Pet Care

Super Star Pet Picture - July/August Sixtyplusurfers

This is Freckle, Liz Denial's Cat

This is Freckle, Liz Denial's Cat

Our cute pet picture has been sent in by Sixtyplusurfers reader, Liz Denial

Get Your Pet Picture in the Star Spot in our September issue.

Thank you to Liz for sending in her fabulous picture of her adorable cat, Freckle ‘hogging the television remote control’. 

Read the full story about this adorable cat on our Readers’ Letters page.

Would you like us to feature your pet in our September issue?

Then send us your very best pet pictures and we will select one to be the Super Star Pet Picture, for everyone else to look at and love.

This competition is just for fun, and gives you a chance to put your pet in the spotlight.

We’ll feature a different picture each month!

If you’d like us to feature your pet, then mail your picture in JPG format to:

Make sure you put ‘Super Star Pet Picture’ in the subject field.

Dora's Diary

A Monthly Dog Blog

Hi folks. So how’s this summer going for you all? I expect many of you will be taking a holiday – making the most of what hot weather we can hope for during July and August. Especially here in the UK, where it can often be a bit hit and miss. You know what I mean. The image of people huddling next to windbreaks on the beach, shivering as the sun disappears behind clouds. Brrr …

Bossman used to be in vet practice on the south coast for several years. And by all accounts, would often get holiday makers bringing their pets in with problems. One such couple was Mr and Mrs Symonds.

Bossman happened to be on duty when they arrived for an out-of-hours appointment one August afternoon, having returned from the beach with a very poorly dog. Both she and her husband were in holiday attire. He wore baggy white shorts to his knees topped by a vivid green and red Hawaiian – style short-sleeved shirt, the outfit completed by Panama hat and sandals.

Mrs Symonds was more simply dressed in a loose fitting cream cotton dress, pink straw hat and flip flops.  Both wore dark glasses which they took off in reception. Though in holiday gear, they were certainly not in holiday mood. Far from it. The cause of their concern crouched on the floor between them – Bertie, their four-year-old Border terrier.

“Bring him through,” Bossman said, having introduced himself as the vet on emergency duty. Mr Symonds picked Bertie up and carried him into the consulting room where he lowered him onto the table. The dog lay there, listless.

“This isn’t like Bertie,” said Mrs Symonds. “He’s usually so bouncy.”

“And he was perfectly all right when we went down to the beach this morning,” said Mr Symonds. “Wasn’t he luv?”

His wife nodded. “We’re wondering if he’s suffering from a bit of sun stroke. It was very hot down there.”

“Mind you,” said Mr Symonds, “We did have an umbrella. And a bottle of water and a bowl for him.”

“And he did drink lots,” interrupted Mrs Symonds quickly, as if fearing Bossman might accuse them of letting Bertie get dehydrated.

“Well, little fella, let’s see what’s up,” he said, patting Bertie gently on the head. The dog certainly felt hot. A temperature check verified his temperature was a little on the high side but nothing too serious. Certainly nothing like the high readings seen in dogs suffering from heat stroke.

Bossman raised the skin on his scruff. It settled back quickly which wouldn’t have happened if he’d been dehydrated. Bertie turned and gave his hand a feeble lick.

Mrs Symonds gave a little sob. “That’s so typical of him. He loves everyone.”

Bossman ran his hands down Bertie’s flanks. His tummy felt somewhat distended.  Quite bloated in fact. He gently palpated him. That elicited a moan.

“Sorry little ’un,” he murmured. “Just trying to find out what’s wrong.”

It was just then a gust of hot air bowled in through the consulting room’s small upper window which Bossman had open as it was so stifling in there. Immediately the stink of rotting seaweed filled the room.

Mr Symonds wrinkled his nose. So did his wife.

“It’s quite bad down there today,” he said. “Shame really as it rather spoils being on the beach.”

“Though Bertie loves it,” said Mrs Symonds. “Typical terrier. Goes for anything smelly.”

