Thursday, February 28

Controversy Over Vaccines

The controversy over vaccines is never ending.  Ask any pet owner and you will likely get a different view.  The views are even varied throughout the veterinary world.  The Bark had a great article on this very topic in today's newsletter.  I hope you find it as interesting of a read as I did.

Dr. John Robb leads a protest outside of his former veterinary practice.

For years people suspected that pet vaccines didn't need to be administered annually and that immunity was more similar to human shots. Fortunately in the last ten years, veterinary colleges and organizations, such as the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), revisited their guidelines and now recommend administering core vaccines every three years. It's even becoming more common to find veterinarians who measure antibody levels through blood titers instead of defaulting to regular booster shots (this is one of my requirements when choosing a vet).

But even with the AVMA and AAHA constantly revisiting their guidelines, pet vaccines remain a tricky topic. It's further complicated by the fact that many studies are sponsored by vaccine manufacturers, which creates a potential bias. Dr. Richard Ford, a 2003 AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines Task Force member, has said that the decision to recommend a three year re-vaccination schedule was an arbitrary compromise that was not based on science.

And frequency isn't the only controversy. Earlier this month, a Connecticut veterinarian had his practice taken away from him after Banfield found out that he had been administering half-dose vaccinations. Dr. John Robb believes that it's not safe to use the same dose for all dogs and cats, particularly for the smaller breeds.  

Dr. Robb bought his Stamford, Conn. Banfield franchise in 2008, a year after the veterinary hospital chain was acquired by Mars and PetSmart. He believes that the corporations are not only unfairly targeting him because they want to ultimately cease franchise ownership for their hospitals, but are jeopardizing the health of his clients' pets.

There are definitely arguments for both sides of the issue, but I can see where profits and insurance risk could create a conflict for a medical organization owned by two big corporations.

AAHA President Dr. Mark Russak believes that Robb is putting pets at risk and creating a potential public health concern with incorrectly administered rabies shots. He says that vaccines are manufactured through scientific trials to determine the correct amount of antigens needed to stimulate the immune system.

But while many veterinarians disagree with Dr. Robb's vaccine protocol, Jean Dodds, a leading expert in this area, says that dosages can be adjusted safely. She has been vaccinating toy breeds with half doses for years and is currently spearheading a campaign to increase the rabies vaccination interval from three to five years with the hope of eventually changing it to seven.  

A 2002 study published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that there are potential problems with using a universal dosage. The research documented a higher incidence of vaccine-associated adverse events in dogs less than 22 pounds (27 percent versus 12 percent for dogs over 22 pounds with each subsequent shot).

The fact that there is so much division among veterinarians on this topic just goes to show that more work must be done in this area to develop guidelines we can trust.

Friday, February 22

Tamara's Training Tips: Sweet Treats and Your Dog

Starting around Thanksgiving and going until a little after Easter, I get a lot of questions about how to keep dogs out of candy, cookies, chocolate and other types of human treats.  Along with the questions, I get a few panic ridden calls when the dog consumed one of these items.  Today I will be giving tips on how to dog proof these treats and what to do if your dog does get into them.

I think we all know that chocolate (the darker the more dangerous) is toxic for dogs, but what about other candy, cookies or pie?  The answer is not a simple yes or no.  It really has to do with what is in the sweet treat.  For instance, if it is a peanut butter cookie, a small amount is probably okay if your dog is not allergic to peanut butter, but a whole dozen is not good.  That much sugar is not good for a human, so it surely is not good for your dog.  But is it toxic?  No.  But they will (most likely) be sick.

The most common problem I encounter with these sweet treats being brought into the home is that they are usually stored in a place your dog can get to.  This is the first big DON'T!  If you have a large dog or dog that can jump, storing things that are off limits to them on a counter or shelf is not a good idea.  They will just get up there to get it when you are not there. 

Most people figure that part out right away, so they go for a cupboard.  The second DON'T is not to underestimate the intelligence or pure will power of your dog.  If they really want something, they will figure out a simple swinging door to get it.  Some dogs will even figure out a door knob to get what they want, yes I have known this to happen.  So if you store your sweet treats in a cabinet or cupboard, either install a child lock on the door or if there is a knob, install a knob lock or even a slide lock, though some dogs have figured out simple slide locks.

If your dog does not give up and starts scratching at cabinets, surfing counters non-stop, or obsessively going through your kitchen, it is time to restrict their access.  Create a barrier so they cannot be in the kitchen unless you are there with them.  If this does not help, you can restrict the access to none.

