Featured Breed: Shiba Inu
Thought to have originally developed in central Japan around 300 B.C. as a hunting dog, the Shiba Inu, compact, agile and strong, serves as an excelled watchdog or for those seeking an active outdoors type of dog.
The Shiba Inu possesses typical traits of dogs of northern origin such as small erect ears, powerful body thick (red) fur, and curled tail. It has a moderately compact and slightly long body and a good-natured, bold, and spirited expression. The dog moves with effortless and smooth strides and its gait is agile, light, and quick. Its double coat comprises a straight, strong outer coat and a soft undercoat, providing good insulation. Originally, all these traits allowed the Shiba to hunt small animals in dense areas.
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
This hardy breed is always on the look out for adventure and may tend to be domineering and headstrong. It is fairly vocal and some even bark a lot. It is alert, shy with strangers, and territorial and is thus an excellent watchdog. The self-confident Shiba is a bold, headstrong, and independent dog. As long as it is given daily exercise, it is active outdoors and calm indoors. It tends to chase small animals and may be scrappy with unknown dogs of the same sex.
The Shiba requires a daily workout in the form of a long walk, a spirited game in the yard, or a good run in an enclosed area. It can live outside in cool and temperate climates if given warm shelter. However, it is at its best when it can spend equal time indoors and outdoors. The double coat requires occasional brushing every week and more frequently when shedding.
The Shiba Inu, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, may be susceptible to minor problems like allergies and cataract and major health issues such as patellar luxation. Canine hip dysplasia (CHD), persistent pupillary membranes (PPM), distichiasis, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) are also occasionally seen in the breed. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may recommend knee, hip, and eye exams on the dog.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The ancient Shiba Inu is the smallest of the six Native Japanese breeds. Although its origin is obscure, the Shiba Inu is surely of spitz heritage, most probably used as a hunting dog in central Japan around 300 B.C. Many believe it hunted small game such as birds, but it may have also used occasionally to hunt wild boar.
According to some, the word "Shiba" may mean small, but it also may mean brushwood, a reference to similarity to the red brushwood trees and the dog's red coat. This is also the reason the Shiba is sometimes nicknamed “small brushwood dog.”
The the three primary types of the breed were the Shinshu Shiba, the Sanin Shiba, and the Mino Shiba, all of which were named after their place of origin: Nagano Prefecture, the northeast mainland, and Gifu Prefecture, respectively.
The destruction caused by World War II nearly lead to the extinction of the breed; its numbers were later decimated by distemper in the 1950s. To save the breed, various strains were interbred, including the heavier-boned dogs of the mountainous areas and the lighter-boned dogs from the lowlands. An unforeseen result was the Shiba's newfound variation in bone structure and substance.
The first Shiba dogs entered the United States in the 1950s, but the breed only gained recognition by the American Kennel Club in 1993. Since then the popularity for this hardy and headstrong has flourished.
TOKYO, June 24, 2014 (AFP) - A placid pet dog was being hailed a hero after saving a five-year-old boy from a mauling by a wild bear in northern Japan, police and media said Tuesday.
The dog, a six-year-old Shiba Inu, took on the metre-high (three-feet) bear after it attacked the young boy during a riverside walk with his great-grandfather.
The dog barked "unusually loud" and chased off the animal on Saturday evening in Odate, some 550 kilometres (340 miles) north of Tokyo, a local police spokesman said.
"The boy suffered slight bruises and was taken to hospital but he was released on the same day," the spokesman said.
The boy's 80-year-old great-grandfather, who was a short distance away near his car, raised the alarm.
Local media identified the dog as a six-year-old bitch named "Mego" ("Cute").
"Mego is usually calm and timid. It was a great surprise that she chased away a bear," the dog's owner told the Sports Hochi daily. "Mego has always been his friend and we have rewarded her with meat and other treats."
The Sports Hochi reported that the boy's clothes were torn and his back and bottom were covered in scratches where the bear had apparently clawed at him.
Asian black bears are native to large parts of Japan, including the main island of Japan, while brown bears roam Hokkaido further north.
