Thursday, February 28, 2013

Spay or Neutering Your Mastiff or Other Giant Breed Dog

I wanted to do a quick edit to this specific blog because I think is it a very important topic.  I wanted to add a link to an article recently published by The Dog Place; Rethinking Spay and Neuter.

A lot of new pet owners are under the assumption that they should have their new puppy spayed or neutered by the age of six months.  This timeframe has been preached by vets, animal shelters, rescue organizations and numerous other sources for ages.  The funny thing is that there is no real proof that this is the magic age to alter your pet. 

It is EXTREMELY important that you do not alter your Mastiff until at least 18 months of age, and preferably after 2 years of age.  The growth plates in a giant breed dog are regulated by hormones.  If you chose to remove those hormones by spaying or neutering your Mastiff  prior to completion of growth you are asking for numerous joint, bone and growth issues down the line.

The first thing that can happen is you get a Mastiff that is as tall as a Great Dane and not much wider.  The hormones that tell the growth plates to stop growing upward are removed when the animal is altered, so the bones just keep going up and up. Don't care about appearance?  Check out what else could occur should you chose to alter your pet prematurely.
There is a very good article published by the National Animal Interest Alliance titled Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs. (Laura J. Sanborn M.S. May 14, 2007) Here is a summary of the article:

An objective reading of the veterinary medical literature reveals a complex situation with respect to the long- term health risks and benefits associated with spay/neuter in dogs. The evidence shows that spay/neuter correlates with both positive AND adverse health effects in dogs. It also suggests how much we really do not yet understand about this subject.

On balance, it appears that no compelling case can be made for neutering most male dogs, especially immature male dogs, in order to prevent future health problems. The number of health problems associated with neutering may exceed the associated health benefits in most cases.

On the positive side, neutering male dogs  
•eliminates the small risk (probably <1%) of dying from testicular cancer
•reduces the risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders
•reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
•may possibly reduce the risk of diabetes (data inconclusive)

On the negative side, neutering male dogs 
•if done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a common cancer in medium/large and larger breeds with a poor prognosis.
•increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 1.6
•triples the risk of hypothyroidism
•increases the risk of progressive geriatric cognitive impairment
•triples the risk of obesity, a common health problem in dogs with many associated health problems
•quadruples the small risk (<0.6%) of prostate cancer
•doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract cancers
•increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
•increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

For female dogs, the situation is more complex. The number of health benefits associated with spaying may exceed the associated health problems in some (not all) cases. On balance, whether spaying improves the odds of overall good health or degrades them probably depends on the age of the female dog and the relative risk of various diseases in the different breeds.

On the positive side, spaying female dogs 
•if done before 2.5 years of age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors, the most common malignant tumors in female dogs
•nearly eliminates the risk of pyometra, which otherwise would affect about 23% of intact female dogs; pyometra kills about 1% of intact female dogs
•reduces the risk of perianal fistulas
•removes the very small risk (0.5%) from uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors

On the negative side, spaying female dogs
•if done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a common cancer in larger breeds with a poor prognosis
•increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 2.2 and cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of >5; this is a common cancer and major cause of death in some breeds
•triples the risk of hypothyroidism
•increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6-2, a common health problem in dogs with many associated health problems
•causes urinary “spay incontinence” in 4-20% of female dogs
•increases the risk of persistent or recurring urinary tract infections by a factor of 3-4
•increases the risk of recessed vulva, vaginal dermatitis, and vaginitis, especially for female dogs spayed before puberty
•doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract tumors
•increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
•increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations

One thing is clear – much of the spay/neuter information that is available to the public is unbalanced and contains claims that are exaggerated or unsupported by evidence. Rather than helping to educate pet owners, much of it has contributed to common misunderstandings about the health risks and benefits associated of spay/neuter in dogs.

The traditional spay/neuter age of six months as well as the modern practice of pediatric spay/neuter appear to predispose dogs to health risks that could otherwise be avoided by waiting until the dog is physically mature, or perhaps in the case of many male dogs, foregoing it altogether unless medically necessary.

The balance of long-term health risks and benefits of spay/neuter will vary from one dog to the next. Breed, age, and gender are variables that must be taken into consideration in conjunction with non-medical factors for each individual dog. Across-the-board recommendations for all pet dogs do not appear to be supportable from findings in the veterinary medical literature.”

A few other statistics I pulled from the article in regards to early spay or neuter and the correlation of Osteocarcenoma are as follows:
“A multi-breed case-control study of the risk factors for osteosarcoma found that spay/neutered dogs (males or females) had twice the risk of developing osteosarcoma as did intact dogs.”

