This reminder came in from a member of Sheltie Nation, Momo’s Mom. 

TeaTreeMaybe you all know this already, but I just learned it the hard way:  TEA TREE OIL IS POISONOUS TO DOGS AND CATS.  My dog Momo is okay now, but I STUPIDLY put some tea tree oil on his paws and a few hours later, he could not stand up.” 

“We rushed to the vet ER and he required IV flushing, activated charcoal, discussion with Poison Control, overnight monitoring, and an extreme bath.   It is SOMETIMES it is used in very diluted amounts in dog shampoo and as a flea or tick repellent;  but, I would urge you to research it before using it IN ANY AMOUNT.  (That is what I should have done!)  It is just as dangerous when it is absorbed through the skin as when it is ingested orally and causes NEUROLOGICAL REACTIONS and can cause LIVER DAMAGE.”

“THANK GOD there was a good doctor at the ER that night to make up for my own idiocy.  Anyway, I hope this will prevent this from happening to everyone elses pets….Oddly enough, it is not included on any of the lists of things that are toxic to dogs.”

Momo’s story is a good reminder to us all to review possible toxic substances and our dogs.

The fact is, tea tree oil, like other essential oils, is graded on an LD 50 basis. What this means is: when tested on laboratory animals, the lethal dose needed to kill 50% of the animals is measured, and the results reported as LD50 at a certain number of grams or milligrams by weight.

Tea tree oil toxicity ranges between 2 and 5 g/kg body weight.  This is why, it is common for folks who are uninformed or who have received bad information, poison their own pets -particularly small cats and dogs.

So remember, just because it’s natural, an herb, used in aromatherapy, or has potential health benefits, does not meanit’s safe for all uses.

If you suspect that your pet has been poisoned, contact the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435.  This is 24 hour a day hotline.  (In some cases a consultation fee may be charged to your credit card.)

Next: 10 Most Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs

Back to: Sheltie FAQ

No these wounds were not caused by a leash or a fence, rather a lack of them!

Fences2Fences“Yesterday afternoon Autumn, my mom and I were taking a walk around the neighborhood when a large dog that was loose on its front lawn without a leash or any kind of fence came at us.  (No, it was not a pit-bull and the breed doesn’t matter because unfortunately any breed can have a rotten apple in the bunch.) The owner was in front of their house and the dog was lying in the grass.   There was no barking or any kind of warning before it started running at us and of course nothing to stop it from reaching us.  When I saw the dog come at us all I could do was scoop up Autumn in my arms and turn my back to the other dog.

Fortunately because of that the other dog was only able to bite Autumn’s knee and foot.   The owner was very apologetic and did pay her vet bills.  Autumn will be fine, nothing very serious, and my mom and I were not hurt.”

“I want everyone to know how important it is to have your dog on a leash or fenced, for their safety and the safety of others.  I know we think our furry kids are little angels, but you are taking a risk by not insuring everyone’s safety.

Ultimately the decision is yours and I would hate to see this happen to your dog/cat or anyone else.  Also, get to know about the dogs in your neighborhood and I like for my human neighbors to know Autumn.

There is another benefit I find with my neighbors knowing Autumn when we go for walks.  If she ever accidentally get away from us there would be a better chance of someone who knows her spotting Autumn and getting her back to us.”

Thank you Lisa!

After reading the Sheltie Nation post, “Does your Sheltie have bad breath?”, Duncan the rescue Sheltie wanted to show us an example of why it is so important to provide regular dental care for your Sheltie.

“If you remember, Duncan is a Puppy Mill   Rescue.  He had never been provided any dental care.  I don’t have any “before” pictures, but suffice it to say that his teeth were almost as bad as the worst of the pictures in your post.  When he finally went in for a teeth cleaning, the Vet had no choice but to extract eighteen teeth because they were so bad!  That’s right, 18!  These pictures show his now nearly empty mouth.  Please Sheltie Moms and Dads!  Take your Sheltie in for regular dental care!”

“On a side note, Duncan is doing very well without the majority of his teeth.  He is actually back to eating hard food again, which I didn’t expect him to do!  Just another one of the ways that Duncan continues to impress me with how he overcomes!”

He still has a great smile Tatha!  :)

Did you know: ACE can be fatal to dogs with potential for the MDR1 gene mutation?  Breeds known to carry the mdr1 mutation include Australian Shepherds, Collies, English Shepherds, Longhaired Whippets, McNabs, Old English Sheepdogs, Shetland Sheepdogs, and Silken Windhounds.  Research has shown that three of every four Collies have at least one copy of the mutated gene.

