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Ask a vet online-’ 9 month old labradoodle tends to bark a lot’ – what can I do?

Question from Sarah Brookes: I have a 9 month old labradoodle. He tends to bark a lot attention barking I have ignored him but he still barks what else can u do. Also when we leave him he shakes and barks but settles eventually I have an DAP plugged in but seems to make no difference HELP Answer by Shanika Winters: Hi Sarah and thank you for your question regarding your dog’s behaviour when he is left.    What you are describing sounds like a combination of separation anxiety and attention seeking.  Separation anxiety is when animals feel worried when left alone and this can lead to destructive behaviour, toileting in the wrong place and also vocalisation such as the barking you described.  Attention seeking is when your pet behaves in a way that you cannot ignore often in similar ways to those already listed. Why does my dog have separation anxiety/attention seeking behaviour? It is really important that any medical conditions are first ruled out before starting to treat a behavioural condition.  Dogs can show changes to their behaviour when in pain (e.g. arthritis), suffering from epilepsy (having seizures) and when suffering from liver or kidney disease (due to build up of toxic chemicals in their blood). A detailed history of what is going on with your pet, followed by a thorough clinical examination and diagnostic tests as required are the best way for you and your vet to rule out the presence of any underlying medical conditions. In the process of taking the details of what is happening with your pet, your vet will get a picture of what is happening in your dog’s world, i.e. changes to the family, pets, daily routine and moving home to mention a few possible triggers of a behavioural change.  It is also important to note that some breeds of dog, especially working breeds (e.g. border collies, German shepherds and Labradors) need a lot more mental and physical stimulation than other breeds of dog.  It is important to take this into consideration when choosing a dog to try and match its characteristics to your family and lifestyle. How will my dog’s behaviour be assessed? Your vet may assess your dog’s behaviour themselves or may refer your dog to a behavioural specialist (someone specifically trained in animal behaviour).  As described above the first thing that they will need to ensure is that your pet is physically well, the second thing they will do it take a detailed history of how your pet behaves. The third part of the process is observation, your dog will be observed in the consultation room but this does not always give as much information as seeing how your dog behaves in the home environment and how he/she interacts with other members of the household both human and animal.  Such observation may be via video recordings which can then be watched and analysed. How can I help my dog to feel less anxious? In order to help your dog stop feeling the need to bark changes need to be made to help him/her feel more secure and less in need of getting attention through barking.  The use of chemicals can sometimes help when trying to change a dog’s behaviour.  You have mentioned that you tried DAP plug in, this is a pheromone dispenser that releases dog appeasing pheromone, this is thought to help dogs to feel calm.  Chemicals alone cannot always help to change an unwanted behaviour such as barking.  Ideally chemicals should be used in conjunction with a behavioural treatment plan.  Anther chemical that may be advised by your vet is an antidepressant. When we leave our house we usually have a set routine of getting our bag, coat, shoes and key then leaving.  Also we think that saying good bye to our dog will let them know what is happening and make them feel better about us leaving.  What we are actually doing is setting off a chain of events which build up to trigger their anxious behaviour.  It can help to make a quiet exit and put the emphasis on your return home. What is in the behavioural plan? Regular exercise of an amount suitable for the breed and age of dog you have, a small elderly dog will still need to be taken out for exercise but this will be for much shorter length of time than a young adult working breed of dog.  It is important to give your pet regular exercise, if you are not able to do this yourself then remember there are dog walkers available in most areas. Attention of a positive nature from members of the household is important to reassure your dog of his place in the pecking order.  It is easy to just get on with what needs to be done when you come home after a long day at work and forget that your dog is waiting to greet you and be reassured that you are happy with him/her.  If the majority of attention your pet receives is being told off for bad behaviour then this negative attention can further unwanted behaviours. Provide adequate mental stimulation for your dog, this can be in the form of games such as fetch, training such as obedience, agility and fly ball.  It can be helpful to make up a timetable of activities to carry out with your dog, this can help to keep things interesting for both owner a dog. Company whether in the form of another pet or human can help to relieve the anxiety felt by some dog’s but this is not always practical as many people work long hours and have many family commitments.  There are pet sitting services which can provide someone to visit your dog and break up the length of time that he/she spends alone. Background noise such as a television or radio can make some dogs feel as though they are not alone. I hope that I have managed to answer your question and that your dog starts to feel calmer when left alone.  Making behavioural changes involves both dog and owner and can be a slow process but it is worth the effort. Shanika Winters MRCVS (Online vet)
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Ask a vet online-‘I have an 8 year old Maltipoo who has had teeth and gum problems for the last 4 years.’

Question from Mary Collins O’Hara: I have an 8year old Maltipoo who has had teeth and gum problem for the last 4years. He had 8teeth pulled, including some teeth on the bottom front, so now he drools all the time and he has the worst breath. I have done several rounds of antibiotics, I brush his teeth but his gums are so tender, he cries. I don't know what else to do. Please help. Answer by Shanika Winters Hi Mary and thank you for your question regarding your dog’s ongoing mouth problem.  An adult dog usually has 42 teeth which are made up of four different types: 12 Incisors which are for nibbling 4 Canines which are for grabbing and puncturing 16 Premolars which are for cutting and shearing 10 Molars which in theory are for grinding up food Most dogs over the age of 3 years have some form of dental disease, this may be as mild as inflamed gums (gingivitis) and plaque through to infected tooth roots with gum recession.  Along with the functions listed above the teeth help hold the dogs tongue inside its mouth and keep the shape of its mouth by holding the cheek flaps out.  Many dogs cope extremely well after major extractions where they are only left with a few healthy teeth. The diet may need to be changed so as to make it easier for the dog to eat it, in some cases wet food may be advised. Generally however we recommend some dry food is fed as this helps to keep plaque levels down just by the fact that the food is crunched and scrapes on the surface of the teeth.  There are specially designed dental diets which have fibres in each nugget arranged so as to have maximum scraping effect on the teeth.  As most dog owners are aware not all dogs crunch up their food it is wolfed down rather fast and in such cases dental diets may have little effect on keeping the teeth clean. You have already mentioned that you are brushing your dog’s teeth, that is an excellent way to keep them clean by slowing down the build up of plaque.  It is important to use tooth paste that is designed for dogs, which is both palatable to them and not high in fluoride as are human toothpastes.  It is also advisable to use specially designed dog tooth brushes, these tend to have a smaller head with a longer handle so it is easier to reach all around the dog’s mouth.  Only light pressure should be applied when cleaning your dog’s teeth, it is easy to be too firm and hurt the gums. Antibiotics are often used in cases of dental disease to reduce the presence of bacteria in your dog’s mouth.  The bacteria may be present; as part of tooth root infections, attached in the plaque, and even in what appears to be a clean mouth can still contribute to bad breath (halitosis). Why does my dog have mouth problems? In order to determine why your dog is drooling, has bad breath and sore gums it is essential that he has a full examination by your vet, there can be underlying diseases that are causing your dog’s symptoms such as poor immunity (ability to heal and fight infection), underactive thyroid gland (Hypothyroidism) and over production of steroid (Cushings disease) to mention a few.  Many of the underlying illnesses can be picked up on blood tests which are done on a sample of your dog’s blood collected by your vet and then sent to a laboratory for analysis. What can be done to help my dog? Once your vet has ruled out any underlying diseases, then a close look at your dog’s mouth is necessary, there may be further dental disease needing treatment such as further extractions, sometimes your vet will suggest performing x-rays to check if there are infected tooth roots where the piece of the tooth visible appears healthy.  Some dogs have skin folds around their mouths and these can trap saliva, the skin becomes inflamed, infected and smelly.  The skin folds can be treated by use of antibiotics, trimming the hair from the skin fold and cleaning with an antiseptic solution. If there is no need for any further dental treatment, then some dogs benefit from the use of antiseptic mouth sprays or drinking water additives to help reduce bacteria levels in the mouth. Regular courses of antibiotics can be used under the direction of your vet, in some cases this is the only way to keep some dog’s mouths clean and healthy. So where there are any ongoing dental disease issues it is vital to work with your vet to find the best plan of action to keep your dog happy, healthy and comfortable.  I hope that this has helped to answer your question. Shanika Winters MRCVS (Online Vet)
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E-cigarettes – Safe for smokers but not for our pets!

No-one could have missed the phenomenon of e-cigarettes. On every street, in shops, pubs and restaurants there are people sucking on the pen-like objects. The jury is still out on whether they are better for the smoker’s health than traditional cigarettes but they are undoubtedly very dangerous for our pets. Electronic cigarettes are battery powdered devices that vapourise a liquid, which is then inhaled. The fluid is held in a small chamber in the middle of the device and is a mixture of glycerin (a colourless liquid), flavouring and nicotine in varying concentrations. Nicotine is the substance which makes cigarettes so addictive but in the tiny quantities smokers inhale, it is not especially dangerous. It is the tar and other elements which are carcinogenic and this is why many people are opting for e-cigarettes. However, in large doses nicotine it is extremely toxic and can even be deadly. Many a curious pet, especially dogs and in-particular puppies, have been caught chewing things they shouldn’t. However, while gnawing on a pair of shoes won’t damage their health (unless you catch them!), it is a very different story with e-cigarettes. The nicotine concentration in e-cigarettes varies; the lowest is 60mg of nicotine in total, while the highest can be as much as 240mg. The toxic dose for dogs is only 4mg/kg and the lethal dose is 9mg/kg. Therefore even the least potent will be harmful to all but the largest dogs and for the average sized pet, most could be lethal. Symptoms of nicotine poisoning include vomiting, drooling, an increased heart rate and pale gums. These will progress to fitting, after which the dog can slip into a coma and die. It can take between 15 minutes and an hour an a half for these signs to appear, so even if your pet has chewed at your e-cigarette and seems fine, you must seek veterinary advice immediately. Also, make sure you have the device or packaging close to hand so you can tell your vet approximately how much they have ingested. It is vital that treatment for nicotine poisoning is started as soon as possible. Unfortunately there is no antidote, your vet can only support your pet’s system while their liver detoxifies the poison. Therapies will include; setting up an IV drip, using sedative medications to stop any fits and pumping out the stomach. Nicotine poisoning has always occurred in dogs but with normal cigarettes, they would have to eat an awful lot and they would most likely be sick before all the toxin was absorbed. However, with the e-cigarettes high concentration of pure nicotine, it’s rapid absorption into the body and their increase in popularity, it is likely both vets and owners are going to see more problems. Therefore, it is important that we are all aware of the dangers this new phenomenon poses and remember to keep e-cigarettes well out of the way of curious noses!
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