“The researchers suggest a cause-and-effect relationship, as sex hormones are known to influence the maintenance of skeletal structure and mass, and also because their findings showed an inverse relationship between time of exposure to sex hormones and risk of osteosarcoma.”

“Given the poor prognosis of osteosarcoma and its frequency in many breeds, spay/neuter of immature dogs in the medium/large, large, and giant breeds is apparently associated with a significant and elevated risk of death due to osteosarcoma.”
Some other important health aspects related to early spay/neuter are the increased risk of obesity, spay incontinence in female dogs, increased risk of vaccine reactions and other orthopedic issues.

I recommend that any pet and specifically giant breeds such as Mastiffs are NOT to be altered before they are 18 months of age for these reasons.  When it comes to the lifelong health of your pet these highly increased risks are just not worth taking.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quality of Dog Food - A Movie Clip from Hit and Run

I just wanted to share an amazing clip from a movie we watched last night.  While not about dogs at all, there is a 5 minute scene in the movie that has now made this our new favorite movie. 

I might add that this also gives us one more reason to love Bradley Cooper! The movie is called Hit and Run, and overall was much more entertaining than I had imagined it would be. I recommend you see the whole movie if you like action type comedies. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Interview with A Mastiff - Boone Dog Mastiff

I thought it would be fun for everyone to get to know all of the gang a little better, so I’ve been interviewing everyone in the family! Our first guest interview is Boone!

Me and sissy Brinkley hanging in the backyard
Tell us about your family?
Well, my there’s the mom, she takes care of everything and feeds me and such. I try to get the dad to feed me by staring incessantly at him while he eats off the plate thing, but all I ever get is to lick his scraps off when he’s done. I like to play with the dad, I initiate this by barking at him for 5 minutes or more while he is busy until he either plays with me or the mom makes me stop (cause I don’t listen when the dad says to stop). My sissy Brinkley is super fun and I love to bug her and play with her, but sometimes she gets tired of me and gives me the stink eye, so I back off so I don’t get growled at. At that point I usually go bark at the dad again. And then there’s the cat. I like to follow her around sometimes and poke her with my nose and play, but deep down she terrifies me, so once she gets angry I run away or she bites my nose and makes it bleed! Owwwie! I’m kind of a big baby, so when she does this it is similar to me dying and I let the mom know by pouting for hours.

What is your favorite food?
We used to get little nuggets of hard stuff to eat, but since my 2nd birthday the mom gives us MEAT! I love meat, it’s so yummy. Before I would only eat a little bit and not eat some meals, but ever since I get meat I eat it all up…. except chicken livers… I don’t like those. They are icky. For treats I like the dried lamb lung the mom gets me at Lizzi and Rocco’s Natural Pet Market, I also get dried tracheas from there and moozles sometimes if I’m really good… or if the mom feels bad when she’s not home very much on a weekend or weeknight. I’ve figured that one out!

Wearing this stupid birthday hat was one
of my least favoritie things to do too
What is you’re least favorite thing to do?
I don’t like it when the mom washes me cause I stink, or at least that’s what she says, I don’t like it when she cuts my toe nails off with those horrid clipper things either, it’s awful. But most of all I hate when she puts that greasy chapstick SnoutStick stuff on my nose cause it gets dry. I HATE THAT. I think she got that stuff from Lizzi and Rocco’s too. The mom thinks it makes my dry nose better, but I don't care. hmmmppffff!

What are some of your hobbies?
I like to make sure the couch doesn’t get lonely for about 15 hours a day. Any other time I just want to GO, I don’t care where or why or how, I just want to GO! It’s my favorite word. I go hiking a lot, that’s one of my favorites!

Where are your favorite places to visit?
Lizzi and Rocco’s, where I get to meet lots of other dogs, get treats and get my picture taken to support other doggies and kitties that don’t have a mom and dad like me. I also like to go hiking anywhere! There are tons of trails around and I love them all. I like the ones with water to play in the best. I also like to tailgate the Mizzou games if it’s not too hot, I get tons of attention at those and I go to Bass Pro a lot and get petted by all the employees and customers too. Finally, I love to go to Columbia Canine Sports Center to learn all kinds of new things that make the mom yell at me less. They taught me how to be a good boy and be calm in public and respectful of other doggies.
Here's me hiking... I love hiking!
Boone what’s it like having a brindle as a little sister? Is what they say true?
Sissy is definitely crazy, she is so weird and sometimes she is mean to me on purpose. I love her to death though, probably way more than she loves me. Sometimes when I want her to play I go find her favorite toy and play with it right in front of her so she wants to play with me, works every time. She’s so easy.

