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Copyright Brad Pattison
The Hustle Up™ School for Dog Trainers is based in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. It is here where we plan out and organize future Brad Pattison Certified Trainer Educator and 6Legs to Fitness™ Instructor courses.
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Dr. Tiffany Lennox

 
- Summertime Safety
- Neutering
- Canine Obesity
- Canine Osteoarthritis
- Spaying
- Human Food and your dog

 

Summertime Safety

Risks and Preventions of Hyperthermia (Heatstroke)

We all enjoy the “Dog Days” of summer, but always beware of the risks these warm days may pose to your canine companion.  Hyperthermia, or heat stroke, occurs when a dog’s body temperature goes above 41° C or 105°F. Heat stroke generally occurs in the hot summer months when dogs are left in cars with inadequate ventilation. However, heat stroke may also occur in other conditions, such as being left outside in hot/humid weather without shade, when exercised in hot/humid weather, or when left in a car on a relatively cool day (21°C/70°F). A study from the Stanford University Medical Center found the temperature within a vehicle may increase by an average of 4.5°C or 40°F within one hour regardless of the outside temperature.

Other risk factors for heat stroke include obesity or diseases affecting the pet’s airway. Also brachycephalic (short-nosed) breeds (Pug, Bulldog, Boston terrier, etc.) may have difficulties with panting and effective cooling that can predispose them to heat stroke.

Initial symptoms include distress, excessive panting and restlessness. As the hyperthermia progresses, the dog may drool large amounts of saliva from the nose and mouth. The dog may become unsteady on his feet. You may also notice the gums turning blue/purple or bright red in colour, which is due to inadequate oxygen. If left untreated, the dog will become progressively weaker, until he is unable to stand.  In severe cases, dogs may develop a condition called DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) that results in abnormal bleeding and blood clotting, or acute kidney failure. These patients require intensive emergency care and hospitalization. Some studies indicate a 50% mortality rate for dogs with severe heat stroke.

If you are concerned that your dog may be developing heat stroke, remove your dog from the environment where it occurred to a shaded and cool environment, and direct a fan on him. If possible, take a rectal temperature and record it. Begin to cool the body by placing cool, wet towels over the back of the neck, in the armpits, and in the groin region. You may also wet the ear flaps and paws with cool water. Direct a fan on the wetted areas to speed evaporative cooling. Transport him to the closest veterinary facility immediately. Do not use cold water or ice for cooling or overcool the pet. Using ice or cold water on the skin and extremities will cause the superficial blood vessels to shrink, effectively forming an insulating layer of tissue to hold the heat inside the body and will actually slow cooling. Cool tap water is more suitable for effective cooling.

Lowering the body temperature is the first step to treating hyperthermia, but due to its effects on the entire body and its potential to be fatal, a dog suffering from hyperthermia should be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
 

 
 

Neutering

There are many reasons why you should neuter your dog, ranging from animal population control, to the health and behaviour of your dog.

Responsible pet ownership involves providing food, shelter and medical care for your dog, and preventing uncontrolled or unwanted reproduction.  Thousands of dogs are euthanized needlessly in animal shelters across North America each year. Many of these deaths are preventable. Animal population control is a key part in preventing over-population and over-crowding in animal shelters. While many owners believe that there is no chance that their male dog would sire puppies, it takes only an instant for a dog to escape. One episode of roaming can lead to an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy, as well as an unhappy owner of the newly expecting female dog.

Neutering reduces the risk of undesirable behaviours that may occur in intact male dogs. Neutering eliminates roaming in 90% of dogs, eliminates aggression between male dogs in 60% of dogs, eliminates urine marking in 50% of dogs, and eliminates inappropriate mounting (humping) in 70% of dogs.

