History: The actual origin of the Beagle seems to be obscure with no reliable documentation on the earliest days of development.  The modern Beagle can be traced in ancient Greece back in the 5th century BC. Then in 1888, the National Beagle Club was formed and held its first trial. Beagles are still used today hunting in packs and larger hare.

Description: Beagles are known for there colors they are usually Brown, Tan, and white. The beagles coat is  of medium length, close, hard, sleek and easy to care for.

Size: Males are 22-25 pounds Females 20-23 pounds Height is 13-16 inches

Temperament: Beagles are very happy go lucky dogs. They don’t have much of a temper. They are good family dogs and good with kids. 

Grooming: Brush with a firm bristle brush, and bath with mild soap only when necessary. Check the ears for signs of infection. They are a average shedder. 

Exercise: Beagles are very energetic dogs. They need lots of exercise. You should give them a brisk walk daily. Always use a lead when walking or you may just find yourself chasing after them. 

Health: Beagles are very healthy dogs. Some lines can be prone to epilepsy but can be controlled with medicine.

Lifespan: Beagles lifespan are 12-15 years



Breed of the Month: English Bulldog


Description: The English Bulldog is a short, heavy, medium-sized, and muscular dog. The legs are short and straight and the shoulders are wide. The head is large with a flat face. Loose skin covers the face and neck. The jaw is undershot with the teeth having an underbite. Jowls are on either side of the face. The wide nose is black with large nostrils. Small ears are set high on the head. The dark colored eyes are deep set. The short tail is either straight or screwed. The coat is short and smooth and can some in a wide variety of colors such as, brindle, white, fawn, piebald, cream, and any combination of these colors.

History:  Believed by cynologists to be ancestors of the now extinct Alaunt, the first recorded use of the name “bulldog” occurred in 1632 when Prestwick Eaton wrote to a friend in England requesting bulldogs from a friend.

Bulldogs received their name from the blood sport for which they were bred; bull-baiting. Bull-baiting involved tying a bull to an iron stake which allowed the bull to move in an approximately 30 foot radius. Bets were placed and the dog was then released to bite down on the nose of the bull. The dog would be declared the winner if it could bring the bull to the ground. Dogs were often gored, trampled, thrown, injured, and killed, thus; other dogs would be sent into the fight until the bull was taken down.

Bullbaiting was originally used as entertainment but later local legislation would proclaim that, before slaughter, bulls had to be baited due to the unproven notion that baiting increased nutritional value of the meat.

In 1835, parliament passed the Cruelty to Animals act which outlawed bull-baiting. Even though bullbaiting was now illegal, breeders managed to assist the Bulldog in adapting to new tasks. The Bulldog was exported to the United States where it was used to herd cattle and hogs. While in Germany, the Bulldog was crossbred to create the Boxer. In the United Kingdom, some breeders saw the value in the Bulldog and decided to breed out the bad qualities and keep the good ones. The taller, sporty, and more aggressive Bulldog was bred to be shorter, more relaxed, and congenial; the Bulldog we know today.

Size: Males: 12–16 inches at the withers, weighing 50-55 pounds. Females: 12–16 inches at the withers, weighing 45-50 pounds.

Temperament: While the Bulldog was originally bred for bull baiting, breeders have worked to remove its aggressive nature leaving a friendly and loving dog with the rough exterior. The English Bulldog is know to be patient with children. If socialized at an early age, Bulldogs can get along well with other dogs and other pets and will be welcoming of strangers and other dogs into the household. However, if they aren’t properly socialized, Bulldogs have been know to display dog aggressive behavior. While puppies are very playful and rambunctious, adult Bulldogs are rather inactive and, as such, do well in an apartment due to their inactive nature. Bulldogs are very affectionate, demand a lot of attention, and shouldn’t be left alone for long stretches of time. During training, this breed can be stubborn, and while they require firm yet gentle training, they don’t respond well to heavy-handed discipline.

Grooming: The coat of the Bulldog is relatively low maintenance. The Bulldog is an average shedding dog and should be brushed regularly and bathed when necessary. The Bulldog does require special care to keep the wrinkles and skin folds clean and free of foreign matter and bacteria. Skin folds arounds the nose, face, and tail should be cleaned everyday. Some owners even put ointments or tea tree oil in the folds to keep them free from irritation that can occur.

While not necessarily a grooming issue, prospective Bulldogs owners should be aware of the Bulldog’s uncouth farting, burping, snoring, snorting, and excessive drooling.

Health: According to a survey from the Kennel Club/British Small Animal Veterinary Association Scientific Committee, among 180 English Bulldogs, 20% of the dogs died from cardiac issues, 18% died from cancer while nearly 9% died from natural causes. 4.4% of English Bulldogs died of respiratory failure and 3.3% died of hyperthermia, also known as heat stroke.

Major health concerns of the English Bulldog include hip dysplasia, which nearly 75% of all English Bulldogs will be affected; patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap); congenital respiratory issues; allergies; dermatitis; and cherry eye. Bulldogs are bracycephalic, meaning their faces are smooshed in, and as a result, have difficulties breathing especially in hot and humid weather, causing Bulldogs to be more susceptible to heat stroke.

Exercise: If you are someone who wants to go on a daily run with your dog, a Bulldog is not for you. Due to the breeding of the animal, they have developed a less than ideal respiratory system which limits their oxygen intake. With the exception of a daily pack walk and play time, Bulldogs remain mostly inactive. Bulldogs are sensitive to high humidity and high temperatures and can overheat easily.

Lifespan: About 8 to 12 years.

Trivia: The Bulldog is the mascot of several universities including, Georgetown University, Yale University, and the University of Georgia. The United State Marine Corp have also adopted the Bulldog as their mascot.

Many famous celebrities own Bulldogs. Adam Sandler, Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Howard Stern, Jason Aldean, Jessica Biel, Verne Troyer, Joe Jonas, John Legend, Miley Cyrus, Pink, Pete Wentz, Ozzy Osbourne, and Shia Labeouf are all owners or previous owners of Bulldogs.

Diamond Pet Food Recall

Starting in May of this year, Diamond Pet Foods has issued a recall for pet food which may be contaminated with Salmonella. Not only have dogs been getting sick, but so have dog owners. Owners come into contact with contaminated food or a sick dog, then contract the salmonella.

People who are infected by salmonella will develop fever, vomiting, and diarrhea within 12 to 72 hours after infection. Symptoms typically last about a week. Infants and the elderly are susceptible to severe symptoms and may require hospitalization. Dogs infected with salmonella will experience similar symptoms of fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Food Safety News has discussed the pet food recall and you can find a link to their article here.

If you purchase Diamond Pet Food you can visit their recall website to see if the food you purchase is safe for your pet.

Canine Obesity

As I’m sure you all are aware, obesity is a major problem that our country faces. Over one-third of all US adults are overweight and medical costs associated with obesity (stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart attack, and heart disease) were estimated at $147 billion in 2008.

As our society becomes more sedentary and more prone to eating high-calorie foods, the dogs in our care receive similar treatment. According to a survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) 53% of all adult dogs are defined as overweight or obese.

A dog is considered overweight if the dog weights 5% – 19% more than their ideal weight while an obese dog weighs 20% or more than it’s ideal weight. To put this into perspective, a male Black Labrador Retriever’s ideal weight is about 70lbs. If that dog were to gain 14lbs, it would be considered obese.

Pfizer Animal Health has put together, what they call, a BARC (Body Assessment Rating for Canines). It’s a good resource that helps you take all sorts of variables of risk into consideration. But as they stress on their website, this nine question assessment shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a visit to your dog’s veterinarian.

There are some ways to test at home to see if your dog is overweight. You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs but, not be able to see them when your dog is wet. On the BARC test from Pfizer, they ask:

Stand at your dog’s side and look at the tuck-up — the belly area between the ribcage and hindquarters. Is the body more “square-shaped” in this area?

If your dog looks like a sausage, he’s probably overweight. Instead, dogs should have an hour-glass figure.

Obesity comes with a multitude of health consequences. Overweight dogs have an increased risk of cancer and are susceptible to fatty liver disease. Carrying around all that extra weight causes joint pain and difficulty breathing. Overweight dogs, much like humans, are susceptible to diabetes and can succumb to surgical complications. On average, an overweight dog has a decreased life span of nearly 2.5 years.