Also known as the Bobtail, the Old English Sheepdog is a dog breed developed in England in the early 19th century for the purpose of cattle herding. This shag-like dog may have an unusual appearance and a peculiar bark, but it is loving, caring and very devoted.
The Old English Sheepdog has a compact, thick set, and square-proportioned body, which is broad at the rump. Its powerful, free gait is nearly effortless, combining agility and strength. It is also known to saunter about, frequently referred to as a shuffle or bear-like roll.
The Old English Sheepdog's extravagant coat, which is usually a shade of gray, grizzle, blue or blue merle, is not cumbersome, but rather a hard textured, shaggy, and curl-free outer coat over a waterproof undercoat. The dog's face, meanwhile, has an "intelligent" appearance to it.
PERSONALITY AND TEMPERAMENT
The Old English Sheepdog is a well-behaved house pet that entertains its family with funny antics. Very much an indoor dog, it thrives on the companionship of humans and is protective of its family, especially children. Some Old English Sheepdogs can be very headstrong, but generally they are joyful, gentle, and pleasant toward strangers. The Old English Sheepdog also has a trademark bark that resonates with a "pot-casse" ring -- very much like two pots clanging together.
The Old English Sheepdog can live outside in temperate or cool climates, but it should have access to indoor quarters or the house, as it seeks constant companionship. A moderate or long walk or an energetic romp can fulfill its daily exercise requirements. And the Old English Sheepdog's coat needs combing or brushing on alternate days to prevent it from getting matted.
The Old English Sheepdog, which has an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years, is prone to minor health conditions like deafness, cataract, gastric torsion, otitis externa, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cerebellar ataxia, retinal detachment and hypothyroidism, or major health issues like canine hip dysplasia (CHD). To identify some of these issues a veterinarian may run hearing, hip, thyroid, and eye exams on the dog.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
The origins of the Old English Sheepdog cannot be verified, but many believe it was introduced to the western part of England nearly 150 years ago. Its ancestors may have been the Russian Owtcharka or the Bearded Collie. First developed for its strength and ability to protect herds and flocks from wolves, by the mid-1800s, the breed mainly functioned as a cattle or sheep driver, able to get the herd to market for sale. Because they were considered "working" dogs, their owners did not have to pay taxes on the Old English Sheepdog. To prove their "working" status, it was customary to have their tails bobbed, a custom still prevalent today and the reason the breed's nickname is Bobtail.
By the early 20th century the Old English Sheepdog had become a popular European show dog and in 1905, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed. Many early Sheepdogs brought to the United States were brown in color, but color restrictions were later put in place to produce dogs with gray and white coats. The modern Sheepdog also has a more compact body and a profuse coat.
As its celebrity grew, the Old English Sheepdog integrated itself into popular culture, even into some of the most famous children's novels, including The Colonel in Dodie Smith's The Hundred and One Dalmatians and Nana in J.M. Barrie's Peter and Wendy (the story of Peter Pan). Its numbers and popularity have since waned, but the Old English Sheepdog is still considered a great show dog and a lovable pet.
WASHINGTON, (AFP) - US authorities have yet to determine what exactly caused the deaths of more than 1,000 dogs that consumed jerky pet treats made in China, a Congressional panel heard Tuesday.
Major pet supply retailers Petco and Petsmart have said they will phase out all China-made pet food in their stores over the coming months, amid growing consumer jitters about the safety of their ingredients.
Tracey Forfa of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that more than 5,600 dogs in the United States are known to have fallen ill since 2007 due to jerky products imported from China.
"Unfortunately, to date, the FDA has not been able to identify a specific cause for the reported illnesses or deaths despite an intensive scientific investigation," said Forfa, deputy director of the FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine.
Sixty percent of the sick dogs -- of all sizes, ages and breeds -- suffered gastrointestinal illness, while 30 percent exhibited kidney or urinary issues, including a rare kidney disease called Fanconi syndrome, she said.