Neutering also has several health benefits. Neutering improves the health of the prostate, by reducing its size, a condition known as benign prostatic hyperplasia. Prostatic hyperplasia can lead to problems with the urinary tract and rectum, as well as prostatic infections and prostatitis. Reduction in prostatic infections may also lower the risk of urinary tract infections. Neutering reduces the risk of inguinal and perianal hernias. It prevents testicular cancer and reduces the risk of perianal tumors.

Your neutered male dog will make a healthier, happier and better behaved companion.  Do your part and prevent animal over-population and unnecessary loss of life. Neuter your dog.

Tiffany Lennox, DVM

 
 

Canine Obesity

Our dogs live with us, eat with us, travel with us and play with us. In many ways, dogs that we adopt into our families live our lifestyles. Studies in North America show that obesity in the human population is on the rise, some refer to it as an epidemic. Veterinary surveys have revealed that obesity in dogs is rising in parallel with humans. World-wide studies indicate that 30-40% of dogs are overweight.

The primary causes for obesity in dogs are diet, lack of exercise, and genetics. Of those three factors, diet is probably the biggest component. There are many reasons why our dogs are being over-fed. Pet food companies spend many research hours and dollars on finding diets that are the most palatable to our dogs. Most commercial diets are highly flavoured to appeal to our pets and encourage consumption, sometimes to excess. Highly palatable diets paired with ad lib feeding will create the desire and opportunity to over eat. Add onto this, our personal attachments to food, our desire to give our dogs treats as rewards, as a training tool or to show affection, and we have the potential for dietary disaster. Treats can add a very significant caloric intake over days and weeks. Most dog treats are empty calories, high in simple sugars, fats, artificial flavourings and preservatives. When feeding our dogs, it is important to remember that food does not equal love, and that dogs respond as well or better to praise and attention, a good walk or a game of catch than a food reward.

A sedentary lifestyle is the other major culprit for canine obesity. We all lead busy lives, we work, look after our children and families, travel, and are active in our communities. If we do not make time to ensure that our dogs are exercised on a daily basis, they will often not get the activity that they need to stay fit. Our dogs are athletes, they have evolved hunting, chasing, herding and working for their food. Too often today, dogs are bored, under-stimulated and allowed to be canine couch potatoes. This leads to obesity and undesired behaviours.

Canine obesity carries the same health risks for our dogs as it does for us. Canine obesity predisposes our dogs to diabetes, heart failure, respiratory dysfunction, heat stroke, high blood pressure, urinary incontinence, certain types of cancer, and poor immune function. Obesity increases the severity of pain in dogs with osteoarthritis, and can cripple dogs in their senior years. Obesity has been proven to shorten the life span of dogs in controlled clinical studies.

Your dog cannot sign up for Jenny Craig, it is our responsibility as owners to ensure that our dog’s needs are met. If you have a dog who needs to lose weight, take the necessary steps to make it happen. Start by having a body condition score done by your veterinarian, then calculate the required daily caloric intake that will allow your dog to lose weight and stick to it. Also set a healthy target weight to strive for. Start a daily exercise program with your dog, it will do wonders for you too! Weigh your dog at least once a month and track the weight loss. If the pounds aren’t coming off, talk to your veterinarian and devise a new diet or a new exercise program. Most importantly, don’t ignore the problem and don’t give up! It can be done!

Tiffany Lennox, DVM
 

 
 

Canine Osteoarthritis

How to Help an Old Friend

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis recognized in animals. It is estimated to occur in 20-25% of all senior dogs. Osteoarthritis is a slowly progressive and painful disorder of the joints, characterized by degeneration of joint cartilage and the appearance of new bone.

Early symptoms of arthritis usually include slight stiffness in the morning, reluctance to walk, and difficulty rising.  These symptoms should tell you that your dog is having a problem and a veterinary visit is recommended. If your veterinarian determines that your dog is suffering from osteoarthritis, a treatment plan will be made. Over-the-counter human pain medications such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen should not be used in dogs, as they can be toxic if given at the incorrect dose.

