Saturday, March 23, 2019

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Facial Nerve Paralysis, Pentobarbital in Pet Food, and more ...

If You Can Only Do One Thin for Your Puppy, Do This

Dr. Anna Coffin

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Facial Nerve Paralysis, Pentobarbital in Pet Food, and more ...

If you never got a puppy before, you really have no idea what you're getting into. Puppies are adorable and fun, but they also need care and training. Be sure that you are ready so both and your puppy can enjoy each other and develop a relationship for life.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding vaccinations. You don't want to vaccinate too much, you don't want to vaccinate unnecessarily, you don't want to vaccinate a sick dog ... Many considerations should be taken before letting your dog getting the jab.

However, puppy vaccinations are crucial and life-saving. Not vaccinating your puppy puts it at serious risk of becoming fatally ill. The probably most important vaccine your puppy should get is Parvo vaccine. Do not skip that one.

Read Dr. Coffin's article to see what her thoughts are.


Facial Nerve Paralysis in Dogs and Cats

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

The facial nerve is the cranial nerve that is connected to the muscles that control your dog's eyelids, lips, nose, ears, and cheeks. Facial nerve paralysis can result in drooping lip or ear, messy eating, excessive drooling, and inability to blink.

Quite often, the reason for facial nerve paralysis cannot be determined. It can, however, also happen due to an ear infection, brain or nerve disease, or hypothyroidism.

Unless the underlying cause is determined, the treatment consists of addressing associated complications such as dry eye.

Read Dr. Byers' article to learn more about facial nerve paralysis.


Dr. Patrick Mahaney Talks about the Dangers of Pentobarbital in Pet Food

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Pentobarbital is a sedative commonly used when performing euthanasia. It is not a nutrient. What business does it have in pet food then? None. A food recall due to pentobarbital content should not be a thing. And yet it happened.

"Pentobarbital most likely entered the pool of ingredients used to create pet foods due to the inadvertent inclusion of parts of animals that were euthanized with the drug."


Say what? Kind of puts a different light on some of the dog food conspiracies, doesn't it? Fortunately, I guess, in this case, laboratory testing confirmed bovine DNA only. So there is at least that. Still not a good thing, though.

To learn what can happen if your dog consumes pentobarbital in their food or treats and how to keep your dog safe, read Dr. Mahaney's article.


Friday, March 22, 2019

Veterinary Highlights: Recalls Due to Elevated Levels of Vitamin D

For dogs, vitamin D is an essential nutrient with a hormone-like function. 


It regulates calcium absorption, calcium and phosphorus levels, and mineralization of bones--making it crucial for the proper function of muscles and nerves, and bone health. Insufficient vitamin D levels can lead to congestive heart failure. There is even an indication that low levels of vitamin D might increase the risk of cancer.

However ...


Veterinary Highlights: Recalls Due to Elevated Levels of Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which means that the risk of toxicity is high when the consumed levels are too high--it leads to an abnormal balance of calcium and phosphorus. All the things, listed above, vitamin D is needed for, go out of whack.

In severe cases, excess calcium gets deposited in the tissues, damaging the heart and the kidneys.



In general, I find food recalls due to excessive levels of vitamin D scarier than recalls because of bacterial presence. Of course, it depends on the level of excess and type of bacteria. But still.

What is also scary is that after the initial recall and following FDA investigations, further products had been recalled.

"According to the FDA, the recall was expanded after it requested that Hill’s test samples of food it had produced that were not part of the original recall."


According to Hill's the products in both recalls were made with the same vitamin premix. Yet, it wasn't until FDA asked for testing of additional products using the same premix?

"Currently, the recall is only for canned dog food and does not affect canned cat food, dry food (kibble), or treats."

Hm, okay. Keep an eye on your dog and on a lookout for further updates.

Further reading:
Vitamin D Deficiency in Dogs
Cholecalciferol Intoxication

Source article:
FDA investigating elevated levels of vitamin D in Hill’s recall

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Role Music Can Play In Your Dog's Health, Wellness and Happiness

by Greg Ceci

Music has been said to be a universal language. Stevie Wonder wrote the lyrics, “Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand” in his 1976 song Sir Duke. I'd say that's both pretty accurate and prophetic.

The Role Music Can Play In Your Dog's Health, Wellness and Happiness

It turns out that thus far, science mostly agrees with Stevie. However, the debate over the level of universality of music continues amongst musicians, scholars and scientists alike. According to the lead author of a 2018 joint study by Harvard University and New Zealand's Victoria University, “Despite the staggering diversity of music influenced by countless cultures and readily available to the modern listener, our shared human nature may underlie basic musical structures that transcend cultural differences.” R1

In addition, the study's co-author Manvir Singh, also from Harvard points out, “We show that our shared psychology produces fundamental patterns in a song that transcend our profound cultural differences.” R2

It's pretty clear that as a whole, the form and function of the human song is recognizable and identifiable across all races and cultures.

The big question is – does that universality jump species to our dogs? 


Musical notes are simply waves with specific frequencies. Although they process sound a little contrary to humans with capabilities and sensitivities at different frequencies, dogs can certainly distinguish different tones or notes. In fact, opera composer Richard Wilhelm Wagner, “had a strong appreciation of the musical taste of dogs. Wagner noticed that his dog Peps responded differently to melodies depending upon their musical keys.” R3

The Role Music Can Play In Your Dog's Health, Wellness and Happiness

I myself like to write music and have found the keys of D major and E major to be especially pleasing to our four-legged friends. I've also noticed that they seem to appreciate simple arrangements played with mostly acoustic instruments. Simple melodies with a repeating motif also strike a chord with our dogs. Harsher sounding percussion instruments like tambourines, drums, and shakers are known to annoy dogs and harmonicas can make them howl in the voice of their people. Reed and woodwind instruments can be hit and miss depending on the genre of music. For example, a soft clarinet in an orchestra setting is likely fine but an aggressive one playing jazz fusion is more likely to irritate a dog rather than calm it.

Research has also shown that dogs have musical preferences and offer different behaviors depending on the genre of music. 


They seem to prefer classical and reggae which produced a calming effect while heavy metal and grunge agitated the dogs and increased barking levels and intensity. Some interesting findings were revealed in a study by psychologist Deborah Wells at Queens University in Belfast. She summarized the study's findings: "It is well established that music can influence our moods. Classical music, for example, can help to reduce levels of stress, while grunge music can promote hostility, sadness, tension, and fatigue. It is now believed that dogs may be as discerning as humans when it comes to musical preference." R4

The Role Music Can Play In Your Dog's Health, Wellness and Happiness

Another study published in Physiology and Behaviour Vol. 143 showed dogs in a shelter setting that were exposed to classical music, "spent significantly more time sitting/lying and silent and less time standing and barking during auditory stimulation" and interestingly enough, 'male dogs responded better to auditory stimulation relative to female." The study revealed that "auditory stimulation-induced changes in HRV (Heart Rate Variability) and behavioral data indicative of reduced stress levels in dogs in both groups." And finally, "The results of this study show the potential of auditory stimulation as a highly effective environmental enrichment technique for kennelled dogs." R5

So it seems fairly obvious that some music can have a calming effect on dogs even in a high-stress environment such as a shelter or rescue situation. I have also experimented on my own at home.

Over the years, I've had many dogs come to stay with me for extended periods of time in a board and train setting. 


Most of the dogs start out a little nervous because they miss their people and are away from home and their usual routines. All of these factors can initially cause stress and anxiety. However, in every case, the dogs calmed quicker when I played my guitar or piano. In fact, as I played, the dogs would gather around me, lie down and often go to sleep. Some would calmly listen, but all would visibly relax and settle in. They seem to prefer a nylon-stringed guitar to a steel string although the steel string works fine if the song and tone are appropriate. The piano was also a hit provided the song tempo was slower, and the song was of a softer nature.

Other observations I have made is that the dogs preferred when I played in modal tunings rather than a standard guitar tuning. Modal or open tunings often have several of the six strings tuned to the same note creating a very pleasing, stereo rich sound. These modal tunings allow for unique chord structures and arrangements that our fur babies seem to relish. The dogs also enjoyed when I softly sang which gave me another idea.

As positive dog guardians, the challenge is to maintain a positive attitude and tone even when you're experiencing upheaval, stress, and worry in your life because our dogs will not only feel your emotions and moods, they will key in on them and reflect them back. Seeing the effect that singing had on the dogs, I decided to experiment and make up various little songs for everyday tasks so that I could remain calm and positive. Let's face it, it's a lot more difficult to be frustrated, angry or stressed when you're singing silly little songs. For example, when I brush and groom our dogs, I found that singing a tune kept them more engaged and much calmer throughout the process. The song doesn't have to be complicated in fact, it's better if it's not. The song I sing to them is very simple. I simply repeat, “Everywhere there's hair it comes out of there....and it keeps coming and coming and coming and coming.” We have husky crosses.

Sounds kind of inane but it works like a charm. They hear that song, see the brush and smile and wag their tails. Another example is when I put their collars on for our daily hike. It's understandable that they get excited but I always require calm behavior so they earn the resource. In this case, the resource is hiking. The tune I use for collar on is, “Dong Diggy Diggy Diggy dong, I want to put your collar on.” Try and sing that one in a frustrated tone. The collar off song is, “Don't you fret, don't you scoff, I just want to take your collar off.”

