Category Archives: dog care

Bad teeth revealed as biggest problem for pet greyhounds

Dental disease is the most common health issue facing pet greyhounds, according to the largest ever study of greyhounds treated in first opinion veterinary clinics. The research, led by the Royal Veterinary College’s (RVC) VetCompass programme in collaboration with the University of Bristol Vet School, reveals that 39 per cent of greyhounds suffer from dental problems, which is a far higher percentage than for any other dog breed.

greyhound dental disease

As well as bad teeth, the research revealed that traumatic injuries, overgrown nails and osteoarthritis are also major concerns for pet greyhounds. Overgrown nails affected 11.1 per cent of greyhounds, wounds 6.2 per cent, osteoarthritis 4.6 per cent and claw injury 4.2 per cent.

Greyhounds in the UK are typically used for racing during their early lives, with an increasing number rehomed as pets after their racing careers are over. The results of this study, which is published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, adds significantly to evidence available for the debate on the welfare issues surrounding greyhound racing. It will also help breeders and regulators to prioritise activities to mitigate the worst of the harm to greyhounds from their racing careers, as well as help greyhound rehoming organisations advise adopters on optimal preventative care options.

Researchers studied 5,419 greyhounds seen by first opinion vets in 2016. Key findings include:

  • The most common disease in greyhounds was dental disease (39.0 per cent affected). This is much higher than reported for other larger breeds such as the German Shepherd Dog (4.1 per cent) or the Rottweiler (3.1 per cent);
  • Urinary incontinence was more common in female greyhounds (3.4 per cent) than males (0.4 per cent);
  • Aggression was more commonly reported in males (2.6 per cent) than females (one per cent);
  • The median lifespan for greyhounds is 11.4 years, compared to the 12 years previously reported for dogs overall;
  • The most common causes of death in greyhounds are cancer (21.5 per cent), collapse (14.3 per cent) and arthritis (7.8 per cent).

Dr Dan O’Neill, Veterinary Epidemiologist and VetCompassTM researcher at the RVC, who was the main author of the paper, said: “Pet greyhounds are now a common breed treated in general veterinary practices in the UK. Retired racing greyhounds can make very good pets, but these results sadly show that they also carry health legacies from inherent breed predispositions as well as impacts from their prior racing careers. These potential problems include bad teeth, behavioural issues and arthritis. Our new VetCompass evidence especially reveals a worryingly high level of dental disease. This awareness should encourage all those who care for the greyhound to prioritise preventive and remedial strategies for these issues and therefore to  improve the welfare of this lovely breed, both before and after rehoming as pets.”

Dr Nicola Rooney, co-author and lead researcher on Greyhound Welfare Project at the Bristol Veterinary School, added: “Greyhounds can make fantastic pets and live long healthy lives, but it has long been suspected that they are particularly prone to dental problems which can negatively impact upon their quality of life. Here we have the first evidence that levels of dental issues are higher in greyhounds than in other breeds. This highlights the importance of conducting research into ways of improving dental health.

“At Bristol we have been conducting a three-year research programme to further understand what causes dental problems in greyhounds and methods to avoid them. Combined with the current RVC study, this is an important step to understanding and improving the future welfare of greyhounds.”

Professor Steve Dean, Chairman of the Kennel Club Charitable Trust (KCCT), explained: “I must declare an interest in this study as my additional role as Chairman of the Greyhound Trust reveals my enthusiasm for this lovely breed. It will come as no surprise to those who love greyhounds that dental plaque is a significant condition in this breed. This latest study from the VetCompass initiative reveals the extent of the problem and should stimulate interest in further work to understand why periodontal disease is such an issue for both the racing dog and the retired greyhound. Effective research could also have a far reaching impact for several other breeds that suffer a similar challenge. The VetCompass programme has been helpful in revealing breed specific problems and this study is yet another informative analysis   of extensive clinical data. The Kennel Club Charitable Trust regards the financial support it provides as a successful investment in clinical research.”

Paper

Greyhounds under general veterinary care in the UK during 2016: demography and common disorders by O’Neill, D.G., Rooney, N.J., Brock, C., Church, D.B., Brodbelt, D.C. and Pegram, C. in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology [open access]

Source:  University of Bristol media statement

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It makes my tail wag when the poop is in the bag

A common problem for most communities is ensuring that dog parents take responsibility for their dog’s poop.

This brochure at the Town of Needham offices caught my eye…a plea to dog owners and walkers to bag it and trash it…

What initiatives does your town have to ensure poop is scooped?

Municipup says

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Pets are a priority when moving

Is it a case of the tail wagging the dog, or every dog having his day? However you define it, the cat is out of the bag when it comes to pet owners and moving into a new home.

A new survey from US company Mayflower reveals pet priorities are often equal to or more important than human-focused amenities when American dog and cat owners decide on new homes and communities.

african american man with labrador dog in new apartment with cardboard boxes

Overall, pet owners say one-third of their overall decision to move was related to their pet, and survey respondents cited willingness to pay significantly more and even forgo perks like shorter commutes and updated kitchens in favor of pet-friendly features.

The 2019 Mayflower Mover Insights Survey explored the process of moving or preparing to move with a pet, including just how much pets factor into choices about home and community features. According to the survey, cat and dog owners who have moved recently say their pet influenced which new home they chose by 39 percent and which new community they chose by 26 percent. Additionally:

  • Pet owners who plan to move say their pet will influence their choice of home by 48 percent and their choice of community by 33 percent.
  • Pet owners who are likely to move in the next five years are willing to pay an average of 32 percent more each month to get the pet-friendly features they want, such as a fenced-in yard and plenty of indoor space, as compared to their current monthly housing costs.
  • Kitchen vs. Canine: Half of future movers (50 percent) want an updated kitchen, and the other half (50 percent) prioritize a pet-friendly feature.
  • Pet vs. Place of Business: While nearly half (49 percent) of future movers want to live close to work, the other half (51 percent) prioritizes pet-friendly features in their new home.

Mayflower’s survey also found more than three-fourths of past movers and future movers with pets didn’t stay close or don’t plan to stay close to their current neighborhood or part of town when choosing their next home. Yet, more than two-thirds of past movers tried to stay close to their pet’s favorite human and furry friends, their favorite park and their vet. The pet-related decisions meant more than staying near their old neighborhood.

“In the last few years, we’ve heard more and more from our customers about the impact moving has on pets. With every move, we strive to ensure the process is smooth for both our customers and their animals by providing expertise, information and constant support,” said Eily Cummings, director of corporate communications, Mayflower.

Settling in: Stressful or smooth for Fido and Fluffy  

Pets may get the priority for perks when their humans relocate, but moving is still a stressful activity for dogs and cats. Mayflower’s survey also shed light on pets’ experiences during moves.

  • Half of pet owners (50 percent) reported their pets struggled to adjust to their new home – especially the feline friends. Nearly two-thirds of all cat owners say their cat had difficulty adjusting.
  • Prior to a move, almost half of pet owners (47 percent) sought information about moving with a pet, including researching online, talking with others who have moved with a pet or speaking with a vet.
  • To smooth the transition, eight in 10 pet owners gave their pet extra attention and showed them where things were in the new home.
  • Nearly half of all future owners (48 percent) will introduce their pet to the new home prior to moving in to minimize their dog and/or cat’s stress.
  • More than half of all survey respondents (53 percent) said their spouse/partner added or will add more stress to the move than their pet did.

However, there’s still good news for pet owners: more than nine in 10 owners say their pets adjusted to their new setting in less than a month. And, more than 90 percent of pet owners agree that wherever they and their pets are together is instantly home.

Survey Background and Methodology

TRUE Global Intelligence, the in-house research practice of FleishmanHillard, fielded an online survey of 2,904 American cat and/or dog owners who have moved with their pet(s) within the past five years or are likely to move with their pet(s) within the next five years. The survey was fielded between January 11 to January 20, 2019. Sampling was conducted to balance age, gender, and, for the nationwide sample, geographic region. Some questions were asked with a “Not Applicable” option. Those questions have been reported based on the total number for whom the question/item was applicable. To clarify the different experiences of cat and dog owners, statistics referencing cat and dog owners specifically include only those respondents with a dog(s) or a cat(s) and exclude respondents who own both.

Editor’s note: Additional survey data is available by request. If interested, please contact Bonnie Stack at 314-982-1730 or bonnie.stack@fleishman.com.

About Mayflower

Mayflower is America’s most recognized and trusted moving company. With headquarters in suburban St. Louis, Mayflower maintains a network of 300 affiliated agencies.

Source:  Mayflower Mover press release

Top reasons for using dog massage

I’m often asked why people should employ a professional dog massage therapist.

balanced_dog-0002

In the 10 years I’ve been in professional practice, these are always the top reasons:

Care for an older dog

The dog whose been the love of your life is slowing down, possibly with a diagnosis of arthritis and medication from the vet.  This is often when I get the call…

A change in behaviour

The dog is doing something it hasn’t before; the family doesn’t know why.  And possibly they’ve been to the vet about it or possibly they haven’t.  We always need to rule out a physical reason for the behaviour and once I’ve seen the dog for myself, I often give the owners a list of questions to ask the vet.

General health & wellbeing

I love these enquiries!  They are from owners who tell me that “there’s nothing wrong with their dog” and they want to keep it that way.  Can I come and have a look and work on a fitness programme for them?  My answer is always yes!

Recovery from injuries and/or surgery

A dog on crate rest or restricted exercise gets all jammed up.  And many will need an exercise and rehab program.  My rehab programs always include ideas for mental stimulation and enrichment – key concepts behind my Fear Free practice.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The essentials of sleep for dogs

What a great infographic about sleep and dogs.

Remember that our dogs need to sleep more than we do to get adequate rest because they enter REM sleep (deep sleep) less often.  Rest is important for the immune system and for recovery and inadequate rest can result in behavioral problems as well as other health problems.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

DogSleepInfographic

 

Responsible dog ownership

In the USA, it’s National Responsible Pet Ownership month (it’s also Pet Dental Health Month).  How can we explain what it means to be a responsible dog owner/guardian/parent?  There are 4 key areas to consider.

IMG_3297[1]

Choose the right dog at the right time

Making the decision to add a dog to your family is an important life choice.  If the dog needs tons of exercise like a Siberian Husky, and you live in a small apartment and work long hours, then probably not the best choice.  If you are about to start a new job, or are in a new relationship, as examples, then probably not the best timing because you can’t focus your time on integrating your dog into your household.   In New Zealand, there seems to be a lot of people who decide to move overseas; if this is a possibility for you then maybe bringing a dog into your life isn’t the right choice unless you are prepared to take the dog with you (which is an expensive exercise requiring a lot of planning and preparation).

A dog is a lifetime commitment.  Ask yourself – do you have what it takes for the next 10-15 years?

Invest in wellbeing – prevention is better than cure

Be prepared to spend money on things like regular vet checks and vaccinations.  Flea control is another cost that is often overlooked until there’s a problem and by then, the fleas are established in your carpets and causing problems.  Choose a high quality diet (“you are what you eat”) and feed only healthy treats.  Keep your dog fit and trim.

Also important is investing is your dog’s mental health.  Avoid behavior problems by working on training, having enriching activities and toys available in rotation, and regular exercise.  Dogs need sleep, too.  So think carefully about the need for commercial daycare.  For most dogs, these facilities tend to overstimulate dogs and can create other behavioral problems if the dogs is left in these situations every day of the week.

As a professional canine massage therapist, I highly recommend massage as a technique for wellbeing and not just rehabilitation after injuries because it helps relax the dog and keeps their bodies moving efficiently.  It can also identify suspect lumps/bumps early so they can be checked by the vet.  Spend the money for a regular professional massage or take a class to learn basic massage which you can do yourself.

Compliance – obey the law

Licensing costs and leash laws are commonplace.  Cleaning up your dog’s poos is expected. We can all do our part by complying with local regulations.

Carry ID

In New Zealand, microchipping is mandatory.  It’s also advisable to have an identification tag on your dog’s collar with your phone number.  In 2011, when we experienced our large earthquake in Christchurch, many dogs went missing.  Those that had microchips registered on the national database and/or had identification tags found their way back to their families much faster.  Some never made it home.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

 

Positive ageing (no one I know is getting any younger and that includes your dog)

I have wanted to write this blog post for a while.

The motivation behind this post rests squarely with the contents I have been reading on some Facebook groups I belong to.  There are consistently posts which say:

  • My dog is slowing down, is this arthritis?
  • She pulled up lame today.  What should I do?
  • I can’t take him out with us on walks anymore; he’s too slow.
  • I’m gonna take her to the vet, but I thought I’d ask for advice here…

So let’s get this straight – what my mother always said holds true for our dogs as well as us – no one I know is getting any younger.

Stan positive ageing

Stan having a snooze. Rest is important for recovery and older dogs will sleep more.

The basic principles of well being are the same for us and our dogs.  It’s called positive ageing – and to look out for ourselves we need:

  • good nutrition
  • exercise that is appropriate for our physical condition
  • rest
  • social interaction and stimulation
  • safety and security
  • medical care

We can’t be rehabilitated out of old age and neither can our dogs.  We can, however, facilitate a long and happy life by managing all of the basic principles.  We’re responsible for taking care of ourselves and, if you’ve chosen to have a dog in your life, you’ve made a commitment to care for them for their lifetime as well and so you need to look out for age-related changes and adjust your dog’s lifestyle and routines.

Case study – Stan

The picture above is Stan, who is now aged 10+.  I first met him when his Mum joined one of my massage workshops for dog owners almost 3 years ago.  She then brought me in to work with him directly because he was stiff and would occasionally limp.

We’ve worked as a team on things like weight loss, making good food choices and adding fresh ingredients, supplementation, and things to ask the vet during consults.

Unfortunately, Stan ruptured a cruciate ligament in 2017 when playing on wet grass and then (as the textbooks suggest), he also ruptured the ligament on the other leg earlier this year.  But his Mum has managed through it all and has kept up with exercises for rehab and committed to his diet and supplement regime.

Stan benefits from having a family member care for him when Mum is at work – so no noisy day cares for Stan which also helps him rest.

His Mum told me today that she looks back on the last couple of years and it has been a challenge (in many ways – including financial) to manage ‘one surgery after another’ but because Stan is happy, she knows she’s done the right thing for him.

Positive Ageing.  Are you ready to give your dog what he/she needs?

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand