Some interesting articles worth sharing.  Most of it does make sense!

The scam: multimillion dollar medical companies pushing heartworm/flea/tick prevention products year round
The heartworm has 5 separate larval stages referred to simply as L1, L2, L3, and so on. It also has two separate cycles which have to be combined to makeup the lifecycle of the heartworm. Only one cycle takes place in a mosquito and the other inside a dog.

The mosquito becomes infested when it bites a dog which is already harboring L1 (MICROFILARIAE). *This can only happen if the dog is also harboring the L5, which is the adult, male and female heartworm as the Microfilariae are their offspring. These Microfilariae can live for up two years in the dogs blood but must be taken up by a mosquito in order to develop any further. If they are not taken up by a mosquito to further develop, they will simply die of old age.

Once the mosquito is infested, the larva must then go through two stages of development or molts L2, and L3, before they can infect another dog. This, mosquito, stage takes anywhere from two weeks to several months depending on the weather. The warmer the weather the faster the development.

The importance of temperature:
While the larva are developing within the mosquito, the temperature MUST remain above 57 degrees Fahrenheit at all times, day and night. If at any time during the mosquito stage the temperature drops below 57 degrees F, the development is halted and it must start all over again. It is only the L3 larva which are capable of infesting your dog.

So, now let’s say that a mosquito has bitten an infested dog and the temperature has remained above 57 F for a minimum of 14 days since that bite and the mosquito bites your dog. Still your dog is not infested because the L3 larva are deposited in a tiny droplet of mosquito saliva adjacent to the bite not actually injected into your dog as many would have us believe.

Providing the humidity and temperature are such that the droplet does not evaporate, the L3 larva must then swim through the droplet of saliva and into the mosquito bite, thereby entering your dogs system. Once inside your dog the L3 larva must spend the next two weeks or so developing into the L4 larva. During this period of time the larva is living in the skin, not the blood of the newly infested dog. The L4 will continue to live and develop in the skin for the next three or four months where it will finally develop into the L5 stage.

Once it makes this development into the L5 it then leaves the skin and enters the circulatory system. The L5 or young adult then migrates to the heart and pulmonary arteries. Once there it will mate approximately 5 to 7 months after entering the dog’s body. That is of course assuming that the dog has been infested with both male and female larva. This mating produces the Microfilariae.

I practiced for seven years in the Santa Cruz, California area, and treated many dogs with heartworms. The only dogs that developed symptoms of heart failure were those that were being vaccinated yearly, eating commercial dog food, and getting suppressive drug treatment for other symptoms, such as skin problems. My treatment, at that time, consisted of switching to a natural (that is, homemade) diet, stopping drug treatment whenever possible, and eliminating any chemical exposure, such as flea and tick poisons. I would usually prescribe hawthorn tincture as well. None of these dogs ever developed any symptoms of heart failure.

     I concluded from this that it was not the heartworms that caused disease, but the other factors that damaged the dogs’ health to the point that they could no longer compensate for an otherwise tolerable parasite load. It is not really that different from the common intestinal roundworms, in that most dogs do not show any symptoms. Only a dog whose health is compromised is unable to tolerate a few worms. Furthermore, a truly healthy dog would not be susceptible to either type of worm in the first place.

{ 1 comment }



Great site with lots of good information


You may have recently heard of “English Cream”, “British Whites”, or “European Creme” Golden Retrievers.  So what is the difference between American Golden Retrievers and English Golden Retrievers? We’re going to use the term “English” but they can also be referred to the names previously mentioned.

The muzzle of the English type is wider, shorter, and its forehead is blockier.
Muzzle of english golden retriever

It has shorter legs, with a slightly deeper chest, and shorter tail. Its features make it heavier than the American type. Males should be between 22–24 inches at the withers and females slightly shorter at between 20–22 inches. The Kennel Club standard calls for a level topline and straight hindquarters without the slight rear angulation found in American lines.

The eyes of the English type are often rounder and darker in comparison to the triangular shape of their American counterparts. A Golden Retriever of English/ British breeding can have a coat color of any shade from gold to cream,  but  red is not allowed in the ring.