So, why exactly do dogs get fat? Much like humans, dogs also gain weight for two main reasons; eating too much and exercising too little. Owners will often times feed their dogs table scraps. All of those unnecessary extra calories can really add up and start adding weight.

Owners of overweight dogs also have a tendency to over feed. Simply following the information on the back of the package of dog food is not all the information you need. When it comes to appropriate portion size, your veterinarian can inform you of other variables that need to be taken into account, like energy requirements, size, breed, and genetics.

Dogs often don’t receive the appropriate amount of exercise. Depending on the breed, most dogs require 30 – 45 minutes of exercise each day. Not only does exercise keep a dog lean, it helps keep dogs occupied and less likely to get bored, bark, and act out in a destructive manner.

Owners also have a hard time resisting a dogs begging. Maybe your dog is barking and making a racket begging for more food or your dog might just be too cute have treats withheld from him. Giving into begging isn’t doing your dog any favors. Ultimately, the owner controls the amount of food and exercise a dog will receive so only an owner can be to blame for an overweight dog.

Treatment for obesity is reducing caloric intake and increasing exercise. Also similar to humans, dogs can sometimes have a strong aversion to a reduced diet and increased amount of exercise.

For those dogs with excessive amounts of body fat, a weight loss drug may be an option. Dogs that aren’t responding well to a change in diet and exercise may be prescribed the weight loss drug, Slentrol, which recently came out on the market.

Although they aren’t very common, fat camps for dogs are gaining popularity. You can drop off your dog in the morning and pick up your pooch in the afternoon after a long day of socialization and exercise.

If your dog is overweight, reducing your dogs caloric intake and getting him or her outside more often to burn off extra calories is important but, it’s always good to check with your veterinarian before making changes to your dogs diet and exercise regimen.

Breed of the Month: Bullmastiff

Description: The Bullmastiff is a large and powerful dog bred most commonly used for guarding purposes. They possess a large, broad skull with a relatively flat forehead and a wrinkled, dark colored muzzle. The Bullmastiff has a short, dense coat which comes in a variety of colors: fawn, brindle, and red; in addition, white markings may appear on the chest. Grooming requires little effort and shedding is minimal, so long as the dog is regularly brushed.

Despite being a dog with a low maintenance coat, the Bullmastiff is known for its drooling. Prospective owners should be ready to deal with this dog’s copious amounts of slobber after a eating and drinking. Bullmastiffs are also known to snore, pass gas, and, when young, be a bit of a klutz. While the Bullmastiff is said to be good with children, their large stature and muscular build can lead to unintended injuries in small children.

History: The Bullmastiff can trace its roots back to England around 1860 (some sources claim as early as 1795). The Bullmastiff was achieved after a successful cross of 60% Mastiff and 40% Bulldog; the best of both breeds to create a large, agile, and fierce guardian.

The Bullmastiff was bred for guard purposes by gamekeepers. Bullmastiffs could quietly and quickly travel short distances in the cover of night, tracking down poachers and pinning them to the ground without mauling and injuring the criminals, as they were trained not to bite.

Since the late 1800’s, the Bullmastiff has proven to be a loyal hunting dog and has been seen in military and police forces.

Size: Males: 25-27 inches at the withers, weighing 110-130 pounds. Females: 24-26 inches at the withers, weighing 100-120 pounds.

Temperament: While the Bullmastiff is a hardworking guard dog, it still has a soft side. These dogs are known to be very friendly with family and friends. While Bullmastiffs are intelligent, docile, and tolerant of children, they are very strong willed and require a loving yet assertive owner. Submissive and unconfident owners will have a hard time controlling the Bullmastiff as this breed requires consistent enforcement of rules.

The Bullmastiff has a high prey drive and doesn’t always get along well with other dogs or animals. This bred requires socialization at an early age. Bullmastiffs are very strong dogs and have the ability to kill cats and other dogs; this is why socialization and obedience training is so important. But don’t let that scare you. With some work, many Bullmastiffs will acclimate to their fellow animal companions.

Health: Much like any breed of dog, the Bullmastiff is faced with various ailments; none of of which are unique to only the Bullmastiff. A condition that most large dogs and deep-chested dogs can succumb to is bloat. Essentially, bloat occurs when excess gas builds up in the stomach and, due to the expansion of the stomach, can allow the stomach to rotate. This rotation of the stomach can prove to be fatal if not treated immediately.

