Those who are new to WDJ may not be aware that we talk at length about dry dog foods in the February issue each year. I don’t know how that tradition got started; all I know is that dog food is all I can think about from before Thanksgiving through the winter holidays. We give this annual coverage a lot of space; the list of recommended foods alone takes many pages! In this issue, I hope that you will learn a lot about the dog food industry as a whole, how the machinations of the pet food market may have affected you and your dogs, and how you can ensure that the food that you buy for your dog is appropriate. You will also find a long list of products that meet the criteria we use to identify better-quality foods, and we hope you can use it to find healthful foods for your dogs.
This issue also contains a helpful article from Mardi Richmond, a professional dog trainer who found herself grappling with a vexing behavior issue in her own young dog: a compulsive behavior disorder that saw the dog spinning in circles chasing her tail, attacking her own hind foot, and going into a trance-like state watching the sunlight sparkle on the surface of a pond. Mardi describes how compulsive disorder manifests in dogs and explains how to respond in order to help a dog recover. She’s taken her own advice, and it works! Her own dog no longer meets the description of a troubled victim of this serious condition.
I asked Dr. Catherine Ashe, one of our veterinarian contributors, to write about canine mange for this issue, as I personally was dismayed with the plethora of inaccurate and inadequate information that I found online about the condition. I had agreed to foster a litter of seven severely affected puppies that were brought into my local shelter in the midst of the devastating Camp Fire. I had no previous experience with a dog suffering from this condition, but with Dr. Ashe’s informative guidance, I found that treating the mange to be the easiest part of caring for these unfortunate pups, who are pictured in the article.
Finally, Pat Miller, WDJ’s Training Editor and a professional dog trainer who lives Fairplay, Maryland, has written a useful article about why and how to condition a dog to happily and comfortably wear a muzzle. Hint: The devices are not just for dogs who display aggressive behavior in certain situations; as just one example, I know of a dog who wears her muzzle every time she is released to play and potty in her own backyard. If she doesn’t have it on, she spends much of her time hunting for and eating acorns that have fermented following the winter rains and that have sent the little dog to the veterinary emergency room several times. For this dog and other dogs with pica, especially dogs who eat pebbles and stones, well-fit muzzles rock!