March 2016
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Pet Circkles.

"I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being." ~ Abe Lincoln

German Shepard with early signs of Degenerative Myelopathy

DM (Degenerative Myelopathy) is no Longer Common to Just Shepherds.


It can be frustrating when the veterinary profession tells everyone that diseases like D. M are "genetic". Or when veterinarians misdiagnose a health condition in a pet because they don't keep up with the latest studies and findings on companion animals research. Vets tend to label and write off far too many disorders as genetic when they are not technically so. Degenerative myelopathy is a good example. It used to be considered a common disease in German Shepherds primarily, now it is showing up in many other breeds as well. So you have to ask yourself, how can it be genetic if it has spread from shepherds to mastiffs, labs and other purebreds? Simple. Because it is not really passed on in the genes. A dog's genes may make them more susceptible to a particular disorder or disease, so a particular breed may appear to be a carrier, but the actual disease in this case is not being passed down from generation to generation when it suddenly shows up in purebred mastiffs where it was not appearing in Mastiffs years earlier.

D.M is a horrible, debilitating auto immune disease, more likely caused by vaccines. Vaccines are notorious for causing all kinds of auto immune diseases, and since D.M. is an auto immune disease, meaning the immune system attacks itself for no good reason, logic would dictate that D.M is yet another disease that can be added to that list of horrible side effects associated with the over-vaccination of pets.

Symptoms of Degenerative Myelopathy:

Earliest signs of D.M present as rear-leg weakness including dragging the feet, not standing straight at the hind end but slightly slouched, difficulty getting up from a laying position, lack of energy during exercise that progresses to the point where a dog will start dragging their hind quarters around on the ground because they lack the strength to get up. Staggering, having one leg buckle under them when they try to turn and overall wobbly and weak hindquarters that look as though they are about to buckle under the dog's weight. Eventually, the internal organs become paralyzed and the stomach, heart or kidneys will fail. Once a dog is showing the early signs of D.M., prognosis is not good. Most dogs only live 6-18 months typically, with some dogs living longer if their owners are aware of how to extend the quality of life of a dog with this horrible disorder.

Ways to Benefit a Dog With Degenerative Myelopathy.

There are a few things you can do to care for a dog with D.M that may help extend their life. I lost my last dog, a female mastiff, to D.M, but she lived 5 years longer than any of the vets thought she would. A few key things are most important to extending the quality of life for these dogs.

1.) Type of food is very important. The nature of D. M is that is causes a dogs immune system to attach itself, but on top of that, D. M causes the dog to lose it's natural ability to protect itself from oxidative damage of cells. A healthy person or animal can counteract the oxidative stresses and damage caused by just everyday bodily functions and toxins in their environment. A healthy body's cells can destroy cells that are damaged (or oxidized) by free-radicals or cancer-causing cells. But a dog with D. M loses this ability and is very susceptible to cancers because of this. Avoiding any and all exposure to toxins in foods and in the air and water will greatly prolong their life expectancy. A raw meat diet high in antioxidant vegetables and berries is best. You may even notice their back end straighten up a bit after just a few weeks of putting them on a well balanced raw meat diet, and dogs with DM also have impaired digestion which benefits from raw diets greatly. Raw diets are just better all the way around for the health of any dog. They provide much higher nutrition that a dog's body can actually utilize and process better than commercial foods and you can tailor them to your dog's specific needs. Such as adding blueberries to it to provide extra antioxidants so necessary for DM dogs.

2.) Avoid any Further Vaccinations. As mentioned above, avoiding any and all toxins is paramount to extending the life of a dog with D.M and vaccines are the quickest way to end their life. Vaccines have been researched and found to cause many auto immune diseases, and D.M is an auto immune disease. A vet in Wisconsin did studies on puppies for years to determine if vaccines were causing auto immune diseases in dogs and at what stage in life. Once a year, Ronald Schultz checks the antibody levels in his dogs’ blood. Why? He says for proof that most annual vaccines are unnecessary.He proved that puppies as young as 6 months are already developing auto immune diseases associated with vaccines, and to keep vaccinating them over and over is shortening their lives greatly.

