French Bulldogs have a high risk of health problems

A study by Researchers at The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), UK found that ear infections, diarrhea and inflammation of the eye surface (conjunctivitis) were the most common problems in the French Bulldog that were one year of age and older.

What is also interesting is that females tended to be healthier than males. Of the 26 common health problems in this breed, males were more likely to get 8 of them.

frenchie

(photo from internet free stock)

The very characteristics that make the French Bulldog popular, such as their short nose and skin folds, contribute to their health issues. Breathing issues are seen in over 10% of the breed as well as skin problems due to their skin folds.

This means that breeders have to be very diligent in their breeding program to help reduce the health issues. People who want to own this breed should be aware of the health issues and be prepared to pay for the extra veterinary care that these dogs require.

Advertisements

Secrets of the Snout by Frank Rosell

Secrets of the Snout by Frank Rosell, University of Chicago Press, ISBN: 13: 978-0-226-53636-1, 265 pgs., $23.40.

franks book

Professor Rosell has done a wonderful job explaining how a dog’s nose works. He gives us accounts of different types of detection dogs which is a delight to read. The book is easy to read and understand because written for the average pet owner.

While other books have covered a dog’s scenting abilities, Professor Rosell has included the latest research along with keen insight to dog behavior. He explains what makes up scent and what a dog detects.

Each chapter features a specific dog’s scenting experience which helps the reader gain useful insight as to how dogs do their jobs. He explores topics such as, can a dog tell identical twins apart and other interesting experiments.

There are extensive notes for each chapter as well as a thorough index which makes it easy to locate specific material. I highly recommend this book for all working dog and pet owners who would like to understand their dog’s world of scent. This book was first published in Norway and was so popular that it was translated into English and published in the United States.

The Chapters include:

  1. Dogs at Work
  2. A Dog’s Sense of Smell
  3. A Good Judge of Character
  4. Pet Finder
  5. Search and Rescue
  6. On the Hunt
  7. Police Work
  8. Customs and Border Control
  9. Military
  10. Medical Detection
  11. Field Assistant
  12. Pest Detector and Building Inspector
  13. Other Work Tasks for Sniffer Dogs.

Sexually Transmitted Disease in Dogs

The canine transmissible venereal tumor is spread in dogs worldwide through breeding as well as biting and licking the infected area. Professor Ariberto Fassati of UCL (University College London) has discovered that the disease is related to a single common ancestor, making it the same in all dogs. Professor Fassati also discovered that the dog’s immune system can cause the cancer to regress spontaneously or within a few weeks after only one radiotherapy or chemotherapy treatment.

Professor Fassati found that the healthy cells around the tumor were vital in causing the regression of the cancer. What is very exciting about this finding is that canine transmissible venereal tumor is very similar to various human cancers such skin cancer, bone cancer, and certain blood cancers. His research may lead the way to better treatments for humans.

“There are two key messages of our study,” Fassati says. “First, we should not focus on the cancer cells only but also understand the importance of normal tissue around the cancer in promoting rejection. Second, we must be able to induce the production of large amounts of certain chemokines to attract loads of immune cells to the tumor site.” His research may lead the way to better treatments for humans.

3.6

Winter Bird Watching

As summer ends and fall begins, it is not too soon to think of winter bird watching. Early fall is the best time to plan and prepare for winter bird watching. However, you can start anytime during the year.

When you mention bird watching, most people think of spring, summer and fall.  Spring and fall are good times to look for migratory birds that may not spend the summer where you live. Places such as Hawk Mountain in Pennsylvania is one site where you can watch migratory birds. There are other sites throughout the world.

The summer of course is a great time to watch the resident birds raise their young and learn their survival skills. But the most overlooked time of the year to watch birds is the winter.

