What Is It About Animals That Helps People Heal?

To me, it’s because dogs are such loyal and constant companions. My Bulldog Archie is always excited to see me and that alone can make my day!

Daniel Allen, founder of the U.K.’s Pet Nation, offers an explanation:“Since childhood, everybody has had their own personal experiences with animals. Encounters can trigger individual memories, and stimulate those who may be shy or have issues with socializing or communicating. Animals are well-known social lubricants. Interaction can increase confidence and help individuals feel more widely accepted within their community and society.”Allen also believes the healing benefit of an animal is linked to the person’s mental health and human needs, and is not dependent on a particular dog breed or animal species.

via What Is It About Animals That Helps People Heal?.

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Teach Your Dog to Sit, not Jump Up

Does your Bulldog jump up on you? It’s a complaint I hear a lot. Dr  Sophia Yin is a premiere dog behaviorist and trainer. Here she tells us the effective and bonding way to train your dog to sit and not jump up on you.  It CAN be done! My Archie never jumps on me. Some of my friends are a different story because they encourage him to jump up…

Dr. Yin explained that her approach is to train the dog that “Sit is really fun!” Once a dog learns “Sit is really fun,” when she comes running, she automatically sits and is then rewarded for sitting. If she starts to jump, Dr. Yin teaches pet owners to remove their attention in a very clear and obvious way by standing completely still with their arms to their sides, not looking at the dog. They dont need to turn their back to the dog, because if they do and she sits, theyll miss the opportunity to reward her. Its really very straightforward.Dr. Yin says its also very important that the appropriate behavior is trained first, because if you do the standing still thing when your dog starts to jump up on you, and she doesnt know any appropriate behaviors like “Sit” to perform instead, it could take her quite awhile to try to figure out what she should be doing. So its much more productive to teach the appropriate behavior first before teaching her that you will remove your attention when she performs unwanted behaviors.Dr. Yin explained that the way she teaches the sit behavior is with treats which often consist of food from the dogs regular meal. You should stand completely straight because your body posture must be very clear to your dog. Keep your arms at 90-degree angles so your hands are clearly out of range of your dog, and keep your hands centered against your body. As soon as the dog sits, you straighten your arm and pop a treat into his mouth. Give one treat for sitting, then follow with additional treats for remaining seated, because you want your dog to stay seated automatically without needing a verbal cue. You dont want him to sit and then immediately stand and start jumping. When your dog realizes this is a pretty fun activity, walk maybe five steps backwards very fast. Your dog will follow you. Repeat the exercise all over again.The goal is 30 reinforcements within a couple of minutes. With that many reinforcements in a matter of minutes, even the slowest dog will learn fast as long as his owner makes it clear what behavior is being rewarded. That means getting the treat quickly into your dogs mouth, then standing up straight again, and then in between treats, pulling your arms back to your body with your hands in front of your belly button. This is so your dog knows he wont get a treat when your hands are in that position, but only when your hand is right at his mouth.When you come home, for example, and you know your dog is going to run up to you, you have your treats ready. When your dog sits, you immediately reward him once for sitting and additional times for remaining seated. You practice walking away, he follows you, he sits, and he gets a sequence of rewards again. The goal is that when you arrive home, your dog knows “Were going to play this fun sit exercise where I sit, I get to follow you, and I get to sit again. I get to follow you, and I get to sit again.” The sit behavior becomes a game. The sit becomes fun. And as soon as he starts getting it you increase the interval between treats and decrease the total number of treats per session.And its not just about giving the treat. Its about delivering it in a way that makes it more interesting so quickly and moving in ways that make it fun. By moving and giving treats again when he sits, it makes the exercise fun for your dog.

via Behavior Therapy: Is This Dog Training Fit for Your Dog?.

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Want Your Bulldog To Live Longer: Try These Tips

  1. Feed a high quality diet.

    Pets fed a high quality diet have a shiny hair coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. A good diet can help strengthen your pet’s immune system, help maintain his or her intestinal health, help increase his or her mental acuity, help keep joints and muscles healthy, and much more.

  2. Keep your pet lean.

    Pets that are overweight are at risk for a myriad of health issues. Obesity is the number one nutritional disease seen in pets currently and studies have shown that being overweight or obese can shorten a dog or cat’s life span by as much as two years. Why? Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes, among other things.

  3. Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly.

    All pets, including both dogs and cats, require regular veterinary care. However, veterinary care goes far beyond routine vaccinations, even though those are important. A routine examination by your veterinarian can uncover health issues of which you are unaware. In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment. Early diagnosis is also likely to be less costly for you than waiting until your pet’s illness has become advanced and serious before attempting treatment.

  4. Keep your pet’s mouth clean.

    A common problem among dogs and cats, dental disease and oral health issues can cause your pet pain, making it difficult for him or her to eat. If left untreated, oral health issues may even lead to heart and kidney disease. In addition to regular dental checkups, the most effective means of caring for your pet’s mouth at home is to brush his or her teeth at home. If your pet isn’t a big fan of toothbrushes there are other alternatives as well, including dental diets, treats, and toys. Ask your veterinarian for some recommendations.

