Norbert is a special therapy dog. He’s a very tiny (3-pound) cross-breed who was the only puppy born to his dog mother in California. His owners believe he is a Chihuahua, Cairn Terrier and Lhasa Apso cross. Adopted in 2009 from PetFinder.com, Norbert was his human mother’s first-ever dog and he traveled to Boston to live with her.
At the age of one, he passed his therapy dog tests and began working with children and the elderly. Along the way he learned new tricks like High Five, Namaste (stay) and Zen (lie down).
Then his mom decided to write a book, and then another, and (soon) another….
Book 1: Norbert – What can little me do?
Book 2: Norbert – What can little you do?
Book 3 (due out in November 2015): Norbert & Lil Bub – What can little we do?
Therapy dogs are special dogs providing important emotional support services to those in need. I like the fact that there are children’s books featuring Norbert – if we tell children about dogs and their personalities, and teach them lessons along the way, we set them up to be compassionate adults who are prepared to be responsible pet owners.
Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand
I was at a lunch last week and I was talking about brachycephalic dogs. One fellow asked, ‘brachy what?’
Brachycephalic dogs are dogs with a short muzzle and generally flat face. “Brachy” means “shortened” and “cephalic” means “head.”
These features make them very cute. But, this head structure doesn’t leave a lot of room for the nasal passages and palate, which are parts of the anatomy that help breathing.
Most of us who either own a brachycephalic dog or who have seen one at the dog park or elsewhere can identify the ‘brachy snort’ – the sound of a dog that is struggling to breathe.
We all know that dogs help to control their temperature on hot days through panting. Unfortunately, brachycephalic dogs are inefficient panters and so these dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke. They are generally not good outdoor dogs during summer because of this.
Some dogs also suffer from brachycephalic airway syndrome. This syndrome is actually a group of upper airway abnormalities. Brachycephalic syndrome is also known as congenital obstructive upper airway disease and in extreme cases, a veterinary surgeon may do surgery to help correct the abnormalities.
The abnormalities associated with the syndrome include:
- stenotic nares, which are nostrils that are narrowed
- elongated soft palate, which is a soft palate that is too long for the mouth and so the length partially blocks the entrance to the back of the throat
- a hypoplastic trachea, an abnormally narrow windpipe
- nasopharyngeal abnormalities, the bone in the dog’s nasal cavity grows incorrectly and this can stop air flow. This bone helps direct airflow and also helps with heating and humidifying inhaled air.
Because of their breathing difficulties, a brachycephalic breed must be fit and trim no matter what their life stage. Obesity is a real threat to these dogs.
Since breathing difficulties become worse with strenuous exercise, it’s critically important to balance the dog’s caloric intake with their exercise and look for small opportunities to exercise the dog without causing stress.
Common brachycephalic dog breeds include:
· English Bulldog
· Shih Tzu
· Boston Terrier
· Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
· Shar Pei
· Lhasa Apso
Posted in dog breeds, dog care
Tagged brachycephalic, brachycephalic syndrome, breathing, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, congenital obstructive upper airway disease, English Bulldog, Lhasa Apso, palate, panting, Pekingese, pug, respiration, Shar Pei, Shih Tzu