Thursday, December 14, 2017

Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important is Training to Longevity?

What can training possibly have to do with longevity?

You can see that enough people who took the survey felt there is a connection. But if training means teaching dogs wanted behaviors, what can it have to do with health and lifespan?

And yet, it can have everything to do with it.

Extremely important26.67%
Somewhat important26.67%
Not important  6.67%
I don't know  3.33%
Other  0.00%

Let's start with some statistics.

Approximately 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year, out of which about 670,000 dogs are euthanized. Roughly 620,000 enter shelters as strays and make it back to their owners. Of the dogs surrendered, the most common reason are behavioral issues. Some of them get rescued or find new homes, but many of them don't. ~ASPCA statistics

Bad behavior can lead to a dog's quick demise.

Those who surrender their dog may or may not care about what happens to them. Those whose dog gets lost, though, surely do.

A lost dog may not even make it in the shelter and get hit by a car, attacked by a wild animal, get deathly ill instead. Not every dog's owner is found.

The better trained your dog is, the lesser the chance they will run away, get hurt on their exploration trips, and get lost. The better trained your dog is, the lesser the chance they will dash into the street and get run over by a car.

Understanding the rules of the road is good for anybody's longevity.

A solid recall can be life-saving.

A well-adjusted, well trained dog is much more likely to escape all these dangers simply by sticking by your and/or coming to you when called.

Leave It or Drop It are other life-saving cues.

Dangers lurk everywhere. It's not just traffic that can be your dog's undoing. There are snakes, wild animals, dangerous objects ... Being able to have your dog stay away from them or relinquish them can indeed save their life.

Do you still think that training has nothing to do with longevity?

Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Throwback

We don't have this much snow yet but had quite a blizzard. I took some pictures but my computer is down so I cannot process them. This just about illustrates it, though.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thyroid Replacement Therapy Re-Check: Cookie Is Hypothyroid (Part IV)

So it's been a bit over six week since we started Cookie's therapy after she was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.

The recommended timeline to check whether the prescribed dose is optimal is six to eight weeks after starting.

To avoid any discrepancies with potential results variations between different labs, we decided to retest with Hemopet, where we did the initial testing. I was actually surprised how problem-free the adventure was--shipping a blood sample over the border.

We had our share of challenges trying to ship a tick for Lyme testing (a dead tick, submerged in a vial of alcohol and carefully sealed and protected) or trying to get Jasmine's adipose cells to Vet-Stem and processed stem cells over to here. Kudos to Fedex which seems to be the only provider able and willing to deliver such weird things.

Shipping Cookie's blood to the Hemopet lab was quick and smooth and the test results have come back and a lightning speed each time. You get results emailed to you the next business day from the time they received it.

Timing of the blood draw is important.

In dogs, thyroxine has a half-life of about 12 hours. To get usable test results, it is ideal to draw the blood four to six hours after administration of the meds. Being aware of that, I made sure I could get the appointment at the right time. Doing it too early or doing it to late after administration would not provide usable information about the accuracy of the dose.

I had some questions whether Cookie's prescribed dose wasn't too high.

Based on the retest results, it is a good dose for Cookie after all. The levels are kind of "highish" but we also tested 4 hours post administration. They specifically wanted to know the timing to take that into consideration when evaluating the results.

Either way, it was their conclusion that this dose is good for Cookie and I went with them specifically because they are the experts on thyroid.

Interesting thing of note is the remark regarding the T4/Free T4 ratio. Below a certain range this would mean that there is something else going on with Cookie's health. Either not related to thyroid at all, or thyroid issues plus something else along with it.

There are many things that can mess with the thyroid hormone levels which have nothing to do with the thyroid function. For example, when Cookie had pancreatitis, her T4 levels tanked.

There doesn't seem to be anything else wrong with Cookie, nor is anything showing on her other labs. Everything looked good.

Are there visible changes in Cookie since we started the treatment?

There was some quick overall weight loss right away. At the time of the second blood draw, weight didn't seem to have dropped further (as much as one can trust the scale) but I am seeing changes in the way Cookie's body looks--better defined waist etc. So we'll see how that goes.

Her tolerance to cold seems to have increased. One of the reasons I was suspecting poor thyroid function was the fact that her feet would get cold outside during freezing temperatures much faster than they used to.

