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Dogs Aiding Wounded GIs

Dogs Aiding Wounded GIs

June 29, 2009

Associated Press

11dogs_650FORT CARSON, Colo. – Army Specialist Cameron Briggs washes down a cocktail of prescription drugs every day for post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury he suffered when four roadside bombs rocked his Humvee in Iraq.

Tramadol for pain. Midrin for debilitating headaches. Minipress to suppress nightmares. Klonopin to control anger and anxiety.

His next dose of treatment will come from an unlikely source: a purebred Golden Retriever.

A new Veterans Administration program adopts dogs from animal shelters, trains them and matches them with wounded warriors home from Iraq and Afghanistan to help with their recovery.

For Briggs, his dog will be trained to help him find his wallet, cell phone and keys, which he habitually loses because of cognitive memory loss. The dog also will brace Briggs, who has an ankle injury, so he doesn’t have to use a cane or walker in public.

“I call him my little battle buddy,” the 24-year-old Briggs said as he strapped his old camouflage assault vest onto Harper. It’s modified to store biscuits and toys instead of ammunition. “I most definitely think he’ll help me transfer back to civilian life.”

VA hospitals nationwide are integrating service dogs into treatment plans for disabled vets, said Will Baldwin, a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the VA in Denver. The program was formed after Freedom Service Dogs, a Denver-based nonprofit, recently partnered with the VA.

Training takes up to nine months and costs $23,000. Service Dogs doesn’t charge its clients but relies on private donations and foundation grants.

“The population is growing exponentially down in Fort Carson with the Wounded Warriors program,” said Freedom Service Dogs’ Diane Vertovec, referring to the Army unit that prepares wounded Soldiers for civilian life. “We feel like a dog can help a vet meet physical challenges but, more importantly, can really, really help them overcome a lot of the mental instability that they’re feeling.”

Service Dogs can train 43 dogs per year – a number that doesn’t come close to meeting demand. There are about 450 Soldiers in the Wounded Warrior Battalion at Fort Carson.

David Watson, a 43-year-old Gulf War veteran who lives in Strasburg, about 40 miles east of Denver, gets out of bed every morning with the help of Summer, a trained yellow lab. Watson’s knees were injured in the war, and daily tasks are painful.

Baldwin suggested Watson get a service dog so he also could take better care of his wife, Trish, a Navy veteran who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair.

“The relationship is just one big circle. We just keep helping each other out,” said Watson. “If I can’t roll over or get out of bed, (Summer) will have a little toy that she uses and she’ll pull me up. It’s a tug-of-war game for her.”

“Get shoe, Summer!” Watson commands. Summer drops them at his bedside so he can slip them on without bending.

Summer also helps Watson navigate a world that doesn’t always accommodate his disabilities.

“Uneven ground – she will notice that before I do and she will either nudge me over or step in front of me so I don’t trip,” Watson said.

Key, an 8-month-old mixed black Labrador puppy, is being trained to open and close doors, get food from the fridge, alert bark, pick up keys and other items and brace to provide support.

Key’s biggest service might be to “just snug up to a person in bed, which sometimes is very comforting, especially for someone that might have PTSD,” said head trainer Patti Yoensky. “Just knowing that the dog’s there helps the person feel more confident, feel that they’re not alone.”

At Fort Carson, Briggs hopes that Harper will help him adjust. “I don’t like large crowds of people,” Briggs said, alluding to a PTSD symptom. “I get really fidgety and I just hate it. So anytime a stranger comes into your personal bubble, the dog will always stand between you and the stranger.”

Stephanie Baigent, manager of dog training at Service Dogs, believes that Harper can give Briggs something “unconditional that a lot of us can’t give, because no matter what we hear about Cameron or his experiences, we can’t fully understand.

“Harper doesn’t have to understand. He just loves Cameron because he’s Cameron,” she said.

