The German Shepherd Dog is a large-sized breed belonging to the herding group of working dogs. Intelligent as it is versatile, this breed was originally developed in Germany to guard and herd a shepherd's flocks. The German Shepherd requires an active lifestyle, and makes for an ideal companion and protector.
The German Shepherd has a double coat, which is comprised of a thick undercoat and a dense, slightly wavy or straight outer coat. Its hair, usually tan and black, or red and black in color, is medium in length and is shed all year round. Other rarer color variations include all-Black, all-White, liver and blue.
The German Shepherd's body is long -- generally between 22 and 26 inches -- in proportion to its height. This gives the dog strength, agility, elasticity and long, elegant strides.
Personality and Temperament
The German Shepherd is very protective and devoted to its family and home, maintaining a suspicious and aloof demeanor around strangers. It can be dominating and assertive towards dogs, though it is normally friendly with other pets in the home. The German Shepherd is an immensely versatile dog, displaying a keen intelligence while dutifully performing its tasks.
The German Shepherd can live outdoors in cool or temperate climates, but enjoys living indoors too. Frequent training or exercise sessions are essential for keeping its mind and body active, and because the German Shepherd sheds throughout the year, its coat should be brushed once or twice a week to encourage turnover as well as to minimize buildup in the home.
The German Shepherd has an average lifespan of between 10 to 12 years. It is, however, susceptible to some serious health conditions like elbow dysplasia and canine hip dysplasia (CHD), as well as minor problems like cardiomyopathy, hemangiosarcoma, panosteitis, von Willebrand's Disease (vWD), degenerative myelopathy, cauda equina, malignant neoplasms, pannus, hot spots, skin allergies, gastric torsion, cataract, and perianal fistulas. This breed is also prone to a fatal fungal infection due to the Aspergillus mold. Because of these susceptibilities German Shepherds, like most other dogs, need to be seen by a veterinarian for routine checkups. There they will undergo hip, elbow blood, eye and other tests.
History and Background
The German Shepherd over the years has served in many different capacities: police dog, guide dog, guard dog, war dog, explosives- and narcotics-detecting dog, search-and-rescue dog, show dog, and most notably as a shepherding dog. Developed primarily for the purpose of guarding and herding a shepherd's flocks, there have been few other breeds with such a versatile repertoire.
Max von Stephanitz, the first official breeder of German Shepherd Dogs, was attracted to the shepherding dogs used by Germans and, noting that there were many different types of shepherd dogs, concluded that a breed standard needed to be introduced. He was most fond of the shepherd dogs that had a wolfish appearance, with the strong upper body and prick ears, and that also had sharp minds and a willingness to work. In 1889 he bought a shepherd dog that met his ideal, changed the dog's name from Hektor Linkrshein to Horand von Grafrath (named for the nearby town of Grafrath), registered the dog under a new breed registry, and set about creating a standard, with Horand as the genetic basis for the breed. In that same year, the Verein für Deutsche Schäferhunde (roughly translated into the Society for the German Shepherd Dog) was formed by Stephanitz and Artur Meyer to advance the German Shepherd Dog's breed standard.
There is some debate as to how much wolf is actually a part of the German Shepherd breed. It was said that Horan was part wolf, and that Stephanitz used wolves in the crossbreeding. In Stephanitz's stud book there are four entires for wolf crosses at different points in the breed's development. However, some point out that at the time, many breeders use the term "wolf" to generically describe a pattern that is currently referred to as "sable." Other accounts suggest that if Stephanitz did use pure wolf genes, he was able to aquire the genetic input from wolves that were housed in a zoo. In any case, in 1923 when Stephanitz wrote his book, The German Shepherd in Word and Picture, he strongly advised against using wolves for crossbreeding.
Stephanitz focused on strength, intelligence and an ability to work well with people throughout, and succeeded so well that the German Shepherd Dog grew steadily in popularity. During World War I, the breed was selected as a war sentry by various countries. At the same time, the American Kennel Club (AKC) chose to alter the name of the breed from German Sheepdog to Shepherd Dog, while Britain renamed it the Alsatian Wolfdog -- both in an attempt to separate the breed from its German roots.
