Posts Categorised: Health
Luckily Gregor Mendel tested his theories on the garden pea that has a relatively simple genetic structure. He crossed yellow peas with green peas and tall plants with short plants to discover the fundamental laws of inheritance.
When he crossed yellow peas with green peas he often got only yellow peas. But when he crossed the second generation together he got a few green peas mixed in with three times as many yellow peas. When he crossed green peas together, he got only green peas.
Mendel theorized that each parent contributed the “elementen” (one gene) for any given trait so the offspring had a pairing of those two genes and that you could not “draw from the external resemblances conclusions as to internal nature.”
What you see on the outside doesn’t always tell you the genetic makeup.
In today’s terms, we would say the gene for yellow is dominant over the gene for green which is recessive. When he crossed yellow with yellow and got only yellow, at least one of the parent plants was homozygous for yellow – meaning that parent plant carried only the yellow gene. But when he crossed yellow to yellow and got some green peas, *both* of the parent plants carried the recessive green gene. When he crossed green to green he could not get yellow because *neither* parent plant carried the yellow gene.
Before breeding, the DNA strands carrying “… chromosome pairs are split apart and distributed into cells called gametes. Each gamete contains a single copy of every chromosome, and each chromosome contains one allele for every gene.”
Which variation of a gene winds up on which DNA strand and which strand from the father combines with which strand from the mother is due to chance thus making breeding so very interesting.
Genetic testing is helping to make breeding decisions a bit easier. Most of the genetic tests we have available for our dogs are for a simple recessive gene, like yellow or green in the garden pea.
What this means is that there is one gene controlling the trait with two or more possible variations (“alleles”) – a dominant allele and recessive alleles. The recessive allele will only express itself if both parents contributed recessive alleles. When there is only one recessive allele the dominant allele it will ‘cover up’ the recessive.
Using genetic testing
If your puppy’s parents have been tested or if your puppy shows a genetic trait, such as yellow or chocolate color, you can make an educated guess about his genetic make up.
If he is yellow, then his parents are either yellow or carry yellow as a hidden gene. Both must carry at least one copy of the yellow gene.
If he is black, but has a yellow parent, then he carries one copy of the gene for yellow. And it works the same for chocolate.
Because yellow and chocolate are controlled by different genes you can’t know whether he carries the gene for the other color based on his color. With one exception. Yellow Labradors usually have black noses and eye rims. When a yellow Lab has a chocolate nose and eye rims, he is homozygous for both chocolate and for yellow. Although it is a natural color in the breed, it is a disqualification in the show ring.
In a graph, the dominant trait (such as black in Labradors) is capitalized and the recessive trait (chocolate) is lower-case, thus:
BB = homozygous black in capital letters
Bb = heterozygous black (hidden chocolate in lower case)
bb = homozygous chocolate
Therefore the yellow puppy with chocolate points, would be shown as bbee with “e” signifying yellow. The dominant allele – “E” – means “not yellow.”
Early in the Labrador’s history, yellow and chocolate puppies would appear occasionally. But because those colors were not popular, they were rarely bred (and sometimes not even allowed to live). With no genetic testing available and limited knowledge of inheritance, breeders didn’t know that those recessive colors lurked in their dogs’ genetics and would appear when the dog was bred to another dog who carried the same recessive color.
It is possible for a recessive gene to remain hidden for many generations. For example, Sandylands Mark, born in 1965, was black carrying chocolate despite 19 generations of blacks and yellows in his pedigree.
As a side note, because chocolate is a recessive gene, ads proclaiming “dominant chocolate” stud dogs are incorrect. Chocolate is not only recessive to black, but is a separate gene from yellow. The ads probably mean “pure for chocolate” instead.
For traits you can’t see, you should test unless both parents are clear for the trait.
EIC, CNM and PRA are examples of simple recessives. Here are some charts showing potential outcomes for a hypothetical trait “X” where “X” is the dominant allele and “x” is the recessive allele.
These examples hold true for any trait that is a simple recessive.
