Dog Pod - Episode 11
Puppy Love with Vet Dr Kevin

Dog Pod - Episode 11 - Puppy Love with Dr Kevin VET.jpg__PID:741baba4-0403-4cb7-8289-b701ffd0df2e

Episode #11 "Puppy Love" and How to Care For New Puppies

Listen in as we discuss...
- The Power of Positive Reinforcement
- The Truth About "Alpha Dogs" and Why FEAR is NOT a good training tool
- The Serious Danger of Parvo Virus... and Why?
- Are Puppies Safe in Public After #2 Vaccination and Before #3 Vaccination?
- What's the Correct Age for Adopting a Puppy? 6 weeks or 8?
- Vaccinations Explained- Importance of Socialisation in Puppies
- But HOW When NOT Fully Vaccinated???
- Which Breeds are more susceptible to Parvo Virus?
- 2 Secrets to Stop Puppies Biting
- What to Watch in Young Children & Puppies
- What Plants Are Highly Toxic to Puppies?
- Can Dogs Eat Chocolate?
- Finally the Truth!!!

Learn all this and more on this special episode on Puppy Dogs

Listen to episode Here

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Scott: Well, hello and welcome to another episode of Dog Pod. We're here with an award-winning vet again. Dr. Kevin Cruikshank from Gold Coast Vets Surgery. Welcome back, Kevin.

Dr. Kevin Cruikshank: Thanks, Scott. Good to be here.

Scott: Right here in a nice part of the world here this morning. New location.

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely. I'm sure the listeners can see us. It's lovely down here by the creek.

Scott: So we're outside again. We love being outside. Where everyone's out and about with their dogs and to follow on from last session will probably pick up a little bit of windy heads. A bit breezy this morning but to follow on from our last session on Dog Pod. We spoke a bit about elderly dogs. And this time we thought we would go full circle with the other end of the spectrum being the puppies.

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely.

Scott: And some of the puppy care that we talked about, so.

Dr. Kevin: It's a very fun part is probably the best one of the best parts of my job. And now, we seem, they normally coming in because they are healthy and we are looking at getting started with a lot of their preventative care guiding people. Some people might be very experienced with dogs. Other people might be 20 years since they've had a puppy and things have changed in that as well. So always a pleasure to chat about puppies.

Scott: That's me. As you know, because we've got our new puppy Lunar which I'm starting to think is short for lunatic. [laughing]

Scott: If it was actually named after sort of the moon or whatever it might be. And so we've had the pleasure of coming to see you obviously first with the puppy check that you do and I thought this might be a really good starting point. But I thought throughout this one, I thought it'd be really good to talk about some of the common things that happen. Common injuries that puppies can suffer from just lots of very practical things because I'm in that category of, you know, I mean my last dog that I got at six weeks of age was I worked out I think was 23 years ago.

Dr. Kevin: Yeah, there you go.

Scott: She lived till 18 years of age and it's been a few years gap with kids and stuff since. But so I fit that category exactly where it's a little bit like raising children. You forget what the hell you did the first time around and a lots changed though in 20 years.

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely. We understand the whole lot of new different concepts or different ways and quite amazing to see how like a big one that is probably really changed in the last few years as an understanding of behavior. And that the old model of thinking of a hierarchy is now been proven to be not correct. It was based on studies sort of in wolves and whilst there's a lot of similarities between dogs and wolves. They don't necessarily live in the same pack structure. So the idea that you need an alpha dog and the top dog and show them who's boss because otherwise, they'll never respect you has actually been disproven.

Dr. Kevin: So yeah, we'll certainly chat about some things that we know are very important in those early stages to set the basics for their behavior in particular with their early exposure to various things that so what we've referred to as socialization.

Scott: Yeah, let's talk about it now because I grew up in a sort of very country part of Victoria. And I was probably that classic sort of country kid and it was a bit like that and in those days. It was you were the Alpha Dog you showed him who's boss all that stuff and I know that the podcast we did with Katie Brock who's a world-famous trainer uses food rewards.

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely.

Scott: And it's all about positive reinforcement now.

Dr. Kevin: Reward-based training and positive reinforcement. Absolutely. And you know food is the starting point with that and what you often do use to achieve but you achieve the results in the early stage of training. But a lot of the time that I can actually be substituted with other things. So things like, you know, just simple praise and attention can you've got that wherever you go. You're not necessary always going to have your treat so your food pouch with you, but you train them early on. And then link it over to cues and that that you give as well. So, why the you know, it's certainly is very true that that Dominance Theory what was so well accepted and understood. And those with that was the behavioral training I had it in my University career and that sort of thing. And it works because the dogs do it because they are scared.

Scott: They fear.

Dr. Kevin: And so invariably so you often can seem to get very quick results as well. And but it mostly works when you're present. And if that because they'll fit a scared of the consequences if they don't do what you ask what expecting of them. And whereas we rather want them to do it because they want to please us or because they inherently want to do that behavior because they associated with a positive outcome in the future. And so it can take a bit longer to get those pathways established in their psychology and that sort of thing as well. But once it is established, it's ingrained for a lot longer than they'll do that behavior whether you are there or not as well.

Scott: Yeah. I've found that challenging again and I sort of wonder what I was getting myself into again. But I mean, obviously, we have a love for dogs about dogs my whole life but we've just bought a new house. We've redone the timber floors all for a dog to come in and pee and poo all over. That the new timber floors.

Dr. Kevin: And look that's also something it's not to say that there's any training technique that is immediately going to resolve. That is more about toilet training and something that we can chat a bit about as well. I guess just as we wrap up on the behavioral side of things. It's all about rewarding what the behaviors that you want to have.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: And ignoring the negatives or trying to distract and introduce a better behavior or rewarding calm behavior. But when we looking at things like toilet training. Yes, certainly, no dog is born knowing it. They don't see any difference between urinating indoors or outdoors. And the biggest part is that they don't yet have that understanding that feeling of a full bladder or that sensation is that oh, "I'm about to need to pee."

 Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: And so there's this immediately as, "I feel it. Okay. I'm going to go and urinate now."

Scott: And then they get excited with young kids.

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: Which we have got as well and it's a whole another sort of unique challenge that you run a really popular puppy school too. So I wanted to ask just on the behavioral stuff, what would be, and maybe there's a top five or whatever but it got me thinking about a Blog topic as well too.

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: But what would be the early commands that you think are best to teach a puppy?

Dr. Kevin: I think your fundamental that you start with, is Sit. But in the beginning of any command or any training that you're doing with them. You actually don't use any words. It's one of the key techniques is to learn a technique called luring and so often with a food reward. So difficult to explain without my hand signals that are going wrong here, but you basically take your treat and you let them know that you've got some treats. So you literally if you just get their attention you're giving them that. They looking at you. So then they'll keep looking at you for more and in a way you actually hold on to that sit.

Dr. Kevin: They will eventually do of their own accord even without you asking for it. And then you give the reward. I think that is very quickly to a, "Oh when my bum hits the floor, I get a treat." It needs to be instantaneous.

Scott: Yes.

Dr. Kevin: But then you can also to encourage that movement of the bum going down dragging the treat just over the top of their nose and as they looking lifting their head up looking for it. Naturally, they are going into a Sit position. So they don't even realize that they sitting. They are following where you leading them or luring them with the treat and then they are sitting.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: And that's a very natural and quite an easy one to get down path and it can become your sort of go-to for everything. Before you go into then teach them to lie down. You'll first put them in the sit position and then still with the treat you then lower the nose down. And either you lure it down in front away from them or some of them actually as you pull it down closer into their chest will go more down to the lying position. So no forcing their bum down or their whole body down. It's really just getting them to do it almost by accident, but you lure them into that.

