Vol. XIII, Week 28 Jul 15, 2024


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Retriever Journal interviews Dr. RuthAnn Lobos, a senior veterinarian for Nestle Purina PetCare, on how to evaluate our dogs. 

Here are some excerpts:

"Behavior speaks volumes," she said. "Look for abnormalities in personality and routine, along with obvious trauma. For instance, most sporting dogs have a healthy appetite, so not eating might be a warning sign. In addition, look for visual cues, like panting, pulling away, and lethargy. Behaviors are specific to individuals – and handlers typically know what’s normal better than anyone.

"Acute or sudden onset changes are also indicative of issues," Dr. Lobos added. "Anything projectile in nature, vomiting or diarrhea, are tell-tale signs. Explosive vomiting often indicates some kind of intestinal blockage, and chronic diarrhea can rapidly lead to dehydration from fluid loss. If any symptom lingers more than three to four days, it’s time to seek professional assistance.

"Hunters are ultimately responsible for their dog’s fitness, and Dr. Lobos said preseason conditioning plays a big role in injury prevention. Walking a dog on a leash is great for fresh air and socialization, but it’s a relatively low-level exercise and isn’t sufficient for keeping an active hunting dog in optimal condition."Working dogs need to stretch their legs regularly to keep their muscular and cardiovascular systems in tip-top shape. You aren’t setting yourself or your bird dog up for success by simply walking a few miles on a leash," Dr. Lobos said. "Bird hunting involves explosive movement and quick directional changes. Even a brisk walk won’t prepare a dog for this kind of activity, and lack of conditioning can lead to a host of preventable medical issues."Dr. Lobos encourages exercises like swimming, roading, hill workouts, and off-leash running. And here’s one I hadn’t heard of: doggy squats. Simply alternate between sitting and standing. It’s a great exercise for conditioning and responding to voice commands.

Regarding weight control, Dr. Lobos referenced the Purina Lifespan Study, a canine analysis conducted between 1987 and 2001. This revealing, 14-year experiment confirmed that maintaining a healthy weight increased canine longevity by 15 percent, or roughly two years in the 48 Labrador retrievers that were observed. In other words, lean dogs lived longer and experienced fewer medical issues (like cruciate ligament tears) than overweight dogs.Small surprise there, but there’s more: "Protein plays a huge role in muscle recovery," Dr. Lobos added. "Humans tap into carbohydrates – glycogen – and aren’t very good at using fat for energy. Dogs are preferential fat burners and require fat for endurance. Adequate amounts translate into longer, higher-quality hunts.

"As far as other preventable injuries, Dr. Lobos mentioned one of her pet peeves: removing a dog from a kennel and immediately hunting. Ditto for allowing the dog to leap from the tailgate after riding in a crate. "In both cases, all that blood is pooled in the muscles, and it can’t adequately circulate due to the cramped conditions, which often leads to injuries." It’s an easy fix: assist dogs onto the ground rather than allowing them to jump down, and make time for a warmup prior to starting the hunt.

Check out the rest of Jon’s article and his interviews with Dr. RuthAnn Lobos and Dr. Jenelle Appel in the upcoming August/September issue, mailing soon!


The Cornell Riney Canine Health Center has a webinar tonight on canine lymphoma, specifically updates on therapeutics and treatment protocols.

When: 6:00 PM, July 17

Register here.


Copied from Longwood Working Dogs, c/o Leslie S. Stanley
For some folks, sending your dog to a pro so you can get those titles is great if that's all you are looking for.
For those of us out there training our own dogs and making memories, this really spoke volumes to me. So very hard, but so very rewarding when it all comes together. And even if it never all comes together, the time spent learning, training, making memories and bonding with your dog are the reason we got the dog in the first place.
What Really Matters
I do it, too. Get caught up in the title hunt. The goals for letters that mean nothing to the dog, but instead are some quest I set my sights on to get me to class and trials every week. They make me feel like I’m doing something with my life, even if it doesn’t really benefit humanity much. It fills the time, it gives me purpose. But what really matters, is the bond it builds with my dog and the lessons and unwritten triumphs that come with it. My husband stopped wondering why I spent so much time and money on it when one morning after I got up at O’dark hundred (and I am NOT a morning person) to go to a trial, I announced, “I’m going to make memories today.” He understood then. It’s not about the titles. It’s about spending time with my dog and the people in the dog community.
While we’re impressed with the crazy-fast, edge-of-your-seat runs with some teams and those who’ve racked up championship titles, maybe we ought to take a step back and look at, well, most of us who are there achieving things you can’t see on paper. Those who gather the courage to step to the line for the first time. Who put their embarrassing moments behind them and then do it again. Those who struggle to cope with their dog’s stresses and their own anxieties, yet come to understand and accept them and get back out there again anyway. Those who, little by little, find ways to improve.
What really, truly matters aren’t the letters or a piece of parchment paper. It’s the memories we make.
Love the dog you have. They make your life better just by being in it.
Author Unknown