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The Ruff Report: News about dogs

Playing fetch with stick poses great danger

Playing fetch with a stick, the seemingly innocent game that millions of people do with their pets every day, is actually a leading cause of injury in dogs, research indicates.

A report co-authored by Dan Brockman and Zoe Halfacree, professors of small animal surgery at the Royal Veterinary College, University of London, indicates that this time-honored tradition has resulted in dogs getting nasty puncture wounds in their mouths, contracting serious infections from swallowing dirt and becoming paralyzed or dying after ingesting sticks that get lodge in internal organs.

"Every year my colleagues and I treat dozens of dogs injured while running to fetch sticks thrown by their owners," Dr. Brockman states in the report. "When I see people throwing sticks for their dogs in the park, I just get so frustrated. I want to go and tell them to stop."

Dr. Brockman says health problems result because the sticks are sharp and dirty. "As the dog runs onto them or grabs them in its mouth, the end of the stick can easily pierce the skin, going through it to penetrate the oesophagus, spinal cord, blood vessels or the dog's neck," he states.

Infection caused by splintered sticks spreading around the body is a lethal problem, the report states.

Small or sometimes large pieces of a bacteria-laden stick will break in a dog's month and lodge inside the neck, Dr. Brockman said. "Unless the pieces of stick are all found and removed, infection develops. Sometimes these bacteria can become very resistant to antibiotics - so-called superbugs - that eventually kill the animal."

The report advises dog parents to use toys - such as a rubber ball, tennis ball or Frisbee - for playing fetch.

"Rubber throwing toys ... all will keep a dog just as entertained as a stick - and a lot more safely, too," Dr. Brockman said.

But dog parents should also exercise caution when choosing a toy, the report states. "You must make sure the size of ball is right for the dog," Dr. Brockman said. "I have had to operate on dogs that have swallowed tennis balls, too."

Quick action by owner saves dog's life

Clyde got the shock of his life - literally.

The 1-year-old Chihuahua mix dog bit into an electrical cord at his home and was all but dead until his owner, Dale Griffin of Bakersfield, California, rushed to his aid.

"He was attached to the (heater) cord by the mouth, nearly in a fetal position and his muscles were tightened up completely," Griffin told the Bakersfield Californian. "I could see sparks inside of his mouth. That’s when I grabbed the cord and yanked it out of the wall."

Griffin said he was unable to remove Clyde’s tongue from being lodged in his throat. "In my mind he was dead," he said.

Griffin performed CPR, doing compressions on Clyde's chest and blowing air into the dog's mouth. "I felt (mucus) going into his lungs, but he was still not breathing," Griffin told the newspaper. "I gave him a couple more chest compressions and put my mouth over his nose.
"I prayed to my lord, ‘Don’t take this dog from me now.’ "

Clyde's feet were pointing up, so Griffin turned him over, thinking all was lost, "but he took off running."

Griffin said his only CPR training was 27 years ago when he was in junior high school.

Crackdown urged on Quebec puppy mills

An animal welfare agency is urging Canadian Premier Jean Charest and lawmakers to adopt measures to end the proliferation of puppy mills in Quebec, the only province in Canada that does not allow provincial SPCAs to enforce local animal welfare laws.

The calls by Humane Society International/Canada come on the heels of three major puppy mill busts in less than three months in Quebec.

"Premier Jean Charest has promised to introduce mandatory puppy mill registration and set up a task force to investigate the rampant proliferation of puppy mills in Quebec," Rebecca Aldworth, director of animal programs with HSI/Canada, states in a media release. "Now that voters have returned Mr. Charest to office, he must honor these promises and crack down on this inhumane industry."

Quebec's weak provincial animal welfare legislation combined with inadequate enforcement has allowed the province to become a puppy mill haven, according to HSI/Canada.

HSI/Canada and the Canadian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals recently rescued approximately 100 Fox Terrier dogs from a puppy mill north of Montreal.
According to the CSPCA, the dogs were living in deplorable conditions. They were stacked atop each other in cramped cages, many were unable to lift their heads and some were covered in excrement.

"The horrific conditions we encountered ... are more proof that Quebec's puppy mills must be eradicated, Alanna Devine, acting executive director of the CSPCA, states in the media release. "...We are not going to permit animals to suffer needlessly in the name of profit, and we will continue to push for action."

HSI/Canada, CSPCA and the United Animal Nations moved many of the rescued dogs to an emergency shelter in Montreal, where they will receive the care and medical attention before being put up for adoption. Some had to be euthanized. For adoption information, visit

Growing trend toward natural food

More dog parents are feeding their pets premium dog food, a report concludes.

A survey by the American Pet Products Association has found that premium formula was the dog food purchased most in the past 12 months and eight of 10 owners feed their pets the dry form. Premium is described as food with extra nutrients, fewer preservatives and metabolized more efficiently than non-premium food.

Forty-four percent of dog parents purchased premium food for their pets, the survey found.
The second most popular formula, dog food fortified with added vitamins or minerals, was bought by 37 percent for their pets and the majority use the dry form.

The survey also found that approximately 3 to 4 million dogs have had organic and gourmet dog food bought for them in the past 12 months.

Sponsors sought for animal health studies

An animal advocacy research organization is seeking sponsors to help fund nearly 200 health studies in 2009.

Morris Animal Foundation of Denver - which funds research that protects and improves the health of companion animals and wildlife - will fund projects to help dogs, cats, horses, llamas/alpacas and wildlife at nearly 50 of the world’s most elite veterinary colleges, zoological institutions and scientific research centers, according to a media release.

The research work includes 46 canine studies, many involving heart disease, infectious diseases like influenza and pain management; 30 feline studies, many dealing with asthma, cancer, kidney diseases and diabetes; and 17 equine studies, many involving foal diseases, laminitis, pain management and colic.

The foundation, established in 1948, has funded more than 1,500 humane health studies for the benefit of animals. Visit for more information.
VOLUME 2, PAGE 1 (Dec. 28, 2008, to Jan. 3, 2009)

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