Sneezing Dogs

Two dogs who sneeze after digging in the dirt. Photo Credit: Alan Kay ©

I recently received a phone call from my aunt who was wondering why Pirate, her beloved Tibetan Terrier, had been sneezing for a couple of days. Pirate appeared to be normal in every other way. We discussed potential causes for his sneezing.

I explained to my aunt that only rarely do colds, allergies, and bacterial infections cause sneezing in dogs. Canine colds, aka, upper respiratory viruses, tend to trigger coughing rather than sneezing. And dogs with allergies suffer from itchy skin and ear problems far more than sneezing. Bacterial infections within the nose are exceedingly rare unless they arise on the heels of an underlying primary problem such as a growth or foreign body within the nose.

So, what are the most common causes of canine sneezing? Here’s the list of things I always consider.

Foxtails and other foreign bodies

Foxtails are the most common cause of sneezing for dogs who live west of the Mississippi. After the seed heads of foxtail plants dry in late spring and early summer they are easily and commonly snuffed up into the noses of dogs who like to sniff around. And, what dog doesn’t like to sniff around?

Because the foxtail plant awns are pronged much like fishhooks, once inhaled into the nose, they cannot be sneezed back out. Removal requires special instrumentation that is inserted into the nasal passageways of the sneezing dog. In the vast majority of cases successful removal relies on the dog being under general anesthesia.

Persistent sneezing is the hallmark symptom of a nasal foxtail. A bloody nose may result from irritation of the delicate tissue lining the nasal passageway or from inadvertent nose banging caused by violent sneezing. Over time, foxtails that are not removed result in chronic nasal discharge along with a fungal and/or bacterial infection within the nose. No fun!

Why did I mention the caveat of living west of the Mississippi? This is where these nasty foxtail plants happen to grow. (Why do you think I moved from California to North Carolina?!) There are a couple of ways to prevent nasal foxtails. The most full proof method is to avoid taking your dog anywhere near foxtails from late spring through mid summer. If foxtails are mowed and left on the ground, they can remain a hazard even later into the season. Another prevention option is the clever OutFox Field Guard™, a net like device that encircles the dog’s head.

Nasal foreign bodies other than foxtails are truly rare and are usually the result of a dog’s nose being in the wrong place at the wrong time or an inquisitive young child exploring all the many places small objects can go.

Nasal tumors

Nasal tumors are all too common in older large breed dogs, particularly those with longer snouts such as German Shepherds and Collies. It is known that exposure to tobacco smoke can be a predisposing factor. Carcinomas and sarcomas are the two most common types of nasal tumors in dogs. While neither tends to metastasize (spread to other sites in the body), both expand locally and destroy normal nasal structures in the process. Chronic nasal discharge is the most common symptom of nasal cancer, but some affected dogs do exhibit sneezing.

The diagnosis is best made by a CT scan or MRI scan in conjunction with a biopsy of the abnormal tissue. The mainstay therapy for nasal tumors is radiation therapy. While not curative, treatment often results in a significant period of good quality time. The diagnosis and/or treatment of nasal cancer typically requires involvement of a veterinarian who specializes in internal medicine or oncology.

Fungal disease

Just as nasal tumors are more common in long nosed breeds of dogs, so too are fungal infections within the nasal passageways and sinuses. The fungal species most commonly implicated is Aspergillus, spores of which are normally found in the environment. Aspergillus is considered to be “opportunistic” in that the organisms readily colonize on the heels of any sort of minor trauma within the nasal passageways. As the fungal infection spreads it destroys normal tissue.

The diagnosis is best made by specialized imaging studies (CT or MRI scan) in conjunction with collection of tissue samples from within the nose or sinus of an affected dog. Treatment involves infusion of antifungal medication into the nasal passageways and sinuses and/or long-term oral antifungal medication. As recommended for nasal tumors, involvement of a veterinary specialist is well advised for the diagnosis and management of fungal disease within the nose.

Nasal mites

Nasal mites (Pneumonyssoides caninum) are teeny, tiny, almost microscopic little critters that thrive in the nasal passageways and sinuses of dogs. Boy oh boy, do they cause an itchy nose, and affected dogs typically exhibit lots of sneezing.

Visualizing the mites marching around in a dog’s nose is always cause for excitement. Not only do they look a bit surreal, seeing the mites confirms the diagnosis. Affecting a cure for nasal mites requires a dose or two of an anti-parasite medication. How does a dog acquire a nasal mite infection? Digging in the dirt face first is the most likely cause. Thus far, knock on wood, neither Nellie or Quinn, my two digger dogs pictured above, have acquired nasal mites.

Digging in the dirt

If your dogs love to dig the way my dogs love to dig, they will likely do some sneezing. Submerging ones entire head into a hole quite naturally forces some dirt and plant material into ones snout! The natural way to expel this stuff is by sneezing. Dirt-induced sneezing is typically transient, resolving within several minutes to an hour or two. As mentioned above, nasal mites can be a side effect of digging in the dirt and will produce sneezing that is more persistent.

Excitement

For reasons that are unclear to me, some dogs sneeze when they become excited. This interesting phenomenon is far more common amongst small dog breeds. For some, simply asking, “Do you want to go for a walk?” can produce a barrage of sneezing. Excitement-induced sneezing is harmless unless the dog happens to be a nose banger in the process.

