The Dachshund: A Tiny Dog With A Big Personality

There are few more smile inducing sights than seeing a miniature dachshund confidently standing up to a larger, more docile dog. This tiny creature with short stubby legs and a long body is stubborn, often foolishly so, and will fearlessly frolic with other dogs, cats and any other pet you may have in your home. A lively little mutt, a dachshund is an ideal choice for the first time dog owner due to their relaxed temperament and ability to fit in pretty much anywhere. Your dachshund will be your faithful companion and relish any opportunity he has to sit with you and succumb to your chin rubs.

Although he is a healthy breed, the dachshund has a few medical ailments that need to be watched out for as he grows older. Be aware and get him to the vet if you spot any of the warning signs of the following conditions.

Epilepsy

As with the human condition, dachshunds can develop seizures at any age. Watching your dog have a seizure can be terrifying, but the best thing you can do is stay with him and soothe him until it passes. It is thought that this neurological condition is genetic and incurable. However, there are plenty of medications that can be utilized to get your little hound’s epilepsy under control should he develop it at some point in his life.

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Parasites

In a similar way to other hounds that love their walks, dachshunds are susceptible to anything parasitic ranging from fleas to ticks. The best way to combat this is to ensure your little guy starts a regular flea prevention routine from puppydom. Spot on treatments are the simplest and least intrusive way of giving your dog medication. You place a tiny pipette of medicated liquid onto the back of his neck once a month to keep him protected against the nasty parasitic blighters.

There are many parasites carried by other tiny critters that you need to be aware of. If you have a read of a post about a heartworm dog named Bobby Sue, you’ll see just how deadly parasites can be. Mosquitos can carry heartworms and release the parasitic larvae into a dachshund’s bloodstream after biting his skin. If your little pal starts coughing, seems wheezy or is losing weight, get him to the vet for a check up.

Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

Because dachshunds weren’t blessed with the strongest of vertebra, their elongated shape means that they can find themselves with a whole host of back issues. They may need to have anti-inflammatory medication or have an operation to have discs removed if the pain becomes too great. It’s vital when you lift up your dachshund to give him a cuddle that you support his rear end and back. Because this is such a prevalent problem in the dachshund breed, owners have tried to fend off back problems with visits to a doggy acupuncturist or chiropodist with great success.

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If you find yourself the proud companion of a dachshund, you’ll be welcoming a fiery, entertaining and delightful little creature into your home. He or she will be at the center of many a comical memory and will be a welcome addition to any family.

Cold Facts: Common Health Concerns Among Siberian Huskies

Siberian Huskie

It is no wonder why the popularity of Siberian Huskies has grown exponentially over recent years; they are just so hard to resist. There aren’t many other breeds that are quite as strikingly gorgeous as the Siberian husky, what with those piercing blue eyes, that thick coat of fur and those disarming wolf-like looks. But it isn’t just their appearance that makes them such amazing pets. It is their joyful demeanour, their buoyant energy, their loyalty and friendliness. But the fact they make the best furry friends imaginable is also what makes it so hard to cope with when they get sick. There is an emotional bond that can crush your soul like nothing else.

Yes, Siberian Huskies tend to be incredibly healthy compared to a lot of other breeds, but that doesn’t mean they are free of all health concerns. Quite the contrary, in fact. Of course, the best medicine in your arsenal is knowledge and prevention, which is why we are going to highlight the main health problems of this very special breed:

Huskie in the snow

Corneal Dystrophy
Unfortunately, Siberian Huskies are known for suffering autoimmune disorders that affect the eyes and one, in particular, is to do with the cornea. Unfortunately, this tends to be a hereditary disease and one that your local veterinarian will probably tell you has no known cure, whether medicinal or therapeutic. What it looks like is tiny white spots in the cornea, with the condition affecting your pups vision. It’s not nice, but the good news is it isn’t painful.

