My seven-year-old cocker spaniel, Bonzo, suffers from ear infections and the itchiness drives him berserk. His ears get worse as soon as the antibiotic ointment from the vet finishes. A hypoallergenic food has not helped. The vet has mentioned an operation but I am not sure.
Ear disease is caused by a multitude of factors: anatomy (droopy spaniel ears lead to poorly ventilated ear canals), allergies (to pollens and dusts, as well as food sometimes) and stubborn yeast or bacterial infections. Surgery is a last resort; it may be necessary but first, ask your vet for a referral to a skin specialist. A combination of systemic anti-inflammatory medication combined with rigorous ear hygiene (e.g. ear flushes) can work miracles.
My two ex-feral cats Max and TK are shy of people, but are very sweet with me. I would like a dog but Max attacked a friend’s old small dog and I thought he was going to kill it. Should I give up on the dog idea in case Max eats him or her?
I’d be very wary about getting a dog: the social balance in your home will be disturbed, with unpredictable results. An injured dog is one risk, while another is the possibility of one or both cats deciding to move out permanently. If you are determined to go ahead, choose a placid but robust dog (e.g. a labrador) that you know is good with cats, and use an indoor kennel for the dog at first to ensure that everyone is safe, and nobody feels threatened. See icatcare.org for practical tips on dog/cat introductions.
A pet could be key to tackling loneliness
Christmas is a time when a sense of loneliness can be more keenly felt. Academic research collated by the Blue Cross (bluecross.org.uk) shows that having a pet alleviates loneliness and helps people to feel part of society around them.
Five year old Border Collie Cross Banksy is full of fun and will keep his new family on their toes. He loves playtime with tennis balls and searching out tasty treats top of his list of things to do. This toy motivated pooch would prefer to be the only pet in the home and would like an adult only home somewhere a bit quieter as he can be distressed by busy roads. For more information contact Dogs Trust Basildon on 0300 303 0292 or visit www.dogstrust.org.uk to read more about him.