Archives for June 2013

Breed of the Week: The Jack Russell Terrier

Breed of the Week: The Jack Russell Terrier

Small and as full of energy as they are character, Jack Russell terriers possess intelligence and prey drive that allow them to serve in varied roles – from companion pet to tenacious hunter. The mostly white dog with brown and black markings comes in a trio of coat types – smooth, rough or broken-coated – and sizes, which leads to some confusion.

The standard Jack Russell remains much the same as the original breed that was established in the early 1800s. The Parson Russell terrier, closely related, is more of a conformation dog and has a more defined height of 12-14 inches at the withers (as compared to Jacks that range from 10-15 inches). Another closely related terrier, the Russell terrier or English Jack Russell terrier, is a smaller version, reaching only 8-12 inches in height.

The Jack Russell terrier was originally bred to hunt foxes. Its job was to flush or corner the animal in its den, giving the hunter a chance to kill it. They were later adapted to hunt badger, which required the dog to possess the courage to square-off with a dangerous foe in the confined space of its burrow and tunnels. This tight-spaced hunting helped necessitate the shorter-legged ...

Ask the Vet: “I’m confused about the different types of PRAs."

Ask the Vet: “I’m confused about the different types of PRAs."

As most canine breeders can tell you, some of the diseases most commonly tested for in pure bred dogs are the eye diseases falling under the general term, Progressive Retinal Atrophies (PRA).  However, because the various types of PRA can present very similarly, many people are unaware that PRA is not just one disease, but is a general category of disease known to be caused by a number of different genetic mutations in several different genes.  The prevalence of each type of PRA varies by breed and some forms have only been identified in a single breed.  In addition to confusion regarding the variety of disorders grouped under the PRA label, there is often confusion regarding the method used to name the individual types of PRA seen.  A good place to start in understanding the common names of these diseases would be to look at the general types of the disease and how they manifest.  In order to understand the various types however, we must first learn a little about how the eye works.

The retina is a light-sensitive layer of sensory tissue that lines the inner surface of the eye.  Light that shines ...

Knowledge Sharing: Find Your Puppy’s Littermates

Knowledge Sharing: Find Your Puppy’s Littermates

A novel service has launched that aims to connect dog owners with other owners who have a puppy from the same litter. The free online service, r-u-mylitter.com, is in its infancy, but it could serve as an excellent source of information for future puppy buyers, current dog owners and in genetic research and canine healthcare.

Spurred by a co-founder Wendy Margolis’ experience picking a puppy, r-u-mylitter.com seeks to unite curious dog owners who wonder what happened to their dog’s littermates. The site has received quite a bit of press, including registration by reality star Khloe Kardashian, who made headlines when she began searching for the littermates of her new boxer puppy.

Besides offering novelty information, like where in the world littermates have dispersed and personality traits of each puppy, the site has the potential to offer more important and useful knowledge.

As Dr. Steven Suter, the Medical Director of North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine Canine Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, explains on their site, connecting with the owners of littermates could help your dog if it were to need a bone marrow transplant or other similar procedure.

“My impression is that using …cells harvested from a ...

Fireworks and Fido: How to Make It Through the July 4th Holiday

Fireworks and Fido: How to Make It Through the July 4th Holiday

With the Fourth of July just around the corner, you need to be mindful of how your dog reacts to fireworks and take this into consideration when planning Independence Day activities.

For some dogs, fireworks are a non-issue. For others, including hunting dogs that are used to loud noises, the thunderous booms that accompany the flash and sparkle of pyrotechnics can be a tumultuous experience.

The stress experienced by dogs during fireworks often triggers the fight-or-flight response. The loud noises usually make the dog want to leave the situation – animal-control services see a 30-percent increase in lost pets during July 4-6. While you need to take the appropriate steps to keep your pet safe and secure, you have to realize that the stress also increases the chance that your normally lovable dog might bite.

To keep your dog protected, make sure you provide a safe place for it during the holiday season – their crate is an excellent spot that is very secure both physically and psychologically. Always leash your dog before going outside to reduce the chance of losing them should they bolt because fireworks. Also, try to find them as quiet of a place as possible to spend time ...

Canine neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis or Batten disease

Canine neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis or Batten disease

The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses are a group of inherited lysosomal storage disorders.  Lysosomes are structures in cells referred to as the stomach of the cell that breakdown waste products and other byproducts in the cell.  NCL affected dogs lack one of several enzymes necessary for the normal breakdown of certain types of fat or protein in the cells (called lipopigments.)  As this "debris" accumulates in neuronal cells (and to a lesser extent in other cells), the animal's mental and motor functions deteriorate.

