Posts

CBD: It may not be water, but it could just be the next best thing for your body…

As a professional pet sitter and business owner, Karen Eckert, founder of My Organic Hound, has been exploring the world of cannabidiol (CBD) products and their effects on pets. She is now so passionate about using them that she feels inclined to share some of her amazing results with us. “Animals have always been a part of my life since I was a little girl. I always wanted to do something for the animals and advocate for them,” says Karen.

So is this just a fad, or has CBD now become a must-have product for future pet parents? Let’s find out.

Q. How did you become involved with CBD? And why is it now a passion?

A. I was introduced to CBD products by a friend who was asked to be a rep for a company. I wondered if and how it would work for animals, so I started researching CBD and the benefits it had for people. I found that humans and pets have the same endocannabinoid system, which means the benefits of CBD would help the pets just the same. CBD is good for all dogs, especially if they have joint and muscle pain, anxiety, and much more. CBD is completely safe and it will not get your pet high. It works as a pain reducer and gets rid of inflammation faster than some prescription drugs but without the side effects.

This notion of a product that could benefit animals and be both safe and healing made me curious. Therefore, I decided I was going to see if my clients would want to try the oil on their pets and give me their feedback. So here we are.

Q. What results have you seen?

A. From my experience and many testimonials, CBD products, although anecdotal for pets, eases their anxiety and helps with digestion and inflammation with muscle and joint issues. Furthermore, it has helped dogs with shortness of breath from heart disease sleep better. I have seen cancer tumors shrink on a dog’s belly, along with control seizures, and help cats with chronic respiratory infections. Just as determining the right dosage for adults, CBD dosing for dogs depends on a number of factors. Some are more sensitive than others and need smaller doses for the same effect.

For that reason, people should start with a minimum dose and work their way up until they see results. Consuming more CBD than a body needs may be less effective, so it’s worth taking the time to find the right dosage. If a dog is already taking medications, I suggest talking to the vet first. Taking the oil an hour before or after the medication is recommended.

Q. What is your goal with CBD?

A. My goal for selling the CBD for pets is to have them experience the healing benefits without a medication. CBD does not have any side effects, nor is it addictive. For the last three years, I was selling CBD products for pets at many rescue vendor events throughout the state. The first two years of selling CBD products, people were uneducated on the benefits of CBD and did not approach my booth. Within this last year though, I’ve had people who are now faithful users of CBD for their pets come up to me and tell me their stories about why they give it to their animals.

As I continued to hear the many positive stories from people, I decided I wanted to get this to as many people and their pets as possible. I am now working with a local company, WI Hemp Scientific, inorder to get as many rescues as possible involved with using CBD. WI Hemp Scientific grows hemp right here in Wisconsin and each batch is 3rd party lab tested for pesticides, solvents, metals and molds to ensure a safe effective product. Our primary purpose is to make it affordable, so that it may benefit the rescues and benefit the animals who are transitioning from rescue life into a new home.

Q. Anything else to add?

A. Rescues can buy these products at wholesale price and sell them at their rescue or to people who adopt from them.

I believe these products will help ease the transition for pets. Rescues pour their heart and soul into keeping their rescues going by fundraising, donations, etc. With being able to purchase the oil at a reasonable price, the rescue benefits as well as the pet! Most pets in rescue come from horrible situations, and they are scared and unsure of their surroundings. CBD can help make the pet’s life calmer and not so traumatic.

When people keep their pets on CBD (which is a supplement), they will continue to see benefits for their pets. Consistency is key for well being. WI Hemp Scientific is the only hemp grown company in the state who wants to support rescues and animals as much as I do. And for that reason, I want the price to be affordable so people will be able to purchase it.

My goal is to help them all!

BY PAMELA STACE, FREELANCER

When we think about 4-H, what usually comes to mind are images of kids raising and showing farm animals. Yes, that is part of it, but 4-H is so much more! Today’s 4-H is a comprehensive, hands-on, educational program for rural, suburban and urban youth in every state. According to their website, the purpose of 4-H is to empower young people with lifelong leadership skills. 4-H members pledge:

“My head to clearer thinking.
My heart to greater loyalty.
My hands to larger service.
My health to better living.

For my club, my community, my country, and my world.”

