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September 29, 2012

Perfect In My Eyes

All our dogs need is our love.  

Here is an adorable slideshow I made for your enjoyment;  I hope you like it.  

Please leave me your comments and let me know what you think; I'd love to hear from you.

September 27, 2012

Happy Dog vs, Defensive Dog

Today, I was getting ready to take one of my clients dogs for their scheduled walk.  Roary, is 6 months old, beautiful Shepherd, LabX.

My dog Diamond, is a 1yr. old, Dutch Shepherd, LabX. 

I decided to take Diamond with me today with the assistance of a friend of mine.  Diamond does not always get along well with dogs and I did not want to be on my own if things did not go well.  

We introduced Roary and Diamond; right off Roary, was happy and wanted to be friends. Diamond on the other hand was not as eager. Diamond got real low, her hackles went up, her trail and ears down and then the growls came.

We quickly separated them and started on our walk.  As we were walking I shot some video and thought it was a great visual for you to see the different body language between a happy, relaxed dog who wants to make friends; and the opposite. A dog scared and on the defensive.  Diamond, did not straight out lung or try and attack Roary; that would signs of Aggression. However, if your dog or another dog is displaying the signs and body language Diamond displays there is a likely chance the dog will bite or attack if they feel threatened in any way. This goes for people as well as dogs.

Watch the video and watch the differences between Roary and Diamond. Pay close attention to each of their postures and body language.

Diamond Dog Services
Dog Walking and Puppy Visits 
Barrie, Ontario

September 24, 2012

Training the Down Command (Lay Down)

 Down (Lay Down) 
Down is an important command for a few reasons; going to the Veterinarians or the Groomers are a couple of examples. Also, down in the first step to teaching tricks like “Roll Over”, Crawl, “Play Dead”, to name a few. 

Loading the Marker The “marker” is what tells your dog “YES”, they have done the command correctly. A “marker”, can be the word “YES” or a single click with a clicker. 

1. Have about 10 small bite size treats in your left hand.

2. Take 1 treat into your right hand

3. Now in an excited voice say “Yes”

4. Then reward your dog

5. Repeat steps 2-4, from 7-10, times

1. Hold the lure(treat) between your thumb and index finger; hold your hand so the palm of your hand is facing the floor and fingers extended straight.

2. Put your dog in the “sit”, position.

3. Hold the lure just under your dog’s nose.

4. Say your dog’s “name” and “down” as you slowly move your hand from under your dog’s nose straight down towards the floor.

5. Move the treat along the floor away from your dog. Your dog should follow the treat and naturally lay down. When your dog lays down mark, reward, release.

(If your dog keeps standing up; try moving the treat towards him instead of away. Slide the treat towards him between his front legs.)

6. Repeat steps 1-5, about five to seven times; increase the duration of time your dog has to stay down before you release him. Remember only increase your duration 1 to 2 seconds at a time.

7. When you see your dog starting to understand the “down” command, increase the distance from your hand to the floor.

8. Continue to increase the distance until you are standing straight up and using the full hand signal.

September 23, 2012

Training - "Come When Called"

Today I was teaching Miska, a 3 month old Alaskan Malamute, "come when called"
See how well she progressed in less then 10 mins.

Teaching your dog the "come" command could be one of the most important commands to teach your dog.  Having your dog "come" back to you the first time you call him could save his life.
I teach the owners and dogs 1 time commands. This means you say the command one time and your dog should respond.  Repeating our commands lets our dogs decide when they are going to listen to us. Teaching your dog 1 time commands gives them no choice.

Private In-Home Lessons
Barrie, Ontario and the surrounding area.
Click here to visit Diamond Dog Services' website
Please leave me your comments or training questions; I would love to hear from you

September 15, 2012

Top 10 Puppy Basics

Top 10 Puppy  Basics – All of these steps are important for a well adjusted puppy.

1. Start socializing your puppy early. As soon as he has had his second set of shots usually (after 10 weeks). Introduce your puppy to as many new environments, people and dogs as possible.  The critical socialization period for a puppy is (8-22 weeks).

2. Take your new puppy to the veterinarian with 72 hours of getting your puppy.  It's important to get to know your Vet and for your Vet to know you and you puppy, as this will likely be a long term relationship.

Use common sense when it comes to your Vet, if you are not comfortable with how they are handling your dog, or the Vet does not really listen to what you are saying. Shop around and find another Vet. Ask friends who have dogs for their recommendations,

3. Remember an 8 week old puppy is just a baby, play and handle him gently. Do not engage in rough play or encourage play with that involves biting your hands or clothes.  This behavior should be immediately corrected and give the puppy a toy or object he is allow to chew.

Puppies bite/chew and nip, it's our job to teach our puppies what they can and can't bite and what is appropriate play.  What is cute as puppy is not so cute in an 80 pound dog.

4. Introduce your puppy to new children and other puppies and dogs slowly.  You want every new experience for your do to be a positive one.  If your puppy has a negative experience at an early age it could effect his behavior for life, so make sure each new situation is short and positive. Give your puppy lots of praise.

5. Good quality puppy food is very important for the healthy growth of your puppy.  Poor quality food may lead to a lifetime of health issues.  Do your homework and make sure you are getting the best quality for your breed of dog. Click here for a list of homemade dog treat recipes you can make your dog, click the recipe name to take you to the full recipe.

6. Begin house training the first day you get home.  Decide a head of time how you want to potty train your puppy(using puppy pad, going directly outside, using a crate) and be prepared for when you bring your new addition home. 8week old puppies need to go to the bathroom approx every 1-2 hours. The rule of thumb is 1 hour for each month they are. Click here to read "Housebreaking -Training for Success"

7. Don’t inadvertently encourage bad dog behavior. Jumping up, biting, barking, begging for table food. It is so important to correct these behaviors right from the start.  It is much easier to teach your puppy the right things to do then it is to correct bad behaviors that he has been allowed to do for months.  Remember, what is cute and adorable when your puppy is 8 weeks old will be far from cute when they are grown.

8. Never use food rewards for correcting behaviors.  Food rewards should only be used when teaching your dog his commands(sit, come, stay, down, etc....).

If you correct your puppy for jumping up and he goes down, you give him a food reward, you have just encouraged your dog to perform bad in order to get a reward.

Remember, only give food rewards when your dog has done work like sit, stay or come.  Only give love as his reward for correcting bad behaviors.

9. When correcting your puppy's behavior, NEVER do anything that will hurt, harm, embarrass, humiliate or loss of dignity.  Puppies need love, patience and consistency are your best tools.

10.  Have a variety of toys for your puppy, a soft one, a chewy one, a tug toy.  See which type of toys your puppy likes to play with more and get him the toys he like rather then spending lots of money on toys they never play with.

Puppies also need a variety of toys for teething, some toys offer more comfort for those teething times.

I highly recommend taking a Puppy Training Class. It is so important for you to learn how to teach your puppy.  This is a long commitment you have made, it's your responsibility to learn how to do things the right way.  If you spend your puppy's first year working hard and training, you will have the next 10-16 years of having that awesome dog.

Note: Make sure your new puppy has identification in the event that he gets lost. It’s a good idea to identify your dog with an ID tag as well as a dog tattoo or microchip.

