Dog Care

Jun 16

Real Life Benefits to Dog Ownership

How Dogs Help You More Than You Think

by Helen Rayner

Your dog is your best friend, and so they should be. They’re always there for you, are always excited when you walk through the door, and aren't they just aren’t the cutest creatures on the planet? But did you know that your canine friend brings a lot of hidden benefits to your life? From making sure you’re getting exercise to raising your mood, your dog proves again and again that dogs really are man’s best friend. In this article, we’ll take at look at some of surprising side effects of owning a dog, which will either make you love your pooch even more or be good ammunition when it comes to convincing your other half that it’s time to get a pet!

Reduced Allergies

Want to remedy your children against annoying allergies and other mild illnesses? A dog may help. A study conducted by scientists at the University of Cincinnati found that children exposed to dogs at an early age were up to four times less likely to develop the conditions than children who grew up without a dog. And if you’re debating between getting a dog or a cat, then know that cats actually increase a person’s sensitivity. Just one more reason in a long list of reasons why dogs are better than cats (ok, cats are pretty cute too, but not a patch on canines).

They Get You Fit

Imagine two scenarios. In the first you don’t own a dog. You’ve had a busy day at work, you’ve made dinner, and you’re pretty tired. Do you do that exercise you planned or do you think, pfft, let’s do that tomorrow - there’s some good TV to watch!

In the second scenario, you have a happy, bouncing dog eager to go outside to play. You’re tired, but you just can’t resist those eyes, and soon you found yourself outside on a nice summer’s evening, playing with your dog.

In which scenario are you healthier? The second of course! You might not always feel like taking your dog to get some exercise, but when you do you’re also giving yourself that all important exercise you need to be at your best. You’ll feel much better for going outside and thirty minutes to an hour a day - we promise!

They Improve Your Mental Health

Your body gets a workout when you have a dog, and your mind also gets a thorough workout too. Dogs have been shown to ease stress, symptoms of depression, and much more. If you have a child suffering from mental conditions, such as depression PTSD, or ADHD, dogs can help. A psychologist from London Medical Centre describes the act of owning a dog as better than Prozac or other medications. Though we’re not entirely why, something to do with the responsibility of taking care of another creature, the companionship they bring, and the all out love they give to the humans in their lives make us feel good. Give it a try.

They Make You a Better Person

We promise we’re not making this up, but dogs can make people...better, especially if they’re exposed to them as children. Having a pet teaches us a whole host of life lessons, from responsibility to loss to how to treat those who are less able than you and more. Children benefit in particular because they quickly learn than they’re not the center of the universe, that even though they’re young, there is something else in their life that requires that they take some sort of control.

Boost Your Social Life

As if dogs don’t do enough for humans...they also help us make friends! Owning a dog opens you up to a whole world that was previously cut off from you, and studies have shown that dog owners are less lonely than the dog-less. Take your dog regularly to a local park and you’ll soon have plenty of fellow dog-owning friends with whom you can chat. You’ll even find that you’re approached on the street much more when you’re walking your dog than when not. Even if these random interactions don’t lead to long lasting friendships, you’ll enjoy feeling part of the community.

These are just a few of many benefits of owning a pet! Did you experience any surprise benefits when you finally took the plunge and got a dog? We would like to hear your comments!

Many thanks to guest blogger Helen Rayner for the above article.

Jun 14

Wysong Speaking Truth!


What do manufacturers, nutritional scientists and regulators do when faced with the discovery that their "100% complete" processed foods haven't passed the red face test of not causing disease? First, they may deny and attack critics. Then, when faced with mounting evidence, research begins. When the nutrient problem is identified, it is repaired  usually by "reformulation" with added synthetic nutrients.

This event is then heralded as a marvel of pet food science. The new repaired food is declared "100% complete." But wait. The former, unrepaired food was also "100% complete." See a problem? The industry doesn't. After all, the problem has been "fixed." Further, why should anyone expect perfection? Mistakes are made. Shouldn't we measure the pet food industry by its willingness to make the necessary corrections?

Does an eventual explanation of causes justify results like disease, suffering and death? Correcting nutritional errors after disease results merits accolades only if the real lesson has been learned, and the new improved food is not being foisted on the public as "100% complete."