Zinc Deficiency
Another autoimmune disorder your husky is susceptible to is a low level of zinc in their body, which tends to cause hair loss. The most common areas of hair loss are on the face – lips, chin and eyelids – but it can also occur at their elbows, hocks and feet. The obvious thing to do is add a zinc supplement to their diet. However, before you do this we would strongly recommend you speak to your vet first.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Yeah, Huskies tend to get it pretty rough with their eyes, and this is another hereditary example of this. This is a condition whereby your dog’s retina slowly disintegrates over time. The best way to ensure that this condition doesn’t affect your puppy is to have your Husky screened at an early age and let it undergo the necessary examination. While this won’t cure them, it will allow you to make lifestyle adjustments to ensure any progression is put off for as long as possible.

Hip Dysplasia
Ask any vet and they will tell you that a lot of big dogs are prone to hip dysplasia and Siberian Huskies fall into the category. To give you a little more information on it, hip dysplasia is where the joint doesn’t quite fit together properly, making later life a lot harder for them. There are certain things you can do to help your dog if they suffer from this. However, we would also recommend you ask the breeder whether the pups parents have been screened for hip dysplasia. It is hereditary, so those parents who were fine on this front tend to produce a litter that is unaffected too.

The prevention education of vet school that no one tells you about

Jenni Falconer and her dog Alfie

Something that many people do not realise is that vet school is not all about treating diseases or cool surgeries to put animals back together again. A lot of it is about learning how to stop animals getting sick in the first place. This training involves both infectious diseases as well as parasitic diseases – in fact vets are often better trained in this area than human doctors.

It is often said than an ounce of prevention is better than cure, and in the case where it is so simple to do there is little reason not to. However, a survey of 1056 dog owners carried out in February 2017 shows that whilst some people know what dog parasites exist, they do not know the risks.

Over a third of these dog owners said they never think about the parasites their dog may be hosting even though they sleep in the same bed, sit on the sofa together or even lick their face. In fact one in four people didn’t realise that their pet could have parasites without them even being visible.

One of the reasons that so much effort goes into prevention is that sometimes parasites and diseases can affect both animals and humans as a zoonosis. So helping to protect a pet against these parasites in turn also helps protects you and your family especially for those with children. So let’s take a quick look at some of the types of parasites out there, what people think, and what really is true…

Most dog owners are worried about lungworm with 82% of people knowing that it could be fatal to their pet. However 43% also believed it was a big risk for humans, this is not true as it is actually harmless to humans.

Ticks were second on the list with 36% saying they were worried about them, however less than half realised that ticks could cause death because of the diseases they can transmit. Just 28% realised that ticks could also be harmful to humans as they can transmit Lyme disease.

The most dangerous parasite came bottom of the list with just 15% worrying about roundworms and only 7% believing they could be harmful to human health. Roundworms of the Toxocara variety can cause big problems in humans if their eggs are swallowed such as blindness or neurological disease with children at most risk.

Prevention for these parasites has become easier with palatable oral chews available as well as spot-on medications so you can still interact as your dog as normal after the treatment. With so much at risk it was a surprise that the Pet Parasite Action survey found 1 in 6 hadn’t treated their dogs for parasites in the past year.

Your vet is trained to support you in helping to keep your pet healthy, and there are many options of different treatments. Their expert guidance and support can really prove priceless.

Take the free test to protect your pet at

Pet Parasite Action Protect your pet

How To Take Care Of Your Pedigree Pooch

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These days, more and more people are choosing to get their new pets from shelters – and let’s face it, that’s an incredible thing to do. Not only are you giving a home to an animal that really needs some love and care, but you’re also getting a pet that’s probably going to live a long time and be healthy. But not everyone wants to go for a shelter animal – if you want a specific breed, then you might just want to go for a pedigree pup. If that’s the case, here are a few tips that you might want to bear in mind…

Look For Breed Specific Problems

One of the biggest problems with buying a pedigree dog is that a lot of breeds have health problems that have been caused by unscrupulous breeders essentially breeding birth defects into them. French bulldogs and pugs often have breathing problems, while golden retrievers often suffer from hip issues. It’s important that you keep an eye on your dog carefully for any of these issues – take them for plenty of vet check ups, and educate yourself on the specific needs that your breed has.

