Whole Dog Journal Blog

Choosing Dog Foods After the Grain-Free Scare

August 9, 2018 - A warning from the FDA about a recently reported spike in the number of dogs developing dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) (linked here again) and a possible connection between DCM and the inclusion of peas, lentils, legumes, and potatoes in the diets of a majority (not all) of the dogs means we are going to be talking about diet a lot for a while.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:10AM Comments (49)

Please Don’t Panic About the “Grain-Free Thing”

August 2, 2018 - Please note that the FDA’s headline did not say anything about “grain-free diets” causing heart problems – though almost all the blog posts and articles in other publications have been saying exactly that. If you read the FDA’s statement, you will see that they said there may be a link between some grain-free diets and canine DCM, but there are also many other things going on that may be responsible for an observed rise in cases of canine DCM.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 02:33PM Comments (45)

Coping with the Heat with My Dogs (and Grandson)

July 25, 2018 - My senior dog Otto has great survival techniques for coping with the heat. He finds the shadiest places in the yard, and digs holes under plants that are watered daily by the sprinkler system, planting himself into these holes and laying low. My younger dog mostly pants and scratches at the door to come inside. “Help! It’s hot!”
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:48PM Comments (14)

Free-Roaming Dogs in India, and One of Their Biggest Supporters

July 19, 2018 - One of the most astounding things that Aditi told me is that all healthy street dogs have a “right to life” in India. It is estimated that Mumbai is home to about a quarter million street dogs. As long as they are apparently healthy and have been sterilized and vaccinated against rabies (indicated by a notch made in one of their ears), they cannot be detained (except to provide care) or culled. Government agencies and non-governmental welfare organizations that capture dogs in order to vaccinate and sterilize free-roaming dogs are required to release the dogs in the same location they were captured from.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:55AM Comments (5)

The Dogs We Love: Too Little Time Together

July 10, 2018 - It’s been said before, but every time I have experienced the loss of one of my dogs, or have witnessed someone else’s, I think to myself: That this is the price of all that love we have for our dogs, and all the love and joy we’ve received from our dogs. If it seems too much to bear, well, remember that the amount of pain we are going to feel is directly related to the love. Those “heart dogs” – the companions we love as much as life itself? Well, their loss is going to hurt the most, the deepest, and the longest. Keep it in mind as you hurt; this is the price of all the happiness we had together.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:40PM Comments (40)

Dealing with Dogs on the 4th of July

July 5, 2018 - Back in my smaller town, it was sounding like the Civil War. As I hurried around, feeding and cleaning up after the foster pups, my friend’s dog started going into his full-blown panic state. My friend was prepared with a veterinarian-prescribed dose of alprazolam (Xanax), and she gave him his first dose then. (The blood levels of the drug take about two hours to peak, and start to wear off in about four hours, so he needed one more dose to get through the night.) Woody was resting on the couch, obviously having experienced some relief from the procedure at the vet, and oblivious to the fireworks sounds, still audible behind the sound of the house fan and the TV.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:42PM Comments (35)

DNA Tests for Dogs: Fun, Interesting, but Probably Not Worth the Money

June 28, 2018 - In the July issue of WDJ, we have an article about the mixed-breed dog DNA tests that are available to dog owners for a fairly hefty price. I have ordered a few of these tests over the years, gathering information about how they work and whether they appear to be all that helpful in identifying the breeds that have gone into a given mixed-breed dog.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 09:40AM Comments (22)

The 10th Adoptaversary of My Dog, Otto

June 20, 2018 - The fact is, while I have definitely been counting the years that I have shared with Otto, I don’t think I have ever celebrated his “gotcha” date (as other dog owners I know call it). And that’s a shame, since I don’t celebrate his birthday (estimated to be sometime in November), either. And I treasure our time together; I really should be celebrating this date every year – and I’m putting it on my Google calendar so I won’t miss it next year. My sincere thanks to my colleague for the card and the nudge! What’s WRONG with me??
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:23PM Comments (17)

Don’t Put Dogs in the Back of Pick-Up Trucks!

June 13, 2018 - This morning, I saw an obviously lost dog on the road. This isn’t your standard farm or ranch dog – and in case there was any doubt at all, the fact that he was wearing a harness, to which a four-foot leash was attached, ruled out the likelihood that he was a local dog who had roamed off his property. Most likely, in my opinion, was that he was in the back of someone’s truck, and rolled off when the person made the sharp turn onto or off of the nearby highway and onto or off of this bumpy farm-country road.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 05:03PM Comments (29)

Dog Food Delivery Service: Buying Dog Food Online is a Real Time-Saver

June 6, 2018 - When I open the dog food container and all of a sudden it’s incredibly low, or I’m feeding a starving mama and her nine growing puppies and going through food at an unpredictably fast rate and I’ve been crazy-busy putting the magazine to bed and haven’t so much as taken a shower for a couple of days, being able to punch up my favorite online store and order food and have it on my porch in two days – you guys, that’s a blessing. Mama is not keeping up with the demand, and I just ordered five pounds of milk-replacing formula to get us through the next couple of weeks. And the dry puppy food I like to soften in formula and feed to the growing pups is not one I can get in my very close chain store, OR my favorite independent store 30 miles away.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:00PM Comments (51)

Puppies Are the Cure When You Are Feeling a Little Overwhelmed

May 31, 2018 - I imagine that everyone who works or volunteers in animal rescue, or human social services, gets overwhelmed at times with what seems to be a relentless tide of innocents in need of help. Intellectually, I know that there are FAR fewer unwanted pets being brought to animal shelters and fewer animals being in euthanized in shelters than when I was a young person, and yet at times the sheer volume of dogs I'm aware of who are in need of rescue, fostering, transportation, and medical help is just crushing. I'm fostering a mama dog and her nine puppies. They were surrendered to my local shelter when the pups were about a week old.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:26AM Comments (11)

A Very Good Senior Dog Wellness Exam

May 24, 2018 - Ordinarily, this clinic would ask the owner to leave the dog in either the morning or afternoon, and come back for him some hours later, so they could move him from station to station in the treatment area of the hospital as there was room and personnel available. He might be put into a cage to wait for various bits of time in between. I know, because this is how a similar visit was handled two years ago at the same practice – a visit that Otto came back from reeking of what a friend used to euphemistically refer to as “butt juice” (Otto emptied his anal glands in fear at some point).
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:42AM Comments (6)

Summer Fairs and Festivals: Leave Your Dog at Home

May 16, 2018 - There are countless things that could go wrong at the fair: a stressed-out dog lashing out and biting a passing dog or child, a dog getting loose and running away in a panic, a dog getting heat stroke, someone stepping on a little dog (I saw it almost happen a number of times!), a dog developing a noise phobia after being forced to stay in a loud and stressful environment, some drunk person tripping on and hurting or scaring a dog. I just wouldn’t ever risk it!
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 11:50AM Comments (13)

A Dog Who Will Nap With Me

May 9, 2018 - If Otto is on one end of a seven-foot sofa, and I (or anyone) sits on the other far end, he will give that person a sort of dirty look and leave the sofa. If I am sitting on a couch and pat the cushion next to me, and encourage Otto to come on up, he will come and stand close, and wag his tail and blink his eyes … “Nance, I love ya, but I’d really rather not,” he seems to say. He’s usually more than happy to comply with whatever crazy thing I want him to do, but not this. A cuddler on the couch he is not.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 03:54PM Comments (18)

Tetanus Shots for Dogs and Other Veterinary Questions

May 3, 2018 - The June issue contains an article from one of our new veterinarian contributors about how to assess and clean a wound, and also discusses tetanus. I specifically asked this author to write something for me after my young, exuberant dog Woody cut his face on rusty old barbed wire. Suddenly, I had a million questions. Do dogs get tetanus? Is tetanus one of the shots that we ever give dogs? Why do I associate rusty metal with tetanus? WHY DON’T WE GIVE DOGS TETANUS SHOTS?
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:55AM Comments (12)