Izzy’s racing career

Izzy is a retired racing greyhound.  She won 6 races over the course of her 2  1/2-year, 74 race career.

As a salute to my ‘little winner’ who is now a much-loved pet and helper in massage classes, here is a montage of the finish lines at her races and one photo of her in her preferred career…

Izzy winning on 10 Dec 2010Izzy winning on 25 May 2011Izzy winning on 1 Jun 2011Izzy winning on 3 Aug 2011Izzy winning on 7 Nov 2012Izzy winning on 19 Dec 2012

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Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

High meat diets – a NZ study

An independent study from New Zealand has found that a high meat diet is easier for dogs to digest, meaning more nutrients are able to be absorbed, resulting in higher levels of bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion.

The study found:

  • High meat diets are more digestible for dogs
  • More nutrients from a high meat diet are able to be absorbed
  • Dogs on a high meat diet had higher levels of the bacteria associated with protein and fat digestion
  • Dogs on a high meat diet had smaller poo and better fecal health

The research paper ‘Key bacterial families (Clostridiaceae, Erysipelotrichaceae and Bacteroidaceae) are related to the digestion of protein and energy in the dog’ is accessible here.

With Government funding and funding from the NZ Premium Petfood Alliance, which is a collaboration between Bombay Petfoods, K9 Natural and ZiwiPeak, the research is being undertaken at AgResearch and Massey University.

“To date there has been hardly any published research, so this study is a significant contribution to the international animal nutrition field. A lot of diets on the market have been designed to ensure a dog survives, but this research shows that high meat diet is the best to help a dog thrive,” said New Zealand Premium Petfood Alliance spokesperson Neil Hinton.

Another study, about cat diets, is underway.

Source:  Beehive.govt.nz media release and AgResearch media release

Breed-specific dog foods

Back in January, I posted a blog about Prescription diets – what’s the truth?

In this post, I’m again going into the controversial world of commercial dog food and sharing some information on breed-specific dog foods.

The two labels most associated with breed-specific foods are Eukanuba and Royal Canin, although there are others.

 

In the November 2016 issue of Your Dog (published by the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University), veterinary nutritionist Cailin Heinze provided opinion about such foods.

Dr Heinze re-iterated the common theme about the lack of rules for marketing.  “It’s a free for all.”

Although these pet foods must meet the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) standard, ‘tweaking’ recipes to make them slightly more suitable for a particular breed isn’t a big change to make.

The article points out that there are no feeding trials to support the claims made for breed-specific dog foods and that the breed-specific formulations are not therapeutic diets.

You will need to buy access to read the article in its entirety (follow the link above), and I won’t break copyright by printing too much of the article in this blog.

It is heartening to see a veterinary nutritionist making these comments.  Too often, criticism of commercial dog foods is discounted because the writers are not veterinarians.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

My diary

I still use a paper diary despite having access to online calendars and tools. There’s a reason for that.

Diary photo

I successfully managed my time through the Auckland Power Crisis of 1998 without a hitch, thanks to my paper diary. My colleagues, who were already relying on electronic schedules, didn’t know where they were supposed to be for weeks.  Meetings had to be rescheduled; service delivery slowed.

My diary also helped me through the days and weeks following the Canterbury Earthquake of February 2011. During these trying times, I could still make and keep appointments, keep notes as reminders, and generally have something to hold onto that was part of ‘normal’ life.

Most pages include reminders of what I need to finish that day.

And reflecting on my diary over the weekend, I see that it includes Izzy’s social calendar.

Going forward over the next couple of months, Izzy has engagements for play dates, appearances at the Riccarton Market for Greyhounds as Pets, and dates for sleepovers when I have to travel for business.  She also has a birthday party date with her best mate (and boyfriend) Bergie.

I often say that the best thing we can give our dogs is quality time.  One way of ensuring you make time for your dog is to commit to them in writing.  I’m pretty confident that I’ve got the right priorities and tools to do just that.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Officer Goodboy

New Zealand takes biosecurity very seriously.  That’s because our economy relies on agricultural and horticultural production and because our relative isolation from other continents has kept us free from some pests and diseases.

One of the best parts of coming home from overseas is heading into the baggage area and seeing the Ministry of Primary Industries’ (MPI, for short) detector dogs doing their job.  Usually Beagles, but sometimes other breeds, these dogs are focused on sniffing your bags to see if they contain any at-risk items.

Last year, MPI created a commercial using Officer Goodboy to explain the entry procedures into New Zealand.  A very good use of dogs in advertising.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Life skills

Prospective dog owners who do their research will consistently find recommendations for things like dog training (obedience, walking on leash, etc.) and regular veterinary care.

However, in my experience there are 2 essential life skills that some dogs are missing.

They are:

  • handling on a table
  • touching of the paws

As a canine massage therapist, I was trained to work with dogs on a table.  It’s good professional practice.  It helps me have a better view and leverage for working on dogs and it also is good health and safety for me because it preserves my posture and the health of my knees.

When a dog is injured or infirm, or so large that even the efforts of the owner and I are not enough to get them onto the table, then I will work with them on the floor.

However, I meet dogs that won’t tolerate handling on a table and in some (not all) cases this is because they just were never taught to accept it.  Since I don’t want to be bitten, I have to go to Plan B – which is the floor.

Abbie table photo

Abbie is a 12 1/2 year old Labrador Retriever cross. She’s been a client for over a year. Abbie needs to be lifted onto my table but is otherwise an easy client to have. Food treats helped her accept the table over successive sessions.

One reason why I recommend massage for puppies is that it teaches them to accept table work at a young age.  My table is a cushioned and friendly table – not a cold stainless steel one that you will find in veterinary practice.

All of my canine clients get a treat at the end of their session- so my techniques are reward-based.

And I’ve done sufficient professional training in behavior that I can work to reinforce a timid, shy or scared dog so they get become more accustomed to table work.

Dogs can also be paw sensitive, but through positive training techniques, there is no reason to think that 99.9% of them can’t be trained to accept touching of their feet.  When a dog has mobility issues, I want to massage their toes and work acupoints in the feet and legs.  That’s hard to do if they are growling, snarling or too scared to let me touch them.

Dog groomers and vets will agree with me – it’s no fun having to muzzle a dog because they need their nails clipped, for example. We’re just reinforcing bad experiences if we do.

In the 8 years I have been practising, I have never used a muzzle.

If you are a dog parent reading this – ask yourself how your dog reacts to being on a table or having their paws touched.  If they are reluctant or worse, I’d say it’s time to review your training and schedule in a course of massage therapy.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Tax implications for fostering

Americans resident in the United States have to file their taxes by 15th April each year – it’s a busy time for accountants and bookkeepers.

Second Hand Dogs

But I came across a tax decision,  VanDusen vs IRS Commissioner, which is very promising for volunteers who foster dogs for designated 501(c)(3) not-for-profit animal rescue organizations.  If the foster carer incurs unreimbursed expenses directly related to fostering, they can claim these on their tax returns as charitable deductions.  Things like food, veterinary care, and mileage are included; so too are utility costs for the portion of the home’s space that is used for care of the foster animal.

Careful record-keeping is important to ensure against audit troubles later on, of course.

Wish we had something like that in the tax code in New Zealand!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand