Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Big Lie from ASPCA

The ASPCA sent out a post via email blast this week:
It'll be a cold day in hell when I donate anything to this group.

Imagine this scene: More than 100 dazed and frightened puppies are picked up one-by-one out of filthy, cramped, wire cages and crammed into a windowless van. Missing their mothers, they spend a week hurling across Interstate highways—crying, yelping, barking and suffering—until the van pulls up to deliver them through the back-door entrance of a shopping mall pet store. In the pet store, the cute but likely malnourished, impaired, disease-carrying or emotionally scarred pups are left to do what puppies have always done: look for love in a kind, smiling face. They are bought by an unsuspecting person, and the cycle begins again.
Wow, this sounds horrible! Why, they just described the cycle of abuse perpetrated by Retail Rescue! This is EXACTLY what happens when so-called "rescues" truck dogs across the country, and subject them to thousands-of-miles-long journeys into the US from around the world! These dogs are intended to replace puppies in pet stores sourced from breeders. And yes, predictably, many of these "rescued" dogs are sick and malnourished. Some have even been infected with RABIES! 

Yep, there is no documented history on these animals at all. No way to know what sort of diseases, inherited or acquired, may be lurking. No insight as to inherited temperament. When one of these "rescued" dogs is bought by some big-hearted but dumb, unsuspecting person (like YOU), he is not covered by any "Puppy Lemon Law" protection. That means, when he bites your kid or requires expensive veterinary bills, TOUGH LUCK. You have NO RECOURSE. There is NO GUARANTEE, NO consumer protection, and no financial compensation to you.

But wait! ASPCA doesn't care about any of fact, golly gee gosh! I just realized with a little more reading....they actually aren't talking about Pet Flipping "Rescues" at all.  
This is the tragedy of a puppy mill. Animals bred, born and abused in commercial breeding facilities are the very same animals destined for pet store windows in cities and towns all across America. Scenes like this play out week after week, year after year, but these tragic facilities are usually only brought to light when they are raided by animal welfare groups like the ASPCA.
Whoa! The ASPCA is trying to convince us that dogs bred by licensed and inspected breeders are all abused!  What a crock of manure! If commercial breeders are heavily regulated (and they are), how many do you think need to be "raided"? How many of their puppies are "diseased"? Do they regularly starve and beat their puppies? REALLY??

In fact, pet insurers charge much lower premiums for commercially-bred pet store dogs than they do for dogs from any other source. The reason? Pet store puppies receive more veterinary care in the first weeks of their life than puppies from any other sources, and as a result, the dogs who come from pet store have FEWER INSURANCE CLAIMS. 

Got it, ASPCA?? Commercially bred puppies are HEALTHIER than dogs sourced from small breeders and shelters. How do you like them apples, you lying scumbags? 

But wait! The ASPCA isn't finished just yet! They set the stage with fraudulent lies, and NOW.... the HOOK!!! 
With your support today, we can strengthen our work to advocate against puppy mills. We can assist in raids to expose their cruelties, fight as hard as we can to regulate commercial breeders and, most importantly, find loving homes for every innocent animal. Imagine how much suffering we could stop, and how many dogs, cats and other animals we could save, if we eliminated puppy mills in our country. That is what your gift to the ASPCA can help make possible. Please make a donation right now.

Sorry, you two-faced sheisters at ASPCA,  but when you LIE claiming that commercial breeders are not already heavily regulated, claim that their puppies are sickly and abused, and slander the name of dog breeders in general, you won't get a dime from anyone who has two brain cells to rub together. 

No breeders=no pets. 

The real goal of the ASPCA....PET EXTINCTION. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

