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Pedigree makes massive advertising blunder

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A new advertising campaign for a dental treat has rightfully sparked outrage by educated pet owners.

The campaign features a picture of a young baby lifting the lip of a thankfully very tolerant labrador.  Clearly this was seen as a very sweet image to be featured by the pet food giant, but in reality the dog’s expression tells a very different story.

This particular image has been used on social media for a very long time to highlight the danger of unsupervised child/dog interaction and to help explain the way in which our dogs communicate their fear and anxiety.

The dog in question is showing incredible restraint, but is using its wide eyes (known as ‘whale eye’ by canine experts) and sideways gaze, to express how uncomfortable it is.  This clear message is saying to the baby “Please leave me alone”.

Seeing these signs on a photo can be tricky to recognize, however, this recent video that thankfully caused equal outcry shows another very restrained dog demonstrating the same expression of discomfort.


Many dogs would not have been so restrained and it a credit to the dog in question that it did not resort to biting the child after having its request ignored.

In the United states, 1000 people require emergency treatment for dog bites, every day (1). There are thankfully many professionals working tirelessly to prevent childhood dog bites, including our own Victoria Stilwell who runs the fantastic Dog Bite Prevention Conferences in both the UK and USA.

Victoria Talks Dog Bite Prevention on HLN from Victoria Stilwell, Inc. on Vimeo.

While we do not know the exact background to this photo, for Pedigree to use it as part of their advertising campaign is a massive error of judgment. In order that the public realise that allowing a young child to interact with any dog in such a manner is extremely dangerous, I hope they quickly reconsider its use.

  1. Emergency Department Visits and Inpatient Stays Involving Dog Bites, 2008, by Laurel Holmquist, M.A. and Anne Elixhauser, Ph.D., Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD., November 2010.



Canine blood donation and bleeding fingers

Spike's World

One of the certainties of studying at vet school is that no one day is quite like another. This week was no exception as we jumped into the study of blood.

During our physiology practical session this week we had the fortune (or should that be misfortune?) to investigate the blood type and various clotting mechanisms of our blood.  To do so required two simple tools… a needle and our own fingers!

Despite the obvious downside of having to stab your own finger with a much too large-looking needle, it was truly amazing to see the various clinical tests that can determine blood type and clotting duration.

Blood typing

Blood type can be determined by adding blood to special testing liquids

Many of us are familiar with the idea of blood donation for people, but how many of us consider what will happen if our pet needs an emergency blood transfusion?

Much like people, dogs have many blood types – 7 in fact, therefore, having a large supply of blood is necessary to help as many pets in crisis as possible. If a donor dog can be found, then it may be possible to arrange a transfusion, but what if no donor is available?

In the UK, the charity Pet Blood Bank, plays a pivot role in collecting and storing blood for pet patients across the country and are always on the lookout for new, healthy donors.

If you feel your pet may be suitable and feel you’d like to help another need pet, please head to their website. You never know when your own pet may need the kindness of another donor, so why not sign up?


Helping animals one TTouch at a time

Spike's World


During the last, crazy, hectic month I have been lucky enough to have been asked many questions about the Tellington TTouch method.  I was fortunate enough to study this wonderful technique that was developed by international animal expert, Linda Tellington-Jones and her sister Robyn Hood, and incorporate it’s ethos and technique every time I am in contact with an animal.

I came across this very informative video from Horse Talk TV, featuring Robyn and with a cameo appearance by my very own snail Myrtle (yes you read that correctly –  snails can benefit from TTouch as much as any animal!). I hope you all enjoy it – for more information on the TTouch technique in the UK, please click here, or for the international TTouch site, please click here.




A passion for compassion


Spike's World







I am lucky enough to have surrounded myself with many friends that share my love of animals.  I had always assumed that this shared passion was driven by a simple love of animals, but I now wonder if we all in fact have an ingrained ‘passion for compassion.’


I started to think about this after rescuing a Phalaenopsis orchid from the discount section of Ikea.   It was in very poor condition when I saved it, but with time and care it not only bloomed, but produced two young known as keikis.


Left to right: The mother plant with her two keikis

These young orchids were growing on the flower spike that it had produced and after a year or so they were ready to be weaned from the parent plant and potted into their own pots.

Not having any experience of weaning baby orchids, I did some research online and came across the Youtube channel of ‘Miss Orchid Girl’, Danny.  Her videos are not only wonderfully additive for those who love orchids and full of useful information, but I was struck by the similarity in the way she cares for her orchids and the way me and my fellow animal rescuers care for our rescued animals.

I then learned that not only does Danny care for her orchids with love and passion, but she also cares for rescued birds, including her dove Jackie.

Caring for pigeons myself and having lived with a house pigeon for many years I realised that Danny and I have a very similar personality which I have coined the ‘passion for compassion.’


Having a ‘passion for compassion’ to me means caring for life in all its forms such as seeing an orchid in a store in the reduced section and feeling the need to take it  home to make it healthy or finding a spider has built a web in the house and being kind enough to leave it in peace. These are all compassionate acts that some may find it hard to understand, yet fellow ‘passion for compassion’ people find it equally hard to understand why people would not want to show kindness in these circumstances.

Danny’s My Orchid Story section highlights the way 2something as simple as a plant can help heal broken hearts and bring light into the lives of caring people.  To me, this shows that the very act of caring for another being can help our mental and emotional health and with that, heal our bodies.

It is clear that Danny shares my upset at losing a rescued animal or plant – a feeling so strong that many non-caring people find it hard to understand the hole left by the death of an animal.  Moving into the veterinary field is a daunting prospect as I know there will be many heartbreaking stories to be told, but I hope that my ‘passion for compassion’ will help me through the tough times.

Equally I hope that my lovely orchids that I am leaving behind in the UK continue to thrive and bloom.


For more information on Danny and her passion for orchids, please visit