Thursday, December 25, 2014

Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, “lupus”) is an autoimmune disease that can affect multiple body systems. Normally, theimmune system attacks foreign substances or organisms that invade the body. Autoimmune diseases occur when the immunesystem mistakenly attacks parts of the body. In SLE, multiple body tissues are targeted by the immune system. Susceptibility todeveloping SLE appears to be genetically determined, but environmental factors seem to trigger the onset of the disease. Somedrugs can trigger a disease similar to SLE. The role of environmental factors in the development of SLE remains underinvestigation. Overall, the features of SLE are very similar, and sometimes identical, to lupus in humans.


Symptoms can be extremely variable, and SLE is sometimes referred to as “the great impostor” because of the wide spectrum of symptoms it may cause. Symptoms vary depending upon the body systems affected. The joints, kidneys, and skin are often involved. Other systems, including the muscles, nervous system, heart, and lungs can also be affected. Affected pets may have a chronic fever, stiff gait or limping (lameness), joint swelling, weakness, skin changes, ulcers in the mouth, increased drinking and urination, and behavioral changes.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Uveitis

Uveitis is inflammation within the eye. The structures affected are the iris (the colored part of the front of the eye) and the bloodvessel-rich layer that lies deep inside the eye, beneath the retina, called the choroid. Uveitis is a common condition in both cats anddogs and has many causes. Untreated uveitis can seriously damage the eye and even cause blindness.
Eye disorders that may cause uveitis include tumors, trauma such as being hit by a car, cataracts, severe corneal ulcers, andinfections. A wide variety of conditions that affect the blood vessels of the body in a general fashion (a situation called vasculitis)can also incite uveitis. These include immune-mediated diseases where the body’s own immune system inadvertently contributes toinflammation and tissue damage, high blood pressure, and some infectious diseases. In both dogs and cats, several fungaldiseases are known to cause uveitis. 


In cats, feline leukemia virus infection, feline immunodeficiency virus infection, and felineinfectious peritonitis can all be associated with uveitis. In dogs, diseases such as brucellosis, leptospirosis, and heartworm infectioncan cause uveitis. Toxoplasmosis is another potential cause of uveitis. A great variety of other infectious diseases can have uveitisas one of the symptoms. Cats may develop a form of chronic uveitis where no underlying cause can be found. In summary, onceuveitis is identified by a veterinarian, a number of potential causes is possible and some tests need to be performed in order topinpoint the underlying cause and treat it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Aggression

Aggression is a natural behavior of dogs and cats. Pets that are in pain, stressed, and under duress will often show signs of aggression. However, aggression in the home and uncontrolled aggression should not be tolerated in pets. These pets are potentially dangerous to themselves and others. Furthermore, owners of aggressive pets are ethically and legally liable for their pets’ aggression.
It is important to note that aggression is generally felt to be a learned behavior in dogs and cats. These pets have been trained (usually unintentionally) to be aggressive. Because of this source of the problem, medical/drug therapy by itself is rarely if ever beneficial.

Dogs

There are several recognized classes of aggression found in dogs.
Status or dominance aggression can be a problem within the household or when interacting with new individuals. It can be interdog aggression, aggression toward new people, aggression toward strangers, and so forth. Similarly, protection of property (the house, the toy, the owner, etc.) can lead to aggression.


Fear aggression can sometimes be difficult to predict. Dogs reacting out of fear often do not provide warning behaviors. No bark occurs before the bite. Dogs can sometimes have fear aggression when woken from sleep, but be perfectly loving dogs at any other time.
Prey or food aggression is a natural instinct that may be only slightly displaced. This can cause dogs to bite cherished members of their pack (e.g., people and other dogs) over food. The prey instinct can cause dogs to injure themselves (e.g., by chasing cars) and/or cause them to attack smaller animals and children.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Acute Moist Dermatitis/Hot spots

“Hot spots,” also called acute pyoderma, acute moist pyotraumatic dermatitis (AMPD) and acute moist dermatitis, are rapidly developing sores under the hair coat. They are common in thick-coated or long-haired dogs, less so in cats. They most often develop in areas where the hair coat is heavy, such as the back, tail base, and side of the thigh, neck, or face. Hot spots tend to occur more frequently in hot, humid weather. The dog often will scratch or chew at the area, although it can be quite painful (the condition is also called pyotraumatic dermatitis for this reason). When the hair is parted, the skin is seen to be moist and reddened. A pus-like discharge coats the skin and the base of the hairs.
Hot spots begin with a superficial skin injury that causes some moisture to be caught under the hair coat. Bacteria grow in the fluid, causing more skin inflammation, and the affected area rapidly expands as more fluid oozes from the skin, promoting more bacterial growth.


The speed of onset of hot spots is often striking, and a large and painful lesion can develop from previously normal skin in a few hours. Fortunately, other than being uncomfortable, hot spots are not life-threatening and they tend to heal very well.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Acral Lick Dermatitis

Acral lick dermatitis, also known as lick granuloma, is a self-induced skin lesion. The term acral refers to the legs and feet. Acral lick dermatitis mainly is a problem of dogs, rarely cats. The dog continually licks at one area of the leg, producing hair loss, sores, and thickening of the skin. Typical appearance is a raised, red, hairless, oval patch of skin or skin lump found over the front surface of one leg. Occasionally, more than one leg may be affected. The most common locations are over or near the carpus (“wrist”) of the front foot or just below or above the hock on the rear leg. Breeds most likely to develop acral lick dermatitis include the Doberman pinscher, Great Dane, Labrador retriever, Irish setter, golden retriever, and German shepherd, but any breed of dog can be affected.


Males are affected twice as often as females. The condition may appear at any age however most dogs are over 5 years of age when presented for treatment. Although several conditions that cause discomfort of the skin can cause persistent licking, in many dogs with acral lick dermatitis no underlying problem can be found. In these cases, acral lick dermatitis is considered a psychogenic disease; that is, it is caused by a behavioral disorder. For example, sometimes excessive licking or chewing can result from boredom or can be used as attention-seeking behavior; sometimes anxiety is the stimulus for stereotypic behaviors like repetitive licking. Stereotypic behaviors are excessive, repetitive behaviors engaged in to relieve psychological distress such as boredom or anxiety.

Dogs with Different Needs

A dog between the ages of 1 and 6 years of age is considered an adult dog. In general, these dogs need nutrition with controlled levels of phosphorus, sodium, protein and energy.
But different dogs have different needs. In order to determine the unique nutritional needs for your adult dog, assess his activity level. Some questions to consider:
  • Is your dog a hunting, sport or working dog?
  • Does your dog get an average amount of exercise through daily playing and walks?
  • Does your dog have a low activity level and tend to gain weight easily? 



