Category archives: All Things Dog

Resources and information for the dog owner or breeder.

The Chronic Disease That is Killing Our Dogs

The Chronic Disease That is Killing Our Dogs

If your dog is an average American canine, there is approximately 50% likelihood that your dog has a chronic disease that increases chances of osteoarthritis, heart disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, chronic pain, cancer, high blood pressure, and endocrine disease. In addition, this disease is also known to significantly decrease life expectancy. The most unfortunate aspect of this condition is that it is completely preventable, yet only a small fraction of dog owners take the necessary precautions to prevent this disease of malnutrition in their dogs. This disease is canine obesity.

Unless you avoid all news and cultural commentaries, you are likely aware of the human obesity epidemic in America and other countries around the world. According to the report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future”, a collaborative work by Trust for America’s Health (www.healthyamericans.org) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as of 2010, 68.7% of American adults over 19 years of age were overweight or obese (“Overweight” is defined as a body mass index, or BMI, over 25 and “Obese” is defined as a BMI over 30 - BMI Calculator). In addition, the rapidity at which the increase in human obesity has occurred is ...

Upfront Costs: The Smallest Financial Burden of Owning a Dog

Upfront Costs: The Smallest Financial Burden of Owning a Dog

Many people underestimate the ongoing financial burden of responsible dog ownership when considering a puppy, and instead focus on the upfront price of the dog.

The cost of a well-bred dog will be the least amount of money you ever spend on it. In an AKC survey of more than 1,000 dog owners, one-time costs (crate, neutering, bowls, leash, purchase price) averaged $2,100, while ongoing costs averaged $2,500 per year for items such as food, routine veterinarian care, boarding, treats and training. With the average lifespan of a dog being about 13 years, using these averages, you can expect to spend nearly $35,000 on a dog over the course of its lifetime. Even cutting these estimates in half, you can still expect to invest close to $20,000 in your pet.

The difference in paying for a $50 dog or a $1,000 is, in the long term, a negligible difference. Your upfront costs will always be the least of your financial worries.

That said, you should look for the best puppy you can find. A puppy whose parents were genetically tested prior to breeding and that come with a written health guarantee might cost a ...

Dogs Eat Everything – How to Keep Them Safe

Dogs Eat Everything – How to Keep Them Safe

Canines of all ages are notorious for eating the oddest things. From leftovers in the garbage to rocks in the yard, some dogs will consume anything. While their self-induced supplementary diets can make for interesting story sharing, the actual act can pose a risk (life-threatening sometimes) and can cost you a lot of money in emergency vet fees.

Sometimes the weird things dogs eat can be avoided. Sometimes they can’t. I’ll be honest, my dogs have eaten some things that aren’t so good for them, and sometimes that was my fault and others times it just happened.

Hoss, my English bulldog, once ate a pair of my shoes. That was my fault, as I left them on the floor where they would become the subject of his inquisitive puppy nature. The corner of the wall he ate, however, was (I’m convinced) simply because it was in front of him when he woke up. The television remote was left on the couch where he could find it. Likewise, he was left alone in the car with the Labrador’s frozen training ducks. These are just a couple of examples of things one of my dogs has eaten.

If you noticed a pattern ...

Defining Responsible Dog Ownership

Defining Responsible Dog Ownership

In recognition of the AKC’s Responsible Dog Ownership Days, I thought I’d reflect on what it means to be a responsible dog owner, as it’s a very subjective topic.

Some people believe simply providing food, water and shelter is the only responsibility of owning a dog. I’d say that’s the bottom line, lowest common denominator of responsible dog ownership. Below are some thoughts on what it means to responsibly care for, train and breed dogs. Which do you think are most important?

The Basics: As said, providing your dog with quality diet, water and shelter from heat/cold/precipitation are the bare minimums of responsibility. I’d add sufficient exercise and interaction to that list as well.

Socialization: Raising a puppy that has had proper socialization during the first 12 weeks of age will make a difference in its character and psychological stability for the rest of its life. Safely introducing your puppy and allowing it to meet and interact with other dogs teaches it how to behave around other dogs, and what the proper protocols and canine rituals are. Failure to socialize your dog can handicap it; creating a fearful or aggressive dog that will have difficulty interacting with other ...

Healthy vs. Sound Health

Healthy vs. Sound Health

Recently the Paw Print Genetics team attended the AKC Canine Health Foundation’s 2013 National Parent Club Canine Health Conference in St. Louis. The conference was held at the Hyatt Regency and consisted of three days of presentations, studies and the future of canine health across many topics.

Presentations and speakers included: “Inherited Cardiomyopathies” by Kathryn Meurs, DVM, PhD of North Carolina State University; “Regenerative Medicine for Soft Tissue Injuries in the Canine” by Sherman O. Canapp Jr., DVM, MS, CCRT of Veterinary Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Group; “Application of Physical Therapy Techniques to Our Canine Patients: The Current Science and Research Opportunities” by Janet B. Van Dyke, DVM, DACVSMR of the Canine Rehabilitation Institute; as well as breakout sessions covering cancer, nutrition/GI/bloat and, of course, genetic testing.

This is a chance for AKC Canine Health Foundation grantees to show how the monies from the organization are being used, to update parent breed clubs on their findings and what they still need to investigate, as well as to receive feedback from the clubs themselves.

