Gumtree Clamps Down on Unscrupulous Pet Trading

Gumtree has today announced the introduction of a compulsory paywall in its Pets category, in a bid to deter unscrupulous operators from misusing the platform and discourage the ‘casual’ trading of animals online.

From today, anyone wishing to post an ad in Gumtree’s Pets category will be required to pay a nominal fee. The move by the UK’s number one classifieds platform represents a big shift from Gumtree’s ‘free for all users’ model in this category.

Gumtree has taken steps to ensure that the platform is a safe and ethical place to buy and sell pets. These steps include the establishment of a relationship with the Pet Advertising Advisory Group (PAAG) – the UK’s leading advisory group made up of 23 animal welfare organisations, trade associations and the veterinary profession – that promotes responsible pet advertising and the safe trading of animals via online adverts. Gumtree works hard to comply with, and in some cases exceed, PAAG’s 18 minimum standards for the rehoming of pets. These standards, developed by PAAG members including RSPCA, Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and the Reptile and Exotic Pet Trade Association, help ensure safety standards are adhered to and more animals are treated with respect and care.

Yet despite the efforts of PAAG and industry operators like Gumtree to meet standards, the illegal pets trade has continued to circumvent systems across the industry. The introduction of a compulsory paywall in the Pets category creates an obstacle that will naturally discourage users from casually posting pet ads and means Gumtree and law enforcement agencies can more easily identify illegal operators.

Gumtree’s General Manager Matt Barham said: “For the first time in our 18-year history, we have taken the deliberate and purposeful step to shift away from our traditional ‘free for all users’ model in the Pets category in a bid to rid Gumtree of illegal pets trading.

“This is a measure we have imposed on ourselves not because we are required to do so by government or our colleagues in the animal welfare industry, but because we believe it is the right thing to do. Gumtree is and always has been firmly committed to making sure our platform is as safe as possible for rehoming pets and this measure marks the latest milestone in our journey to improve safety for Gumtree users”.

Dogs Trust Veterinary Director and Chair of PAAG Paula Boyden said: “It has long been our concern that animals are being exploited by traders, with unscrupulous operators setting up fake profiles on classifieds platforms to hide this from unsuspecting buyers. Animals are often bred illegally by criminal gangs and frequently have health problems as a result of profit being put before their welfare. Furthermore, many pets are being illegally imported into the country but their backgrounds are being concealed from the buyer which is deeply worrying”.

Canada’s leading online classifieds site Kijiji – part of the eBay classifieds Group, which includes Gumtree – introduced a similar paywall policy on a part of their platform in 2014 which proved successful in reducing incidents of abuse.

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Fundraising Ideas For Your Favourite Pet Charity

As an animal lover, there are countless things you can do to support the causes that mean something to you. From the work of medical detection dogs to the plight of sick and neglected animals, there is probably a charity out there that stirs both your passions and emotions.

Your first port of call is to approach the charity you want to help and ask them for ideas on how you can raise money for them. Their suggestions will be invaluable, and they should provide you with merchandised items – brochures, money boxes, etc. – to give you the means to raise both money and public interest in their cause.

While seeking advice from the charity is essential, your next step is to use a little imagination. While you could go door to door with money box in hand, and while you could pester and cajole your friends and family into giving, there are other ideas that may prove more effective. After all, not many us like to be harangued for money. Check out the following ideas as examples.