When you are home you can monitor your dog and the choices they are making and reward them for the correct ones, but when you are not, they are on their own to make whatever choices they want and to reward themselves.  The only 100% way to know your dog will stay out of trouble is to crate them or keep them in their designated area (such as a dog run, special dog proof room in the home or even a bathroom that has been dog proofed).  If you elect the crate, please make sure your dog is crate trained.

If you have done all you can and your dog still finds a way to eat your chocolate covered cherries, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian ASAP.  Remember that milk chocolate is the least toxic and baking chocolate is the most toxic.  The size and weight of your dog will also factor into what effect the chocolate will have.  If you find your dog still consuming the sweet treats, you can use hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting (depending on the size of your dog, small dogs as little as 1 teaspoon - 1/2 tablespoon, in larger dogs 1 tablespoon - 3 tablespoons ).  Be prepared, it works fast.  But if you do not know when your dog digested it, DO NOT induce vomiting, call your veterinarian. 

* Please note that inducing vomiting should only be used in this type of instance (food toxin), if your dog has swallowed an object or poison this SHOULD NOT be done, it can cause more damage than good, immediately call your veterinarian.

As the sweet treats continue to roll in through the next couple of months, I hope these helpful tips keep you happy and your dog safe!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to do something special with your dog!

Thursday, February 21

Tibetan Mastiff Dies During Plastic Surgery in China

I believe it is a general consensus for most anyone that owns an animal that you do all that you can to NOT have your animal undergo surgical procedures that are not necessary.  The sole reason for this discretion is that it is risky to put them under anesthesia.  I can't imagine having my dog put through the stress and pain of surgery for something purely cosmetic.  Though that is exactly what the story below is about.  To say I am outraged is an understatement.  This is abuse in my opinion and the owner should be charged as such.  At the very least, his law suit should be thrown out.   The full story from Dogster is below.
In March 2012 (*I believe this should be 2010, but all sources checked stated 2012), a breeder known only Mr. Yu bought a beautiful Tibetan Mastiff from a another breeder. Two years later, it was time to breed the dog and make some money. Yu was an old hand at this -- he had 30 dogs and had been in the business for 15 years.
But first he had to do something. 
"The skin of my dog's head was very flabby, so I wanted to cut part of his forehead and straighten the skin," said Yu, according to the Global Times. "And also in this way, his hair would look longer as the rear part of the head will have more hair."
Yes, Yu wanted to give this already stunning dog plastic surgery. 
"If my dog looks better, female dog owners will pay a higher price when they want to mate their dog with mine," he said.
So Yu took the dog to the Beijing Yongchangjihe Animal Hospital on Nov. 8, 2012, for this completely unnecessary surgery. On the operating table, the dog died. His heart stopped due to a problem with anesthesia. 
Now Yu is suing the hospital, demanding 880,000 yuan ($141,240) compensation for his dog's death. He says he bought the dog at that price. Tibetan Mastiffs get big bucks in China, and have become luxury status symbols -- trophy dogs -- for the elite. A Mastiff sold for 10 million yuan in 2011, and another sold for 20 million yuan last year -- that's more than $3 million. 
"If you are rich, you can easily buy a big house or a Lamborghini. But owning a purebred mastiff is quite another thing," said dog breeder Li Yongfu, according to the Telegraph. "It's solid evidence of your wealth, power and taste, and makes a most presentable gift for your clients and partners."
Unsurprisingly enough, animal activists in China are outraged at the surgery. 
"We wouldn't recommend plastic surgery, which doesn't help improve the health or save the life," said Mary Peng, co-founder of the International Center for Veterinary Services. "Any time you do surgery, you are going to deal with the healing of the tissue. It can lead to scarring and infection."
"It's unfair. It only meets the aesthetic desire for the owner, completely ignoring the rights and interests of the dog," said Qin Xiaona, director of the Capital Animal Welfare Association. 
"I am also against raising Tibetan Mastiffs in lowland cities like Beijing," Xiaona said. "They should be living on the plateau grassland areas. People shouldn't raise them here just for profit."
What do you think?  Is this abuse?  Is this ethical coming from a breeder?  Should there be a legal consequence for Mr. Yu's actions?

Let me hear your opinion, give me a bark!

Thursday, February 14

Happy Valentine's Day!

Today is a day to celebrate love.  I know that it is usually about a romantic love, but it doesn't have to be and I don't think it should be limited to just that.  What about the pets in your life that give you unconditional love and support year round.  They are there when you are smiling and there when you cry, they make you laugh when you are angry and they remind you what life is really about.

