Dog Behavior Varies With Height, Bodyweight and Skull Shape

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Medical Marijuana For Canine Cancer Patients

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Medical marijuana may be controversial, but it’s showing promise as an effective natural pain reliever for dogs with cancer.

When Nikita was facing her final weeks after a battle with cancer, her guardian and veterinarian Dr. Doug Kramer eased her discomfort with medical marijuana. The Siberian husky soon stopped whimpering with pain and began eating, gaining weight and even meeting Dr. Kramer at the door the way she used to. While the marijuana didn’t extend her life, it definitely improved the quality of the life she had left.

After his experience with Nikita, Dr. Kramer dedicated himself to achieving safe dosage guidelines for medical marijuana in animals. Sadly, he passed away himself last summer, but his interest in the uses of cannabis to treat and ease animals didn’t die with him.

For the first time in more than four decades, many Americans are in favor of legalizing marijuana. It’s becoming more widely accepted for its potential medical uses, not just for people, but for companion animals too. Scientists have so far recognized up to 60 important chemicals, or cannabinoids, unique to marijuana.1 According to the National Cancer Institute, “cannabinoids activate specific receptors found throughout the body to produce pharmacologic effects, particularly in the central nervous system and the immune system.”2 These natural chemicals may be helpful in treating cancer-related symptoms such as pain.

“Dogs prescribed medical marijuana have definitely benefitted,” says Darlene Arden, a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant. “The results are almost immediate. Elderly dogs are running around like puppies, and their last months or years are far more comfortable. Those with cancer are no longer in any sort of pain. It increases the appetite. In other words it improves the quality of life. Not surprisingly, few veterinarians are prescribing medical marijuana yet, but I think we’ll see a trend that way once some testing is done.”

More study needed

One of the drawbacks of medical marijuana for dogs is that it hasn’t been studied enough yet. Many veterinarians are in favor of further research on cannabis, but they urge caution until there’s more science behind its use.

Dr. Duncan Lascelles, Professor of Surgery and Pain Management at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine has spent 22 years of his professional career researching how to better alleviate pain in animals. He firmly believes that medical marijuana has a lot of potential, but there needs to be more research done.

“Just because it’s natural, does not mean it’s safe,” says. “There are many natural products that are toxic in certain quantities, or when presented as certain extracts or preparations, and we need to remember there are many, many different formulations and strengths of marijuana.

“However, dogs do have the same natural cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system as humans,” Dr. Lascelles adds. (The endocannabinoid system involves physiological processes such as appetite, pain sensation, mood and memory.) These receptors are found in the dog’s brain and peripheral nervous system. In fact, scientific research has confirmed that cannabis receptors exist in many different species, including dogs.

But not enough study has been done on how to administer medical marijuana to dogs. “Veterinarians and animal parents do not know how much to use, and we don’t know all the possible side effects or interactions with other medications,” says Dr. Lascelles. “It would be irresponsible to prescribe medical marijuana without knowing more about it. Veterinarians need to be able to carefully inform people about the benefits and side effects, and that information is currently lacking.”

Correct dosage is crucial

It’s important to realize that medical marijuana for dogs is not administered through the smoke or by eating the plant. Dr. Kramer suggested using a glycerin cannabis tincture.

Temporary side effects of medical marijuana could include mild behavioral effects, decreased appetite, vomiting, drooling, excitation, twitching, tremors and convulsions. “The side effects would last somewhere between six to 12 hours after ingestion, although if a dog ingested a single ‘human hit’, he would be unlikely to die,” explains Dr. Lascelles.

An overdose, on the other hand, could be dangerous. “Accidental marijuana overdoses have increased over the past couple of years,” says Dr. Lascelles. “Some dogs may have hallucinogenic reactions, which may cause them to have a higher pulse rate, and muscle weakness with loss of coordination.”

With this in mind, a safe dosing protocol needs to be established. As well, one must take into account that to successfully treat chronic or cancer pain, repeated dosing over time would be needed. Dr. Lascelles adds that scientific research on how a dog’s metabolism would react to this repeated dosing is crucial.

“Dog parents should never administer medical marijuana,” he cautions. Darlene agrees: “Marijuana should be dispensed under medical care.”

It may take some time, if ever, before medical marijuana becomes a mainstream pain reliever for dogs. More studies have to be done on its effects and dosing, and the legal complications must be overcome (see sidebar). But it’s showing a lot of promise. Darlene says, “I think the benefits far outweigh any negative connotations, if it’s used judiciously, people are educated about how to use and store it, and it is carefully dosed to the size of the dog.”

