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Doing my best for my Dog

By Jo Green - Fri 18th Jun 2010

It seems to me that all Dogs in Spain fall into one of four distinct categories : The Pedigrees (Professionally bred, and usually sold for hundreds of Euros); the ‘Handbags’ (not even Dogs, as I understand them – often carried by old ladies and drag queens as fashion accessories) ; the Stray’s (more often than not Podenco types that hunters either abandon, or can’t be bothered to look up for the night) and then the ‘none of the above’.

As a dog-lover it is the last category that I am more drawn to. They seem to represent a diversity of breeds and sizes and are usually advertised ‘free to a good home’ by a family returning to the UK, or where an unplanned doggy-pregnancy has occurred – even where an owner has died and in all cases where a dog needs a home. Sometimes the dog gets lucky and finds a new home before being re-housed at a charity kennels – quite often, not.

When we were adding the final touches to our Finca we promised ourselves that we would have a dog. We had always wanted one in the UK, but with both of us working long hours it seemed unfair and irresponsible to have one then. Now, both of us were working locally, with much shorter hours, and had a large garden. We just needed to wait until the plot was fully fenced in before getting one.

For some months we had been visiting the local charity dog kennels as volunteers, mainly to exercise as many dogs as we could in what time we had to spare. Quite often we were the only people to volunteer to do this from one week to the next and as such felt obliged to make sure that all of the dogs managed to get a walk, on the occasions when other volunteers had turned up it seemed to be only that smaller ‘old lady’ dogs that managed to get a walk (or in their case, a carry). The larger dogs (probably those that needed and appreciated a walk most!) often got left behind.

I often found myself walking the same dog most weeks. He was placed in the Kennels with a bitch and it was hoped that they would be housed together, but the problem was that the bitch was quite a handful and seemed to bring out the worst side of ‘my’ dog and make him quite boisterous. We decided that although we would like to keep the dog, it would be better if somebody else could manage to take them both on and keep them together.

It was after a couple of weeks of making this decision that the kennels told us that somebody had decided to offer the crazy bitch a home, but not the Dog. We decided than, that we would take him and paid the 60 Euro contribution towards his microchip, passport and vaccinations that they requested. It is the policy of most Charity run kennels only to re-home dogs that have been chipped and vaccinated, which obviously carries a charge – usually it was around 150 Euros, but they made an exception with us due to our fervent volunteering.

It was largely by trial and error that we realised that looking after a dog over in Spain is quite different to the UK as there are a lot of different things to take in to consideration.

Firstly, there’s the wildlife. Dogs can be inquisitive about anything out of the ordinary and things like snakes, toads, frogs and giant earwigs can all cause problems if a dog comes into contact with any of them. Perhaps the worst of all is the processionary caterpillar, which can cause breathing problems and eventually death in many of the smaller breeds. Vets recommend that it’s best to get your dog to them urgently even if you suspect that they may have come into contact with them. I suppose things like making sure that if you dog is off the lead, he doesn’t get shot by an unsuspecting hunter, or poisoned by any meat he may have thrown down for foxes could come under this banner.

Secondly, there’s the nasties that you can’t even see. The sandfly carries a parasitic organism that causes something called Leishmaniasis – a disease that manifests itself in dogs in one of two ways – by slowly eating away at the internal organs and causing internal bleeding, or by affecting the eyes and the skin. This can sometimes be treated with an extensive course of treatment if caught early enough. Apparently the sandfly comes out at dawn and dusk during the warmer times of year (approx 23 degrees plus) and is common in coastal areas - September is supposedly the worst month of the year for this. There are numerous collars on the market that claim to prevent this, and whilst it is always worth using one, the only truly reliable way to protect your dog is to keep him inside for as long as you can between dusk and dawn.

Thirdly, there’s the contagious stuff. Kennel cough is quite common, rabies less so, but it is still important to ensure that your dog has the required vaccinations.

Leishmaniasis can be tested for yearly to ensure that any signs of the parasite in the blood can be dealt with as early as possible. It is a very simple test, and I usually get this done at the same time as the ‘yearly MOT’ in spring, when he has his Rabies booster and Vaccination updates. This usually comes in at around 80 Euros for the Lot – make sure you get the rabies tag for the dog’s collar and get the passport updated for your records.

You can opt to pay a little more if your future in Spain is uncertain, so that your dog’s passport and checks are always in a position to allow him to move back to the UK with you at short notice.


• Find a good Vet, put his Emergency No. on your mobile just incase.

• Keep your Dog’s passport in a memorable place

• Keep all vaccines & blood tests up to date – make a note in your diary

• Think about Pet Insurance – would it be worthwhile?

Comment on this Blog

It is also worth knowing that if the dogs immune system is in tip top condition then it really does help should the animal become ill with anything, this can be achieved by feeding a food that is free of chemicals, toxins, by products, derivatives, etc, for example with Leishmaniasis, if your dog is diagnosed with this then it is better to use a Complete fish diet as this is beneficial to the urinary system when the dog is put on the alpurinol tablets.... there are many things you can do to help your dog via diet be it epilepsy, skin and coat problems, gastric problems etc, many of these things can be solved with a natural food that is a fraction of the cost of a veterinary diet.
Healthypets - Sun, 11th Jul 2010

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