How Far Is Too Far To Walk A Dog?

dog on long walk

With more people working from home than every before, there’s a new question: am I walking my dog too much?

And indeed, over the past year we have seen many dogs over-exercised. But then there are dogs like my Loki. One day last week he pulled me for 25km and then ran laps around the yard afterwards!

So it’s complicated, and there’s no one answer. Each day and each dog is going to be different.

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A Critical Review Of Feliway For Cats

Feliway diffuser spray

For nearly my whole career, I have used and recommended Feliway® for situations involving feline anxiety and stress. These might be urine spraying, inter-cat aggression, or even trips to the vet and cattery.

I have always been reassured that there is strong scientific evidence for its effectiveness. So it took until 2021 for me to do a thorough literature review of my own. I was shocked by what I found.

It’s not that Feliway doesn’t work at all. It’s just that it probably doesn’t work for most of the things it’s been promoted for.

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Help! My Cat Attacks Me Without Warning

cat being held

It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious. Look for answers on why your cat bites or scratches you and you find people telling you it’s all about a competition for dominance.

As any genuine cat lover knows, our cats always dominate us. Most of us have enough humility to love them for it. 

Stopping them biting and scratching is a whole other story with a wholly different explanation. One where aggression is just a symptom of a problem in the cat-human relationship.

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Designing A Cat Friendly Australian Garden

cat in plants

More and more Australians are building an outdoor enclosure, or catio for their cat. Some make it themselves, others pay specialist companies to do it. Either way, there are two things that often get overlooked.

The first, assuming you plan on using them, is choosing plants that are safe for cats. I cover that later with an Australian perspective. The second is designing the space from a cat point of view.

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Which Cat Scratcher Do Cats Use Most?

cat on scratcher

We all know that cats like to sharpen their claws, but it amazes me how little we actually know about it. Yet scratching in cats is extremely important.

It is:

  • a genuine need of cats
  • a significant source of concern for cat owners
  • a leading cause of surrender to shelters
  • the excuse used for surgical declawing of cats

What you see here is typical of veterinary science. Pick a rare disease like arterial thromboembolism and you’ll find lots of good science. Pick a common, everyday, practical problem and it just doesn’t get the same attention.

Finally, I have something to tell you. For the first time, two recent studies have looked at scratcher preferences in kittens and adult cats. They offered cats choices and measured which ones they chose to use more often.

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Adopting an Older Ex Stud or Shelter Dog

older dog adoption

Not long ago I saw two adult dogs in a row that had just been adopted from their breeder. The first one was not perfectly normal, but he would be OK. However, the second one, Jethro was in real trouble.

Right now, he is frightened of many things in an unpredictable way. He is frequently frozen and unwilling to move, difficult to walk, wary of strangers and not interested in food. At night he wanders the house unsettled. But we can also see signs of the lovely dog within.

Recently I told you that the best age to get a puppy is 7 to 8 weeks old. But there are plenty of dogs and puppies over 16 weeks old needing homes. Here are some examples:

So what happens if you get them? The answer is that they still make great pets, but not all of them and not always in the same way.

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How To Stop Your Dog Eating Poo

dog-sniffing-grass

Try looking for answers when your dog eats their own stool and you’ll quickly see the problem. All the advice is the same.

Some top sites have literally cut and pasted the content from others, and those that haven’t appear to be just rewriting what everyone else says. The reason is simple: because no-one has all the answers.

A recent study (and the only good one) found that success rates with the sort of methods they discuss are only 1-4%. And it’s even worse if you try one of the many products being sold: 0-2%!

This fits exactly with my experience over 25 years. But it’s not hopeless! I’m going to use what I’ve learnt plus the evidence to give you practical, realistic advice. There’ll be a lot less promises, but also a lot less wasted effort.

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How To Find A Good Dog Training Class

Everyone has an opinion about what makes a great obedience class. I’ve got a lot to say on the subject, but I’ll start here: obedience has nothing to do with it!

The evidence is clear and consistent. When measured by results, reward-based training outperforms more ‘traditional’ methods. It’s also much less likely to cause pain or anxiety.

That’s why this article is going to help you tell the difference. By the end, you should be able to choose the right class for your dog. I will go through some clues you can use, and then use an example of two very real classes.

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Causes Of Sneezing In Dogs

dog sneeze

Does your dog do this? When mine gets excited or playful he starts sneezing.

Sneezing during play isn’t well understood, but it’s clearly one of the least serious causes of sneezing in dogs.

I’ll take you through the other common reasons, from minor to major. As nearly every one is associated with a runny nose, I’ll also describe the nasal discharge that goes with it.

