Saturday, March 29, 2008

The cost of dog showing

have been wondering how the price of gas has been affecting entries at dog shows. I spoke with a show chair for one of the kennel clubs in Florida who told me that entries have been down. When you consider the expense of showing, I often think that one is better off hiring a handler.

Handlers charge $75-100 per show plus entry fees. There is also a split charge for transportation. But when one considers that to drive to a dog show on a Friday, get a hotel and meals, pay entries, and do the work from sunup to sundown, having a handler doesn't seem like a bad idea.

As AKC says, "Showing is an expensive hobby, not a money-making venture. It’s a fun way to meet people with similar interests, participate in a sport with your dog and gain unbiased opinions about a dog’s breeding potential (although not all people that show breed their dogs).

Mostly, all that an exhibitor will win is a small ribbon. For some wins, a trophy or dog related item is offered. Cash prizes are occasionally offered for big wins, however these cash prizes do not offset the money spent to show a dog. In general, prizes won do not come close to the expense of showing when one figures entry fees, traveling & equipment expenses and all other expenses that go along with showing a dog."

Amen to that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter weekend for the dogs

The dogs got some special treats for Easter weekend. Mother Hubbard dog treats in different flavors were the item du jour. Hoffa, the greyhound, has to eat natural food with no corn. Otherwise, she gets an upset digestive system. I prefer to spoil her a bit so that there isn't a chance of any problems.

The Labradors seem to love the Iams cookies. They have caste iron stomachs and nothing much seems to bother them. But they got to splurge on some Mother Hubbard peanut butter cookies for Easter.

Hope that your Easter weekend turned out to be a good one. The weather was nice, yet it was chilly enough that the dogs enjoyed romping around. The gnats are out though so I'm always grateful for a little wind.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Rowing in 40 knot gusts

I haven't blogged about rowing for a while. On Wednesday, the rowing group got together at City Marina and we set forth in a wild wind. We rowed into the Harbor with gusts at 40 knots! It was quite a wild ride.

When I'm rowing with some seas, I have to watch the oar because it's easy to catch a "crab". When that happens, your oar goes too deep and you can't get it back out before the boat moves forward. That can knock you off your seat which has happened to me when I first started rowing.

There were two guests from RI who rowed with us. One of them caught a crab and got knocked back a bit. They laughed about it afterwards. When racing in an eight, I've heard of people being dumped right out of the shell for catching a crab.

Anyway, it was a wild and crazy row. I can see that a Labrador or a Chesapeake would have to be very strong to bust through waves created by a 40 knot gust.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Do dogs get jealous?

I'm sure that I can answer "Yes" to that question. Take for instance, the interaction of Hoffa and Stella. Hoffa will visit her friend Stella for a couple of days. She gets to go to the beach, go to doggy park, and have all kinds of fun.

But when the two are together, Stella will gather up every toy and every dog bone that is around, hoard them and take them into her crate. There was one dog bone that I got at the grocery store. It was a large marrow bone with lots of meat on it. Stella wasn't interested in it at all. She sniffed it and walked away. So now over a week since the marrow bone was ignored, Hoffa comes to visit and Stella decides that she loves the marrow bone. She hovers over it. She looks at it with love. She guards it. And she won't even get in the van to go to doggy park because she wants to guard her marrow bone.

Is this doggy jealousy? It is to my mind a great example of how possessive dogs can be. And maybe it's just certain dogs and their reaction to guarding food and their crates. But it is also humorous. I have to smile at Stella's sudden interest in the marrow bone when Hoffa arrives on the scene. Aren't dogs just so like people sometimes?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deacon gets a major!

I received word just now that Surry's Deacon Blue got his first major (a 3 pointer) today at the Lancaster Kennel Club show. Last weekend, he also got his first point by going WD.

I'm happy that he is doing well. Jenn Howard said that he is sometimes a goofy boy! Yep, he can be that. He's at that age of 15 months when NO seems to be his name. He has zero attention most of the time, wants to sniff everything, is instantly in love, and well...acts just like a juvenile Labrador male.

I'm just glad that Jenn and Rusty have him and will teach him some manners. He thinks that it's a free for all here at Surry. And at the dog shows where I recently showed him in February, he was a real handful. In fact, the English judge said that he was lovely but didn't do himself any favors by cutting up. Yep, that's Deacon. Points and training....hmm...wonder which one I like better?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Is spring here?

I'm wondering whether the last of winter is over. There isn't much winter to speak of anyway in South Carolina. Sometimes in March there can be ice but it appears that with warm days ahead, we may be getting into spring.

The flowers think that it's spring anyway. Daffodils have bloomed, the flowering shrubs are out, and the Labradors are enjoying lying about in the sun.

Now that the weather is warmer, I've enjoyed going to the beach. I try to take a couple of dogs each time. More and more people are also out at the beach with their dogs.

On this day, I met Rocky, the German Shepherd. Rocky is 10 weeks old and as cute as he can be. He enjoyed playing with the Labradors who seemed to recognize that he was a goofy puppy. There was a lot of butt tucking going on.

The dogs seem to enjoy meeting people and other dogs at the beach. If you get a chance, take your dog for a long walk on the beach. It's good for the human mind and great for the dogs too.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Interdigital cysts

I had an email from a Labrador that had "boil like" bumps between the toes. The bumps would rupture and there was a small crater in the center. I suspected that these were interdigital cysts.

