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The Surprising Truth About Mixed Breed Dogs

If you’re a dog lover, you’re probably aware that many people feel mixed breeds are healthier than purebreds. One of the reasons for this notion is that when two or more breeds are blended together, there’s less risk a dog will inherit breed-specific diseases.

The idea that mutts are healthier makes a certain amount of sense when you consider the poor breeding practices of puppy mill operators and many AKC associated breeders as well. There’s excessive focus on breeding animals for certain physical characteristics, and entirely too little attention paid to selecting dogs for health and longevity.

The belief that breed-blending creates healthier dogs is part of the reason “designer dogs” like Goldendoodles, Morkies and Puggles have become so popular. It’s also why breeders are able to ask inflated prices for dogs that aren’t purebred.

But are mixed and designer breeds really healthier? Not according to what many veterinarians see in their practices... and not according to a recently published five-year study of veterinary cases at the University of California, Davis. This research indicates that mixed breeds don't automatically have an advantage when it comes to genetic disorders.

13 of 24 Genetic Disorders Occurred at Same Rate in Mixed Breeds and Purebreds

The UC Davis researchers looked at the records of over 90,000 purebred and mixed breed dogs that had been patients at the university’s veterinary medical teaching hospital between 1995 and 2010. Designer dogs were included in the study, since crossbreeding is presumed to reduce or eliminate genetic disorders like hypothyroidism epilepsy, hip dysplasia and cancer.

Of the 90,000 records reviewed, 27,254 involved dogs with at least one of 24 genetic disorders, including various types of cancers, heart disease, endocrine system dysfunction, orthopedic conditions, allergies, bloat, cataracts, eye lens problems, epilepsy and liver disease.

According to the study, which was published in the June 1, 2013 edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association1, the prevalence of 13 of the 24 genetic disorders was about the same for purebreds as mixed breeds. Some of those disorders were hip dysplasia, hyper- and hypoadrenocorticism, cancers, lens luxation and patellar luxation.

Ten conditions were found more frequently among purebred dogs, including dilated cardiomyopathy, elbow dysplasia, cataracts, and hypothyroidism.

One disorder was actually more common in mixed-breeds – cranial cruciate ligament ruptures.

“Overall, the study showed that the prevalence of these genetic disorders among purebred and mixed-breed dogs depends on the specific condition," said animal physiologist Anita Oberbauer, professor and chair of the Department of Animal Science at UC Davis and lead author of the study.

Breeds with Similar Lineage Share Gene Mutations for Inherited Diseases

The UC Davis study data also suggests breeds that share a similar lineage are more prone to certain inherited disorders. According to Phys.org:

“… four of the top five breeds affected with elbow dysplasia were the Bernese mountain dog, Newfoundland, mastiff and Rottweiler—all from the mastiff-like lineage. This suggests that these breeds share gene mutations for elbow dysplasia because they were descended from a common ancestor.”

The flip side of the coin is disorders that occur in both mixed breeds and purebreds seem to originate from well-established gene mutations that have spread throughout the dog population. These disorders include hip dysplasia, tumor-causing cancers, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

18 Points to Discuss with a Breeder

If you’re thinking about purchasing a purebred puppy, I’ve developed a method to help you determine how healthy your new pet may be. Investigating the lifestyle of your prospective puppy’s parents through questions posed to the breeder can give you excellent insight into the health of your pup and his littermates.

These questions are intended to determine how committed the breeder is to the well-being of his or her dogs and their litters. If a breeder can’t or won’t answer these questions about the parents of the puppy you’re considering, I recommend you find another breeder.

 

 
 

Herbal Healing for Pets

Herbal Healing for Pets

I will begin by stating that you should not attempt herbal healing for your pet unless you have a good understanding of what is ailing your pet. And a good understanding of the healing herbs.

Don't guess.....check with a veterinarian first! There are now a lot of holistic/natural vets out there - call around and see who you can find.

This advice is not meant to replace the diagnosis and advice of a licensed veterinarian. That said, I will share with you the herbal treatments that we use here at my ranch. Most are simple, safe, and effective.

Remember first and always that cats and dogs and other small creatures have much shorter digestive systems than us human caretakers. Fresh herbs are not digested as they are in humans.