By the time you make it to the end, you’ll be an expert!

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Causes Of Shaking & Trembling in Dogs

dog shivering shaking

One night my own dog started shaking and shivering uncontrollably. Several frantic minutes went by. Was it a poison, was he unwell? The reasons why dogs tremble and shake go from simple to serious.

A minute later he squatted, passed a huge puddle of urine on the floor and the shaking stopped. He was busting to go to the toilet, and no-one realised. We all felt a bit silly, but that’s how hard it is.

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Puppy Preschool: The Evidence

puppy class walkerville

This lovely photo by Julie Wilson shows Jack, one of our Puppy Preschool graduates. It’s the way we like to see them: making the most out of life.

Did his puppy classes help him become the dog he is now? To answer that we need to know not what puppy classes promise, but what they actually do.

You have a right to be shown the evidence behind any veterinary recommendation. Here’s what we know.

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Thunderstorm & Firework Anxiety In Dogs

thunder phobia dog

After every thunderstorm or firework night I wait for the calls:

  • Dogs wandering the streets far from home
  • Dogs that have gone through windows
  • Dogs with lacerations from escape attempts

What we don’t see nearly enough are the dogs that just suffer in silence, panting, trembling or hiding at home. Noise phobias are common in dogs, and there’s a lot your vet can do to help.

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Preventing Stress, Fear & Scares At The Vet

french bulldog vet

Yesterday: a dog who panics whenever someone touches her feet. The day before: a dog with anxiety about her ears being touched. These dogs are everywhere, but what happened to them?

The answer is something I’ve held back a long time from writing about. It contains criticism of my own profession as well as others. God knows, I’m no saint, and like most vets, I’ve made all these mistakes too. But we’re going to keep making them, so you need to know how to stop them.

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We Need To Talk: Anxiety Medications In Dogs

stressed dog cat

No one wants to drug their pets. I get that. But we need to talk about mental health.

cat anxiety treatment

Let’s start by throwing out all the weasel words that stop us seeing it for what it is. It isn’t a ‘behaviour problem’ except to us. All these concerns like destruction, whining, howling, barking, biting or escaping. They’re only symptoms of a much greater problem.

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Help! My Puppy Keeps Peeing In The House

puppy peeing on floor

25 years ago, in my very first week as a vet, a lovely bouncy Cocker Spaniel puppy taught me a hard lesson. Innocently enough, I asked his owner “so, how’s everything going?”

Right in front of me, without another word, his owner burst into tears. Back then I really didn’t know what was going on. I sure do now.

Toilet training, house training or potty training. Call it what you will, but it’s the greatest challenge most puppy owners will face. As vets, we might consider ourselves masters of keeping puppies healthy, but we often look on helplessly at training problems.

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Help! My Cat Is Peeing Inside

Cat urinating in house

‘At A Glance (Details Below)’ What To Do

Why Cats Urinate In The House

  1. The cause is usually anxiety, territorial stress, urinary tract disease or litter box problems
  2. It’s not bad behaviour; most cats will stop peeing inside if you treat the cause and don’t punish
  3. Clean up areas with cat urine using enzymatic cleaners to reduce odour and prevent recurrence

Now dive deeper.

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Good And Bad Puppy Training

dog jumping

True or false: early social exposure in a puppy reduces aggression to other dogs later in life. Easy, right?

After all, that’s why vets (like us) push early finish vaccination programs and puppy preschool classes. Get that puppy out socialising in the ‘sensitive period’ before 16 weeks and they’ll get to enjoy the company of other dogs FOR LIFE.

Well not so fast. A recent Australian study has shown the exact opposite. I’m not even that surprised; I’ve been warning puppy owners about this for years.

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20 Good Family Dog Breeds For Kids

Dogs for children

When I wrote an article about reducing the risk of dogs biting children I avoided discussing the elephant in the room. It’s time to face facts.

The truth is that all dog breeds are not the same around kids. You know it, I know it, but it’s hard to talk about without offending dog owners. However, if I don’t create a list of good dogs with kids, where will responsible parents in Adelaide find that information?

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Dog Debarking Surgery

barking fenced dogs

Here’s a rare public comment on a dog breeder forum about what I think is one of South Australia’s dirty little secrets.

debarking SA laws
“You need a stat dec signed by a JP stating the dogs barking is a nuisance etc and all the other methods of redicign the dogs barking have already bent tried and failed. Then you can get your dog debarked. I live on the SA/NSW border and thats how ppl here get thier dogs debarked. a letter froma JP and they hop over the border and get the Op done by a SA vet”
dog after debarking
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