June 30, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Half of Americans consider pets family members

200460080-001The Associated Press and Petside.com published the results of an interesting poll about pets and their owners recently.  The poll focused on how pet owners viewed their pets and asked such questions as whether a pet owner considered a pet as a member of the family, whether they gave their pet a human name, where the pet sleeps, and so on.  All of these questions seemed geared toward determining the nature of the human-pet relationship.

Here are some of the answers:

Which comes closest to the way you feel about how your pet fits into your family?

My Pet is part of my household but not part of my family 13

My pet is part of the family, but not as much as the

people in the household 36

My pet is just as much a part of the family as any other

person in the household 50

What is/are your pet’s name? CODED INTO HUMAN NAMES AND NON-HUMAN

NAMES

Human name(s) 49

(Human names only 25)

(Multiple pets, human & non-human names 24)

Non-human name(s) only 46

Where does your pet sleep?  Does your pet sleep…

In your bed 30

In its own bed or cage 33

Outdoors 13

Have you ever bought an outfit for your pet, or not?

Yes 19

No 81

Please say whether you have ever done any of the following.  How about…

Included your pet in a family portrait 35

Included your pet in your holiday card 33

Taken a pet on vacation with you 42

Taken a pet to work 17

Taken a pet somewhere it isn’t allowed, like a hotel or

store 16

Other questions included whether people thought their pet had their own sense of style (43 percent said yes).  Only 27 percent of people celebrate their pet’s birthday or Gotcha day (surprisingly low, I thought).

I know some people who are very ecstatic about these answers.  They seem to believe that they offer some kind of proof of what wonderful people we are because we do all of these nice, cute things with our pets and, in some cases, treat them more like people than animals.  I’m not so sure.  So, our dogs live in the house and sleep on our beds.  They go on vacation with us.  Half the population can still distinguish between a pet and a human family member.  Maybe I’m crazy or just an insensitive person, but I think that’s a good thing.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love my dogs!  I really, really love my dogs.  I would do anything for them.  But I like to think that if I were married or had kids that I would have my priorities straight enough to know that I should put human family members first.  I think you can see that with other people in the poll results:

The survey reveals that single people of both genders, but especially single women (66%), were likely to say that their pet is a full member of the family. Only 46 percent of married women shared the same viewpoint. In comparison, 52 percent of single men said so, compared to 43 percent of married men.

I think that when you have a family it often gives you a different perspective on pets, and that’s the way it should be.  Of course, every person I know is crazy about dogs but I think they’re a special group because they’re dog people.  They go to shows, they do agility and obedience training.  They do field work.  They’ve made dogs the center of their lives.  I don’t think they’re typical of most people whether single or married.

So, where would you fall in this poll?  How would you answer these questions?  Is your dog a full-fledged member of the family?

June 29, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | 1 Comment

AKC ACE Awards

Happy Friday, everyone!  I hope temps are cool where you are.  We had a terrible tragedy in the dog world a few days ago where someone unfortunately left several dogs in their van overnight in a garage.  I’m sure the person thought that they had taken precautions to keep the dogs cool but, very sadly, all but one of the dogs died from heat stroke by the next morning.  I won’t spend time talking about the person.  I just want to say that heat stroke can happen very quickly — much more quickly than most of us realize.  Even if you use air conditioning in your vehicle, your dogs can become overheated if the AC fails.  Accidents can always happen.  Even with the windows down in a vehicle, air may not circulate.  Temperatures can quickly heat up to dangerous levels.  Please take care with your dogs and don’t leave them in your vehicle this time of year, even at night.  Remember that heatstroke from being in an enclosed vehicle is 100 percent preventable.  It’s up to you, so don’t put your dog in that position.

lg_annie_companionIn a little happier news today, the AKC is looking for canine heroes.  Each year the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE)  chooses dogs from all different walks of life to honor for some exemplary act:

Awards for Canine Exellence

The AKC Humane Fund honors the human-canine bond and wishes to express appreciation for the time-honored way in which dogs contribute meaningfully to our lives in so many ways. To this end, we created the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence (ACE).