AKC CHF Breeder's Symposium

AKC Canine Health Foundation Breeder’s Symposium
College of Veterinary Medicine, Western University of Health Sciences
Pomona, California
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I attended this symposium and was amazed at the amount of information presented! After UC Davis, Western University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is the only other veterinary medicine program in the state of California; they have only produced graduates for two years. Their program is the first new college of veterinary medicine in the United States in the past 20 years. As conference attendees, we also had the opportunity to tour the clinical learning center during lunch break.  
The room was filled with approximately 100 dog fanciers and breeders representing a wide cross-section of AKC recognized breeds. In an eight hour time period there were eight speakers scheduled. Each speaker could easily have spent the entire day trying to cover their subject matter and answering all our questions; but, alas, time was limited. Luckily some detailed information was included with the conference, including the book “ABC’s of Breeding” by keynote speaker Claudia Orlandi.
I’d like to try to summarize some of the important points from the seminar for the “Review” readers.
This lecture was my favorite!
“Current Concepts Regarding Canine Hip Dysplasia”
Peter Vogel, DVM, DACVS
Specialist in orthopedic surgery, critical care, microvascular surgery and is certified in stem cell regenerative medicine
From the syllabus:
“Breeders are an important source of information regarding heritable diseases such as canine hip dysplasia. However, much of what is common knowledge is often incorrect of incomplete. Find out the most recent information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of hip dysplasia and get practical recommendations that you can employ in your breeding programs. This talk will help you understand the limitation of OFA certification, the benefits of newer screening techniques, and give an overview of current treatment to help you educate your clients.”
OFA hip testing was initiated in 1966. After 40 years of OFA hip testing, the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs has not decreased by even 1%. This is because hip dysplasia is a common defect; it is polygenic (multiple genes involved) and can also be exacerbated by environmental factors such as trauma and diet. Almost all lines of dogs have genes for hip dysplasia. This is probably due to the fact that the majority of dogs are descended from common original ancestors, who were themselves likely genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia. Greyhounds are rarely affected; sighthounds in general have a lower incidence than other races. Standard poodles are one of the very few breeds that are not commonly affected with hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia typically displays some symptoms by age 4-6 months. Symptoms can include pain/stiffness, pop or click of the joint, bunny hopping gait, and “lazy dog” syndrome. The dog will appear to the owner to be lazy, when in reality it does not wish to move because movement is painful. At age 12-15 months, signs and symptoms will disappear, only to reappear later in life when arthritic changes have set in. By then treatment methods are limited and expensive.
The OFA hip screening is the least predictive method for hip dysplasia. It does not rule out hip dysplasia. The OFA technique is outdated 1960’s methodology. The OFA screening xray is limited due to the positioning technique used; it is also subjective depending on those interpreting the film. A better method is the Dislocation Index (DI) which is also known as Penn Hip. Another newer and even more accurate method is the dorsolateral subluxation radiograph (or DLS) which is highly diagnostic for hip dysplasia. This technique positions the dog with weight on the knees and measures actual real laxity of the hip socket.
Fully 50% of dog who score OFA “excellent” hips will be found to be dysplastic using DI and/or DLS. 67% of those who score OFA “good” are actually dysplastic, and 100%  of dogs who score OFA “fair” are dysplastic.
DI technique has some breed-dependent factors (those factors were not discussed).
Another problem with OFA is waiting until the dog is two years old for their final evaluation. Hip dysplasia can and should be diagnosed by age 14-16 weeks and NO LATER THAN age 20 weeks, so that intervention can be done to prevent future painful arthritic changes.
If a puppy is diagnosed with hip dysplasia a simple procedure known as a Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis can be done. The growth plate of the pubis is cauterized to destroy the growing cells of this part of the pelvis. This results in a change in the angle of the pelvis and is 95% successful in preventing progression of the arthritis resulting from hip laxity. This should be done no later than age 5 months. It can be done at the same time as a spay.
A triple pelvic osteotomy can be done to reshape the pelvis; again this must be done before the age of one year and is very effectdive in preventing the progression of hip dysplasia.
OFA hip screening may not even be attempted in most cases until age two years (when it is too late to do any preventive orthopedic surgery), and it will miss most cases of hip dysplasia entirely.  Penn hip or DLS should be done on puppies no later than age 20 weeks for the most accurate diagnosis and early treatment of hip dysplasia.
Other ways to control the progression of hip dysplasia are weight control, proper exercise and diet. Medications such as NSAIDS and adequan have a proven track record. The benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin have not been clinically proven but those supplements can’t hurt. Stem cell therapy is in its infancy but may also prove beneficial.
In conclusion, the Dr. emphasized that if you are a dog breeder, sooner or later you WILL produce dogs with hip dysplasia. Don’t blame yourself! Even two dogs with perfect hips can produce dysplastic puppies. The genes for hip dysplasia are widespread through most every breed!
Common Household Toxins
John H Tegzes, MA, VMD, DABVT
An excellent overview of this topic. The ASPCA poison control number should be readily available in everyone’s home” 888-426-4435
Also, the National Poison Control hotline may be of use: 800-222-1222
Review of the many common toxins found in the home. Activated charcoal should be kept on hand and should be given to your dog if he ingests something toxic (use after consulting with poison control or your vet).
The lecturer told of a case they had where a dog ate snail bait and came in seizuring. They kept the dog alive on a ventilator and after 11 days of touch-and-go status in intensive care, he was sent home. The next day he was brought in again seizuring from eating snail bait. The owner didn’t pick up the bait because she figured the dog had “learned its lesson” and wouldn’t eat snail bait again!