In 1931, the AKC reverted the dog back to its original name: the German Shepherd Dog. Since then, popular German Shepherds have been on the silver screen, including movie stars Rin Tin Tin and Strongheart. The Shepherd has become a mainstay in the American home -- maintaining a position as one of the ten most popular dogs in the U.S., and even ranking at number one in many American cities.
Halitosis in Dogs
Halitosis is the medical term used to describe an offensive odor that comes from the mouth, producing bad breath. A number of causes may be responsible for this condition, notably periodontal disease, a disease resulting from bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria is also associated with plaque and cavities.
Small animal breeds and brachycephalic breeds (characterized by their short-nosed, flat-faced features; e.g., the Pug, Boston Terrier, Pekingese) are the most prone to periodontal and other mouth diseases, in large part because their teeth are close together.
Symptoms and Types:
In most cases, there are no other symptoms aside from a bad odor emanating from the mouth. If the cause of the odor is a disease of the mouth, other symptoms may become apparent, including pawing at the mouth, inability to eat (anorexia), loose teeth, and excessive drooling, which may or may not have traces of blood.
A variety of conditions may lead to halitosis, including metabolic disorders such as diabetes mellitus (commonly known as sugar diabetes); respiratory problems such as inflammation of the nose or nasal passages (rhinitis); inflammation of the sinuses (sinusitis); and gastrointestinal problems, such as enlargement of the esophageal tube, the main channel that leads from the throat to the stomach.
Other possible causes of halitosis might be traced to a trauma, like that of an electric cord injury. Viral, bacterial or fungal infections can cause foul odors to emit from within the body, and dietary problems can play a role in the emission of odor as well. For example, if your dog has been eating offensive foods, or is exhibiting a behavior called coprophagia, where it is eating feces, your dog will have correlating foul breath.
Further possibilities are pharyngitis, an inflammation of the throat or pharynx, and tonsillitis, an inflammation of the tonsils. The presence of cancer, or the presence of foreign bodies may also result in disease of the mouth and accompanying bad breath. But, the most notable cause of halitosis is a disease of the mouth such as periodontal disease, which is due to plaque bacteria buildup.
Diagnostic procedures to evaluate periodontal disease as the most likely cause of halitosis include X-rays of the inside of the mouth, and an examination of the mouth for characteristics such as tooth mobility and sulfide concentrations.
Once the specific cause of halitosis is known, various therapies may be used to address the problem. In some cases, multiple causes may be to blame. For example, your dog may have periodontal disease along with having a foreign object present in the mouth. Treatment for the condition is dependent upon the cause(s).
If periodontal disease is to blame, treatment will include cleaning and polishing the teeth, or extraction of teeth that have greater than 50 percent loss of the supporting bone and gum tissues around them. Some medications may help to reduce odor, and help to control the bacteria that infect the gums and other oral tissues, causing bad breath.
Living and Management
You will need to continue to remain observant of your dog’s symptoms. It is important to consistently provide proper professional dental care to your dog, as well as to supplement this with at home tooth care. Daily tooth brushing can help prevent the plaque buildup that leads to related halitosis. You will also need to prevent your dog from eating bad-smelling foods, such as garbage. Cleaning the yard frequently will also avoid incidences of coprophagia.
THE BEST BREED EVER...but yes I'm biased ;-)
The Golden Retriever, part of the sporting group of dogs, was originally bred as a hunting companion for retrieving waterfowl, and continues to be one of the most popular family dogs in the United States. Affectionate, obedient, and loyal to a fault, the fun loving Retriever makes an ideal pet for the whole family to love.
The Golden Retriever is a bit longer than it is tall. Meanwhile, its strong, athletic build is accentuated by its well-developed hindquarters and forequarters. This gives the Golden Retriever a powerful, smooth gait. The Retriever is also characterized by its strong neck and a broad head. Its coat, generally found in various shades of gold, is dense and waterproof, and may be straight or wavy.
Personality and Temperament
The Golden Retriever is very playful. Not surprisingly, it lives up to its name as a great retriever, reveling in games of catch and carrying objects around in its mouth. And while it enjoys its active time outdoors, the Golden Retriever is calm indoors -- making it a great household pet for any type of family.
