Website for the over 60s  July 2017
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      Dora's Diary


             A monthly dog blog

Hi folks. How’re
doing? Enjoying your summer? You've caught me lazing on Bossman’s lap, dozing, soaking up a bit of sunshine while he tickles my neck. Pure bliss. I could stay here out on this sun lounger all day, I can tell you. Bit of a lounge lizard, I must confess.

Bossman’s been doing a bit of writing recently. Some sort of memoir. Reminiscences of his life with pets such as me. It’s taken him back to when he was an eight-year lad in Nigeria. Over sixty years ago. Shows he’s getting on a bit, doesn’t it?

He and his parents lived in a place called Ibadan. In a somewhat ram-shackled bungalow which they shared with a menagerie of pets. Chief amongst them was a Labrador-type of dog. Black save for a white blaze on her chest and white socks on her front paws. She was called Poucher. An unusual name, eh?

Well, this Poucher went missing for a few days. Bossman feared the worst. That she’d been savaged by a wild animal. Possibly been eaten. Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it. But Poucher did return after three days, dragging her right hind leg; on the inside of her thigh, there was a tremendous gash. Sounds ghastly. It was the army doctor who stitched her up. Saved her live. Bossman watched the operation, google-eyed, and said, "I want to be a vet."

The story doesn’t end there though. Oh, no. What followed will really give you the heebie-jeebies, so don’t say I haven’t warned you.

During Poucher’s convalescence, she was allowed to sleep in Bossman’s bedroom. His dad constructed a large padded dog bed and this was placed next to Bossman’s bed; and that’s where Poucher slept each night. Oh, there was a cat as well. Called Sooty. She was allowed to sleep on top of Bossman’s mosquito net.

One night his parents went off to an army do. Some sort of dinner I think it was. Don’t worry. Bossman wasn’t left on his own. There was a houseboy who lived at the other end of the bungalow in staff quarters with his wife.

Anyway, here we have Bossman asleep in his room, cat over the bed, dog alongside it. Suddenly he jolts awake. The room’s pitch black. He can’t see a thing. But he can hear Poucher nuzzling herself and whining. He can feel the mosquito net swaying from side to side.

Seems Sooty is being disturbed. Bossman wonders what’s going on. Maybe Poucher’s stitches are pulling. Causing her some pain. He decides to investigate. In that darkness, he lifts the edge of the mosquito net and slides one leg down onto the floor. Immediately he feels things spring onto his foot and dart up his calf. Scary, eh?

The same happens when he lowers his other leg. Creatures crawling up him. He dashes over to the light switch. Flicks it on. Turns to find the whole room is a seething black sea of soldier ants. A tide of them is pouring through the open window, down the walls, and sweeping across the floor.

Terrified as ants stream up his legs and onto his tummy, he staggers across to the door out onto the veranda. Switching the outside light on, he’s confronted by a lawn smothered in ants. Poucher and Sooty dash past him and are swallowed up into the inky darkness.

The houseboy hears Bossman’s screams and comes charging down the veranda, lifts him up and carries him through to the lounge, an area unaffected by the column of ants. Here he helps Bossman to prise off the ants that have dug their pincers deep into his skin. Skin which is rapidly turning red and blotchy – an angry reaction to the formic acid that the ants were injecting into him.

Then the houseboy and Bossman arm themselves with cans of insecticide spray and advance back down to his bedroom, spraying repeatedly in front of them. By the time Bossman’s parents return from their army function the column of ants has moved on. The only evidence left, five cardboard boxes of dead ants the houseboy had swept up; and Bossman’s swollen, reddened legs and tummy.

I know what you’re wondering. Did Poucher and Sooty survive the ordeal? You’ll be glad to know that they did live to tell the tale. Or rather Bossman to tell it. Quite a story, isn’t it?

I only have to see a titchy ant scuttling across the patio to remind me of Bossman’s horrifying experience. Enough to give you ants in your pants! Hope you don’t get any in yours this summer.