Note: statistics only hold true with very large samples, except for breeding clear to clear or affected to affected where all puppies will be like their parents. However a carrier to carrier breeding could have all clear puppies or could have all affected puppies.
Whether you’re worried about the ingredients in commercial treats or you just want to do something special for your favorite four-legged companion, here are some simple recipes to make great tasting dog treats!
We’ll start with a favorite – yummy peanut butter treats! Make them as-is or switch out the milk and peanut butter for a cup or 2 of pureed pumpkin. Or try switching rice flour for the wheat flour. Then see which one your dog likes best!
Yummy Peanut Butter Treats
1/2 cup nonfat milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
2 1/2 cups flour, whole wheat
1/2 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Mix together the eggs, milk and peanut butter in a large bowl.
Gradually add flour, baking powder and cinnamon, using your hands as necessary, until the dough is stiff.
Sprinkle some flour on a work surface and roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into 1/2-inch squares or dress it up with a bone-shaped cookie cutter. You don’t want your family to mistake them for people cookies!
Bake in preheated oven about 20 minutes. Turn over and bake for 15 minutes more.
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.
If your dog suffers from allergies, here’s a recipe that he can enjoy without having to scratch. Instead of flour or oatmeal, it’s made with black beans.
Because of their soft texture, these cookies are also good for dogs that have trouble chewing the harder biscuits.
Anti-Itch Doggie Cookies
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed well and drained
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
Mash black beans using a fork or food processor. Add peanut butter, banana and applesauce. Stir until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Drop by rounded teaspoon onto nonstick cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Remove sheet and flatten using the back of a spoon.
Return to the over and bake for 10 minutes. Turn cookies over and continue baking 15 more minutes.
Cool completely then store in an airtight container or freeze.
For a slightly different flavor, try substituting lentils for the black beans.
If it’s too hot or you just don’t feel like firing up the oven, you’ll love these easy-to-make treats!
Coconut Blueberry Frosty Treats
1/2 cup coconut oil in solid form
Put a blueberry into each heart in the silicone mold. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat coconut oil until it liquefies.
Allow coconut oil to cool for a few minutes, then carefully pour oil into the heart mold.
Carefully place mold into the fridge to solidify.
When coconut oil treats are solid, pop them out of the mold.
Store coconut oil treats in a baggie in the freezer.
You can get a silicone mold to make heart-shaped treats here. Or pull out those old plastic ice cube trays, just don’t try to use a metal one because it needs to flex to remove the treats.
Here’s a simple grain-free recipe your dog will love!
Banana Almond Bites
1 large egg
1/2 cup almond butter
1 banana, over ripe
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350° F.
Using a fork, mash the banana in a large size bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix together with a fork until blended. The batter should be thick and gooey.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and place teaspoon-size dollops well-separated on the sheet.
Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the pan and bake for another 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and cool. Be sure to refrigerate!
Here are some other ideas for treats:
- Baby carrots
- Sweet potatoes, sliced
- Apples, sliced
- Watermelon, seedless
- Banana, peeled
- Cottage cheese
- Unflavored yogurt
- Chicken liver
- Chicken gizzards
- Broccoli, sliced
- Cauliflower, sliced
You might be surprised at what your dog likes. Most of my dogs love broccoli and cauliflower, but don’t like bananas! Go figure!
If you don’t have time to make your own treats, check out this post for quality store-bought dog treats.
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A friend’s dog just had a very bad reaction to Advantix II, a topical flea and tick control product. She lives in an area with lots of ticks and had used the product for years without a problem.
Recently her dog became agitated and anxious. He ran around the yard like he was panicked, hid in the bathroom and behind a table. He had a dose of Advantix II the evening before. When she called the Advantix emergency number, she was told “it feels like tiny needles and burning all over his skin.” She bathed him with a degreasing soap (Dawn) and gave him Benadryl. Luckily the dog is doing fine now.
If you search on ‘Advantix II Paresthesia’ you’ll find several cases where dogs have had a bad reaction. Advantix II can cause:
- skin irritation such as redness, scratching, or other signs of discomfort
- gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting or diarrhea
- lethargy or agitation
- sensation of burning, tingling, itching, redness or numbness of the skin
Also keep any cats away from treated dogs for 24 hours as cats can’t metabolize certain compounds and may have serious harmful effects.
