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Spaying & Neutering
Most veterinarians recommend spaying and neutering prior to the first heat (ie around 6 to 7 months maybe as long as 8 or 9 months for large dogs). There is a push among shelters and some breeders to spay and neuter as early as 8 weeks (prior to going to their new home) to avoid the oops breedings and overpopulation. Spaying/neutering this early has not been shown yet to be a bad thing but I (along with most of the veterinary community) don't think it is the ideal time. If a bitch puppy has a persistent vaginitis (which is not uncommon) or chronic, recurring urinary tract infections it is recommended that she be allowed thru her first heat to allow hormone-induced changed to occur in the vagina and the urinary tract. For some reason, these changes seem to clear up the Urinary tract infections and/or the vaginitis. If a bitch puppy has the problems and is NOT allowed to go thru her first heat then she will most likely be battling these problems the rest of her life. Spaying prior to the first heat reduces the risk of mammary cancer to virtually 0%. Each of the first three heats increases her chances of mammary cancer 33% of the maximum probability. So spaying after three heats is equivalent in terms of mammary cancer risk to not spaying at all (or course it still eliminates the risk of uterine or ovarian cancer). There is a movement that some veterinarians have followed that insists that a dog or bitch be allowed to fully mature prior to spaying or neutering. Their argument is that animals spayed/neutered prior to maturation are perpetual puppies mentally and physically are not fully developed. I think the mental thing is more a function of individual animal and breed predisposition (ie, my 10 year old Lab was not spayed until she was 8 yrs old and she is as much of a puppy as my 3 month old) than of spay/neuter timing. About physical development, I think that affects males more so than females. The risk to a female of waiting to spay IMO far outweigh the slight alteration in appearance gained by waiting to spay. For males, I can agree more with their premise. Most neutered males of any species are taller and rangier with less muscle mass than intact males. So, to wait to neuter a male until he is fully developed physically is not a big deal to me. Aside for dogs with retained testicles there is really no added benefit other than reducing the development of sexual behavior in males from neutering at 3 years as opposed to 5 months. For dog aggressive breeds, however, like Akitas I would strongly recommend early neutering to avoid sexual motivated aggression. For a non-aggressive breed like the retrievers though I don't think it is such a big deal.

                                                                                     By  Rachel Peeples, DVM

Symptoms Of Parvo & Distemper
Symptoms of Parvo

Parvo is a virus that attacks the lining of the digestive system. It causes dogs and puppies to not be able to absorb nutrients or liquids. Puppies are especially prone to it because they have an immature immune system. When dogs and puppies contract parvo, they often have diarrhea, vomiting and lethargy. Usually they stop eating and develop a bloody, foul-smelling, liquid stool.

Symptoms usually begin with a high fever, lethargy, depression, and loss of appetite. Secondary symptoms appear as severe gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and bloody diarrhea. In many cases, dehydration, shock, and death follow.

Parvovirus is characterized by severe, bloody diarrhea and vomiting, high fever and lethargy. The diarrhea is particularly foul smelling and is sometimes yellow in color. Parvo can also attack a dog's heart causing congestive heart failure. This complication can occur months or years after an apparent recovery from the intestinal form of the disease. Puppies who survive parvo infection usually remain somewhat un-healthy and weak for life. ......More on Parvo

Symptoms of Distemper

Early symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, and mild eye inflammation that may only last a day or two. Symptoms become more serious and noticeable as the disease progresses.

The initial symptom is fever (103ºF to 106ºF), which usually peaks 3 to 6 days after infection. The fever often goes unnoticed and may peak again a few days later. Dogs may experience eye and nose discharge, depression, and anorexia. After the fever, symptoms vary considerably, depending on the strain of the virus and the dog's immunity.

Many dogs experience gastrointestinal and respiratory symptoms, such as:

Conjunctivitis (discharge from the eye)
Fever (usually present but unnoticed)
Pneumonia (cough, labored breathing)
Rhinitis (runny nose)
These symptoms are often exacerbated by secondary bacterial infections. Dogs almost always develop encephalomyelitis (an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord), the symptoms of which are variable and progressive. Most dogs that die from distemper, die from neurological complications such as the following:
Ataxia (muscle incoordination)
Hyperesthesia (increased sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as pain or touch)
Myoclonus (muscle twitching or spasm), which can become disabling
Paresis (partial or incomplete paralysis)
Progressive deterioration of mental abilities
Progressive deterioration of motor skills
Seizures that can affect any part of the body (One type of seizure that affects the head, and is unique to distemper is sometimes referred to as a "chewing gum fit" because the dog appears to be chewing gum.)
Many dogs experience symptoms of the eye:

Inflammation of the eye (either keratoconjunctivitis, inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva, or chorioretinitis, inflammation of the choroid and retina)
Lesions on the retina (the innermost layer of the eye)
Optic neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve which leads to blindness) ....More on Distemper

Drugs To Avoid W/Akitas
This list of medications to avoid, as provided by Dr. Jean Dodds, DVM,
has recently been modified (5/00) to include additonal drugs to be avoided

Trimethoprim sulfas - often prescribed for urinary infections, etc.
Ormetoprim sulfa - often prescribed for the control of coccidiosis
Milbemycin oxime - found in some heartworm/hookworm/roundworm/whipworm
Lufenuron - found in some flea control products
Nitrofurans - often prescribed for the control of coccidiosis
Butazolidin - contains phenylbutazone; often prescribed for pain
Diethylcarbamazine oxybendazole - found in prescribed drugs for the control of heartworm, i.e., Filarabits PLUS
Carboprofen - an NSAIDS anti-inflamatory
Ivermectin - often prescribed for heartworm prevention and/or the treatment of scabies (mange)
Selamectin - used as a topical parasiticide for the control of flea, heartworm and  other parasites
Phenobarbital - prescribed primarily to control epileptic seizures, used occasionally as a sedative
Primidone - used as an anti-convulsant primarily for epilepsy

note: product descriptions and frequent prescribed use info added by Judy King

Dr. Jean Dodd's Vaccination Protocol

Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months.  If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces immunity, which is good for the life of the pet (i.e.: canine
distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the
antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced. Not only are annual
boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of
allergic reactions and immune-mediated haemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines.
Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers milk. This natural protection can last 8 - 14
weeks. Puppies & kittens should NOT be vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks.
Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection  (0-38%) will be produced. Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, DELAY the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart SUPPRESS rather than stimulate the immune system.
A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age.
Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at l year 4 mo) will provide LIFETIME IMMUNITY.

Health Info
Stained Elbow Remedy
Find a local beauty supply house that sells to the public.

1)  Container of B&W Dedusted Powdered Bleach
2)  30 Volume Creme Peroxide Developer
3)  Glass bowl and plastic spatula

Be sure to do this in a well ventilated area as sometimes it can get a bit fumey.
Now mix some bleach and developer to the consistency of a gooey paste and apply to the stained areas,on DRY coat only.  I suggest putting the dog on a grooming table so they don't try to lick the bleach.  Leave the bleach on for 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how bad the stain is. Then wash it out and apply a light conditioner to the coat and groom as usual. If the stain is really bad and needs a second application, be sure to dry the coat thoroughly first, then reapply. I also suggest wearing plastic gloves as the bleach can sting your skin. I have never had a bad reaction in any dog I used this on and there have been many.    
                                                                                      Becky Bullard/Countryside Akitas
How to grade your dog's food: Start with a grade of 100:
1) For every listing of "by-product", subtract 10 points
2) For every non-specific animal source ("meat" or "poultry", meat,
fat) reference, subtract 10 points
3) If the food contains BHA, BHT, or ethoxyquin, subtract 10 points
4) For every grain "mill run" or non-specific grain source, subtract
5) If the same grain ingredient is used 2 or more times in the first
ingredients (I.e. "ground brown rice", "brewers rice", "rice flour"
the same grain), subtract 5 points
6) If the protein sources are not meat meal and there are less than 2
in the top 3 ingredients, subtract 3 points
7) If it contains any artificial colorants, subtract 3 points
8 ) If it contains ground corn or whole grain corn, subtract 3points
9) If corn is listed in the top 5 ingredients, subtract 2 more points
10) If the food contains any animal fat other than fish oil,
subtract 2
11) If lamb is the only animal protein source (unless your dog is
to other protein sources), subtract 2 points
12) If it contains soy or soybeans, subtract 2 points
13) If it contains wheat (unless you know that your dog is not
wheat), subtract 2 points
14) If it contains beef (unless you know that your dog is not
beef), subtract 1 point
15) If it contains salt, subtract 1 point

Extra Credit:
1) If any of the meat sources are organic, add 5 points
2) If the food is endorsed by any major breed group or nutritionist,
3) If the food is baked not extruded, add 5 points
4) If the food contains probiotics, add 3 points
5) If the food contains fruit, add 3 points
6) If the food contains vegetables (NOT corn or other grains), add 3
7) If the animal sources are hormone-free and antibiotic-free, add 2
8 ) If the food contains barley, add 2 points
9) If the food contains flax seed oil (not just the seeds), add 2
10) If the food contains oats or oatmeal, add 1 point
11) If the food contains sunflower oil, add 1 point
12) For every different specific animal protein source (other than
first one; count "chicken" and "chicken meal" as only one protein
source, but "chicken" and "" as 2 different sources), add 1 point
13) If it contains glucosamine and chondroitin, add 1 point
14) If the vegetables have been tested for pesticides and are
pesticide-free, add 1 point

94-100+ = A 86-93 = B 78-85 = C 70-77 = D 69 and below = F

Here are some foods that have already been scored.

Dog Food scores:
Authority Harvest Baked / Score 116 A+
Bil-Jac Select / Score 68 F
Canidae / Score 112 A+
Chicken Soup Senior / Score 115 A+
Diamond Maintenance / Score 64 F
Diamond Lamb Meal & Rice / Score 92 B
Diamond Large Breed 60+ Formula / Score 99 A
Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Ultra Premium / Score 122 A+
Dick Van Patten's Duck and Potato / Score 106 A+
Foundations / Score 106 A+
Hund-n-Flocken Adult Dog (lamb) by Solid Gold / Score 93 B
Iams Lamb Meal & Rice Formula Premium / Score 73 D
Innova Dog / Score 114 A+
Innova Evo / Score 114 A+
Kirkland Signature Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables / Score 110 A+
Nature's Recipe Lamb & Rice A+
Nutrisource Lamb and Rice / Score 87 B
Nutro Natural Choice Large Breed Puppy / Score 87 B
Pet Gold Adult with Lamb & Rice / Score 23 F
ProPlan Natural Turkey & Barley / Score 103 A+
Purina Beneful / Score 17 F
Purina Dog / Score 62 F
Purina Come-n-Get It / Score 16 F
Royal Canin Bulldog / Score 100 A+
Royal Canin Natural Blend Adult / Score 106 A+
Sensible Choice Chicken and Rice / Score 97 A
Science Diet Advanced Protein Senior 7+ / Score 63 F
Science Diet for Large Breed Puppies / Score 69 F
Wellness Super5 Mix Chicken / Score 110 A+
Wolfking Adult Dog (bison) by Solid Gold / Score 97 A

Grade Your Dog's Food