  5. Do not allow your pet to roam unsupervised.

    Allowing your dog or cat to roam free may seem like you’re doing your pet a favor. However, pets that roam are susceptible to a number of dangers, including automobile accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons, and more. Additionally, allowing your pet to roam unsupervised may alienate your neighbors should your pet ever “relieve” him- or herself in their lawn or dig up their garden.

from PetMD

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What’s in Your Dog’s Food?

This is a comparison of raw diet and conventional “premium” dog foods. It totally bashes the dry food which is appropriate for most big box grocery and pet stores food selections.  There are brands of kibble that have much better ingredients.

If you just grab any old bag of dog food on sale, here’s what you’ll get! from Dr Becker’s blog:

Take a look at the ingredients in these two commercial dog foods. Which do you suppose contains more fillers?

Raw Dog Food, Sold Frozen 

Ingredients: Free-Range Meat = 69%chicken meat including bone, chicken gizzards, chicken hearts and chicken liversOrganic Vegetables = 29.3%carrots. squash, yams, zucchini, celery, romaine, parsley, apple cider vinegarSpecial Nutrient Mix = 1.7%kelp, sea salt, inulin, zinc, copper and iron amino acid chelates, vitamin E

Premium Dry Dog Food

Ingredients: Ground yellow corn, corn gluten meal, whole wheat flour, animal fat preserved with mixed-tocopherols form of Vitamin E, soy protein concentrate, soy flour, water, rice flour, pearled barley, sugar, tricalcium phosphate, propylene glycol, animal digest, dicalcium phosphate, salt, phosphoric acid, sorbic acid a preservative, calcium carbonate, potassium chloride, L-Lysine monohydrochloride, dried spinach, dried apples, dried sweet potatoes, choline chloride, calcium propionate a preservative, added color Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 2, Yellow 6, Vitamin E supplement, zinc sulfate, ferrous sulfate, manganese sulfate, niacin, Vitamin A supplement, copper sulfate, Vitamin B-12 supplement, DL-Methionine, calcium pantothenate, thiamine mononitrate, garlic oil, pyridoxine hydrochloride, riboflavin supplement, Vitamin D-3 supplement, calcium iodate, menadione sodium bisulfite complex source of Vitamin K activity, folic acid, biotin, sodium selenite Another reason for the laundry list of ingredients in the dry food above is that in order to meet AAFCO nutritional standards, pet food manufacturers must add back in the vitamins and minerals that either arent found in a limited ingredient list raw food, above, arent found in a long list of low quality ingredients dry food, above, or are destroyed during the extreme processing that these pet foods undergo dry food, above.

via Defining Fillers in Processed Pet Food.

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Dog Anxiety Symptoms and What to Do

When I had my first Bulldog I also had a Chocolate Lab.  Once there was a tremendous lightening storm directly above my house with loud thunder and torrential rain. Suddenly lightening struck my neighbors tree, went through my house and back out through my other neighbor’s tree.  My hair stood on end. My Bulldog reacted by running to the front door to investigate; the lab ran and hid under the kitchen counter.  Two different reactions to the same event. If your dog suffers from anxiety or phobias you’ll find this article very informative:

If your dog briefly startles at loud sounds or hangs back when approached by a stranger, chances are he’s exhibiting a normal stress response that is entirely healthy. A short-term reaction to a stressful or unfamiliar event allows your dog to prepare to fight or take flight if necessary. In the wild, the fight-or-flight response keeps animals alive in the face of threats to their survival.

Unfortunately, in todays world, maladaptive stress responses – chronic, long-term anxiety and phobias — are a growing problem for companion dogs. These fear-based conditions often take the form of separation anxiety, storm and/or noise phobia, or aggression.

A chronic, prolonged fear response can cause both physical and emotional disease processes that can potentially shorten a dogs life and negatively impact quality of life. Chronic stress can depress your dogs immune system, putting him at higher risk for opportunistic infections. It can trigger the development of compulsive behaviors, and it can also alter blood flow to vital organs.

A dog can be assumed to be anxious and/or fearful when she exhibits certain behaviors. These include:Crying or whining Loss of appetiteDrooling PacingEars held back PantingHiding ShakingInappropriate elimination Tucking tailLip licking VigilanceLooking away from a threat Yawning In addition to these behaviors, if your dog has a storm phobia, during thunderstorms she may also tremble, try to stay close to you, engage in destructive behavior, or try to harm herself.

via Is Your Dog Over Anxious? 14 Tip-Offs….

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Reverse Sneeze: Bulldog

Sometimes my Bulldog is wheezing by inhaling air and may appear to be choking on something.  The first time you see this in a Bulldog it’s really scary. In fact it’s called a “reverse sneeze” and is harmless.  Here’s an explanation from Dr Becker.