Dogs with NCL start out as apparently normal and fully functional dogs.  Depending on which subtype of NCL they have, they will begin developing symptoms anywhere from 6 months to 4-6 years of age (for the adult onset varieties).  NCL is found in both humans and dogs as well as other species and share symptoms that include a progressive loss of mental and physical nervous system functions.    These exhibit as mental/intellectual decline and motor disturbance progressing to seizures, motor problems such as lack of muscle coordination, abnormal gait, difficulty balancing, visual disturbances progressing to blindness and behavioral changes including aggressiveness, dementia, aimless wandering behavior with episodes of confusion, depression and ...

Dog Bites Cost Homeowners $489 Million in 2012

Dog Bites Cost Homeowners $489 Million in 2012

According to a recent report, dog bites account for one-third of all monies paid out to homeowners’ insurance claims – nearly half a billion dollars in 2012. 

While the $489 million paid out for dog bites pales in comparison to the estimated $2 billion spent on canine reconstructive-knee surgery (TPLO operations), it underscores the burden of responsibility every dog owner shares.

If you think a dog won’t bite, you’re wrong. No matter how small, cute or friendly a dog appears, if has teeth, it can bite; and all dogs have approximately 42 adult teeth that evolved to slash, tear, grip and kill. Or as the U.S Post Office puts it: “There are 70 million good dogs … but any dog can bite.”

The postal service released the slogan on a poster in support of National Dog Bite Prevention Week, which was May 19-25. Postal workers are the third most-bit victims, behind the elderly and toddlers.

Young children, with their jerky, unstable motions, uncanny ability to surprise and eye-level height with canines, suffer the most and worst bites. The disfigurement of a child takes only a moment, but can last a lifetime. Those lasting bites are also the ones ...

Helping Our Local K-9 Heroes

Helping Our Local K-9 Heroes

The Spokane Police Department’s K-9 Unit is highly trained to fight crime and help keep our city safe. When highly trained canines used in police work are prematurely retired due to health issues, it costs the department extra resources and manpower to get new canines up to speed. German shepherds and Belgian malinois, two of the most popular breeds used for tracking, suspect apprehension, building and vehicle searches, as well as search and rescue, can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Even if the dog comes with a financial or replacement-dog guarantee, the weeks of specialized and intense training with officers represent an un-recoupable monetary loss in man-hours.

To that end, Paw Print Genetics recently collaborated with our hometown police force, the Spokane Police Department, and their K-9 Unit to genetically screen the six dogs patrolling our streets. While none of the hardworking dogs have displayed any sort of symptom related to genetic disease, the information gathered from the screening will give the department a baseline reading of each dog’s genetic health, which could be useful in future health screenings, any medical issues and treatments.

Additionally, and perhaps more importantly, the Spokane Police Department conducts a small breeding ...

Tornados: Helping the Animal Victims

Tornados: Helping the Animal Victims

As yet another storm front that ravaged the Midwest with severe weather and deadly tornados moves east, the cleanup and rebuilding of communities, such as the devastated Moore, Okla., takes precedence.

A television special by Blake Shelton raised $6 million for the United Way, the Red Cross has a text-based donations system set up and there are several other local and national organizations mobilizing to help victims left homeless and injured by the lethal tornados.

The outpouring of emotion extends to pets too, such as this video that went viral after a woman found her missing dog among the rubble during a live television interview.

When it comes to helping animals impacted by the tornados however, no national organization is donating financial support or other needed supplies on a grand and prioritized scale. If you want to help support the animals displaced or injured by the series of tornados that have ravaged Oklahoma, it’s always best, as well as more efficient, to give directly to local organizations. This was true after the explosion that ripped apart the small town of West, Texas, and after other natural and manmade disasters – local organizations can put donations (money or supplies) to better ...

My Dog’s Mouth Has Been Bleeding? What Could Be Wrong?

My Dog’s Mouth Has Been Bleeding?  What Could Be Wrong?

In my years as an undergraduate college student, struggling to make ends meet, I lived next door to a woman with an old, Labrador mix named Bubba.  By initial impression, he seemed to be a very normal, happy and well-socialized dog.  However, one day, during my daily greeting from Bubba, I noticed some blood around his mouth.  At the time, I was a biology major trying to wade through prerequisites for admission to veterinary school and I hadn’t yet been exposed to the world of clinical veterinary medicine.  So, when I saw the blood around Bubba’s mouth, I didn’t pay much attention.  I had seen blood in my own dog’s mouth on occasion after chewing on a toy or a bone and it never amounted to much.  So, my uninformed mind had little to worry itself about.  I later learned from Bubba’s owner that he had bled like this since he was young.  However, the owner had never taken Bubba to a veterinarian for a diagnosis and to this day I still don’t know what was wrong with him.  Though the memory of Bubba had ...