Proper nutrition can also help with problems such as bad breath, sensitive skin or sensitive stomach issues. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, Cairn terriers, cocker spaniels, dachshunds, pugs, Shetland sheepdogs, basset hounds and beagles are prone to obesity, so keep breed tendencies in mind when choosing your dog's food.

A common concern for adult dogs is kidney health. Dietary phosphorus, protein and salt excesses may exacerbate the progression of kidney damage that leads to kidney failure and death. Therefore, unbalanced high amounts of phosphorus, protein and salt are all nutritional risk factors. Some commercial pet foods contain excess protein, phosphorus, calcium and salt. These excess nutrients must be excreted through the kidneys and become nutritional risk factors.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Diarrhea in Cats, Things to Know

Diarrhea is an intestinal disturbance characterized by the passage of abnormally loose or watery stools (feces). It is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of an underlying disease or disorder.  It can affect the small intestine, the large intestine or both. It may be acute (sudden onset), chronic (over a long period of time) or come and go.
Acute diarrhea has a rapid onset and lasts less than 2 - 3 weeks.
Chronic diarrhea lasts longer than 2 - 3 weeks. Blood and or mucous may or may not be present in the feces.


Feces may also be yellowy, frothy in appearance, be mixed with blood (known as 'dysentry') and/or mucus.

Etiology

Diarrhea is a relatively common occurrence in cats and has a number of causes, some of which include:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Abscess in Felines

An abscess is a localized pocket of pus usually due to a bacterial infection.An inflammatory response occurs, drawing huge amounts of white blood cells to the area and increasing regional blood flow. Pus forms, which is an accumulation of fluid, toxins, living and dead white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria. As the bacteria kill the local cells and release toxins, the body responds by walling off the infection with a membrane (known as a 'pyogenic membrane') to prevent the infection from spreading. An inflammatory response occurs, drawing huge amounts of white blood cells to the area and increasing regional blood flow. Pus forms, which is an accumulation of fluid, toxins, living and dead white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria. This area begins to grow, creating tension under the skin and further inflammation of the surrounding tissues.


As the abscess grows, the skin thins and weakens, eventually causing the abscess to rupture and the pus drains out.An abscess can form in any part of the body including under the skin, in the mouth (dental abscess) and in organs such as the liver and pancreas. This article relates to abscesses under the skin. The most common bacteria involved are staphylococci and streptococci.

Etiology 

Most abscesses are caused by a puncture wound which introduces and traps bacteria under the skin. The most common cause of a penetrating puncture leading to an abscess is from a cat bite, the oral cavity, including the teeth harbour a great number of bacteria which are injected into the skin during penetration.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Aujeszky's disease in Cats

Aujeszky's disease or 'mad itch' or pseudorabies (meaning 'false rabies') is an acute, highly fatal viral disease caused by a herpes virus (Su-HV1).Pigs are the natural reservoirs of the virus but other mammals including cows, sheep, goats, dogs, rats, cats etc., are susceptible to infection. Pseudorabies is seen most commonly in cats who live on or around farms.The name pseudorabies is due to the similarities between the "furious" form of rabies. The virus affects the nervous system and is typically acquired by ingestion of infected prey such as rats or uncooked pork. Cat to cat transmission doesn't seem to be a problem.The incubation period of pseudorabies is 3-6 days. Infection occurs after ingestion of the virus, entering the nerve fibres. The virus is almost always fatal in cats, when death occurring within two days.



Symptoms 

Symptoms of pseudorabies can initially suggest the cat has been infected with the rabies virus. However, pseudorabies runs a much shorter course with symptoms developing within hours of exposure and death occurring within 48 hours after the onset of clinical signs.Intense itching of the head and neck, which leads to self mutilation as well as hypersalivation (excessive drooling) are the two most common symptoms of pseudorabies. Other symptoms may include:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Acne in Cats

Feline acne is a common skin disorder characterized by the presence of blackheads on the cat's chin and lips. It can affect cats of any age, sex or breed.Sebaceous glands secrete oils (known as sebum) which lubricates the skin, preventing dryness and irritation. The sebaceous glands are mostly found in dorsal, eyelids, chin, surface of the base of the tail, lips, scrotum and prepuce. They are connected to the hair follicles.These glands also play a role in territorial marking and any observant cat owner will have seen their cat rubbing it's face and chin along objects.


Over time this rubbing will leave greasy patches.In acne, the follicles become blocked with black sebaceous material, resulting in blackheads. These blackheads may become irritated, swollen and infected, leading to pustules.

Causes

 The exact cause of feline acne isn't known. There are several possible causes however including
  • Stress - Stress triggers the release of various hormones which lead to the sebaceous glands producing more sebum.
  • The use of plastic food bowls is commonly discouraged, especially in cats with feline acne. This is because they are porous and trap bacteria, which is then transferred to the cat's chin. It has also been suggested that an allergic reaction to the plastic food bowl is a cause.
  • Poor grooming, the chin is a rather difficult area on cats to clean.
  • Over active sebaceous glands.
  • There have been suggestions that it may be linked to hormones.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Dementia in Cats

Cats can begin to lose their mental faculties as they move into their senior years. This can come as quite a shock to pet owners, as dementia is not something most people associate with cats. This condition is known as "cognitive dysfunction syndrome".
It is not a disease in itself, but it is a gradual decline in cognitive ability.A cat is classified as "senior" from around ten years of age. One study found that close to 30% of cats between 11 and 14 show signs of dementia, this figure jumps up to 50% in cats over 15 years of age and up to 80% in cats aged 16 and onwards. Most ten year old cats are still in relatively good physical and mental health. They may have slowed down, have a bit of arthritis and even some kidney failure, they spend more time sleeping, but they are generally doing pretty well.


Age really begins to become apparent from around the 13-14th year. That is when it is obvious that they are in their senior years. Again, this really can change from cat to cat, some 15 year olds may be sprightly, but on the whole, they slow down around 13-14.

Rodent Ulcer / Indolent Ulcer

Also known as "indolent ulcer", rodent ulcers are ulcerations and swelling of the lip which develop in response to an underlying allergy. Rodent ulcer is part of a "syndrome" known as eosinophilic granuloma complex, which comes in three forms.
Eosinohiliic plaque, linear granuloma and rodent ulcer. This article will focus on rodent ulcers only.
White cells known as eosinophils have many roles, one of which is help to fight infections (viral infected cells, bacteria, fungi, parasites) by going to the site and releasing cytotoxic granules (this is known as degranulation), destroying the target. Rodent ulcers occur when eosinophils release their granules into local tissues, causing lesions. The exact cause of this isn't entirely known, but it is believed that common allergens such as flea bites, food and inhaled allergies trigger this.