Reverse sneezing

If it were up to me, reverse sneezing would have a different name. This is because it has absolutely nothing to do with sneezing. Rather, reverse sneezing is an overly dramatic response to a tickling sensation in the dog’s throat. It is the canine version of throat clearing. Dogs who are reverse sneezing assume a stiff posture with head and neck rigidly extended forward. This is accompanied by forceful, noisy inhalation and exhalation that can last for several seconds, even minutes. If reverse sneezing becomes more frequent or persistent, consultation with a veterinarian is warranted.

Do you have a canine sneezer on your hands? Now that you’ve read this information, what do you think might be the cause?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

ASPCA Celebrates 150 Years!

Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO, at a recent cruelty case rescue in North Carolina. Photo Courtesy of ASPCA.

I don’t often welcome guest bloggers, but when Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA requests an audience, I’m happy to provide the space. Mr. Bershadker wrote the following article as part of the 150-year celebration of the existence of the ASPCA. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did.

Best wishes,

Dr. Nancy

ASPCA at 150: Next Steps in Preventing Animal Cruelty

By Matt Bershadker

In 1866, there were no radios or telephones. President Andrew Johnson declared the end of the Civil War, Congress granted citizenship rights to former slaves by passing the 14th Amendment, and 14 current states had yet to enter the Union. This is also the year that one man acted on a vision that would elevate American values and galvanize a cause that’s as relevant and impactful today as it was 150 years ago.

That man was Henry Bergh, who on April 10, 1866, founded the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on the simple notion that animals deserved more compassion and protection than they were getting. That seems noble to us now, but Bergh was often mocked and ridiculed for his concern.

Undeterred, Bergh tied that moral argument to strong actions. He personally inspected slaughterhouses, worked with police to close dog fighting pits, and established the nation’s first ambulance for overworked horses. His actions reverberated across the country. By 1888, the year Henry Bergh died, 37 of the country’s then 38 states had passed animal anti-cruelty laws.

In the century-and-a-half since then, other organizations have joined our fight to protect vulnerable animals, and our toolkit has evolved with the times. But the challenges animals faced have increased and evolved as well, including modern threats to dogs, cats, horses and farm animals in particular.

While our historic milestone provides plenty of reasons to take pause and commemorate our past, the urgency of our cause demands that we continue to look ahead. To that end, the ASPCA is at the forefront of three relatively new areas of animal welfare concentration where the potential for saving lives is nearly limitless.

Pet Retention

Our research shows that more than one million animal owners give up or rehome their pets each year. Most of these people love their pets and want to keep them, but face financial and logistical challenges that put the necessary care of those animals beyond their reach.

The good news is many of these challenges can be mitigated or resolved through accessible and affordable veterinary care, increased access to pet-friendly housing, and improved access to other supplies and necessities. This approach is especially promising in communities with high poverty rates and limited access to resources.

Pet retention efforts also conserve a shelter’s resources and cage space, allowing more time for other important functions like reconnecting families with lost pets and caring for victims of cruelty. The cost of sheltering an animal is also substantially higher than the cost of keeping one at home.

The concept of helping pets by assisting their owners is not theoretical. In June 2014, the ASPCA launched a “Safety Net” program at two of the highest-intake Los Angeles County shelters in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care & Control and the Los Angeles County Animal Care Foundation. At these shelters, ASPCA staff help pet owners keep their animals by providing vital supplies and subsidizing critical services like spay/neuter surgeries, vaccinations, and other types of veterinary care.

The program has now assisted nearly 6,000 animals previously at risk of entering the shelter system, and early follow-up with a sample of Los Angeles clients reveals that well over 80% of these pets remain in their homes.

This is not just a West Coast exercise. In New York City, we recently launched a pilot project to provide critical resources and services to pet owners in the neighborhood of East New York. We’ve also teamed up with the NYPD to hold community events that provide free vaccines, microchips, ID tags, food, and doghouses for at-risk pets.

The need for this kind of help is national in scope. Over the past five years, the ASPCA has distributed nearly $4 million in grants to over 300 organizations in 46 states to support similar safety net programs.

What’s clear is that in order to help pets, we also need to help the people who care for them, which is why learning about their needs – and putting judgments aside – is as important as delivering the care itself. Sometimes the difference between an animal staying in a home and entering a shelter is the cost of a spay/neuter procedure, a visit to the vet to resolve a skin issue, or assistance with repairing a fence.

Understanding that human and pet issues are often intertwined – and acting on that understanding – is critical to keeping more animals in the most ideal place they can be: a safe and loving home.

Dog Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of animal victims of cruelty and neglect is a very meaningful and personal subject for me. I constantly see animals in crisis, in need, and in such a state of fear that putting them up for adoption is typically out of the question. Their prospects are often very dim.

So in 2013 we opened the ASPCA Behavioral Rehabilitation Center in Madison, New Jersey, the country’s first-ever facility dedicated to providing behavioral rehabilitation to canine victims of cruelty and neglect. Of the hundreds of dogs entered into the program, 87% have graduated, all of whom have either been adopted or transferred to rescue partners to be made available for adoption. (You can learn more about the Rehab Center on the companion website to the ASPCA & Animal Planet TV special “Second Chance Dogs,” which aired last Saturday, and will be publicly available soon.)

Just as important as achieving positive results at the Center is inspiring similar outcomes throughout the country. To do this, we regularly invite rescuers, veterinarians, shelter staff, and behaviorists to the Center to exchange ideas, and will be publishing our data and techniques.

In 2017, we‘re closing the temporary facility in New Jersey and opening a new and permanent Rehabilitation Center in Asheville, North Carolina. In addition to helping more animals, this center will train visiting shelters and rescues in the latest and most effective rehabilitative approaches.

This innovative work can alter the future for thousands of traumatized animals who deserve to be viewed and treated as the loving pets they were always meant to be, and we’re very encouraged about its potential.

Legal Protections for Animals

The third opportunity is increasing legal protections for animals through expanded law enforcement, legislation, and industry regulations.

Two years ago in New York City, we asked: What happens when you put the country’s largest police force on the case of animal cruelty in America’s largest city? In our partnership with the NYPD, tens of thousands of officers across 77 precincts take the lead role in responding to animal cruelty complaints, while the ASPCA handles direct care and support for victims. The result: Triple digit increases in both animal cruelty arrests and animal victims treated since the program started.

Today, we train law enforcement teams around the country in the best ways to stop animal cruelty in their communities, and a number of police departments and district attorneys are creating specialized divisions to focus on animal cruelty crimes.

There are commendable federal and state animal welfare laws and regulations on the books – and we’re proud to have been behind many of them, but there’s much room for improvement:

Action is happening right now on some of the most difficult fronts. In Massachusetts, we’re playing a strong role in supporting a state ballot measure that would phase out cruel confinement systems for breeding pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves by 2022, and ensure that substandard products from these inhumane confinement systems are no longer sold in the state.

We also support the SAFE Act, which would permanently protect U.S. horses from being slaughtered for food here or anywhere; and the AWARE Act, which would require agricultural research at federal facilities, such as the abhorrent tactics uncovered at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, to meet certain basic welfare standards outlined in the Animal Welfare Act.

In short, our laws and law enforcement need to reflect how much we personally value animals in our culture. Most of us reject animal cruelty – whether it’s committed individually or institutionally, legally or illegally – and our laws and law enforcement should do the same.

Forging our Future

One of the most fulfilling things about working in animal welfare is that each of us can play a direct, life-saving role in its progress. Every pet kept in a loving home makes a difference. Every second chance given to an abused or neglected animal makes a difference. And every act of putting ourselves between animals and cruelty – whether through a law or through an officer of the law – makes a difference.

That theme of stepping up to make change is the focus of our “150 Days of Rescue”, in which we’re asking the public to donate at least 15 minutes between April 10 and September 7 to help animals in need. With each pledge, a participant can nominate a local shelter for a chance to win a $150,000 grant prize.

We’re ultimately aiming for a future in which animal welfare is not a priority just for people who care about animals, but for everyone who values compassion. That elevation of values will finally enable the most vulnerable of animals to live free of abuse and cruelty.

This was Henry Bergh’s vision for his city and country 150 years ago, and it will continue to drive our commitment to animals today and into the future.

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Second Opinions With Specialists: No Obligation Beyond the Consultation

Photo Credit: Shirley Zindler ©

I’m a huge fan of second opinions, whether for ourselves or for our four-legged family members. And, in my mind, no better source for second opinions than doctors who have expanded their education within a particular specialty. In the world of veterinary medicine there’s quite the roster of specialists to choose from including: internists, surgeons, dermatologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, neurologists, and the list goes on and on.

Resistance to consulting with a specialist

Why are some people reluctant to consult with a veterinary specialist when there’s clear need for a second opinion? In some cases, it boils down to the hassle factor. It can be time consuming and a bit of a shlep to get to the specialist who may be located in another city or even another state.

Resistance to getting a second opinion from a specialist may also stem from the belief that, once one sets foot inside the specialty hospital, there will be no going back to the family veterinarian. Additionally, whatever happens with the specialist will be uber expensive because of all the testing, procedures, and possibly even surgery. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. There is absolutely ZERO obligation or commitment to the specialist beyond the consultation.

What can be gained from the consultation alone?

All by itself, a consultation with a specialist has the potential to provide a wealth of benefits including a better understanding of:

– Whether or not you’ve been on the right track in terms of diagnosing and/or treating your pet’s problem.

– The disease your pet has.

– All of the diagnostic options.

– All of the treatment options.

– Why your pet is not improving as expected or getting worse.

– Your pet’s prognosis.

Here’s the bottom line. If your gut is telling you, “Maybe I should get a second opinion,” I strongly encourage you to obtain a consultation with a veterinary specialist. Even if the news about your pet isn’t good, guaranteed you will walk away with greater peace of mind.

Have you ever taken one of your pets to a specialist for a second opinion? If so, did it prove to be helpful?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

Canine Hypoparathyroidism

Photo Credit: Susannah Kay ©

Hypoparathyroidism is a hormonal imbalance in dogs that results from the cessation of production of parathyroid hormone (PTH). Hypoparathyroidism is more common in middle-aged female dogs, and it has no breed predilection.

Parathyroid hormone (PTH)

PTH is manufactured within the dog’s four parathyroid glands. These tiny glands are embedded within the two thyroid glands (two parathyroid glands per thyroid gland). All of these glands are located just beneath the skin surface on the underside of the neck.

PTH is in charge of regulating blood calcium and phosphorus levels. It does so by modifying the amounts of calcium and phosphorus absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract, eliminated via the kidneys, and released from bones into the bloodstream.