The toxicity of raisins and grapes is very real and serious. Not all dogs are affected. The exact toxic substance within the grapes has not yet been discovered. Nor is it known if this may be a new genetic predisposition in dogs?
Walnuts are often contaminated with penitrem A, a fungal toxin.
Macadamia nuts have a neurologic sedating effect
A new dangerous toxic plant is broomfeldsia or the “yesterday, today and tomorrow” plant.
One of the attendees said her dog was poisoned by eating the inner stalk of the hibiscus flower. She had to search through 20 references on toxic plants before she found one that did list the hibiscus flower as toxic.
Canine Reproduction; Managing the Dog and Bitch to Optimize Success
Dana Bleifer DVM, DACT
Owner, Warner Pet Center, Rose City Veterinary Hospital, and owner/operator of CLONE West canine semen bank. Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder.
Preparation of the dog and bitch is essential to breeding success. Avoid flaxseed and soy in food as it may in theory affect hormonal balance.
Thyroid test should be done on every bitch prior to breeding. TGAA (thyroglobulin autoantibodies) positive indicates autoimmune thyroiditis which is an inherited condition; in addition, thyroid autoantibodies can pass into the puppies from the mothers milk and attack their thyroid gland.
Brucellosis testing should be done periodically on all breeding stock, not just bitches.
Teeth should be clean as the bitch uses her teeth to sever the umbilical cord and can transmit bacteria to the puppy if her mouth is infected. Vaginal cultures are sometimes done but are not very useful because the vaginal tract is full of many different varieties of bacteria naturally. Sometimes you can find Klebsiella or mycoplasma with a vaginal culture; these would need treatment. However, if there is a suspected problem with infection it is better to bring the bitch in at the start of her season for a uterine culture. This is done with the aid of a fiberoptic scope. Routine use of antibiotics during the breeding cycle is not wise as you upset the natural balance of flora in the body. Antibiotics should be reserved for an infectious problem which has been demonstrated by a culture.   
A variety of insemination options were discussed, including the use of fresh, chilled or frozen semen. Ovulation timing using progesterone and LH levels was reviewed. Stud dog management should include a periodic semen evaluation, as well as regular prostate and testicular exams.
“The Canine Genome Decoded: An Introduction for Dog Breeders”
Christopher Irizarry, PhD
A presentation related to “bioinformatics”: the science of decoding the biological information contained within genes and genomes. The canine genome shares many similarities with other mammalian species, and differs from them just by a few small percentage points.
Dr. Irizarry explained how some genetic research is conducted. His team worked with mice and “knocked out” or removed one certain gene from the genome. The chromosome was then replaced into the breeding animal and offspring were tested to see if they were missing the gene. Then if they had two animals who both were missing the particular gene being studied, they bred those together to try to get offspring that were “doubled up” for the missing gene, then they would observe what effect this had. The found a gene that limited growth of muscle tissue (“myostatin”), which, when “knocked out” of the genome and “doubled up” offspring were completely missing this gene, the animals were extremely overmuscled. There were examples pictured of this effect in both mice and cattle.
“On Breed Identification: Visual and DNA”
Victoria Voith, DVM, PhD, DACVB
An interactive session comprised of a breed identification quiz. Photos of shelter dogs were taken, shelter workers were surveyed for each dog. They were asked  if the dog was purebred or a mixed breed, and if mixed, what were the primary and secondary breeds. The dogs’ actual breed composition was identified by DNA analysis and compared with the answers given by the shelter workers.
We seminar participants also took this breed identification survey. Results seemed to indicate that identification of breed makeup based on appearance is not reliably accurate.
“ABC’s of Dog Breeding”
Claudia Waller Orlandi, PhD
This was the keynote speaker, and all participants received a copy of her book, which is a wonderful explanation of dog breeding presented in a fun and easy to understand format.
Genetics, selection, breeding systems, pedigree analysis, canine anatomy, genetic defects and kennel blindness were all discussed, using an interesting slideshow. The book we received is a wealth of information! You can buy it from the website:
Some key points: The pedigree is not more important to consider than the dog itself. Also, linebreeding beyond the fourth generation will have little impact on a litter. No one part of the anatomy of a dog is more important than the whole dog.
In the seminar, discussion of inbreeding/linebreeding did briefly touch on inbreeding depression, and the hazards of doubling up on harmful recessive genes.
Popular sire syndrome is not mentioned.
The harmful effects of homozygosity on the immune system were never mentioned.
In fact, the speaker stated that we would all like to have dogs that are homozygous for all “good” genes. The evidence is available that genetic homozygosity is not beneficial except for being useful to produce some predictability in breeding results.
Inbreeding has been necessary to form some breeds but it has had the side effect of setting in defects into almost every breed. Further culling in attempt to remove those defects results in lack of genetic diversity which is essential for health.
Narrow breed standards and judging for the extreme “stand out” specimens who are extreme in type promotes unhealthy extreme animals.
Yes, we want to produce predictable type and soundness; but our dogs also need some genetic variability. Heterozygosity in general produces healthier animals, with improved vigor and stronger immune systems. This will promote vigor, longevity and strong immune systems for our breeds to remain viable into the future.
“Grooming from the Inside”
Deborah A. Greco, DVM, PhD
The speaker is a senior research scientist with Nestle Purina Petcare. Good quality skin and hair coat can be maintained through a well-balanced diet. Her contention is that commercial pet foods are the easiest choice when available for maintaining skin and coat condition in healthy animals. She further believes that caution and care should be used when prescribing supplements or homemade diets to ensure proper nutrient balance. “Food is the least expensive and most important grooming tool available to the modern day breeder.”
There was no mention made of melamine toxicity, aflatoxicosis, or the many problems associated with the overprocessed ingredients used in most all commercial pet foods.
Erika Werne gave a comprehensive overview of AKC’s CHIC program.
I’d like to thank AKC for this very interesting and valuable symposium; I hope that another will be presented in our area in the near future.

Seizure Disorders


By Geneva Coats
Your dog develops a far-away look in his eyes, suddenly collapses and begins to tremor and shake uncontrollably. Before you have a chance to react, the incident is over. He remains lethargic and weak for a while afterwards. What happened?
Seizures, epilepsy, "fits", convulsions, all different terms referring to the same condition.
A seizure results from sudden uncontrolled abnormal firing of neurons in the brain. The brain exists in a delicate state of chemical and physical balance. This balance can be upset by a number of factors. If the balance in the brain shifts too far, brain cells (neurons) may become over stimulated, and a seizure may result. This point at which seizures occur is known as the "seizure threshold".
Seizures are commonly preceded by an "aura" or altered state which may be characterized by restlessness, nervousness, salivation, and anxiety. The "ictus" or actual seizure follows next. The dog will become nonresponsive, collapse, and experience involuntary motor movements such as stretching, kicking, or paddling. The motions may vary in intensity from mild tremors to severe jerking movements. Seizures place tremendous stress on the heart, lungs and circulation. The body temperature may get very high from all the muscle activity, and the animal may not breathe adequately. This may result (in rare cases) in brain damage and death. The actual seizure itself may last only seconds or minutes. A seizure persisting more than a few minutes is an EMERGENCY, which requires immediate treatment by the closest veterinary facility. The postictal stage is the period of time after the seizure; the dog may remain lethargic and weak, and possibly disoriented.
To be considered a true seizure, there must be an alteration in the level of consciousness. If the dog is conscious, responsive, aware of his surroundings, or is awakened easily from a sleep state, he is not having a true seizure. Heart and lung problems can sometimes result in weakness and collapse, and middle ear infections can cause dizziness. Twitching and jerking motions may occur in a sleep state, and this is considered normal in early neurological development of puppies.
There can also be focal or partial seizures, which affect a certain part of the body. For instance, the face or just one limb may be involved. This may progress to involve the entire body. The fact that the seizure starts in a local area suggests that a specific area in the brain is damaged, perhaps due to a brain tumor or infection.
Seizures are a sign of irritation of the brain tissue, just as a coughing is a sign of irritation of the respiratory tract. Any of the factors listed below can trigger uncontrolled firing of the neurons of the brain. When a seizure is the result of an identifiable cause, the disorder is known as symptomatic or secondary epilepsy. Seizures may be caused by any of the following:
Brain tumor-more common in dogs over 5 years old.
Head injury
Stroke-can be caused either by bleeding in the brain or bydeficiency of the blood flow to the brain tissue. Either condition can be associated with seizures.
Hypoglycemia or low blood glucose (sugar)-common in toy breeds and especially puppies. Rubbing a small amount of sugar or syrup on the lips, gums and tongue may be effective in stopping the seizure if caused by low blood sugar.
Hypoxemia - Low blood oxygen, with resultant lack of oxygen available to the brain. This can be due to poor lung function, or an abnormal cardiac or pulmonary shunting process in a youngster.
Elevated blood ammonia level due to liver infection, cirrhosis or a liver shunt.
Inflammatory or infectious disease of the nervous system. This can include Lyme disease, distemper, rabies, toxoplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever, encephalitis and meningitis.
Ingestion of toxins such as lead, caffeine, chocolate
Botulism-toxins sometimes produced by a bacteria in food.
Exposure to pesticides such as organophosphates (many flea control products) and metaldehyde (snail bait)
Congenital problems, such as hydrocephalus, which produce increased intracranial pressure.
Intestinal parasites, which can cause severe anemia and hypoglycemia. Some parasites also migrate to the liver and brain in their larval forms.
Low serum calcium or magnesium levels- for example, eclampsia in a lactating bitch.
Blood sodium or potassium imbalances. This can be caused by dehydration or kidney problems.
Genetic predisposition as in the MDR-1 mutation common to many herding breeds. This mutation causes a lack of the protein which exerts a protective function in the blood-brain barrier and limits the entry of many drugs to the central nervous system. The lack of this protein renders the dog susceptible to the neurotoxic side effects of several drugs including Ivermectin, Moxidectin and Loperamide.
Kidney failure and high levels in the blood of uremic toxins
Hyperthermia as a result of fever or heat stroke
Thyroid hormone deficiency or hyperactive thyroid.
Seizures are a common disorder in dogs. When tests are done and no reason can be found for the seizure, the disorder is referred to as "idiopathic epilepsy". The term "idiopathic" means that there is no cause for the problem, and that the seizures are not the result of another disease process. This is the type of epilepsy which is usually considered to have an inherited basis.