Therefore, the tincture form of an herb will work better for them. An acceptable alternative would be a stronger herbal tea than you would use for yourself. Doses need to be compatible with your pet's weight - small amounts for small animals, larger amounts for large animals.

When in doubt, consult a holistic or natural healing veterinarian. Administering several doses throughout the day, rather than one big dose once a day will speed the herbs into your pet's system and boost the immune system much faster.

 And as with ourselves, no herb should be given to any animal on a continuous basis. Like us, their bodies will begin to build an immunity, and once that happens, that herb becomes useless medicinally.

A good rule of thumb for any herbal remedy for your pet is two weeks on, one week off. That gives the body time to work on its own, and gives you time to determine if the herbal treatment needs to be continued. There are exceptions to this rule, as with all rules, as in herbs that take a while to build up in the body to be effective.

Don't give herbs you wouldn't take yourself, internally or externally. Just about any herbal remedy that you use for yourself can be adapted for use for your pet - just remember to use tinctures whenever possible, stronger teas when necessary.

For overall general good health, as with ourselves, you should of course look to diet. There are many natural diets being recommended today for all sorts of pets. Do a little research, or preferably a lot, into the natural dietary needs of your pet.

Raw meat added to the diet of a cat or dog, natural carnivores, can often clear up a lot of mysterious ailments, as can the addition of fruits and vegetables. If you feed a commercial diet, feed the best you can afford, and add to it when you can. Years of healthy life can be added to your pet when diet is properly looked after! When you are changing your pet's diet, do so gradually. Add one new item at a time, and space out those additions. That way if there is a negative reaction, you can quickly pinpoint the culprit. Not every food agrees with every animal. Sunlight is also necessary for the health of your pet. Sunlight helps the body convert the nutrients in the foods you feed into the necessities for their systems. In place of sunlight, use full-spectrum lighting, like Vita-Lites, or an equivalent.

These are ideal for your indoor pets, such as birds, reptiles and amphibians. Here are some herbal remedies for those common problems:

  Eyes: A strong tea of eyebright, used as a wash, is perfect for irritated eyes on all pets. Also administer orally to boost the internal mechanisms to fight infection from the inside. Alternatively, you can make a saline solution. Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt in 1/2 cup boiling water. Add 1 drop of goldenseal extract to 1 tablespoon of the saline solution, once cooled, when you are going to use it....it shrinks swollen tissues and disinfects.

Itching: The common cause of itching is due to fleas and flea bites - some animals are actually allergic to the flea bites, compounding the problem. Brewer's yeast is often recommended, 1 teaspoon or tablet per day, as a deterrent. A word of caution here - some animals are allergic to the brewer's yeast, or react to it with dry patches of skin that itch just as bad as the fleas do. If you use brewer's yeast, keep an eye out for these sorts of skin problems to develop, and discontinue the brewer's yeast if necessary as soon as one of these symptoms appear. A good remedy for those dry itchy skin patches is tea tree oil, rubbed over the patch. The bitter taste will discourage the animal from digging at his skin, and the oil works well to heal the dryness. Do not use it near the eyes or genitals, however. Aloe is also good for those dry patches. Another method is to put a slice of raw cucumber over the "hot" spot, holding it there for a few minutes, and then rub aloe or tea tree oil over the area. The shampoo you use, or the flea collar you use, may actually be causing the itching. Bathe the animal in an all natural shampoo, preferably something that has aloe in it, and find an alternative to that flea collar!! Would you wear chemicals around your neck? Neither should they! You can make an herbal dip for your pet as follows: 2 cups packed fresh peppermint, pennyroyal, or rosemary; 1 quart boiling water; 4 quarts warm water - - Prepare an infusion by pouring the boiling water over the herbs and allow it to steep for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and dilute it with the warm water. Saturate the animal's coat thoroughly with the solution, allowing it to air dry. Use at the first sign of flea activity. This remedy will need to be repeated everthree to four days, but it is totally safe. If the itching persists, and fleas or poor diet are not the culprit, use a mixture of Licorice Root, Dandelion Root, and Cat's Claw in equal drops of each tincture for two weeks. The licorice is a natural cortisone, and will help to jumpstart the immune system. To get rid of fleas in your carpet, after removing pets from the room, sprinkle Borax over the carpet and rub it in. Wait a while, then vacuum as usual. This is a safe, non-chemical method of flea control. Reapply the Borax once a week until the problem is gone. Cuts: Fresh aloe is an excellent application for those strange cuts and scrapes we can never figure out how our pet got. It is a natural antiseptic, and will keep the area moist until the cut can heal. Alternatively, you can clean the wound with a wash of goldenseal, and apply aloe or other herbal treatments that are your favorites.

