Doggy dehydration: How to tell if your dog is dehydrated

Now that summer has arrived and we enjoy the warmer weather with our dogs, most of us are also simultaneously aware of the potential dangers that the hot weather can bring for dogs too – such as stinging bugs like wasps, and overheating and heatstroke.

Thirsty Dog

However, there are also some other things to think about during the hotter weather too, such as ensuring that your dog drinks enough water to keep them cool and hydrated. Dogs need to drink more in the summer than in the winter to account for the fact that drinking water is one of the main ways that dogs are able to keep themselves cool.

Dehydration in dogs can be dangerous in its own right, and it also increases your dog’s risk of developing heatstroke – but how would you know if your dog was dehydrated, and what symptoms can indicate dehydration in the dog?

In this article we will answer these questions, and outline how you would be able to tell if your dog was dehydrated when there is still time to do something about it. Read on to learn more.

Why wouldn’t a dog just have a drink before they get dehydrated?

We all know the feeling of being thirsty and needing a drink, and when we feel that urge we make it a priority to get a drink to resolve the issue – and dogs get that same feeling. So, why wouldn’t a dog just drink before they reach the point that they become dehydrated?

Well, the first potential reason of course is that there isn’t water available to them, and this might accidentally occur even if you’re very vigilant about topping up their bowl. During the summer dogs need to drink more – often a lot more – and even though we as owners may know this in theory, it is easy to slip up and let the bowl go dry if we’re not vigilant. Dogs can also knock their bowls over too, and if you’re out all day and your dog has done this in the morning, they may be dehydrated by the time you get home and realise what has happened.

Additionally, that feeling of thirst that we get when we need a drink is actually a symptom of dehydration – so by the time we feel thirsty, we’re already dehydrated to an extent, and your dog will be too.

The reason why dogs need to drink more in summer is because this is an important part of cooling themselves down too, and so even if your dog is drinking more than normal, they might still become dehydrated as they’re using that much more water to stay cool, and panting (which is also vital for cooling) leads to the evaporation of water from the body, speeding up the process as well.

Don’t assume that just because your dog is drinking or has just had a drink that they’re not already dehydrated – although as long as they still have plenty of water available and are willing and able to get to it, the dehydration should resolve itself quickly during the early stages.

What are the signs that my dog is dehydrated?

So, what are the warning signs to look out for to let you know that your dog is dehydrated? Let’s take a look at the symptoms that may appear at various stages of dehydration in the dog.

They are seeking sources of water

This one may seem obvious, but can be accidentally overlooked. If your dog is doing things like trying to drink from puddles, licking a wet floor or otherwise apparently looking for water in odd places that they normally don’t, they need a drink and ergo, may be dehydrated.

However, many dog owners ignore or write this symptom off as nothing other that weird dog behaviour because they know the dog has water available – but double-check on that, to ensure the water hasn’t run out, become contaminated, or that the door to the room with the bowl in it hasn’t been closed by accident.

They’re panting heavily

If your dog is panting heavily and for a prolonged period of time (such as after exercise or when the weather is hot) they need to drink more to help with cooling, and to replace the fluids lost to evaporation. Panting heavily on its own doesn’t necessarily indicate dehydration as this is a natural part of cooling, but it does mean your dog needs to be offered a drink to prevent potential dehydration.

Their gums are dry or tacky

Your dog’s gums should be moist with saliva, and if they are dry or tacky to the touch (and look dull rather than shiny with spit) your dog is dehydrated, and needs to be given a drink.

They’re lethargic or less engaged than normal

Dehydration can develop quite quickly, and make your dog feel very unwell, much as heatstroke can – and these two conditions commonly appear together in hot weather. This will make your dog lethargic and less interested in what is going on around them, so if your dog is not engaged in play or activity all of a sudden, dehydration may be the problem.

Their eyes appear dry or sunken

Sunken and dry eyes don’t tend to develop until dehydration is very advanced, and posing a serious threat to your dog’s health. This is a serious symptom that should never be ignored, so offer your dog water and take them along to the vet (whether they drink or not).

They don’t want food

Most dogs would have to be on their literal deathbeds to turn down a treat or a tasty snack, and if your dog is turning their nose up at a treat, this is usually a fairly clear symptom that all is not well. Offer water instead and you will get a better reaction.