Bullmastiffs are also susceptible to various cancers, hip dysplasia, kidney disease, hypothyroidism, and subaortic stenosis, which is the most common form of congenital heart disease in large dogs.

Lifespan: The average lifespan of a Bullmastiff is around 8 to 12 year but, Bullmastiffs dosn’t usually live longer than 10 years.

Trivia: A Bullmastiff plays Agent 11 in the 2001 comedy, See Spot Run. The Roloff family of Little People, Big World fame have a family dog, Rocky, who is a Bullmastiff.

Rabies Vaccination

Rabies is a virus which causes acute encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) which is  spread through saliva through an open wound in broken skin.

From the time of exposure to the onset of symptoms (known as the incubations period), is about one month in humans, and three to eight weeks in dogs and cats. The virus is only treatable during the incubation period. If left untreated and symptoms arise, the virus is untreatable and death is certain.

Symptoms in humans include: difficulty swallowing, slight or partial paralysis, increase in saliva, difficulty swallowing, hydrophobia, insomnia, anxiety, and confusion.

A dog infected with rabies will start to exhibit symptoms of nervousness, apprehension, anxiety, and fever. After a few days of these symptoms, the infected will dog will start to become more aggressive, irritable, and vicious. The infected dog will eventually become more disoriented, show signs of paralysis and labored breathing, and will eventually die of respiratory failure.

Each year, around 55,000 people die of rabies worldwide. Thankfully, the United States has laws requiring pet owners to vaccinate their pets. Vaccination has eradicated rabies in  some parts of the world and has reduced the number of cases of death caused by rabies in the US to around 3 to 6 cases a year.

Rabies is a preventable disease due to vaccination, which is the best way to combat rabies. In a nut shell, a vaccine is used to help the body prepare for future contact with a disease causing pathogen. After receiving a vaccine, the body is more able to identify a pathogen, which results in shorter duration of illness or no illness at all.

In the rabies vaccine for dogs (the particular product called Rabvac 3) contains a “dead” virus which cannot replicate or cause disease. A substance called an adjuvant (typically composed of aluminum) is added to the vaccine to elicit an immune response from the body. More antibodies are created as a result of the immune response created by the adjuvant. The vaccine also contains neomycin and polymyxin, which are antibiotics. Amphotericin B is added as an antifungal. The ingredient thimerosal is added as a preservative, antifungal, and antiseptic to extend the shelf-life of a vaccine and to keep other pathogens out.

In Omaha, dogs, cats, and mini-pigs are required to be vaccinated for rabies every three years. Every local government has their own laws. If you live in the Omaha area, be sure to check out the Nebraska Humane Society’s page about responsible pet ownership. It explains when your animal needs to be vaccinated as well as other general city ordinances for which pet owners should be aware.


Canine Influenza

Just as you and I are susceptible to catching the seasonal flu, so are our beloved dogs. While both humans and dogs are susceptible to influenza, there are many different strains of influenza, none of which can pass from humans to dogs or vise versa. So, if you are suffering from the flu, don’t worry about getting your dog sick; it ain’t gunna happen.

There are three types of influenza; influenza A, influenza B, and influenza C. Like our seasonal flu and the H1N1 pandemic of 2010, the canine influenza virus is also a strain of influenza A, the subtype being H3N8.

There are also strains of influenza that effects birds, seals, and horses; this is how we ended up with canine influenza.

In January of 2004, the first cases of canine influenza was reported at a Florida dog racing track. The equine flu carried by race horses was transmitted to the dogs at the race track. This is what is known as antigenic shift or, the process that allows viruses to jump from one species to another species.

From American Veterinary Medical Association: “CIV represents a very rare event in adaptive evolution; the entire genome of the H3N8 equine influenza virus was transferred to dogs, and the virus adapted to the canine species to emerge as a new canine-specific virus. Although the virus spreads readily from dog to dog, there is no evidence to support that it can be transmitted from dogs to humans.”

The time between exposure to the influenza pathogen and when a dog starts to exhibit symptoms (called the incubation period) is roughly two to four days. Unfortunately, during this time when the infected dog is showing no symptoms is also the time when there is more viral shedding, meaning the dog is most contagious at this time.

