Owners' Advice

We wanted to make a small guide for a few key topics that you may be facing as a new owner and explain a few things we think are useful to know, as well as who to contact if you’re having any issues.

Topics Currently Covered

  1. Dermoid Sinus (DS)
  2. Pet Insurance
  3. Microchipping
  4. Itchy Ridgies

1. Dermoid Sinus (DS)

So, for the scientifically inclined among you, Dermoid Sinus is a tubular skin defect caused by incomplete separation of the skin and the nervous system during embryonic development, most commonly found in Rhodesian Ridgebacks. For us normal folk, it essentially means that there are noodles connecting the upper layers of skin to the important bits below. This happens during the development of a pup inside its mother. 

The key information such as how to detect a DS and what it looks and feels like is shown in the video to the left and demonstrated by our patron: Julian Norton. It is important to state that no dog who currently has a Dermoid Sinus (or had in the past that was surgically removed) can be bred from, as it is likely the condition will be passed down genetically.

Thank you to Julian, The Yorkshire Vet, for demonstrating the proper process of checking for DS, we hope this information will be informative for both members of the public and veterinarians alike as this isn’t a commonly found condition and many may have never seen a case.

The video contains graphic imagery of the Sinus itself, viewer discretion is advised.

A more full and in-depth description of everything Dermoid Sinus is can be found in the blog at this link (Click here for the Dermoid Sinus Blog) and a big thank you to Rhodes2Safety for sharing this with us. 

2. Pet Insurance

Part of being a responsible pet owner is making sure your Ridgeback is registered at a Veterinary Practice. You might already be registered at a practice or a good practice has been recommended but if not we suggest using the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons website to find a practice near you 

Pet Insurance is also an extremely important consideration for all dog owners. It will help guard against unexpected veterinary fees and allow you to provide the best health care for your dog. It is also advisable to have third party insurance as part of any policy you take out, in case your dog causes an  accident. The world of pet insurance can be quite confusing and we recommend when you are ready to find an insurance package to suit you and your Ridgeback you look at the Association of British Insurers website which will explain all about the different types of policies and what they really mean.

In the meantime we are able to provide 5 Weeks Free pet insurance with our partner Agria to all our adopters, regardless of how old your new companion is. Agria specialise in pet insurance, they don’t do anything else and like us, as a breed specific rescue, they do things a little differently, such as providing cover for older rescues.

Once you adopt a rescue from us you don’t need to do a thing, we will activate the insurance and you will be covered. Agria Pet Insurance will send you the full details of the 5 Weeks Free cover and your insurance documents. That is why it is important for us to take your email address – so that you can receive an electronic copy of your insurance documents immediately. If you wish to continue on from the FREE 5 week period of cover with Agria, they will offer ‘Lifetime’ pet insurance for your dog, regardless of age.

3. Microchipping

Following a two-year campaign by the Government, compulsory micro-chipping was introduced in the UK under the Micro-chipping of Dogs (England) Regulations 2015 on 6th April 2016. This requires that all dogs should be chipped and recorded on a Government compliant registered database by the time they are eight weeks old.

The aim of the legislation is to show a chain of ownership for each dog, therefore the Breeder should always be the first registered keeper for all dogs born after the 6th April 2016.

Every puppy leaving its breeder should have the necessary paperwork to amend the details of ownership: it is the new owner’s responsibility to ensure that their details are updated with the microchip company. Petlog (linked to the KC) do not charge for ownership transfer providing the puppy has been originally registered with them. Other micro-chipping companies make a nominal charge.

Nevertheless, a dog still needs to wear a collar and tag in accordance with the Control of Dogs Order 1992 showing owners name and full postal address and, although not stated in the legislation, a contact telephone number is advisable.

It should also be noted that a dog should be registered with the Keeper’s details, which are not necessarily always the same as the KC recorded owner details.

In practice, many dogs are simply still not registered however for those who are, by far the most common reason for failing to reunite the pet with their owner, is that details are not updated: people move, dogs change hands and in today’s world of ever-updated mobile phones, numbers are frequently changed.

