Category Archives: dog care

Canine circovirus

Circoviruses are small viruses that survive well in the environment once shed from affected animals.  There’s a canine circovirus that was first detected in the USA in 2012, but there’s still a lot to learn.

Dogs infected with circovirus may show symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea and even death.

“Last year in Ohio and California, some dogs died of diarrhea and they couldn’t figure out the causing agent because those routine diagnostics could not pick up any pathogens that are potentially causing the diarrhea deaths,” researcher Jianfa Bai said.  Bai is a molecular diagnostician and assistant professor at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

The Kansas State Diagnostic Laboratory has recently developed tests to identify circovirus. Researchers are still unsure how deadly this disease is. While some dogs show symptoms, 3 to 11 percent of the dogs tested at the diagnostic laboratory have been confirmed as carrying the pathogen — but are healthy and do not show symptoms.

Bai says they can’t rule out that circovirus is causing deaths. It is also possible that the deaths are caused by a combination of circovirus and another disease.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that your dog is checked by a veterinarian if they are vomiting or have diarrhea.  Your vet can contact the laboratory at 866-512-5650 if they want to submit samples for testing.

Source:  Kansas State University media release

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Wordless Wednesday, part 28

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How dogs were trained for functional MRI research

I’m an absolute advocate for positive reinforcement training.  Here’s how Professor Gregory Berns and his research team trained dogs to remain still in a noisy MRI scanner.

You can also read my other blogs about functional MRI research and dogs:

 

Understanding what is higher value

Researchers have now proven what dog trainers have known for some time: dogs have a sense of quality when it comes to treats and they will seek out the higher value ones.

Kristina Pattison and Thomas Zentall of the University of Kentucky tested the principle by feeding baby carrots and string cheese to ten dogs of various breeds

Dog eating cheeseThe research was conducted on dogs that would willingly eat cheese and baby carrots when offered, but showed a preference for the cheese. However, when given a choice between one slice of cheese, or the cheese together with a piece of carrot, nine of the ten dogs chose the cheese alone. That is, they chose less food over more food.

People, for instance, tend to place greater value on a set of six baseball cards that are in perfect condition, than on the same set of six perfect cards together with three more cards in fair condition.

In cases where rapid decisions must be made, quick solution-driven heuristics such as the “less is more” effect may come in handy. For instance, it is helpful when members of the same species, such as a pack of dogs, feed together. The one that hesitates may lose food to faster-choosing competitors.

But the fact that one in ten dogs did choose the cheese-and-carrot combination suggests that levels of motivation may play a role in this effect. The outlier dog, for instance, had a history of living in shelters and fending for himself.

Source:  Springer media release

Darla’s story – what every owner needs to understand about dog toys

This video comes via the Center for Pet Safety, a registered 501(c)3 research and advocacy organization dedicated to companion animal and consumer safety.

Darla was the victim of a poorly designed dog toy purchased at Walmart by her unsuspecting owner.  Darla ingested nylon fabric that wrapped around her tongue and proceeded into her digestive tract causing peritonitis.  She fought for her life for over 3 days before losing her battle.

You can read Darla’s story by clicking on this link.

Dog owners must understand that dog toys are not subject to recalls and the burden of proof and legal remedies rest with the dog owner in cases like these.

I’m sharing this story to spread the word about this dog toy and to remind everyone to be careful in their selection of toys.  Toys sold at discount retailers are particularly suspect, such as those in New Zealand that are imported from China and are not well made and use paints and dyes that clearly rub off when being chewed.

Read Darla’s  story and then give your dog a hug – and promise to keep them safe from deadly toys.

Taking the dog for a stroll

dog in stroller

Many people think that a dog in a stroller is a step too far.  But if you have a dog with mobility issues, including old age, they can work wonders for your dog’s mental health and save you a lot of stress and strain.

Imagine not being able to walk a few blocks to the local park…  Driving is one way, but then you don’t get as much exercise and your dog enjoys less time in the outdoors.

This is where a stroller can come in.  You can still enjoy a walk and your dog gets out without having to rev up the car.  In addition, you will probably find that a dog in a stroller is an attention-getter – so be prepared for people to interact with you and your dog on a regular basis.

The Happy Trails Pet Stroller

The Happy Trails Pet Stroller

The Dutch Dog Designs DoggyRide stroller

The Dutch Dog Designs DoggyRide stroller

There are many stroller designs to choose from and most can easily be ordered online for convenience.

When should you consider adding a stroller to your dog’s regime?

  • Does your dog pull up lame after only a few short blocks on a regular basis?
  • Is the condition chronic – such as arthritis – meaning it isn’t curable?
  • Are you managing an older injury, such as a cruciate repair or strain and surgery is not an option?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions, a stroller should be considered.

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

Megaesophagus

Megaesophagus is a condition where the muscles of the esophagus fail, similar to a limp balloon that has inflated several times and lost its elasticity:Limp balloonWhen the condition is present, the esophagus doesn’t contract normally and food can’t make it down into the stomach to be digested.  Food can ‘pool’ in the esophagus causing regurgitation.  Worse, the undigested food can be inhaled leading to a condition called aspiration pneumonia.  Megaesophagus can affect puppies and adult dogs.

Vets normally have to diagnose the condition from its range of symptoms which include:

  • Regurgitation of water or food
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss that is sudden
  • Frequent clearing of the throat
  • Sour smelling breath
  • Difficulty in swallowing or frequent swallowing
  • Aspiration pneumonia

Megaesophagus is a condition that can be managed, but it does take a dedicated and vigilant dog parent to do this.

Dogs with the condition have to eat and drink in a device called a Bailey Chair.  The chair allows the dog to sit in an upright position for an extended period of time.  A megaesophagus dog needs to be fed in the chair and kept upright for at least 20 minutes to allow gravity to take the food and water into the stomach.

Dogs with megaesophagus have special nutritional needs, too.  Since dogs with this condition can’t drink normally, they often need water added to their meals and to receive high moisture treats that are thickened with gelatin or other ingredients.

A megaesophagus dog needs a diet that is calorie rich and nutritious but without too much fibre.  Raw foods are a special risk to these dogs because of their sensitive digestive systems.  There’s also a risk of bacterial contamination, particularly if even small amounts of raw food are aspirated.

Prescription medications like Carafate liquid can also help these dogs because it provides a protective coating for the esophagus.

It’s also important to think holistically for these dogs, with support with Bach flower remedies, herbs and supplements.   In my practice, I work with the dogs to keep their digestive systems healthy through massage and acupressure and nutrition.  The spleen, liver and stomach all need support when a dog has megaesophagus.

In older dogs with arthritis, having to sit in a Bailey Chair presents additional challenges that require holistic veterinary care.

The good news is that megaesophagus doesn’t mean a death sentence.  It does mean that your special dog will need special care and attention to maintain its health throughout its lifetime.

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

We’re heading to London! (But how to take the dog?)

When journalist Danny Hakim was transferred from upstate New York to London, the most important issue was how to get Harley, the family’s Golden Retriever, there.

Photo by Luke Wolagiewicz for the New York Times
Photo by Luke Wolagiewicz for the New York Times

I hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.  Read it here.

How did your family cope with relocating with dogs?  Get in touch.

The little gadget that every dog parent should have

The little gadget that I recommend is a pill splitter. It isn’t high tech and, at most, it will cost you about $2.

But, if your dog needs medication or supplements and the dosage requires a half tablet, then you’ll be glad you bought one!

It’s really quite simple:    The lid contains a razor blade (note label warnings on the side about keeping it away from fingers and children)

Place the bill in the base of the splitter

Place the pill in the base of the splitter

Close the lid

Close the lid and push gently

Voila!  The pill is evenly cut in half for a proper dosage

Voila! The pill is evenly cut in half for a proper dosage

Do you have a story about giving your dog medication? If so, get in touch!

Kathleen Crisley, Specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Wordless Wednesday, part 16

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