breed specific problems

Keep Your Pup Healthy

Although your new dog is basically a member of your family, if you’ve spent a lot of money on him or her then you might be looking at them as an investment as well – that means that it’s all the more important to keep your new dog healthy. Make sure that you take them for all their jabs and vaccinations, and if you aren’t intending to use your dog for breeding then make sure you get them spayed. It’s important that you get the right food to keep them healthy. Some breeds even have specific food that’s good for them, like Royal Canin bulldog puppy food, which will be fab for your new bulldog baby. It’s important to make sure that your dog gets plenty of exercise – take them out as often as possible, and remember that large dogs like huskies and labradors will require a lot of exercise.

dalmatians-dog-animal-headKeep Your Dog Safe

There are two ways to keep your dog safe: firstly, make sure that you train them fully. Obedience classes can work wonders and will teach you how to be a good dog owner just as much as they teach your dog how to behave well. It’s important to make sure that your dog has good recall if you’re planning to let him or her off their leash on public, and it’s also important to make sure that they’re socialised well with other dogs so they don’t freak out whenever they encounter another dog when you’re out on walks. Secondly, you need to remember that some breeds are in high demand and can be targets for theft thanks to how much they’re worth. If you have one of those breeds, make sure that when they’re outside, they’re in your line of sight all the time – some thieves have been known to reach into people’s yards to steal their dogs.

Don’t Make A Dog’s Dinner Out Of Your Puppy’s Upbringing

Training your puppy

Teaching your new puppy certain rules can be the most challenging thing any owner will face when it comes to their dog. Actually, training your dog to be obedient could be the most challenging thing any owner will ever face when it comes to life. It can be such a tedious process and one that you didn’t account for until you came home to find a fully chewed sofa and your best chews being used a dog toy. Somehow your puppy had even found a way to make your shoes squeak. As such, we have come up with a list of ways to help you in your search for obedience and manners, whatever the task at hand (or paw) may consist of.

Straight Off The Bat

The most crucial piece of advice we can give any puppy-owner is this: remember that a dog is a loyal companion. They love being with you, they love spending time with you and socialising with you. As such, any extended periods of confinement, including ignoring them, can have a negative effect on what you are trying to achieve. In fact, these type of ‘training’ will probably just lead to more destructive behaviour, louder barking and increased hyperactivity. In short, it will see them become a nuisance.

Basic Tips

Certain pieces of training advice are universal when it comes to training your puppy, or dog. The most universal is consistency. Always be consistent with your commands, and your rewards. What we mean is, don’t change up the word for sit, or heel, or anything like that. It will be confusing.

Another great tip to remember is that dogs love hearing their name, as such you should try using it a lot and often. However, don’t use their name whenever you are trying to reprimand your beloved pooch; only use it alongside actions that will grand a positive result, like rolling-over, albeit sitting is much more achievable.

When we say reward, be aware that this doesn’t necessarily mean a treat, or a doggy biscuit. It means attention and love and affection. Dogs will often crave this more than a little nibble on something tasty. Trust us. On this note, try and avoid giving your dog lots of attention whenever it misbehaves because, well, it will see this as a positive result to something naughty.

Do not reprimand your dog for urinating when it gets excited. This is a common trait in most dogs and it is involuntary. They’re simply recognising ou as their owner, and they love you so much they can’t contain themselves; so reprimanding them will only have a negative effect.

Try A Professional

If you’re having real problems housebreaking your pup, there are alternatives to stressing out and losing your mind. A great way to do this is to look out for any professional services that may be able to help you in your quest for good behavior, services such as a puppy daycare. Professionals have trained dogs before, lots of dogs, and so they will be able to communicate with your pup and inform you of what tricks seem to be most effective.

Training your dog professionally

My first castration surgery – a massive milestone… (Day 420)

First castration surgery vet student

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Vet School Success

A quick diary entry today as it is a very big milestone in my journey to becoming a veterinary surgeon, I know I need to catch up on my diary however have exams both tommorow and Friday to study for as well.

So today I performed my first castration surgery on a living breathing animal!!! Whoooop!