Love and licks


Pets Aplenty by Malcolm Welshman

P.S. My Bossman is Malcolm Welshman.

His latest novel, Pets Aplenty, is published by Austin Macauley Tel: 0207 038 8212 at £7.99, Kindle version £0.99 and available to buy from  

Malcolm Welshman has his own website at 


RSPCA Launches Free Pet Fur-st
Aid Guide

RSPCA Pet First Aid Guide

  Charity aims for pet owners
    to be prepared in a crisis

Do you know how to carry out CPR on your cat, what to do if your dog is choking or how to help a pet in shock? The RSPCA’s brand new free downloadable Pet First Aid Guide has everything owners need to know in an emergency.

As the UK’s oldest and largest animal welfare charity, the RSPCA hopes pet owners will download the guide onto their smartphone so they can be as prepared and knowledgeable as possible, should a crisis happen. The guide is available to download free* from now.

James Yeates, chief veterinary officer at the RSPCA, who helped write the guide says, “This pet first aid guide is an essential for all dog and cat owners.

“Hopefully they will never need to use it but it’s good to know what to do if an emergency happens.

“Obviously in the situation like a cut, a burn or if your dog or cat stops breathing you need to speak to a vet straight away and get them seen to as soon as possible - but in an emergency situation every moment is crucial so if you can start first aid before you get to the vets it can really help. You could also ask your vet to show you some of the techniques at your pet’s next visit so you can be confident in using them.

“The guide can be downloaded onto a smartphone so pet owners will have the reassurance that help is at hand in the event of an emergency.”

Easy to navigate and read on any smartphone, the first aid guide covers what to do in the following emergency circumstances until you can get your pet vet care.

· Choking
· Not breathing
· No heartbeat,
· Signs of shock,
· Signs of poisoning,
· Seizures,
· Burns,
· Heat stroke,
· Internal and external bleeding and
· Fractures.

To get your hands on a copy of the guide visit


Dealing with Dementia in Pets

Pets can also get dementia

PDSA is raising awareness of the issue of dementia or ‘cognitive dysfunction syndrome’ in pets. The condition is not just exclusive to humans but can also affect our four-legged companions too.

Dementia affects as many as 800,000 people in the UK but it’s also true that pets can suffer from a very similar condition as they get older. PDSA is aiming to educate pet owners about the signs and symptoms to look out for in older pets.

Dementia is an ‘umbrella’ term used to describe a set of symptoms caused by a gradual loss of brain function. Symptoms are varied but can include memory loss, confusion and poor attention, and onset is generally associated with old age.

Spotting this disease in pets can be more difficult than in humans, so PDSA has put together a list of signs to look out for that could indicate your pet is affected.

Signs can include

· Confusion or disorientation – getting lost in familiar places or getting ‘trapped’ in a corner and not being able to find their way out.

· Loss of toilet training – soiling indoors or forgetting where the litter tray is.

· Change of sleeping patterns – sleeping more during the day or less at night.

· Change in social interaction and relationships – becoming more withdrawn, seeming depressed or forgetting members of the family or other pets.

· Loss of memory – not responding to familiar commands, forgetting previously learnt behaviours and difficulty in learning new tasks.

· Changes in activity – reduced levels of activity or aimless pacing and staring into space.

· Changes in vocalisations – howling or crying more than usual, often at night.

· Change to appetite – usually a decrease, but sometimes an increase occurs as the pet appears to forget they have already eaten.

PDSA vet, Rebecca Ashman, says, “These signs can indicate a dementia-like condition in pets, but a number of them can also be caused by other diseases, so it’s important to visit your vet as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis. Early detection is important, as this can often result in more successful management, so regular check-ups for elderly pets are key.”

If a pet is diagnosed with cognitive dysfunction syndrome, your vet may prescribe medication, or recommend ways of managing the condition, which can help pets have an improved quality of life for some time after the original onset of illness.

Owners can also take steps to help pets suffering with this condition including avoiding moving things in the house; increasing other environmental clues, such as keeping the radio on in a particular room to help navigation; encourage interaction and retraining.

The exact causes of cognitive dysfunction syndrome in pets aren’t known, but veterinary specialists suggest that a good diet, regular mental stimulation (e.g. exercising and playing outdoors) and companionship (for social animals like dogs) can all help to reduce the risks of animals developing the disease.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

For further information visit the website at

Pet Care  

RSPCA Tips to Keep Pets Cool

Keep your dog cool with a paddling pool

As temperatures soar over the Summer months,  the RSPCA issues helpful advice to keep all your pets comfortable in the heat.

RSPCA’s Ten Top Tips

Keep your pet cool in the shade

1. If your pet has white fur make sure to use pet safe sun-cream particularly on the tips of ears which can get sunburnt exactly the same as humans do. This is also true of horses and particularly their sensitive noses.

2. Fish can get too hot too! Tanks should be kept out of direct sunlight to protect your fish.

3. Get creative! Freeze your dog's water bowl or kong before putting water or treats in to keep them cool for longer periods of time. This could work for any animals treats, for example making sure carrots given to horses are from the fridge. Or put ice cubes into your dog's water to cool it down.

Freeze your dog's water bowl or kong before putting water or treats in to keep them cool for longer periods of time

4. Wrap an ice pack from the freezer in a tea towel so your dog or cat can rest on it if they choose to. You could also put damp towels in the freezer for your pet to lie on.

5. You might notice your pet likes to lie more on tiled surfaces than carpets when it’s hot - a cooling mat can also provide a nice place to help your pet cool down.

6. Put bottles of frozen water wrapped in a towel in rabbit and guinea pig enclosures so your rabbit can lie next to it if they want to cool down - make sure there is a shady part of the exercise area for your rabbits and guinea pigs at all times of the day. Rabbits are more susceptible to fly-strike in the summer so be sure to check them regularly.

7. Make an ice lolly from pet friendly ingredients - recipes can be found online but if in doubt ask your vet.

Horses will enjoy an ice lolly made from pet friendly ingredients

8. If your dog enjoys water use a paddling pool, hose or sprinkler, so they have the option to get wet and cool down

9. Pets may struggle to realise when they are too hot so make sure they have constant access to shade and don’t over exercise them in the heat. Don’t house any animal in direct sunlight.

10. Give your dog a piece of cold apple or cucumber to eat for added moisture.

Vix Ford, centre manager at RSPCA Lockwood centre for horses and donkeys says, “We make up flavoured ice licks and do lots of water bobbing with various fruits and vegetables in the hot weather to help cool the horses down.

“Ice licks are made in plastic boxes or buckets with pureed fruit and veg or water with herbs or frozen herbal teas. We sometimes add pieces of fruit and veg too.

“It’s important to help the animals in our care stay cool and comfortable in the heat.”

For more information about the RSPCA visit the website at

Diabetes Can be a Problem for Pets

Diabetes can be a problem for pets


Diabetes is a growing problem in humans and the situation is just as serious when it comes to our pets.

PDSA says an increased incidence of pet obesity and widespread diets of fatty treats and scraps from the dinner table, means our pets are at higher risk than ever of developing this potentially fatal condition. The vet charity is raising awareness of diabetes in pets and how owners can help reduce their pet’s risk.

PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman says, “All the indicators tell us diabetes is set to become an even bigger problem in the future, as vets across the UK see more and more obese pets.

“We’re asking pet owners to ensure they feed their animals a balanced, appropriate diet and weigh out food to avoid overfeeding and putting on excess weight. Pets who are the right weight and body condition score are less likely to develop diabetes, as well as a range of other serious diseases.”