Choosing an English Golden Puppy
When researching breeders, always make sure they test for hip displasia, elbow displaysia, eye and heart clearances. Golden Retrievers in general are prone to a number of health problems, so the more clearances you can get the better.  It took over 2 years to find the right Ellvy!  One thing to note is that the health clearances are different from America and other countries, so if you are trying to import a pup you will need to learn to read their specifications.

In America, the main health clearances are:


They should be checked after 2 years of age as that gives time for the hips to set in and the dog should be full grown.  Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease because of the various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis) it can eventually produce, leading to pain and debilitation. The results chart and and an example of hip clearances here:  GR-99600G25F-VPI = GoldenRetriever-RegistryNumber Good 25mos Female-PermanentIdentification.

OFA results for hips

OFFA results for hip clearance

See for more information.


Results for Elbow tests include:

Grade I Elbow Dysplasia: Minimal bone change along anconeal process of ulna (less than 3mm).

Grade II Elbow Dysplasia: Additional bone proliferation along anconeal process (3-5 mm) and subchondral bone changes (trochlear notch sclerosis).

Grade III Elbow Dysplasia: Well developed degenerative joint disease with bone proliferation along anconeal process being greater than than 5 mm.

GR-EL21213F25-VPI = GoldenRetriever-Elbows RegistryNumberofBreed Female 25mos-PermanentIdentfication


Congenital heart diseases in dogs are malformations of the heart or great vessels. The lesions characterizing congenital heart defects are present at birth and may develop more fully during perinatal and growth periods.

The Congenital Cardiac Database is for dogs 12 months and over. Grading of heart murmurs:
Grade 1: A very soft murmur only detected after very careful auscultation
Grade 2: A soft murmur that is readily evident
Grade 3: A moderately intense murmur not associated with a palpable precordial thrill (vibration)
Grade 4: A loud murmur; a palpable precordial thrill is not present or is intermittent
Grade 5: A loud cardiac murmur associated with a palpable precordial thrill; the murmur is not audible when the stethoscope is lifted from the thoracic body wall
Grade 6: A loud cardiac murmur associated with a palpable precordial thrill and audible even when the stethoscope is lifted from the thoracic wall
Example Heart Clearance: OFA GR-CA17229/25F/P-VPI translates to GoldenRetriever-Cardiac Number/25 mos female/Practictioner-Permanent Identification


The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is a centralized, national registry founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dog’s lives were being affected by heritable eye disease. CERF was established in conjunction with board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists, as a means to eliminate eye disease from heredity factors in dogs.

The CERF Registry registers dogs certified free of heritable eye disease by board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ), and also collects data on all dogs examined by A.C.V.O. Diplomates.

CERF GR-43070/2009-26 = GoldenRetriever-RegistryNumberofDog/Year taken-Age


Here’s a great article that explains it all:


Grain Free

December 30, 2011

Why choose grain free dog food for your pet?

Grain free foods are becoming more popular as people are looking towards a more natural ancestral diet. Reasons for choosing grain free foods for your pet:

– Most grains are used as cheap fillers.  Corn has recently received bad press as the most commonly used cheap filler of kibble that provides little health benefits

– Dogs may be allergic to any of the various ingredients in regular kibble (grain-free foods are considered hypoallergenic)

– Grain free recipes contain more meat based protein as well as easy-to-digest animal fats and usually fewer carbohydrates

– Higher quality content can result in feeding less

Grain free diets do not mean  they there carbohydrates free. Instead they substitute potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, tapioca, peas or chickpeas as other carbohydrate sources.  Note: Potato is a questionable ingredient for dog suffering for systemic yeast issues

Not all grains are bad – there will likely be some form or another to provide carbohydrates and binding filler. Grains are considered bad when they are:

– fractionated (not ground whole)
– are not human grade or organic
– are the basis for commercial dog foods (listed first ingredient instead of meat protein based)

I asked several vets and they all seemed to think grain free was a great marketing campaign. A few of the vets said it would be fine to try grain free kibble if the dog had allergies, otherwise it was just an expensive option. Do your research on the food ingredients, where they are sourced, and the company reputation to make the best decision for your pet.

Highest rated grain free dog foods listed on Dog Food Advisor.



Foods Your Dog Should Not Eat

December 23, 2011

Alcohol has the same effect on a dog’s liver and brain that it has on humans. Just a little can cause vomiting, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, problems with coordination, difficulty breathing, coma, even death.

Avocados contain a substance called persin, which in large amounts can be toxic to dogs. Persin is in the leaves, seed, and bark, as well as in the fruit.

Cooked bones have been softened and may splinter off in the dog’s mouth, stomach or digestive tract causing major problems. Bones can cause an obstruction or lacerations of your dog’s digestive system.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage
In large amounts, they can possibly be bad for pets causing gas. It contains isothiocyanate, the tummy upsetting culprit.

Chives, Garlic and Onions
If a dog ingests onions or even onion powder, the animal may develop a condition called Heinz body anemia, a form of hemolytic anemia that destroys red blood cells. This can happen even with the onion powder found in some baby food. Just eating a large quantity once or eating smaller amounts regularly can cause poisoning. Symptoms of anemia include weakness, vomiting, little interest in food, dullness, and breathlessness. Chives should also be avoided. Common signs that your dog has developed Heinz body anemia are pale gums, diarrhea, rapid heart rate, weakness, bloody urine, vomiting and lethargy. This particular type of anemia can also cause kidney damage.

Candy and Gum
Xylitol is often used in candy, gum and other sweets. It can cause an increase in the insulin circulating through your dog’s body which in turn can cause your dog’s blood sugar to drop and cause liver failure. Initial symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Eventually, the dog may have seizures. Liver failure can occur within just a few days.

Caffeine, Coffee, Tea
Caffeine in large enough quantities can be fatal for a dog. Symptoms of poisoning include restlessness, rapid breathing, heart palpitations, muscle tremors, fits, and bleeding. In addition to tea and coffee, caffeine can be found in cocoa, chocolate, colas, and energy drinks.

The toxic agent in chocolate is theobromine. It’s in all kinds of chocolate, even white chocolate. The most dangerous kinds are dark chocolate, chocolate mulch, and unsweetened baking chocolate. Problems resulting from eating chocolate include: vomitting, diarrhea, excessive thirst,abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures, and death.

Raw Eggs
The first problem with raw eggs is the possibility of food poisoning from bacteria like Salmonella or E. coli. The second is that raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.

Fat Trimmings
Too much fat at one time can overload the pancreas and lead to pancreatitis.

Grapes and Raisins
Although it isn’t clear why, grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. And just a small amount can make a dog ill. Repeated vomiting is an early sign. The dog will become lethargic and depressed.

Too much liver can lead to vitamin A toxicity. Liver flavored pet food and treats are fine to give to your pets though – the key is moderation.

Reaction to a drug commonly prescribed for humans is the most common cause of poisoning in dogs. Just as you would do for your children, keep all medicines out of your dog’s reach. Never give your dog any over-the-counter medicine unless told to do so by your vet. Ingredients such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen are common in pain relievers and cold medicine which can be deadly to dogs.

Milk and Other Dairy Products
Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset. Some sources do recommend yogurt since it is lower in lactose and contains healthy probiotics.

Nuts – Macadamia, Walnuts
Dogs should not eat foods containing macadamia nuts because they can be fatal. As few as 6 raw or roasted macadamia nuts can make a dog ill. Symptoms of poisoning include muscle tremors, weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters, vomiting, elevated body temperature, and rapid heart rate. Walnuts and their hulls are particularly poisonous to dogs. They are more susceptible to black walnut poisoning after ingesting the hulls or shells of the nut. Peanut butter appears to be safe for dogs but in moderation due to the fat content.

Persimmons, Peaches, Pears, Plums
The problem with these fruits is the seeds or pits. The seeds from persimmons can cause inflammation of the small intestine in dogs. They can also cause intestinal obstruction. Peach and plum pits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to both humans and dogs.

Raw/Undercooked Meat and Bones
Raw meat can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. Feeding your pet raw bones may seem like a natural and healthy option that might occur if your pet lived in the wild. However, this can be very dangerous for a domestic pet, who might choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet’s digestive tract. Many vets have reported problems with broken/chipped teeth or tiny bone fragments getting lodged in the dog’s intestinal tract.

Eating too much salt can cause excessive thirst and urination and lead to sodium ion poisoning. Symptoms of too much salt include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, and seizures. It may even cause death. The dogs may have kidney problems as they have trouble excreting the excess salt from their bodies.

Spinach, Swiss Chard, and Rhubarb
OK to give in small amounts. While they are not toxic, they are high in oxalic acid, a compound that interferes with calcium absorption.

Stems Potato, Tomato and Rhubarb Leaves, Vines
The leaves, stems and other green parts of these roots and vegetables are highly toxic to most pets. The leaves, stems and vines of these plants contain oxalates, which can harm the digestive, nervous and urinary tract. Symptoms of oxalate toxicity are dilated pupils, heart arrhythmias, irregular heart beat and tremors

Feeding dogs sugary foods is like feeding them drugs. It can lead to obesity, dental problems, and even diabetes.

Yeast Dough
Uncooked dough can stretch the dog’s abdomen and cause severe pain. In addition, when the yeast ferments the dough to make it rise, it produces alcohol that can lead to alcohol poisoning.

Kitchen Pantry
Many other items commonly found on kitchen shelves can harm your dog. Baking powder and baking soda are both highly toxic, as well as nutmeg and other spices. Keeping food items high enough to be out of your dog’s reach and keeping pantry doors closed will help protect your dog from serious food-related illness.

If Your Dog Eats Something it Shouldn’t
It’s a smart idea to always keep the number of your local vet, the closest emergency clinic, and the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center – (888) 426-4435 – where you know you can find it in an emergency. If you think your dog has consumed something that’s toxic, call for emergency help at once.



Flea and Heartworm Prevention

December 18, 2011

Decisions decisions. What type of flea and heartworm treatment should your dog use? Unfortunately the more that is researched, the scarier the medications may sound. As with human medications, you always have to determine if the problem outweighs the possible side effects.  Side effects may be rare but they can happen.  Being a responsible dog owner means educating yourself about the drugs you give your dog.

Sentinel = Program + Interceptor
All in one monthly pill for the prevention of fleas and parasites (heartworm, roundworm, hookworm, whipworm but not tapeworm)

Pros – Monthly tablet to administer for both flea and heartworm prevention
Cons – Does not kill fleas on contact. It is a flea birth control, which prevents infestations. If you do find adult fleas you would have to treat them manually (bath, spray the yard, etc) or use an emergency type remedy such as Capstar. Side effects include itchy skin, hives, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, convultions.  Does not control ticks.
Active ingredient: Lufenuron, an insect development inhibitor

Pros – Prevents heart worms, has been around since 1995. Monthly chewable tablet, also controls hookworms, roundworms and whipworms (but not tapeworms)
Cons – Side effects listed include:  depression, lack of energy, lack of coordination, excessive drooling, loss of muscle strength, and sometimes seizures. Does not control tapeworms
Active ingredient:  Milbemycin Oxime.

Trifexis = Comfortis + Interceptor
Trifexis is a new oral pill that came out in 2011 which covers a wide variety of worms and fleas. It contains Comfortis – which is a flea killer and Interceptor – a well known heart worm preventative.

Pros – Kills adult fleas, monthly chewable tablet
Cons – Side effects reported including seizures and death. There is an official FDA warning not to administer Comfortis with Ivermectin. Does not control ticks.
Active ingredient: Spinosad is a member of the spinosyns class of insecticides, which are non-antibacterial tetracyclic macrolides. It works by attacking the nervous system of insects, causing rapid death of adult fleas.