To be recognized, the dog must be AKC-registered or an AKC recognized breed and have performed an exemplary act, large or small, that has significantly benefited a community or individual.

Awards are given in five categories:

Law Enforcement

Search and Rescue

Therapy

Service

Exemplary Companion Dog

The honorees will receive:

A cash reward of $1000

An engraved sterling-silver collar medallion, presented at the AKC/Eukanuba national Championship

Their names engraved on a plaque on permanent display at the American Kennel Club Library in New York City

Click here for nomination forms.

Anyone can nominate a dog. The owner of the dog is permitted to submit the nomination for his/her own dog. All submissions for The AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence for the year 2009 must include the following:

A non-returnable, clear, color photograph of the dog – no scans please.

A 500-word-or-less description of how the dog has demonstrated excellence.

Dog’s call name, registered name if applicable, breed, age and sex.

Owner’s/Nominator’s name(s), address and phone number. E-mail address if available.

Send nominations to:

Ronald N. Rella – ACE Awards 2009

The AKC Humane Fund

260 Madison Avenue, 4th Floor

New York, NY 10016

The deadline for applications is June 30, 2009.

Maybe someone reading here on GreytInspirations will apply and we’ll have an ACE Award winner!

Here are a couple of the 2008 ACE Award winners:

American Kennel Club Awards for Canine Excellence 2008 Recipients

Exemplary Companion

Annie, a Doberman Pinscher

owned by Donna Rock of Lacombe, Louisiana

Annie is an 8-year-old Doberman Pinscher, who has comforted her owner Donna Rock through loss, given her hope, and provides the assistance necessary to help her achieve her goals. Born without arms, Donna originally purchased Annie to be her companion and to train for obedience competition. The two developed such an exceptional bond that Annie became Donna’s service dog, assisting her with everyday activities. Together, they have excelled at the higher levels of obedience competition, where verbal commands are not allowed and the dog must respond to signals. The duo has earned numerous Obedience and Agility titles, including the prestigious Obedience Trial Championship (OTCH) and the crown jewel in Agility, the Master Agility Championship (MACH). Their teamwork, skill and performance inspire those at ringside to understand the true purpose of the competition.

In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, Donna lost her home, belongings, and even her place of work. Donna, who is employed by the USDA, was temporarily reassigned to work in Washington, DC. Through it all, Annie was there for her owner, helping her in the subways, on escalators and navigating through large crowds of people. Annie has loyally remained at Donna’s side, giving not just physical, but emotional support as well. Their amazing bond is the key to their success, not just in Obedience and Agility competition, but also in their day-to-day challenges.

Law Enforcement

lg_lex_lawLex, a German Shepherd Dog

owned by Jerome and Rachel Lee of Quitman, Mississippi

Lex, a 7-year-old German Shepherd Dog, is a retired military dog who served in Iraq with young Marine Corporal Dustin Jerome Lee. Cpl. Lee was a renowned dog handler due to his extraordinary ability to work an explosives detection dog and narcotics detection dog simultaneously. Under the skilled guidance of Cpl. Lee, Lex dutifully searched for roadside bombs to keep the roads safe and open for American troops in Iraq. Tragically, Cpl. Lee was killed in a mortar attack in Falluja in early 2007. As he lay bleeding, Lex, although injured himself, was at his partner’s side to comfort him. Their bond was so strong, the loyalty so deep, that medics had to drag Lex away so they could attend to Cpl. Lee. He succumbed a short time later and Lex was reassigned to the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, Georgia.

Cpl. Lee’s parents, Jerome and Rachel, who knew about the special relationship that existed between their son and Lex, petitioned to adopt the dog. North Carolina Congressman, Walter Jones, heard about the Lee’s request, and led a successful campaign to retire Lex, so that he could finally have a home with the Lees.

Since his retirement, Lex has been awarded a Commemorative Purple Heart. His desire to serve continues. The Lee’s bring Lex to VA hospitals and retirement homes to offer solace to the veterans who have so honorably served their country.

June 26, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | Leave a comment

Take Your Dog To Work Day

1245874517StrikeaposeHere’s a heads up about a very important day later this week.  Friday, June 26 is Take Your Dog To Work Day!  That’s right.  It’s the annual day when it’s just fine to put a coat and tie on your dog (or a dress and heels) and take your dog with you to let him or her see what you do to earn the money to buy their dog food.  Okay, just kidding about the work clothes, but it really is Take Your Dog To Work Day.

Pet Sitters International established the day back in 1999.  According to the Take Your Dog To Work Day web site, the day was created to honor our dogs and to encourage dog adoptions.  The event tries to help employers experience the value of pets in the workplace.

Pet Sitters International hopes that businesses, employers, animal shelters, and pet care professionals will all help promote the event.  You can find out more about the event by visiting the Take Your Dog To Work web site and seeing how you can help shelters in your area.

According to the American Pet Products Association, one-fifth of employers nationwide allow pets in the workplace.  The same survey, conducted in 2006, revealed the following facts:

*   55 million Americans believe having pets in the workplace leads to

a more creative environment.

*   53 million believe having pets in the workplace decreases

absenteeism.

*   50 million believe having pets in the workplace helps co-workers

get along better.

*   38 million believe having pets in the workplace creates a more

productive environment; and

*   46 million people who bring their pets to the workplace work longer

hours.

If you plan to participate in Take Your Dog To Work you should be considerate of your fellow employees.  Take the following things into account in your office (courtesy of the Take Your Dog To Work tool kit and the Rules for Success:

Do an office check:  Check with management  and co-workers to see if anyone is allergic, afraid of or opposed to you bringing your dog to work for this one special day.

Puppy-proof your work space:  Remove poisonous plants, hide electrical cords and wires and secure toxic items such as correction fluid, permanent markers, etc.  Any office items in question should be placed out of  your dog’s reach.

Bathe and groom your dog before his office debut:  Be sure his shots are up-to-date.  If your dog appears sick, don’t bring him to the office.  Dogs that are aggressive or overly shy should not accompany you to work.  Instead, consider bringing a favorite picture of your pooch.

Prepare a doggie bag:  Include food, treats, bowls, toys, leash, paper towels, clean-up bags and pet-safe disinfectant (just in case).  If you are routinely in and out of your work space, consider bringing a portable  kennel for your dog’s comfort and your peace of mind.

Plan your pet’s feeding times carefully:  Be sure to choose an appropriate area for your dog to relieve himself afterward.

Avoid forcing co-workers to interact with your dog.

Dog lovers will make themselves known.  To avoid pet accidents, monitor the amount of treats your pet is being given.  Remember that chocolate, candy and  other people food should not be shared with dogs.

Have an exit strategy:  Although most dogs enjoy Take Your Dog To Work Day, your pet may not.  Should your dog become overly boisterous, agitated or withdrawn, consider taking him or her home.  Most companies allow for this on Take Your Dog To Work Day.  Do not leave your dog alone in your vehicle while at work.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , | 1 Comment

Dogs Detect Diabetes

resize.phpHave you ever noticed a dog nagging somebody?  Or maybe your dog nags you?  I don’t mean begging for treats or wanting you to throw his ball for him.  I mean a dog that keeps sniffing a place on your body, or who seems to act like there’s something wrong with you.

Well, there have been stories for years about dogs who, somehow, are able to alert their owners to impending seizures.  Some dogs have been able to detect cancer.  And now dogs in Britain are being trained to warn their diabetic owners when their blood sugar levels are about to take a dangerous dip.

A recent study conducted by researchers at Queen’s University, Belfast, found that 65% of 212 people with insulin-dependent diabetes reported their pets reacting to a hypoglycemic episode by whining, barking, licking or some other display.

According to a story this week:

At the Cancer and Bio-Detection Dogs research center in Aylesbury, southern England, animal trainers are taking advantage of this information by utilizing the dog’s skills to assist their owners.

So far, the charity has 17 rescue dogs at various levels of training that will be partnered with diabetic owners, including many children.

“Dogs have been trained to detect certain odors down to parts per trillion, so we are talking tiny, tiny amounts. Their world is really very different to ours,” Chief Executive Claire Guest told Reuters TV.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr John Hunt founded the center five years ago. His desire was to examine the strange stories reported about dogs showing a nagging curiosity to parts of their owner’s body that later proved to be cancerous.

Around the time Dr. Hunt was looking into the bizarre cases, researchers at nearby Amersham Hospital were finding the first real evidence that dogs could identify bladder cancer by detecting chemicals found in urine.

They began looking into diabetes after the case of Paul Jackson, who told Guest and her team that his dog Tinker alerts him when his sugar levels get too low and he is in danger of collapsing.

“It’s generally licking my face, panting beside me. It depends how far I have gone before he realizes,” Jackson said.

Tinker has now been trained by the Aylesbury center and is a fully qualified Diabetic Hypo-Alert dog. He even has a red jacket to announce himself as a working assistance animal.

The center will continue working to perfect dogs’ ability in noting signs of cancer. Guest admits that while it would be favorable to have a disease screening dog in every doctor’s office, it is not very practical.

However, she does hope that the research leads to inventions such as an electric nose that can mimic that of a dog.

“At the moment electronic noses are not as advanced as the dogs’, they are about 15 years behind. But the work that we are doing and what we are finding out will help scientists advance quickly so that they can use electronic noses to do the same thing,” she said.

I doubt that an electronic nose will ever be as sensitive or as committed to an owner as a dog.  It’s amazing that dogs are able to detect the smallest changes in the way we smell and our other biological changes when we experience illness or stress.  Who knows what signals they pick up on that we are just now beginning to decipher?

June 22, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | Leave a comment

Hot Spots?

golden-215x350Happy soggy Friday to you!  I don’t know about where you live, but here in Tennessee it seems like it’s rained almost every day for weeks. Earlier this week we had day after day of storms.  One day was nothing but thunder and lightning all day long.  My poor dog Beau was beside himself.  He’s the one who’s scared of thunder and loud noises.  I’ve written about our mutual problem before.  I don’t like loud noises much myself, but I think the problem we share is that we can both feel these storms approaching. There’s a palpable drop in pressure when these big thunder boomers roll in.  As soon as I feel the pressure drop, there’s Beau coming to sit next to me.  That makes me think that he feels it, too.  But, all things considered, I think he got through the storms very well.  I had to get down in the floor with him and hold him for a little while one morning when the thunder and lightning were so bad they made the house shake, but otherwise he’s managed very well.

My yard is so damp and soaked right now that the ground squished when I went out to check on the bird feeder last night.  Mowing grass is not a possibility right now.  Luckily it’s not too high.  Unfortunately these conditions — damp wet grass, high humidity — can cause some dogs to develop hot spots.  They are sometimes call “moist eczema” or “pyotraumatic dermatitis.” I’ll have to watch Beau to see if he develops one.  He’s had them before.  If you don’t know about hot spots you should consider yourself lucky.  Hot spots are sudden skin irritations that can flare up seemingly overnight, often on a dog’s legs or stomach — areas that may come in contact with wet grass or other irritants.

Hot spots are usually distinct from other skin irritations because they tend to be circular and the hair is simply gone from the affected patch of skin.  These patches appear very suddenly.  There is also some speculation that the dog’s diet may be involved in producing a hot patch.  Diets that are very high in protein seem to be implicated.  Hot spots can also occur if your dog has mats.  The mats can trap moisture close to your dog’s skin.  Some dogs seem to be more prone to developing hot spots than others.  With my dogs, Beau is the only one who’s ever developed a hot spot, but he’s developed them on several occasions.

If your dog has a hot spot there are a few things that you can do to clear it up:

1.  Trim or shave the hair around the affected area

2.  Wash the area with an antiseptic.  Many dog people like to use original Listerine mouthwash.

3.  Dust the area with a good medicated powder such as Gold Bond Powder.

You will need to keep treating the area.  Your dog may keep bothering it.  He may lick at it or chew himself so be prepared to wash the area again and reapply the medicated powder.  Hot spots usually clear up in just a couple of days if you can get your dog to leave them alone.

If your dog won’t leave the area alone or if the area isn’t healing then you should pay a visit to your vet.  The hot spot could become infected if it doesn’t heal properly.

Hot spots have a tendency to occur just when you most want your dog to look nice — right before a dog show or when you want to show him off to family and friends.

As health and skin problems go, hot spots are usually a small problem but anything that causes your dog discomfort needs care.  With these soggy days and (sometimes) high grass outside, pay attention to your dog’s skin.

June 19, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Elderly_DogA friend of mine was asking some questions about Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome earlier this week.  If you haven’t heard of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, it’s often thought of as senility in older dogs.  It can be hard to describe since the symptoms are, understandably, a little different than they are in humans, but it’s one of those things where you often recognize them when you encounter them.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction does occur in older dogs but not all old dogs get these symptoms.  Many older dogs continue just fine until the end of their days without any impairments.  CDS is sometimes difficult to diagnose because some of the symptoms can be confused with the general ailments associated with aging.  A dog may lose some of his hearing and his eyesight may decline as he ages.  This may lead him to have some difficulties in the home but he won’t have the same kind of difficulties that are caused by CDS.  Or, a dog my feel some pain from arthritis that makes it hard for him to get around very well but, again, this isn’t something that is caused by CDS though it could lead to some overlapping symptoms.

With Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome a dog may exhibit some of the following symptoms:

Disorientation — wandering aimlessly, getting lost even in the house, getting “stuck” in rooms or behind furniture.

Change in activity and/or sleep behavior — the dog may sleep heavily during the day and wander the house during the night.

Change in Housetraining skills — a previously well-housetrained dog may forget his housetraining and begin having accidents in the house.  The dog may go outside and do nothing then come indoors and have an accident.

Change in interaction with family members — the dog may walk away from being petted; may no longer be interested in petting or play; may seem lost in his own world.

A few years ago, after my dog Jasper turned ten years old, he began showing signs of some of these changes.  He would walk into a room and stand staring at the wall.  He acted like he didn’t know what to do then.  He would just stand there until somebody moved him.  Or, he would start barking for someone to find him.  Sometimes he would become “lost” behind a chair or sofa.  We would have to go get him because he literally couldn’t find his way out to the rest of the house again.

Now, a little later my dog Sami began showing some signs of aging.  She would bark at night when she was in the living room and the lights were out.  However, her situation was very different.  We realized that she was having some eyesight problems.  There was nothing wrong with her cognitive abilities.  She simply couldn’t see her way through the house in the dark with her declining eyesight without some help.  She also had trouble stepping over other dogs and walking down the back steps on the deck to go outside at night.  So, it’s not always easy to generalize when it comes to the changes in an older dog.  You should watch them very carefully and avoid jumping to conclusions.  Not all changes are indications of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.  Some changes are signs of normal aging.

Currently my dog Taylor is showing some increased agitation toward Blue.  He really can’t stand to have Blue near him.  He will wake up out of a nap just to bark at Blue across the room.  But I can’t tell if this is an indication of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction — which can include increased aggression toward other dogs and people — or if it’s simply jealousy or old dog crankiness.  Taylor seems normal in every other way.  He doesn’t seem to be having any other CDS problems or any health problems (knock on wood).  He barks for his food everyday.  He demands to be petted the same as always.  He even still plays at nearly 13 years old.  He just has this dislike of Blue.  It’s too bad, too.  He liked him a lot when Blue was a puppy.  Now, Taylor has never liked other boys very much.  He has pushed Beau around ever since Beau was born.  So it’s possible that this is just Taylor being Taylor, but it’s something that I need to watch to see if it does become a Canine Cognitive Dysfunction problem.

If you suspect that your dog does have a problem related to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction there are some things that you can do.  First, you can make your home a little more old dog-friendly.  You can remove obstacles where your old dog tends to go so he won’t run into them.  You can use baby gates to keep your old dog in parts of the house where he won’t hurt himself.  You can restrict him to parts of the house where clean-up is easy if he has an accident.

You should also take your old dog to the vet so he or she can help with a diagnosis.  If the vet agrees that your dog has Canine Cognitive Dysfunction then Anipryl is the medication of choice to treat CDS.  Many dogs respond very positively to Anipryl and it can restore them to themselves.  Your dog may need to take the drug for the rest of his life but the results are very worthwhile.

June 17, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , | Leave a comment

Dogs aren’t vegans

FoodThere are plenty of people who know more about dogs than I do.  All I can do as a pet owner is study and keep up with the best possible health and diet information for my dogs.  However, I have had dogs since I was a kid.  I’ve been breeding and showing English Setters since 1987.  In that time there is one thing that I have learned without a doubt:  dogs like meat.  You wouldn’t think that this bit of news was a revelation to most people, would you?  And yet, there are some people who, for various reasons (mostly philosophical) try to feed dogs a vegetarian or even vegan diet.  All I can say is that I pity their dogs.

One hot topic of discussion on some dog e-mail lists recently has been a food called Humane Choice promoted by the Humane Society of the United States.  I’d like to draw your attention to the list of ingredients starting from the first ingredient — the ingredients are listed by weight before processing:

Organic ground canola seed, organic brown rice, organic soybean meal, organic buckwheat, organic flaxseed, organic sunflower seed, organic millet, organic carrots, organic beets, organic broccoli, organic sunflower oil, organic canola oil, organic peas…

Organic ingredients are just great, but consider what those ingredients actually are.  Consider what you are — and aren’t feeding your dog with a food like this one.  Dogs have a much easier time digesting animal protein than vegetable matter.  When you feed your dog a food that contains large amounts of vegetable matter, like corn or wheat or like the ingredients in this food, your dog can’t digest it as well as he digests meat protein.  He’s a carnivore, biologically speaking, and his system functions more efficiently when he is digesting animal sources of protein — meat, eggs, fish.  When you feed your dog vegetable products he passes a large percentage of them through his system without getting as much nutritional benefit from them as from better protein sources.  (More vegetable matter also means that you have more dog poop to clean up.)

The truth is that dogs don’t actually need vegetables in their diet.  They get virtually everything that they need, nutritionally speaking, from meat, bones and good sources of nutrients.  If you want to add veggies to your dog’s diet you should puree raw vegetables or steam them since dogs can’t really process whole raw vegetables — though they like them as snacks.  That’s why if you want your dog to lose weight people often suggest that you add green beans or carrots to their diet.  Dogs like to eat them and they help them feel full but they really contain few calories for a dog.

If you’d like more information about what to feed your dog I recommend the DogAware site.  It’s the best site I know, bar none, about feeding your dog no matter what your feeding preference is.  The emphasis is on good nutrition, whether you feed a commercial dog food, raw, homecooked or some combination.

Keep in mind that most canine nutritional experts recommend feeding fewer grains, not more, so a food like Humane Choice is a non-starter.  It’s all grains and seeds.  It has no sources of animal protein.  Vegan diets for dogs just don’t make nutritional sense, regardless of the owner’s personal preferences.

For more information on choosing a good dog food you can read The Whole Dog Journal’s article “How To Choose Dog Food.”

June 15, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rottweiler Puppy Eats 8 Golf Balls

I don’t usually post on the weekends but I am unexpectedly home today.  Blue and I were entered in a dog show today but we have some family stuff going on and we needed to stay home.  My sig other’s mother has been in the hospital recently because of her Alzheimer’s.  It’s gotten much worse lately — she’s starting to see people who aren’t there and she doesn’t know where she is sometimes.  We needed to stay home today and help out a little.

I saw this story online today and I thought you might find it interesting.  Careful what your dog eats!

Weird News of the Day – Rottweiler Puppy Eats 8 Golf Balls

Rottweiler Puppy Eats 8 Golf Balls

Dog Undergoes Surgery To Remove Golf Balls

BOXBORO, Mass. — An 8-month-old puppy is recovering from surgery after

eating eight golf balls, Boston television WCVB reported.

Wally’s owners said the Rottweiler pup started acting weird last week. He

eventually threw up three golf balls, including one that was wrapped in a

sock.

But when the dog still was acting strange, Wally’s owners took him to the

Boxboro Animal Clinic.

“Lo and behold, there was another five golf balls sitting in there,”

Veterinarian Stewart Bleck said.

Wally underwent surgery to have the other five balls removed.

Wally’s owner Julianne Bonfilio said some friends like to putt around golf

balls at their home, but they never noticed that the balls were

disappearing.

Bleck estimated that the balls had been in the dog’s system for about a

week.

Slideshow:  http://www.thebostonchannel.com/slideshow/news/19725674/detail.html

June 13, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | | Leave a comment

FDA Suspends Temporary Emergency Permit of Pet Food Maker

From the FDA today:

FDA Suspends Temporary Emergency Permit of Pet Food Maker

June 12, 2009

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today it was suspending the temporary Emergency Permit issued to Evanger’s Dog & Cat Food Co., Inc.

Evanger’s, operating in Wheeling, Illinois, deviated from the prescribed process, equipment, product shipment, and recordkeeping requirements in the production of the company’s thermally processed low acid canned food (LACF) products.  The deviations in their processes and documentation could result in under-processed pet foods, which can allow the survival and growth of Clostridium botulinum (C. botulinum), a bacterium that causes botulism in some animals as well as in humans.

In April 2008, Evanger’s was issued an “Order of Need for Emergency Permit” after the agency determined that the company had failed to meet the regulatory requirements to process a product that does not present a health risk.   In June, 2008, FDA issued Evanger’s a temporary Emergency Permit.  During inspections conducted between March 2009 and April 2009, FDA determined Evanger’s was not operating in compliance with the mandatory requirements and conditions of the Temporary Emergency Permit.

“The FDA is stopping Evanger’s ability to ship pet food in interstate commerce,” said Dr. Bernadette Dunham. “Today’s enforcement action sends a strong message to manufacturers of pet food that we will take whatever action necessary to keep unsafe products from reaching consumers.”

In order for Evanger’s to resume shipping in interstate commerce, the company must document that corrective actions and processing procedures have been implemented to ensure that the finished product will not present a health hazard.

Botulism is a powerful toxin that affects the nervous system and can be fatal. The disease has been documented in dogs and cats. Signs of botulism in animals are progressive muscle paralysis, disturbed vision, difficulty in chewing and swallowing, and progressive weakness to the body. Death is usually due to paralysis of the heart or the muscles used in breathing.

While FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition is responsible for regulating all human and animal LACF processing, FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has authority over animal feed and foods.  The two centers are collaborating on this enforcement action.

Contact Us

240-276-9300

240-276-9115 FAX

Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine

Communications Staff, HFV-12

7519 Standish Place

Rockville, MD 20855

June 12, 2009 Posted by | dogs, Pets | , , , | 1 Comment