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« Weekly Roundup - Week Ending 9/11/11 | Main | Merritt Clifton -- when the numbers just don't add up »

September 12, 2011



Okay, I was right there with him until you got to the processed dog food section, LOL.

If my dogs can't eat dry food out of a bag they will suffer a much worse fate - starvation! I am NOT cooking for my dogs or feeding that raw diet, and I'm not feeding ultra-expensive food unless there's a specific need to do so (I have one dog that gets hives so I begrudgingly feed her Wellness Sweet potato and fish). Dogs have been eating crap for thousands of years and survived just fine.

What's interesting about the food discussion is I've had breeders tell me dogs in the UK used to be more prone to cancer because they didn't have processed food and the owners fed them all sorts of table scraps, animal "innards" and organs, etc.

I received an email from a friend about an upcoming pet contraception meeting that's going to be in Kansas City, and that goes along with the argument against overly-aggressive early spay/neuter. (The two bitches of mine that lived the longest were spayed at six months, LOL. yea, I know - the "Bell Curve" thing).

AmStaff breeders have long contended that ACL problems in the breed were linked to early alteration. And the purebred dog community has been hollering about vaccinosis for years. I believe AKC is funding a study at Auburn University about too much vaccination (vaccinosis).

Anyway, all dog food kidding aside, thanks for posting this, Brent. I'm also excited to read the book.


My first dog was a mutant Chihuahua, runt of the litter. I was three when we got her (long time ago) We didn't spay back then, we kept dogs contained. She never had a vaccination beyond breeder puppy shots and never saw a veterinarian except for surgery for a minor hernia. She ate canned dog food and some people food.

She lived to be 15 and was active until the end.I will be reading this book with interest.


Interesting thought on the ACLs -- when Ted was in KC, he noted that part of the ACL situation had to do with the increased use of kenneling as primary forms of containment. He said that essentially dogs are confined to small cages, and then go from laying in one place all day to out running around and never get loosened up first. Makes sense..although I'm not sure how scientific it is without reading what he says about it in the book.


A rescue colleague of mine does not like juvenile altering - I will send her this post (I avoid small puppies-not well set up for them); and I don't like yearly vax; I prefer to use titers to determine the need for vax and even rabies. Thank God I live in the county so my dogs only "need" by law a rabies every 3 years; the city ordinance demands yearly.
"Merle's Door" is a favorite book of mine. Ted lived in a wonderful area to be able to allow Merle the freedom most of our city bound dogs do not have. Re: ACL, etc. - I do crate my dogs for meals and safety but for the most part, they (mine and the ones for adoption) have over an acre to run in all the time. Where are they for the most part? With me - LOL. I look forward to the book and will check out the links. Thanks, Brent.


There was an interesting Science Weekly podcast from the Guardian covering the breeding question (although not in as much depth as I would have liked):

The shrinking pure bred gene pool problem is an interesting one, and it's ironic that in their quest for the "perfect" exemplar, breeders are increasing the likelihood of the expression of recessive genetic defects...


the arguement about processed vs homemade food goes both ways. My pup gets a raw diet, but my inlaws have a 12yr old chow, who's in great health, who's had nothing but Kibbles n Bits (or whatever they call it now) her whole life. I won't argue with them, they've had great results with what they've fed her!

As for the rest, I wish someone would hand that off to my former vet....


Dog breeding has changed considerably in the last 100 years. It used to be a hobby regulated to wealthy people that could afford to maintain a large kennel. They did test breedings and a lot of interbreeding. If there was anything bad in the pups they shot the dogs and started over. Most of our best dogs today all go back to the same breeding stock - they don't go back to someone that bred two litters in their kitchen over the course of a lifetime.

Today you're a puppy miller if you have more than a few dogs and breed more than once a decade. It's not unusual for breeders to breed themselves into a corner, and one genetic defect that pops up can wipe out years of a carefully planned breeding program due to the small numbers of dogs and bitches involved.

The developments in DNA testing will help eliminate some diseases but even that isn't foolproof. There's finally a lens luxation genetic screening test for the Miniature Bull Terrier - LL has a simple autosomal recessive mode of transmission, but the last news I got was researchers were cautioning breeders not to just breed clear dogs to clear dogs in an effort to completely eliminate the disease too quickly for fear the gene could mutate and wipe out a significant portion of an already small gene pool. They're telling breeders to use dogs that are carriers and possibly even affected dogs (provided the affecteds are bred to clears). This will promote a larger gene pool and hopefully lessen the disastrous results of mutation (and I think the likelihood of mutation, but I readily admit it's been a long time since genetics class!).

Thanks again, Brent. Interesting post!


I just re-read gwg's post above and they expressed quite well what I was trying to write - only better. thanks for posting that link!


I have seen differences between dogs fed quality diets and dogs fed something like Purina Dog Chow. My mom's dog used to eat kibble, and was then switched to raw. He had always itched a lot, had scabs on his back, and we couldn't figure out why. When switched to raw the scabs on his back cleared up and although he still itched a tiny bit, he was a lot better!

I have noticed that dogs on crap dog food tend to smell and shed a lot. They usually have pretty gross teeth too, as kibble diets do nothing to clean teeth. Kibble diets came on the market in the 1950's. Before that dogs were likely fed table scraps and *gasp* raw meat! The meat massages the gums and the bones scrape the teeth clean. Periodontal disease doesn't only affect the mouth, the bacteria can spread throughout the body and harm the body's overall function. Sure I could survive just fine on McDonald's every day, but would I thrive on such a diet? No way. :)


I feed the Costco brand Kirkland Lamb and Rice to two of my dogs. I always have people ask me what I feed my dogs because they are in such great shape. Even the dog with cirrhosis of the liver ate that food - he was supposed to be dead at the age of 11. They told us to put him on a special "liver diet" - we did give him medication but decided to skip the special diet. The vet gave him six months and he lived to be 14.

I agree with the comments about teeth - I brush and scale my dogs' teeth once a week.

I fed the dog that gets hives Nutro Lamb and Rice for years with great success, but then another company bought Nutro and the dog started breaking out in hives and she also had soft stools. I finally relented and tried the Wellness Sweet Potato and whitefish, and that cleared the problem up. Too bad, as the Nutro was half the price.

I know people that feed the raw diet and cook for their dogs. I've known people (mainly women - guys would NEVER do this crap) that swore by a 'natural' diet until they had children and then the dogs went on dry dog food because these women barely had time to take a shower, let alone cook dog food.

I've had a lot of people tell me they they've had good luck with the BARF diet when they had a dog with lots of allergies, and that's great. I always say "never argue with results".


I am a veterinary Technician married to a veterinarian and am involved in rescue. I know a lot of veterinarians but don't know very many outside of shelters that condone early age spay/neuter...just because it can be done, doesn't mean it should be done. As for the dog food issue, I make my own. I know, a lot of people say their dogs do just fine on Ol Roy...Maybe so. My grandfather ate steak and eggs for breakfast, drank milk by the gallon, and never met a fried meal he didn't like. He lived into his nineties..doesn't mean his diet is one I would recommend.


I'm excited to read the book. Thanks for this post. I respect what Ted has to say. We should all consider these ideas. I'm so sick of rescue groups harassing pet owners who choose not to have their pets spayed or neutered. This is a personal choice. Just because someone doesn't neuter his dog does not mean he is irresponsible.

It's also frustrating that most vets seem to be closed minded and "by the books." They push Science Diet on everyone and do not question spaying/neutering/over-vaccinating, etc.


As far as boarding kennels/day cares asking for 'more' vaccinations, the problem there really lies with the possibility of transmission of disease leading to owners suing the business for letting a contagious dog in. In human children daycares, if one kid comes in sick, and others get sick, parents are less inclined to sue the daycare because they really need the service, the kids usually (although not always) have insured medical care, and I don't know of a court that would really go along with handing out much in the way of a settlement anyway. Kids getting sick is a risk that parents wish they could prevent, but (mostly) understand is going to happen. People who take their dogs to daycares/boarding kennels generally don't want to really punish the business for disease transmission, but all it takes is one or two who decide to sue, even just for vet bills, and the business's insurance goes up. Sometimes the increase is enough to cause the business financial hardship - even to the point of closing - which is why I don't see the reliance on vaccination for client's pets to decrease at such places.


Kate -- I would agree with you up to a point. If at some point there is enough public backlash at the required vaccinations then I expect many boarding places to stop demanding them. I know my typical boarding place loses business because I don't like giving my dogs the Bordatella vaccine (which my Vet says he doesn't think really works anyway). The risk is all mine if I decide to board them without the vaccine as if it actually works and someone else's dog is vaccinated, then they can't get it from my dogs, only my dogs can get it. And I'm more concerned about my dogs' health over the vaccine than I am over the kennel cough. Again, it's not wide-spread at this point, but as public perception starts changing (and I think it will), the boarding facilities will have to keep up.

Jan Dykema

Thanks for this.. while I agree with some of Ted's idea and totally agree with you that that fact he is a best selling author will help to educate the public.. I cannot say I will read the book.. Kerasote praised "The Bond" and Pacelle saying that the HSUS is a better place now that Wayne is running it.. really? Ask the HSUS about early castration.. they are all for it.until lately all "pit bulls' killed.. sure .. they are "potential killers". killing shelter animals.. you bet..licenses and high fees and legislation for breeding a few dogs.. bring it fact as we all know legislation against dog breeders and owners are the mainstay of Waynes mantra and of course expenditures of donor dollars.
Authors make strange bedfellows..I think I will content myself with your "cliff notes".. very nice blog..


KateH - read your post and cracked up! Yes indeed, people are more inclined to sue over a sick dog but they have no problem whatsoever with their kids getting sick at day care because they need that service.

This says something twisted about us as a society. I always say the women that holler about "puppy mills" also place their children in day care with strangers. The kids get sick, but that's okay. Every commercial breeder in Missouri has to file what's called a "disease control protocol" with the state, or something like that. thank goodness we don't hold day cares to the same standards.

Jan - Kerasote likes Pacelle? Sheesh.


Jan, are you sure?? Can you post links? Kerasote is a huge hunter (like, to actually FEED himself.) And obviously is a big supporter of owning pets.
Pacelle told author Ted Kerasote for the 1994 book Bloodties: Nature, Culture, and the Hunt: I don't have a hands-on fondness for animals. I did not grow up bonded to any particular nonhuman animal. I like them and I pet them and I'm kind to them, but there's no special bond between me and other animals."

Kerasote: "How about pets, Wayne? Would you envision a future with no pets in the world?"

Pacelle: "I wouldn't say that I envision that, no. If I had my personal view perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don't want to see another cat or dog born. It's not something I strive for, though. If people were very responsible, and didn't do manipulative breeding, and cared for animals in all senses, and accounted for their nutritional needs as well as their social and psychological needs, then I think it could be an appropriate thing. I'm not sure. I think it's one of those things that we'll decide later in society. I think we're still far from it."


kerasote merely said a few nice things about wayne pacelle's book (which very well may have been good -- i never read it), and that he thought he had changed as a person (positively) since he was a militant anti-hunting nut in the '80s. also, compared to the way hsus was run in the '90s ('breakfast of cruelty,' pacelle IS an improvement of sorts. though for those of us who loathe the organization, that is actually kind of bad news.

kerasote has never said he was an hsus supporter (in fact, he has said he disagrees with them on several issues), nor is he buddy-buddy with pacelle just because he refuses to jump up and down screaming every time the guy's name is mentioned.


Pacelle's book possibly good? Pacelle an improvement?

And Hitler made the trains run on time.


I was really, really looking forward to this book, because I loved Merle's Door and loved the bits of science interspersed throughout the book. However, looking at the links page on Kerasote's web site has killed my enthusiasm. Links to Dr. Marty Goldstein (a germ theory denialist) and Dr. Becker (very questionable dietary information) disappoint me. I am reserving judgement but my hopes for a good, science based treatment of the subject have been dashed.

Jan Dykema

It does not bother me that Kerasote says a "few nice things" about The Bond.. it bothers me that he says anything at all about it. Many people will believe he is an HSUS supporter as his quote is listed on the HSUS site along with Peter Singer and others.. here you can read it for yourself:
“One cannot read this book without coming away moved and compelled to reappraise one's own actions. The Bond also is a fine and thought-provoking portrayal of how one man, Wayne Pacelle, and one organization, the Humane Society of the United States, have helped to reduce the suffering of animals.” — TED KERASOTE, author of Merle’s Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog.."
I guess that reduction of suffering does not include the Alabama 44 and the many "pit bulls" that have died because of the HSUS and, of course, Fay and Vicks dogs..

Adrian Meli

Some very interesting thoughts here and a lot to chew on. I am particularly intrigued by the idea of vasectomies being a potentially better option though we would obviously need to see some more studies on this. I think the work warrants more research on it at a minimum. The other idea of selectively bad breeding is also interesting due to a crowding out of dogs that have been spayed and neutered. This should open up some interesting debate at the very least.

Sarah Adams

What I'm actually curious about is, who says that pets in other countries live longer than in the US? I've seen no evidence that this is true. I have Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and participate in message boards, email lists, etc including SBT owners from all over the world, and I would say that lifespan of the dogs does not vary much based on location. Average lifespan seems to be 12-14 years, with some outliers making it as far as 17 or so, in the US as in other countries. I lost a dog last year, a month before his 14th birthday, which I think is a reasonable lifespan for a dog.

In regards to endocrine disorders in altered dogs, none of mine have been altered young, the one who died last year was neutered when I adopted him at almost 4. The oldest one I have now is currently 10, and was spayed at 4 years, after having her first and only litter. She has Cushings disease. I'm doubtful that the Cushings can be attributed to spaying her after she had umpteen seasons (first one at 7 months, and every 5 months after that)


Brent, I agree about the kennel cough vaccine. My dog's vet kept sending me notices that my dog was overdue on this vaccine. I would rather not have him vaccinated for it just as I choose not to get a flu shot for myself. However, all the boarding kennels in town require the kennel cough vaccine. It should be optional. If someone doesn't want their dog to get kennel cough, then they can choose to have their dog vaccinated (not that the vaccine works). If I choose not to have my dog vaccinated, then I accept the risk of him getting kennel cough.

I board dogs at my house and I do not require certain vaccinations or flea prevention. Each owner signs a liability form stating that it is their responsibility to protect their own pets as they see fit.

Flea attacks are a significant issue in many areas of the world. Your dog can be swarmed with ticks and they can invade your home and even chew you if the issue is neglected. Some dogs are actually hypersensitive to the flea chew, so this can cause them excessive agony such as damaging until they hemorrhage, skin swelling, and thinning hair, which is often termed as hot areas.

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