Whole Dog Journal Blog

Vaccine Titer Tests: What They Can and Can’t Do

March 4, 2013 - Titer test cost is the primary argument against getting titer testing for dogs, but on the other hand titer tests can save you lots of money in vaccination fees and vet bills. One of the tests I asked for at Ottoís annual wellness exam last week was a vaccine titer test. These blood tests are able to detect antibodies that the dog has produced in response to a vaccination. Such positive results can confirm that the dog responded in the desired manner to the vaccination and is now protected against the diseases he was vaccinated for.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 01:44PM Comments (26)

Pet health insurance

February 22, 2013 - I took Otto and Tito to the veterinarian yesterday for wellness exams (and heartworm tests and blood tests) and spent $500. I had priced things beforehand, and knew what I was in for, but it’s still quite a bite.
Posted at 02:09PM Comments (22)

No more noise, no more fun

February 15, 2013 - One of my favorite things about my dog, Otto, is that he loves and apparently cherishes his squeaky toys. Unlike dogs I’ve known who feel that the only good squeaker is a dead squeaker, Otto has had squeaky toys that have lasted for years with nary a squeak-ending puncture. Sadly, this trend seems to have ended.
Posted at 10:04AM Comments (6)

At a Dog Show

February 7, 2013 - I went to a very large benched dog show recently. I haven’t been to one for five or six years, so it was slightly overwhelming. So many dogs, so many people, so much stress! But it was interesting to observe the event in a neutral way; I didn’t know anyone there, and wasn’t attending with a specific task in mind. I took my camera, took some pictures (to use as stock photos for potential use in WDJ), and took my time with whatever I wanted.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:56PM Comments (18)

Making Sense

February 3, 2013 - I was recently in the San Francisco Bay area for a few days, attending a couple of dog-related events. I stayed at some friends’ house – the same friends who adopted Mickey, a dog who had lingered in my local shelter for months without finding a home.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:40AM Comments (4)

Low Confidence in “Mixed Breed” DNA Tests

January 27, 2013 - Recently, a couple ordered a Wisdom Panel Mixed Breed Identification Test – a DNA test that purports to offer insights as to a mixed-breed dog’s origin. The results indicated that their is at least half Poodle, with Borzoi detected with “low confidence.” Hmmm.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 04:33PM Comments (31)

WDJ’s Food Review Help a Local Shelter

January 20, 2013 - Pet food labels can tell you a lot about a company. Of course, it’s my mission to educate dog owners to read the ingredients list and the guaranteed analysis, and understand those parts of the label well. But it’s also informative to see what OTHER text companies include on the label. Is it instructive? Accurate? Or just marketing crap, full of fuzzy logic and euphemisms? Also, is it easy to find the company’s contact information, and is there a toll-free phone number and website included? Or just a city and state? Is there a date/code that lists the date of the food’s production, or just a “best by” date (which indicates the food’s suggested expiration date – but without a date of production or the knowledge of how many months the maker suggests the food is good for, this is “soft” information). So, even if I have had all my questions answered about “what’s in the bag” by the company’s website and representatives, seeing the bag is helpful, too.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 08:50AM Comments (4)

Spay/Neuter: The Third Rail of the Dog World?

January 14, 2013 - An article that discusses the health effects of spay/neuter surgery appears In the February issue of WDJ. Itís a topic thatís overdue for discussion in WDJ, but one that can get people upset, for different reasons. From the perspective of those of us involved with shelters or rescue, any discussion of delaying or foregoing sterilization for all but the best individual dogs from impeccable bloodlines is practically verboten. Some of these people verbally attack anyone who questions the wisdom of pediatric spay/neuter, and insult anyone with an intact male dog who is not a conformational and behavioral paragon of his breed standard.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:54AM Comments (19)

Crate-Training for the Whole Family

January 6, 2013 - My sister-in-law and I were talking on the phone a day after our whole family had been together for a holiday event at my house. She said, “The funniest thing from my view in the living room was seeing you repeatedly scoop up your sister’s dogs and lock them in the big cage in the bedroom, and seeing your sister repeatedly come through and let them back out!”
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 12:00PM Comments (9)

Illegal Roadside Puppy Selling, Part 2

December 18, 2012 - So, a couple of weeks ago I wrote about going to the grocery store late one Sunday evening and being completely bummed about a couple who was selling puppies (who looked too young, and not well cared for) in front of the market. I thought about all the things I should do and say at that time – though at the time, I did nothing. I was too tired and hungry and it was rainy and late . . . But the memory of those chilled puppies, numbed by the intake of too much stimulation, has stayed with me.
Posted at 01:56PM Comments (26)

Sardines: Not Hot.

December 11, 2012 - Nights with typical winter temperatures are finally arriving here in Northern California. (Sorry! I know that many of you have been experiencing freezing temps at night for weeks – months? – already.) And with the cold comes Tito’s reluctance to go outside and potty on any schedule other than his own.
Posted by Nancy Kerns at 10:58AM Comments (8)

Practice, Practice, and Benefit

November 26, 2012 - When you or I took guitar or violin or piano lessons as children, we were reminded that we needed to practice each day between lessons in order to retain competence. Those of us that didn't embrace this advice tended to give up the lessons for other pursuits. The flute or clarinet was returned to the rental store, the guitar went back to the closet to gather dust. But again and again I hear from people who took their dog to a puppy class or to a beginning obedience class and then expected the dog to know how to behave from then on. When I explain that reminders and practice and new skills are good for all dogs, I often hear resistance.
Posted by Tricia Breen at 05:07PM Comments (9)

Calm Yourself!

November 19, 2012 - Last week, I was approached by someone who works with people I know. She wanted to know if I could help her with a dog that she was considering adopting. She told me: The dog was adopted as a 12-week-old pup by someone else. That person has a full-time job, two young kids, and is suffering from an as-yet-undiagnosed but painful back problem. The dog failed to get housetrained and after three months, she is declared…
Posted at 05:14PM Comments (9)

Work to improve your dog, but accept his preferences and limitations, too

November 13, 2012 - We have to find balance in our relationships. We need to work to help our dogs live comfortably with us and our chaotic human world. This takes time, practice, patience, observational skill, a willingness to work at it. If our dogs are uncomfortable with other dogs, get worked up when on-leash, or are fearful of new people or new environments, we help them to work through these things. We want them to be comfortable, reduce the stress and anxiety that they might feel. We want them to be comfortable so that we can take them more places with us, enjoy their company in more venues.
Posted by Tricia Breen at 09:05AM Comments (6)

Share Info About Ways to Combat Food Waste, Support Rescue

October 28, 2012 - In the November issue of WDJ, I wrote an article (“What a Waste!) about the many ways that pet food gets wasted at every level of production and marketing – and a few ways that thoughtful people are combatting that waste, particularly at the retail level. I hope that dog owners and those involved in animal rescue will look for and share other ways that perfectly good but unsalable pet food can be saved from landfill and donated to needy animal shelters and rescues.
Posted by Nancy Kearns at 06:04PM Comments (1)