Monthly Archives: April 2011

  • Developmental Orthopedic Diseases: Part 2, Can They be Prevented?

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    Now that we are aware of the potential problems of the skeletal system of the foal, we will address some management techniques that may aid in preventing their occurrence. These include dietary management of the mare and foal, exercise needs, controlling growth rate and even selection of appropriate breeding stock.

    Size and growth rate

    One of the commonalties amongst all developmental orthopedic diseases (DOD) includes the size and growth rate of the foal. Obviously the larger the foal, the more stress which will be placed on the limbs simply due to weight. Bigger and more rapidly growing foals have been repeatedly shown to be at more risk for DODs. Body size is inherently a genetic issue, while growth rate can be modulated by the owner. If you are breeding for larger foals, more caution should be taken with their diet to ensure a more moderate rate of growth. This includes avoiding sudden changes in rate of growth. One way to limit changes in growth rate is to avoid ad libitum feeding or to avoid stress placed on the foal. Stresses may include environmental (weather dependent) or social stress, such as weaning. One method to manage stress of weaning in foals is to creep feed foals prior to weaning to accustom them to consuming concentrates. Also, the manner in which the foal is weaned can reduce their stress. Babies weaned in isolation exhibit more stress behaviors than foals weaned with a pasture-mate. Try to keep their environment as close as possible to what they experienced prior to weaning.

    Exercise

    The amount of exercise the foal receives can also influence the development of DOD. Excessive trauma to the joint through overwork can influence development of osteochondrosis (OC) as well as restriction of exercise. So what exercise program is correct for a foal? Foals in adequate pasture size typically spend their time sleeping, nursing, following their dam, and playing in short bursts of activity with other foals. Foals without peers may spend less time playing. Similarly if they are confined to too small of a space they exhibit less play behavior. In addition, if their environment is too small with no novel objects or activities, foals tend to be less active. At the furthest extreme would be foals and young horses confined to stalls without access to voluntary exercise. The best advice for proper bone development in the young foal is to provide adequate pasture space to allow them to run and play on their own. How do you know your pasture is big enough? Simple observation will tell you if your foals are playing. If the foals just stand around, or if you have a single foal with no playmates, they may not have the stimulus to run and play.

    Diet

    Many nutritional causes of DOD have been proposed with very few providing direct causative relationships in a research setting. However, that may be due to a lack of combining the correct causative factors in this multifactorial disease. Perhaps the foals used in the studies need to have a genetic predisposition for DOD, and then must be exposed to the right management conditions to initiate the disease process. However, the most commonly proposed theories include excess energy, mineral imbalances, and inadequate protein. One of the proposed theories in the development of DOD is feeding of excessive non-structural carbohydrates to growing horses. These feedstuffs (think traditional cereal grains like corn) cause a more rapid increase in blood glucose post feeding versus feeds containing more fiber. Higher levels of blood glucose increase insulin levels in the young horse, which may have a cascade of metabolic consequences down to the level of cartilage maturation. While it has been shown repeatedly that feeding high concentrate diets alters the glucose/insulin response and reduces insulin sensitivity, the direct causative relationship to DODs has not been established. The most important guideline appears to be to avoid unregulated feeding of concentrates. High protein diets have also fallen under the radar of causing DOD, but this has not been able to be shown in a research setting.

    Mineral nutrition has probably seen the greatest attention related to DODs. To begin with the simplest, imbalances of deficiencies of calcium (Ca) and phosphorus (P) can clearly lead to abnormalities of bone development. (Please see the articles about calcium and phosphorous in my series, Minerals for Horses, for more details.) However, just because foals are fed adequate amounts of Ca and P in the correct ratios does not guarantee they will be free from abnormalities.

    Another mineral which has received much attention is copper. One of the original studies which pointed to deficiencies of Cu causing OC in foals unfortunately also allowed deficient levels of Ca and P to be fed to the foals, thus making it difficult to point to only one cause. Later studies found highly contradictive results and have not offered any protective benefits to feeding supplemental copper. Taken all together, the most promising results of supplementing copper have been seen when providing copper to the dam in late gestation, or in supplementing copper to promote the repair of OC lesions.

    Trauma

    Included in the list of “just bad luck”, trauma may also result in a DOD. Young horses have a great propensity to get themselves into trouble. They can get kicked by a pasture mate, run into a stationary object (believe me I’ve seen it), or even tumble head over heels for no great reason other than they are still learning their balance. While not much prevention can occur here, at least try to ensure that no overly aggressive horses are housed with young stock, and that dangerous obstacles are not in the pasture. For example, I’ve seen weanlings during a running fit run headlong into an automatic waterer, somersault over the top, and, luckily, continue on their way. If you raise foals, always expect some sort of trauma to arise. Just try to ensure their environment is as safe as possible.

    Genetics

    Unfortunately, the genetics of your foal may be the single largest contributing factor to DOD. Many recent studies have found numerous markers across a number of chromosomes that have been linked to OC. While this sheds some interesting new light on the problem, it is also difficult to select against. Compared to a single point mutation like HYPP, horses cannot be identified as simple carriers of the gene for the disease. Screening for potential carriers of OC would be costly and ineffective. However, that does not mean the breeder has little recourse. If your mare has consistently produced foals with OC, one of two things may be true: one, your management program may be inadequate or, two, she may have a genetic likelihood to produce these types of foals. You can often hear rumblings in the horse community about certain stallions which also tend to throw a lot of foals with OC. Perhaps these are individuals we should select against. However, the amount of research currently being conducted on the genetic link to OC does provide some promise that we may be able to limit this disorder in the future.

    Taken all together, the best plan for avoiding DOD may be, first, to select genetically healthy individuals to breed, and, second, foals should be managed with attention to diet and exercise until they are two years of age. Many causes of DOD may be unavoidable, but hopefully with proper care and management, one can produce a healthy normal adult.

    Next month we begin talking about the usage of fat in the equine diet, and how it may be able to improve the health or performance of your horse.

     

  • Getting a Dog: How Much Is That Puppy in the Window?

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic
    Bandit, Chase, and Cayenne Say: We’re dogs, not people in fur coats. As pack animals, we’re very tuned in to you and know a lot about you. Please pay attention to us and learn what we need to thrive and be happy. We love you and have a lot to give and teach you.
    With spring on the way, you may be thinking about getting a new dog. Here’s some information from the Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book to help you make good decisions regarding your new family member.
    When getting a dog, think about your lifestyle and the amount of time, money and energy you have to spend. Research dog breeds and think about what kind of dog is the best fit for you. Be realistic about whether you’re able to make a long-term commitment to a dog. Remember that a puppy is like an infant or toddler in many ways and has a lot to learn from you. An adult dog will also need to learn how to live well in your household. Commit to training, exercising, and spending time with your dog.
    Please consider adopting a homeless dog. Millions of dogs and cats are killed in the United States every year while waiting for their own homes. Animal shelters and rescue organizations have all kinds of wonderful purebred and mixed breed dogs, from puppies to seniors, in need of good homes. Rescue organizations that house their dogs in foster homes may be able to give you the most accurate information about the rescued dog. One dog rescue organization that I highly recommend is Braveheart Rescue, Inc. in Hastings, Minnesota (https://braveheartrescueinc.com/Home_Page.html). At Braveheart, dogs are given the veterinary care they need, are socialized with other dogs, and are truly rehabilitated before being adopted out. When you adopt a dog, you also support the organization’s work and make room for them to give a second chance to another dog.
    Do not buy from pet stores, ads in the paper that advertise many breeds, day sales, or other outlets for puppy mills (factory farms for dogs). Puppy mills produce puppies in quantity for profit, with little regard for their health or well-being. Puppies are often taken from their mothers at only 4-6 weeks of age, and are not vaccinated before being transported. When you “rescue” a puppy mill puppy, you’re creating a market that keeps the parents imprisoned in deplorable living conditions for the sole purpose of producing more puppies. Some of these dogs rarely leave a stacked tiny wire cage, have never been outside, and are not even able to walk. Learn more at http://www.animalfolksmn.org/ (where you’ll find information about a puppy/kitten mill bill currently being introduced in the Minnesota legislature), http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/puppy-mills, http://www.mainlinerescue.org/ and http://www.mainlinerescue.org/puppy-mills/puppys_parents. Mainline Rescue is the Pennsylvania group featured on the well-known puppy mill episode of the Oprah Show.
    If you want a purebred dog from a breeder (for example, if you need a dog that was bred specifically to herd your cattle), please do your homework. Read Finding a Good Dog Breeder at http://www.dogtime.com/finding-a-good-breeder.html. Look for a breeder who actively participates with their dogs in the activities the dog was originally bred for. Learn as much as you can about the breed, the breeder, and the puppy’s lineage. Ask to meet the puppy’s parents and see where the pups were born and raised. Make sure the breeder tests their dogs for the health problems that are common to the breed. Be wary of a breeder who breeds for one color or trait, like “miniature” to the detriment of temperament or health. Check out the breeder’s references, and be wary of a contract that requires a co-ownership or requires you to breed your dog instead of spaying or neutering. Make sure you get what you pay for.
    With a new dog in the house, you’ll need to find a good veterinarian. In fact, you might even want your veterinarian to examine the new dog before you make the final commitment and take the dog home.
    Choosing a Veterinarian
    When looking for a veterinarian, ask your friends and neighbors for advice. Ask veterinarians about their education, training, experience, and credentials. Check their references. Make sure you’re comfortable with the vet, the way the clinic is run, and the way they handle your dog.
    Today, many veterinarians are using Eastern medicine techniques and therapies, including acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic, homeopathy, and massage therapy to complement the traditional Western medicine protocols they learned in veterinary school. Here’s a list of veterinary and other organizations*, with links to more information:
    The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA): www.avma.org
    A not-for-profit association representing more than 80,000 veterinarians
    The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association (AHVMA):
    AHVMA Member Referral Search: www.holisticvetlist.com
    Explores and supports alternative and complementary approaches to veterinary healthcare, and is dedicated to integrating all aspects of animal wellness in a socially and environmentally responsible manner.
    The American Veterinary Chiropractic Association (AVCA):
    Certifying agency for doctors who have undergone postgraduate animal chiropractic training
     
    The Academy of Veterinary Homeopathy (AVH): www.theavh.org
    Veterinarians who share the desire to restore health to their patients through the use of homeopathic treatment. Members are dedicated to understanding and preserving the principles of classical homeopathy and advancing veterinary homeopathy through education and research.
     
    International Veterinary Acupuncture Society (IVAS): www.ivas.org
    The IVAS mission is to provide, promote, and support veterinary acupuncture and related treatment modalities through quality basic, advanced, and continuing education; internationally recognized certification for veterinarians; and responsible research.
    Tallgrass Animal Acupressure Institute*: www.animalacupressure.com
    Acupressure is used to restore, replenish, and maintain the natural harmony and balance needed to create optimal health and well-being. A small animal acupressure course will be taught in Minnesota in July of 2011 (more info at http://tinyurl.com/6x8mru7).
    I hope this information will start you and your new dog on the road to a happy and healthy life together. Enjoy the spring and summer with your new friend!
    This information originally appeared in The Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book, Ó2010 (more info at http://www.8StateKate.net)
    The Not Without My Dog Resource & Record Book is a Foreword Magazine Book of the Year Awards Finalist in the “Pets” category! More info here: http://www.8statekate.net/wordpress/?p=2302

  • Dogs Know

    Written By Barbara O'Brien
    Dogs know more than we think.
    Kylie is a good dog. She is a tri-colored Australian Shepherd and is owned by my good friend Kathy. Kylie is an obedience and breed champion with a room full of ribbons and trophies to show for it. This is a dog that would never dream of being naughty and not doing what is asked of her.
    I have had the honor of hiring her many times for print ads and commercials. Kylie always did a great job for me. She followed my commands and was always cheerful with a joyful expression on her face. She loved to work and she loved being the center of attention. In the show ring and on the set Kylie was a star.
    Then Kathy was diagnosed with breast cancer. I remember crying with her when she told me and I hoped and prayed for a quick recovery. Kathy is a fighter and underwent aggressive chemo treatments and then surgery to fight her disease.
    Months passed as Kathy went through her treatment, fighting fatigue nausea and tolerating the loss of her hair as her body struggled to beat the cancer that had taken hold. Her friends continue to pray and care for her. Kylie the Aussie never left her side.
    We were all overjoyed when Kathy eventually was declared cancer free. I knew Kathy enjoyed having Kylie perform for the camera so I waited for her to tell me when she was well enough to begin bringing Kylie the Aussie to photo shoots again.
    After I was sure that Kathy felt well enough to give it a try I booked Kylie for a shoot for a major retailer. Kylie was to pose with a human model who would brush her with a special grooming tool to remove fur.
    When Kathy came in with Kylie, I hugged Kathy and asked how she was feeling. Kylie the Aussie had always pulled on her leash when she saw me and wriggled her whole body in anticipation. This time when I greeted her and her owner, Kylie the Aussie was oddly restrained in her manner towards me.
    It is my usual practice to leave the owner in the waiting room and take the dog from the owner to work them on the set myself as most dogs work better when not distracted by their owner. Kylie was no exception to that rule. Although Kathy is an excellent trainer, in the past Kylie seemed to focus better when I worked her on the set without her owner in the room.
    I started to escort Kylie away from her owner and towards the set but she sat down and refused to leave Kathy’s side. “Come on, girl,” I said, slightly surprised. This was not normal behavior for Kylie the Aussie at all. Where was the dog that practically dragged me to the set and was so happy to show off her skills and tricks?
    “Go on,” said Kathy to her dog. “Go with Barbara. You’ll be fine,” she said.
    Kylie the Aussie was obviously reluctant to obey. She slowly got up and went with me, but looked over her shoulder at her owner.
    “Come on, girl,” I said in my cheeriest voice. “I’ve got cheese,” I said. Usually, the word cheese is the magic word to focus Kylie’s razor sharp attention. This time I said the magic word, she glanced my way for a moment, then looked back to the door of the room in which Kathy her owner was waiting.
    Why was Kylie the Aussie acting so strangely? This was not like her at all. This dog loved me and usually pranced and danced on camera happily sitting and cocking her head for the camera.
    The human model came in and I put Kylie the Aussie in position. I stepped back and began to cue her, looking for the sweet expression and happy ears that she always offered me.
    Kylie did her best to be obedient. She is a good dog and knows that Stay means Stay, but there’s a big difference between a dog who is focused on the work and a dog who is just going through the motions. Kylie was just not with me. I told her Stay and she would Stay but only for a moment or two and then she would break her Stay. This is unusual for such a well-trained dog and experienced animal model.
    “Oh, no! What did you do?” I said (my traditional speech when a dog breaks a Stay). I tried again. I gave her the hand signal and said “Kylie, Stay!” She paused for only a moment this time before breaking her Stay again. I was shocked. This is an obedient dog. She always listened to my commands and performed them cheerfully and happily for the cheese reward. What could possibly be wrong? I watched Kylie the Aussie as her gaze continued to go to the door. And then I understood. Kylie the Aussie’s mind was with her owner Kathy in the waiting room. I apologized to the photographer for the delay and took Kylie off the set. “Okay!” I said to Kylie. She bolted out the door and down towards the hall to be with Kathy. I could hear Kathy laughing as I headed towards them. “What is it, girl?” Kathy asked as Kylie stood on her hind legs and washed Kathy’s face with her tongue.
    “She can’t leave your side right now,” I said. She knows that you haven’t been well and that her place is with you.”
    Kathy held Kylie’s head in her hands. “Is that true, Kylie?” She said “Don’t you know that I am okay now?” Kylie looked back at her with the intelligent brown eyes of an Australian Shepherd, one of the smartest of all dog breeds. I think Kylie the Aussie felt the need to protect her owner Kathy and be with her. Kathy had beaten the breast cancer, but perhaps her dog still thought she still needed special care and attention. Although Kylie the Aussie shows every sign of enjoying being an acting dog, perhaps she thought she had a more important job right then: Being with Kathy.
    “Please come to the set with us?” said Kathy to me, and we went back. I said to Kathy: “You work with her. She usually works better with me, but she needs you this time.” Kathy put Kylie in position, thehuman model readied the grooming tool, and the photographer began to shoot. It was like a different dog was there. Kylie posed and perked her ears. She put her paw up and then down on command and she spun around in a circle when asked. She even kissed the model’s face on cue. Here was the Kylie I knew.
    The rest of the shoot went perfectly and the client was happy with the results.
    Another six months went by before I needed to use Kylie on a shoot. I had been in touch with Kathy and knew that she was getting stronger and feeling better every day. This time when she came to the studio Kylie was overjoyed to see me, almost leaping into my arms as I said hello. And when I took her leash to lead her to the set she went with me without a backward glance.
    On set she was once again a pro, offering all of her endearing behaviors like tilting her head and grinning for the camera. When we finished and I returned her to Kathy in the waiting room, I marveled at how different Kylie the Aussie was from the last time I worked her.
    It’s amazing to me how dogs sometimes just know. Apparently, even though Kathy thought she was back to her old self, Kylie the dog did not agree and thought she needed to stay by Kathy’s side. Now that Kathy was fully recovered and cancer free, Kylie the Aussie also was back to her old self and ready to perform.
    ©2011 Barbara O’Brien -White Robin Farm -N616 130th Street -Stockholm WI 54769 -(612) 812-8788

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