Treatment plans will vary, depending on the severity of your dog's condition, but often involve a multi-modal approach. One of the most important means for treating osteoarthritis is weight management. In general, dogs who lose excess weight will require less medication to control pain and have a greater quality of life. Exercise involving walking or swimming will help maintain joint mobility and reduce weight.

Medications for osteoarthritis pain can be divided into two groups: slow-acting and fast-acting.

Slow-acting medications ultimately improve joint function and help with pain relief, but they require a time frame of weeks to months to exert their effect. These products are typically called nutraceuticals, meaning that they are nutritional supplements that have medicinal properties. Most arthritis patients can benefit from their use and they are considered a basic starting level for joint care. Examples of these medications include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, MSM, anti-oxidants and free radical scavengers. Veterinary prescription diets targeted at improving joint function are also available.

Fast-acting drugs are prescription medications that are available from your veterinarian. One of the most common types of medications used for management of osteoarthritis is non-steriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). These medications are very effective at reducing pain, but should be used with caution due to their possible effects on kidney and liver function. They are usually given on a tapering dose, so that dogs are maintained on the lowest possible dose that will control pain. Other classes of pain medications may be added if needed, these can include narcotic pain medications like Tramadol, or Gabapentin which acts on the nervous system.

Another effective treatment option involves injections of polysulfated glycosaminoglycan (PSGAGs). These medications are synthetic forms of the natural building blocks of healthy cartilage.  They have numerous beneficial effects for the arthritis patient including the inhibition of harmful enzymes that cause joint cartilage destruction, stimulation of cartilage repair, and increasing joint lubrication. These effects go far beyond simply providing plenty of chondroitin sulfate as a building block for damaged cartilage. They are given as a series of injections and have no side effects.

Given the many treatments and options available, there is now no need for our senior dogs to be uncomfortable in their golden years. You can help your old friend.

Tiffany Lennox, DVM
 

 
 

Why Should I Spay My Female Dog?

Spaying of female dogs, also called ovariohysterectomy, is the surgical removal of the ovaries and uterus. There are many reasons why female dogs should be spayed, ranging from behavior issues to cancer.
Pet overpopulation is one of the most obvious reasons to spay. The number of unwanted dogs who are euthanized in animal shelters around the world is tragic and preventable. Unplanned pregnancies can and do happen, since intact females will actively search for a mate and often escape when owners least expect it. Before you make a conscious decision to breed your female dog, also consider the fact that there are already more than enough puppies and dogs in shelters and rescue organizations who desperately need homes.

Breeding your dog may sound like a fun experience, and it can be. Like any pregnancy, however, things can go wrong. Dogs may develop medical problems during pregnancy, at the time of labor and delivery, or postpartum. These complications can be costly, time consuming, and sometimes heartbreaking.

Intact female dogs can display unwanted behaviors. Intact females, like males, have an increased risk of aggression. During heat cycles they may show erratic behavior and attempt to escape. Some females may also urine mark inside the house.

The risk of mammary cancer is greatly reduced by early spaying of female dogs. When compared to an unspayed female, the risk of development of a mammary gland tumor is 0.05% if spayed before the first heat, 8% if spayed after the first heat, and 26% if spayed after the second heat. In dogs, 50% of all mammary gland tumors are malignant.

Uterine infection, called pyometra, is a serious and life threatening illness in female dogs. Symptoms may range in severity, but dogs can develop septic shock and require emergency care. Frequently hospitalization, intravenous fluids, antibiotics and surgical removal of the ovaries and infected uterus are required.

Spaying your female dog will give you a healthier and more compatible companion. It is beneficial not only to the dog and the owner, but helps to reduce needless loss of life and suffering in our world.

The Importance of the Human-Animal Bond

The world seems to move at an ever faster pace. New developments in science and technology have made our lives easier in some respects, but busier in others. Computers and the internet have opened new ways for us to communicate and share information, but they have also allowed us to become more isolated than ever before. Instead of having gatherings where we meet in person and talk, smile, laugh, and touch, we utilize e-mail, texting, faxes, and phone calls. In many ways, we have made socialization obsolete. In such a world, the human-animal bond has never been more important.

