Dog Word of the Day: What is a Dudley Nose?

 

When it comes to dog noses, they can be colored in many different ways, the most common being black, but once in a blue moon you may stumble on what is called a Dudley nose. What exactly is a Dudley nose? The American Kennel Club glossary informs us that a Dudley nose in dogs is simply a flesh-colored nose. This Dudley nose definition though doesn’t tell us much about what causes a Dudley nose in dogs and whether it’s a problem or not. It’s interesting therefore discovering more about why a dog’s nose would appear flesh-colored in the first place.

What is a Dudley Nose?

As mentioned, a Dudley nose is a flesh-colored nose, which differs from the usual solid black pigmentation seen on the noses of most dog breeds.

If you were to look at the usage of this term in many dog breed standards, you would soon notice that it’s often listed as a fault. In some breeds the presence of a Dudley nose is considered a serious fault and in some others it can even be means for disqualification!

For instance, the Labrador retriever breed standard mentions that the presence of a thoroughly pink nose or a nose lacking any pigment is a disqualification.

A Dudley nose in dogs should not be confused with the term “winter nose” or “snow nose.” In the case of snow nose or winter nose, the loss of pigmentation is, as the name implies, seasonal, therefore causing a temporary change that takes place in the winter.

Generally, in snow nose, the middle of the nose looses color, then, once winter is over, the nose returns to its normal original color. Snow nose is thought to occur because of lack of sunlight and is commonly seen in Siberian huskies, Labrador and golden retrievers and some other breeds.

In the case of a Dudley nose instead, the dog is typically born with a solid black nose, but then as the dog matures, the nose starts gradually fading becoming brown until it reaches the point of turning pinkish white. Unlike “snow nose” the change in color is permanent.

Importance of Pigmentation

The next question one may think of is: why is nasal depigmentation in dogs such a big deal? Is it just a matter of looks or is there more to it?

Turns out, for a very good reason a solid black nose is the default color seen in most dogs. Nasal pigmentation is ultimately what protects the dog’s nose from sunburn and potential skin cancer. Generally, the darker the nose, the better UV protection.

“A dog with a black nose would be considered “protected” from the sun. A dog with a pink, fading to pink or pale nose needs sunscreen applied to this area…AVOID sunscreens with zinc oxide. Pet caregivers can also opt for a visor.”~Dr. Jean Dodds

Did you know? Nose color in dogs is often related to coat color. From a genetic standpoint, black dogs have black noses while brown or liver dogs have liver noses.

From a Medical Standpoint

The term Dudley nose is used in breeder circles, but the actual medical term for such reduction in pigmentation  is “idiopathic nasal hypopigmentation.”

The word idiopathic denotes a condition that has an unknown cause. Basically, what triggers Dudley nose in dogs remains for the most part a mystery. It just seems to happen spontaneously for no particular reason.

The word nasal, obviously refers to nose, while hypopigmentation simply refers to low or lack of pigmentation.

Fortunately, a Dudley nose as with some other nose color changes in dogs doesn’t seem to affect a dog’s health overall as long as there are no other signs of problems going on such as scaling, crusting or cracking.

“The only time we need to be concerned about a change in color is if the leather starts to appear abnormal in texture (smooth and shiny rather than the normal textured appearance) or the spots become ulcerated or crusty. Those changes can signify autoimmune disease, some types of fungal infections, zinc deficiency dermatosis in some arctic breeds, or cancerous changes like squamous cell carcinoma.” ~Dr. Kara

Did you know? The word Dudley derives from bulldogs with flesh-colored noses that were bred from a part of Black Country in Worchestershire, known as “Dudley” explains Rawdon B. Lee in the book “A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland.”

 

References:

  • Ear, Nose and Throat Diseases of the Dog and Cat, By Richard G. Harvey, Gert ter Haar, CRC Press; 1 edition (October 14, 2016)
  • A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland, By Rawdon B. Lee,  1893

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr, Creative Commons, Shutterbug 70, Close up of Teazer’s nose. CCBY2.0

Dog Word of the Day: Spaniel Dog

 

The world of dogs breeds is quite vast and in order to keep some sort of order, dog breeds are often divided into several categories often based on the type of work they were bred for and the spaniel dog sub-group is one of them. What is a spaniel dog? Spaniel dogs were hunting companions who were selectively bred to accomplish precise tasks to help out hunters in areas of dense bush. Today, there are several dog breeds listed under the spaniel dog category. On top of being used as hunting companions, spaniels dogs share some general distinctive physical traits which makes them quite easy to identify when compared to other types of dogs.

Francis Wheatly painting, Duke of Newcastle seated on his horse and four Clumber Spaniels.

What Were Spaniels Bred For?

As mentioned, spaniels dogs were bred for helping hunters. What did they do though exactly? Spaniel dogs are a type of gun dog, meaning that they assisted hunters using shotguns. In particular, spaniels were employed to flush out birds from dense bush.

Basically, spaniels would be quartering in close proximity to the hunter, sniffing around with their powerful noses in search of quarry in a zig-zag fashion. If the spaniel did find the birds, he would then drive them out of their hiding spots in dense bushes so that the hunter could aim and shoot.

The term used for depicting the action of driving the birds out of their hiding spots is “flushing” but the term “springing” can also be used. A spaniels’ flushing is therefore quite a different task and much more dynamic compared to the motionless pointing typical of pointers and the setting typical of setters.

Some spaniels were mainly used on land, while the larger specimens were also trained to retrieve downed birds from lakes and streams. Several of these spaniels had curly, water-repellent coats.

Spaniel Dog Traits

On top of being bred to flush birds out of bushes, spaniels share some physical traits that make them distinguishable from other dogs. Spaniel dogs typically have long, drooping ears and a long silky coat. The coat is wavy, particularly on the ears, chest, abdomen and legs.

Spaniels are known for having a a gentle expression courtesy of their soulful eyes and their stubby or long tails are often wagging quickly.

When it comes to personality traits, spaniels are known for being highly intelligent and affectionate. Of course, these are general traits considering that it is difficult to narrow down specific traits when every spaniel is blessed with its own unique personality. Even within a litter of spaniels the differences between one pup and another despite being of the same breed can be quite broad.

Spaniel Dog Breed List

What dog breeds are categorized as spaniels? The American Kennel Club lists most spaniel dog breeds under the sporting group which encompasses pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels. The spaniels found in the American Kennel Club sporting group therefore consist of the following:

The American Water Spaniel

                  The Clumber Spaniel

   

 

   The Cocker Spaniel

 The English Cocker Spaniel

                                                                                 The English Springer Spaniel

     The Welsh Springer Spaniel

 The Field Spaniel

 The Irish Water Spaniel

                                                                                The Sussex Spaniel

   The Boykin Spaniel

Other spaniels include the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Blue Picardy Spaniel, German spaniel, Russian spaniel, and there are several more.

