Keep safe!

Keep safe!
You are responsible for your own safety and that of your dog. The walks listed in this blog are not detailed guides. Plan your route! Click the landrover image for safety advice from Bowland Pennine MRT.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The battle with allergies

Thought I would do a quick entry on allergies today as its on my mind. 

Our Springer has never had great skin. From a couple of years old he got dandruff a bit but it was generally ok. A couple of years ago though he started to display some real problems, mainly wet dermatitis on his neck and groin areas and small dry scrusty scabs on his chest and back. At times you'd walk in the house and the smell of 'dog' was pretty overpowering. Was time to try to do something about it!  That was back in 2013. 

We had always given good quality fried foods, all hypoallergenic. Amongst those were James Wellbeloved, Franks Pro Gold, Harringtons, Vets Kitchen and others.  He also had Denta Stixs most days and a variety of treats, mainly muesli bones and the odd hide chew. He didn't have many bits of Hunan food, maybe some chicken and rice from time to time and carrots and broccoli. 

We were given Malaceb and a course of antibiotics. The antibiotics worked wonders and within a month or so he was better. The Malaceb shampoo (also Sebomild P) seemed to keep things in check for a while afterwards but over time it got worse again, to the point where he was once again in bad shape by the end of 2014.

We had a second thyroid test done as well as a blood test for allergies. All came back negative other than a slight possible intolerance to weeds. Given his symptoms are not seasonal we pretty much ruled that out. Skin biopsies followed at the start of the year to rule out any parasites (he had a few lumps removed at the same time) but again came back negative. 

So it was then a case of what next? I agreed with the vet that even though nothing had come back in terms of food allergies we would go for a strict diet. He had a long course of antibiotics but we also changed his food to Hills ZD Ultra, rather expensive but was worth a try. 

Once he came off antibiotics a few spots appeared which we treated with a product called Isaderm. They went quickly. From March to June he had nothing but Hills ZD Ultra - nothing means just that, no treads of any kind (other than the odd scavenged crumb off the floor).

His skin has been so much better and his coat now glistens again. It's amazing what an impact the diet has had. On holiday a few weeks ago we lapsed a little with a few small scraps of beef from our pub lunch, a few bits of fish from our fish and chips, and a bit of cake scavenged from under a table!  Some minor symptoms, mainly itching, reappeared within a couple of days.  

Seems to demonstrate that a strict diet means just that so we are back in it, with no exceptions no matter how small. When all symptoms gave gone we might try a carrot!

If you are having problems with skin there is loads of infornation out there. My experience is that you just have to keep trying different things until you find what works. I feel like I have tried every product under the sun, and every diet I could think of. Even boiled chicken and veg didn't do the trick!

I also use an app called 'mysymptons' to keep rack of food, events, symptoms etc. very easy to use and great as a diary. You can even produce little charts like the one below.

If you have similar problems with your dog keep trying. If I'd have started the analysis in December I'd have rated an 8 out of 10. This one started after he came off antibiotics but it's still great to see that downwards trend but spot the holiday blip. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Beacon Fell and Brock Bottoms

Our trip out on Sunday began with the best intentions, to follow paths round Beacon Fell and then over fields and lanes to Brock Bottoms. Sadly, time got the better of us so we had a major cheat, nipping in the car between the two! 

It was quiet at Beacon Fell when we arrived meaning we had the footpaths largely to ourselves. The dog was largely off lead although I am a little wary of coming across other dogs in such places. Having reached the age of 9 he is now a little less tolerant of younger male dogs, particularly if they are boisterous and disrupt his obsession with his ball.

On reaching the trig point we ourselves disrupted a rather amorous couple who were clearly enjoying the morning air. To be fair they looked very much in love and it was more of a romantic encounter. They quickly moved on and we were left on our own for 15 minutes or so to enjoy the views over the Bowland Fells. 

Having walked round all the usual paths I realised time was ticking away so we headed off to nearby Brock Bottoms for a stroll by the river. It's years since we last visited. Although very busy near the car park it soon quietened down as we passed through bluebell filled woodland and on to open fields. A swim in the river was a must for the dog!

At some point we will connect the two by foot, but maybe one for an early morning visit later in the year. 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Burscough and Martin Mere

Today's walk was inspired by the website   Reading about some of the WW2 history of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal I was fascinated to find that much of its route through West Lancashire formed what was known as Stop Line 14. In the event of invasion from Lancashire's long sandy beaches the canal itself would form a tank trap whilst bridges were defended through a mix of purpose built fortifications as well as many houses and barns, such as the building below on the right. 

Happily of course they were not needed, but still provide some added canalside interest once you start looking out for them. 

Our route began at Burscough Bridge Interchange, where there is loads of parking adjacent to Tesco. We followed the canal towpath for a few miles until we reached the bridge and road towards Smithy Lane Ends. The towpath walking was good underfoot although there were plenty of fishermen out, with each havibg to move their poles out of the way to allow us to pass. 

After a short walk on the road we forked right by a farm shop and headed past nursery yards before picking up a well signposted path across arable farmland towards the railway line and Martin Mere. The flat landscape was rather dull for me, and crops on either side meant the dog was on the lead throughout.  However, the walk soon became a little more interesting as we followed a concessionary footpath behind Martin Mere. There were several hides giving views over the wetlands. At this time of year there wasn't too much to see though other than a few uncomfortable looking geese. 

We continued to follow signs back to Burscough, across fields and quiet lanes. 

Not the most interesting walk we have ever done but maybe one to keep in reserve for a crisp winters day when perhaps there would be more to see in the reserve. The highlights were definitely looking for the odd relic of the the Stop Line. A read of the Lancashire at War website is a must before you visit.