Idiopathic epilepsy is the most common canine seizure disorder, occurring in up to nearly 6% of all dogs. The problem is more prevalent in some breeds than others. There is a suspected genetic basis for idiopathic epilepsy in German Shepherds, Belgian Tervurens, Keeshonden, Beagles, Dachshunds, Pugs, Poodles, St. Bernards, Irish setters, Siberian Huskies, Cocker Spaniels, Wire-Haired Fox Terriers, Labrador and Golden Retrievers, and Australian Shepherds. In breeds which are genetically predisposed, up to 14% of the population may develop epilepsy. As epilepsy has been shown to be an inherited disorder in humans, baboons, mice, rats, rabbits, gerbils, and chickens, it seems logical that is can be an inherited disorder in dogs as well. Test breeding of epileptic dams and sires done by veterinary researchers have produced incidences of epilepsy in the offspring ranging from between 38% (affected to nonaffected) to 100% (breeding together of two affected dogs).
Hereditary epilepsy commonly begins between the ages of 1-3 years. Seizures which begin earlier or later in the dog's life most probably are a result of a disease process such as those listed above. Your vet will likely want to rule out these conditions before deciding that your dog has hereditary epilepsy.
If your dog has a seizure, don’t panic. Check the clock and make a note of how many seconds or minutes the seizure activity lasts. Keep your dog in a safe environment until the seizure is over. Note what type of abnormal muscular activity happens, so you can describe it for your vet. Do not put anything in your dog’s mouth. Remain by your dog to comfort him. Call your vet for further advice. If the seizure lasts more than a few minutes, take your dog to the closest veterinary facility for immediate care. If your dog has recurrent seizures (more than once in 24 hours), again, seek immediate medical assistance.
Determining the cause is essential for making appropriate treatment choices, and to assist in breeding decisions. You should seek the advice of your veterinarian. Your vet will obtain a medical history, and a full exam including a neurologic exam. He will do blood tests, a urinalysis and fecal exam to look for any possible cause for the seizures. Other exams may include x-ray or ultrasound of the abdomen, EEG to evaluate brain waves, skull x-ray or head MRI, and a cerebrospinal fluid analysis if infection is suspected. Treatment will depend upon the cause of the seizure.
In the case of idiopathic epilepsy, if your dog experiences seizures more frequently than once a month, your vet may decide to place your dog on seizure medication. Antiepileptic drugs do not cure epilepsy, they simply control the seizures. Life-long therapy may be expected. The drugs increase inhibition in the brain, decrease the seizure threshold, and thus make seizures less likely. This often results in side effects such as sedation, uncoordination of movements and appetite stimulation. These effects lessen with time as the body becomes habituated to the medication. The number of dogs who have serious side effects from the medication is small, and often preventable through careful health monitoring. Regular rechecks are essential, and a thorough physical should be done at least yearly.
Phenobarbital and Primidone (Mysoline) are considered first line drugs for idiopathic epilepsy. They are eliminated by the liver and over time may cause liver damage. Your vet will want to monitor liver function tests on a regular basis to avoid this problem. Also blood levels of these drugs are checked to help with deciding on the dosage required. Bone marrow depression and anemia may occur, so a blood count should be done yearly as well.
Potassium Bromide can be used in dogs. Interestingly, it is not well tolerated by humans, as it causes psychological problems in people. However, this is not a problem for dogs. Salty foods should not be given with bromide. Bromide can be mixed with food, as it sometimes can cause an upset stomach.
Valium (diazepam) is affective in treating the acute phase of seizure activity. It is not as effective when given routinely, and is usually reserved for emergency situations.
Many of the newer antiepileptic drugs, such as Dilantin, Tegretol, and Depakote, are metabolized more quickly by dogs than humans. The need for frequent dosing (and their higher price tag) makes their use impractical for dogs.
Unless the seizures are due to low blood sugar or low oxygen due to heart/lung disease, there is no reason to restrict activity. Most epileptic seizures occur when the pet is relaxed and quiet, or even sleeping. Most epileptic pets can lead relatively normal lives with careful monitoring, a healthy diet, plenty of fresh air and exercise, and their favorite human nearby.
Davol, Pamela A. "Understanding Canine Epilepsy"
Dvorak, Roy, "Why Does My Dog Have Seizures"
Graves, Thomas K, DVM, "Seizures in Dogs"
O'Brien, Dennis, DVM, PhD., "Understanding Your Pet's Epilepsy"
Primovic, Debra, DVM, "Seizure Disorders"
Copyright 2006. This article may not be reproduced or distributed in any form without express written consent of the author.