Just to be safe, if you have a Sheltie and the Sheltie NEEDS SURGERY, THAT YOU ASK YOUR VET WHAT HE IS USING FOR PRE- OPERATIVE MEDICATIONS.  ACE is a VERY COMMONLY used pre-operative medication.

ACE can also cause prolonged and very deep sedation in dogs with the MDR1 mutation, so dosage reductions are recommended.

The MDR1 gene helps keep drugs which could cause toxic reactions in the brain, from getting into the brain. If a dog has one MDR1 gene and one normal gene (remember all genes come in pairs, so this gene pattern would be mutant-normal), that dog is more likely than a normal-normal dog to have a bad reaction. If a dog has two mutant MDR1 genes (mutant-mutant), the dog is likely, not just “more likely” to have a bad reaction. The problem exists with a limited number of drugs, including ACE. Perhaps most important, there is a big problem with ivermectin (Heartgard) in the mutant-mutant dogs. With mutant- normals, the problem is primarily with the large doses of ivermectin used to treat demodectic mange, rather than the normal preventive dose.

What happens is that one mutant gene lets a small amount of these drugs get into the brain where they cause toxic reactions. Two mutant genes let even more drug get into the brain and so can cause a really bad toxic reaction.

Here is a list of drugs which are known to have caused toxic reactions in MDR1 dogs. In addition to ivermectin and ACE, these are: butorphanol, used for pain; doxorubicin, vinblastine, vincristine and cyclosporin, used for chemotherapy; loperamide (Imodium), used for diarrhea; and digoxin, a heart medication. Other drugs may have caused problems in MDR1 dogs, but the evidence is still largely anecdotal and not established.

There is a test available to check for the presence of the MDR1 gene. It is a simple test, requiring only a cheek swab. The swab is collected at home, and mailed in for analysis. The results of your dog’s test will be returned to you and should be provided to all your veterinary care-givers.

You can ask your vet for a test. If he doesn’t have a test kit, ask him to request an MDR1 test kit (with instructions) from:

Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine
Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory
P.O. Box 609
Pullman, WA 99163-0609
Phone/FAX-509.335.3745
or visit WSU on the web at: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/test.asp

You can order one yourself, but I think they are packaged in sets of 4 for $60.

The veterinary school at the University of Washington also has more in-depth info on the MDR1 mutataion, which you can find if you go to http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/.

How frequent is the MDR1 mutation in the breeds mentioned above? A 2004 article (highly technical) noted that in Collies, the likelihood of a mutant-mutant pattern is almost 25%, and the chance of having one mutant gene is almost 50%. In Australian Shepherds, the chance of one mutaant gene is about 30%, with the chance of a double mutant pattern, just under 2%. The risk is slightly greater for mini’s. For anyone who would like to read this article in its entirety, you can go to: www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.0402374101.

Thanks to Kim K for the great reminder!

Back to: Sheltie Health

barkeatingThis is Part II of an article by Sheltie Nation member & guest author Ann Compton.  You can read Part I here (Ann is an accomplished Animal Journalist with more than 20 years specializing in canine topics.  Currently, she writes a weekly column on animal care for one of Connecticut’s newspapers.)

This year’s widespread pet food recalls came as no surprise to some industry watchers, who have predicted a disaster such as this for quite some time and wondered what it would take to make manufacturers sit up and take notice. The shame is that it took the lives of more than 4,000 dogs and cats to date. More than 100 brands’ products have been recalled since this past March.

Even more astounding is that initially, no one could isolate the reason for the illnesses overtaking the nation’s pets. A variety of questionable ingredients were floated and speculation abounded, up to and including intentional poisoning, before the Food and Drug Administration was able to identify the cause as wheat flour containing the chemical melamine, sold as wheat gluten imported from China.

Some pet food companies are crying “foul,” claiming they didn’t know wheat flour was used in their food. Others have vowed to improve quality control—sorely lacking in most cases and long overdue.

The trouble is that most pet food companies outsource the manufacture of their products. Menu Foods, the culprit in most of the recalls, is a primary manufacturer of canned pet food.  Typically, the food is produced from a recipe given to the manufacturer by the pet food company, who assumes its recipe is followed.

Therein lies the problem. Many pet food companies do not manufacture their own food, and have little or no oversight into how, or with what, it is actually made. Manufacturers supply the ingredients; in some cases, pet food companies don’t even know the sources for them.

If there is any good news from this tragedy, it is that companies will be pressured to manufacture their own food or, at the very least, control the ingredients through audits or quality controllers in the manufacturing plants. Natura Pet Food, makers of top quality natural brands Innova, California Natural, and Evo, has pledged on its website to buy or build its own facility for the manufacture of its food.