  • Set up a giving kiosk. The charity you support should give you guidance for this one, as you may need some money to set something up, as well as an armful of brochures and giveaway items. Setting up a bespoke exhibition stand at a public event, be it animal-oriented or not, you can attract people’s attention with your display. Talk to passersby about your chosen charity, stir their interest with engaging stories, and use a card reader as well as a traditional money box to take any donations that come your way.
  • Organise a social event. People like to have fun, so setting up a paid event will generate cash for your charity. As examples, you might organise a pet talent show, with a small award to the most talented pet (or their owner). You could have a pet party, with food and games for pets and their owners. Or you could hold an event that isn’t necessarily animal oriented but still have raffle tickets or tombolas to go towards supporting your favourite charity.
  • Work with your animal loving friends. Getting together with your friends, consider the varying ways you could raise money together. One example could be a car wash, offering to hand-wash your neighbour’s vehicles. You might even set up a station for washing people’s dogs too! Alternatively, you could hold a walkathon. By bringing your friends together, you could all seek sponsors from others for the walk you are going to undertake. To make it pet-appropriate, this could also be a perfect excuse to give dogs exercise too, whether they are your own, or from extra-paying sponsors.
  • Use social media. Here’s an idea worth tweeting about (bird charities optional). Using the ideas presented here, use your social media accounts to spread the word about the charity you are supporting. Considering the thousands of people accessible through your networks, your fundraising ideas are going to get more than a few ‘likes’ when you promote the needs of your chosen charity.

These were our ideas, but you may have some of your own. Let us know your thoughts, giving us all the ability to make a difference to the lives of the animals we care about.

Take care, and thanks for reading.


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Giving Boot Camps the Boot!

By Tony Knight Dog Listener

I once did a consultation for a couple who had an out-of-control German Shepherd. In desperation, they had sent their problem pooch off to a “boot camp”, run by – of course – an ex-army dog handler. Who better to bring their dog to heel, right?

After a few weeks of training, the trainer returned their now obedient dog, together with a film of him walking the dog to heel. Ta-da! A lot of money maybe, but money well spent.

You know there is a “but” coming…

But (there it is) after a couple of weeks back at home, their dog was worse than ever. No matter how many times they watched the film, it didn’t help at all. There was one vital piece of the puzzle missing in the training; the humans were not given any information. The dog had returned home and reassessed its position in its family. Seeing no difference in the humans’ behaviour, it once again took over the mantle of responsibility, this time in a fitter state physically if a little more head shy than before (I wonder why…).

Why do people waste so much money on sending their dogs off to be trained by somebody else? There are a few reasons which are understandable. Firstly, it is common for people to trust a figure of authority and knowledge when they do not understand the problem.


The belief that an expert can solve the problem for them leads a lot of dog owners to put their faith (and a lot of money) in so-called dog boot camps. Unless the owners are then given specific instructions themselves on how to recreate the same process at home, the dog will simply go back to the previous setting with their family. At the end of the day, the dog does not live with the trainer.

Recently I spoke with a colleague of mine called Phil over in America who told me that he visited a family who had spent thousands of dollars for “ready-trained” puppies. To their huge surprise (but not ours) these perfect pooches became Hell hounds as they grew up. When humans are given no maintenance instructions, things start to go wrong. Phil gave the people the right instruction manual and things calmed down very quickly.

Secondly, sometimes a dog’s behaviour is so exasperating that having a break from them is a blessed relief. I was contacted once by a lady in the South of France who begged me to take her dog away to be trained as it was driving her to despair. There is possibly nothing more frustrating than a member of your family going off the rails and you have no idea what to do about it.

I agreed to take the dog away to my home (also in the South of France) for 3 weeks to give her a break, on the proviso that upon our return, she learned what I had done to calm him down. I knew full well that he would revert straight back to the old way of behaving if she did not know what to do to convince him that he didn’t need to reprise his old role of panicking decision maker. After the consultation, she followed my advice and – with some support at the beginning – calm was restored to the household.

Another reason for boot camps getting clients is the belief among many that training a dog takes too much time, a commodity which is often in short supply (even if money is not). Getting somebody else to do all the work for you may seem like a smart move, but when you realise that it is like asking someone else to go to the gym for you so that you can get fit, it suddenly becomes an obvious waste of time.

The good news is that it takes very little time to start to show your dog the right way to behave. In fact, once you start practising the correct way to interact with your dog, the whole process becomes automatic – you don’t even realise that you are doing it. All you need to do is learn how to show your dog at specific times that they can trust you (and it is far easier than you think). I often say that a relaxed dog is happy to live their life around what we do. Too many people live their lives around their dog (and nobody is happy about that).