The skin is less elastic

Finally, you can perform a simple pinch test on your dog’s skin to identify the elasticity of their skin which in turn, indicates your dog’s hydration levels. Gently pinch a loose area of skin between your thumb and forefinger and then release it – the skin should spring back immediately. If it takes a couple of seconds or more, your dog is dehydrated.

Skin that springs back immediately doesn’t definitively rule out potential dehydration, but skin that does not spring right back definitely indicates that your dog is dehydrated.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes)

NEVER leave your dog in a hot car!

Cocker Spaniel! Dog owner threw stick for his pooch to fetch but he came back with a sex toy

Security guard Glen Pinnion, 44, only realised the 8.5 inch plaything was in Steve the English Bull Terrier’s chops when they went past a pub walking home.

The Sun reports that he said: “There was a group of lads having a drink outside. They started laughing and pointing. I had a closer look and realised it wasn’t a stick but a great big, floppy rubber penis. And he wouldn’t give it up. I broke into a jog to get home as quickly as possible.”

They then trotted past mourners leaving a funeral parlour – prompting embarrassed apologies from Glen. And he struggled to prise the fake pink phallus from stubborn Steve’s mouth back in his front garden in Leeds.

He said: “He was giving it the odd chew. I got a couple of poo bags, put them over my hands and tried to pull it from his mouth. I didn’t want that thing in my house. After a few attempts he released his grip and dropped it. It was so embarrassing.” The pretend todger, which Steve retrieved from bushes by a local field, is just the latest bizarre item found in his mouth.

Glen, who has a long-term girlfriend, recalled: “I had to take him to the vets once because he ate a sieve. “He also chewed up an iron, had our skirting boards off, and has eaten bras, socks and pants. He’s very affectionate. On this occasion, however, we don’t want to encourage his loving nature so have binned the toy.”

(Story source: The Sun) 

Pet owners reminded to seek advice on travel plans ahead of 31st October

In the event that the UK leaves without a deal on 31 October, pet owners will need to take some additional steps to ensure they can still travel.

Pet Travel

Gov.uk reports that pet owners are being encouraged to revisit official advice about travelling to the EU with their pets after the UK leaves the EU.

In the event that the UK leaves without a deal on 31 October, pet owners will need to take some additional steps to ensure they can still travel. This includes a blood test a minimum of 30 days after its last rabies vaccination (whether that’s a booster or initial vaccination) and a three calendar month wait before travel.

If pet owners are planning to travel from November onwards, they should contact their vet at least four months in advance of their travel date. For example, those wishing to travel to the EU on 1 November 2019 should discuss requirements with their vet by the 1 July at the latest.

All the guidance on pet travel has been available since November 2018, so many pet owners will already be familiar with that they need to do and some may already have taken action.

In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a deal, all UK pets travelling to the EU will need to have an up-to-date rabies vaccination and a blood test to demonstrate sufficient levels of rabies antibody. The blood test needs to be carried out a minimum of 30 days after its last rabies vaccination (whether that’s a booster or initial vaccination) and a minimum of three calendar months before their travel date.

Christine Middlemiss, UK Chief Veterinary Officer, said:

“This is a reminder for pet owners of our practical and straightforward advice for pet travel if the UK were to leave the EU in a no-deal situation.

Those pet owners who wish to travel with their pets immediately after 31 October 2019 should consult with their vet as soon as they can. This is about planning ahead to ensure their pet has the correct health protection documented and in place for all possible Exit scenarios.

We continue to be in contact with vets to highlight this issue and they are expecting pet owners to consult with them and plan ahead. Pet owners can stay up to date with the latest advice on pet travel on GOV.UK or by searching ‘pet travel’.”

(Story source: Gov.uk) 

Bridge cat ‘stuck’ for six days walks home after failed rescue

A pet cat that was “stuck” on a railway bridge for six days, sparking a major rescue operation, has walked home.

Bridge Cat

BBC News reports that five-year-old Hatty got trapped on the 30 ft (9 m) section of the Royal Albert Bridge, which connects Plymouth and Saltash, on Friday 12th July.

Firefighters spent hours trying to rescue her while Network Rail planned to close the line to help save her.

Owner Kirsty Howden told Plymouth Live she was “shocked and elated” Hatty had returned home on Wednesday night.

Ms Howden, 39, said the mischievous moggy wandered back home from the bridge – 500 ft (152 m) away – at about 23:00 BST.