A dog can be exposed to the virus by means of respiratory secretions from an infected dog (such as sneezing or simple respiration). Transmission of the virus can also take place by means of infected items like toys, water and food bowls, collars, leashes, clothing, and other items in which a dog may come into contact.

Viruses are masters of survival. A common virus that causes most all gastroenteritis (stomach flu), norovirus, can actually survive on hands cleaned with alcohol based hand sanitizer. The canine influenza virus can survive on human hands for approximately 12 hours. The virus can survive on clothing for 24 hours and on surfaces for 48 hours.

So far, its hard to determine the prevalence of the virus since the symptoms seems to mimic those of kennel cough (infectious tracheobronchitis). A dog infected with CIV may show symptoms of lethargy; low fever; runny nose; soft, moist cough. A minority of infected dogs exhibit a dry hacking cough which would be more closely resemble kennel cough.

Since the symptoms for CIV and kennel cough are so similar, a diagnosis cannot be made by clinical signs alone. Only a blood test can accurately determine whether or not a dog is infected with CIV.

If you happen to fall ill and discover that your illness is viral (as opposed to bacterial), there really isn’t any treatment other than supportive treatment. A physician might prescribe Tamiflu but, more than likely, he/she will tell you to get a lot of rest and drink plenty of water. Similarly, dogs will be required to get rest and fluids to aide in their recovery.

Infected dogs should be closely monitored as there is a chance that dogs can acquire a secondary bacterial infection which could include pneumonia.

The canine influenza virus is one that is very virulent, meaning it is highly contagious. In fact, nearly every dog that comes into contact with the virus will become infected, while nearly 20% of infected dogs will not demonstrate symptoms.

The terms morbidity and mortality are used in pathology (the study and diagnosis of disease) and epidemiology and can case a bit of confusion. So let me break it down: Morbidity rate describes the percent of subjects who, when exposed to the pathogen, will contract the pathogen. Mortality rate demonstrates the percent of infected subjects that will die due to illness.

The canine influenza virus has a morbidity rate of 80% (this is very high due to CIV being a new virus and dogs not having immunity), and the mortality rate 1-5% (low for influenza).

It should be noted that mortality is higher amongst dogs with secondary infections such as pneumonia.

As we discussed, the CIV is quite virulent but, it’s not exactly widespread. This virus remains active in pockets of the United States where dogs are confined to tight spaces such as shelters, dog parks, kennels, boarding facilities, veterinarian clinics, etc. As of September 2011, the virus has been found in 38 states which include: WA, OR, CA, ID, WY, NV, UT, AZ, CO, NM, KS, OK, TX, AR, IA, WI, IL, FL, GA, AL, SC, NC, TN, KY, WV, VA, OH, PA, DE, MD, NJ, NY, CT, RI, MA, NH, VT, and ME.

Currently there exists an effective vaccine for CIV. The vaccine has shown to significantly reduce the severity and duration of the influenza virus so, dogs that have become vaccinated and still become infected with the virus will have considerably reduced symptoms.

The American Veterinary Medical Association describes the CIV vaccine on their website:

“The canine influenza vaccine is a “lifestyle” vaccine, and is not recommended for every dog. In general, the vaccine is intended for the protection of dogs at risk for exposure to the CI virus, which include those that either participate in activities with many other dogs or are housed in communal facilities, particularly where the virus is prevalent. Dogs that may benefit from canine influenza vaccination include those that receive the kennel cough (Bordetella/parainfluenza) vaccine, because the risk groups are similar. Dog owners should consult with their veterinarian to determine whether their dog’s lifestyle includes risks for exposure to the CI virus, and if the vaccine is appropriate for their dog.”

I have spotted several blogs that seem distrustful of the CIV vaccine and will tell you not to vaccinate your dog due to supposed “lack of safety”. At the bottom of this article I link to a few extensive studies regarding the excellent safety and effectiveness of the CIV vaccine. As I quoted from the AVMA, consult your veterinarian when making a choice to vaccinate your dog as not all dogs require that vaccine (dogs that don’t socialize or do not have a risk for exposure).

References and Resources:

PubMed articles showing strong efficacy for CIV vaccine: