Xylitol is a sugar substitute that contains fewer calories than sugar and has anti-cavity activity. These properties make it an ideal sweetener in sugarless gum for people. It is also present in other products such as chewable vitamins, candy for diabetics, and may be used in home baking. However there is one major problem for dog owners: xylitol can be extremely toxic to dogs. Just a few grams of xylitol (as little as 8-10 pieces of sugarless gum) can cause a precipitous and life threatening drop in blood sugar in a 60 pound dog. Small dogs can be affected by even a couple of pieces. Higher amounts of xytilol can result in liver damage. Seek veterinary care immediately if you think your dog has eaten a xylitol containing product. Treatment for recent ingestion may include evacuation of the stomach and hospitalization with IV fluids containing glucose for 24 hours. Liver problems may require more involved treatment. Be sure to check the ingredient label of any sugarless gum that you buy. Avoid products that contain xylitol and keep gum up and away where your dog cannot be tempted to get into it. Enjoy the spring weather with your canine companions and stay safe! Howard Robinson, DVM
One of the things I struggle with is balancing the passion my pets have for the constant and seemingly tireless will to go go go all day long and the concern I have that they may be overdoing it and hurting themselves. Over the course of Marley’s (“Best Dog Ever”) life I watched him swim for hours as a youngster, take a brief nap, then bring back his favorite neon frisbee for more. At one point along the Oregon Coast he plowed into the ocean,
swam through massive crashing waves and hauled in a giant log to shore… why? I have
no idea but it made him happy beyond belief and I love him for that. During these
adventures he wasn’t limping, stiff, or struggling to move. I’d put my Veterinarian hat on
and examine him… perfectly normal. How could this be… I was exhausted and my
shoulder still hurt from “Frisbee Elbow”… similar to “Tennis Ball Elbow” or “Chuck-it
Shoulder”… I know some of you out there can relate to this phenomenon that occurs after
a fetching session with your furry companion(s). Over time I humbly came to grips with the
inescapable fact that Marley was aging…his body… not his mind or passion to go go go.
His hikes and play sessions were a little bit shorter. He took a little bit longer naps, and
was a little bit slower to get up. His bright eyes and big flopping tongue still matched his
typical ear to ear grin but I felt a responsibility to be an advocate for him and started paying
closer attention to managing his adventures. I also started to think about long term
implications of the wear and tear of all of our adventures. Admittedly, some of my personal
beliefs affected these concerns as well. I like to be active, I love being outside, and I spend
very little time sitting still. Unfortunately, adventure is not without its aches and pains,
humans and animals alike. I was slowing down on my hikes too (not that I could ever
come close to keeping up with Marley as he ran ahead and ran back to make sure I was
still there, then ran ahead again… a five mile hike for me must have at least been a ten
mile hike for him). I was sore afterwards too. The difference was that I could advocate for
myself, take an anti-inflammatory and take proactive steps to manage my pain. Managing
pain in animals has improved leaps and bounds over the past decades. Our animals now
have the benefit of what we as veterinarians call a “multi-modal” or “multi-faceted”
approach to pain. This approach involves matching a specific pain plan to each specific
furry individual. Marley’s plan started with making sure he was at an ideal weight. I relate
this to when I hike up Horsetooth Rock with a heavy pack versus when I hike up with just
some water and no pack. I found my knees were much more sore when I went with the
Chronic pain plans for animals these days may include:
- weight loss programs
- environmental modifications (ramps for the car or bed etc.)
- joint supplements
- a variety of different pain medications (more detail here in future blogs)
- physical therapy
- laser therapy
I’ll chat more about Marley’s specific chronic pain plan in future blogs. I know I see a ton of
super active and outdoorsy animals (and humans) here in Colorado. Just wondering what
your thoughts are on how you manage your active pets. Anything mentioned above that
hits home with your animals? Summer is almost here and I know I’m excited to get outside
even more with our furry family members. Until next time, Thanks for reading:)
I love living in Colorado. I especially love to enjoy all of the outdoor adventures our beautiful landscape offers with my furry companions. Many dogs (and cats) share the active Colorado lifestyle of their human companions and I am so proud to be a part of that community. I am constantly impressed with Carter, our running/hiking/swimming/biking/climbing/camping companion. My wife and I have had the honor of Carter’s presence in our family for over 12 years now. Carter grew up with Marley, our Chocolate Labrador who will always be known in our family as “The Best Dog Ever” (no disrespect to Carter, he’s awesome but Marley had that title nailed down before Carter ever came to us). Marley was our running/hiking/swimming/biking/climbing/camping partner for 14 spectacular years. He was an exceptional athlete with unmatched enthusiasm and perseverance.
Carter is the same way, but Carter is an English Bulldog; I’d seen them skateboard on YouTube but not swim! My wife and I remember vividly the first time we found out Carter could swim, by accident of course. We were at Pine Ridge Reservoir taking our rescued new Bulldog friend for a walk and to “watch” Marley (the Michael Phelps of swimming labradors) swim after his beloved neon pink and green frisbee (and of course then proceed to shower us with every predictable, yet somehow unavoidable, shake upon each return). The first frisbee toss into the water seemed to leave Carter a bit confused, as he cocked his head sideways with erect ears and wide perplexed eyes. The second toss saw Marley launch into the water as per usual, but this time there was a second large splash and kerrrplunk sound similar to someone doing a cannonball off of a diving board, then…silence. I looked around; no Carter! My heart sank as I realized Carter was the kerrrplunk and there was no sight of him at the surface. I tried to jump into the water to find him but ended up tripping in the mud and faceplanting in the water (more evidence of our dogs being the most athletic
members of our family).
When I pulled my face out of the water and wiped the mud from my eyes, I saw Carter’s head emerge from the surface followed by a thunderously splashy doggy paddle (which he would later perfect over the years). He followed Marley back to shore with his head above water, shook vigorously in unison with Marley and looked up as if to say, “Well, what are you waiting for, throw it again!” We’ve shared countless adventures since. I’d love to hear about some of the adventures you’ve had with your furry family members! Please feel free to share on our blog. ***Disclaimer: Please use caution in the outdoors with your pets, especially smooshy-faced breeds! Be safe out there. John Arnold, DVM
It is very important to maintain a dog’s toenails at the proper length. Rarely does a week go by that we do not see at least one dog that has broken its toenail near the base. This is painful and leads to a risk of serious infection. Toenails grow from a unique tissue on the bone of each digit called the ungual crest. When the nail breaks back far enough that it bleeds, bacteria can gain a foothold. In some cases the infection can follow the nail and become established in the bone. This is called osteomyelitis and is very difficult to resolve. It can lead to the necessity to amputate the toe! Because of this we take broken toenails in dogs seriously. Sedation may be required to cut the nail back behind the break and antibiotics prescribed to prevent infection. In most cases pain relief is indicated. A major reason that dogs break their nails is that the nails get too long. I like to keep dogs’ nails short enough that I can’t hear the dog walking on a wood floor. Our groomer Karla or our nursing team would be very happy to show you ways to trim your dog’s nails or just do it for you. Call us at (970)482-1987 and look for us at raintreepets.com and Facebook. Howard Robinson, DVM
What is the greatest dog story or movie of all time? Most often a book is far better than a movie and of course good books often are made into movies. For me, Where the Red Fern Grows is one of the best. Old Yeller is up there on the list too although (spoiler alert!) these both have sad elements. Recently, Marley and Me has been popular. Dog lovers looking for a good movie might go back a few years for My Dog Skip. Lassie Come Home, made in 1943, may be my all time favorite, especially living with my own Collie, Cassie (my children wouldn’t agree to the name Lassie). Who doesn’t tear up a little when Lassie limps up to Joe’s school and Joe sees her? There are some great adventure stories, for instance, Iron Will, White Fang, and Incredible Journey. For comedy Homeward Bound, the remake of Incredible Journey, is a good one, or the unique Milo and Otis. There are some classic cartoon dog movies too; Lady and the Tramp and 101 Dalmatians come to mind although I prefer real dog stories myself. What is your favorite dog story? Please let me know. Howard T. Robinson, DVM
Four cases of Rabies have been discovered this week in Larimer County. According to a Larimer County Health Advisory, these cases bring the number to five for 2013, four skunks and one raccoon. “Terrestrial” or land animal Rabies was first reported last May in our area and appears to be here to stay. Anyone seeing an animal that is acting strangely, especially a skunk, raccoon, or bat should keep a safe distance and call Larimer County Animal Control (970)226-3647. Please protect your pets by keeping their Rabies vaccination up to date. Rabies is caused by a virus that is usually spread through the saliva of an infected animal. Although human cases are rare in the US, upwards of 50,000 people worldwide die annually from Rabies. Once transmitted, the virus travels up the peripheral nerves to the central nervous system and then to the salivary glands. Infected animals may behave erratically, sometimes becoming more aggressive or biting unexpectedly. Once the virus reaches the central nervous system, treatment has a very low success rate. Prevention is the key: avoidance of abnormally behaving animals, and vaccination of pets. For more information: http://larimer.org/health or call Raintree Animal Hospital (970)482-1987. Howard T. Robinson DVM
For 2013 the AKC reported that Golden Retrievers are the 3rd most popular pure dog breed. Their popularity comes with good reason. Goldens are extremely good- natured and because they have been bred to work closely alongside a hunter, they love to be close to their human, preferable in direct contact. The Golden’s origin lies in Scotland in the mid 1700s. As firearms became more accurate, birds could be hunted at a greater distance and a dog was needed to retrieve them. Refinements led to the ultimate hunting dog, powerful and highly trainable. The Golden Retriever was recognized by the Kennel Club of England in 1902 and the AKC in 1925. Golden Retrievers are an excellent choice for families with children and active adults due to their friendly temperament and high exercise requirement. One health concern is that they are somewhat disposed to cancer as they get older. Colorado State University is currently conducting a long term study of Golden retrievers, looking at health over their entire lifetime. The study will help find useful information about the incidence of cancer and other diseases and possible contributing factors. For more information, contact Raintree Animal Hospital or Colorado State University.
Mitch Seavey became the oldest musher to win the “Last Great Race.” Seavey is 53
years old. Jeff King held the oldest winning musher mark previously, winning in the
year 2006 at age 50. Mitch’s team led by Tanner crossed the finish line at 10:39 pm local
time after 9 days 7 ½ hours of running. The win makes it a repeat for the Seavey family,
Mitch’s son Dallas won last year as the race’s youngest champ. This years’s race was
a close one, Ally Zirkle was just 24 minutes behind to finish second. After finishing,
both mushers immediately praised, petted, and tended to their dogs. There are 26 (or 27
depending on the route) check points where the dogs are checked by veterinarians. Each
team must take one 24 hour mandatory rest, and two 8 hours rest breaks. Ally credited
Mitch’s strategy for resting his dogs as a major factor in his win. Four time winner
Lance Mackey led about half way through the race but later fell back. Mackey, a cancer
survivor, and true character, was followed by a film crew in this year’s race. That should
be an interesting documentary when it shows.
The Iditarod is widely known as the last great race. Sled dogs race from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska. The race commemorates the 1925 serum run in which vaccine was carried nearly 700 miles by dogsled to help ward off a Diptheria epidemic. Twenty mushers and 100 dogs relayed to get the vaccine to where it was needed through temperatures of -30 degrees F and wind chill of -85F.
Gunnar Kassen ran the final leg into Nome with Balto, a Siberian Husky, leading his team. The two became celebrities and Balto has a statue in Central Park, New York City. Some controversy surround this as Leonhard Seppala whose dog team was lead by Togo actually ran the serum the farthest, through the most treacherous miles. Togo was 12 years old at the time and although considered small for a sled dog became a true American hero.
Sled dogs are true athletes and love to pull and race. The canine participants have mandatory rest breaks and are monitored by veterinarians throughout the race.
This year’s race begins March 2 and should last 8 – 10 days. Four time winner Lance Mackey and last year’s winner Dallas Seavey, the younger person ever to win the race will be among the participants.
May the best dogs win!