Letters May 1999 Issue

Letters - 05/99

(Nail) Cutting Comments
The Product News and Reviews article in the February 1999 issue compelled me to write. As a groomer of both dogs and cats, I was alarmed at your choices and limited selection of nail trimming devices. I wouldn’t recommend nor use any of the ones you featured.

If one is used for too long, a nail grinder will heat up the nail and send shooting pain through the nerve up the animal’s leg. And like you so clearly said, it may be difficult to even get the grinder near a dog, much less his nails. So I am confused why you’d recommend the grinder. In my opinion it should only be used by professionals. A simple nail file would be much safer, and for that matter, much less expensive.

I totally agree that the Vista Dog Nail Clippers are junk.

The guillotine kind is yet another poorly designed nail clipper. Like you say, it’s difficult to control how much of the nail is inserted. When it cuts, it actually only cuts from one side, thereby pulling the nail and making the clip painful, while failing to make a clean cut.

Miller Forge makes a better version of the “White” nail scissors. The ones I use look much like the ones you pictured, but the tips do not cross over each other. These are the best cat and small dog nail clippers I know of. Miller Forge calls them “Small Dog Nail Clippers.”

Miller Forge also makes my favorite large dog nail clippers. But beware! There are numerous imitations out there that don’t work half as well as the Miller Forge clippers. I use Miller Forge large dog nail clippers with great success. First, I make one straight-across cut where I’m sure not to cut the blood vessel. Then I make small cuts on alternating sides. That way I know how close to the “quick” I am. When it becomes dark in the center I know I’m near the quick.

This technique takes a little longer, but it’s preferable to “quicking” the blood vessel by mistake. Nail clipping takes a lot of practice and many groomers don’t know this technique. Doing it this way also eliminates the use of a grinder since I’m cutting off the sharp side edges.

When it concerns my animal friends, I choose quality over something cheaper. I try to gain the dogs’ trust in order to trim the nails. And I can relate to the dogs’ fear. I don’t like my toenails clipped either!

J-B Wholesale (800-526-0388) has both large dog nail clippers and files. New England Serum Company (800-637-3786) has all three. I am not saying Miller Forge makes the only clippers one should use, but their clippers work well, at least for me.

-Toni Amelung
San Francisco, CA


As a groomer, I use the Miller Forge “Small Nail Clipper” almost exclusively, and their “Nail Scissors” for cats. I love the electric buffer, but I’ve burned up two in five years. I switched to the “Dremmel” brand nail grinder. It costs less than the Oster, and so far, it runs better, too.

-Bonnye Ruttenbur
Dillon, MT


Carpet Cleaners
Regarding your recent article about carpet cleaners (“Pees on Earth,” January 1999): Several months ago one of our four dogs vomited in several places on our new carpet and the carpet cleaners pretty much gave up trying to get the stain out. I tried everything on the market with no luck. (Mind you, this is oatmeal-colored carpet which was stained in at least 10 places with dark brown vomit.) I called the manufacturer and they gave me the following suggestion that worked (and has continued to work) miracles.

Mix 1/2 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with one teaspoon non-sudsy ammonia. Using a paper towel, blot this mixture on the stain until the stain is saturated. Cover the spot with clear plastic wrap and place a heavy object on top (I cover it with a book or something and place something heavy on top of that). After two to three hours remove the plastic wrap. If the spot is not gone, repeat the procedure after the carpet has dried.

Now, they did not ask what color carpet I have so I am assuming this can be used on carpets of other colors, but a hidden spot check would be safest.

-Sue Kane
Holland, MI


Learning From Mistakes
In all journalist endeavors or personal retellings, stories are edited. The source may choose to omit details in order to fulfill the purpose of the story, to fit the physical space or time available, and/or to meet the needs and interests of the readers or listeners. Because of this, it is impossible to accurately judge the people involved in an article’s content or in any other type of second-hand “telling” of information. We need to be aware that, without discussion, many details can be missing or misstated and this can innocently obscure the total picture, whether the story is from printed material or anther type of second-hand source.

When reading, watching or listening, many find that the best learning is achieved when keeping the focus on the purpose of the story. The purpose of my sharing Dusty’s story with WDJ (“Case History: One Lucky Puppy,” WDJ February 1999) was to advise people that alternative support is available and can be successful in helping with kidney compromise. It is my hope that by further sharing some additional pieces of Dusty’s story, my folly will give others a chance to make more informed choices.

Karma was two weeks short of her third birthday when she whelped (bred at her fifth season). This is a common age for the first breeding of a finished Champion female in the basset world. She was in excellent condition and health when bred, and to all outward appearances throughout her pregnancy even though she was carrying a large litter for this breed. She had no history of illness or signs of immune deficiency. Karma was a multiple specialty and breed winner. Having made the cut for group several times in her short show career, she showed the quality and attitude that many breeders strive for.