This breed is highly regarded for its love of human companionship. Faithful and obedient, the Retriever is also amongst the easiest to train. Its enthusiasm for learning new things and ability to quickly pick up on new commands makes the Golden Retriever a pleasure to train.
To encourage turnover over of the coat and minimize buildup of hair inside the house, it is best to routinely brush a Golden Retriever's coat at least twice a week. And though it is capable of living outdoors, the Retriever is at its best when kept indoors with the family. In addition, it is important for the Retriever to maintain a daily exercise routine, or take part in active games, so that it can spend its natural energy and relax comfortably during "non-playing" hours.
The Golden Retriever has a lifespan of between 10 and 13 years. Some of its minor health problems include hypothyroidism, sub-aortic stenosis (SAS), eye disorders, elbow dysplasia, mast cell tumors, and seizures. Osteosarcoma is also occasionally seen in Golden Retrievers. Other major health concerns for the breed include lymphoma, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), hemangiosarcoma, and skin problems. To identify these conditions early, a veterinarian may recommend heart, hip, thyroid, eye, or elbow tests during routine checkups.
History and Background
Lord Tweedmouth, often credited for the development of the Golden Retriever, lived along the Tweed River, north of the Scottish border, during the mid-19th century. There were already many retriever breeds used for hunting fowl and other game, but seeing further potential in the dogs, he sought to create a new breed which could combat the adverse conditions of the area.
To accomplish this, he crossed a Wavy-Coated Retriever with a Tweed Water Spaniel. The result was four puppies with excellent bird-hunting abilities. Later, the yellow Wavy-Coated Retriever was cross-bred with Bloodhounds, black retrievers, setters, and Tweed Spaniels. This crossbreeding produced dogs with similar characteristics but with a distinct yellow flat coat. Some of these dogs entered the United States in the early 1900s with Lord Tweedmouth's sons, and in 1912, they were formally recognized as the Golden (or Yellow) Retriever. This breed has since gained much popularity in America.
Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1927, the Golden Retriever remains today one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States.
Behavioral Problems in Cats
It is normal for cats to scratch things. They do this to sharpen their claws and exercise their feet. It is also normal for cats to spend a lot of time licking themselves, since this is how they clean themselves. When cats scratch or lick the wrong things and do not respond to discouragement, they are diagnosed as having a destructive behavior problem. Not all destructive behavior is the same, however. When a cat scratches on the wrong things but does not have any other symptoms, this is usually a primary destructive behavior. Conversely, cats that spend too much time licking or scratching at things likely have a secondary destructive behavior.
Both types of destructive behavior can lead to problems with other organs, such as the stomach and intestines, if left untreated.
Symptoms & Types of Destructive Behavior
Your veterinarian will need a complete medical and behavior history so that patterns can be established, and so that physical conditions that might be linked to the behavior can be ruled out or confirmed. Things your veterinarian will need to know include when the destruction first started, how long it has been going on, what events seem to set off the destruction and whether or not your cat is alone when the destruction takes place. It is also important to tell your veterinarian whether the destruction has gotten worse, better, or remained the same since it was first noticed.
During the physical examination, your veterinarian will be looking for signs that your cat has a medical problem, which might be causing the behavior. A complete blood count, biochemical profile, and urinalysis will be ordered. These will tell your veterinarian whether there are any problems with your cat's internal organs which might be causing the behavior. A blood thyroid hormone level may also be ordered so that your veterinarian can determine if your cat’s thyroid level is low or high. Sometimes, imbalances of thyroid hormone can add to destructive behavior.
If your cat is eating items that are not food, a condition referred to as pica, your veterinarian will order blood and stool (fecal) tests to specifically test for disorders or nutritional deficiencies that would lead to pica. The results of these tests will indicate whether your cat is able to digest its food properly and is absorbing the nutrients that it needs from the food. If your cat is older when these behavioral problems start, your veterinarian may order a computed tomography (CT) scan or a magnetic resonance image (MRI) of your cat's brain. These tests will allow your veterinarian to visually examine the brain and its functioning ability, making it possible to determine if there is a brain disease or a tumor that is causing the behavior problems.
If no medical problem is found, your cat will be diagnosed with a behavioral problem.