If you have any questions about your new puppy, please post it on the comments and I will respond ASAP.

Puppy Milestones:
Puppy is ready to take home 8 weeks
Housebreaking  6-8 weeks
Bathing 7-8 weeks
Obedience training 8-10 weeks
Socialization 8-22 weeks
Heartworm prevention  3 months
Spay or neuter 6-9 months
When is a puppy full grown 1- 1½ years

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Dog Owner Training - Training the Owner First

Listed below I have created a list of common mistakes dog owners make

Dog Owner Training -101
Inconsistent training, is the number one reason for bad mannered dogs. If  a dog is not well trained it is the responsibility lies on you.  Some dogs and breeds will learn faster than others, love, patients and consistency are the most important tools you can use.

10 Common Mistakes New Pet Owners Make

1. No Training Classes: A lot of new dog owners think if they just repeat a word several times their puppy will just understand what you want and do it. When they don't do what we are asking, we get frustrated, angry and think we have a dumb dog.

It is highly recommended that you take a basic puppy/dog training class to learn basic manners for a well behaved dog. Click here for Diamond Dog Training, private in home training.

2. Poor Diet. Diet and exercise are just as important for your dogs as it is for people.
Feeding your dog a low quality food will lead to health problems down the line.  Most dog foods that are sold in your local grocery store are a low quality food. They are the equivalent of feeding your dog McDonald's everyday.

Common health issues related to poor diets are; diabetes, heart disease, overweight, hip dysplasia, tooth and gum disease and arthritis, just to name a few.

It's important to educated yourself before heading to the pet store. Do your research on the web, use Google to search "Best quality dog foods", read other pet owners opinion's are a few ways you can find out what is best for your dog.

3. Choosing the Wrong Breed.  A lot of people decide on a breed of dog just because of the way they look, how cute they are or by their impressive size. Choosing a dog on these reasons alone in 75% of the cases the dog will be surrendered to an animal shelter or given away.

DON'T EVER BUY A DOG ON IMPULSE! I cannot stress this point strong enough.

When you decide you want to get a puppy or rescue a dog from a shelter, first look at why you want a dog; is it for companionship, protection, a running partner or a loyal friend to be by your side. Research the breeds that fit your expectations and lifestyle. In other words if you very active and love to run and bike, do not get a Shih Tzu or Great Dane as these breeds are not big on exercise. A Husky, Lab or a German Pointer may be a better fit.

Do your research. Getting a puppy or dog is a big commitment and comes with a lot of responsibilities, be sure you are ready for this.

4. Lack of Exercise: 
Your lifestyle; if you work for 8-12 hours per day, 5 days a week, can you afford a dog sitter or dog walker. A puppy should never be crated longer then 2-4 as they cannot hold their bladders  hour for to long. Will you hire a dog walker or pet sitter? Dogs who are crated all day will be bored, anxious and do not get the exercise they need.

Again, depending on the breed of your dog will determine the type of exercising needed.  Small dogs do not need long walks or need to be run. However, larger dogs, working dogs, herding dogs, etc.. need  more vigorous exercising. Dog parks where they can run full out, jogging/biking with you, min 1 hour walks.

Not spending enough quality time with your dog. It’s so easy to please your dog. His needs are simple. Take the time to take him for a walk, throw him the ball, take him for a ride or just cuddle with him. It will do you both good.

Researching the breed will let you know what daily exercise is required for that breed.  A tired dog is a happy dog. Click here to read "Exercising Your Pet’s Body and Mind"

5. Yearly Visits to the Vets: When we get a puppy, we know they have to go to vet to get their required needles, de-worming, etc. However, a lot of us after the first year do not take our dogs to the Vets for yearly check-ups.  A lot of pet owners only take their dog to the Vets when something they are sick or injured.

It is very important to take your dog to the Vets for a yearly check-up. Check-ups will ensure your dog is healthy and doing well.  Since our dogs cannot speak to us, at times there are serious health issues but we did not notice them until it was to late. Early detection of anything is so important and will save you thousands of dollars in the end.

Click here to read "Over-Vaccination - Dog Owners Beware"

6. Human Food: NEVER give you puppy or dog human food. Although, we think we are doing something nice for our dog, giving your dog human food will only lead to begging, stealing food, garbage and counter surfing and a host of other problems.  Also, remember a lot of human food is bad and sometimes dangerous and or fatal to your dogs. Click here to read a List of Dangerous Foods for Dogs.

7. No Pet Identification Tags: New pet owners think their dogs will always be with them, they don't let them out by themselves, why does my dog need a tag. This inexpensive thing can be the difference between your dog being returned to you safely or ending up in a shelter and adopted out to a new family. Don’t skip this step and make sure your dog’s tags are always up to date.

8. No Pet Health Insurance. It can be heartbreaking if you’re unable to give your dog medical treatment because of finances. Insurance can make sure your dog will always receive the care he needs without breaking your bank account.

9. Proper Grooming for your Breed: Good hygiene is just as important for your dog as it is for us. Even short hair dogs need attention. Make sure you bath them regularly, cut their nails, and check their ears and skin. Long haired dogs require far more grooming. If you are not able to do the daily and monthly grooming that is needed for long haired dogs, make sure you find a good and reputable Dog Groomer. If daily brushing and eye cleaning is not for you, consider a breed that does not require as much daily maintenance.  A matted dog is an unhappy dog. Click here to read "How to Groom Shih Tzu Dogs"

10. Not spaying or neutering: Thousands of pets are euthanized every day due to pet overpopulation. Spaying or neutering your dog can help prevent homelessness, cruelty, suffering and death.

Okay, your dog owner training is complete. Congratulations on being a responsible dog owner.

Remember, do your research, don't impulse buy and most important make sure you have the time.

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September 13, 2012

Hip Dysplasia - Cause, Prevention, Maintenance

Hip Dysplasia, has become a serious issues with dogs today. Why? Poor breeding!

What is Hip Dysplasia?  Hip dysplasia is associated with abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the joint. As joint laxity develops, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint is called a subluxation, and this causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces. Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips but due to their genetic make-up (and possibly other factors) the soft tissues that surround the joint develop abnormally causing the subluxation. It is this subluxation and the remodeling of the hip that leads to the symptoms we associate with this disease. Hip dysplasia may or may not be bilateral; affecting both the right and/or left hip.

When it comes to hip dysplasia, there is only one thing that researchers agree on; selective breeding is crucial. We know that through selectively breeding animals with certified hips, we can significantly reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia. We also know that we can increase the incidence of hip dysplasia if we choose to use dysplastic animals for breeding. Breeding two animals with excellent hips does not guarantee that all of the offspring will be free of hip dysplasia, but there will be a much lower incidence than if we breed two animals with fair or poor hips. If we only bred animals with excellent hips it would not take long to make hip dysplasia a rare occurrence. If owners insisted on only purchasing an animal that had parents and grandparents with certified good or excellent hips, or if breeders only bred these excellent animals, then the majority of the problems caused by hip dysplasia would be eliminated. For someone looking to purchase a dog, the best way to lower the possibility of getting an animal that develops hip dysplasia is to examine the incidence of hip dysplasia in the litter's lineage. It is best to examine the parents and grandparents out to three or four generations.

There are many different theories on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia. As discussed earlier, poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed. Following solid recommendations for exercise and nutrition may help, but will never come close to controlling or eliminating the disease if stricter requirements for certified hips are not instituted or demanded.

Click here for a great article all about Hip Dysplasia, causes, prevention, treatments, etc...



September 12, 2012

Thundershirt - Do They Really Work?

In a single word YES!

I am a professional trainer and I have used the ThunderShirt on a lot of puppies and dogs with amazing success.

When a dog suffers from anxiety it can come out in many different ways; frightened, shaking, barking, excited jumping, aggression towards people and/or dogs or an over excited dog.  Most of the times these bad or negative behaviors are due to anxiety.  As the dog owner we believe we just have a bad behaved dog when certain situations arise.

Is your dog great at home but when you take him for a walk he turns into Cujo? More then likely it's due to your dog feeling very anxious when he is away from home.  The ThunderShirt relieves this anxiety so your sweet dog at home is the same sweet dog when going out of the house.

I worked in a pet retail store and sold a lot of ThunderShirts.  A dog would come into the store, scared, tail tucked under and legs shaking.  I would put a ThunderShirt on the dog and within literally minutes the dogs tail would be up, shaking stops and the dog now feels confident and assured.

I'm also a dog trainer and use the ThunderShirt often for over excited puppies.  Once I put the ThunderShirt on, the puppy I could not get to focus for 1 second is now sitting, listening and obeying his commands.

If I had not seen the truly positive effects the ThunderShirt has with my own eyes, I would never believe that something so simple can be so effective for a dogs anxiety.

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September 7, 2012

Senior Dogs Mask Their Disease

Tips and things to consider with your senior dog.  Why do older dogs “hide” their illness from us?
“If they acted sick [in the wild] …they would lose their position in the pack.”
This is an excellent video.  I’d never heard this explanation about older dogs, or dogs in general, before and it makes perfect sense!
Dr. Dressler of South Shore Vet Care talks about health tips for our Senior Dogs and Pets
Dr Demian Dressler of South Shore Vet Care in Kihei Hawaii, brings us up to speed about our Senior pets and shares a few health tips that can extend their life span.

Tagged as: health tips, older dogs, senior dogs, senior pets, veterinarian

View the original article here

Banana & Peanut Butter Dog Cake

Dog cakes make any occasion a special one. But if your next dog party plans are small, or your dog is small in stature, you may want to consider making this dog cake recipe into mini muffins. That's what is pictured below. We like to have several dogs test our homemade dog treats, so we made little treats to pass out to all our taste testers.
Make this dog cake extra rich with the optional cream cheese frosting. See our tips below for more fun ways of decorating the cakes and dog muffins.
Banana & Peanut Butter Dog Cake Recipe Mini Muffin Version  

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/4 cup molasses, blackstrap
1/4 cup peanut butter
4 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350° F
In a stand mixer bowl, add the canola oil, applesauce and molasses.
On low-medium speed, thoroughly combine.
Add the peanut butter, and mix until combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, until all combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon.
Using the lowest setting, or the stir setting on your mixer, slowly add the dryingredients.
In a small bowl, mash the bananas.
Take the mixing bowl off the stand. Fold in the mashed bananas, making sure they are well incorporated.
Using a baking spray with flour, generously spray each 8 inch pan.
Divide the batter between both pans.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Rotate the pans on the racks half way through the baking time.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. Cream Cheese Dog Treat Frosting8 ounces cream cheese (low or fat free)2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. plain yogurt (low or fat free)
flour (see note)
Note: You will need approximately 3 Tbsp. of flour. You can use any type of flour for this recipe. Keep in mind that if you use wheat flour (or another type of flour with specs of color) it may affect the end color of the icing.
Mix first three ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
Mix in one tablespoon of flour at a time until you have a good consistency for spreading.Storing - This dog cake recipe will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Freeze the cakes for up to 3 months. If you choose to freeze the cakes, wrap each one individually with plastic wrap. Then wrap each one with heavy duty aluminum foil. Then place each one in a labeled freezer bag. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will keep the dog cakes delicate texture fresh longer.
Yield - Two 8 inch round cakes.
Decorating Ideas - For an all out special dog cake, make enough cream cheese dog frosting to put between the two cakes, on top and the sides of the layered cake. Or, my favorite decorating idea is to cut half inch banana slices and place them as the layer between the two cakes. Then frost the top of the cake with cream cheese frosting. If your dog is watching his calorie intake, you should limit the amount of icing you put on the cake. One idea is to use the frosting to make small polka dots and write a happy note on top of the cake, like "#1 DOG". You can omit the frosting all together and use banana slices as the decoration.
Mini Muffins - Using a mini muffin pan with 24 cups, you will be able to fill your pan twice to get a total of 48 muffins. Bake at the same temperature, but for 10 minutes. Turn the pan half way for even baking. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing the muffins. Cool the muffins on a wire rack. We like this version of creating mini muffins best because it is so versatile. If your dog is small, you can easily break apart one muffin for two servings. Or, for larger dogs, they get their very own muffin. The muffins also travel very well, so you can make extras for dog party favors, or gifts. We used a scant tablespoon cookie scooper to easily measure the right amount of batter into each cup. The muffins rise quite a bit, so don't overfill the muffin cups.

Paper Liners - We used plain paper liners, but it would be adorable to make these muffins with paw print cupcake liners. Or, match the colors of your dog party, or the season, to make your homemade dog treats more festive.

Stand Mixer - If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a hand held one instead. But, we recommend the stand mixer due to its many speeds and large capacity for heavier dog treat batters.

View the original article here

Good Dog Beef Biscuits

1/2 cup dry milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon parsley
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 small (2.5 oz) jar beef baby food
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cracked wheat
For the Glaze - 1 egg, 2 tablespoons beef broth
Preheat oven to 325 ° F (165 ° C).
In a large bowl, combine the dry milk, egg garlic, parsley, oil, honey, baby food, and broth. Gradually blend in the flours and cracked wheat. Add enough wheat flour to form a stiff dough.
Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/2-inch (12 mm) thick. Using bone-shaped cookie cutters, make biscuits! Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits.
Bake for 30 minutes. Whisk together the egg and broth for the glaze. Brush biscuits with the glaze on both sides. Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool overnight.
Makes several dozen small bones that freeze well. Or 2 1/2 to 3 dozen large bones, depending on the size of cookie cutter you use.

View the original article here

Gourmet Salmon Cakes for Dogs

Health benefits of salmon, such as the goodness of fish oil for dogs, the high amount of protein, vitamin D and the Omega 3 fatty acids.

Salmon Cakes for Dogs

Salmon Cakes
1 14.75 oz can of wild Alaskan salmon
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sour cream, low or fat free
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried dill weed

Yogurt Tartar Sauce
1/4 cup plain yogurt, low or fat free
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed

Salmon Cakes
Preheat oven to 375° F
Drain liquid from salmon. Remove bones and skin, if any.
In a medium bowl, mix together salmon and next four ingredients (through shredded carrot).
In a separate shallow dish, mix together the plain bread crumbs and dill weed.
Using a cookie scooper, scoop one ball and lightly flatten into a patty form.
Dredge or thoroughly coat the patty in the bread crumb mixture.
Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Repeat until there is no more salmon mixture.
Bake for 12 minutes. Then flip and bake for 12 more minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Yogurt Tartar Sauce
Mix together yogurt and dried dill weed.
Cover and refrigerate until salmon cakes are cool.

Storing & Yield: Any dog treat recipe with meat should be served quickly. We recommend one week in the refrigerator. You can freeze these salmon cakes for 2 months. If you are using a 1" cookie scoop, this recipe should make 2 dozen salmon dog treats.

Tips & Techniques
Be sure to drain the salmon very well. Otherwise the mixture will be too moist and will not hold together. If you have already combined the salmon mixture and it is not holding together, add one tablespoon of plain bread crumbs at a time, until the mixture stays together.

To save time you can use pre-shredded carrots.

If your dog needs or prefers softer treats, you can bake the cakes for 10 minutes on each side.


September 6, 2012

Boston Terrier

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Boston Terrier is a breed of dog originating in the United States of America. This "American Gentleman" was accepted in 1893 by the American Kennel Club as a non-sporting breed.   Color and markings are important when distinguishing this breed to the AKC standard. They should be either black, brindle or seal with white markings.     Boston’s  are small and compact with a short tail and erect ears. The AKC says they are highly intelligent and very easily trained.   They are friendly and can be stubborn at times. The average life span of a Boston is around 11 to 13 years, though some can live well into their teens. 
The Boston Terrier breed originated around 1870, when Robert C. Hooper of Boston purchased a dog known as Hooper's Judge, who was of a Bull and Terrier type lineage. Judge's specific lineage is unknown; however, Hooper's Judge is either directly related to the original Bull and Terrier breeds of the 18th and early 19th centuries, or Judge is the result of modern English Bulldogs being crossed into terriers created in the 1860s for show purposes, like the White English Terrier. 

Judge weighed over 27.5 pounds (13.5 kilos). Their offspring interbred with one or more French Bulldogs, providing the foundation for the Boston Terrier. Bred down in size from pit-fighting dogs of the Bull and Terrier types, the Boston Terrier originally weighed up to 44 pounds (20 kg.) (Olde Boston Bulldogge).   The breed was first shown in Boston in 1870. By 1889 the breed had become sufficiently popular in Boston that fanciers formed the American Bull Terrier Club, but this proposed name for the breed was not well received by the Bull Terrier Fanciers; the breed's nickname, "roundheads", was similarly inappropriate. Shortly after, at the suggestion of James Watson (a noted writer and authority), the club changed its name to the Boston Terrier Club and in 1893 it was admitted to membership in the American Kennel Club, thus making it the first US breed to be recognized. It is one of a small number of breeds to have originated in the United States. The Boston Terrier was the first non-sporting dog bred in the US.

In the early years, the color and markings were not very important, but by the 20th century the breed's distinctive markings and color were written into the standard, becoming an essential feature. Terrier only in name, the Boston Terrier has lost most of its ruthless desire for mayhem, preferring the company of humans, although some males will still challenge other dogs if they feel their territory is being invaded.
Boston Terriers were particularly popular during the 1920s in the US.[citation needed]
Boston University's mascot is Rhett the Boston Terrier. The Boston Terrier is also the mascot of Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.

3 Year Old Male Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers are typically small, compactly built, well proportioned dogs with erect ears, short tails, and a short muzzle that should be free of wrinkles.   They usually have a square sort of face. The smooth coats of the Boston Terriers are mainly brindle, seal or black with even white markings.

3 Month Old Male Boston Terrier

According to international breed standard, the dog should weigh no less than 10 pounds and no more than 25 pounds. Boston Terriers usually stand 15-17 inches at the withers. 

Coat and color
The Boston Terrier is characteristically marked with white in proportion to either black, brindle, seal, or a combination of the three. Seal is a color specifically used to describe Boston Terriers and is defined as a black color with red highlights when viewed in the sun or bright light. Black, Brindle, and Seal (all on white) are the only colors recognized by the AKC. There are also liver, brown, cream or red and white Boston Terriers, however these markings are more rare than the others listed above, and are able to be AKC registered but not to be shown in dog shows as it is not the normal for Boston Terriers. If all other qualities are identical, brindle is the preferred color according to most breed standards.    
Ideally, white should cover its chest, muzzle, band around the neck, half way up the forelegs, up to the hocks on the rear legs, and a white blaze between but not touching the eyes. For conformation showing, symmetrical markings are preferred.   Due to the Boston Terrier's markings resembling formal wear, in addition to its refined and pleasant personality, the breed is commonly referred to as the "American Gentleman."   

The Boston Terrier is a gentle breed that typically has a strong, happy-go-lucky and friendly personality. Boston’s  are generally eager to please their owner and can easily be trained given a patient owner.
While originally bred for fighting, they were later down bred for companionship. The modern Boston Terrier can be gentle, alert, expressive, creative, and well-mannered. It must be noted however, that they are not considered terriers by the American Kennel Club, but are part of the non-sporting group.   So the terrier part of their name is something of a misnomer.
Both females and males are generally quiet and bark only when necessary.   Their usually sensible attitude towards barking makes them excellent choices for apartment dwellers. Having been bred as a companion dog, they enjoy being around people, and if properly socialized, get along well with children, the elderly, other canines, and non-canine pets. 

A newborn Boston Terrier

Several health issues are of concern in the Boston Terrier: cataracts (both juvenile and adult type), cherry eye, luxating patellas, deafness, heart murmur, and allergies. Curvature of the back, called roaching, might be caused by patella problems with the rear legs, which in turn causes the dog to lean forward onto the forelegs.   This might also just be a structural fault with little consequence to the dog. Many Boston’s  cannot tolerate excessive heat and also extremely cold weather, due to the shortened muzzle, so hot or cold weather combined with demanding exercise can bring harm to a Boston Terrier. A sensitive digestive system is also typical of the Boston Terrier. In the absence of proper diet, flatulence is associated with the breed. In some cases, even a proper diet cannot abate flatulence. 
Boston’s, along with Pug, Shih Tzu and other short-snouted breeds are brachycephalic breeds. The word comes from Greek roots "Brachy," meaning short and "cephalic," meaning head. This anatomy can cause tiny nostrils, long palates and a narrow trachea. Because of this, Boston’s  may be prone to snoring and reverse sneeze, a rapid and repeated forced inhalation through the nose, accompanied by snorting or gagging sounds used to clear the palate of mucus, but does not harm the dog in any way.  [11]
Boston’s frequently require caesarean section to give birth, with over 90% of litters in a UK Kennel Club survey delivered this way.   


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Diamond Delight Dog Treats Cookbook

Frozen Pupsicles

3 very ripe bananas
1 cup peanut butter (smooth or Chunky)
1/2-3/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts chopped fine

Mix the bananas with the peanut butter. Mix in enough wheat germ to make fairly thick dough-roll into 1 inch balls. Roll in chopped peanuts. Freeze on cookie sheet. Tweet

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Nutty Peanut Butter Treats

Preheat oven 350 Degrees
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal
1/4 cup honey crunch wheat germ
1/4 cup peanut butter (Chunky peanut butter works good or smooth)
1/4 cup salad oil
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon Molasses
1 tsp baking powder Directions: mix 1 c flour and 1/2 c water with the remaining ingredients until we blended. Stir in the remaining ingredient 1/2 c flour. Knead on well-floured surface until dough holds together. Roll out to 1/4" thick. Cut in to shapes. Bake on large un-greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and leave cookie sheet in the oven for 45 minutes to a hour. Remove cookies and enjoy!!

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Peanut Butter & Honey Crunch Treats

1/4 cup honey
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 cups chicken broth or water
1/3 cup peanut oil 1 cup rolled oats
1 cup oat bran
3-4 cups oat flour

Preheat oven to 350 ° F (180 ° C).

In a small dutch oven or large saucepan, combine honey, peanut butter (try to find a brand that has no added suger, salt or other ingredients; ideally it should only contain peanuts), chicken broth, and peanut oil. Heat, stirring often, until mixture begins to simmer. Remove from heat. Stir in rolled oats and oat bran and let cool until lukewarm -- or cool enough to work with. Gradually blend in oat flour, adding enough to form a stiff dough.

Transfer to a floured (oat flour or rye flour) surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/4-inch (6 mm) thick. Use a mini-cookie cutter or cut into small squares. Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits. If the dough becomes too crumbly to work with after a few rollings, sprinkle with a little water to bind it together and knead it for 30 seconds or so.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and turn over. Bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until golden brown on both sides. After you finish baking all batches of biscuits, turn off the oven, spread all the biscuits in one baking pan and set them in the oven to cool for a few hours or overnight. The extra time in the oven as it cools off helps make the treats crispier. These make a more delicate crunchy biscuit, so we use them more for special or training treats, not tartar control.

Makes several dozen small treats that keep and freeze well.


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Bichon Frise

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Bichon Frisé (French, meaning curly white lap dog, pronounced /ˈbiʃɒn ˈfriz/ or /ˈbiʃɒn frɪˈzeɪ/), is a small breed of dog of the Bichon type. They are popular pets, similar in appearance to but larger than the Maltese.

Etymology and history
The Bichon Frise descended from the Barbet or Water Spaniel and the Standard Poodle. The word bichon comes from Middle French bichon ("small long-haired dog"), a diminutive of Old Frenchbiche ("bitch, female dog"), from Old English bicce ("bitch, female dog"), related to Old Norse bikkja ("female dog") and German Betze ("female dog"). Some speculate the origin of bichon to be the result of the apheresis, or shortening, of the word barbichon ("small poodle"), a derivative of barbiche ("shaggy dog"); however, this is unlikely, if not impossible, since the word bichon(attested 1588) is older than barbichon (attested 1694).

The Bichons were divided into four categories: the Bichon Maltese, the Bichon Bolognaise, the Bichon Havanese and the Bichon Tenerife. All originated in the Mediterranean area. Because of their merry disposition, they traveled much and were often used as barter by sailors as they moved from continent to continent. The dogs found early success in Spain and it is generally believed that Spanish seamen introduced the breed to the Canary Island of Tenerife. In the 14th century, Italian sailors rediscovered the little dogs on their voyages and are credited with returning them to the continent, where they became great favorites of Italian nobility. Often, as was the style of the day with dogs in the courts, they were cut "lion style," like a modern-day Portuguese Water Dog.

Though not considered a retriever or water dog, the Bichon, due to its ancestry as a sailor's dog, has an affinity for and enjoys water and retrieving. On the boats however, the dog's job was that of a companion dog.

The "Tenerife", or "Bichon", had success in France during the Renaissance under Francis I (1515–47), but its popularity skyrocketed in the court of Henry III (1574–89). The breed also enjoyed considerable success in Spain as a favorite of theInfantas, and painters of the Spanish school often included them in their works. For example, the famous artist, Francisco de Goya, included a Bichon in several of his works.

Interest in the breed was renewed during the rule of Napoleon III, but then waned until the late 19th century when it became the "common dog", running the streets, accompanying the organ grinders of Barbary, leading the blind and doing tricks in circuses and fairs.

On 5 March 1933, the official standard of the breed was adopted by the Société Centrale Canine, the national kennel club for France. (This was largely due to the success of the French-speaking Belgian author Hergé's "Tintin" books, which featured a small, fluffy, white dog named Milou.) As the breed was known by two names at that time, "Tenerife" and "Bichon", the president of the Fédération Cynologique Internationale proposed a name based on the characteristics that the dogs presented - the Bichon Frisé. ("Frisé" means "curly", referring to the breed's coat.) On 18 October 1934, the Bichon Frisé was admitted to the stud book of the Société Centrale Canine.

The Bichon was popularized in Australia in the mid 1960s, largely thanks to the Channel Nine mini-series Meweth, starring Bruce Gyngell alongside his pet Bichon, Molly. The show ran for one season only, however it gained a cult following. In subsequent years Bichon ownership, especially in the Eastern states, climbed dramatically.

The Bichon was brought to the United States in 1955, and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1973. The first US-born Bichon litter was whelped in 1956. In 1959 and 1960, two breeders in different parts of the USA acquired Bichons, which provided the origins for the breed's development in the USA.

The Bichon Frise became eligible to enter the AKC's Miscellaneous Class on 1 September 1971. In October, 1972, the breed was admitted to registration in the American Kennel Club Stud Book. On 4 April 1973, the breed became eligible to show in the Non-Sporting Group at AKC dog shows. In 2001, a Bichon Frise named JR won best-in-show at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.


The Bichon Frise is a small dog that weighs approximately 5 – 10 kg (10 - 20 lbs) and stands 23 – 30 cm (9 – 12 in) at the withers, but slightly larger dogs are not uncommon. The skull is slightly rounded and the muzzle is not pointy. The tail is groomed to be long and curly and is carried over the back. It has a black nose and dark round eyes, its white hair consists of a curly and coarse outercoat and a silky and dense undercoat, although many of the breed do tend to have less curly hair than others. A small amount of buff, cream, or apricot color may be seen around its ears, snout, paws or body, but normally these colors do not exceed 10% of its body. Coat colors are solid white, apricot or grey. A white coat is preferred in the show ring. The head and legs are proportionate in size to the body, and the ears and tail are natural (not docked or cropped). The coat is trimmed often to make the hair seem like an even length. Bichon Frises can have amedium-high intelligence.
The American Kennel Club (AKC) refers to the Bichon Frise as "merry" and "cheerful", and the breed standard calls for a dog that is "gentle mannered, sensitive, playful and affectionate". The Bichon Frise loves human company and demands much of your attention. They are generally very sociable and do well with a family that takes them everywhere. They are charming, affectionate, and intelligent. They do well with children because they are playful and have lots of energy. Bred to be companion dogs, the Bichon Frise tends to get along well with both children and other animals.

Bichon Frises are very obedient if training is started early and continued consistently.[citation needed]

Bichon Frise with a Puppy Cut (also known as a Teddy Bear or Pet Cut)
Hypoallergenic qualities and shedding
Bichon Frises often appear on lists of dogs that do not shed (moult), but this is misleading. The grooming required to maintain the Bichon Frise's coat helps remove loose hair, and the curl in the coat helps prevent dead hair and dander from escaping into the environment, as with the poodle's coat. The frequent trimming, brushing, and bathing required to keep the Bichon looking its best removes hair and dander and controls the other potent allergen, saliva.

It is best to have your Bichon Frise groomed approximately every four to eight weeks. One should keep up with daily brushing of the coat to prevent matting. If you let a Bichon's coat get severely matted, they may develop a hematoma, most likely in the ears.

Bichon Frises are considered suitable for people with allergies, as they are bred to be hypoallergenic. However, it is important to note that, human sensitivity to dog fur, dander, and saliva varies considerably. Although hair, dander, and saliva can be minimized, they are still present and can stick to "clothes and the carpets and furnishings in your home"; inhaling the allergens, or being licked by the dog, can trigger a reaction in a sensitive person.

A groomed, male Bichon Frise

Bichon Frise in (combined)UK and USA/Canada surveys had an average life span of about 12–13 years, with Bichon Frises in the UK tending to live longer than Bichon Frises in the USA/Canada. This breed's longevity is similar to other breeds of its size and a little longer than for purebred dogs in general. The longest lived of 34 deceased Bichons in a 2004 UK survey died at 16.5 years.

The oldest Bichon Frises for which there are reliable records in various USA/Canada surveys have died at 19 years.

In a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey, the leading causes of Bichon Frise death were old age (23.5%) and cancer (21%). In a 2007 USA/Canada breeders survey, the leading causes of death were cancer (22%), unknown causes (14%), hematologic (11%), and old age (10%). Hematologic causes of death were divided between autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP). AIHA and ITP were responsible for the greatest amount of Bichon Frise "years lost." "Years lost" is a measure of the extent to which a condition kills members of a breed prematurely. While cancer is a more common cause of death than AIHA/ITP, Bichon Frises that died of cancer died at a median age of 12.5 years. Hematologic deaths occurred at a median age of only 5 years. Bichon Frises in the UK survey had a lower rate of hematologic deaths (3%) than in the USA/Canada survey (11%).

Bichons are also prone to liver shunts. These often go undetected until later in life, leading to complications that cannot be fixed, and therefore liver failure. Bichons who are underweight, the runts of the litter, or have negative reactions to food high in protein are likely to be suffering from a shunt. When detected early, shunt often can be corrected through surgery. However, the later in life the shunt is detected, the lower the likelihood of surgery being a success becomes. Shunts can be kept under control through special diets of low protein and through various medications to support liver function, help flush toxins that build up in the kidneys and liver, and control seizures that often occur as a symptom of the shunt. Without surgery, Bichons with shunts on average live to be 4–6 years old. If you own a smaller than average size bichon please consult your vet. Other symptoms include dark urine, lethargy, loss of appetite, increase in drinking. Also seizures come in all forms; episodes of seizures can begin early on but go undetected. Early seizures can appear to be seeing the bichon in a hypnotic state (staring at something not there), or to be experiencing an episode of vertigo, or being drunk. Shunts are a serious condition of smaller breeds, and often not associated with Bichons.


A sleepy male adult Bichon Frise

Because autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA, also called immune-mediated hemolytic anemia, or IMHA) and immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (ITP) are responsible for premature Bichon Frise deaths, Bichon Frise owners should be particularly alert to the symptoms of these conditions. In AIHA, the dog's immune system attacks its own red blood cells, leading to severe, life-threatening anemia. Symptoms include weakness, loss of energy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, dark urine, and pale or yellow gums. Thrombocytopenia often accompanies AIHA. In ITP, blood platelets (which cause blood clotting) are destroyed. The most common clinical signs are hemorrhages of the skin and mucus membranes. Owners of Bichon Frises showing suspicious symptoms should seek immediate veterinary care as these diseases can strike with little or no warning and kill very quickly. Mortality rates of 20% to 80% are reported.

September 5, 2012

Homemade Dog Treat Recipe - Bad Breath Busters

2 cups brown rice flour 
1 Tablespoon activated charcoal (find this at drugstores, not the briquets!) 
3 Tablespoons canola oil 
1 egg 
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint 

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley 
2/3 cup low fat milk

Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly oil a cookie sheet. Combine flour and charcoal. Add all the other ingredients.Drop teaspoon fulls on oiled sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake 15-20 minutes. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator.


Wheat Free Salmon Dog Treats

1 8 oz. can salmon with juice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 eggs, shells included
1/2 cup sesame seeds ground up in coffee grinder
1/2 cup flax seeds ground up in coffee grinder
2-3 cups potato flour Directions:
Pre-heat oven to 375º.Put all the ingredients into a food processor, and mix thoroughly. Pour potato flour through the opening while the motor is running. Add slowly until the dough forms and rolls into a ball. Place dough onto a potato floured counter or board. Knead more flour into dough until texture is cookie consistency. Roll out into about 14 inch thick. Use a pizza cutter to cut long strips and then cut crosswise to make small squares . If you want fancy cookies use a cookie cutter. Makes approx. two whole cookie sheets Spray Cookie sheet with a non-stick spray or line the sheet with parchment paper. Bake at 375º for 20 min. Turn and rotate the cookie sheets and bake about 10 more minutes.
Click to see a list of all recipes published to date:

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Homemade Weight Loss Dog Biscuits

1 medium ripe banana
1 cup shredded carrots (see note below)
1/4 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/8 cup water (you may need to add an additional 1/8 cup water)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup rolled oats
Additional flour for Rolling

Preheat oven to 350° F
Mash the ripe banana in a small bowl.
Grate the carrots, and mix with the banana.
Then pour in the applesauce and water.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and oats.
Make a well in the center of the dryingredients and pour in the carrot mixture.
Stir until thoroughly combined.
Knead the dough in the bowl with your hands.
Fold out onto a floured surface and continue to knead until a dough has formed.
Roll out to 1/2 inch thickness.
Cut out into 3 inch pieces (I used a carrot shaped cookie cutter).
Lightly spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
Place the cut-outs on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes.
Let them cool completely on a wire rack.
Storing - These treats will be fresh in the refrigerator for 3 weeks. Keep them in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Yield - Using a 3 inch cookie cutter, you'll get 24 biscuits.

Tips & Techniques
Shredded Carrots - You can purchase packaged, pre-shredded carrots for thesehomemade dog treats. However, you will still need to run your knife through them to make them smaller, similar in size to the picture above. The benefit to shredding carrots yourself is that you can leave the skin on the carrots and get a little more nutrients out of the carrots. But for those pressed for time, pre-shredded works well, too. Crunchy - Leave them in the oven overnight, after it's turned off, and you'll bake up a sweet and crisp homemade dog treat.
If your sweet friend is going through a dog weight loss program, this dog treat recipe will keep him happy and not feeling left out when it comes to the dog treat jar.

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Over-Vaccination - Dog Owners Beware

By Lisa Rodier
Educate yourself on canine vaccination practices.
You check your mailbox and there it is: a reminder postcard from your dog’s veterinarian. If you’re like many of us dog owners, you groan and toss the card aside.

If you’ve not yet found an enlightened, up-to-date veterinarian, the postcard is likely to say, “It’s time for your dog’s annual vaccinations! Call us today for an appointment!”

We hope, however, that you’ve done your homework and found a veterinary practice whose postcards say something more like, “It’s time for your dog’s wellness examination! Call us today for an appointment!”

Educate yourself on canine vaccination practices using reputable sources so that you can have an intelligent conversation with your veterinarian on the pros and cons of vaccination for your dog; a good place to start are the AAHA Guidelines.

What’s the difference? In 2003, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) revised its vaccination guidelines, recommending that vets vaccinate adult dogs only every three years – not annually. Many enlightened veterinarians changed their canine healthcare protocols to reflect the guidelines, and now suggest annual wellness examinations with vaccinations only every three years.

In WDJ’s opinion (and that of the experts we consult), annual vaccination for most canine diseases is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Dog owners should avoid employing those old-fashioned veterinarians who recommend annual vaccines. Owners should also avoid those veterinary service providers who provide inexpensive vaccines and other routine care without the benefit of a relationship with you and your dog beyond a brief transaction in a parking lot or pet supply store. While the financial cost of vaccine clinics may be appealing, the fact is, your dog’s health may pay the price of unnecessary or inappropriate vaccines.

Be preparedThat said, don’t think for a minute that you need to take your dog to the vet only every three years. It’s imperative that you take your canine companions in for yearly checkups. Rather than throw that postcard in the trash, pick up the phone and call for an appointment. Yearly wellness examinations help our veterinarian develop a good baseline on our dog’s health, be better able to take notice of subtle changes in his health over time, and develop a relationship with our dog and us.

While these annual trips to the vet might now be called “wellness checks” rather than “vaccine visits,” the odds are good that the topic of vaccines will come up. And despite our good intentions, many of us head in with our dog for his annual exam and feel blindsided as the vet suggests an array of vaccines for our dogs. Often, we nod in agreement, get that “deer in the headlights” look and agree with her recommendations (she is the expert after all), then go home with regrets.

Remember the Scout motto and “Be prepared” as you get ready for your dog’s next veterinary appointment. Being prepared means more than remembering to take your dog’s leash, collar with ID, treats, and showing up on time, on the right day, with the right dog. How to best prepare for your dog’s annual veterinary visit and be ready for a discussion on the most appropriate vaccine strategy for him?
Bring veterinary records and/or a list with you of your dog’s vaccination history; do not assume the veterinary clinic will have all the most recent information, especially if you’ve changed clinics. Other test dates and results to bring include most recent heartworm test, antibody titer test results, and blood and/or urinalysis test results. Ideally, you’ll collect all the data ahead of time and enter into a table so that you have a timeline of the pet’s life.

My dogs’ veterinarian, Susan Wynn, DVM, recommends creating a table with vaccines/yearly wellness test along the vertical axis, with dates along the top. If visiting a new clinic, chances are they’ll want proof that your summary is accurate, so request copies of any previous vet records for your dog’s new file.
Have a clear idea in your mind whether you want/need your dog to receive any vaccinations (and for which diseases), an antibody titer test, or none of the above. If you are unsure, cultivate a good understanding of the vaccines available (see page 7 for a list of past WDJ articles on the topic). And ask your veterinarian if any particular vaccines are warranted due to conditions in the area in which you live.
Educate yourself using reputable sources so that you can have an intelligent conversation with your veterinarian on the pros and cons of vaccination for your dog; a good place to start are the AAHA Guidelines. Writings and research by Ronald Schultz, PhD, DACVIM, and Jean Dodds, DVM, are also excellent references.

Know the status of your dog’s health, and whether he has any health or behavioral issues that your veterinarian should be aware of. Bring a list of your dog’s current medications and supplements, including dose, strength, and frequency. Have an idea of what the visit will cost, including any tests, to avoid sticker shock or making hasty (bad) decisions based solely on price. Call ahead.Be prepared to take your dog and go home if you are uncomfortable with your veterinarian’s recommendations. There’s no need to get nasty or defensive. We suggest something along the lines of, “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with those recommendations. I’d like to go home and think about them.”

If you are going to see a veterinarian who is new to you and your dog, consider making an appointment with the veterinarian, without your dog, to discuss her philosophy toward vaccinations and antibody titer tests.

Even a little education goes a long way
Michelle Kitzrow, of Sugar Hill, Georgia, had a change in thinking regarding vaccine protocols after hearing immunology expert Dr. Schultz speak on the topic (see “Vaccinations 101,” WDJ August 2008). Armed with a new understanding of vaccine protocols, Kitzrow took her then-four-year-old Bouvier, Casey, in to see her longtime veterinarian for Casey’s annual exam.

She admits that it “wasn’t very easy” to convince her veterinarian that, in lieu of vaccinations, Casey should receive an antibody titer test to determine whether she had what vaccination experts regard as a “protective level” of circulating antibodies from past vaccinations. But in the end, Kitzrow’s veterinarian relented, and agreed to take and send a blood sample off to a lab for the titer test.

Kitzrow believes that it was the relationship she already had established with Casey’s veterinarian, along with a new and accurate understanding of vaccines, that helped her veterinarian to support her decision. “He knows that I bring in my dogs regularly for veterinary care, and he trusts me to do the right thing. He also appreciated that I had taken the time to educate myself about vaccine protocols and titers.”

An acquaintance of mine, Diane (name changed at her request), had a bit harder time at the annual exam convincing her veterinarian to check her dog’s antibody titers instead of reflexively vaccinating – despite an 18-year relationship with her dogs’ veterinary clinic and the fact that she takes in her dogs twice a year for checkups. Diane’s 16-month-old Bouvier had received a puppy vaccine series, with the final boosters given after she was 16 weeks of age. The series included distemper, hepatitis (adenovirus), parvovirus, parainfluenza (shorthand for this combination of four vaccinations is DHPP), rabies, Leptospirosis, and Bordetella.

"Yeah, hmm, I don't think so." The fact that you receive a postcard from your veterinarian suggesting that your dog is "due" for certain vaccines does NOT mean your dog must have those vaccines!

“At my dog’s most recent vet checkup, I requested that only the rabies vaccine be given. I asked that titers be checked for distemper and parvovirus, and I requested a SNAP® 4Dx® test, which checks for heartworm disease, as well as the most prevalent tick-borne diseases: ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis.

“I declined the combo, ‘all-in-one’ vaccine for distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, and parainfluenza, as well as the Leptospirosis and Bordetella vaccines. I did not want all of those vaccines given at the same time and hoped that the titer results would show adequate immunity. I was adamant that my dog receive only the rabies vaccine at that time. The vet marked ‘refused’ on my dog’s chart next to the other vaccines she wanted my dog to receive that day.”

Diane understands that Lepto and Bordetella need to be given at least yearly to be effective, but has made the decision not to re-vaccinate her dog for those diseases at this time and understands the risk. Dr. Wynn notes that while we as clients might consider a notation of “refused” on our dog’s chart to be judgmental on the veterinarian’s part, the reason that the vet must note in the file that the client declined vaccination is to limit liability in case the animal is infected with that disease and subsequently blames the vet. (Dr. Wynn assures me that this has happened.)