The mother-of-three said she was just about to join a second rescue attempt when she “heard a miaow outside”. “She is a bit skinny and smelly, very vocal and has now headed upstairs and put herself to bed,” Ms Howden said.

The cat had been missing for two weeks.

The Royal Albert Bridge carries the main line in and out of Cornwall across the River Tamar.

It is thought Hatty was scared on to her precarious perch beneath the line by a passing train.

Firefighters hacked away undergrowth to bring in one of their biggest ladders and offered a selection of treats to try to lure her out.

But nothing worked and the rescue was called off – until Hatty somehow escaped by herself hours later.

(Story source: BBC News)

Scarlett’s story: ‘What my dog taught me about PTSD’

Dog owners are relying on their pets more than ever for happiness, with eight in 10 people admitting in a recent survey that their dog is most important to their daily happiness, beating friends by almost four times as much.

Scarlett

According to the survey carried out by pet tech firm Furbo, more than half of men admitted that having their dog by their side has the biggest positive impact on their mental health.

Last year we met a special little Beagle girl named Scarlett and her owners, Janie and Phil. Before being rescued in 2017, Scarlett spent the first two years of her life locked up in an animal testing facility in Europe.

Since finding a family to call her own, and learning what the big wide world is all about, Scarlett has started to come out of her shell but her past has left her with scars, not all of which are visible on the outside and it has taken her time to find confidence in her safety.

Her owner, Phil Green tells us his past has helped him to empathise and better understand Scarlett’s PTSD and shares what her experiences have taught him about mental health issues.

He explains, “The treatment of laboratory animals is abhorrent. The lucky few that survive often have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when memories of traumatic experiences and the resulting fears and anxieties they suffered persist.

“PTSD can last for months – years even – with symptoms that vary significantly. Scarlett was no exception, showing signs of depression, days where she was down and withdrawn, anxiety in harmless situations, if her afternoon walk was late, for example, she worried, making her drool profusely. She also had occasional flashbacks in her sleep causing night terrors.

“There were also objects and situations she was desperate to avoid, such as being covered, people with attire resembling laboratory workers, even flags flying on flagpoles and she had a high state of alert with a desire to retreat to a safe spot to sudden changes that wouldn’t faze a typical pet dog but which – having survived an environment where any change was bad – she interpreted as immediate danger.

“Like many owners of rescue dogs, we often wished we could talk to Scarlett, but having suffered mental health issues myself, I know that it is very hard to say the right thing and provide meaningful comfort and assurance to someone with mental health issues. More often than not you open your mouth and unwittingly put your foot in it!”

What Scarlett has taught her family

Phil continued, “As speech is as good as useless, we must find another way. This is what Scarlett Beagle has taught us: human or non-human, make a difference through action, not words.

“The first duty of a dog owner is to make their fur babies feel safe by providing a consistent stable routine. We make doubly sure that Scarlett’s routine is consistent, day in, day out.

“We cannot erase Scarlett’s past memories, but we can diminish them by packing each day with good memories that overflow.

“In Scarlett’s case this includes running free in the forest (ok, on a long line to keep her safe), finishing every stressful situation we can’t avoid (such as a car journey) with something fun, letting her wake us up during the night so she can chase foxy out of the garden.

“We know this is working as she has far fewer depressed days, shows far less anxiety to prior triggers, has happy dreams of chasing foxy (with her legs and eyes twitching furiously!) instead of night terrors, and displays a cheeky, obstinate but immensely loving personality that grows stronger and more confident by the day.”

(Article source: K9) 

Double Dutch: Can dogs learn commands in different languages?

We all know that the way that dogs communicate with each other is quite different to our own, and that dogs are a lot less reliant on verbalisation to get their point across or understand other dogs, although this doesn’t mean that dogs aren’t often quite noisy regardless!

dog language

Dogs have their own forms of communication with other dogs, incorporating verbalisations, scents, sight and touch, and they moderate their communications with humans to try to help us to understand them better. When it comes to how we in our turn communicate with dogs, we often expect them to understand much more than they actually do, particularly when it comes to speech and language.

A lot of us talk to our dogs as a form of one-sided conversation, and because dogs are adept at picking up our mood and cues, they tend to respond appropriately even though they don’t actually know what is being said.

Dogs can, of course, pick out certain specific words from our conversations that have particular meanings for them – like their own name, the terms used for common commands, and other words they often seem to learn all on their own, like “walk” and “food!”

