All posts by Sally Gift

I have been an active participant in the sport of showing and breeding purebred dogs since 1973. While I began my journey with an Irish Setter, Gordon Setters became my passion in 1977 and I've been breeding them exclusively ever since.

GSCA National Walking Gun Dog Championship

Couldn’t be more thrilled to share the news about about the

Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc.

National Walking Gun Dog Championship 

Monday, October 22, 2018

C&R Center on the Norman G Wilder Wildlife Area

Felton, Delaware

This is GSCA’s 3rd National event for 2018 and the newest addition to the GSCA lineup of spectacular events showcasing our talented and beautiful breed!

Premium List Link

Walking-field-trial (1)

Feature photo by Jim McWalter

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

I promise to…

*Members are aware that since January 2017, I’ve served as Vice President and now President of the Gordon Setter Club of America, Inc. At times, GSCA financial matters, and Board controversy about these matters, have grabbed headline status in the newsletter, by email and during conversations at GSCA events.

What never changed or grabbed headlines was my dedication to the objectives of the GSCA and the reason we all belong – the dogs.

In September of 2015, well before I was elected to office in 2017, I wrote a blog that clearly states my personal dedication to our beautiful breed and my commitment to pursue and fulfill GSCA objectives. An excerpt from that article follows.**

“There is a call to action to be heard here, for those who want to protect and preserve the Gordon Setter, and that call goes out to all who own and love them. I am not advocating that we begin to mass produce Gordon Setters by indiscriminate breeding and one should never interpret this data, nor my words, to mean such action should take place. The AKC however, is taking appropriate action steps to improve the reputation and increase the interest in purebred dogs and we can follow their action plans and their lead. The AKC cannot be successful on their own though, it will take the support of everyone who loves a Gordon Setter and that includes pet owners, breeders and hunters alike. We each need to heed the call to act, to do our own small, yet vital part, to promote purebred dog ownership and the benefits of owning a purebred. We need to join and support our National club and regional specialty clubs to do any small part there that we can contribute. At the next level the breed’s parent club, the Gordon Setter Club of America, also needs to visit this call to action to ensure that we, as an organization, are doing our part on a larger scale to promote the breed, interest in the sport, the preservation of our breeders and the development of a future generation of breeders.”

It would be impossible not to recognize that GSCA events, activities and charitable donations could come to a grinding halt, if the club’s financial matters aren’t managed consistently and appropriately. And that attending to this task ensures the club can fulfill its objectives. One thing follows the other and vice versa. It is after all, about the dogs.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

*This is a personal message and is not intended to represent any official statement of or by the GSCA or the GSCA Board.

**excerpt from IS OUR BREED IN JEOPARDY?

 

FDA Investigating Potential Connection Between Diet and Cases of Canine Heart Disease

My heart goes out to a member of our Gordon Setter community who lost her beautiful Gordon companion to canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Her heart is broken. Learning, while doctoring to save her Gordon, that the food she had so carefully chosen to ensure her Gordon’s health and longevity, cost him his life instead, added unbearable pain to an already devastating loss.

We want you to be aware that DCM caused by diet has been confirmed in our beloved breed.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Link between Diet and Canine Heart Disease

July 12, 2018

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is alerting pet owners and veterinary professionals about reports of canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) in dogs eating certain pet foods containing peas, lentils, other legume seeds, or potatoes as main ingredients. These reports are unusual because DCM is occurring in breeds not typically genetically prone to the disease. The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine and the Veterinary Laboratory Investigation and Response Network, a collaboration of government and veterinary diagnostic laboratories, are investigating this potential association.

Canine DCM is a disease of a dog’s heart muscle and results in an enlarged heart. As the heart and its chambers become dilated, it becomes harder for the heart to pump, and heart valves may leak, leading to a buildup of fluids in the chest and abdomen. DCM often results in congestive heart failure. Heart function may improve in cases that are not linked to genetics with appropriate veterinary treatment and dietary modification, if caught early.

The underlying cause of DCM is not truly known, but is thought to have a genetic component. Breeds that are typically more frequently affected by DCM include large and giant breed dogs, such as Great Danes, Boxers, Newfoundlands, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards and Doberman Pinschers. It is less common in small and medium breed dogs, except American and English Cocker Spaniels. However, the cases that have been reported to the FDA have included Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Whippets, a Shih Tzu, a Bulldog and Miniature Schnauzers, as well as mixed breeds.

Diets in cases reported to the FDA frequently list potatoes or multiple legumes such as peas, lentils, other “pulses” (seeds of legumes), and their protein, starch and fiber derivatives early in the ingredient list, indicating that they are main ingredients. Early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicate that the dogs consistently ate these foods as their primary source of nutrition for time periods ranging from months to years. High levels of legumes or potatoes appear to be more common in diets labeled as “grain-free,” but it is not yet known how these ingredients are linked to cases of DCM. Changes in diet, especially for dogs with DCM, should be made in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.

In the reports the FDA has received, some of the dogs showed signs of heart disease, including decreased energy, cough, difficulty breathing and episodes of collapse. Medical records for four atypical DCM cases, three Golden Retrievers and one Labrador Retriever, show that these dogs had low whole blood levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine deficiency is well-documented as potentially leading to DCM. The Labrador Retriever with low whole blood taurine levels is recovering with veterinary treatment, including taurine supplementation, and a diet change. Four other cases of DCM in atypical dog breeds, a Miniature Schnauzer, Shih Tzu and two Labrador Retrievers, had normal blood taurine levels. The FDA continues to work with board certified veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the clinical presentation of these dogs. The agency has also been in contact with pet food manufacturers to discuss these reports and to help further the investigation.

The FDA encourages pet owners and veterinary professionals to report cases of DCM in dogs suspected of having a link to diet by using the electronic Safety Reporting Portal or calling their state’s FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinators. Please see the link below about “How to Report a Pet Food Complaint” for additional instructions.

Additional Information

GSCA National Championship & Field Trial 2018

If you’ve never been to a Field Trial, now’s is the time to make it happen!

November 4th through November 11th

Every year hardworking members of the GSCA put on fabulous, one of a kind National events, spotlighting the many talents and the absolute beauty of the Gordon Setter. I’m spotlighting the 24th annual GSCA National Championship and Field Trial here for you today. Gordon Setters from all across the US and Canada gather together here with their owners. If you’re a Gordon lover, like me, and you’ve never attended one of these events, make 2018 the year you give yourself this gift, make plans to attend! We promise beautiful scenery, great Gordons, camaraderie and hospitality, lots of fun and lasting memories!

GSCA NFT Facebook Page  for more information!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

NationalChampionshipField-Trial AD

What’s “Special” About Specialties?”

Yep, there’s still time to plan a trip to Tuscon in November to catch the GSCA National Specialty! Click here for the website link – just in case you need the details!
The following article by Arliss Paddock reminds us why a trip to the National is one of the best things ever.
I sure can’t wait to see you here in Arizona in November!
Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

What’s “Special” About Specialties

Whether you’re a prospective owner researching a breed or an experienced breeder, handler, or judge involved in that breed for decades, there is no better place to learn than the breed’s national specialty show — or, simply, “the national.”

Usually held annually by the breed’s national parent club, the national is more than just a dog show; it’s where dedicated fans of the breed meet together year after year, sharing their knowledge and passion and bringing their best dogs to compete against excellent specimens of the breed from other parts of the country.

In addition to the conformation classes, the national typically offers other events such as obediencetracking, and agility, as well as breed-specific performance venues such as earthdog or field trialsherding tests and trialslure coursing, or draft tests.

As with any dog show, the point of the conformation classes is determination of the best breeding stock to continue the breed — and this point is taken nowhere more seriously than at the national. The national offers a look at the state of the breed and where it’s going.

A class win at the national can be a high point of a dog person’s year, and a Best of Breed or Best in Sweepstakes win can be the crowning glory of a long history in the breed.

But the beauty of the national goes beyond the glory of winning, whether hoped-for or achieved. To a dedicated fan of the breed, nothing matches the experience of seeing a ringful of those dogs that are so pleasing to your eye, wonderfully presented at their best and gathered together in a number that you don’t see anywhere else during the year. If you love that breed, it’s positively heart-stirring.

