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Doggy MOT that any owner can do

Ever heard of a doggy MOT? Well you have now. I call it a doggy MOT when my dogs get a once over by myself – not a vet. It’s something any owner can do when you just follow some simple guidelines, which is what I’m going to do here.

There are places where a follow up consultation with your vet is recommended, so please heed this advice where necessary.

Disclaimer: I am not a vet, so please, if in doubt, take your dog to be checked by a vet without delay.

  • Your dogs’ coat – too many dogs come in to my boarding kennels with neglected coats. All you need to do is keep them bathed, combed and infestation free. If you can’t for what ever reason, then take them to a recommended groomer or your vet, most vets have in-house groomers as well. Use grooming time to check your dogs skin condition and for any lumps that may be there.
  • Teeth – from personal experience, this is a biggy for me. Ive always been on the ball with teeth care but it still catches me out now. Debris that collects around the tooth / gum line can (ultimately) lead to a general anaesthetic and tooth extractions, at best an infected gum. I am going to do a new blog on oral health but for now, do this:
    • Inspect weekly or every few days
    • Note status of teeth and monitor
    • Give roast knuckle bones under supervision and take away when they start to become well chewed. (Avoid your dog ingesting pieces, can also cause constipation, it is your responsibility to use bones properly). Done correctly, roast knuckle bones can save your dog having to have an anaesthetic. Ive seen the worst teeth come up beautifully on these roast knuckle bones alone. (NB I reiterate. Be responsible.)
    • A good toothpaste like LOGIC paste. This can be rubbed on to the gums with your finger or brushed in the traditional way.
    • You can sometimes chip off tartar with your nail. Do this!
    • Ultimately go to the vets, but check your dogs’ teeth weekly.
  • Nails – keep them trimmed to the right length. As dogs mature and become senior in their years they grow more or don’t wear so fast – whatever. Keep an eye on dew claws as they don’t wear and can grow full circle to dig in or puncture the dogs pads or skin – nasty, been there. Checking them saves this.
  • Anal glands – most owners don’t even know what these are. They are little scent sacks either side of the dogs bum that are supposed to empty when they poop. If you think its funny that your dog scoots its bottom on the floor, or you can seen them nibbling or licking their bottoms its time for a trip to the vet.
  • Eyes – do they run, get them checked. Do they look clear, can you see anything on the eyelids or in the eyeball that shouldn’t be there? Does either the top or bottom eyelid look like it is rolling in or out? Is there a pink stain or a visible stain on your dogs coat from their tear duct? Time for a check up.
  • Ears – check your dogs ears and get them used to being looked at before there is an issue. Same with anything if you only ever check your pet when in discomfort or pain, they will never let you check them over as they will associate you checking them over with the pain or discomfort. Trust me I’ve made that mistake.

Have fun checking your dog, it’s time to bond and get then used to being handled.

~ Sarah


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Walking Your Dog – How often?

How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?

A question that many ask but few master. Walking your dog is dependent on many factors. Of course, breed types, breed ages, age and health are all factors that should be considered when working out the right amount of time to walk your dog.

Factors that are secondary to your dogs’ needs are that of the owner, not the primary importance but a factor nonetheless. Factors that dictate how long your dog is or isn’t walked are things like time, work hours, owner health, owner interest or lack of interest sadly. Behaviour issues such as pulling on the lead and not coming when called are all factors that effect walk duration or frequency.

It’s a fine balance

I always tell dog owners that walking and feeding your dog is a balance. So for example, if your dog is a working dog, they will be fitter, require more exercise and hence need more food. If your dog is a small lap dog that gets a few minutes a day or just let out in the garden then they require less food.

“My personal opinion is dogs should always be walked a minimum of 2 times every day with extra time to relieve themselves, for example last thing at night and first thing in the morning. Dogs should never be left for longer than 4 hours as they can become bored and need the toilet.“


So, with these examples above you can see that it’s definitely a balance that needs to be worked out. But how do you work it out? Look at your dog’s body weight / condition. Are they fat, thin, just right? You can tell by looking at the region behind their last ribs, they should have a waist line, an area that ‘goes in’ as it were.

You can google infographics to find out the ideal body condition for your dog.

So, in summary there is no definitive ‘how many minutes should I walk my dog’, because there is no right or wrong answer. You have to work it out based on all the factors. Above all, enjoy your dog and make sure they get as much exercise as they can enjoy. If in doubt ask your veterinary surgeon.

(c) Sarah Gleave – Meg Heath Dog Leads


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Vestibular Syndrome in Dogs

Meg Heath | Dog Leads & Collars

Vestibular Syndrome is one of the conditions I have the most experience of while working with English Springer Spaniels (its not just springers that suffer). Most of them get it and it’s not unusual for them to experience an episode more than once or twice. It can happen and pass in minutes (rare) or it can spread over 10 days from onset to recovery.

What I wanted to address particularly in this blog post is how to deal with the first onset of the episode. The first symptoms of vestibular syndrome in dogs are without doubt the most stressful for the inexperienced dog owner but the trauma your dog is experiencing is what you have to consider including:

  • Time to recover
  • Care from you to help with toileting, feeding – can you help them out to the loo physically? I made a strap to help with the weak rear end.
  • Accept that meds may not not help, but time will
  • Above all do not rush to have your poor dog put to sleep because vestibular syndrome is not a killer, peoples attitude towards it is!

How can I prepare?

Vestibular Syndrome can affect your dog in their senior years, in my experience with springers, its almost inevitable that they will experience it, I’d say 50%+ chance. What you must remember is you do not have to have them put to sleep!

  • Get a rear end support for your dog, I make them but you can buy them from any dog mobility store.
  • Have some meat in stock that can be had fed, not chicken, a proper complete meal like Pets At Home Wainwrights. This meat can be cut up in to squares and be hand fed nicely, dogs like it and it is a complete meal (better for their bowels than just one type of protein)
  • If you need to address incontinence – for male dogs you can get belly wraps and then put incontinence pads in them – for female dogs you can get bitch pants and again use conti pads (incontinence pads can be bought from any food store like Tescos etc)
  • For pooping accidents, feeding as above will help you pick it up as poops should be solid, this is not guaranteed as there may be a disturbance in the bowel habits post vestibular syndrome until they fully recover

Symptoms Of Vestibular Syndrome

  • Walking in a circle, unable to walk straight
  • Loss of balance
  • Eyes flickering from side to side called nystagmus
  • Loss of appetite

I always say ‘always consult a vet’ but do you really want a dog whose world is spinning to be travelling in a car when there’s nothing your vet can do anyway? This is just my opinion and they DO recover. What can kill them is the  fact they were already weak (old) or are experiencing other illnesses that don’t make them as resilient to this disease. The only time this happened for me was with a very old girl springer and she was on her third episode.

Video of Buster November 2017

About Recovery

It is not unusual for a dog who has suffered a vestibular episode to be left with a head tilt and possibly a little more unbalanced than normal.

Expect more occurrences once they have had one. If you are aware you can be better prepared and less stressed thus focussing on your dogs recovery and not your own inconvenience! I’ve had many a people call me and say, we’ve lost so and so, oh what happened, oh she had a stroke. Too late to advise as they’ve already killed the dog. Just my opinion having dealt with more vestibular cases than I care to count!

Please feel free to add your comments and experience.