Sunday, August 31, 2008

Neilley and Tobias's birthday

I received the cute photo above from Ann Key. She has Neilley, aka The Pinkster, who is a full sister to Tobias. Neilley was born small and struggled to nurse but kept getting pushed away from Annabelle by the other puppies. So, I nursed her with a bottle. She thrived and grew to be a wonderful girl who goes everywhere with Ann and Paul.

Her birthday meal was her normal kibble with home made gravy and a blue berry muffin topped with yogurt in the middle. Tobias got some chicken gravy and extra biscuits for his birthday. But then all the other dogs did too as there would be too many jealous Labradors if one was favored over the other.

Ann and Paul travel to various events selling their Heelan' Hound dog goods. They will be in Charleston for the Scottish games on Sept. 20. So if you go, stop by their booth and say "hello" to the Keys and Neilley.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Porter and Tombee are gone

Unfortunately, Porter lost his battle with ALL. His owners called to tell us that he got so weak that nothing more could be done. This was a rapid cancer (see post from August 10).

There isn't much that can be said when a good dog is gone. And especially when one is only four years old. Porter was a good boy. His human mom told me that he was the best dog ever. I only wish that all would live to a ripe old age.

We also learned that Tombee died this summer. He was much loved by his humans and enjoyed the beach, riding in golf carts, and everyone that he met.

It has been a tough summer for the owners of these wonderful dogs and for us who remember them when they were young puppies enjoying playing in the front yard at Surry.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Unhealthy "Freak" show breeds?

Some friends sent me a link to this article from the Daily Mail On Line. Crufts is a premier show. I have to question that only one viewpoint has been aired here. There are many dedicated breeders who work diligently in this heartbreak hobby to eliminate unwanted traits. They screen breeding stock and breed with the idea of producing healthy dogs. Many breed clubs donate to research and cooperate with the scientific community to determine modes of inheritance that are largely unknown for many diseases. And there are several problems such as epilepsy and hip dysplasia that are polygenic which makes the genetic determination of the disease not possible at the present. All show dogs are not freaks or in bad health. This article seems to weigh heavily with animal rights activists rather than with the truth.

BBC could drop Crufts over unhealthy 'freak show' breeds

By Jonathan Margolis and Fiona Macrae

The BBC could stop showing Crufts after a documentary exposed the diseases and deformities suffered by many of Britain's 5million pedigree dogs.

Decades of inbreeding and the demands of the show circuit have resulted in a legacy of life-threatening ills, from agonising brain conditions to epilepsy, heart murmurs and cancers.

The golden retriever, the cavalier King Charles spaniel, the boxer, the Pekingese, the bulldog and the pug are among the breeds plagued by disease and deformity as a result of breeders 'playing God with dogs', tonight's programme claims.

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With purebreds accounting for three-quarters of Britain's 7million pet dogs, their catalogue of health problems is costing their owners more than £10million in vets' fees every week.

So shocking are some of the scenes in the documentary - including a boxer having an epileptic fit and a King Charles spaniel writhing in agony because its skull is too small for its brain - that the BBC is considering ending its 42-year connection with Crufts.

There is even speculation that the Queen, well known for her love of dogs, could cut her ties with the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts and sets the standards for the 200 or so breeds of pedigree dog.

Mark Evans, the RSPCA's chief vet, said: 'When I watch Crufts, what I see is a parade of mutants. It's some freakish, garish beauty pageant that has nothing, frankly, to do with health and welfare.


BBC ban? Decades of inbreeding have resulted in a legacy of life-threatening ills

'We've become completely and utterly desensitised to the fact that breeding these deformed, disabled, disease-prone animals is either shocking or abnormal.'

The BBC1 documentary Pedigree Dogs Exposed, to be shown at 9pm, is the result of a two-year investigation into the breeding and show circuits. It highlights the health problems suffered by many of our favourite pets.

Vets describe how virtually all cavalier King Charles spaniels develop life-threatening heart murmurs.

And a third have syringomyelia, an agonising condition caused by them being bred with skulls too small for their brains.

Veterinary neurologist Clare Rusbridge said: 'The cavalier's brain is like a size ten foot that has been shoved into a size six shoe; it doesn't fit.

'It is described in humans as one of the most painful conditions you can have, a piston-type headache. Even a light touch - a collar, for example - can induce discomfort.

'If you took a stick and beat a dog to create that pain, you'd be prosecuted. But there's nothing to stop you breeding a dog with it.'

The programme says the drive for perfection has left golden retrievers prone to cancer, labradors with joint and eye problems, West Highland terriers beset with allergies and boxers at high risk of heart disease, epilepsy and cancer.

Pugs are so inbred that although there are 10,000 in Britain, their DNA could come from just 50.

The Pekingese's squashed face causes breathing difficulties that lead to some airlines refusing to fly them.