In short, remember that living with a dog requires effort on your part, rather than leaving it up to somebody else. You live with you dog, not them. Also, once you know the correct way to act, it becomes second nature so the only time that you put into your relationship with your dog is what you want to give. The great part of this is that the better behaved your dog, the more you enjoy their company. You wouldn’t dream of sending them away to be “educated” by someone who may be using training tactics that would make your blood boil if you actually saw them doing it.

The next time your dog is driving you bananas, ask yourself what you can do about it. That way you will quickly find a solution that is calm, consistent and convincing. Remember too that – just like getting healthy – it is a lifestyle change that wins the day, not a few weeks of intense activity.

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The Soaring Cost of Veterinary Treatment

New research reveals the average cost of veterinary treatment for dogs and cats has risen by four per cent over the past year, with the average claim rising by £29, from £728 to £757.

The overall cost of medical treatment claims for dogs and cats in the UK totalled £775 million last year, an increase of ten per cent on 2016. With more than a million pet insurance claims made during 2017, an average of nearly two every minute, pet owners are advised to look out for early warning signs of illness and injury to ensure their pets are given the best possible care and to reduce the likelihood of increased veterinary bills further down the line, according to the study by Direct Line Pet Insurance.

The data shows that there are clear differences between the most commonly claimed-for ailments for cats and dogs. The most common illnesses in cats last year were identified as wounds (15 per cent), gastrointestinal disorders (14 per cent) and tumours, growths, warts or cysts (11 per cent). Poisoning and physical disorders (six per cent) were also prevalent in cats, which raises worrying questions about how to protect them from ingesting noxious substances or toxic plants when roaming freely.

Dogs are more likely to need treatment for tumours, growths, warts or cysts, which accounted for a fifth (20 per cent) of all claims in 2017. This was followed by musculoskeletal disorders such as lameness, arthritis or ligament damage (19 per cent) and gastrointestinal disorders such as vomiting, pancreatitis and gastritis (12 per cent).

Across all pets, mouth and oral disorders such as abscesses, ulcers and wounds, saw the sharpest increase in claims between 2016 and 2017, rising by 25 per cent. This was followed by disorders of the lymphatic system (20 per cent increase) and hernias (10 per cent increase). However, claims for poisoning or physical disorders of unknown cause fell by a third (33 per cent), while there was also a fall in the number of claims for liver disorders, which fell by 20 per cent year-on-year.

Table one: The most commonly claimed-for ailments for dogs and cats, 2017

Rank Ailment claimed under insurance Percentage share of all ailments
1 Tumours, growths, warts and cysts 20 per cent
2 Musculoskeletal disorders 19 per cent
3 Gastrointestinal disorders 12 per cent
4 Wounds 10 per cent
5 Skin disorders 4 per cent
1 Wounds 15 per cent
2 Gastrointestinal disorders 14 per cent
3 Tumours, growths, warts and cysts 11 per cent
4 Musculoskeletal disorders 8 per cent
5 Mouth and oral disorders 7 per cent

Source: Direct Line Pet Insurance, 2017

Prit Powar, head of pet insurance at Direct Line, commented: “Our analysis reveals the importance of insuring your pet against illness and injury, as owners can be left footing bills running into thousands of pounds. Many conditions can be easily treated so it is important to get your pet checked out as soon as you suspect something is wrong.  Comprehensive pet insurance provides the vital peace of mind that a trip to the vet won’t always result in a trip to the bank.”

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Walking the Dog Leads Local Nurse to Support Dementia Centre

Taking his dog for a walk in the park has sparked a nurse’s decision to raise more than £1m for a dementia support centre.

Marty Pumbien was out exercising his dog Stumpy, so named because of his shorter than average legs, in Abington Park, Northampton when he noticed an elderly lady also out taking the air.