While taking a quick break, I ran into Susan LaCroix Hamil, who is on the Board of Directors for both the AKC Canine Health Foundation ...

Preventing and Treating Canine Heat Stress

Preventing and Treating Canine Heat Stress

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, said Benjamin Franklin. While the founding father might have been talking about most things in human life, his advice also applies to canines.

During these hot summer days, commonsense prevention can help keep your dog safe. Dogs don’t do well in the heat; even seemingly mild days in the 70s and low 80s can take their toll quickly. Humidity compounds the heat and makes it harder for your dog to cool down. If your dog is out of shape, exercising in heat takes an even greater toll.

If you’re training your dog for competition – whether that’s field trials or hunt tests, obedience, agility or flyball – it’s best to practice early in the morning when the ground and air temps are at the coolest. Other commonsense precautions to take include: ample breaks in the action, plenty of cool water to drink and swim in between drills, as well as resting in the shade.

If you take the time and provide your dog with the chance to cool down, you should be fine. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when watching your dog ...

How Hot Does it Get in a Parked Car?

How Hot Does it Get in a Parked Car?

It’s August and the heat index is soaring throughout the country. While modern conveniences can keep us cool, our canine companions suffer through these “dog days of summer” in much less comfort.

When the heat first hit earlier this summer, I was having a conversation with an officer from the local humane shelter. While we talked, call after call came across her radio of reports about dogs being left in cars. The outside temperature was pushing 100 degrees.

“When the warm weather starts, that’s what most of our calls are for – responding to dogs left in parked cars,” she said.

It’s astounding to me that someone would leave their dog in a car – even for “just a minute” – when the temperature is pushing 100 degrees, but apparently way too many people do. This tragic story out of North Carolina illustrates just how horrible death by heat stroke is, and that even people knowledgeable about dogs can make bad decisions. It’s also a perfect example of just how sensitive dogs are when it comes to heat – temperatures that day were in the mid- to high-70s with thunderstorms in the area.

Sadly, just eight days prior to ...

Preparing Your Pet for Fires, Tornados and Other Natural Disasters

Preparing Your Pet for Fires, Tornados and Other Natural Disasters

House fires, wildfires, tornados, hurricanes and other disasters can destroy a home and displace families in a matter of minutes. If you live in an area prone to the destructive forces of nature, having a plan can save the lives of both you and your family – including your pets.

In the case of a house fire, when seconds count, organization matters even more when it comes to saving your pets. July 15 is National Pet Fire Safety Day, and as such, we’re here to offer a few tips to help you prepare in the case of an emergency situation.

When Quick Exits are Required

First and foremost, you have to get to a safe place – and you have to take your pet with you. Don’t leave your dog behind to fend for itself or for first responders to rescue – they’ll likely be too busy saving human lives to take responsibility for your pet.

Depending upon the situation, those safe places could be very different – from the highest ground possible during a flood to an interior room or safe room during a tornado. During a house fire, evacuation is usually the best action, which makes organization very important ...

Paw Print Genetics Health Segments on Working Man’s Retriever Television

Paw Print Genetics Health Segments on Working Man’s Retriever Television

You can now catch some great Paw Print Genetics information on The Working Man’s Retriever television show, which airs during “The Landing Zone” block of programming on the Sportsman Channel. You can also view each episode on the Paw Print Genetics YouTube page at any time!

Paw Print Genetics founder and CEO, Dr. Lisa Shaffer, a geneticist with more than two decades of experience, visits with host Dan Hosford and co-host Cynean Kenny in five separate episodes and discusses everything from the basics of how genetics work and the impact upon breeding decisions to when, how and why to test a new puppy and interpreting the results on your Canine Health Certificate.

Episode One: In the first episode of Working Man’s Retriever that Dr. Shaffer appears on, she discusses silent, or recessive genes; the differences between clear, carrier and affected dogs; how you can still safely breed dogs that are carriers of known genetic mutations and how, with consistent genetic testing you can eventually eliminate genetic mutations from your breeding program. She also touches on how a Canine Health Certificate adds value to a litter of puppies and acts as a safety measure for the puppy buyer.

Episode ...

Canine Emergencies: First Aid Kits and Care

Canine Emergencies: First Aid Kits and Care

Paw Print Genetics recently attended the Washington State Search and Rescue Conference in Ellensburg, Wash. The conference provides educational classes for civilian search and rescue personnel, including canine teams.

While several canine-related classes were offered, including tracking, testing and meteorology, perhaps my favorite was the first-aid class offered by Dr. Michael Fuller, a 30-plus-year veterinarian at the local Ellensburg Animal Hospital. He covered a lot of material in the hour-and-a-half session, everything from must-have items in a first aid kit to broken bones. And while the class was devoted to SAR teams that are often far removed from help, the suggestions on what to pack make an excellent quick, easy-to-carry kit for travelers, hikers and hunters.

First, according to Fuller, nothing is more important than commonsense. The most well equipped first kit won’t do any good if you use it incorrectly. Second, many of the items found in a human first aid kit can be used in a canine first aid kit – including triple antibiotic ointment, eye wash, sterile bandages and wraps, pain relievers and anti-histamines.

First Aid Kits
Fuller recommended starting with a commercial first aid kit and then adding a few items to it. You should carry ...