By freezing temperatures I mean -20 degrees Celsius or less, just so there is no confusion. We already had a few days like that this year and it, again, takes much longer for Cookie's feet to get cold. Not exactly empirical data but worthy of observation.

Another interesting finding is that she seems to digest her bones better. Before I had to work really hard on offsetting the amount of bone she eats by sufficient amount of fiber; else her poops would get very dry and hard. It seems that she is now digesting the bone matter much better, needing much less fiber to keep her stools just the right consistency.

The fur on her main seems to be changing back to black color but that could just be from less exposure to the sun, since it's been mostly raining or snowing lately. Who knows. But it is changing so I figured I'd note it here.

Next retest is recommended on one year.

That doesn't mean I won't be monitoring how things seem to be working out for Cookie and wouldn't retest earlier if I had a suspicion something has changed in the status quo. For now, though, we won't be making any changes.

Related articles:
What Does the Thyroid Do?
When is Hypothyroidism not Hypothyroidism?

From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
And So It Begins Again(?) Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie 
I Didn't Know I Could Fly: Why Cookie Wears A Harness Instead Of A Collar
C.E.T. Oral Hygiene Chews For Dogs CAN Be A Choking Hazzard 
Our First Health-Related Heart Attack With Cookie: The Knee Or The Foot?
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Too Young For Pot: Cookie's Snack With A Side Of Hydrogen Peroxide  
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization  
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed  
Putting The Easy Back Into Walking
Cookie's Ears Are Still Not Happy 
The Threat Of The Bulge Is Always Lurking 
Today Is Cookie's Three-Months Adoptoversary  
Cookie Meets The Electric Horse Fence And Her First Chiropractic Adjustment  
Why Examine Your Dog's Vomit? 
Why Is That Leg Still Not Happy? Cookie's Leg Keeps Getting Sore 
Cookie Too Is Insured With Trupanion
Does Being Insured Mean Being Covered? Our First Claim With Trupanion
Is Cookie's Leg Finally Getting Better?
Is Cookie Going To Be Another Medical Challenge Or Are We Looking Too Closely? 
The Project That Is Cookie: Pancreatitis Up Close And Personal  
Pancreatitis: Cookie’s Blood Work   
Another Belly Upset: Pancreatitis Again Or Not?  
Happy Birthday, Cookie 
Incontinence? Cookie's Mysterious Leaks 
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat 
Don't Just Stand There, Do Something? Cookie's Mysterious Bumps 
Cookie's Mysterious Bumps Update
One Vomit, No Vomit 
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
Cookie's Leaks Are Back: Garden Variety Incontinence Or Not?
Cookie's Leaks Update 
Don't Panic, Don't Panic: Know What Your Job Is 
The Continuing Saga Of Cookie's Leeks: Trying Chiropractic Approach 
Cookie's Minor Eye Irritation
Regular Wellness Exam: Cookie's ALT Was Elevated 
Cookie's Plantar Paw Pad Injury 
How Far To Take It When The Dog Isn't Sick?
Cookie Has Tapeworm Infection 
Cookie's Elevated ALT: The Ultrasound and Cytology  
Cookie's ALT Update
The Importance of Observation: Cookie's Chiropractic Adjustment
Sometimes You Don't Even Know What You're Looking at: Cookie's Scary "We Have No Idea What that Was" 
Living with an Incontinent Dog 
Summer Dangers: Cookie Gets Stung by a Bald-faced Hornet 
To Breathe or Not To Breathe: Cookie's Hind Legs Transiently Fail to Work (Again)
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Process 
Figuring out What Might Be Going on with Cookie's Legs: The Diagnosis 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Trazodone  
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Other Medications 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury Treatment: Laser, Hydrotherapy, and Chiropractic 
Cookie's Recovery from Iliopsoas Injury: ToeGrips 
It Never Rains ... Cookie's New Injury 
Mixed Emotions: When What You Should Do Might Not Be What You Should Do for Your Dog 
Cookie's New Injury Update 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: The Symptoms 
Cookie's Iliopsoas Injury: Battling the Zoomies 
Cookie's Muscle Injuries: What Else Is Going On?
Theory and Actual Decisions for an Actual Dog Aren't the Same Thing: Cookie's Knee Injury
Does Your Vet Listen to You? Cookie's Post-Sedation Complications
Would I Ever Treat a Symptom Directly? 
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Treatment for Cookie's Bad Knee(s)
Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) for Cookie's Bad Cruciate Update 
Injury or Surgery Recovery: Mishaps versus Setbacks 
See Something, Do Something: Cookie's Lumpectomy 
Cookie's Lumpectomy Update 
Using Pressure Pads to Evaluate Lameness in Dogs: My Observations
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: What Supplements Am I Using?
Cookie's Musculoskeletal Challenges: Restricted Activity and Weight Management
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear: Update
Has Your Dog's Physical Therapist Taken Dog Training Classes? 
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate Tear Update and Considering the Future
Cookie's PRP Treatment for Partial Cruciate (CCL/ACL) Tear and Leg Circumference
Cookie's Wellness Exam
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: What Do You Use for Tick Prevention?
Ticked Off at the Tick Situation: The Verdict Is In (for Now)
Cookie's Annual Heartworm and Tick-Borne Diseases Test
One Yelp, No Yelp. But Two?
One Yelp, No Yelp - Update
Cookie's Rabies Booster
Is Your Dog Struggling with Weight in spite of Diet and Exercise? Cookie Is Hypothyroid (Part I)
What Does the Thyroid Do? Cookie is Hypothyroid (Part II)
Thyroid Replacement Therapy: Cookie is Hypothyroid (Part III)
Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment (PRP) for Partial Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Tears: Would I Do It Again?

