Category Archives: dog care

Drug trials in pet dogs with cancer

Physiological similarities between dogs and humans, and conserved genetics between some dog and human cancers, can allow pet dogs to serve as useful models for studying new cancer drugs, says Dr Timothy Fan of the University of Illinois.

Timothy Fan, professor of veterinary clinical medicine. With his personal dog, Ember

Timothy Fan, professor of veterinary clinical medicine. With his personal dog, Ember  photo by L. Brian Stauffer

In a meeting sponsored by the National Cancer Policy Forum of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine in Washington, D.C., Fan and 15 other experts in the field described the benefits of using pet dogs with naturally occurring (rather than laboratory-induced) tumors in early cancer drug trials.

“We have a lot of dogs in the United States, approximately 70 million of them, and it’s believed that about 25 percent of pet dogs will develop some form of cancer in their lifetime,” he said. “We’re using dogs to help guide drug development for people, but at the same time we’re offering new, innovative therapies that would otherwise never be available to dogs, to help them as well.”

Several attributes make pet dogs attractive subjects for such studies, Fan said.

“Dogs tend to develop cancer as a geriatric population, just like people,” he said. “Because the tumors develop spontaneously, there is heterogeneity in that tumor population, as a human being would have. The size of the tumors and the speed of growth of those tumors are comparable in dogs and human beings. So there are many attributes of a dog that develops cancer spontaneously that recapitulate the biology that we see in people.”

Some studies have already begun using dogs to test new cancer therapies. Starting in 2007, for example, Fan began testing an anti-cancer drug called PAC-1  in pet dogs with naturally occurring lymphomas and osteosarcomas. The results in dogs allowed the scientists to advance PAC-1 as a potential therapy against human cancers. The drug is now in phase I human clinic trials.

“Another example in which dogs have been important in demonstrating drug activity was an anti-cancer compound produced by the pharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences,” he said. “The company produced a pro-drug, which must be activated by a naturally occurring enzyme in human leukocytes before it can become effective. Mice and rats lack this enzyme, but dogs have it, so the compound was tested in dogs.”

There also are limitations to the use of pet dogs in cancer drug trials.

“There are some tumors that will not be that relevant,” Fan said. “Colon cancer, for example, is heavily driven by diet, and we don’t see much colon cancer in dogs. So pet dogs might not be a suitable model for colon cancer in humans.”

“There is heterogeneity in the human population and in dogs. So I would argue that if your drug agent produces positive results in dogs, that would give me greater confidence that those findings would be translatable to people.”

Source:  University of Illinois media release

How much will a pet really cost you?

Izzy adoption announcementIn case you haven’t guessed, I love dogs.

But any way you look at it, dogs are a responsibility and they require commitment in time and money to support and to care for them throughout their lives.

That’s why this article, How much will a pet really cost you? A cat vs dog breakdown, caught my attention.  Published in the Christian Science Monitor and using costs in US$, it shows the cost of owning either a cat or a dog and the money you need to expect to pay on a monthly and yearly basis.

I would add that if a dog develops a special health condition, or when it ages, your costs are likely to increase.  Here in New Zealand, I am finding too many owners who are in a financial pinch because of the care of an elderly or special needs dog.  In some cases, and in my opinion, the dogs are not receiving everything that that could to make them happy and comfortable (possibly extending their lives by months or years) – because the owners don’t have the finances.

Think before you adopt (or buy).

A dog is a lifetime commitment and one that costs money.  The benefits of ownership are a great investment.

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

Wet wipe management in dog care

Hitting the news this week has been an announcement from a number of local authorities in New Zealand warning about the disposal of wet wipes.  I and many other dog owners use these wipes; I’ve particularly found them useful for senior dog care when little accidents and dribbles happen on a regular basis.

I admit that I have dutifully bought wipes labelled ‘flushable’ like these thinking they were safe to flush.

wet wipes

And now I find out that wet wipes are clogging the public sewer system, increasing the costs to maintain the system and potentially raising the costs which will ultimately come back to us as ratepayers.

The problem is that, once flushed, these wipes aggregate together and clog around pumping systems and piping.

Clogged sewer pipes - thanks to wet wipes

Clogged sewer pipes – thanks to wet wipes (photo by Marlborough District Council)

Wet wipes clogging the pumping system (photo by Marlborough District Council)

Wet wipes clogging the pumping system (photo by Marlborough District Council)

 

 

 

 

 

So I’m putting up this blog post as part of the educational process.  All wet wipes -for babies, dogs and cleaning – shouldn’t be flushed no matter what the label says!

If you are buying ‘flushable’ wipes, maybe you can write to the company and ask that they stop marketing their wipes as ‘flushable’ since this description is misleading.

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

Moving house with a dog

Shifting homes is rated amongst the top 10 stressful life events.  And it is well documented that dogs are also affected by this stress.

Tips to help your dog settle in include:

  • Remove them from the house on moving day to a familiar place (at a friend’s or relative’s)
  • Keep to routine as much as possible (morning/afternoon walks, meal times)
  • Bring your dog’s toys, blankets and crate with you and set them up early in the new residence
  • Reinforce fences and gates to ensure your dog isn’t tempted to return home

…but I have another suggestion, based on our recent house move with Izzy…

Let your dog unpack boxes!

Izzy's unpacking job 29 June 2015

 

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

Kess’ story – Part 2

When dealing with dogs with special needs, one of the key principles is ‘management.’  Management can take a range of forms, but it always involves adapting and changing lifestyle to suit the dog.

In Kess’ case, Ian and Jan accepted that her on-lead behaviour was going to be almost impossible to eradicate.  They adapted their walking routines to suit.

Kess would have a short daytime walk in a quiet area and then a longer evening walk either in a park or very often through the central city of Christchurch. This worked well as there were plenty of people about her but very few other animals.  Ian and Jan felt that they were making some progress with the reactivity and could happily take her into quite busy areas.

Unfortunately, the Canterbury earthquakes which started in September 2010 with another large jolt in February 2011 halted that progress.  Since the earthquakes, Kess’ anxiety levels have remained at very high levels.  She has become much more anxious of strangers which has meant adapting the walking routine.   For the first 18 months, the family continued to walk through the central city at night, following the Avon River around the outside of the Red Zone cordons (for those that don’t know, the central city area was heavily damaged and evacuated).  Jan and Ian quickly learned that hi-vis wear and army cordons were a cause of stress for Kess so avoided them.  Despite these concerns, Jan and Ian found these walks peaceful and reflective.

Post-quakes, Kess’ health issues have also been more of a problem for her.  In my opinion, Kess was already a very sensitive dog and the earthquakes simply added to her load – further weakening her stressed immune system.

She contracted toxoplasmosis, a parasitic disease, probably from drinking from a puddle or other contaminated water source in 2012 (cats are regular carriers of toxoplasmosis). She suffered seizures and general ill health for several months.  “We almost lost her.” Treatment was a mixture of veterinary care and natural animal health care and remedies.

Then, in 2013 when the couple were staying in temporary accommodation while their earthquake-damaged house was repaired, Kess had a major episode with pain in her spine which left her immobilised and howling in pain. An emergency trip to the vet and medication followed. In a bid to reduce the medication she had several acupuncture sessions but became resistant to this.  “She has an amazing ability to turn into a solid, resistant brick when she doesn’t want to do something,” says Jan.

This led the couple to look to yet more alternatives. This is when Jan contacted me and we entered a whole new realm of support for Kess’ health.   I used massage, manual acupressure and laser therapies with Kess and she started swimming at the Dog Swim Spa.   Kess was unable to benefit from swimming because she developed a stress reaction to the shower which was a necessity after each swim  in a chlorinated pool.  So , we agreed that swimming be dropped from Kess’ therapy.  But an osteopath was added in 2014 to help release Kess’ back tension.

Osteopathy and massage therapy work very well in conjunction with one another and so the current plan is to keep up with both.

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More recently, Ian and Jan have noticed that Kess’ anxiety levels have been on the rise and she has been out of sorts which included frequently shaking her head and looking distressed.   She also developed an aversion to the laser and its ‘beeping’ noise and so we’ve dropped that from her regime. After ruling out any ear or tooth problems a specialist vet has recommended Kess undergo an MRI examination to rule out any possible deeper issues with her brain, inner ears or throat area.

Because Kess has been anxious, Jan has also been anxious about their daytime walks.  We discussed cutting back on walks in favor of playing in the family’s yard.  And what we talked about was the fact that Kess was never truly ‘free’ because her anxiety condition prevented Jan and Ian from taking her to a dog park or similar off-leash area.  We needed to re-group about Kess’ mental health.

Luckily, the owner at Top Notch Kennels agreed to allow Kess a weekly visit to their large exercise yard.  At last, Kess is able to blow off some steam and be a ‘real’ dog.  At first tentative and keeping close to Jan, within a few visits Kess found her feet and is now running free without harness or lead. Her smile says it all. Jan has noticed an improvement in her personality. “This has been fantastic for Kess – what a joy to see her joy at being free to just be herself and she still runs in mad, crazy circles but so far no more forward-rolls. I do though have to keep an eye on the sheep over the back hedge – I’m not convinced she couldn’t jump the fence with enough speed on!”

Kess looking free and regal, clearly enjoying her off-lead time

Kess looking free and regal, clearly enjoying her off-lead time

Ian and Jan love Kess and are devoted to her, acknowledging that she has been hard work and a significant investment of their time.

“Although our experiences with Kess have been very challenging on many levels she has also taught us many things and caused us to go places and experience things we most definitely would not have without her. We have discovered interesting places and explored corners of the city we had never known. The most special times were our walks through the dark and silent city following the February 2011 quake. We would never have had that unique experience without our very special girl.”

“Most of the time, 99 per cent, she is the most obedient, quiet and well behaved dog we have ever shared our home with. She is just as happy to spend the whole day snoozing on her couch in the sun as she is excited to be going out somewhere in the car. She is very smart, loves to play find and seek with her toys and has a very effective way of communicating to us just what she needs. Someone commented recently that we should have had her put to sleep as there are plenty of ‘good’ dogs out there who need homes but in our opinion every dog deserves a chance to live a good, happy life. When we see love and trust returned in her eyes it makes everything worth it.”

I think what Kess’ story proves is that ‘difficult’ dogs can still be loveable pets (one trainer suggested she be euthanized when their attempts at training Kess ‘by the book’ failed).  These dogs just need more time and effort invested in them; we need more people willing to stick with the tough times – a loving companion and lifelong relationship awaits.

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A sleepy Kess after a recent massage session

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

Kess’ story – Part 1

Kess is a special massage client – they are all specially, really, but Kess is special because it seems to me that some dogs are just set up in life to have it rough.  Kess is definitely one of those dogs.

Kess’ owner, Jan, has helped write this story because Kess’ story is long and complicated and it’s important to get the facts right.

So here goes…

Kess was adopted from Dogwatch, an adoption agency, in September 2007.  Jan and husband Ian had ruled her out prior to visiting the kennels because they’d seen her on the website and thought she was a bit odd looking as well as having been returned once by an adoptive family. However, as they were leaving the kennels after not seeing the ‘right’ dog, they had to step over one lying in the reception entrance snoozing.

The dog suddenly rolled onto its back and indicated a tummy rub would be needed. “This was the dog we were not going to even consider and this was the beginning of our life with Kess.”

Kess
Although dogs had been members of their family before, Jan admits that everything they thought they knew about dogs had to go out the window.  Living with Kess was very challenging time right from the word ‘go.’ Ian and Jan tried  to return her to Dogwatch but, thankfully, they were full and couldn’t take her back.

This was a dog who had experienced a terrible and hard puppyhood.

For the next year, the family lived under siege until Kess settled in and developed more trust.  They hired Els from Trainimals because she had already met Kess when she was in the kennels.  She brought in another trainer for a second opinion.  His assessment was that she was definitely not aggressive but anxious and only time and love was going to help.

This has proven very true.

Kess is a very curious dog and has a very high prey-drive.  Like Superman, she can bounce over 6 foot fences with ease.   Ian and Jan thought they had big fences before Kess arrived, but since then they have been heightened, strengthened and mostly double fenced.

Yet despite her hunting instincts, Kess proves that she is soft-hearted.  On the odd occasion where her ‘hunting’ has been successful – a duckling and a mouse – she spat them out and watched as they ran off.  Recently Jan had to pick her up and carry her past a wild rat who was sadly dying on the property and lay in the path Kess needed to take to enter the house.

Ian and Jan celebrated when Kess finally relaxed enough during a walk to pee outside her home ground – it took a year.

She is very reactive to other animals but she can socialise successfully in a controlled setting. Now and again a friend will visit with her dog and it is great fun watching the two dogs playing and then collapsing in an exhausted, happy heap afterwards.

One of the biggest challenges has been Kess’ strength when pulling on lead. She walks beside the couple beautifully until she sees something which makes her anxious. When I visit for massage sessions with Kess, there is a lovely framed photo of Kess on her first day home. Attached to the photo frame are two straightened pieces of thick steel. These were the metal pieces on collars where you clip on a lead or rope. Both of these were straightened at times when Kess had been temporarily tied up and seen something she wanted to investigate.  Like Superman, Kess was no match for steel!

Healthwise, Kess came with a set of digestive problems.  She wasn’t food motivated and was a nervous and picky eater.  She developed severe colitis before Ian and Jan were finally able to work with their vet to find the right diet for her. which is turkey-based.  Kess’ stomach is very sensitive and occasionally she still suffers reflux and diarrhoea.

She also had problems with her spine right from the start and a propensity to doing forward-rolls amongst the sand dunes at the beach did cause some issues early on.  A naturopath prescribed remedies for digestion, joint health and anxiety.

In terms of reviewing her health history, I think Kess had a weakened immune system from her hard months as a neglected puppy which probably made her more vulnerable to disease and dysfunction.

Those early, developmental months, matter to a dog’s health and well-being and if a puppy is not well-cared for early, I believe in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM ) terms that a lot of life energy, or qi, is lost. These dogs are not balanced and this leaves their bodies vulnerable in terms of disease.

In Part 2, we hear that Kess’ health problems were far from over… and how Jan and Ian remain dedicated to her care.

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

Dogs absorb lawn chemicals

Dogs exposed to garden and lawn chemicals may have a higher risk of bladder cancer. iStockPhoto

Dogs exposed to garden and lawn chemicals may have a higher risk of bladder cancer.
iStockPhoto

 

Dogs are ingesting, inhaling and otherwise being exposed to garden and lawn chemicals that have been associated with bladder cancer, according to a new study.

The paper, which will appear in the July issue of Science of the Total Environment, also found that wind could carry the chemicals to untreated properties. The researchers also found that dogs, once contaminated by the chemicals, can transfer them to their owners.

The chemicals are common herbicides containing the following: 2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (2,4-D), 4-chloro-2- methylphenoxypropionic acid (MCPP) and/or dicamba.

“The routes of exposure that have been documented in experimental settings include ingestion, inhalation and transdermal exposures,” lead author Deborah Knapp of Purdue University’s Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, told Discovery News.

“In the case of dogs,” she added, “they could directly ingest the chemicals from the plant, or they could lick their paws or fur and ingest chemicals that have been picked up on their feet, legs or body.”

Scottish terriers, West Highland white terriers, Shetland sheepdogs, beagles and wire hair fox terriers are all at particular risk, the researchers suggest, because these breeds have a high genetic propensity for bladder cancer.

Knapp and her colleagues first conducted an experimental grass plot study that involved spraying various defined patches with the chemicals under different conditions. These included spraying the herbicides on plots that were green, dry brown, wet or recently mowed. The researchers next measured how much of the chemicals remained on the grass up to 72 hours post treatment.

Co-author Angus Murphy, also from Purdue, explained that dead or dying plant material does not readily absorb the chemicals, “so the herbicide can remain longer on the surface of the plant.”

He continued, “If an excessive amount of herbicide is applied, then the capacity of the target plant to take up the compound may be overwhelmed.”

In a second experiment, the researchers analyzed urine samples of dogs from households that either used herbicides or didn’t. The majority of dogs from homes that used the chemicals were found to have these same herbicides in their urine. Some dogs from untreated homes also had the chemicals in their urine.

Knapp explained that wind could cause the herbicides to travel up to 50 feet away from the application site. Neighbors who use the chemicals might therefore impact other individuals in the area.

“There are industry guidelines for restricting lawn chemical application based on wind speed, although homeowners may not be aware of these,” Knapp said.

Once contaminated, dogs can pass the chemicals on to their owners and to others. The study only looked at dogs, but the researchers suspect that cats and other pets could also be affected.

“Dogs can pick up the chemicals on their paws and their fur,” Knapp said. “They can then track the chemicals inside the house, leaving chemicals on the floor or furniture. In addition, if the dog has chemicals on its fur, the pet owner could come in contact with the chemicals when they pet or hold the dog.”

John Reif, a professor emeritus of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, told Discovery News, “The paper presents important information since exposure to 2,-4-D, a widely used broad leaf herbicide, has been associated with increased risk of cancer in pet dogs and humans.”

Reif added, “This study has potentially important implications for human health since it demonstrates widespread exposure to pet dogs. The likelihood that children, who share the local environment with their pets, are similarly exposed to these chemicals is high and thus additional studies should be conducted to evaluate this possibility.”

The researchers suggest that if owners still must use herbicides, they should follow manufacturer guidelines, allow gardens and lawns to dry before allowing pets out, wash their dog’s feet each time the dog comes inside, and consider treating the back yard one week before the front (or vice versa) so that pets will have an area of less potential chemical exposure available to them.

Source:  Discovery.com