Dog Pod Episode #1
Dog Health Interview with Award Winning Vet Dr. Kevin Cruickshank
Dog Cloud CEO Scott Groves interview Award Winning VET Dr.Kevin Cruickshank. Listen in as they discuss dog trends, how dogs age, COVID-19 for dogs and much more…
Learn valuable dog health tips and understand your dog better with this insightful information.
Full Dog Pod Transcript : Episode 1
Scott: All right, so welcome to the first dog podcast. This will be brought to you by DogCloud. And today we are sitting here with Dr. Kevin Cruikshank. Kevin has been a vet for twenty-two years with his wife. Dr. Fiona Cruickshank also and they also own Gold Coast vets surgery, which is one of the only 58 accredited hospitals of excellence in Australia.
So, Dr. Kevin has twice been voted the Gold Coast Bulletin’s best vet and his passion is for helping dog owners understand their pets’ medical problems. So we are really excited to have Kevin on today. Welcome, Kev.
Dr. Kevin: Thanks Scott, great to chat with you.
Scott: We are sitting out here in the wide-open world down here at beautiful Burleigh on a gorgeous Winter’s day. We got blue skies and nice oceans and we have just been for a bit of a jog and there’s dogs everywhere. So we thought today might be a really good intro just to ask you a little bit about some of the common things I guess that can happen with dogs, the stuff that you see on a day-to-day basis in your vet clinic and I guess just a really good intro to some of the stuff we are going to be talking about over a period of these podcasts with you.
Dr. Kevin: Absolutely, my absolute pleasure.
Scott: So I thought it might be good just to touch on perhaps your background a little bit because people will very quickly pick up your accent.
Dr. Kevin: Indeed.
Scott: Maybe, tell us a little bit about where you were trained because it is not just dogs and cats, a typical sort of Vet Clinic some people would sort of mentally get a picture of immediately, but you have worked with some amazing animals over the time.
Dr. Kevin: I have been very fortunate. Yeah, and I mean seventeen years in Australia you do not lose the accent. I have been lucky that it has also taken me around the world. So my training I grew up in South Africa and my training was there at the only vet school there called Onderstepoort, and after qualifying there, practiced for a while in South Africa. My dream was to be a wildlife vet. It didn’t quite materialize, really focused on working with dogs and cats for my career. But during those training years, I had some amazing experiences really getting out in the bush traveling and working with some Wildlife vets, working with all sorts of species rhino, elephant, lion, and then the smaller ones as well some of the antelope and zebra and that sort of thing.
Scott: the smaller ones. [laughter]
Dr. Kevin: Yeah, that is really where it is a very special opportunity and to get that close to those animals. A lot of that is with conservation work darting those animals, relocating them, checking them for health disease. For example, some of them, the Lions, unfortunately, get tuberculosis from eating buffalo that have TB. So obviously that even has human health implications, so that is where the vets, not only the actual vets working in the national parks but the state vets that are their focus is on cattle Health, but there is an interaction between wildlife and humans, wildlife and cattle and that sort of thing.
Dr. Kevin: So you have got buffalo on one side of a fence in a national park and immediately outside, you have got a cattle farm. So yeah, you got to keep that healthy. So the vet’s work there is, I suppose, just like a vet in urban areas as well looking after health, fixing problems, but also maintaining health and I guess that is also what coming back to what you are saying. What do we see on a daily basis is a blend. We are a mix of being a GP, we are an emergency department, we are pharmacists we are anesthetists, we are the surgeon.
Dr. Kevin: So we react and fix problems, animals come in with a broken leg or they come in vomiting and we fix that but then we also try and prevent and keep animals healthy. So a lot of our work is preventative things, vaccinations, that type of thing and people don’t realize they can really consult us for all sorts of problems. It is not just about physical illness. We trained a lot in behavior and that sort of thing.
Scott: Yeah, and so I think, pre-prep for this, we were chatting about a number of things and this will probably be a good topic for another one down the track with some of the behavioral things around separation anxiety the dogs commonly experience it and it’s in a much higher percentage in dogs than I have imagined it would be.
Scott: I have had dogs my whole life and dogs did not sort of I guess, suffer with that may be because there were always people at home or mum was at home or whatever it might have been.
Dr. Kevin: I think there’s a better understanding in human health that that mental health is actually an illness and can be treated and managed and what people have always thought is just that, that is just that dog or that’s that breed that is actually a problem that can be helped not just for the convenience of the humans, but actually for the wellness of that dog.
Dr. Kevin: We do not want all of our pets to be stressed and worried and anxious and it is so nice if we can control that. A lot of people sadly reach out to all sorts of resources and sometimes spend a lot of money and not realizing that vets are actually the veterinary equivalent of a psychiatrist.
