June 14th was World Blood Donor Day, so a timely reminder that Pet Blood Bank UK have been carrying on (almost) regardless during the current restrictions, with safe distancing donations from donor dogs.
One dog can help to save up to four dogs’ lives in each donation and dogs can nw donate up to six times per year. If your dog is fit and well, between 1 and 8 years old, weighs over 25kg and has never travelled abroad, why not consider becoming a donor?
As flames spread across Washington and Minnesota, an incident that occurred in Central Park, NYC last week has, understandably, become overshadowed.
Amy Cooper was walking her dog off lead in The Ramble, an area of Central Park where dogs are required to be on lead. A minor rule infringement you may think.
I have been walking a dog in an area controlled by a PSPO – dogs are also required to be on lead and it is a criminal offence to refuse to put a dog on lead here when requested to do so. That request was posted in a notice on all gates. Most were torn down and only one or two other walkers obeyed.
So why does it matter?
Well, needless to say, very few owners have good recall and, at a time when we are all supposed to be keeping at least 6ft away from each other, out of control dogs necessitate owners getting close. This is annoying at any time but could now be life-threatening.
How we react though, is all-important. Amy Cooper was so determined that she was not going to put her dog on lead that she made a false and racially-biased claim to the police. The birdwatcher who had reminded her of her obligation filmed the entire, shocking incident.
Not only is her false allegation shocking, she is so focused on demanding that the birdwatcher stop filming that she pays no attention to her dog. The poor dog is dragged by the throat, suspended at waist level and paddles frantically with his hind feet until he collapses at her feet.
This dog came from a shelter. She “rescued” it.
It remains to be seen whether any legal action will be taken against Amy Cooper, but she has now lost her job – and her dog.
More to the point, just because an owner was too arrogant to obey the rules of the park, this poor dog had to suffer being choked and no doubt frightened, and now has to cope with the whole re-homing process again.
Think on that next time you think that you too are above the law.
There are two avoidable incidents that regularly crop up with depressing predictability: someone will die trying to get their dog out of water (the dog often extricates itself) and someone will die because they walked their dog between a cow and her calf.
It is the latter that has hit the headlines today: one person dead and the other airlifted out with injuries and now facing life without a partner.
Farmers have a duty of care to anyone who may access a public right of way on their land but it behoves all people, and especially those with dogs, not to put themselves at risk in the first place.
Regardless of demands for “rights to roam”, land is a farmer’s livelihood and the territory of the animals grazing it. Whilst it can be difficult to find areas to walk dogs on or off lead in the country, avoiding fields where there are livestock with young is better than taking risks and possibly putting those who come to the rescue at risk too.
At last some real action on brachycephalic dog welfare. Pedigree Dogs Exposed has circulated the news that the Dutch Kennel Club will no longer issue full pedigree certificates to extreme brachycephalic breeds unless an independent veterinary check confirms that at least one parent has a muzzle of the required length. This refers in turn to legislation that introduced six new breeding criteria in March 2019 and stipulated standards for eye conformation, nostril stenosis, abnormal breathing, excess skin folds and that muzzle length must be at least one third the length of the dog’s head, with the aim to breed towards half the length of the head.
Predictably, breed clubs, with one notable exception, were outraged. All the usual eugenic protests surfaced including that from the Pug Breed Council in the UK that accused the Dutch KC of “being happy to see the demise of historic breeds that have existed for hundreds of years.” They are wilfully oblivious to the fact that these comparatively modern dog breeds have not existed in the current extreme forms for more than a handful of decades. The Pug Breed Council added that “The Dutch government’s decision is “beyond our comprehension.”
It is truly beyond my comprehension how anyone purporting to be concerned for the welfare of dogs could perpetuate the misery and suffering in dogs that so many of these breeders are producing. Breed clubs and Kennel Clubs perpetually lay the blame for poor breeding at the feet of back-street breeders and puppy farmers whilst not apparently recognising that they are at the top of this rotten tree, strutting their stuff with what the RSPCA’s then chief vet Mark Evans called in 2008 “a parade of mutants”.
Legislation forbidding breeding that compromises welfare has existed in the Netherlands since 2014 and in the UK since 2006, strengthened by the new licensing legislation that came into effect in 2018. Little if anything has changed though.
The Dutch KC is planning a separate registry for dogs that do not meet their criteria and another registry for outcrosses bred with the aim of improving the phenotype. Dogs on those registers can be tracked but will not be accepted on to the stud book or into the show ring.
About time too.
Maybe we will one day be able to see dogs that again represent a truly proud heritage. Dogs that can mate, breathe, eat and regulate their body temperature properly. Dogs that can play and sleep without collapsing. The Dutch Kennel Club seems to be taking the first steps towards that day. Let us hope that where they lead, others will follow – and that many other breeds suffering from exaggerated conformation will be brought into consideration.
Maybe one day humans will realise that these hideous neotenised, snorting animals with infected skin and grossly shortened lives are not grateful for the “care” that owners lavish upon them and, above all, that there is nothing cute about misery.
The following breeds are affected by the legislation in the Netherlands:
- Boston Terrier
- French Bulldog
- Griffon Belge
- Griffon Bruxellois
- Japanese Chin
- King Charles Spaniel
- Petit Brabancon
- Shih Tzu.
Although the “jobs” that dogs undertake have changed radically in recent years, man and dog are still as thick as thieves and greater understanding of the science behind the relationship has enabled us to communicate and fathom dogs in a way that was undreamed of.
Anecdotal accounts of dogs being able to detect malignant tumours in humans led to dogs being trained to detect all sorts of volatile compounds that cause illness in man.
Now a study is underway in which six dogs are being trained to see if they can detect the SARS-COV-2 virus that causes COVID 19. The charity Medical Detection Dogs are working in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Durham University, with the aim that dogs could help to provide a rapid, non-invasive diagnosis, perhaps as soon as in 6 weeks.
MDD has already trained dogs to detect various cancers, Parkinson’s disease, bacterial infections and malaria. Dogs are also able to detect subtle changes in skin temperature, so could potentially indicate if someone has a fever.
Trained dogs could be deployed to identify incoming infected travellers or be deployed in other public spaces to help with tracking and tracing infection as the lockdown is eased.
It is understandable in the current situation that research is published quickly and, of necessity, before peer review. Creditably, it is also often made available via Creative Commons licensing.
One such paper has been picked up by various media today suggesting that feral dogs rather than pangolins could have been a vector for the SARS-COV-2 virus.
Approximately 80% of the world’s dogs are feral, living alongside but not formally with, humans with varying degrees of tolerance on the part of the latter. One such group of dogs is a landrace dog on the Indian sub-continent. Taking their name from the Pariah tribe of Madras, a derivation of the Anglo-Indian word pye or paë and the Hindi pāhī meaning ‘outsider’, the term has become synonymous with all outcasts particularly those who are ostracised. Just as the very word “dog” is used as an insult, so the poor pariahs.
Feral dogs can and do transmit zoonotic diseases, notably rabies, but academics have already poured scorn on the suggestion that they have been responsible for humans contracting COVID-19.
The consensus appears to be that conclusion have been drawn from weak and erroneous evidence based on the suggestion that feral dogs ate infected bats and were them presumably eaten by humans as it has already been proven that dogs do not become symptomatic even in the rare event that they have become infected and that they do to transmit the virus easily.
As Professor James Wood, Head of Department of Veterinary Medicine and researcher in infection dynamics and control of diseases at the University of Cambridge, said:
“I find it difficult to understand how the author has been able to conclude anything from this study, or to hypothesise much, let alone that the virus causing COVID19 may have evolved through dogs. There is far too much inference and far too little direct data. I do not see anything in this paper to support this supposition and am concerned that this paper has been published in this journal. I do not believe that any dog owners should be concerned as a result of this work.”
This is a difficult and unprecedented time for everyone in the world. There are no blueprints, no historical precedents on this scale to help us. Whilst we struggle to come to terms with a global pandemic, it is impossible to explain to our dogs why their world has suddenly shrunk and changed beyond all recognition.
There are some things that we can do to help them adjust and to make our lives a little less stressful whilst abiding by government advice and obligations and remaining safe.
1 Stimulation is as important for dogs as exercise. Find novel ways to keep your dog’s mind occupied, especially if exercise is limited
2 Now is the time to start or improve training. 5-15 minutes per day of non-aversive, positive training will work wonders
3 Use a lead and a long line when your dog is in public. Even if your recall is brilliant, that doesn’t apply to other dogs and it is imperative that you do not get into a situation that would make it impossible to keep at least six feet away from other people
4 Maintain a routine. Predictability helps dogs to feel secure even if it is different to your normal routine
5 Keep toys limited to two different types and swap them over periodically so that your dog does not become bored
6 Make sure that your dog has a safe, quiet place and can choose to go there, especially if your house is fuller and noisier than normal
7 Limit and control access that children have to your dog so that extra time at home does not mean extra pressure and stress for your dog
9 If you have new puppy, find inventive ways to continue socialisation: use sound tapes, wear a variety of different clothes, create lots of different surfaces to walk on etc
10 Keep it fun: keep it safe.
Contact DogsNet to obtain a unique COVID-19 Survival Guide
Worried about whether your dog or cat could catch COVID-19?
There have been reports in the press that two dogs and one cat have tested positive for COVID-19. Companion animals act as fomites – a surface on which COVID-19 can settle and be transferred via direct contact. Current advice is that following the correct hand washing technique should help to protect you and your animals from infection.
A new study published by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences has found that dogs, pigs, chickens and ducks transmit the virus poorly, but that ferrets and cats transmit it much more effectively. The cats in the study passed the virus to other cats in close proximity through aerosol transmission.
Ferret and cats owners in particular should therefore be very careful to limit close contact and observe the recommended hygiene procedures.
As COVID-19 restrictions begin to bite in the UK with what seems like the beginning of the wave of infections, many dog owners must be very worried about how they will keep their dogs exercised and happy over the coming days and weeks, and perhaps months.
Not every dog owner has a garden and many have very small spaces, perhaps not even with grass. The National Trust, Royal Parks and many local authority parks have already closed gated green spaces and some car parks.
Government advice at time of writing is that one outing a day is permitted to exercise, including walking dogs.
It should be obvious that ensuring one’s own safety as well as that of other people is of the utmost urgency, but the behaviour of many people over the last weekend beggared belief.
Please remember the importance of keeping your dog mentally stimulated and, whilst physical activity outdoors may be limited, keep up and even enhance your training regime, play brain games and keep your dog challenged mentally.
Keep your distance from other people while out walking and take bio-security precautions if you are helping with a dog belonging to someone who is symptomatic or ill.
Keep well, keep safe, keep stimulated!
The final line up at Crufts was one of the most depressing that we have seen in a while. Puffed up and preened, the poor Old English sheepdog was as far away from guarding sheep as he could be, although at least he has an in-breeding coefficient of 0%. The Irish Setter has an in-breeding coefficient of 16.2%, 2.7% higher than the breed average; the miniature poodle 11.7%, a whopping 6.8% higher than the breed average, and the BIS winner, the wire haired dachsund 10.8%, also 6.8% higher than the breed average.
Even without this close level of in-breeding, deciding that out of approximately 20,000 entries, that an achondroplastic dog with a ridiculously elongated back is the best example of a dog makes me despair. The fact that this dog also needed to eliminate in the ring was also hardly edifying from a welfare perspective.
The BVA President Daniella dos Santos said “We’re concerned that seeing a dachshund crowned top dog at Crufts could lead to a further rise in their popularity and related increase in the health issues that can unfortunately affect these and other long and low breeds.”
However, this horse has possibly already bolted: as with other deformed phenotypes, dachsunds, and in particular miniature dachshunds have gained in popularity and seem to be almost as ubiquitous as pugs and French bulldogs, not least in the popular media.
How ironic that Vitality UK, a life insurance company, has chosen a miniature dachshund to promote their product. The BVA note that “…all six varieties of dachshunds– Standard Long-, Smooth-, and Wire-haired, and their miniature versions– [are] at risk of serious spinal and neurological issues which usually require surgery to fix. These problems may not be immediately obvious, but often cause them life-long discomfort and may need costly treatment”.
The most common problem is Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) which causes early degenerative changes in the discs that act as “shock absorbers” for the spine making them prone to herniate and calcify and resulting in the spinal cord compressing.
This is extremely painful for dogs and they may yelp, show a hunched back with the head down, shiver, pant, refuse to move or be unable to jump or negotiate stairs. It progresses to difficulty in walking with poor control of the hind limbs and ultimately, complete paralysis. Severely affected dogs have a paralysed bladder and may be unable to urinate and/or dribble urine. Completely paralysed dogs have no bladder function and lose the ability to feel pain.
Dachshunds are 10-12 times more likely to suffer from IVDD than other dog breeds. At least 20% of all dachshunds will show clinical signs of this disease. The median age of onset of disease is between 5-7 years, with the Standard and Miniature Smooth Haired and the Miniature Wire Haired having the highest prevalence.
Even if the BIS winner is not affected, how does promoting this type of extreme physical distortion promote canine health?
Unsurprisingly, appearance is often prioritised over health and, horrifyingly, in the case of brachycephalic dogs, because of their poor health. The survey also found that “…owners who kept brachycephalic breeds tended to be younger, buying for the first time and without any prior ownership of dogs”.
Another study found that “…owners of French Bulldogs and Chihuahuas, breeds that are prone to health problems owing to their extreme body conformation, [felt that] the health of the breed was reported to be of less importance in pre-acquisition motivations when compared to the dog’s appearance…Thus, it is possible that health, as a trait, is potentially important in some owners’ acquisition motivations, though here it is poor health that is being favoured.”
This may also explain why some owners are unwilling to allow their dog to undergo life-changing surgery such as correction for BOAS. This is backed up by another study which found that “…owners of brachycephalic dogs were less likely to see either parent of their puppy: 12% of brachycephalic owners saw neither parent, compared to 5% of non-brachycephalic owners. Those who owned brachycephalic dogs were also less likely to ask for any health records, suggesting that owners of these dogs are less motivated to buy a healthy individual within a breed”.
The authors went on to say that owners deliberately purchasing unhealthy dogs diminishes the demand for healthy dogs, or at least health tested dogs and perpetuates the proliferation of puppy farms, back street breeders and online sales.
Looks really can kill.