Dog Pod - Episode 13
Changing Seasons with Vet Dr Kevin

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Welcome to another episode of DogPod, brought to you by Dog Cloud. This week, Dr. Kevin Cruickshank from Gold Coast Vets Surgery joins us to discuss the impact of changing seasons on dogs, offering expert advice for both winter and summer care.

Key Highlights:

1. Winter Challenges for Dogs: Learn about the common issues dogs face during the colder months, including arthritis and the importance of keeping older dogs warm and mobile.

Preparing for Cold Weather: Dr. Kevin shares tips on managing arthritis, using insulated bedding, and considering booties for icy conditions.

Summer Considerations: As temperatures rise, discover essential tips for preventing heatstroke, managing hot surfaces, and ensuring your dog stays hydrated.

Exercise and Mobility:Understand the importance of maintaining regular walks, adjusting exercise routines for extreme weather, and being cautious of slippery or hot surfaces.

Coat and Grooming Advice: Explore the differences in dog coats between seasons, grooming practices for double-coated breeds, and how to keep your dog comfortable.

Dealing with Anxiety: Learn how to manage storm anxiety in dogs with the help of anti-anxiety medications and behavior modifications.

Health Precautions: Tips on preparing for boarding kennels, managing skin conditions, and recognizing signs of dehydration and heatstroke.

Why Listen?

This episode is packed with practical advice for dog owners dealing with seasonal changes. Whether you're facing winter's cold or summer's heat, Dr. Kevin Cruickshank provides actionable tips to keep your dog healthy and comfortable. Perfect for dog owners in both hemispheres looking to ensure their pets' well-being throughout the year.

Listen to episode Here

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Podcast Transcription

Scott: Hello and welcome to another episode of Dog Pod proudly brought to you by Dog Cloud. And again, this week we have got with us. Dr. Kevin Cruickshank, our infamous vet from Gold Coast Vets Surgery here on the Gold Coast. Welcome.

Dr. Kevin Cruickshank: Thanks, Scott. We going into December.

Scott: Yes, we sure are, another warm one here in Australia. But we thought it is kind of interesting, December 1st marks are a pretty unique sort of calendar part of the year as we become -- southern hemisphere of the world becomes summer and the northern hemisphere becomes rolling into winter. So I thought it might be a really good topic to talk about changing seasons and how this affects dogs especially because winter months -- that might start with winter. And talk about our friends in the northern part, it poses some unique challenges for dogs and certain considerations for dog owners as we roll into these changing seasons.

Dr. Kevin: It certainly does and you know, there is a lot of conditions that are more associated with the different seasons in here. So yes, I feel sorry for those sometimes but also jealous, those surrounded with snow and those quintessential Christmas build-up, Christmas markets, all the rest. So I think that is a really good place to start. We would look at dog -- and probably the most common thing that we see with the cooling weather is that dogs that are prone to arthritis really suffer quite a bit with that. And we know people who have got sore joints, they definitely battle when the weather is cold. And it is something that creeps up on dogs sort of fairly gradually just as the season changes fairly slowly, but all of a sudden they have gone from being quite comfortable temperatures to being very cold. And you might find a dog that has been coping and coping, you have not seen symptoms of arthritis. Suddenly almost very often had dogs where people had fun up he just collapsed, he cannot get up now and they have not noticed any gradual changes and that colder weather has suddenly really just caused them to seize up.

Scott: The winter months are probably one of those things for dog owners as dogs start to -- we have talked before in previous podcasts about the five to six years of age becomes a bit of where they start becoming a little bit more senior. It is probably a good time of year to start to look for that sort of stuff just to be a bit more conscious of as a dog owner and it is because it is going to change a lot in the next month or so for a lot of dogs.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. And so it is often something that I speak to my clients about is that even either if you know your dog has had arthritis before you starting to see things are slowing up, get them well controlled, get them comfortable before it gets really cold, and then they suddenly seized up. But if they have previously had arthritis medications and maybe in the warmer summer weather they have been able to be off that because they are more mobile and comfortable. Think about getting that started again. Some of the treatments that we have, take a while takes three to four weeks to really take effect. And so you want them in the best position they can be going into those winter months.

Scott: It is good advice. Yes.

Dr. Kevin: So I think as an only stem to where you know, what they doing during the day but affect especially where they sleeping at night. So lying on cold either wooden floorboards or tiles as opposed to lying on a nice comfortable bed, it is not just the comfort of that but actually, the insulation, getting them off the coldness of the floor. Even if your dog will tolerate having a rug or blanket put over to it as well can just keep them that little bit warmer, keep their muscles warm, keep their joints comfortable. Makes a world of a difference, very simple thing to do but really helps them.

