Friday, January 31, 2014


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


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


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.


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


    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.


    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.


    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
  • Thursday, January 16, 2014


    Canine babesiosis is a tick-borne disease caused by a protozoan blood parasite. The cause of the disease is an organism of the genus Babesia. There are two species of Babesia that can cause disease in the United States: Babesia canis and Babesia gibsoni.
    The organism is spread to dogs through the bite of a tick and can infect dogs of all ages, although most infected dogs are less than three years old. In the United States, there is a peak incidence occurring between March and October. Greyhounds have a higher incidence of the disease than other breeds.

    Babesiosis mainly affects red blood cells, causing anemia, although many organ systems can be involved, and many complications can arise; disease can be mild, or can be fatal.

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    von Willebrand disease

    von Willebrand disease is the most common inherited disorder of hemostasis in both human beings and dogs. It is due to a deficiency or abnormality in von Willebrand factor (vWf).
    von Willebrand factor is a large multimeric glycoprotein that circulates non-covalently with factor VIII coagulant protein. It used to be called factor-VIII related antigen, however this term is obsolete and should no longer be used. vWf is an entirely different protein from factor VIII; it is produced in different cells and has different roles in hemostasis.
    vWf is produced by endothelial cells and megakaryocytes (factor VIII is produced by hepatocytes) and is stored in the alpha granules in platelets and in special organelles, called Weibel-Palade bodies, in endothelial cells. Both alpha-granules and Weibel-palade bodies serve as intracellular storage organelles of vWf. Dogs have a very small percentage of vWf in platelets (3%) compared to cats or human beings (20%). vWf is produced as a single protein chain (called a monomer), which then dimerizes within the cytoplasm of the megakaryocyte or endothelial cell. Therefore, the smallest component of vWf is a dimer. The dimer spontaneously forms long chains or polymers called multimers, which are held together by disulfide bonds. These multimers impart a very high molecular weight on vWf. The multimeric structure of vWf is important as the higher molecular weight multimers are more effective in hemostasis, so a relative deficiency of these multimers (which occurs in type II vWD) produces more severe bleeding.

    Airedale Terriers

    The Airedale terrier burst onto the scene in the 19th century. He gained fame in World War I, when he served in both the British and German armies. The Airedale was used as a messenger, and was cherished for his ability to sustain injuries and still deliver dispatches. As an ambulance dog, he saved lives by helping to locate wounded soldiers on the battlefield.
    The Airedale’s heroic history translates wonderfully to a home environment. Families adore the Airedale for his loyalty and intelligence.

    At Home With an Airedale

    This large dog (around 65 pounds), known as “King of the Terriers,” can be at home in the city or the suburbs. An Airedale is very protective of those around him, and thus makes a great guard dog. He is very loyal but can also be stubborn.
    Another aspect of the Airedale’s personality that endears him to owners is his sense of humor. The Airedale is known to “ham it up” whenever he’s given the opportunity.

    African Grey Parrots

    African Greys are the most sought-after parrots, thanks to their amazing ability to communicate with humans. They are extremely intelligent birds and are known to be the best at mimicking human behavior.
    There are two types of African Greys: The Congo African Grey and the Tinmeh Grey. The Congo subspecies is the more common pet bird. African Greys are typically 12 to 13 inches from beak to tail, and thus need adequate living space. If properly cared for, these birds can live to be 50 years old or older. If you’re thinking of owning an African Grey, or if you are new owner, there are some important things you should know.

    Caring for Your African Grey

    Along with the intelligence of the Grey comes an extreme sensitivity. Greys need the special attention that human children require. Experts say that these birds need at least three hours of interaction per day. Greys, like children, need to be put on a schedule; they thrive when following a routine.
    It is also very important to note that all Teflon products (including kitchen pans and accessories, and beauty tools) must be removed from the house before a parrot takes up residence. Teflon is deadly toxic to parrots. Once you use a Teflon product, the particles become airborne and then deadly to your pet parrot. Please seek your veterinarian's advice about which kitchen and/or beauty tools you can purchase to replace those with Teflon.

    Friday, January 10, 2014

    Lyme Disease in Dogs

    Lyme disease has been recognized in Europe for nearly a century but was not described in humans in the United States until 1975. We have since learned that clinical disease also occurs in dogs and, to a lesser extent, in horses, cattle, and cats, while many wildlife mammals and birds become subclinically infected and serve as reservoirs for tick infection. During the 1980s the disease incidence in both dogs and humans increased dramatically; Lyme disease is now the most common arthropod-borne disease of humans in the United States, and one of the most common in dogs.

    Lyme disease is caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, a corkscrew-shaped bacterium of the spirochete group. Among the spirochetes, it is most closely related to B. hermsii, which causes tick-borne relapsing fever in the southwestern United States. Better known but more distantly related spirochetes cause such diseases as leptospirosis and syphilis.