Other suggested causes include dental infection and exposure to the feline leukemia virus, although not all cats who have rodent ulcers will have had exposure to the virus.
Cats of any age can develop rodent ulcers, they may appear once only or can recur. Despite the name, they have no connection to rodents.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tabby Cats

Tabby refers to the pattern on a cat's coat and is not a breed.   The name "tabby" is believed to have derived from Atabi, which is a type of striped taffeta (known as tabbi) that was manufactured in the Attabiah district of Baghdad.
The word tabby was derived from a kind of taffeta, or ribbed silk, which when calendered or what is now termed "watered", is by that process covered with wavy lines. This stuff, in bygone times was often called "tabby:" hence the cat with lines or markings on its fur was called a "tabby" cat. But it might also, one would suppose, with as much justice, be called a taffey cat, unless the calendering of "taffey" caused it to become "tabby". Certain it is that the word tabby only referred to the marking or stripes, not to the absolute colour.

Genetically all cats are tabby, however many possess "modifier" genes which inhibit this pattern from being expressed. The mackerel tabby (Mc) is the "default" (wild type) pattern, with the classic pattern being recessive (mc). Recessive genes require two copies (one from each parent) in order to be expressed. The spotted tabby is essentially a mackerel tabby with a modifier gene which breaks up the markings from stripes into spots.  If cats were allowed to do their thing (so to speak), and no more selective breeding occurred, then they would eventually revert back to the default tabby pattern after a few generations. This is known as "revert to type".

Monday, June 23, 2014

Changing Cat's Diet

Generally it is known that  a sudden change in cat's diet will result in refusal to eat the new diet or stomach upset. Some owners will try to out wait their cat who is refusing to eat the new diet, but this is not a good idea as it can lead to a potentially fatal disorder known as hepatic lipidosis (or fatty liver disease) in which in response to the body not receiving enough nutrients, fat is sent to the liver to be used as fuel, unfortunately the liver is not very efficient at processing fat, which begins to build up in the liver, causing it to no longer function properly.


 Needs to change cat's diet ?

  • Cats may be put on a prescription diet to help manage a medical disorder such as kidney or liver disease.
  • They may have developed a food allergy.
  • The food you are feeding may no longer be available.
  • Switching over from a kitten food to an adult food, or an adult food to a senior food.
  • Changing from wet to dry, or homemade etc.
  • Bringing a new cat home, always ask the breeders what cat has been eating, so that you can have some of their regular food on hand and gradually transition the cat over to what we feed.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Most Common Signs Of Digestive Disorders in Dogs

The most common signs of digestive disorders are soft stools or diarrhea. If your dog has digestive issues, you may also notice some or all of the following signs.
  • Vomiting
  • Regurgitation
  • Flatulence
  • Weakness
  • Diarrhea/Constipation 
 
Chronic GI disease can be a debilitating problem for many dogs and requires testing and a thorough diagnosis from veterinarian.

Colitis in Dogs

Colitis is an inflammation of the colon. It is responsible for about 50 percent of cases of chronic diarrhea in dogs. The signs of colitis are painful defecation, prolonged squatting and straining, flatulence, and passing many small stools mixed with blood and mucus. These signs can easily be mistaken for constipation.
The usual cause of colitis is one of the inflammatory bowel diseases. Whipworms are another frequent cause. Fungal colitis is uncommon. It targets dogs with immune deficiency and lowered resistance. Prototheca colitis is a rare disease caused by an algae. It produces a severe form of colitis and can become systemic. Treatment has not been successful.


Colitis is diagnosed by colonoscopy and colon biopsy. Stool specimens are examined for parasites and fungi.
Irritable bowel syndrome describes a diarrhea motility disorder often associated with stress. It tends to occur in high-strung, nervous dogs. Dogs with irritable bowel syndrome have frequent small stools, often mixed with mucus. The diagnosis is based on the exclusion of other causes of colitis.
Treatment is directed toward the underlying condition, often an inflammatory bowel disease. Irritable bowel syndrome can be helped by a high-fiber diet. Bacterial causes of colitis, such as salmonella, campylobactor, and clostridium, will respond to appropriate antibiotics.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Dog Flu

Dog flu is a relatively new strain of influenza. This virus, belonging to the influenza A family, is a mutated strain of an equine influenza virus that has been detected in horses for more than 40 years. It was first reported in January 2004 at a greyhound track in Florida. Since then, it has been reported in other states. Dogs in shelters, humane societies, and boarding facilities are at particular risk and are often vaccinated.
There have been confirmed cases in 30 States in the U.S. Dogs are highly susceptible to the disease since they have no immunity from prior infections.
Dogs can only catch the flu from other dogs. It is transmitted through the air, usually by dogs coughing or sneezing on each other. If your dog has not been around any other dogs in the past week or so, then he can’t have the flu.


Infected dogs can spread the flu for 7 to 10 days after symptoms appear. Dogs that show no clinical signs can also spread the disease.
Humans cannot catch the flu from dogs; it is a different strain of flu.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Components of Dog Food

Food must contain all the essential components listed below, which together and in the correct proportion fulfill the requirements of a healthy dog. Energy level, body weight, age and health are sometimes important factors which should be considered when considering the approviate levels of each component. Ingredients named on a dog food label must account for 95% of all ingredients in the food.

  • Water;Fresh & clean water should be available all times. It is most important component of a canine food. Usually all mammals require some 44 – 66 ml/Kg B.W of water daily, and for dogs, the most appropriate way is to let a dog drink water 2 – 3 times a day with dry dog food, while making water continually available throughout the day so a dog can drink as it feels it needs to.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mange / Demodicosis in Dogs

Mange (demodicosis) is an inflammatory disease in dogs caused by various types of the Demodex mite. When the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of the dog become exorbitant, it can lead to skin lesions, genetic disorders, problems with the immune system and hair loss (alopecia). The severity of symptoms depends upon the type of mite inhabiting the dog.

Symptoms

Demodectic mange may either be localized and affect specific areas of the body, or generalized, where it affects the entire body. If localized, symptoms are usually mild, with lesions occurring in patches, especially on the face, trunk, or legs.


If generalized, symptoms will be more widespread and appear across the body. These symptoms include alopecia, a redness of the skin (erythema), and the appearance of scales and lesions.

Flea Bite Allergies in Dogs

Flea bite hypersensitivity and flea allergic dermatitis is the most common skin disease in pets. And although the allergies usually develop when dogs are young (less than one and up to five years of age), flea allergies can begin at any age. It is the saliva from the flea is actually believed to be the cause of the allergy or sensitivity.
The flea life cycle includes the adult flea, egg, larva and pupa. Adult fleas do bite, but cannot survive long if they are not on the dog. Once the adult flea lays its eggs on the host it will fall off, leaving the eggs to mutate through the rest of their life cycles. This generational process continues on the host pet until the flea population has been eradicated entirely.