Did you know? The Brittany was once known as the Brittany spaniel but the word spaniel was then dropped because it turned out this dog was more of a pointer than a flusher. Since the 1980s the Brittany is therefore considered a pointer and the word spaniel is no longer used.

 

References:

The Sporting Spaniel Handbook, By Loren Spiotta-DiMare

Photo Credits:

  • Wikipedia, chien d’eau americain Awsguy1Own work CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, Clumber Spaniel during show of dogs in Rybnik – Kamień, Poland Pleple2000Own work CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, A black American Cocker Spaniel in a show cut. ТомасинаOwn work CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, 1.5-year-old English Cocker Spaniel, Simon Gergely Vass CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, English Springer Spaniel Elf  CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, A Welsh Springer Spaniel Udo TjalsmaOwn work CCO
  • Wikipedia, Field Spaniel during World Dog Show in Poznań, Poland. Pleple2000Own work CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, Irlandzki_spaniel_wodny na Światowej Wystawie Psów Rasowych w Poznaniu Pleple2000  CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, Sussex Spaniel Pleple2000Own work CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia, Boykin Spaniel BoykinspanielingOwn work, CCBYSA4.0

Dog Word of the Day: What is a Dog’s Topline?

 

In the world of working dogs, body conformation is important and the dog’s topline has played an important role in allowing dogs to perform the tasks they were bred for, but exactly what is a dog’s topline? You may have heard this word before perhaps at dog shows or among breeders, but the term is often used vaguely without giving out much information about what it truly depicts. So today we will be taking a closer look into what a topline is in dogs and its importance.

What is a Dog’s Topline?

So what is a dog’s topline? A dog’s topline is the profile line that goes from the dog’s shoulders to the base of the tail, tells us Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist Dr. Christine Zink in the book “Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete.”

Imagine drawing with a pencil the profile of the dog’s body from the withers (where the shoulders meet the neck, right over the scapula blades) to the tail. That’s the profile line of the topline.

The topline therefore includes the back (area between withers and loin), the loin (from end of the rib cage to the pelvis) and croup (area behind the hips and below the tail).

As mentioned, not all toplines are designed equally. If you were a graphic artist, therefore, that line may be straight, arched or sloped depending on what breed you were drawing. What difference does a straight, arched or sloped topline make in dogs? Let’s discover the effects these different types of toplines have on dogs.

Did you know? The profile line that contours the brisket (the front part of the chest) and the abdominal floor is known as “underline.” Another term that often generates confusion is “backline.” Some people use the term backline to exclusively depict the profile line drawn from withers to tail, and top line to depict the whole silhouette of the dog from the dog’s occiput to tail. In this article we decided to use the term topline because that’s what the American Kennel Club‘s glossary uses to depict “ the outline from just behind the withers to the tail set.”

Straight Topline in Dogs

The topline can be straight in some dog breeds. So if you were drawing these dog breeds that profile line would be for the most part straight from the shoulder area to the tail.

In the world of conformation, a straight topline is referred to as being level. Most dog breeds are meant to have a level topline, therefore the majority of dogs tend to fall under this category.

Examples of dog breeds with a straight topline include the Skye terrier, Yorkshire terrier, Chihuahua, Labrador retriever, chow chow, Golden retriever and many, many more.

What effects does a straight topline have on dogs? A straight topline allows dogs to efficiently trot at consistent speeds.

Arched Topline in Dogs

The topline can be arched in some dogs breeds. So if you were drawing these dog breeds the  profile line would arch towards the loin area.

The most notorious arched loins are found in many sight hound dog breeds such as the Scottish deerhound, borzoi, Italian greyhound and the whippet, as seen in the picture.

In these dog breeds, the arched loin allows flexibility of the spine so that the rear legs can be tucked well under at a gallop allowing them to cover more ground with each stride.

If one observes closely, in these breeds at a gallop, the rear foot is almost able to nearly pass the point of shoulder, as seen in the picture below. When a dog’s arch is continuous affecting also the croup, it tends to lead to the low tail set often seen in many sight hounds.

When it comes to arched toplines, it’s important to make one important distinction though. No American Kennel Club standard calls for a topline in sighthounds starting to rise from the withers, points out dog show judge Patti Widick Neale. It’s the back that rises a little at the loin area and not the whole topline, as often seen in several Art Deco statues depicting greyhounds!

“The key to the arch is flexibility essential in the double suspension gallop allowing the dog to double up on the ground and straighten in midair.”~Lisa Dubé Forman

 

Did you know? A faulty topline that arches starting from the withers is known as “wheelback” and affected dogs have a bouncy, energy-wasting gait that interferes with flexibility.

Sloped Topline in Dogs 

The topline can be sloped in some dog breeds.  So if you were drawing these dogs breeds, the profile line would slope towards the loin area, a bit like a mountain slope. Some people refer to this tendency as sagging or roaching back.  Dogs with a sloping topline tend to have more angulation in the rear legs which results in a lowered rear.

A notorious dog breed with a sloped back is the German shepherd. However, excessive sloping is  sadly a new trend that strays away from the breed standard. Max Von Stephanitz, the creator of the German shepherd breed, described the German shepherd as having a back that was “straight and powerful.” And then, he further added “curvature of the spine diminishes the power of endurance and speed, and is therefore, an especially serious handicap for efficiency..”

The new trend is mostly seen in the show lines of this breed. According to Louis Donald, a working dog judge, the curved spine seen in German shepherds dogs is fruit of a ”very small number of very influential people” that go by the name of “breed authorities” who promoted this feature at dog shows. The breed’s conformation therefore shifted from a straight, powerful back to sloped with an exaggerated hind leg angulation, features that would perhaps make respected Von Stephanitz roll over in the grave. The American Kennel Club doesn’t even call for a sloping back in the German Shepherd breed and actually refers to it as a fault.

“The back is straight, very strongly developed without sag or roach, and relatively short.”~ German Shepherd breed standard, American Kennel Club

 Did you know? German shepherd dogs with sloping backs are now often nicknamed ” the hatchback, “downhill dog” and “dog in front, frog in back.”

