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Dr Finlay's Casebook - Bernie the Collie

Published: Friday, July 8, 2016

Recently I bumped into Bernie (not her real name), a 3 year old black and white Border collie with a temperament that made me want to take her home with me.  I say black but actually she had areas of brown coat which should have been black and she hadn’t shed her thick winter coat.  She also had the beginnings of tooth tartar.  I asked what she was being fed on and was told ‘Burns’ although her coat had a soft, silky feel to it which is almost diagnostic of Burns. 

‘Giving anything else,’ says I.  Only biscuits and dental sticks. 

‘How much Burns was she getting?’  One small stainless steel bowl, twice a day.  That didn’t help much.

‘Did she eat all her food?’ Usually but it took her a bit of time.

This to me is quite interesting and, I suspect all too common.  Some of the benefits of Burns are being lost by feeding other unsuitable foods and possibly overfeeding of Burns. (She wasn’t overweight.)

I recommended that the biscuits and dental sticks should be stopped and the amount of Burns checked against the standard 10 grammes per kg. bodyweight.  When the diet is right she will have a proper moult and her coat will go back to its correct colour again.

‘Should her teeth be scaled?’  I don’t think that is necessary.  I expect that if the food is right the tartar will just disappear.

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