Camden Cat

Camden Cat

A few months ago Camden, our much loved thirteen year old Cat became suddenly quite ill. After a few days with all the symptoms of a nasty tummy bug she refused her breakfast and an hour later we were both sitting in the vet’s waiting room on a bank holiday. 

They took bloods, gave her a vitamin injection and packed me off home with a large bill, enough antibiotics for a small pit pony and ten sachets of Royal Canin. 


She’s had digestive problems for the nine years I’ve been lucky enough to have her and as a result, I’ve done the usual poking around online reading blogs, reports and research papers on what cats do and do not need in their diet.  Sugar as you can imagine is not on the list and yet the sachets from the vet listed ‘various sugars’ as the second ingredient. I knew this before they gave them to me but to be honest, feeling stressed and willing to do just about anything to make sure she’d eat, I caved in. 

They certainly went down a treat with Camden. The first ten sachets lasted barely three days – her appetite returned with an ear-piercing vengeance as she howled for her bowl to be topped up throughout the day.  A box of twelve lasted just long enough to get her to her follow up appointment but now that she was looking so much better I was determined to get her off the junk food and back onto something more healthful. So, I asked the vet…

The conversation went something like this: 

Me: So now that she’s feeling better I’d like to wean her onto a better quality food. Any recommendations? 

Vet: The Royal Canin we sell here is an excellent brand. 

Me: Really? But it contains various sugars and is made with meat derivatives? 

Vet: Sugars? Where did you hear that? <he sniggered at this point> 

Me: Er, it’s written on the ingredients list on the packet…

Vet: Is it?  Well the Rep always says what a great quality food it is.

As he was just about to take more blood from Camden, I bit my tongue at this point – hard.  


Now don’t get me wrong, I am incredibly grateful to the vets who have helped all of my animals over the years, they do a job I would never want to do in a million years, but it absolutely beggars belief that such learned professionals seem to have such little knowledge – not to mention such little interest – in diet and nutrition, the one thing that we know has such an enormous impact on health. Even more worrying is the idea that once qualified their source of information on such matters comes from pet food Rep with a vested interest in flogging more products. 

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. I’ve heard from lots of friends who have had very similar experiences.  We’ve since changed vets but although lovely, our new vet freely admits to ‘not knowing much about pet food’ which is a bit like my doctor saying she doesn’t know much about a healthy human diet – it’s just absurd!  

Ignorance or a blind eye? 

If the veterinary profession really cares about the health of our animals they need to focus on preventative health care for our pets. Just like humans, we know that diet plays a huge part in health and wellbeing which begs the question: why are so many vets still apparently ignorant? Is it a genuine gap in their training or is there simply too much money tied up with the big pet food manufacturers to risk rocking the boat?  

What’s your experience with vets and pet nutrition?  Does your vet disprove this theory? If so, please share via the comments as I’d love to be wrong on this one, for all our sakes. 


Annie the labrador on the patio in the sun

Annie enjoying the sun

A few months ago Annie developed a strange phobia about an area of the kitchen.  One day she was fine, galumping around all over the place and the next she had pinned her ears to her head, tucked her tail and flatly refused to come to either one of us if we stood anywhere near the dishwasher.

Human logic being what it is (flawed) we initially thought the dishwasher had made a noise and scared her. With reports of sink holes opening up around the country I have to confess to a mild does of paranoia which had me checking the exterior walls for any signs of subsidence but as Little Bear and the Cat were unfazed by the area and our brickwork remained in tact we quickly came to our senses.

Annie’s phobia then spread to a larger area of the kitchen and then the hallway.  By that point we suspected that it was probably the tiles at the root of the problem and tested the theory by covering the floor with mats and towels. Sure enough, with something to walk on besides tiles, the phobia disappeared as if by magic.

Within a week however, the phobia had generalised to any tiled floor, including the one in the pet shop, normally one of her favourite places.  We think the fear was probably triggered by her slipping on the floor and hurting herself – a theory that has now played out as she’s since, weeks later gone on to develop a limp on her front leg.

So it’s off to the vet tomorrow for what I suspect will be another X-ray.  Our poor love, she’s been through so much already I can’t stand the thought of leaving her at the vets again even though I know it’s for her own benefit.  We’re crossing fingers and toes that its a minor injury that can be easily fixed.