Hypoparathyroidism (too little PTH produced by the parathyroid glands) causes decreased calcium and increased phosphorus levels within the blood stream. The opposite occurs when the parathyroid glands are producing too much PTH (hyperparathyroidism).

Causes

It is unknown why the parathyroid glands quit producing PTH. Autoimmune destruction of the parathyroid glands (the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues) is suspected. Surgical removal of the thyroid glands for treatment of thyroid cancer and trauma to the neck region are other potential causes of hypoparathyroidism.

Symptoms

The symptoms associated with hypoparathyroidism result from the abnormally low blood calcium level. The symptoms can be intermittent, particularly early on in the course of the disease, and most commonly include:

  • Muscle tremors or twitching
  • Stiff gait
  • Uncoordinated gait
  • Anxious, restless behavior
  • Seizures
  • Lethargy/weakness
  • Increased panting
  • Loss of appetite

Diagnosis

The testing typically performed to arrive at a diagnosis of hypoparathyroidism typically includes:

  • Complete blood cell count
  • Blood chemistry profile (includes calcium and phosphorus measurements)
  • Ionized calcium measurement (the active form of calcium within the bloodstream) molecule
  • Urinalysis
  • PTH measurement

Treatment

Therapy for hypoparathyroidism consists of administration of vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D supplementation is necessary to assist with the absorption of dietary calcium from the gastrointestinal tract.

Treatment with intravenous fluids and calcium is warranted for dogs with severe symptoms. For dogs who are in stable condition, the calcium and vitamin D can be administered orally at home. Both are given daily (may be multiple times daily) and the dosages are adjusted based on the dog’s symptoms as well as follow-up blood calcium and phosphorus levels. Many successfully treated dogs can be weaned off of the calcium supplement as long as vitamin D therapy is continued. As is the case with most canine hormonal imbalances, lifelong treatment and monitoring are required.

Prognosis

Hypoparathyroidism is considered to be a very treatable disease with an excellent prognosis as long as conscientious treatment and monitoring are available.

Have you had a dog who required treatment for hypoparathyroidism?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

 

Betsy’s Law: New Jersey Veterinarians Must Disclose Absence of Overnight Supervision for Hospitalized Patients

Photo Credit: veganflower, Although I don’t know Madeleine Kayser, I feel certain she is a profoundly passionate and persistent woman. Eight years of tenacious hard work on her part were required to achieve implementation of “Betsy’s Law”. Passed in September 2015, this New Jersey law requires veterinarians to notify their clients if they do not provide 24-hour care for hospitalized animals.

According to Betsy’s Law this notification can be accomplished by placing signage in a “conspicuous location” with the following language: “This veterinary facility does NOT provide supervision for animals after normal business hours by a person physically on these premises.” The sign must be printed in a font of at least 24-point. Notification can also be performed via placing this message in a font of at least 12-point on an intake/admissions from provided to the client.

Who is Betsy?

New Jersey resident, Madeleine Kayser was present when the legislation she fought so hard for was finally signed into law. She was holding a photo of her beloved sixteen-month-old Rottweiler named Betsy who died while hospitalized overnight following eye surgery. Kayser was told that her dog needed supervision so that she wouldn’t harm her stitches. On the basis of such a recommendation, Madeleine naturally assumed that the clinic would provide nighttime staffing. Tragically, this was not the case, and Betsy died from suffocation when the collar used to prevent her from pawing at her stitches became caught on something within her enclosure. No one was there to intervene.

Following Betsy’s death in 2007, Kayser performed some research and learned that 90 percent of veterinary clinics and hospitals in New Jersey do not provide 24-hour supervision. This prompted her to get to work on the legislation now known as Betsy’s Law. “I’m thrilled the law was passed, but I feel there shouldn’t be a need for legislation. Pets should not be neglected especially once in the vet’s care. That’s just the ethical way to look at it. If this law saves one pet’s life, then my hard work was worth it.”

Response of veterinarians

Some New Jersey veterinarians feel that Betsy’s Law protects the animals they hospitalize and also protects their practices from litigation. Dr. Fritz McHugh stated, “I will even have people sign it to the effect that there’s no one that will be watching their pet because my facility doesn’t have 24-hour care.”

Others are less enthusiastic about Betsy’s Law. Dr. Howard Silberman, veterinarian and owner of Tri-County Animal Hospital stated, “I think the whole situation is very sad and unfortunate for both the family and the animal hospital. No veterinarian expects something horrible like that to happen and I am sure they were devastated. However, the number of these horrific situations is minuscule.”

Dr. Silberman went on to explain that, overnight, most animals are generally just sleeping comfortably, and with the technology of fluid pumps, they can safely receive intravenous fluids without supervision.

In response to Dr. Silberman, I say, “b_ _ _ sh_ t!” (I’ve yet to use an expletive in a blog post, but I guess it’s about time!) I adamantly believe that round-the-clock care is a completely reasonable expectation for animals with issues significant enough to warrant hospitalization. Such animals are better off at home under the watchful eye of their human companions than they are left unsupervised for 12-plus hours in a hospital setting.

Unless profoundly ill or heavily sedated, most dogs left alone in a hospital for lengthy periods are not simply “sleeping comfortably.” Many are uncomfortable physically and/or psychologically, and this discomfort results in agitation, vocalizing, pacing, pawing, and/or jumping up at the front of their cage or run. This most certainly was the case for poor Betsy.