Symptoms

Flea bite hypersensitivity or flea allergic dermatitis usually causes severe itching of the skin. This condition is medically referred to as pruritis. As few as one or two flea bites a week can cause pruritis, so symptoms will often persist even after some form of flea control has been used.


Symptoms are often episodic, but most dogs will have symptoms that worsen with age. Some dogs can also suffer behavioral problems as a result of flea bite hypersensitivity, with a condition called neurodermatoses.

Dog Ticks


Tick Paralysis in Dogs

Ticks act as carriers of various diseases in animals, including in dogs. Tick paralysis, or tick-bite paralysis, is caused by a potent toxin that is released through the saliva of certain species of female tick and which is injected into the blood of the dog as the tick infests the skin of the dog. The toxin directly affects the nervous system, leading to a group of nervous symptoms in the affected animal.
The toxins released by ticks cause lower motor neuron paralysis, which is defined as a loss of voluntary movement and which is caused by a disease of the nerves that connect the spinal cord and muscles. With lower motor neuron paralysis the muscles stay in an apparent state of relaxation.


An infestation of ticks is not necessary for a diseased state to occur. While multiple ticks are usually present on a dog that is showing symptoms of tick paralysis, tick-bite paralysis can take place after being bitten by only one tick. Conversely, not all animals, infested or not, will develop tick paralysis.
Symptoms usually begin to appear around 6-9 days after a tick has attached to the skin of the dog. This disease is somewhat seasonal and more prevalent in the summer time in certain areas of the U.S.. In areas where the seasonal temperatures are more consistently warm, such as in the southern states and northern Australia, ticks may be present throughout the year.
In the U.S., this disease is more commonly seen in dogs than in cats. In fact, cats in the U.S. appear to have a resistance to the tick toxin.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Grain Free Pet Food

Grain free pet foods are currently very popular. But are they really healthier for your pet than other types of pet foods? 
While it is true that many pets do well on grain free diets, it is also true that these diets were developed more in response to consumer (i.e., human) preference than to the actual nutritional needs of our pets.
Nutritionally, the most important aspect of a pet food is whether the food provides complete and balanced nutrition. If the food contains excesses or deficiencies of specific nutrients, the pet will suffer as a result. This concept is true regardless of whether the food contains grains or not.
Each ingredient in the diet provides a unique set of nutrients to the overall makeup of the food.



Together, the ingredients need to combine to provide a complete nutrient profile for your pet, without any excesses or deficiencies that can cause illness for your pet. It is certainly possible for grain free diets to provide this type of complete nutrition for your pet. However, these diets are not the only option, or even necessarily the best option, for each individual pet. There is no one diet or type of diet that is perfect for all pets. In other words, no pet food is a one-size-fits-all nutritional solution.

Alopecia in Cats

Hair loss (alopecia) is a common problem for cats. The hair loss can be partial or complete, and the patterns varied or symmetrical. Treatment options exist, though they are limited.

Symptoms

Signs include partial or total hair loss. The skin surrounding the area of hair loss can appear normal or it can have redness, bumps, scabs, and skin loss. Alopecia may appear in a symmetrical form, or it can be random on the cat's skin.

Causes

In older cats diagnosed with cancer, alopecia is common. Nervous disorders (e.g., over-grooming) can also cause cats to lose their hair.


Hormonal imbalances, specifically too much thyroid or increased levels of steroids in the body, may lead to hair loss. Some cats experience skin allergies, which can also cause hair loss to occur. Parasites that bring about mange, and fungal issues like ringworm, are also a common cause of alopecia. Another less common factor is heredity.

Diagnosis

A complete blood count (CBC) is often done to determine if there are hormonal or thyroid imbalances causing the alopecia. Various imaging tools, such as X-rays, are used to rule out signs of cancer or abnormalities in the adrenal glands. Meanwhile, if the veterinarian believes hair loss is due to a skin issue, a skin biopsy or culture may be done.

Treatment

If the alopecia is due to a skin disorder (e.g., skin erosions), thyroid imbalance, or other hormonal imbalance, there are medications and topical treatments available. If hair loss is due to a behavioral issue, modification treatment can be taught to lessen the problem. Overall, treatment options are fairly limited.

Living and Management

Other than administering the appropriate medication, you should observe the cat's condition to make sure it does not become worse.
There are no surefire methods to prevent hair loss in cats.

Differences Between Cat & Dog Food

Although both dogs and cats are members of the Order Carnivora, only cats are considered “obligate” carnivores. This term indicates that cats must eat some animal-derived protein to remain healthy or receive dietary supplements to supply them with crucial nutrients. Overall, approximately one-third of a healthy, adult cat’s diet should consist of protein, although not all of it needs to be supplied in the form of meat.
Proteins are made from only 22 building blocks called amino acids. Animals can make some of these amino acids themselves; these are called the non-essential amino acids. In comparison, essential amino acids must be supplied by the diet. Cats have 12 essential amino acids while dogs only have 11.


Taurine is an amino acid that is essential for cats but non-essential for dogs. Cats that don’t get enough taurine in their diets can eventually become blind, deaf and develop heart failure. Taurine deficiency is now almost exclusively diagnosed in cats that eat something other than a well-balanced cat food.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Constipated Cats Management

Constipation is a troubling and common digestive tract problem for cats. It occurs when the stool is too large and/or too firm to be expelled. Constipation is the likely culprit when a cat is straining in the litter box and produces few or no stools, or those stools that do come out are dry and firm.

Conditions cause constipation in cats, including:

Dehydration — caused by:
  • Disease
  • Dietary factors (e.g., inadequate water intake)
  • Medications

Danger of High Protein Dogs Feed

Marketing tactics by some pet food companies have fueled a common misconception among pet owners that dogs are obligate carnivores and require a diet that consists mostly of meat. This is not true. Dogs, like people, are omnivores and do best with a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Excessive protein consumption is unnecessary for dogs at best and for some dogs with medical conditions can actually be harmful.
Proteins are the building blocks of the body and an absolute necessity for daily function. However, when a dog consumes too much protein in a meal it cannot all be utilized at one time, nor can it be stored for later. The body will then excrete the excess protein through the kidneys and out of the body via urine. Thus the quality of the protein actually becomes more important that than actual amount as a high quality protein is more bioavailable and can be better absorbed by the body.


Another issue is that the meat in these diets acting as the protein source contains other nutrients that you do not want in excessive amounts. For example, when a diet is mostly meat it becomes very difficult to maintain a proper calcium-phosphorus ratio. When this ratio is out of balance disruptions in bone growth or kidney damage can occur. Well formulated dog foods have an appropriate balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates to prevent this from happening.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Importance of Antioxidants in Pet Feeding

Antioxidants are finally getting the respect they deserve. When appropriate amounts are included in pet food, antioxidants serve two important functions, keeping food fresh and keeping pets healthy.

Health Benefits of Antioxidants

Antioxidants play a major role in maintaining your pet's health. They are beneficial in large part because they counter the effects of damaging free radicals in the body.
Free radicals are a natural by-product of metabolism and are produced in greater than normal amounts when pets are sick, elderly, exposed to toxins, or suffer from poor nutrition. Free-radicals contain oxygen and are missing an electron, which makes them highly reactive. They attack and take electrons from cell membranes, proteins, and DNA. The molecule that loses an electron to a free radical often becomes a free radical itself, continuing the cycle.


Antioxidants are different, however. They can donate electrons to free radicals without becoming free radicals themselves, thereby breaking the cycle of molecular and cellular damage. Therefore, an ample dietary source of antioxidants is essential if a pet is to maintain a strong immune system throughout its life and age in a healthy manner.

Dangerous Foods for Cats

While we may consider cats to be members of our family, treating them as such at mealtimes can cause more injury to them than just spoiling their dinners. Here’s a look at the five most dangerous foods for your cat, how they affect their bodies, and what to do in case of an emergency.

1. Onions/Garlic

Onions and garlic can cause the destruction of red blood cells and lead to anemia in cats.
“Cats tend to be much pickier eaters as opposed to dogs, but we’ve seen cats eat an entire cup of caramelized onions.”


Although the size of the dose determines the level of poisoning, lethargy and a reduced appetite can be symptoms of a toxic reaction. The sooner you diagnose potential poisoning in cats the better, so if they’re acting strangely don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian.

Australian Shepherd

Bred as an all-purpose herder and farm dog, the Australian Shepherd lives for the enjoyment of its job. It’s an intelligent, obedient, and agile breed.

History and Background

The Australian Shepherd is, in fact, not Australian at all. A popular theory states that the Basques herders who emigrated to Australia in the 19th century brought their sheep and their sheepdogs, some of which were Australian Shepherd dogs, with them. Others believe the guardian breed, which is known for its versatility, originated in Turkey more than 5,000 years ago.


What is certain is that the Australian Shepherd Club of America was established in 1957. These dogs soon adapted themselves to the harsh conditions of the United States; some were even featured in film or used as trick dogs in rodeos. The American Kennel Club formally recognized the breed in 1993.

Black Russian Terrier

The Black Russian Terrier is a solid, large, powerful dog. It was developed in Russia as a guard dog. Today, the Black Russian Terrier is well known for its courage and strength, as well as its endurance.

History and Background

In the mid-20th Century, the Soviets had to find the right working dog for their military. As there weren’t good qualified dogs to suit their purpose, they imported mostly German breeds to their state Red Star kennels. Roy, a Giant Schnauzer born in 1947, was the most impressive import. This dog was mated with other breeds like the Moscow Water Dog, Airedale Terrier and Rottweiler. All the successful resultant crosses were black and could be differentiated from other breeds as the Black Terrier group. However, the best dogs were then inter-bred and by the late 1950s, the public could obtain the second- and third-generation dogs.


The principal criteria for breeding were versatility and working ability and steps were taken to improve the form. The functions of the Black Russian Terrier were performing military tasks like detecting explosives and mines, pulling sledges, transporting supplies, finding wounded soldiers, and border guard duty. The dogs were also used for military operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan.
A standard was registered in 1968 and, in 1984, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) recognized the breed. The popularity of the dog increased as Black Russian Terrier breeders were taken to other countries. The AKC accepted the breed as part of the Miscellaneous class in 2001 and it became a part of the Working Group in 2004.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Birman Cats

Also called the Sacred Cat of Burma, the Birman has been around for centuries. Its true origin is shrouded in mystery; few breeds have the aura of enchantment that this breed enjoys. The Birman's beautiful colorpoint pattern, long, silky fur, brilliant blue eyes, and pure white gloves make the breed a lovely addition to the cat fancy. The sweet, devoted personality makes the Birman a terrific companion as well. The breed is often favored by those who love the pointed pattern of the Himalayan but don't care for the flattened facial type and grooming needs.

History and Origin

The breed has been around for centuries. According to the story, pure white amber-eyed cats resided in the Buddhist temples of Burma (now Myanmar) and were revered as the feline carriers of the souls of priests who had departed the mortal plain. The Goddess of transmutation, Tsim-Kyan-Kse, was worshiped in these temples, represented by a golden statue with glowing sapphire eyes. Each evening Mun-Ha, High Lama of the temple of Lao-Tsun, prayed in front of the statue of Tsim-Kyan-Kse with one of the sacred temple cats, Sinh, as his faithful companion.
One day, marauders raided the temple and struck down Mun-Ha. As Mun-Ha lay dying in front of the statue, Sinh climbed onto his chest and purred to comfort and prepare him for his soul's journey.


When Mun-Ha died, his soul flowed into Sinh, and a miraculous transformation took place. Sinh's amber eyes changed to the sapphire blue of the statue's. Her white coat turned a golden hue like the statue's gold. Her face, ears, tail and legs darkened to the color of the earth on which Mun-Ha lay. Where Sinh's paws touched the priest, however, there remained a dazzling white, a symbol of Mun-Ha's pure spirit. The next morning, all the temple cats had undergone the same transformation. For the next seven days Sinh refused all food and finally died, carrying Mun-Ha's spirit into paradise.

Exotic Shorthair Cats

The Exotic cat (also called the Exotic shorthair by some cat associations) is a cross between Persians and American Shorthairs. The Cat Fanciers’ Association, the world’s largest registry of pedigreed cats, lists the Exotic cat as the third most popular cat breed based on their 2007 registration statistics.

Exotic Look

Exotic cats are bred to meet the Persian standard in almost every way with one exception: their coats. Exotics, unlike their Persian counterparts, have short, thick, dense coats, making them popular among people who enjoy the Persian personality but don’t want the hassle or the time required for daily grooming.


Exotics are affectionately referred to as “The Lazy Man’s Persian” because of this. 
Exotic cats are available in a rainbow of hues, ranging from solid to tabby to bicolor. 

Temperament

The Exotic personality tends to mimic that of a Persian: sweet, affectionate and playful. Exotic cats are known to show more affection and loyalty than other feline breeds, and commonly follow their owners throughout the home.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ragdoll

Surrounded by myth and mystery, the ragdoll is a large, laid-back, loving cat with a long, beautiful coat, lovely pointed pattern and big brilliant blue eyes. A hybrid breed, the ragdoll was developed by years of selective breeding, but exactly which cats were used in its creation remains uncertain. While controversy kept the breed from achieving quick acceptance in cat associations, the breed is popular with cat lovers for his beauty and trusting, playful personality.