That’s when the symptoms clicked into place. “Do you think Bertie might have eaten some seaweed?” Bossman asked.

“Well he was certainly rummaging through a pile of the stuff,” said Mr Symonds. “Though I can’t swear he ate any.”

However, Bossman had a strong hunch this was likely to be the cause of Bertie’s symptoms. He admitted him for X-ray, warning the Symonds that should he see anything suspicious then he might have to open him up.

In the event that’s what happened. He found and removed several strands of ingested seaweed that were swelling up and causing a blockage, likely to expand further and rupture the dog’s intestines.

Bertie had a lucky escape thanks to the prompt action of the Symonds.

So bear that in mind, furpals. If you’re planning a trip to the beach, keep away from the weed.  

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   

Taking Care of Your Rabbits

A Healthier Meal for Your Bunnies

Despite the UK being a nation of animal lovers, rabbits remain one of the most misunderstood pets when it comes to catering for their welfare needs.

These misunderstandings can result in unintentional suffering, with PDSA’s Animal Wellbeing Report (PAW) 2018 finding that 200,000 rabbits are being fed a potentially harmful diet of rabbit muesli.

The PDSA is encouraging owners to ‘Move Away from Muesli’, by signing a pledge and sharing it to raise awareness around the dangers of muesli.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan says, “A muesli-style rabbit diet is a colourful mix of different pieces. One of the problems with feeding it is that rabbits can pick out the tastier, sugary pieces that they want to eat, while leaving the healthier bits.

This is known as selective feeding. Different pieces contain different nutrients, and research has shown that rabbits that continually select only the pieces they want are at risk of health problems.”

Olivia adds, “If rabbits don’t eat the fibre-rich pieces of muesli, they can develop gut problems that can be fatal. Another problem is that muesli alone doesn’t wear down rabbits’ teeth, which grow continuously, so they can develop painful dental disease.

Another consequence reduced fibre intake causing gut stasis. This is where their guts slow down and in rabbits it’s a medical emergency and can even be fatal. Vets and vet nurses also see problems with rabbit obesity due to owners overfeeding to compensate for the selective eating rabbits focusing on the sugary pieces in a muesli diet.”

The best diet for rabbits is one that is as close as possible to what they would eat in the wild; they need plenty of high-quality feeding hay or grass, a portion of fresh, leafy vegetables and a small amount of nugget-style rabbit food. It’s important to be aware of the differences between feeding hay and bedding hay

Olivia explains, “Quality feeding hay is brighter green and will smell much more strongly, as well as being tastier and more nutritious for rabbits than dusty, yellow bedding hay.”

Safe vegetables for rabbits include broccoli, cabbage, parsnip and dandelions. However, it’s important to check before giving your rabbit a new vegetable as some can be harmful. Rhubarb is poisonous and potatoes are rich in starch and can cause upset stomachs, so both should be avoided.

Carrots are often associated with rabbits, but they should only be given sparingly.

“Even safe treats can cause problems if fed in large quantities, from obesity to vitamin imbalances. Both carrots and apples are high in sugar,” adds Olivia, “So they should only be given in small amounts as an occasional treat, not every day.

For more advice about taking care of rabbits go to

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

Summer Pet Product

Scruffs Cool Mat

Many dogs can suffer from the heat during hot Summer months. The new Scruffs® Cool Dog Mat is designed to provide cooling relief for your pet. Filled with a non-toxic gel the self-cooling mat will be typically 5-10 degrees cooler than room temperature.

When in use, the mat will maintain its cooling properties for approximately 1 hour. To reset the mats cooling properties simply leave unused for 1 hour, there is no need to freeze or refrigerate. The Scruffs® Cool Mat can be used alone, with an existing pet bed or in a pet carrier.

To clean the mat simply wipe the cover with a cloth and soapy water, then rinse with clean water before use. Available in four sizes, including x-large, the Scruffs Cool Mat is great for dogs that like to sprawl.

For details visit

Summer Pet Advice

Keep Your Pets Cool as the Weather Heats Up!