Geneva Coats, R.N.
Originally published in the Pomeranian Review

The term “arthritis” means inflammation of the joints. Any joint can be affected by arthritis, including hips, knees, elbows, shoulders, even toes and the spine. Arthritis has a devastating effect on the quality of life, making simple motions such as walking, jumping, and climbing painful or even impossible.

The ends of bones are covered with cartilage, a form of connective tissue. Cartilage acts as a “shock absorber” between the bones. These areas rub together with movement and can literally wear away. As cartilage wears away, calcium deposits can be laid down, which causes further pain and restricts movement.

Special thick fluid lubricates the joint space for ease of motion, and helps prevent cartilage from wearing away as a result of friction. However, as the body ages it may lose the ability to replenish joint fluid or maintain the cartilaginous surfaces on the ends of the bones. Cartilage repairs itself very slowly, due to poor nutrient supply and the fact that joints are seldom resting.


A common cause of arthritis is degeneration associated with aging. Arthritis can also be the result of a traumatic injury, or it can be due to a deformity like hip dysplasia or patellar luxation. Autoimmune diseases like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are characterized by joint surface destruction and inflammation caused by a malfunctioning immune system. Arthritis may sometimes result from a systemic bacterial infection or from diseases acquired from tick bites. Gout is another form of arthritis caused by mineral or crystal deposits in the joints.


Arthritis usually develops gradually over time. Cartilage does not contain blood vessels or nerves, so once the joint becomes painful, significant damage has already been done. Symptoms of arthritis can include pain, limping, stiffness, resistance to touch or reluctance to participate in activities that the dog formerly enjoyed. Sometimes a dog may be regarded as “lazy” when in reality he simply prefers to move around as little as possible to avoid pain. A radiograph can confirm arthritic changes in the joints.


There are several things we as owners can do to help prevent and treat arthritis in our dogs. Throughout your dog’s life, keep him in lean, fit condition. Joint movement stimulates the production of beneficial lubricating joint fluids, so moderate low-impact exercise such as walking or swimming is recommended to maintain joint health. Being overweight stresses the joints, and exercise helps to prevent obesity. However, do not overdo physical activity because this can lead to fatigue and injuries. Also, too much stress to muscles or bones of a young developing body can cause deformity or damage, which may eventually result in arthritis. For this reason aggressive physical workouts are generally not recommended, particularly for the immature dog.


Most treatments for arthritis center on resting the joint and reducing pain and inflammation. Providing your dog with a supplemental heat source can provide great relief. A heating pad or infrared heat lamp can be used for 15-20 minutes several times daily. Cold flooring should be avoided, and of course your arthritic dog would appreciate a nice soft bed. Many people buy or build ramps for their dog when navigating stairs or getting in and out of the car becomes difficult.

Consult your veterinarian for advice about the use of anti-inflammatory medications. Corticosteroids such as prednisone or dexamethasone may be prescribed in severe cases. Steroids provide quick relief to the inflammation and pain from arthritis, but they also have serious side effects such as GI upset, weight gain, elevated blood sugar level. With prolonged use, steroids cause loss of muscle mass, weakening of bones and depression of the immune system. Use of steroids can also make the problem worse by causing damage to cartilage. Their use is generally reserved for short-term treatment in cases of severe pain and immobility.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) are frequently recommended. If your veterinarian agrees, aspirin can be tried, using a dosage of 5-10 mg per pound. Do NOT use Tylenol (acetaminophen) or Motrin (ibuprofen).

Other NSAIDS used for the treatment of canine arthritis include:

� Rimadyl or Novox (carprofen)

� Etogesic (etodolac)

� Deramaxx (deracoxib)

� Metacam (meloxicam)

� Zubrin (tepoxalin) and

� Previcox (firocoxib).

These NSAIDs are very effective for relief of pain and inflammation, but there is also a high risk of adverse reactions. Side effects of NSAIDs may range from loss of appetite to ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver disease, kidney problems and in some cases even death. These medications should only be used under careful supervision of your veterinarian.

Your dog should not take more than one type of NSAID at a time, and a NSAID should only be combined with a steroid very cautiously. Another important point to consider is that steroids and NSAIDs may temporarily relieve symptoms, but they do not improve the condition of the joint structure, and can actually cause further damage to the joint tissues. A holistic approach to arthritis is founded on nutritional joint support.


There are some diet modifications that may be helpful to control arthritis. Grains and other starchy carbohydrates should be avoided because they may aggravate inflammation. Overprocessed foods with added sugar, salt, artificial colors and flavors and artificial preservatives such as ethoxyquin and BHA/BHT should be eliminated. Fruits and berries can be added to the diet; the bioflavonoids that they contain are powerful antioxidants that help reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis. Beneficial vegetables include celery, carrots, parsley, asparagus, broccoli, cilantro, and garlic. Members of the nightshade family of vegetables should be avoided because they contain irritating solanine alkaloids. This includes peppers, onions, white potatoes, tomatoes and eggplant. Liver should be limited to no more than 5% of the diet.


Nutraceutical supplements help to improve the actual problem, not just relieve the symptoms. Dietary supplements can be taken along with anti-inflammatory medications and can be continued on a long-term basis without any serious adverse side effects. They are generally regarded as harmless. There are many combination products marketed specifically for arthritis. We will cover some of the more commonly recommended supplements here.