Out of date microchip details mean dogs who potentially could be quickly reunited, have to spend time in “stray” kennels with all the associated stress that environment causes. Indeed, the NDWA (National Dog Warden Association) states that 40% of stray dogs are already chipped but have missing or inaccurate information.

Failure to keep details up to date can result in legal proceedings, which would come under the jurisdiction of the local council. Stage one of a prosecution is a formal notice issued by an appointed Local Authority Officer. Failure to comply with this notice may result in Stage two being instigated: a criminal conviction and a fine of up to £500.

All dogs should leave their care appropriately micro-chipped, however it is the Owner’s responsibility to ensure that all their dog’s details are current.

4. Itchy Ridgies

We get asked A LOT about problems with itchy skin, ears and feet. On so many occasions when dog’s are surrendered to Rescue we ask about their past health record only to be told that they have had countless ear infections and are troubled with itchy, flappy ears. Owners pay a fortune to vets and struggle for years trying to sort out these problems but, for the most part, these reactions are often simply allergy related – invariably to diet but there are other intolerances that cause them too. Check out our blog to see if this sounds like something you are going through with your dog too and what you can do to help yourself, your dog and your purse!


The blog can be found here (https://rhodes2safety.com/canine-tip-of-the-day-itchy-dogs/) or enjoyed below if you’d rather not leave the site:



Yeast Infection in Dogs can cause them to be very uncomfortable indeed.  It can strike in various places including within the ear itself or anywhere on the skin of the dog.  Wherever it appears, it will make your dog miserable.  Very often, the main culprit for such a problem is food allergies and the main triggers are usually Chicken, followed by Beef and Grain.  Obviously, anything that doesn’t suit your dog will be his own personal trigger but, for the main, simply cutting out these elements of your dog’s diet can make a whole world of difference and often fix the problem on the spot – remember, if your dog is allergic to beef, that means tripe from a cow is also off the menu … it’s from the same protein source.  Watch out for the ingredients in any treats  you feed too because often chicken is snuck in there as a cheap protein source.  Before going down the expensive and financially exhausting route of allergy testing, try moving over to a diet that doesn’t contain these ingredients and source yourself a good quality raw food so you know exactly what you are feeding or, if you prefer to feed a kibble diet, then a brand that provides grain-free food specific for sensitive pets is the way forward, obviously avoiding the Chicken and Beef flavours to begin with (speaking as somebody who has been there and got a very well worn t-shirt!)




If the infection is affecting the skin, it may appear reddened or have areas where the skin itself seems thickened or have scabby or balding areas.  These infections are usually very itchy for your dog and if the dog scratches a lot to try to relieve himself, it may well bleed too.




So, what kind of things can cause an ear infection – is it always down to yeast?  Well, in a word no.  Although yeast infections are often brought about by allergies to food, feathers, cleaning products, medication or intolerances of things like cereal etc, there are lots of triggers that can be responsible for ear problems with your dog, not just overproduction of yeast.  These include such causes as bacteria, something lodged within the ear canal such as debris, water or a grass seed for instance.  It could even be caused by a ruptured eardrum.


The ear is split into two parts; the inner ear is, as you would expect, within the head of the dog and comprises of the tube that runs all the way down (the Eustachian tube) and the eardrum itself.  The outer ear is the part you can see inside the flap of the ear.  If the infection has taken hold in the outer ear you will usually be able to see a black, tarry, wax-type substance forming and gunking up within all the little folds of the outer ear.  Often you will be able to smell a strong “sour” smell from the ear itself, which is a sure sign.  An inner ear infection is by far the most dangerous as this can, in extreme cases, lead to deafness in your dog.  Because it is usual for an inner ear infection to occur and be triggered when there is an outer ear problem too, it is important to treat any outer ear problems as soon as possible to prevent them escalating into the inner ear too.


