Monday, June 24, 2013

This Week's Meet The Breed: Vizsla

For anyone who has shared time with this incredible breed, there is the unmistakable regal look the Vizsla will give you and there is good reason for this.  This ancient breed earned their regality by being the only hunting dog of its time to also be a companion dog brought into the home and trusted to be around children.

ORIGIN-  The Vizsla is a Hungarian hunting dog.  In fact, the word Vizsla is Hungarian for "Pointer".  This ancient breed dates back to the 10th century. They were the favorite hunting dogs of the Magyar Tribe. Primitive stone etchings over a thousand years old show the Magyar hunter with his falcon and his Vizsla.  Warlords and barons held this breed in high esteem and enjoyed both their excellent hunting skills for "upland fowl" and small prey such as rabbits, and their ability as a gentle, loving companion that could be trusted around their children. The Vizsla was used in the establishment of other breeds such as the Weimaraner and German Shorthair Pointer.  Interestingly enough, the Vizsla almost became extinct in the late 1800's, as they were overrun by the English Pointer and the German Shorthair Pointer, the very breed they helped create!  Lucky for the Vizsla, they were so beloved and respected, the Hungarian people worked hard to protect the only 12 remaining Vizslas in the world, and brought the breed back. Vizla's were then shipped to other countries such as Romania, Austria, Slovakia and Serbia to help increase the stock.  From there Vizslas started arriving in the United States at the end of World  War II to gain AKC recognition (which they did in 1960).  

INTERESTING VIZSLA INFO - This breed is not suitable for being kept outdoors as they have no undercoat, which makes them intolerant to severe weather conditions.  They are self-cleaning and rarely, if ever, require bathing!  The tail of the Vizsla, when used as a working hunting dog, is docked longer than other breeds.  This is because the Vizsla uses it's tail to cut through rough scrub and undergrowth while seeking out fowl and small prey as it wags it vigorously back and forth.   Please note;  We do not condone the docking of tails except for the health and well-being of the breed.  Example:  If a Vizsla is a working  hunting dog and does not have the tail docked, it will be severely injured and/or ripped by the brush they are hunting in.

PERSONAL OBSERVATION - We have never encountered a Vizsla that was not a sweet, gentle loveaholic! Even though every reference we have checked mentions what a high-strung breed this can be, requiring a lot of exercise, the Vizslas we have had in our pack have not been high strung or overly energetic. We have found them to be large lap dogs (and by lap we mean sitting in your lap and lapping your face)!

HEALTH ISSUES - Because they lack an undercoat, they are not insulated from the microscopic pollen in the air and are very susceptible to environmental allergies.  They are also prone to food allergies as well as  Epilepsy, Cancer, Sebaceous adenitis,  Hypothyroidism and Dwarfism.

IS THIS A GOOD BREED FOR YOU? - They're wonderful with all people including children and are even fine with cats if they are raised with them.  Their hunting instincts will kick in with small prey such as squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits, so if you have these little critters hanging around and wish to keep them around,  shy away from the Vizsla.  Since every reference mentions they need a lot of exercise you must be willing to put in the hikes, walks and/or jogs with the Vizsla because some can be prone to chewing if not stimulated enough mentally and physically.  We also would not recommend this breed for those living in extreme heat climates as we have definitely noticed how hypersensitive they are to hot conditions.

We hope you have enjoyed this blog on the Vizsla.  As always, we welcome your comments and stories  concerning this wonderful breed!

Monday, June 17, 2013


This is the sequel to the last blog regarding canine hazards.  Some listed below are quite obvious but there may be some that will surprise you.

1. PAINT- Not only must you keep all paint away from dogs, but also anything associated with painting such as paint thinner, any rags or cloths used in conjunction that could contain paint/paint thinner residue and paint brushes. To many dogs a paint brush makes a  very cool toy, but any residue on the brush ingested can be deadly. Also the bristles, if ingested, could lodge in your dog's throat and/or intestines.

2. INSECTICIDES/RODENTICIDES - These are extremely bad news so always keep any and all containers well away from your dog.  Also extremely important to be aware of is anything that gets sprayed by you or an extermination service.  Many companies claim they use products that, once they have dried completely, are no longer toxic to dogs. We are wary of this!  There are still services that use very toxic chemicals in their extermination product and a dog ingesting plant material, bark treated with these products or insects killed by these products could be in danger. Years ago we were walking our Malamute Buddy by an apartment building, and he quickly ate a dead bug before we could get it from him. Turns out the bug was dead because of exterminator chemicals, and Buddy ended up spending two nights in the hospital broken out in hives, vomiting and having severe diarrhea.  That was a very scary lesson for us. It was also a very expensive one.

3.  LAWN AND GARDEN PRODUCTS -  Fertilizers, weed killer and snail/slug bait are the most dangerous and deadly ones. Even herbicides can cause gastrointestinal upsets, although not deadly.  Gardening tools contain sharp pieces and edges that can appear as fun toys for your dog as well, so keep those tools as guarded from your dog as you would fertilizers. Another garden/lawn hazard for your dog is the garden hose.  Hoses are fun for dogs to chew on, but unless the hose is rubber or specifically labeled "dog safe" be very cautious!  All hoses now contain a certain amount of lead that will be toxic if enough is ingested.

