There is no such thing as too many collars

Little things matter in these tough isolation times.  Today, Izzy’s new collar arrived from Collaration Martingales

Well of course we had to fit it and then, what’s a girl to do?  Go out in for walks in your pram to show it off!

I don’t recommend collars for walking (Izzy wear’s a harness which is not visible in the video).  When walked in collars, there is a high risk of pulling and pressure which can cause trachea injuries and neck strain.  Many older dogs I work with have issues in their necks from long-standing walking and pulling on a dog collar.

I also do not support the use of prong, citronella, and shock collars.  All of these are aversives and are not Fear-Free.

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

The origin of feces (aka shit happens)

The archaeological record is littered with feces, a potential goldmine for insights into ancient health and diet, parasite evolution, and the ecology and evolution of the microbiome. The main problem for researchers is determining whose feces is under examination. A recent study published in the journal PeerJ, led by Maxime Borry and Christina Warinner of Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History (MPI-SHH), presents “CoproID: a reliable method of inferring sources of paleofeces.”

After thousands of years, the source of a particular piece of feces can be difficult to determine. Distinguishing human and dog feces is particularly difficult: they are similar in size and shape, occur at the same archaeological sites, and have similar compositions. In addition, dogs were on the menu for many ancient societies, and our canine friends have a tendency to scavenge on human feces, thus making simple genetic tests problematic, as such analyses can return DNA from both species.

Shit happens

H35 (Ash pit number 35) coprolites from Xiaosungang archaeological site, Anhui Province, China © Jada Ko, Courtesy of the Anhui Provincial Institute of Cultural Relics and Archaeology

In order to access the insights contained within paleofeces, the researchers developed coproID (coprolite identification). The method combines analysis of ancient host DNA with a machine learning software trained on the microbiomes within modern feces. Applying coproID to both newly sequenced and previously published datasets, the team of researchers from the MPI-SHH, Harvard University, and the University of Oklahoma were able to reliably predict the sources of ancient feces, showing that a combination of host DNA and the distinct colonies of microbes living inside humans and dogs allow their feces to be accurately distinguished.

Classification capability provides insights into digestive health

“One unexpected finding of our study is the realization that the archaeological record is full of dog poop,” says Professor Christina Warinner, senior author of the study. But Warinner also expects coproID to have broader applications, especially in the fields of forensics, ecology, and microbiome sciences.

The ability to accurately identify the source of archaeological feces enables the direct investigation of changes in the structure and function of the human gut microbiome throughout time, which researchers hope will provide insights into food intolerances and a host of other issues in human health. “Identifying human coprolites should be the first step for ancient human microbiome analysis,” says the study’s first author, Maxime Borry.

“With additional data about the gut metagenomes of non-Westernized rural dogs, we’ll be better able to classify even more ancient dog feces as in fact being canine, as opposed to ‘uncertain,’” Borry adds. As the catalog of human and dog microbiome data grows, coproID will continue to improve its classifications and better aid researchers that encounter paleofeces in a range of geographic and historical contexts.

Source:  Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 7 – making adjustments to your home

Thanks to Covid-19, a lot of us are spending a lot more time at home.  This is the perfect time to assess your home and to address the adjustments you should make for an aging dog.

Arthritis management diagram with 5 rungs

Think of the older people you’ve had in your life.  Perhaps Grandma or Grandpa.

Older people may not be able to handle steps as well as they used to, and because they are not as agile on their feet with reduced reflexes, they are more susceptible to slips, trips and falls when navigating obstacles.

The same is true for dogs.

Polished wood, tiles, and linoleum are all slippery surfaces.  You don’t want your dog to lose its footing ever – it only takes one slip to cause an injury.  Non-slip rugs and floor coverings can work wonders to protect your dog before an accident happens.

Stairs and steps are always dangerous surfaces for dogs – even a healthy dog can have an accident on these surfaces.  If you do not have a workaround for your dog using steps (such as going in and out of another door), add non-slip treads in rubber or carpet tiles to the stairs and supervise your dog when going up and down whenever possible.  A harness helps greatly with this.

One of the areas I feel is overlooked when making home adjustments is the possible loss of your dog’s eyesight and the need for better lighting.  Eyesight, particularly during nighttime, can diminish in older dogs.

I had personal experience of this with my English Pointer, Daisy.  I noticed that she was becoming reluctant to go outside at night (where we had 2 steps leading down to our walk and yard).  When I’d flip on the light, she was happy again.  I was concerned not just that she could slip/trip on the steps, but also that she may not be able to navigate our garden and could bump into a bush, damage her eyes, etc.English Pointer with Puplight  I could have installed several floodlights to light up the section (but somehow, I didn’t think this was an economical option and one that may also not please the neighbors).

While not a home adjustment per se, I chose a PupLight – a lighted dog collar that I could clip on before sending her out in the dark.  Although marketed as a safety feature for walking dogs at night, the PupLight was ideal in lighting her way ahead of her.

Here’s an example of why I chose the ladder for my diagram on managing older dogs. 

Remember that I said we can go up and down the management steps as we need to?

Well, I had clients with an elderly Golden Retriever.  They initially made adjustments to their home which worked well for a few months.  But then their dog’s mobility got worse.  They were living in a modern two-storey townhouse and all the bedrooms were upstairs with a winding staircase which had a landing halfway up.

