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.

Why Does My Dog Tremble?

Photo Credit: Have you ever watched your dog tremble or shiver in warm weather and wondered why? While it’s tempting to think that trembling and shivering are always a result of being too cold, such is not the case. Here’s a list of causes to consider.

  1. Thermoregulation (temperature control): Shivering is a very effective means of creating body heat, and is a normal response to decreasing body temperature. When a dog has a fever the body’s thermostat is reset to a higher temperature. When the temperature attempts to drop back down to normal, shivering occurs in an attempt to restore the new, elevated temperature set point.
  1. Excitement/Anxiety/Fear: All of these emotional responses are capable of evoking trembling in some dogs. Without the help of anti-anxiety medication, one of my dogs becomes a quaking, quivering mess during thunderstorms.
  1. Pain: Trembling can accompany pain, whether due to acute trauma or a more chronic painful condition. Be aware that not all dogs demonstrate trembling in response to pain. Trembling is simply one of several symptoms a painful dog may exhibit.
  1. Medical disease: A variety of underlying medical issues, ranging from kidney failure to hormonal imbalances, can produce trembling. Neurological disorders and muscle diseases commonly cause trembling.
  1. Toxins: A variety of toxins cause trembling as one of the earliest neurological symptoms. Some examples include chocolate, antifreeze, and snail bait.
  1. Muscle weakness: Atrophy or weakness of muscles, particularly those in the hind legs, often causes trembling. This is likely the reason that hind leg trembling is so common in older dogs.
  1. Small dog trembling: For many very small dogs, trembling appears to be just a normal fact of life. Theories abound as to why, but none have been documented to be true. Be forewarned, if you get a very small dog, you will likely observe a trembling very small dog from time to time. This is certainly the case with my little Nellie girl who weighs in at 11 pounds.

What to do if you observe that your dog is trembling

Trembling is always cause for concern, particularly if it is out of character for what you know to be normal for your dog. If you observe trembling, a good first step is to determine if something in the environment is causing your dog to feel anxious or fearful. If so, try to eliminate the source of the stress or remove your dog from the situation to see if the trembling abates.

Also inspect the environment for any potential toxins. If found, take your dog along with the toxin container to your veterinary clinic right away.

Another good first step is to take your dog’s temperature (the normal range is 100-102 degrees Fahrenheit). The presence of a fever warrants veterinary attention.

If your dog does not appear anxious or fearful and his or her body temperature is normal, I encourage you to contact your veterinarian if:

  • The trembling is getting worse.
  • The trembling continues for more than an hour or two.
  • You observe any other symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, labored breathing, etc.
  • You identify a potential toxin in the environment that your dog may have accessed.

As is true for most medical issues, the sooner the cause of your dog’s trembling is identified and properly addressed, the greater the likelihood of a positive outcome.

Do you have a dog who trembles? If so, have you been able to identify 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.

 

Re-Homing of Dogs and Cats in the United States

Photo Credit: In the United States, more than one million dogs and cats are re-homed every year. The fact that so many animals are removed from their established homes and placed in new situations was revealed in a recent ASPCA study titled, “Goodbye to a Good Friend: An Exploration of the Re-Homing of Cats and Dogs in the U.S.”

Lead researcher, Dr. Emily Weiss had this to say.

To our knowledge, this is the first study of its kind to look not only at animals being re-homed to shelters but dogs and cats being re-homed in other ways- such as to a friend or family member- so we were excited and interested to see all of the results. This is the first time we’ve been able to estimate how many pets are re-homed each year, and more than 1 million is a significant number.

Study methodology

The study data was collected via telephone surveys. A variety of information was obtained about the participants and their animals. Participants who re-homed their dog or cat selected their primary reason for doing so.

Study results

Of 12,245 eligible people reached, 590 (6%) of them had re-homed a pet during the preceding five years. Respondents who re-homed a dog or cat were significantly younger than those who did not. Additionally, re-homers were more likely to be reached by cell phone than a landline.

Amongst the re-homers 199 re-homed one or more cats and 391 re-homed one or more dogs. The re-homed animals were most commonly acquired free from a friend, relative, or neighbor. Cats were more likely than dogs to have been acquired as strays.

Of the rehomed animals, 56% of the dogs and 62% of the cats were neutered. These percentages are lower than what is expected from the general pet population in which 90% of cats and 86% of dogs are neutered.

Where pets were re-homed

Re-homed pets were most commonly given to a friend or family member (37%). Pets were also rehomed to shelters (36%), veterinarians (14%), strangers (11%) or by being set free (1%).

Reasons for re-homing

The three most common reasons provided by respondents for re-homing their pets were:

  1. Pet related issues (46%): health problems and problematic behaviors such as aggression and destructive behavior
  2. Family related issues (27%): personal or family health troubles, pet allergies, divorce or separation, new person in household who didn’t like the pet, death in the family, new baby, lack of time to care for pet
  3. Housing related issues (18%): not enough space, landlord restriction

For those who rented rather than owned their property, housing related issues was the number one reason for re-homing. Respondents with incomes of less than $50,000 were more likely to re-home due to cost and housing issues. They most commonly selected the following services that would have allowed them to keep their pets:

  • Availability of free or low-cost veterinary care
  • Free or low-cost training or behavior help
  • Guidance on finding pet-friendly housing
  • Free or low-cost neutering services
  • Free or low cost pet food
  • Free or low cost temporary pet care or boarding
  • Assistance in paying pet deposits for housing

Respondents with incomes above $50,000 were more likely to re-home because of pet-related problems.

Summary

Massive numbers of animals are being homed in the United States every year. Given the estimated 102 million dogs and cats in the United States, the 6% re-homing rate documented in this study translates into an estimated 6.12 million dogs and cats re-homed every five years, or more than a million pets each year.

Given the many well documented benefits of living with dogs and cats (many of which I’ve discussed in previous blog posts), enhancing the ability of people to retain their pets, regardless of their socioeconomic status, makes really good sense. This study has revealed some clear and relatively simple ways to make such a difference.

As Dr. Weiss states,

Overall the results of the survey reinforce what we’re seeing on the ground in communities: Too many pets are being given up for reasons that can be prevented, especially for pet owners with lower incomes. The more complex drivers for re-homing such as behavior challenges are an area where more research may help better elucidate the drivers leading to these challenges and solutions.

Have you, your family or friends dealt with the need to re-home a pet?

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.

Tail Docking and Ear Cropping in Dogs

Medically unnecessary surgeries are addressed in an article within the most recent edition the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. Tail docking is discussed at length (pun intended) as is ear cropping.

 

The article begins by stating, ”In ancient Rome, during the First Century CE, Lucius Columella wrote that it was proper to remove the tails of puppies to prevent their growth to an ‘abominable length’ and to prevent madness which is presumed to refer to rabies.” While such interesting notions have long since been abandoned, tail docking remains a common practice for certain breeds as does ear cropping. Both of these medically unnecessary surgeries are discussed below.

Tail Docking Puppies

What is tail docking?

Tail docking is the surgical removal of the end of the tail. When performed for cosmetic purposes, the natural tail length is reduced by at least 50 to 75 percent. Historically, tail docking has been justified as a means of preventing tail injury in hunting and fighting dogs. It continues to be performed on a variety of dogs, particularly those of working and hunting breeds.

Veterinarians and nonveterinarians (primarily breeders) perform tail docking typically during the first week of life. The end of the tail is removed with a scalpel blade or scissors and the skin over the stub is stitched. Alternatively, an elastic band is placed around the tail at the desired length. The band acts as a tourniquet resulting in the gradual death of the end of the tail.

Not all dogs with short tails have had surgical docking to create this appearance. Some breeds are genetically programmed to be this way including: the Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Australian Shepherd, Pyrenean Shepherd, Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Australian Cattle Dog, Spanish Water Dog, Brittany Spaniel, Jack Russell Terrier, Schipperke, Boston Terriers, Swedish Fallhund, Braque du Bourbonnais, and French Bulldog and English Bulldog. (A few of these breeds are new to me.) Four breeds in which natural bobtails occasionally occur are the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Parson Russell Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, and Rottweiler.

Is tail docking painful for puppies?

According to one study, only 10% of veterinarians provide anesthesia or analgesia (pain medication) for the tail docking procedure. This is an older study (published in 1996), so it is very likely that the percentage has increased. There are no newer studies that I could find. I assume that nonveterinarians who perform tail docking do so without anesthesia.

There is disagreement as to how much pain tail docking causes in puppies. When asked about this, 82% of breeders sampled indicated only “mild pain” or “none.”

In a study of 50 puppies whose tails were docked at three to five days of age, all of them vocalized intensely at the time of docking and was thought to be associated with pain. The pain appeared to last approximately three minutes. In this study, 76% of veterinarians reported feeling that they believe the pain associated with tail docking is “significant” or “severe.”

Those who don’t use anesthesia/analgesia when tail docking puppies would argue that it is unnecessary for such a short duration of pain. Having performed this procedure myself way back in the day (I’m embarrassed to confess this), I feel confident that these babies experience pain when their tails are docked. If you want to decide for yourself, have a look at any of the many You Tube videos demonstrating this surgical procedure.

Arguments for and against tail docking

Folks who favor tail docking in working and hunting breeds argue that it is required to prevent future tail injury. One study documented that, indeed, working dogs do have a significantly higher risk of tail injury compared to nonworking dogs. However, the overall injury rate was quite low, and it was determined that 500 dogs would need to have their tails docked in order to prevent one tail injury.

Tail injuries in docked and undocked hunting dogs were reported in a more recent study. The researchers found that the number of injuries for both docked and undocked dogs was higher than previously reported. For example, 54.7% of undocked spaniels and 20.8% of docked spaniels experienced at least one injury during the shooting season. However, only 4.4% of any of these dogs required veterinary attention.

Tail docking may impact the way dogs communicate with one another. In a study examining the behavioral responses to dogs with different tail lengths, researchers used a remotely controlled life-sized dog replica in a park setting. Large dogs showed more caution when approaching a short-tailed dummy dog compared to when it had a long tail. Small dogs were equally cautious regardless of tail length. The study concluded that tail docking might impair social communication.

Ear Cropping

What is ear cropping?

Ear cropping is a surgical procedure that reshapes the natural appearance of a dog’s external ear flap. Compare the appearance of the Doberman Pinschers in the attached photos. Ear cropping is typically performed when puppies are between nine and twelve weeks of age. Following the surgery, the ears are taped for several weeks to maintain an upright shape that will hopefully be sustained after the tape has been removed. This surgery is performed using general anesthesia (at least that’s the way I’ve seen it performed in veterinary hospitals). Post-operative pain medication may or may not be prescribed.

Is ear cropping painful for puppies?

While I’ve never witnessed ear cropping performed without general anesthesia, I’ve no doubt that, without it, the dog would experience significant pain. I strongly believe that ear cropping should never be performed without the use of general anesthesia. This means that a veterinarian must be involved.

Ear cropping is not longer being taught at veterinary schools within the United States. This is worrisome only from the perspective that, the fewer veterinarians performing ear cropping the greater the likelihood that nonveterinarians will begin doing so without access to appropriate facilities, anesthestic drugs, and pain medications.

There are no published studies tracking whether or not ear cropping is associated with chronic pain. As with most surgical procedures, ear cropping has the potential to cause post-operative pain, and appropriate pain medication is warranted.

Arguments for and against ear cropping

Ear cropping was historically performed to prevent ear damage during hunting or fighting. There is no clear evidence that supports such claims. Additionally, many breeds with pendulous ears, such as spaniels and retrievers, are commonly used for hunting.

Some believe that ear cropping reduces the risk of ear infections by preventing the trapping of moisture and debris in the ear canal. Evidence indicates that the propensity for infection has more to do with the breed than the shape of the ear. One study found that ear infections were more common in Poodles, German Shepherds, and Cocker Spaniels. Another study pinpointed Golden Retrievers and West Highland White Terriers. Amongst all of these breeds, ear conformation varies from erect to pendulous.

Summary

Both the American and Canadian Veterinary Medical Associations have issued position statements opposing tail docking and ear cropping when done for cosmetic purposes. While some breed standards in Canada and the United States now allow showing of dogs that have not been cosmetically altered, neither the Canadian Kennel Club nor the American Kennel Club specifically discourage tail docking and ear cropping.

As for me, I’ll stick with my belief that ear cropping is never warranted and tail docking is justified only when it serves a medical purpose (growth on the tail, trauma, severe infection, etc.).

While I totally get that some people favor the look of docked tails and cropped ears, particularly for certain breeds, my primary allegiance is always to the health and well being of the dog. Performing surgery purely for cosmetic purpose is out of the question. If asked to perform tail docking or ear cropping on a puppy I would respectfully decline. And, if the door is open to educating my client, I would certainly attempt do so.

How do you weigh in on the topics of tail docking and ear cropping? I invite conversation with breeders who work with dogs that have traditionally had cropped ears and/or docked tails.

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.