Sunday, December 18, 2011

What's in the Mix?

This is our dog Duke. We rescued him and his sister Cali (photo below) when they were around nine months old.  Read more about that story here. We often get asked what kind of dog he is. He's a mixed breed obviously but what breeds is he made up of? Well we've always had our guesses but now thanks to Canine Heritage we are going to find out! They are currently offering the DNA testing for only $48. That's 20% off their regular price. But you'll have to hurry! This offer ends January 2, 2012. We should receive the results in 2 - 3 weeks. I'll let you know when we get them. What breeds would you guess he is made up of? To help you, I've also included a picture of his litter mate Cali. Though you can see the resemblance, they also look quite different. (Cali has the Red Merle color too but it's just not as pronounced as Duke's.)

Not that it really matters what they are made up of because we love them to pieces no matter what....but it will be fun to find out!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (IMHA)

Last weekend one of our dogs, Ellie (who had a splenectomy a year ago), started acting lethargic and her breathing seemed labored. After taking her to the vet and running some tests he referred us to Gulf Coast Veterinary Internal Medicine and Critical Care where she received a blood transfusion and it was confirmed; Ellie has immune-mediated hemolytic anemia (extravascular). In other words her immune system suddenly started destroying her own red blood cells. She was hospitalized for a couple days after the transfusion while they worked on getting her PCV (packed cell volume) count up. She is now home and is on several medications to try and control the immune system which is causing the anemia. She will be on them long term and will also need regular blood tests while we monitor her progress. She is doing well but the recovery will take awhile. 

Experts say some cases may have an underlying cause but 60 - 70% of dogs with IMHA do not have an apparent cause. There are a  few breeds like the cocker spaniels, poodles, Old English Sheepdogs and Irish setters that are predisposed to the development of it. To learn more about this serious disease you can visit these websites: and

We are fortunate enough to have some of the best veterinary specialists here in Houston should we need them. Miss Ellie has been to the specialists before to have arthroscopic surgery for elbow dysplasia in 2008. Though she is 13, which is old for a dog, she is in good health other than this anemia. We are blessed to have her with us this Christmas and cherish the time we have together which hopefully will be a lot longer.

12/19/11 UPDATE: Good news! We just got the lab results back for infectious diseases and Ellie tested positive for Mycoplasma haemocanis. This apparently can be a problem in dogs that have had their spleens removed, which Ellie did. Why is this good news? That means Ellie is in the 30 - 40% that have a known cause of the immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. The Mycoplasma which causes the anemia can be treated with medications (prednisone and antibiotics) and once we get rid of that her anemia will be cured! This is really good news! We are so blessed. We are going in for a blood test tomorrow and to change up her medications. I don't know that much about Mycoplasma yet but will be updating you as I learn more. 

12/22/11 UPDATE: Ellie is doing much better and her PCV is on it's way back up to the normal range. There is little information available on Mycoplasma in dogs. What I have learned is this: Mycoplasma is transmitted by either fleas or ticks. It doesn't normally affect most dogs if they have it but if their spleen is removed, it can cause the immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. It's not known whether she contracted the Mycoplasma some time ago (before she had her spleen removed)  and then (a year) after her spleen was removed it causes the IMHA or if it was contracted more recently, since the removal of her spleen. It's also possible for her to get this Mycoplasma again in the future and because of this, we will be not only continue to use a monthly flea treatment (like we always have) but will need to also give her a monthly tick preventative to be on the safe side.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Favorite Pet Product of the Month

Hemp Leash w/Fleece-Lined Handle
After almost a decade of professional pet sitting I think I have seen or used every kind of leash, collar or harness there is. I didn't know there was so many!

Having the right tools while walking dogs makes all the difference. My first priority is safety. I want to have complete control over the dog (for it's sake and/or anyone else's sake) which means not having him/her more than six feet away from me on a good, strong leash usually made of nylon, hemp or leather. My favorite is the Eco-friendly hemp leash by Planet Dog. Planet Dog Hemp Leashes are made of one of nature's most durable fibers. Hemp tends to get soft over time, but it stays strong, which makes it the perfect material for collars and leashes. My favorite part is they come with a cozy fleece-lined handle providing ultimate comfort , which I just love! The leashes are 1" wide and 5' long (for medium and large dogs). For small dogs, there is the Small Hemp Leash which is 1/2" wide and 5' long. Machine washable, air dry. They are well made and the most comfortable leash I've ever used. They come in a variety of colors.The fleece-lined collars are soft and comfy too!

Mendota British Style Slip Lead
Another favorite and probably the leash I use the most is the (Mendota British style) slip-lead. It's a collar and leash in one. This slip lead features premium, strong, 1/2" solid braid multi-filament UV coated polypropylene rope, leather sleeves and brass ring. Used by trainers, field trial and hunting test participants. The adjustable leather slide keeps "collar" in place eliminating slipping off, yet releasing properly in relaxed position. "Broken-in" feel is easy on the hands and allows easy folding to fit in a pocket. 1/2" x 6 feet for medium to large dogs, 3/8" x 6' for small dogs. Quick and easy to put on and take off, these slip leads have quickly become a favorite for their quality, workmanship and simplicity. Handcrafted in the USA using only the finest materials, these dog leads are waterproof, colorfast and UV coated to protect against fading. A dog cannot slip out of this leash which is one of the reasons why I like it so much. I've had dogs slip out of their collars and I even had a dog back out of her harness! Another reason why I like it so much is if you position the collar high on the neck, just below the ears and slide the leather slide to keep it in place there, while holding the leash close to the collar, it keeps dogs that like to pull from pulling. It's also great to have handy for catching a loose dog.

Although for small dogs (especially if they like to pull) I prefer they wear a harness with a regular leash as their tiny  little necks are delicate, these slip leads are great if you have one that tends to pull out of his/her collar.