The national is the best place in the world to spend time with others who share your interest. There is no better opportunity to learn from others about the breed, whether ringside or at the breakfast buffet where everyone meets bleary-eyed after walking and feeding dogs and before launching into grooming.

Most parent clubs hold their national in different parts of the country from year to year. If you are seeking in-depth knowledge of a breed, look up the breed’s parent club and find out when and where the next national will be, and try to attend.

Guide to Genetics Testing

A Clinical Genetics Approach to Understanding
Genetic, Multiplex and Health Testing

Jerold S. Bell, DVM

     The increasing availability of genetic screening tests, DNA tests,
and now multiplex test panels also requires an understanding
of what the tests tell you.       Join us in this webinar and learn:

– The practical applications for using the results of these tests
to improve the health of dogs

– The dangers for the inappropriate use of genetic tests to dog health
– The roles of the breeder, dog owner and veterinarian
in utilizing genetic tests

Running time: 75 mins

Free registration compliments of

Veterinary Professionals can earn CE credit (Approved by AAVSB RACE,
NY State, NJVMA) by logging into VetVine (it’s free to join)
and registering to view the video on this page

AKCCHF – Clinical Genetics & Health Testing

Click the link above to access this video seminar.

 

2018 GSCA National Specialty Important Deadlines!

 

RV RENTALS/BOX VAN PARKING/GROOMING SPACE

Information for the online ordering of RV parking spaces can be found at http://coyoteclassic.org/Exhibitors/GSCAParking. The opening date is 3 September at 5PM PT and the closing date is 22 September at 5PM PT. Please note that the dates are firm on opening and closing for this information. We are being granted the opportunity to do this BEFORE the site opens for the Coyote Classic regular all breed shows. We have spaces in several different lots to meet various needs and requirements. Any questions regarding RV parking should be directed to parking2018@coyoteclassic.org.

BOX VAN PARKING

Box van parking information is at http://coyoteclassic.org/Exhibitors/GSCABoxVan. You may view the map and ordering process now. The opening date is 3 September at 5PM PT and the closing date is 22 September at 5PM PT. Please note that the dates are firm on opening and closing for this information. We are being granted the opportunity to do this BEFORE the site opens for the Coyote Classic regular all breed shows. Any questions regarding box van parking should be directed to parking2018@coyoteclassic.org.

RV RENTALS

Several RV and trailer rental companies/contact information are listed on the NS website (http://gsca2018national.com/trailers/rvs.html). Important! If you rent a unit, you will still incur an additional daily site fee through Pima County Fairgrounds.You must make the site reservations.

GROOMING SPACE

Indoor reserved grooming spaces with electric are 10 X 10 feet and located in the Old Pueblo Hall on a first come, first serve basis. If you want to be next to someone, please do the reservation together. The grooming space reservations are all being done online at http://coyoteclassic.org/Exhibitors/GSCAGrooming . Free grooming space will be made available under the Pavilion. At no time may electrical be used in this area or any area under the Pavilion. If you do use power, you will be asked to leave. Grooming space questions should be directed to Pat Boldt, Event Coordinator at mpboldt@aol.com. All exhibitors are encouraged to bring their own extension cords and splitters.

Pat Boldt (California), 2018 National Specialty Event Coordinator. Questions? mpboldt.53@gmail.com or 951-764-9635

Turn of the Century Scandal: AKC vs. Boehm

I enjoyed this look back to the 1930’s and a scandalous battle between the AKC and an editorial writer, hope you do too!  Published by The Canine Chronical and linked below.

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Turn of the Century Scandal

Turn-of-The-Century Scandals: AKC vs. Boehm

By Amy Fernandez

It may seem unbelievable, but at one time AKC often shared detailed information about its legal wrangles. Transcripts, depositions, and trial verdicts were published in the AKC Gazette. Needless to say, this was never an official policy and there was no altruistic motive attached to these uncharacteristic episodes of transparency. AKC did it to make a point. A good example is the case of AKC vs. S. Boehm. It merited three months of coverage, including extensive excerpts from the trial board hearing June 22, 1930.