Treatment for Destructive Behavior
If a medical problem has been confirmed, that problem will be treated first. Usually, treating the illness will resolve the behavioral problem. If your cat does not have a medical problem, your veterinarian will develop a plan to treat your cat's behavior problem. In most cases, a combination of training and medication will be necessary. Medication alone does not usually solve the problem.
For primary destructive behaviors, your veterinarian will help you to come up with a plan for directing your cat’s destructive actions towards objects that are appropriate. This will help you to train your cat to scratch on the things that you approve of, and prevent your cat from scratching on the things you do not want destroyed. While you are in the process of teaching your cat what it can and cannot scratch, plastic covers can be used to keep it from destroying your furniture.
Treatment of secondary destructive behaviors will involve a combination of medications and training. Your veterinarian may choose to prescribe an anti-anxiety medication to help your cat respond more quickly to the training. You and your veterinarian will also develop a training plan to help your cat learn how to behave in a more appropriate way. Once your cat has learned not to destroy things, you may be able to stop the medication. However, some cats need to be medicated for anxiety for some time to help them to get over their destructive behavior.
When you first start the training and medication program, your veterinarian will want to talk with you frequently to make sure that things are going well. It is important that you give medications exactly as directed by your veterinarian. If your cat has been prescribed medication, your veterinarian may want to follow-up with complete blood counts and biochemistry profiles to make sure the medications are not adversely affecting any of your cat's internal organs. Make sure that you do not give any other medications to your cat while it is under the veterinarian's care unless you have first consulted with your doctor.
It is most important that you be patient with your cat while it is learning not to be destructive. This can be a slow process and may take several months or more. Some cats have more anxiety and reluctance to learn new behaviors and may need long term medication and training.
Prevention of Destructive BehaviorIt is important to start training early with kittens, teaching them what they can and cannot scratch or claw on. During the training phase of your cat's growth, plastic covers can be used to keep it from damaging your furniture and rugs. It is also important to watch your cat carefully for any changes in its behavior. Treating medical or behavioral problems early makes them easier to treat and less likely to become habitual.
PMI Nutrition, LLC (PMI) has issued a voluntary recall for 20 lb. bags of Red Flannel® Cat Formula cat food due to possible Salmonella contamination.
The following lot number and best-by-date is included in the recall:
Best by 05 06 14 096 13 SM L2 1A (lot number)
The UPC code for the recalled product is: 7 42869 00058 5
According a FDA press release, the recalled product was manufactured by a third-party for PMI and sold through dealers to customers distributed in the following states: Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
No other products or lot numbers have been affected.
Common symptoms associated with Salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain. If you, your pet, or a family member is experiencing these symptoms, you are urged to contact a medical professional.
If you have purchased the affected product, discontinue use and return it to the dealer for full refund or replacement.
For more information, please contact the customer service line for PMI products at 1-800-332-4738. Customer service representatives will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST.
The Persian is a large to medium-sized cat, with a well-balanced body and a sweet expression on its face. It has a huge and round head, small ears and a comparatively short tail. The breed was originally established with a short (but not non-existent) muzzle, but over time this feature has become extremely exaggerated, particularly in North America. These Persians are susceptible to a number of health problems because of this characteristic, specifically affecting their sinuses and breathing. In addition, the Persian with short muzzles have dust and debris accumulate inside of the nostrils, making it difficult to breathe.
The Persian is also famous for its long, silky coat, which shimmers. And while solid silver is the most popular color for the Persian currently, there are more than 80 colors available today, including black, blue, cream, and smoke.
Personality and Temperament
This cat can remain inactive for long periods, and have been called "furniture with fur" because of this characteristic. However, this is an ill-deserved reputation, as Persians and are extremely intelligent and love to play, but lack the same amount of curiosity that other cats possess.
A Persian makes for an ideal companion, especially if you're looking for a sweet and docile cat. While it is extremely affectionate and enjoys being petted, it is not the sort of cat that will pester you for attention.
The Persian is a cat that requires a considerable amount of maintenance. This cat needs daily grooming to keep its beautiful hair in place and free from mats. Some owners even trim the Persian long hair, especially around the anus, which keeps it free from feces.
