Sunday, 23 November 2014


This week, I attended the London Vet Show, where I acquired some samples of Dentaflex to give my pair. Dentaflex is being fairly heavily advertised on TV at the moment, and given my two are already developing signs of plaque on their teeth I'm keen to give them anything that will help me keep their teeth in good condition.

The product has two active ingredients, Sodium Tripolyphophate and Zinc Sulphate, bond with the calcium in a dog's mouth and slow down the build up of tartar. In addition, the chew is a slightly abrasive material and shaped so that it will rub against the surface of the teeth while being chewed.
The recommendation is to feed two a week to help with doggy dental care.

Before feeding, I had two concerns: first that one stick is 6.5% of a 10kg dog's recommended weekly calorie allowance, so relatively high in calories for one chew, and the chew contains animal derivatives. While I don't consider this a huge problem in itself, unlike many dog owners, I prefer to have a good idea of what I'm feeding because Cybi is quite an itchy, fretty little creature and some foods just plain don't agree with him - it's easier to make an educated guess on what will work if I know what's in there. But we gave the Dentaflex a go, to see how it worked out.

Cybi liked his, and made short work of it. Daisy sort of pushed hers around on the floor, nibbled the corner of it, chucked it about a bit and then decided she didn't like it. I tried offering it to her again, but she really wasn't keen and just took it off me and rather sadly dropped it on the floor. I felt so bad that I had to give her a rawhide instead - she's got puppy dog eyes well figured out!

So an experiment worth doing but probably one we won't repeat - one dog out of two doesn't like Dentaflex, and the dog that did like it needs a reasonable amount of care with his diet and so ideally wouldn't have unspecified animal derivatives. Back to using a toothbrush it is.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Doggy Headcollars - Which one to pick?

The Halti Headcollar Halti is made by the Company of Animals and was the first headcollar that was commonly seen on dogs. It works in a similar way to a horse's headcollar, with the point of attachment to the lead being under the dog's chin. The idea is that it's easier to turn the dog's head than when the lead is attached to a collar, and so when the dog pulls it can be steered back into position.One concern with the way the halti was initially designed was that with the lead connection under the chin, as the lead went tight and the halter activated, the nose loop could ride up into the dog's eyes. This has been minimised in later designs, but is a product of the way the headcollar is built so can't be eliminated completely.
Pros: easily available, good control, easy to put on
Cons: webbing can be a bit stiff (older types - newer types have got padded straps), nose loop can ride up into eyes. If the dog pulls suddenly out to the end of the lead there is the possible risk of neck damage as its head is pulled around sharply.

The Dogmatic
This is a more complicated version of the Halti, which still has the under chin attachment, but has extra straps to prevent the nose loop riding up.
Pros: good control, available in leather or soft webbing. Won't ride up on nose, and gives a point of control under chin
Cons: needs to be ordered direct from site, so best guess on fit
K9 bridle 
This is intended to work in a similar way to a bitless bridle on a horse. When the dog pulls, there is downward pressure on the bridge of the nose, and pressure behind the head. The attachment point for the lead is behind the animal's head, between the ears.
Pros: no risk of damage to neck as the head is not turned, manufacturer claims that incidences of aggression can be decreased because downward pressure on the nose can break eye contact. The point of attachment is immediately and centrally behind the dog's head so pressure is applied symmetrically to the face. The nose loop runs into a ring rather than a clip, so doesn't need adjusting to lie flat against the neck
Cons: can be fiddly to put on, only available from website so best guess on fit (the K9 bridle does have an adjustment, but no clear instructions on site as to how to get fit completely right)

Similar in mode of action to the K9 bridle, this headcollar also puts pressure on the nose and behind the head. However, it is slightly simpler to use and fastens under the dog's right ear. The collar runs in a figure 8 aorund the dog's muzzle and then around the back of the head, with a plastic clip under the chin holding the two loops of the 8 in the correct orientation. The Gencon can be bought as an integrated head collar and lead - probably best for use with a separate lead attached to the dog's every day collar in case the headcollar slips off.
Pros: easy to put on (similar to halti), available online and through retailers. No risk of damage to the neck.
Cons: Point of attachment is off centre, so pressure applied slightly unevenly to the face and neck.

Gentle Leader
The Gentle Leader is a hybrid of the halti-type and the K9bridle-type of headcollars. It is fitted in a similar way to the halti, with the point of attachment being under the chin, but is effectively two loops, one around the muzzle and one around the back of the head, so that when the lead tightens, pressure is applied both to the muzzle and the head.
Pros: easy to get hold of, easy to put on, uses a combination of steering from under chin and pressure on scruff and nose to reduce pulling. Very cheap in comparison to others (except Halti)
Cons: As with others that fasten under the chin, there is a risk of damage to next if pressure is applied suddenly
Similar in action and structure to the Gencon, this collar fastens behind the dog's head, and is a simple figure 8. It puts pressure on the bridge of the dog's nose and behind the head.
Pros: no risk to the neck, simple mechanism
Cons: slightly fiddly as needs the clip under the chin to lie flat for the collar to work

Monday, 3 November 2014

Dentasticks: minty rawhide!

Dentastix are currently on offer at PetShopBowl, and since I am already a little concerned about the visible build up on both my dogs' teeth I thought I'd take the opportunity to give them something to chew on that's supposed to help. Admittedly, you're supposed to use them every day to get maximal dental care benefit which isn't going to happen, but I'd be fine with replacing other chews that they get so that they'd be chewing on something that might clean their teeth a couple of times a week if it looks like it might be effective.

Opening the pack was slightly disconcerting, in that the chews were dark green (not a colour I usually associate with health!), and smelt exactly as you'd expect a mint-flavoured rawhide chew to smell. It's not the best to humans, but it certainly got the dogs' attention.

In fact, I was surprised by how enthusiastic they were about the chews - Cybi will eat anything, but snatched his and didn't move from the spot, while Daisy, who is going through a picky phase, had to think about it for a minute or two but then settled down to eat hers too - and defended it noisily when Cybi tried to nick it.

I'm sure actually brushing their teeth is my best bet, but since they were so well received we will stock up on these while they are on special offer.