While all this is ongoing, however, what should you, the consumer, do to assure the safety of the food you buy for your pet?

Pet food bags should list an expiration date, as well as the telephone number of the company so that if you do have a problem or a question on any aspect of your animal’s feeding, you have someone to call. This is also why it’s important to keep the bag your food comes in, even if you transfer the food to another container.

Check the website of your pet food company. Most list whether they manufacture their own food, as well as any precautions they have taken to ensure their food is safe. If they don’t, ask—or switch to a food that does supply this information.

Be alert to your pet’s eating habits. If your dog suddenly turns fussy and refuses his food, there’s a reason. He may not immediately become sick. Stop feeding the food and call the manufacturer to check on whether there have been any other reports of problems. Contact your vet to alert him to your pet’s symptoms and see how to proceed. Switch your pet to another good quality food, but don’t feed more than one brand at the same time. This makes it more difficult to identify a problem and isolate the cause.

There are three basic ways to feed your dog: a commercially prepared food, whether dry or wet; a home-cooked diet, or a raw food diet. Most of us opt for the first, although the second two alternatives are excellent. If you choose a home-cooked diet, be sure to consult one of the many excellent recipe books available on what your pet needs in terms of nutrients to make his meal balanced and complete.
There are prepared packaged supplements that can be added to home-cooked diets to make them nutritionally complete for convenience’s sake. The same is true of raw food diets, available prepackaged at local natural pet stores.

A good list of resources for both home-cooked and raw food as well as other helpful information may be found at www.dogaware.com. However, before you transition your pet to a completely different type of diet, check with your veterinarian and follow up immediately should your pet experience any type of problem.

Finally, if you think your food may be tainted, there is an up-to-date list
of identified contaminated pet food on the Food and Drug Administration’s website at www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/petfood.htm.

Unfortunately, in years past, there has been little oversight of the pet food industry and few standards enforced. Certainly, the tragedy of thousands of lost and sick pets will implement much needed changes. In the meantime, it’s important to be your pet’s advocate. Be an educated consumer; it’s the best safeguard you have for your pet.

Thanks to Ann for the great reminders about being vigilant about our furkids health!

pixeatingBy Sheltie Nation member & guest author Ann Compton.  (Ann is an accomplished Animal Journalist with more than 20 years specializing in canine topics.  Currently, she writes a weekly column on animal care for one of Connecticut’s newspapers.)

One of the most important things we can do for our dogs to keep them healthy is to feed them good food. With so many name brands compromised this year—even some veterinary foods and ‘premium’ brands–many people are understandably confused about what they can and should feed their pets.

There are ways to make sure that what you feed your dog is wholesome, nutritious, and safe. Unfortunately, what you cannot do is pop into the supermarket or local chain store and grab a bag of whatever happens to be on sale. You must aware of what the dog food you are buying contains.

The single most important thing you can do for your pet is to be an educated consumer. This means that you MUST read the ingredients on the label! Of course, you must know what you are looking for when you read ingredient labels, and what you shouldn’t buy.

It’s really a simple formula. All pet food should consist of whole ingredients.  Avoid foods with the words, “by-product, “wheat or rice gluten/protein,” “wheat bran, rice bran, rice flour,” or ingredients such as “animal fat” or “meat protein.” These are fillers of inferior quality or unknown origin, or what is known in the pet food industry as “fractions,” including over-processed ingredients that have no nutritional value—in other words, doggie junk food.

The recalls we saw this summer centered primarily around wheat gluten, made in China. What is wheat gluten, and why is it in your pet food? The answer is, it shouldn’t be. Wheat gluten, although not as well known, is an alternative to soy-based meat substitutes such as tofu; some types may taste even more like meat than tofu due to their chewy or stringy texture. It is often used in place of meat in Asian, vegetarian/vegan, and macrobiotic cuisines. Good quality foods with whole ingredients do not use wheat gluten.

A term frequently found on some pet food labels is “by-product.” By-products are just that: leftovers from the good part of the meat; parts you really wouldn’t want to feed if you knew what they were—parts “not fit for human consumption.” The translation is this. The label should read “chicken,” or “chicken meal,” but not “chicken by-product.”

Next, the first ingredient on your dog food label should be named meat or fish, such as “chicken” or “lamb” or “beef,” not unidentified “meat” or “poultry.” It’s very important that one named meat or fish be the first ingredient listed on the label, since ingredients are listed in order of their total weight in the food and what your dog’s diet should consist of first is a meat or fish, unless he is under veterinary care and has dietary restrictions. Succeeding ingredients should be whole grains, vegetables or broth.