English speakers do of course tend to train their dogs in English, for obvious reasons, and dogs in other countries (or with owners who speak other languages) are usually taught commands in the local dialect. It is of course obvious that a dog can learn a vocabulary of terms and words from more or less any spoken language – but can they learn commands in two different languages? Can dogs be bilingual? Read on to find out…

What dogs hear when we speak

As mentioned, dogs can pick out certain individual words from conversations that have meaning for them, and they also pick up on the tone and mood of our speech. The words that they can identify also need to be spoken in a consistent tone and manner for dogs to recognise them, which is one potential reason why dogs might sometimes follow a command from one person but not another, if the command is said in a different way – whether this is due to the emphasis placed on the word, or the accent it is spoken in.

Language to your dog is just a collection of different sounds, and for a dog to recognise and respond to a certain word, it has to have a mental association for them that gives it meaning and garners a specific response. We tend to use obvious descriptive words for commands, like “sit” and “stay,” but the actual words you use don’t matter, and you could train your dog with commands in any language or even a made-up version of your own, and there is no reason why they shouldn’t pick up these commands just as quickly, all other things being equal.

Can dogs tell different languages apart?

The human stream of chatter probably sounds like a mish-mash to your dog in the main part, but they can hear fine differences in tone and nuance, and they may also recognise if a language sounds very unfamiliar to the one that they are used to.

For instance, a dog that is used to hearing a lilting, melodic accent like Welsh would probably find the sound of spoken German quite unusual.

However, for languages that sound similar, your dog probably can’t tell the difference – and whether or not they can tell two distinct languages apart rather than just hearing the different sounds made by different speakers is less clear.

Can dogs learn commands in two languages?

When training a dog from scratch, you can train them in virtually any language of your choice, but how about trying to teach a dog in two languages from the get-go, or trying to teach a dog that already follows commands in one language to follow those same commands in another one too? Things get a little more confusing here – for both human and dog!

Using two different commands for one desired action is apt to leave the dog confused about both of them, and they are less likely to exhibit command compliance reliably in both languages. Some dogs may follow one language command but not the other, or follow both now and then- but using two terms for one desired action, whether those two terms be in the same language or not, is apt to confuse all but the smartest of dogs, and compromise their ability to follow commands.

When it comes to training a dog that follows commands in one language to start to follow commands in a different language instead, the results can be variable. This effectively means training an adult dog from scratch as if they’d never learnt their original commands to begin with.

This can be more time consuming and potentially less reliable than training a puppy or a dog that has never been trained in any language, but plenty of dogs manage to re-learn a whole new vocabulary of skills in a new language when needed – such as for dogs adopted from abroad.

However, again, using the old command terms and the new ones interchangeably will probably hinder rather than help progress.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes) 

Driving with your dog: 5 mistakes to avoid when you take your dog out in the car

For most of the UK’s dogs, going out in the car is a fact of life and for many dogs, is an everyday occurrence. Even dog owners without cars will still need to get their dog into a car now and then, for vet visits and other essentials if nothing else.

driving dog

Most dogs take all of this in their stride, having got used to being in the car while they were still young, and so unless your dog is anxious about car trips or doesn’t settle down when in transit, it is something that we generally don’t pay a lot of mind to. This means in turn that it is easy to get a little slack about safety and security when it comes to your dog and car trips, which can lead to potentially dangerous situations arising very quickly.

All responsible dog owners know that it is unsafe to leave a dog alone in a hot car – and this is perhaps the most acute potential hazard for dogs, which still sadly claims several canine lives every single year.

However, there are also a range of other mistakes that many dog owners make when it comes to dogs and car trips, and many of them are simply mundane, everyday occurrences that you may have been doing for years without a problem – but that are still better avoided!

In this article, we will look at five common mistakes that dog owners make when taking their dogs out in the car – and how to avoid them. Read on to learn more…

Not restraining your dog

Most dogs that are acclimatised to car travel get to know the routine that accompanies going out in the car, including where they should sit and get settled down. However, even if your dog is well behaved and will not try to move around when in the car, they should still be secured and restrained.

This is in order to ensure the safety of both the dog itself, if you should have to break suddenly or if an accident occurs – and also because a loose dog might move around, distract the driver, and obscure the mirrors and viewpoints that the driver needs to navigate safely.