History and Origin

The ragdoll's origins cannot be established with certainty. The only detail of the breed's creation that is not subject to debate is that the ragdoll was created in the 1960s by the late Ann Baker of Riverside, Calif. All genuine ragdolls can be traced back to the bloodlines she developed.
The breed was probably created by crosses between unpedigreed longhaired cats that possessed the recessive gene for the pointed pattern, although some believe that the breed was created by crossbreeding Persians, Birmans, and Burmese cats with random-bred domestics.


The foundation cat from which the breed originated, Josephine, was a semi-feral longhaired white female cat of unknown parentage.
The colorful stories and rumors that surround the breed's creation lend an air of mystery. As the story goes, Josephine produced unremarkable kittens until she was struck by a car in the early 1960s. Allegedly, after the accident Josephine was taken to a facility where she was genetically altered in an experiment conducted by the government. This genetic alteration caused Josephine to produce kittens with the traits for which the ragdoll is so famous – non-aggressive temperament, beautiful color pointed coat and the tendency to go limp like a rag doll when held.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Maine Coon

One of the oldest natural breeds in North America, the Maine coon is second only to the Persian in popularity. This made-in-America breed is prized for his large size, sweet personality and silky all-weather coat. Considering the breed's intelligence and clown-like antics, it's no wonder that this cat ranks No. 2 among America's top favorites.

History and Origin

Maine coons have been on this continent since colonial days. They probably came over from Europe with the first settlers of the New World, since cats were often kept on sailing ships to control rodent populations. While there exists no actual evidence of where and when they arrived, some entertaining myths surround the breed's arrival. One such tale claims that Maine coons are descendants of longhaired cats owned by Marie Antoinette.


According to the story, Captain Clough smuggled the queen's cats and other belongings to America in preparation of the Queen's rescue from her rendezvous with the guillotine. Unfortunately, he was only successful in rescuing her cats.
However they arrived, Maine coons carved their place in the New England countryside alongside the early colonists. Given Maine's severe winters, those initial years were hard on both felines and humans. Only the strongest and most adaptable cats survived. Through natural selection, the Maine coon developed into a large, rugged cat with his water-resistant coat and hardy constitution.
The Maine coon was an early favorite in the emerging American cat fancy in the late 1800s. In the early 1900s, however, cat fanciers of the era abandoned Maine coons for Persians, Angoras and other exotic imports. By 1950, the breed had all but vanished. Fortunately, a small group of breeders kept the breed alive.

Persian Cat

The most popular cat on the planet, the Persian, is a hairstylist's dream - or nightmare - depending upon your enthusiasm for fussing with a cat's locks. Undeniably beautiful, elegant and regal, the Persian is ideal if you want a cat that's sweet, devoted, docile, affectionate and laid-back.

History and Origin

Persians were prominently featured in 1871 at the first modern cat show held at London's Crystal Palace. By the early 1900, the Persian had become overwhelmingly popular in the United Kingdom. Persians have been around for much longer than that, however. The ancestors of the modern Persian were first introduced by Roman and Phoenician caravans from the province of Khorazan in Persia (now Iran) to Europe. Later caravans traveling from Persia and Turkey reintroduced the longhaired cats to Europe in the mid to late 1500.


These cats would later become the Angora and Persian breeds. Persians were imported to North America in the late 1800s, where they quickly took their place as top cat. Over the years, American breeders have bred for a more extreme facial type, longer fur, shorter ears, and a boxy design. More than 100 years of selected breeding evolved the Persian into the breed we know today.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Siamese

The Siamese is the most universally recognized domestic cat breed on the planet and one of the oldest, with a history as colorful as the cat herself. These sleek, vocal cats with big baby-blue eyes and striking pointed pattern originated hundreds of years ago in Siam (now Thailand), where they were held in high esteem. According to legend, for generations the kings of Siam kept Siamese cats in the royal palace. Siamese were considered worthy companions for Siam's royalty and religious leaders.

History and Origin

The Siamese has been around for many centuries. The Siamese is described and depicted in the Cat-Book Poems, a manuscript written in the city of Ayudha, Siam, sometime between 1350 when the city was founded and 1767 when the city was destroyed by invaders.


The illustrations in the manuscript clearly show cats with slim bodies and legs and pale-colored coats with dark coloring on the ears, tails and feet.
In 1871, Siamese cats were first exhibited in Britain in the first modern-day cat show at London's Crystal Palace, where they were disparagingly described as an "unnatural, nightmare kind of cat." Nevertheless, the Siamese rapidly became popular among British fanciers. By the early 1900s, the Siamese had made the move to America, where the breed quickly became popular with American cat lovers as well. The breed is now the most popular shorthair in America, and third most popular breed overall, according to CFA's registration statistics.

Dachshund

The dachshund is a short-legged long-bodied breed affectionately referred to as a "wiener dog". (The nickname gained notoriety after an American artist drew a dachshund in a hot dog bun in the early 20th century.) This breed is very popular and is typically within the top 10 most loved breeds. Playful but stubborn, the "doxie" is a member of the hound breeds.

History & Origin

In the 15th century, a short legged, long bodied dog with hound ears was used to chase and hunt badgers in Germany. The name "dachshund" means badger dog. In addition to badgers, dachshunds were originally bred to hunt wild boar, foxes and rabbits. The dachshund's long body allows the animal to chase these adversaries underground.


In Germany, this breed is often still employed in this capacity.
Today, in America, the dachshund enjoys a different lifestyle as a companion animal. The existence of other hunting breeds allows dachshund owners to appreciate their pets' faithful, fun-loving and energetic nature in their home. The dachshund was officially accepted into the American Kennel Club in 1885.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Rottweiler

The Rottweiler is a strong powerful breed with natural protective instincts. Originally used as a herder, the Rottweiler quickly became better known as a guard dog. Though sometimes maligned due to improper training leading to aggression, properly trained and cared for Rottweilers can make excellent companions.

History & Origin

It is believed that today's Rottweiler is a descendant of the herding drover dogs of the ancient Romans. As the Romans expanded their power across Europe by foot, the Rottweiler was at their side to control cattle herds and protect the soldiers and their food from predators. History records that Roman troops eventually entered Germany and settled in 74 A.D.


At the time, red tile roofs were the common architectural style and the settlement was named Rottweil, a take on the German words for red tile. This settlement gave rise to the name of the breed that so loyally and courageously contributed to the development of ancient Roman and German civilization. The Rottweiler is categorized as a working dog and was first registered by the American Kennel Club in 1931.

English Bulldog

With roots deeply planted in British soil, the English bulldog is a stubborn yet relatively docile breed that has been quite popular since the late 1800s. Initially bred for ferocity and courage, the bulldog is now a devoted and sweet member of the non-sporting group of dogs.

History & Origin

The English bulldog is the symbol of tenacity and stubborn determination. Centuries ago, the breed was called the "bandogge" since the dog spent much of its time bonded to or tied up with other dogs. The earliest reference to "bulldog" was found in literature in 1609.
The bulldog was originally kept as a butcher's dog to control unruly oxen. It was also used as a guard dog, hunting dog and most commonly for the sport of baiting. This blood sport is now considered cruel and inhumane but in the early 13th century, it was quite popular.


The sport involves tethering the "bait," a bull, bear, horse, ape or lion, and the dogs were sent in to attack the animal and try to overpower it. One of the more common baits was the bull. The bulldog was commonly used to fight the bull, thus resulting in their name. The bulldog would grasp the fleshy nose of the bull and pin it to the ground. Bull baiting continued for centuries until outlawed in 1835.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Boxer

According to Matthew Cowley, in his article, "Canine Clowns," a boxer is all that is good in a dog. He is "a laugh a minute, lives life to the fullest, a maximum velocity version of canine slapstick. But he is also a sympathetic soul, a shoulder to cry on, a confidante."
Indeed, boxers are friendly outgoing people dogs. They can become so happy that their whole pelvis moves when they wag their tails. Popular in the United States since the 1940s, the boxer is a wonderful family dog who got his name from his habit of beginning a fight by standing on his hind legs and boxing with his front paws.

History and Origin

Several theories exist regarding the origin of the boxer. One theory, from the 1800s, maintains that the boxer was developed in Germany as a cross between the mastiff-type bullenbeisser and English bulldog. One of these first boxers was the pure white "Blanka." Considered an instrumental dog in the development of the breed, Blanka gave birth to a litter of puppies. One of her daughters, "Meta von der Passage" became an important member of the boxer pedigree. It is thought that nearly all boxers can be traced back to Meta.


Another theory is not so precise. It claims that the boxer is a much older breed, developed from fighting dogs of Tibet.
Regardless of their origin, boxers are working dogs and was one of the first breeds in Germany to be trained as police dogs. They were also used in the previously popular sport of dog fighting. Their courage and bravery led them to be used to run messages on the battlefields during World War I and World War II.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Yorkshire Terrier

The Yorkshire terrier, well known for long flowing tresses, is a tiny but tough breed. Originally used to hunt rats, the Yorkie is a popular active pet.

History and Origin

As Scottish weavers migrated from Scotland to England in the mid 19th century, they brought along various terriers used to hunt rats. Over time, these terriers were bred together until the Yorkshire terrier was developed.
Originally, the breed was called the "broken-haired scotch terrier." In 1870, a reporter at a dog show stated that the breed should be renamed the Yorkshire terrier since most of the breed development occurred in the town of Yorkshire.


The breed was originally used as a working dog but became a fashionable pet in England in the late Victorian era. In 1872, the Yorkie made his entrance into the United States and has since been a favorite.

Golden Retriever

The golden retriever consistently tops the list of most loved family pets. Usually associated with children and suburban life, and, with their love of water and natural retrieving ability, the golden retrievers are also excellent companions to hunters.

History and Origin

Recorded history of the golden retriever dates to the early 1800s when the breed was a popular hunting dog in Scotland. As a rugged, middle-size dog, the breed was appreciated for the ability to hunt on land and in water. Sportsmen admired the dog's athletic ability and diligence while their families enjoyed the gentle, friendly nature of the pet. By the late 1800s, the golden retriever was well known in North America and was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1925.


Over the years, golden retrievers have become useful as guide dogs for the blind, deaf and other handicapped individuals because of their intelligence, trainability, well-rounded temperament, as well as their ability to get along well with people. They are trained as therapy dogs to comfort residents in nursing homes and emotionally disturbed children.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Labrador Retriever

Friendly, loving and very playful, the Labrador retriever has become one of the most popular breeds in the United States. Historically, this large "sporting" breed has been used to hunt and retrieve birds and only recently has the dog become known as a companion dog. The retriever is highly regarded for its good nature, easy trainability and intelligence.


History and Origin

The Labrador retriever hails from Newfoundland and not Labrador, as the name suggests, though both areas are located in eastern Canada. It is possible that geographic confusion led to the name. Exactly how the breed came to inhabit Newfoundland is not known. The first written report of the breed, a letter written by a traveler to this area, dates to 1822. Fishermen brought the breed to Britain in the early 19th century.


Originally, the dogs ranged from a heavy-coated variety known as the Large Newfoundland to a smaller rough-coated variety called the Lesser Newfoundland or St. John's Dogs. The modern-day Labrador retriever probably descends from this St. John's Dog and the currently known Newfoundland breed from the Large Newfoundland.
The breed was not originally used as a companion dog. Instead, retrievers were bred exclusively as hunters, a job for which they possessed superior talents. The Labrador retriever was officially accepted into the English Kennel Club in 1903 and the American Kennel Club in 1917.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

German Shepherd Coat Colors

German Shepherd Dogs come in a variety of coat (hair) colors. They include Black & red, Black & tan, Black & cream, Black & sliver, Black (solid black), Sable (Gray), Blue, Liver, and White.  The breed should have rich, strong colors.  Diluted colors are not desirable.  Liver, Blue and White are genetically diluted colors, and are not bred by responsible breeders.

The color of the dog is one of the less important attributes to consider when purchasing a puppy, as long as the colors are strong and well pigmented. The most critical things to consider are Temperament, Health and proper Structure.   But, color is the frosting on the cake!  If you can get all the other qualities, and your favorite color, too...go for it!
There are many variations within the preferred coat colors.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Hairballs in Cats

Hairballs, also called trichobezoar or fur balls, develop when a cat grooms herself with her tongue and ingests the hair. This hair forms into a mat or a ball within the digestive system and often leads to gastrointestinal symptoms, especially if it obstructs the pathway of food from the stomach. As it makes its way further into your cat's system, it can cause constipation. 
Hairballs are one of the most common cause of vomiting in cats.  For some cats it is only a problem during the shedding months in spring and autumn, whereas other cats, particularly long-haired varieties, will find hairballs a constant irritant.
While treatment is fairly straight forward, occasionally hairballs can cause more serious health problems requiring veterinary attention.