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Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun


Eastern German Shepherd



Image Credit: Wiki


The Differences Between East and West German Shepherd Lines and The American German Shepherd Lines

You might be thinking: Is there any difference? Start thinking temperament, confirmation, coloring and movement. So you’re undecided on which line of pups is best for you and your family. Asking yourself first if you want a working dog, family or show dog. Temperaments differ greatly. Start by making a list of all the qualities you are looking for in your shepherd. Pink papered imported pups from Germany are free of hip dysplasia and come from generations of parents that are free of hip dysplasia and that have Schutzhund titles.

History of the Western and Eastern Shepherd

Western German Shepherd



Image Credit: Wiki


From 1949 until 1990, Germany was divided into the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR) in the East, and the Federal Republic of Germany in the West. The DDR, being a communist state under influence from the USSR, was kept separate from West Germany. This separation is what caused the split in German shepherd bloodlines that persists to this day.

The working lines in Czech were bred to have a high pain tolerance so that they could endure the hardships of protection work and border patrol. They are mostly black and tan, all black and sometimes sable in color.

  • Breeders focus mainly on good movement and looks.
  • These shepherds are larger, heavier but have a lighter bone structure.
  • Temperament plays a huge factor here as shepherds from the US were not bred as working /herding dogs but for show.
  • In Germany both parents have working titles-Schutzhund and are hip certified before they are allowed to breed.
  • Schutzhund is about accountability, whereas in the US and Canada, breeders do not need any of these things except pedigree.
  • German shepherds in the US are primarily judged by their looks.

To German shepherd breeders , their dogs working ability was most important, and then came the outstanding looks.

The West German show lines are the most popular worldwide. These dogs are mostly black and red and exhibit a fluid, ground-eating trot.

The Czech lines were originally bred in Communist Czech as state working dogs.

  • Large blocky head with big bone structure and much leaner in build. These shepherds have straighter backs and fewer problems with hip dysplasia. However, they are high-energy dogs.

Czech line German Shepherds and East German DDR German Shepherds are essentially the same bloodline.

The bloodlines in West Germany were split between working line dogs and show line dogs.

It is important to recognize that the working line and show line German Shepherds from West Germany are vastly different.

Show line dogs are bred to be physically attractive, but lack the courage and strong nerves of a true protection dog.

Accepting that West German show line dogs are unfit for protection work, the true comparison is between the West German working line (often stated simply as German working line), and the DDR/Czech line. There has been much debate over which is superior, and this debate may continue for years to come.

Some people consider the West German lines to be superior, arguing that the DDR/Czech lines were developed before the split between working and show lines, and are not extraordinary in either discipline.

Both lines were recovered from the original German bloodlines after WWII, and both have been continuously built up and bred for working qualities over the past 60 years. The bottom line is that they are both working line dogs.

Show lines are a better choice for homes with children and working lines for protection work.

The American shepherds are calmer in temperament and have a lower energy drive. The North American shepherd relies on physical ability to move quickly and turns on the blink of an eye.

Many breeders have attempted to combine the East and West or American shepherds to achieve a lower incidence of hip dysplasia and achieve a strong work instinct and more refined show lines.

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German Shepherds Wiki

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Best Friends Animal Rescue

Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun


Improving Fido’s Health With Kale, Pumpkin, Sweet Potatoes and Fish Oils!

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“For the first year of a dog’s life, balanced nutrition is vital,” says Dr. Stanley Coren, Professor of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. “Without balanced nutrition, the nerve cells of a dog’s brain will not mature properly; and the brain will be smaller in volume and weight and not function as well. Poorly nourished dogs act less intelligently throughout the rest of their lives. A dog’s brain and behavior is shaped to some degree by events in the womb. When the puppy is ten days of age, we can easily count the number of neural connections (synapses) that a single cell has with other cells in the brain since there will be only a few hundred. By the time a puppy reaches 35 days of age, the number of connections for each neuron in the brain will have multiplied to around 12,000.”

Most dog lovers have no control over the nutrition of their dog’s parents. Nonetheless, the diet during the first year of a dog’s life is most important, so owners can still influence their pet’s development.

Puppy Keeva (who grew to be She Walks in Beauty RL1, RL2) eats a healthy meal on her first night in her new home. Photo courtesy of owner Kimberly Wilson.

Negative Effects of Inadequate Diets

Packaged dog foods may not include everything your dog needs for healthy brain growth. “Commercial pet foods don’t contain some things we wish they did: adequate quantities and qualities of proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as the more intangible qualities unique to live, like fresh foods,” says veterinarian Dr. Richard Pitcairn. “Secondly, they contain other things we wish they didn’t: slaughterhouse wastes, toxic products from spoiled foodstuffs, non-nutritive fillers, heavy metal contaminants, sugar, pesticides, drug residues, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and bacteria and fungi contaminants. All processed pet foods are missing something that seems to be the most important ‘nutrient’ of all. This key ingredient is practically ignored by nutritional scientists, but we can sense when it’s there. It is a quality found only in fresh grown, uncooked whole foods: life energy!”

Natural ingredients are also recommended by Andi Brown, the director of Halo and author of The Whole Pet Diet. “Whether your dog is young or old, adequate nutrition and mental stimulation will keep his brain functioning at its peak, and allow him to develop and keep a high level of fluid intelligence. Artificial ingredients are often highly antagonistic and can actually contribute to an animal’s mental and emotional imbalance,” says Brown. “Some additives can be so detrimental that they can actually have the same effect on an animal as hallucinogenic drugs have on people. According to Best Friends Animal Society, the most common reason animals are put down by veterinarians or turned into shelters is because of unruly behavior.” Brown suggests that adding minerals and vitamins, especially the complete complex of B vitamins, to your pooches diet, will aid in behavior problems.

Healthy Ingredients

There are a few major nutrients that good and healthy canine diets will include such as protein, fats, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and water. All well-fed dogs need to eat a healthy diet each day to get the necessary balance of vitamins and minerals.

*Choose premium brands and possibly organic brands of dog food that are made with nutritious high quality ingredients that can be digested easily. for organic and healthier treats and supplemented dog foods that contain pumpkin, sweet potato, green beans, kale, carrots and other healthy vegetables and fruits. Healthy ingredients will give your pooch all the extra nutrients that he needs.

*Feed fish like salmon that contain healthy fish oils during puppyhood. This helps your pup to focus on training, and aids with increasing his attention span during training. Fish oils are also beneficial for cognitive development.

*Provide your dog with safe human foods such as lean meats, lightly steamed vegetables and plenty of fresh fruits like blueberries. Keep in mind that dogs should never be fed grapes. Healthy fruits and vegetables should never be the main bulk of your dogs ingredient list. Some table scraps are okay, as long as they are healthy and free of fats. Table scraps that are healthy and nutritious additions to a dogs diet can be great. They add plenty of variety and introduce him to different foods.

*Root vegetables also provide many important healing properties for dogs. They help by providing stabilizing energy that aids in helping your dog to focus.

*”Seafood is loaded with protein, minerals and enzymes when fresh and also has lots of collagen,” says Brown, Halo “Spirulina and chlorella are a more concentrated source of chlorophylls than any other food. Both of these algae help reduce inflammation and are also rich in essential fatty acids.”

Cognitive Function in Mature Canines

Dr. Milgram, together with Dr. Carl Cotman, a neurochemist from the Institute for Brain Aging and Dementia, University of California, Irvine and colleagues studied old dogs as examples of human aging. Both these researchers agreed that “Oxidative damage is a key feature in the aged brains of animals and people, and that the brains of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease demonstrate greater damage.” Dr. Cotman also suggests that by employing antioxidant supplements like vitamins E and C, one may “improve cognitive decline” in people as well, since mature dogs develop similar pathological changes in their brains.

Carotenoids like beta carotene that are mixed together with certain minerals like selenium, fatty acids DHA and EPA, carnitine and alpha lipoic acid were also found to hinder formations of amyloids in older dogs. Dr. Milgram’s research team used a diet that was rich in nutrients for “cognitive enrichment,” and deduced that it slowed down and sometimes partially “reversed” cognitive decline in our dogs.

Good nutrition is important for the canine brain at any age. “Whether your dog is young or old, adequate nutrition and mental stimulation will keep his brain functioning at its peak, and allow him to develop and keep a high level of fluid intelligence,” says Dr. Coren. For more on this article visit: USDAA and Animal Wellness.


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Woofs & Wags!



Animal Wellness, Volume 15, Issue 1.

This information is not a substitute for veterinary care. Discuss any potential dietary changes with your veterinarian.


Copyright © 2014 Claudia Bensimoun

Wolves Can Tread Water While Killing Prey


Vancouver Island Wolf



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Arctic Wolf Germany



Image Credit: Wiki Commons


Gray Wolf. U.S



Image Credit: Wiki Commons



European Wolf



Image Credit: Wiki Commons


Eurasian Wolf


Image Credit: WikiPedia

The Wolf

Facts From ” If Dogs Could Talk. Exploring The Canine Mind.” Vilmos Csanyi

Dr. Csanyi is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Ethology at the University of  Budapest,Eotvos Lorand. He is one of my favorite ethologists.His book “If Dogs Could Talk. Exploring The Canine Mind”, connects with all dog lovers.