Always secure your dog in the car with an appropriate canine seat-belt, crate, or other safe, secure device designed for the purpose.

Only taking your dog on long journeys

If your dog travels in the car regularly, they are likely to take the whole thing in their stride and often, be quite keen to go out in the car because they will get to join in with the family and may go somewhere new or interesting.

However, if you only take your dog in the car when it is absolutely necessary, such as for visits to the vet or long trips away on holiday, your dog may be more reluctant, and more likely to take a while to settle down, as well as being more likely to get travel sick. If you use your car regularly, try to take your dog out in it at least once a week so that longer journeys become no big deal for your dog.

Letting your dog put their head out of the window

Dogs are always keen to get close to a window and smell the world flying by, and this can both help to stave off travel sickness and keep your dog entertained during the trip. However, you should never allow your dog to put their head out of the window, because doing so comes with a number of hazards.

First of all, if you drive past another vehicle in close quarters or are driving on a narrow road, your dog might become injured – and it is also surprisingly common for dogs to get their heads stuck in open car windows and panic when underway! Allow your dog to get no more than the tip of their nose out of the window, and if your dog can push the window down, use a lattice or mesh to keep them from being able to do so.

Putting your dog in the back of a truck

In countries like America and Australia, it is common practice to allow dogs to sit in an open truck bed outside for journeys – but this is actually really dangerous. Your dog will have no protection from the elements, may be able to jump out of the truck, and will be thrown around if you brake suddenly, and many other things besides.

Even if the back of your truck or van is enclosed, it is a good idea to keep your dog somewhere that you can see them in the mirrors, and away from tools or equipment that may move or tip in transit and be dangerous for your dog.

Not paying attention to your dog’s comfort

Nobody wants to be uncomfortable on a car trip, and your dog is no different. Where they sit or lie should be safe, secure and provide a means of restraint, but it should also be comfortable – your dog should be able to sit up and not be cramped.

This means that a large dog like a German shepherd may need a different seat and form of restraint than a smaller dog like a Corgi. Also, you should factor in regular breaks on long journeys to offer water, let your dog stretch their legs, and do their business – and ensure that your dog doesn’t get fretful on the way.

(Article source: Pets 4 Homes) 

Meet the Tyneside fat cat who will battle other podgy pets in national slimming contest

Sox, a lazy nine-year-old cat from Gateshead who once got wedged in a baby gate, will be undergoing a six-month PDSA weight-loss programme.

Fat Cat

Chronicle Live reports that a corpulent Tyneside cat whose excess waistline once caused her to get stuck in a child’s safety gate has been chosen for the UK’s largest pet slimming competition.

Sox, a nine-year-old podgy puss from Gateshead, has been selected to compete against eight other fat cats and dogs from across the UK in the PDSA Pet Fit Club competition.

Together these ponderous pets weigh 197 kg (31 stone) and need to lose nearly 80 kg (12 st 7 lb). Weighing in at a whopping 6.5 kg (one stone), Sox has eaten and snoozed her way to become 63% overweight.

Owner Steffi Jackson, 22, is at a loss to understand her cat’s weight gain.

She said: “I don’t know why Sox has piled on so much weight. I don’t give her scraps or leftovers, although she does love cat treats and meat sticks in between meals, and is very lazy.

“Her weight means her balance is off so she’s regularly falling off things. She’s always falling off the bed, window ledge and chairs.

“She thinks of herself as much smaller than she is and will try and fit through small spaces and get stuck. She’s been known to get stuck between the bars of the baby gate at home as her belly is so big.

“I also want her to have more energy as she gets older. She sleeps all the time and I’d love it if she’d play more. I’m excited to see the transformation after the six-month diet.”

Sox’s six-month Pet Fit Club diet and exercise programme will be specially tailored and overseen by the vets and nurses at Gateshead PDSA Pet Hospital, located on Stoneygate Lane.

Lauren Walton, the PDSA vet nurse who will be helping to oversee Sox’s diet, said: “Pet obesity is an epidemic that is impacting the lives of millions of pets across the country. As with humans, being overweight can lead to a higher risk of suffering from serious life-limiting and life-threatening conditions such as arthritis, certain types of cancer and heart disease.

“It is estimated that up to 40% of UK cats and dogs are overweight or obese. But with the help of PDSA and Pet Fit Club, Sox and Steffi are making the necessary diet, exercise and lifestyle changes to help get Sox down to a healthier weight. We will support them every step of the way over the next six months to ensure they succeed.

“Pet Fit Club has been helping pets lose weight for 14 years, and is a great example of what can be achieved if owners are dedicated and determined to help their pets live a healthier lifestyle.

“If owners are worried about their pet’s weight they should seek advice from their vet or vet nurse, who can also make sure pets are on the right type of diet, are being fed the correct amount, and recommend ways to increase exercise levels.”

Pet Fit Club is a six-month diet and exercise programme. Participating pets are placed on individually-tailored regime, designed for their specific needs and overseen by the vet team at their local PDSA Pet Hospital.

The national competition has been running since 2005 and is the biggest of its kind in the UK. It has helped 85 dogs, 42 cats, eight rabbits and two rats lose over 75 stone (476 kg).

Sox will be competing against five other dogs and three cats, including Sparkx the cat from Manchester, who is double her ideal weight, Percy the Pug from Glasgow whose super-sized waistline has left him struggling to breathe, and Missi the Bulldog from Walsall, who loves Mr Whippy ice cream cones.

To help them with their weight loss, Pet Fit Club participants will receive free weight management pet food from the SPECIFIC™ range for the duration of the competition.

The overall Pet Fit Club champ, crowned at the end of 2019, will win a year’s supply of SPECIFIC™ and a pet friendly holiday, courtesy of Sykes Cottages (www.sykescottages.co.uk/pdsa).

For more information about this year’s pet finalists and to follow their progress, visit: www.pdsa.org.uk/petfitclub

(Story source: Chronicle Live) 

The world’s most famous moody moggy has died

The cat with a permanent frown had millions of followers and was so famous that her owner quit her waitressing job.

Grumpy Cat

Sky News reports that Grumpy Cat (real name Tardar Sauce) passed away on Tuesday but her owners announced the death on Twitter on Friday 12th July.

They said: “We are unimaginably heartbroken to announce the loss of our beloved Grumpy Cat.

Despite care from top professionals, as well as from her very loving family, Grumpy encountered complications from a recent urinary tract infection that unfortunately became to tough for her to overcome. “She passed away peacefully…at home in the arms of her mommy, Tabatha.”

Grumpy Cat and her permanent frown became a social media sensation after her picture was posted online in 2012.

Last year she won a $710,000 (£556,000) payout following a lawsuit against a coffee company that used her image beyond the limits of a contract they had signed with the cat’s owners.

(Story source: Sky News) 

‘Furlock’ Holmes: Meet the Ex-cop who hunts down the crooks who kidnap dogs up and down the UK

The doggy drama of Daniel Sturridge and his stolen Pomeranian Lucci had a happy ending when they were reunited.

Furlock

But the story will have unsettled many other pet owners – as will news that dog thefts are up for the fourth year in a row, with five dogs now stolen EVERY DAY.

And unlike former Liverpool striker Daniel, not everyone can offer a £30,000 reward for their pet’s return – which is why increasing numbers are hiring pet detectives such as Colin Butcher to find missing mutts.

A former police detective inspector, he specialises in recovering lost and stolen pets and says: “The type of breeds stolen used to be driven by films and TV but now it’s Instagram.

“When registered breeders can’t meet the demand for a particular type, thieves step in to fill the gap.”

One recent client, Barbara Barnwell, was blackmailed by a thief who had stolen her dog, Dexter. The year-old shih tzu had escaped from boarding kennels while Barbara was on holiday and had been taken by the opportunist thief in Langport, Somerset.

Colin says: “She was called up and told to pay £600 or they would hurt her dog. She was afraid and went ahead with it.”

After transferring the money to a bank account, Barbara waited near a supermarket car park as agreed – but the thief did not show up.

Colin says: “She just got fleeced. She was in bits because not only had she lost the money, she still didn’t have her dog.”

However, he and his team were able to gather witness reports of Dexter’s escape and identify who the thief was most likely to be.

The team kept up the pressure and when the thief was tipped off that they were about to move in to take the dog back, Dexter was mysteriously dumped in a local field.

Colin says: “He knew we knew who he was, and rather than us turn up and call the police, he just offloaded the dog.

Luckily someone found him in the field and recognised him from our adverts, so we were able to reunite Barbara and Dexter.”

‘It’s heartbreaking’

Barbara says: “He was missing for three and a half weeks – and it was three and a half weeks of hell. He had lost a lot of weight and had developed a few skin conditions, I think from the stress.