“In this particular situation, it turns out that my decision to decline all of the ‘recommended’ vaccines, except for the rabies booster, was a good choice as the SNAP 4Dx (checked in-house afterward) indicated that my dog has Lyme disease. A follow-up Lyme Quantitative C6 Antibody Test confirmed an active Lyme disease infection, which means that her immune system was already compromised at the time of the exam. The distemper and parvo vaccine titers showed adequate immunologic response, indicating that my dog was still protected against these diseases, most likely from her previous round of vaccinations.”

In fact, vaccinating a dog who has an active Lyme infection might have been harmful. “It is never wise to vaccinate a dog whose immune system is preoccupied with something else,” asserts internal medicine specialist Nancy Kay, DVM, DACVIM, author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life. “The vaccine might ‘distract’ the immune system from the more important task at hand. Also, in theory and for the same reason, the vaccine might not be as likely to create protective immunity.”

Similar to Kitzrow, Diane finds that “Although my dogs’ veterinarian gets exasperated by the decisions I make that are counter to her recommendations, she knows that I appreciate and respect her knowledge and experience. I always ask for her advice regarding my pets’ well-being and do not hesitate to bring my pets to the hospital whenever I have concerns about their health, above and beyond checkups twice a year. She is also aware that I obtain information from a variety of other sources and that I become concerned and wary when there is a real discrepancy or controversy.

“Although she stresses the importance of following her recommendations, she has come to understand that I feel a strong sense of personal responsibility in the decisions made and their effect on the long-term well-being of my pets. If I have serious doubts about a stand that she takes, I will seek a second opinion, elsewhere. On this day, I guess you could say that we agreed to disagree.”

Antibody titer test results showing that no, Otto does NOT need to be vaccinated yet!

Diane is a little saddened that she and the veterinarian were unable to reach common ground, or at least have a more comfortable dialogue, noting, “It’s important for me to have a good rapport with the vets who care for my beloved pets. It’s important to me that they consider themselves an essential part of a team working for the well-being of the animals. Open communication and teamwork between pet owners and their veterinarians is essential.”

How antibody titer tests may affect your decisions
Antigens are any substance that the immune system identifies as an invader and responds to by producing a chemical defense: antibodies. When everything is working as it should, your dog’s immune system will recognize disease antigens that were introduced to his system via a vaccine (weakened or killed) or by natural exposure to the antigen that causes the disease (viral or bacterial).

A “titer” is a measurement of how much antibody to a certain antigen is circulating in the blood at that moment. The result is usually expressed in a ratio. A positive titer test result is strongly correlated with a good antibody response to either a recent infection or vaccination. A dog who has received “core” vaccines and who displays a positive antibody titer test result should be considered protected from the diseases for which he was vaccinated (meaning, he doesn’t need vaccines at that time).

Your dog must undergo a blood draw in order to have an antibody titer test. Labs such as Antech, IDEXX, and most veterinary college laboratories offer these tests. Antibody titer testing is typically run for parvovirus and distemper, since the dog’s antibody response to these two antigens is highly predictive as to the dog’s immunologic competence in dealing with any other antigen to which he has been exposed.

Rarely, there are exceptions. When an antibody titer test is negative, the owner and veterinarian should consider revaccinating and then testing the titers again. It may turn out that the animal simply needed another exposure to the antigen in order to stimulate a stronger immune response. Or, it may develop that the dog lacks the ability to respond normally to vaccines, that is, by mounting a proper immune response. In this case, the owner and veterinarian have gained very valuable information about the dog’s compromised immune status – information they never would have gained by simply vaccinating and assuming the dog was “protected,” as is usually the case with healthy dogs.

Dr. Kay comments, “There are several reasons I can think of why a vet might be loathe to run titers, but of these, I consider only a couple of them to be ‘honorable.’” Two examples she gives are:
Some veterinarians question the accuracy of titers in terms of accurately assessing immunity.
If a dog is truly at a high risk of infectious disease, revaccination might be a safer bet than relying on the results of an antibody titer test. She adds, “Very few dogs are truly in this situation, such as those who live in the midst of lots of completely unvaccinated dogs and in a lower socioeconomic setting.”

When I pressed Dr. Kay on the first point, asking what information “Dr. Doe” would have that trumps information provided by someone such as Dr. Schultz, she replied, “You will get no argument from me on this. I suppose that if Dr. Doe professes that titer tests are not accurate, one could ask to see the data that leads him (or her) to this conclusion.”

Although Dr. Wynn adds, “If a distemper or parvo titer is positive, we know that the dog is protected. If it is negative, the dog might be protected, but we have no practical further test to know whether or not it is. Hence, some veterinarians have said the titer isn’t accurate to point out that we don’t know what a negative titer means.” In the case of negative titers, Dr. Schultz recommends revaccination, even though the dog could already be protected.

If you choose to vaccinateIf you determine that your dog is in need of vaccination, consider the following:
Ask the veterinarian to perform the health exam and other tests first; you might even wait to vaccinate until those results are in, and schedule a follow-up vaccine visit once you know your dog is in the clear, health-wise.

Avoid a combination vaccine (five-in-one-type vaccinations) that offers multiple vaccines in only one shot. Note: some veterinary clinics only carry this type of vaccine. We recommend that you look elsewhere for care.
Do not vaccinate your adult dog more frequently than every three years (unless local conditions suggest a heightened need for Lepto, Bordetella, or Lyme vaccines; these each last a year or less).
At a minimum, try to schedule the rabies vaccine for a different visit than the other vaccines, if your dog needs them. The rabies vaccine should be administered by itself at a later date, apart from the other three “core” vaccines (distemper, parvo-virus, and adenovirus), and in another part of the dog’s body.

If you’re considering vaccinating simply for financial reasons (because vaccines cost less than running a titer test) a well-planned vaccine/titer strategy might have you coming out ahead in the long run if you scale back on vaccines and run titers on a strategically planned schedule.

Veterinary medicine today has advanced to the point of acknowledging that there is no single “perfect” vaccine program; vaccine programs must be tailored to the specific needs of each animal. Although there is a tendency to want to treat all dogs the same, the program should be designed for the individual, not the masses. The dog’s health, age, environment, activities, lifestyle, and whether he has previously had any adverse vaccine reactions all need to figure in to the equation.

If you encounter a veterinarian who continues to advocate yearly vaccination, schedule a sit-down talk with her, or take your business elsewhere. In Dr. Kay’s book, she notes that a “deal breaker” when choosing a veterinarian is when the clinician “vaccinates dogs for everything, every year.”

It’s up to youDon’t expect your veterinarian to ask you broadly what you want to do when you take your dog in for an annual exam. Most veterinarians, unless prompted by the client, will assume that you’re there for “the usual” and will go ahead and recommend annual vaccinations. It is up to you to educate yourself and advocate for your dog and know what vaccines and tests might benefit him, and to know the laws concerning how frequently the rabies vaccine must be administered.

If you and your veterinarian are not on the same page, try having a rational, objective discussion. Put yourself in her position and try to understand her concerns. Take a step back to be sure that what you propose is reasonable. Keep in mind that taking your dog in regularly for annual checkups will help your veterinarian to develop further trust in you and your intentions. If you’ve got a good relationship and you’re armed with the facts, you just might be able to reach common ground.

Lisa Rodier is a frequent contributor to WDJ. She lives in Alpharetta, Georgia, with her husband and two Bouviers, and volunteers with the American Bouvier Rescue League.


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