 

References:

  • An Eye for a Dog: Illustrated Guide to Judging Purebred Dog, By Robert W. Cole, Dogwise Publishing, (June 1, 2004)
  • Golden Retriever, By Jeffrey G. Pepper, Kennel Club Books (July 31, 2012)
  • Encyclopedia of K9 Terminology By Edward M. Gilbert, Jr, Patricia H. Gilbert, Dogwise Publishing; 1st edition (September 18, 2013)
  • Peak Performance – Coaching the Canine Athlete, by M. Christine Zink DVM PhD (Author) Howell Book House (October 1992)

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr Creative Commons, Calsidyrose, Running Dog photo from “All About Horses,” by Marguerite Henry CCBY2.0
  • Wikipedia Creative Commons, Scorch, son of Torch owned by Maureen StrenfelTaken Feb 22,2004 at the SMART/USDAA dog agility competition in Salinas, CA. Photo by Ellen Levy Finch (Elf). CCBY3.0
  • Yorkshire Terrier by PelzEigenes Werk, Yorkshire Terrier Rüde CCBY3.0
  • Wikipedia Creative Commons, The show-line dogs usually have an extremely sloping topline, revista de monogràfiques del pastor alemany, Copyrighted free use
  • Lateral view of a dog skeleton Wilhelm Ellenberger and Hermann BaumUniversity of Wisconsin Digital Collections Animal anatomical engraving from Handbuch der Anatomie der Tiere für Künstler’ – Hermann Dittrich, illustrator. Public domain.

Dog Word of the Day: Spitz Dog

 

What is a spitz dog? If you stumbled on this term before, you may have been wondering what is a spitz dog, and what are the main characteristics of spitz dogs. Spitz dogs are fascinating animals who share similar characteristics which throughout their history made them particularly suitable for the environment and climate in which they originated. The spitz dog category encompasses many popular dog breeds most people are familiar with. It’s quite fascinating discovering more about spitz dogs, their physical features and their history!

spitz-dogWhat is a Spitz Dog?

Spitz dogs are simply a category of dog breeds which share some distinct characteristics. Most spitz-like dogs share small pointy ears, almond shaped eyes, a dense, thick coat and a fluffy tail that is often curled over the back.

Spitz dogs are often described as having a strong wolf-like appearance. Dogs under the spitz category originate from East Asia and several Arctic regions and are believed to be very ancient. According to the American Kennel Club, spitz-type dogs in Europe were associated with the hunter and gatherers of the first stone age, dating back about 6000 years!

Spitz dogs were selectively bred for mostly accomplishing three tasks: hauling sleds, hunting large game like moose and brown bears  or small game like birds and small mammals, and herding animals like the caribou and reindeer.

Spitz-type dogs therefore have a long history of living and working alongside humans. However, some breeds have been been bred away from working uses and were purposely designed to be companions or lap dogs.

A Closer Look

keeping-warm

If we take a closer look at the characteristics of spitz dogs we will see how their bodies were purposely crafted to live in a cold environment. Even the facial features were crafted with harsh cold weather in mind.

Frostbite is a real problem in the Arctic and large ears would be prone to freezing in subzero temperatures. For a good reason the spitzs’  ears are small and pointy and lined up with fur to help prevent heat loss.

The eyes of dogs living in Arctic regions are often almond shaped and set obliquely. Why is that?  This is an advantage as one can imagine how round, protruding eyes would be more prone to injury, observes Debbie Lynch, a columnist for the AKC Gazette.

Most spitz dogs have a wedge-shaped head with a definite stop. According to David Cavill, an English judge specializing in arctic breeds, the rise of the stop over the nasal sinus has a functional purpose in arctic breeds: allowing space for the air to warm as the dog breathes in the colder climates.

The double coat is obviously one of the main features that keep spitz-type dogs warm. The double coat in spitz dogs is composed by an outer, top coat made out of thick coarse fur and an inner coat made of fuzzy, insulating down. To protect the paws from sharp ice, the paws are heavily furred. And the tail? It conveniently curls up when spitz dogs are sleeping curled up in a ball so to help conserve heat.

keeshon-on-leash
Keeshond dog breed

What Dog Breeds are Spitz?

There are several dog breeds found in the spitz category. Sometimes, spitz dogs are divided in sub-types depending on their ancestry. For example, the German spitz sub-group includes Spitz type dogs of German origin, while Asian spitz sub-group includes spitz of Asian origin such as the Chow Chow and the Akita Inu.

Here are a few spitz dog breeds : Siberian husky, Alaskan malamute, Akita, Shiba Inu, Keeshond, Chow Chow, Pomeranian, Samoyed, Norwegian lundehund, Greenland dog, Alaskan klee klai, American Eskimo dogs, Karelian bear dog, Finnish spitz, Finish lapphund, Eurasier, Hokkaido, Korean jindo, Japanese spitz and Schipperke. The Pomeranian is considered the smallest of all spitz dogs.

Owning Spitz Dogseskimo-dog

Interesting in opening your heart and home to a spitz dog? Then you need to know some important spitz dog facts. While every spitz dog is blessed with his own unique personality and characteristics, here are some general facts about spitz dog ownership and what to expect.

While some spitz-type dogs are social by nature, some others require more training and careful socialization when they are puppies and throughout their lives. Because many spitz-type dogs were selectively bred to run long distances, they are naturally equipped with stamina and endurance. This means that they thrive when provided lots of space to roam around and daily exercise and mental stimulation so to stay fit and happy. Many spitz-type dogs can make wonderful running partners.

And what about grooming? Their double coat requires regular grooming as spitz dogs tend to shed quite a lot and may be prone to matting.

As with any new doggy additions, it’s important to conduct thorough research. It’s easy to fall in love with the looks of spitz dogs without keeping into consideration their needs. Lots of spitz-type dogs end up being relinquished to rescues and shelters because of superficial choices.

Photo Credits

  • Wikimedia, Německý špic vlčí Zuza Punkt Widzenia, Public Domain

 

Dog Word of the Day: Setter Dog

 

Dogs have been used for many years as working partners and along with the retrievers, the pointers and the spaniels, the setter dog deserves his spot of honor for being cherished as a gun dog. What is a setter dog? There are several different types of setter dogs and each one of them has unique traits that makes them special. Today, we’ll be discovering more about exactly what setter dogs are, we’ll take a look back into their history and what specific tasks setter dog breeds have been selectively bred to accomplish.

dog-setterWhat is a Setter Dog?

A setter dog is basically a gun dog with a history of hunting birds such as quail, grouse and pheasant.

The name of these dogs derived from these dogs’ practice of “setting,” in other words, crouching low upon spotting birds at a certain distance. Therefore, when it comes to detecting birds, we have pointer dogs  that”point,” while setter dogs “set.”