History and Background
The Persian has long ruled the popularity charts. It participated in shows as early as 1871, when the first modern cat show was held at Crystal Palace in London. At this gala, organized by Harrison Weier, "father of the cat fancy," many representatives of the breed were present, easily placing it among the favorites.
The Persian was first registered with the Cat Fanciers Association (CFA) in 1871, when the association first kept records. Although its long-haired ancestors were reported to have been spotted in Europe as early as the 1500s. They were probably brought to the continent by Romans and Phoenician caravans from Persia (now Iran) and Turkey, according to documents of the era. It is also widely believed that the recessive gene for long hair appeared naturally in the cats living in the mountainous area of Persia.
Some of these Persian cats were imported into Italy in the 1600s by Pietro della Valle (1586-1652), an Italian traveler. In his manuscript, Viaggi di Pietro della Valle, the Persian was described as a gray cat with long, silky hair. More Persian cats were brought from Turkey into France by Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, an astronomer, and later came to Britain by way of other travelers.
By the early 1900s the Persians reigned supreme. Blue Persians were especially sought after, as Queen Victoria owned two of them. Also in the 1900s, the British Governing Council of the Cat Fancy decided that the Persian (as well as the Angora and Russian Longhairs) should be known simply as Longhairs, a policy that continues today.
The Persian was not imported into North America until the 1800s, where they were quickly accepted. There was also an attempt in the United States to establish the Silver Persian as a separate breed called the Sterling, but it was rejected and Silver and Golden longhaired cats are now judged in the Persian category of cat shows.
Regardless of the Persian color, there is one thing for certain -- it is a luxurious-looking cat with a great personality.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a well-mannered, adventurous dog breed that is widely accepted as an excellent family companion. Although its ancestry is thought to have begun along the steppes of Central Asia around 700 B.C., its popularity was established in Portugal, where it is referred to as Cao de Agua --Cao meaning dog, and de Agua meaning water.
The Portuguese Water Dog is a strong, muscular breed with a medium build, allowing it to work on land and in water for long periods of time. The dog is slightly longer than it is tall, with an abundant single coat that can either be wavy or curly. The coat is generally cut in a lion clip (clipped from mid section to the tail, and on the muzzle, with the upper body remaining full) or a retriever clip (clipped completely from the tail to its head to about one inch in length).
The standard Portuguese Water Dog coat can be in black, white, various tones of brown, or a combination of all three colors. Its expression, meanwhile, is attentive, penetrating, and steady.
Personality and Temperament
The gregarious, fun-loving Portuguese Water Dog enjoys being around water and its human companions. It behaves well with other dogs, pets and children, and is very responsive to direction, making it a perfect companion for active, adventure-seeking people.
The Portuguese Water Dog is at its best when allowed to live as part of a human "pack." To prevent the dog from becoming bored and frustrated, provide it with daily mental and physical exercise, such as a jog, quick swim, long walk, vigorous romp, or playful game.
The Portuguese Water Dog, like the Poodle, does not shed its coat. Therefore, coat care is a necessity for the breed, with combing on alternate days and clipping at least once a month.
The Portuguese Water Dog, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years, is prone to minor health problems such as GM1 storage disease, canine hip dysplasia (CHD), distichiasis, Addison's disease, alopecia, juvenile cardiomyopathy, and major health issues like progressive retinal atrophy. It also occasionally suffers from irritable bowel syndrome and seizures. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, DNA, and GM1 tests on this breed of dog.
History and Background
The ancestors of the Portuguese Water Dog are thought to trace back to herding dogs that worked the steppes, or plains, of central Asia, near the Chinese-Russian border around 700 B.C. Experts believe that these herding dogs were introduced to Portugal by the Visigoths in the 5th century; although, there is another theory that its ancestors came to Portugal by way of the Berbers and Moors in the 8th century. The Water Dog's lineage may also be linked with the lineage with the Poodle. Both have traditionally been used as fishing companions, and share several physical similarities.
Once found all along the coast of Portugal, the Portuguese Water Dog was used mainly to herd fish into nets, retrieve lost fishing equipment, and act as a boat-to-boat or boat-to-shore courier. The breed became so well known, in fact, it was often used as a member of the trawler crews, fishing in waters as far north as Iceland.