Cause of hairballs

Hairballs are created as a cat grooms.  The loose fur is caught on the rough surface of the cats tongue and is subsequently swallowed.  Usually the ingested hair will pass through the gastrointestinal tract without issue, however occasionally it may accumulate in the stomach or intestines causing a blockage.  As food cannot pass through, it is vomited back up the oesophagus instead.
While a cats gut is designed to digest fur (it’s own as well as that of prey animals), repeated occurrences of hairballs may be cause for concern, and should be looked at by a veterinarian to rule out other, more serious causes.
Essentially, frequent hairballs can be caused by two processes:
1. Increase in hair intake due to:
  • Increased grooming due to skin irritations
  • Increased grooming due to behavioural problems, such as anxiety or stress
  • Additional hair being shed due to seasonal loss of fur, usually in spring and autumn.
2. Problems with hair moving through the gastrointestinal tract can be due to:
  • Mobility disorders
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Neoplasia, eg. Lymphoma

Signs 

Symptoms of hairballs may include:
  • Retching and gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Reduced appetite
  • Constipation
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Diarrhoea.
If symptoms last longer than 24 hours, veterinary treatment may be required.

Treatment 

Hairballs are a normal phenomenon in cats and there are many ways to manage them. The three most common remedies to help decrease the frequency or size of hairballs are hairball lubricants, fibre supplements, and improved grooming. The most important thing to remember about any hairball remedy is that it is not a cure. Any steps that you take merely help to control a normal process.
Lubricants: Numerous lubricants are available, also called laxatives, which essentially are flavoured petroleum pastes. Some cats love these products and readily lick them from your finger. Others refuse them or try to shake the lubricant off of their paws. These products can be used two to three times a week to effect.
Mineral oil is not recommended as a treatment because of the associated risk of aspiration pneumonia.
Food: There are several new diets are on the market that claim to be effective in reducing hairballs. These diets contain fibre, which helps promote normal bowel contractions thus assists the passage of food and swallowed hair through the gastrointestinal tract. Fibre helps with water reabsorption during digestion and helps by means of a mildly abrasive action to cleanse the lining of the intestines.
Grooming: Increasing the frequency of brushing, combing, and bathing reduces the amount of hair that your cat will shed daily, thus decreasing the amount he or she will ingest during self grooming. Some owners of long-haired cats have their cat’s hair shaved in an attempt to reduce hairballs. Large hairballs can even become impacted and require surgical removal. They can also be associated with other gastrointestinal disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease.

A cat that vomits frequently is likely to have other problems and a veterinarian should assess the situation. Vomiting is a non-specific clinical sign that can be linked to many conditions, including food intolerance, the ingestion of foreign substances, viral infection, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, kidney disease, thyroid disease, and cancer. To obtain a diagnosis, your veterinarian may do blood tests and take X-rays. If an answer is not found, more advanced diagnostic testing such as a barium X-ray series, endoscopy, and surgical exploratory and biopsy may be needed.

German Shepherd

Since his rise to movie fame in the early 1920s, the German shepherd has become a favorite breed for families, law enforcement and the disabled. Also known as the Alsatian, the German shepherd has consistently been one of the top 10 companion dogs in the United States and is a member of the "herding" class. Despite the similarity in appearance to the wolf, the German shepherd is a loyal, faithful and devoted human companion and, with proper training, can perform nearly any task.

History and Origin

Prior to the late 1800s, sheep herding dogs were randomly bred, and only those that worked well were selected. As the 20th century approached, a strict breeding program was undertaken in Germany to develop the current randomly bred shepherd dog into a more uniform herding dog with versatility and intelligence. The newly developed German shepherd breed progressed and gained in popularity until the early 1900s. When World War I broke out in 1914, all things German became taboo; even German language courses were dropped from school curriculums.


The fate of the German shepherd dog was in doubt. In order to save the breed, the American Kennel Club, which had registered the breed in 1912, temporarily changed the name to the shepherd dog. After the war, however, the original name was reinstated. In Britain, the name was changed to the Alsatian, although the German shepherd dog name was finally reinstated in 1979. 
In the 1950s and 60s, Americans became interested in the German shepherd dog, and large numbers were imported. A syndicated television show and a number of movies starring Rin Tin Tin, a descendent of the canine movie star from the 1920s helped spur the renewed interest.

Worn Teeth (Attrition)

As pets age, all that chewing they have done through their lives catches up with them and the teeth begin to show signs of wear. This is particularly common in the incisors of older dogs. Even though some tooth wear is common and to be expected, there are times when tooth wear is excessive. Attrition is the word used to describe an abnormally rapid loss of the top of the tooth (crown).
The most common cause of attrition is a tendency to excessively chew objects or misaligned teeth. Dogs with an untreated itchy skin disorder will often continuously chew at themselves, eventually resulting in significant attrition.


When the enamel is gradually worn down, the body will produce and lay down dentin, to protect the tooth pulp from exposure. This dentin appears as a dark brown spot in the middle of the tooth, covering the pulp. When attrition occurs (rapid wear), the pulp may be exposed since there is not sufficient time for the dentin to be produced.

Look For

  • Worn teeth
  • Possible oral pain

    Diagnosis

    The most important part of diagnosing attrition is to determine if the pulp cavity has been exposed. To do this, a dental explorer is used. If a defect in the central brown area is detected, the pulp has been exposed. In normal tooth wear, the dentin is strong and smooth. It covers the top of the tooth and the dental explorer cannot enter the tooth.

    Treatment

    If the dentin adequately covers and protects the affected teeth, no treatment is necessary. If the pulp has been exposed, root canal or tooth removal is recommended. Preventing continued chewing will help reduce additional wear.

    Prevention

    The goal of home care and prevention is to prevent your dog from excessively chewing on items. Itchy skin disorders should be promptly treated. Do not allow your dog to obsessively chew on hard objects such as wood, rocks, fencing, etc. (This is a long-term problem and does not include the normal chewing behavior of puppies.)

    Routine dental care, including tooth brushing, can help keep the mouth healthy and will help you periodically examine your pet's teeth, looking for potential problems.
  • Friday, January 17, 2014

    Wobbler syndrome

    Cervical vertebral instability is also known as Wobbler Syndrome, caudal cervical spondylomyelopathy, cervical vertebral malformation, cervical spondylolisthesis, cervical stenosis and cervical spondylopathy. Wobbler syndrome is a term loosely used to encompass compressive spinal cord lesions affecting the caudal cervical spine (the spinal cord at base of neck) in large- and giant-breed dogs. The cause is likely to be the result of genetic, nutritional and biochemical influences.

    Look For

  • Neck pain – variable
  • Difficulty rising to a standing position
  • Worn toenails, scuffed paws
  • Incoordinated gait caused by decreased proprioception
  • Variable muscle atrophy, especially in forelimbs
  • Occasionally, the presence of Horner's Syndrome
  • Worsening of signs when the neck is flexed