Things would be more forgivable if producers, regulators, nutritionists, and veterinarians weren't claiming perfection in the first place  and if they weren’t causing disease by so doing. "100% complete" means total, absolute perfection. Look “complete” and “100%” up. It's not like horseshoes and grenades where close is plenty good enough. 100% does not mean 99.99%. Complete does not mean incomplete. Neither is it valid to argue that "100% complete" has a special loose definition that is qualified by matching a food to NRC minimal standards or feeding trial tests. The average person should be able to read a package and understand "100% complete" to mean just that, not a special case definition based on esoteric pet food industry argot and caveat emptor. Real food consists of nutrients by the myriad, likely well over a hundred. Some known, some not. Even if all the essential nutrients are in the starting materials, processing destroys or alters practically all of them. There is also every reason to believe that only the more obvious tip of the nutrient/disease iceberg has been noticed and corrected. The hidden jagged edges of exclusively fed "100% complete" foods will continue to tear at the health bow of companion animals, robbing them of vitality in numerous subtle ways until they ultimately sink from decoys such as "infection," "old age," "degenerative disease," "genetics," "fate" or "unknown causes,” such as described in the previous Truth (note from Melanie, Dr. Wysong has published a series of articles called Wysong 100 Pet Truths, look for them on

All is not well if "100% complete and balanced" (fixed) foods are fed exclusively. Although the pet food industry cleverly embroiders the truth and is charitable with itself for past errors (and the millions of animals diseased from reliance on the "100% complete" claim), the caring pet owner should not be. The lesson is, become cynical and skeptical, or the past will be prologue.

Thought for the day: "What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, men would die from great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected." Chief Seattle, American Indian Duwamish Tribe.

Word for the day: Omega-3  An important class of Fatty Acids (EPA, DHA) found primarily in fish, flax, hemp, chia, and other seeds, and also in grass fed or wild eggs and meats. Modern western diets are deficient. These fatty acids are a part of the structure of every cell membrane and also form compounds that control metabolism at the micro-level. Omega-3's are anti-cancer and important to cardiovascular and brain health, immunity, and also have been shown to help with arthritis...and about every other disease condition. (For a complete discussion of these important compounds and fats and oils in general, see Lipid Nutrition Understanding Fats and Oils in Health and Disease, by Dr. Wysong.)


(c) Dr. Randy Wysong, all rights reserved. Permission was given to Melanie Schlaginhaufen to reprint.  For more articles by Dr. Wysong, please visit their website,

Feb 13

Concerns Regarding Early Neutering

Should we rethink this important issue?

The last thing that an ethical animal group wants to see is an adopted animal being accidentally bred before it has been spayed or neutered. We all know that there are already more animals in shelters than there are available homes to adopt them. Thus more and more animal groups have opted for early spaying and neutering....even as young as 7 or 8 weeks for puppies and kittens. This practice has become more common in the last decade, so only recently are studies coming out that show what the effects have been on the health of dogs that have been altered at a young age. Before the practice became popular, animal groups had to follow up with every adopter, to make sure that the dog was altered at the age their veterinarian recommended (usually somewhere between 7 and 12 months of age). Unfortunately, female dogs often come into season around 6 months of age, so the adopter had to be very responsible to make sure they kept her confined during her first heat cycle.  In a perfect world, no dog would ever be adopted to an irresponsible owner, so no accidents would ever happen. Unfortunately, we don't live in a perfect world. So, for various reasons, once early spay/neuter became available, many groups decided no animal would leave for their new home until it was altered and many adoptable animals were altered when they were infants.  I am continuing to research this issue, as I recently have heard that some studies have shown increased aggression in female dogs who were spayed at an early age, as well as higher incidents of incontinence issues. I will share this information with you once I can find the studies involved. In the meantime, special thanks to Benjamin Hart at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California, Davis for permission to reprint this article that goes over a recent study about early neutering.

Golden Retriever Study Suggests Early Neutering Affects Health

Neutering, and the age at which a dog is neutered, may affect the animal’s risk for developing certain cancers and joint diseases, according to a new study of golden retrievers by a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The study, which examined the health records of 759 golden retrievers, found a surprising doubling of hip dysplasia among male dogs neutered before one year of age. This and other results were published Feb. 13 in the online scientific journal PLOS ONE.