What would you like to tell everyone about yourself?
I am the happiest, friendliest dog there is. I love everyone and everything. I would really like it if when people asked to pet me they actually petted me instead of patting me on the head once and then cringing when I try to sniff them, it’s just me saying hi, they should let me do it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Credit Where Credit is Due - Brinkley's TPLO Surgery Thanks!

Well the good GREAT news is that Brinkley went for her 8 week follow-up xrays for her TPLO surgery yesterday.  The vet said she couldn’t be healing any better!  Woohoo, I’m so relieved.  Since this ordeal began, and now hopefully is coming to a close very soon, I would like to take a few quick moments to give credit where credit is due.

1.      Midwest Veterinary Referral Center, the specialty vet group who performed Brinkley’s surgery, and more specifically Dr. Jill Luther, VM, MS, Diplomate ACVS.  She could not have been more professional and compassionate about the situation, in handling Brinkley and answering my numerous questions.  The entire staff at MVRC was equally as wonderful in returning calls, emailing documents in a timely manner and following up after the surgery. They all went above and beyond in my book.
2.      PurinacarePet Insurance, who paid out on Brinkley’s insurance claim in a timely and efficient manner.  Not only did they pre-qualify the claim for me so it would payout once the bills came in, Lisa, an underwriter, specifically contacted me when a piece of information was missing, as well as emailed me while the claim was in process just to keep my up-to-date of when I should receive the reimbursement check.

3.      My work… what other company would be so wonderful to understand what a huge deal this was to me.  To so many others she’s ‘just a dog’, but at the office they know how important my pets are to me and had no qualms with providing me the time off to make the numerous vet visits.

4.      Orthodogs Yahoo Group, you are awesome.  There are so many knowledgeable people that are going through or have gone through the exact same experiences.  Everyone in the group is so willing to share whatever advice and opinions they have to help someone first experiencing a situation like Brinkley’s.

5.      To my friends both online and over the phone who have provided referrals, advice, experience and simple phone calls to see how we were doing.  This probably meant the most to me!  I had no idea how many supportive people Brinkley (and I) had in our lives.

So again, a big thanks to those who played such an integral part in Brinkley’s recovery.  I hope that no one who is reading our story has to go through this, but please feel free to contact me for any questions you have about our experience.  Now that I know how important it is to have experienced support, I am ready and willing to provide whatever help I can. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Diet Supplements and the English Mastiff

Studies have shown that daily supplements of Vitamin C can decrease the incidence and/or severity of hip dysplasia. As puppies I gave my dogs both 1000 mg of Vitamin C each day. At around 6 months of age I increased the dosage to about 2000mg per day. The best thing about Vitamin C is that any extra amount that is not used up by the body is simply expelled through the urine, so you don’t have to worry about a build-up in their system. I have also found it is much easier to give to them if you buy the powdered form.  You can just sprinkle it on the dog’s food instead of trying to give them multiple horse sized pills each day.

There are two other supplements that can and should be given to your dog in my opinion. One is a daily supplement of fish oil or coconut oil.  I give coconut oil in the morning with breakfast and fish oil in the evening with dinner. Make sure the fish oil is all natural with no chemicals added and that the coconut oil is cold pressed.  While Omega fats and oils play many important roles in the body, it helps keep the coat healthy and can aid in joint movement.  I also recommend a daily Glucosamine/Chondroiton Supplement.  This can be given for the life of the dog. I used to give human pill form Glucosamine, but recently switched to a liquid concentrate.  Again, it’s much easier to administer, just a tablespoon or so on the food, plus it’s much more cost effective to purchase it in this form.

Finally, one supplement you should NEVER give a Mastiff is CALCIUM SUPPLEMENTS! The use of calcium supplements can lead to bone and joint deformities and electrolyte imbalances, especially as a puppy. All the calcium a dog needs will come from its food, ensuring a proper balance of minerals for its growth.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Mastiffs Journey through Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery

In an effort to help anyone out looking for canine ACL/CCL tears and TPLO information and advice I have made this post an index log to each different post regarding Brinkley Mastiff’s CCL tear and TPLO surgery. Please leave us a comment if our story helped you out in any way!

A Mastiffs Journey through Cranial Cruciate Ligament Surgery
In the Beginning... Well in less than 24 hours Brinkley will get dropped off for her TPLO surgery. I have deliberated back and forth, back and forth on whether to do the TPLO surgery or the Tightrope surgery on her and I have decided that I think the TPLO will yield the best results for the long term for her. Read More...

Preparing the House for a Mastiff After TPLO Surgery

In preparation for Brinkley coming home this evening I spent the night last night cleaning the house up and getting everything post surgery ready. I bought two 3x5 rugs yesterday to go on the linoleum in front of the sliding door so she doesn’t slip when we go outside. Read More...

Coming Home From the TPLO Surgery Center
Well I got Brinkley home. She is doing well. The leg and incision both look good and she’s already bearing weight on it a little. I don’t know what kind of dog food they fed her but MAN does she have some nasty gas. Might be from the anesthesia, but it is deadly.

They gave me the basic instructions before they sent me on my way. No physical activity other than on a leash to potty only for the next two weeks. She is on the same dosages of pain killers as she was before, 150mg Rimadyl 2 x per day and 150mg of Tramadol 3 x per day. Read More...

Day 2 Post-TPLO Surgery
Brinkley is still doing good, limping even less today. She is using the leg much more than I anticipated. It’s already getting difficult to keep her still. She wants to go out in the backyard and play. I did get her Xanax prescription filled and was only going to give it to her if need be, but after an hour of whining this afternoon she started getting ancy... Read More...

Brinkley is doing even better today. She only whined at us for 45 minutes this morning while we watched T.V. That’s down from the 2 hours yesterday. She wants on her couch so bad. I feel like we’re teasing her by sitting on it where she can see us. The only change I made to her meds was that I didn’t give her the Xanax this evening. I’m not really sure it does anything or not, and I really don’t feel like giving her even more pills that she doesn’t need. We’ll see how it goes without them. We took Boone for a hike today and while we were gone we put the inflatable e-collar on her.  Read More...

Well the last couple days have been fairly uneventful. Brinkley is still pretty tired of being in the x-pen, but at this point she’s figured out that’s where she’s supposed to be. Once we come back inside from potty time she goes straight back in and lays down. Her incision is healing nicely and the fluid that was building on her ankle has greatly improved. There is still a bit there, but it’s much better than it was. I haven’t given her a Xanax for 2 days (I think I’ve only used 3 pills total) and since the second day home I have only given her the Tramadol twice per day.  Still no luck ice packing her leg, but it really doesn’t seem to need it, so I’m not too stressed about that.  Read More...

Brinkley Mastiff - Walking on Day 8, Post-TPLO Surgery
All I have for today is a quick video of Brinkley walking in the yard. Shawn is putting very minimal pressure on her sling, just enough to keep the handles taunt. She looks pretty good I think! (Click the article title to see the video)

Makin' Mischief Mastiff Collar... Plus Brinkley Day 11 TPLO

Well Brinkley gets her stitches out tomorrow. Since she’s been so whiny and has been barking at us because she doesn’t want to be in her x-pen anymore.... I found this ribbon a while back, but it was out of stock everywhere online. I just happened across it the other day back in stock and super cheap, so I bought up several yards. Meet Brinkley's new collar. I just LOVE it! It is so fitting for her. Green is so her color too. Isn’t it adorable?  Read More...

Passive Range of Motion Exercises in Post TPLO Mastiff

For those keeping track, we're now on day 13 post-TPLO. Brinkley’s appointment for her staple removal and follow up/check up was yesterday. Per the surgeon she is doing very well. They told me I didn’t need to be using the sling to help her walk anymore. She also got the go ahead to go on 2-3 five minute walks per day. We are also supposed to start the PROM.  Read More...

Day 18 Post TPLO
I can’t believe it’s been nearly 3 weeks since Brinkley’s surgery. As far as my personal opinion goes she is doing amazing. We have been doing some PROM exercises each day, and our 2-3 five minute walks per day are all going well. The only dilemma is that we've had some icy weather lately, so instead of going in the back yard for our walks we walk circles in the house through the living room, dining room and kitchen. Read More...

Credit Where Credit is Due - Brinkley's TPLO Surgery Thanks!
Well the good GREAT news is that Brinkley went for her 8 week follow-up xrays for her TPLO surgery yesterday. The vet said she couldn’t be healing any better! Woohoo, I’m so relieved. Since this ordeal began, and now hopefully is coming to a close very soon, I would like to take a few quick moments to give credit where credit is due. Read More...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dog Owners, Know the Limitations of Your Veterinarian

Featured on the online pet magazine: Keep the TailWagging!

One of the most important relationships you will have as a pet owner is with your Veterinarian. As a lifelong pet owner, my pet’s health is always one of my biggest concerns.  Is this normal? Am I feeding this right? Is this safe for my pet? OMG, my dog just ate ______ (you can fill in the blank with countless items on that one).  There always seems to be some concern or question I have and generally those questions are best left suited for the professionals, or at least that’s what we are lead to believe.  That’s why it is so important to really know your vet and make sure they are the best fit for your dog’s wellbeing. 
Consider this, the AKC (as a general jumping off point) has 161 different recognized breeds of dogs the last time I checked, but there are many other purebred breeds of dogs registered in the world as well.  Vet schools teach our Veterinarians about dogs, not specific breeds and these 161+ breeds are all a little bit different.  The medical recommendations you would give for a Pomeranian are not the same as the medical recommendations you would give for an English Mastiff.  As a pet owner I’m not saying not to not trust your vet, but do question things that give you concerns.  A good vet, just like a good doctor, should be willing and able to answer any questions you may have, and if need be listen to your suggestions as well. 
As a specific example, my personal Veterinarian has no other Mastiff clients.  There is a very specific list of anesthesia’s that are not safe to use on Mastiffs because of their huge chest cavities, slow circulation and specific inability to metabolize drugs in the normal time frame that other dogs do.  My vet had never heard of this, but was very willing to listen and absorb the information that I provided (from a credited source of course) about this breed specific issue. 
It is also good to know the limitations of your veterinarian.  I live in a rural area and my vet is in a small town.  While she can perform most general medical tasks and basic surgeries, when my dog tore her Cruciate Ligament I knew my vet could be of no real help other than a referral, so onto the University we went. And from there onto a referral Veterinarian Specialist Group that only handles orthopedic surgeries, oncology and other emergency type invasive surgeries.  Currently I have 4 different Veterinarian office phone number programmed into my cell phone. Now for most pet owners that may be just a bit of overkill, as a pet mommy, it just makes me feel comfortable. 
The point is, that’s all a great vet is, medical expertise with a willingness to learn new things.  Someone who will actually listen to their clients concerns and needs and be the support needed to get through whatever medical crisis your pet may be experiencing. As the only advocate your pet has, it is your responsibility to make sure your veterinarian is the best fit for your fur family.

Friday, February 1, 2013

5 Things to do With Your Dog Today

With the frigid weather lately I can admit that my poor puppies haven’t had as much mental stimulation lately as they are used to.  It’s out to potty in the backyard and right back in the house.  Here are a few great ideas to keep your pups happy and mentally stimulated during these cold winter days or when you’re just running behind and don’t want your dog to be bored. 

1.)    Kong Genius “Mike” (or any other food dispensing toy), this big guy is great for stuffing small bit size treats or pieces of kibble into.  Boone loves when we fill his up.  He has learned how to balance between his nose and the floor and flip it end over end to get the treats out.  The funny thing is that Brinkley has yet to figure this out, so she has learned to stand by Boone and when the treat comes out she snatches it up before he can grab it.  She’s such a turd!

2.)    Practice and proof your obedience training.  Even if you dog has it all down pat, a 10-15 minute refresher course once a day with lots of positive reinforcement will do wonders for your dog’s level of overall contentment.  If you dog knows only voice commands you can even go a step forward and start associating hand signals with those commands and vice versa. 

3.)    Start doing some tracking or nosework with your dog.  You can start by simply walking through your living room and dropping your keys or something.  When the dog goes to it and sniffs it make a huge deal of it, lots of treats and excitement.  Practice this until you dog gets what they are supposed to do, then start making finding the item a little harder.  Go slow until your dog has down pat what they are supposed to do.  Remember, this is a supposed to be a fun and stimulating exercise for your dog, so if they have trouble when you make it harder go back to what they were good at and practice some more.

4.)    Play a guessing game with your dog.  This kind of goes along with scent work, but also teaches focus.  Start by putting a treat in one hand and leave one hand empty.  When your dog touches the hand with the treat in it open it up and give them the treat. As your dog starts to understand the game, you can start making it harder by switching behind your back or using 3 bowls or cups with only one treat.

5.)    Bake some dog treats together.  I know some people don’t like dogs in the kitchen, but in my house we have a walk through type kitchen, so it’s nearly impossible, plus I’m not a germ-a-phobe, so I don’t care if the dogs are in the kitchen as long as they listen when I tell them to leave.  Make some dog treats and include your dog.  As you go drop or give them little pieces of each step, to keep them interested and focused on you.  It might sound silly, but my dogs love watching and waiting while I bake them some healthy treats.  For a recipe that is fast and easy check out our Peanut Butter Pumpkin Treats Recipe.