First castration surgery vet student

Ok, now thats over with here are the details! I’m taking a class on small mammals which is a elective class (aka non-compulsory) as I believe these smaller creatures to be just as important as the larger ones. Today we were given the task of castrating some pet rats, now I know that its a common assumption that these are too small to operate on. However if you have ever had the pleasure of meeting a (uncastrated) male rat, I am sure that you will agree in terms of their body size they have relatively large balls.

So now talking in terms of castration it is a relatively simple and common procedure which is why I believe it is one of the first we learn. From a surgical perspective it is similar to that in cats. So diving off topic for a minute here something I feel important to highlight is that the surgical procedure between dogs and cats (and rats) is different. This is because of the position of the testicles in relation to the penis. In dogs there is space in front of the testicles to make an incision, whilst in cats (and rats) there is not.

The procedure in cats and rats therefore is different in that the incision is made directly into the scrotum over the testicle. Now anatomically there is a septum (or divider) within the scrotum mean each testicle sits in its own compartment which requires a seperate incision for each testicle. Once this cavity is opened and the testicle is exposed the vessels leading to it are ligated and then the vessels are cut. This is basically the ultimate test of the entire surgical procedure as if this is not done correctly then the vessels which are like elastic are pulled up into the abdomen and will bleed inside causing the death of the animal. Now once this is done, as rats are close to the ground the surgical site is closed with sutures to help prevent infection.

Now my procedure went fine, I did not have any additional bleeding and the closure was neat, with that I now need to study anatomy for tommorows test.

A vet students (non)summer – Part 1

My first day in the Small Animal Clinic

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Spikes World Wildlife Foods

Now this really is a post that I don’t know where exactly to start, I’ll apologise in advance if some details are vague however I do have to protect client confidentially for some patients. So over here in Slovakia, when it comes to summer exams you can schedule your own timetable within 2 periods (15th May-15th July and 15th August-31st August) and its your responsibility to ensure that you pass everything to be allowed to progress to the next year of study. With the fundraising I have been doing for tuition last year I’d let some of my revision slip, and did very few exams at Christmas so was left with nearly a years worth of exams to do within this period.

Now at the same time I also wanted to get as much practical experience as possible, so I decided to attempt to do an exam a week along with as many clinics as I could get into. Knowing nothing about equine I decided this would be a good start if I was ever to get over my fear of horses (they have a reputation of dying very easily) so started with equine. I was told to get some dark scrubs and then come – apparently white coats freak the poor animals out – this wasn’t easy though as nowhere in Kosice sells scrubs (I even tried the hospital) and I had to order from the UK in the end. It is about working your way up here, and for the first couple of weeks I was solely watching and handing things over. This suited me fine as I was trying to pass Anatomy at the time so gave me time to study as well.

So fast forward a couple of weeks, we had a horse arrive for some dental treatment. Basically within the horses mouth you have a large gap between the front teeth (incisors) and the (pre)molars at the side which are used for chewing. Sometimes a horse may have a small tooth in front of the molars in the top row known as the wolf tooth. Now this extra tooth which does not really have a purpose now can get in the way of the bit when riding so is usually removed. To be honest I was pretty surprised that the roots of these teeth were so small as I know the other teeth have very large roots (the entire tooth was around the size of a 5p!). The next stage of a equine dental is to make sure all the surfaces used for chewing and grinding line up properly, and that there are no sharp edges which can cause damage to the tongue and cheek – this is where the rasp comes into play! It’s really important to remember that horse teeth keep growing, and that if the surfaces wear down unevenly then the tooth will also grow unevenly. And finally once finished with the molars(cheek) teeth it is time to look at the incisors which are the teeth at the front.

Incisor overbite in equine dental examAs you can see with this horse the upper teeth protrude in front of the lower teeth which is known as a overbite which is where the incisive bone is slightly longer than the mandible (jaw bone). This causes uneven wear on the upper teeth which increases the bite and so these have to be ground down by a equine dentist or vet on average every year. The opposite which is a underbite is where the mandible is in front of the incisive bone and is most common in brachycephalic dog breeds! I was lucky to see a few dental cases over the summer, including one which had a retained part of the root after a previous fracture which made its way to surface a few months later.

During this time I was also popping in and out of small animal clinic as equine only operates during the morning unless it’s a emergency. I got thrown in the deep end here as well with a crash course in the common procedures over the first few weeks such as managing IV’s, canula’s, giving meds, doing clinical exams and more. This was where I learnt one of my three biggest lessons from the summer, never make any assumptions. Just because a patient has a history or is being treated for one problem does not mean that there is not a more immediate life threatening problem that is still undiagnosed. Definitely is a lesson that I will remember for ever, and I am taking every chance I get to examine every animal as thoroughly as I know how. Animals cannot tell us what the problem is, or where the pain is, so even when presented with a case that I have seen already I will do a complete clinical exam.

My first day in the Small Animal ClinicNow that I’ve covered my first major lesson this summer I think I will leave this diary entry here for now. Obviously trying to write about everything at once is difficult and is enough to fill a book, however in my next post I will introduce you to my first experience with a foal, some experience with artificial insemination, and some of my surgical patients!

The end of my first week of clinics….

Endoscopy Gutteral Pouch Empyema in Horses

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Supreme Pet Foods

What a week! I am actually starting to feel like a vet student now and not only have started to apply knowledge that I have learnt over the past year but also from my previous degree! In addition to this I have also managed to pass two exams this week (Veterinary Physiology on Wednesday and Animal Hygiene this morning)!!!

So this morning started with an exam, it still feels weird to me having to dress formal for exams however dressing smart also gives me a boost of confidence so I do like it. I now have a week to prepare for my Anatomy exam on the 24th June – this will be my second attempt as I failed my first one back in January as I had no clue what to expect on the question paper. Basically you are expected to just list the different parts of the bone instead of trying to write a description of how it looks 🙂 Hopefully I will do better this time!

Now this week has been pretty cool, I’ve got through a lot of Equine stuff, seen a castration, endoscopy, and wound management. Today I was slightly gutted as I arrived late after this mornings exam to find that they had done emergency surgery on a corneal ulcer (a ulcer of the eye) in a sports horse. I arrived just in time to see the movement of the horse from the operating table to the recovery box. This was interesting as when animals wake up from anaesthetic they are unsteady on their feet (same in humans but we have the ability to know what is going on and that we should lay there) and usually struggle to stand. On Tuesday for example the horse was held on the ground until he had recovered enough to stand, and then was supported with people at the head and tail vertebra. The rest of today’s surgery went to the wound management of the hoof injuries, and endoscopy lavage for the guttural pouch empyema (the bump in the image below is a large swollen abscess).

Endoscopy Gutteral Pouch Empyema in HorsesStandard treatment for corneal ulcers is applying a graft which helps healing whilst also preventing the eye from rupturing, and whilst I missed this I got to watch something else pretty cool. Now administering eye drops to a big horse is not something I had ever considered before, thinking about touching a painful area and the legs flying towards me I realise that it does require careful thought. In this case a supraorbital (above the eye) lavage system is used. Basically a small incision is made into the upper eyelid and a tube passed through this which is then fixed in place along the head. This allows a syringe to be connected and drugs to be applied directly to the eye which I think is pretty cool and makes it easier.

My first day in the Small Animal Clinic…

First Day In the Small Animal Clinic

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Pet Hooligans

Well today I ventured into the Small Animal Clinic here on campus for the first time with no expectations and was pleasantly surprised (the small animal surgical unit is separate to the clinic which is a medical unit). I was lucky to be paired with a friend who is close to graduating and can understand Slovak whilst speaking English so can fill me in on what is going on. Most of the doctors here can speak at least some English however a lot of the clients cannot so again this is a motivator for me to learn Slovak faster (I’m picking up a few words now).

So I cannot say much on individual patients for the obvious reasons, however in terms of skills I picked up I can say much! 😀 So this morning started at 8am getting permission from the Dr’s to be in the clinic, I then started with observing vaccinations (and how the records are managed here in the vaccine book). An interesting case of canine otitis with a bacteria known as Malassezia dermatitis which is a yeast which is usually commensal (aka lives in harmony with the host on the skin). This means that the small amount present is usually not able to cause disease, however when there is a disease or the animal is stressed this microorganism can take advantage of the weakened immune system and grow.