Seeing that she was confused, but also comforted by Stumpy, Marty struck up a conversation about him. Marty recognised the lady possibly had dementia and needed more assistance so the group took a joint stroll back to Marty’s house, which overlooks the park. Their conversation continued over tea and the lady remembered where she lived so Marty was able to drive her home, contact her family members and organise a wellness check for her. She was also reunited with her own pet dog.

This simple meeting led to a light-bulb moment for Marty, a nurse for more than 20 years and for whom working with dementia patients such as the ‘Lady in the Park’ was not unusual.

Passionate about providing great care and having seen that dementia support can sometimes be lacking, Marty resolved to put his money where his passion lay by putting his four bedroom home into a ‘Win a House’ competition – with a difference.

Part of the proceeds from the competition will go toward funding Northampton’s dementia support centre UnityDEM, co-run by the University of Northampton and First for Wellbeing.

Marty said: “I never thought a chance encounter between our dog and an old lady in the park would snowball like this. But after a year of planning here we are, poised to hand the keys of our house over to the lucky winner.

“In one way or another, we all know someone affected by dementia. In fact, 1 in 3 children born in the UK in 2015 will go on to develop a form of dementia, and currently there is no cure.

“UnityDEM offers a type of ‘brain rehab’, based on research that shows this type of intervention can slow the progression of dementia and, possibly, keep people at home for longer.

“This has massive benefits for everyone from those with dementia, their carers and centres like these could even reduce the burden on the NHS and social care bodies.

“Annie and I would both like to say a big thank you to everyone who has taken part so far. We really hope people continue to help support UnityDEM and try winning a house for a fiver.”

UnityDEM is a ‘one stop shop’ for care, information, training and guidance for people who have been recently diagnosed with a form of dementia. Crucially, their carers have access to the same support at the same time.

Supported by the University and the Northamptonshire Community Foundation, the competition involves entrants successfully answering a simple question about Northampton to take part.

Each ‘entry’ is then £5 and people who are interested can enter as many times as they want, providing they meet the eligibility criteria. Details about the layout of the four bedroom house, worth £650,000 its features as well as the full terms and conditions can be found on their website.

For more information, please visit this Facebook Page.

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On Eve of National Pet Remembrance Day, Study Reveals Job that Helps Ease Pain of Pet Bereavement

Pet sitters Clive and Yolanda Noble

It’s National Pet Remembrance Day tomorrow 5th July – a day to celebrate the lives of deceased pets.

With the rise in the number of people owning dogs and cats – more people will go through losing a pet which can be a very distressing time, akin for many to losing a family member.

A study by the Co-op found that more than a quarter of respondents had found their pet’s death as difficult as the death of a family member, and a third thought it was on a level with the loss of a friend. Nearly half of the bereaved owners were still mourning after two months, and 16 per cent were struggling a year later.

One way to deal with this is to become a home and pet sitter – looking after people’s homes and pets when they go away. According to a recent survey by Homesitters Ltd when asked why they don’t have a pet of their own – almost a fifth of homesitters said it was too upsetting when they die or they were taking time out after losing their dog or cat before considering a replacement.

For 63 per cent of homesitters looking after pets was the main reason they chose the role and for just over 70 per cent looking after animals was thing they enjoyed most. Other highlights of the job include time away from the usual routine, staying in different places and exploring the UK.

Alan Irvine, Chairman of Homesitters Ltd says: “When a much loved pet dies it can be devastating, so it’s understandable this puts off some people from getting another pet. Even the Queen was said to be heartbroken following the death of her last Corgi earlier this year.

“Homesitting can give animal lovers the chance to spend time caring for dogs and cats without the commitment of having one or the prospect of future heartbreak when they die. Many of our homesitters say it’s the best of both worlds and looking after animals was the big draw of the role.”

For older people especially who don’t want to take on another pet in their retirement or perhaps live somewhere that doesn’t allow pets it’s the ideal choice of flexible employment. 77 per cent of the company’s homesitters are aged 55 to 74 years old and 65 per cent say home and pet sitting contributes financially towards their retirement.

Yolande and Clive Noble, from Telford in Shropshire have been homesitting for 15 years. The couple were previously pet owners and their pets have included dogs, cats, mice and chinchillas, however, when their last two dogs died they didn’t want the upset of having to go through that again, so home and pet sitting provides them with the ideal way to spend time with animals, particularly dogs.

Clive says, “Being a homesitter is a change from the hum drum and gets us out and about, staying in new places. We also get our dog fix. We idolise the dogs we look after and over the years have met so many wonderful dogs.

“We also enjoy exploring local villages and towns when we’re on assignment – it’s just like a holiday with the bonus of getting paid!”

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Brits to Remember Beloved Pets on National Pet Remembrance Day This Thursday 5th July

Pet owners across the UK will remember beloved pets that have passed over the Rainbow Bridge this Thursday 5th July as national Pet Remembrance Day takes place.

The national day of remembrance, launched four years ago by Arty Lobster 3D pet sculptures, provides an opportunity for people to celebrate the lives of pets and the increasing number of ways in which we can commemorate them.

Pet Remembrance Day is once again proud to support The Oldies Club, a national charity, which re-homes dogs aged seven and over in need of homes.

A Twitter chat will take place on Thursday using the hashtag #PetRemembranceDay for people to show their support and share thoughts and photos of deceased companion animals.

Best-selling author and speaker Wendy Van de Poll, MS, CEOL (Certified End of Life and Pet Loss Grief Coach and Founder of Center for Pet Loss Grief, LLC) explains: “Pet Remembrance Day is a time for outwardly expressing your deepest love for your pets that have reached the end of their lives.

“Paying tribute to those animals that touched your heart with a pet funeral, memorial, and remembrance will help you heal your loss all the while keeping the love of your companion close by.”

Founder Lars B Andersen, CEO of Arty Lobster, said: “Pets are like family, and this national day is an important day when people will take time out, even if just a few moments, to remember deceased pets.”

On Pet Remembrance Day, there are many ways in which people can remember deceased pets, including:

  • A memorial service in a place where the pet liked to walk or play.
  • A living memorial by planting a tree or flowerbed
  • A pet sculpture or portrait featuring the pet or their image printed on a coaster or other accessory
  • A scrapbook with photos and other reminders of the pet.
  • An online memorial with photos of the pet
  • A poem about the pet
  • Donating to charity like The Oldies Club or volunteering at an animal rescue centre in remembrance of the pet

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How to Choose a Pet Sitter Before You Go Away on Holiday

Going away on holiday can be a very exciting time for the whole family. After all, you may feel as though there is so much for you to do and even more for you to see. You may also have the whole thing planned out from start to finish and this is a great way for you to make sure that you avoid any unexpected problems along the way. The problem that a lot of people have when they go away is that they find it hard to find a reputable sitter. If this sounds like, you then you can get some help and support below.

Online Resources

If you don’t know where to start looking for a pet sitter then the best way for you to get around this would be for you to look online. You can search by your location and there are even websites where you can see the reviews that people have left for these services as well. This is a fantastic way for you to find someone who you can really count on and you’d be surprised at how many pet sitters are actually available in your local area. Another thing that you can do is try and talk with other pet owners. If you know that a friend used someone and they had a great experience with them then there is no reason for you to not look into this as an option, so do make sure that you keep that in mind.

Signs of Quality

It helps to look out for signs of quality when booking your pet sitter. When you look up the names of your pet sitters, you don’t want to waste your time with those who do not have any credentials, as they may not have the required experience to look after your pet. Of course, it also helps to make sure that your sitter has liability insurance and some kind of formal training. Some pet sitters are also able to work with veterinarians as well, so if your pet ever experiences any health issues while you are away then you know that they have the means to look after them and even get them the emergency help they need.


References are very important and if your sitter is not able to provide any then this can be a warning sign. After all, your pet sitter is probably going to have access to your home so it helps to make sure that they are who they say they are. It is very easy for someone to impersonate a pet sitter and the last thing that you need is to come back off your holiday, only to find that something has happened to your home while you were away. When you have all of the information you need, you then start making a list of all the people who are options and then list them in order of how much of a good fit they are for your pet.


