Lots and lots of helpful info!

Hip Dysplasia (CHD)

This is a subject that many bulldog breeders would rather dismiss, and sweep under the carpet. I will probably take some flak here in even bringing this subject up, but we cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand. I am on an aggressive path towards TOTAL QUALITY DOGS. And I will not take shortcuts, or cut corners to accomplish this. 

We have to make a stand, in good conscience. Bulldogs are known to have horrible hips, so we most often just shrug our shoulders and accept it. I don't buy that approach. It is the easy way out, no doubt. 

But, is this doing the breed any good at all? Why continue to perpetuate a very bad, painful, even crippling trait, when something can be done about it? I have been working on this ailment quietly for some time now. In fact, this subject has been in the back of my mind for several years now, but when you bring it up as a topic of discussion, usually the conversation swings to other things such as color, head size, or whatever. I have honestly been focusing on other aspects in my own program for the most part as well, but we as a bulldogge community owe it to the breed to begin taking a serious look at the hips of our dogs, and find out what we can do to improve the situation, instead of just putting a band-aid over the problem, ignoring it, and pressing on for the latest color fad or "look". If a dog has no hips, it will not move as fluid and comfortably as it was meant to, and to continue to bring lives into this world with the genetics to have poor hips is simply unethical! 

These dogs are born into a world that they did not create, and that is not by their choice, but by ours. So we owe it to the future of the breed to "man up" and do the right thing here. 

This small article is not meant to give you a complete education on this dilemma. It is only a start of a campaign that I am personally beginning. But, you personally can do endless google searches to educate yourself, and speak to your local vet as well about it. I just want to bring some light to the subject for the general public. Maybe stir some thought about it? Maybe even ban together as breeders and really strive for improvement? I realize that this will not be a problem that we can fix overnight. For breeders and pet owners, I want to simply make you more aware of the problem that DOES TRULY EXIST. AND IF YOU IGNORE IT, IT WILL STILL BE THERE. I have my own feelings as to how it occurs and why, I feel at times it is genetic, while other times it is caused by environment, and in other instances it is a combination of both. While I do not claim to be an expert on the subject, I am a student of it. And if you are serious about your dogs, you will become a student of it as well. So take the time to research, talk around, and grow up in some areas that are for the most part left alone. I have included a few X-Rays for your consideration. Don't be afraid to get your own dog's hips x-rayed, particularly if you have any intentions of breeding! Best of luck!

Vacinations and food

 If you have any information you feel would be helpful to dog owners, please email so it can be posted below.  Names, email addresses, etc., will not be published unless we are first given permission via email.

Please make sure your dog is up do date with his lab work and immunizations.  You may have thought your dog didn't need to be immunized against something like Kennel Cough because he/she is a "house" dog.  Kennel Cough is a virus that can be picked up any where... kennels, dog shows, groomers, parks, doggie day care centers... anywhere dogs come in contact with other dogs.  One of the symptoms is a hacking cough that sounds like something is caught in your dog's throat.  (This could also be a symptom of other conditions).   Check with your vet and make sure your pet is protected but if he does have the virus,  there are various forms of treatment and your veterinarian will be able to explain all the options to you. Don't forget about Heartworm/lyme/ehrlichia tests as well as distemper and rabies vaccines vaccines.  If you have any reservations about giving your dogs these types of immunizations, check with your veterinarian so he can answer your questions and put your mind at ease.

On television the other night, one vet was claiming the benefits of raw meat and veggies for pets.  On the same show another vet claimed, dogs like people, could get very sick if foods weren't cooked. If they can't agree, how are we to know?  Best bet is to check with our own Vet  about your own pet...

We always hear about things one should never give a dog.  The lists go on forever, but which are really harmful?
On the list below are just a few examples of what not to give our pets.

Chocolate - Any kind
Onions including the onions and onion grass found in yards.
Alcoholic beverages
Bones - especially  turkey and chicken bones
Fatty meats
Plants - Lilly of the Valley, Poinsettia, Spider Plants
Certain Flea Treatment
Anything sprayed with pesticides and fertilizers
Raw Meat and Raw Vegetables
(Many dogs love the small uncooked carrots and I think there fine)

While dogs can eat some of the same foods that we do, there are many they should not eat. Some common foods you may have around your house could kill your dog in the right amount.

Some foods dogs should not eat

If your dog has ingested any of these foods, get veterinary help immediately
Grapes and Raisins: Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs. As little as a single serving of raisins can kill a dog
Onions: Onions destroy red blood cells and can cause anemia.
Chocolate: Chocolate can cause seizures, coma and death. Baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous. A dog can consume milk chocolate and appear to be fine because it is not as concentrated, but it is still dangerous.
Coffee, Coffee grounds, tea and tea bags: Drinks/foods containing caffeine cause many of the same symptoms chocolate causes
Macadamia Nuts: Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, muscle tremor and paralysis.
Animal fat and fried foods: Excessive fat can cause pancreatitis.
Bones: Bones can splinter and damage a dog’s internal organs.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes can cause tremors and heart arrhythmias. Tomato plants and the most toxic, but tomatoes themselves are also unsafe.
Avocados: The fruit, pit and plant are all toxic. They can cause difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation in the chest, abdomen and heart
Nutmeg: Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and death
Apples, Cherries, Peaches and similar fruit: The seeds of these fruits contain cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs as well as humans. Unlike humans, dogs do not know to stop eating at the core/pit and easily ingest them.
Raw eggs: Raw eggs can cause salmonella poisoning in dogs. Dogs have a shorter digestive tract than humans and are not as likely to suffer from food poisoning, but it is still possible.
Salt: Excessive salt intake can cause kidney problems.

Food that most dogs can eat:
Some “human” foods are good for dogs. Most of these are healthier than the boxed treats you buy in the grocery store. . This is just a small list of examples of foods dogs can eat, not a list of every food they should eat. Dogs won’t necessarily get all the nutrients they need if they eat these foods exclusively, so check with your veterinarian if you are interested in feeding your dog a home cooked diet.
Any food that causes stomach upsets or digestive problems in your dogs should be avoided. Like people, some dogs cannot tolerate certain foods

Meats should be boneless and it’s best if the skin is removed. I don’t consider raw meat a good idea because of the small risk of food poisoning and parasites.
Skinless, boneless chicken breast
Skinless, boneless turkey breast
Boneless fish

Dogs have shorter digestive tracts than humans and cannot digest most vegetables whole or in large chunks. It’s best to put them through a food processor before giving them to your dog
Green Beans

Grains should not be given in large amounts or make up a large part of a dog’s diet, but these foods are generally safe in small amounts

Dairy products
Use caution with dairy products as they are high in fat and can cause pancreatitis, gas and diarrhea. Usually, nonfat plain yogurt is safe in small amounts weekly. 

Source : http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Foods-Dangerous-for-Your-Dog

How to Avoid Foods Dangerous for Your Dog

There are some common foods on the human table that are deadly for dogs. It is important to know about them to avoid causing severe or fatal illness in your loyal canine companion.
Understand that even though you can eat the food, this does not mean that your dog can eat it also.
Familiarize yourself with the top human food culprits:

Chocolate contains theobromine (a methylxanthine derivative). It can cause a dog to vomit, have diarrhea, pant excessively, urinate frequently, develop a great thirst, have seizures, show hyperactivity, get an abnormal heart beat and possibly die. The negative effects depend on the dosage, the size of the dog, and the type of chocolate.[1]

Caffeine/Coffee warrant the same precautions as for chocolate. Caffeine, like theobromine, is a methylxanthine derivative with similar effects on dogs.

Alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, poor breathing, abnormal blood acidity, coma and death, just like in humans. The difference is that dogs are much smaller and are more susceptible to intoxication.

Onions, garlic and chives in all forms (dry, raw, cooked) contain thiosulphate, which can irritate the gastrointestinal system of your dog. A relatively high dosage (600-800 grams) in one meal or spread apart over a few days can damage red blood cells (haemolytic anaemia)[2].

Macadamia Nuts (both raw and roasted, as well as macademia butter) contain an unknown toxin that causes cause locomotory difficulties: weakness, panting, tremors and swollen limbs. [3]. Commonly in cookies, so be careful what you feed your dog.