RSPCA Offer their Top Tips for Pet Safety

The RSPCA has urged pet owners and farmers to keep their animals cool in the summer heat as temperatures rocket to 30°C in some parts of England and Wales.

While we may enjoy the hotter weather, some of our pets and other animals may struggle in the heat.

RSPCA Operational Superintendent Lee Hopgood says, “There is a very serious side to keeping pets cool over summer as animals can suffer from heatstroke which could be fatal, especially if left in a hot car, conservatory or caravan.

“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. Remember if the pavement is too hot for your hand then it will be too hot for their paws.”

Some of the RSPCA centres have come up with ingenious ideas for keeping pets cool which you can try at home.

Freezing a dog’s water bowl or kong before putting water or treats in keeps them cool for longer.

Putting ice cubes into your dog or cat’s water bowl or making some tasty ice cube treats is another fantastic idea.

Damp towels for your pet to lie on or an ice pack wrapped in a towel could provide a welcome relief from the heat.

At RSPCA Block Fen Animal Centre in Cambridgeshire, the staff have been keeping the animals in their care cool with some special iced treats and a paddling pool.

Miley, a black and white Staffordshire bull terrier and Jess, a tan and white staffie have been enjoying their frozen hot dog treats, whilst lurcher Bonnie and German Shepherd Storm enjoyed their frozen dog biscuits, as well as a paddle in the pool outside.

Summer advice

Dogs and horses need exercise, even when it’s hot. But the RSPCA says you should avoid exercising them in excessively hot weather. Experts advise walking or riding in the morning or evening when it’s cooler.

When walking dogs keep in mind that pavements can get very hot in the warm weather – if it’s too hot to touch with your hand, then it’s too hot for a dog’s paws.

Never leave pets in vehicles, caravans, conservatories or outbuildings in the warm weather. Dogs – and other pets – can overheat and die if left in a hot environment, such as a car.

Snakes are most active in July so don’t be alarmed if you see one in the wild. Most tend to shy away from people.

Farm animals should have access to shaded areas and clean drinking water. Transportation of animals in hot weather should be avoided unless absolutely necessary. If animals are housed during hot weather, buildings must be adequately ventilated and monitored regularly.

Top tips for pet owners in hot weather

  • Don’t let your pet get sunburnt – use pet-safe sun cream.
  • Ensure animals have access to shade and fresh drinking water.
  • Check every day for flystrike.
  • Keep fish tanks out of direct sunlight and top up water levels of ponds.
  • Keep an eye out for wildlife when using lawnmowers or strimmers.
  • Keep pesticides out of reach of animals.
  • Wrap an ice pack or frozen water bottle in a tea towel for your pet to lie on.
  • Use cold treats from the fridge for added moisture or make an ice lolly from pet-friendly ingredients.

For more seasonal advice, see the RSPCA’s website here. 

For more information on what to do if you see a dog in a hot car, go online. 

Pet Health Advice

Recognising the Signs
of Diabetes in Pets

There are times when it’s obvious that our pets are unwell – they may be showing us that something’s wrong by limping, or a bout of diarrhoea, for example. But some illnesses have more subtle symptoms and diabetes is one owners need to look out for.

Being overweight or obese can increase the risk of diabetes and other serious medical conditions for our pets. Obesity in pets has been consistently identified as one of the main concerns of the veterinary profession according to our PDSA Animal Wellbeing (PAW) Reports.

PDSA vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan is raising awareness of diabetes and highlighting the symptoms as well as some of the steps owners can take to help prevent it.

Olivia says, “Diabetes is a disease which occurs when the body can’t control sugar levels in the bloodstream. It can affect both cats and dogs and those that are overweight are at greater risk.

“Signs of diabetes include your pet drinking more than usual – the high levels of blood sugar make your pet urinate excessively, which in turn will make them incredibly thirsty. Although they are unwell, pets with diabetes often still appear bright and alert in the early stages of the disease, and can even have an increased appetite.