Price can be an issue when booking a pet sitter. After all, some may ask that you buy a dog crate ready for when they arrive. At the end of the day, you need to find someone who can meet your price range but you don’t want anyone that is not able to meet the needs of your pet either. There is a very fine line between cheap and poor in quality, so don’t be afraid to negotiate on the price and always make sure that you have an idea of how much you can spend every day or even per night.


It is a very good idea for you to give your pet sitter an interview when the time does come for you to hire them. Ask them why they love what they do and find out if they genuinely love pets. If you know that someone is only in it for the money then this can make it very difficult for you to trust them and they may not be willing to go that extra mile to make your pet truly happy. At the end of the day, you do want someone who is enthusiastic and passionate about what they do, but you also need to go with your gut instinct as well.


Another thing that you need to do is check to see if they can provide you with any services. After all, your pet may have some special needs that need tending to. Making sure that your pet sitter is able to provide for these needs is crucial if you want to get a good result out of your experience with them. For example, if you have a dog that has very long hair then they may need grooming or brushing on a weekly basis. If your sitter is not willing to take the time to groom your dog then they may not be an option, so do take that into account.


You may know that your sitter has ten years of experience, and this is great because it will help you out with your peace of mind. If you have a Great Dane however then you won’t want someone who has ten years of experience working with Toy Poodles. If you want to get around this then try and find someone who has experience in looking after the specific type of dog that you have. After all, it is a known fact that certain dogs require way more exercise when compared to others and having someone who can meet this need is a huge plus.

All in all, it’s important to know that two weeks, or more is a very long time in the life of a dog, so if you are not able to find someone who you can trust for this period of time then you need to carry on searching. When it comes to your pet, you should never settle for anyone who is second-best because your pet will be completely dependent on them when you are away, and this is one of the most important things that you need to remember.

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Top Pet Phobias Include Paul Hollywood, ‘Corrie’ and Ice Cream Vans!

Paul Hollywood, ice cream vans, the theme tune to Coronation Street and pizza delivery men have emerged among a list of common PHOBIAS – for the nation’s pets.

According to a new poll of British pet owners – nearly half (48 percent) of dogs and cats in the UK suffer from some sort of fear or anxiety – with more than one in four claiming their pet is terrified of the vacuum cleaner.

Over one in five (22 percent) said their pet refuses to be left alone in the house and one in ten saying they will not venture into the outside if it is raining.

Spiders, babies and even feather dusters are also the nemesis of the UK’s furry friends.

The extent of anguish felt by the nation’s cats and dogs was revealed in the study of 1,000 pet owners – with dogs emerging as the most likely pet to be afraid.

41 percent of respondents said their pet’s fears were so bizarre they had become a talking point among their family and friends.

The most common reaction to a fear is to bark (33 percent), but a timid 29 percent of animals go and hide.

Tin foil was also listed as a genuine anxiety for many of our four-legged friends, as was the vet, being kept on a lead and the stairs.

The poll by Ceva, Animal Health found 14 percent of animals tend to howl when they have an irrational fear, but for an unfortunate 30 percent of owners, their dog or cat will poo or pee on the carpet.

Over a third of the animal-owners surveyed, said they were genuinely worried about their pet’s behaviour and 22 percent said it was causing stress within the household.

In fact, the average cat or dog owner said their life was affected by their pet’s behaviour as many as three times a week.

According to the research the best way to deal with their pet’s episodes is to try and calm them down by stroking them and 19 per cent will remove them from the situation.

A spokesman for Ceva said: “Some of the fears dogs and cats suffer from are fairly common – such as the stairs, the postman and being left alone.

“However, there is no valid explanation as to why the nation’s pets would take such a dislike to certain celebrities, theme tunes or TV programmes.

Andrew Fullerton, Technical Manager for Behaviour at Ceva Animal Health, said: “These results are really interesting and show a level of education is still needed in assessing, interpreting and understanding our pet’s behaviour and looking at solutions and products such as pheromone based sprays, diffusers and collars, that can help handle stressful situations and prevent unwanted behaviour.”

According to the study, 46 percent of pet owners said their animal had ruined their home with the carpet (49 percent), the sofa (43 percent) and wallpaper (23 percent) the most likely victims of a badly-behaved pet.

One in twenty said their pet has set them back over £1,000 as a result of the damage they have caused in the house.


  • Vacuum cleaners ​​​42 percent
  • Fireworks ​​​​37 percent
  • Thunder ​​​​28 percent
  • The vets ​​​​24 percent
  • Being left on their own ​​​22 percent
  • The postman ​​​​14 percent
  • Mail coming through the letterbox ​12 percent
  • The car ​​​​​12 percent
  • Sleeping by themselves ​​​11 percent
  • Rain ​​​​​9 percent
  • Babies/children ​​​7 percent
  • Pizza delivery man ​​​7 percent
  • Being on a lead ​​​​5 percent
  • Tin foil ​​​​​5 percent
  • Buses ​​​​​4 percent
  • Spiders ​​​​​3 percent
  • The stairs ​​​​3 percent
  • Hats ​​​​​3 percent
  • Feather dusters ​​​3 percent
  • Ice-cream vans ​​​​2 percent
  • The garden ​​​​2 percent
  • Coronation Street theme tune ​​2 percent
  • Paul Hollywood ​​​2 percent
  • Grass ​​​​​2 percent

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Don’t Give a Dog a Bone!

Sapphire with PDSA Vet Kate Cavanagh and a chicken bone similar to the one swallowed

PDSA issues BBQ warning after puppy undergoes emergency op after swallowing chicken bone…

With temperatures set to soar this weekend, vet charity PDSA is bracing itself for an influx of emergencies – after saving a Staffie puppy who wolfed down a six-inch chicken bone.

The vet charity says that with glorious sunshine forecast over the next week when temperatures could hit as high as 30C (86F), many people will be enjoying some al-fresco dining in the garden. But while there will be barbecues aplenty, common treats such as ribs, corn-on-the-cob and chicken drumsticks, can prove fatal to pets if swallowed.

PDSA is sharing the story of Sapphire, a seven-month-old puppy from Stoke on Trent, who had a lucky escape after swallowing a bone. She had been eyeing up a chicken drumstick that 13-year-old Abi Paterson was eating during a family meal, and pounced the moment Abi dropped her guard.

The mischievous pooch ran off with her prize bone and swallowed it whole before the family could stop her.

Quick-thinking mum, Lesley (51) from Northwood, immediately contacted PDSA’s Stoke Pet Hospital, and staff told her to bring the pup in straight away. Sapphire was x-rayed before being rushed for emergency surgery to remove the bone.

Kate Cavanagh, PDSA Vet, said: “The x-ray showed the bone lodged in Sapphire’s stomach. There was a real risk, due to its size, that it could have led to a life-threatening blockage in her bowel.”

“We knew we had to carry out an emergency operation to remove it as quickly as possible.”

Thanks to the charity’s vets, the surgery was a success and the bone was safely removed just an hour-and-a-half after Sapphire swallowed it. The pup was kept in overnight for observation before being allowed home the following day.

Lesley said she is hugely grateful to PDSA vets for the treatment Sapphire received.

She said: “The service was five-star and I really can’t thank them enough. I knew as soon as she swallowed the bone how dangerous it could be and we were all on tenterhooks the whole time she was in surgery.

“Needless to say we’re now much more careful with Sapphire where food is concerned.”

PDSA warns that bones can be dangerous to dogs as they can cause digestive tract damage caused by splinters, particularly with cooked chicken bones. Larger pieces of bone can also cause blockages in the throat or bowel, which is life-threatening.

Kate added: “We would advise keeping unsuitable foods out of paws’ reach and sticking to dog friendly chew toys – these don’t present a choking or blockage risk and can also help keep your dog’s teeth clean.”

For advice about how to keep pets safe during barbecue season

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