Another condition common in small breed dogs and also brachycephalic breeds is the tendency to reverse sneeze. While it is indeed a sneeze rather than a cough, the sound a dog makes while it’s happening can be mistaken for coughing or choking.Reverse sneezing is caused by a spasm of the throat and soft palate that is triggered by an irritant, which can include simple excitement, exercise, a collar that’s too tight, pollen, or even a sudden change in temperature. In a regular sneeze, air is pushed out through the nose. In a reverse sneeze, air is instead pulled rapidly and noisily in through the nose. The sound of a reverse sneeze can be startling, and many dog parents wonder if their pet is choking or having an asthma attack. Most dogs that reverse sneeze also assume a telltale stance — elbows spread apart, head extended or back, and eyes bulging.Most cases of reverse sneezing require no treatment. However, it’s a good idea to try to keep track of when the episodes occur so you can determine what the probable triggers are and try to avoid them. If the sneezing becomes chronic or episodes become more frequent or longer in duration, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out other potential health problems.

via Coughing: This Symptom Could Foretell a Deadly Disease.

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Bulldogs are #1 Breed Again

With his precious wrinkled face and easygoing personality, its no surprise that the Bulldog tops Googles list of most searched dog breeds!

via 10 Most Popular Dog Breeds of 2013 According to Google Searches | Pets – Yahoo Shine.

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Avoid This Aflatoxin-Infested Food Like the Plague

Not only is corn and all its derivatives in commercial pet food highly allergenic and biologically inappropriate for dogs and cats, chances are it’s also genetically modified and carries an unacceptably high risk of mycotoxin contamination. If you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend you move away from any pet food containing GMOs, including corn or its derivatives.Study the ingredients in the food you buy your pet, and avoid brands containing grains or corn in any form, including corn gluten meal, whole grain corn, corn flour, etc. Also avoid formulas containing cereal grains like maize, sorghum, pearl millet, rice and wheat.

via Avoid This Aflatoxin-Infested Food Like the Plague.

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Have You Hugged Your Bulldog Today?

Bulldog Lovers already know this but now a study has proven it! People who hug their dogs have more of the “feel good” hormones and so do their dogs!

When it comes to keeping a pet healthy in body and mind, extra food and treats are a poor substitute for species-appropriate nutrition, physical activity, mental stimulation, attention and affection. In fact, a study2 published in 2011 concluded that the dog owners with the highest levels of oxytocin – the body’s “morale molecule” or “hug hormone” – had three things in common. They kissed their pet frequently, they viewed their relationship with their dog as pleasurable rather than a chore, and they offered fewer treats to their pet. In other words, they didn’t substitute food for attention and affection for their dog. And their dogs had elevated levels of oxytocin as well!

via Is Depression the Hidden Reason Why Your Pet Eats Too Much?.

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Safety Notice – Tainted Chinese Jerky Products

For years I have been advising my readers NOT to buy any dog treats or other food items from Asia, specifically China where there really is no compassion for our animal friends.

Safety Notice – Tainted Chinese Jerky Products.

Nearly 600 pets have died and more than 3,600 have been sickened in an outbreak of illnesses tied to contaminated jerky treats made in China, federal animal health officials said in an October 22nd statement. The epidemic is so severe that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is turning to vets and pet parents across the nation for help.

Bernadette Dunham, director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine said, “This is one of the most elusive and mysterious outbreaks we’ve encountered.” Companion animals have exhibited symptoms within hours of eating the tainted treats, including decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, increased water consumption and frequent urination. About 60% of cases reported gastrointestinal illness and about 30% experienced kidney or urinary troubles. A significant percentage developed Fanconi syndrome, a specific kind of kidney disease.

Some pet kids suffered severe cases of kidney failure and gastrointestinal bleeding.

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Killing With Kindness: Toxic Dog Treats Warning

Here’s a photo of  heathy, happy English Bulldog Shelby taken in December 2012 when her owner started giving her what he thought were healthy natural treats bought at the grocery store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here she is in May 2013, six months later, a couple weeks before she died.  She was only 2 years old.

 

Shelby1

 

She died of kidney failure from eating Chicken Jerky treats from Thailand. She loved them and her owners thought it was fine to give them to her as a reward or just because she enjoyed them so much.

If you have treats like these, return them to the store you purchased from and tell them to remove them from their shelves.  If you see them on the shelf tell them this story.

Here’s the sad cautionary tale submitted by Debbie Woods:

Dog Treat Warnings – Why Didn’t We See Them?

Recently, our family’s two year old English Bulldog lost her life due to kidney failure.

There are no words to describe the horrific shock of being told your dog’s kidneys are failing and then asked by the vet what treats she was given. After the test results came back, I thought I was just going to pick her up with some meds and instructions.  The diagnosis was so bleak and devastating.   How does a two year old get kidney failure?  It didn’t make any sense.  The Dr. tried to save her life and we prayed for a miracle.

There have been a mounting number of reported cases to the Canadian and Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, possibly linking imported chicken jerky treats from China and Thailand, to kidney failure.  Although under complex investigation, a contaminant has yet to be identified.  To date, scientists have not been able to determine a cause for the reported illnesses.  The company is allowed to sell them.  There is no proof.  There is no recall.