  Abscesses: First you must lance the abscess. I mix a betadine solution with water until it looks like tea, and then fill an eyedropper with the solution and squirt it into the hole. Do this several times per day, at least three. The important thing is to clip the fur away from the abscess and don't cover it with any bandage, or it can't drain properly. It has to heal from the inside out. If it is extremely deep, you may need a vet to put a drain in it. I also begin to administer antibiotic herbs orally, to help fight any infection that may occur. Another course of action is to use chamomile in the wound to prevent infection. I have had a lot of success with these methods, which my vet recommends. However, I also know that if it doesn't begin to clear up within a week, I need professional help to combat the infection.

  Carsickness: Does your pet get carsick when you take him for trips? Try giving a few drops of ginger root extract prior to the trip to settle his tummy. If it is a long trip, you may want to administer the ginger again halfway through the trip.

Infections: Give a tincture of equal drops of echinacea and goldenseal. If the illness persists after two weeks, try a combination of different herbal antibiotics after careful diagnosis by your vet. If the animal recovers quickly, continue giving the herbs for a few days after, to aid in healing completely. I generally give a capsule of garlic oil in the food once per week. It helps keep the biting insect critters away, and helps keep the immune system healthy.

  Dehydration: When a pet is dehydrated, due to illness or injury, you can give them Pedialyte, available in the baby food section of any grocery store. Alternatively, you can substitute Gatorade. However, the sugar content in Gatorade is rather high, which is not good for long term use with our pets. If using it, cut it in half with plain water. There are also powdered electrolyte solutions available in most feed stores that work just as well, and are less expensive. Electrolyte solutions given in place of water for the first 24 hours will also help new pets that were shipped to deal with the stress of shipping. This is especially important with reptiles, amphibians, and birds of all types.

Ulcers: If your pet is suffering from ulcers, give him two drops each of Calendula, Comfrey, Knotgrass, and Nettle twice per day. Couple this with a bland, easy to digest diet until the ulcer has healed. Anxiety, Stress: When your pet suffers from stress or anxiety, try a combination of the extracts of Oats, Valerian, and Chamomile. Rub a little lavendar oil near the animal's muzzle, or place some on a cotton pad in the pet's bed or in his sleeping area. And remember that if you are stressed, the animal will be too, so sniff a little of that calming lavendar for yourself as well.

Orphans: To raise an orphan, first find some goat milk - the fresher the better - to use as the replacement for mother's milk. Goat milk is high in butterfat content, and is infinitely better to use than those powdered replacements found in stores, and miles ahead of cow's milk. This applies for human babies, as well. Many a colicky baby has had their stomach soothed with goat milk.....and goat milk is usually easily used by those considered lactose-intolerant. Goat milk can be found in your health food store, and often in your grocery store, but the very best source is of course directly from the goat. Find a dairy goat farmer in your area. The prices will be better, too! We have raised a variety of animals everything  on goat's milk, and have observed or experienced none of the weight-gain problems or vitamin deficiency or immune deficiencies that occur often when using substitutes. Remember to feed the milk warmed. For puppies and kittens, it is often helpful to rub the face and anal area with a warm swab, to stimulate their system, much as the mother does after the baby feeds from her. Once per day, add a little spirulina (powdered) to the milk. It boosts the immune system, so needed in orphaned babies, and provides many necessary vitamins and nutrients.

Pregnancy: Raspberry leaf administered daily throughout a pet's pregnancy (mammals) will help tone the uterus and aid in the healing of the uterus after birth, as well as help to stimulate milk production in the mammaries.

Diarrhea, vomiting: Powdered slippery elm bark is useful for treating diarrhea, vomiting, and sensitive stomachs for pets.