I think today is the perfect day to give back a little bit of that amazing love.  Take some time today to do something special with your pet, show them how much you love them and how much they mean to you.  Neville suggests a bone, wet food, and maybe a run in the park.

Have a Happy Valentine's Day to all the humans and their animals that make this world a little bit better of a place.

Wednesday, February 13

Love Your Dog Pooch Parade Fun!

Last night was the Love Your Dog Pooch Parade and it was a big success!  All the dogs did so good, I was extremely proud of all of them.  For the first time, the entire parade was made up of my clients, so they were all people and dogs (except for one) I had worked with in the past or are currently working with.

This Pooch Parade was a little different than any that I have had before in that all the dogs were reactive in some way, plus one adolescent puppy.  Sounds like a nightmare, right?  Well, it was not, it was a great night!  The dogs were focused, the people were on point and the city set the perfect scene for us.  We worked on some hard issues and showed our dogs lots of love at the same time.

I want to congratulate and thank all the participants!  You all made me so proud.  Seeing all the work we have done together pay off was impressive!  

Thank you to Pussy & Pooch for the amazing Pawbar meals!  They looked so good I almost ate one!  Janene, Brandon and Lorenzo made our visit to the store no less than perfect.  From the selection of the meals to making sure each pooch was taken care of with water and to-go boxes if needed, you made us feel like VIP's as usual!

For the first time we ended the evening at Artisan House, what a perfect choice!  Thank you to  Brad (Bar Manager) and the wait staff for making the end to our evening just as perfect as the rest of the night!

Finally, thank you to the four special "helpers" I have, Adam, CJ, Jenn and my Neville... without you this event would not be half of what it is.

Happy Valentine's Day to you all!  Don't forget to show your dog some love too.

Friday, February 8

New Parklets on Spring Street

Yesterday morning was the ribbon cutting for the two new parklets on Spring Street.  They are located just between L.A. Cafe and City Grill (near 6th and Spring).  If you haven't checked them out, you should, it is a nice addition to the neighborhood. 

The two parklets are a little different, one is geared for working out or playing around on the equipment.  The other is more for relaxation and play.  There is artificial grass on both, but I do not know if dogs are allowed, I have to assume so.

If you have time this weekend to grab lunch and sit in the parklet, go for it and bring your dog.  If nothing else, take a stroll by and check it out.

Thursday, February 7

10 Volunteer Vacations

Have you started to plan your vacation for the year?  If you are looking for a way to relax and unwind as well as give back, Petside put out a list of 10 volunteer vacations spots.  These specifically are to help animals.  Check them out and see if there is one that is calling your name!

Vacations can be a lot more fun when animals are involved. Volunteer vacations offer an excellent opportunity to take a trip that’s good for both you and the animals. In this slideshow, find out fun and exciting ways you can do your part to help animals in different parts of the world from cats in Belize to orangutans in Borneo.

1.  Cat Sanctuary in Belize

                                          Imagine yourself on a beautiful tropical island where you are surrounded by cats. Now, that’s heaven for a cat lover. The goal at the Cat Sanctuary and Humane Society on the island of Caye Caulker, off the coast of Belize, is to give every cat a forever home in a country where the concept of domesticated cats doesn’t exist. Before being rescued, most of these homeless cats lived in the wild, lurking in the dark, hunting for food and digging in garbage. At the Sanctuary, volunteers get to help with cat care, humane education, construction and gardening among other duties. Accommodations are available.

2.  Best Friends Animal Society, Utah, U.S.

                                         Best Friends Animal Society has the largest no-kill animal sanctuary in the United States. The sanctuary, located on more than 3,700 acres of red rock canyon country near Kanab, Utah is home to 1,700 rescued animals, all living out their lives in peace. Volunteers can help out in the Cat World (550 to 600 cats), Dogtown (400-450 dogs), Horse Haven, Piggy Paradise, Bunny House, Wild Friends and Rescue Village areas. There is something for everyone. If you really want to help out, volunteer during the winter months when the sanctuary gets less applicants. No fees for volunteering.