Dr. Kevin: And then as soon as they do it by accident you reward them. And only later on once that is very firmly established that that's the behavior you want them to do. Link a word to it. And you also need to be consistent. You got to pick your words. So you've got to decide whether down means stop jumping up and get down or get off the counter or does it mean lie down. And you can't use them interchangeably.

Scott: Yes.

Dr. Kevin: So, down or lay, you choose your term. I like down for lying down and you can use off for jumping up and that sort of thing. But be consistent in the whole family all using the same terminology as well.

Scott: Yeah, found that as well very quickly in the first and that we've had Lunar a couple of weeks now and she'd learned to sit probably in a day or two. She was really quick at it and very smart dog and we put the time into. I mean, that's the key right you got to put the time in but I quickly caught myself because puppies put everything in their mouth.

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: Using the word down when I should be saying drop.

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: And then I caught myself out and I think so even just sitting down pen and paper just writing. I actually made a list of the top ten commands. I just want to teach her first. It's probably why I was asking and thinking what have I left out and look she's already shaking pause and rolling over alone.

Dr. Kevin: Brilliant:

Scott: And you know, she's laying down and on your bed. And on your bed I found good and I found I know if this is the right thing or not and it was good question for you and probably someone like Katie Brock as well. But I found using my voice and a hand gesture at the same time. Really effective.

Dr. Kevin: I think it's brilliant. I think a hand gesture you've then can also later on control the more from a distance where they can't necessarily hear you so well. If your dog ever becomes deaf, you've got those hand gestures already established throughout their lives. Sometimes, there might be a circumstance where you just not wanting to make much noise and you can control them with a hand signal. It's brilliant. I think they follow hand signals very very well. So you can link anything and this is the basis we might have heard of a concept of clicker training as well. That's just the equivalent of the word command or the hand signal but it's a clicker and you start off first with food as your reward and then you transition them onto the other you link those or what we call it a bridge to that. So.

Scott: Yeah. Great.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, I think--

Scott: In addition to Sit maybe just quickly another three or four things you would teach.

Dr. Kevin: So down and then some of them get harder to do. So a very useful one is wait, you know, getting them to stay in that sitting position when you a bit of a distance away from them is very very helpful.

Scott: Sit and stay.

Dr. Kevin: And teach them to walk by your side to heel very helpful and useful. And yes, letting go of something that they've got in their hand. Not in their, in in their mouths. [laughing] They're letting go of something that they excited about. And the whole idea there, is you need to offer some sort of other alternative of higher value at the beginning. So that they see that if they give up this, it might be some food or something, if they give up that they actually going to get replaced with something else better. So that later on if you out on a walk and they pick up an old bit of bone and you don't want to that you might not have anything then to replace it with. But they've become accustomed to the fact that if you take something off them, it's okay.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: They going to they're not going to lose out altogether. So they'll be tolerant of your handling.

Scott: Early days, it's very much replacement. Isn't it?

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely.

Scott: Replaces with the dog toy that they love more.

Dr. Kevin: Exactly. They doing your favorite trainers or something like that. Well that, you know biting chewing mood. Yeah. This is what's acceptable. So you also learn about what's called a positive interrupter. So something that will get grab the attention and it might be a high-pitched bit of a call, or "Tsk, tsk, tsk." or something like that. That will just distract them break them from the what they currently doing. And then again, if even if it's something negative rewarding them for letting go or stopping doing that and taking on with the other thing that they going to then follow through with.

Scott: What about biting? What do we do to deal with biting?

Dr. Kevin: Yeah. It is a hard one. Definitely. I think firstly having that interrupter and it's so that they then have your focus and attention and looking at something. It's a natural puppy behavior to do so something that is acceptable for them to bite and chew giving them that instead you in a biting mood. In extreme cases, sometimes you need to have a little bit of time out. Okay, you know, so the punishment is you not getting my attention because that's what they love the most. So you've got yourself really wound up. We're either gonna get you to have calm behavior. So a lot of our puppy preschool is all about encouraging and in teaching calm behavior so that when we don't put them in that sort of time out it. Mat training is something that helps a lot so they associate calm behavior with their mat. So they go to lie on the mat in a quiet place where they're not being sensitized.

Dr. Kevin: But also sometimes it's with like you were saying with children. Encouraging children not to run away from them because that's often why they're biting. They are stimulating a little bit of doggie tag.

Scott: Yeah. That's how we shot it and then we have a five year old. He's getting a bit scared of her. Yeah, the little nips are hurting and teeth are very sharp.

Dr. Kevin: They are.

Scott: And then the kids are very sensitive and then they think everything's a game. That little five-year-old raises the foot and suddenly the shoe is now a toy and poor thing gets a little kick in the head. Or it's just like this.

Dr. Kevin: So sometimes it's a management of the children and the dog. And so just separating interrupting that before it gets too carried away. We know with children you hear them, you know, getting more and more boisterous. You think this is going to end in tears.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: You can just see that happening with the puppy as well. So trying to distract before that even happens. If it is on an adult and there's a lot of biting actually a high-pitch screech as if you've been really hurt because that's what they do to them. Say to each other in a little, you know there might but you might hear a sudden high screech in here. Or somebody broken a leg and no just let the other puppy know that what they did hurt them.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: You can also instead of trying to pull your hand away. Push your hand further or your fingers further into the back of the throat so that nobody likes that sort of impact coming down. So makes it a negative experience. The biting.

Scott: It's either let it go limp all or stick it down their throat a bit. Doesn't it?

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: It's uncomfortable, but I found that high pitched squeal and let your hand go really limp. They very quickly back off and just start licking you and, " Are you okay?"

Dr. Kevin: They feel bad that they hurt you. Yes.

Scott: Yes. So yeah, and then it's just a matter of how long this takes. Right?

Dr. Kevin: Yes. It does take a while. But yes inevitably like also with toilet training there will grow out of it. Toilet training, I guess some of the things are to anticipate when they're going to need to go to the toilet. So when they've just woken up when they have been playing a lot you'll suddenly see them stop and start sniffing. I'm sure you recognize that sniffing now and then taking them to a consistent place. If you're lucky enough to be in a house where there is a yard then taking them outside. It's such a different environment to inside. So they understand that that's an acceptable place to go to the toilet.

Dr, Kevin: Much harder for people in apartments and that sort of thing but they can still use as long as it's there is a safe bell can hear. It might have a bit of artificial grass or so, is their toileting spot.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: I find that a lot better than say putting newspaper down just in a corner of the living room. They don't see that corner is any different the rest of the living room. And also if they learn to go on on newspaper, well another time you might have the Sunday paper that you haven't yet read and they see it on the floor and, "I know what to do with this." And, oh, there goes your Sunday paper.

Scott: Yes. Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: So you can now get like puppy pads which are absorbent pads that you can use. I find that there's a tractors that you can buy in pet stores sort of to make them want to know for the scent or so. I don't think they're very reliable and it's more about anticipating reading their behavior after they've eaten and drunk a lot. They often will want to toilet as well.

Scott: And then just sit them on it. Wait.