He’s also a bit anxious now but is on the mend. I’m just so happy to have him home.”

Currently the most stolen breed Colin is asked to find are French bulldogs – and The Sun joined him on the hunt for one such puppy.

Owner Anuja Pradhan shows us a heartbreaking online picture of a dog she believes to be her Frenchie puppy Sky, which shows its eyes wide with fear. Her five- month-old pet had been stolen from a park just a few days earlier after escaping from Anuja’s home in Hounslow, West London.

She says: “I’ve been searching websites every day, checking the for-sale adverts, and as soon as I saw the photo I just knew it was her.”

Sky was being advertised on shpock. com for £3,000 – double the £1,500 her owner paid for her.

Anuja, 29, assistant manager for a healthcare company, says: “It’s heartbreaking because you can tell she’s scared. You can see it in her eyes.

“At first I was really happy when I saw the advert because at least I knew she was still alive, but then I thought, ‘How am I going to get her back?’” So Anuja decided to pose as a potential buyer and arranged to meet the seller in a local car park.

When she and boyfriend Sean Patterson arrived, they called the police.

But although a man was arrested, he has since been released without charge – so Anuja enlisted Colin, who quit the police in 2002 and now runs United Kingdom Pet Detectives.

He charges £380 for four hours’ work, or £750 a day, and says he receives up 40 enquiries a week – getting back nine out of ten dogs.

Scent-recognition

His workload is perhaps not surprising, as dog-napping cases were up four per cent last year to 1,959. Anuja is close to tears as she tells us she had only had Sky – a birthday gift from Sean – for a couple of months.

After getting all the facts of the case, Colin returns to the scene of the crime – Inwood Park, near Anuja’s home – with his four-year-old cocker spaniel Molly, and chats to other dog walkers to see if there are any potential witnesses.

Rescue dog Molly, who features in Colin’s new book Molly & Me: The Ultimate Pet Detective Duo, spent a year having scent-recognition training with the charity Medical Detection Dogs. She is now the UK’s only cat detection dog, and an expert in finding missing moggies.

Colin says: “She hasn’t been trained to find dogs. It’s also difficult to use search dogs with thefts because they are rarely kept locally, once stolen.” And that may help to explain why to date, Anuja and Sky have still not been reunited.

But Molly still comes in useful on his next job. Another French bulldog, Frank, has been missing for almost a month and his owner Stefan Cappella fears he may have been stolen.

Stefan, 31, who owns a trampoline park, and his fiancée Victoria Williams, 29, who runs a yoga studio, bought Frank as a puppy for £1,500 and are offering a £10,000 reward for his safe return.

Stefan says: “It’s a huge amount to us, but we’d rather forgo holidays and never go out if it means having him back. He isn’t just a dog to us, he’s a member of our family.”

Colin, who worked as a Surrey Police CID officer for 15 years, treats every missing animal case as if he were running a police investigation.

Frank disappeared from Stefan’s parents’ back garden when the couple went over for dinner, so Colin’s “on-site assessment” starts with a thorough search of the garden.

He uses Molly to gauge potential escape routes for Frank before asking Stefan to take him on a tour of the area surrounding the family home in Reigate, Surrey. Next, he inspects CCTV footage from the time Frank went missing. At this stage, Colin is keeping an open mind about Frank’s disappearance. But one theory is that the dog could have been snatched after being spotted by a passer-by. With Molly’s help, Colin demonstrates how a dog her size could potentially fit under the garden gate, telling Stefan:

“Someone could have driven up the lane, seen Frank, grabbed him and be gone in seconds. It can happen that quickly.”

Colin says the key to cracking a case is to work out what type of thief he is dealing with. If Frank was taken from under the gate, it is what he calls an “opportunist” thief. He says: “They’re street thieves who are always looking for something to steal and will take any opportunity to make some cash. They’ll try to convert what they’ve stolen into cash as quick as possible.”

Sadly, to date, Stefan and Victoria are still without their beloved Frank. But one of Colin’s biggest success stories made headlines around the world.

His expertise was sought when Wilma the schnauzer went missing from owner Richard Guttfield’s home in Marsworth, Bucks, last year. It was discovered that the £800 puppy had disappeared at about the same time as an Amazon parcel was delivered.