The same is true for vegetables and grains. Whole grains such as rice or vegetables should be named, so you know what you’re getting in the food. Avoid foods with artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, sweeteners or sugar.

Does this food cost more? The answer is yes. But you’ll save money in the long run on vet visits, avoid potential health issues, and you can usually feed less of a natural, quality food because it doesn’t contain the fillers found in other brands.

If you don’t know where to find good, natural pet food, consult your local yellow pages for natural or holistic pet food stores. Since the recalls, even some chain pet stores have begun carrying a few premium brands such as Old Mother Hubbard. There are also many natural pet food sources online; all offer delivery.

There are a growing number of healthy, whole foods for dogs and cats. Some brands that top the list include Eagle Pack, Innova, Solid Gold, Canidae, Wellness, Wysong, and Merrick. If you can’t find these foods locally, try an online resource such as www.waggintails.com or www.jbpet.com .  Doctors. Foster and Smith also make an excellent line of pet foods that can be ordered online (www.drsfostersmith.com ) or through their catalog.

Remember to check your pet’s biscuit and treat labels as well. They contain similar ingredients that can also be questionable. Look for the same whole ingredients when buying treats and chews.

Stay tuned for part II of Ann’s great article & what you should do to assure the safety of the food you buy for your pet!

food1. Grapes
Many people give this fruit to their dogs as a treat. However, just a few bites can cause fatal kidney failure in some dogs.

Both grapes and raisins can be toxic. Some dogs eat them with seemingly no ill effects. However, some dogs become ill after ingesting only a few grapes or raisins. The first symptom is vomiting, followed by acute kidney failure, from which many dogs do not recover. As of yet, the toxin is unknown, nor do we know why some dogs become sick and others eat grapes or raisins without a problem.

2. Bread dough
The yeast-containing bread dough can ferment in the dog’s stomach, releasing large quantities of alcohol. Dogs may become very ill from alcohol poisoning.  Small dogs are most susceptible to this toxicity.

3. Macadamia nuts
The ingestion of as few as six macadamia nuts has caused paralysis in dogs. Dogs with macadamia poisoning will appear anxious and have difficulty moving their rear legs. The legs may appear to be painful. Luckily, the paralysis is temporary and clears up within a few days. The causative agent of the paralysis is unknown.

4. Salmon
Salmon and trout can be infected with a parasite called Nanophyetus salmincola, a type of trematode worm. The worms themselves can be infected with a type of bacteria known as Neorickettsia helminthoeca. The bacteria only infects canids; other animals show no symptoms from eating it. When dogs eat raw fish infected with this bacteria, they can show symptoms including weakness, vomiting, loss of appetite, swollen glands, and fever. Ninety percent of untreated dogs die. However, cooking kills the worm and the bacteria.

5. Onions
Onions and garlic contain a chemical called thiosulfate. When ingested either in large quantities or in small quantities over a long period of time, they can cause anemia. This is reversible if you stop feeding the onions or garlic.

6. Xylitol
This toxicity usually occurs when dogs eat large amounts of sugar-free candy or gum. In humans, xylitol does not cause a drop in blood sugar; in dogs it does. This can lead to weakness, staggering, and other symptoms of hypoglycemia. There is also some evidence that some dogs may develop liver failure after ingesting xylitol.  Read more about this here.

7. Cooked chicken bones
Cooked bones are much more dangerous than raw bones. They are much more brittle than raw bones and can splinter into sharp shards.  But why risk feeding any chicken bones?  Give them something else.

8. Turkey skin
Dogs that are fed a straight diet of dry food with little variety- may get an inflammation of the pancreas called “pancreatitis” if they eat certain foods that they are not used to.

In dogs, pancreatitis often results from eating a very high-fat meal. While dogs that are used to eating a high-fat diet, like sled dogs, can eat pure fat with no problems, dogs that are not used to such foods often cannot. When such a dog eats a high-fat meal, its pancreas overproduces enzymes, to the extent that they actually begin to “digest” the pancreas and inflame it. Common culprits are turkey skin and ham fat. Symptoms include vomiting and stomach pain. This is a medical emergency, and such dogs must be treated by a vet. Some breeds, like miniature schnauzers, are genetically predisposed to pancreatitis.

9. Cocoa bean mulch
A common food byproduct used in gardens has been found to cause vomiting, tremors and fast heartbeat when dogs eat it.

Cocoa bean shells contain the same toxic theobromine that chocolate does, and are poisonous to dogs for the same reason. The mulch has an attractive chocolate smell that is irresistible to many dogs.

See our previous post on Chocolate for more information on this toxic food.

10. Poinsettia, Holly & Mistletoe
Despite common misconceptions, poinsettias are only mildly toxic, and most dogs who eat them will experience no symptoms at all. Some dogs will drool or vomit after eating them. Holly causes intense nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Mistletoe causes vomiting, diarrhea, neurological problems and heart failure.

Thanks to Linda for the great shot of Maxx getting his dinner!

Next: Did you know? Tea Tree Oil is toxic to dogs.

Back to: Sheltie FAQ

Closeup of Sheltie noseFor a person, bad breath usually means we ate something offensive. But for a dog to have bad breath, it means something is wrong.

Sadly, as a breed, Shelties have very high maintenance teeth. They need to be brushed and cleaned on a regular basis; yet so many Sheltie owners never notice this important health issue.

Imagine how your teeth would feel you could not brush them. Tarter would quickly build up and decay would begin on one or more teeth. Your gums would become inflamed and sore. As the decay advanced, it would eat away at your teeth…down to the roots.

Long before this point, us humans would have run to the dentist because of the pain. But a Sheltie cannot tell you what hurts; so it goes unnoticed. Soon, the decaying tooth (or teeth) and gums will become infected. Once the infection gets a good hold in your Sheltie’s mouth, THEN it starts to smell bad. An infected mouth can smell terrible! This is the point at which many people start to tease your dog about having “bad breath”. You don’t worry too much, because everyone has bad breath “sometimes”. Right?

WRONG.

Simply put: If your Sheltie has lingering bad breath, he needs to be seen by your vet. A tooth infection is one of the leading causes of kidney failure and a host of other medical problems in dogs.

Canine dental disease in dogs occurs as a result of the buildup of tartar, sometimes referred to as “calculus”. Tartar develops when plaque (a sticky colorless film that consists of bacteria, mucus and food) remains on the teeth for too long. The long-term effects can lead to periodontal diseases, such as gingivitis or periodontitis.

Gingivitis is as an inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, the gums will become infected and eventually recede, exposing the root of the tooth.  Ouch!  If this is left untreated, it will progress to a type of dental disease known as periodontitis. If you have allowed your Sheltie’s teeth to get to this point, it is likely that they will need a vet to professionally clean their teeth, and/or extract the infected teeth. Then, you will likely need to give your Sheltie antibiotics to knock out the infection. Once your Sheltie has clean, healthy teeth…. it is YOUR job to keep them that way.

Best ways to reduce & eliminate dental disease in your Sheltie:

  • Check your Shelties teeth weekly.
  • Brush & scrape the tarter off at least once per week.
  • Have your vet check your Shelties teeth (at minimum) yearly.
  • Feed dry crunchy high quality dog food & treats.

Soft dog food and treats are not good choices for maintaining healthy teeth. There is some controversy as to whether or not hard dog foods can act as an abrasive and remove already existing tartar. But at the very least, dogs who eat hard foods are less prone to dental disease than those who eat soft, moist, canned or table foods. Hard foods are less likely to adhere to the teeth and lodge beneath the gums, causing tartar buildup to develop at a less rapid rate than softer foods. Rawhide or milk bones are preferable for the same reason.

How to recognize if your Sheltie has dental problems:

  • Foul smelling “doggy breath” indicates the presence of bacteria in the mouth.
  • The appearance of yellow or brown deposits, known as calculus, usually appearing at the gum line, is another sign of dental disease in dogs.
  • Red, rather than pale pink gums.
  • The beginning of gingivitis is indicated by a red line at the base of the gums.
  • Rounded edges, rather than pointed edges, where the gum meets the tooth, are another indicator.
  • Pus, loose teeth and severe sensitivity of the mouth indicate the later stages of dental disease.
Clean dog teeth

Clean, healthy adult teeth and gums.

dirty dog teeth

Bright red gum line, tarter build up. Painful?  Bad Breath?You bet!

bad tartar on dog tooth

This dog needs vet care.

Bad tartar on dog's teeth

This case could be called abuse.

Dental disease in dogs can lead to much more serious consequences, if not treated properly. Once bacteria gets into the blood stream and circulates, any number of additional medical conditions can develop.  Circulation of bacteria can lead to organ damage. If left unchecked, dental disease in dogs can and will lead to a shorter life span for your dog.

As domesticated dogs cannot be self-sufficient, it is up to us to educate ourselves in dog teeth cleaning and dog dental care so that we can take proper care of our Shelties.

In our next installment, we will talk about the proper way to clean your Sheltie’s teeth.

Excerpts & photos courtesy of Central IL Sheltie Rescue.

Thanks to Linda for the closeup of Maxx’s nose! 

Next: Shelties and Heartworm Medications

Back to: Sheltie FAQ