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…
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.
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.
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.