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Dr Finlay's Casebook - Josh the GSD, Bonnie the Collie & Chloe the Rabbit

Published: Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Last week at Parc y Bocs Farm Shop I met up with Josh and his owners. Josh is a one year old German Shepherd who has a great shaggy coat and is full of energy and bounce, perhaps a bit too boisterous.  He also seemed to me to be a few kilos overweight.  His owners told me he was on [a well known up-market brand food] as recommended by the breeder. They also told me that the breeder said that his exercise should be restricted to not more than 20 minutes at a time.  Oh, and he is lame.

To me this is a disaster in the making.  It is generally accepted that dogs, especially larger breeds can develop joint and skeletal problems if their energy intake during growth is too high.  Yet most brands of pet food for growth contain high levels of protein and fat and this, in my view adds to the risk.  As for restricting Josh’s exercise, that makes no sense at all.  Can you imagine restricting the exercise of young people until they are 21? Exercise helps develop good muscle tone and correct bone formation and development.

2.) Another visitor to Parc y Bocs was Bonnie, a 4 year old Collie, visiting from the Midlands.  Bonnie has had diarrhoea and loose stools all her life.  She is now on a Veterinary Sensitivity diet.  The owners have spent “a fortune” on food allergy testing.  She is doing reasonably well but never has firm motions.

The problem with allergy testing is that it doesn’t work.  In fact it’s worse than that.  It’s a major expense but provides misleading information.  With a problem like this there is only one way and that is trial and error.  I recommended Burns Sensitive+ Pork and Potato.  This has to be done very gradually and carefully under supervision.  Many pet owners jump from food to food without taking professional advice.  That is what the Burns Nutrition Team is for, to help owners towards the best outcome for their pets.

3.) Again at Parc y Bocs I was asked to take a look at Chloe, a floppy-eared rabbit as the vet practice said they couldn’t give an appointment for 3 weeks! That seemed strange; I’ve never heard of that before. Chloe had an ulcerated swelling on the side of her head below her right ear.  In fact there were three spherical lumps below the ear.  Tumours or abscesses, I couldn’t say.  This needs further investigation probably under anaesthetic so I suggested a local vet who I thought would be suitable.  I suspect these lumps are abscesses caused by problems with the cheek teeth.  I asked about Chloe’s diet.  She is being fed on pelleted rabbit food and no hay.  This is absolutely the wrong thing to do. Rabbits need a high fibre, low energy diet as provided by hay.  The rabbit is forced to spend a large part of its time chewing and this wears down the teeth.  Without that wearing down, the teeth grow too long and can cause damage and infection inside the mouth.  I gave Chloe’s owners a copy of Burns Small Animal leaflet which has a feeding pyramid. Hay should be the major food and pelleted food at most only a small proportion.

[The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the animals.]

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