So serious are the breathing problems that Danny, the 2003 Crufts winner, sat on an ice pack while being photographed afterwards to stop him overheating.

To ensure desirable traits are passed on, male dogs are being mated with their own daughters, sisters and granddaughters.

Steve Jones, professor of genetics at University College London, said: 'If dog breeders insist on going further down that road, I can say with confidence that there is a universe of suffering waiting for many of these breeds and many, if not most, will not survive.'

The Kennel Club said it worked hard 'to eliminate from breed standards any exaggerations that might cause problems'.

Club secretary Caroline Kisko said many of the health problems have their roots in Victorian times and inbreeding was an 'essential tool' in the development of breeds.

The organisation runs a range of health testing schemes and is funding the development of genetic tests. 'Ninety per cent of purebred dogs are healthy,' she said.

Eamon Hardy, the documentary's executive producer, said: 'In light of this programme, the BBC will request a meeting with the Kennel Club to discuss the implications and potential impact of the film.'

Buckingham Palace said it could not comment on speculation.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Cruciate ligament injuries in Labradors

The dog's knee is similar to a human knee, in terms of joint function and orthopedic condition. A dog's joint consists of various parts: Femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone) and patella and supporting ligaments and tendons. The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is connected to the femur, extends across the stifle joint, and attaches to the tibia. The CCL holds the tibia in place and prevents internal rotation and hyperextension. The cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) (also known as the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL in humans) is the most commonly ruptured ligament in dogs. The rupture results in lameness due to pain and instability of the joint. When the cruciate ligament is torn the femur slides down the sloped top portion of the tibia called the tibial plateau. The misaligned joint as result of CCL causes inflammation, pain, and eventually degenerative joint disease.

The Labrador is one of the predisposed breeds, along with the Rottweiler and Newfoundland. The greyhound is a breed that seems “protected” from CCL disease. It generally occurs from 1-8 years of age in either sex, with obesity being a primary factor.

We know that in dogs, CCLs rupture as part of a degenerative process within the stifle joint but we don’t have a good understanding of the pathophysiology involved. Researchers at the University of Liverpool provided a small glimpse into this disease process by making comparisons between Labrador retrievers, as an example of a breed prone to CCL rupture, and greyhounds, as an example of a breed at the opposite end of the spectrum. They demonstrated that the collagen fibril diameter in the CCLs of Labradors is significantly smaller. The researchers also showed that the tissue concentrations of matrix metalloproteinase 2 (MMP-2), the major degradative enzyme found in the stifle, are higher and the levels of tissue inhibitors of MMP-2 are lower in affected Labradors.

These findings represent an increased degree of “collagen turnover” in these dogs, but whether that is a cause or a result of their “cruciate disease” has yet to be determined. In addition, statistical gait analysis comparisons of normal individuals from these 2 breeds have been initiated, and although consistent differences have been documented, their significance, as it pertains to the development of cruciate disease, has yet to be determined.

The cause of cranial cruciate ligament rupture is not known for certain, but hereditary or genetics likely a factor. Risk factors associated to CCL include age, injury to stifle joint, being overweight, arthritis, poor musculature near the joint and structural abnormalities including cow-hocked and luxated patella. A rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament usually occurs when a dog steps in a hole while running or turns with its paws remaining planted. As the ligament is twisted, it is rotated extensively or hyperextended and partial or complete rupture occurs.

Here is a summation article on Dealing with Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Labradors.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

I just heard that Porter, one of the puppies we placed about four years ago has acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). His prognosis is very bleak and short-term in that the disease is so serious. He presented so late with serious symptoms which evidently is fairly typical. He was taking a good hike one day, a bit more tired afterwards, and at the emergency vet late the next day.

From what I've read, ALL is hard to treat. Diagnosis is confirmed by examination of blood smears and bone marrow aspirates. The most common clinical signs are lethargy, anorexia, splenomegaly, and pallor of mucous membranes. Prednisone is a common treatment; however, I also read about a clinical study in which three dogs were not treated, 3 dogs were treated with prednisone, and 3 dogs were treated with cyclophosphamide. Survival times in these 9 dogs ranged from 1 to 60 days. Twenty-one dogs were treated with vincristine and prednisone; of these, complete remission was achieved in 4 dogs and partial remission was achieved in 4 dogs, with survival times ranging from 8 to 241 days.

Drug treatment choices are best discussed with a veterinary oncologist. I am hoping that Porter will receive treatment that puts him in remission. I know that his owners will do whatever is necessary to make him comfortable.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Hoffa at the beach

Here is a photo of Hoffa surfing in the waves at the beach. She really enjoys going to the beach, running and playing in the water. She isn't exactly buoyant like a Labrador but seems to have a wonderful time. I've heard that greyhounds enjoy the water but Hoffa revels in it.

When she first came to me, she had been to the beach but was afraid of the waves. Now, waves are meant for surfing! What a difference it makes to have her enjoy life.