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

What I learned from the Canterbury earthquake that is relevant to Covid-19

I consider myself to be resilient and adaptable.  In 1994 I moved to New Zealand on a great adventure.  Within weeks of my arrival, we were in the midst of the Auckland Water Crisis.  In 1998, there was the 5-week Auckland Power Crisis which I remember because I worked in a multi-story building and had to walk up internal access stairs, in the hot summer months with no air, as an asthmatic.

These crises were nothing compared to the February 2011 earthquake in Canterbury, a shallow earthquake of 6.2 magnitude that hit us at lunchtime on a working day with multiple deaths and two collapsed buildings.  Most of the central city was evacuated and closed down and my office was included (eventually to be demolished like many others).  We were home for many weeks, although we could socialise.  But we had water restrictions, the constant interruptions of aftershocks on our frayed nerves, and the uncertainty about our work and future.

Tonight, at midnight, New Zealand goes into mandatory isolation for a minimum of four weeks.  I am again at home.  My canine companion is Izzy, whereas back in 2011 it was my dear Daisy.

Daisy birthday portrait

Daisy

For those of us self-isolating with dogs, here’s what I learned from 2011 that is equally important now.

  1. Your dog loves having you at home.  However, most dogs sleep for the better portion of the day.  So don’t keep going over and cuddling them at every opportunity because this wakes them from deep sleep and the lack of sleep can affect their health.  Leave them be!
  2. Your stress is their stress.  Dogs are intuitive and sentient creatures.  They know something’s up.  Develop a new routine that gives both of you structure to your day and certainty.  Dogs thrive on routine.
  3. Exercise is useful for managing stress in both dogs and people.  That said, please remember that most dogs cannot cope with a sudden increase in their daily exercise.  Increase activity slowly. Many older dogs won’t cope at all.  Be watchful for signs of discomfort or pain (see my post from the aging dogs series about recognising pain and discomfort)
  4. Live in the moment, as our dogs do.  Accept the lockdown because you cannot change it.
  5. Shit happens
  6. We will survive (and thrive) – this is just a temporary glitch

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

 

Warmth works wonders

Spot with wheat bag

This is Spot, an ex-racing greyhound who is a regular client for massage and laser therapy.  Today as part of his session I used a wheat bag (warmed in the microwave) to help warm the muscles in his hind legs; by initially warming the muscles, I was able to massage Spot more deeply in these congested areas  without causing discomfort.

Why do we use a hot pack/warm compress/hot water bottle/wheat bag?

Warmth stimulates blood vessels to dilate to help blood flow to an area which is why it is quite helpful for people and animals who have arthritis.

Warmth also helps muscles to relax and, on a chilly morning like today, warmth is generally comforting (which is why in the above photo the bag is resting on Spot’s side.  I had finished using the wheat bag on his hind legs but left it on his rib cage because he was enjoying the weight and warmth of the bag).

Warmth should never be used in the acute phase of an injury, when there is swelling, redness or pain because warmth will exacerbate the inflammation.

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

New Research Unpicks Root Causes of Separation Anxiety in Dogs

Separation anxiety in dogs should be seen as a symptom of underlying frustrations rather than a diagnosis, and understanding these root causes could be key to effective treatment, new research by animal behaviour specialists suggests.

Separation anxiety photo

Many pet owners experience problem behaviour in their dogs when leaving them at home. These behaviours can include destruction of household items, urinating or defecating indoors, or excessive barking and are often labelled as ‘separation anxiety’ as the dog gets anxious at the prospect of being left alone.

Treatment plans tend to focus on helping the dog overcome the ‘pain of separation’, but the current work indicates dealing with various forms of frustration is a much more important element of the problem.

Animal behaviour researchers have now identified four key forms of separation anxiety, and suggest that animal behaviourists should consider these underlying reasons as the issue that needs treating, and not view ‘separation anxiety’ as a diagnosis.

The team, led by scientists from the University of Lincoln, UK, identified four main forms of distress for dogs when separated from their owners. These include a focus on getting away from something in the house, wanting to get to something outside, reacting to external noises or events, and a form of boredom.

More than 2,700 dogs representing over 100 breeds were included in the study.

Daniel Mills, Professor of Veterinary Behavioural Medicine in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: ´Until now, there has been a tendency to think of this as a single condition, ie ´My dog has got separation anxiety¡ and then to focus on the dependence on the owner and how to make them more independent. However, this new work indicates that having separation anxiety is more like saying ´My dog’s got an upset tummy which could have many causes and take many forms, and so both assessment and treatment need to be much more focussed.

´If your dog makes themselves ill by chewing something it shouldn’t, you would need to treat it very differently to if it has picked up an infection. One problem might need surgery and the other antibiotics.

´Labelling the problem of the dog who is being destructive, urinating or defecating indoors or vocalising when left alone as separation anxiety is not very helpful. It is the start of the diagnostic process, not the end. Our new research suggests that frustration in its various forms is very much at the heart of the problem and we need to understand this variety if we hope to offer better treatments for dogs.

The new study, published in the academic journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, highlights how different emotional states combine to produce problem behaviours in dogs. Although it is first triggered by the owner’s departure, the unwanted behaviour arises because of a combination of risk factors that may include elements of the dog’s temperament, the type of relationship it has with the owner and how the two of them interact.

The research team will soon be building on the latest study to examine in greater detail the influence the dog-owner relationship has on problem behaviours triggered by separation. It is hoped the research will open up new, more specific treatment programmes for owners.

Source:  University of Lincoln

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 6 – modifying exercise

The 4th rung of our ladder is about modifying exercise. This particular aspect is easy to explain, but many owners find it a challenge to put into practice because they build a routine of dog walking or perhaps ball chasing as their dog’s sole form of exercise.

And as I discussed in Part One of this series, our dog’s age often creeps up on us because they are aging faster than we are.

Arthritis management diagram with 4 rungs

An older dog needs age-appropriate exercise based on their physical ability.  A dog that walked for 10 kms when it was aged four may not be able to cope at aged eight, nine, ten, or more (every dog is different).

But, our dogs love us and so many will continue walking to the point of collapse which is what happened here in 2016 to a 12-year old Huntaway.   In this case, the dog was taken on a steep hill track with, no doubt, the best of intentions. She walked until she could walk no farther, collapsing and spending the night in the freezing cold until she could be rescued.

The duration of a walk is just as important as its intensity.  A walk in soft sand at the beach or hill walks are much more intense that an amble around your neighborhood on flat ground.

I often ask clients to monitor the amount of exercise their dog is getting by recording both the amount of time they spend out and also distance walked.   (A Fitbit or other fitness tracking device can be used for this).  Because I practice in-home, I usually get a good understanding of the local area where the dog is often taken for its walks.

Just because your dog wants to chase the ball, or run, or walk for hours, doesn’t mean he/she should.  It’s our responsibility to moderate their exercise – even if that means that we can no longer run with the dog that has run with us for years.

Replacing high impact exercise with brain games – foraging for kibble in the yard, as an example – presents an aging dog with the chance to weight shift and walk at a pace that suits them and on familiar ground.  If they get tired, they can rest easily.

Sometimes, it’s as easy as alternating a day with a longer walk, and then maybe only short toilet walks – or no walk – the following day.

In Izzy’s case, we are dealing primarily with corns in her right front paw that are aggravating arthritis in her carpus (wrist).  There have been days when she tells me (by refusing to go out the front door), that she doesn’t want to walk.   We often get in our morning walk with no issues.  But her afternoon walk can be variable.  There are days where we have no issues.  On some days, though, she will start out with a happy gait and no lameness and then she’ll start to slow up, sometimes I’ll notice a small trip or scraping of the nails or she will be walking with her head held low – a sign she is tiring.

That’s when we use her pram so she can continue with sights and smells, but with no walking.  The ultimate in modified exercise!

Izzy greyhound in pram stroller

The biggest hurdle I often face is owners who just don’t seem willing or able to modify their daily routines to accommodate their dog’s changing needs.  It’s part of our lifetime responsibility.  Be flexible.  Be resilient.  Be kind.

If your feet were hurting, you’d want to slow down – wouldn’t you?

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

Goodbye, Dumpling

DumplingIt is with almost unbearable sadness that I must share with you that we lost our beautiful soul Dumpling today.  She took a bad turn the past few days which turned out to be the result of a large mass in her abdomen.  At age 17+ we simply could not put her through any more testing and surgery.

When my wife first saw her picture on the Best Friends website, she fell in love immediately.  It was our hope that we could give a 10-year-old dog that was missing most of her teeth, had eye problems and was going through a second heart worm regimen, a couple of years enjoying the life every dog deserves.  It is our dream that she thrived for more than seven years because she was so happy here.

We know that the heartache will subside and are comforted in the knowledge that the joy and love she gave us will live with us forever.  So please give all those close to you an extra hug today, be they human, canine, feline or all manner of G-d’s creations.  Do it for you, do it for them, and today do it for Dumpling.

Kathleen thank you for always keeping her in your thoughts.  Give Izzy a hug from us.

Stuart 



In May 2012 during my first working visit to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah, I fell in love with Dumpling, a dog that had her fair share of health problems and hard times.  Because I lived in New Zealand, I was unable to adopt her.  I knew from the adoption website that Dumpling had been adopted and when I returned to the sanctuary the following year, I asked if the adoption staff would pass on my details to her new family so I could find out about her.

Thankfully, Stuart was happy to write to me with Dumpling updates; typically I would have an annual update each Christmas with a photo.  The family vet estimated her to be 10 when adopted.  During the course of her life with Stuart, she had to have an eye removed from a recurring infection but still loved to go for walks and take long naps during the day.

Yesterday, I got the email I knew was likely to come – Dumpling has passed.  But she proved something that is very important – rescue dogs are not their history – they are what they become in a loving home.  Dumpling recovered from heartworm and became a member of the family.  She was no longer the down-and-out dog found in a Texas landfill next to the bodies of her dead puppies.

I am very grateful that Stuart and his family were able to give her a long and happy life post-adoption and for their kindness in keeping me updated about her.

July 2013

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

 

Beyond Izzy’s pram (managing dogs through to old age) Part 5 – Supplements

The third rung of our ladder is Food & Supplements.  As promised, this post is dedicated exclusively to supplements (I discussed Food in part 4).  Brace yourself – this is another long post and I am not promising to cover the range of supplements available, either.  These are some that I have personal experience with and I will explain my rationale for using them so you understand my principles for supplement use.

Arthritis management diagram 3rd rung

Supplements are a huge industry in both human and animal care and they earn a lot of money for the manufacturers that sell them.  And for the most part, the industry is unregulated which means that, while we can buy them easily, there aren’t standards of manufacture and they can reach the shelves with little if any study as to their effectiveness.

That said, for many generations people had to rely on non-drug solutions to healthcare before there was such a thing as a pharmaceutical industry.  And the structure of clinical trials is a modern medicine concept.  I keep an open mind about natural remedies – and doing one’s homework is the best way to make good choices. (I have also found that the same people who claim that research paid for by manufacturers is dubious also endorse prescription dog foods that are also backed up by self-funded industry research – go figure!)

If you remember nothing else from this post, please remember these 4 key points:

  1. Supplements are not drugs.  You aren’t going to see an effect after a single dosage and most need time to build up in the system.  For this reason, they are solutions for the longer term and not a solution for a dog that is severely lame or in pain.
  2. Supplement for a reason.   This is explained  in more detail later.
  3. Implement one change at a time.  I see a lot of dog parents who are in crisis mode.  Their dog has had a fall, surgery or has experienced lameness and they throw everything but the kitchen sink at them at once.  How do you know what is working and what isn’t?
  4. Tell your vet what supplements you are using so they are on your dog’s medical records.  If your vet is going to prescribe medication, they should know everything your dog is eating and taking as supplements to be sure there are no adverse interactions.  If your vet doesn’t agree with you about using a supplement but on other grounds than ‘doing harm’, it’s still your choice as your dog’s guardian about whether or not to continue using them.
Let’s get the CBD thing out of the way first

CBD (cannabidiol) has only begun to be tested on animals.  But it is in lots of products and supplements – at last year’s Global Pet Expo and other trade shows – it was CBD that was all the rage.  A huge market with lots of money changing hands seemed to spring up overnight.

In New Zealand, “tetrahydrocannabinols, the chemicals in hemp which include THC, cannabidiol (CBD), and related compounds, and any preparation or plant containing them, are classed by the Ministry of Health as controlled drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975. Under the ACVM Act, controlled drugs and anything containing them must only be given to or fed to animals after registration under the ACVM Act. When products are registered, MPI applies strict controls and conditions of sale and use.”  (Source:  Ministry of Primary Industries)

My natural health colleagues in the USA have expressed concern about CBD products and how they may interact with other medications that pets may be taking (compounded by the fact that many pet parents are reluctant to disclose to their vet that they are using a CBD product).  And others are concerned not so much by the CBD ingredient itself but because of the quality of the carriers and flavourings used in the CBD products.

I know there are CBD products being given to dogs in NZ on the quiet – clients have asked me about products they’ve seen in local health shops and ‘green expos’ and a rumour that some pet parents are making it themselves.

I’m taking a wait-and-see approach to CBD.  And I’m following the research with interest!

So earlier I said that we should supplement for a reason.  I knew Izzy was an ex-racer who would have experienced a lot of stress on her joints during her professional career.  So I started her almost immediately after adoption (around age 6) on glucosamine and chondroitin.  These were to support her cartilage matrix and she continues on them to this day.  My choice to start supplementation was based on her history and my assumption (rightly) that she would likely develop arthritis.

Glucosamine and chondroitin through studies have shown a chondroprotective effect.  Chondroprotectives are “specific compounds or chemicals that delay progressive joint space narrowing characteristic of arthritis and improve the biomechanics of articular joints by protecting chondrocytes.” 

I started Daisy on glucosamine and chondroitin at the magic age of 7 (that imaginary line that, when crossed, helps us generally to define dogs as being senior).  She also remained on them until she passed 3 weeks after her 14th birthday.

When I said that supplements weren’t drugs, it also means that you need to maintain the dosage for them to remain effective.  And if you stop or run out, then you can expect to have to re-start a program of loading to build them back up in the body again.

Another example of supplementing for a reason is when a dog has arthritis – and many dogs develop this condition (between 60% and 80% of dogs to be exact – according to different studies).      Arthritis causes inflammation in the joints.  Controlling the inflammation helps to control the pain.

Izzy also takes deer velvet and has done since she turned 7.   (I started Daisy on deer velvet very late in her life, as the product was new to me then back in 2013/14). There’s a great literature review out of Australia that talks about the different properties of deer velvet, for example.  In the words of Dr W Jean Dodds of Hemopet/Nutriscan, deer velvet “helps alleviate arthritic symptoms by rebuilding cartilage, improving joint fluid, increasing tissue and cellular healing times, and improving circulation.”  So I started Izzy on this when she was that much older, it seemed a good adjunct to her glucosamine and chondroitin particularly for the circulation effects and the growth factors that would help with any micro-tears in soft tissues.

Green lipped mussel extract is somewhat unique to New Zealand and the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown in studies to have an anti-inflammatory effect.  When Daisy’s lumbosacral disease was first confirmed via x-ray in 2011, she started on a high quality green-lipped mussel concentrate.  Izzy, with arthritis in her wrists and toes, has been taking green-lipped mussel since 2018, when she dislocated her toe.  The NSAIDs disagreed with her and so I felt that with her advancing arthritis in the toes, she needed consistent anti-inflammatory support.

I also use turmeric in Izzy’s food – she’s 11 now and I’ve been consistently using turmeric for about three months because it’s got anti-inflammatory effects and she seems to tolerate it on her stomach whereas we know from the times she has needed NSAIDs after surgeries that her stomach doesn’t cope.  I’m using a combination of dried turmeric powder and fresh turmeric when I cook for her and I have noticed an improvement in her mobility in conjunction with our regime for managing her corns.  (Her hydrotherapist noticed her enhanced mobility, too.)

With each of the supplements I’ve mentioned above, they were instituted one at a time and for a reason.   If I choose to stop a supplement to try something else, I will stop the first supplement for about 3 weeks before starting the new one.  That’s because I want to make one change at a time.

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned supplement brands in this post.  That’s because my local market in New Zealand has different products than those of my readers elsewhere.  And while I have preferred products, I also aim to understand the client’s budget and recommend the highest quality product that they can afford.

And as you’ve reached the bottom of this post, you may also realize that I spend a significant portion of my household budget on Izzy’s care.  Supplements are just one aspect of her care and for a 75 day supply of her green lipped mussel, for example, I spend close to NZ$100.

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

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Doggy quote of the month for March

Jane Goodall quote