The first setters are believed to date back to the 15th century in the United Kingdom.

Setter dogs are quick, stylish dogs who have a natural instinct to show interest in birds, a trait that has been often described as being “birdy.”

When it comes to appearance, most setters are blessed with a long, smooth coat of a silky texture. They can come in a variety of coat colors and are known for having long feathery tails.

dog tipDid you know? When setters catch the scent of a bird, they will wag their tails rhythmically. This tells the hunter that they have managed to track down game.

What Does a Setter Dog Do?

painting-setter

Setter dogs are known for using a systematic hunting style. As mentioned, they are known for “setting” upon noticing quarry. Setter dogs are silent dogs that use their powerful noses for hunting.

Unlike hounds, who tracks smells keeping their head low to the ground, setter dogs will carry their heads up as they search for birds by analyzing scent molecules wafting in the air.

Rather than chasing the birds as many dog would do by instinct, upon spotting the birds, setter dogs will crouch and “set,” a behavior that came handy in the past when hunters would toss a net to trap the birds.

When the use of nets were replaced by guns, setter dogs came still handy. They would hunt by freezing  so that the birds could be “flushed” and then shot by the hunter.

What Dog Breeds are Setters?

As mentioned, setters dogs are gun dogs who assisted hunters in finding game. Because setter dogs specialized in hunting birds, they were often referred to as “bird dogs” as well. There are several dog breeds that are considered to be setters. The American Kennel Club lists setters under the sporting dog group. The term “sport” is meant to depict the trend of hunting as a form of entertainment for members of the nobility and elite classes, a trend that was particularly popular in England. Following are four types of setter dog breeds.

Irish SetterCapture

This dog is quite popular for its red or chestnut coat. It wasn’t until the 19th century though that kennels started producing solid red setters. Irish setters were selectively bred for bird setting and retrieving. Back in time, Irish hunters needed a dog who was fast working, equipped with a powerful sniffer and large enough to be seen from a distance. The Irish setter filled the gap with its known versatility.

CaptureIrish Red and White Setter

This breed of dog as the name implies, originated in Ireland. It shares many similarities with the Irish setter, one main difference though is the coat which, as the name implies, is white and red. The Irish red and white setter was originally bred to hunt birds such as the partridge, pheasant, woodcock or grouse which tend to hide rather than take flight. Despite being an old breed, the Irish red and white setter risked extinction at one point when the red setters became more popular. Thankfully, breeders took action to preserve the breed.

english-setterEnglish Setter

The English setter is the oldest type of setter, perhaps dating back to the 14th century. As the other setters, the English setter  was selectively bred to  locate quarry on the moors and then set util the birds were dispatched. Edward Laverack played a major role in breeding these dogs and coined the term”belton“to depict the roan and ticked flecks of colors seen in the breed, The term derives from the city of Belton where Laverack often hunted.

gordon-setterGordon Setter

Gordon setters come from Scotland and were used there at least from the 1600s. This breed’s name derives from the Fourth Duke of Gordon who cared for many of these dogs at Gordon Castle. Gordon setters are the heaviest and slowest of the setters, and this trait became most pronounced when the breed first entered the show ring. Robert Chapman though worked on making this breed less ponderous. This breed though still remains slower than the other flashy setters.

Watch two Setter Dogs in Action!

Photo Credits:

  • Irish Red and White Setter during International dog show in Rzeszów, Poland, by Pleple2000CC BY-SA 3.0
  • The head of a female English Setter by Franza1984Own work – Opera creata e caricata dall’autore Public domain
  • Gordon Setter portrait by R. ArkesteynOwn work CCBY3.0
  • Irish Setter with a duck, 1855 Karl Ucherman Public Domain

 

Dog Word of the Day: Runt of the Litter

 

In  a litter of puppies, it’s not unusual for there to be what’s known as the “runt of the litter.” The world of literature and animated movies is populated by many famous runts. If you recall as a child reading the book “Charlotte’s Web or watching the animated version of the novel, you’ll likely recall that Wilbur was the runt of the litter and was at risk for being slaughtered, while Clifford the Big Red Dog, was also a runt who managed to grow explosively until he became 25 feet tall. Not to mention Babe, the piglet hero from Dick King-Smith’s book, but what exactly is a “runt of the litter” and why are they born this way? Also what can be done to help runts survive? Fortunately nowadays, puppies who are runts of the litter have a higher chance of survival courtesy of the care provided by their humans.

runt-puppyWhat is a Puppy Runt of the Litter?

Among a litter of puppies, the runt of the litter is a puppy that is smaller and weaker than the others. However, just because a puppy is smaller than the rest that doesn’t officially make him a runt and not all litters have runts.

After all, just because your brother is 6 foot tall and you are just 5.6 doesn’t make you a runt, does it?

A better definition for runt would perhaps be a pup that is abnormally small for his breed and age and that is struggling to flourish due to health issues. However, there doesn’t seem to be any real, clear cut official definition for this term.

Runts generally face several disadvantages when compared to the rest of the litter. Puppies that are runts generally have a harder time competing with their siblings for milk and sometimes they may also be rejected by mother dog who senses something wrong with the puppy and instinctively caters her energies to the stronger puppies. Runts also typically struggle with health ailments which can range from mild to even severe and life threatening.

With a rough start and rejection from the mother, in the wild, runts tend to struggle and often fail to survive; however, in a domesticated setting, runts are often able to, not only survive, but even thrive, courtesy of some TLC provided by their caretakers. After all, runts of the litter, tend to evoke nurturing instincts in humans, so it’s not surprising to be drawn to these little fellows! Many caretakers confess that helping out runts and watching them grow bigger and stronger can be quite a rewarding experience!

“There is really no agreement among veterinarians – or anyone else for that matter – as to what constitutes a runt.” Dr. Ron Hines

What Makes a Dog the Runt of the Litter?
chihuahua puppy

A common myth that floats a lot around breeding circles is that runts are puppies who were in the middle of the uterus or who came from eggs that were conceived last.

In reality, when the dam releases her eggs to be fertilized, they are actually released all at once generally over a 24 hour span.

Even if say a puppy was conceived later than the other puppies, there are still 17 days during which they float freely before implantation and the formation of the placenta, explains Dr. Margaret V. Root Kustritz in her book  “The Dog Breeder’s Guide to Successful Breeding and Health Management.” This means that all the pups are ultimately of the same age, but runts may have undergone what’s known as “poor placentation.”