Grapes and Raisins - can lead to kidney failure [4]. As yet, it is not known what substance in grapes causes this. Be careful, as raisins are often in cake and cookies.

Avocado - the substance Persin can cause vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes heart congestion.

Yeast dough - this refers to the dough prior to cooking. The yeast can continue to rise in the dog's stomach and cause painful bloating, gas and even rupture of the intestines or stomach.

Raw or undercooked meat and eggs - as with humans, care needs to be taken in handling raw meat and eggs to avoid the possibility of contamination with Salmonella bacteria and E. coli. Raw eggs contain an enzyme (avidin) that can lead to skin and coat problems for a dog.

Milk - owing to the lack of lactase, consumption may lead to bloating, gas, diarrhea and other digestive upsets.
Xylitol - this can lead to liver failure through the over-release of insulin, vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. It does not take long to see signs of nearing liver failure - only a few days. Be very careful as this substance in a wide range of products, such as candy, chewing gum, toothpaste and baked goods.

Bones can cause choking, or they can break apart into jagged pieces that become lodged in the digestive tract. Look for sturdy marrow bones that are less likely to splinter or nylon bones that wear down slowly.

Check the food you are sharing carefully. Many of these ingredients are tucked away in cookies, bread, cake, preserves and other processed foods. It is really important to be aware of what you are feeding your canine companion so that you can avoid these problem foods.
Ensure that your dog eats a healthy and balanced diet. Read up on the appropriate foods for your dog type and make regular vet visits to ensure that your dog is in top shape.
Minimize snacks from the human table. It encourages poor manners from both the dog and the human and it blurs the line between what is good food for the animal and what is not. Start out right and keep it right.
Contact your vet immediately if you see any signs of weakness, poisoning, lack of coordination, lethargy, frothing or any other unusual behavior after consuming any of these foods. Delay can be fatal so do not hesitate.

Tips - Cooked bread is okay in very small amounts.
Show children this list and teach them early what they can and cannot feed their dog(s).

Warnings - Take your dog to the vet immediately if it shows any signs of poisoning or any of the symptoms described above following consumption of any of these foods.
Be aware that just because you may have fed the dog once on a bad food that this does not mean the dog can consume it. Some foods have a cumulative effect and the dosage can be key to whether or not there is a fatal or severe reaction.
Always place table scraps and other garbage in a secure container, where the dog can't get to it.
Never allow your dog to eat food or treats he finds on the ground in public.

Best breeding rules to live by

Best breeding rules I've ever ran across.... 

-Author unknown –

1. Remember that the animals you select for breeding today will have an impact on the breed for many years to come. Keep that thought firmly in mind when you choose breeding stock. 

2. You can choose only two individuals per generation. Choose only the best, because you will have to wait for another generation to improve what you start with. Breed only if you expect the progeny to be better than both parents. 

3. You cannot expect statistical predictions to hold true in a small number of animals (as in one litter of puppies). Statistics only apply to large populations. 

4. A pedigree is a tool to help you learn the good and bad attributes that your dog is likely to exhibit or reproduce. A pedigree is only as good as the dog it represents. 

5. Breed for a total dog, not just one or two characteristics. Don't follow fads in your breed, because they are usually meant to emphasize one or two features of the dog at the expense of the soundness and function of the whole. 

6. Quality does not mean quantity. Quality is produced by careful study, having a good mental picture of what you are trying to achieve, having patience to wait until the right breeding stock is available and to evaluate what you have already produced, and above all, having a breeding plan that is at least three generations ahead of the breeding you do today. 

7. Remember that skeletal defects are the most difficult to change. 

8. Don't bother with a good dog that cannot produce well. Enjoy him (or her) for the beauty that he represents but don't use him in a breeding program. 

9. Use out-crosses very sparingly. For each desirable characteristic you acquire, you will get many bad traits that you will have to eliminate in succeeding generations. 

10. Inbreeding is a valuable tool, being the fastest method to set good characteristics and type. It brings to light hidden traits that need to be eliminated from the breed. 

11. Breeding does not "create" anything. What you get is what was there to begin with. It may have been hidden for many generations, but it was there. 

12. Discard the old cliché about the littermate of that great producer being just as good to breed to. Littermates seldom have the same genetic make-up. 

13. Be honest with yourself. There are no perfect dogs (or b###hes) nor are there perfect producers. You cannot do a competent job of breeding if you cannot recognize the faults and virtues of the dogs you plan to breed. 

14. Hereditary traits are inherited equally from both parents. Do not expect to solve all of your problems in one generation. 

15. If the worst puppy in your last litter is no better than the worst puppy in your first litter, you are not making progress. Your last litter should be your last litter. 

16. If the best puppy in your last litter is no better than the best puppy in your first litter, you are not making progress. Your last litter should be your last litter. 

17. Do not choose a breeding animal by either the best or the worst that he (or she) has produced. Evaluate the total get by the attributes of the majority. 

18. Keep in mind that quality is a combination of soundness and function. It is not merely the lack of faults, but the positive presence of virtues. It is the whole dog that counts.

19. Don't allow personal feelings to influence your choice of breeding stock. The right dog for your breeding program is the right dog, whoever owns it. Don't ever decry a good dog; they are too rare and wonderful to be demeaned by pettiness. 

20. Don't be satisfied with anything but the best. The second best is never good enough. 

Successfull breeding thoughts

The following article by Jonathan Jeffrey Kimes (Pluperfect Kennels, Kansas City, Missouri) is reprinted with his permission. 
Seven Foundations of a Successful Dog Breeder
Listed in this article are some axioms that I have created as a learning tool. These axioms are reflections of the temptations we face on a daily basis as dog breeders. If one were to make a similar list for any human endeavor, I doubt it would differ much from what I have listed. I think this list is one that we should all review from time to time, for it requires maturity and self-confidence to master-something we all should continue to hone throughout our lives. The ultimate payoff is the ability to succeed in and to enjoy our dog breeding careers.

The primary reason anyone becomes involved with dog breeding and showing is a fundamental love of dogs. We treasure the companionship, the never failing loyalty, the delight they exude. We love to have them on our beds. Their eagerness to face the new day, even when we wake them up at dreadful hours, provides us a wonderment that brings back the exuberance of childhood. They forgive us when we lose our temper, when we are impatient, when we are far less than they are. They bring out the best of ourselves, they nurture the "big" us. Unfortunately, dog breeding and exhibiting can tempt our "little" selves. It can feed a fragile ego until it becomes a raging ego. Often, this need to feel we are better than our fellow man is expressed in our possessions. We need to have the biggest winner, the producer of the most champions, the most champion puppies. We buy, we co-own, we collect. Soon we have no time for dog pleasures, no time to play or rub a grateful belly, no time to stroke a patient brow. Soon we have no room for more dogs; we stack them and crate them and store them as though they were baubles that have no meaning but to make us feel important. We lose our ability to love. Dog showing and breeding is a great vocation. It is creative and challenging and very rewarding. But we must never expect our hobby to take the place of a psychologist's work. We must never expect an unhealthy mental state to be cured by self-indulgence. Far too many people take to showing and breeding for the wrong reasons. Their houses go to ruin, their bank accounts evaporate, their credit hits the skids, their spouses and children are left to survive on their own as the breeder pursues their own manifestation of what they perceive to prove their self-worth. Being a dog breeder is a huge commitment. It means we should assign ourselves the role of lifetime student. It means we will be humbled in countless ways and in countless circumstances. It means our lessons will be of the hard knock variety if we are to truly learn them. It means frustration, long hours, late nights and early mornings. It means never getting to sleep-in again. It means finding friendships - some of which will last for a lifetime and some of which will founder, being built on social advantage. It means being quoted and misquoted and having words put in your mouth. It means being given ample opportunity to be as "small" as a human being can be. But, hopefully, it can provide an opportunity to learn to be "big," to be generous, inquisitive, and adventurous. We should never ask ourselves if we are envied or important or successful. Those questions are meaningless. At the end of the day, we should ask ourselves, "Am I proud of the person I've become? What we must always be are dog lovers. We must be their advocates. We must ensure the life of every dog we breed and every dog we own is fulfilled and an illustration of humanity at its nest hour. Our vanity must not be stroked by having our pictures in a magazine or seeing our name on some ranking system. Our self-worth must come from knowing we provide our dogs a life of love, of pleasure, and of happiness.

It is easy to become lost in the purpose of breeding quality dogs. For some, the attraction of the bright lights, the glamour and the glitz cause them to stray from the path. Developing a bloodline that is well considered and that is a positive influence for the breed takes considerable discipline. Too often, the seemingly slow and carefully orchestrated effort to improve a breed is crossed up with the immediate desire to breed that one big winner and become famous.

The breeder's pledge must be to harbor and safeguard the breed. No breed is in perfect shape when the breeder happens upon it and none shall be perfect when they leave. But to leave a breed in better shape than it was when you came upon it is the greatest compliment. To improve type, movement, temperament and health must be the bottom line for every committed breeder.

Such accomplishment takes a long-range plan that is carefully thought through. It requires dedication and purpose. All too often, we are sidetracked by our desire to breed to the latest big winner, and then to the next and the next. Before long the pedigree is a long list of "who's who" that have no relationship to each other, other than they found success in the ring. What is key to learn (and to believe) is success in the ring is not an automatic indication of the dog's true quality. We all wish one indicated the other but that is too easy. It would require the removal of human fallacy to be accomplished!

Dogs do not excel for all the same reasons. Consequently, you can't simply breed one big winner to another and produce more big winners. Every feature and their nature of inheritance must be studied and understood before you can "manage" the inheritance variables. Once you gain this skill, you are on the road to producing a great line of winners.

The breeding of fine purebred dogs should be considered the pursuit of perfection - it is not the maintenance of it. All dogs have faults, all dogs are less than ideal in some ways and areas. If not, the "ideal" has not been well enough conceived. It is very easy to fall into the trap of being defensive about one's own dogs. This usually happens because what we assume to be correct is challenged by another as being less so.

This disharmony causes confusion in our mind and ultimately unhappiness. To right ourselves, we often become defensive and try to rid ourselves of that which is causing us the discomfort - namely the opin-ion that does not complement our own.

We must realize that "truth" is the ultimate standard by which our decisions should be made. In most cases, a roached back is a roached back, whether we choose to recognize it as such or not. Consequently, the best way for us to not be put into a position of being unhappily surprised is to pursue knowledge relentlessly to ensure our opinion is as accurate and close to the "truth" as possible.

This knowledge is gained in many ways, one of which is learning from fellow breeders. We must fight the urge to make up our minds about something and refuse to consider another viewpoint. Indeed, we do not make decisions based on facts when we are first learning, we are depending upon what we perceive to be the expertise of others to provide that for us. If that so-called expertise is, in fact, faulty, our whole knowledge base is called into question. And that causes us great anxiety.

The best place to sit is in the seat of the knowledge seeker. Whenever provided with an opinion that is different than the one You currently hold, always seek to under-stand the viewpoint of the other. Why does the person perceive something differently than you? Understanding another's point of view can be the road to greater knowledge. If you shut that door and do not entertain the prospect of learning something different than what you think is truth you will never actually recognize the truth and you will not succeed in your goal.

Quite honestly, you should be more critical of your dogs than anyone else could possibly be. That is not to say you should attribute faults to your dogs they do not possess, but your evaluation must be as detailed as possible and you must strive to see clearly their true faults and virtues. From this comes the map to success.

Sounds a bit like the golden rule that we learn in childhood. Yet it is amazing how many people forget this very important axiom. In dealing with others, regardless of the matter, think always of the other person's position. I have heard repeatedly, people state how they were burned in a co-ownership agreement. All too often the agreement is geared toward benefiting one party (often the seller) over another. Written agreements somehow are tainted as being only needed in a contentious situation. This is the first misconception. Not having a written agreement should be the very rare exception, not the reverse. Too often, should a worthwhile puppy be produced from one of these undefined arrangements, the fight is on for possession. Before contemplating selling a dog on a co-ownership or leasing it or offering stud service for a puppy back, you should think through what exactly you expect and desire from such an arrangement. Too often, these business dealings occur in the spur of the moment during a telephone conversation, and the deal is struck before either party has really had an opportunity to think it through. For some reason, rather than rethinking the situation, we tend to try to follow through on such an ill conceived arrangement only to end up bitter enemies in the end. If people would stop and think about the likely end result, they would realize the best possible thing to protect the friendship is to have a written understanding.

It is very rare a litter is going to have more than one star if any at all. Consequently, it is important to under-stand who is going to own that super puppy, should it appear. People are too willing to tear apart relationships should one person seem to benefit a bit more than another. This is too sad and is reflective of the self-benefit motivation that all too many find as the driving force for their actions. When pressed, it is far better to give than to receive.

It is far better to let the other seemingly benefit than to destroy a relationship and acquire the reputation of being disreputable and self centered, if for no other reason than it makes you grow as a human being, which is probably a fair trade off in the long run.

Another pitfall breeders often experience is the inability to celebrate others' Successes. While certainly we feel the route we are taking is the best way to approach that utopian plateau of breed perfection, there are actually many routes to that same goal. It takes nothing at all away from our own accomplishments to recognize the accomplished efforts of other breeders.

This inability and unwillingness to appreciate other's efforts usually comes from having made a decision not to breed to certain bloodlines or deal with certain persons. When such a kennel then produces a success, it is difficult for us to acknowledge such an achievement for we tend to find that inconsistent with our opinion of that particular person or family of dogs. It takes quite an honest and secure person to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of others.

While it is probably good advice to hold our criticisms closer to our chest, recognizing another's achievement only brings good things. By being someone who can see the virtues in breeding lines other than your own, you gain a reputation of fair-ness and objectivity that is a very rare pearl in dogdom. You may find, over time, your point of view and your philosophies are taken with much greater weight when others do not perceive them to have originated in a mind consumed with self aggrandizement. Thus, by doing so you lose nothing and yet you gain so very much.

One of the worst situations a breeder can find her/ himself in is to partition themselves off from another kennel or bloodline. It is highly unlikely that all improvements toward the perfection of a breed are going to come from one single kennel or bloodline. Like flowers in the field, they will spring up in various places. The clever breeder is the one who knows how to pick from allthe field those who will make the ultimate, sublime bouquet. And to do this, you must be able to use the strengths of other kennels and bloodlines. Breeders will tend to have certain biases; and quite honestly, there are certain strengths and weaknesses in most bloodlines. While you may feel you have achieved the highest ground in certain areas, there will doubtless be other areas in which your dogs and bloodlines are less strong than others. Not to recognize this fact is to ensure you will plateau quite early in your breeding career. And by that I mean you will stabilize and go no further. You must always keep a watchful eye for that very special bloom that will enhance your bouquet.

It is this sophisticated combining of families without losing the good points of your own bloodline that strengthen a kennel and move it forward in breed importance. It takes careful consideration, orchestration and pruning to come to fruition.

My last axiom addresses the whole issue of morality. It has many facets and many ways of expressing itself. Spreading rumors, the accuracy of which might be doubtful, is one very good example. Selling dogs on co-owner-ships as a means to control other breeders is certainly another. Accusing other lines of genetic problems while being less than entirely honest about your own is yet another. In all, it goes to the very core of who we are. Do we know right from wrong? Do we practice right in all circumstances? Dog breeding is not about that one great win or that one great winner. It is about breed improvement over time, it is about protecting a breed. Too many people are in search of some kind of sign of their self worth and they think they will obtain some special level of respect and honor if they have a big winner. Dog breeding is a lifetime's work. It is a continuum of which, no matter how quickly you want to "put yourself on the map," will ultimately be a reflection of your true character. To wit, you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

There is no honor in "adjusting" reality to give you the appearance of achieving something you have not. Politicking for wins will not make your dogs any better than they are. Faking your dogs will not make them any better than they are. You may think you can fool the world, but you will ultimately pay the price. No one wants to be a pretender. And yet, some of the worst pre-tenders are people who seem to be infatuated with spreading rumors about other people and dogs. These people live in glass houses and invariably they know it. The breeding of dogs is not about how you impress the neighbors, your peers or anyone else.

It is the expression of your love of dogs and your personal pursuit in creating an art. You cannot lie about the art you create; you cannot lie to yourself.