A Brief History of 4-H

4-H was started in 1902 with the intent of providing young boys in rural areas with learning experiences that would connect their public school studies with country life. In the 1950s, 4-H welcomed urban and suburban youth as well, and in the 1960s both boys and girls of all races were participating in 4-H.

4-H Project Areas

There are 119 project areas within 11 categories in 4-H. Categories include: Plant Science, Health, Environment, Earth Science, Physical Science, Leadership and Personal Development, Civic Engagement, Communications and Expressive Arts and Animal Science. With guidance from well-trained adult 4-H mentors, members from third to twelfth grade participate in community and afterschool events and camps. Within the Animal Science category, the Dog Project was established to “help youth explore what kind of dog fits into the family lifestyle, and how to be excellent trainers and caretakers of their dogs.”

The Dog Project

The 4-H Dog Project curriculum has three components: Wiggles and Wags (grades 3-5), Canine Connection (grades 6-8) and Leading the Pack (grades 9-12). Members earn certificates of completion for each of these segments on the way to their final Dog Project completion. The curriculum starts with the basics and layers on more detailed information as members proceed. For example, third graders start with learning about breeds, anatomy, basic care, dogs in society and dog-related careers. Grades 6-8 learn more about health and nutrition, genetic problems, training and population control. Finally, Leading the Pack participants delve into caring for the geriatric dog, training service dogs, first aid and learning about animal cruelty and neglect.

Affordable curriculum materials for the Dog Project, and dozens of downloads relating to every area of Dog Project study, are available on the 4-H website.

Conformation & The Dog Project

Dog Project members are encouraged to share what they are learning with others via public presentations, community activities and conformation events at county and state fairs. My friend Marylou Mader has been judging Wisconsin 4-H shows for 20 years, and she recently spoke with me about some of her experiences.

Mader enjoys seeing kids and their dogs return to the county fair shows year after year, but she told me it is bittersweet when they eventually complete and age out of the project. Dogs do not have to be purebreds, but a handler must choose a breed identity and speak knowledgeably about that. 4-H judges can also question handlers about other aspects of dog ownership, including grooming and care. Additionally, while in the ring, dogs must demonstrate obedience skills.

4-H uses the Danish judging system. This means that a dog is not judged against another dog in the ring but instead against a standard. This gives all participating dogs and their handlers a chance to be recognized for their hard work and practice. As a result, there can be more than one blue ribbon!

A Great Opportunity

4-H provides a fantastic opportunity for kids aged 8-18 to take their love of dogs to another level by learning about all things dog. It is not expensive to become a member, and 4-H can be found all over Southeastern Wisconsin!

To get started, visit: www.4-h.org

BY EMILY HESSE, FREELANCER

Year after year, animals of all kinds are being transported to veterinary clinics to deal with nightmare situations that leave pet owners scratching their heads.

Sometimes, nothing is more troublesome or frustrating than when our canine friends get a little mischievous and curious and end up getting themselves into unhealthy situations. These unfortunate circumstances cause us to wonder how these instances can be treated and how they can be prevented from happening again.

The following list will break down some of the most common hazards dogs, and even humans, have to look out for in the water.

Be sure to check your dog after each swim, make sure he or she is properly vaccinated, and know where the nearest animal hospital is in case something goes wrong during what was supposed to be a fun day out with your dog.

Bacteria, Viruses & Fungi

Water-born bacterial and fungal infections are the biggest problem to look out for when letting your dog play in different bodies of water. Although standing water tends to pose a higher risk for curating bacteria, river edges are known to store some of those creepy-crawlies as well. One serious fungal disease of animals that could potentially be transmitted to humans by way of open wounds is called blastomycosis. Three forms of illness that can derive from blastomycosis can affect the lungs, skin and total body.

Illness can develop 5 to 12 weeks after infection. One way to prevent this disease is by rinsing all the algae off your pet. Blasto spores kick up, and that’s how contamination happens. Systemic fungal disease and leptospirosis are also spread from the outdoors, especially environments with water.

Distemper vaccines can be given to prevent against leptospirosis, which is the standing water disease. Such exposure to infected bodies of water can give dogs seasonal allergies, ear infections and skin issues.

Pollution

Another reason why dogs and humans alike need to be careful in water environments is pollution. It’s sad to admit, but especially in city environments, pollution can really bring down natural habitats and all its inhabitants.