What does poor placentation mean? It means that basically, during gestation, runts may have had a poor implant site in mother dog’s uterus. Perhaps there was an old placenta scar and the area of implantation did not have a rich blood supply. A poor vascular system  may therefore fail to provide the ideal blood supply that is needed for the developing puppy. Runts are not therefore, premature puppies; rather, they are simply puppies who happened to have a poor implantation site, while large pups had a better one.

“What accounts for runts is not being fertilized later than the other eggs, it is their placement within the uterine horn. “~ Myra Savant-Harris

puppyComing to the Rescue

Because runts are small and weak, mother dog may reject tending them with the care as they would with stronger puppies. Mother dog may reject them straight off the bat right when they are born, or shortly thereafter.

This means that human intervention may be necessary in order to help the puppy survive. Puppy owners may therefore have to free the puppy from the amniotic sac, massage him to increase circulation, clear his airways and then remove the puppy’s umbilical cord. Runts may also need assistance with staying warm, clean and well-fed.

Puppies who are runts  often struggle to compete with the stronger puppies. This can cause them to can miss out on nursing as they should. Failure to nurse properly can have quite an impact on the puppy’s health, especially considering that mother dogs produce a special milk known as colostrum only for the first 48 hours. This special milk is rich in antibodies that will help protect the puppies from diseases for their first few weeks when they are most vulnerable.

If a runt misses out on reaping the benefits of receiving this milk, his immune system may not be strong which can ultimately lead to illness. It’s important therefore that these pups are given the opportunity to nurse and if they appear to not want to nurse, a puppy milk replacer may help out or a veterinarian should be consulted for advice.

dog tipTip: runts may not have the same energy to nurse with vigor as the other puppies. It may help to let another puppy nurse first so to increase the milk flow to a particular nipple, then move this puppy away and let the runt use the nipple so that milk flows freely.

veterinaryHealth of Runts 

When a runt of the litter is born, it’s important to find out whether there is some congenital defect of some sort or  genetic abnormality causing the puppy to not flourish and gain weight as the others. Getting a daily weight of the pups is paramount so to ensure they are growing at a steady pace.

While all new puppy owners are advised to have their new puppies undergo a vet check in the first day or two, it’s even more imperative with a runt if the litter puppy that is smaller than usual.

It’s therefore not a bad idea to consult with the breeder about the option of having the puppy see the vet and then making arrangements such as reimbursement of veterinary bills or returning the puppy based on the vet’s findings.

The veterinarian may help determine whether there is an underlying health problem. Sometimes, runts are underdeveloped in other ways than just size. For example, a portosystemic shunt (or liver shunt) can be seen in a puppy who has trouble gaining weight, but this is usually seen in small dog breeds and there are often signs of poor appetite. Also, being loaded with parasites may also play a role in causing failure to gain weight but this is usually not dramatic, explains veterinarian Dr. Marie.  Other potential problems to check for include heart defects and cleft palates.

“The runts of the litter can have heart defects and other congenital problems including umbilical hernias that the breeder might not disclose to you so it’s a good idea to have your veterinarian do a complete examination of the puppy before you agree to buy the pup (or have a refund if there is a congenital problem). Good respected breeders will understand and expect this but unfortunately there are a lot of people trying to make an easy buck.”~Dr. Jan

breeding money scamPuppy Runt of the Litter Price

And what about price? Just because a puppy is a bit slower to develop compared to the other puppies, doesn’t mean he should cost less than the other puppies as long as he’s healthy.

Many smaller runt if the litter puppies grow up to be the same size, (if not even larger!) than the other pups.

Some unethical breeders may charge a premium for runts in small breed dogs and call them with the flashy name of “teacup dog breeds.”

Ethical breeders, on the other hand, will never use a true runt as a candidate for breeding and therefore will sell them for a normal price as their other puppies along with a strict spay or neuter contract.

“The small size does not necessarily mean that the runt of the litter will not be a good pet if all other health issues are within expected limits.”~ Dr. Robert L. Ridgway

References:

  • The Dog Breeder’s Guide to Successful Breeding and Health Management. by Margaret V. Root Kustritz DVM PhD DACT Saunders; 1 edition (December 23, 2005)
  • Canine Reproduction and Whelping: A Dog Breeder’s Guide, By Myra Savant-Harris, Dogwise Ebooks (January 1, 2006)

Photo Credits:

Flickr Creative Commons, Wendy Berry, Little Runt, He doesn’t even want the milk. He’s just wants to nurse on something, anything.

Dog Word of the Day: Flooding

 

In the world of dogs, there are a variety of terms that may seem to be quite technical, but technical doesn’t necessarily have to mean difficult to understand. Don’t be discouraged by intimidating terms and don’t let them get into the way of learning more about your canine companion! The concept behind several terms is often straightforward and quite easy to comprehend once explained in simple words. Flooding is one term that is often used by dog behavior professionals, but it is a term that is very easy to understand once explained in layman’s terms. On top of that, learning more about flooding in dog psychology can help you better manage your dog’s environment so to avoid exposing him to overwhelming situations.

dog-floodingFlooding in Dog Psychology

The term flooding is often used by dog behavior professionals, but this term actually stems from a form of behavior therapy that has been used in human for quite some time.

To be exact this psycho-therapeutic technique was based on concepts crafted by psychologist Thomas Stampfl back in 1967. Flooding has therefore been used as a strategy for treating anxiety disorders and phobias for quite some time and it is still used in behavior therapy today.

Phobias are unreasonable fears to non-threatening stimuli and situations that cause a disproportionate sense of mortal danger that gets in the way of everyday life.

As much as flooding has been used for many years and may appear as a fast way to rid people of fear, therapists have been questioning whether its use is ethical considering that its application can be traumatic and there are risks for the fear to spontaneously recur.

In the world of dogs, flooding has been used as well using similar behavior therapy principles, but as in flooding in people, its effectiveness and potential for increasing fear makes it as well a questionable option.

For this reason, flooding as a treatment plan for a fearful dogs is technique that is not recommended by many dog behavior professionals. Becoming more accustomed with the term flooding can be helpful so that you can learn how to avoid inadvertently putting your dog into a “flooding situation” and learn about alternate options to deal with your dog’s fears.

A Closer Insightscared dog

If you are terrified of spiders, would you be willing to be locked in a room full of them? If your biggest phobia is talking in front of a crowd, how would you feel if you were forced to do a speech in front of an audience consisting of  hundreds of people? And how about being tossed in a pool when you are afraid of water? Well, that’s somewhat what happens in flooding in the way it is applied to dogs.

In flooding, dogs are forced to face their biggest fears by direct, in-vivo exposure.

