Everything you need to know about gundog health in one place, including advice from gundog experts about ailments and illnesses, teeth, nutrition, x-rays and much more, plus your questions answered by vets.

Gundogs

Should we neuter dogs?

Neutering of dogs is something that most of us take for granted. If you’ve got a bitch that you don’t want to breed from then it makes sense to spay her, while castration is also a cure for the randy or aggressive dog, isn’t it? Until recently I would have…

Black Labrador bitch

Elbow dysplasia in gundogs

Q: I have just retired my Labrador after he went lame with elbow dysplasia (ED). I want to get another dog and was planning on buying 
a puppy from a breeder who tests her dogs and only breeds from those clear of ED. However, I was told 
I could still…

chocolate Labrador picking up

How to treat paw injuries in the field

A: It can affect a dog but tetanus is relatively uncommon, particularly if a wound bleeds to any extent. There is no equivalent vaccination available for dogs as there is for humans. Treatment for paw injuries Though small wounds are probably best left open to heal naturally and larger wounds may require stitches, when you are out…

Black Labrador bitch

Are DNA tests required for breeding gun dogs?

A: The advantage of DNA testing is that not only does it indicate if a dog is affected by an inherited disease but it also determines the likelihood of the dog passing on the disease to its offspring. Consequently it enables owners to make informed choices of suitable dogs to use to avoid breeding clinically affected puppies. For…

Kennel cough vaccination for dog

My dog hates having the kennel cough vaccine!

Neil says: Kennel cough is a bad name really. Most of the affected dogs that we see have never been near a kennel but have caught it in the park, on the street or at a training class. Or even at a shoot! The causal agent, Bordetella bronchiseptica, is airborne and, if it lands on the…

Golden retriever in field

How can I keep my dog’s teeth clean?

A: The build-up of tartar on dogs’ teeth seems worse in those dogs that are fed on all-in-one kibbled dog foods, especially when it is soaked with water before feeding. A more natural diet avoids this build-up occurring. A dog needs to chew to keep its teeth clean and raw marrow bones will have the desired effect. I…

Weimaraner

Scottish Government turns tail on working dog tail docking

Those of us with British passports may think that we live in a united kingdom, but that’s certainly not the case, as a look at the law will soon confirm. In Northern Ireland, it is legal to shoot a jack snipe or a scaup, but not a moorhen. It is the other way round in mainland Britain.…

Gundog ears

Gundog ears badly designed

All our gundog breeds have floppy ears though, of course, some are a great deal floppier than others. Labrador ears may turn downwards, but they are functional and only covered in short hair, which might explain why ears are one of the areas of least concern with the breed (don’t mention hips or elbows). It is the…

dog tail injury

Scotland drops its ban on tail docking

Holyrood has announced plans to change tail docking legislation to allow the tails of spaniel and hunt, point, retrieve (HPR) puppies to be shortened wherever a vet believes they are likely to be used as a working dog and risk serious tail injury in later life. Tail docking was banned in Scotland in 2007 as part of…

Labradors in pickup

Fruit-loving Labradors

Neil says: Clever boy indeed to be skinning his bananas himself! Patience with food such as this is unusual in Labradors. Yes they will eat anything. A Labrador patient of mine recently made a valiant attempt to eat the entire contents of the coal bunker. It took three days of enemas to get it all out. You could say a “miner” issue…

Labrador and handler

Do dogs get dementia?

A recent newspaper report suggested that a third of dogs develop some sort of cognitive decline from the age of eight, and two-thirds do so from the age of 15. Having known a good number of old dogs, this didn’t make surprising reading. Indications of dementia in dogs include the dog getting stuck behind furniture and needing…

dog ear mites

Does my dog have ear mites?

Q: My German shorthaired pointer has recently started scratching her ears and shaking her head. Both ears are dirty and, when I clean them out, there appears to be an excessive amount of dark wax inside. There is no particularly bad smell, so I don’t think the ears are infected.…

gundog breeds

Vaccinating gundogs

One of the great things about owning healthy, fit dogs is that visits to the vet are rare. In the past six years I’ve been lucky enough to have only had to make annual visits to the surgery for what I call the spaniels’ MOT. A result of this is that my younger spaniel, Rowan, really…

gundog with walkers

Dog conjunctivitis

A: From what you describe, your dog is likely to have developed dog conjunctivitis. Conjunctivitis refers to in inflammation of the sensitive lining inside the eyelids. The conjunctiva has a rich blood supply so when irritated it gets red and becomes inflamed and itchy. Conjunctivitis is one of the most common eye disorders in dogs Typically, the…

dog dandruff

How to treat a Labrador with flaky skin

A concerned reader asked this question regarding dog dandruff: Our two-year-old black Labrador has developed flaky skin that is visible when I pull back his coat. I first noticed it after I washed him down after a particularly muddy afternoon shooting woodies. It does not seem to bother him, he does…

Labrador in water

Hip dysplasia in Labradors

Q: My wife and I would like to buy a Labrador for me to take out once it is trained, as I shoot occasionally. We have found a reputable breeder near us, who comes highly recommended, have met the bitch already and are very taken with her. The breeder has had the…

Keep dogs safe from car collisions

How to keep dogs safe from car collisions

Most dogs love cars. Travelling in the car is usually a precursor to something more exciting, such as going for a walk or perhaps a shooting expedition. I don’t think dogs experience disappointment in the same way that we do, but it’s not difficult to detect a dog’s crestfallen look when it…

English springer spaniels

Do spaniels smell more than Labradors?

  A: The simple answer is no. Working spaniels do not smell any worse than any other dog. The question of why some dogs smell more than others, however, is more complex. Dogs do not sweat like people but they do perspire from their paws, and produce a scent from their hair…

microchips for working dogs

Microchips for working dogs

Question: I have heard that working dogs are exempt from compulsory microchipping. Does that mean that I needn’t have had my Labrador, which I work on a number of local shoots, microchipped recently? Veterinary surgeon Tony Buckwell advised: What you have heard is not quite correct. The exemption, under the Microchipping of Dogs…

Lab in a fleece

Keeping your dog safe from ticks and burrs

There’s not much Mary Leigh of Equafleece doesn’t know about keeping a dog healthy and comfortable. She set up Equafleece 16 years ago and it’s quickly become a popular brand with gundog owners. We asked her a few questions. Shooting UK: How can you protect your dog from ticks and…