Category Archives: dog care

Dogs and taxes

It is the 15th of April – Tax Day in the United States.  The deadline that comes around all too quickly, a date when every US resident must file a federal tax return with the Internal Revenue Service.  Most states also have state tax returns that must be filed today, too.

Tax the big dogs

Have you ever considered what your dog and taxes have to do with each other?

Unfortunately, unlike human dependents, our dogs are not tax-deductible.  So, please don’t try this on your tax return.

In New York state, however, officials and animal rights advocates have filed a state bill that would give anyone who adopts a pet from a New York animal shelter a tax credit of $100, or $300 for up to three animals per year.

The bill is sponsored by Kevin Parker, a state senator from Brooklyn, and would cover all domesticated animals offered for adoption.  City Councilwoman Julis­sa Ferreras, from Queens, introduced a resolution backing the bill, which would make New York the first state to grant such a credit.   In New York State alone, shelters can care for up to 8 million dogs and cats each year; about 3 million are euthanized because there is no one to adopt them.


 

In terms of deductions, as I said earlier – don’t attempt to deduct your dog as a dependent.  It will only cause you tax troubles.

But, there are some dog-related expenses that are deductible:

1.  If you need a guide dog because you are visually impaired or for hearing assistance, you can deduct the costs of buying, training and caring (food, grooming, veterinary care) for your guide dog as a medical expense.  The same holds true for dogs trained to help you with any other diagnosed physical or mental condition.

2.  If you use a dog in your business, such as for security purposes, the cost of keeping the dog healthy – as with a guide dog – can be considered a legitimate business expense that is deductible.

3.  If you have to move house, pet relocation costs are also deductible as part of your overall moving expenses.

4.  Some people earn money from their dog-related hobbies – things like competing in dog shows, for example.  If those hobbies result in an income, you have to declare it.  But, the expenses you incur for pursuing your hobby are also deductible – provided that total of these expenses exceed 2 percent of your adjusted gross income before deductions.

5.  If you volunteer for a pet-related charity, and the charity is a registered 501(c)(3) adoption center, you can deduct mileage you incur for working on behalf of the shelter.  If you foster a dog and costs like food are not fully reimbursed – these are deductible too.  It helps if the organisation you are working for provides you with a letter acknowledging your volunteer work on their behalf.

6.  Some owners set up pet trusts to protect and care for their pet after they pass away.  Trusts have tax advantages in terms of tax deductions.  But, it is important to have a lawyer who understands your local estate planning laws to help you with the set up of your trust.

Really, with any tax-related matter it is best to seek professional advice and remember to keep good records!

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

Sources:  New York Post, Bankrate

 

 

 

How scrap metal could help a dog in need

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker's surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Tucker and Rejeanne Asselin, who is appealing for donations of scrap metal to help fund Tucker’s surgery (photo by Fort Erie Times)

Seven-year-old Tucker is a Blue Heeler-Boxer mix who needs surgery to remove a piece of plastic that has embedded itself in his tongue.  His owner, Rejeanne Asselin, said she needs to come up with at least $800 to pay for his medical bills.

Since Asselin lives on a disability pension, her fixed income leaves little room for spending on Tucker’s medical care.  So, she is appealing to her local community of Fort Erie, Ontario, to donate any scrap metal, copper, aluminum, pop cans and beer bottles that can be recycled and exchanged for money that will help pay the vet bills.

“It might not be much but it all adds up in the long run,” Asselin said.

“Everyone has scrap metal, or these kinds of things lying around the house. Every little bit helps.”

Asselin first noticed something was wrong with her “good companion” in January when he wasn’t eating or drinking very much.  It took her until February when she had saved enough money to take him to the vet for an exam.

At first, the veterinarian thought Tucker might have cancer. After he was given some antibiotics and pain medication, Tucker was sent home. The swelling in Tucker’s mouth eventually went down and upon further examination from the veterinarian, it became clear something was embedded in Tucker’s tongue.  It’s likely some type of plastic.

The foreign object can’t be removed until Asselin comes up with enough money to pay for Tucker’s treatment.  He is still on pain medication but is having difficulty eating and is restricted to soft food.

“He is my protector, my guardian and my family.  You can tell he’s in pain.  But, Tucker is a very sweet dog.”

Anyone with scrap metal or other items in the Fort Erie area is being urged to  call Asselin at 905-871-6005 .

Source:  Fort Erie Times

A biological trigger for canine bone cancer?

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Veterinary Medicine have identified the biological mechanism that may give some cancer cells the ability to form tumors in dogs.

Yurtie, a canine cancer patient, in the UW Veterinary Care oncology ward.  Photo: Nik Hawkins

Yurtie, a canine cancer patient, in the UW Veterinary Care oncology ward.
Photo: Nik Hawkins

The recent study uncovered an association between the increased expression of a particular gene in tumor cells and more aggressive behavior in a form of canine bone cancer. It may also have implications for human cancers by detailing a new pathway for tumor formation.

The findings of the research have been published  in the journal Veterinary and Comparative Oncology and may eventually provide oncologists with another target for therapy and improve outcomes for canine patients with the disease.

The researchers examined cell lines generated from dogs with osteosarcoma, a common bone cancer that also affects people, with the intent of uncovering why only some cells generate tumors. After the dogs underwent tumor-removal surgery, cells from the tumors were grown in the lab.

This led to six different cancer cell lines, which were then transplanted into mice. The researchers then looked to see which lines developed tumors and which did not and studied the differences between them.

“We found several hundred genes that expressed differently between the tumor-forming and nontumor-forming cell lines,” said Timothy Stein, an assistant professor of oncology. However, one protein called frizzled-6 was present at levels eight times higher in cells that formed tumors.

“It’s exciting because it’s kind of uncharted territory,” says Stein “While we need more research to know for sure, it’s possible that frizzled-6 expression may be inhibiting a particular signaling pathway and contributing to the formation of tumor-initiating cells.”

The team’s genetic research will continue on dogs and be extended to humans.

Source:  University of Wisconsin-Madison media release

Ike the dog gets a new set of wheels

Ike in his new wagon (photo courtesy of ABC News)

Ike in his new wagon (photo courtesy of ABC News)

Ike is a 15-year old dog living in California.  He’s been diagnosed with bone cancer and so only has a few months to live.  His owner, Risa Feldman, wanted to give Ike as much quality of life as possible and the traditional hind end harnesses for helping him around weren’t cutting it.

So she went into Home Depot to ask for help and two employees there did even better.  They built Ike (free of charge) a new wagon complete with a little ramp so he can get in and out easily (the back end of the wagon lifts down to form the ramp).

Ike and Risa (photo courtesy of Risa Feldman)

Ike and Risa (photo courtesy of Risa Feldman)

Risa says the wagon will help Ike enjoy their walks along Manhattan Beach for a while yet.  Whilst Risa sits down at a local cafe for a coffee, Ike usually has an order of bacon…

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

Source:  ABC News

Medical marijuana for dogs?

A bill in the legislature of the State of Nevada was introduced this week that would legalize the use of marijuana in the treatment of animals.

The bill is sponsored by Democrat Tick Segerblom.  It would let owners obtain the drug for their animals if a veterinarian confirmed it “may mitigate the symptoms or effects” of a chronic or debilitating medical condition.

The same bill has provisions for the use of medical marijuana by people.

Companion Cannabis, a product as seen in a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles (Photo by Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press)

Companion Cannabis, a product as seen in a medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles (Photo by Damian Dovarganes, Associated Press)

There isn’t a lot of research about the use of marijuana in animals, although there are stories of owners using it to alleviate illness symptoms in their pets – usually as a last resort when traditional therapies haven’t helped.

Physiologically speaking, dogs have a high concentration of THC receptors in their brains (THC is an active ingredient in marijuana).  As a consequence, dogs are more susceptible to marijuana and this can lead to a toxic dose.  There is evidence that in states such as Colorado, which has already legalized marijuana use, more dogs are being admitted for treatment because of marijuana toxicity after they’ve eaten their owner’s supply.

The American Veterinary Medical Association, not surprisingly, does not have an official stance on the use of medical marijuana.  Since research into the topic isn’t ‘evidence based,’ the Association merely suggests that vets make treatment decisions based on sound clinical judgment that stay in compliance with the law.

The Association says that even in states where medical marijuana is legal, it is still a Class I narcotic under federal law which means vets are not legally allowed to prescribe it; meaning that in essence the Association is saying that vets shouldn’t prescribe marijuana unless federal law is changed and they are satisfied that there is a clinical reason for doing so.

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

Winning at Crufts after a broken paw

This year’s Crufts competition was overshadowed by claims of poisoning and unethical conduct amongst competitors.  Unfortunately, this means some of the better, good-news stories have not been given the air time they normally would.

Take Kamba, for example.  A Rhodesian Ridgeback, Kamba had a piece of floating bone in his paw which was diagnosed last year after x-rays.  Kamba hadn’t been using his leg as expected and so his owner looked into the cause.

Kim Hodge and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Kamba

Kim Hodge and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Kamba

After the diagnosis, she pursued rehabilitation which included physical rehab and hydrotherapy which occurred from September 2014 with increasing frequency in the weeks leading up to the Crufts show.

Kamba won first prize in both the Post Graduate Class and Reserve Dog Challenge Certificate for his breed at the four-day event.  He beat more than 100 other dogs.

“Kamba loves meeting other dogs and really seems to enjoy doing shows, so it was great to see how the crowd and the judges reacted to him too. Usually, top prizes tend to go to the more seasoned dogs so it was really lovely that Kamba impressed them.”

Source:  Derby Telegraph

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

Teddy’s journey ends

This is a blog post I didn’t think I would be writing for some years.  Unfortunately, some things are just not meant to be.

Teddy, the Beagle who so bravely came back from a front leg amputation last year, passed away on Saturday.  He was only 8 years old – gone too soon.

TeddyTeddy 10_9_14

Cancer took Teddy’s life away very quickly.  For the last 8 weeks or so, Jill had been saying things like ‘he’s not himself’ ‘he’s tired today’ or ‘he hasn’t been right since we changed his medication.’

We discussed diet, a different mixture of supplements, different medications, and different acupressure sequences…

Some days he seemed like his old self, others not.  Sometimes his liver function tests came back as abnormal, then re-tests would show an improvement after changing his core food.

But late last week, things turned quickly.

Teddy vomited up his breakfast on Tuesday and then stopped eating and drinking.  Another blood test showed highly escalated liver enzymes and Teddy was in trouble.  He was booked initially for an ultrasound on Monday but then he had to go to the vet on Friday for fluids and stayed overnight.  The ultrasound was moved up to Saturday.

And the ultrasound specialist had terrible news.  His report reads “These findings are consistent with metastatic neoplasia (likely sarcoma, adenocarcinoma, or carcinoma).  There is hepatic and splenic involvement (with likely metastases to lymph nodes and lungs).  Unfortunately Teddy’s prognosis is grave.”

Jill took a distressed Teddy home and her regular vet came to give him his final injection.  As Jill said, there was no choice.

When I saw Jill yesterday, she just said that in writing Teddy’s last story, she wanted his story to matter.

I’ve thought really hard about this.  I think everything about Teddy mattered.  He was a Beagle that was just a little too large to win in the show ring (despite winning best baby puppy several times).  Early on, Jill discovered that Teddy was born with bilateral hip dysplasia and she set about keeping him happy and healthy (I came into the picture in 2010 after an unsuccessful attempt at hydrotherapy, because Teddy also had neck problems that were aggravated by swimming).

When I lost Daisy last July, it was Teddy who would come and sit beside me in sympathy.

And then last August’s horrible accident and the amputation which was going to affect Teddy’s mobility as he aged.  And he came through it like a trooper.  When I adopted Izzy (my greyhound), I took her for a visit and a 3-legged Teddy was zooming after her as if nothing had changed.

So, what do Teddy’s last days tell us?

I think they tell us that no matter how well we take care of our dogs, and with our best intentions for seeing them to old age, we really have very little influence when the end comes.  We do our best.  And we have to make the right decisions for our dogs in the face of critical or terminal illness.

I’m glad that Teddy came through his amputation so well and that he and Jill had months together that they wouldn’t have had if she had decided to end his life then.  And I’m glad Teddy didn’t suffer for days and days like people suffering from terminal cancer do.

Teddy is one of those special clients that I will carry in my heart for the remainder of my days.  He was My Favourite Beagle.  Everything about him matters.

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