I also got to observe an euthanasia and was asked to help restrain a particularly fractious cat on another. Many vets say that when you do not feel any more with euthanasia’s it is time to leave the profession, and though many times a brave face is put on in front of clients it is hard every time. Personally for me I feel that being able to relieve suffering is a great gift, however its also important to use it at the right time which is a great responsibility. I do however agree that if I couldn’t feel then I definitely shouldn’t be here!

Some of my time went to cleaning, something that is never ending! I lost count of how many times I washed my hands today! We have had a few cats in for rehoming including two little kittens who are very cute with their circus act. The rest of my time went to checking IV’s, giving a dog water by syringe and learning how to look after a recombinant patient.

I guess today’s highlight was actually being shown how to do sub cutaneous injections during a quite period, and actually injecting my first patient this evening. I finally managed to leave the clinic at 8:30pm… Not bad for my first day!

First Day In the Small Animal Clinic

Keeping your pets healthy through the snow! (Day 135)

Keeping your pets healthy in the snow

Today’s Diary Entry is sponsored by Adventures in Altruism

As the UK has now become a winter wonderland I’ve decided that I should write a bit on what you can do to help keep animals healthy in the snow! Obviously some of this will be common sense, however I hope it is helpful as sometimes its the small things overlooked. After species specific stuff I will look at things that affect all animals such as antifreeze poisoning and rock salt.

Rabbits, Guinea Pigs etc
Make sure that all hutches have extra straw and hay to help keep your pet warm, with water you should check it more regularly to ensure that it has not frozen (especially if you use water bottles). Using a tarp over the hutch can help at night, as can moving the hutch to a shed.

Cats
Most cats are sensible enough to want to avoid the snow, however for those that dont you should wash their paws, keep a towel handy for drying them when they come in,and make sure they have no grit or compacted snow stuck between their paws.

Dogs
So it really is impossible to avoid walking dogs, if you have to walk your dog in the colder weather and its a younger or older dog consider a dog coat (likewise for short haired breeds not made for the colder weather). Make sure you keep an eye on their paws to ensure that no compacted snow or grit gets stuck between their toes and when you get back home wash and dry their paws with some warm water as snow can harbour poisonous chemicals (rock salt/antifreeze etc).

Garden Bird
With so much frozen ground garden birds will find it harder to feed, and more important struggle to find unfrozen water to drink from. If you have a bird mix it can be helpful to leave some of these nuts and seeds on a bird table or in a feeder. Also if you have a pond breaking the ice can give birds as well as other wildlife such as hedgehogs water to drink from.

Antifreeze Poisoning

The most common problem with snow is that it leads to ice which then has everyone diving for the antifreeze like crazy. Just 1 – 2 teaspoons of antifreeze is poisonous to cats and a couple of tablespoons poisonous to dogs – at the moment most veterinary practices are seeing at least 1 case a week. Now the poisonous chemical in antifreeze is ethylene glycol and there is an alternative type of antifreeze using propylene glycol instead which is less toxic. In addition to this you should also be checking for leaks in your car, cleaning up and disposing of any spills immediately and keeping it in an airtight container away from animals. Whilst veterinary treatment may save the animal, long term kidney failure is a common result of exposure to antifreeze.

IMPORTANT SIGNS OF ANTIFREEZE POISONING
The signs to look for requiring immediate emergency veterinary attention are: Intoxication behaviour, vomiting, increased thirst, diarrhea, seizures, rapid breathing/heart rate, weakness, and coma.

Frozen Ponds and Lakes

Dogs cannot judge how strong the ice is, and should be kept of frozen ponds and lakes, if a dog falls through the ice DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SAVE THEM call the emergency services. Dogs are often better at saving themselves than at being saved and each year I read of cases where the dog has survived after rescuing themselves and the owner who attempted to rescue them did not.

Keeping your pets healthy in the snow