While avoiding fearful situations may make a person or dog feel safe and therefore feels reinforcing to do so, it ultimately doesn’t teach anything. Advocates therefore find that, by using flooding, there may be chances that direct exposure might accomplish at least something, making it worthy of trying.

The main principle behind flooding is that after feeling the panic for a while, with its associated fight or flight response, the body at some point must start going back to a state of normalcy (homeostasis).

Once the body reaches this state of reduced fear or normalcy, the person may come to realize that the stimulus or situation is not as threatening as thought. So in the case of being locked in a room of spiders, after feeling the sheer terror of the experience, the person at some point may come to realize that he is still alive and that being around those eight-legged critters is not as bad as thought after all.

scared dog fight or flightThe Problem with Flooding Dogs

While the principle behind flooding may make sense, its effects as one may imagine can be quite damaging and devastating. This method basically requires that the dog be mentally and physically exhausted.

First of all, dogs are not humans and therefore they do not understand that the therapy is meant to help them and, on top of that, they cannot self-talk to reassure themselves during the process as people are capable of doing.

During flooding, dogs may engage in strong avoidance behaviors trying to escape, and if prevented from doing so, they may get hurt or even engage in defensive behaviors which can endanger people around them.

On top of that, flooding causes loads of unnecessary stress. When using flooding, the outcomes can be two: in the best scenario, after repeated exposure, the dog may come to realize “somehow” that what he feared wasn’t that bad, or in the worst scenario, he may become traumatized with all its associated negative effects.

“The use of flooding is almost always inappropriate… exposing a fearful or fearfully aggressive dog to a stimulus of which he is afraid of but cannot escape, will make the fear worse. “~Karen Overall

An Alternative Method

Use food to create powerful associations!
Use food to create powerful associations.

Even Thomas Stampfl realized at some point that direct exposure was too traumatic to experience, and also not always an option, therefore he created what’s known as imagery exposure procedure, where his patients were exposed to their fears using an imagery technique. Dogs cannot work through their fears in this way, so what options are left?

A much better option with less risks is a behavior modification program known as desensitization (often used along counterconditioning). Desensitization is basically the opposite of flooding. Instead of fully exposing the dog to the most scary situation, the dog is gradually exposed to the least fearful situation first.

A dog owner would therefore compile a list of the dog’s triggers from the least fearful to the worst (fear hierarchy) and the dog would therefore be gradually and systematically exposed (with the help of a behavior professional) through steadily escalating steps.

The help of a professional in this case is important for correct implementation. One of the most common mistakes done in a desensitization and counterconditioning program is progressing too quickly at a rate that the dog is yet not ready for. This only paves the path towards setbacks.  As the saying goes “slow and steady wins the race” and therefore it’s best to go one step at a time.

 

References:

  • Manual of Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Dogs and Cats, By Karen Overall Mosby; 1 Pap/DVD edition (July 9, 2013)
  • Leitenberg, Harold (1990). Handbook of Social and Evaluation Anxiety. Springer. pp. 300–2. ISBN 978-0-306-43438-9.
  • Implosive Therapy Donald J. Levis Binghamton University, New York, retrieved from the web on Nov 16th, 2016.

 

Dog Word of the Day: Fully Vetted

 

If you ever took a look at ads for puppies for sale or for adoption by a breeder, rescue group or shelter, you may have stumbled upon the term “fully vetted.” What exactly though does it mean for a puppy or dog to be fully vetted? It’s always important to conduct a lot of research before opening your heart and home to a new puppy or dog. Will the puppy or dog be a good fit for your home? How will his temperament be? On top of these, important questions, one another important aspects to look at is health so to not end up owning sickly puppies who will only cause hefty veterinary bills and heartbreaks. Knowing whether a puppy or dog is fully vetted is therefore important, but it’s also important to understand what the breeder or rescue group exactly means by that term as it’s seems to be prone to personal interpretation.

fully-vetted-dogDefinition of “Fully Vetted”

According to The Free Dictionary, the term “vetted” means “to subject to veterinary evaluation, examination, medication, or surgery.” As one may imagine, the term derives from “vet” referring to veterinarian.

If we look at the history of the word, Wikipedia tells us that the verb “to vet” was originally a term used in horse racing and was used to depict the practice of subjecting a race horse to a thorough veterinary exam before being allowed to race.

The term has therefore assumed the general meaning “to check over.” According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the earliest usage of this term dates back to 1891, eg. “He vetted the stallion before the race.”

The addition of the word “fully” therefore adds further emphasis to the term, giving the idea that the animal is checked over with thoroughly with quite an amount of scrutiny for any flaws.

What Does a “Fully Vetted” Dog Mean?

fully-vettedWhen it comes to dogs, the term “fully vetted” is often a loose term that is subject to personal interpretation. It could refer to a dog being merely checked over by a vet, to a dog who has been spayed or neutered, vaccinated, heartworm tested, microchipped, and possibly even dewormed.

This is why it is very important to ask the breeder or rescue what they exactly mean when they use the term “fully vetted.”

Words are just words,  and one must also require facts such as proof of vaccinations, with dates and types of booster shots given along with other important health records.

The breeder or rescue should be willing to provide copies of all these records. Perspective puppy and dog owners must consider that these veterinary services alone could easily amount to  costing anywhere between $300-$1,000, so when paying the nominal adoption fee one must keep into consideration the money saved when getting a fully vetted puppy or dog.

veterinaryA Closer Insight 

For new puppy or dog owners it may be overwhelming understanding what is included when a puppy or dog is claimed to be “fully vetted.” Here is a brief overview of some services that “may be” included when a puppy or dog is claimed to be “fully vetted.” Obviously, not all of these services are necessarily included so when in doubt it’s best to ask.