“The study results indicate that dog owners and service-dog trainers should carefully consider when to have their male or female dogs neutered,” said lead investigator Benjamin Hart, a distinguished professor emeritus in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“It is important to remember, however, that because different dog breeds have different vulnerabilities to various diseases, the effects of early and late neutering also may vary from breed to breed,” he said.

While results of the new study are revealing, Hart said the relationship between neutering and disease-risk remains a complex issue. For example, the increased incidence of joint diseases among early-neutered dogs is likely a combination of the effect of neutering on the young dog’s growth plates as well as the increase in weight on the joints that is commonly seen in neutered dogs.

(Photo courtesy of Hiroki Nakamura)

Dog owners in the United States are overwhelmingly choosing to neuter their dogs, in large part to prevent pet overpopulation or avoid unwanted behaviors. In the U.S., surgical neutering — known as spaying in females — is usually done when the dog is less than one year old.

In Europe, however, neutering is generally avoided by owners and trainers and not promoted by animal health authorities, Hart said.

During the past decade, some studies have indicated that neutering can have several adverse health effects for certain dog breeds. Those studies examined individual diseases using data drawn from one breed or pooled from several breeds.

Against that backdrop, Hart and colleagues launched their study, using a single hospital database. The study was designed to examine the effects of neutering on the risks of several diseases in the same breed, distinguishing between males and females and between early or late neutering and non-neutering.

The researchers chose to focus on the golden retriever because it is one of the most popular breeds in the U.S. and Europe and is vulnerable to various cancers and joint disorders. The breed also is favored for work as a service dog.

The research team reviewed the records of female and male golden retrievers, ranging in age from 1 to 8 years, that had been examined at UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital for two joint disorders and three cancers: hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear, lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumor. The dogs were classified as intact (not neutered), neutered early (before 12 months age), or neutered late (at or after 12 months age).

Joint disorders and cancers are of particular interest because neutering removes the male dog’s testes and the female’s ovaries, interrupting production of certain hormones that play key roles in important body processes such as closure of bone growth plates, and regulation of the estrous cycle in female dogs.

The study revealed that, for all five diseases analyzed, the disease rates were significantly higher in both males and females that were neutered either early or late compared with intact (non-neutered) dogs.

Specifically, early neutering was associated with an increase in the occurrence of hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and lymphosarcoma in males and of cranial cruciate ligament tear in females. Late neutering was associated with the subsequent occurrence of mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma in females.

In most areas, the findings of this study were consistent with earlier studies, suggesting similar increases in disease risks. The new study, however, was the first to specifically report an increased risk of late neutering for mast cell tumors and hemangiosarcoma.

Furthermore, the new study showed a surprising 100 percent increase, or doubling, of the incidence of hip dysplasia among early-neutered males. Earlier studies had reported a 17 percent increase among all neutered dogs compared to all non-neutered dogs, indicating the importance of the new study in making gender and age-of-neutering comparisons.

Other researchers on this UC Davis study were: Gretel Torres de la Riva, Thomas Farver and Lynette Hart, School of Veterinary Medicine; Anita Oberbauer, Department of Animal Science; Locksley Messam, Department of Public Health Sciences; and Neil Willits, Department of Statistics.

About UC Davis

For more than 100 years, UC Davis has engaged in teaching, research and public service that matter to California and transform the world. Located close to the state capital, UC Davis has more than 33,000 students, more than 2,500 faculty and more than 21,000 staff, an annual research budget of nearly $750 million, a comprehensive health system and 13 specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and more than 100 undergraduate majors in four colleges — Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Biological Sciences, Engineering, and Letters and Science. It also houses six professional schools — Education, Law, Management, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing.

(c) UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, reprinted with permission.

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  • IMPORTANT NOTE:  In correspondence with Dr. Hart, he stated the following:  "For shelters and adoption groups, if they want the dog sterilized before adoption, vasectomy of males and tubal ligation of females is a less invasive and less expensive approach."



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