Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Dog Training and Health Secrets

Dog Training Secrets: Really?

The Number One “secret” is that dog training takes time and commitment. WORK! There is no magic collar or harness or piece of equipment that is going to suddenly give you a dog that behaves the way you want them to. You have to put in the time and effort to teach your dog the difference between acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

However discouraging or frustrating, it remains the truth: dog training is a process. Allocating your time to the dog is is an ongoing requirement to maintain the professional training completed at Landmark Retrievers. Other “secrets” to training are the timing , clarity, reinforcement and consistency of behaviors. More on those later! Call Roger for more information and details. 972-878-2600

Health wise

Why does my dog itch-and-scratch-bite-and-lick?

There are six main categories of dermatitis veterinarians have to consider whenever a "skin case" is presented. Most skin and coat abnormalities can be defined by or placed in one of these categories:
  • Environmental
  • Nutritional
  • Parasitic
  • Allergic
  • Neurogenic
  • Infectious
Veterinarians often challenged when a patient with a "skin problem" is presented. The simplest is Environmental Dermatitis and the most challenging is Neurogenic Dermatitis. We will only present the first three here; environmental, nutritional, and parasitic dermatitis.

Environmental Dermatitis
Patients in this category are physically and nutritionally normal, but present with signs of itching and scratching, hair loss and skin irritation. Generally, the veterinarian will discover that the patient spends time swimming or excavating gopher holes or romping through fields where thistles seem prevalent.

Many dogs are very sensitive to simple lawn grasses. And by matching what is visible on the patient’s skin with a probable environmental irritant -- the cause of the skin problem can be determined and corrective measures taken.
An example is Moist Eczema, often called a "Hot Spot". These skin lesions often occur as a result of moisture on the skin surface from rain, pond or lake water. Minute scratches on the skin from, for example, a clipper blade, may trigger other cases. Especially in dense coated dogs or dogs where there is an accumulation of mats or shedding hair, moisture on the skin may remain long enough to allow superficial bacteria to reproduce (sort of like an organic soup!) and create an infection.

Nutritional Dermatitis
Without proper nourishment a dog’s entire body, not just its skin and coat, will be continuously in a state of stress. High quality, meat-based dog foods seldom, if ever, create skin and coat irritation in most animals.

If you feed dry commercial dog food, be certain that the first ingredient listed is meat such as beef, poultry, lamb or fish. Specialized diets are widely available that are generally better than others in several key categories:

Quality Dog Food

  • All Natural Dog Food

  • Grain Free Dog Food

  • Organic Dog Food

  • Veterinary Prescription Diet Dog Food
Parasitic Dermatitis – Ticks and Fleas
Dark, copper-colored and wingless, a flea is about the size of the head of a pin.

Repeated exposure to fleas can trigger a hypersensitivity (an abnormal, excessive reaction) to the bite of even a single flea. Every veterinarian has been fooled into making a diagnosis of “allergy”, not even suspecting fleas, simply because no fleas were discovered at the time of the physical exam. This is a classic example of a Parasitic Dermatitis (flea bites) triggering a complicated Allergic Dermatitis (due to the flea saliva).

Interestingly, the all-too-common parasite called the tick rarely triggers itching and scratching or allergic reactions, but on occasion will leave an ulcerative lesion that is notoriously slow to heal.

Chiggers, deer flies, and gnats (sometimes called No-See-Ums) can be considered nuisances and generally do not create remarkable systemic skin problems. Local treatment with first aid ointments generally is successful.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Developing Trust with Your Dog

Developing Trust with Your Dog

Developing trust between you and your dog is very similar to developing trust between you and other humans.  Trust is defined as "the confident expectation of something".  It takes time and positive experiences to build confidence in the actions of other people and dogs.  This is why "socialization" of puppies is so important to their performance as adult dogs and why rescue dogs require patience when introduced to their new homes.  Dogs do what is in their best interest and will respond to your instructions when they have "the confident expectation" of something good for them.
Call Roger for more information (972)8782600 or visit www.landmarkretrievers.com

Health Wise: Do Dogs Really Love People?

By Katarine Valentino
Do dogs really love people or do they just feel pleasure when their needs are met?  This is a difficult question. To attempt an answer one must delve into areas as diverse as veterinary science, neurochemistry, evolutionary anthropology and primatology.

Dogs Just Put on a Show - Interpretation by a Veterinarian
Perhaps the dog doesn't love anybody but just wants something.  This is the theory held by Fred Metzger, a veterinarian and lecturere at Penn State University.  Metzger's option is shared by many - but by no means all - veterinarians and animal scientists.

Metzger says, "Dogs probably don't feel love in the typical way humans do.  Dogs make investments in human beings because it works for them.  They stand to gain something from putting so-called emotions out there.  The more "cute factor" they give us the more we look like they love us.  This makes it more likely that we will give them more attention, food, treats, outdoor access - all based on how much of a show they put on for us."  But there are other opinions, and there is also evidence for a dog's ability to love.

Dogs Feel Pleasure - Neurochemical Evidence
Some of the evidence for a dog's ability to love its owners comes from the science of neurochemistry.  Scientists in this field now know that pleasure-causing chemicals exist in greater quantities in a dog's brain after a petting session than before the petting.  This would suggest that dogs do, indeed, love their owners.

According to Daley Olmert, author of Made for Each Other: The Biology of the Human-Animal Bond, the primary chemical released into the dog's brain during pettting is oxytocin.  Olmert says that oxytocin affects dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, "coordinates a shutdown of this antisocial behavior called fight/flight and replaces it with a chemistry that promotes curiosity over paranoia."  In that mind-set, the dog can allow a human to approach and can take pleasure in interaction with humans.

Dogs Trust Their Owners and Communicate Well with Them - the Evolutionary Anthropology Perspective
A study on human-dog interaction is being done by Brian Hale, an assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University.  In this study, which Hale lightheartedly calls "Does Your Dog Love You More than a Stranger," dogs are helped to find treats by their owners, who point in the right direction, and then by a stranger who uses the same gestures.

Results of tests with approximately 600 dogs have shown that dogs trust their owners immediately and also learn to trust strangers - not surprising - and that dogs are about as good at communicating with humans as young children are.

There is a reason for this, Hale explains.  In evolutionary terms, dogs have somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 years of experience at interacting wtih humans.  A dog or wolf would find leftovers strewn about a human campsite and decide to stick around.  Remaining in the presence of humans, the dog had what is called an "evolutionary imperative" to become less fearful and aggressive around humans.

Over that many years, less anxious and less aggressive dogs might have become more trusting and better able to understand human instructions and communicate with humans.  But more loving?

Dogs Do Feel Strong Emotions - the Perception in Primatology
Renowned primatologist Jane Goodall says it makes sense that a dog or any other animal in a closely bonded social group would experience strong emotions such as love.  Such an emotion would allow each member of the group to maintain social bonds and to overcome all the divisive bickering and jockeying for resources that goes on within the group.

If Goodall's reasoning is accepted, dogs in a pack must love each other; otherwise, there would be no pack.  It seems likely, also, that a dog who is taken into a human household must love the human members of his new pack.

So, Do Dogs Really Love Their People?
Ultimately, there is no way to know for sure that dogs love their owners.  The only things known for sure are that interaction between a dog and its owner is pleasurable for the dog and that the dog trusts and communicates well with its owner.

It does seem safe to assume that a dog feels love for its owner, however.  It just makes sense that pleasure, trust and easy communication might lead to love.  And it seems reasonable that love is the cohesive force in any dog pack or dog-and-owner pack.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mortality and Our dogs

Mortality and Our Dogs

It has long been recognized that there are patterns in the causes of death for our dogs.  Younger dogs die from different things than older dogs, and different breeds have greater or lesser risk of dying from different causes.  Understanding these patterns is helpful in many ways.  It helps owners know what sort of problems to watch out for in their pets.  It helps veterinarians focus on the most likely cause of a particular dog's illness.  And most importantly it guides us in identifying specific risks for individual patients and taking action to minimize these and prevent or delay illness and death.

Call Roger for more information (972) 878 2600 or visit www.landmarkretrievers.com



Causes of Death for Dogs by Breed and Age: An Important New Study 

A study (Fleming JM, Creevy KE, Promislow DE.  Mortality in north american dogs from 1984 to 2004:  and investigation into age-, size-, and breed-related causes of death.  J Vet Intern Med. 2011 Mar;25(2):187-98.),  released in April 2011 from the University of Georgia makes a major contribution to our understanding of the causes of mortality in different breeds of dog.

This study involved sifting through 20 years of records from the Veterinary Medical Database, a collaborative resource that includes records from 27 North American veterinary medical school teaching hospitals.  Causes of death for over 75,000 dogs in this database were identified of the relationships between cause of death, age at death and breed were analyzed.  The results are occasionally surprising, or fill in gaps where no previous data were available, but they also often confirm recognized patterns long established for humans and previously demonstrated or expected for our dogs.

Causes of death were categorized in two ways: by the organ system involved, and by the category of disease (called the "pathophysiological process").  This allowed the investigators to identify both what specific organs in the body were most often involved in fatal disease for individuals of each breed and also what kind of disease led to death.