As to the notion that the number of deaths of unsupervised hospitalized animals is “miniscule,” Dr. Silberman you must know that such deaths do not feel miniscule to the shocked and dismayed individuals who believed that their pets were in capable and attentive hands.

I understand that Madeleine Kayser is working on a memoir about her painful journey to Betsy’s Law. This will be a must-read for me. Thank you to my reader, Amy who turned me on to Betsy’s Law.

Would you like to see legislation similar to Betsy’s Law in your home state?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

Were You Smarter Than a Vet Student About Neutering Dogs?

Photo Credit: ScottBecker, Thanks to everyone who took this quiz. There were oodles of you! Congrats to Dale Manley from Moline, Illinois who won himself a book. He asked me if he was selected because he had so many correct answers. No, Dale you were just lucky!

The answers below provide some clear-cut evidence that neutering, particularly when performed at a young age, may cause more harm than good. In light of this new information it is imperative to remember these three things:

  1. Until something better comes along, neutering remains the mainstay strategy in the battle against pet overpopulation. The information below does not in any way, shape, or form, suggest that neutering should not be performed to prevent unwanted litters of puppies.
  1. The breed-specific studies cited below are applicable to those breeds only. Whether or not the data can be extrapolated to other breeds is anyone’s guess. Had I a magic wand, I would order up such studies for all varieties of dogs.
  1. Most dogs in shelter and rescue situations are neutered before adoption is allowed. Should you adopt an intact dog (one who is not neutered) I encourage you to decide if and when to neuter only after talking with your veterinarian and carefully evaluating all the pros and cons as they apply to your individual dog.

1.  The term “neutering” refers to:

a.       Castration.

b.      Ovariectomy (removal of the ovaries but not the uterus).

c.       Ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and the uterus).

d.      All of the above.

By definition, neutering is the removal of an animal’s reproductive organs and applies to males and females.

2.  Pyometra (pus within the uterus) does not occur in:

a.       Dogs less than two years of age.

b.      Dogs who are being used for breeding.

c.       Dogs who are not being used for breeding.

d.      Dogs who have been spayed by ovariectomy (removal of the ovaries but not the uterus).

Pyometra can occur in any age dog, although the incidence in youngsters is quite low. Pyometra can also occur whether or not the dog is being used for breeding. The exception might be the dog who is bred and conceives with every single heat cycle- the kind of thing that happens in puppy mills….. don’t even get me started! Reproductive hormones produced by the ovaries trigger the development of pyometra. A dog without ovaries cannot develop pyometra, even if she still has a uterus.

3.  Male Golden Retrievers neutered before one year of age have an increased incidence of:

a.       Hip dysplasia.

b.      Torn cruciate ligaments.

c.       Lymphosarcoma (a common type of cancer in Golden Retrievers).

d.      All of the above.

A study published in 2013 evaluated 759 Golden Retrievers between one to eight years of age. When early-neutered dogs (neutered before one year of age) were compared to late-neutered (neutered after one year of age) and intact dogs, the following significant differences were found:

  • Early-neutered males had a 10.3% incidence of hip dysplasia compared to a 5.1% incidence in intact males. There were no significant differences found amongst the female population.
  • Early-neutered male and female dogs had a 5.1% and 7.7% incidence of cruciate ligament tears, respectively. The intact population of Golden Retrievers had zero cruciate ligament tears.
  • Early-neutered males had a 9.6% incidence of lymphoma. Intact males had a 3.5% incidence of this disease. There were no significant differences found amongst the female population.
  • Late neutered female dogs had a 7.4% incidence of hemangiosarcoma (another devastating type of cancer that is common within the breed), compared to a 1.6% incidence in intact females and a 1.8% incidence in early-neutered females. There were no significant differences found amongst the male population.

4.  Rottweilers neutered before one year of age have:

a.       The same average lifespan as unneutered Rottweilers.

b.      An increased incidence of bone cancer later in life.

c.       Much the same conformation (body size, shape, and structure) as unneutered Rottweilers.

d.      All of the above.

Two Rottweiler studies have provided a wealth of information. The first study demonstrated that male and female Rotties neutered before one year of age had a 3-4 times greater incidence of osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that is usually fatal and very common in the breed.

The second study documented that intact female Rottweilers were more likely than their male counterparts to achieve exceptional longevity (13 years of age or older). However, spaying before four years of age eliminated this longevity advantage.

Dogs neutered before a year of age do achieve different adult conformation (size and body structure) compared to dogs neutered later in life or left intact. This is particularly true for the larger breeds who tend to reach maturity at a later age. When reproductive hormones arrive on scene (puberty), they signal a number of changes in the body one of which is closure of growth plates, the areas within bones that are responsible for causing lengthening. When the signal from reproductive hormones is missing, as is the case for dogs neutered prior to puberty, the result is a longer-legged more “spindly” appearing critter.

5.  Neutered Vizslas are: 

a.       Less likely to develop cancer.

b.      Less likely to have behavioral issues.

c.       Less likely to have prostate gland disease.

d.      All of the above.

Castration dramatically reduces the incidence of noncancerous prostate gland diseases such as bacterial prostatitis and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Neutering does not prevent prostate gland cancer, however, compared to other forms of prostate gland disease, cancer is uncommon.

Findings from a 2014 study of 2,505 Vizslas demonstrated an increased incidence of several behavioral issues and varieties of cancer (hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, and mast cell cancer) in the neutered dogs compared to their intact counterparts.

6.  Labradors neutered before six months of age have an increased incidence of:

a.       Hip dysplasia.

b.      Torn cruciate ligaments.

c.       Elbow dysplasia.

d.      All of the above.

Yes, all of the above are true. According to a study that investigated 1,500 Labradors, neutering before six months of age doubled the incidence of one or more of these joint diseases in both males and females.

7.  Castration prevents:

a.       Prostate gland infections (bacterial prostatitis).

b.      Benign prostatic hyperplasia (age related prostate gland enlargement).

c.       Testicular tumors.

d.      All of the above.

With conventional neutering, both testicles are removed. So, it’s a given that this eliminates the possibility of testicular tumors. Removal of the testicles also eliminates testosterone production and that, in turn, causes the prostate gland to shrink down to a teeny tiny size. Bacterial infections don’t occur in such small prostate glands. Additionally, without testosterone benign prostatic hyperplasia doesn’t occur.

8. Neutering at a young age:

a.       Does not impact adult conformation (body size, shape, and structure).

b.      Increases the likelihood of urinary incontinence in female dogs.

c.       Decreases the likelihood of developing hypothyroidism (inadequate thyroid hormone production) later in life.

d.      Prevents most undesirable behaviors.

Urinary incontinence is a common problem in middle aged and older female dogs. A review of several studies concluded that there is a link between spaying and the incidence of incontinence, particularly in dogs neutered at a young age.

Neutering can decrease some undesirable behaviors including dog on dog aggression, urine marking, mounting and roaming. However, there are many undesirable behaviors (fear induced aggression, resource guarding, territorial aggression, separation anxiety, noise phobias, decreased trainability, excessive barking) that are not reduced with neutering. In fact, the Vizsla study cited in question number 5 indicates that neutering exacerbates undesirable behaviors.

A study evaluating 3,206 dogs with hypothyroidism documented that neutering is associated with higher incidence of hypothyroidism, particularly in females.

Lastly, neutering does impact adult conformation as explained in question number 4 above.

9.  Neutering helps prevent:

a.       Mammary (breast) cancer.

b.      Prostate gland cancer.

c.       All types of aggression.

d.      All of the above.

Spaying decreases the incidence of breast cancer, depending on the age at which surgery is performed. A study performed in 1969 demonstrated that dogs spayed before their first estrus (heat cycle) have a 0.5% incidence of breast cancer. When spayed between their first and second estrus, the incidence increases to 8%. Dogs spayed after two or more estrus cycles have a 26% occurrence, and when dogs older than two and a half years of age are spayed, the incidence of mammary cancer increases to 40%. This is the only published study to have produced such hard and fast findings. Nonetheless, the study results are consistent with what is seen in clinical practice.

While castration does decrease the incidence of benign prostate gland diseases, it does not protect against prostate gland cancer. In fact, neutered dogs have a higher incidence of this disease than intact dogs.

See question 8 above regarding the impact of neutering on aggressive behaviors. behavior.

10.  Neutering should ideally be performed:

a.       Between four and six months of age.

b.      Before one year of age.

c.       After a female’s first heat cycle.

d.      If and when deemed appropriate based on the individual dog, its intended purpose, and living situation.

Based on all of the information presented above, I hope you understand why the answer to this question is “d”. The decision about if and when to neuter your dog should be based on careful assessment of the pros and cons of neutering in conjunction with your level of responsibility towards preventing unintended breeding.

Well, how did you do? Did any of this surprise you? Will this information change your thought process about neutering your own dogs in the future?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Are You Smarter Than a Vet Student About Neutering Dogs?

Janet Palma is the “beach dog whisperer.” Photo Credit: Shirley Zindler

Some new information about the effects of neutering dogs has emerged over the last decade or so. Let’s find out if your knowledge is up to date. I suspect we will all learn something along the way.

If you are new to “Are You Smarter Than a Vet Student?” here’s how it works. Answer the questions below and then send your responses to me in the comments below.  I will enter your name into a drawing to win the book of your choice, either Speaking for Spot or Your Dog’s Best Health. I will post the answers to these questions in one week. Now, let the games begin!

1.  The term “neutering” refers to:

a.       Castration.

b.      Ovariectomy (removal of the ovaries but not the uterus).

c.       Ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and the uterus).

d.      All of the above.

2.  Pyometra (pus within the uterus) does not occur in:

a.       Dogs less than two years of age.

b.      Dogs who are being used for breeding.

c.       Dogs who are not being used for breeding.

d.      Dogs who have been spayed by ovariectomy (removal of the ovaries but not the uterus).

3.  Male Golden Retrievers neutered before one year of age have an increased incidence of:

a.       Hip dysplasia.

b.      Torn cruciate ligaments.

c.       Lymphosarcoma (a common type of cancer in Golden Retrievers).

d.      All of the above.

4.  Rottweilers neutered before one year of age have:

a.       The same average lifespan as unneutered Rottweilers.

b.      An increased incidence of bone cancer later in life.

c.       Much the same conformation (body size, shape, and structure) as unneutered Rottweilers.

d.      All of the above.

5.  Neutered Vizslas are: 

a.       Less likely to develop cancer.

b.      Less likely to have behavioral issues.

c.       Less likely to have prostate gland disease.

d.      All of the above.

6.  Labradors neutered before six months of age have an increased incidence of:

a.       Hip dysplasia.

b.      Torn cruciate ligaments.

c.       Elbow dysplasia.

d.      All of the above.

7.  Castration prevents:

a.       Prostate gland infections (bacterial prostatitis).

b.      Benign prostatic hyperplasia (age related prostate gland enlargement).

c.       Testicular tumors.

d.      All of the above.

8. Neutering at a young age:

a.       Does not impact adult conformation (body size, shape, and structure).

b.      Increases the likelihood of urinary incontinence in female dogs.

c.       Decreases the likelihood of developing hypothyroidism (inadequate thyroid hormone production) later in life.

d.      Prevents most undesirable behaviors.

9.  Neutering helps prevent:

a.       Mammary (breast) cancer.

b.      Prostate gland cancer.

c.       All types of aggression.

d.      All of the above.

10.  Neutering should ideally be performed:

a.       Between four and six months of age.

b.      Before one year of age.

c.       After a female’s first heat cycle.

d.      If and when deemed appropriate based on the individual dog, its intended purpose, and living situation.

Thanks for playing along! How do you think you did? Don’t forget to submit your responses to me in the comments, and you just may receive a book in return.

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

It’s the Dog House for Cesar Millan

Click image for larger view

I’ve never been comfortable with Cesar Millan’s dog training methods. Negative reinforcement and establishing dominance are truly old school and often backfire in the hands of people who aren’t as dog savvy as Cesar. In fact, sometimes such training methods even backfire on him as was the case in a recently televised National Geographic episode featuring Cesar, a French Bulldog mix named Simon, and some pigs. (When you watch this video, I encourage you to turn the sound off. It is distracting and rather obnoxious.) Why Nat Geo and Cesar chose to publicly display such a training fiasco is beyond me. In fact, the show has prompted an investigation into animal cruelty charges against Millan.

In the episode we learn that Simon has killed a couple of pot-bellied pigs. Cesar’s attempt to “reprogram” Simon is disastrous for this poor dog, one of the pigs, and Millan’s reputation.

A follow up episode, (the one that National Geographic has not pulled off the Internet), features Cesar’s good idea- He forces Simon to be walked by a pig. Poor Simon is literally dragged around by a tether connecting his neck to a harnessed pig. Millan then forces other farm animals upon Simon. Throughout this barnyard experience, Simon’s facial expressions and body language convey clear distress, yet Millan interprets all of this as a problem fixed.

I contacted dog trainer Jill Breitner to get her take on these videos. I’ve worked with Jill over many years. More than anyone else I know, she has the remarkable ability to think like a dog and is a master at interpreting canine body language. She has developed Dog Decoder, a very successful app that teaches people how to read canine body language.

Here’s what Jill had to say about Cesar Millan’s interactions with Simon:

Me: Do you think Cesar believes that he accomplished something positive with Simon?

Jill: Most definitely.

Me: What are the mistakes Cesar made with Simon?

Jill: Cesar completely misinterprets Simon’s body language. What Cesar interprets as a dog who is calm and relaxed is really a dog who is shut down. Throughout the episode, Simon’s body language shows that he is stressed and anxious. Simon and Cesar never became engaged with one another, something that should have been accomplished well before exposing Simon to the pigs.

What Cesar did with Simon is something called “flooding” a very negative way to try to desensitize an animal. Flooding is forcing an animal to be in very close contact with something that is scary or unpleasant. Flooding causes profound stress and anxiety, a state that makes it impossible for an animal to learn.

Simon should have been muzzled so that there was no chance of inflicting injury to the pig. When Simon came after the pig, the pig should have been released so it could get away. Lastly, Simon should have been trained with a leash attached to a harness, not a neck collar.

Me: Does what happened with Simon fit with Cesar’s typical training methods?

Jill: Absolutely.

Me: How would you have worked with Simon?

Jill: To begin with, I would have worked with Simon in a harness and not a neck collar. I would have started with some basic training involving obedience work, play, and rewards with treats and games (playing with a ball, tug of war, etc.). The goal would have been for Simon to really engage with me as a result of positive experiences.

Once Simon was fully engaged (might take weeks to months), I would have started the process of gradually exposing Simon to the pigs. When slowly approaching the pig enclosure, I would have looked for that moment when Simon was just beginning to show reactivity or stress in response to the pigs. At that point we would have turned away and restored getting Simon engaged. It doesn’t matter whether we were 50 feet or five feet away from the pigs, I would have proceeded the same way. We would continue to advance towards the enclosure only as quickly as Simon permitted. During this advance and retreat, I would have been watching for Simon to look at the pig and then immediately look at me. This is called “capturing” and would be rewarded with a treat or game. I would always end the training session on this kind of positive note. I emphasize that this process doesn’t happen in a day. It can take weeks or months to accomplish.

Whether or not we would have ever entered the pig enclosure would have depended on Simon’s responses. My goal would have been to always avoid putting Simon in a stressful situation. This gradual, stress-free approach is the opposite of the “flooding” we saw in Cesar’s video.