Dr. Kevin: We can help with those problems and we will not just reach for medication straightaway as well. A lot of people are worried. “oh, I do not want my dog on medications” and that is definitely not the only thing we can do. We sort of give people the advice all the way from nutrition through to behavioral training and we point them in the direction of people who are experts in those fields as well.
Dr. Kevin: We can’t know it all. We’re not dog trainers for example. And those problems sometimes I think maybe people are worried to turn to us because they feel embarrassed. That they haven’t trained their dog well.
Scott: No, it’s not that.
Dr. Kevin: It is not. If training is part of it and we actually more refer to it as behavioral modification therapy, then it’s not that they might have a fault but it is just how should they react when their dog does a certain thing? [crosstalk] that is none of us knows, just like its raising kids, there is no manual that comes with the dog.
Scott: Struggles with this or struggle with that and then you do all these things as you go. As we sit here now, we are sort of sitting right in the midst of Covid-19, it’s been a very unusual year.
Dr. Kevin: Sure has.
Scott: I can really use all the cliche words have been floating around but watching the global, I guess, Pet Market, the adoption of dogs has really gone through the roof.
Dr. Kevin: It really has, you know, and we have seen that reflected in the number of puppies coming into the clinic people have really turned. I think it probably highlights how important that human-animal bond is when we lose a lot of the other freedoms that we have in our society and people turn to that, you know, having a pet in the home.
Dr. Kevin: There are multiple reasons, more people are home and they have maybe been contemplating getting a dog and they think well, this is a good idea while we are home to look after the puppy. Well, let us get a puppy now.
Dr. Kevin: But it is not only a new puppies, fortunately, a lot more people are also adopting dogs from pounds and that sort of thing as well. They were very worried at the beginning of how they are going to be stuck with a lot of dogs and because people could not come to visit but people have really adopted looking online and just other ways of adopting those pets.
Dr. Kevin: It has been very nice and is a concern as to what’ll, you think, are they going to be impacts when everybody sort of returns to work and are these dogs not going to get the attention or there has been a little bit of a trend in other countries. We have not seen it here where there have been suddenly more dogs put back up for adoption when people realize that they do not have the time to invest in that but, I think most people do realize the seriousness of what they are taking on and it has been lovely to see that people are appreciating getting dogs and it’s been quite an amazing unexpected I would say upswing of the pandemic is to see an increase in the interest in pet ownership.
Scott: Yeah, absolutely. I guess there’s so many breeds of dogs now and it is probably I mean this is where we could talk for days about so many different things. I mean the last count I sort of looked up I think there are more than 440 different types of dog breeds around and I do not know how accurate that is, but it seems to be somewhere in the ballpark. A lot of them obviously have different names from different countries and different things like that and then there is this constant breeding of I kind of call them designer dogs.
Dr. Kevin: Absolutely. We also call them designer dogs.
Scott: Oh, you do. OK.
Dr. Kevin: Definitely and some of them are intentional crosses and others are accidental and it is actually something that has been happening for years and years, but now they are given cute and appealing names.
Scott: They are used to be “bitzers”, right?. Yeah, everything was a “bitzer”. Now they are three grand or five grand and they’re designer.
Dr. Kevin: It is quite amazing in terms of the prices when you look at what people are asking, but the idea is sometimes to look at trying to get the best out of two different breeds and blend those, some of that has started a lot with some of the poodle crosses people looking for the appeal that they shed less and they less allergenic. And so could you bring that in and have the other positive characteristics of a different breed as well. And some of them are very robust and healthy. Unfortunately, some of them bring the health concerns of each breed together and can be problematic as well.
Scott: And you can compound the problem sometimes?
Dr. Kevin: Sometimes? absolutely they can. I suppose the one thing with cross breeds as a little bit less predictable with what you getting if you’re getting a purebred dog, a lot more is sort of known about that breed in terms of what it is going to be predictable in terms of their nature, their behavior traits, their exercise needs, and demands and as well as health concerns.
Dr. Kevin: As technology improves nowadays, is not widespread but you can get genetic testing for a lot of diseases. That does not mean that if a test comes back as being positive, it does not mean your dogs got that disease or going to get it but it might mean that they are the genetic carrier for that.
Dr. Kevin: So it can be helpful they are sometimes done as a screen at a fairly young age. And then you could know diseases to look out for maybe that might only actually manifest when the dog is six or seven years of age. But if you know that it is genetically at risk of getting that, you can sometimes take some actions to be as healthy as possible to avoid a particular disease or if the symptoms start then you can narrow it down. Yes. We know that my dog is a carrier for epilepsy or something like that.
Scott: Okay, interesting. Are there any common things that sort of you see pop up with some of the mixed breeds or maybe we will just chat about the poodle breeds for a moment because there is so many of them.
Dr. Kevin: Indeed.
Scott: I have lost count of how many last time putting together.
Dr. Kevin: So we are talking about breeds like cavoodles.
Scott: Cavoodles, Labradoodles.
Dr. Kevin: Multi-Poos.
Scott: Yeah, I saw a Bernedoodle the other day, which is a Bernese mountain dog and a poodle, I don’t know.
Dr. Kevin: Interesting.
Scott: Poor dog. So is there any sort of I guess concerns or some pros and cons just talking about the doodle sort of mix.
Dr. Kevin: Probably the most common problems are eye problems. Some of them do seem to be prone to genetic or inherited cataracts later on in life. So that is difficult to predict but that what we’ve seen.
Dr. Kevin: As a generalization, a lot of those are smaller breeds. Although we do get bigger crosses like labradoodles are standard poodle and a labrador. So they are quite a big dog. But the smaller breed as a generalization tend to have more dental problems than larger breeds of dogs. So not specific to those crosses per se.
Scott: So is there a reason why that happens?
Dr. Kevin: It is multifactorial. Some of that is really a lifestyle, how they are fed because bigger breed dogs tend to take to dry food better and little dogs are probably often more spoiled getting more sugary treats, more human food. So softer food tends to lead to worse dental disease whereas if you are crunching and eating a dry biscuit food.
Dr. Kevin: That has a bit more of a mechanical abrasion on the teeth. So you get less dental disease. But also if we think about it, both sides of dogs have the same number of teeth. They have all got 42 teeth.
Dr. Kevin: Now to fit all of those into a smaller space. There are more nooks and crannies. It is a bit more crowded in a smaller breed and especially if you then start looking at the breeds that are brachycephalic in other words the squished in phases now you have got a shorter jaw to fit the same number of teeth into too. So you start getting some of the teeth turning on their side.
Scott: Pugs and the…
Dr. Kevin: Yeah, pugs, french bulldogs, English bulldogs. All those sorts of breeds. Cavaliers. So they have got issues of the shape of the jaw is quite different to a long snout a dog like a German Shepherd or a labrador.
Scott: Okay, what sort of care is required in that situation? What should dog owners be looking to do?
Dr. Kevin: Yeah, very good because it is really a classic example of where preventative care can really help a lot. So getting them used to eating predominantly dry biscuit food is a big, big help.
Dr. Kevin: And then having dental chews from time to time and I do suggest also mixing them up from different brands, going to have a different texture to the dogs. They will chew in a slightly different part of their mouth on those, brushing their teeth is in theory the best thing you can do.
Dr. Kevin: I do not stand on my soapbox preaching that because I do not brush my own dog’s teeth. [laughter]
Scott: It is really a hard thing to do.
Dr. Kevin: To really be effective toothbrushing needs to be at least every second day. In reality, very few of us get on and do that. But it is a very good thing if people can commit to that and then regular checks with your vet because early intervention if we have just got calculus or tartar on the teeth, that is a reversible process.
Dr. Kevin: By having a scale and polish removing that we don’t get to the point where you get gingivitis. So gingivitis is inflammation in their gums. That is a result. It is reacting to the bacteria that live in the plaque and the tartar on the teeth. Once gingivitis gets beyond a certain point, it is irreversible.
Dr. Kevin: We can’t, for love nor money, we can’t save those teeth and we end up having to take those teeth out.
Dr. Kevin: So if we step in and do a dental scale and polish or dental cleaning, dental prophy all the same thing, early enough, then we are going to save those teeth because what people also don’t see is that process is happening below the gum line. So just a what might look like a mechanical cleaning would not actually be that effective. Because that is sitting underneath is about a few millimeters below the gum where they also accumulate and we can only really properly clean that with an ultrasonic scaler and polish but it is just a day procedure.
Dr. Kevin: No ill effects really from that.
Scott: As a general topic for this first off-the-rack kind of podcast, I thought it would be really good to just talk about the ageing of dogs, because a dog’s age is obviously very differently. And I know most people sort of count dog years in seven dog years, and I understand that it varies actually a little bit from breed to breed, but I just wanted to talk about because one of the things I think a lot of people wouldn’t understand is just how early dogs are considered almost what geriatric or old age.
Dr. Kevin: Unfortunately, Yes. It is sad that it is one of the hardest parts of owning a pet is that they age a lot quicker than us and that again as you mentioned does vary with breed. So your larger breeds age younger. It is uncommon to see a ten-year-old Great Dane. Unfortunately. I know that’s an extreme.
Dr. Kevin: Whereas, we see a lot of the smaller breeds, you know, are living fourteen, sixteen is a reasonable expectation. So the smaller dogs as a generalization are going to live longer.
Scott: Talk with us about the first year though. Is it true, like because first year, is it true that they age so much in the first because we see how much they grow from the puppies obviously from birth to puppies to that first year. Some dogs are almost fully grown after a year or two. Their size increases so much.
Scott: Is it true the kind of the human equivalent of that is sort of something like twenty to thirty years of human growth or is it…
Dr. Kevin: It is probably closer to the twenty like I would consider that by a year, most dogs are similar to being an eighteen-year-old. And probably from six months to twelve months is your teenage equivalent.
Dr. Kevin: We consider it more of a puppy under six months of age. So absolutely, that first year is even more than the traditional seven years that we think.
Scott: Right. Yeah, and then it then it tapers off…
Dr. Kevin: Taper off a little bit in the middle age. And then as I say from the sort of seven onwards with the most breeds we starting to consider them a senior. So much whether it is growth and development of their bones in that stage, whether it is behavioral things that we are doing. The changes from month to month are like us going from a few, from year to year. So you lose that opportunity to set the groundwork. Well, very quickly. And so getting good advice to do things right from the start with a puppy is so helpful because it is very difficult to undo things. And as you say that the change is very rapid at that young age.
Scott: What are the main things in those first formative years or call it the first one to two years, is it exercise nutrition a little bit like humans? What is your advice?
Dr. Kevin: Nutrition is very important and from a young age it is breed dependent. So your larger breeds about that dog over 25 kilos. So really only fully mature by about eighteen months of age. So it sounds strange to be feeding a one year old dog still a puppy food or even an eighteen-month-old of a large breed that is still be on puppy food and ideally, the better quality brands have foods that are formulated specifically for large breeds.
Dr. Kevin: Whereas by twelve months of age for a dog that is around the 10-kilo size, they will now be on adult food by that stage.
Scott: Okay, interesting.
Dr. Kevin: Also the frequency of feeding them when they are very young when you first get them. If you can fit into your lifestyle four times a day feeding would be perfect, which is hard for a lot of people. Very quickly you will move to three that a lot of dogs will be on three times a day by the time you get them and keeping them on that through until about three months or twelve weeks of age is probably good. Then you can transition them over as they also lose a bit of interest in that extra midday meal transition them over maybe to twice a day.
Dr. Kevin: And then also in it is such a formative time in terms of their socialization and that’s the confidence with strange people, confidence with other dogs, confidence with other things walking on grass, walking on concrete, going across a grill, walking on wet grass, exposing them to all those things while they are in that very formative and very receptive age period. Making it a positive interaction. So lots of treats at that stage praising them not pushing them beyond what they are comfortable with better encouraging with treats and that really that early socialization can set the groundwork for a really better adjusted more confident dog that is going to be a pleasure to have as a family member rather than a hindrance.
Dr. Kevin: So I think in those early years, getting diet correct, getting socialization correct, and then you mentioned that exercise I think yes definitely an important one.
Dr. Kevin: An important one actually not to over exercise them. You and I are both runners. We know that, you know, a sixteen-year-old kid could probably run a marathon if they’d trained enough for it, but it not really that good for them, the same we could take a labrador running for 3ks alongside a push bike and they will love it at a year of age, but it is not going to be that good for his joints.
Scott: It’s too young.
Dr. Kevin: So, absolutely walking and when we think about how dogs developed in the wild or how they hunt, they are short burst creatures. They will sprint to hunt down their prey or something like that, but they are not necessarily endurance. They will trot a lot for a bit and then they will sniff. So one of the best ways to exercise the dog is in an area where it is safe and permitted to be off lead.
Dr. Kevin: A big football field is a great example. They will sniff around one corner, then they will run over to the other side, and they will take a bit of time sniffing and then they will run around. They might do a kilometer in a half an hour period of exercise. But they are not doing it constantly running. They are not actually. You get lots of dogs that do endurance sort of events.
Scott: Sure, sure.
Dr. Kevin: It is not the way their body is actually designed. They are designed for short sprints and then lots of sniffing.
Scott: And let them self regulate the way they move a little bit more. It is a lot more play-based. It’s probably…
Dr. Kevin: Play-based. And we must not forget that their walks and that is not just about exercise. Actually, they are sniffing about their environment. They are getting mental stimulation a lot. And so that could be a great help for boredom. You have got a puppy who is digging a lot of holes in your yard and that sort of thing they want to keep themselves entertained, going out for frequent small walks.
Dr. Kevin: So if you can fit in three times a day, not all of us can, that is just half an hour at a time instead of a big long marathon session is a better way. Now if you can walk a young dog morning and evening, good for their exercise, good for their mental stimulation.
Scott: Yeah. Awesome. Excellent. Well, that is probably a good place to pull it up here on our first dog pod.
Dr. Kevin: Had to bring it back to running.
Scott: Yeah. [laughter]
Scott: Okay. Thank you very much for joining us mate. And yeah, we look forward to picking your brain a lot more in the next episodes.
Dr. Kevin: It has been good to chat. Thanks.
Scott: Cheers. Thanks.