Broken glass, garbage, plastic or metal shards can be hiding at the bottom of our local rivers and lakes, and you’ll never know it or see it until stepping on it. Stepping on trash not only causes serious pain, but it can cause different infections that are life threatening. A way to prevent this from happening is by using trash bins provided all around cities and parks instead of tossing trash on the ground. And if you see trash on the ground or in the water from someone else, go the extra mile to pick it up and protect yourself and those around you.

Nature’s Elements

Sometimes there are nasty, sharp and dirty objects scattered around that can’t be prevented. These are natural elements such as sharp rocks and sticks under the water. Also, fast-moving rapids in rivers and strong waves in big bodies of water can threaten the safety of your dog as it goes out to fetch a stick you threw. Be as knowledgeable as you can about the kind of water you are dealing with and how to go about a situation in case something goes wrong. Unfortunately, some injuries are near impossible to prevent, but many others are just one wise decision away from saving the day.

Leeches

Ah yes, the creepy-crawlies that always seemed to be lurking within every lake you swam in as a kid growing up in Wisconsin. Leeches are known to cling onto any part of skin that is exposed in their underwater environment. It’s common to find them latched onto your feet and inbetween your toes, but leeches also enjoy sucking the blood of your canine pal. Leeches that swell up from being left unnoticed can cause infections.

Zebra Mussels

Zebra mussels are invasive species that can cause issues for our animal friends. Sometimes, due to the exposure of infected waters, dogs will get them on their feet. One way to prevent zebra mussels is to properly maintain beaches by raking. People also need to be conscious and clean off their boats.

BY EMILY HESSE, FREELANCER

It’s finally summertime in Wisconsin. Homeowners are busy cranking up the A/C and fulfilling plans to work in their gardens. Parents are running around trying to get their kids to summer camps, and families are loading up the old caravan to embark on their family vacations. But let’s not forget about our furry friends who are pawing at our doors, just begging to break free and go for their fifth walk of the day. That’s right, fifth. Well, so it seems. A great way to combat such anxiety and anticipation our dogs tend to exhibit in these moments is to let them sweat it out by exploring the great outdoors. We are all familiar with the phrase, “Want to go for a walk?” And certainly, we all know the spunky, head-tilting, perky-eared reaction that is sure to follow. But this summer, why not try saying something a little different? Here’s a new phrase: “Want to go for a… swim?” That one is sure to throw Fido for a loop. Nevertheless, your dog may be just as eager to splash through the water, as he or she is to walk down the neighborhood streets or run through the forest.

If the water life seems to float your dog’s boat, then you might want to take some time to check out a few of the beautiful lakes and rivers that Wisconsin has to offer. There are many parks in Southeastern Wisconsin alone that cater to the dog community. Some of these parks provide ample space for your pooch to roam the waterfront and dive into the cool, summer waters.

In order to research and experience the beauty of some of these doggy water parks, I took the opportunity to hop into my car and drive along with a friend and a four-legged companion to scope out potential hot spots. Though all it really took was a simple search on a map app to find some places, I went ahead and did the experiential research to find out for myself and report back. Among the many dog parks that are strewn throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, here are a few water-sourced ones to help your dog beat the heat this summer.

Lion’s Den Gorge Nature Preserve in Port Washington is a popular destination for humans and dogs alike. This place is not solely a dog park; however, dogs are very welcome and, in fact, encouraged to come and explore here alongside their human companions. Lion’s Den offers hiking, birdwatching, and fishing to the public, and it provides areas for folks to take a nice lunch break. Coursing throughout the 73-acre preserve are winding trails. These trails are kept nicely maintained for the public and are composed of mulch and gravel, which help absorb some of spring’s heavy rainfalls. There are several bridges along the way, which can make for fun photo opportunities. Not only do the trails take you twisting and turning among the trees, but they also lead to something even more spectacular. If you and your dog happen upon the right paths, you will be taken to either the bluff where you can overlook Lake Michigan or walk down to the lakefront.

The bluff is great for getting a grand, bird’s-eye view of the vast body of water and a strong breeze blowing through your hair. It provides the perfect backdrop to snap the selfie of your dreams of you and your pup. If you choose to go down to the lakefront, you will come across a wooden stairway that runs up and down the bluff to the refreshing water below. Although the stairway is steep, don’t worry; there are plenty of level spots along the way to rest. Upon reaching the bottom, you will be greeted by a long, sandy beach where the waves lap ashore. Sections of the beach have small rocks along the shoreline as well, which can help your pooch dry off a little before getting their wet feet too sandy to bring back into the car. This beachfront will give you all the space you need to play fetch with your dog as they challenge the waves of Lake Michigan.