Lastly, I would emphasize to Simon’s owner that, once a dog has killed or seriously injured another animal, there is never a guarantee that it won’t happen again. With situations like Simon’s, the goal is to “manage” rather than “cure” the problem. In Simon’s case this might require maintaining a secure physical barrier between the pigs and him. When in physical proximity to the pigs, Simon would need to be very closely monitored and immediately removed from the situation if his body language indicated that he was becoming stressed.

After watching the first and second videos of Cesar and Simon, how do you weigh in on this issue?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

The Street Dogs of Ecuador

Photo Credit: Dr. Nancy Kay

My husband and I recently spent two weeks in Ecuador. Our itinerary included the Galapagos Islands (lucky us!) and countryside in the Andes Mountains. In addition to seeing incredible landscapes and an over-the-top amazing array of animals, we were treated to the warmth and hospitality of the Ecuadorian people.

Of particular interest to me were the street dogs I observed while on the mainland. I refer to them as “street dogs” because that is where I saw them- in and along the streets. How I never witnessed death or injury caused by the many cars, trucks, motorcycles, and buses whizzing by them is beyond me. Much like ravens and crows, these street dogs always managed to get out of the way just in the nick of time. Nonetheless, I did a lot of holding my breath while observing this phenomenon.

There were so, so many dogs. To give you a sense of just how many, picture an average city block. Now, picture walking this block and seeing 25 to 30 dogs lounging on the sidewalks, crossing the street, looking for food, scrounging in garbage bags, and socializing and playing with one another. In the large city of Quito, most of the dogs were rather aloof and always seemed to be on the move with clear business to attend to. In the smaller villages, the dogs were generally more social with us and content to simply hang out.

While the numbers of dogs didn’t change much as we moved from town to town, what did change was their general appearance. For example, in one town it was evident that German Shepherds dominated the gene pool. In another town we saw predominantly small Poodle crosses, and I was amused by the mostly Shar Pei’ish facial features I observed in another village.

I observed some dogs with skin disease and the occasional dog who was thin or had a significant disability. Otherwise, these dogs appeared remarkably healthy and thrifty. And, unlike what I would see here in the United States, there was no canine obesity to be found.

I talked with several Ecuadorians about these street dogs (I had lots of questions.). I learned that, for the most part, the dogs are owned- although they are in the street, someone lays claim to them. In most cases dogs are owned solely for the purpose of property protection. So, while there is a defined human animal bond, it differs significantly from what most of us are used to. In spite of this “business-like” relationship, I watched many dogs wag their tails and wiggle with excitement when interacting with their owners, even when such affection was not obviously reciprocated.

So, while the dogs go home at night, most of their daylight hours are spent out on the streets. I was told that most dogs receive a modicum of food from their owners, but most must rely on food found on the streets to sustain themselves. Most of these dogs have never tasted commercially prepared dog food as it is cost prohibitive for the majority of people.

With rare exception, the dogs I saw were in tact (not neutered). Many of the females looked like they were nursing puppies. Given this, I was surprised that I saw no puppies out on the streets. When I asked about this, I was told a couple of different things. I heard that the puppies are kept close to home. I also heard that they are killed. I suspect that both scenarios are true.

Our time was spent solely in Ecuador, but I’ve since learned that this street dog phenomenon exists throughout Latin America. When I asked some Ecuadorians about neutering as a means of controlling the dog population, some stated that they agree that there are too many dogs and something should be done. Others explained that the indigenous people living in the Andes Mountains desire many dogs for purposes of protection. Additionally, they would not be in favor of their dogs undergoing surgical castration and the loss of their testicles. This prompted me to think that Zeuterin, a chemical sterilization product that leaves the testicles and some testosterone in tact might be a reasonable compromise.

The street dogs I saw in Ecuador have made a lasting impression on me, and I still have so many questions about them. For example, why, in spite of the fact that there are so many dogs, did I never see even a hint of aggression directed towards humans or other dogs? How old do these dogs live to be? And, isn’t it intriguing that dogs existing on such an inconsistent and completely unbalanced diet appear so thrifty? What happens when these dogs become infirmed or a female gets into trouble delivering her pups? Are they left to suffer and die, or are they somehow humanely put to sleep? Hmmm, something tells me I will need to return to Latin America and learn more about the street dogs living there!

Have you ever observed a “street dog” phenomenon during your travels?

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

Get Tough Against Dog Fighting

Photo Credit: Dougmccoh, :Pitbull terrierThe ASPCA has teamed up with The Dodo to call attention to the inadequate sentencing of those involved in dog fighting. As it currently stands, federal sentencing guidelines categorize animal fighting as merely a “gambling offense” associated with a prison sentence of six to twelve months. Those convicted of dog fighting are typically sentenced to a jail term of only six months, and approximately half of these offenders end up on probation and serve no jail time whatsoever. In my opinion, such sentencing is ridiculously lenient.

In April, the United States Sentencing Commission is scheduled to reevaluate their sentencing guidelines for criminals accused of dog fighting. They will be accepting public opinion on this matter until March 21.

What sort of sentencing do you feel those involved in the blood sport of dog fighting should receive? Please make your opinion heard by March 21. Simply fill out a simple form on the ASPCA website. Guided by our public opinion, let’s hope that the Sentencing Commission does the right thing.

Please let me know what you had to say to the Sentencing Commission and I will enter your name into a drawing for an ASPCA dog fighting advocacy kit containing all kinds of goodies for you and your dog. Thank you for helping to make a difference.

Best wishes,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.