According to someone who replied to her post, “Don’t use Nexgard either, I have a friend who used it on her dog and the dog started seizing and eventually passed. Nexgard is paying and has taken responsibility for it.”
Another reply talked about a friend’s dog who “started having grand mal seizures. Over time they got worse and started clustering. Come to find out it was a reaction to Frontline. Once she stopped the Frontline, the seizures stopped.”
Yet another reply said she “used k9 advantix one time and my girl had a stroke from it!!”
Bravecto is another product that was discussed. Some people like it, but it’s caused sterility which tells me it probably isn’t safe for any dog.
Be very careful of chemicals used on your dog. The flea / tick products are designed to spread and coat the whole body and skin is our largest organ.
Check your dogs when they’ve been in a tick-filled area and pull them off manually. If you must use some sort of chemical, check out diatomaceous earth. I haven’t used it, but I’ve heard it has good results with fewer or no side effects. One product I have used is DynaShield. It’s a blend of essential oils, herbs and plant extracts and can be used on people, dogs, cats and horses. Let me know if you’d like more information about it.
You think your dog works hard? Check out these dogs who rack up over 3,000 miles conditioning in just 6 months and then run 150 miles a day for over a week in competition.
Mitch Seavey, has won the Iditarod THREE times (2004, 2013 and 2017) and holds the record as the oldest person to win.
His son, Dallas, has won the Iditarod FOUR times (only one person has ever won it 5 times) in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016.
Dallas holds the record for the youngest person to win. Mitch also came in second to Dallas in 2015 and 2016 and 3rd in 2014 when Dallas won and Dallas came in second to Mitch in 2017.
They’ve also smashed the winning time record over and over. Mitch currently holds the record at 8 days 3 hours 40 minutes 13 seconds. They are the first father and son duo in Iditarod history to claim the top two finishing positions of the race. Between them they’ve won the last 6 Iditarod races.
So why would I – a Lab person – tell you about sled dogs? Well, if a top musher chooses Dynamite products for his dogs it might be something for you to consider.
“We use Dynamite products year round in the kennel to maintain healthy, thriving dogs. The nutritional vitamin and mineral supplements are a key element in our their successful performance and great overall health,” says Dallas Seavey.
What other products does he use?
He says he’s had great success treating viral and bacterial infections “with activated Miracle Clay, Solace, Dyna Pro, and Trace Minerals Concentrate every 3 hours around the clock until well.”
Let me know if you have any questions about any of these Dynamite products!
Image courtesy Dynamite Specialty Products
Who doesn’t love to give treats to their dog? But with so many commercial treats, it can be hard to make a good choice. Start off by looking for quality ingredients.
Signs of better quality:
- Natural preservatives (such as Vitamin C or E) or no preservatives at all
- Made in the USA
- Fresh, whole ingredients (human-grade, if possible)
Ingredients to avoid:
- Corn and wheat
- “Meal” and “by-products”
- BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole)
- BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene)
- Food Dyes (Blue 2, Red 40, Yellow 5 and 6, 4-MIE)
- PG (Propylene Glycol)
- Rendered fat
Consider where the treats are made
There have been on-going problems with pet food and ingredients coming from China. In 2007, there was a massive recall of Chinese-made pet food. Several thousand dogs became sick or died from food containing melamine – a type of plastic. The ingredient was traced back to a Chinese firm that was adding melamine to their food products to increase the protein percentage for bigger profits.
In 2014 there was another health issue that traced to Chinese pet treats. This time it involved imported jerky treats that were linked to over 1000 dog deaths.
Because of these problems, you should avoid pet food products imported from China. Unfortunately labeling laws don’t cover ingredients that come from China. Some manufacturers have imported base ingredients because of the lower cost and mixed them with other ingredients to make pet food in the US. These products can be labeled as ‘Made in USA’ without mentioning the Chinese ingredients.
Check the manufacturer’s reputation
You can search online for recalls, not just for the particular treat you’re considering, but for the entire product line. A manufacturer with several recalls may indicate an overall problem with quality control.
Check the calorie count
Just like people, there are many overweight dogs. Obesity causes all sorts of health issues, from heart disease and high blood pressure, to diabetes and joint damage.
Regardless of which treats you choose, be sure to subtract the calories in the treats from your dog’s daily calorie allowance. Many treats have lots of calories and feeding just a few every day will lead to weight gain.
If you’re not a calorie counter, do the touch test every couple of weeks. Lay the palms of your hands on your dog’s rib cage. If his ribs are sticking out, he’s too thin. If you have to press in to feel the ribs, he’s too fat.
What tastes best to your dog
For that you may have to try a few different treats, but I don’t think he’ll mind this kind of testing!
Here are some treats that score high in our consideration:
Heart-shaped, crunchy organic dog treats that come in a wide variety of flavors, including Chicken, Peanut Butter, Salmon and Sweet Potato, Turkey and Sweet Potato, and Cheese. They also come in small (1″) and medium (1.5″) sizes.
- No artificial flavors, colors or preservatives
- No wheat, soy or corn
- Made in Canada
- And the company gives 100% of profits to charity. Over $500 million so far!
“The dog loves them. They are scored to be easy to break in half for smaller dogs or for training nibbles. On ‘subscribe and save,’ the price is very good.” ~ LaRaine
Bone-shaped treats that come in small and large size with a crunchy texture. They also come in a variety of flavors, including peanut butter and molasses, apple bone, sweet potato, and pumpkin and coconut bone.
- 100% human-grade, non GMO
- No wheat, corn or soy
- No artificial colors or preservatives
- USDA certified organic
- Made in the USA
“Fantastic product! Wish it was this easy to find healthy snacks for us human-kinds! My dogs, big and small, absolutely love these! Even my friend’s uber picky eater dog goes crazy for these treats!” ~ Kelrick
Made from 100% natural, grass-fed, free-range beef. Oven baked without added hormones, preservatives or chemicals.
- All natural, single ingredient
- No added hormones, preservatives or color
- Naturally high in protein and grain-free
- Good for chewing exercise
“My dog loves these and I’m happy to be giving her something that’s grassfed and natural. She’s a fairly vigorous chewer and can finish one in a single sitting, but I can also take it away halfway through and give back later. It keeps her occupied.” ~ Heidi
USDA certified organic and non-GMO treats that come in several flavors – hemp seed and banana, carob and mint, cranberry and flaxseed, apple pie, sweet potato pie, agave and pear, apples and carrots, grain-free berry, grain-free peas and carrots, peanut butter, and pumpkin.
- No corn, wheat or soy
- No artificial color, artificial flavors or preservatives,
- Made in USA, but only ships to the lower 48 states
“My little dog has an extremely sensitive stomach. I have to get his food from the vet. He can’t have beef, chicken, duck, lamb and grains. That leaves a lot out. My girlfriend has these treats and her dogs didn’t like them so she asked if my dog would like them. He goes nuts for these and they don’t seem to bother his stomach.” ~ Jeep Girl
Thin strips of dehydrated, naturally preserved USDA Grade A chicken breasts. Thin and crispy. Sourced and produced in the US, in small batches.
- No fillers, additives or preservatives
- 100% satisfaction guarantee
- One-ingredient product
- Made in the USA
“My dog LOVES these. I have tried so many treats and she wouldn’t eat them. She would just push them around and over and over. Really she did. Until she received these Premium chicken Jerky Dog Treats. I believe this is my 4th order. They smell just like ‘baked’ chicken. You can break them into pieces easily.” ~ TamG
A dry, crunchy treat that’s available in a flavors like duck, salmon, turkey, potatoes and flaxseed. They also have some location-specific treats like Denali Biscuits with salmon, venison and halibut or Bayou Biscuits with alligator and catfish!
- 100% grain-free
- No corn, wheat or soy
- No artificial flavors or preservatives
“I love that I can give him a treat, and not worry about him braking out in a massive rash! He loves them, and we love these for him! Also since switching to this brand completely he has had so much more energy, is very playful again,and his coat has been simply amazing, and shiny.” ~ Becky85
Freeze-dried raw nuggets that are 98% meat, organs and ground bone from grass-fed, cage-free or wild-caught animals, including beef, chicken, duck or turkey. Minimally processed.
- No added hormones, antibiotics or fillers
- No artifical preservatives or colors
- Single source animal protein
- Made in the USA, although the meat may be sourced from other countries, except China.
“…these treats/foods really do illicit an almost panicked, I’ll do ANYTHING, gotta have it, response!” ~ NewShoes!
Avoid these popular, but unhealthy treats:
Greenies Dog Chews
Although recommended by veterinarians, these treats are not all-natural and there have been problems with white worm infestation, vomiting and intestinal obstructions. The main ingredient is wheat gluten.
Rawhide dog treats
Although dogs seem to love chewing on rawhide treats they are not digestible. It can swell up in the stomach or intestine which can lead to diarrhea, vomiting and pancreatitis. If a piece gets stuck somewhere in a dog’s digestive tract, he will likely need surgery.
Probably the most popular dog treat available, however the ingredients are very questionable:
- Wheat Flour
- Wheat Bran
- Wheat Germ
- Meat and Bone Meal
- Beef Fat (Preserved with BHA)
- Sodium Metabisulfite (Used as a Preservative)
Even if you can get past the grain-heavy ingredients, the National Toxicology Program has concluded that BHA “is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.” Why feed something that may cause cancer?
Another product with very questionable ingredients:
- lots of grain (barley, oat meal, brewers rice, soybean meal, ground whole wheat, corn gluten meal, wheat flour, wheat gluten, ground yellow corn)
- glycerin and sugar
- soy protein concentrate
- salt, phosphoric acid, sorbic acid (a preservative)
- BHA – likely carcinogenic
- dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, Blue 1, Yellow 6) – linked to cancer, allergies, hyperactivity, irritability and aggressiveness
Here’s a website where you can check for product recalls: https://www.animalhealthfoundation.net/blog/?s=dog treats
I hope you found some treats your dog really likes! If you’d like try making some of your own treats, check out this post with recipes.
Affiliate Links: This blog contains affiliate links.
The CNM Project in France recently released an update on their research into Centronuclear myopathy (CNM) in Labrador Retrievers. You can read the very scientific update at http://www.plosone.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0046408
In a nutshell, CNM is a collapsing disorder. Symptoms generally develop between two to five months of age and include gait abnormalities, generalized weakness and tiring easily, a lack of “knee cap” reflexes and muscle wasting. CNM can affect both sexes and all three recognized colors.
It’s a genetic disorder and requires two copies of the CNM gene – one from each parent.
Puppies with only one copy of the gene are carriers and don’t develop symptoms, but if they are later bred they can pass the CNM gene on to their puppies. The researchers estimate one dog in seven is a carrier so all breeding animals should be tested (unless both parents are tested clear).
Dogs that are affected or carriers can be bred, but must be bred to a dog clear of the CNM gene to prevent producing more affected dogs. And that’s in addition to testing for dysplasia and eye problems, at the very least!
In the past seven years the researchers tested samples from over 7,400 Labs and found 80 affected dogs. They believe it started with a single mutation about 50 years ago and has rapidly spread to at least 18 countries through the use of popular sires.
Although it is not fatal, it is a debilitating disorder and an affected dog will require a supportive caretaker.
Here is a video of a 5 month old affected puppy. Note the general weakness and body position, particularly the head and neck.
Here is a video of another Lab having a particularly tough day although she’s determined to get her bumper.
Here is a video of an adult Lab who has been able to overcome many of the symptoms of CNM with the help of his caregivers. According to his owners, “As a puppy, he couldn’t hold his head up, control his tongue, hold a tug toy, walk for more than a few feet without having to crawl, or climb stairs.”