Colin encouraged the family to contact Amazon boss Jeff Bezos in America, who intervened and ordered staff to track down the driver, Levi Pislea, and Wilma was later found at an address in North London. Pislea was later convicted of theft and sentenced to a 12-month community order.

“There’s certainly no shortage of dog thefts in this country,” says Colin gravely as he prepares to head to his next job – but not before Molly has a much-needed scratch. Rolling his eyes, Colin jokes: “It’s like working with Gywneth Paltrow – ‘You can all wait’.

Top four stolen dog breeds

1. Staffordshire bull terrier

Staffordshire Bull Terriers have consistently been one of the most popular choices of terriers and for good reason. They are renowned for the kind natures when they are around people in a family environment even though they were originally bred to be fighting dogs. Staffies have also become one of the most popular dogs in the show ring and luckily, this has not affected their traditional strong, rugged, muscular and much-loved looks. As a tribute to their ancestry, Staffies are shown wearing broad leather collars with brass emblems on them which depict Staffordshire knots.

Staffies are fun to have around and although boisterous by nature, through correct breeding, handling and training these small to medium sized dogs develop into lovely characters that boast big personalities. Staffies like nothing more than a warm lap to curl up on and an owner they can look up to for all the direction and guidance they need with loyalty and devotion. Despite the breed’s early origins, Staffordshire Bull Terriers is renowned for being a lovely and loyal family pet as well as a trustworthy companion.

2. Trendy crossbreeds (labradoodles/puggles)

The Labradoodle is the result of crossing a Labrador Retriever with either a Standard or Miniature Poodle and they first appeared on the scene back in the mid-1950’s. They are high energy dogs with some of them having low shedding coats. As such they are often seen being used as assistance dogs for people who suffer from allergies. Labradoodles have become one of the most popular recent designer cross breeds to have appeared on the scene and for good reason because not only are they adorable looking, but they are intelligent charming dogs that are a pleasure to have around too.

Labradoodles should not be described as “designer dogs” because they have been around for a long time and therefore they have become well-established in the world of working dogs having been bred to have a biddable nature. They should be thought of as a “cross breed” and one that has made their mark on the world and today the Labradoodle is among one of the most popular breeds in the UK.

The Puggle is a relative newcomer to the dog world and since they first appeared on the scene these little dogs have become one of the most popular crossbreeds around. They are a cross between a Beagle and a Pug and were bred in America during the eighties when they joined the list of other “designer or hybrid” dogs that have appeared on the scene over recent years.

Puppies can inherit the characteristics of either the Pug or the Beagle, but they can be a combination of both too. Pugs are typically used as sires with the Beagle being the dam thanks to her being that much larger than her Pug counterpart which ensures an easier birth.

They have become popular over recent times thanks to the fact they’ve inherited many of their parent breeds physical traits which includes the endearing looks of both the Pug and the Beagle. This together with their mischievous natures has seen Puggles find their way into the hearts and homes of people the world over. They are not yet recognised by international breed clubs which includes The Kennel Club, but many Puggle breed clubs have been set up both here in the UK and elsewhere in the world with an end goal being to breed healthy dogs.

3. Chihuahua

Over the years Chihuahuas have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people around the world. The breed hails from Mexico where they have always been highly prized for their cuteness, their intelligence and the fact these tiny characters think they are bigger than they really are. One thing a Chihuahua is not, and that is purely a lapdog. Bursting with energy and character, these little dogs are great fun to share a home with. They are fiercely courageous and will stand their ground no matter what. They are also loyal and affectionate characters liking nothing more than to spend as much time with their owners as they possible can which means Chihuahuas do not tolerate being left on their own for any great length of time.

4. French bulldog

Related to both the American Bulldog and English Bulldog, the French Bulldog is smaller in size and is an exceptionally playful and good-natured character that easily adapts to different lifestyles and home environments making them one of the most popular companion dogs not only in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too. Frenchies crave lots of attention and like nothing more than to spend time with their owners. One of their most endearing traits is their willingness to please and although they can be stubborn, when carefully handled Frenchies can be taught to do some amazing things.

French Bulldogs are known to be the clowns of the dog world, but they are quite intelligent with a mischievous and playful streak in them. They may become a little possessive and protective of owners and will occasionally need a gentle reminder about who is the alpha dog in a household. They are generally very good around children, although it is best to always supervise any encounters kids have with Frenchies, much the same as with any other breed of dog.

(Article source: Various)