Dusty and his littermates did/does NOT have a hereditary kidney disease, but a low functional level due to damage, which was triggered by a minor uterine bacterial infection in the mother before birth. This is Dr. Franklin’s (an internal specialist) opinion, based on sequence of events, physical evidence, the testing done, as well as the dogs’ autopsies.

Dr. Franklin surmised that Karma contracted this infection late in the third trimester of pregnancy, most likely during the last two weeks of gestation. This infection caused the perfectly formed adrenal glands in the puppies to simply not “start up” at birth. The autopsy of Karma did not show that any infection was still present, so it is most likely that she died of toxic shock from anesthesia. As the puppies grew, they did not have the necessary adrenal function to give their kidneys the ability to clear toxins, thus they were going into renal failure and succumbing to toxin build up. Unfortunately, this is difficult to diagnosis in puppies this young, though not an uncommon occurrence in other animals or humans.

As the WDJ article clearly showed, the effect can be devastating to mother and the unborn. I have often wondered how many people have lost partial or whole litters to what they were led to believe was “fading puppy syndrome,” when it may have actually been this problem. It took a lot of determination, a willingness to travel long distance to the “best vet in the northwest,” and a lot of money to get around to appropriate testing for a diagnosis and treatment. If I had been aware that this can (and does) happen, I would have been able to better guide my local vet or get the dogs to a specialist sooner.

Many lives were lost and the damage done to the survivors was greater, because I initially accepted my cherished local veterinarian’s diagnosis of fading puppy syndrome. (A term often used by vets for “I don’t know what’s going on.”) He did what he was trained to do very well, but an internal specialist’s knowledge was needed to make a diagnosis. My vet made the referral when he realized how determined I was to learn what was going on. Whether using holistic and/or conventional methods, you can not be sure of what treatment can be successful without an accurate diagnosis.

I would strongly urge anyone with a pregnant dog to run a full blood panel prior to breeding. (I did this.) This gives you an overall picture of the mother’s health, and a baseline to refer to. Then run another panel in the third trimester to assure continued good health. The type of bacterial infection Karma contracted in her third trimester was not symptomatic, but could have been treated if it had been detected by a second testing. I learned the hard way that this should be done as a precaution. I know this is an extra whelping expense but now that I am aware of this potential problem, I will not omit the second testing again.

Karma’s son Dusty is of the same conformation quality and has also led a very healthy life, despite his adrenal/kidney compromise. If the survivor had instead been female, she would never have been bred regardless of her positive qualities and show career. The stress and physical challenge of pregnancy would certainly have caused further compromise to her kidneys and would likely result in further kidney damage or shutdown. There is no equivalent problem with a male.

I consulted many veterinarians (both general practitioners and specialists) as to whether or not breeding could be a problem for Dusty or his get. They unanimously stated that this was not an inheritable problem, nor harmful to Dusty. Dusty was not bred until he was three years old and will have his fourth birthday on May 29.

Both Dusty and Karma had passed the health certifications that are common in this breed (Eye Cert., VW, BHT, etc.) prior to being bred. There was no known history of kidney disease or compromise in either pedigree. Karma’s mother and both grandmothers free whelped, though c-sections are not uncommon in Bassets. The horror of Karma’s whelping and litter was an event, not a hereditary factor.

All well-studied breeders have a continued quest to gather as much information as is available to assist in each step of their breeding program. We are all striving to consistently contribute to the betterment of our respective breeds. Breeders, please continue sharing both the positive and the negative experiences you have had. I realize that this means you will be taking the risk of someone being critical or judgmental; indeed, you can get bitten clear to the heart. But we all know that more openness is needed in the dog world.

The opportunity to review real case studies and experiences is one of the best ways that we can learn from one another. If we stay focused on the purpose of sharing, and accept this precious gift, we can extend our personal growth from having shared or acquired knowledge. This may be of great benefit to future generations of all animals and breeders.

-Gretchen Shelby, M.Ed.
Logo Bassets


Not All Dogs Go To Heaven
Regarding your editorial in the March issue: I guess the reader who thought you were criticizing Rotties was a Rottie owner, eh?

For some reason, Rottie owners get REALLY offended when anything bad is written about that breed. They can’t accept that the Rottie is a dominant breed that tends to have aggressive tendencies – especially when the owners can’t handle their dominance and subsequently can’t control or are afraid of their dog. We see this time and time again in our vet clinic.

I own a Jack Russell and I’ve heard bad things about them also, but if you prepare and train them properly, they won’t be like that. If you had used a Jack Russell as an example of an aggressive dog, instead of a Rottie, I wouldn’t have been offended because terriers can be terrors too!

-C. Morimoto
Honolulu, Hawaii

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