Diabetes might not be an illness that people often associate with pets, but it can have a big impact on their lives. Although prevention is far better than dealing with the disease, with the right treatment, many pets can continue to live a good quality of life.

Rebecca adds, “Diabetes is a disease which affects the body’s ability to control sugar levels in the bloodstream. It can affect both cats and dogs and is more common in pets that are overweight.

“Signs of diabetes include your cat or dog drinking more than usual – this is due to the high levels of sugar in the blood making your pet excessively thirsty, which in turn will make them need to urinate more frequently. Although they are unwell, pets with diabetes can appear bright and alert as well as having an increased appetite but despite this, they may start losing weight. As their health deteriorates they will become depressed, go off their food, be sick and become dehydrated due to fluid loss. Owners may also notice their pet has sweet smelling breath – similar to pear drops or nail varnish remover.”

If you suspect your pet may have diabetes it’s vital to get them checked over by your vet urgently so the condition can be diagnosed and the appropriate treatment administered. It usually helps if you can manage to take a fresh urine sample along with you to your appointment for the vet to test.

“Left untreated, diabetes can be fatal,” warns Rebecca. “However, when diagnosed, a diabetic pet will be given a tailored treatment and management plan. Most pets will need insulin injections every day to control their diabetes and owners are usually taught how to administer the medication and make changes to their pet’s diet and routine.”

“Although pets with diabetes need higher levels of care, modern treatments mean many continue with a good quality of life for years to come.”

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. We’re on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information.

For details visit

Lost and Hound!
Microchip Your Pets

Checking a dog for its microchip


With lighter evenings and warmer weather, many of our pets will be enjoying more time outdoors. Some lucky pets may even be coming along with us on our summer holidays, so it’s a perfect time to make sure your pet is microchipped.

PDSA Vet Rebecca Ashman says, “It's a legal requirement for dogs to be microchipped. We also recommend cats are microchipped as it’s the most reliable way of identifying them and improves the chances of them being returned if they are lost.

“One of the most heartbreaking scenarios is an injured animal brought to us who isn’t microchipped, or the details aren’t up to date. You know this pet has a loving owner who is probably fraught with worry, but there’s no way to let them know what has happened. Sadly, many pets in this situation can often end up in rescue centres because their owners are never found.”

To help pet owners, Rebecca has sorted through the fact and fiction around microchipping:

Microchipped pets don’t need any other ID?

Fiction: while cats don’t need any other ID, it’s actually the law for dogs to wear a collar and ID tag when outside the home. Legally the tag should give the owner’s name and address but a phone number is also recommended.

One microchip will last the pet’s entire life?

Fact: In the vast majority of cases, a single microchip will last for your pet’s entire lifetime. The chip can sometimes move around a little, which is why it’s best to scan over a pet’s whole body when checking for one. If the pet changes owner they don’t need a new chip – the new owner can just call the company to change the details.

Won’t it hurt my pet?

Fiction: microchips are really tiny – smaller than a grain of rice. It’s similar to getting any other injection like a vaccination and many pets don’t even notice it happening. It goes under the skin at the back of their neck. They’re made of non-reactive material so should not cause any reaction or pain once inserted.

A microchip will show my contact details to anyone who scans it?

Fiction: a microchip scanner will only show the microchip’s unique ID number. If your pet is found and brought to a vet or rescue centre, they will scan for the number then call the microchip company to access the owner’s details. This is why it’s really important to make sure your details are always kept up-to-date in the database.

It’s really cheap to get your pet microchipped?

Fact: the cost can vary, but many councils, charities and veterinary clinics offer discounted or even free microchipping schemes. It’s worth researching what’s on offer in your area to get the best option for you and your pet. Microchipped pets stand a much better chance of being reunited with their owners should they ever go missing.

For details visit

Treat your Dog to Sophie Allport Gifts

'Woof' Dog Bed from Sophie Allport


Treat your dog to a gorgeous new 'Woof' Dog Bed from Sophie Allport. Decorated in cosy cotton fabric with wire haired dachshunds, springer spaniels, pugs, cocker spaniels, black labradors, jack russells and fox red labradors. Price is £38.

'Woof' Dog Bowl from Sophie Allport

Match it up with this lovely Woof! Dog Food Bowl. A perfect gift for any dog owner or for your own cherished pet. Price is £14.00.

For more details visit

   Sixtyplusurfers Competition 

    Win a Deluxe Cat
      Scratcher Post

Win a Deluxe Cat Scratcher Post

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with Feedem to offer one lucky reader the chance to win an Acticat Premo Deluxe Cat Scratcher Post in Chocolate, the perfect gift for an active cat.

The Premo Deluxe Acticat post is approximately 45cm high and incorporates the new bi-coloured sisal rope post, with a soft chocolate plush base and a toy mouse on a rotating arm.

Ancol The Acticat range of furniture has been carefully selected to provide fun, exercise and excitement. The materials used are of the finest quality combining hard wearing sisal rope for the scratching posts and soft plush material for the play and relaxation.

The furniture is impregnated with Catnip, the smell of which cats find irresistible. Scratcher Post length is 30.5cm x width 30.5cm x height 45cm. Colour may vary. RRP is £14.75.

For more information about the Scratcher Post visit

  For Your Chance to Win

Tell us what substance is impregnated into the Cat Scratcher Post

to make the smell irresistible to cats?

    a) Caviar
    b) Catnip
    c) Camphor
    d) Cod Liver Oil

  To Enter the Competition

Tell us what substance is impregnated into the Deluxe Cat Scratcher Post from Feedem to make the smell irresistible to cats? Then send in your answer together with your full name, postal address and telephone number to the Sixtyplusurfers email address as shown below:

* Please label your entry
Cat Scratcher Post Competition

* This competition is open to
our UK readers only


  All Creatures Great
         and Small ....

Twiglet the hamster

The RSPCA is urging owners to look after their pets ‘great and small’ after 13 rabbits and a hamster were abandoned in Lancashire.

Figures show that more than 1,000 small pets were abandoned and taken in by the RSPCA nationally last year. The figure comes as 13 rabbits were dumped in Blackpool and a tiny hamster was abandoned in Lancaster.

In 2016, RSPCA centres up and down the country received a total of 1,029 abandoned small furries which includes rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, chinchillas, degus, rats, ferrets, gerbils, and mice.
This is up from the previous year when there were 984 abandoned small pets reported to the RSPCA.
So far in 2017 that number is currently at 410.

Rabbits have the biggest cases of abandonments with 477 in 2016 and 153 have been dumped so far this year. Sadly some of these small animals which are usually bought as a child’s first pet can often be abandoned when the owners become bored or no longer want them.

Longview Animal Centre in Poulton-Le-Fylde near Blackpool recently discovered 13 rabbits dumped in a large cardboard box outside the doors of their centre

Longview Animal Centre in Poulton-Le-Fylde near Blackpool recently discovered 13 rabbits dumped in a large cardboard box outside the doors of their centre. The rabbits were a mix of ages and breeds with the youngest at just eight weeks old, as well as grown adults.

Animal centre manager Hannah Kirrane says, “The rabbits were suffering from eye infections and they were very poorly and confused when found.”

Sadly two of the bunnies were too poorly and had to be put to sleep on veterinary advice to end their suffering. The other 11 which includes seven males and four females are now recovering well. The males have been named Antonio, Austin, Augustus, Archie, Axel, Alan, and Alex, and the females are Abigail, Alma, Ada and Alicia.

When staff watched CCTV footage back they saw a man leave the rabbits and then jump in a car but unfortunately the registration plate was not visible on the footage and the man has not been located. Once the bunnies are back to full health and have been neutered they will then be available for rehoming.