Cartilage has two key structural components: collagen fibers (made of protein) and a reinforced gel composed of proteoglycans (GAGs like chondroitin and hyaluronan) which attract and hold water. Supplements provide the body with the building materials needed to maintain healthy cartilage.

Glucosamine is a natural substance that is found in normal joint tissue. Glucosamine stimulates the production of glucosaminoglycans (GAGs) which are important joint proteins. Two examples of GAGs are chondroitin and hyaluronan. When taken as a dietary supplement, glucosamine helps rebuild cartilage and restore synovial (joint) fluid. It also has been found to reduce pain and discomfort.

The tissues that depend on glucoasmine to remain healthy include tendons and ligaments, cartilage, synovial fluid, mucous membranes, several structures in the eye, blood vessels, and heart valves.

Glucosamine has been used for a variety of problems including: breakdown and inflammation of the synovial fluids, damage to the tissues, ligaments and muscles, inflamed sciatic nerve, inflamed joints associated with aging, tracheal weakness and loss of elasticity in the intervertebral discs.

Chondroitin is a major component of cartilage structure. Supplemental chondroitin is believed to promote water retention and elasticity in the joints. Chondroitin enhances the effectiveness of glucosamine when taken together. Also, chondroitin inhibits the enzymes that break down cartilage. Natural chondroitin production declines with age and is disrupted by stress or injury. NSAIDs and corticosteroid drugs that are often prescribed for arthritis also contribute to joint damage.

When taking glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis, start at a high dose and taper down when you notice improvement. Use at least 20 mg glucosamine per pound of body weight. Allow at least four weeks before expecting to see improvement, although often you will notice pain relief and improved movement after just a few days.

Most glucosamine and chondroitin supplements are produced from the chitinous shells of ocean crustaceans, or from animal cartilage such as bovine trachea. has tested various brands of glucosamine supplements marketed for pets, and found that many contained far less chondroitin that they claimed, and some were contaminated with lead. One reliable source recommended Cosequin and Dr Foster and Smith brand.

Hyaluronan, also known as hyaluronic acid, is another substance in the same family as chondroitin. Hyaluronan is the main component of joint fluid. Natural hyaluronan is a thick gel in the joint that cushions and lubricates the joint cartilage surfaces. Hyaluronan is available as a nutritional supplement and has been shown to enter joints and improve condition. Some commercially formulated hyaluronan supplements include Trixsyn and Lubrisyn.

Manganese is included with many glucosamine/chondroitin supplements as it is believed to improve absorption.

Adequan is a purified injectable form of GAG. This injection is given twice weekly for four weeks. Adequan relieves joint pain, stimulates cartilage regeneration, reduces inflammation and stimulates the production of healthy joint fluid.

MSM is a natural sulfur-containing compound derived from kelp. Sulfur is needed for production of collagen, glucosamine and chondroitin

Perna Mussel or green-lipped mussel is a shellfish found in New Zealand. It is high in protein, and contains significant levels of glucosamine and GAGs. Some dog foods (Blue Buffalo and Ziwipeak) include perna mussel in their formulas.


Fish oil or salmon oil is helpful to soothe arthritic joints. Recent studies in dogs and reported by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association confirmed the benefits of fish oil for arthritis. Compared to placebo groups, the dogs receiving omega-3 fatty acids had a significantly improved ability to rise from a resting position and play by six weeks after beginning supplementation, and improved ability to walk by 12 weeks.

Fish oil contains beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids. Try one capsule of fish oil per ten pounds of body weight. Make sure to use plain fish or salmon oil, and not fish liver oil.

Vitamin E is depleted quickly with the use of fish oil, so supplemental E is a must. Vitamin E also has potent pain relieving and anti-inflammatory qualities. Use 100 IU of vitamin E per ten pounds of body weight at least three times a week.

Vitamin C is essential to maintain collagen, a major component of cartilage. Vitamin C can be taken in doses of 10 mg per pound of body weight, up to 30 mg per pound daily. Ester C is less irritating than ascorbic acid. While dogs do produce their own vitamin C, in cases of arthritis a supplement may be particularly helpful.

Bromelain is an enzyme. It should be given on an empty stomach.

Quercitin and other bioflavonoids naturally occur in fruits and are also available in some supplements. These have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Boswellia is an herb that demonstrated significant clinical improvement in joint pain in dogs in a study done in 2004.

Yucca is a root that has a long history of use for arthritis. It contains saponins that may stimulate the body’s natural steroid production.

Avocado/Soybean Unsaponifiables (ASUs) are an extract of avocado and soybean. They have anti-inflammatory properties and enhance the action of glucosamine and chondroitin. Dasuquin is a product combining Cosequin with ASUs.

SAM-E is believed to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieveing properties. It should be taken on an empty stomach.

Duralactin is a patented product derived from milk of grass-fed cows. It may help reduce inflammation in some cases.

Velvet Antler is a powdered deer antler preparation that is not recommended because of the possibility of transmitting prion chronic wasting disease.

