Ask Dr James Greenwood


As highlighted in our last newsletter Dr James Greenwood has been operating a remote clinic for our beloved customers, answering all your pet-related queries online.

We had a huge number of questions submitted from you all, and as a result we’ve picked our top three questions and put the answers from Dr Greenwood below. Thank you for all your submissions! 

pet question 1

Name: Linda Sellwood
Message: Hi, my elderly Japanese chin (15) has started to wee on the kitchen floor in the early hours every night, he has a dog flap which he’s always used no trouble, & is not far from flap when he wee’s. We tried leaving light on as thought would help, but made no difference. He’s mostly ok during the day (he’s had a few accidents) but when visit family, more so. It’s got so now we are afraid to visit as can’t trust him, he has a very laid back nature, I took him to the vet who couldn’t find anything wrong but am waiting for results of sample & said he may have a blockage in his kidneys & would need an injection to take sample to be sure, but he’s to old to have an anaecetic so what’s your advise please.

Hi Linda
Japanese Chins are an incredibly intelligent and fiercely independent breed – 15 is a fantastic age so you definitely have the gift when it comes to looking after dogs! When they start acting out of sorts like this the first priority in my mind is to work out whether this is due to a behavioural issue or whether there might be a background illness. I would be keen to run a urine sample (which sounds like it is pending) and a quick blood test to rule out things like kidney issues or hormonal problems such as diabetes. We can still gain a huge amount of information from relatively non invasive tests without needing to undergo a general anaesthetic. If all the tests come back normal, we would then need to consider a behavioural disorder. Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (or ‘doggy dementia’) causes signs such as restlessness, pacing at night and toiletting indoors.

Unfortunately there isn’t a treatment available yet as such – but feeding a good quality senior food with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids can help. It is important to never scold him for wetting indoors – he is probably confused and unaware of his actions. It is also important not to change his routine too much, offer regular toilet breaks and keep him active during the day to hopefully aid his sleep in the evenings. You might want to pen him up overnight into a non-carpeted area to make it easier to clean up in the mornings and lay newspaper down overnight to help catch some of the puddles. Just like people, it is the young and very old dogs that take the most looking after. It sounds to me as though you are doing everything right – and hopefully his test results might offer you some more clues which way to go next. 

pet question 2

From: Angela Pearce
Message: I have a mini labradoodle who’s ears are very hairy and smelly, I have been to my vets and their is no sign of infection. Is their anything you can recommend for this problem?

Hi Angela
For the large part, the crossing of a Poodle and a Labrador has meant the Labradoodle carries the best traits of both breeds. However, the one thing Labradoodles can struggle with is very, very hairy ear canals (from the poodle) and a love of water and swimming (more likely the Labrador!) which creates the perfect environment in the ear for an infection to take hold. If there is now a smell I would definitely suggest a revisit to your vet to recheck both ears with an otoscope – a bad smell from the ear is nearly always the result of an infection. Sometimes an infection can sit deep down in the dogs ear canal which can’t be seen with the naked eye on the surface.Using veterinary recommended ear cleaners, having regular ear checks with the vet or vet nurse and using antibiotic drops at the correct dosage and for the correct period of time are all important steps to minimise recurrence of ear issues.If the problem doesn’t go away, your vet may need to do more investigations or even pluck the hairs out of the ear canal under sedation (I, personally, do not like this being done with them awake though as it can cause significant discomfort which can lead to ear related behavioural problems in the future). Some dogs even need a surgical procedure to remove part (or all of) the ear canal but this would need to be discussed fully. I think the first step is to revisit your vet for a recheck of those lovely big floppy ears! 

pet question 3

From: Debra Winder
Message: What is the best de tangle for long hair dogs?

Hi Debra
Personally, with our dog, I absolutely love all the natural, organic products that have entered the market. There are some fantastic artisan makers (like ‘Dug and Bitch’ in Scotland) producing some really great, handmade products that are safe and work a treatAlthough – for de tangling – you could try try making your own! Mix a teaspoon of olive oil and 250mls of warm water in a sprayer bottle. Shake vigorously and spray onto the wet coat. Run a comb through then dry. The coat should de tangle, create a lovely shine but not leave a greasy residue. (Always try a small patch first to check for sensitivities and be careful with any allergies!) 

Dr James Greenwood, BVSc MRCVS


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