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Where to start with this subject? On a purely personal note my dogs are companions who certainly leave me with no time to feel ‘down’. Once morning comes they are up with the lark and ready to go. Our routine is put the kettle on then clean, feed and walk my extended family. We are out in all weathers, taking exercise, breathing fresh air and usually laughing at some stunt one of them pulls. This time out gives me a chance to clear my head and deal with any burning issues of the day. I do most of my dog training during our walks and each day I learn something new about them. We often meet other dogs and their humans giving all of us time to socialise. Dogs are always a good starting point in any conversation, especially Labradors. I have made friends all over the world through my love and interest in man’s best friend.

So, as far as my personal activities are concerned my dogs keep me fit in mind and body plus giving me a very busy active life. I spent time playing with the dogs, walk in some stunning Lancashire countryside, get all over the country showing, attend seminars and training evenings. Being Labradors my dogs like nothing more than to work and then eat. The end of the day, they all chill out round the fire and I have a G&T.

Bloat The Killer

This beautiful dog, Beau, would have died if his owners hadn’t recognised that he had bloat and rushed him to the vet immediately.

1. If you experience a combination of the following:
2. Your dog retches from the throat but nothing is produced, other than a small amount of frothy mucus
3. Your dog tries to defaecate unsuccessfully
4. Your dog adopts the “Sphinx” position
5. Your dog’s tummy goes hard and/or swells up like a balloon and as taut as drumskin
6. Your dog is trying to bite, or worry, the abdomen
7. Your dog is very unsettled

CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY. Bloat is a true emergency – be prepared to drive to the surgery straightaway. The chance of survival decreases alarmingly if you delay getting the dog to the surgery more than 60 – 90 minutes after the first signs.

So whether you’re about to catch a plane, serve a meal or go to bed – DON’T. Take your dog to the vet.


Conkers Warning to Dog Owners

As autumn approaches, dog owners are cautioned to keep their pets away from conkers which are highly poisonous if chewed and eaten. They are also very dangerous if swallowed whole by dogs as they may cause a serious blockages.

Last year, a leading animal charity treated seriously ill dogs who had eaten and swallowed conkers after playing with them. Vets discovered it took just one conker to block a dog’s intestine and many had a quantity of chewed up conkers in their stomachs which had poisoned them. In some cases emergency surgery was needed to ensure all traces of the conkers were removed and dogs had to be monitored by vets for several days for to make sure the poisoning wasn’t fatal.

Conkers are highly toxic and a Danger to Dogs.

Are Acorns Poisonous to Dogs?

Acorns can be toxic in large amounts, whether eaten all at once or several a day over a period of time. The acorn’s hard outer shell contains a toxic substance for dogs called gallotannin.

Harvest Mites

A 6yr old Cocker Spainel was brought into the surgery at the beginning of September and presented with acute lethargy, shaking and a tense abdomen. A few hours before she had been out shooting in a wooded area. Soon after admission she began to vomit and was therefore put onto intravenous fluids, which she stayed on for one week. Blood samples and other tests were mostly normal. Upon closer examination she was found to be covered in 100′s of Harvest Mites, which are identified as small orange dots and are often found between the toes. On this dog they were everywhere! We recommend you check you dog after walks at this time of year. Frontline spray is the best treatment to kill these mites. We believe this to be a case of Seasonal Canine Illness of which the cause is still unknown but has been linked to Harvest Mites. The dog is gradually making a full recovery but if she was not treated it could have been fatal.

Please get your dog checked out by a veterinary surgeon if you are at all worried.

Please do not let your dogs eat raisins, grapes and currants.

Charlie is a 5 year old Labrador retriever who was seen at the Dick Vet because he developed kidney failure after eating raisins. Raisins, grapes, and currants can cause severe kidney failure in dogs. Initially, Charlie’s kidneys were not producing any urine at all so he was treated with peritoneal dialysis, allowing for clearance of toxic products normally cleared by the kidneys.