3.  Noah’s Ark Wildlife Centre, Gobabis, Namibia

Noah’s Ark Wildlife Centre, Gobabis, Namibia                                                 Imagine the thrill of playing with cheetah babies or feeding a lion cub? Located in the stunning Omaheke Region, the family-run Noah’s Ark has been involved with caring, rehabilitating and housing orphaned, injured, neglected and abandoned wild animals. Animals like the cheetah and leopard are considered pests by farmers trying to protect their livestock. At this Enkosini Eco Experience operated project, get some hands-on experience helping these endangered species at the Noah’s Ark Wildlife Centre. Volunteers assist with reintroducing the rehabilitated animals into the wild, building infrastructure to provide a safe home for these animals and assist field guides on daily tours.   Cost:  $1595,

4.  Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, New York, US                                             
Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary is home to more than 200 rescued goats, cows, pigs, chickens and more. Located in Upstate New York, this picturesque sanctuary is a perfect getaway from the hustle of the city. Volunteers help with daily chores, and get to hang out with the cool farm animal residents. Guests can stay at the newly opened Bed & Breakfast.

5.  Sea Turtle Conservation, Montezuma, Costa Rica

                              Volunteers stay up overnight to keep a watchful eye on sea turtle eggs on the pristine beaches of Montezuma. Experience the thrill of seeing turtles hatch and crawl towards the ocean in a country known for its conservation. Volunteers also help with collecting eggs from nests on the open beach and placing them in protected areas away from predators. 

6.  Amazon Rainforest with Biosphere Expeditions, Peru

Amazon Rainforest with Biosphere Expeditions, Peru                                    
Go on a wildlife volunteer expedition in the upper Amazon rainforest with Biosphere Expeditions. Volunteers get to experience living and working in the jungle with local biologists on important wildlife surveys of jaguars, pumas, primates and other endangered rainforest species. Participants set camera traps and create databases to record species populations to aid the ongoing conservation efforts. One week costs $1780.

7.  Gibbon Conservation Center, Santa Clarita, CA

Gibbon Conservation Center, Santa Clarita, CA                                             At the Gibbon Conservation Center, volunteers help care for the nearly 40 gibbons who live at the center. Gibbons are endangered animals and need our help. The center breeds and provides these amazing animals a secure and stimulating environment. The gibbons at the center live in family groups and volunteers get a chance to get up-close and personal with these wild and rare primates. Tasks include providing fresh food and water, cleaning the enclosures, and helping with behavioral observations. A minimum of one-month stay is required. There is no fee and housing is provided on travel trailers.

8.  Surin Project, Thailand

Surin Project, Thailand                                           Due to dramatic reduction in available legal employment in the logging industry, captive elephants in Thailand are left jobless and their owners with no choice but to feed their families by making their elephants beg for food in tourist areas in cities like Bangkok. To help mahouts and get their elephants away from busy city streets, Elephant Nature Foundation started the Surin Project. Volunteers take the elephants on daily walks to watering holes to get them off their chains. They also plant grass, sugarcane and bamboos and build shelters. Accommodations are provided onsite. The money from the volunteer project provides much needed revenue for the mahouts. Cost is $384 for 6 days and 5 nights.

9.  Donkey Sanctuary, Aruba

Donkey Sanctuary, Aruba                                            The Spaniards brought donkeys to the Caribbean island of Aruba 500 years ago. These animals provided the primary mode of transportation until cars began to take over. When Arubans no longer needed them, the donkeys were let go to roam in the wild. Over the years, an increase in vehicles created a hazard for both humans and the donkeys. In 1997, two local islanders gathered a group of supporters and decided to open a sanctuary to save the donkeys. Today, a safe haven exists for the neglected and formerly domestic donkeys at the Donkey Sanctuary. Volunteers are always needed to assist the vet, maintain the sanctuary, sell items in the gift store, teach children about donkeys and provide tours.

10.  The Great Orangutan Project, Borneo

The Great Orangutan Project, Borneo                                        Help the endangered orangutans through the Great Orangutan Project at the award-winning Matang Wildlife Centre in Sarawak, Borneo. Get a chance to work behind the scenes helping improve husbandry standards, construction of infrastructure and enrichment of the orangutans in the Kubah National Park which is in the backyard of Matang Wildlife Centre. Volunteer project provides much needed financial and physical assistance to the conservation of orangutans. Accommodations are provided. Two weeks costs $2112.
These all look amazing!  They are all sure to give you a mix of relaxation in a beautiful place and since of giving back and helping animals!   What a great vacation!

Friday, February 1

Smile, It's Friday!

To send you into the weekend on a good note, here is a video of a baby laughing at a dog eating popcorn that has gone viral.  I can't help but laugh along with the baby as well as laugh at how much the dog is loving it.  I bet all parents wish their dog's could capture their children's attention like this one does.

Have a great weekend and don't forget to do something fun with your dog!