Letters March 2012 Issue

Hydrotherapy; Emergency Health Exam; Gear of the Year

Thank you for posting the article on hydrotherapy (“Walking in Water”) in your December 2011 Issue. I am thrilled that water therapy is finally becoming recognized and talked about as a valuable tool in canine health care.

Cindy Horsfall works wonders in the water with Cricket, a 17-year-old client.

After years of working with horses in rehabilitation and in water, I opened my first pool 18 years ago in Seattle and began offering services to the dogs in my area. I was surprised to learn that this was such a new concept in the canine world.

In my practice, I have found that the benefits of body work and massage in water while resting can often be just as, if not more important, than the swimming aspects. The warm water allows a three-dimensional access to the body and an educated therapist can help the dog achieve wonderful stretches, deep relaxation, and enhanced circulation. Also, with this nurturing body work and attention to emotional safety first and foremost; I have never met a dog who didn’t grow to love the work we do in the water.

My hope is that this article will inspire others to write in about their experiences with hydrotherapy and will continue to inspire different training opportunities to emerge and evolve.

We love your journal. I’ve kept every copy since its inception and we always have copies out in our reception area for our clients to enjoy.
Cindy Horsfall, lapawspa.com
Sequim, WA
via email

Thanks so much for “Emergency Health Exam” (January 2012). I have subscribed to WDJ for many years, have a bookshelf loaded with dog books, volunteered for two years at a local animal shelter, worked nine years at a dog daycare and boarding facility, lived with three dogs and a cat for many years – yet I did not know to check the gums on one of my dogs when he wasn’t up to par.

He had been to the vet’s just two weeks earlier for pre-dental bloodwork – all was fine. No overt symptoms other than lethargy and that “just off” behavior we all know. I took him back to the vet when he didn’t eat a meal (he was a chow hound). One of the first things the vet did was check his gums. They were so pale she admitted him to ICU immediately. We lost him two days later to autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA).

Had I known the simple technique of checking the gums, he may have been saved. I had also never heard of AIHA, which might be a worthy article in the future; my best friend lost her cat to this disease who had the same symptom – “just off.” I now know about checking the gums and something about AIHA, both via a devastating lesson.
Kathleen M Fitzgerald
Denver, Colorado

We’re so sorry to hear about your loss. Your suggestion of an article on AIHA is a good one. We’ll put it on our “to do” list.

I have been a subscriber to the WDJ for years and value your insights and the thought and research that goes into your articles. You always give me a lot to think about and I thank you for that. I have never responded to an article before, but today I read your recommendation of antlers as a great chew for dogs (“Gear of the Year,” January 2012) and I had to comment. 

You should have included a warning that antlers have the potential for chipping dogs’ teeth. I am sure if you had talked to any accredited and trained veterinary dentist they would have been appalled that your fine magazine would advocate antlers as a safe treat for dogs.

I have an 11-year-old German Shepard. I have always been super careful about what she eats and so I was excited three years ago when I found antlers at my local pet store for all the reasons you cited in your article. I had never given her any other chews before because I was worried about the chemicals used to make them so I thought I was making a safe and natural choice. My dentist checks my dog’s teeth regularly so I was stunned to find out at my next visit that she had broken the tips off her top front molars on both sides. The only thing different in her diet had been antlers.

Given that these teeth were critical to her eating and that dogs use their mouths for so much more than people, I took her to see Dr. Paul Mitchell, an American Veterinary Dental College-accredited veterinary dental specialist. My worry was trying to save these critical teeth. Dr Mitchell said that antlers are too hard for dogs to chew. Please keep in mind that my dog is a German Shepard. She was eight at the the time, in her prime, and she chipped perfectly healthy teeth on antlers.

I had two choices: Having the chipped teeth pulled so they would not chip further and get infected, or having them capped, which is also risky given that dogs naturally chew and are hard on caps. I elected caps because of how critical these teeth are but it was extremely expensive. I hope that you will advise your readers that antler chewing does carry a substantial risk of chipping teeth and chipped teeth on dogs is not a good thing.
Mary Osmolski
Canton, CT

Mary, you are absolutely correct: We should have mentioned that these are HARD items, and not appropriate for a dog with an aggressive or dedicated style of chewing.

Regarding the practice of flushing dog poop down the toilet (mentioned in the review of Flush Puppies non-plastic poop bags in “Gear of the Year”): We used to have a Shih Tzu and since she was a poop-eater, I decided to quickly pick up her small poop in the backyard, throw it down the toilet, and throw the baggie in the trash. It didn’t take long before we had to have the plumber unstop the toilet; he told me that the problem was that the dog poop was simply too hard to disintegrate and flush down.

I feed my dogs a raw meat diet, so their poop is nice and firm. Perhaps this might work with a dog whose stools are soft or I guess if you have a composting toilet, but I surely won’t do it again! I think that people with standard plumbing need to be aware of this problem.
Laurie Pevnick
via email

We’ve never heard of this problem before. . . Has anyone else had problems with their plumbing as a result of flushing dog poo? 

The entire staff here at All The Best Pet Care thoroughly enjoys your publication. We carry quite a few of the products featured in the “Gear of the Year” product review. Our stores have many of the Nina Ottosson Interactive Toys, the Bravo! Freeze Dried treats and a large selection of deer, elk, and moose antlers. I know in the article it mentioned these things can be purchased online, but small pet care businesses also carry these great products! We work hard to keep healthy treats and fun, safe toys on our shelves for our customers and always appreciate the reminder for people to check out their local stores too.
Kris Palmer, Assistant Manager
All The Best Pet Care
allthebestpetcare.com

We strongly recommend that people ask their local, independent pet supply stores about products they are interested in. It helps the retailers – who are always looking for fun or useful new products to carry. And the type of well informed, passionate, involved staff typically seen at independent stores can help owners learn more about the products and their appropriate use. Great point; thanks!

I just received the February issue of WDJ and read your editorial protesting the use of “No” (re: specific ingredients) on dry dog food packaging and in advertisements. I agree with you that not all ingredients commonly listed on various products’ “No” lists are bad for all dogs, though my personal feeling is that a food manufacturer is doing more of a service to the potential customer than a disservice to a given ingredient.

For example, having a “No” notice on avocados as an ingredient lets me quickly move on to another brand if I specifically want my dog to have avocados . . . or to quickly zoom in on said brand if I want to exclude avocado exposure for my dog.

Another dog owner may appreciate a “No” notice when it comes to some ingredient to which a family member (other than the dog) may be allergic. Some food allergies can cause problems when a food is simply touched or inhaled (I’m thinking dry food dust becoming airborne at feeding time.)
Christine Holder
Via email

Good points, Christine. I did see some labels that expressed a “No” list in a way that did not imply that the omitted ingredients were bad – just that they were not present (one such example is the first label shown below). But many others blacken the reputation of ingredients that are useful (in moderation) by associating them with ones that are generally accepted as unhealthful.

Correction: We accidently omitted Laughing Dog’s foods from our “2012 Approved Dry Dog Food List.”

We have updated the 2012 Approved Dry Dog Food List and apologize for the error.

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