Saturday, August 17, 2013


As President of the FCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale I would like to take a few moments to ponder about recent issues in which our organization has been mentioned. This statement is my personal opinion, but I guarantee you that I will make sure that the FCI will stand strong and united against any type of discrimination or abuse against dogs, humans or any living creature.

Two years ago, during the FCI General Assembly in Paris, Moscow was voted (by majority of votes) to organize the 2016 World Dog Show. Nobody thought that two years later the Russian Government, taking a step back in the pursuit of equality, would approve anti-LGBT legislations.

Although I am personally against the mentioned Russian law, I have to make sure that the FCI follows our statutes and procedures as established. I guarantee you that our Executive and General Committees are working on resolving this disgraceful situation. We must guarantee our members countries rights, but as a global organization we must stand not only for dogs but for dog owners as well.

It is equally important to me to defend the rights of animals and specially dogs. Like the majority of you, the recent case of dog abuse in a Dog Show in Lithuania angered and disappointed me. It is our duty to protect dogs worldwide, and that is why I will make sure this, or any other case, does not go unpunished. I will urge our member countries to fulfill their complete authority and process any case of dog or animal abuse until the last consequences. Cases like this do not represent the true spirit of the sport of dogs and cannot and will not be tolerated.

I want you to know, that I personally cherish and share your concerns regarding these important issues and I am personally working with the FCI team to manage these situations according to our statutes.
If you would like to share your concerns, feel free to share them with me.

Best regards,

Rafael de Santiago
FCI President

Why long toe nails are harmful to your dog's health

Some dogs hate nail trimming, others merely tolerate it, almost none like it. Some dogs need tranquillizers to make it through the process without biting, while others sleep through the procedure without a care. No matter what your dog’s personal take is on nail clipping, it is something you should do for your IGs regularly to keep from harming their skeletal structure.
A dog’s nails are important parts of their anatomy. Unlike cats, dog claws are not weapons, but are used when he runs to grip the ground when accelerating and turning corners. Outdoor dogs run around enough over different surfaces and wear their own nails down. But our house-bound companions don’t get that natural wear from carpet, hardwood, or vinyl flooring. And since IGs have nails that grow more quickly than most other breeds, it’s easy for them to get too long.
Having long nails changes the way a dog carries himself. The diagram below shows how a long nail causes the bones in the foot to flatten and the Metacarpal, Phalanx I and Phalanx II bones to sit more angled every time the dog walks or stands. The different angle of the bones when pressure is applied causes joint stress and can lead to joint pain and arthritis. It also leads to dropped wrists which make the dog look flat footed. Women reading this article can probably relate if they think about wearing high heels all the time. Long toe nails essentially do the same to dogs by changing the natural alignment of leg bones which adds torque or twisting to the joints. Personally, high heeled shoes wreak havoc on my knees and I suffer from knee joint pain for days after wearing them. I can’t imagine the pain a dog goes through whose owner never trims his nails or doesn’t trim nails often enough.
toenails 300x166 Why long toe nails are harmful to your dogs health
Left: proper alignment with short toenail. Right: angled alignment because of long toenail. Image provided by Dr. Lisa Kluslow
Changing the natural alignment also makes the dog less steady on his feet and can contribute to an increased probability of broken legs. If the dog’s joints are out of whack, he can’t catch himself from falling or landing as well. Again, if you compare how steady you ladies are in sneakers compared to high heels you can relate to how a dog with long nails might feel all the time. Since broken legs are already such a problem for Italian Greyhounds, this makes keeping your Iggy’s nails trimmed even more important.
The image shows how the bones of the paw and wrist angle back when a dog has long nails, but the damage doesn’t stop there. All the bones in a dog’s body are connected and the leg bones connect all the way up to the spine. Some of you might relate to how an injury on one part of our body can cause us to carry ourselves differently and create pain in another part of our body. Unfortunately, our dogs can’t tell us when they have a headache or shoulder ache and many times we miss the slight signals that they are in pain. Since dogs can’t trim their own nails, it’s up to us to make sure this dog maintenance is performed before the pain sets in.
wheretocut Why long toe nails are harmful to your dogs health
Where to cut a dog's toe nail.
IGs usually need their nails trimmed every two to three weeks, if not more often. Frequent walking (daily, fast paced, long walks) can help wear down nails and increase the time between trimmings. For our dogs, nail trimming is a two person job and my husband holds dogs on his lap with their feet sticking outwards while I clip. The red line in the diagram to the left shows where to cut the nail. The nail comes straight out, and at the point where it starts to bend downward, you should cut at a 45 degree angle. It’s always a good idea to have Kwik Stop or another blood stopping product on hand in case you hit the quick. If trimming nails is not your forte, groomers or vet clinics are good alternatives to keep your dogs’ nails well groomed.
Some dog owners prefer to grind down (commonly using a Dremel tool) their dog’s nails. For comprehensive instructions on how to Dremel your dog’s nails, please refer to Tia Resleure’s article “The Importance of Proper Nail Grooming to Dogs, especially Italian Greyhounds!”.
Unfortunately, it is easy to overlook this basic grooming. Many of the dogs we take in to rescue, regardless of what their situations were before, need a nail clipping when they arrive. Similarly, I’ve noticed at playdates there are always a couple IGs with very long claws. Remember though, that trimming claws is not merely a cosmetic issue, but it is also a health issue. You and you IG may dread biweekly trims, but it is one of the most basic things you can do to take stress off your pups’ joints as they age.
By Bridget Wessel

Health Implications in Early Spay and Neuter in Dogs

Recent results from research funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation have the potential to significantly impact recommendations for spaying and neutering dogs in the United States. Most dogs in the United States are spayed or neutered, and for years the procedures have been completed prior to maturity. The study, published in the prominent, open access journal PLOS One, suggests that veterinarians should be more cautious about the age at which they spay and neuter in order to protect the overall health of dogs.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Benjamin L. Hart at the University of California, Davis has completed  the most detailed study performed to date that evaluates incidence of cancer diagnoses and joint problems in one breed -- Golden Retrievers -- by neuter status: early (before 12 months old), late (12 months or older), and intact. Consistent with previous studies on the topic, the results showed increased likelihood of hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and canine cruciate ligament (CCL) rupture in neutered dogs. 
The most profound observations were in hip dysplasia in male dogs when comparing early and late-neutering. The risk of development of hip dysplasia doubles, and disease occurs at a younger age in the early-neuter group compared to both the intact and late-neuter group. No occurrence of CCL disease was observed in intact male or intact female dogs, or in late-neutered femalesIn early-neutered dogs, the incidence of CCL was 5.1 percent in males and 7.7 percent in females, suggesting that neutering prior to sexual maturity significantly increases a dog’s risk of developing CCL disease. With respect to cancer, cases of lymphoma were 3-fold greater in the early-neutered males. Interestingly, incidence of mast cell tumors (male and female dogs) and hemangiosarcoma (female dogs only) were highest in the late-neuter group.
“Dr. Hart’s landmark study is the first to provide evidence for when to spay or neuter dogs. For years the veterinary community has been aware that early-spay and neuter may impact orthopedic health in dogs. Through a very detailed analysis and inclusion of body condition score as a risk factor, Dr. Hart was able to show that timing of spay and neuter does indeed have health implications,” said Dr. Shila Nordone, Chief Scientific Officer for the AKC Canine Health Foundation. 
“CCL disease is painful, debilitating, and costs dog owners $1 billion annually to treat. The AKC Canine Health Foundation is committed to funding research, like Dr. Hart’s study, that can lead to evidence-based health recommendations. Armed with prudent guidelines for when to spay and neuter dogs we will have a significant impact on the quality of life for dogs,” continued Dr. Nordone.
Importantly, the task at hand is now to determine if the observations in this study are indeed true across all breeds and mixed breeds of dogs. Dr. Hart is interested in continuing his work by studying Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, and Dachshunds. Additionally, gaps in knowledge continue to exist concerning the complex relationship between sex hormones and cancer.
Last summer the AKC Canine Health Foundation released a podcast interview with Dr. Hart on his early-spay and neuter research as part of a series dedicated to the health of the canine athlete. To listen to the podcast visit
The publication “Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers” is available online through the open access journal PLOS One.  The work was funded by the AKC Canine Health Foundation with sponsorship from the Golden Retriever Foundation, Schooley's Mountain Kennel Club, the Siberian Husky Club of America, and the Vizsla Club of America Welfare Foundation.

- See more at:

Humbilical Hernias in Dogs

Technically a hernia occurs when a tissue or organ pushes through the area designed to hold it. Normally this refers to the body wall, but it can also be the diaphragm (muscle layer that separates the chest from the abdomen).

The most commonly seen hernias in pet dogs are umbilical hernias. These hernias are found on the abdominal wall where the umbilicus is broken off when a puppy is born. The umbilicus may be broken as the puppy emerges, be chewed in two by the dam or cut by the dog breeder.

What to Do if Your Puppies Have Hernias

Normally the body wall seals over this small opening, but sometimes either a small bit of fat escapes through the body wall and remains outside or the body wall does not close completely. Depending on the size of the opening in this second scenario, the dog's intestines may fall out through the opening and become twisted or strangulated.
You may read discussions about delayed closure versus true hernia. Proponents of the delayed closure theory feel that a small bit of fat or omentum (the thin layer of tissue that is like netting around many of the abdominal organs) slips out through the slit in the abdominal wall where the dog's umbilical cord came through before that slit can close up. Once there is tissue in the way, that slit can’t close. These pet dogs have a small bleb at the umbilicus which is not reducible and very often a hole can’t even be palpated in the body wall. Whether these delayed closures are simply a different expression of a hernia gene or a degree in actual hernias is hotly debated among veterinarians and dog breeders.

The classic umbilical hernia has a firm ring of tissue palpable around the “hole” in the body wall. The size of the opening can vary from smaller than the end of your pinkie finger to 2 or 3 inches across. The hernias least likely to cause problems for a puppy are the very small ones which are too small for any intestine to fall into and the ones large enough that intestines can easily slip in and out of. Your veterinarian can evaluate the hernia with you, and you can decide whether it needs to be fixed, to repair it in a young puppy or possibly wait untispaying or neutering the dog to fix it.

The most dangerous hernias are those big enough for a loop of intestine to fall into and that then close up partly or are of a size to begin with that the intestine can’t easily slip back up into the abdomen. Once caught in the hernia, there is potential for the blood supply to be cut off either simply due to not enough room or by twisting of the intestine and its blood vessels.
Surgery to repair a dog's hernia may be as simple as closing up the tissue after removing the band of tough tissue that makes up the ring and replacing any contents into the abdomen. It could also involve the need for a mesh material, often wire, to help support the body wall in the case of a very large hernia.

Hernias and Purebred Dog Showing and Breeding

At this time, the American Kennel Club does allow purebred dogs to be shown who have had an umbilical hernia repaired. Dog breeders and veterinarians again argue back and forth about the dangers of breeding a bitch who has a hernia or who has had a hernia repaired. The argument is that the increased weight pressing down on the area from the pregnant uterus could cause the hernia opening to stretch and enlarge.
Purebred dog breeds known to have at least a predisposition to hernias include representatives of the Toy, Sporting, Terrier, Working, Hound and Herding Groups. It should be noted that an occasional umbilical hernia will show up in a litter and may simply be a fluke. Still, dog breeders should at least be aware of the hernia problem and try to avoid doubling up on this defect.

I can think back to a litter that came in at 7 weeks of age for an examination and a first vaccination. ALL eight puppies had good sized, fairly obvious umbilical hernias. The dog breeder insisted (despite this being a dog breed well known for umbilical hernias) that the bitch must have chewed the cords off too closely. Funny how her first litter of six puppies (with a different stud dog) did not have any hernias!

An informal survey of reproductive veterinarians led to estimates of 90 percent or more of all umbilical hernias in purebred dogs being inherited. One veterinarian also pointed out, from experience, that breeders should not overlook hernias in their puppy litters. This veterinarian had seen the development from occasional small, not serious, hernias to full litters with large hernias in one kennel since there was no selection against the trait. Other veterinarians stressed that a small umbilical hernia was very minor compared to other serious genetic defects and that a dog who otherwise was a good candidate for breeding should not be removed from the gene pool just for this.

Certainly any dog breeder whose dog has had an umbilical hernia repaired should notify anyone breeding to their stud dog or getting a puppy from their bitch of the defect. Otherwise, the trait will be perpetuated. At least one dog breed classifies umbilical hernias as a “threshold” trait. This means that there is no simple inheritance of dominant or recessive, but the expression of the defect and the degree of the defect may depend on multiple genes, not a simple one-gene dominant/recessive relationship. Also, it is fair to assume that both the stud dog and brood bitch carry the genetic defect if umbilical hernias show up in puppies.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cat & Dog Digestive Problems

WebMD Expert Discussion: The Scoop on Poop: Cat & Dog Digestive Problems

Pet poop is a fact of life. When you own a dog or a cat, you become far more familiar with animal feces than you might want to be. But as WebMD guest veterinarian Will Draper, DVM, explains, your cat or dog’s poop may well be his best way to communicate with you when he may have a health issue.
What can your pet’s poop tell you about his digestive health? Well, diarrhea alone has a number of causes. In cats, says Draper, it might be caused by mild factors like a change in diet, eating a “non-food” item like plants or bugs (along with a possible allergic reaction to that item), or parasites.
In older cats especially, diarrhea may point to more serious problems, including dental disease, kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, liver disease, and cancer.
Dogs get diarrhea, too, and they get it for many of the same reasons as cats get diarrhea, including thyroid problems. If your dog or cat develops diarrhea, be aware that there is one major difference between dogs and cats and the type of thyroid problems they tend to develop.
When a cat has a thyroid problem, it is more often caused by an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroid) gland. When a dog is experiencing thyroid trouble, it is more likely to be from an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid) gland.
You can’t diagnose these conditions yourself. Take your pet to the veterinarian, who will run tests like stool samples, urine cultures, and blood tests to help determine a cause of your pet's digestive system troubles.
Diarrhea or other unusual stools can be your pet's way of telling you something's wrong.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kennel Cough in Dogs

If your dog is hacking away or constantly making noises that make it sound like he's choking on something, he may have a case of kennel cough, or canine infectious tracheobronchitis. Although kennel cough can sound terrible, most of the time it is not a serious condition, and most dogs will recover without treatment.


What is kennel cough?

Just as human colds may be caused by many different viruses, kennel cough itself can have multiple causes. One of the most common culprits is Bordetella bronchiseptica bacteria, which is why many people use the terms kennel cough and bordetella interchangeably. Most dogs that become infected with bordetella bacteria are infected with a virus at the same time. These diseases, which are known to make dogs more susceptible to contracting bordetella infection, include canine adenovirus, canine distemper virus, canine herpes virus, parainfluenza virus and canine reovirus.
Dogs "catch" kennel cough when they inhale bacteria or virus particles into their respiratory tract. This tract is normally lined with a coating of mucus that traps infectious particles, but there are a number of factors that can weaken this protection and make dogs prone to kennel cough infection, which results in inflammation of the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).
These factors include:
  • Exposure to crowded and/or poorly ventilated conditions, such as are found in many kennels and shelters
  • Cold temperatures
  • Exposure to dust and/or cigarette smoke
  • Travel-induced stress

Symptoms of kennel cough

The classic symptom of kennel cough is a persistent, forceful cough.  This is distinct from a cough-like sound made by some dogs, especially little ones, which is called a reverse sneeze. Reverse sneezes can be normal in certain dogs and breeds, and usually only indicates the presence of post-nasal drip or a slight irritation of the throat.
Some dogs with kennel cough may show other symptoms of illness, including sneezing, a runny nose, or eye discharge.
If your dog has kennel cough, he probably will not lose his appetite or have a decreased energy level.


Treating and preventing kennel cough

Kennel cough is contagious. If you think your dog might have the condition, you should keep him away from other animals and contact your veterinarian.
Although most cases of kennel cough will resolve without treatment, medications may speed recovery or minimize symptoms during the course of infection.  These include antibiotics that target the bordetella bacteria and cough medicines.
You may also find that keeping your dog in a well-humidified area and using a harness instead of a collar, especially for dogs that strain against a leash, will minimize the coughing.
Most dogs with kennel cough recover completely within three weeks, though it can take up to six weeks in older dogs or those with other medical conditions. Because serious, ongoing kennel cough infection can lead to pneumonia, be sure to follow up with your veterinarian if your dog doesn't improve within the expected amount of time. Also, if your dog at any time has symptoms of rapid breathing or listlessness, contact your vet right away, as these could be signs of more serious conditions.
There are two forms of vaccine for kennel cough, one that is injected, and one that is delivered as a nasal mist. Although these vaccines may help, they do not guarantee protection against kennel cough or infectious tracheobronchitis because it can be caused by so many different kinds of bacteria and viruses. Also, it is important to realize that neither form of the kennel cough vaccination will treat active infections.
The injected form of the kennel cough vaccination is typically used for dogs that are likely to bite. Puppies typically receive two doses initially, about four weeks apart, followed by yearly booster shots.
The intranasal kennel cough vaccination is typically given to dogs once a year, but may be recommended to be given every six months for dogs at high-risk for kennel cough. This form of the vaccine tends to provide dogs protection against kennel cough sooner than the injected shot.

Ear Problems and Infections in Dogs

Ear problems are the second most common reason dog owners take their dog to the veterinarian, according to a survey by Veterinary Pet Insurance.
Wet ear canals can predispose a dog to ear infections. When bathing your dog, keep water out of her ears by inserting cotton wadding into the ear canals. Similarly, it is important to dry your dog’s ears after she has been swimming. If water gets into an ear, wipe the opening gently with a cotton ball. If you know from prior visits to your veterinarian that your dog’s eardrums are intact, you can instill an ear solution that contains a drying agent. Commonly used drying solutions include ClearX, Panodry, and Vet Solutions Swimmers Ear Astringent. A drop of white vinegar will also help prevent “swimmer’s ear.”
Foreign material in the ears causes irritation and, later, infection. Grass seeds and awns frequently cling to the hair surrounding the ear openings and then drop into the canals. Because the ear canal has an L shape, foreign bodies can become lodged down in the canal and it can be difficult to thoroughly clean the ear without sedation. To avoid this, always groom under the ear flaps, especially after your dog has been running in tall grass, weeds, and brush.
It is common in professional grooming parlors to pluck hair out of the ear canals. Serum then oozes from the hair pores. The serum makes an excellent medium for bacterial growth. This may be one reason why ear infections are more common among Poodles, Schnauzers, and other breeds that are professionally groomed. It is recommended that you do not allow hair to be plucked from this area unless there is a medical reason to do so. In some cases, the hair forms a wad that obstructs air flow and keeps the ear canals moist; avoiding this would be a valid medical reason to remove the offending hair.


Cleaning the Ears

Routine ear cleaning is not required. A small amount of light brown waxy secretion in the ear canals is normal, and some ear wax is necessary for the health of the ears. However, the insides of the ear flaps should be cleaned whenever there is a accumulation of wax, dirt, or debris. Gently wipe the skin with a cloth that has been dampened with mineral oil, or better yet, with an ear cleansing solution such as Oti-Clens, Epi-Otic, or a similar product. Ear cleaners can be purchased at pet supply stores or through your veterinarian. Do not use alcohol, ether, or other irritating solvents; they can cause intense pain and inflame the tissues.
If there is an excessive accumulation of wax in the ear canals that appears to be the blocking air flow; if the ear appears to be red, inflamed, and moist; or if there is discharge from the ear, take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment. The ears are either infected or likely to become so.
After an initial cleaning at the veterinary clinic, you may be instructed to instill a cleansing solution at home. Apply a few drops of cleaning solution to the canal and massage the base of the ear to loosen wax and debris. Then gently wipe out the ear canal with cotton balls.
Never insert cotton-tipped applicators or swabs down into the ear canals, because this pushes wax and cellular debris further into the ear. This is a common cause of ear infection.


How to Apply Ear Medicines

Ear medicines should be applied only to clean, dry ear canals. Some ear preparations come in tubes with long nozzles; others use medicine droppers. Restrain the dog so that the tip of the applicator does not accidentally tear the wall of the ear canal. Fold the ear flap over the top of the dog’s head. Insert the end of the nozzle or medicine dropper into the ear canal only as far as you can see. Squeeze in the amount of ointment or number of drops recommended by your veterinarian.
Most infections involve the part of the ear canal next to the eardrum. It is important that the medicine reach this area. Massage the cartilage at the base of the ear for 20 seconds to disperse the medicine. This makes a squishy sound.
Do not use ear preparations or drying solutions unless you know for sure that the eardrums are intact, as determined by a veterinary exam using an otoscope. If a preparation is inserted into an ear canal with a perforated eardrum, it will enter the middle ear and damage structures essential to hearing.

Ear medications should be instilled once or twice daily, or as directed by your veterinarian. Antibiotics commonly prescribed to treat external ear infections include Panolog (neomycin, nystatin, cortisone), Liquichlor (chloramphenicol), Tresderm (neomycin, thiabendazole, cortisone), and Gentocin Otic (gentamicin). Gentamicin can cause ototoxicity or hearing loss, especially if your dog has a ruptured ear drum. Only use this medication under veterinary guidance.