This is the time when bird feeders and heated birdbaths attract a wide variety of birds that are sometimes hard to spot during the other seasons. Without the leaves on trees and food harder to get, these birds are more likely to spend time around your feeder and bird bath. The more elusive and shy birds are easier to spot and the bold ones, such as the Chickadee’s, will land on your hand for some black oil sunflower seeds. Nothing is quite as thrilling to a bird watcher then having a sweet little Chickadee look you in the eye and snatch a seed right from the palm of your hand. Do note that it takes time and patience to get the birds to eat out of your hand.

bird

But a real treat is to get a glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker in the winter. Despite being large (15”) this is a very shy and hard to spot bird. Because of its loud pecking, and the large holes it makes in trees, you are more likely to see where it has been or hear it rather than actually see it. This bird is very difficult to sneak close enough to in order to get a good look. I find that it is even more difficult to photograph it because if the bird sees you it will fly away.

pilated 5

If you want a real treat, put out a wildlife seed block and you will have just about everything that lives in your area paying a visit. Here in the Pocono’s I have a huge flock of turkeys that come for three square meals a day.

Winter bird watching can be very successful if you put up squirrel proof bird feeders (such the Brome standard pictured here) filled with sunflower seeds. A platform feeder for the ground feeders (such as Dark-eyed Junco’s and doves) as well as the larger birds can be filled with a wild bird seed mix. The Brome squirrel buster bird feeders are the only ones that I have used that really work, and the birds love them.

vgnuthatch143

Here a rare Red-headed woodpecker visits my platform feeder.

red headed woodpecker good photo

On very cold harsh days I occasionally supplement the seeds with freeze dried meal worms. The worms also help the insect eating birds that may stay in the area, such as Bluebirds. They also help Robins who may come too early in the spring or get caught in a late snow storm.

If there are bears in your area, they are less of a problem in the winter and you can leave a bird feeder outside at night. But to be safe, take it in. Keep in mind that birds typically are most active at dawn and dusk. Although during harsh days they will feed throughout the day.

Do not take in your hummingbird feeders until there is a risk of the nectar freezing. While resident hummers may have migrated, some of the northern hummers will appreciate a chance to feed as they pass through.

The safest and best heated bird bath is the model pictured. You do not want to put a heating element in your regular bird bath because if the deer or other animals drink the birdbath dry the element will fail. This bird bath is safe if the water is drained out of it.

bird 2

You can also get a large branch or small tree trunk and make a wonderful woodpecker feeder by drilling two one inch holes through the trunk. An eye hook and a simple dog leash clasp that you can buy at a hardware store with some clothes line or wire to hang it, works well.

I put the clothes line over a branch of a tree to pull it high so the deer will not eat it and then tie it off so I can raise and lower it to fill it. You can find inexpensive suet cakes at outlets like Ollies and cut a one inch slab off of the cake and push it into the hole. You can also pack the holes with suet from a butcher or ask the butcher at the local supermarket to save you suet. The prepared suet cakes can be used year round since they are OK in the heat but the natural suet does not do well in the warm weather. You can also make your own suet which can go into a cage suet feeder or the log feeder. The log feeder pictured here is one I made.

red bellied 3

If possible, place your bird feeders where the birds have shelter. This will keep them safe from predators such as hawks. Hanging a bird feeder from a tree, or near bushes will help you attract a wide variety of birds. In the winter I also add a peanut feeder with split peanuts to my collection of feeders. I also use shepherd’s hooks to hang feeders near trees and bushes. This makes it easy to maintain your feeders.

It is important to wash your feeders at least once a week to help prevent the spread of disease and make the seeds visible. There is always dust and dirt that can collect in some tube feeders that will clog the drain holes in the bottom. So maintenance is important.

Watching the local birds from my office window during the winter is a real treat for me. I have found that by watching their habits, I can often tell what the weather is going to be the next day. It is amazing how the birds know when a storm is coming and will eat extra food. Many birds also hide food in trees and other areas to eat during bad weather.

Bird watching is also an educational experience for children. They can use a bird book and try to identify the various birds that come to your feeders.

Happy bird watching!

Munchausen by Proxy for pets

Although it is rare, veterinarians should be aware of Munchausen by Proxy since it can involve pets.  To understand Munchausen by Proxy it is necessary to understand the Munchausen disorder.

Munchausen is a mental illness that involves faking, producing or prolonging an illness. People who have this disorder will go to great lengths to hide it. It is important to note that this disorder does not include faking illnesses to get out of going to work, winning a lawsuit, and it is not the same as hypochondria where the person actually believes that he is sick.