Shockingly, these treats remain on the shelves of major grocery and pet food stores being sold to unsuspecting pet owners.  The labelling and marketing are clever.  Some appear to be made in Canada.  Buried in the fine print, are the words, “imported by…,” but the company is not required to tell consumers from where.

In 2011, the FDA issued a cautionary warning against chicken jerky treats imported from China.  In 2012, the warning was expanded to include duck and sweet potato jerky treats.

According to the FDA, up to 360 canine deaths in the U.S., as of late 2012 have been blamed on pet treats, but there hasn’t yet been a definitive way to find the toxin responsible.

After Shelby’s death, we began looking for answers, researching dog treats and the possible link to kidney failure.  It’s sickening to see the flood of reports on this topic.  There’s so much of it, how could we have missed this?  Any number of key words would have brought the topic up in a search.

Shelby didn’t display all the symptoms of kidney failure.  They were so gradual and subtle, we overlooked them.  We are responsible pet owners, and if this could happen to us, I know this can happen to other pet owners.

While researching dog food five years ago, we found Jan Oswald and purchased, “The Healthy Bulldog.”  After receiving this information, we were educated on healthy food choices for our dogs, and within six weeks, they were looking great and feeling happy.  I concentrated on dog food, because that’s what they mainly eat.  What goes into them, certainly is going to affect their health.

Why didn’t we do as good a job researching dog treats? –  We didn’t think one treat every other day or once a day, (Shelby had them for 5 months this way), would do any harm.  None of us did.  It seemed like such a small amount to even worry about.  Besides, if there was a problem, the company would recall them – they wouldn’t be on the shelves of major stores – right?  WRONG.

It is up to consumers to educate themselves on pet food.  According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, it is not a regulated food commodity in Canada.  Go online, type in the brand name, know what you’re buying and make your own wise decisions.   Your pet’s health depends on it.  There are many safe alternatives produced domestically in the U.S. and Canada.  I have just learned there is an actual “human grade” pet food.  What could be better?

By the time it was obvious Shelby needed medical attention, it was too late.  Within 48 hours, she was gone.  She declined very rapidly.

It’s devastating and heart wrenching, knowing this could have been prevented if we only researched.  This concern has been going on for some time.  Ours is not an isolated case.   The Vet did not have the means to determine whether the treats were the cause of Shelby’s death or not.

The Ontario Veterinary Medical Association has advised pet owners refrain from feeding any sort of chicken jerky treat, especially those imported from China or Thailand, until more information can be found as to whether they are responsible for these potentially life threatening reactions.

After the diagnosis, I needed to retrieve information requested by the Vet.  Coincidentally, the staff was taking Shelby outside when I pulled in.  She began walking toward the car.  She thought I had come to take her home.  It shattered my heart into a million pieces knowing I could never take her home again.  I could only kiss her, for what I knew would be the last time, and tell her to go with the girls.  Other stronger family members remained to comfort her during the euthanization process.

Please don’t let another pet suffer a needless, tragic death.  Go to the websites of The Canadian and Ontario Veterinary Association, The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the FDA to see the warnings they have issued.  Unfortunately, some large manufacturers of pet food don’t always look out for our best interests.

It’s too late for us, but not for others.  Early detection of kidney failure is essential and can save your pet.   If you have any concerns, please contact your Vet.   A blood test will reveal so much about your pet’s health.  It is a natural survival instinct for your pet to hide illnesses.

In Memory Of Shelby

Who Went To Romp In The Fields of Heaven, May 10, 2013

Debbie Woods

Napanee, Ontario, Canada

 

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Treat Your Dog’s Minor Cuts & Wounds

This article explains how to treat cuts, scrapes, and minor wounds your Bulldog may get just running around the yard by our friend Jennifer Coates at PetMd:

Next in our “How to” series, dealing with minor scrapes or cuts at home … emphasis on the minor! Any injury that fully penetrates the skin e.g., a bite wound and/or involves a large portion of the body or an especially sensitive area should receive immediate veterinary attention. We are talking about the equivalent of a scraped knee or shallow cut here. Even minor wounds should be dealt with promptly, before infection sets in.

If the skin around the wound is inflamed or pus is visible, more aggressive treatment than what you can provide at home is probably needed.If you have any doubts as to the severity of your pet’s injury, play it safe and make an appointment with your veterinarian. Only attempt wound care if you are confident that a pet will not react aggressively to the procedure. If need be, recruit an assistant to help with restraint, and use a muzzle.

Supplies Needed Water-based lubricant e.g., KY jelly – not VaselineElectric clippers, scissors, or razorWarm waterClean towels paper or clothAntiseptic solutionAntimicrobial ointment

Steps to Follow:

Place a small dog or on a table or counter in front of you or get down on the ground with a large dog. Have a second person gently restrain the pet if necessary.Cover the wound and surrounding area with a water-based lubricant. This makes removing shaved hair from the wound much easier and decreases contamination.Use electric clippers to shave the hair from around the wound. Scissors or a disposable razor can be used with extreme caution to avoid cutting the skin.

Wipe the water-based lubricant and hair away with a clean, dry cloth or paper towel.Wash the area with warm water until all visible debris is gone, then pat dry.