“Despite being ravenous, they may start to lose weight, which is often the first indicator something is wrong. As their health deteriorates they will become depressed, go off their food, vomit and become dehydrated due to fluid loss.

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

Although prevention is far better than cure, there will always be some pets that get this disease. Luckily, with the right treatment many pets can continue to maintain a good quality of life.

Olivia adds, “If you notice any of the symptoms it’s vital to get them checked over by your vet urgently so the condition can be diagnosed and the appropriate treatment administered.

There are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms so your vet will want to rule these out too. It often helps if you can take a fresh urine sample along with you for the vet to test.

“When diagnosed, a diabetic pet will be given a tailored treatment and management plan, including medication, and a strict diet and exercise routine. Most pets will need insulin injections twice a day to control their diabetes and owners would usually be taught how to give the injections at home.

“Although pets with diabetes need higher levels of care, modern treatment means many continue to have a really 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 more information visit

Showcase for Lifesaving Dogs

Medical Detection Dogs Perform for
The Queen and The Duchess of Cornwall 

In the presence of Her Majesty The Queen and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall, dogs specially trained to detect disease recently showcased their work at the Royal Mews in central London.

Medical Detection Dogs, the charity that trains the dogs, was invited to perform a demonstration to mark its tenth anniversary year. The Duchess of Cornwall, the charity’s Patron, was instrumental in organising the event during which the dogs displayed how they can detect cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Working cocker spaniel Kizzy, a specially trained cancer detection dog, was the first to demonstrate her work. She tested eight urine samples on a carousel piece of equipment by sniffing each sample to check each for the odour of cancer. When she came to the right sample, she stopped and sat in front of it, not moving until she was told that she was correct and then rewarded with a treat.

Black Labrador Peanut, a Parkinson’s detection dog, then demonstrated how he detects Parkinson’s disease from sweat samples positioned on a series of stands using canine communication technology being designed in collaboration with the Open University. Both identified the correct sample confidently in under ten seconds.

Claire Guest, CEO of Medical Detection Dogs says, “It is such an honour to be able to demonstrate our work in front of The Queen and our Patron, The Duchess of Cornwall.

“Ten years ago I co-founded this charity and a decade on, we have made very exciting progress. This week we have announced our collaboration with a leading global research facility based in the USA, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to develop a machine capable of detecting cancer as accurately as the dogs.

“One in two of us will now be diagnosed with cancer in the course of our lifetimes. Early detection is crucial to successful medical treatment. It is more important than ever that we develop an easy and reliable test to rocket-boost survival rates.

“I am hugely grateful to The Duchess of Cornwall and to The Queen in helping us to raise awareness of our charity so that our vital research can soon be put to practical use in saving lives.”

The charity is completing a large-scale trial into the early detection of prostate cancer with Milton Keynes University Hospital and is also collaborating with Hull and East Yorkshire NHS Hospitals Trust on a study of bowel cancer.

Medical Detection Dogs has embarked on a major collaboration with one of the world’s most prestigious research organisations, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to develop an electronic ‘nose’ that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to replicate the ability of dogs to detect cancer. The aim is to produce a reliable and easy cancer-testing device within the next five years.

As well as cancer, Medical Detection Dogs is working on the early detection of Parkinson’s disease with the University of Manchester and malaria with Durham University using odour from sweat samples.

For more information about the work of Medical Detection Dogs click on

Dogs Help Lonely People

Pedigree Dog Dates Helps with Loneliness

A national initiative pairing lonely members of the elderly population, with dog owners has been launched, in a unique attempt to combat the issue of loneliness gripping the UK. 

Loneliness is something that affects all areas of society. However, this is particularly true for older adults. According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, 1.2 million older people are chronically lonely in the UK, a condition that has long been linked with a range of psychological problems including alcohol and drug abuse, eating disorders and depression. In fact, a 2015 study revealed a lack of social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (Holt-Lunstad, 2015).