If your dog has an overgrowth in the amount of yeast in his ear, there are several tell-tale signs you can look out for:-


    • Shaking his head
    • Flapping his ears
    • Rubbing his head on the carpet or furniture
    • Scratching his ears with his paws
    • Tilting his head
    • Sour smell from the ear

Which dogs suffer?

Because yeast thrives in warm, damp or moist environments, dogs with long, floppy ears often suffer the most with this problem.  Breeds like the Basset Hound, Beagle or Ridgeback for example have the perfect ear to create yeast-heaven.  Some breeds for instance the Schnauzer, grow hair inside their ears and this can become matted and also act as a good breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.  (If you have a breed who grows hair in his ears, then remember to have your groomer pluck this regularly for him).  Add in to the mix a dog who likes to go into the water such as a Cocker or Springer Spaniel, and its not surprising that these breeds need constant vigilance to prevent a yeast infection taking hold.


Often you may notice your dog nibbling or constantly licking his paws.  It is incredibly common for this kind of behaviour to go hand in hand with poorly ears, ear flapping, black wax or sour smelling ears.  Why? Well, if the ears are itchy, the dog will use his paws to scratch his ears, placing his feet in the environment which is troubled by the yeast and bacteria and thus transferring it on to his paws.  This infection will then take hold there too, become itchy and uncomfortable and result in sore, red pads particularly between the toes and more often than not, constant nibbling and scratching.

How do we treat it?

Your vet will need to examine the ear of your dog to determine if there is anything in there that shouldn’t be such as a foreign body, mites, water or some other irregular finding.  He will also be checking to see that the eardrum is neither perforated or inflamed.  He will take a sample from the ear and likely both look under the microscope and send the swab away for culture to see what grows from it.  Taking a swab is very important because if it is decided that antibiotics are required, it will be essential to give the right antibiotic to deal with the infection – not all antibiotics are suitable for every different strain of ‘nasty’.  

Once the vet has determined which part of the ear is infected, he will usually prescribe a course of antifungal cream to rub on the skin of the ear.  If the infection is within the ear itself, then it is more likely to require a course of antibiotic tablets to treat it.  Please be sure to take the medication exactly as prescribed by your vet.  Failure to complete the course of medication may result in the infection coming back..


Zymox Blue is a really good product for yeast of the ears and one which I personally wouldn’t be without.  As with many well informed Ridgeback owners, I always have a bottle in the first aid cupboard, just in case, so I can dive in and nip any problem in the bud.  After suffering for 18 months on and off and spending £££ on vets and tests and swabs and antibiotic drops, this stuff cleared up the problem within a week.  As soon as I notice any kind of smell, I pop the drops in a couple of days on the trot and everything disappears before it gets chance to take hold.  For an established infection, this product is applied daily for a week (or two at most) WITHOUT cleaning the ears.  It works through the action of antifungal enzymes that literally break up wax and discharge.  This remedy is more difficult to come by in the UK (more readily available in the US) but you can obtain it through a Facebook Group called Best Pet Ear and Skin Solutions who can give you all the information you need about this particular product link to Best Pet Ear & Skin Solutions – FB


For dogs with skin yeast infections you can try products such as topical sprays that go directly on the skin itself or a shampoo that uses antifungal medication in their approach.  In severe cases however, oral medication such as Ketaconazole or Fluconazole is recommended to help alleviate the infection.


To instantly soothe the itchy feeling and dryness, a good product to try is Aveeno – either as a colloidal oatmeal shampoo, or a moisturizing cream, this range of products is kind and gentle to the skin but still with the soothing relief you would hope for.  Great for both yourself or your dog



Prevention is usually better than the cure and there are many specifically designed cleaning products on the market for your dog.  Some are to be used just when you see any residue appearing while others are to be used as part of your regular hygiene routine.  You may prefer to go down the more natural route and seek out remedies such as those that use Apple Cider Vinegar in their make up. Check out our blog on ear cleaning for further information: https://rhodes2safety.com/canine-tip-of-the-day-ears/


If you do favour the chemical-free ways of treating your dog, check out this more natural approach to helping with the discomfort.