The study shows that the organ systems in which fatal disease arises are remarkably similar for young and old dogs.  And the relative contribution of particular organ systems to mortality is fairly even, though the gastrointestinal, nervous, and musculoskeletal systems tend to be involved more often, and the skin, eyes, liver, and glandular systems are less commonly involved.

The causes of death are quite different for dogs of different ages.  Young dogs (under 2 years of age) are overwhelming likely to die of infection (parvovirus, distemper, etc.), trauma (any wound or injury), or congenital (hip dysplasia, cardiovascular, etc.) disease, whereas cancer (neoplasia) is by far the greatest cause of death in older dogs.  The risk of cancer rises steadily with age until it peaks at about 10 years.

Some patterns are familiar to many veterinarians, such as the relatively higher incidence of cancer deaths in Boxers and Golden Retrievers than in many other breeds, and the high frequency with which small breed dogs suffer from neurologic and cardiac disease.

Cancer occurs largely as a result of the interaction between genetic risk factors and age, with lesser contributions from environmental influences that also interact with genetic factors.  Cancer is what you die of if you've avoided dying of infectious disease and trauma and lived long enough to get it.

This is an important study which adds significantly to our understanding of the causes of death in our canine companions and which will help guide future efforts to understand these causes and reduce or eliminate those risks we can.

Photo:  Roger and Old Man Comanche; Roger's dog, Belvedere Prince Andrew (Andy)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Dogs Nose

The Dog's Nose; Note this most important Asset

In a recent training session with a very advanced competition dog it was observed that the dog was underperforming in a marking (long retrieve) exercise.  A highly scented bird was thrown for the dog to find and retrieve.  The dog took an excellent line (direction) to the area but could not find the bird.  The exercise was stopped and after review two important facts were discovered.  First, the bird was located in high grass with many scents; including dust, which overwhelmed the dog's senses since, second, he was panting heavily due to the weather and humidity.  "A dog cannot sniff while it is panting."  Care must be taken in training to notice the environmental factors affecting performance so a correction is not made eroneously.

Call Roger for more information and details.

Health Wise: The Canine Sense of Smell

by Dr. Randy Kidd, DVM, Ph.D.

The dog collects scents by air-scenting (sniffing volatile oils that are traveling in the air) and sniffing the ground. A dog’s nose is ideally made for sniffing – the outer nares are mobile and allow for expansion on inspiration and contraction to prevent the entry of unwanted objects. When a dog sniffs, he inhales the scented chemicals into his nasal cavities, where they are trapped in mucus and processed by the sensory cells. Expiration forces air out the side of the nares so that its exit doesn’t interfere with odors still in the air or on the ground.

Much of the deeper work of trying to understand the sense of smell has been done on humans; how do you ask a dog what he feels or remembers when he smells a certain odor? But we do know that dogs have much more surface area within their nasal cavities, and this area is well supplied with sensory cells – estimates of the total number of these cells vary and depend on the breed, but they have been cited as somewhere between 125 million and several times that. (This compares with estimates of human numbers that are in the 5- to 10-million-cell range.)

In addition, the dog has devoted a tremendous amount of his brain tissue to olfactory cells. (Some estimates allocate one-third of the dog’s brain to the chore of scenting.) All this adds up to a canine scenter that has thousands to millions of times the ability of his human counterpart.

We also know that we can use the dog’s incredible sense of smell to benefit mankind in ways we are only beginning to imagine. Today’s working scent dogs are involved in search and rescue (some dogs can follow a trail that is more than a week old), finding cadavers (dogs have even detected drowned people in a depth of 80+ feet of water), detecting explosives, firearms, and drugs, and even scenting tumors in human patients. Early work has begun to use dogs to test the breath of humans – to help diagnose internal diseases before they become evident with other methods.

More than Scents Alone

An animal’s ability to smell extends into many other realms as well. Since smelling is hooked into the most primitive areas of an animal’s brain, there is reason to believe that smell is also linked to sensations created long before the animal was actually born.

We know, for example, that animals (and humans) prefer to mingle with the scent of members within their own pack or herd (or, in the case of humans, in their own culture), and horses and dogs can detect the human scent of fear. Also, shortly after birth, mothers are able to pick out their own offspring by smell, and puppies quickly learn the smell of their mother’s milk . . . and before long, the smell of a preferred teat.

We know that certain scents may be linked with memories of past events, and even with positive or negative emotions. The fragrance of cookies baking, for ex-ample, may remind us of the good times we had at grandma’s house, many years ago. Throughout our lifetime, then, the smell of fresh-baked cookies may evoke a positive feeling. It’s not easy to correlate long-lasting emotions to past events in dogs, but it is certainly something to consider when we are dealing with a behavior problem that we can’t explain physically; could it be related to some household odor that was associated with a bad experience in the dog’s past?

Nose Nutrition

In addition to the normally recommended wholesome diet for dogs, a few nutrients may be especially beneficial for the nose and its ability to smell. Vitamin A seems to be directly involved in the sensory cells’ ability to receive and activate the energy of odorant molecules. Glutamate has been proposed as the olfactory cell neurotransmitter (at least in turtles, toads, and rats). While these may prove to be helpful for smelling (especially in the older dog), no definitive studies have yet been done to ascertain proper dosages (or definite benefits) for dogs.

Remember that, as an animal ages, he loses some or all of his ability to smell. Older animals may need to be tempted to eat, and some seem to find spicy foods more palatable. Try several culinary herbs to see if your dog prefers any of them – most of the culinary herbs are high in nutrients and antioxidant, anti-aging activity.

In my opinion, the best “nutrition” we can give to a dog’s nose is a daily dose of natural odorants, generated from the fields and woodlands out of doors – the perfect way to build up the reserve of sensory cells and brain connections related to smelling.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holidays with Your Dog

Holidays with your Dog

We all love our dogs and want to them to be a part of the holiday season.  However, the additional activity of the season may create some behavior problems.  Strange people in the house or at the door could cause your dog to become overexcited and act poorly.  One way to help your dog manage this excitement is to tire him out through a long walk or other exercise throughout the season, or if having an event, before your guests arrive.  The dog will be more relaxed after exercise and therefore, be better behaved.  Remember, the dog has not "forgotten" his training; he just needs a little leadership from you.  Happy Holidays!
Call Roger for more information (972) 878 2600 or visit www.landmarkretrievers.com


Holiday Food Safety Tips for Dogs
By Marty Smith, D.V.M

Holiday foods we enjoy cooking and eating can be a problem for your pet.

Rich, fatty foods, like gravy or grease, can cause problems ranging from stomach upsets to pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas resulting in pain, vomiting, and dehydration.  Dogs with this serious condition often require hospitalization for treatment.

Alcohol can cause serious intoxications in pets, and many dogs are attracted to it.  Every year hundreds of dogs die after a single bout of alcohol consumption.  Clean up glasses after holiday parties.  Dogs are often attracted by the sweet taste of drinks, especially eggnog.

Chocolate, coffee, and tea all contain dangerous components called xanthines, which cause nervous system or urinary system damage and heart muscle stimulation. Chocolate, with theobromine, is especially a problem because dogs love its flavor. Problems from ingestion range from diarrhea to seizures and death. Unsweetened baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the worst culprits, but all chocolate, fudge, and other candy should be placed out of your dog's reach.

Uncooked meat, fish, and poultry can contain disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli, and parasites such as Toxoplasma gondii. These uncooked foods should not be given to your dog. For your own health, as well as your pets, wash utensils that have been in contact with raw meat, and cook meat thoroughly.

Bones from fish, meat, or poultry can also cause problems if swallowed. Even small bones can splinter causing lacerations (tearing) throughout the intestinal tract. So, no matter how big or how little, be sure to keep bones (other than those that are specially sterilized and treated) away from your dog. Rawhides, Kong toys, and hardened, sterilized bones would be better alternatives.

Tobacco products can be fatal to pets, if ingested. Signs of poisoning develop within 15 to 45 minutes and include excitation, salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea. Pets may develop seizures, collapse and die from cardiac arrest. Keep cigarettes, cigars, tobacco, nicotine gum and patches, and ashtrays out of the reach of pets. Empty ashtrays frequently since cigarette butts contain about 25% of the total nicotine in a cigarette.

Uncooked yeast dough can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing pain and possible rupture of the stomach or intestines.

Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys.

The artificial sweetener, xylitol, that is present in some gums, breath mints, candy, and other human food can be very toxic to dogs.

Macadamia nuts contain an unknown toxin, which can affect the digestive and nervous systems and muscles of dogs.

Remember, dogs have an exceptional sense of smell – juices on plastic or aluminum foil left on countertops are very tempting. If ingested, plastic or foil wrap (cellophane candy wrappers or food wrap) can cause choking or intestinal obstruction.

Meat-soaked strings from rump roasts are also enticing. Ingestion can cause a surgical emergency called a 'linear string foreign body' in the intestines.

To be safe, put away food immediately and pet-proof your garbage. Garbage contains all kinds of other hazards for your dog such as plastic wrap and bags, 6-pack beverage holders that could cause strangulation, fat trimmings, bones, and pieces of ribbon or tinsel.

Feed your pet(s) before a party so they will not be so apt to beg or steal food.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Dogs Hearing and the Whistle - Holiday Boarding at Landmark

A Dog’s Hearing and the Whistle

In basic obedience training our voice is a most important tool in teaching commands (sit, heel, here).  However, after the dog progresses through gun dog training another tool may be introduced; the whistle.  The whistle is an important tool in controlling the dog from a distance.  At a distance, a dog is better able to hear the high frequency sound of the whistle rather than the low frequency of the human voice. Training a dog to respond to the whistle is not difficult but like most dog training "secrets" it is a matter of repetition and timing.
Call Roger for more information and details (972)8782600 or visit www.landmarkretrievers.com

Health Wise: Canine Hearing

By Randy Kidd, DVM, PhD

The way a dog carries his ears gives us an insight into how he is feeling physically and emotionally, and the “posture” of the ears is a language unto itself. In other words, by observing the carriage of a dog’s ears, we are given a way to “hear” what he is trying to tell us. In addition, abnormal carriage of the ears may indicate disease or nerve damage, and abnormal ear size (for the breed) may be an indication of multiple genetic defects.

The ear can be divided into four parts: ear flap (auricle or pinna); external ear canal (external auditory meatus); middle ear; and internal (inner) ear. The pinnae are highly mobile and can be controlled independently. The ears of a dog are controlled by at least 18 muscles, whereas human ears are controlled by only about six. Thus, canines are able to tilt and rotate their ears, while we humans can only turn our heads from side to side. Dogs are greatly skilled at distinguishing between quite similar sounds, such as different types of barks. They tend to obtain a great bit of detail from what they hear, with the capability of detecting very quiet sounds.

Note that the dog’s ear canal is considerably longer than its human counterpart, and after extending downward, it makes a sharp turn inward toward the eardrum. Thus, complete examination of the ear canal requires an otoscope with special (long and thin) cones. Few dogs tolerate anything being poked into the external ear canal, and dogs with painful ears (from infections or foreign bodies) almost never allow adequate examination without anesthesia.

Equilibrium is controlled by electrical impulses that are registered on hair cells located in the three semicircular canals. These signals transmit the current status of the body (head) in relation to the horizon (gravity).

The ear has two functions – hearing and balance – and either function can be disturbed by disease, old age, or nerve disruption from a number of causes.

Dogs have a much different range of hearing than ours, extending into a considerably higher frequency than we can hear. A dog may hear a sound four times as far as a human. Sound frequency, the number of sound wave cycles every second, is measured in Hertz (Hz). The higher the frequency, the more sound waves per second, the higher-pitched the sound. Humans hear best at around 2,000 Hz; dogs hear best at 8,000 Hz – perhaps the reason they respond better to high pitched cues.

When a foreign body has gotten in a dog’s ear, it is almost always in one ear only. The dog will generally hold his head to one side (with the affected ear held down), cry and dig at the ear, and rub it against the ground. The symptoms usually come on acutely, and they can be quite dramatic.

The only way to know if there is a foreign body inside the ear canal is to look down into its depths with a special instrument. My experience has been that this almost invariably requires anesthesia. With proper chemical restraint, it is easy to find a foreign body and remove it, and to cleanse the ears thoroughly and treat them with a soothing herb while we’re there.

 Hearing loss and deafness 

There are a number of factors involved in hearing loss and deafness: infections; trauma and loud noises; many drugs; old age; genetic susceptibility; neural damage; etc. The most common form of hearing loss is called “conductive” hearing loss and it is caused by a blockage of the ear canal – from foreign bodies, infections, or an excessive buildup of cerumen (earwax).

Exposure to loud noises can cause “sensory” hearing loss, and this loss becomes progressively worse as the exposure continues over time. Dogs who are subjected to loud rock or rap music will gradually lose their hearing, and the loss can be permanent.

As a dog ages, much like his human counterpart, his hearing diminishes. The first signs of hearing loss may be a hesitation to obey commands, or a reluctance to go into strange territory. Old age hearing loss is usually a slow, progressive change, and you may be able to slow it somewhat with good nutrition, antioxidants, and adding some ginkgo to the diet.

Holidays at Landmark Retrievers

Need a spot for your dog to crash while you throw your holiday party?  Make him a reservation at Landmark Retrievers. Our calendar is open and we are accepting reservations for holiday boarding and training.  Our facility is staffed 365 days a year, including holidays, to care for your pet.