It centered on an editorial in Dogdom, a monthly publication based in Battle Creek, Michigan. It had a good run from 1900-1941, and its success was built on its appeal to mainstream fanciers. The content wasn’t the most polished or professional. But it delved into the issues affecting its readers, often showcasing them with very lively editorials. And this one hit a nerve at 51 Madison Avenue.

Published in April 1930, it was provocatively titled How Much Longer, O American Kennel Club. The author, S. Boehm was clearly exasperated by AKC bureaucracy- specifically its contradictory treatment of fanciers, skyrocketing fees, and endless fines imposed for dubious infractions. It wasn’t the first, last, or worst journalistic denigration of AKC management. But this author was also a breeder/exhibitor with 16 years in the game. Speed may not exemplify every AKC action, but they were on this immediately. Boehm headed the list at AKC’s next Executive Committee Meeting.

Minutes from the May 20 meeting reported, “ It was moved and carried that the Legal Committee write a letter to the publisher and editor of Dogdom, calling attention to misstatements and other statements bordering on libel… stating that if this policy is continued the matter will be referred to our attorney. It was moved and carried that the Secretary be instructed to prefer charges against S. Boehm for conduct prejudicial to the best interests of the American Kennel Club… and that same be sent to the Los Angeles Trial Board.” On July 18 the Los Angeles Trial Board’s report was presented during another Executive Committee session. “It was moved and carried that the report be received and its recommendation, as follows, adopted: That S. Boehm be suspended indefinitely from all rights and privileges of the American Kennel Club the same to take effect immediately.”

But AKC wasn’t finished. The August Gazette ran a lengthy editorial justifying for the outcome, followed by several pages of testimony from the June 22 trial. They did not share the article that had sparked this contentious incident, instead quoting statements to which AKC “particularly objected.”

Here’s a sampling:

“The AKC has developed into an institution that seems to look up on the dog game as an easy source from which to draw money.”

“Conditions prevail that are absolutely unbelievable. The majority of American fanciers acknowledge this.”

“The AKC is of no use to the average fancier.”

The writer qualified that remark, saying that registrations were the only benefit he’d derived from the organization – and he paid for this service. He specifically questioned why small specialty clubs were charged $50 licensing fees, a considerable sum back then, and receiving no tangible benefits in return. Admittedly, Boehm’s tone verged on volatile, but he raised timely issues. They were especially pertinent to West Coast fanciers who felt completely disconnected from AKC. Boehm wasn’t the only fancier baffled by its contradictory policies and erratic enforcement of rules. Pointing out that some violations received draconian penalties, while others were ignored; he added that many infractions resulted rampant clerical errors by AKC staff, a fact that never seemed to merit consideration. He made rather blunt comparisons between dictatorial government regimes and AKC’s autocratic manner. Even so, by today’s standards, Boehm’s rant seems tame. But AKC was determined to discourage similar journalistic criticism. They retaliated.

Then as now, AKC never suffered a lawyer shortage. When presenting the matter to Gazette readers, they repeatedly emphasized that, “The trial was based not upon the defendant’s criticism of the AKC, but on statements that appeared in Dogdom.” The relative impartiality of AKC trial boards remains a perennial source of debate. In this case, the Los Angeles Trial Board consisted of Al Christy and John Sinnott, chaired by Freeman Ford. They utilized the classic defamation strategy of proving that Boehm’s statements were false and therefore legally actionable. That was obviously the point AKC sought to illustrate when they published this transcript. However, it revealed much more than they bargained for.

They requested that Boehm submit evidence supporting the veracity of his statements.

Instead, he brought five witnesses to testify at his hearing – and he had plenty to say. Like AKC, he used the typical legal defense, contending that his comments were editorial opinion. “The AKC now attempts to deprive me of my privileges not because I have broken one of their many rules, nor because I have committed a fraud, but because I have stated my opinions to the press – and it did not suit the AKC.” Christy responded saying, “I don’t think they mind your opinion, as much as they mind your printing your opinion – broadcasting it.”

That pretty much set the pace for this candid, sometimes comical, documented exchange. More than once, the testimony veered into that discomfort zone about the vague parameters that separate defamation, justified criticism, and the constitutional right to free speech. They sensibly avoided suggesting that Boehm had malicious intent, instead accusing him of inadequately researching the issue before launching his editorial blitzkrieg.