Munchausen by Proxy is when the mentally ill person fakes illnesses in a child, elderly person or pet to gain sympathy. There is not much data on Munchausen by Proxy in pets, but by understanding how it manifests itself in humans; a veterinarian may be able to detect it when it involves pets.

Here are some of the characteristics of this disorder:

The illness does not fit the classical picture

The Illnesses do not fit well together or do not relate

The caregiver is too helpful

The caregiver is often involved in the medical field

Complications can arise from the injuries

There are dramatic stories about the medical problems

Frequent visits to the doctor/veterinarian

Vague symptoms

Inconsistent symptoms

Conditions that worsen with no apparent reason

Eagerness for testing and surgeries

Extensive knowledge of medical terms and conditions

Frequenting many different medical professionals

Made-up histories

Faking symptoms

Self-harm or inflicting harm

Preventing healing

The persons most likely to have Munchausen disorder are those who:

Experienced a childhood trauma including sexual, emotional or physical abuse

Had a serious illness in childhood

A relative with a serious illness

Poor self-esteem or identity

Loss of a loved one early in life

Unfulfilled desire to be in the medical profession

Work in the health care field

According to the statistics, more males and young or middle-aged people are most likely to have Munchausen disorder.

What should you do if you suspect that your client has this disorder? First try to diagnose the illness in the pet with tests to be certain that it is real. Go for a cure rather than treat symptoms.

Talk to your pet’s owners and being aware of the symptoms listed above.  Listen to your gut feelings if they tell you that something isn’t right.  Most people try to second guess themselves when their first reaction was correct. If you suspect that a client may have Munchausen by Proxy you can alert your local animal cruelty organization. Munchausen by Proxy is a form of cruelty. It is better to be safe than sorry.

scan0018

Beech trees are dying, and nobody’s sure why

I do not often write about plants since my expertise is mainly dogs and cats, but as a tree lover, I felt it important to pass along this information.

“In a study published in the journal Forest Pathology, researchers and naturalists from The Ohio State University and metroparks in northeastern Ohio report on the emerging “beech leaf disease” epidemic, calling for speedy work to find a culprit so that work can begin to stop its spread.”

The disease has been found in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Canada. If a tree is infected it will have dark green bands between the veins of the leaves. As the disease progresses the leaves get very dark, shrink and get leathery. Then the limbs that have the disease do not produce buds. From there the tree dies. According to the report young trees are usually hit harder than older trees.

Trees of all kinds are important to wildlife and people. We have already had an infestation in parts of the country that have killed Oak trees and Hemlocks. Elm trees never recovered from the Dutch Elm disease. I would hate to see another species of tree die.

If you suspect that any of your trees are affected, I would suggest that you contact your local agricultural agency or DCNR office. Let’s hope that we can stop the Beech tree disease.

beech

Beech leaf disease symptoms include dark banding between the veins in early stages, followed by crinkling leaves.

Credit: Forest Pathology, Ohio State

A little brag from me!

I wanted to let my followers know that my latest book, K9 Troubleshooting won first place in the National League of American Pen Woman’s contest and has now been nominated in the Dog Writers Association of American contest. I will not know for a month or so if it wins. Being nominated is an honor in and of itself. There are a lot of books entered. 9781550597363

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dwaa cert

img036

The truth about Pit bull’s, Bully breeds and mixes

Over the past few years there has been a lot of discussion about Pit bull Terriers as well as Pit or Bully mixes. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about these breeds to the point where the Bully breeds in general have been banned in certain states. Owners are often restricted as to where they can live, what homeowner’s insurance they can get and how they have to house or walk the bully breeds.

People fail to understand the nature of these dogs therefore I have compiled a list to dispel some of the myths surrounding them.

  1. Myth: All Pit bulls will attack another dog.

The truth of the matter is not as clear cut as many are led to believe. First of all, the Pit bull is a terrier. As such it can have a typical terrier personality. In the dog show ring a number of terrier breeds are tested by “sparring” them. Here is a quote from the Kerry Blue Terrier (KBT) web site, “The act of sparring KBTs allows a judge to determine which KBT possesses the greatest amount of poise and fire, tempered with dignity and control. In other words, sparring shows the judge “who’s who”!”