DM dog dragging rear foot3.) Keep them in a Clean, Non-toxic Environment Away From Other Pets if Possible. Keep them away from chemical household cleaners (if they lick the floor, use vinegar to clean with instead.), breathing in any chemical fumes of any kind including air fresheners. (Febreeze is a known allergen and carcinogen to pets.) Keep them away from paint fumes and any and all finishes or solvents. Keep them away from new carpeting which off-gases for up to 3 months, plastic contained foods (almost all commercial pet food bags are lined with plastic even if the outside of the bag is paper) etc.
Since a DM dog's immune system is vulnerable and already under attack, they will be more susceptible to contracting illnesses from other animals, dogs, humans and especially vaccines.

4.) Take Notice of the Signs of Food Allergies. As we mentioned above, a DM dog's immune system is extremely vulnerable and if you notice any of the signs of food allergies, you should change their food immediately because food allergies will only add to the stress the immune system is already under with DM. Many, many dogs are allergic to chicken due to it being used as the primary protein base in vaccines, and every commercial dog food contains chicken meal whether it is "beef flavored" or any other flavor. As noted above, raw diets are best for DM dogs because it not only reduces their exposure to known toxins, carcinogens and allergens, raw diets that are well-balanced will help give your dog more muscle strength.

Signs of food allergies include excessive scratching of the ears and head area, biting of the front paws or legs, appearing to be very itchy and scratching a great deal. Vomiting after eating a particular food. Most dogs are said to love chicken or turkey organ meat, but I had a Shar-pei that would pick at his food whenever I added them to his dish, and if he forced himself to eat it, would vomit. He was the only dog I ever had that really did not like poultry of any kind, and I found out later he was allergic to all poultry, which explained why ever since he was a puppy, he had vomited up every commercial dog food I ever tried to give him. His health, looks, coat and eyes/expression immediately approved after just a week on a raw diet of beef or rabbit.

5.) Keep Their Body Heat and Inflammation Down as much as Possible. DM dogs also seem to be hotter (temperature-wise) than the average dog. They get too hot very easy and overheat very easy. They will go to great lengths to cool themselves down. I gave my DM dog her own swimming pool which she used every day in the summer to cool off. She would also go lay in a snowbank as often as she could. This excessive body temperature is probably due to the high amount of inflammation in their bodies in comparison to normal, healthy dogs. Keep them out of hot vehicles, the sun, and give them a means to cool themselves down. Also keep their inflammation down as much as possible by giving them a good anti-inflammatory like Glucosamine Chondroitin MSM and anti-inflammatory foods such as Omega oils as mentioned above which are naturally anti-inflammatory, turmeric root ground or grated into their food once or twice a week, antioxidant foods, almond milk etc.

6.) A Good Omega-3 and Omega-6 oil will help a great deal. There is still some controversy as to whether or not grapeseed oil is poisonous to dogs as grapes are, so until further research is done, it is best to avoid giving dogs grapeseed oil; which is really too bad because grapeseed is an excellent source of Omega-6 and a powerful antioxidant, however, olive oil makes a good substitute that dogs can tolerate. You can also use kelp or borage oil as good sources for Omega oils. Omega oils are naturally anti-oxidative, lubricating and benefit and cool the immune system.

7.) Cool Down the Immune System: The biggest key to prolonging the life of a DM dog is to cool down, or slow down their now hyper-active and over-active immune system. If you have ever suffered from allergies yourself, then you have experienced a bit of how an immune system on hyper drive works. It doesn't just affect your anti-histamines causing you to be miserable with sinus drainage, watery eyes, perhaps a rash etc., an over-active immune response also causes your overall body to feel sluggish, achy, painful, itchy and can affect other bodily functions such as your stomach, your breathing if you have allergic asthma etc. So an over-active immune system, even in its mildest state, can cause full body disfunction and breakdown and long-term disease and illness. The only way to stop this is to cool down the immune system's response. In severe cases, doctors do this by prescribing steroids, the most popular being prednisone. However, steroids such as prednisone can and do cause an enlarged liver in dogs and numerous other side effects and are not the best way to go. Steroids should only be used in emergency or sever cases that are not responding to anything else.