Reports indicate that by 2050, one quarter of the UK population will be over 65, many of which will be living in solitude. In addition, researchers estimate that up to one in four people now suffer from social isolations. Unsurprisingly loneliness is becoming one of the UK’s most pressing issues and is fast approaching epidemic proportions.

Following the success of a pilot initiative, which saw local dog owners paired with seniors in the area of Melton Mowbray in April of this year, Mars Petcare UK is rolling out the ’PEDIGREE Dog Dates’ initiative nationally, in a bid to alleviate the loneliness experienced by 9 million people across the UK.

After eight years within the Mars business, Marketing Director Chris Rodi has joined the Mars Petcare UK team during the exciting moment of the launch of ‘PEDIGREE Dog Dates’ initiative.

“It’s a great time to be entering this part of the business and I’m thrilled to be working on such brilliant initiatives from day one.

“‘PEDIGREE Dog Dates’ is based on significant research from the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, showing that pets help older adults remain more physically and socially active,” says Chris Rodi, Marketing Director at Mars Petcare UK.

“Seeing the positive impact on those who took part in the pilot scheme in Melton Mowbray, we knew we had to expand the ‘PEDIGREE Dog Dates’ programme to more people. The number of elderly people currently suffering with chronic loneliness in the UK is staggering and we firmly believe this initiative can go a long way to reconnect people with their local communities”.

PEDIGREE is encouraging anyone who is interested in bringing PEDIGREE Dog Dates to their local community to register their interest on their website at

The initiative welcomes people over 65 interested in making new friends, as well as families and individuals with their dogs (who are always up for another walk).

For more information about PEDIGREE or “PEDIGREE Dog Dates,” visit

About the PEDIGREE® Brand

PEDIGREE® is the number one dog nutrition brand in the world, feeding more dogs than any other. The PEDIGREE® brand offers a wide variety of products and formats that enable all dogs, at every stage of their lives, to be their healthiest happiest selves.

A world filled with happy, healthy dogs is a world filled with good. Dogs inspire us to be good; good to ourselves and good to each other. Dogs brings out the good in us and PEDIGREE® brings out the good in them.

For more information, please visit

Horse Microchipping News

RSPCA Delight at Horse Chipping Move

The RSPCA has welcomed Defra’s recent announcement that regulations to ensure horses of all ages should be microchipped is finally going to become a reality in England. The animal welfare charity recently revealed the extent of the horse crisis across England and Wales hit a new high after it took in around 1,000 horses last year. The majority of horses that are abandoned are not microchipped and the owners are untraceable.

At the moment regulations state that horses born on or after 1 July 2009 must be microchipped – and the RSPCA believes that the move to include horses of all ages by October 2020 will go some way to encouraging responsible horse ownership and deter people from leaving their horses unchipped.

RSPCA Assistant Director of External Affairs, David Bowles says, “We are delighted regulations to ensure horses of all ages should be microchipped are set to become a reality in England. Until now, only horses born after 2009 had to be microchipped, but this law change will mean that all horses will now have to be microchipped and details will go onto a central database which can be accessed by local authorities and other agencies.

“The RSPCA rescued almost 1,000 horses last year (2017), and a huge majority were not microchipped making it virtually impossible to trace the owners. Heartbreakingly our inspectors are frequently faced with dead or dying horses which have been dumped, or those abandoned whilst very sick or injured like foal Mickey (pictured above) who was abandoned in a Leicestershire park earlier this year, without any form of identification to lead inspectors to his owners.

“We believe this extension of the current rules on compulsory microchipping will go some way to help find those irresponsible owners that abandon their horses as well as helping owners be reunited with their animals that have been stolen.

He adds, “If this law is to work, it is absolutely vital that it is properly enforced and if this happens it could be a crucial step in tackling the heartbreaking crisis facing horses in England and Wales.”

The news comes as an emaciated, pregnant horse was recently found dumped in a field in Kent, with no microchip. The RSPCA expects they will never be able to trace the owner responsible.

To help the RSPCA care for more than 900 horses in its care please visit

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