Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fact or fiction?

I followed a Twitter link today to something called "Ask a vet online". As I clicked through the site, the one thing I could not find was the list of veterinarians (who would answer my question) and their credentials.

Whether or not this online service is legitimate or not, I do not know. And I started wondering about other people's online habits: Do you question what you read? Do you try to determine if a person, place, or thing is real? Know this: anyone can create a web presence. ANYone. So ... surfer, beware.

Woofs 'n wags,
Dee and The Furkids

Monday, May 21, 2012

Health issues affecting Labrador retrievers

I love Labs. I live with five of them and have trained hundreds more. And this I know to be true: Labrador retrievers are insanely overbred in the U.S. The list of health issues impacting their longevity and quality of life keeps growing. And consider this: If you get a designer dog that includes the Labrador retriever in its bloodlines (like the Labradoodle), the same inherited health issues may occur.

Hip and elbow dysplasia is rampant in many large and giant breed dogs. Better breeding standards could eliminate it.
  • The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) grades canine hips and elbows based on radiographs (x-rays) supplied by your veterinarian.
  • The University of Pennsylvania's program - PennHip - provides a new way to evaluate a dog's hips. According to their website their methodology "is accurate in puppies as young as 16 weeks of age. It has great potential to lower the frequency of CHD when used as a selection criterion".

Centronuclear myopathy (CNM)
  • This is a recessive inherited muscular disease "characterized by early onset muscular problems such as awkward gait, fatigue, and difficulty eating. Affected puppies generally begin displaying these problems within a few months after birth".
Retinal Dysplasia (RD)/OculoSkeletal Dysplasia (OSD)
  •  A dog with RD can be a carrier of OSD. According to OptiGen, OSD is a "severe condition in which dogs show a variety of skeletal malformations, including shorted limbs (dwarfism) and blindness at an early age. The blindness results from a generalized malformation of the retina that causes a partial or full retinal detachment and cataracts."
Exercise Intolerance Collapse (EIC)
  • According to the University of Minnesota, "Affected dogs can tolerate mild to moderate exercise, but 5 to 20 minutes of strenuous exercise with extreme excitement induces weakness and then collapse. Severely affected dogs may collapse whenever they are exercised to this extent - other dogs only exhibit collapse sporadically".
  • According to their website, CERF is "Dedicated to the elimination of heritable eye disease in dogs through registration and research".
May you and your Labs live long, healthy, happy lives!
Woofs 'n wags from Dee & The Furkids

Friday, May 18, 2012

There's a service dog for that?

Visual impairment. 
Hearing impairment. 
Seizure disorders. 
Traumatic brain injury. 
Debilitating arthritis.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome. 
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Yes. There are service dogs for each of these and many more diagnosed physical and mental disabilities, disorders and diseases.

 Service dogs.

In the U.S., service dogs can go almost anywhere their handler goes. Service dogs are not pets and a "no pets" policy does not apply to them.

Therapy dogs.

Are not service dogs. They are well-trained family pets who, when invited, can visit people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, etc. Therapy dogs are otherwise allowed only in places the family pet is allowed. "No pets" policies apply to them.

Family pets.

Are not service dogs. Do NOT pretend that your beloved Fifi is a service dog so she can go to dinner with you. It's immoral and a slap in the face to "real" service dogs.

This, dear readers, is only the tip of the iceberg. If you think a service dog is right for you, start your search for information at Service Dog 411. Or drop them an email. And take a moment to read some great real-life dog stories.

Woofs 'n wags!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Potty training your puppy

Potty training is nothing more than teaching a behavior (just like sit or stay). As with all behaviors, getting what you want requires three things:


Your puppy requires guidance. He doesn’t speak our language, so he needs a way to communicate his needs to you. The keys to successful potty training are:
  • Give it a name. Call it “go potty”, “outside”, “hurry”, anything you like. But do it consistently.
  • Same place every time. Take puppy outside to go potty on a leash to the same place every time. You have a bathroom. He needs one, too.
  • Reward, reward, reward. Take treats outside with you. When puppy urinates or defecates in the proper place, treat, treat, treat and say “good dog” in a calm, happy voice. But ... please wait until the dog is finished. Praise in the midst of a pee or poo can stop the process.
  • Limited access. Until potty training is complete, limit puppy’s access to your home. If puppy spends most of his time with you in the family room, close doors to all other rooms. Use baby gates at staircases. "Eyes on puppy" at all times will ensure he doesn't wander around a corner and pee under an end table.
  • Communication. Puppy needs a way to tell you he has to go out. Using twine, tie a bell to your potty exit door at puppy nose height. As you are doing this, have puppy on leash near you. Dogs are nosy and will usually “nose” the bell out of curiosity. When this happens and the bell rings, say in a happy voice “let’s go potty”, open the door, and go outside. Have him ring the bell each and every time you approach the door to take him outside and soon he will be ringing it on his own. And yes, you MUST take him outside on leash every time he rings it - even if he's messing with you and just wants to go outside to play.
  • Ignore bad behavior. Reward good behavior and ignore bad behavior. This applies to everything, including potty training. Dogs seek attention and will get it any way that works. If you make a big deal out of puppy going potty in the house, you are in a very strange way rewarding the behavior, i.e., your puppy got your attention. Just clean up the mess with an odor neutralizer and get on with your day.
Basic training early in your dog's life builds a great foundation for the rest of your lives together!

Got puppy? Visit Puppies chew shoes, the blog and pick up a copy of the book for Kindle on Amazon.