  • Spayed: a female dog that is altered so that she doesn’t go into heat and have puppies.
  • Neutered: a male dog that is altered so that he is no longer capable of impregnating female dogs.
  • Booster shots: a series of vaccinations given to puppies generally starting at the age of 6 to 8 weeks  and given about every three to four weeks until the puppy is about 16 to 20 weeks old. In puppies older than 16 weeks, usually two doses of vaccine are given 3-4 weeks apart. In adult dogs who have received their booster shots as puppies, they may be vaccinated annually or every 3 years, depending on local veterinary recommendations. Required shots tend to vary based on location and risks. Consult with your vet on which vaccines are needed for your new puppy or dog.
  • Core vaccines: vaccines recommended for all puppies and dogs with an unknown vaccination history. Core vaccines in dogs protect from diseases with high risks for morbidity and mortality. Generally, core vaccinations consist of  distemper, canine hepatitis, canine parvovirus, and rabies shot. The rabies shot is required by law in many States and is generally given after the puppy is 16 weeks of age.
  • Non-core vaccinations: optional vaccines based on individual factors such as exposure risk, geographic location and the dog’s lifestyle.
  •  DHPP, DHPPVor DHLP-PVC an abbreviation used to denote a combo shot. The capital letters stand for different types of vaccines included,usually as follows: D stands for distemper, H stands for hepatitis, L stands for leptospirosis, P stands for parainfluenza, PV stands for parvo, C stands for coronavirus. This combo shot for dogs is also known as 5 in 1 shot or 8 in 1 shot depending on how many vaccines are included.
  • Microchipped: the puppy or dog has a microchip implanted under the skin for identification purposes. Puppy and dog owners should have the microchip registered under their name with an up-to-date address and phone number, so that, in the case the puppy or dog is lost, he can be promptly returned to his owners.
  • Fecal Flotation Test: the puppy’s or dog’s feces were tested for the presence of parasites.
  • Dewormed: the puppy or dog was given a medication against parasites.
  • Heartworm tested: the puppy or dog  was tested for heartworm disease. Usually, veterinarians will start testing for heartworms when puppies are around 6-7 months of age.
  • Flea/tick preventive: the puppy or dog was given products to keep fleas and ticks at bay.

vetFully Vetted Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Healthy!

As much as the term “fully vetted” seems to suggest receiving a healthy dog, it’s often recommended to take a new puppy or dog along with all paperwork received to see the vet within 48 hours so to have a complete physical examination done. Many things can have changed since the puppy or dog saw the vet last time.

At this exam, the vet will be checking the puppy’s ears, mouth, nose and other things such as taking the temperature, listening to the heart etc.

The vet will go over the records to see if the puppy or dog may need any further vaccinations or de-worming done.

Bringing in a small fecal sample may turn helpful so to test for the presence of parasites. In older dogs, blood work may turn helpful to get a better insight on the dog’s general state of health.

“A veterinarian should give new puppies a thorough physical examination; ideally within 48 hours of you acquiring your new puppy, to ensure he is healthy.”~Green Hills Veterinary Clinic 

Disclaimer: this article is not meant to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Consult with your vet for proper preventive care and treatment.

References:

  • Green Hills Veterinary Clinic: Your Puppy’s First Vaccinations, retrieved from the web on November 8th, 2016

Photo Credits:

  • A vet examines a dog in New York, Archivist1174 – Own work, Photo of New York State Assemblyman Dr. Stephen M. “Steve” Katz at the Bronx Veterinary Center.CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Dog Word of the Day: Steady to Wing and Shot

 

Canine terminology is quite fascinating because every little area of specialty has crafted its own terms and discovering them can be quite intriguing, especially when people add that special creative touch. Among the world of gun dogs and hunters, the term “steady to wing and shot” is quite popular, but what exactly does it mean? No, there’s no need to go joining your local hunting association or start asking around, as today we’ll be discovering what “steady to wing and shot” truly means.

dog-steady-wing-shotGun Dog Training

In order to understand the definition of “steady to wing and shot” it’s helpful to first learn a bit more about gun dogs and the training these dogs undergo.

Gun dogs are dogs that are used to hunt different types of game, but most of them encompass dogs trained to hunt upland game birds. Gun dogs include retrievers, flushing spaniels and pointing breeds, and each of these dogs are trained for specific tasks.

In particular, dogs used to hunt upland birds are the ones that are often required to remain “steady to wing and shot. ”

Ready, Set, Steady!

When a bird is spotted, it’s imperative that the dog doesn’t interfere as the hunter aims and shoots at the bird. “Steady to wing and shot” simply means that the dog stays immobile when a bird rises (wing) and when the gun is fired (shot).

In more advanced training, the dog is require to be “steady to wing, shot and fall”, which means that the dog, on top of holding steady when the bird is flushed and shot, should also hold steady when the bird falls to the ground. The dog is then released by the hunter and the bird is then retrieved.

It’s important to recognize that these behaviors are not natural for the dog as a dog’s instinct is to chase their prey, therefore it takes some time for a gun dog to attain this level of impulse control. Generally, this ability comes with maturity and experience. Being able to steady to wing and shot is something that is required almost in all field trials.

Training Dog to Steady to Wing and Shot: A Matter of Safetydog pointing breeds

Why is there a need for a gun dog to be “steady to wing and shot?” It’s for the most part a matter of safety.

It would be quite horrifying for a hunter to be put into the position of risking shooting his four-legged hunting partner as he runs ahead the moment the birds are flushed, remarks Mike Spies, in the blog “Living with Bird Dogs.”

On top of that, if a dog is hunting birds that form small flocks such as quails, Hungarians and sharp-tailed grouse, chasing them the moment they flush, would end up creating chaos, further points out Spies.

 An Alternate View

Not all hunters though think it is essential to train a dog to steady to wing and shot. Indeed, steadiness in a gun dog is subject to controversy and there are different views on this depending on what hunter you ask.

Sure, having a dog trained to “steady to wing and shot” comes extra handy, especially when hanging out with hunters whose skills you do not trust, but having a dog who rushes ahead to retrieve rather than holding steady offers an advantage: being closer to any downed or crippled birds, which increases the retrieval rate, explains David Gowdey, author of the book “The German Shorthaired Pointer: a Hunter’s Guide.”

On the other hand, Richard D. Weaver author of the book  “Training Your Pointing Dog for Hunting and Home” explains that in his over 35 years experience in the field, he has found that a steady dog is actually better as he keeps his focus on the bird and watches it fall. Watching the bird fall is easier if a dog is stationary versus a dog who is running. Weaver further claims that failure to train a dog to steady wing and shot is due to laziness or lack of know-how…So there you have it, two different views on training hunting dogs.

How to Train Dog to Steady to Wing-Shot-Fall with the Clicker

References:

  • The German Shorthaired Pointer: a Hunter’s Guide, by David Mark Gowdey, Wide Sky Press (December 9, 2008)
  • Training Your Pointing Dog for Hunting and Home By Richard D. Weaver, Stackpole Books (September 1, 2007)

Photo Credits:

  • Detail of  the painting “The Spanish Pointer” by John Buckler, public domain{{PD-1923}
  • English Pointer, Stonehenge (John Henry Walsh)The Dog in Health and Disease, public domain{{PD-1923}}
  • Small Munsterlander on staunch point, by PCullomOCC BY-SA 3.0

 

Dog Word of the Day: Elizabethan Collar

 

If you have never heard the word “Elizabethan collar” before, no worries. Most likely, you know what it is, but have never heard its original name. More commonly known as cone or E- collar for short (not to be confused with shock collar), an Elizabethan collar is as a protective medical device for dogs. To put it more bluntly, it’s the infamous dog “lamp-shade,” “radar dish” or “cone of shame” collar you see dogs wearing around their neck when they’re on their way out of the veterinary office after undergoing surgery or some other type of minor procedure.

dog-elizabethan-collarA Closer Insight

A dog Elizabethan collar is a protective medical device shaped like a truncated cone. A truncated cone is basically a shape where the apex of the cone is removed to resemble a lampshade.