Rats and guinea pigs are the second and third highest of the small furries to be abandoned with 178 domestic rats and 112 guinea pigs abandoned last year

Rats and guinea pigs are the second and third highest of the small furries to be abandoned with 178 domestic rats and 112 guinea pigs abandoned last year. In 2016, the RSPCA also took in 77 hamsters after they were dumped and so far this year there have been 54 hamsters turfed out.

Friendly hamster Twiglet was recently left on a doorstep in a dirty cage outside a house in Dallas Road, Lancaster. He was collected by Inspector Carl Larsson and taken to the small animal unit at the RSPCA’s Blackpool centre.

Carl says, “Twiglet was in a decent condition but he had been left in the street in his cage with some bedding. His owner obviously didn’t want him anymore but there are much kinder ways to get an animal rehomed.”

Animal centre manager Ms Kirrane says many of the furries at the small animal unit have been abandoned just like Twiglet and the family of rabbits.

She continues, “We would urge people not to abandon any animal, great or small, in this way. The RSPCA understands that circumstances can change which can mean people may no longer be in a position to look after their pet but if something like this happens, we would urge pet owners to act responsibly.”

Smaller pets are sometimes abandoned when the owner is in ill health or a child becomes bored and no longer wants them

Some of these smaller pets come into the centre from their owners due to ill health or when a child becomes bored and no longer wants them. This was the case with rats Adrian and Oozy who were brought in by their owners when they could no longer care for them.

Ms Kirrane says, “Whether a large pet or a small furry every animal deserves the right care and attention to make them happy.”

If you have any information on how the 13 rabbits or Twiglet the hamster came to be abandoned please call the inspectorate appeal line on 0300 123 8018. Twiglet, Oozy and Adrian are now looking for new forever homes.

If you would like to give any of them a loving home contact Longview Animal Centre on 01253 703000. To help the RSPCA continue rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate need of care please visit: or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3 + one standard network rate message).

For more information about the RSPCA visit the website at

Please note, the situation with Twiglet, Oozy and Adrian is correct at date of going 'to press'.


     Keep Your Pet

Brush up on your pet's dental health

Keep your pet smiling happy and in good health. PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman offers top tips for dental health

PDSA is raising awareness of the importance of our pets’ dental health. With dental disease a common problem for many of our four-legged friends, the vet charity is encouraging UK pet owners to ‘brush up’ on their pets’ dental health.

There are some simple, precautionary measures that can be taken to avoid the development of serious and painful dental diseases.

PDSA Vet, Rebecca Ashman says, “Dental disease causes pain and discomfort, so it’s important we help to prevent problems developing. While older dogs are more susceptible to dental disease, it can affect them at any age. It damages both gums and teeth and eventually, affected teeth may fall out, or have to be removed.

“Brushing your dog or cats’ teeth on a daily basis is the most effective way of preventing dental problems. Starting when your pet is young will enable brushing to become second nature.”

Rebecca continues, “First of all, get them used to the taste of pet toothpaste by letting them lick a small amount from the end of your finger. It’s important owners never use human toothpastes as they contain fluoride, which is toxic to pets.

“When they are comfortable with the taste, get them used to having something make contact with the gums and teeth by gently rubbing with a soft cloth. When your pet’s okay with this, apply toothpaste to your finger and again, rub along the gums and teeth.

Eventually you will be able to build up to doing this with a pet toothbrush. Start by doing this a few times a week, gradually building up to doing it on a daily basis.”

The best combination for maintaining healthy teeth is to feed good quality dry food alongside daily tooth brushing. Special toys and some dental chews can also help with cleaning your pets’ teeth.

Signs that your pet has dental problems include bad breath, difficulty eating, drooling, staining around the mouth or rubbing their face with their paw. If you’re concerned about your pet, it’s best to take them to your vet for a check-up.

PDSA is the UK’s leading vet charity. They are on a mission to improve pet wellbeing through prevention, education and treatment. Funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery helps us reach even more pet owners with vital advice and information

For details visit