  1. The wolf is the largest of all canids weighing up to and sometimes more than 144 pounds.
  2. Wolves hunt in cooperative packs for prey larger than itself.
  3. Habitat includes the tundra, taiga, steppe, savanna, and forests.
  4. When running short distances the wolf can reach speeds up to 37 to 43 miles per hour.
  5. If a wolf is being chased, it is capable of jumping as high as 13-16 feet in the air.
  6. When out hunting it can maintain a run for 15 to 20 minutes. After that wolves need to rest.
  7. Wolves can tread water while killing their prey.
  8. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, gray wolves once ranged from coast-to-coast and from Alaska to Mexico, and they were one of the most wide-ranging animals on the continent.
  9.  There are a number of wolf subspecies in the U.S of which the “plains” wolf belongs. This wolf is also found in the Great Lakes. Idaho wolves that lived more than 100 years ago possibly had gray wolf DNA. Some researchers believe that evidence demonstrates that Idaho’s wolves from hundred’s of years ago were similar to Canadian wolves. Todays Idaho’s gray wolf population originated from Alberta and British Columbia in 1995 -1996.
  10. Wolves can hear and see extremely well.
  11. Pack wolves can detect the smell of an elk as far away as 1.25 to 1.55 miles.
  12. Tame wolves respond to imitated wolf calls from as far as 3.75 miles.
  13. Volume of a wolf’s brain ranges from 9.2 to 10.4 cubic inches. Wolves are the most intelligent predators who gained their mental abilities through social interaction.
  14. The usual size of a wolf pack is 7 or 8, yet sometimes it will only have 2 or 3 wolves.
  15. Larger wolf packs will divide into smaller groups and according to Cysani will reunite later on.
  16. Many times one comes across loner wolves that are typically outcasts and are normally older wolves.
  17. Wolves that form the breeding pair will be the main wolves of the pack. This will consist of wolf pups and a few male and female wolf adults.
  18. When a wolf pup turns 2 he/she is considered an adult wolf.
  19. Many wolf pups will die before reaching 2 years of age.
  20. Wolves that do not belong to the pack are chased away when they visit, yet when wolf pups are born, these outside wolves are often welcome to join the pack. Older adult wolves around this time may also leave the pack. This is the time that the wolf pack gets divided into several parts. They will all inhabit exclusive territory.
  21. “Black wolves rarely occur in Europe and Asia, where interactions with domestic dogs has been reduced over the past thousand years due to the depletion of wild wolf populations. They have occasionally appeared, as wolf-dog hybrids and are known in Russia as “black wolves”.  20–25% of Italy’s wolf population is composed of black wolves. They are more common in North America; about half of the wolves in the reintroduced wolf population in Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park are black. Like Pyrenees Wolves, Black wolves do not live in France. In southern Canada and Minnesota the black phase is more common than the white, though grey coloured wolves predominate.” via Wiki


Interesting Facts About Black Wolves


Image Credit: WikiMedia


“In 2008, Dr. Gregory S. Barsh, a professor of genetics and pediatrics at the Stanford University School of Medicine used molecular genetic techniques to analyze DNA sequences from 150 wolves, half of them black, in Yellowstone National Park, which covers parts of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. It was discovered that a gene mutation responsible for the protein beta-defensin 3, known as the K locus, is responsible for the black coat color in dogs. After finding that the same mutation was responsible for black wolves in North America and the Italian Apennines, he set out to discover the origin of the mutation. Dr. Barsh and his colleagues concluded that the mutation arose in dogs 12,779 to 121,182 years ago, with a preferred date of 46,886 years ago after comparing large sections of wolf, dog and coyote genomes. At the University of California, Los Angeles, Robert K. Wayne, a canine evolutionary biologist, stated that he believed that dogs were the first to have the mutation. He further stated that even if it originally arose in Eurasian wolves, it was passed on to dogs who, soon after their arrival, brought it to the New World and then passed it to wolves and coyotes.Black wolves with recent dog ancestry tend to retain black pigment longer as they age.” via Wiki



“If Dogs Could Talk. Exploring The Canine Mind.” Vilmos CsanyiCsanyi,V, “If Dogs Could Talk Exploring The Canine Mind.” North Point Press, 2000, pp,10-15.

Yellowstone Park Wolves

Wolf DNA Study

Protected Wolves in Alaska Face Peril

Copyright © 2016 Claudia Bensimoun