However, as the 19th century drew to a close, conventional fishing methods were quickly becoming modernized. Soon, Portuguese fishermen were trading in their Water Dogs for more advanced fishing equipment, and the breed began disappearing all along the coast.
Dr. Vasco Bensuade, an influential shipping businessman, was instrumental in saving the Portuguese Water Dog, and through promotion and organization, the breed became a mainstay in dog shows.
The Portuguese Water Dog was briefly introduced in England in the 1950s, but popularity quickly waned, as did its numbers there. Fortunately, some U.S. citizens, including Mr. and Mrs. Harrington of New York, and Mr. and Mrs. Herbert Miller of Connecticut, were able to acquire some of the earliest imports of the breed into the United States (in particular, a female puppy was purchased from Senhora Branco, a former lady bullfighter who had inherited Dr. Bensuade's kennels in Portugal).
Along with 16 other people, the Millers were able to found the Portuguese Water Dog Club of America on August 13, 1972. At the time, only 12 Portuguese Water Dogs were known to have existed in the U.S., but with dedication and work, the number of dogs in America had grown to over 650 by 1982.
In 1984, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed as a member of the Working Group. Today, it is sought after because of many wonderful characteristics, including its calm demeanor and love of the outdoors.
Getting Your Dog Safely On (and Off) an Airplane
Travel planning can often be quite the ordeal, especially if you are considering taking your dog along for the ride. Take flying with dogs, for example. This may require you to plan for such things as medical records, vaccinations, dog carriers, sedation medication and dog-friendly hotels. Here are some tips to make sure your dog gets on and off the airplane safe and sound.
Prior to Takeoff
Now just because you want to fly with your dog doesn't mean it's allowed. Each airline has its own pet travel policy and will give careful consideration to your dog's breed, size, health, age and disposition to determine whether he can fly onboard — either as checked baggage in the cargo or accompanied baggage in the cabin. Many carriers have breed and weather restrictions designed for your dog’s own safety, which may force you to reconsider your travel plans.
When possible, look for a direct flight and choose a time that will help ensure your dog’s comfort and safety. For example, book an early morning or evening flight during warm summer months, and a mid-day flight during colder months.
Purchase an airline-approved crate, which can vary with each airline, and attach your name, flight number(s), cell phone number, emergency contact numbers and final destination to the top of the crate. If it will be a long flight, securely attach a small pack of food, small bottle of water, poop bags and leash to the back of the crate with duct tape in case of delays. Review the policies and requirements of the airline (such as health certificate requirements, pre-flight feeding restrictions, check-in procedures, etc.) as well as the laws of your final destination (proof of current vaccinations from transmittable diseases such as rabies) to make sure you are willing and able to comply with all rules and regulations.
Finally, prior to departing for travel, make absolutely sure that your dog has proper I.D. tags attached to his body and if possible a microchip that your veterinarian can easily implant without sedation. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends you also keep your dog’s medical records up-to-date, and carry a copy with you. And they recommend you check with the airline to see if they require an acclimation certificate (ie., health certificate) for your dog.
In the Air
If you have prepared all the necessary supplies for your dog's travel, one other thing you may need to consider is sedatives. This will not always be necessary, but you should consult with your veterinarian to see if your dog would benefit from them. Flying for a dog can be extremely stressful at times, and some dogs cannot tolerate traveling without at least light sedation. However, it is also important that you check with the airline, as some airlines will not accept sedated pets.
Once You Land
Finding dog-friendly hotels and accommodations is much easier than it used to be. In fact, there are lodging options available to suit almost any taste.
If your vacation involves camping, note that the National Park Service (NPS) imposes rules that limit dogs from roaming around freely. Consider that dogs and bears are natural antagonists, and suddenly the idea of keeping your dog leashed doesn’t sound so unreasonable! Contact the park destination ahead of time to find out if any additional pet precautions need to be made, and once you arrive, always keep your pet on a leash.
Remember, if your plans to travel by air with your dog become too confusing, some companies like Pet Airways or PetAir have travel agents who can help you find a dog-friendly flight.