Already mentioned above.

FDA-approved monthly medication available only through a veterinarian – and is NOT a pesticide registered by the EPA used to treat fleas and parasites.
Pros:  Controls fleas, heartworm, ear mites, sarcopic mange, American dog ticks
Cons: Topical application could sometimes be messy. Does not control whipworms, roundworms, tapeworms, or hookworms. Side effects include drooling, diarrhea, hair loss at medication site, vomiting, and incoordination
Active ingredient:   Selamectin, which interferes with the parasite’s nervous system.

 Advantage Multi
Pros: Monthly treatment of heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and fleas.
Cons: Topical treatments can be messy. Does not control ticks or tapeworms. Toxic to cats and should be kept away from children. Side effects include medicinal odor, hyperactivity, lethargy, itchy skin.
Active ingredient:  Imidacloprid acts on the nervous system of the flea to cause paralysis and subsequent death. Moxidectin acts on the nervous system of heart and intestinal worms to cause paralysis and subsequent death.

Heartguard/Heartguard Plus
Pros: Monthly chewable heartworm prevention pill. Also controls roundworm and hookworms.
Cons: Not recommended for Collie, Shepherd herding breeds as they are reported to have adverse reaction with Ivermectin (elevated dosages can cause mydriasis, depression, tremors, drooling, excitability, stupor, coma and death). Does not control whipworms or tapeworms.
Active ingredient:  Ivermectin. The plus version includes Pyrantel

Pros: Begins to work within 30 minutes to kill adult fleas. Easy to administer tablet. The company claims the product is safe to use daily as needed.
Cons:  Does not control flea eggs or larvae. Does not control ticks. Temporary solution, only effective for a day.
Active ingredient: Nitenpyram belongs to the chemical class of drugs called neonicotinoids, which interferes with nerve transmission in fleas

Frontline Plus
Monthly topical treatment to prevent fleas and ticks.
Pros: Controls fleas and ticks. Products have been around for a long time.
Cons: Topical treatments can be messy. Side effects include hair loss or irritation at site. There are some reports that Frontline does not always work or loses effectiveness with time.
Active ingredient:  Fipronil is stored in the oil glands under your pet’s skin. It is then distributed continuously to the skin and hair of your pet through the hair follicles.

Advantage/Advantage II
Pros:  Monthly topical flea control
Cons: Does not control ticks
Active ingredient:  Imidacloprid acts on the nervous system of the flea to cause paralysis and subsequent death.  Side effects include site irritation, lethargy, medicinal odor.

K9 Advantix
Pros: Monthly topical treatment to control fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, flies, lice. Waterproof.
Cons:  Side effects include neurological symptoms, hyperactivity, itchiness, paralysis in hind quarters, hives, seizures. Toxic to cats.
Active ingredient:  Imidacloprid and permethrin attack the parasites’ nerve cells at different sites. Pyriproxyfen, an insect growth regulator, affects the early flea stages to prevent development of the flea

Injectables such as Proheart should probably be avoided as there were numerous reports of side effects and death. These medications are essentially pesticides and poisons, which is how they kill the fleas and worms. There aren’t many holistic or natural cures so limiting the dog’s exposure to the medicines is keen. It might be a good idea in some areas that are much colder to skip the flea and heart worm treatment during the winter months. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Quick tip: I’ve read in several websites that using some of the heartworm preventatives such as Heartgard Plus ever45 days instead of 30 may be just as effective. Please google at your discretion!



Can we really extend the life of our dog? Unfortunately there is no answer, but I found some interesting articles about the oldest dogs in the world and what they ate. Along with daily exercise, the older dogs all had one thing common in their diet: the addition of natural whole foods. Another commonality is that most of the dogs were mixed breeds.

29 year old Bluey
An Australian Cattle Dog, Bluey ate regular meals of kangaroo and emu in his hometown of Australia.

29 year old Bella
Bella, a Labrador mix was claimed by her owners to have lived to be over 29 years old but there is no record of her exact birthdate (she was adopted at the age of 3).  Bella’s owners claim longevity to her diet. “She has only got two teeth left so she can only have soft stuff now. So she has shredded chicken and fish and sometimes, boiled liver and best tinned stewing steak, mackerel and sardines.”

28 year old Butch
He made the “Oldest Living Dog” at age 27 in the 2004 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. A Beagle from Virginia in the United States, but there are not too many stories about his diet and exercise regimen.

28 year old Bramble
A Border Collie, from Somerset, UK. Bramble’s owner credits her longevity to an exclusively vegetarian fresh diet of “rice, lentils and organic vegetables every evening.” She went on walks four times a day and even went once a week to a canine hydrotherapy pool for swimming exercises in order to heal an injured back from a previous bad fall.

26 year old Jerry
Jerry, a Heeler/Bull Terrier mix, whose owners owners were Aboriginal leaders living in the Australian outback town of Wilcannia told the press “I think it’s partly genetic, but also because he’s a fit, roo-hunting dog who used to catch a lot of emu and roo. ” Jerry’s owners also attribute his longevity to a raw, high protein diet consisting of Outback wildlife,”Jerry has grown up on kangaroo, rabbit and emu as well as scraps off the table.”

21 year old Chanel
The most recent oldest living dog that passed away recently, Chanel the wire haired dachshund mix kept healthy with daily exercise. Her diet consisted of boiled chicken and whole-wheat pasta to go along with her kibble.

Related article here


Large breed dogs are prone to orthopedic problems. The two major categories of joint problems are developmental and degenerative problems. Developmental problems include things like hip or elbow dysplasia, where the joint does not develop correctly in a number of different ways. Degenerative problems cover such things as arthritis in dogs, and cruciate ligament problems where the ligament is degenerating over time causing instability and secondary osteoarthritis.

Hip/Elbow dysplasia:
A genetic disease, dysplasia is influenced by a number of factors. Treatment often involves lifetime anti-inflammatory medications. Preventative measures are the key and weight plays a huge role in hip dysplasia.

Cruciate Ligament Tears:
ACL stands for anterior cranial cruciate and it is the ligament that keeps the knee in working order. Chasing birds and other toys at full speed can tear the ligament. Torn cruciate ligaments, just like in people need to be surgically repaired to prevent crippling arthritis.

Luxating Patellas:
Knee cap problems are also commonly seen in many breeds of dogs. The patella rests in a groove. Smaller dog’s patella’s tend to slip out of the groove to the inside or medially, and is known as medial patellar luxation.

Disc Disease:
Just as with many of us, our dogs also can have disc problems in their neck and backs. Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Dachshunds and Lhasa Apsos are all breeds that can suffer from neck disc issues, whereas large breed dogs often have chronic lower back issues. Most of these cases can be treated conservatively with the same medications used to treat hip dysplasia. When discs become ruptured, they become surgical emergencies. The disc material can slip into the spinal canal or nerves causing intense pain or even paralysis.

Symptoms of problems:
Dogs are doing less or having more difficulty with common activities. They will take longer getting up. From there it progresses to lameness – even holding the limb up. You should also pay attention to any cracking sounds when they walk around. Keeping an eye on the dog’s gait is also very important as an indicator to any problem.

Prevention and Treatment:
The number one thing you can do for your dog is keep them at a healthy weight. Fat is a source of inflammation in the joints.

Have your veterinarian evaluate your dog’s joints at least every year

Warm up and cool down your dogs during jogs/runs and other exercise activities

Evaluate their gait when they walk or run

Drugs: there are anti-inflammatories, analgesics, and pain relievers to help treat the problems

Foods: many companies now make quality foods that are formulated for joint health. They already have some of the additives like fish oils, which help decrease inflammation. Glucosamine, chondroitin and Ester-C may help with the inflammation.  We’ll need to research if any of the supplements are proven to help in another article.

Surgery: arthroscopic repairs and treatments and biological treatments, different types of injections or replacements of tissues.

Very good site showing gait with animation and videos:

Interesting reading: