Features November 2000 Issue

No Need For Force When Puppy Training

Owners beware: Dog deaths can result from force-based training.

Following a rash of reports of puppy deaths at the hands of their trainers, the Association of Pet Dog Trainers (APDT) released a statement denouncing any training methods which cause physical harm to dogs.

The last straw for APDT members was the news report of a trainer in Raleigh, North Carolina, who allegedly killed an eight-week-old Shar-Pei puppy by repeatedly using a choke collar and pinning the puppy to the ground to correct it for “puppy biting.” The pup died at its vet’s office, reportedly from damage to the trachea.

The APDT was already aware of at least three similar cases: Some weeks prior, two puppies (one in Virginia and one in Hawaii) died when their trainers stuck their fingers down the dogs’ throats attempting to stop them from nipping. And a trainer in Florida slung a Basenji puppy wearing a prong collar across a cement floor because he wouldn’t lie down. Suffering ruptured internal organs, the pup died at its veterinarian’s office three days later.

For these and many other similar cases, there will be no prosecution against the trainers because the owners of the puppies have declined to press charges.

“Tragic stories like this often don’t receive a lot of media or legal attention,” says APDT President Allan Bauman. “Many dog owners don’t realize that there are other ways to train dogs. They assume that the trainer is the expert and that harsh training methods are the norm. But there are effective and humane ways to communicate with our four-legged friends. There is absolutely no reason for any dog to die in the course of learning to be a well-behaved family companion.”

Founded in 1993 by Dr. Ian Dunbar, the APDT is a national, non-profit organization that promotes dog-friendly dog training methods. The group boasts more than 3,000 members around the globe, the majority of whom eschew the use of forceful training methods and tools such as physical punishment, choke chains, and shock collars.

The APDT Code of Ethics includes a statement that: “The practices of hanging, beating, kicking and all similar procedures causing the dog great pain, distress and imminent potential for physical harm are inconsistent with humane dog training. These procedures represent a serious violation of professional ethical conduct and will not be tolerated.”

“Our condolences go out to these puppy owners, as well as others who have lost their dogs to harsh training methods,” Bauman says. “Losing your dog can be like losing a member of your family. We hope humane training methods, other dog owners won’t have to experience this tragedy.”

Several APDT members have participated in the development of humane guidelines for dog training, a project of the American Humane Association that is funded by Delta Society. The APDT offers a searchable list of APDT member-trainers and tips for choosing a dog training professional on their Web site at www.apdt.com.


Researchers find diet can affect effectiveness, toxicity
of phenobarbital used to control epilepsy

Results of a study on the effect of diet on the dosage of Phenobarbital for controlling epileptic seizures were published in the September 15, 2000 issue of Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (JAVMA). Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, discovered significant differences in the effects of the same dosage of Phenobarbital between dogs fed a “maintenance” diet, a low-protein diet, and a low-fat, low-protein diet.

According to the study’s authors, epilepsy constitutes three to five percent of all diseases seen in dogs. Phenobarbital is the most commonly used drug to control seizures; the drug is routinely administered to affected dogs daily, often for the life of the dog.

Unfortunately, the ideal dosage of the drug – one resulting in maximum seizure control with minimal liver toxicosis – can be difficult to determine, and can change over time. Body composition and metabolic rate have been known factors affecting the drug’s distribution and metabolism, and thus, its clinical effectiveness or toxicity. However, until this study, no one was aware of how much the dog’s diet could influence the drug’s metabolism.

More research is needed to address the therapeutic implications of this study, for example, to determine what would constitute an optimum diet for minimizing medication dosages while maintaining control of seizures in an epileptic dog. However, this study suggests the need for owners of epileptic dogs to apprise their veterinarians before changing their dogs’ diet, and to consider monitoring the dogs’ serum Phenobarbital concentrations when altering the type or amount of the dog’s food.


Antimicrobial resistance is causing concern
about the safety of the food supply

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other agencies are investigating methods of curbing antimicrobial resistance in food animals, saying that it’s only a matter of time before antimicrobial-resistant bacteria could threaten the lives of the humans – and pets – who consume or otherwise come into contact with contaminated meat and poultry.

“Scientists generally agree that the development of resistant bacteria that are foodborne pathogens is most likely due to the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals,” says Linda Tollefson, DVM, Director of the Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine.

Antimicrobials are routinely fed to food animals in order to promote growth and feed efficiency. The drugs work by inhibiting bacterial growth, or by killing the organisms outright. Unfortunately, due to genetic mutations, a tiny number of the bacteria often survive the onslaught of drugs, going on to develop new, drug-resistant bacterial strains. Humans and/or animals infected with drug-resistant bacteria may languish without drugs to control the new strains.

To track emerging resistance, animal-origin Salmonella isolates were chosen as a “sentinel organism” at the USDA Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center in Athens, Georgia. In 1998, there were 3,318 Salmonella isolates of animal origin tested, representing a broad range of species and point of origin. While all isolates were susceptible to antimicrobials Amikacin and Ciprofloxacin, 38 percent were resistant to Tetracycline, nearly 35 percent to Streptomycin, and just less than 33 percent to Sulfamethoxazole. Scarily, a whopping 40 percent of the Salmonella isolates tested in 1998 were resistant to two or more antimicrobials.

One of these multiresistant isolates, Salmonella typhimurium DT104, has caused some concern worldwide. The organism has a pattern of resistance that includes Ampicillin, Chloramphenicol, Streptomycin, Sulfonamides, and Tetracycline. Five percent of the Salmonella isolates showed this resistance pattern.


Source: American Veterinary Medical Association.

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