One witness, Z. B. West, admitted that Boehm might have gone a bit overboard, but also took the opportunity to complain about his personally frustrating experiences with the AKC registration department. “AKC clerical and detail work is very unsatisfactory… it seems to me there are grounds for a good deal of criticism of the detail work as it is handled… For example, it took me eight months to get one bitch registered and transferred, meanwhile two wins were cancelled. It took six months to register a litter brother to the bitch.” He cited plenty of detail to support his claim. The trial board wasn’t prepared for that topical detour. They reluctantly concurred that there was room for improvement, and eased through that awkward impasse with a bit of that vintage whine, “good help is hard to find.”

Pasadena breeder/judge Kyle Onstott, the era’s perpetual voice of restraint and reason, also appeared on Boehm’s behalf. “I would like to say that sentences taken out of context do not furnish a particularly good interpretation of the purpose or intent of the article.” His remarks sent the discussion off topic again as they debated the average fancier’s access to AKC rules pertaining to registration procedures and dog show regulations. Bohem chimed in to say that complete information was not readily available since that required purchasing the Gazette “at a fee.”

Another witness, Dr. Frank Porter Miller of Los Angeles, admitted that some rules were needlessly complicated and could seem unfair, “when a specialty club puts on a show of 11 dogs and pays fifty dollars… the article was a little raw, a little bold, but primarily there was a lot of truth in what was said… we should not condemn the opinion of a man.” Then as now, AKC rules were constantly revised and amended, and constituents often had trouble following the plot, especially since AKC did not publish a complete set of rules until November, 1932.

In September the Gazette ran another lengthy editorial. “Since the Boehm case, the American Kennel Club has received an astonishingly large number of letters complimenting the Club upon the verdict.” However, the surprisingly conciliatory tone suggests that those letters touched on a few more issues. Rather than rattling sabers, they brandished an olive branch. Entitled An Invitation to the Press, it stressed AKC’s commitment to transparency.

“Without thorough knowledge, no one can write with intelligence upon any subject. Take the American Kennel Club for example.” It goes on to say that few writers bother to ascertain the facts. “As a rule, he knows very little about the problems that confront the American Kennel Club and its officers. Quite often, he knows very little about dogs. Still, he plunges eagerly into the subject, and offers a lot of suggestions and changes that he believes will be beneficial to the sport, but in reality, are impractical and impossible in operation.” That observation is equally valid today. Misinformation in the mainstream media has fostered a deep rooted and possibly irreparable anti-AKC bias.

“Why these conditions exist has no bearing upon the subject. The American Kennel Club acknowledges that they do exist. And it is anxious to have them altered so writers will get firsthand information regarding the organization.” AKC summed up by suggesting that major publications arrange for regular press visits to AKC headquarters in order to ensure accurate reporting about touchy issues like their obsession with legislative detail, and the reasons for perpetual clerical delays. Registrations totaled roughly 800,000, and the article noted that back in the day when half as many were on file, “business moved considerably smoother than it does today.” Rather ominously, readers were warned that they were approaching the one million mark and, “the situation will become impossible if additional changes are not made in the system employed by the Club.”

AKC eventually reconsidered its harsh verdict against Boehm. His privileges were reinstated and, somewhat paradoxically, he carved out a successful career as a Gazette feature writer. As predicted, registrations soon passed that fateful milestone of one million in 1935. That lucky dog, a Sheltie appropriately called Sheltieland Alice Grey Gown, and his owner, Miss Catherine Edwards Coleman, attended a grand ceremony at AKC headquarters to mark the occasion.

It took half a century to reach that goal, which obviously wasn’t sufficient time to improve procedures to handle the volume of business. Nor did that happen during the next two decades as registrations surpassed five million. By then, AKC was immersed in phenomenal post-war growth. Annual registrations exceeding one million became routine. Since then, AKC has continually overhauled and streamlined procedures to achieve their time honored goal of efficient customer service. A century later it still seems perpetually out of reach.

Although its overall growth has slowed, in my opinnion, AKC never ceases to revise the map with new breeds and events – and endlessly changing rules. I think Boehm would likely cringe to see the current complexity of regulations governing AKC participants. This information is certainly more accessible, but to me that’s the upshot of internet technology rather than any drastic revisions in AKC philosophy. As always, it seems its commitment to transparency waxes and wanes along with the mood of the board. This might not ease your concerns about AKC management. But keep it in mind the next time you feel completely frustrated about your slow progress toward a personal goal.

Being an Owner Handler is NOT a Death Sentence

I’m an owner handler exhibitor – well, I used to be an owner handler before I matured into an older lady who runs with a gimp, if she runs at all – I let a handler do the running these days. But, while I was an owner handler I love, love, loved being in the ring, and it goes without saying that my love amplified to a rock music decibel when I won. I’ve finished many dogs from many various classes, especially Bred by Exhibitor, and I’ve won my fair share of trips to the winners circle at Gordon Setter Specialties. Group judging was beyond what I considered my forte, that’s where I’d really expect a dog to shine, and knowing my limitations, that’s when I would choose to step back and let a pro take the lead. Today, because of my physical restrictions, I content myself to sit ring side leading the cheering squad. And, manning the water bucket…and handing over the brush…and passing out the bait…

With that said, frequently, I hear comments by exhibitors about how political the judging was, or how “the win” was stacked before the show even started. And just as frequently, I happened to agree with the judge’s decision that day (even if my dog lost) which left me wondering if falling back on that oft voiced complaint, was doing more harm to exhibitors than most of us realize.  Certainly if you think about it, if my dog with a pro handling was a winner that day, I didn’t think that judging was political…I thought we deserved that win. Wouldn’t you? For the winners sake, and many other reasons, I’m hoping to help bring understanding, especially for folks who are struggling to win, about the many, many variables of conformation judging. Sometimes, and often times, politics had nothing to do with the winners that day. I’d like us to give judges, the pros, and the sport a break, at least when it’s deserved!

When I’m watching judging, I am often overwhelmed with the desire to help some hapless exhibitor gain control over their dog, or grab a dog to help the owner learn a better way to groom, or maybe just to shake an exhibitor into consciousness so they go to the ring when called. I’m no professional folks, I’m just like all of you, but one thing I do know, and would share with you, is my belief and experience that the professional often wins because he or she is a professional, doing a professional job. (can you paint your car, bake cupcakes, do taxes, or any one of a million other jobs as well as a pro?) Most times there is an obvious difference in the ring appearance of a professionally handled dog versus the owner entry, and what I would share is that we owner handlers must develop our skill so we look and act like the pro, to make our dogs appear their best, to present only well-groomed, conditioned and trained dogs, if we intend to compete on an equal level. Owner handlers can and do win without doubt, but we too must do the work of a pro, and earn our wins by showing the judge the best our dog has to offer.

So, I started out to write this blog about what an owner handler can master to be competitive in the dog show ring, when I remembered that well-worn phrase “Google It” and that worked! I found many well written articles that offer the same advice I would write for you. Whether you’re just starting as a novice handling your own dog, or simply believe you “just can’t win”, before complaining or blaming another for your loss, or worse yet leave the sport, perhaps you’ll read this, take time to evaluate yourself and your dog, and objectively consider the “picture” you and your Gordon Setter presented when you lost. Did you do your best but were beaten that time by a better dog, or could you have done something more to improve the odds in your dog’s favor? No, it’s not always your fault your dog loses, but you’ve got to even the playing field first with skill, know your dog’s attributes and faults, and then consider, carefully, very carefully, if politics was at play, or if perhaps, you just don’t agree with this judge’s opinion on this particular set of dogs.

I love owner handlers and I would do anything to help you win, so you learn to love the sport as much as me, because I’ve lived that dream and know it can happen…but if you want really good advice, ask the pros, and take the time, lots of time, to watch them work, really watch them in action. There is so much you can learn there!

There’s a list below, links to articles to help you prepare to win. These are a great place to help get you to the place where you can know the thrill of being a winning owner handler. (Oh, and also “Google It” for yourself, there’s so much more information out there, I’ve only picked a few.)

Finally, go to dog shows to watch and observe. Spend hours watching the grooming, various random breed classes, the Groups etc., paying close attention to the pro’s and those winning owner handlers! Best use of your time and classroom setting ever!

good sport
Photo by Bob Segal

Win or Lose never forget BE A GOOD SPORT!

Sally Gift, Mesa AZ

Photo by Bob Segal from GSCA National Specialty 2014

Owner Handler Advice

Video link: Want to Win Best in Show as an Owner Handler?

Looking Back with Lee – Pro Handlers vs. Owner-Handlers – being an Owner-Handler is not a DEATH SENTENCE! 

 

Raw Chicken Linked to Paralysis in Dogs

Feature photo by Bob Segal

Raw Chicken Linked to Paralysis in Dogs

By Dr Nerissa Hannink, University of Melbourne

Chicken necks are a common treat for dogs, but pet owners are being warned they have been linked with a potentially fatal form of paralysis.

 

As pet ownership increases across the world, our furry (as well as feathered and scaly) friends have become firmly established members of the family.

Wanting the best for our pets, we often offer special treats, and chicken necks are a favourite in many families – often considered a ‘healthy’ option.

But vets are warning raw chicken, particularly chicken necks, can lead to a debilitating and potentially fatal form of paralysis in dogs.

new study, led by the University of Melbourne’s U-Vet Werribee Animal Hospital, found the consumption of raw chicken meat increases the risk of dogs developing a paralysing condition called acute polyradiculoneuritis (APN) by more than 70 times.

Dr Matthias le Chevoir, chief investigator on the project, says the cause of APN in dogs has baffled the veterinary community for a long time.

“It is a rare but very debilitating condition where the dog’s hind legs first become weak. It can then progress to affect the front legs, neck, head and face. Some dogs may die from the disease if their chest becomes paralysed,” he says.

“Most dogs eventually recover without treatment but it may take up to six months or more in some cases.

“In our clinic alone we see around 30 cases per year and around three in ten cases would not recover. Watching your pet suffer is obviously very distressing and it can be difficult for owners to nurse their pet if the condition can gradually improve.”

Paralysis results from the dog’s immune system becoming unregulated and attacking its own nerve roots, progressively worsening over several days.

APN is the canine counterpart of Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS) in humans, a condition that also causes muscle weakness and may require ventilation if chest muscles are affected.

Dr le Chevoir says the bacteria Campylobacter is now considered a triggering agent in up to 40 per cent of GBS patients. It may be present in undercooked chicken, unpasteurised milk products and contaminated water.

“Our team at U-Vet Animal Hospital wanted to understand if consuming raw chicken could also be triggering APN in dogs. Many of us have previously worked overseas and know that a raw meat diet is less common there, so we were intrigued by this potential connection,” Dr le Chevoir says.

The team studied 27 dogs with symptoms of APN and 47 dogs without, examining physical symptoms and interviewing the owners about recent behaviours and diet; focusing on the consumption of raw chicken meat.

Faecal samples collected within seven days of the presentation of clinical signs (such as changes in voice, hind limb weakness or a choppy gait) showed the dogs with APN were 9.4 times more likely to have had a Campylobacter infection than the control group without the disease.

“The microbe Campylobacter is likely to be the reason for the dysregulation of the dogs’ immunity and the symptoms of paralysis,” lead author Dr Lorena Martinez-Antòn says.

“These bacteriological results were consistent with the hypothesis that the uncooked chicken meat was the source of the Campylobacter and as a result, triggered APN.”

In humans, scientists think Campylobacter, which is most commonly found in commercial poultry products, contains molecules similar in structure to part of the nerve cell. This similarity confuses the immune system, which attacks the body’s own nerves, resulting in paralysis.

Dr Martinez-Antòn and Dr le Chevoir say there appears to be a growing trend for feeding dogs raw meat diets, which is concerning given the risks.

“A significant association is also found between APN and smaller dog breeds. Based on our clinical experience this seems to be because smaller dogs are more likely to be fed smaller bones like chicken necks,” the doctors say in the research paper.

“We recommend owners choose regular dog food rather than chicken necks until we know more about this debilitating condition.”

E.D. This content was altered to remove the photos and video links supplied in the original publication. All other content of the article is retained in it’s entirity.