some much-needed relief.