Kudos to the ASPCA for taking full advantage of the cute factor in their latest "No Pet Store Puppies" Public Service Announcement.
An adorable dog, and an even more adorable kid star in this short video.
And you know what? We really think people will get it.
Maybe it's the wisdom of youth, or maybe it's just those pigtails, but the next time someone wants to forgo the shelter or a responsible breeder for a pup available right there, in a puppy-mill supporting pet store, send 'em to Molly.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) in Dogs
Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD) is a condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae of the spinal column either bulge or burst (herniate) into the spinal cord space. These discs then press on the nerves running through the spinal cord causing pain, nerve damage, and even paralysis.
Breeds of dog that are predisposed to IVDD include the Dachshund, Beagle, Basset Hound, and Shih Tzu.
Symptoms and Types
Made up of a gelatinous substance surrounded by a thick outer layer, intervertebral discs are basically the shock absorbers of the spine. There are two types of disc herniation seen in dogs: Type I and Type II, of which Type II generally has less severe signs and symptoms.
Symptoms of IVDD may include:
In Type I, common in the neck region of smaller breeds, discs develop a hardening (or calcification) of the outer layer. This damages the disc, allowing it to break down easier. Any forceful impact such as jumping and landing can cause one or more disc(s) to burst and the inner material to press on the spinal cord. With Type II herniation, the discs become hardened and fibrous over a long period of time and eventually break down, bulge out, and compress the spinal cord.
When the nerves of the spinal cord are compressed, the nerve impulses are not able to transmit their signals to the final destination in the limbs, bladder, etc. If the damage is severe enough, paralysis and loss of bladder and bowel control can occur. Depending on the location of the disc that is bulging, signs occur anywhere in the body from the neck to the rear legs.
Examination by your veterinarian will include a complete neurologic exam, which will help identify where in the spinal cord the injury is located. Plain X-rays may show an abnormal area in the spine. However, because the spinal cord does not appear on X-rays, special imaging may be necessary to locate the source of the injury.
Once such procedure, called a myelogram, injects a special dye into the spine, which surrounds the spinal cord and allows it to appear on X-rays. This test requires the animal to be put under anesthesia. In some cases, further testing such as an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or CT (computed tomography) scan can also be used to locate where the nerves are being pinched, which is necessary for surgical repair.
Depending on the severity of the damage to the spinal cord, treatment can range from conservative to surgical. Conservative care usually includes treatment with drugs such as steroids and anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling of the cord and reduce pain. The dog must also be kept confined in a crate or cage to prevent further damage from occurring for up to six weeks. After a period of resting, he may gradually return to normal activity.
If the damage is too severe and the dog is paralyzed or incontinent, conservative treatment may not be enough. In these cases, emergency surgery is needed to open up the space. This is done by removing a portion of the bony vertebrae over the spinal cord (laminectomy). Even after surgery, however, the dog may not recover fully.
Most of the animals with IVDD have spasms of the back muscles. Treatment for this symptom usually includes heat and massage techniques along with medications. Commonly used medications include diazepam and methocarbamol. Diazepam is a muscle relaxant which is also used to calm an animal and treat convulsions. Methocarbamol is another muscle relaxant effective in treating muscle spasms caused by IVDD. It acts directly on the nervous system instead of on the muscles themselves.
Living and Management
Many of the dogs that have a mild to moderate case of IVDD will get feeling back in their legs and walk again. In addition, those that undergo surgery have a better chance of recovery if they are operated soon after initial diagnosis. Others recover but have subsequent bouts with IVDD if other discs burst later in life.
Rehabilitation of animals post-surgery is important to help dogs regain function and speed recovery. The quality of life for these animals can be good if given proper nursing care. Despite this, some dogs need a special cart (like a wheelchair for pets) made for them to be mobile and active again.
PreventionIn breeds that are predisposed to this disease, keeping them at a lower weight will help reduce the stress on their backbone and neck. Walking with a harness will keep stress off the neck, too, especially if the dog tends to pull on the leash. He or she should also have steps or ramps set up to get up on furniture and beds, as well as a quality diet to maintain optimum health.
Because of the congenital nature of this disease, your veterinarian will most likely recommend against breeding dogs with IVDD.
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