To spar a dog is when the dogs are put face to face and they must show a willingness to challenge another dog. Although they are not allowed to fight, sometimes due to poor handling a fight will ensue.

The difference between the Pit bull and other terriers is that the Pit bull breed was bred not to bite his handler when pulled apart in a dog fight. There are few dogs that will not bite any hand that gets in the way of a dog fight. This is why if your dog is in a fight, never try to pull the dog’s apart by their collar, you will be bitten. The Pit bull is the only breed that is specifically bred not to bite people.

However, many Pit bull dogs will not fight other dogs. It is primarily a matter of training by their owners. The proof of this is how many Pit bull dogs have been beaten, abused, killed and otherwise discarded by those people who would use them in a dog fight, because they will not fight!

  1. Myth: Pit bull dogs can account for most of the human deaths by dogs.

This is difficult to prove because many dogs that are labeled as Pit bull dogs or mixes are in fact not at all Pit bull’s or mixes. It is difficult without a DNA test to determine if a dog is a mix between a Boxer, Boston terrier, Staffordshire terrier, Bullmastiff or a Rottweiler—just to name a few breeds. Many of the people who label a dog as a Pit bull or mix are not well versed in identifying breeds of dogs to make that determination. Even professionals in the dog business can find it difficult to determine what breed or mix a dog is. For example, if you saw a small Bull mastiff standing next to a large Pit bull, or a Pit bull standing next to a Staffordshire terrier or an American Bulldog, or even a Boxer, would you be able to tell the difference?

3. So why are the Pit bull types most often linked to attacks of all kinds on humans and other animals? Part of the reason is that they are currently the popular breed used by drug dealers, and other unsavory people that train the dogs to attack. In the past other breeds were popular with this element of society such as German Shepherds, Dobermans and Rottweilers. Also, when smaller dogs attack it is often not reported because they do not do much damage. The main thing to consider when you hear or read about a dog attacking a human, is to find out if the dog was taught to be aggressive and/or mistreated.

There are a number of key factors that come into play as to why any dog will attack or bite.

a. The way the dog was bred is vital to this issue. Many dogs that come from backyard breeders, commercial breeders, puppy mills or people who do not understand genetics and careful breeding can have a bad temperament. This is not limited to the Bully breeds which are why organizations such as the American Temperament Test Society formed to encourage people to show that the dogs they want to breed or own have a sound temperament. Any dog that does not have a sound temperament can be dangerous, especially if they are a large breed of dog.

b. The way the dog is raised by its owner plays an important part in how the dog will develop. Each puppy, no matter what breed, must receive proper socialization in order to increase its chance of adjusting to life with humans. This is why many dog trainers and dog clubs offer Puppy Kindergarten classes to help dog owners properly raise their puppies.

c. What the dog is taught is also critical. Every dog should have “no force” obedience training. This is critical for large dogs as well as the terrier breeds since they can be very focused on other things and a challenge to train for the novice dog owner.

d. The environment that the dog lives in is very important. Dogs are very intelligent and the latest research shows that they are much more intelligent than previously thought. When a dog’s needs are not met, the dog can become “mentally ill” in that he misjudges how he is supposed to behave. Solitary confinement — defined as being tied to a dog house, kept in a pen or a room in a house can have the same effect on a dog as it would a human—irrational behavior, violence and hostility. Even if the dog is not confined, aggressive behavior by the owner toward the dog or even other people can cause aggressive behavior in a dog.

e. The owner’s attitude can also play an important part in the way a dog behaves around other people. For example, the person that purchases the dog for protection will act differently when someone comes to their door or into their house than the person who only wanted a companion. Either consciously or unconsciously, they want the dog to attack an intruder to protect their home. They expect the dog to bite but they do not want the dog to bite everyone. They expect the dog to understand the difference between a friend and foe.

