Skull shape and its implication for animal welfare

Syringomyelia (SM) is a painful condition in dogs that is more common in toy breeds like the Chihuahua and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It involves the formation of fluid-filled cavities, known as syrinxes, in the spinal cord.  In these toy breeds, SM is usually secondary to a specific malformation of the skull called Chiari-like Malformation, CM for short.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

New research conducted at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences has identified two significant risk factors associated with these painful neurological conditions.

Identifying a head shape in dogs that is associated with these diseases would allow for selection away from these conditions and could be used to further breeding guidelines. Dogs were measured in several countries using a standardised “bony landmark” measuring system and photo analysis by trained researchers.

The researchers found two significant risk factors associated with CM/SM in the skull shape of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  These were the extent of the broadness of the top of skull relative to its length, also known as brachycephaly, and the distribution of doming of the skull. The study suggests that brachycephaly, with resulting doming towards the front of the head, is associated with both conditions.

Thomas Mitchell, who was the undergraduate involved in the study, says “The study also provides guidance to breed clubs, breeders and judges that have a responsibility to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be harmful in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of the breed.  It will also provide vets with verified advice to provide to breeders outside the show ring and to occasional hobbyists.”

This research has been published online in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

Source:  University of Bristol media release

Please also see my earlier post on Your dog may have a permanent headache, which discusses the Chiari malformation and earlier research on the Griffon Bruxellois.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Doggy quote of the month for September

“The dog is the perfect beast, companion, friend, shoulder to lean on, and scapegoat when too many cookies are missing.  And a dog won’t hold that against you, either.  I am at peace sitting in silence with a dog.”

- Rick Springfield, musician/actor

Rick Springfield with Ron

Teddy’s journey – the bandages come off

Teddy has had two consultations this week to assist his recovery.

On Monday (a day after discharge), Teddy was at home resting near the log burner and constrained in either his crate or a playpen area that Jill had set up for him.  His pack mates – sister Verdi (shown in the background) and his mother, Maggie were a little confused by the new situation.  Verdi was showing some signs of dominance – growling at Teddy.

Teddy sleeping with compression bandage

Teddy’s amputation incision was covered in a compression bandage to help with swelling

Jill was using an ice pack on the incision area four times per day to help with swelling and pain relief (Teddy was also receiving pain relief through a Fentanyl patch which delivers pain medication through the skin and also Previcox, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.)

On this day, I performed an acupressure sequence on Teddy to help his body recover from the anesthesia.  We also measured Teddy for his Walkabout Harness.

Teddy received a replacement Fentanyl patch on Tuesday.

I returned on Friday to see Teddy – with his bandages removed.  This is the first time I’ve been able to view his incision up close.

Teddy's incision

Teddy on the massage table, ready for a light treatment

Teddy was very tired on Friday and favoring his right side by sleeping mostly on his left.  This is not surprising since the comfort of the compression bandage and padding on his surgery site had been removed.

We will treat Teddy conservatively and manage his comfort in the early stages of his recovery.  Consequently, I only worked on Teddy in the above, resting position.  I gently massaged over his hips and back and he received cold laser therapy over his hips and his left forepaw (which has some arthritis).

Teddy was deeply asleep after his session – a sure sign that he needed the time out and that rest is the best thing for him.

Teddy has always been a receptive dog for massage and I expect him to be even more so post-amputation.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

A product for pigs proves useful for dogs

Boar MateThis is Boar Mate, a smelly spray product that helps farmers with swine breeding.

John McGlone, a professor at Texas Tech University, had some of the product at his home at a time when he was looking for ways to stop his Cairn Terrier’s problematic barking.

After a single spray of Boar Mate, Toto stopped barking.

This led the professor of animal welfare and behavior to pursue a new idea and product development.

After extensive testing and publishing of the results, and with funding help from Sergeant’s pet care products, Stop That! was developed and hit store shelves under the Sentry pet products name in 2013. It has been met with tremendous success by pet owners who were on their last legs in trying to curtail bad behavior in dogs.

Stop That!The pheromone ‘secret ingredient’ is a synthetic version of  androstenone.  This pheromone  is secreted by male pigs and is picked up by female pigs in heat. It is a foul-smelling odor for humans and also affects dogs through their olfactory system.

The testing

McGlone had four different groups of barking dogs in separate kennels. The first group of dogs simply had a person with another dog stand in front of the kennels. The second group of dogs was sprayed with a placebo that made the startling, spritz noise. The third group of dogs was sprayed with the noise and a lower concentration (.01µg/mL) of androstenone in isopropyl alcohol. The fourth group was sprayed with a higher concentration (1.0 µg/mL) of androstenone in isopropyl alcohol that also made the spritz sound.