Fellow bloggers, hands up anyone who’s been overcome with an absolute burning desire to write a blog post at the exact same time that you ‘should’ be doing something else?  That report you need to finish writing?  Housework to do? Cat needs a bath? (I was joking on that last point)

Right now I should be writing an article I’m planning on pitching to a newspaper but, what do you know? I can’t possibly start until this urgent post is out-of-the-way!  I know.  Pathetic isn’t it?  I’m fully aware that I’m distracting myself because blogging is safe and rewarding (who in their right mind wouldn’t want to write about dogs all day?!) but pitching new ideas to scary editors is, well, scary!

So that my wasted ten minutes isn’t completely wasted, I’ve coined a new term purely for my own amusement:

Blogstraction – the act of writing blog posts as a distraction. 

There. Post done. I’ll just make another cuppa before I tackle that article….


Poor old blog.  If it had four legs and a tail it would get way more attention than it’s currently (not) enjoying.  So just to make myself feel marginally less tardy, here are some photographs of our dynamic trio.

Little Bear the mini schnauzer in a smart blue bandana

Guess what I got from Crufts?


Annie the Labrador laying on an astro turf rug

Annie checking out the astro turf ‘rug’ we had to put down after she slipped on the kitchen tiles.


Black and white cat Camden

Miss Camden Cat. Possibly the most loving cat in the world (unless you happen to be a schnauzer)If 

Little Bear the Mini Schnauzer

Sensitive Soul

Annie’s puddle diving addiction has got her into a bit of bother. During a particularly enthusiastic session in the Forest on Sunday she leapt into what turned out to be more pond than puddle and  disappeared momentarily into the murk.

She seemed nothing more than a bit taken aback by the whole incident and continued her rampaging for the rest of the walk, but by dinnertime, it became clear that stinky pond water isn’t great for the digestion; even the digestion of a Labrador with a passion for snacking from the cat’s litter box…

Vet trip

I’ll spare you any more gory details, but needless to say we ended up at the vets where she had to have an injection to stop the vomiting and a course of antibiotics to fight off whatever bug she’s picked up.

She refused all food yesterday and moved only between her crate and the couch with the occasional detour to the garden for the necessaries.  As my gran used to say, she looked ‘proper poorly’ all day poor love.

Thankfully, she’s on the mend today and is a little brighter. She’s forced down two small bowl fulls of chicken and rice and we’ve even had a few wags out of her so I’m hoping the worst is over.

Sensitive Bear 

As you can imagine, yesterday was slightly full on and Little Bear’s walk ended up being pathetically short, squeezed in between vet trips, supermarket dashes for chicken, copious washing of dog bedding, floor cleaning, bowl sanitising and frequent coddling of the patient  – and that was without the small matter of trying to run a business!

Amazingly though, despite having to play second fiddle to Annie all day, LB was an angel all day. He didn’t nag for food, (even though he had every meal late yesterday) he didn’t nag me to play (which is a nightly occurrence) and even his alert barking was considerably pared down.  When Annie ventured from her crate to lay on the sofa, he didn’t pester her to play as usual, he simply waited for her to lie down and then snuggled up next to her and slept.


When you have a reactive dog it’s all too easy to see the problem: the lunging, the barking, the hair-trigger temperament that means even a hiccupping bubble bee at forty feet can set them off; but in focussing on the problems we often miss something very special: The empathy, the sensitivity and the kindness dogs are capable of exhibiting, not just to us, but to their own kind too.

Reactive dogs are often sensitive dogs and while we work on helping them with their fears, we need to also appreciate and recognise the wonderful upside to their sensitivity.

Thanks LB for reminding me of your sensitive soul.



Paddy the Lab/Collie Mix covered in mud

Our Pal Paddy modelling this season’s sensational ‘muddy dog’ look.

Mud. It’s the bane of every dog loving household for months of the year, but just like vet bills, poop and hair on every surface bar the dog, it’s an inevitable part of sharing your life with a canine friend. That said, there are ways of minimising its disruptive influence: here are my favourite top tips.

1) Don’t expect your dog to stay clean 

An obvious one perhaps, but if I had a pound for every time I saw an exasperated owner yell ‘NO!’ at their pooch as they galloped joyfully to the puddle or squelched belly deep into the black stuff I could give up work and write about dogs full-time.  Dogs are dogs and therefore blessedly devoid of the worries that occupy our minds like whether their boss will accept ‘I had to hose down the dog’ as a valid excuse for being late to work  or  whether you’ll ever be able to get the kitchen floor clean again.

If you don’t have time to deal with the mud, then avoid it.  Take them on a longer street walk if you’re pushed for time, play with them at home, do some training or walk them later in the day, but please don’t expect to take the kid to the sweet shop and expect them to abstain in the interests of your agenda; it’s just not fair.

2) Prepare yourself  

When we took Bramble, our Springer Spaniel puppy for his first check-up, the vet told my mother to buy good wellies and a set of waterproofs. It was sage advice. Having the right protection from the elements turns a miserable walk into at least a bearable one.  My wardrobe is now well stocked with all manner of weather and dog proof clothing. My only rule is that all outer layers must be washable because even if your dog isn’t a jumper, you can never guarantee that you won’t encounter an over-enthusiastic greeter at the park.

3) Prepare your dog 

Mini Schnauzer Little Bear in a red coat

Little Red Riding Bear modelling a coat that didn’t quite make the grade

Little Bear has soft fluffy Schnauzer fur that clings to mud and knots. Brushing it out is possible, but not much fun for him (or me) so in the winter his legs and tummy are regularly trimmed. It may not be the Schnauzer ‘look’ but I don’t care as long as he’s more comfortable.

Both Little Bear and Annie have coats. Bear because he hates the rain and has fur that gets quickly sodden (at which point he shivers and refuses to walk) and Annie because she has arthritis and has a coat that takes forever to dry. We use their Equafleece coats most often because you can sling them in the washing machine, pop them on a radiator and they’re dry again by the next walk.

I’m often bemused by people who won’t put coats on dogs.  Maybe it’s a macho thing or a backlash against dressing dogs up as if they’re dolls, but for me it’s both kind and practical. If it’s cold and wet enough for you to have a coat on, chances are your dog would benefit too.  You can even get waterproof onsies to cover their legs as modelled by the adorable Louis and Archie.

Bichon's Louis and Archie in their onesies

Mud? What mud? Bichon brothers Louis & Archie in their mud proof onesies.

4) Mud proof your home 

Okay, if I could do this I’d patent it and make millions, but there are practical ways of minimising the impact on your home. As I wrote in my previous post, Dog seeks human, must love mud,  I’m the idiot who chose cream tiles and white walls so when I’m wiping down paint work and the steam mop is working overtime on the floors, I comfort myself in thinking that at least it’s easy to see and remove this way. Admittedly, it’s a small comfort.

Towels: A huge pile of dog towels is a must. A great way to reuse those that might have seen better days, in our house, they live in a basket in the garage ready for post walk rub downs.  Once there’s a machine load they get a quick wash on a cool cycle, dried on the bathroom towel radiator and are ready for their next round. It’s a pain, but it would be more of a pain without them.

Annie the Labrador sleeping in her bed

Annie snoozing in her bed (and yes, white is a stupid colour for dog bedding!)

Bedding: The thing about good dog beds is the fact that they’re usually soft and comfortable.  The way our two pull for home on a cold wet day leaves me in no doubt that they’re looking forward to snuggling up in their nice warm beds. Beds that will of course, be damp and covered in mud within minutes. So having washable beds and or bedding is a must.  Little Bear and Annie love their crates. Each has a thick waterproof base pad topped off with a washable single quilt.  They wash well and dry quickly which is absolutely essential.

Containment: This may be stating the obvious, but restricting access to the rooms you’d rather not get muddy is one of the simplest ways of containing the mess. If you recall the Christmas Pedigree advert you’ll already have a nightmare scenario in your mind of what might happen (it’s very funny if you’ve not seen it) , but remember, humans are usually the ones with the power to close doors!

5) Remember your sense of humour 

Possibly my most important tip of all. Having dogs is a privilege and one of the great joys in life so try not to let a little mud and mess detract from all the good stuff.  And next time your dog is ecstatically bounding through muddy puddles, try it out for yourself, you never know, you might just surprise yourself!

Do you have some top tips for dealing with muddy dogs? Do please share as a comment as I’m sure we’d all love some more ideas on how to manage the mud.  Thanks!

Mud Shots

After my last post, I’ve received some wonderful shots of EVEN muddier dogs than Little Bear and Annie!

Do you have a dirtier dog?

Thanks so much for sharing your pictures. If you’d like to add a mud mug shot to the rogues gallery you can email your picture to thelittlebeardogblog@googlemail.com

Bella the Labrador covered in mud

Queen of the Labrapotami, Bella.

Bella the Labrador wallowing in the mud

Bella at the mud wallow

Bonnie the Mini Schnauzer


Paddy the Collie Lab mix gets muddy


Paddy the Lab/Collie Mix covered in mud

Paddy looking proud of his paint job


Bichon's Louis and Archie in their onesies

Mud? What mud? Bichon brothers Louis & Archie in their mud proof onesies.





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