Unfortunately the dog will sense the owners fear that the dog will bite wanted guests and friends. However, the dog never associates himself as the cause of the fear or anxiety and thinks that everyone who comes near the owner, or to the door, is a threat. Pit bull’s are loyal dogs who instinctively want to protect their family, just like many other breeds. Therefore, as the dog becomes more protective and the owner becomes more fearful, when people come to the door, the dog’s protective instinct increases with every encounter. It is a vicious cycle.

f. One aspect that people hesitate to discuss or consider is the neighborhoods and types of people who own Pit bull’s and what they do with the dogs. Do most bites occur in a neighborhood where people have the dogs for protection, engage in dog fighting, or as a warning for illegal activities? As explained above, the owner plays a big part of why dogs behave as they do.

g.  When looking at dog bite statistics it is important to consider what percentage of the whole population of Pitbull’s (real Pitbull’s not dogs labeled as Pitbull’s) bite humans compared to other breeds.

h. Lastly, each bite must be evaluated based on its own merits. Was the dog trained to bite? Was the dog teased? Was the dog mistreated, etc.

All dogs will bite given the right circumstances. A bite is not always an act of aggression. A bite can be a warning to be left alone. People seem to forget that a dog’s mouth is also his “hands.” They communicate, manipulate, explore, and learn by using their mouth. If a dog owner does not teach a dog to inhibit his bite, a playful nip can hurt.

According to statistics, approximately 4.7 million dog bites occur each year. The following list ranks breeds in order of the most bites attributed to that breed.

  1. Chihuahua
  2. Bulldog
  3. Pit Bull
  4. German Shepherd
  5. Australian Shepherd
  6. Lhasa Apso
  7. Jack Russell Terrier
  8. Cocker Spaniel
  9. Bull Terrier
  10. Papillion

While the Pit Bull Terrier is ranked third on the list, of all of the bites reported, they do not represent the majority of bites.  Note that three of the breeds on the list are toy breeds.

Many if not the majority of Pit bull’s and the Bully breeds are sweet, wonderful companions. It is ironic that in today’s world it is against the law to use certain words, and people protest being profiled. Yet the Bully breeds are being profiled and persecuted no matter what the individual dog is like, even if the dog only looks like a Bully breed or mix and in reality is not.

The following photo is from on on-line free photo site: Can you tell what breed it is?

pit mix

Dog bites and children – prevention

A recent study by Lead researcher Professor Kerstin Meints, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology, found that both children and parents misinterpret the signs of distress and anxiety in dogs. Often children thought dogs were happy when they were growling and snarling. The study found that young children around three years old especially found it difficult to identify a dog’s distress signals. About 17% of parents were incorrect as well. About 65% of the children tested thought the dog was smiling.

The researchers then gave the children and parents a training session and found that as a result of the educational experience, 72% of the children tested were able correctly identify anxiety and distress in a dog’s body language.

It would benefit all my readers to go to this site and order the power point presentation on canine body language. If you can, offer to show it to children in the classroom as well as other organizations where children and adults can learn about canine body language. This is the power point presentation that I have used for years in my college program about dog training and behavior. (No I do not make any money by promoting it.)

36scan0036

 

A way to preserve a loved one’s ashes

I have boxes of ashes from quite a few of my pets. Because we move so often, I did not want to bury them and then have to leave the ashes behind. I investigated a pet cemetery and the cost was prohibitive. Then I came across another option for those of us who have lost a beloved pet, or a family member.

The ashes can be incorporated into a beautiful glass object. It can be any type of object that you wish, something for the mantel, desk, dresser, curio cabinet or even a piece of jewelry. The size, shape and colors are limitless. The process does not require a lot of ashes, so you can scatter, bury or spread most of the ashes and keep some in a glass object. I hope this will help some of my followers. Glasslight Studios can send the glass anywhere in the world.

For more information contact, Glasslight Studios, PO Box 310, St. Peters, PA, 19470, or email them at glasslightstudio.com@gmail.com or go to www.glasslightstudio.com

The photos are examples of some of the objects that they have made.

IMG_20181214_121021481_HDRIMG_20181214_120938341IMG_20181214_120522788_HDR