In the first group, 25 percent (3 out of 12 dogs) stopped barking. In the second group, 44 percent (4 of 9 dogs) stopped barking. In the third group, sprayed with the lower concentration of the pheromone, 78 percent (7 of 9 dogs) stopped barking. In the fourth group, sprayed with the higher concentration of androstenone, 100 percent (6 of 6 dogs) stopped barking.

“We sprayed it in their nose or toward their head while they were barking … barking and jumping, running back and forth,” McGlone said. “This whole behavior stopped. You could almost see them thinking, ‘What was that?’”

McGlone and his group also tested the dogs to see if there were any physiological effects from the spray on the dogs, observing them for 10 minutes before and after being sprayed after outfitting the dogs with telemetry jackets and transmitters to monitor heart rate. The androstenone had no effect on the dogs’ heart rates either before or after being sprayed.

Having shown its effectiveness, McGlone was able to classify androstenone not only as a pheromone but also as an intermone, a term developed by him and his team that refers to a product that is a “pheromone in one species and has a behavioral effect in another species, but we do not know if it is a pheromone (naturally produced) in the other species.”

Source:  Newswise media release

A tribute to Gomer

I have just finished reading musician Rick Springfield’s memoir entitled Late, Late at Night.  I was a fan during my high school years, had his poster on my wall, and I believe I was even a member of his official fan club.  I also remember going to see him in concert (twice).

What I discovered in this book is that Springfield is also a dog person.  Imagine that – even when much younger – I was attracted to people who liked dogs.  There are many comments in Springfield’s memoir about the role of dogs in his early family life and through his career (you might remember that his dog Ron featured on several album covers).

Dogs acted as a source of inspiration and consistency in a life where depression was also a key player.

In January 2010, Springfield’s dog Gomer passed away.  He and his people compiled a bunch of photos of the beloved dog in this tribute on YouTube.  Dog people will ‘get’ this – the need to share and show how great our dog was and how much we miss them.

Having lost Daisy so recently, this tribute really resonated with me.  I hope you enjoy it.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Teddy’s journey starts

Teddy is an almost 8-year old Beagle.  We’ve known each other for 4 years now because Teddy is a regular customer of my dog massage, nutrition and rehabilitation practice.

Teddy

Teddy

Teddy suffers from bilateral hip dysplasia and his owner, Jill Gordon, has been successfully managing this condition for years by giving Teddy good nutrition, massage and laser therapy, and regular osteopathic adjustments.

But Teddy wasn’t so lucky on Friday, 22nd August 2014.

On this morning, which started like so many others, Teddy was riding in his father’s van in the front seat to go to work.  When the van came to a sudden stop in traffic, Teddy slid off the front seat into the foot well.   The force of his fall and the angle in which he fell caused him to severely fracture his right front leg.

The veterinary term for Teddy’s compound fracture is a comminuted open right intracondylar elbow fracture.

Teddy’s dad rushed him to their local veterinary practice at Lincoln Village Vets where the staff there stabilised him and Alex, the vet nurse, accompanied Jill and Teddy to the local specialist surgery practice, Vet Specs.   At Vet Specs the lead surgeon, Helen Milner, assessed Teddy.  She said she might be able to save his leg through a complicated 5-hour surgery.  Jill authorised the surgery.

However, once Helen got Teddy onto the operating table, she saw in more detail than the x-rays allowed her to just how badly broken Teddy’s leg was.  It was shattered and she didn’t have enough bone fragments to successfully attempt a repair.   The only choice was amputation.

Amputation has been a devastating outcome for Jill.  We know that Teddy has a challenging journey ahead not only to recover from his amputation but also to adapt his lifestyle and surroundings so he doesn’t aggravate his hip dysplasia.

Quality of life is paramount.

Jill has chosen a healthcare team including Sarah Wisson, his osteopath, Dr Susanne Anderson, a veterinary acupuncture specialist, and me to see Teddy through this new journey.

Jill wants other owners to learn from Teddy’s experience about the need to restrain their dogs when traveling in vehicles.  And she wants owners to share in Teddy’s journey to recovery.  She has given her permission for Teddy’s story to be told here.  You will see the new category on the blog:  Teddy’s journey post-amputation.

Teddy has just been released from hospital and is recovering at home.  Jill says he’s still her handsome boy as seen here:

Teddy, before his discharge from hospital

Teddy, before his discharge from hospital

Join us for Teddy’s journey in future blog posts.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Those Barking Dogs

The singing dogs

This album was released in 1957.  It was an early example of sound engineering by a sound engineer named Carl Weismann.  Weismann specialised in recording of bird song and was always frustrated when a dog’s barking could be heard in the background.

Pearl, Pussy, King, Dolly and Caesar (all pictured on the album cover) were recorded barking by Weismann and then the tapes were cut and pasted to reveal tunes like “O Susanna” and “Jingle Bells.”

During the Christmas season, it is likely you will hear the dogs’ version of Jingle Bells on radio stations.

This medley, found on YouTube, is a good example of what the full recordings sounded like: