Hot Diggity Dog

Dachsunds in dog paddling pool As temperatures soar across the UK and Europe, the risk is high that vets will see an influx of dogs suffering from heat-related problems.

With temperatures in the 30s this week, people are still walking dogs and some are even allowing dogs to run after balls or forcing them to run alongside as they puff their way along red-hot tarmac.

Most owners are sensible and take better care of their dogs, but it may still come as a shock to realise that dogs have died of heat-related illness in the UK in far lower temperatures.

New research undertaken on a sample of 1,222 dogs from veterinary records found that, in 2006, dogs became ill and died in the UK due to overheating in every month of the year, with cases peaking in July.

Just under 75% of the dogs became over heated due to over-exertion. 5.2% were due to being left in a hot car and 12.9% in another environment that was too hot.

Young male dogs had greater odds of exertional heat‐related illness. Older dogs and dogs with compromised breathing had the greatest odds of environmental heat‐related illness. Brachycephalic dogs had greater odds of all types of heat‐related illness than mesocephalic dogs. Obesity is a significant risk factor in heat-related death; many brachycephalic dogs are also obese, and the extreme prevalence of heart disease in breeds such as Cavalier King Charles spaniels also compromises breathing and cooling. Dogs are just as likely to die from heat-related over-exertion as being left in a hot car.

Meanwhile, the Veterinary Poisons Information Service warns that vets have seen dogs suffering from gut obstruction due to chewing and ingesting cool mats.

Keep your dog cool and keep your dog safe.

Dog-gone

chalk drawings of dogs The latest figures released by insurer Direct Line report that dog thefts in England and Wales fell by 23% in 2019 (approximately 600 fewer dogs being stolen than in 2018).

However, there has also been a reported 65% increase in the number of dogs reported to charity DogLost as being stolen between March 23rd and June 1st, 2020 as the Covid-19 lockdown began. There also seem to have been clusters of thefts, notably in East Anglia where thieves are reported to have left chalk marks to identify houses with dogs. Although this has not been confirmed, it was also reported in 2018 in Scotland.

Whether chalk marks are being used or not, it is certain that dogs are stolen every day, mostly for re-sale or for use as breeding dogs in puppy farms. Direct Line report that just 22% of stolen dogs were returned to their owners in 2019 and this number seems to be falling.

The honest truth is that owners want dogs in hurry and will buy from websites and other dubious sources without making any checks. Although a campaign was instigated to get vets to check chips after the daughter of the late Bruce Forsyth had two dogs stolen. However, vets have a primary duty to care for dogs, not to act as an unpaid police force. There are simply too few resources put into Dog Wardens to police even the microchipping law systematically and effectively.

There are simple precautions that can be taken to prevent theft:

  • Do not leave dogs unattended in cars or outside shops
  • Train good recall and pay attention to your dog when out on walks
  • Do not leave dogs unattended in gardens or kennels
  • Keep your microchip database up to date.

Qui eripuit canis, qui eripuit?

St Bernard Rescue Dog A story broke today that a St Bernard dog, a breed famed for mountain rescue, herself needed rescuing from Scafell Pike.

The tone of the articles was relatively light-hearted but the operation required 16 members of the Wasdale Mountain Rescue team to administer pain relief then carry a dog weighing 55kg for five hours over rough terrain, including negotiating a waterfall.

The dog is 4 years old. Young for most breeds but in the giant breeds with a life-expectancy that rarely breeches double figures, middle aged. A 2014 UKKC breed health survey of 65 St Bernards with a median age of 3 years found that the majority of the dogs were affected by at least one condition. There were 77 incidents of conditions overall, with a median age of onset of just 18 months. Hip dysplasia was the third most commonly reported problem. Reportedly, the dog taken off Scafell Pike was showing signs of pain and refusing to walk. Hardly surprising.

There are often people who risk rescuers’ lives by going into potentially dangerous environments unprepared, but subjecting such a dog to England’s highest mountain beggars belief.

It wasn’t always like this of course. St Bernard dogs have not been used for mountain rescue since 1955, not least because crossing with Newfoundlands in the mid-19thC and closed stud books made them unfit for purpose. The dogs in the image on the right were the St Bernards of 1929. Tragic hardly covers it.

Sticking In The Throat

salmonella on raw steak Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland) is a common endocrine disorder in dogs whereas hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid gland) is a rare disease.
A retrospective study of dogs diagnosed with hypothyroidism found one thing that all the sufferers had in common: they were fed a raw diet. The severity of the signs with which the dogs presented varied but all recovered when the raw does was replaced with a complete, commercial, dry diet.
The dogs became ill with excess thyroid hormone because the raw diets included necks and tracheas with the thyroid gland still attached. Thyroid hormones are not destroyed by stomach acids and so are absorbed into the dog’s body.
Of course, it is possible to argue that, as long as raw food is guaranteed not to contain thyroid gland tissue, it could still be fed safely, but then there is the problem of the salmonella, e, coli, campylobacter, listeria…

Covid Cons

Dog for sale Just as the SARS COV-2 virus exploits weaknesses in its human hosts in order to reproduce, conmen exploit weakness, especially in times of crisis.

One of the major problems in improving canine welfare is that purchasers are still demanding that dogs be sold as “off the shelf” commodities. Puppy farming would stop tomorrow, “rescue” centres would be cleared of dogs and border control would not have to spend time trying to stop van loads of sickly puppies entering the country if only people researched and considered their purchases and recognised that it can take months and sometimes years to get a heathy, well-bred dog. Local authorities would be spared the cost of taking nearly 60,000 abandoned dogs off the streets annually and could spend those resources educating and assisting canine professionals and owners instead.

The vast majority of dogs bought and sold in the UK are either trafficked in or bought or recycled from puppy farms and unlicensed breeders. Complaints from potential owners that they are being defrauded and ripped off are coming thick and fast. Badly and illegally bred dogs are being parcelled out for thousands of pounds apiece to fuel the demand for a “lockdown” pet. Many of those who actually part with money and receive a dog may then face huge vet bills and many dogs and cats are expected to be dumped within weeks or months.

Then of course, the whole nightmare begins again for the poor animal as new owners, thinking erroneously that it is better to “rescue” their new pet rather than buy from a reputable breeder make room for more and have to deal with the consequences of bringing a traumatised animal into their home.

There is a very easy way to stop this. Plan to wait up to 2 years to get a fully health-tested dog, do lots of research beforehand, don’t buy animals advertised online and don’t part with stupid amounts of money.

If there is no one to exploit, conmen will go elsewhere. It’s up to you.

Dogs Still On The Menu

Chinese dog It seems that China is still refusing to learn the lessons of the dangers of wet markets in spite of the global SAR-COV-2 pandemic which has seen recent additional outbreaks in Beijing and elsewhere.

The Lychee and Dog Meat Festival in Yulin has begun again this year, with an estimated 1,000 dogs being eaten daily over the ten-day celebration. Cat meat is also on the menu. Whilst dogs have been raised for food in China for at least 400 years, the Yulin festival only began in 2009 when it could hardly be argued that they are a necessary source of protein. Dog-meat eating is surrounded by superstitions such as eating the meat during the summer months brings luck and good health and that dog meat can ward off diseases and heighten men’s sexual performance.

Sechzuan province has taken a lead by re-classifying dogs and cats as companion animals rather than livestock, but clearly this has not spread to Guangxi province, let alone elsewhere. Up to 20 million dogs are killed and eaten annually across China even though

Whilst there is nothing wrong per se with eating dog meat, the sheer numbers slaughtered have led to many companion animals being seized and, more to the point, the conditions under which the dogs are kept and then killed are appalling. Of course, there is the additional chance that this will cause the spread of zoonotic diseases as the whole world know knows to its cost.

Just My Type

Pet Blood Bank UK first Bramble Craddock award winner Stop Press: The Pet Blood Bank UK are trying to raise £18,000 for a new van. You can make a donation here:

Pet Blood Bank UK Van Appeal

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?

Fanning Flames

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.

When Will People Learn?

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.

Dutch Courage

pug face measurement 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:

  • Affenpinscher
  • Boston Terrier
  • Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Griffon Belge
  • Griffon Bruxellois
  • Japanese Chin
  • King Charles Spaniel
  • Pekingese
  • Petit Brabancon
  • Pug
  • Shih Tzu.