Keep certain things away from your dog

Pete Keesling

Medicine is a science with more questions than answers. Doctors are always searching for a better way to treat specific diseases. Veterinarians are no different. Veterinary research is responsible for the development of new treatments and preventative vaccines.
Together, veterinary and human medical researchers are actively looking to find ways to avoid the spread of disease between humans, animals and their environment. New answers are discovered all the time. Yet some illnesses still leave us baffled. We just don’t understand how they occur.
One such disease, grape and raisin poisoning, has been discussed here before. You know by now that grapes and raisins are considered unsafe and potentially toxic to dogs. We don’t know why, but some dogs develop severe, even fatal kidney failure if they consume these. Oddly enough, not all dogs are affected. In fact, many canines can eat all the grapes they want without consequence. For others, only a small amount can be enough to do damage. And the results are irreversible and devastating.
Now add another toxic substance to this list: Brewer’s Hops. Hops are a leafy flower used to give beer its bitterness. They’re put into the pot while all the grains and other ingredients are boiling to give their characteristic flavor to the brew. Afterwards, they’re discarded. I have several friends who enjoy the home-brew hobby. And for years, we’ve always just thrown the spent grains and hops into the garden for composting. Not any more. If someone’s dog were to forage in the garden and eat some of this, the results could be horrific. Recent information has shown that some dogs can develop a critical condition if they consume those “spent” hops. The condition is malignant hyperthermia, where body temperature unexplainedly rises quickly to dangerous levels. Affected dogs develop a monstrous fever, their body temperature jumping to dangerous levels above 106 degrees. Left untreated, this condition is fatal. Even quick, aggressive treatment is sometimes unable to save the patient. This is a very dangerous medical problem.
Someday, research may tell us why some dogs have these adverse reactions to hops, grapes and some other substances. But from a practical viewpoint, it doesn’t really matter. Just keep these things away from your pooch and you won’t have any problems. And now, onto this week’s questions.
Q:
Why do dogs have to get shots for their vaccinations. Can’t vaccines be given in food?
A:
Unfortunately, no. There are lots of reasons for this. But it’s all related to the vaccine’s ability to stimulate the immune system to produce important antibodies. Oral vaccines aren’t able to do this well enough. So for now, we have to stick with the shots … so to speak.
Q:
We have a year-old dog, Rufus. He’s a great dog and seems to be quite a bundle of energy. My question is this. He never lifts his leg when he has to urinate. Our other male dogs all did this. But Rufus just squats and goes like a girl. How old before he starts to do it like our other dogs?
A:
Maybe a month or two, maybe never. Not all male dogs are leg-lifters (though the vast majority are). Some are content to just squat like a puppy their entire life. Certainly, any dog with a painful back or hip might not want to lift his leg. So if you want to be thorough, take Rufus to the vet for a checkup. But chances are, he’s healthy and he just wants to do it his way.
Q:
We were at the zoo and saw the giraffes. How many bones do they have in that long neck?
A:
Looking at that long neck, you’d think they have a lot more bones than other mammals. But truth is, they have seven cervical vertebrae, the same number as you and I, and our kitties and dogs. So as you can imagine, those neck bones in the giraffe are really big … good for reaching all that food way up high where other critters can’t get to it.

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