Scott: It changes so quickly in some parts of the world too. Does not it?

Dr. Kevin: Yes.

Scott: Like I was chatting with our friends in Ukraine who, you know, within a period of just a week or two, it is gone to freezing cold zero degree temperature days which is a freezing point for most of it.

Dr. Kevin: Yes. Definitely. And so our human behavior can change with that very suddenly, you are not so appealing to go out for a walk anymore but keeping --

Scott: I was going to ask you about that.

Dr. Kevin: -- keeping your dogs mobile I think is even if is a much shorter walk than normal but keeping them still walking a bit. Thinking though, when they are going out, watch out for icy patches. A dog who is no longer quite so mobile can slip a lot more easily and might splay its legs, hurt its muscles there. So be careful about where you walk, not only for your own safety but your dog's safety. And if you are literally walking in something as cold as snow, think about actual booties for the dogs. This applies not only to older arthritic dogs but any dogs so that they cannot get frostbite on their feet. We would not like to walk around barefoot on those surfaces.

Scott: Puppies as well be more sensitive too and they would not have any conditioning on --[crosstalk]

Dr. Kevin: And this can even also hold true for those in the warmer climates in going into summer. Be very careful, not necessarily putting booties on but remember how hot is that bitumen. If you cannot keep your hand on the concrete or the bitumen for sort of five seconds or longer, it is going to be unpleasant and very uncomfortable for your dog as well. So thinking about the surfaces that they walking on is very important. If you are using booties, they need to have time with it off because otherwise if it gets too damp and confined and there is not enough fresh air in those little shoes, they can start to get dermatitis or skin infection. Similarly, often a lot of breeds tolerate a coat very well. Make sure that those coats are well-fitting and not causing a friction point for your dog, it needs to be reasonably snug but not too tight. A dog might have put on a bit of weight since you last years used that the year ago or so. So just checking on those types of things, and again giving them a chance with it off as well so that their skin still can breathe as normal.

Scott: What do you recommend for parts of the world where the snow is so bad for a period of time where exercise becomes really difficult outside? What the people in those countries do? Is it just a matter of the dogs just adapt because they kind of live there anytime?

Dr. Kevin: I think there are a lot of the dogs do very well still they enjoy the outdoors. They want you to -- they needing to go out to the toilet and that sort of thing. And if we are looking at those really extreme locations, I think people keep the appropriate breeds. I mean, we got a lot of the sled dog types of breeds, Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, they just are made for snow. They love it and really enjoy that.

Scott: I want to ask you about how their coats change too from -- not in just season to season but you see this and I have asked you about this just offline before, but where you see Samoyeds or Keeshonds and they are wooly fully dogs. And then --

Dr. Kevin: They definitely develop a double coat. And that undercoat is a bit more like a down fluffy type of coat as opposed to the more waterproof sort of outer coat that they have.

Scott: Right and then so grooming practices just obviously let it grow wild for winter to have the protection and then summer months.

Dr. Kevin: Yes, so letting it, they will develop a thicker coat in those winter months. And just keep on regular brushing that if it will loosen but then they will have quite a heavier mulch or shade at the end of that winter season. And so that is probably even more relevant in warm climates that they need to get rid of that thick undercoat because of getting a skin infection underneath that type of thing.

Scott: So that would be more like I guess if we come back to the southern hemisphere where we are starting and end of the summer months, those that are the fluffier animals, the regular brushing and stuff is much more important to get the dogs cool.

Dr. Kevin: Indeed. And if they are living in that sort of climate all the time, then they will not get as thickened undercoat.

Scott: Okay. it does not develop in the first place?

Dr. Kevin: That is right. It will still be there and they still but they just would not have as thick. So those dogs that are living in that colder climate all the time, their coat adapts to that and they have a thicker warmer coat. And in a very warm climate, they do not develop as much fur and sometimes you can actually in the warmer climates find that they keep on shedding more because the body is sort of saying, grow your coat, but then it is experiencing this warm weather that is why it is shedding that and then it is growing more so you do often get a lot more shedding from those types of dogs. But it is not only those quintessential snowy styles of dogs but even breeds like Labradors and that, they develop an undercoat as well.Because they are designed they -- Labrador in Canada is a very cold part of the world and they developed for actually things like duck hunting and that sort of thing. They are retrievers, they retrieve the prey. So they designed to go into really cold water and swim and retrieve those sorts of things. So they do have that sort of outer coat that is not purely waterproof but definitely, water just comes off it, and then that is the thicker undercoat for the insulation. And I think a lot of breeds are like that.

Scott: Yes. It is interesting. Yes. I know we spoke about Labradors before the Italian water dog because they are known as great swimmers. Are they the same sort of double coat type thing, do you know? Or --

Dr. Kevin: Yes, they do develop a thicker fluffy undercoat but they probably also need a fair bit more grooming in terms of actually trimming that outer coat. Their hair is a longer fur as well.

Scott: Is there any other winter considerations for people as this dietary stuff need to change, to give them warm soups, to give --

Dr. Kevin: Not necessarily warm soups but I think just making sure that their food has got enough nutrition, often similar to rust, we see a lot of dogs putting on weight in winter because they not as active. So if you are not doing as much, say you are very active in the summer months taking your dog out on hikes and trails or whatever, and then you are not doing that in the winter, it will cut back a bit on their diet. But a good quality diet also is where they going to -- in very cold climates they are going to be burning up a lot of energy to keep themselves warm. So just watching their body weights, so that is the thing that is useful.

Scott: What about dogs sleeping around open fires, is there other stuff like this that dog owners should be conscious of?

Dr. Kevin: I think it is very similar to having children, common sense prevails on that sort of thing. I am not aware of too many dogs getting burnt or injured that way but thinking about leaving or having underfloor heating and that type of thing can make it a more comfortable environment for them. And if they have gone swimming or so because really a lot of dogs, I remember when I was living in the UK, we took our dog off, he came out of quarantine and it was January so middle of winter and he was off swimming in the rivers in Wales, one-degree water probably just above freezing and he loved it, but drying them off really well after that. So it is just me and you can get your dogs used to a blow dryer even but towel drying very well to make sure that they also do not get a chill. Respiratory infections are a little bit more common in colder months and sometimes in an older dog, they can be more debilitating just like an older person, bronchitis gets worse and becomes pneumonia or that sort of thing. Some of the respiratory viruses like cooler environmental conditions so they last longer outside in the fresh air. This time of year coming around the Christmas season, a lot of us go away and travel, we may not be able to travel internationally at the moment but dogs are still going to boarding kennels. So something to think about when you have got holidays coming up, do not forget about planning that your dog's vaccinations are up-to-date because they need those and need good immunity before they go into a boarding kennel. Making sure their coats in good condition, if it is going to be an extended stay well maybe have them groomed before they go because they would not just be missing on that grooming that is coming up. Depending on where you are in the world if those boarding kennels are in a bit more of a rural area, there might be additional risk something like tick paralysis. Certainly on the East Coast of Australia, boarding kennels off and located on a bit more acreage and that sort of thing, so making sure your dog's tick protection is up to date. Those were the things preparing before you go away.

Scott: As you say, these switch hemispheres and come back down at the southern side where the temperatures are picking up quite dramatically here in Australia, we have had the hottest month in August, November month, I think for some years and you got storm seasons. The hot bitumen I noticed, I took my puppy Luna for a walk and she is just off the leash now in terms of vaccinations and everything. We are out and about now but the ground was very hot the other day and I consciously was trying to walk around the grass despite where she wanted to take herself. But what are some of the considerations for some, obviously dehydration water is going to be a big factor?

Dr. Kevin: Yes. And I think, obviously, this can hold true for summer times in the other parts of the world when they get to summer. It certainly is the busiest season in a vet practice is summertime, so we --

Scott: Is that globally?

Dr. Kevin: I think definitely globally, certain parts of the world especially in North America they may have a heartworm problem in the summer months but they just do not have it in the winter, so their dogs might need to go in for their heartworm testing before starting on preventatives. And then it might only be on heartworm prevention for six months of the year when they are mosquito risks. For us, it is all year round so we do not necessarily have a peak of testing and treating for heartworm, we keep doing that all year round. But the things that keep vet practices very busy in the summer months, a lot of the time skin conditions, a lot of skin allergies are a lot worse in summer months. So it is similar to the arthritis of getting things under control before the warm humid weather, the plants flowering, and a lot of the things that they allergic to. Making sure their skin allergies are under control first rather than trying to chase your tail and get them controlled once they get out of control. With that, goes ear infections, dogs that like to swim a lot getting water down in their ears, we see a lot of ear infections, unfortunately at the moment. But one that immediately comes to mind when you are talking about summer is heatstroke. And so that is not only your quintessential leaving a dog locked in a hot car or something, I think that message is really got through to people that that is not acceptable to do. But simply thinking about when you exercise them and how you exercise them. Dogs are like a five-year-old kid, they will just keep on going on as endlessly and you have got to pull them up and that is too much exercise, they will chase that ball endlessly. And naturally, they will pant to cool themselves but if it is getting excessive that they really huffing and puffing, that is the time to stop. Let them have frequent water to drink. But going out in the cooler times of the day, very important with a walk. If they are lagging and you having to pull them on the lead, notice that, do not force them to exert themselves more. If it is a small enough breed, pick them up, even carried them, or just take a rest under a tree because they will try and exert themselves to keep up with you and then reach a crisis point where they have overheated or they cannot breathe properly. And this is even more relevant to our brachycephalic breed, so those short nose breathes, so your French Bulldogs, English Bulldogs, Cavaliers, all those types of breeds, boxes and a larger breed of dog, they cannot pant as much, they cannot cool themselves as much. So we have got to be sensible about when we exercise them.

Scott: Yes, great. That is excellent advice. What about -- so something crosses in my mind, you see some dogs who are really sort of frantic and behaviourally with storms. We are getting a lot of thunderstorms hit now and what --

Dr. Kevin: Definitely something that --

Scott: -- injure themselves and trying to get through fences.

Dr. Kevin: I had dogs jump through glass windows even, so paranoid and scared. So technology helps us actually quite a bit nowadays, you can get so many apps that can predict a storm coming because really you want to get the anti-anxiety medication into them before the storm arrives. Once they are anxious already, any of the different medication options are far less effective. So it is definitely something -- have a chat with your vet if you know that your dog gets a bit anxious. There are lots of different options that can suit your individual circumstances. Most of them are something you will just give medication when you know they are going to be at high risk of stress. So that might even be a trip to the dog groomer, a trip to the vet, or a storm, New Year's Eve fireworks. And you can give a medication a few hours before and it is not a sedative or tranquilizer because some of the oldest ways of doing it with just a sedative, the dog looks punked out and calm but it is actually just sedated. It still experiences the fear but then cannot do anything about it and runs away and it actually gets more fearful. Whilst if we actually using an anti-anxiety medication, it is not just sedating them but they are more rational in how they respond to those noises and that. So there is a lot that can be done with anxiety, definitely schedule a behavioral consultation with your vet. We are well trained in those sorts of things and can really help a lot. And as we kind of wrap up, I think just some of the other things that we see more commonly in summer months are lots of vomiting and diarrhea. And that is probably also people are out and about doing things with their dogs, their dogs might be scrounging, finding something they should not have eaten, but a lot of the dogs are more, you know, like the warm environment and hang around in the environment for a bit longer. So they can get very dehydrated, vomiting and diarrhea for a few days. So do not hesitate in taking your dog to the vet especially vomiting, you know, a bit of diarrhea may settle after a day or two but a vomiting dog can be very minor or it can be very serious. That is one thing and get those itchy skins under control early because it is so much harder once there is a lot more infections going on.

Scott: Kevin, does the sweating contribute to the itchy skin?

Dr. Kevin: They actually do not perspire or sweat anywhere else on their body but at their pores, and that is why they can only cool themselves by panting. And so probably a great tip to start to round-up is if you are going walking in the heat, wet your dog before you walk. Do not try and cool it down when you have come back, but actually, it will tolerate, you just spray it with a bit of water before you go out on your walk. That evaporating water will cool them in the same way that us perspiring cools us. And then when you get home, you have got to dry dog and hopefully not to hot dog rather than bathing them or hosing them when you get back and they have already overheated.

Scott: Yes, that is great advice. Excellent. I love that. And I thought maybe just finally one quick question, as we coming into Christmas and it is not really related to summer winter so much but the food with humans and there is an excess of food at Christmas.

Dr. Kevin: There is.

Scott: This stuff laying around --

Dr. Kevin: A lot of leftovers as well.

Scott: A lot of leftovers and stuff. Any tips, Christmas tips, and we could do another episode on this but --

Dr. Kevin: I think it is a whole topic as well but definitely avoiding giving them a lot of, say the leftover ham, it is very fatty meat and it can trigger something called pancreatitis. Raisins can be quite toxic and poisonous to dogs, so fruitcake and that sort of thing, Christmas cake that they get hold of.

Scott: We may have stumbled on another episode.

Dr. Kevin: And there is a lot of chocolate around Christmas as well. We have had dogs that have actually opened up presents under the tree and it consumed a whole box of Lindt Chocolates or something like that. So great topic, maybe next week when we look at the risks around Christmas for dogs.

Scott: Yes, fantastic. Well, Dr. Kevin, thanks very much for joining us again. Welcome everybody to summer and winter, it is a beautiful time of year, it is great. The changing seasons often gives us a bit of a break from what we had in the previous few months.

Dr. Kevin: And you know, Christmas holidays are a great time to spend time with your dog, wherever you live in the world, enjoy it and do the safety as you can and I suppose keep tuning in for some more tips around this time.

Scott: Yes, absolutely. Well, thanks again, Kevin, and we will look forward to seeing everybody in the next episode.

Dr. Kevin: Good stuff. Thanks, Scott.


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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