Among the handful of beachgoers that day we visited, there were a few courageous pooches that dove into the water with full energy. One of them was a beautiful Australian Shepherd named Willow, who was eager to show-off her retrieving skills to nearby observers. Willow’s caretaker, Amanda Gonzalez, says she’s been coming there for a little over a year now. “This is definitely our favorite,” she quips. Gonzalez and Willow are among the regulars at Lion’s Den, but it’s not uncommon to meet people who check out the park from out of town and even out of state. One of the hikers that came down to the beach was Zach Rosenblatt with his handsome, brindle-colored dog Payton. Rosenblatt says, “This is the first time we’ve ever been here. We live in Chicago.” As Rosenblatt explained their origins, Payton proceeded to show me the ‘good boy’ he was by sitting and posing for the camera.

Many of the people who come to the trails to run or get in a good hike with their dogs find the water to be great for a post-workout cool down. Gonzalez went on to explain, “We usually run a bit first. [Willow] can then cool off in the waves at the beach. She requires a lot of exercise. Sometimes we bring a little lunch.” This special preserve of land has proven to be a gem in Southeastern Wisconsin. If you and your adventure buddy are looking to get out and explore an area with such biodiversity and natural beauty with plenty of places to rest, then give this park a good look this summer.

Lion’s Den is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day of the week, so there is plenty of time to enjoy the beauty that this park has to offer, and it is free-of-charge upon arrival. It also provides off-street parking—perfect for pulling up and letting your dog hop out of the car without fear of traffic from a busy highway. Like most public areas, it is required you keep your dogs on a leash and clean up after them. Bathrooms and disposal areas are available as well. Lion’s Den has received an average rating of 4.5 stars from different Google reviews, so the experience at this park is sure to keep those tails wagging.

Another park to keep on your radar this summer is Granville Dog Park located in the greater Milwaukee area. If you and Fido are looking to escape the city life but don’t want to travel too far outside of town, this park is a good place to start. Although this dog park is located practically in the city, it most certainly gives off rural vibes due to its 10 acres of trees, trails and river access. Keep a watchful eye because its entrance can be easy to miss but nevertheless, it is conveniently located right off Highway 45 and Good Hope Road. This section of land has quite a playful landscape for dogs, especially for the more athletically inclined and the true adventure seekers. It has hills, trees, shrubs, dirt paths and tall grass. But more importantly, the most prized piece of the land is, of course, the Menomonee River.

Upon walking into Granville Dog Park, everything seems to remain fairly quaint. To the left, there is a pathway that takes you up onto a steep hill where one can overlook the grassland and treetops for quite a distance. There’s even a bench provided. From the top of the hill, looping down, around and throughout the rest of the park are a bunch of little trails where your dog can roam free. Be careful as you walk around; some of the paths aren’t any bigger than an average-sized deer trail, and at this park, there are only dirt pathways. At the very least, this provides even more of a fun, off-roading adventure for your four-legged companion, right? To the left there is a beautiful, relaxing overlook, but to the right… That’s where the real adventure awaits. As you proceed down the path on the right, you may start to hear the commotion of happy dogs at play. Barking, splashing, humans yelling out directions to their K-9 counterparts and the flow of the river are all common sounds to be heard in Granville. At the riverfront, you may find the more active dogs chasing after toys their caretakers throw into the water for them or chasing after each other’s tails. You can also find older or smaller dogs basking in the cool river water or laying down under the shade of a big tree. Picnic tables are available to those who want to relax and enjoy their furry friends at play or sit down to a nice lunch in the shade.

Regardless of the inevitable water that is going to be splashed onto you and your clothing, this park has positive feedback. According to the online source, BringFido, “Granville Dog Park has received a rating of 4.8 out of 5 bones by 5 dog owners.” Granville Dog Park does not require dogs to be on a leash, even though a fence does not surround the whole property. Three sides of the property are fenced while the river acts as a fence on the fourth side. Also, proper dog licensing and permit tags must be available, including rabies vaccinations. Granville is open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. each day of the week. The park also offers disposal bins to get rid of any trash or waste that comes from your time spent here. Another bonus: This park is free of charge.

Our last and final stops on the doggy (water) park tour ends with a couple brief suggestions of excellent places where dog owners can get just as much joy out of the experience as do their four-legged friends. Estabrook Park Dog Exercise Area coincides with the Estabrook Beer garden in Shorewood. This makes it the perfect summer hangout for both dogs and humans. Running alongside the Estabrook Park is the Milwaukee River. This provides another opportunity for you to take a stroll alongside the river with your furry pal or to let him or her roam around in the off-leash and fenced-in area of the park, whilst you enjoy a nice brew. Permits, licensing and rabies vaccinations are required for this park, along with a daily or yearly pass in order to enter the dog park.

Lastly, Ridge Run Park, located in the heart of West Bend, provides winding trails through a wooded area and an ample body of water. As long as your dog is on a 6-foot leash, he or she can enjoy wading in the slow-moving water within this park. The park provides hikers with a segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, so it’s sure to have scenic views. Within Ridge Run, there are many pavilions and shelters so you and your dog can take a rest or have a lunch break if desired. This park has no entry fee.

As animal lovers, not only do we want to live our best life for our families and ourselves, but we also seek to give our dogs the same kind of love and respect so they can live their best life, too. After all, dogs truly are man’s best friend, and they are just as much a part of our family as they ever could be.

So, before summer is over, take some time to not only plan out the big getaway vacations you want to take with your family and friends, but also spend some time traveling around with your pup to find his or her perfect getaway. Load up the car with some old towels, doggy bags, retrieving toys and some good tunes, and surprise your pup with the water park vacation getaway about which he or she has been having all those puppy dreams.

BY MICHELLE SEROCKI, FREELANCE COLUMNIST

We’ve all heard the age-old adage, “the elephant in the room,” which refers to a problem or awkwardness that is huge, but everyone ignores it. I don’t know about you, but I have elephants all over the place. They’re certainly not contained to one room. One room and one elephant sounds blissfully ignorant to me.

I’ve got an elephant in my bedroom. He’s supposedly a foster dog that bears a striking resemblance to an adopted pet and takes up more then his share of my bed. He has all but spoke in tongues about the fact that he’s never leaving.

I’ve got an elephant wherever my teenager is, so I try incredibly hard to avoid that room… or teacher conference… or vehicle. That elephant is incredibly mobile.

I’ve got work elephants and coworker elephants. My co-worker’s elephants hang out with mine… if I wasn’t so incredibly pro-spay and neuter, I’d have some very serious suspicions about where all these elephants were coming from.

We all have elephants of different shapes and sizes in our lives. Life comes with problems that we don’t want to talk about. Sometimes the problems are so overwhelming or unfamiliar that we look the other way. And sometimes we have no knowledge of a problem even though it’s HUGE.

Today, while standing around the hydrant, we’re exposing some animal welfare elephants. Some big, big problems that aren’t getting the attention they deserve or being addressed on the enormous platforms they warrant.

I’ll ease you into the watering hole… did you know that there’s an amazing problem in the United States of pet overpopulation? I had NO idea about this for the first 35 years of my life even though I religiously watched The Price is Right with the same sign off for decades—“This is Bob Barker reminding you to help control the pet population—have your pets spayed or neutered.” Drew Carey still says it. Did you know what he’s trying to say is there are millions of pets at this very moment that have no home? Millions and millions. No joke. Homeless. Some in shelters. Some on the streets. But all without a home or a family. Often without food or water. WHY?!? Because they’re bred like crazy and no one knows about it! Because people are still buying pets from pet stores. Didn’t know that was a problem? Believe me, you don’t want to know where they’re coming from. Welcome to National Elephant #1.

Did you know that according to the Humane Society of the United States, 1 million of the planet’s 8 million species of animals are facing the threat of extinction? WHAT?!? First off, who knew there were 8 million species of animals?!? Secondly, WHY are all these animals possibly going extinct? And furthermore, WHAT is being done about it? It’s not all obscure types of animals either. It’s elephants and polar bears and rhinos and sharks and sea turtles to name just a few. This elephant is hovering all throughout our atmosphere begging someone to take notice. Not the next generation’s grandkids either. By then it will be too late. Say hello to Global Elephant #2.

I’ll wrap up our time at the hydrant with an elephant that’s plopped its big self down smack dab all over our great nation along with some other nations. This is one that our country works hard, hard, hard to make sure no one notices and no one talks about. It’s a tough one. Parents and grandparents alike flock to stores for Fisher-Price’s traditional farm full of smiling pigs, cows and chickens to give for a child’s first gift. Elementary teachers everywhere sing songs about Old MacDonald and his fantastic farm. Zoos across America celebrate the traditional farm and its happy-go-lucky inhabitants. But unfortunately, Walmart and all the other grocery giants can’t stock their stores with the amount that Old MacDonald’s Farm can produce. McDonald’s didn’t serve it’s first billion people with food from old-fashioned farms with happy, carefree animals. When we take a moment to consider the math, we know that it doesn’t add up. What supplies all that food? Cue elephant #3, Factory Farming.

The hydrant is a somber place today. It’s hard to navigate this life surrounded by elephants. The animals of the world rely on us humans to care of them and their environment. If you want to learn more about these and other animal welfare issues, global and national elephants, please Google the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) or the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). Research pet overpopulation, wildlife extinction, and/or factory farming. Look an elephant in the eye, introduce yourself and give it a voice. The animals will absolutely appreciate you for taking the time to address the elephant in the room!

BY CHERESE COBB, FREELANCER

Sportsmen on both sides of the Atlantic cherish the conveniently sized and agile Brittany as an all-purpose hunting partner and a dog sport teammate. The only thing that makes a Brittany happier than the smelly, great, smelly, wonderful, smelly, outdoors (Did we say smelly?) is staying velcroed to their owners.

History
Brittany is the westernmost region of France, surrounded by the English Channel to the north and the Bay of Biscay to the south. It was here, possibly as early as 150 A.D., that peasants and poachers developed what’s today considered one of the world’s most versatile bird dogs that are capable of hunting duck, woodcock, pheasant and partridge.

While few breeding records have been kept, l’épagneul Breton, or Brittany Spaniel, is thought to be a cross between an orange-and-white English Setter, a Welsh Springer Spaniel and a Spanish Pointer. The breed was recognized in 1907 when an orange-and-white male named Boy was registered as the first Brittany Spaniel in France.

When Brittanys were brought to North America by Juan Pugibet in 1928, American hunters didn’t like them because of their short tails. “Although the Brittany doesn’t have the physique of a German shorthaired pointer or the beauty of a setter, it has enough heart to outhunt any other [gun] dog,” says David Schlake, an upland hunter from Austin, Texas. “If all the pointing breeds made up a team, the Brittany spaniel would be football player Rudy Ruettiger, who recorded an unlikely sack in the waning seconds of the 1975 Notre Dame-Georgia Tech football game.”

Louis A. Thebaud imported these “small players with big enough hearts” into the U.S. in 1931. Three years later, they were recognized by the American Kennel Club. But in 1982, their name was shortened to Brittany because their hunting styles resembled setters more than spaniels.

Never a Dull Moment
On May 12, 2018, Josh Graber and Heather Reichert bought their Brittany named Napa from Gilmore Brittanys in Boscobel, Wisconsin. “We had the option between two female dogs. We picked the one that we thought was going to be calmest,” Graber says. “Actually, she ended up being as energetic as ever.”

Napa successfully hunted pheasant at seven months. “If you don’t hunt them [or exercise them for at least an hour per day], they’ll find something to do, and that usually isn’t good,” says Susan Spaid, the President of the National Brittany Rescue and Adoption Network. “Brittanys do really well with invisible fences. While people do successfully keep them in apartments, they’re usually the kind of people that run five miles per day and take their dogs with them.”

Napa isn’t hardheaded, but self-confidence just kind of oozes out of her. “She lets people know what she wants and isn’t afraid to show it,” Graber says. “She particularly likes dogs that are bigger than her, and [she] can’t get enough of people. Anybody who comes in she tries to get them to do a belly rub.” If she didn’t have that adorable pink nose, she’d be [a] brown-noser for sure. All it takes is a passing look of disapproval from her owners to snap her out of mischief.

The Brittany is a little bit of a shedder but not a very heavy shedder. “I get my dogs’ coats cut pretty close during the summertime,” Spaid says. “But some people shave them.” Napa gets her teeth brushed every day. “I’m a dentist, so that’s something that we focus on. She loves the peanut butter and pork toothpaste,” Graber says, “She gets a bath once per week and her nails cut because they grow pretty fast.”

Health Issues
“The breed is the correct size to live a long life,” says Jesse Sondel, owner of the Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic in Madison, Wisconsin. “Most live 10 to 12 years, with one in five dogs dying of old age at 15 to 17 years.” While they’re fairly healthy, they’ve been known to suffer from hip dysplasia, a sometimes-crippling malformation of the hip joint that can require expensive surgical repair.

Other conditions that can affect the breed are epilepsy and retinal atrophy—which is an untreatable eye disease that causes blindness. Some Brittanys also are born with cleft palates or have hypothyroidism, a common hormonal disease that causes their metabolisms to be as slow as molasses in January. “All breeders should do OFA [Orthopedic Foundation for Animals] hip, elbow and thyroid testing prior to breeding,” Sondel says.

Should You Adopt a Brittany?
Athletic, bright and family-oriented, Brittanys are amazing dogs, but they’re not for everyone. “If a robber entered your house, a Brittany would hold the flashlight for him. They’re just not good watchdogs,” Spaid says. Some Brittanys, especially adolescents, also might suddenly urinate when they get over-excited or feel intimidated.

Whether their owners are taking a Saturday snooze or trekking to the mailbox in their slippers, the Brittany just wants to be near them. But make no mistake; this is not a couch-potato puppy. Brittanys need daily, heart-thumping exercise—whether hunting, doing canine sports or human-centered activities like playing fetch with the kids—to keep their high spirits from bounding off.

BY KERRI WIEDMEYER, DVM, WVRC

There are many factors that determine how much water a dog drinks in a given day, but if you notice that your dog is drinking bowl after bowl, there may be a cause that warrants investigation.

Thirst is regulated by several different components in the body including blood vessel volume, parts of the brain (pituitary gland, thirst center, hypothalamus) and the kidneys. For example, if a dog is dehydrated, hormones are released from the brain that communicate to the kidneys to keep water in the body and activate the thirst center. If a dog is urinating excessively, the body then responds by having the dog drink more to make up for that loss of water. Unfortunately, certain diseases can interfere with how thirst and urination are regulated, causing your dog to gulp down bowl after bowl of water. Below is a list of a few of these causes.

Kidney Disease: The function of the kidneys is to filter blood and balance electrolytes. They also regulate blood pressure and red blood cell production. Kidneys can become damaged for a multitude of reasons such as chronic disease, infection, toxins or cancer. When they become damaged, they cannot do their job properly and excessive urine is produced. Excessive urination then leads to excessive drinking.

Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes occurs when there is not enough insulin produced to regulate glucose in the body. This results in excessive amounts of glucose in the bloodstream. When the glucose is excreted from the body, water follows it, producing excessive urine. As with kidney disease, the excessive urination causes excessive thirst/drinking.

Cushing’s Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism): Cushing’s is a disease in which the body overproduces cortisol. Cortisol, in turn, blocks other hormones from doing their job and results in excessive urination and, thus, excessive drinking.

Liver Disease: The liver has many different jobs including protein and hormone production, detoxifying the blood, and metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and drugs. As a result, if the liver is failing, there are several different pathways that can lead to a dog urinating excessively and drinking excessively.

Medications: Unfortunately, some of the medications prescribed for our pets can have side effects that make them drink and urinate more frequently. Examples include steroids, diuretics that are commonly used for heart failure treatment and some anti-seizure medications.

Psychogenic Polydypsia: Psychogenic polydypsia is drinking excessive water without any underlying cause or illness. Many think this is done from boredom or for attention, but it is overall a very rare cause for excessive thirst.

If this sounds like your beloved pup, then consider having him or her checked out by your veterinarian.

BY MEGAN TREMELLING, DVM, LVS

Warm weather is back, and dogs all around Wisconsin agree that the best possible way to enjoy it is to go for a swim in our nearly one million acres of fresh water. If you work in a veterinary clinic, you know when the time has come by the aroma of wet fur and dead fish that clings to about 10 percent of your patients. (More if you see a lot of Labradors.)

