Category Archives: Dogs

Doggy quote of the month for October

“Dogs are my favorite role models. I want to work like a dog, doing what I was born to do with joy and purpose. I want to play like a dog, with total, jolly abandon. I want to love like a dog, with unabashed devotion and complete lack of concern about what people do for a living, how much money they have, or how much they weigh. The fact that we still live with dogs, even when we don’t have to herd or hunt our dinner, gives me hope for humans and canines alike.”

– Oprah Winfrey, actress, writer, talk show host, philanthropist

oprah-winfrey-with-dogs

Scientists test nanoparticle drug delivery in dogs with osteosarcoma

At the University of Illinois, an engineer teamed up with a veterinarian to test a bone cancer drug delivery system in animals bigger than the standard animal model, the mouse. They chose dogs – mammals closer in size and biology to humans – with naturally occurring bone cancers, which also are a lot like human bone tumors.

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Dogs with naturally occurring cancers are more similar in size and biology to humans than are other mammals, such as mice. Public domain photo: Wikimedia Commons

In clinical trials, the dogs tolerated the highest planned doses of cancer-drug-laden nanoparticles with no signs of toxicity. As in mice, the particles homed in on tumor sites, thanks to a coating of the drug pamidronate, which preferentially binds to degraded sites in bone. The nanoparticles also showed anti-cancer activity in mice and dogs.

The researchers report their results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

These findings are a proof-of-concept that nanoparticles can be used to target bone cancers in large mammals, the researchers said. The approach may one day be used to treat metastatic skeletal cancers, they said.

The dogs were companion animals with bone cancer that were submitted for the research trials by their owners, said U. of I.  Professor Dr Timothy Fan, who led the study with materials science and engineering Professor Jianjun Cheng.  All of the dogs were 40 to 60 kilograms (88 to 132 pounds) in weight, he said.

“We wanted to see if we could evaluate these drug-delivery strategies, not only in a mouse model, but also at a scale that would mimic what a person would get,” Fan said. “The amount of nanoparticle that we ended up giving to these dogs was a thousand-fold greater in quantity than what we would typically give a mouse.”

Using nanoparticles with payloads of drugs to target specific tissues in the body is nothing new, Cheng said. Countless studies test such approaches in mice, and dozens of “nanopharmaceuticals” are approved for use in humans. But the drug-development pipeline is long, and the leap from mouse models to humans is problematic, he said.

“Human bone tumors are much bigger than those of mice,” Cheng said. “Nanoparticles must penetrate more deeply into larger tumors to be effective. That is why we must find animal models that are closer in scale to those of humans.”

Mice used in cancer research have other limitations. Researchers usually inject human or other tumor cells into their bodies to mimic human cancers, Fan said. They also are bred to have compromised immune systems, to prevent them from rejecting the tumors.

“That is one of the very clear drawbacks of using a mouse model,” Fan said. “it doesn’t recapitulate the normal immune system that we deal with every day in the person or in a dog.”

There also are limitations to working with dogs, he said. Dogs diagnosed with bone cancer often arrive at the clinic at a very advanced stage of the disease, whereas in humans, bone cancer is usually detected early because people complain about the pain and have it investigated.

“On the flip side of that, I would say that if you are able to demonstrate anti-cancer activity in a dog with very advanced disease, then it would be likely that you would have equivalent or better activity in people with a less advanced stage of the disease,” Fan said.

Many more years of work remain before this or a similar drug-delivery system can be tested in humans with inoperable bone cancer, the researchers said.

Source:  Illinois News Bureau media release

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

When a neighbour complains…

In my practice, I have met a few owners who have received complaints about their dog’s excessive barking.  Unlike the note seen below, most complaints in Christchurch seem to be made by people to Animal Control, which instigates a visit by an officer to your home.

your-dog-has-been-barking

It’s natural that a complaint will put you into a defensive mode, but being in that frame of mind often means you don’t handle the situation as well as you should.

Here’s my advice on how to constructively approach a barking dog complaint.

Be Considerate and Listen

Don’t get angry.

If a neighbour complains to you directly, listen to what they have to say.  Ask questions about the time of day that the dog is barking, length of time the barking lasts for, and understand the location of your section and proximity to the neighbour.

If the Animal Control Officer pays you a visit, pay attention to what they are saying and the steps they want you to take.  Don’t feel intimidated because they are a Council officer – ask questions to understand the scope of the complaint, and how much time you have to respond.

Be Empathetic

Put yourself in the position of your neighbour and show some empathy for their stress.  Particularly if you have a neighbour complain to your directly, try to build a bridge from the complaint to ways to solve the problem so both of you can remain happy.

Investigate

Ask your neighbour to keep a log book of the barking (I know that one of my clients had an Animal Control officer ask for this).  Make random visits to your home at off-hours to see if you can hear your dog barking.  To make this effective, park your car a couple of blocks away and walk to your property – your dog knows the sound of your car!

Check all of your fencing for security.  If your dog is being visually stimulated by activity over the fence, find ways to cover and reduce the gaps in your fence.

Keep Documentation – You Can Still Be Cooperative While Defending Yourself

I’ve seen situations where a neighbour is hard to satisfy and perhaps ultra-sensitive to barking.  When this has been the case, I’ve suggested that the owner take their dog to a day care centre on random dates.  When compared to their neighbour’s barking diary,  they can show that their dog was not on the property that day.  (This can be a very powerful defense in dealing with the Council.)

It may pay to seek the support of either an animal behaviourist or a dog trainer (there is a difference in scope of practice).  If you hire professional expertise, then provide receipts and a report to show along with any other evidence of what you have done to help decrease  your dog’s barking.

If you’ve reinforced your fencing to reduce your dog’s visual stimulation – take photos before/after.

dogs-at-fenc

The Animal Control section has the option of installing bark recorders, which can help you track the problem.  They can confirm (or not) the extent of the barking to validate a complaint.

The good news is that most barking complaints can be resolved, through management of your dog’s environment, focusing on the problem, and being constructive.

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

Children are unaware of the risks of approaching frightened dogs

Children understand the risks of approaching an angry dog but they are unaware that they should show the same caution around frightened dogs says a study presented to the British Psychological Society’s Developmental Psychology Section’s annual conference this week.

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Lead researcher Dr Sarah Rose of Staffordshire University said: “UK statistics show that young children are at the highest risk of being bitten by a dog with nearly 1200 admissions to hospital for under 10’s during 2013-2014. This study explored whether the explanation is that they are unable to accurately recognise a dog’s emotions when approaching one.”

Dr Rose and Grace Alridge (also of Staffordshire University) asked two groups of children aged 4 to 5 (57) and 6 to 7 years old (61) to watch 15 videos and look at 15 images showing real life behaviour of dogs.  Video clips were all between 6 and 11 seconds long and the only auditory information was the dog barking. The images and videos used had been watched by two veterinary nurses and two laypeople who had agreed on the emotion the dog was showing.

Both groups were asked questions relating to their intention to approach the dog (Would you play with this dog?) and what emotion they thought the dog was experiencing (How happy/angry/frightened do you think this dog is feeling?).

Analysis of the results showed that the children recognised happy, angry and frightened dogs in videos and images at above the level of chance. Furthermore, they recognised angry dogs more accurately than happy or frightened dogs.

However, although the children were less likely to approach an angry dog there was no difference in their inclination to approach a happy or frightened dog.

Dr Rose said: “Young children are relatively good at accurately identifying the emotion that a dog is displaying. However, children’s understanding of safety around dogs is lacking as they only demonstrated caution about approaching angry dogs. They appeared to be unaware that there might be problems approaching frightened dogs. This finding should help inform dog bite prevention campaigns.” 

Source:  The British Psychological Society media release

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

Diggy the dog – a BSL success story

Imagine falling in love with a dog at a shelter, bringing him home, and then because he’s a Facebook success having authorities deem him unacceptable because of his breed.

That’s what happened to Diggy and his adoptive owner, Dan Tillery from Waterford Township in Michigan.

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Diggy was labelled a pit bull and Dan was charged with a code violation for owning a banned breed.

But Diggy wasn’t a pit bull and Dan had veterinarians willing to testify to his breed.  In the intervening time, bills were introduced so local communities couldn’t introduce BSL ordinances and 100,000 people signed petitions on Diggy’s behalf.

The court dropped the charges once the signed affidavits of the veterinarians were entered into evidence.

Breed specific legislation doesn’t work.  And in Diggy’s case, he was identified solely based on appearance – which is fraught with difficulties since so many dogs can appear to be one breed but are, in fact, a mixed breed or a different breed altogether.

I’m just glad that Diggy and Dan are allowed to remain a family.

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

Source:  Boston.com

Choosing dog chews

Celebrated veterinarian Dr Marty Becker has a good rule of thumb when it comes to choosing chews for your dog:  whack your knee with it and, if it hurts, then the chew is too hard.

knee

So a pig’s ear is okay.pigs-ear

But a deer antler isn’t. deer-antler

Beef tendons – okay. beef-tendon

knuckle-bone Knuckle bones – not so much.

And add to the rule, never – EVER, rawhide.  These treats often come from dubious sources with a risk of poisoning on top of the very real risk associated with intestinal blockages and choking.

rawhide

Many of these recommendations contradict long-standing traditions in terms of dog chews.  Knuckle bones and rawhide were regularly given to my dogs when I was growing up.

We now have a greater body of evidence about dental health care in our dogs.  Fractured and rotting teeth often result from chewing on items that are excessively hard and unforgiving.

With all treats, it pays to read the label for country of origin labeling and ensure you are buying from a trustworthy source.

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

 

Southwest Airlines teams up with Canine Companions

Southwest Airlines has committed its support to Canine Companions for Independence by allowing volunteer puppy raisers and their puppies to travel at no additional charge (a savings of $95 per puppy per trip).

The company has instituted this benefit as a standard policy after a very successful six-month trial.  The puppy raisers were professional and the puppies were well-behaved.

The puppies gain valuable experience with commercial flying even before they are fully trained and graduate.  So the Airline is supporting the Canine Companions’ training program with practical skills.

Founded in 1975, CCI is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly-trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. CCI is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. CCI trains four types of assistance dogs: Service dogs, Hearing dogs, Skilled Companion dogs, and Facility dogs—all of which provide specialized assistance to those in need.

Well done to Southwest Airlines!

Puppy raisers pre-board each aircraft at the same time that passengers with disabilities are given the opportunity to board.  The dogs must have a valid vaccination record and CCI identification must also be produced.

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Source:  The Companion, Northeast Region, Summer 2016

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