The Elizabethan collar is usually made out of flexible plastic and it is meant to be attached to the dog’s collar to stay in place. The Elizabethan collar can be attached to the dog’s collar using strings or tabs.

Since dogs come in different sizes, Elizabethan collars come in different sizes as well, and therefore, they can be easily worn from the tiniest Chihuahua to the largest Irish wolfhound. Due to these size variances, it’s important to ensure a good fit.

Elizabethan collars are sold at most veterinary offices but many stores now also carry them and these are many different types.

 

Understanding its Purpose

The purpose of an Elizabethan collar is to prevent a dog from licking or scratching his body and to therefore allow dog  incisions and injuries to heal.

When dogs try to lick their wounds, it’s not like they’re being naughty; it’s simply their instinct telling them to lick. Dog saliva is known for containing beneficial compounds that are capable of destroying the cell walls of gram-positive bacteria. Dog saliva can therefore help promote healing, diminish pain and inhibit bacterial growth, however, as with many things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad.

Given the opportunity, dogs will tend to lick a whole lot which can cause loads of trouble as the repeated abrasive action of the tongue, along with keeping a wound moist for too long (moisture attracts bacteria), may lead to an infection or injury.

This is why the veterinarian may recommend that your dog wear the infamous “cone of shame”which comes extra handy   when you are unable to monitor his activity and he could end up inadvertently injuring himself. And the last thing you want is going back to the vet to get your dog stitched up all over again!

“Pets can get obsessed with licking to the detriment of healthy skin. There’s also a lot of bad bacteria in a pet’s mouth, so as with so many good things in life, licking is an activity best done in moderation.” Dr. Patty Khuly

The Proper Fit

In most cases, when you pick up your dog from surgery, he’ll be already wearing the e-collar or if he’s not, the staff will do a brief demo on how to put it on and take it off. This cuts out all the work needed to figure out what size you’ll need for your dog. If you need to buy an Elizabethan collar instead, you will need  to know the circumference of your dog’s neck. You can obtain the circumference of the neck hole size by simplymeasuring your dog’s collar ensuring you can fit two fingers between collar and neck. It’s also helpful to know the measure from your dog’s neck to snout as this can vary among long-nosed breeds and short-nosed breeds

 When properly fit, an Elizabethan collar should be short enough to allow the dog to eat and drink. At the same time though, you need to make sure that your dog’s E-Collar extends 3 inches past the nose so to prevent him from reaching the wound area with his tongue, points out Camden County Animal Shelter.  A properly fit cone collar should be secure, but not too tight. Below you can watch a video on how to fit an E-collar.

Helping Dog Adjustdog elizabethan collar

Many dogs get quite upset when they must wear a cone, and who can blame them?  Elizabethan collars, especially the opaque types, restrict the dog’s peripheral vision creating blind spots to the sides which causes dogs trouble navigating around the home. Bumping into furniture and knocking over items from a coffee table due to tunnel vision can be scary for the dog and so can be getting stuck into corners.

You can help your dog adjust be clearing a room from items that are easily knocked over and removing small furniture that can be in the way. Also, assist him going through doorways or around furniture.

Dogs who refuse to drink or eat while wearing the collar may not like the collar touching the edges of the food and water bowl. A shallow dish may be an option or you can try elevating the food and water bowl to see if this helps. If your dog has a hard time to eat or drink, you can always temporarily remove the collar, but you must be vigilant to ensure your dog doesn’t start licking or scratching the wound or incision.

Fortunately, most dogs adjust to wearing an Elizabethan collar just fine after a bit of  time. It may help to feed your dog some tasty treats the moment the collar is put on and you can also praise him, letting him know what a good boy he is, and reassuring him that he still looks handsome, despite wearing that satellite dish around his head!

 

dog-cone-collar-alternativesAlternatives to Elizabethan Collars

Many dog owners find the use of an Elizabethan collar quite uncomfortable for their dogs. While some dogs adjust to wearing the cone, some may have a hard time accepting it as it interferes  too much with their daily eating, drinking, sleeping and  general mobility.

This has caused astute marketers to look for alternatives to dog Elizabethan collars which are now growing in popularity.

Soft fabric has been used to somewhat mimic the neck pillows people use when travelling on planes so that dogs have trouble turning their head around to lick their incisions. A classic example is the Kong Cloud Collar.

Other companies make inflatable models, as the one seen in the picture on the left or collars that resemble neck braces (the Bite-Not collar) And some others make what’s known as a “soft collar” which fits best the more mellow fellows (eg. The Comfy Cone).

Do It Yourself Elizabethan Collar

Some dog owners have become quite creative in building their own home-made versions of Elizabethan collars using cheap material normally found at home. How effective these are, can be questionable, but they may temporarily do their job when dog owners need a quick fix to protect further their dogs from self-licking. Cardboard, paper plates, plastic flower pots, light-weight buckets and actual lampshades have been known to be used as temporary measures.

Sometimes, if the wound is by the abdomen, dog owners may let their dog wear baby onesies or a shirt so to cover the area. Out of sight, out of mind! But a dog wearing a shirt should be carefully monitored as it can come off or the dog may chew it up or work his way under it to get to the wound. Alternatively, an ace bandage wrapped around the abdomen can be used to help prevent access to the incision. To work well, it must be snug, but not too tight. Ideally, you should be able to slip a finger under it. You can then secure the end with some medical tape so it stays in place, suggests veterinarian Dr. Kara.

A Look into Historyqueen-elizabeth-1

Did you know? If you ever wondered why the cone of shame is formally called an Elizabethan collar, here’s the answer for you. The term is inspired by the ancient ruff that used to be worn back in Western Europe during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

 

 

 

Photo Credits:

  • Flickr, Creative Commons, Andrew Petro , Cubby in BooBooLoon, CCBY2.0
  • Flickr, Creative Commons 52 Weeks of Photos, Bucket Head, aussiegall  CCBY2.0

 

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