Apply a non-stinging antiseptic solution to the area. Chlorhexidine is cheap, extremely effective, and readily available. I prefer a 2% solution to limit tissue irritation but 4% solutions are also widely used. Chlorhexidine is ideal because it kills the types of bacteria and yeast that are most commonly associated with skin infections in dogs and cats.

Apply an antimicrobial ointment to the wound. Traumatic injuries are best treated with a broad spectrum topical antibiotic like those containing bacitracin, neomycin, and polymyxin B.

If yeast is of primary concern, for example in dogs with allergies that develop moist dermatitis, miconazole ointment is a good choice.

Prevent the pet from grooming the ointment off its skin for at least ten minutes; longer is even better. Take a dog for a walk or sit with a cat in your lap but do not apply a bandage over the area.

Two to three times a day, clean away debris if necessary and apply the antiseptic and ointment until the skin is healed.If the wound worsens at any time or fails to resolve within a week, consult a veterinarian.

original article here

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How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Did you know that most dogs show signs of dental disease by age 3? Brushing your dog’s teeth is important but it’s usually low on our list of things to do.  Here’s a video describing how to brush your dog’s teeth.  It describes dental disease and how to care for dogs as well as cats.  Bad breath is often a sign of dental disease that may need to be treated by your vet.  Teeth brushing is the best way to protect your dog from serious decay or gum (periodontal) disease.  Be sure to make teeth brushing an enjoyable experience by giving treats and lots of praise.  And work them up to a full cleaning slowly.

 

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Natural Immune System Boosters for Dogs

Most Bulldog owners know are familiar with the breed’s immune function problems that include skin disorders, a tendency to infections, and even allergies.  My immune booster of choice for my Bulldog is Omega 3 fish oils.  Even adding a little olive oil (not on this list) to food can help boost immunity and remedy skin problems.  This article explains the immune system in dogs and how to boost it:

The immune system in canines is a complex structure that is made up of several cells and organs and plays the role of defending the dog’s body against various infections, toxins and parasites. If the immune system is weak, the dog is exposed to diseases and the body will not be able to respond to the attack. Consequently, it’s important to keep all components of the immune system healthy and provide boosters when needed.

The immune system is made up of:

  • The skin, which stops many bacteria and toxins from entering the dog’s system, containing also a few immune cells and producing antibacterial matter, which will play an important role in defending the pet
  • Tears, saliva and other secretions that contain enzymes that protect against infectious agents
  • The lining of the respiratory, gastrointestinal and genital tracts will also protect the body
  • The lymphatic system
  • Bone marrow
  • The spleen
  • The antibodies
  • White blood cells

The immune system can weaken due to:

  • Allergies, which will activate certain antibodies
  • Diseases and infections
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Surgeries or trauma
  • The administration of various medications such as corticosteroids or antibiotics

Natural immune system boosters may be administered to dogs that have a medical problem and require a strong immune system or simply to maintain the immune system strong and prevent any infections and diseases.

Herbs can be used to boost the immune system and keep diseases at bay, without having any negative effects as other types of medication. The most commonly herbs used to improve immunity in dogs include:

  • Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis), which contains various vitamins and minerals such as A, B, C and D, iron, zinc, magnesium, lecithin or potassium
  • Echinacea is a natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral solution
  • Ginger root
  • Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha)
  • Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), which is known to detoxify liver and the entire system, containing powerful antioxidants
  • Burdock root, which has effects similar to steroids, but none of the side effects
  • Green tea, which is an antioxidant

These herbs may be used in the form of tinctures that can be added to the dog’s meals or applied on the dog’s skin, to provide protection. Teas may also be prepared and served cold instead of the dog’s regular water.

Other natural ingredients used in dogs with weak immune system include:

  • Fish oil, which contain numerous fatty acids that have various benefits for the immune system
  • Whale fat, which also strengthens the immune system.
original article here
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Bully Stick Warning!

Study finds bacteria and a hefty calorie count in the popular treat

JoAnna Lou | February 4, 2013

There are a lot of pet treats out on the market and it seems like every week a new brand is getting recalled. I don’t even touch any chicken jerky manufactured in China due to the widespread contamination problems.

More recently I’ve been choosing deer antlers and bully sticks, thinking that they’re safer since they’re all natural. But according to a study published in the Canadian Veterinary Journal, there are two potential problems with bully sticks (also called pizzle sticks).

The first concern is an excessive amount of calories. The scientists calculated nine to 22 calories per inch, meaning that a 6-inch bully stick could represent nine percent of the daily recommended calorie count for a 50-pound dog or a whopping 30 percent of the requirements for a smaller 10-pound dog. This I’m less worried about as I usually adjust my pets’ dinner if they get a large treat during the day.

The second finding is much more serious. In testing 26 bully sticks, the researchers found one contaminated with Clostridium difficile, one with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and seven with E. coli. The scientists admitted that the sample size was small, but recommended that people should at least wash their hands after touching bully sticks.

I hope that they repeat the study on a larger scale, differentiating by finishing process. Some bully stick companies sun-bake their product, while others irradiate or bake the sticks indoors. I’m sure that these differences can affect bacteria levels.

It would also be good if they gave recommendations on how to get rid of the bacteria. I know that some people bake bully sticks in the oven before giving them to their pets, but it’s not a proven method.

I think that this study goes to show how careful we have to be in researching our pets’ food. I already know a lot about picking a good kibble, but this study has inspired me to do a better job at finding out the origin and manufacturing process for the treats I feed my crew. And it underscores the many benefits of making your own treats at home!

via Bully Stick Danger | The Bark.

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Food Allergies in Dogs

this article about food allergies in dogs is from my book “Healing Your Dog With Food” that is one of the bonuses in my Bulldog Health System:

Food allergies are often an area of blame in many dogs showing allergic reactions, but in actuality, only a small percentage of dogs suffering from allergies are actually food reactions.  That said, I know about food allergies first hand because my Bulldog Archie is allergic to chicken which is the primary meat protein in most commercial dog food.

After several visits to my vet dermatologist who put Archie on an expensive “hypoallergenic” soy based diet for food allergies.  Unfortunately the soy diet made his skin really ratty looking and didn’t solve the diarrhea problem.

So I decided to stop the soy experiment and try my own food trials. I noticed that every time I fed Archie a commercial diet with chicken he got diarrhea and itchy ratty looking skin.  I no longer feed him chicken and he’s doing great.

If your vet has performed skin scrapings and ruled out parasites and fungus infections, you can perform simple dietary changes and see if your dog gets better.

Food allergies are difficult to diagnose because the symptoms can vary, including:

  • Diarrhea or soft stools
  • Severe itching
  • Small sores with hair loss (not to be confused with mites)
  • Secondary lesions from the itching
  • Vomiting
  • Colic
  • Seizures, in severe cases

Hypersensitivity reactions tend to occur because the dog is reacting to one or two ingredients in the diet.  These reactions tend to slowly occur over time because the dog is eating the same diet for several months, or even years, at a time.  As the dog eats more of these allergens, they build up in the body until outward reactions begin to occur.  Additionally, those dogs that experience seizures often do so because they are reacting to an allergen in their diet.  Because of this, dogs that eat raw or minimally processed foods tend to not have food allergies and symptoms such as severe itching, skin lesions and seizures.

Although most skin allergies do not appear until the dog is one year old or older, food allergies tend to become apparent much earlier than this.  Many dogs that are 6 months old or younger will begin to shows signs, but the majority of the cases diagnosed are in dogs over two years of age.

One reason that food allergies become apparent in young dogs is because their system is shocked by the dog food they are eating and they tend to have more intestinal parasites and viruses than older dogs.  Parasites cause intestinal damage and this can cause a defective antibody response in the body.  The antibody response allows for the body to allow food allergies to develop.

The only reason that dogs, and people for that matter, don’t develop a host of food allergies is due to something called “oral tolerance.”  This is the body’s ability to ignore the foreign proteins that are found in the body.  Otherwise, anything we ate we would become allergic to.  This oral tolerance is believed to begin in dogs at about 6 weeks, which happens to correspond when most dogs are weaned.  One way to assist puppies and prevent food allergies may be to wait until about 8 to 10 weeks to wean.  This will also prevent other behavioral issues and the dog will be well prepared to begin a new diet at this time as well.

Unfortunately, the most common food items that dogs happen to be allergic to are the most common ingredients in all diets, whether commercially prepared or homemade.  These foods include:

  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Wheat
  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Fish

Many people believe that foods like lamb and venison are hypoallergenic proteins, but this is not the case.  An animal can develop a food allergy to any type of food they are fed over an extended period of time.

Commercial prepared foods are often made with large amounts of grains because it is an inexpensive source of energy.  However, these contain large amounts of carbs and gluten, which are two other ingredients that pets often develop an allergy to.  For young dogs, you can actually improve their oral tolerance by limiting the amount of gluten and carbohydrates they ingest.

In diagnosing food allergies, you will need to feed your dog a Hypoallergenic Diet.  This is the only way that you will be able to tell for sure that the dog has a food allergy.  This diet takes about 3 to 12 weeks to complete.  The purpose of this diet is to isolate the allergen in the food by banning all protein that the dog has eaten in the past.

 

The Hypoallergenic Diet

The use of this diet is designed to ban all protein that the dog has eaten in the past in an effort to determine which protein or other ingredient may be causing the allergic reaction.  The diet will last about 8 to 12 weeks depending on the ingredients that need to be tested.  Dogs that have food allergies will show a decrease in itching, and in some cases, the itching will stop all together.

There are two types of diets you can feed: homemade or commercial brands.

The homemade hypoallergenic diet uses 1 part protein and 4 to 5 parts cooked white rice.  For those dogs that have never had protein such as turkey or lamb before, these are both good options.  If you are not sure which types of protein the dog has had, it is advisable to try rabbit or venison, as very few dogs have eaten these in a normal diet.

Many commercial dog foods are now considered hypoallergenic because they have limited ingredients and few additives.  Go to a specialty dog food store for the best diets made by small manufacturers.  Every dog is an individual and there is no one-size-fits-all diet.  That said, my current preference is for Nature’s Variety diets Prairie or Instinct (avoid chicken).

During the diet, you will feed your dog only the prescribed diet.  This means no treats and no heartworm prevention medication.  While on this diet, you should also avoid any supplements, as these often have agents used in binding the vitamins and minerals together, which the dog may be allergic to.  You do not have to worry about any deficiencies developing in the short amount of time the dog will be on the diet.

You should see results in as little as a few weeks.  Stools become normal, itching and scratching stop, small sores go away.  However, if the severe scratching returns when the dog goes back on his regular diet, then you most likely have a food allergy occurring.

As the itching decreases over the 8 to 12 weeks, you can slowly begin adding back ingredients into the diet and watch to see if the itchiness associated with the food allergy reoccurs.  You will add each ingredient until you have developed a well-balanced diet plan and the dog does not have an itching reaction.  This diet can be fed long-term, as long as it is balanced.

Once on a homemade diet, many dogs may develop problems after being switched back to a commercial diet.  These may include symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and itchiness.  In some cases this is due to the same carbohydrate or protein being used in the homemade diet is the same in the commercial diet.  However, artificial flavorings, chemicals and preservatives are usually to blame in this situation.

 

Tips to Remember Regarding Food Allergies

  • Occur non-seasonally
  • Each dog is different
  • Occur at any age, but most common in dogs 2 years or older
  • Often allergic to beef, chicken, soy, wheat, fish, eggs, corn, and milk.
  • Neither skin testing nor will blood testing accurately diagnose the allergen.
  • Food allergies are less common than dermatitis

from English Bulldog Health

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Veterinarian speaks out concerning Bulldog health problems

Many new Bulldog owners who love the unusual look of the English Bulldog often don’t know what they’re getting in for.

Now several vets have gotten into the argument that a dog that is so inbred that it cannot breed on it’s own (Bulldogs are artificially inseminated and give birth by c-section) and has become so popular that many back yard breeders are hoping to make a quick buck at the expense of the welfare of the breed, not to mention the heartbreak that newbie owners often feel when their beloved Bulldog has severe health problems.

That’s why I wrote my book on Bulldog Health – to educate owners and prospective owners on the many common health issues of bulldogs.

Here’s some more from the article:

It’s not that no one should own the breed, she says. It’s just that those thinking of acquiring a purebred Bulldog should know that a dog with such a flat, wrinkled face might have trouble breathing, particularly if it becomes overweight. Also, joint problems like arthritis are common as well as reproductive issues. It seems that English Bulldogs often cannot be bred without artificial assistance and surgical delivery of the puppies.

“Bulldog owners are sometimes shocked and dismayed at how high-maintenance these dogs are, and they are not prepared for the high cost of corrective surgeries and ongoing medication and health care,” Kennedy says.

The Bulldog, renowned for its quiet, affectionate disposition, has become hugely popular in recent years. In 1973, the Bulldog was the 41st most popular registered breed in the country, according to the American Kennel Club. But in 2007, it cracked the top 10 most popular breeds and last year, ranked No. 8.

In Los Angeles, the Bulldog is the second most popular breed, after the Labrador Retriever. In Boston, the Bulldog comes in third and No. 5 in Chicago. 

Kennedy says she thinks the breed has been debilitated by show standards that reward exaggerated features like the flat face and large head. She notes that Bulldogs can have such trouble breathing that many cannot exercise normally or even ride in a car that might get warm.

A Bulldog puppy can cost as much as $4,000, although general prices hover around $2,000, he says. 

Unfortunately, the people who buy these trendy puppies often do not know what a healthy Bulldog is, and they get taken in by disreputable breeders who mate dogs that never should have offspring.

Van Der Marliere says he attends the Bulldog Beauty Contest, which has been held in Long Beach for the past five years. The contest, which has no conformation standards, draws more than 300 competitors. He runs into many dogs that rasp and huff when they breathe and estimates that a quarter of those dog owners are unaware that the sound is abnormal and unhealthy. He sees a lot of uncorrected cherry eye as well.

He has to tell the owners these are problems and can be surgically corrected.

The surge in popularity and the prices the dogs sell for is drawing in many disreputable breeders, says Elizabeth Hugo-Milam, chair of the Bulldog Club of America’s health committee. Bulldogs are even being imported from breeders oversea.

“You have ridiculous people breeding dogs who shouldn’t even own one,” she says. “You have buyers who are not being careful and so the breeders are not careful. It’s just a mess.

“I am just heartbroken about the way things are going,” she adds.

Hugo-Milam says public education is critical. She believes that if the public can identify healthy Bulldogs, they will not buy unhealthy dogs and help drive the irresponsible breeders out of the market.

“It is a terrible cycle of a lot of ignorance,” she says.

Objective evidence of breed health generally is not extensive and the frequency of health problems in the breed is not known exactly. The Bulldog community gives different impressions concerning the prevalence of adverse health conditions.