Dr. Kevin: And when they do it, then it's like the most exciting thing they've ever done in the world. Lots of cheering. If you can have a food treat around just to give them so that you again positive reinforcement. If you come home and find a paddle or you even see them doing it in the wrong place, don't punish. Certainly, if you come home they have no association. They if you literally anything you got to catch it within seconds of what they doing good or bad to reward them. But if you start punishing too much or arousing on them. They'll start to want to hide and you might find that then they're going behind the sofa to go to the toilet or something. Just because they scared that they're going to get found out on they don't really understand going to the toilets and normal natural behavior.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: And it's actually very much a human thing that we don't want them going in the house. So they don't understand why they're being punished for doing a very to them and normal behavior.

Scott: Yeah. That's great. Excellent advice. Let's talk about vaccinations a little bit because there's a few very valid reasons why with dogs especially vaccinations are important.

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely.

Scott: And I think you guys run with this like a series of three. Do you want to see if maybe explain what happens in the first one? What's different in the second and third one?

Dr. Kevin: So vaccinations are quite a complex topic and the way that they work in Immunology because there is also some transference of immunity from the mother to the puppy depending on her vaccination status and her age and that sort of thing. So, in a very young age they have some temper protection from the mother, but that actually interferes when we give a vaccination. And what that is, a form of the disease that can't cause the disease but the body stimulates its immune system and response to that. So if they've still got a lot of protection from another when they get the vaccine, then the body actually doesn't mount a very very strong response.

Dr. Kevin: And that's actually why we have to do multiple doses at as a young age. And they might we don't know they may not have very much protection from mom. It might be waning and almost.completely gone by six weeks and it might last until 10 or 12 weeks. So they get their first vaccination normally at three weeks of age. It's safe. My pony at six weeks of age. They get three doses and that is again something called a C3 typically. So parvo, distemper and hepatitis. Parvovirus is probably the main one that we are concerned about and that the risk of that varies a little bit geographically. Where we are in quite a built-up urban area and there's a high level of vaccination fortunately because of that very widespread and good protection. We see few cases.

Dr. Kevin: But sometimes in some other areas, parvovirus can be really rough. So really important.

Scott: Why is Parvo, why is it so dangerous?

Dr. Kevin: It's a disease that causes a hemorrhagic diarrhea and it's a virus.

Scott: I think, bleeding.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. So blood in the stool the first symptoms are that they go very quiet and subdued. Quite often then go off their food and then soon it follows to have both vomiting and diarrhea. And it's a foul-smelling diarrhea because it's got a lot of blood in it. And very very quickly puppies can unfortunately die from it because of the loss of the protein and the blood in their diarrhea and also severe dehydration and not eating well. But if they caught early, they can be treated with a lot of supportive care. There's no one sort of drug or antidote. So you far either protect them. The parvo vaccine is highly effective.

Scott: Right.

Dr. Kevin: So they get that normally that's normally done with the breeder. And then the--

Scott: The six week one.

Dr. Kevin: At the six-week one and then most puppies should be going to a new home preferably rather at eight weeks. That's something that has changed over the years. It used to be sort of six weeks of age. But now we know it's more important from a social upbringing point of view that they stay with their mother till about eight weeks.

Scott: Okay.

Dr. Kevin: The earliest that they can have that second one is normally at nine weeks of age. Although a lot of vaccinations certificates will just have it down to be four weeks or a month after the first one. It's a little bit depending on the brand of vaccine, but it can be done at as early as nine weeks of age. That one they get the C3 again. So the Parvo, distemper and hepatitis. And then they are introduced to two other diseases that are not as life-threatening but much more common. And there are two causes of canine cough. Something called Parainfluenza and Bordetella. And then three to four weeks later. they get their another C5. So that one it's at the second one is called a C5 just having five components to it. And the C stands for canine. No need to be--

Scott: And that often kennel cough. Is that right?

Dr. Kevin: That is also the old name was kennel cough but they can get that even if they don't go to kennels. So it's now more referred to as canine cough.

Scott: Cough. Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: And so they get the five in one at 9 or 10 weeks of age. And then three to four weeks after that they get the last one. The idea to try and get it completed as early as possible is so that they because they are only really have reliable protection and this comes back to the possible interference of the antibodies they have from mom. Might interfere with those first certainly at least the first two ones, and a lot of dogs at they don't get a strong immunity. The vaccine will make up for any immunity that they don't have and gives them protection. But it wanes very early. It drops off after about six weeks. But once it's been boosted with that third and final vaccination, then it should give them 12 months of protection.

Scott: Right.

Dr. Kevin: In certain breeds, so the black and tan breed. So Rottweilers, Dobermans, and probably also German Shepherds are a bit more susceptible to Parvovirus for one other reasons. So very often it's recommended that they even have a fourth shot against Parvovirus. And that's very dependent on the geographical area. We don't typically do that here on the Gold Coast.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: But in higher risk areas, it's strongly recommended that they have that. So there shouldn't be going out in public spaces until at least a week or in high-risk areas two weeks after the third vaccination.

Scott: Right.

Dr. Kevin: So the sooner we can get that third vaccination completed if we can get it completed at 12 weeks of age versus say 16 weeks of age they able to get out and be socializing and experiencing things that they need to be experiencing in a positive way so much earlier. And that's the advantage of that to the point that sometimes it's even now being looked at. Well, can we mitigate the risks and keep them as low as possible and even start letting them have a little bit of outdoor activity and socializing before they've had that third and final puppy vaccination. That's contentious and very dependent on the risks in the area. So for us here, it's an acceptable risk, I feel. But in other areas. It's going to be far too risky from a Pravo point of view.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: But attending thing--

Scott: Can I ask you about that because I was chatting with a friend who done some design work for us at Dog Pod and she's got a puppy. Her vet which is not you, said, "Oh, it's okay to let them out after and start to take him on walks." And after their second one, but before their third, I immediately sort of recoiled a little bit thinking that probably is a bit risky. We're not going to do that. We're going to wait until as recommended by you a week after the third or so.

Dr. Kevin: Yeah, so it's a small risk, but in fact what we look at is a greater risk of them having behavioral problems from not having that early socialization or those potentials for behavioral problems can be mitigated by because there's a fairly narrow window. Once they sort of under 16 weeks of age for that early socialization and interactions to happen. And also what we're looking at with socialization that actually means experiencing things but in a positive way as oppose to just exposure. So we're not only talking about mixing with other animals but just walking on a concrete footpath. Compared to the grass.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: Walking over a metal grid. Hearing noises, a car door slam, a fire engine, a loud bangs that sort of thing. So experiencing them is one thing but actually socializing is when those things happen to actually reward them from not overreacting or saying good dog just not make a big thing of it but a little bit of a treat if they've had something a little bit frightening or they were tentative to walk over the grass or something like that. They've walked over giving them a treat. That turns it into socializing rather than just walking over and ignoring what they've done.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: Okay, they were exposed to it, but they didn't have a positive exposure necessarily. So I don't think that it's completely foolish especially if it's based on a vet's advice that the vet will know their local area. The risk factor is involved.

Scott: Yeah. If the risk factor of Parvo is extremely low. Probably okay.

Dr. Kevin: Because that second vaccination does give them temporary protection. That protection might say for argument's sake be 80% if the risk of being exposed and that is fairly low. You should have a good chance that that will be enough protection that they don't come down with further.

Scott: We're all familiar with covid-19 and it stays on surfaces and stuff, you know up to three days on hard surfaces, like plastic, cellos and so forth.

Dr. Kevin: Parvovirus is so much more tenacious. It's one of the toughest viruses to kill. There's only certain virus either drugs and all chemicals that will sell and you have to use it at a certain concentration to kill and disinfect Parvo. And out in the environment even in the sun in the rain it can last for up to 11 months.

Scott: Wow.

Dr. Kevin: So you could be walking your dog and not have seen another dog. They don't have to come in contact with another dog. And a dog may have had some diarrhea three months ago. You can't see any trace of it. It's been washed away by the rain and that sort of thing, but just your dog sniffing and licking at those plants that may have some of those virus particles on it. Can be enough for them to pick that out.

Scott: Wow.

Dr. Kevin: So the 11 months is the extreme that it sort of known to be but certainly you know, so if you think even just one month it's alive and living. If people have had parvo in their own dog, we advise waiting a year before getting another puppy even from their backyard and that sort of thing.

Scott: Yeah. Okay. Well, there you go. Are there parts of the world that you know of that are particularly I suppose still prevalent with parvo? Is there?

Dr. Kevin: The whole world.

Scott: I feel that is just so--

Dr. Kevin: Lower socio-- you cannot yet. There's still a lot of Parvovirus here in Australia.

Scott: Okay.

Dr. Kevin: Where I grew up in South Africa. Unfortunately, especially in low socio-economic areas. It's really rough.

Scott: Okay.

Dr. Kevin: Like in our vet school. We had a whole ward just for these Parvovirus cases. So sort of 20 cases at a time that ongoing and it's yeah.

Scott: Importance of vaccinations.

Dr. Kevin: Southeast Asia and that sort of thing. It's rough. America everywhere. It's prevalent, you know.

Scott: If you got a quick couple of tips perhaps what could help with socialization? Because we know how important it is for dogs. And one thing we did was just next-door neighbor.

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: Are you dogs vaccinated? Are they all fine? So we let Lunar, you know, jump the fence in.

Dr. Kevin: So that sort of thing is perfectly fine and to be encouraged, you know. If you've got friends who have got dogs who are healthy and up-to-date with vaccinations having them coming to your place.

Scott: I need it because you said it was okay to do.

Dr. Kevin: Exactly. So having them come to your place or you go to there's is great.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: Other ways that is less direct contact, but still sort of reduces the risk. If you go to a park somewhere taking a big rug or blanket and having, keeping them on, carry them in your arms and then having them on that but then other people are going past a bicycle. You might sit fairly close to the footpath. Dogs walking by. If your puppy is sort of ignoring them and not certainly not getting scared and that sort of thing.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: Giving them a little reward. They not necessarily directly meeting them, but they seeing them. Hearing them yap and bark. Seeing a bicycle come zooming by and not getting terrified of that.

Scott: It's great.

Dr. Kevin: So also what we want to be careful of is ourselves sort of overreacting and if we see a big threat suddenly picking up the dog and say it's okay. This is a typical one would say a thunderstorm. You know, you think that yes the dogs probably going to or the puppy is going to be very scared with that. So we over mother them sort of thing and don't worry, don't worry and we really fast get them up on the lap. Whereas if our attitude is more, "Oh that was a big clap. That was a big loud bang." But here's a little treat, you know.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: And with pride, applause about that then they will take those cues from us that it's not something to be worried about. Where so if they think was mom freaking out why she picking me up? Why is Dad sort of taking me into the bathroom and closing all the doors? And that sort of thing.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: Putting on some soothing music just to drown out the noise. Closing curtains so that they don't see the flashes of lightning. Those sorts of things can help as well.

Scott: Yeah. I found just even just playing with the dog during that time--

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely.

Scott: --was just-- because we're thunderstorm season here now.

Dr. Kevin: Indeed.

Scott: Summer approaches here in Queensland but I just found just sitting there and just make it and I did the same with a couple of other things. So you tell me if it's good advice or not, but I think it is. And not my first rodeo with dogs. But even things like Harley Davidson, new motorbikes which is scary noise.

Dr. Kevin: Very scary noise.

Scott: It's very unfamiliar. But just to sit there and play through it or to pat through it.

Dr. Kevin. That's the exact right thing.

Scott: Treating and just all those new experiences. It's funny because you look at everything through fresh eyes again.

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: Which is so great and trying to get the kids to do the same thing as you said. Puppies never walked on grass before. Puppies never walked on sand before or whatever it might be or tiles. It just doesn't know what all these things are.

Dr. Kevin: No that hunch. You're doing exactly right for them.

Scott: Gives me that fresh eyes thing. I wanted to ask about because as a dad, I'm quite protective of my kids.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. of course.

Scott: As a lot of us have these mild instincts are. I've found a lot of this coming out of me again with the puppy being back in the house. You suddenly looking at through childproof eyes again, what are some of the, as a vet, things you see I guess come into the vet? And what are some of the things that we need to be concerned about? I mean, I'm looking at the dog chewing everything. I'm worried about electrical.

Dr. Kevin: That's what my mind was going to things that they chew up. Yes, so.

Scott: What common injuries and stuff you see on dogs, puppies?

Dr. Kevin: Puppies will chew just about anything and everything. Clothing.

Scott: Catches.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. Kids toys. I remember there was one surgery we couldn't work out on the x-rays what this dog had swallowed. We knew it was stuck there and what we retrieved was a rectangular piece of artificial dolls soap. It was soap for a doll's house. A little plastic toy and that was so that puppy had chewed that up. They love chewing up plastic things even squeak as out of squeaky chew toys and they sort of thing. Bones either just bones that they've been set on chewing on. And they've chewed off a piece of bit too big and small enough to swallow but then it gets stuck. So we definitely don't recommend giving bones.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: But sometimes also what happens is especially if there's two dogs will not necessarily even two puppies, but they get over enthusiastic about chewing it up. So the other part other dog doesn't get to them and so they'll swallow it too big or too soon. So that's bad. Mango fruits we're coming into mango season. And so this is slightly bigger dogs, but they'll sometimes or sometimes the mango fruits are quite small. And they'll swallow those and they really get stuck quite badly. Unfortunately. The bad one is sort of dogs getting hold of things off the barbecue and if you've got some skewers or they've stolen a kebab skewer.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: And eating the meat it was covered in meat and then the skewer can cause a lot of problems. We've seen stuffies that have chewed up. Garden irrigation, piping and that type of thing.

Scott: Wow. I'm having trouble with every time I let her outside for toilet stuff. She'll run into the garden. We've got a nice little garden with a lot of stuff in there. I mean, she's disappearing to me, but I found there lying down somewhere. They're chewing on bark, chewing on sticks.

Dr. Kevin: Those are generally going to be okay.

Scott: She vomit it up a couple of times.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, definitely and you can't keep them away from leaves and sticks completely.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: You do want to be careful about some types of plants. So Cycads, or they also called Sago palms. If you don't know what a Cycad looks like do look it up because they are highly toxic and for some reason, puppies do seem to enjoy chewing on them. Or if you've been trimming them back and there's just some garden trimming. So be very careful with a dog around when you are doing some gardening and that. Another plant that is a bit poisonous is Yesterday Today and Tomorrow. So that is also toxic. There's a number of different foods, but it's more about what we give them. But onions and large amounts of garlic can be poisonous to them.

Scott: Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: Too much chocolate unfortunately is toxic.

Scott: Is it too much or none at all?

Dr. Kevin: Look, low amounts, they can tolerate and it's also dependent on the type of chocolate the darker the chocolate the more serious it is. So white chocolate not very serious. Very dark cooking chocolate is the most serious.

Scott: Right. Is it the cocoa content?

Dr. Kevin: The theobromine and it is part of what caused the toxicity. So we have calculators that we can estimate how much they've ingested and their body weight and can estimate how serious a concern it's going to be for them.

Scott: Right.

Dr. Kevin: Because lots of people have seen a dog have a bit of a chocolate and it may not even get diarrhea. So the symptoms can be just from mild diarrhea to very serious hot conditions. It's toxic. It's a funny one.

Scott: What about stairs or incidents with kids? I had Lunar she just like was literally going up a set of three steps the other day and she sort of tripped and fell. Look like someone rolled their ankle and she was limpy for a little bit. I kind of picked her up kept it very quiet for a good half-hour or so. She kind of come good over the next hour or so, but obviously was a guy so.

Dr. Kevin: They don't understand stairs that easily and can definitely stumble on them. So it is a good idea when they're very young to keep them like a baby gate or something like that to stop them adventuring downstairs because they might just too enthusiastic that. But clumsy and not so coordinates.

Scott: And this was going up and just caught a foot going up.

Dr. Kevin: And certain breeds have very frail little bones. Something like a whippet has matchsticks for legs, really. And we've literally seen I've seen one that over two different incidents as is broken each of its front legs. As a young dog as well just from falling on the stairs.

Dr. Kevin: But just as we probably are at starting to wrap up, another thing we've been talking about children and dogs and unfortunately kids love to pick up puppies. And they don't even have to be that tall but suddenly the puppy scrambles a bit and the child loses control. We see a number of dogs injuring legs and that with being dropped or kids rolling on them. So they really need to be very supervised when there's interaction. Not necessarily from what the puppy will do to the child. But what the child may unfortunately also due to a puppy.

Scott: Yeah. Yeah. That's a great tip. Well, Dr. Kevin, there's lots to talk about especially with puppies. It's a big learning curve all over again. But thank you so much for your time. Wealth of knowledge.

Dr. Kevin: It's a pleasure.

Scott: And if anyone's to check at. Go to Gold Coast Vets Surgery. And have you any blogs or anything like that might be of use? What is your last thought?

Dr. Kevin: I was just going to comment on the last thought is we've spoken about quite a few things that puppies are at risk for and I strongly recommend one of your best ways. You can't stop these things happening, but he's looking at pet insurance right from day one because you these accidents are young puppies are more prone to various types of accidents and problems. And some of them can be very very costly. You can't take away the hurt of the problems that they've happened but dealing with the financial side of it look into pet insurance. We're probably doing a whole podcast on Vet Insurance.

Scott: Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Kevin: But just as a parting remark, I would strongly recommend people with puppies, do your research even before you actually getting your puppy so you can be ready to take out that insurance from the very beginning. Because there's also normally a short waiting period of about 30 days when they not yet covered.

Scott: Great, okay.

Dr. Kevin: Get pet insurance would be my best to a thing you want.

Scott: The last thing that you want to do is spend five grand on a poodle cross and then you break a leg and got a five grand.

Dr. Kevin: Indeed.

Scott: Yeah. Excellent. Dr. Kevin Cruickshank, thank you so much. If anyone wants to leave a question for us jump on a lot of socials and we look forward to seeing you on the next episode.

Dr. Kevin: Fantastic. Thanks.


Podcast Transcript

Scott: Welcome to another Dog pod. You're here with Scott Groves and Dr. Kevin Cruickshank. We welcome you back again, Dr. Kev.

Dr. Kevin: Thanks Scott. What a beautiful setting. I do not know where people listen to us, but it can't be better than where we are recording it.

Scott: It is a pretty nice part of the world and it is a gorgeous day here again, so welcome everybody. This week we are following on our little three part where we are talking about sort of small, medium, and this week we are up to large dogs. So we thought we thought we'd dive into some of the common issues, and I guess things that dog owners should know about some of the larger breeds, and how they can care for them better, and some of the things that we could talk about as we get into the large breeds. But I think as we cover large breeds, first to probably mention a few of them because we have got giant breeds. We are going to group them all together a little bit today.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, I think it makes a lot of sense to talk about large breeds and giant breeds. We kind of refer to large breed dogs as adult size over twenty-five kilograms, and probably the giant breeds over forty or certainly over fifty kilograms. So a lot of our popular family dogs fall in this these categories. So breeds like Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Dobermans--they all are large breeds. When we are thinking of giant breeds, you think of the obvious ones like Great Danes, St. Bernard's--

Scott: Bernese Mountain?

Dr. Kevin: Bernese Mountain dogs, they are lovely dogs, really are. And a lot of our Mastiffs as well, Bull Mastiff, and then there'S Neapolitan Mastiffs is a very big dog as well.

Scott: What is the biggest you have seen? Is it typically Great Danes would get as big as any dog?

Dr. Kevin: Great Danes are quite a lean dog actually, so physically in size and how tall they are, yes probably some of the biggest, but may not be the heaviest.

Scott: Right.Dr. Kevin: I think Neapolitan Mastiffs are probably some of the heaviest and and biggest in size. They can be the size of a Great Dane and as stocky as a Rottweiler sort of thing, and we have some very large and muscular Rottweilers. It is not uncommon to see them up sixty-five, seventy kilograms. So that requires a bit of a team effort when we have them in the clinic as well, and we have hydraulic lift tables and lifts to manage those sorts of sizes of dogs as well.

Scott: This is something I was going to ask you about today because in thinking through this because I knew what was coming this week, I thought, you know, as dog start to age, and I know what you guys do, you are essentially almost training them up onto a table at a vet. But what do dog owners do when they have got a really big dog in their home, and the dog starts to struggle later in life.

Dr. Kevin: That is actually quite a practical consideration, definitely. Even just taking them out for walks and getting them into their vehicles, and that sort of thing, you can get a lot of very good either cut purpose-built available in pet stores ramps, and that sort of thing to get into the back of a vehicle. That sort of thing, or a lot of people make their own. So that is a practical consideration because you can not be lifting even a forty, fifty kilogram dog is difficult lifting into the back of an SUV or something like that. And then sometimes ramps over the steps, or stairs at home, if they are starting to battle there as well, that is a consideration. But I see photos of big dogs, German Shepherds, lying up on the bed at home and that sort of things that people that sometimes take top place. And even partners getting relegated to the spare bedroom or something like that. People adjust and accommodate. They also take up a fair bit of space just for their beds and sleeping and that sort of thing as well.

Scott: We are aware of that one. Okay. So let us talk about some of the common issues with the larger dogs. Obviously being longer limbed animals, the hip dysplasia certainly becomes a lot more common as a condition with these larger dogs. Is that a good place to start?

Dr. Kevin: Yes, I think so. I think a lot of what we might be talking about today is orthopaedic conditions. So hips are definitely one that some of them, and interestingly some of the breeds do not have as much of a problem with hips. And then their knee joints moving down the back legs, so the knees or what we refer to as the stifles, and the biggest problem there is cruciate disease--ruptured cruciate ligaments, or the equivalent in humans is an ACL. So we do see that a lot more commonly in a lot of these larger breeds of dogs. And moving to the front legs, elbow dysplasia is now becoming much more recognized than hip dysplasia has been known about for many years, but you can actually get. So when we talk about either hip or elbow dysplasia: it is not actually a disease directly itself, but it is an increased risk of getting severe arthritis in those joints. And that normally means the dysplasia really refers to the bad shape of those joints. So hip joints that aren't a perfect ball and cup shape quite often either the cup part of the joint is too shallow, or the shape of the head which is like the ball part that fits into the joint that shape is incorrect or at an abnormal angle. And so those make those joints often not as stable and that predisposes them to getting severe arthritis. Just because a dog has bad hips visibly, like on an X-ray, does not necessarily mean that they are going to suffer with symptoms of hip dysplasia. You can do other environmental things as well to help minimize that.

Scott: Ok.

Dr. Kevin: Even before we get to actually diagnosing it, trying to reduce these problems in the breeds, they have been known about for a long time. Selective breeding is a very important thing because if we can try and breed from dogs that are known to have better hips than average in the breed, then we can have far less problems, or less likelihood that the offspring are going to have bad hips as well.

Scott: Okay. And if they are above average in that, I guess assessment. They probably should not be breeding. Is that--

Dr. Kevin: Correct. That is the way the selective breeding works. So you get the parents that you are intending to breed with, they need to be an adult dog before these changes can actually be seen on x-rays. So they have x-rays in very specific positions, and then those x-rays--actually your regular vet can look at them and have an opinion as to how good or bad those hips are. But actually there is a list of certified hip scorers that these get sent off to and different countries all have their official schemes. They get sent off to a special radiologist who will then look at very fine criteria and come up with an actual score for each hip, and then it is known from all the dogs over the years that have had been hip scored--this process we refer to as scoring--and you can know the average for the breed. And so if a dog is better than average that's going to be a good one to breed from. If its scores are worse than average, then you rather do not breed from that dog because it is likely to push the shapes of the offspring into a worse position.

Dr. Kevin: The difficulty comes if you have got one really good hip and one not so good hip. And of course dogs are not only born with hip problems, so you have got to look at the rest of it. In a lot of these breeds something like labradors, they can get various genetic eye problems. So cataracts is an example. So you might have everything else in the dog is perfect--It does not carry the genes for the cataract problems, it does not have heart conditions, and one of its hips is marginally bad, and the other is very good--well, you might still choose based on the net assessment of the dog. It is still a good dog to breed. Never forgetting the temperament as well. You really want to choose when you are breeding. So it is a very complicated thing when they are breeding. But if you have got an outlier that has got a really bad, sort of double the average score, well that might knock it out. It is sort of like a veto that everything else might be perfect about the dog breed, but then should not be bred from.

Scott: How much of this comes back to the ethics of breeders?

Dr. Kevin: Very much. It is down to the integrity and the ethics of that individual breeder because there is no compulsion to actually have hip scoring. Obviously if they can provide evidence that the parents have been very healthy and good, they should be able to have a better reputation as a breeder and command a better price for their puppies. So it is in their best interest to do as much of this testing ahead of breeding. But there is no obligation. You do not even have to be a registered breeder to breed. And so that is also my advice to people looking at getting a new puppy: do your research; ask for these bits of information; have the parents been eye-tested, heart-tested and hip-scored.

Dr. Kevin: And nowadays as well as hip scoring, there is also elbow scoring. So the elbows are complicated joint. It is actually three bones coming together. So two below the elbow--the radius and the ulna, and the humerus above. So if there is a little bit of abnormality in the shape, they can very quickly get arthritis later on in those elbows as well. So in the same way the elbows can be scored as well.

Scott: I have got about fifteen questions that has just come out based on what you have just said in the last five minutes. I want to backtrack a little bit a couple of things that we just sort of talked about. Hip dysplasia- I find in conversations with other dog owners, the true definition of dysplasia is quite confusing. Because I think a lot of people think of it like it in terms of displacement where something is moved. So what is the true definition? What is the best way to fully understand dysplasia? You mentioned the shape of the bones.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, so you could put really dysplasia as misshapen. It is just the wrong shape. So it is the how perfect the joint really is. And then what that leads to is, especially so a hip joint is a sort of classic joint, it is a ball in a socket. And if your socket is not really tight around the ball, and so I am using my hands and unfortunately the listeners can not see, but if I mean basically showing a very flat sort of almost an open palm versus a cupped up hand. If it is very flat then there is a lot more wiggle room for the ball part to move around. The body does not like that instability and what it tries to do to stabilize that is create new bone on the edges. That is actually what arthritis is. Arthritis is new bone being put down and it is trying to stabilize the joint, but instead it actually starts impairing the joint and causing pain. So arthritis is inflammation in any joint and very commonly new bits of bone growing around the edges of the joint.

Scott: And that agitates the ligaments?

Dr. Kevin: And it also limits the range of motion of the joints as well, so that is why they have a very stiff, awkward sort of gait. So that is a slow process. Now if you have got a badly shaping hip but you do not overuse that hip, you are probably not going to get a severe wear and tear on that joint, so to speak. And so if you don't over exercise that dog when it is very young, but you also keep up good exercise so that it does not get overweight.

Scott: Yeah. It is a big problem with big dogs.

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely, and yes they are carrying heavy weight. And that is also why that next problem that I spoke about the cruciate ligament problem--

Scott: Yeah, that is what I wanted to circle back to. Let us dive into that. Explain that. When you say cruciate sort of disease, what is actually happening? Like what are you seeing in the joint?

Dr. Kevin: So cruciate disease is just a group term for, the most common thing is the actual cruciate ligaments tears, but it does not necessarily snap instantaneously. It is a wear and tear disease. And so we don't often see it in dogs even younger than five. We have a bit of an acronym: fat five and female. Not fully understood why female dogs are a little bit more prone than males. It's like a 60/40 split, so it is not a big difference. But definitely overweight dogs, fat over five years old because it is a wear-and-tear thing. So if that ligament tears 10% you still got 90% of the ligament there. It is like a rope that is fraying. You are not necessarily going to see it. The dog might be a little bit sore for a day or two, and then walking around fine. So you didn't realize that necessary that actually a little bit of the ligament frayed and tore. And then over the years wear-and-tear it suddenly--they might just be doing one exercise, running down some stairs, jumping to catch a ball, or something, and then the last little percentage tears and suddenly they pull up lame.

Dr. Kevin: So that is also to do with, often, the shape of the knee joint itself and various quite technical angles of the bones in that joint. So dogs at stand with a very upright stance. So another large breed that we have not mentioned yet, the Boxers, they are typically a breed that stands with a very upright stance. If you look, they do not have much bend in the knee and the back leg really, they stand quite upright. And that predisposes, puts more strain on that cruciate ligament. So the job of the cruciate ligament is to stabilize the knee joint. It runs inside the joint and it stops the knee moving backwards and forwards in the joint. So when the dogs tear the cruciate ligament, initially it is sore, but it doesn't actually stay that sore longer term, but they still can not use the leg. Because every time they try and take weight, they just have a feeling of it collapsing or giving away on them. So then it is quite a technical thing about the different, but nearly always they need some form of surgery. There's very many different techniques of correcting that, but once they have had that surgery, they normally go very well. They can still unfortunately damage the meniscus in the joint which is part of like the shock absorbency. So definitely--

Scott: So like that gets worn away?

Dr. Kevin: Or tears actually because there is too much movement in the joint and then the meniscus can get a tear in it. So that is often checked during the time of surgery and addressed. If it has got a little tear then we correct that at the centre.

Scott: Yeah. Now that is a great understanding of that. With the breeding, you mentioned the averages. And now I want to circle back to one breed which is the Labradors, and we have spoken about it off podcast, but it is hard to find a good Labrador, you were saying, with good hips because they all tend to be fairly high in some--

Dr. Kevin: But because of breeding and selective breeding over the years, I think there has been a marked improvement in the last fifteen to twenty years.

Scott: That is great.

Dr. Kevin: We used to see it even worse. And that is why these schemes were put in place and through breeders doing the right thing. So yes, you got to be realistic that you can not expect hip scores of zero. But for example in the Labradors, the breed average is about 8.2. And it is a scale that goes right,--there is not necessarily a top point, but very bad hips can be twelve, fifteens sort of thing. So eight is actually in the scheme of things not that bad. And if you have got a dog who has got a four on one hip and a five on the other, that is really doing well better than average. So that is a good. But you might have a dog that has a two on one side and a ten on the other, that becomes a tricky decision and maybe the mother has fours or five so very good, and the father has two, an excellent hip on the one side and and one hip that is not so good. But as we were talking earlier, there might be lots of other considerations that you would still find that an acceptable combination of two dogs because there are so many other factors as well. And yes, you can not really expect to find in many breeds like that, a dog that has no problems with its hips at all.

Dr. Kevin: Another breed that has unfortunately quite a bit of hip dysplasia is German Shepherds. And amazingly even some of the smaller breeds--Pugs, if you look in the average...

Scott: Also Rottweilers as well...

Dr. Kevin: Unfortunately they get on quite a lot of hip dysplasia, they are very prone to cruciate problems as well.

Scott: What can a dog owner do, let's say I have a mate growing up and he always had Rottweilers. And he was always concerned about their hips, I remember even from a young age. What can a dog owner do? Is it matter of just keeping weight off, keeping good exercise, good mobility?

Dr. Kevin: Careful exercise. A tip that I would give people is avoiding, a lot of these breeds love fetching balls and that. But keeping them on the ground and not encouraging them to bounce and jump when they are excited. So throwing frisbees, and jumping up in the air, coming down and landing can be quite a jarring thing either for the knees or the hips. So also having good obedience with their dog that you might actually throw the ball, keep the dog at the side, and once the ball has stopped, let them go and fetch it. Because that sudden trying to stop and chasing a moving ball can be very jarring and damaging as well.

Scott: Yeah. That is a great tip. Excellent love that. With some of the other breeds when you start looking at probably some of the more, I guess winter Saint Bernards, some of the big Huskies, Bernese Mountain dogs--what sort of common conditions might you come across there? And then we will get to Great Danes in a minute.

Dr. Kevin: Quite a lot of them... slobber a lot! And that is the big lips that they have. Funny enough there is a type of cosmetic surgery, technically cosmetic, but it actually can be really helpful to keep that slobber more in their mouths. It is not commonly done. It is something that people know the breed does. It is not a medical problem, but unfortunately also, being considerate to the climate where you live. Like here on the beautiful Gold Coast, having a St. Bernard even a Bernese mountain dog, we have actually got quite a few Bernese Mountain dogs. They are very popular breed at the moment and they cope pretty well with the heat. But St. Bernard, they do suffer a lot and so not exercising them in the heat of the day. They can suffer from heat stroke very easily.

Scott: Would you keep them clippered more?

Dr. Kevin: You certainly can. People are more looking for the authentic breed, would rather not have them shaved. Sometimes that long hairy coat actually provides insulation from the heat just like you find woolly sheep in really hot climates in the outback, and that sort of thing. The wool insulates them from the heat as well. So the to the degree that happens, and also the dogs living in a hotter climate will not develop as thick an undercoat as if they are in a colder climate. They have grown up with it through their lives.

Scott: Yeah adapting over the years. Yeah.

Dr. Kevin: We just got a beautiful example of a German Shepherd walking past, a lovely lean one. They are actually a dog that a lot of people look at them and say they are far too skinny, but they are naturally actually a working dog, and they are very lean. They are very athletic dogs as well. But just seeing that beautiful one walking past reminded me of another condition that unfortunately they very prone to. They have got a very deep chest and breeds with deep chests. And so another one classically is the Great Dane, are prone unfortunately to gastric torsion. And it is a condition that people consider in having those breeds or who have those breeds really need to know about, because it is one of these things that can be an absolute emergency.

Scott: So what happens?

Dr. Kevin: Yeah, what happens with this is that their stomach which is actually hanging in the way that a dog is standing horizontally compared to us standing upright, their stomach is hanging from underneath the back. And for various different reasons, and they are not fully understood, that stomach can actually twist on itself. And then what happens is then the gas that is in the stomach can not get out, the fluid can not get out anywhere. It is of course extremely painful, and the the gas very quickly starts to build up and it actually pushes up against the diaphragm. They battle to breathe and they start to go into a medical type of shock, and within an hour or so, it can be fatal. It causes a lot of problems for the heart. The heart can't circulate the blood of course wind the whole intestine and the stomach is twisted, none of the blood can move through those twisted blood vessels, as well. So it is something that needs emergency treatment right away, whether it is the middle of the night, or daytime, and it very often does happen in the evening time.

Scott: Why is that?

Dr. Kevin: It is often associated with eating too close on exercise. So either eating first and then going and exercising, or even if they have come back from a big walk and then are fed very soon. Some of that is various hypotheses as to what is happening. And if they are swallowing a lot of gas when they are eating, their stomach can fill up. If it fills up with a lot of air and gas, we think it is more prone to twisting on itself. Very much so if they eat and then go and exercise, then the running around this coming back to their shape the deep-chested nature, there is a lot of space for that stomach to twist on itself. So if it is hanging and it has got all the for heavy food and it is swinging from side to side as they run, we think it just suddenly flops right over.

Scott: Pendulums right over?

Dr. Kevin: We have actually got to be also careful in the hospital. If we have got them under anaesthetic, if we are turning them over to operate on the other part of their body, or move them from one area of the hospital into the theatre or something like that, we also got to be very slow and gentle that we do not just flip them too quickly because you can flip their stomach as well.

Scott: Right. Wow so crazy.

Dr. Kevin: It sometimes starts where they don't necessarily have the full torsion where they are not twisted, and they have just got bloat. And then that is easier to address. We normally give them an aneesthetic and put a tube down their throat. Let that gas all out. And if you have caught them then before they have actually twisted, then they do not always need surgery.

Scott: What symptoms is a dog owner going to see?

Dr. Kevin: I think that is really important that we chat through this one because it can start off just looking like the dog's unsettled. It is restless, can not lie down, and you sort of say, "What is wrong? We have just gone for a walk. Why are you so restless?" And then very quickly they will often be trying to vomit, but most times nothing coming out. But just a bit of a retch and a retch, and they look quite quickly over twenty minutes or so, they just seem to get a lot worse. They are uncomfortable. They are lethargic, and then you might notice that their stomach is swelling. And it actually swells right up and it can be taunt like a drum. So you actually just tapping on the stomach, the stomach looks a bit bloated. They might look sort of pregnant, but it can be difficult to miss that. You would think it is so obvious, but a lot of that is underneath the rib cage.

Scott: And that is more stomach than chest? Is that where it is coming out?

Dr. Kevin: Correct. So just behind the chest, there is a whole abdomen area. And by the time you see that, it is definitely a run do not walk situation. Get to an emergency clinic straight away. But yes, the unproductive attempts to vomit, and sudden lethargy, and unsettled nature, those are the most common early symptoms of it.

Scott: Is this just something that can happen quite randomly across these breeds like German Shepherds? Is there no way of pre-checking it as part of a breeding process or part of identifying it--

Dr. Kevin: Different to what we were talking about with the orthopaedic problems, we can't screen for it, and it has not really got a genetic link. So much so that because it is quite a high-risk factor, we do all the work for the Gold Coast police dogs, and progressively they have put each one on a bit of leave and we have done a preventative surgery for them called a gastropexy. What we go in then is before they have ever had any symptoms of it, and we actually go and permanently stitch the stomach to the side of their abdomen, so that it can still bloat up, but that's not life threatening.They could still get a lot of gas building up, but it will not ever twist on itself because it is attached in one point. So it takes a bit of recovery and it is a moderately costly operation, but I think in any of the breeds that are prone to it--so your Great Danes, your German Shepherds, Dobermans, and deep-chested dogs--it's well worth considering. We often offer that if we desexing one of those breads, whether it is a male or a female, to do that operation at the same time. Because they are still a young dog, they are under anaesthetic anyway. Moderately costly operation. It is technically very challenging for us, but they recover so well. There is very little complications or problems and it is a lifelong prevention for them.

Scott: Yeah. That's great.

Dr. Kevin: That is a very good thing to get done early.

Scott: It is a very good thing to be aware of, is it not?

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely. So it is called, just for people listening, gastric torsion or it also goes under the acronym of a GDV-gastric dilatation volvulus is a bit just remember GDV.

Scott: Internationally does it have any other names?

Dr. Kevin: Also referred to just as bloat.

Scott: Okay.

Dr. Kevin: So gastric torsion, bloat, GDV, they are the most common names for it. And so the other tips for people preventing it is not feeding your dog and then exercising. And I am not just talking about going for a walk, even just bouncing a ball, throwing, playing around in the backyard or in the kitchen or whatever soon after eating. Also not waiting quite a long period once it has gone for a walk, recovering from that so that it is not--

Scott: How long are we talking about?

Dr. Kevin: I would wait up to an hour before feeding, and that is thought to be because they are still breathing up quite heavily, and they are probably sucking in a lot more air when they eating their food. They are enthusiastic to eat their food and suck up air.

Scott: Some big dogs eat at a million miles an hour too--

Dr. Kevin: Absolutely. Some people are very critical of feeding dry foods then to these breeds because the dry food itself can swell up and bloat. I don't think there is a direct big problem, that has been looked at and researched a lot. But sometimes adding some water to that food can be a helpful thing. Feeding twice a day instead of once a day so that they are getting a bit of a smaller meal each time.

Scott: Right. So it's not a big large meal? Yeah, right.

Dr. Kevin: Yeah. So those are things sometimes it is thought also feeding a bit from a height, so putting the food bowl up on a little bit of a platform, on a step, then they not bending down as much. The thought is maybe they are not going to suck in as much air. That's not such a big issue there.

Scott: Yeah, great. Have we missed anything with the larger dogs?

Dr. Kevin: Quite a few of them unfortunately are prone to ear infections. Again, sometimes to do with their behaviours. So dogs that love swimming are going to get more ear infections--so your Labradors, Golden Retrievers, unfortunately. The dogs with either floppy ears coming down or big ears that are like big funnels and let everything go in, like a German Shepherd, unfortunately can be quite prone to ear infections. And skin infections, some of them, unfortunately I keep seeming to be picking today on German Shepherds, but some of them--

Scott: They are really popular, aren't they? I mean they are used as police dogs almost all over the world. They are beautiful dogs. Very intelligent.

Dr. Kevin: But unfortunately they do just seem to be quite prone to certain skin allergies, very sensitive skins as well. Seem to get yeast infections quite easily. So ear infections, my tip there is pick up on it early because they can become chronic recurring problems. Head-shaking is one of the first signs just seeing a dirty waxy area at the outside.

Scott: Okay, and in terms of prevention and maintenance, same with the sort of stuff we spoke about with some of the medium dogs or the fairy dogs, keeping clippered.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. Sometimes a routine cleaning with an ear cleaning liquid. Certainly after swimming it is a very good idea. Once a week or once a fortnight just doing an air cleaner is good.

Scott: In the medium dogs and in multiple other episodes, we have talked a fair bit about teeth and dental hygiene. Big dogs naturally have pretty strong bites and I imagine they are, I don't imagine I know, they are biting into all sorts of different things, particularly through either boredom and other stuff as well. Bones as we spoke about in the last episode with medium dogs, and the danger of bones. Talk us through teeth and dental with large dogs. What do we need to be aware of?

Dr. Kevin: Fortunately, I think it is one of the things that they seem to suffer a lot less with. We do not see as rapid a build up of calculus and tartar on them, with one exception being Greyhounds. Unfortunately, they, for whatever reason their local immunity in their mouth, they suffer from a lot of very bad dental disease. Greyhounds do, almost irrespective of diet, and that sort of thing. So Greyhounds having them have a scale and polish early to try and look after those teeth. Keep them healthy is a very good thing.

Scott: Is it the same for Whippets or some of those long snitch breed?

Dr. Kevin: No, no, sure because those long-snouted dogs definitely. Whippets, Italian Greyhounds also seemed to have, and again a smaller breed but a Dachshund, those long snout seem to just also get dental disease a lot worse. But for the rest of them, the large breeds have far slower buildup of tartar. Some of that is diet-related and chewing on things, but I think it is just more a lucky thing that theirs are not as bad.

Scott: Is it because they got bigger mouths?

Dr. Kevin: I think so. The teeth are not as crowded in, definitely. And and also the type of diet, and how much they spoilt, and soft foods, and that sort of thing. But some big breeds, like Rottweilers, tend to get a lot of chipped and actually broken teeth because they have got such a strong jaw and they might be chewing on something that they should not be. So we do see them having quite a few broken teeth sometimes. But teeth problems not too bad. And as a general rule, skin problems not too bad other than like I am saying some of the German Shepherds can be prone to skin allergies.

Scott: Is the skin allergies noticed in the same areas as we spoke about in the last episode with Bulldogs? Is it a lot of groin?

Dr. Kevin: Yes. Lower ventral abdomen and in their groin area. Their paws, quite a few of them get a lot of skin infections in between the toes and their paws. And then some are more breed-specific, Boxers are quite prone to some hormonal skin problems, having an under active thyroid gland sometimes as well. So that is something they suffer with a bit.

Scott: Interesting. Well as always you are a wealth of knowledge, Dr. Kevin. Thank you for being with us. I do not think there is anything else before--

Dr. Kevin: I think they are a lovely group of dogs, that are working dogs. They can be family dogs. Wonderful, you know that you can get out and do a lot being--

Scott: Just because they're big, I think some people fear them, don't they? And like Great Danes are some of the biggest sooks on earth.

Dr. Kevin: But it is also very important to do good obedience work in the early stages so that you have got control of a big dog, because some of them can be very aggressive. And we have not had really much time to talk about behavioural issues, but you can have behavioural problems with some of them, and you want to have good control. So good socialization when they are young and dog training would be my closing remarks.

Scott: Might make a good topic for our next next podcast.

Dr. Kevin: Indeed.

Scott: Thanks so much for joining us. And as always if anyone has got any questions, just follow us on all the socials and feel free to fire through questions and ask Dr. Kevin, and we will do our best to answer them on the next one. But thank you for joining us.

Dr. Kevin: It would be a pleasure to shoutout and answer anyone's questions indeed.

Scott: See you next time. Thank you.

Dr. Kevin: All the best.


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