While this list, I am quite sure, sounds like a sermon from the mount, it encompasses the many pitfalls that we dog breeders face every day. Some of us are equipped to navigate these disturbances better than others, but all of us CAN navigate them. We are all tested from time to time, even the most educated, psychologically balanced, intelligent and honest amongst us. There are times when it feels much better to zing someone who has been hurtful, to control those whom we feel do not have the proper motivation, to become the ones who attract the adulation. Only through careful thought and well-considered action can we hope to become better people and therefore better dog breeders.


Introduction Poor Dusty!

She's been licking and chewing on that spot on her flank for the better part of a day, and it's now a raw, open sore, oozing fluid.

Dusty has a superficial pyoderma, a skin infection known to veterinarians as pyotraumatic dermatitis and to dog owners as hot spots. Hot spots are surface skin infections caused when populations of normal skin bacteria grow and overwhelm normal resistance. They are generally circular patches that lose hair, can be swollen, may exude a smelly pus, and can be painfully itchy, causing the dog to scratch, lick, or bite to the point of self-mutilation. Untreated hot spots can spread and provoke a normally even-tempered dog to growl or nip when touched.

These troublesome sores can seem to arise in a matter of hours with no warning, but they do tend to follow a pattern that helps in predicting their occurrence.

Dogs most susceptible to hot spots are those with heavy coats and histories of allergies, ear infections, flea infestations, irritated anal sacs, and grooming problems such as hair tangles and mats, but any dog can develop this infection. Dogs in warm, humid climates may develop hot spots when they shed their undercoats if the dead hair is trapped next to the skin, and dogs with behavior problems may mutilate themselves by licking and thus encourage an infection to become established.

The most common locations for hot spots are the legs and feet, flanks, and rump — areas that can be reached by licking or biting — but these localized infections can also appear on ears, neck, and chest if the dog is continually scratching.

Treatment Two approaches are neccessary for dealing with hot spots: treat the sore and remove the underlying cause to prevent recurrences.

Veterinary dermatologist Lowell Ackerman recommends the following treatment in his book Skin and Haircoat Problems in Dogs:

trim the hair around the sore to prevent further spread of the infection and expose the edges of the lesion; wash the area in a mild water-based astringent or antiseptic; be prepared to use antibiotics or cortisone if the washing does not give results.
Ackerman recommends against the use of ointments or creams because they can seal in the infection and hinder recovery. In severe cases, a veterinarian may suggest the use of an Elizabethan collar to prevent mutilation and give the spot a chance to heal.

Prevention If the underlying cause is tangled or matted hair or trapped dead hair, put the dog on a regular grooming schedule either at home or at a grooming salon. Collies, Old English Sheepdogs, Shih-Tzus, and other breeds with long hair that tangles easily should be groomed at least twice a week so that snarls and mats do not form. Never bathe a dog with matted or tangled hair — comb the snarls out first. Clip mats if you cannot easily comb them out, and make an appointment for professional grooming every four-to-six weeks if you cannot keep the dog mat-free on your own.

If the underlying cause is allergies, begin an aggressive campaign to rid your home and yard of fleas and work with your veterinarian on a plan to reduce allergy triggers for your pet. Household dust, plant pollen, lawn chemicals, and diet can all cause allergies or can build to a crescendo of allergies if the dog's sensitivities cross a threshhold. Frequent vacuuming, supplements to keep the skin and coat healthy, air purifiers, and baths in skin-soothing herbal or medicated shampoos with aloe, oatmeal, jojoba, or eucalyptus can help. Next step is over-the-counter antihistamines such as Benadryl or Atarax — with a veterinarian's approval. If these don't work, then steroids to reduce the inflammation and the immune system reaction to the allergen and perhaps antibiotics to cure the infected hot spot are the next course of treatment.

If the underlying cause seems to be behavioral — if your pet doesn't have allergies or fleas or a more serious skin condition, but is so bored, stressed, or lonely that he maims himself with constant licking or scratching, he may need more exercise, playtime, and attention. This can be the easiest or the hardest treatment to implement because there's no pill or ointment for long-term success; the requirements are time, consistency, and perhaps an investment in training books, an obedience school, a dog sitter, or an animal behaviorist.