Their solution?  Time for another home adjustment.  Only this time they moved their own queen-sized bed into the lounge downstairs and placed their mattress directly onto the floor to reduce its height.

Their elderly Golden Retriever could still sleep with them in bed and navigate ‘jumping’ into bed with them safely!

Got questions about this post?  Please feel free to post a message or contact me through my practice, The Balanced Dog.

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

The best isolation companion ever

I have been a lover of dogs since, well, forever.  And now that we’re in lock down thanks to Covid-19, who better to have as your isolation companion than a dog?

IMG_5118[1]

Companions are those that we choose to spend a lot of time with and, in isolation, mental and physical health can be hard to maintain.  But dogs get us out for walks every day (and sometimes more than once a day – I think twice is better) and research has proven that for mental health – a loyal dog is one of the best supports you can have.

Through the simple act of running you hands through their fur, watching them play, or grooming them, your blood pressure lowers and oxytocin (the hugging hormone) is released. Dogs are experts at unconditional love – even when you’re a bit stressed or depressed at being isolated from your normal life.

Dogs are just plain good for the mental health of their human companions.

Consider that we’ve been locked down for 2 weeks….

  • Izzy and I haven’t fought once
  • We don’t compete for internet access or the television
  • I have more time to cook for Izzy and she’s quite happy about that
  • Our walks are longer, with no time pressures
  • Cuddling in bed is taking on a whole new importance for both of us, particularly as we are back on standard time and having cooler nights
  • Every day – or at least part of it when I’m not working – is a weekend

I hope that one of the lessons we learn from Covid-19 is the importance of pets and that all dog parents will continue to set aside quality time with their dogs.  And for those non-dog people, some of whom are probably going to be divorced this time next year, I highly recommend a dog.

In isolation or not – they are the best companion you will ever have!

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

Dogs can experience hearing loss

Just like humans, dogs are sometimes born with impaired hearing or experience hearing loss as a result of disease, inflammation, aging or exposure to noise. Dog owners and K-9 handlers ought to keep this in mind when adopting or caring for dogs, and when bringing them into noisy environments, says Dr. Kari Foss, a veterinary neurologist and professor of veterinary clinical medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

hearing loss dog

This puppy does not respond to audible cues unless it can see the person giving them. The puppy’s assessment includes Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response testing, which independently evaluates hearing in each ear. The painless procedure can be done on dogs when they are awake, sedated or anesthetized. Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

In a new report in the journal Topics in Companion Animal Medicine, Foss and her colleagues describe cases of hearing loss in three working dogs: a gun dog, a sniffer dog and a police dog. One of the three had permanent hearing loss, one responded to treatment and the third did not return to the facility where it was originally diagnosed for follow-up care.

The case studies demonstrate that those who work with police or hunting dogs “should be aware of a dog’s proximity to gunfire and potentially consider hearing protection,” Foss said. Several types of hearing protection for dogs are available commercially.

Just as in humans, loud noises can harm the delicate structures of a dog’s middle and inner ear.

“Most commonly, noise-induced hearing loss results from damage to the hair cells in the cochlea that vibrate in response to sound waves,” Foss said. “However, extreme noise may also damage the eardrum and the small bones within the inner ear, called the ossicles.”

Pet owners or dog handlers tend to notice when an animal stops responding to sounds or commands. However, it is easy to miss the signs, especially in dogs with one or more canine companions, Foss said.

“In puppies with congenital deafness, signs may not be noticed until the puppy is removed from the litter,” she said.

Signs of hearing loss in dogs include failing to respond when called, sleeping through sounds that normally would rouse them, startling at loud noises that previously didn’t bother them, barking excessively or making unusual vocal sounds, Foss said. Dogs with deafness in one ear might respond to commands but could have difficulty locating the source of a sound.

Owners think their pet is experiencing hearing loss should have the animal assessed by a veterinarian, Foss said. Hearing loss that stems from ear infections, inflammation or polyps in the middle ear can be treated and, in many cases, resolved.

Hearing-impaired or deaf dogs may miss clues about potential threats in their surroundings, Foss said.

Doggy quote of the month for April

The journey of life

So appropriate for these Covid-19 isolation times…

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

The Online Dog Trivia Quiz

Dog Trivia Challenge for Facebook

We’re supporting our customers with dog-themed entertainment during the country’s Covid-19 shutdown.

Join us at 4 pm on Sunday, 5th April (NZ time) for our dog trivia challenge – think of it as a pub quiz without the pub! (you supply the drinks and snacks at your place)

Upon registration, we’ll send you a link to join the quiz using Zoom.  You don’t need a Zoom account to participate.  Simply follow the Zoom link that is emailed to you and you will be prompted to download and install Zoom when you click the join link in the email.  It’s always wise to try this before the quiz starts.

The purpose of this quiz is to have fun.  Write down your answers to each question and we’ll email the answers out after the quiz has finished so you can check and share your score.

We’ll draw one name at random from everyone who registers and that person will receive a prize pack of our dog treats worth $30 – we’ll ensure delivery after the lockdown is over!

***Only New Zealand residents qualify to win the prize pack but we would welcome participation from our overseas followers***

Book your place on the quiz here

 

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