Natural Immune System Remedies: Reishi mushroom is very safe for animals and is a very good herbal antihistamine, anti-inflammatory and helps to correct the immune system and bodily functions. Give it at least 3 times a day as it does not last in the system long and takes a few doses to build up and work. Dogs tolerate the taste of it well and you will probably notice a positive response in any dog with food allergies or immune problems within 2-3 doses or 1-2 days.

Turmeric root has been heavily studied the last couple of years and found to be very beneficial in fighting cancer, shrinking tumors, as an anti-inflammatory and immune system benefactor. Ginger root makes a good second choice if you can't get turmeric root. Turmeric root works best if it is fresh ground, not dried. Ginger will aid digestion, has been proven through research to actually shrink tumors specifically in the colon and digestive track where DM dogs are most prone to them.

Antioxidants, antioxidants, antioxidants: A few that are easy to feed to dogs are blueberries, broccoli is said to be particularly beneficial to DM dogs and they love it, berries of any kind, bananas are also shown to benefit DM dogs, carrots, mangoes, beets, squash, sweet potatoes (best fed raw as cooked will cause diarrhea), fresh peas and beans, apples.

Exercise and Massage: The only good thing about DM is it is not usually painful, and taking your dog for a walk, no matter how short, every day, helps with their mobility and circulation. Even if they can only go 50 feet, it is better than nothing. If they can only go short distances at a time, try taking them for a minimum of 2 short walks a day, say once in the morning and once in the afternoon which will help a great deal with keeping their hind quarters mobile longer. Massaging all along the spine and back hips can also increase a dogs mobility. I used to give my mastiff with DM a massage every morning before I went to work. She would come and sit by me while I was drinking my morning coffee and wait for her massage. She seemed to know that both the massage and the walks, even though the walks were a struggle because her energy level was so low - were doing her good; because bless her heart, as hard as it must have been, she begged me to go for our morning walk, every morning, no matter if we had to turn around after just 200 feet because she didn't have the strength to go any further. Some days were better than others and she could walk up to a quarter mile. When she would start laying down along side the road, I knew it was time to turn back because she was getting too tired out.

Educate Yourself and Pay Attention to Your Pet: Even though most people (veterinarians) agree this is an old dog disease, this is not true. My mastiff was only 4 years old when she started showing signs of DM. It is usually that most pet owners do not notice the early signs until the dog gets much older and the signs become increasingly more obvious.

Typical Progession of Degenerative Myelopathy in Dogs: Please watch the video below as heartbreaking as it is so you can recognize the signs of DM in any dog. The only way to combat this disease is to start the above remedies at the first signs of degeneration in order to prolong quality of life.


Photos from top: 1.) Shepherd is dragging left hind leg and back legs are not straight but struggling to hold up the dog's weight. 2.) Dog is dragging foot on the ground.


housebreaking a puppy

Puppy Training 101: Part One.

Since training our new Pet Circkles Mascot Maya from 8 weeks old, we thought this would be a good way to walk people step by step through the process, techniques and tips for successful puppyhood for dog and owner. Maya is currently an 8 week old English Mastiff, and because mastiffs are known for their stubbornness, she makes a good example of the right and wrong way to train a willful pup, because mastiffs are nothing if not willful. Incidentally, the mastiff breed is not for just anyone because of their nature, they must be trained properly from the puppy stage or they can become too difficult to handle as adults.

Housebreaking a Puppy: Tips and Techniques.

When a pet owner brings home that furry, cuddly, cute bundle of paws, the first task at hand is usually potty training and housebreaking their new pup. Most puppies are a bit shy and insecure for the first couple of weeks in a new home and with strange people, but after a few brief weeks, they will quickly overcome this to become little Tasmanian devils around the house - chewing, destroying, biting and out of control little balls of fur.

Potty Training is the first task to tackle, and let's just say, not all pups catch onto it the same way or in the same time frame. Some pups will get it after just one accident on the floor, others will take weeks or months to finally grow up enough to mentally get it, and what may work for one pup may not necessarily work for another. How quickly they catch on to going potty outdoors also has a great deal to do with how they were brought into this world and housed before you got them. A pup from a pet store will be the most difficult to potty train. This is because they have been taught to relieve themselves where they sleep and eat because they are kept in small cages and pet store windows before they are purchased and they have no choice but to potty where they sleep and eat. Most dogs do not like to soil their living quarters, but since pet store dogs have no choice, it becomes a very difficult habit to break them off right from the start.

The most important thing to keep in mind when housebreaking a pup is that an 8 week old puppy is still growing and its organs are still developing and thus they just don’t have the bladder control an adult dog has. An 8 week old pup will have to urinate about every two hours, so cut them some leeway because accidents are bound to happen until they get a little older and more developed. Sometimes, they just plain forget to go outside to go. Everybody would love a pup that only takes one or two tries to be housebroken, but when you get a puppy, you take on the responsibility that this may not be the case. Set yourself up for the worst-case scenario and you may be pleasantly surprised when they catch on quicker than you thought they would. This sets up a more pleasant puppy experience for everyone.

Another important thing to keep in mind to be successful at potty training is to understand that it is in a dog’s nature to not want to soil their living area, or at least the area where they sleep and eat. Keeping this in mind, and using this one fundamental understanding of canine behavior to your advantage will spare you a great deal of time and effort in housebreaking.
Let’s start with this basic understanding of canines. I’ve had two dogs that were housebroken in one day, a couple dogs that took 3 or 4 tries, and one dog, a Jack Russell which is a breed that is suppose to be smart, that just didn’t get it and it took months to housebreak. I got her from a woman who bought her from a pet store then realized she didn’t have time to train a puppy because she had just started her own business. I had to literally make the Jack Russell an outdoor dog until she got old enough to hold her urine for several hours, which was until she was about 6 months old. Luckily I got her in the summer and already had a big fenced back yard she could live in until that happened. When she was first introduced to the house, all the usually potty training tricks had absolutely no affect on her. When she had to go, she went right where she was, because that was what living in a pet store had taught her.
The two dogs that were potty trained in one day came from breeders whose mother had free access to go outside whenever she wanted. Puppies learn how to behave from their mothers, so if momma is able to go potty outside, the pups quickly learn that that is the place to go.
Maya, our example puppy mascot, is somewhere in-between. Her breeder raised her in a specially built wooden box in her barn that she used for litters. It was about 5x5 feet in one corner of the barn and had a sand floor - like a big sandbox; which made it convenient for the breeder as far as cleaning up after litters of puppies, but did not help to teach the pups to relieve themselves outside of their living area. I suspected I was going to have to potty train Maya the same way I had trained pet store pups because basically her environment up to that point was quite similar. She had never seen the outdoors until I purchased her, so it took about a good solid persistent week to get her housebroke, and there were a couple accidents along the way when she got so involved in discovering something new or playing that having to go pee took her by surprise and her little bladder didn’t quite make it to the door to go outside before she had to go.

potty training a puppy has accidentsQuickest way to housebreak a puppy: If your new pup is going potty in the house, it is because they have not yet recognized your house as their house. They need to realize that the whole house is now their living area and belongs to them. Once they feel like su casa is their casa, they will not want to soil it and will want to please you by not dirtying the communal living space.
How do you get them to call your home their home? Many people will crate pups while they are at work for their own safety and to stop them from going on the floor, but this only reinforces the cage-mentality that it’s okay to relieve themselves in a confined space because they have no choice. Many pet owner get frustrated that the crate technique does not work the way trainers recommended it should.

For a very young puppy (8-10 weeks old) keep them confined to the smallest room in your house first, like a laundry or bath room. Puppy proof it by removing anything they can chew on, get into, get hurt on or destroy as much as possible. Some people say to put newspaper on the floor in this space, but many pups will just play with the paper because they don’t know it’s for going potty on. You can try it if it makes you feel better, just don’t get disappointed if the pup doesn’t automatically know what to do with it.
Put a blanket or dog bed in one corner, their food dishes in another and a few of their toys so they get the idea that this new room is their home. Makes sure you can take them outside every couple of hours, especially right after they wake up and about an hour after they eat. Always take them out the same door, on a leash if you need to, so they learn the way to the outdoor potty area so they can tell you when they need to go later on. Give them a treat and positive praise and say something like, “Good boy go potty outside” while you pat them and praise them. Then they will know they are doing the desired behavior for you and will start to associate it with the words, “do you need to go potty?” for the future.
If you work for a living and this potty-training schedule does not work for you, the best thing to do is set up an area outside for your pup while you are away so they are not forced to relieve themselves in the house just because you are gone for long hours. Then work on the housebreaking method above on the weekends or the days that you don’t have to work. If it is too cold to leave them outside for many hours, you may have to sacrifice your garage, but it is still separate enough from the house that most pups will understand it is still not going potty in the house. Truly, if you don’t have time to train a puppy, it is best to pay someone else to do it for you rather than doing it half-hazardly which will only frustrate you and make you hate your new pup instead of enjoying them.

Once your pup starts to catch on to the route and routine for leaving their small living space to go potty outside on a scheduled and regular basis (you will know when this happens because they should start automatically heading for the door you have been taking them out of without you leading them much), then you can graduate them to a little bit bigger room of their own in the house, and then gradually to maybe half of the house that they have access to, and eventually the whole house. Place their food dishes in one room, their bed in another, play with them and their toys throughout the house, and continue to take them for scheduled potty breaks outside through the same door every time. Eventually they will tell you when they need to go outside by sitting or standing in front of the same door until you open it and let them out. Take them on a leash in and out of the house the first few times until you can trust that they will come back to the house when they are done doing their business outside. Give them a treat to encourage and reinforce that they are doing the right thing by going potty outside, and tell them “good girl or boy for going potty outside” so they start to associate “going potty outside” as words so later, when they get more mature, you can ask them, “Do you need to potty” and they will know what that means and either tell you yes by standing by the same door they’ve been going in and out of, or by wagging their tail or jumping up and down, some expression that that is what they want. Then….you are well on your way to having a happy, housebroken pup and companion animal life.

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About Pet Circkles:

Allen M. Shoen, a veterinarian and author of "Kindred Spirit" wrote, "Although science has no definite answers, why not assume that sharing a home with a dog, cat or bird - or sharing our lives with a horse or other large animal - has therapeutic benefits that are deeper than simple stimulation of the opiate receptors in the skin through touch? Perhaps, through our connection with animals, we are stimulating some deeply buried aspect of nature within us, rekindling a lost connection that allows us to be more than solitary creatures, but part of something greater - and therefor, more healthy, more whole."

Much scientific and psychological research has proven just that. And also that the human animal bond is mutually beneficial under humane circumstances. Many great philosophers, such as Albert Einstein, recognized that we have a great deal of useful information to learn from animals.
In fact, animals are the great teachers, not us, for they have roamed the earth far longer than we and express genuine thought and expression true to their nature, which humans typically do not. We have a great deal to learn from them. Pet Circkles helps us stay more in touch with their health, diet and social needs so we can give back to those who give us so much in return.

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Featured DOG BREED: Louisiana Catahoula Leopard Dog

Louisiana Catahoula Leopard DogOr known as just Catahoula Leopard Dog, they have a short, single coat colored in a merle or black/tan pattern. Some coats can be coarse, but most are short and tight. Color is an especially notable feature in this herding breed: eye color is very unique in this breed and can be very complimentary with the coat color. The origins of the catahoula breed are unclear. One theory is that the Catahoula is the result of Native Americans having bred their own dogs with molasses makers and greyhounds brought to Louisiana by Hernando de Soto in the 16th century.

The breed may have "cracked glass" or "marbled glass" eyes (heterochromia) and occurs when both colored and glass portions are present in the same eye. Cracked or marbled eyes are blue or blue-white in color. Catahoulas with two cracked or marble glass eyes are often referred to as having double glass eyes. In some cases, a glass eye will have darker colored sections in it, and vice versa. Cracked eyes may be half of one color and half of another. They may just have a streak or spot of another color. Gray eyes are usually cracked eyes, made of blue and green, giving them their grayish appearance. The eyes may be of the same color or each of a different color. Eye color can also be ice blue, brown, green, gray, or amber. No particular eye color is typical of Catahoulas.

These dogs are outstanding bay dogs, or tracking and hunting dogs. They have been known to track animals from miles away, and have been used for hunting feral pigs, squirrel,deer, raccoon, mountain lion, and black bear. They often track silently and only begin to make their distinctive baying bark, eye to eye with the prey, once it is stopped, and hold it in position without touching the animal; using only posture, eye contact, and lateral shifts.
Catahoulas have been introduced in the Northern Territory of Australia where they have been found to be a superior hunting dog for pigs by breeders.[10] They have been introduced in New Zealand as well as Australia, but the number of Catahoulas there is unclear.

Catahoulas are highly intelligent and energetic. They are assertive but not aggressive by nature. Catahoulas in general are very even tempered. Males tend to be more obnoxious than females, but Catahoulas are very serious about their job if they are working dogs. They make a good family dog but will not tolerate being isolated, so interaction with the dog is a daily requirement. When a Catahoula is raised with children, the dog believes that it is his or her responsibility to look after and protect those children. Many owners will say that the Catahoula owns them and they can be insistent when it's time to eat or do other activities. Catahoulas are protective and a natural alarm dog. They will alert one to anything out of the ordinary

Health Concerns: Not prone to many health issues, this is one of the more healthy breeds. Prone to hip dysplasia and deafness. Along with deafness (both ears or just one) this breed can have eye problems (tunnel vision, eye won't open all the way, pupil is abnormal, etc.). As a breed they are relatively free of a lot of diseases. Some older dogs are known to have gotten cancer.

Size: Catahoulas may range greatly in size with males averaging slightly larger than females. Typical height ranges from 20–26" and weight between 40 and 90 lbs.

Lifespan: 10-13 years.

Looking for a Catahoula Dog? Use our Pet finder tool below and search for an adoptable dog that needs a home in your area now.

To view breeds we've already written about, go to our Pet Circkles Club Page.


Pet Circkles Back Issues:
For Issues that go back further than 2015, see our Back Issues Index or use the Google Search above to search by topic.

January 2015: The Tao of Equus: One woman's transformation and healing through the horse. 5 Health Indicators You Should Always be Monitoring for Your Pet. Natural remedy for rain rot on horses, Boxers, Big Dogs Huge Paws Rescue and more.

February 2015: Guide horses. Best first pets for kids. Heartland Farm Animal Rescue, Apple Cider Vinegar for pets, Brittany Spaniel and more.

March 2015: Blister Beetles in hay can kill horses. Reasons for poor health in birds, Bull Terriers, Ferret Dreams Rescue, Scrappy's Story: One brave little ferret, and more.

April 2015: Before You Buy Another Flea Collar, You Should Read This. Natural Pet Remedies: Dry skin and irritations.Brachycephalic Syndrome. American Bulldog.

May 2015: Miniature Donkeys as Pets. Natural Pet Remedies: Proper way to clean a pet's ears. The Special Needs of Giant Breeds. Bullmastiff.

June 2015: Is Your Cat Food Killing Your Cat? Natural Pet Remedies: Loss of a friend. Preparing Pets to Fly. Cane Corso Breed.

July 2015: Is New NPDS Pet Dental Procedure Safe? Pet Bee Stings. New Stem Cell Therapy to Treat Canine Joint Disorders and Arthritis.Chesapeake Bay Retriever.

August 2015: Operation Bagdad Pups and The Healing Power of Pets in the Military. Chihuahua breed. Adopting a Barn Cat. Natural pet remedies.

September 2015: How Pets Evolved and How it Affects Their Health. Chinook dog breed. Natural Pet Remedies.

October 2015: Does Your Dog Howl to Music or Singing? Dog Breed: Chow Chow. Don’t Give up on Your Dog Just Because He's Getting old.

November 2015: Pumpkin is Good For Pets. Thanksgiving for Pets? Only if You Truly Give Them a Treat. Rough Collie.

December 2015: The Best Christmas Gift for Pets. Think Twice About This Popular Pet for Kids. Smooth Collie.


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