I have different songs for different tasks, and they accomplish several objectives. They calm me, help me remain positive with a happy tone, it calms the dogs, it creates a pleasant association for them in regards to the various tasks, and it facilitates training protocols as well as self-control. The melodies need not be complicated; in fact, it's better if they're very simple with fewer notes. You also don't need to be a great singer because your dogs won't care if you're a little or even a lot out of tune. They simply key in on your tone and mood which again helps create a positive cause and effect association in their minds. Pavlov used a bell. I like to use music.

Other wildly popular hits around our house are:


  • Everywhere I Goes, I Feel Bubba's Nose
  • I'm So Blue, Without Boo 
  • Hubba Bubba, is Bubbalicious
  • Doggy Don't Cha Steal My Shoe. Don't Do It
  • Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Na, Here Comes Meatball Man
  • Fishy Fishy, Come On My Hook. You Be The Captain, I'll Be The Cook


Some songs are attached to certain training or feeding protocols, and some are just for fun, but they all let the dogs know what's next and more importantly, they all have positive associations.

I challenge each and every dog guardian to incorporate music into your dog's daily routines. 



I encourage everyone to play music when you leave your dog alone and make up silly little songs that keep things light and pleasant between you and your dog. It'll help humans and canines alike to stay happy and positive, keep frustration levels low, have a calming effect, establish positive cause and effect associations for your dogs, as well as greatly improve your bond with your dog...and you just might improve your singing voice or pick up a musical instrument along the way!

Math and music are often said to be universal languages. Dogs have no clue about calculus, but they certainly enjoy a little Bach or Bob Marley.

Greg Ceci
Canine Correspondence Studies
DogTrainingCareers.com
February, 2019

References:
R1 - https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/music-really-is-a-universal-language
R2 - https://cosmosmagazine.com/biology/music-really-is-a-universal-language
R3 - https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/canine-corner/201204/do-dogs-have-musical-sense
R4 - https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/canine-corner/201204/do-dogs-have-musical-sense
R5 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25708275 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Juno's Luxating Patella

No, I didn't get the photo mixed up. Juno is a 96 pound Dogue De Bordeaux, and this is her story.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Juno's Luxating Patella

If a big girl like Juno starts limping on her hind leg, you'd be thinking a torn cruciate ligament, hip dysplasia--issues that large breed dogs are most likely to get. That would be prime suspects too.

Luxating patella is something that plagues small breeds only, right? This condition affects primarily small dogs, especially breeds such as Boston and Yorkshire Terriers, Chihuahuas, Pomeranians, and Miniature Poodles. However, you'd probably be surprised to hear that the incidence in large breed dogs has been on the rise over the past ten years.

What is luxating patella anyway?


Luxating patella--also referred to as trick knee-- is the dislocation of the kneecap. The kneecap is a small bone in front of the knee joint and helps facilitate the knee movement--straightening the knee. In a healthy knee, the patella sits securely in a groove that allows it to slide up and down but not sideways. When the groove is too shallow, the kneecap can slide out of its proper position--luxate. This messes up the function of the joint.

Luxating patella is graded based on whether the kneecap pops back into proper position on its own, can be pushed back into the groove, or stays dislocated, and how often this happens. The grade then determines treatment options.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Juno's Luxating Patella
Puppy Juno. Photo Bliss Quest

Juno started having problems with her leg since she was a puppy.


Every once in a while, June would suddenly start limping. After a bit of massage, though, she would run and play as if nothing ever happened. Juno's parents figured that Juno was either having some growing pains or a bit of cramping because she was a busy girl.

It only happened every few months and resolved without a trace. As Juno was growing, it happened even less frequently. Juno's parents assumed that the problem, whatever it was, has resolved on its own. Until about a month ago.

Juno once again became lame and wouldn't put any weight on her back leg.


This time, the lameness wasn't going away.

Juno's mom came from work to already limping Juno so there was no inkling to what could have happened. Worried that Juno got seriously hurt, her mom took her to an emergency hospital.

Did Juno tear her knee ligament?


When I see a large dog limping on their hind leg, that is the first thing that comes to my mind. It was the first thing that came to mind of the attending veterinarian too. They said that it was likely a partially torn CCL and that Juno would need surgery to fix that.

Juno probably didn't like that proposition as she suddenly started walking as if nothing ever happened. Seeing that, Juno's mom decided to forgo offered diagnostic tests and follow up with Juno's regular vet instead. Armed with NSAIDs and medication to keep Juno calm, then went home.

Limping off and on


The next day it became apparent that whatever the problem was, it was not going away. Several times through the day Juno would become lame, then get better, and then become lame again. Is that what injured cruciate ligament would look like?

It only took Juno's own veterinarian a couple of minutes to discover what the real problem was.

A luxating patella


Juno's parents obtained a referral to an orthopedic specialist to evaluate whether surgery would be the best treatment for Juno. As fate would have it, the closer it got to the consultation, the better was Juno feeling. Does she really need surgery? This is always a big decision.

In the end, Juno did undergo a surgical procedure to keep her patella in place.

Dog Conditions - Real-Life Stories: Juno's Luxating Patella
Juno recovering from surgery. Photo Bliss Quest

To read Juno's full story, visit Bliss Quest blog, where Juno's mom describes everything in detail. While you're there, you can also find real-life tips for finding your bliss without losing your mind. I know I will check that out.


Help others 

Share your story for a chance to win a free copy of Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog.


What is your dog telling you about their health?


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

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

An award-winning guide for dog parents

Monday, March 18, 2019

What Would You Do if It Was Your Dog: Rufus' Collapse

Rufus

Bull Mastiff
2 years old at the time
Neutered male

What Would You Do if It Was Your Dog: Rufus' Collapse

I remember when our neighbors got Rufus. He was one of the happiest puppies I've ever seen. He grew up to be a big boy, still just as happy and friendly. He loved everybody and loved life.

That day I came into the kitchen and happened to look outside.

I saw Rufus was there. But he wasn't playing and having a good time. He was lying on the lawn, unresponsive, breathing in a sort of a spasm pattern, while being hosed down with water by his dad.

I ran out to learn that Rufus had collapsed during his walk. They brought him here, figuring he had a heat stroke.

It is true that it was a hot day. It was also true that whatever was wrong with Rufus couldn't be fixed by a stream of cold water. Whatever was wrong with Rufus, needed immediate medical attention.

I explained that he is in serious trouble and they need to go to a vet right away. They listened. Wrapped Rufus in a wet towel, loaded him in the car and left for the nearest veterinary hospital.

What do you think was wrong with Rufus? What would you do if it was your dog?

Read Rufus' story here.



What is your dog telling you about their health?


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

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is an award-winning guide to help you better understand what your dog is telling you about their health and how to best advocate for them. 

Learn how to see and how to think about changes in your dog’s appearance, habits, and behavior. Some signs that might not trigger your concern can be important indicators that your dog needs to see a veterinarian right away. Other symptoms, while hard to miss, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or limping, are easy to spot but can have a laundry list of potential causes, some of them serious or even life-threatening. 

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog is a dog health advocacy guide 101. It covers a variety of common symptoms, including when each of them might be an emergency. 

An award-winning guide for dog parents

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Proper Administration of Thyroid Medication, Coxal Luxation, and more ...

Properly Administering Thyroid Medication to Your Dog

Dr. Jean Dodds/Hemopet

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Proper Administration of Thyroid Medication, Coxal Luxation, and more ...

While hypothyroidism can often go undiagnosed, it is one of the conditions that are relatively easy to treat. There is not enough thyroid hormone in the body, so you just add some. Simple, isn't it?

Not when it's not done correctly. You might have the correct dose for your dog, and you might give it religiously, and yet it seems that it's not working. What gives?

Did you know, that unlike in humans, thyroid hormone supplement in a dog only has a half-life of twelve hours? If you medicate your dog only once a day, they will go half a day without the benefit of the hormone.

Did you know that calcium interferes with its absorption and if you give the medication with food, your dog won't get much out of it?

Did you know that most veterinarians don't know this?

Read Dr. Dodds' article to learn how to give your dog thyroid medication, so it actually works for them.

Related articles:
Thyroid Hormone Replacement Therapy: Cookie Is Hypothyroid
What Does the Thyroid Gland Do?


Coxal Luxation – When the Hip Pops Out of Socket

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Has your dog ever dislocated their hip? Have you known anybody whose dog did? Yet, it is not as uncommon as you'd think.

Yes, it would hurt just as if you had it happen to yourself. Just another reason not to underestimate your dog's limping, particularly when it is pronounced.

See below what that would look like and read Dr. Byers' article to learn more about this.



I Don’t Want to Treat Dog Cancer!

Dr. Demian Dressler/Dog Cancer Blog

It is not uncommon for people to decide not to treat when their dog is diagnosed with cancer. I used to believe that I'd never do that to my dog either. Putting them through chemo and all the suffering? No way.

Since then I have learned a lot about cancer in dogs and treatment options. And my conviction has changed along with my knowledge.

Is it wrong to put your dog through the treatment? Or is it wrong not to treat?

For me that depends. But one thing I know today is that I would not keep cancer treatment out of consideration. Yes, it would depend on a number of factors. But before I'd dismiss the possibility without giving it a second thought. Today I wouldn't.

I believe that one cannot make a good decision without adequate information. My recommendation is to learn as much as possible first, then decide.

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