Swimming is a wonderful activity for dogs. Most of them seem to love it. Indeed, some dogs can hardly be kept out of water when it is available, and water retrieving and dock diving are favorite pursuits for many. Swimming causes very little impact to the joints, which makes it ideal for dogs with musculoskeletal disease or injury. Many dogs that develop joint pain after running and playing on land can tolerate a good deal of swimming with no discomfort. And while it is possible to overdo swimming, like any other exercise, a dog is unlikely to stumble, fall or otherwise injure his limbs. Swimming burns off an enormous amount of energy and is invaluable for those dogs that need a lot of hard exercise to keep them out of trouble.

Unfortunately, taking a dip can have its downsides. Not all dogs can swim. Most of them can manage a dog paddle, and some swim very well. However there are a few who are just too anxious or awkward. Dogs with big heads, like Boston Terriers, are not particularly seaworthy and tend to sink headfirst unless they are strong and determined enough to keep their balance. Dogs with very short faces, like those aforementioned Bostons as well as Bulldogs and Pugs, sometimes have a lot of difficulty breathing even on dry land and may find that the challenge of splashes and brief submersions is more than their breathing can handle. Owners who take their dogs swimming are cautioned to watch them carefully at all times, to call it quits when the dog is getting tired and always be aware for signs of distress. Don’t let your dog swim in rough water. Flotation devices for dogs do exist and should be used as needed, but they are no substitute for vigilant supervision.

Dogs have a tendency to swallow water when they swim and play in it, and this can become a problem. Open water, of course, may contain dead fish, debris, and other things that your dog shouldn’t be ingesting. Shallow lakes and ponds are especially prone to overgrowth with blue-green algae, which can be poisonous to your dog. Pool water usually contains chlorine or other treatments. And even perfectly clean water can be harmful when consumed in enormous excess, resulting in vomiting or metabolic disorders that can be fatal. Do make fresh water available to reduce your dog’s urge to drink potentially contaminated water. Never allow your dog to swim in water that is deep green or contains obvious algae mats. And if your dog is the type that just can’t stop slurping up the water, you will need to put limits on his access to it.

If your dog has allergies or very sensitive skin, swimming should be considered with caution. Moisture can trigger inflammation and yeast infections, especially in ears and on feet. That doesn’t necessarily mean your dog can’t swim, but you will need to take extra caution to rinse her clean afterward, make sure her coat is thoroughly dried, and watch carefully for any evidence of skin or ear problems. See your veterinarian if you notice any skin that is red or oozing, or if your dog is licking excessively or shaking her ears. Your veterinarian may be able to make a plan that will allow your dog to enjoy the water without triggering skin problems.

Lastly, dogs that swim are at risk for a mysterious ailment that was never on the curriculum in veterinary school. Known by various names such as “cold tail” and “limber tail,” it seems to be a sprain or strain of the tail muscles, and occurs in dogs after vigorous activity or exposure to cold weather. Swimming in cold water definitely qualifies. The classic presentation is a Labrador that has spent the day swimming seems fine when he gets out of the water, then is found to be in significant pain a few hours later. The tail hangs limply, as if broken. It is worth seeing a veterinarian to make sure the dog doesn’t actually have a broken tail or other serious injury, and to provide some pain relief, but limber tail isn’t a serious problem. With some rest, the Labrador will soon be sweeping coffee tables clean, as good as new… and ready to get back in the water.

Dear FETCH Friends:

Water is the most healing natural element in the world…if you ask me!

You can have a bad day or be stressed out and after taking a bath or going for a good swim, feel entirely better. So why not share this experience with our dogs? Some will obviously hate it, but OTHERS will love it. And the benefits of swimming for dogs is immense. My dog Tess used to go swimming, and she was like a whole different dog. Her temperament was better, her body moved better, and the ball (which was her best friend) definitely motivated her to keep jumping in.

And her happiness motivated all of those around her to keep living life.

She was my water, and I didn’t know the true worth of it until it was gone. We have a tendency to forget the value a dog brings to our world, and once they have left it, then we start to remember how life was before and how badly we want it back!

So try and enjoy this summer with your best friend(s). Take them swimming, throw a ball into the lake, give them a good bath—anything that you can think of to make it a bonding experience. Our memories are like water. They keep flowing and quenching the thirst that life brings us.

We can’t survive without water. And I can’t imagine surviving a whole lifetime without a dog. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about all those I’ve lost along this journey.

To diving in and quenching your thirst for life,

NPutz