The wolf that lives with us

sheepLambing time is now coming to an end .It is lovely to see them in the fields around us. It’s always an uplifting sight and part of the joy of spring. Unfortunately there has also been an increase in the number of dog attacks on sheep in recent years .This has terrible consequences for both the sheep and possibly the dogs and owners.

I had first-hand experience of this several years ago. I was called out by the RSPCA to a field along the edge of the river Glen near Spalding. This field was long and thin. When I entered the field I could see a group of sheep huddled together right at one end. As I began to walk along the field I could see bodies of sheep littered around the field .There were also many bodies floating in the river where sheep had jumped in to escape but had drowned due to their heavy fleeces. The injuries were severe. Some of these poor creatures were still alive and had to be put to sleep. One I particularly remember was a lamb with half its face missing. As I came to the far end of the field I found two dogs laying resting on the ground .They were pleased to see me and happily allowed me to attach them to a lead .As far as they were concerned they had had a great time.

It is not the dog’s fault when these situations occur. We must always remember that there is a bit of wolf in all our dogs. It should come as no surprise that most of our much loved and friendly pets would chase sheep and even attack them if given the chance. It goes without saying that dogs must be kept under control near sheep .However many of these attacks are carried out by dogs that have escaped from their gardens while their owners are out. It is very important that your dogs must be kept in a secure environment. Farmers are allowed to shoot dogs that are worrying sheep. Also if a dog is seen attacking sheep the owner will be eligible for up to a £2000 fine and the dog will be taken away and put to sleep.

THIS IS NOT THE DOGS FAULT. The dog is only following an instinct. Many people do not believe that their dogs are capably of such a thing but many of them are. It is up to us as owners to take care and protect our pets from these situations. It does not just apply to sheep . Over the years I have seen distraught owners when their much loved dog has attacked chickens or pet rabbits or killed a muntjac deer while running in the woods. We have also heard of those horrible cases where babies are attacked. All these things are our responsibility and we must understand the wolf that lives with us.

Looking after our elderly dogs and cats

elderly dogDogs and cats are considered to be ‘geriatric’ by the time they hit around 8 years of age although for some large breeds of dogs this will be earlier. As our pets age it is important that we monitor them closely for signs of illness which is not always obvious to see. As we become older a lot of us will suffer from arthritis and this is no different for our dogs and cats, if you notice that dogs are starting to slow down on walks, taking a little bit longer to get out of their bed, and cats are maybe not as willing to play or jump on furniture as they used to be, then these could be signs that they could do with some joint support. As a starting point, over the counter products that contain green lipped mussel, glucosamine and chondroitin can help ease some joint pain; sometimes these are not enough and your pet may require some prescription treatment from your veterinary surgeon.

Older animals can also suffer with dental problems, as they begin to get older it is a good idea to get their teeth checked in case they need any tarter removed or extractions. If this is the case then your vet may want to do a blood test before they go under the anaesthetic to check their liver and kidneys, this test will also check for diabetes.

Especially in cats we see a lot of cases of hyperthyroidism, this is when the body produces too much thyroxine and your cat will usually show signs of weight loss, eating a lot more than usual and a very high heart rate. This can be diagnosed by a blood test which will check the T4 level and if this comes back high then cats can be treated with tablets or a cream given daily.

Kidney problems are another common problem in older cats, if your cat appears to be losing weight, drinking more, urinating more often, off food or vomiting then they need to be seen by a veterinary surgeon. When caught early, kidney problems can sometimes be managed for a number of months, sometimes years with medication although this will depend on the individual case.

Moving your dog or cat onto a senior diet can help as they get older, try not to change the brand of food your pet has as this could cause an upset tummy but changing from an adult diet to a senior diet will help keep them at their best as they approach their golden years.