Curcumin or Turmeric is an herb in the ginger family that is reputed to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. It is also known as Indian Saffron.

With a little TLC and nutritional support, your arthritic dog can remain active and comfotable well into his senior years!

(This information is presented for informational purposes only; please consult with your veterinarian for advice regarding treatment of your dog’s arthritis.)

Chromosomes-Pull Up Yer Genes!

CHROMOSOMES-Get your Genes On!
Why is Spot larger than Rover? Why does Trixie have a golden coat while Muffie’s is black? And why are Muffie’s ears floppy while Rover’s stand upright?
Specific characteristics of living organisms are determined by their “GENES”. Genes are “coding” segments made up of a substance called DNA. The DNA in your genes is arranged in specific patterns. Different genes are strung together in long rows to form a rope-like chain called a “chromosome”. Each chromosome contains thousands of genes.
Chromosomes are instruction panels; they provide the blueprint to make an organism what it is. Chromosomes carry all of the information necessary to help living things grow, survive and reproduce. Chromosomes are located inside the cells of the body in a central control area called a “nucleus”. These chromosomes determine not only what you look like, but also how your body functions and, to a large extent, how you act, think and feel.
The DNA that makes up genes and chromosomes is like a computer code of instructions. Chromosomes s build a copy of themselves and send those instructions to other parts of the cell, the ribosomes, and the ribosomes in turn manufacture proteins according to instructions provided. These proteins might be enzymes for body metabolism, or proteins for building body tissues.
During normal cell division for growth or cell replacement and repair, chromosomes double and then split apart to form two cells from one. Now both of these cells will end up with identical chromosomes within their nuclei. However, there is a special type of cell division that happens to produce the reproductive or “germinal” cells. Instead of doubling, the germinal cells are produced by by splitting up the original chromosomes. These reproductive germinal cells, the sperm and the eggs (ova), therefore will contain only HALF the number of chromosomes as do the other cells of the body. When a sperm cell combines with an ovum, VOILA! there is then a complete set of genes with a full set of instructions to create a new living being. This new creature will have half his genes originating from his father’s sperm, and the other half will have been contributed by his mother’s ovum.
This process involves something known as “random fertilization”. What does that mean?
The chromosome combination contributed by a sire to his offspring is random, and can vary considerably. Half his chromosomes will end up in that sperm cell…but how many different possible combinations of chromosomes can there be in any one sperm cell?
Let’s check it out. Humans have 46 chromosomes, arranged in 23 pairs, that divide and split up to form germinal cells, and they assort independently. To form a germinal cell, there are 2^23, or 8 million, possible different assortments of chromosomes that could be produced for each individual cell!! The ovum also has 8 million possible different chromosome combinations. 8 million X 8 million = 64 trillion possible unique combinations of chromosomes for every human offspring created from any given mating! See how unique you are! Even your siblings may have quite a different genetic makeup than you do!
A human cell has 46 chromosomes, arranged in 23 pairs. A dog cell, however, has 78 chromosomes, arranged in 39 pairs. Each sire can produce roughly 550 BILLION different assortments of chromosomes in their sperm cells. Multiply that by the 550 billion possible combinations of chromosomes in the dam’s ova, and there are 300,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 possible DIFFERENT combinations of chromosomes that can be produced for any individual dog created from any specific mating.
WOW! that’s a lot of zeros. How do you read such a number? It is 30 billion trillion. This is roughly the same number as the estimate of stars in the visible universe. Each dog from any certain mating is as unique in his genetic makeup as a star! That's a very nice comparison, I think.
But wait! There is another factor that can further increase genetic variety in offspring. This is the phenomenon known as “genetic crossover”. Crossover commonly happens during cell division to produce sperm and ova. What does “crossover” mean? Let’s see….remember we said that each chromosome has a partner chromosome with similar genes on it. During cell division, part of one chromosome may break off and swap material with its partner. This means that sometimes the chromosome that you inherit is totally different from the original one your parent has. The crossover process “shuffles the deck” so to speak, to produce even more variety in offspring. It would be impossible to estimate how much more variety this effect produces! But we would need millions more universes filled with billions more stars to get close to the number of unique combinations of chromosomes possible with any specific mating.

This vastly inconceivable number implies a rich potential to produce dogs who have a very unique and highly individualized genetic makeup. This inherent variety in the dog genome is how man has been able to create so many different breeds with characteristics as different as those noted between a Chihuahua and an Irish Wolfhound. Compare the variety in dogs to that of humans, who all look remarkably similar….even people of different races. We have fewer chromosomes to reassort and recombine, and less chance of isolating and promoting different specific traits.
Now do you still think that one or two litters is enough to judge what your dog can produce? Although, I am sure there are animal rights “overpopulation” handwringers out there who believe that every intact dog will produce billions of puppies in just seven years. Hmmm, I only wish I could get more than three or four at a time to select from!
And just think, each and every chromosome contains thousands of individual genes! In the next issue, we’ll talk about how those genes combine and recombine to work their magic!