Aloe Vera - It's ok to treat topically on dogs in small amounts but if they decide to chew on part of the actual plant it can do some serious damage.
Amaryllis - The bulbs are the most toxic part
Azalea/Rhododendron - Ingestion of even a few of the leaves can cause serious problems
Baby's Breath - mildly toxic
Carnation Plants - mildly toxic
Castor Bean - Less common but highly toxic as castor beans contain the poison risen.
Chrysanthemum - mildly toxic
Cyclamen - can be deadly
Daffodil - highly toxic
Gladiola - the bulbs are the most toxic part
Hosta - moderate toxicity
Ivy - mildly toxic
Milkweed - deadly
Morning Glory - moderate toxicity
Oleander - highly toxic
Poinsettia - mildly toxic
Pothos - mildly toxic
Sago Palm - highly toxic
Tomato Plant - mildly toxic
Tulip - the bulb is the most toxic part
Yew - highly toxic

5.  ANTIFREEZE - Antifreeze has caused so many fatalities in dogs the companies actually changed the taste from a sweeter one to a more bitter taste. However it still is one of the most lethal substances for dogs and even a small amount can be fatal.

6.  PUDDLES - Those puddles you see on the streets from lawn sprinklers are very tempting as a water bowl for your dogs but never let your dog drink from puddles or any standing water! Puddles contain many lethal chemicals from reconstituted water and standing water can contain parasites such as  guardia and whipworm.

7.  STICKS - Chewing sticks is fine for dogs provided they have not been tainted with pesticides. However if your pup likes to ingest them it can be dangerous and even deadly as they could cause a blockage and/or perforation of the intestines.

8. ROCKS/PEBBLES -  Some people may not be aware that when their dog forages they may ingest rocks which are completely indigestible for dogs and can easily cause a deadly blockage. Always keep an eye on your pup so you know what he/she likes to forage on so you can make sure they stay safe.

That's the list for now. No need to be paranoid but safely securing any possible poisonous/dangerous objects and being aware of what is attractive to your pup's taste buds will make you sleep easier and keep your dog safe.  We welcome your comments and stories and thank you for taking the time to read  this blog.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Canine Hazards In and Around Your Home

We get a lot of people asking about potential hazards in and around their home.  So we thought it was time to devote a blog to it. This week's we will address hazards inside the home and, in two weeks, the sequel to this blog will address the hazards outside the home.

We all try to be as careful as possible when keeping things from our dog's reach, but it's easy to get a little forgetful sometimes. Unfortunately that could be bad news for your dog and for you. Hopefully this list can be a reminder to keep closet doors and cabinets closed and certain items elevated to ensure your pup cannot reach them.  If you believe or know your dog has ingested something from the upcoming list, do not hesitate to call the APCC (Animal Poison Control Center).  The number is 888-426-4435.  This is one of those numbers you want on your fridge or emergency contact list.  The last thing you want or need is your pup to be in trouble, and have to spend precious minutes desperately looking for the number.

Here's a list of the top poisons to dogs in your home:

1.  Human Prescription Medication.  Keep all meds where dogs absolutely cannot reach them.  A friend of ours had her son's prescription for ADHD on a counter where she believed her dog could not reach it.  The dog did reach it, and was lucky to only ingest one pill.  The result was this docile, gentle dog became very aggressive and was hyper beyond control.  Lucky for the dog and the owner, the pill wore off and he was fine, but if he had access to more than one pill, this could have easily killed him.

2.  Over the counter products.  According to the APCC, Ibuprofen was the #1 OTC poison ingested by dogs in 2012. Keep them all well out of reach. 

3. Veterinary Products such as prescriptions for dogs, flea, heart worm and tick preventive medicine.

4. Household Items.  These include paint, dry wall, fire logs, glue and ALL household cleansers, even if they are "all natural".

5. Human Food.  Chocolate is the most obvious.  The darker the chocolate, the more toxic.  If your dog gets a small piece there is no need to rush them to the vet. But if you are unsure and your dog has any unusual symptoms (diarrhea, vomiting, agitation, seizure...) rush him/her to the vet immediately.  Xylitol is another extremely toxic substance to dogs. It's used as a sweetener in toothpaste, gum, candy and some baked goods. Many dogs have a sweet tooth.  Even a small amount of xylitol can send a dog into seizures and liver failure.  Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure. Onions and garlic can cause gastrointestinal irritation and may lead to red blood cell damage.

6. Plants. The following are indoor plants most toxic to dogs:  Lilies of any type, Ivy, Poinsettia, Mistletoe, Holly, Aloe Vera, Asparagus Ferns, Christmas Cactus, and Eucalyptus. There are many more that are more prevalent outdoors and will be covered in the sequel in two weeks.

The above list is what in-house toxins are most dangerous to dogs.  But there are other items worth mentioning that are dangerous and potentially deadly as well:

1. Caffeine, especially the amount found in energy drinks.

2. Alcohol.  Some dogs really enjoy the tastes found in beer, wine and cocktails, and an unattended drink, at a level where dogs can reach it,  could be dangerous if enough alcohol is consumed.

3. Marijuana.  For those who enjoy partaking please keep it well away from your dog. A friend of ours was hiking her dog last year, and her dog ate something which turned out to have marijuana in it.  She had to rush her dog to the emergency vet and the doctor said there was almost enough THC in it to have killed her.

4. Dog and Cat food.  Of course this is not toxic but if a dog acquires access to a bag of dog or cat food and binges too much too fast this can bring on a fatal condition called bloat.

5. Toys. We haven't gone off the deep end here and certainly are not suggesting your have no toys   available for your dog!  Just be cautious in choosing toys for them that they could ingest if they're too small or if they destroy them. Be cautious of any rope toys if your dog has any tendency to chew things  up or rip them apart. The above can not only be a choking hazard, but can lodge in the intestines   causing a dangerous and possibly fatal blockage.  We also don't recommend leaving a dog unattended with a bone of any type (rawhide, marrow, knuckle, etc.).

We're not trying to get anyone paranoid, just the opposite actually. By having knowledge and awareness you can easily keep your dog safe, even with "canine toxic" substances we all keep in our homes.  Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and as always, we welcome your comments and stories.