After a few days of treatment, his kidneys began producing urine again. We are hopeful that his kidney function will continue to improve over time. He is a very sweet dog and has been a wonderful patient.

Please keep raisins, currants and grapes away from dogs and if you’re not sure if your dog should be eating something then please check with your vet – there are many things that people can eat that are bad for dogs and cats.

Stick Injuries

Please don’t throw sticks for your dog! We are posting this graphic photo to highlight the risks of throwing sticks for your dog. Vet surgeries will see many stick injuries every year and they can range from mild trauma to life-threatening damage. This dog presented in shock with blood running from his mouth and had an emergency anaesthetic to assess his injuries. Fortunately, a few weeks later he has recovered well but we had to remove a portion of stick still embedded in the back of his throat that had broken off, and repair a penetration wound alongside his larynx and oesophagus caused by a larger piece of stick. If by highlighting the dangers of stick-throwing we can stop a few people doing this we can perhaps at least prevent further cases in the future.


Dogs love to play and playtime can be deeply rewarding; a real chance to develop the bond between you, as well as healthy exercise for you both. Play can be an important part of a dog’s education, as well as an opportunity to satisfy basic canine instincts. But don’t restrict your idea of play to a routine walk to the local park to run and fetch in the drizzle! Here are a few ideas to keep playtime interesting and fun – for both of you.

Hide and seek

Get someone to hide, having first made it clear that they have a favourite toy or a treat with them. At first you can make it easy, letting your dog watch where they hide. Encourage your dog to find the person, who can then hand over the toy or treat as a reward. After a while make the game more difficult. Distract your dog while the other player hides, use different hiding places, or even move around behind different objects to make hi work that little bit harder.
Find the treat

Tell your dog to “stay” and show him or her a treat or biscuit, which you then proceed to clearly put under a cushion or behind a chair. Go back to your dog with the instruction to “seek”. After a bit of practice, you can pretend to hide the object in a variety of places around the room. Make the game even more difficult by using different rooms and shutting the dog out of the room while you hide the treat.


Tracking is great fun, but takes a bit of training. First of all, put your dog on a long lead or flexi-lead, using a fixed collar. Never use a choke chain for this, or even to walk your dog, as they are old fashioned and potentially dangerous. Make your dog stay (or get a friend to help) while you walk along backwards for about 20 meters showing a toy or treat, dragging your feet to maximise the scent trail and holding the reward near the floor to encourage the dog to search along at ground level. Leave the reward at the end of your scent trail and return along the same path. With the request “track”, encourage your dog to sniff the ground where you walked until the reward is found. In time, you can lay longer trails, and try walking in different directions and patterns to help him develop his skills.

Treasure hunt

Try this once you’ve successfully taught your dog to track. When you are out, drop a toy without your dog seeing you, but continue walking for a few yards. Then stop and say “look back,” encouraging your pet to retrace the route (most dogs will be able to follow your scent even if they didn’t see exactly which way you went) until the toy is found. You can use a long lead at first to help you keep the dog on the right track. After a while, increase the distance and make the object a little more difficult to find. Don’t throw it away from where you walked though, or they won’t be able to use your scent to find it.


You can teach dogs to play fetch without even leaving the sofa! Offer your dog a toy, and as he mouths and sniffs it, say “fetch” and reward with praise or a treat.

Once your dog learns to touch the toy with his nose whenever you offer it and say “fetch”, offer it again with the request, but without the reward. This will be a bit puzzling, so say the request again straight away and your dog will be even keener to show you how clever he or she is.

Your dog will probably knock the toy with their nose or even take hold of it, and from then on this is the only action that gets the reward. By working this way, very slowly and in stages, you should be able to take dogs from sniffing to nosing to taking hold of the toy on your command. Never move to a new stage until you have successfully mastered the present one.