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did your dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog now available in paperback and Kindle. Each chapter includes notes on when it is an emergency.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Adoption Monday: Monica, Basset Griffon Vendeen, Scottish Terrier Scottie, Burbank, CA

Monica is around 3 years old lovely girl looking for a forever home.

She is long and short, weighing in at 45 pounds. The camera angle makes me look much smaller. Monica is quite unique looking - traffic stopping actually. Monica loves to give kisses and she is a quiet and content girl.

Monica is extremely scared of fireworks..


The Animal Protectorates (TAPS) facilitates the direct protection of animals in every possible way;  provide sponsorship for, and financial support to programs and organizations involving animal welfare;  provide outreach and education to promote an increased awareness of animal cruelty;  encourage every citizen to become active,  involved and responsible animal guardians; promote the legal re-classification of animals to a category other than property; and, to carry on other charitable activities associated with these goals as allowed by law.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Hip Dysplasia, Constipation, and more ...

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs and Cats – Those Hips Don’t Lie!

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

This is not the first article on hip dysplasia and it is not the last. The main reason everybody should understand this condition there are measures that can be taken to prevent it.

I have read enough times that every puppy is born with normal hips. Which is not exactly true; it is more accurate to say that a puppy is born with none. The best way to illustrate the relationship between breeding and rearing is an x-ray of what the bones look like in a new-born puppy.

Photo Growing Puppies
Isn't it amazing how much growing those little bones have to do? Whether or not the hips form properly has to do with the instructions they receive from the genetic code as well as outside influences such as diet and exercise. That's why both breeding and rearing are important.

In his article, Dr. Byers does a good job explaining what hip dysplasia is, how it is diagnosed and treated.

I find it important to note that hip dysplasia is a degenerative/progressive disease. If your dog was doing fine on Monday and becomes fully lame on Tuesday, something else is likely at play, regardless of what the x-rays are showing.. It was certainly the case with JD.

Are You Smarter Than a Puppy Miller?

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

This is the latest, and for a while the last, quiz by Dr. Kay. I have really enjoyed these quizzes, testing my knowledge. I am a little late posting this one so there is the follow-up article with answers out there already as well. Go check it out.

Five Ways to Help Your Constipated Dog

Dr. Jennifer Coates/petMD

Before I start talking about constipation I'd like to note that constipation and lower intestinal diarrhea can look the same - lots of straining with a little or nothing coming out. Unless you actually find actual hard poops, don't fall into the assumption trap and make sure it is indeed constipation you're dealing with.

I would also be careful to distinguish between constipation--hard poops--and an obstruction. Though severe constipation can eventually cause an obstruction, and even lead to a systemic disease and permanent damage to the digestive tract.

"If your dog is in significant discomfort, is vomiting, won’t eat, hasn’t pooped for more than three days, seems weak, has an obviously distended belly, or has blood in his stool, call your veterinarian. Dogs who are severely constipated can become systemically ill and risk permanent damage to the gastrointestinal tract." ~Dr. Jennifer Coates

Sometimes, constipation can have a relatively harmless cause, such as Cookie's poops would get sometimes hard after she chowed down a bit too many bones. But the causes can include anything from anxiety, lack of exercise, certain medications, and indigestible material, to hormonal disorders, systemic disease, pain, and even cancer.