"Without knowing what is causing the illnesses, and thus no means of screening products to ensure that they are safe, firms and authorities have limited options," added University of Minnesota professor Shaun Kennedy, an expert in food systems.
Worries about the quality of China-made pet food date back to 2007, when melamine, a chemical compound typically used for making plastics, was detected in some brands, prompting a sweeping recall.
Patty Lovera of Food and Water Watch, a non-profit advocacy group, said melamine is intentionally added to various food products in China to enhance their nitrogen content and thus pass protein tests.
Tuesday's congressional hearing was held amid wider questions over labelling food imports from China for human consumption.
Last year the Department of Agriculture gave a green light for China to export processed, cooked chicken to the United States, so long as the raw poultry originates from US slaughter houses.
"While no such chicken has entered our shores yet, it's possible that very soon this processed chicken could end up on our dinner tables and school lunchrooms," said Senator Sherrod Brown, one of the committee's co-chairmen.
"Americans want and require better answers, clearer labels and the peace of mind that the foods we import from China are safe," he said, urging Beijing to make "significant improvements" in its food safety system.
Do you smoke? Have you thought about the adverse effect the habit is probably having on your pets’ health?
Research shows just how dangerous second and third hand smoke is to the animals who live with us. Second hand smoke is defined as smoke that is exhaled or otherwise escapes into the air and can be inhaled by non-smokers, including pets. Third hand smoke is the residue that remains on skin, fur, clothing, furniture, etc., even after the air has cleared. Both of these categories can be combined under the term environmental tobacco smoke (ETS).
One of the most dramatic studies that I’ve run across reveals a greatly increased risk of malignant lymphoma (also referred to as lymphoma or lymphosarcoma) in cats with exposure to ETS. The results showed that the relative risk for malignant lymphoma in cats with any household ETS exposure was almost 2 ½ times higher than that of cats living in smoke-free households. For cats with five or more years of ETS exposure, the relative risk climbed to 3.2. In other words, these cats were more than three times as likely to develop lymphoma as were cats who were not exposed to ETS.
This study and others like it also strongly suggest a link between oral cancer in cats and environmental tobacco smoke. Cats groom the toxins contained in tobacco smoke off of their fur, which damages tissues within the mouth, leading to cancer.
Dogs aren’t immune to the effects of ETS either. Research shows that dogs living with smokers are more likely to suffer from respiratory diseases (e.g., asthma and bronchitis) and lung cancer than are dogs that live in smoke-free homes. Also, the risk of cancer of the nasal passages increases by 250% in long-nosed breeds of dogs with exposure to high levels of environmental tobacco smoke. It looks as if the numerous poisons found in cigarette smoke build up in the nasal passages of long-nosed dogs but are more able to make their way to the lungs of dogs with shorter noses.
Unfortunately, studies show that smoking outside of the home only helps but does not eliminate ETS exposure to infants. The infants of parents who smoked outdoors were still exposed to 5-7 times as much ETS as were the infants of nonsmokers. Similar results could be expected for pets.
Is vaping (inhaling a vaporized solution that contains nicotine) a safer alternative? Maybe, but according to the American Lung Association, “the FDA tested a small sample [of e-cigarettes] just a few years ago and found a number of toxic chemicals, including diethylene gylcol — the same ingredient used in antifreeze.” That’s certainly not something that I’d want pets to inhale or lick off their fur.
It's the same thing every year. The summer storms ... they stress our dogs unduly. We vets call it "storm phobia." You call it your worst nightmare. (The howling, the hiding, the destruction!)
Either way, we all want the same thing: a calmer dog that doesn't have to suffer the psychological damage done by booming thunder, wicked lightning and plummeting barometric pressures.
And it's not just their psyche (and ours!) at risk. We all know that dogs are capable of doing serious damage to themselves during stormy times of the year. Fractured claws, lacerations, broken teeth and bruises are but a few consequences.
So how do you handle thunderstorm phobia? Here are my suggestions:
•Handle it early on in your dog's life.
Does your dog merely quake and quiver under the bed when it storms outside? Just because he doesn't absolutely freak doesn't mean he's not suffering. Since storm phobia is considered a progressive behavioral disease, signs like this should not be ignored. Each successive thunderstorm season is likely to bring out ever-worsening signs of fear. It's time to take action — NOW.
•Don't heed advice to let her "sweat it out" or not to "baby" her.
I've heard many pet owners explain that they don't offer any consolation to their pets because they don't want to reinforce the "negative behavior" brought on by a thunderstorm. But a severe thunderstorm is no time to tell your dog to "buck up and get strong." Fears like this are irrational (after all, she's safe indoors). Your dog won't get it when you punish her for freaking out. Indeed, it'll likely make her anxiety worse. Providing a positive or distracting stimulus is more likely to calm her down.
•Offer treats, cuddlings and other good stuff when storms happen.
This method is best employed before the phobia sets in –– as pups. Associating loud booms with treats is never a bad thing, right?
•Let him hide — in a crate.
Hiding (as in a cave) is a natural psychological defense for dogs. Getting them used to a crate as pups has a tremendous influence on how comfortable they are when things scare them. Having a go-to place for relaxing or hiding away is an excellent approach, no matter what the fear. Another approach to try, whether he's a pup or not:
•Get him away from the noise, and compete with it.
Creating a comfy place (for the crate or elsewhere) in a room that's enclosed (like a closet or bathroom) may help a great deal. Adding in a loud radio or white noise machine can help, too. Or how about soothing, dog-calming music?
•Counter the effects of electromagnetism.
Though it may sound like voodoo, your dog can also become sensitized to the electromagnetic radiation caused by lightning strikes. One great way to shield your dog from these potentially fear-provoking waves is to cover her crate with a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Another method involves clothing her in a commercially available "Storm Defender" cape that does the same work. If she hides under the bed, consider slipping a layer of aluminum foil between the box-spring and mattress.
Sometimes it's possible to allay the fears by using thunderstorm sound CDs when it's not raging outside. Play it at a low volume while plying him with positive stimuli (like treats and pettings). Increase the volume all the while, getting to those uncomfortable booming sounds over a period of weeks. It works well for some.
•Ask your veterinarian about drugs.
Sure, there's nothing so unsavory as the need for drugs to relieve dogs of their fears, but recognize that some fears will not be amenable to any of these other ministrations without drugs. If that's the case, talk to your vet about it –– please. There are plenty of new approaches to drugs that don't result in a zonked-out dog, so please ask!
•Natural therapies can work.
For severe sufferers, there's no doubt it'll be hard to ask a simple flower essence to do all the heavy lifting, but for milder cases, Bach flower extracts (as in Rescue Remedy), lavender oil (in a diffuser is best) and/or "Dog Appeasing Pheromone" (marketed as D.A.P. in a diffuser, spray or collar) can help.
•Consider seeing a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.
If nothing else works, your dog should not have to suffer. Seek out the advice of your veterinarian, and, if you've gone as far as you can with him/her, consider someone with unique training in these areas –– perhaps a board-certified veterinary behaviorist.
If you live in an part of the country that has thunder and lightning storms, please read our related article
Thunder and Lightning Safety for Your Pet
“That is as likely as getting struck by lightning” is a common phrase when referring to an unlikely event, and for the most part it is true. In any given year the odds are only 1 in 500,000 of being lightning struck. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, reports an annual death toll for humans at about 51. But over the course of an 80 year lifespan the odds drop to only a 1 in 6,250 chance of being struck by lightning. And certainly living on the southern Florida coast increases the odds considerably.
Records for animals struck and killed by lightning are not nearly as complete. It is estimated by the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University that hundreds of livestock are killed annually by lightning. According to department spokesman Brent McRoberts, “the Department of Agriculture says lightning causes about 80% of all accidental livestock deaths.” He comments further that “livestock often huddle together under a large tree during a thunderstorm, which we know is one of the worst places to be.”
Statistics for lightning strike in pets is virtually non-existent. But often their exposure and inability to find protection can be more limited. Dogs left out in large, open fenced yards may have little protection from lightning strike. Shelter in a dog house or under a tree would present greater risk. Dogs chained to metal poles, metal lines, or trees are at significant risk in a storm. Outdoor cats may seek shelter under or in the motor compartment of cars. If struck, the metallic body of the car conducts electricity, which could kill or injure the cat. An owner starting the car later presents an even greater potential for death or injury.
NOAA advises that the best protection from lightning is a fully enclosed building. Warnings of potential storms should prompt pet owners to provide the protection of the house, garage, or barn for their pets. It is important that such enclosures be secure so the pets cannot escape to the outdoors. The sound of the thunder is far more frightful than the lightning for many pets; they will seek to flee and may be caught in the storm, or in much worse circumstances.
Thunder can have the same effect as firecrackers and fireworks. Fear of loud noises stress many of our dogs unduly. We vets call it "storm phobia." You call it your worst nightmare. (The howling, the hiding, the destruction!). Read our article 10 steps to calm dogs afraid of thunder, lightning storms for details to help your pet if he or she suffers from this phobia.
A common mistake made by pet owners is to wait until the last minute to think about protecting their pet. NOAA says one of the biggest myths people have about lightning is that it can’t happen if it is not raining. In fact, lightning can strike ten miles or more in front of a storm, from clear, blue skies. These "bolts from the blue" are common in all thunderstorms.
If you are out with your dog and are caught by an unexpected storm, seek shelter as quickly as possible. NOAA advises that counting the seconds from a flash of lightning to the sound of thunder and dividing that number by 5 will estimate how many miles you are away from the storm. Estimates of five miles or less requires immediate action. NOAA suggests:
Preparedness is always better than trying to react during a crisis. Prepare a safe, secure, and comfortable environment for your pet before a storm. Consult your veterinarian for medications that might help calm your pet and reduce its fear of the storm.
For more information go the NOAA website: Lightning Safety: When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!
Study finds that dog's use "mind reading" to their advantage when begging for food.
To anyone who is familiar with the eerily human-like qualities of man's best friend, the news that dogs can read your mind shouldn't come as any surprise.
The latest research adds to growing evidence that dogs can interpret both human body language and general behavior, and use it to their advantage.
"Dogs and [human-raised] wolves are capable of distinguishing between a person looking at them, someone who's paying attention and someone who's not," said Monique A.R. Udell, lead author of a study published recently in the journal Learning & Behavior. "They're more likely to beg [for food] from someone paying attention to them."
Researchers have been learning more and more about the surprising capabilities and intelligence ofCanis lupus familiaris, better known as the domestic dog.
One recent study found that dogs have the developmental abilities of a human 2-year-old, with the average dog capable of learning the meanings of 165 words.
"Over the last five years or so, we've been trying to understand how dogs and relatives of dogs such as wolves respond to social companions," explained Udell, who was a researcher at the University of Florida in Gainesville when the study was conducted.
"The idea behind this particular study was to try to understand how it is, for example, that dogs can use cues of attention to predict what we're going to do next and use that information to decide to beg for food from one individual and not another?" she continued. "How is it that dogs make us feel that they know what we're thinking?"
The study involved groups of pet dogs, stray dogs from a shelter and hand-raised wolves (named Tristan, Miska and Marion, among other monikers) who were comfortable around humans.
Two people stood about 6 meters apart, one of them looking directly and continuously at the dog or wolf. The other person had their vision blocked, either with a bucket over their head, a book obscuring their face or because their back was turned. Both humans held a piece of food.
"On average, both dogs and wolves were significantly more likely to be begging from the person looking at them when the other person's back was turned," said Udell.
But levels of sensitivity did vary by how domesticated the dog or wolf was.
"Domesticated dogs were more likely to beg from someone paying attention to them, but shelter dogs and wolves who don't often see a person reading books were not likely to get that cue," Udell related. "So it does seem like specific life experiences really do matter in this context."
The findings, said Udell, are "important because previous research suggested that something happened to dogs during genetic domestication that made them begin to think like humans. This shows that wolves are capable, if reared with humans, of [picking up human cues]."