These cysts are caused by pododermatitis and interdigital pyoderma. These have been extremely frustrating to treat successfully with any one approach. So the following is a list of things that have worked, with some notes about how they may be useful:

Mupirocin ointment (Bactoderm Rx)--can be put on the cysts and sometimes works well.

Metronidazole (Flagyl Rx)--strangely enough it can help with these cysts.

Doxycyline, like metronidazole, has worked well for a couple of dogs.

Fluoroquinolones (Baytril Rx, Dicural Rx, Orbax Rx, others) are the most commonly recommended antibiotics in the dermatology literature. These are broad spectrum antibiotics that generally penetrate tissue well.

Clindamycin (Antirobe Rx) is an antibiotic that has good activity against anerobic bacteria which seem to be involved in some cases of interdigital cysts. It is often used in combination with fluoroquinolones but can also be effective alone in some dogs.

Cephalexin ( Keflex Rx) is our general favorite antibiotic for skin disease. It can be used long-term to control skin infections. It seems to be among the safer of antibiotics, although no antibiotic is totally risk free. If there seems to be any response to cephalexin early in treatment we usually try it for at least three weeks.

So you may want to talk to your vet about starting with cephalexin and then move on to the other medications on the list, except that we often use cephalexin and metronidazole together rather than withdrawing the cephalexin. You can use fluoroquinolones last, mostly based on expense.

These cysts can come back so you may have to start the treatment again. You may want to consider keeping your dog indoors, if you have a kennel, while the antibiotics work. Sometimes there are things such as pollen that can cause allergies. Also, you may want to switch to a different food,especially one that is natural and does not have corn. I suggest one of the Wellness or Nutro foods.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

New topical flea treatment

I've use Frontline Plus for flea and ticks for a while. I have also used Program which is a monthly pill that prevents formation of chitin in flea eggs and larvae, thereby killing fleas before they develop. Although Frontline still seems to be doing well for the dogs, I have read that long-term use of a particular product may reduce its effectiveness as fleas may become resistant. However, I haven't read any published papers to that effect for Frontline.

The other day when I went to the vets' office, I saw an ad for a new flea product called ProMeris.
ProMeris is a spot on treatment, just like Frontline. It is only available through your vets' office. Fort Dodge who makes ProMeris established a veterinarian-only sales policy because it believes veterinarians should be pet owners’ primary source of information to help ensure the health and well-being of their companion animals. And it is new so there isn't much information on long-term effects.

The active ingredients are Metaflumizone that has never before been used to control fleas before. It attacks fleas’ nervous systems by blocking voltage dependent sodium channels, which results in paralysis and death of the flea. Amitraz, the second active ingredient in ProMeris for dogs, is a well-established tickicide and provides dogs with up to four weeks of tick control. Amitraz works by disrupting the tick’s normal nerve function, leading to reduced feeding and attachment, paralysis and death of the tick.

ProMeris for dogs effectively controls fleas and protects against re-infestation for up to six weeks, and may be used as part of a treatment strategy for dogs suffering from flea allergy dermatitis.

I'm not sure whether I'll switch to ProMeris or not. There are a lot of squirrels, foxes and opposums at Surry which makes for additional problems when trying to control fleas. So I need something that remains effective for the dogs during the flea season. Hopefully, Frontline will continue to be effective.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Is your Labrador overweight?

I occasionally hear from people who tell me that their Labrador is over 100 pounds. This is a lot of weight, especially for a Labrador. Being overweight puts a lot of strain on the joints and isn’t good for the vascular system of your dogs. In short, it shortens the life of your Labradors. How can you tell if your dog is overweight? They should have a waist that is visible. The waist occurs after the last rib and before the hip and stifle joints.

There are a couple of things that you can do to take weight off. One is to make sure that the dog gets regular exercise. Long walks of around 2 miles a day are ideal. Another thing to do is to reduce the amount of calories being given. That means you will need to reduce the amount of food being fed or perhaps switch to a food that has fewer calories such as a Light version of the food that you are feeding. Another method that I’ve used on occasion is the Green Bean Diet.

With this diet, you substitute green beans for up to 1/2 of your dog's food on a daily basis. In other words, if your dog normally gets a cup of food in the morning and a cup of food in the evening, you can give them 1/2 cup of dog food and 1/2 cup of green beans for the morning feed and do the same thing in the evening.

The type of green beans is important. Fresh beans are ideal but frozen ones that you buy in bulk will do. Don’t cook the frozen ones but put them in the microwave to thaw. As a last resort, use canned UNSALTED green beans. Use the liquid from the can to pour over the food and then add the beans.

There are a few other vegetables that you could use but be careful of the sugar content. Carrots are about the best if you care to mix some of them with the beans. Both will add a good deal of fiber to the diet and will make your dog feel full. I suggest that you watch his stool to make sure that he isn’t getting too much fiber!

Don’t be discouraged as the diet may take a while to work. Don’t give in and don’t give treats, except for pieces of carrot during the dieting period. Remember that these vegetables are good for your dog and will help with the weight loss program. A trim Labrador is definitely a more healthy one.