As with everything, I'd be very careful jumping to any conclusions.

Read Dr. Coates' article for great insights into the subject.

Dog Pyometra. Why it is so dangerous and how much does it cost?

Dr. Krista Magnifico

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dog Longevity Survey Part II: How Important are Supplements to Longevity?

How important are supplements to your dog's longevity?

Analyzing the survey results is quite interesting. The way the answers break down under this subject makes perfect sense. I appreciate those who checked that they don't know, as well as those who opted to enter their own comments instead.

Extremely important  0.00%
Somewhat important33.33%
Not important10.00%
I don't know  6.67%

It is important to distinguish between targeted, individual supplementation and adding random multivitamin products willy nilly.

With supplements, less is more.

Whether or not and which supplements your dog needs depends on your dog, their diet and their health. Some human multivitamins can actually toxic to dogs. Some of these things contain xylitol, which is highly toxic to dogs. But even those that don't often contain some nutrients at levels that can be dangerously high for dogs, such as iron, vitamin D and even calcium.

Fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D, or vitamin A can also reach toxic levels with over-supplementation. Don't throw a random multivitamin into your dog's bowl thinking it's always a good thing.

Know what nutrients are already present in the bowl and at what levels.

Particularly if your dog eats kibble, there is already all kinds of stuff added to it. Adding random amounts of random things can cause more trouble than benefit.

There are a few supplements all dogs can benefit from.

Those include omega-3 oils and joint supplements. Even the highly beneficial fish oils, though, can become dangerous in high doses and lead to toxicity. Some can contain high levels of vitamins A and D, such as cod liver oil. When deciding on supplementing your dog with source of omega-3 fats, consider the source, the amount, and the presence of things you wouldn't want in there at all such as heavy metals. Doses that are too high can even lead to reduced clotting and therefore bleeding.

I am not trying to scare you off supplementing your dog with omega-3 fats. I supplement them as well. I would, however, urge you to give careful consideration to the source and dosage.

Joint supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin are generally safe and overdose isn't likely cause much else than a digestive upset. There is still no reason to overdose, though.


Probiotics is one of the things that you cannot go wrong with. These days, I think every dog can benefit from some. My dogs were getting a probiotic supplement for years.

Digestive enzymes.

Digestive enzymes can be beneficial with many digestive conditions. I used them for Jasmine's IBD, I used them after Cookie's pancreatitis, they can help with food intolerances and allergies, they can even have an overall anti-inflammatory effect. If your dog gets high quality diet and has no health issues, they don't need them but they can be helpful particularly when feeding foods void of such things = any processed or cooked foods.

Water soluble vitamins.

Water soluble vitamins are generally much safer, because they are not stored--what the body doesn't want gets simply eliminated. B vitamins are quite safe and the worst you're likely to do is to waste money if your dog doesn't need them. Though over-dose is possible if your dog gets into the stash.

Vitamin C is technically not needed for dogs because they can make their own. When ill, though, they might not be able to produce enough or the levels get depleted quickly so I'd consider vitamin C "conditionally" essential. Careful with it, though, as it could cause digestive disturbances.


Antioxidants had been touted as the cure of all but lately some research seems to be showing they can be a double-edged sword. Perhaps all that is about the type and amount as well. In general, I'd rather provide that through food than supplements.

Measure twice, cut once.

When asked why you're supplementing one thing or another, you should have a concise answer. If you don't, or you answer is that "it cannot hurt," "it might be a good idea," or because "somebody else does," don't.

Whole foods versus pills.

I absolutely prefer to use whole foods as oppose to synthetic supplements. Wholesome fresh foods contain a lot of wonderful nutrients and supplementation is often not necessary. They provide a range of "stuffs" rather than one synthetic bit. They are less likely to be toxic and more likely to be beneficial.

I already shared my thoughts on "natural" when it comes to nutrition.

Carefully chosen supplements can be beneficial to health and longevity.

But supplementing blindly for the sake of supplementing can actually do the opposite.

Related articles:
Dog Longevity Survey Part I
Dog Longevity Survey Part II
Dog Longevity Survey Part I Results
How Important Is Weight Management for Longevity?