"Animal people in the scientific community have known for some time that dogs are pretty smart and very good at reading our body language," said Adam Goldfarb, director of the Pets at Risk Program of the Humane Society of the United States. "This shows that something about dogs or wolves inherently allows them to read humans far better than other animals can."
Here are the results of a recent survey of 852 pet owners and what ingredients they thought were legally permissible in the meat by-products that are included in many cat foods:
87% — Internal Organs
60% — Hooves
22% — Feces
13% — Road Kill
In truth, hooves, feces, and road kill cannot be included in a meat by-product. From this list, only internal organs are allowable. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) definitions of “meat by-product” and “meat by-product meal” make this clear:
Meat By-Products – is the non-rendered, clean parts, other than meat, derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, & stomachs & intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth & hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food.
Meat By-Product Meal – the same as Meat By-Products, except it is the dry rendered product derived from slaughtered mammals. It includes, but is not limited to lungs, spleen, kidneys, brain, livers, blood, bone, partially defatted low temperature fatty tissue, & stomachs & intestines freed of their contents. It does not include hair, horns, teeth & hoofs. It shall be suitable for use in animal food.
Gross? Well the AAFCO definition of “meat” isn’t much better:
Meat – is the clean flesh of slaughtered mammals and is limited to...the striate muscle...with or without the accompanying and overlying fat and the portions of the skin, sinew, nerve and blood vessels which normally accompany the flesh.
However.....when feral or wild cats hunt, they don’t limit themselves to eating “meat.” In fact, they often feed on other organs first precisely because they are a richer source of many of the nutrients cats need to thrive. Our preference for meat over by-products is simply cultural, as anyone who has traveled extensively can attest to.
Think of it this way. Cats hunt birds and eat most of what they kill. Therefore, most parts of a chicken carcass are appropriate foodstuffs as well. If an ingredient list were to include such things as chicken spleen, chicken blood, chicken kidney, and chicken intestine, owners might be a little taken aback but probably wouldn't question whether or not they were suitable for cats to eat. All of these ingredients are actually by-products.
The question should really be whether the chicken carcass from which both meat and by-products are derived is of high-quality. Was the animal fed and housed well when it was alive? Is it free from contaminants? Unfortunately, there is no way for owners to make determinations like these based on a cat food label. The best you can do is pick a food made by a reputable manufacturer and assess your cat’s response to it. If after a month or so, the cat has normal gastrointestinal function, healthy looking coat and skin, and a good energy level based on his or her age and health, you’re on the right track.
Inspired by Friday the 13th, Pet Insurance Company Reveals Frightening Pet Names
A veterinary insurance company analyzed its database to find Scary, Creepy and Macabre Pet Names...
In honor of the initial Friday the 13th, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI) analyzed its database of more than 500,000 insured pets to find out how many pet owners opted for macabre monikers for naming their furry friend. In addition to possessing more than 3,000 black cats in its database, VPI, the nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, has a variety of dogs and cats with monikers that match some of the scariest movie characters in the history of cinema.
Below is a list of the most common pet names in VPI’s database that were inspired by spine-chilling movie characters (total number of pets sharing that name in parenthesis):
Most Common Pet Names Inspired by Scary Movie Characters
1. Jack (2218) – “The Shining”
2. Ripley (175) – “Alien”
3. Norman (136) – “Psycho”
4. Freddy (125) – “Nightmare on Elm Street”
5. Salem (68) – “Salem’s Lot”
6. Cujo (61) – “Cujo”
7. Michael (47) – “Halloween”
8. Carrie (32) – “Carrie”
9. Damien (30) – “The Omen”
10. Jason (25) – “Friday the 13th”
11. Chucky (23) – “Child’s Play”
12. Regan (23) – “The Exorcist”
13. Hannibal (14) – “Silence of the Lambs”
14. Jaws (8) – “Jaws”
15. Voldemort (1) – “Harry Potter”
Happy Friday the 13th!! ;-)
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