Once you have reached this stage, drop the toy and say “fetch”. When your dog starts to pick it up, you can begin to throw the toy slightly further away each time. Only reward your dog when he brings the toy back. Make sure you start and end these games with distinct signals, or your dog may become a pest and want to play when you want to watch your favourite TV programme!

Obviously you don’t just have to play in your living room. Try the game on a walk or in the garden, once your dog has learnt the principle. And be careful: a game of “fetch” can quickly turn into “chase me for it” and then it will be a case of him training.


You may say that training isn’t for you, but dogs like routine and need to know where they stand in the family pack. They need to know what acceptable behaviour is. There are lots of schools of thought on training so it important that you find the right approaches for you and your dog.

There are many Dog Training classes throughout the country. They can be found listed on the KC website. Look at The Good Citizen scheme on the same site. You will find that both you and the dog will have learnt much and made good fried’s along the way.

Puppies need to meet and have pleasant encounters with a wide variety of adults, children and other animals.

Home is where the heart is!

Once my girl is in pup there follows nine weeks of watching and waiting, then, usually in the middle of the night, the pups arrive. I sit with mum, help when needed or just hold her paw! It’s awesome to watch mum clean and nurture each pup as he, she is born. There follows eight weeks when I share the care of the youngsters with mum.

It falls to me, to prepare the pups for their move to new homes and families. They need to be weaned from mum’s milk to solid food, guided towards being clean and introduced to their new world. This is very time consuming but straight forward if well planned.

Now comes the most difficult decision making time for me. I have to select people and homes where these new puppies should spend the rest of their lives. Utopia would be the ability to keep all the litter but even with enough hands and finances this would not be in the pup’s best interests. Pups need a great deal of time and attention. One of the phrases I repeat to my new puppy people is, “You only get back what you put in”. All breeders will have their own methodology to arrive at their decisions but this is not an exact science. This being so prospective owners must be ready to meet with me a number of times and understand that I will have an equal number of questions for them as they have for me.

New pups go home with all the help and advice I can offer. They will have been health checked by a veterinarian, have all the necessary paperwork, four weeks insurance and food to keep their diet unchanged. I am always around to offer any follow up help that is needed. Everyone is encouraged to keep in touch and each puppy has a page on my web site where a record of their progress can be kept.

Many people who live locally call in often to show me how the pups are getting along and I am able to drop in for home visits. I travel many miles competing with my dogs and take advantage whilst on the move to visit many of my pups. It’s always a great pleasure to listen to stories of Lancastria pups.

Lancastria Smartie has a page which will explain how far I go to ensure a happy home for my dog.

Conkers are fun for Children but a DANGER FOR YOUR DOGS!

The Blue Cross Charity has warned dog owners of the dangers of conkers. They say that they are highly poisonous if chewed and eaten and very dangerous, if swallowed whole by dogs, as they may cause serious blockages.

The Charity has treated a number of seriously ill dogs who have eaten and swallowed conkers whilst playing with them.

They write that a three year old dog who had been playing catching conkers with children. Soon after the dog became very sick, would not eat or drink and his anxious owners had no idea what was wrong. Vets discovered that the dog had a conker blocking his intestines and a quantity of chewed up conkers in his stomach which poisoned him. He needed emergency surgery to ensure that all traces of the conkers were removed and was monitored by the vets for several days to make sure the poisoning wasn’t fatal.

If you think your dog may have been in contact with conkers and then is unwell it advises that you get him to the vet’s a.s.a.p.

Beware of Slug Pellets!

Beware of Slug Pellets With gardening season in full swing, dog owners across the country are spending more time outside with their pets, and a common household gardening product is sending many of them to the emergency room.

Much like antifreeze, slug bait tastes good to dogs, making it a challenge to keep them away from it. This deadly toxin is so potent that symptoms can become apparent in a few as 15 minutes. If not treated quickly, slug bait ingestion could kill your dog.

Common symptoms of slug bait ingestion include:

  • heavy drooling
  • weakness
  • shaking
  • tremors, and eventually seizures
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