Our pets give us what society sometimes cannot. Pets have an amazing ability to keep people happy, healthy and living longer lives. Having a pet helps to reduce anxiety and stress levels. Scientific documentation shows that pets help lower blood pressure, help people survive heart attacks, help improve the empathy of children, help ameliorate chronic pain, keep people more active, protect people from loneliness, bring joy to nursing homes, cancer wards and prisons.  When pets are introduced to patients in psychiatric wards, they produce positive results in patients who are depressed, suicidal and even violent, causing them to become calmer in the presence of the animal, and to often need less medication.

Dogs play a special role in the human-animal bond, as they not only provide companionship, but also are able to provide vital services to the disabled or disadvantaged. Service dogs assist in a wide variety of human disorders and needs. Most people are familiar with guide dogs for the blind, but there are also hearing dogs for the deaf, and seizure alert dogs for those with epilepsy and other seizure disorders. Dogs also assist people with mobility and balance disorders, such as severe arthritis, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injuries and stroke. Service dogs improve the quality of life of those they help not only by doing physical tasks, but through the love and friendship they so willingly provide.

Our pets give us so much; unconditional love, companionship, emotional well-being, and improved physical health are but a few. These gifts cannot be bought or sold, they are priceless. These are the elements that make all of our lives richer, fuller and worth living. In a world that is ever more physically disconnected, our pets bridge the gap and provide the therapeutic touch that can heal our bodies and minds. The human-animal bond is precious indeed.

Tiffany Lennox, DVM
 

 
 

Human Food and Your Dog: Information You Need to Know

Many foods that we eat are safe and can even be healthy for your dog, but there are a few items that may be in your house that are toxic to your canine friend. Some common foods of concern are discussed in this article.

Xylitol
Xylitol poisoning is a recently recognized problem in dogs. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener used in baked goods, desserts, chewing gum, candy, breath mints, toothpaste and other oral care products.

In dogs, xylitol causes a massive rapid and dose-dependent release of insulin from the pancreas. After consuming xylitol, blood sugar levels decrease significantly. Symptoms can include vomiting, weakness, loss of balance, mental depression, seizures, and coma. Signs can develop within 30 minutes of ingestion, and can last for more than 12 hours, even with aggressive treatment. There have been several reports of liver failure in dogs after ingestion of xylitol. Dogs with xylitol poisoning require emergency veterinary care to stabilize their blood sugar levels. Dogs can make a full recovery with appropriate treatment, but may have some liver damage.

As a general rule, read packaging on all products that contain artificial sweeteners, and if possible, do not purchase ones that contain xylitol. It is always safest to not bring xylitol containing products into your house, as accidental consumption can occur.

Chocolate
Chocolate contains theobromine, which is chemically similar to caffeine. Theobromine in dogs primarily affects the nervous system and the heart. The most common clinical signs are restlessness, tremors, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, seizures, and vomiting. Effects are dose dependent and different types of chocolate have very different concentrations of theobromine. Cocoa beans, dry cocoa powder and baking chocolate have the highest levels, while white chocolate contains only trace amounts.

Grapes and Raisins
Ingestion of even small quantities of raisins and grapes has been associated with the development of kidney failure in some dogs. The toxic component in the fruit remains unknown. Symptoms occur within 48 hours of ingestion, and include nausea, vomiting, decreased appetite, increased thirst and increased urination. Treatment involves hospitalization, intravenous fluids and supportive care.

Always contact your veterinarian if you think your dog may have consumed a toxic substance. In general, time is of the essence in successfully treating toxicology cases. Never try to induce vomiting or treat your dog at home without first consulting with your veterinarian. A complete list of toxic foods, plants and common household products can be accessed at the ASPCA animal poison control website at www.aspca.org/apcc.

Tiffany Lennox, DVM