And, no, CNM is not the same as Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC), although both disorders are genetic. CNM is a muscle weakness whereas EIC is a neurologic dysfunction.
Here is a video from the University of Minnesota where they are doing research on EIC.
I read an interesting article this morning. Are breeders blind? Or are we operating under a misconception? The article concludes that the majority of dogs are not normal.
“According to Padgett (1991), most breeders continue to believe that the dogs they own are genetically normal.”
Well, gee, I thought they were.
Padgett also reported that “the average number of defects in most breeds may be fourteen.” Some breeds could have as many as 58 defects.
Well, not MY breed.
When the Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) test came out, I tested my Labs and was blindsided to learn that one was a carrier.
OMG! My dog is defective! I had no idea that one of my dogs harbored that dreaded disease.
My reaction seems to be typical of many breeders. Not only do we believe most dogs are genetically normal, but that having a dog with a defective gene was so out of the ordinary that it should be kept a secret. If we talk about having a defective gene some people might feel our dogs are “less than average or perhaps abnormal.” So we bury our heads in the sand and hope that it will go away.
If we can change our way of thinking – that most dogs are not genetically normal – then it won’t come as such a surprise to get results showing defective genes. If it’s not such a surprise, then maybe we’ll be more willing to share the results thus making it easier to eradicate that gene.
My dog carries one copy of the EIC gene. Dogs with two copies of the gene may collapse under some circumstances. She was fine, but I had to be careful to only breed her to a male who was clear of the gene.
Whew! That doesn’t sound so bad.
So we test before deciding to breed and choose mates wisely.
To learn more, see:
Breed dilemmas and extinction by Dr. Carmen L. Battaglia in The Labrador Quarterly, Winter 2010-11, discussing Padgett, George, “Genetics I Introduction,” 1991 Beagle Review, Darcroft Publishing, Wilmington, VT, Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1991, pg. 14-16.
I used to be a vet tech and blithely gave vaccines to all my animals. DHLPP for dogs, seven-way for horses, FeLP for cats. The veterinarians said they would keep my animals healthy and I believed.
Then I heard about the feline leukemia vaccine causing cancer in cats. I thought it would be better not to give this vaccine, but the Association of Feline Practitioners said to give it anyway – just give it in the cat’s rear leg.
Why, you ask? That way when the cat developed cancer they could just amputate the leg. For more information see: https://www.vetinfo.com/feline-leukemia-vaccine.html Where they say, “By limiting the vaccination site to the back leg, amputation is a better idea.”
The more I thought about it, the more I distrusted the use of vaccines. Inject a small dose of the disease directly into an animal and hope their immune system could deal with it? How unnatural.
Then to increase the efficiency, the drug makers started adding adjuvants. These are substances that the World Health Organization listed as Class III carcinogens with Class IV being the highest risk. (IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risks to Humans: Volume 74, World Health Organization, International Agency for Research on Cancer, Feb. 23-Mar. 2, 1999, p. 24, 305, 310.)
Although required by law, the rabies vaccine is one of the most dangerous of the vaccines. Researchers believe it causes the most and worst adverse reactions in animals, including cancerous tumors at the injection site. Here is a webpage I came across recently that chronicles the decline and eventual death of an Australian Shepherd after her second rabies vaccination. http://www.pinecrest-aussies.com/in-memory-of-belle.html
There is a study underway to improve the safety of rabies vaccines and to determine, by challenge, if they confer immunity for longer than three years as currently believed by most states. One French study showed dogs were immune to a rabies challenge five years after vaccination, while a study in Wisconsin found sufficient antibody titers after seven years. The current study, the Rabies Challenge Fund, is about to start its third year, but is short on funds. Please consider making a donation today! This is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Their website is www.RabiesChallengeFund.org
UPDATE – January 25, 2018
Research shows that dogs who have received two doses of rabies virus vaccine are protected for at least FIVE years. The study is still ongoing and they are collecting and analyzing data from 6.5 and 7 years post-vaccination.
Here are links to more information about vaccine dangers:
Ron Schultz, DVM quoted on Shirley’s Wellness Cafe