Hybrid Breeds – Designer Dogs Or Disaster in the Making?

ImageThey are all the rage across the United States and beyond.   Cross-breed dogs such as cock-a-poos have been around for many years, while newer crosses, such as labradoodles and puggles keep rising in popularity.  So, are these dogs a new “hot” breed or just a designer mutt?

Some historians and dog enthusiasts have traced certain breeds of dogs back almost 8,000 years.   This lineage may show that humans began selective breeding of dogs soon after first domesticating the wild ancestors of our family pet.  The American Kennel Club officially recognizes more than 160 breeds with almost 60 listed as Foundation Stock.  With all these breeds to choose from, why would anyone want to create another?

The current rage of “new” breeds probably began in the late 1970s by an Australian trying to help find a seeing-eye dog for a woman whose husband was allergic to most dogs.  According to the International Labradoodle Association, www.ilainc.com, a member of the Royal Guide Dogs, suggested mating a Labrador to a Standard Poodle and thus the first “Labradoodles” were born.  One of the three pups born in the litter, Sultan, eventually made his way to Hawaii and the vision-impaired woman with the allergic husband.  Since that time, more than 3500 dogs have been registered with the ILA.  Miniature labradoodles have even been bred!

Can An Ear Implant Save a Dogs Life?

ImageEar cropping is considered unnecessary and cruel in today’s modern society.  Only a handful of breeds still allow cropped ears in the breed standard.  Still, hundreds of dogs every year show up in breed rescues with deformed and ugly ears from surgeries that went bad.  And, adopting or foster families often pass over these pets because of their bad looks.  Read how the inventor of Neuticles has created an implant that may help some of these homeless dogs find their forever homes.

Ear trims and tail docking are subjects that are sure to cause controversy in a room full of animal lovers.  Considered unnecessary and even cruel, many veterinarians have stopped performing these procedures altogether.  In a time when cosmetic surgeries on pets generate strong emotions, why would anyone introduce a product designed to help a dog’s floppy ears stand up straight?

Our favorite dog breeds come in all shapes and sizes.  From the monstrous Mastiffs and Great Danes to the petite and fragile Yorkies, there seems to be a breed built for everyone!  But, some pet owners and breeders have continued a long tradition that many find completely unneeded and even repulsive…cropping the pet’s ears!

Feral Cats: The Forgotten Felines

ImageSneaking through back alleyways and abandoned lots, millions of feral and stray cats make their homes in our cities and rural areas.  Often fearful of people, these “wild” cats are blamed for everything from decimating bird populations to killing sea otters.  What’s the truth behind these feral felines and why are some people so determined to save their lives?

Cat lovers are abundant across this country as is evident by the more than 80 million pampered felines sharing our homes.  But, living outdoors is another huge population of cats that has far fewer admirers and lives in constant danger of imminent death, usually at our hands!

There is no way of knowing for certain, but experts estimate that the feral cat population in North American equals or even exceeds the “owned” cat population.  A feral cat is one that is unsocialized to humans and actively avoids contact.  Stray cats, on the other hand, are often ones that have left home or are cats that have been abandoned by their owners.  These “strays” will often approach humans and even allow petting.  All cats, feral, stray and owned cats who are simply roaming the neighborhood are all members of our domestic species, Felis catus.

 

Extending Your Dog’s Life

ImageWhen something good comes along, it is only natural that we want to keep it around as long as possible.  This is especially true of our pets.  Advances in veterinary medicine have nearly doubled the life span of our dogs, but is it possible to do more?  As the aging process is better understood, new therapies and supplements are developed, each promising to add year’s to your pet’s life.

No one likes to think about a beloved pet growing older.  We cringe as the once exuberant puppy needs help up stairs or tires after a short walk.  Anti-Aging medicine is the newest clinical medical specialty offered to physicians. So, why don’t we hear more about this for our pets?

Pet owners are demanding a higher quality of medicine for their pets and human medicine is moving from a disease-based model to a preventive, proactive approach.  Shouldn’t our veterinarians move in this direction as well?

The Battle Against Heartworms Is Getting Tougher!

Despite preventives that are nearly 100% effective, veterinarians continue to report increasing numbers of canine heartworm disease cases.  Some owners blame the heartworm preventives for failing their pets, but the reality of the situation is much different. Every month, lots of dog owners, and a few cat owners, give their pets some form of heartworm prevention.  But recent studies are showing increasing numbers of heartworm positive pets across the country.  Some people believe the worms now have the upper hand.  Has our trusted protection failed us?

Dog owners, and a growing number of cat owners understand that once -a-month heartworm preventives keep their pets safe from a very serious cardiovascular parasitic disease.  Despite consistent use of preventive medications, a significant number of dogs are testing positive for heartworms, especially in the mosquito heavy Southeastern US.  Are we seeing the beginnings of a resistance movement?

In some cases, careful questioning of the clients reveals some monthly doses of medication were not given, opening the door for potential infection.  In other cases, medical records and client compliance appear to be complete, yet the pet is positive on the annual heartworm blood test.

Heartworm preventive works by killing immature heartworm larvae that are spread by mosquitoes.  In theory, a pet who receives medication each month should be protected and never have a positive heartworm test.  Why then, do some dogs test positive?