Shiny Coats: One teaspoon (less for very small animals, such as ferrets) of cod liver oil dribbled over the pet's food once or twice per week will give a thick, shiny coat, as well as provide many nutrients needed by your pet's body.

Bee Pollen: 1/4 teaspoon for every 15 pounds of animal, given two to three times weekly, helps to slow the aging process. It will also restore hormone balances, regulate the digestive tract, and calm the symptoms of common allergies. Give bee pollen daily during times of stress, illness, or disease to give a boost to the body.

Vitamin C: Giving 1000 mg to 2000 mg per day for three months to puppies from large breeds can help prevent hip dysplacia. Give 500 mg to 1000 mg daily to ease arthritis in dogs and cats. 500 mg each day can prevent urinary tract symptoms and problems for cats.

A WORD OF CAUTION: Do not give white willow to cats or kittens. Many felines are allergic to salycin, the active ingredient in both white willow and the drug that is derived from it, aspirin. Substitute meadowsweet as a pain reliever instead. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Information within this article is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not meant to diagnose nor treat. Seek guidance from a health care professional.

 
 

10 Healing Herbs for Dogs and Humans

Neem

What: Azadirachta indica, an extract of the Neem tree, is nature's non-toxic insecticide, plus it heals burns and soothes dry, irritated skin.

Why: Applied topically and absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream, Neem makes your dog naturally repellent to mosquitoes and fleas. Parasite preventatives work by filling your dog's blood with poison; in order to be eliminated, the pest has to take a bite out of your best friend.

Suggested Use: During the warm months (high mosquito season), bathe once weekly in a mixture of Neem Powder and Baking Soda. Massage into skin and rinse well.

 Yarrow

What: Achillea millefolium - a.k.a. stanchweed, soldier's woundwort, and sanguinary - helps stop bleeding.

Why: If your dog sustains a cut or laceration, you can administer first aid by flushing the wound with povidone iodine, then treating it with yarrow.

Suggested Use: Wound Balm for Animals made from beeswax, yarrow infused oil & yarrow powder.

Arnica

What: Arnica montana, a.k.a. Leopard's Bane, has long been prized for its astonishing bruise-healing property.

Why: Has Spot sustained a bruise or muscle injury? Arnica does double duty, easing the pain and promoting healing.

Suggested Use: Available in loose herb to make a tea for use as a rinse or create a poultice

Valerian

What: This effective - if highly malodorous - herb (Valeriana officinalis L.) is nature's time-trusted sedative and sleep-inducer.

Why: For dogs who experience high anxiety during thunderstorms or on the 4th of July, Valerian will put them out for several hours of stress-free slumber. It's also great for long car trips, to help Spot snooze through the ride.

Suggested Use: Available in Capsules & Powder

Olive Leaf

What: The extract of crushed-up olive leaves (oleuropein) is nature's antibiotic.

Why: If your dog experiences diarrhea from, say, scarfing something rancid on the sidewalk, the antifungal property of Olive Leaf will help set his digestion right.

Suggested Use: Available in Capsules & Powder

Milk Thistle

What: A flowering plant whose extract, Silymarin, is one of nature's most potent antioxidants for people and pets.

Why: Boosting and protecting the liver, milk thistle is a must if you want to extend the life of your dog. Everything passes through the liver, so it welcomes the support - and because eye and liver health are linked, milk thistle also prevents and reverses cloudy eyes (nuclear sclerosis) in dogs.

Suggested Use: Available in Capsules & Powder

Hawthorn

What: Crataegus is a berry that's used to treat cardiac insufficiency.

Why: Strengthening the heart muscle and improving circulation, hawthorn helps stave off congestive heart failure in senior dogs (and people), and tones the tickers of younger dogs who've survived heartworm disease. Young, healthy dogs don't need it yet - wait until they're older.

Suggested Use: Available in Capsules & Powder

Burdock

What: A thistle in the genus Arctium, its root has long been prized for its blood-purifying, hair-regrowing, and cancer-fighting powers.

Why: Use it regularly as a preventative, especially if you have a breed of dog that's prone to cancer (such as a Boxer).

Suggested Use: Available in Capsules & Powder

 

 
 
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