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
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
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
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,
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
Love and licks
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
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.
Signs of shock,
Signs of poisoning,
Internal and external
To get your hands on a copy of the guide visit
Dealing with Dementia in Pets
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
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
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
· 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
· 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
· 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
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
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
For further information visit the website at
Tips to Keep Pets Cool
soar over the Summer months, the RSPCA
issues helpful advice to keep all your pets
comfortable in the heat.
RSPCA’s Ten Top Tips
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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 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
us what substance is impregnated into the Cat
to make the smell irresistible to cats?
d) Cod Liver Oil
To Enter the Competition
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 ....
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
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. 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. In 2016, the RSPCA also
took in 77 hamsters after they were dumped and
so far this year there have been 54 hamsters
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
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.”
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
If you would like to give any of them a loving
home contact Longview Animal Centre on 01253
To help the RSPCA continue rescuing,
rehabilitating and rehoming animals in desperate
need of care please visit: www.rspca.org.uk/give
or text LOVE to 87023 to give £3 (Text costs £3
+ one standard network rate message).
For more information about the RSPCA visit the
Please note, the situation with Twiglet,
Oozy and Adrian is correct at date of going 'to
Keep Your Pet
Keep your pet smiling happy and in good health.
PDSA vet Rebecca Ashman offers top tips for
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
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
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
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
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
For details visit