According to the report from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), a survey by the United Kingdom Kennel Club found that the median life expectancy of a Bulldog is less than seven years, compared to 13 years for a Labrador Retriever. K9 Magazine reported in 2007, that annual veterinary costs for a Bulldog were twice that of a Labrador Retriever.

The report also says, “There is little doubt that the anatomy of the English Bulldog has considerable capacity to cause suffering.” 

original article here

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Inherited diseases in English Bulldogs

I did a search for Bulldog inherited dog diseases from the University of Cambridge  Veterinary School and found some surprising results.

English Bulldog Inherited Diseases:

Cryptorchidism: Failure of descent of testes. Coupled with failure in maturation.

Hemophilia: inadequate blood clotting

Hemivertebrae: Wedge shaped asymmetric thoracic vertebrae with persistence of the mid line dorso-ventral septum. Severe kyphosis kinking of the vertebral column with spinal cord compression, hind limb weakness and pain.  These are malformed vertebrae in the spine, also found in French Bulldogs

Neoplasia – Mast Cell TumourComments: Excess of mast cell tumours.

Pulmonic stenosis: Pulmonary valve dysplasia and stenosis giving reduced tolerance of exercise and increased risk of congestive heart failure.

Spina bifida: Congenital spinal anomalies which result from defective closure of the neural tube.

Prolapse of the nictitans gland: The nictitating gland associated with the third eyelid is displaced forward and becomes visible.

here’s the database

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Bulldog Thefts are Very Real Threat

No one wants to think of the possibility that their English or French Bulldog could be stolen, but it happens regularly.  These dogs are expensive and thieves think they can make a quick buck stealing them or worse turning them into breeding machines.  Here are some helpful tips on prevention and recovery of stolen Bulldogs:

Here’s a short list of things that owners can do to help protect their dogs against theft, and ways to help increase your chances of getting your dog back if they are stolen.Microchip your dog.

Without a chip, we would never have gotten Ruby back after she was stolen. A microchip will be almost universally accepted by most law enforcement and shelters as positive proof of ownership. Make SURE to keep your microchip contact information up to date. If you move, or change your phone number, notify the company which maintains your chip’s database. A chip can’t help if the company can’t reach you.

Put a tag on your dog with your phone number and a notice that your dog is microchipped. Provide your microchip manufacturer’s 800 phone number on the tag, in case they are picked up by an individual, or a shelter without a chip reader.Keep your dog’s chip number and other identifying information on file someplace in your house – and also on your cell phone.

Keep two or three accurate, up to date photographs of your dog on file, for use on missing posters and email list. A head shot, a body shot, and a shot showing any easily identifiable markings or patterns. I can’t tell you how many people contact me about missing Frenchies who do NOT have photos they can also supply.

Consider adding a note on your dog’s tag about a ‘special medical condition’ – and about a reward for their return.

Downplay your dog’s value to strangers, tradespeople and overly interested parties. Anyone who asks you too many pointed questions about the worth of your dog should be treated with suspicion. It might hurt your ego to refer to your dog as “Just a worthless neutered pet with bad knees and a horrid case of worms”, but if it keeps them safe, play it up.

In particular, make it really clear that your dog is FIXED. A dog who can’t be bred is a dog who is worth less money.Breeders should think twice about having obvious signs outside their property advertising that you have purebred dogs in your house.

Keep kennels, runs and yards screened from the street, keep breed specific paraphernalia outside the house to a minimum, and signs about ‘puppies available’ does anyone do this anymore? are a definite no.

Don’t leave dogs unattended in yards – I know of a few Frenchies who have been stolen by someone simply unlatching the gate, walking inside and picking up the dog, all while their owner was home inside of the house. Put simple locks on gates that allow people access to your yards.

via French Bulldog Thefts

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Use of Honey and Sugar to Treat Dog Wounds!

If your dog has a large wound that is difficult to treat you could try an anchient treatment of honey!  I know local honey is useful for treating allergies as the pollen comes from local plants and helps build up immunity to the associated allergen.  But honey also has anti-bacterial properties as explained here:

When a companion animal has lost a significant amount of skin and subcutaneous tissue to a fall from the back of a pickup truck — burns, aggressive infections, etc. — the cost of modern wound dressings can be prohibitive. Sugar and honey are cheap enough to save pets that might otherwise be euthanized because of the costs associated with their treatment.

Sugar and honey work because of the way in which they change the local wound environment. When sugar is applied to a lesion, it draws water out through the tissues and dissolves. The resulting sugar solution is so concentrated that it inhibits the growth of bacteria. Honey works in the same way but also produces hydrogen peroxide that kills bacteria. In addition, sugar and honey both draw white blood cells to the area that work to clean the wound, speed the sloughing of dead tissue, and aid in the formation of a protective layer on the wound’s surface. Overlying bandages need to be changed and sugar and honey reapplied frequently to maintain their healing properties, but this is no different from what needs to be done when using commercially prepared wound dressings.

via Old Advances in Veterinary Medicine Still New | Old School Veterinary Medicine | petMD.

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