Canine Megaesophagus Study for Affected Dogs

Megaesophagus refers to a syndrome in which the esophagus becomes weak and flaccid, and subsequently becomes much larger than normal, hence the term megaesophagus. This occurs because the muscles of the esophagus lose tone. Once this occurs, the esophagus does not propel ingested food, air, and water into the stomach. Rather, these items remain in the esophagus for prolonged periods of time.

If you have a dog who has been diagnosed with megaesophagus, your participation in this study would be appreciated. To date, most of the participants have been German Shepherd Dogs, but they’d like to study any and all dogs with this problem. The dog must have been diagnosed with megaesophagus prior to the age of one year old.

1) Send a request via email to: lclark4@clemson.edu — include your name, your’ship to’ address, your dog’s age, & breed, age of onset of symptoms & age at diagnosis.

2) You’ll be mailed a kit via snail mail, to be returned by you via snail mail. You will not need to go to your DVM, it is a simple cheek swab collection.

3) She is able to accept swabs from anywhere in the world.

Leigh Anne Clark, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
100 Jordan Hall
Clemson University
Clemson, SC 29634-0318

The above is important for the following reasons:

1) Request for cheek swabs — more samples needed/requested. Following parameters only apply: the dog must have been diagnosed at the age of one or before.

2) ANY BREED may be submitted. Focus is still on GSD as that is the initial grant parameter.

3) The cheek swabs will cost you virtually nothing.
Why this is important.

Being able to map the genes involved will ultimately lead to the ability to develop a test so that breeders can know before breeding which sire and dams are carriers or if they are in fact clear.

Please Note: Because of expense, please know that no direct results will be made available. Your affected dog and you can play a huge part in the advancement of this scientific endeavor to (eventually) eliminate this insidious disorder.

There is permission to cross-post this information. There are twenty-six known affected breeds, so should you belong to other breed lists, please share this information with all.

Megaesophagus-susceptible breeds include Irish Setters, German Shepherd Dogs, Golden Retrievers, Shar Peis, Great Danes, Miniature Schnauzers, Wirehaired Fox Terriers, Newfoundlands, Pugs, Labrador Retrievers, and Greyhounds.

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YES, we are what we eat.

We just love Saturday Night Love’s *ads*. Funny, how they are picking up on the sad state of our food supply. So, before getting the true scoop on nutrition and diet, check out this poignant video on what NOT TO BE SERVING TO OUR DOGS (initially posted in Oct 2009)!

Vodpod videos no longer available.

This is closer to the truth than you can imagine.

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Check out lots of incredible information on diet plans, some from veterinarians (
Dr. Gregory Ogilvie and Dr. Demian Dressler) and Cornell University. There are 3 SUPER PDF documents for you to print out, with over 100 pages of material in fact. Just click here.

I home cook an organic diet and have done so for several years now. I add all organic ingredients to an organic pre-mix that is actually used for dogs with cancer. I feel it is a good preventative to use this formula as I really like the amount of antioxidants. I do not sell the food (I do not sell any food at my store) but know the person who developed it, and she does extensive work with veterinarians and dogs with chronic health issues.

The CANINE LIFE PRE-MIX FORMULATION FOR CANCER contains: Organic milled whole brown rice, Organic chick peas, Organic whole oats, calcium, carob, Acadian sea kelp, green tea, turmeric, oregano, marjoram, parsley, rosemary, ginger, and garlic.

Canine Life: Home-Baked & Organic

Canine Life: Home-Baked & Organic

This is a true home-cooked diet, each recipe making muffins or squares. The baking time is extremely short as there is nothing to rise here, it is merely to cook together so that any bacteria is removed from the raw ingredients. Three cups of this purchased pre-mix (above) is added to the following ingredients that I provide from home: organic broccoli, organic egg with shell, organic red apple, organic blueberries, organic pure cranberry juice, organic safflower oil, organic ground chicken with skin, and organic chicken livers. The ingredients, such as the organic chicken livers, organic red apple and organic broccoli, are pureed or chopped fine via a (Cuisinart) food processor. And, the organic chicken (I use organic thighs) with skin (no bones) is ground up via a meat grinder attachment on my food processor. You can learn about it here at my foundation’s site.

The Kitchen Remodel from Hell

Well, I’ve not been posting too much in the last few weeks as life sometimes gets so busy and so complicated and so, so messy. But, there are always obligations. So, I did manage to get out my foundation’s quarterly newsletter.

You don’t want to miss it. You will learn about my kitchen remodel, which after 3 months, has not gotten that far.  And, I have a book review of Stephen Huneck’s final book as well as a wonderful article from Suzi Beber on Slow Cooking for your Dog.

Just click here and you can print out your own full-color issue.

If you haven’t seen Dr. Greg Martinez slow-cooking for his dog family, in addition to eating the same out of the pot with them, you haven’t lived. Honestly, I’ve watched it a few times and enjoy it more each time. Dr. Greg is too funny and writes to tell me of his latest concoctions, all based on what goodies they have on special at the supermarket.

Do check out the good doctor’s great book, Dog Dish Diet, which I gave a Thumbs Up Review to in one of my previous newsletter issues.

And, for some of his latest gems and great advice, please enjoy a copy of his latest electric publication, Canine Crock Pot Cuisine.

Another punishing blow…

I am back here talking about Golden Retriever Robin, Police K-9 detection & SAR dog (aka Ch. Nitro’s Boy Wonder). I have posted here, here, here, and here about this very special guy, who has an aggressive form of cancer and is now fighting for his life.

Mary’s latest news is not good, Robin’s cancer having metastasized to the right mandibular lymph node:

I have heard that grief has several stages, one of which is denial. I find myself repeating that while the statistics are grim, Robin is no ordinary dog. He does not know that this will be the fight of his life, and it will be a prohibitively expensive process. Somehow in my struggle, I find myself taking momentary comfort in believing that somehow, this whole thing will be a big error and that Robin isn’t really sick. But, as soon as I sell out and feel that few seconds of comfort, reality comes back and drives a blade between my ribs and reminds me that Robin is in the cross-hairs.

Right now Robin and I are involved in a battle for his life, even though he is not yet showing signs of his illness. Robin’s type of cancer can have a variable prognosis, and Cornell has informed me that the initial treatment for his lymph node removal and radiation will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $8,500 to $10,000. If subsequent treatment is required, the costs will escalate from there. We are desperately trying to raise enough money to save him, and we need your help. Whether it be fundraising ideas, or personal donations, every little bit will help.

Please get over to grants.landofpuregold.com/robin.htm to learn more and help in this fight.

Here’s Golden Robin (BISS Am-Can Ch. Nitro’s Boy Wonder OS SDHF CGC TDI) and breeder/owner/handler Mary MacQueen receiving their AKC ACE award in the law enforcement division at the 2009 AKC/Eukanuba Invitational in Long Beach California.

And, here’s Robin doing his thing (drug detection).

Golden Retriever Tanner is a trip

OMG, but Golden Retriever Tanner is just so much like my first Golden boy Ollie. Ollie loves to rip up paper. Just loved it. He would get a piece of tissue or paper towel or paper roller tubes and just leave a huge pile of tiny little pieces. And, he’d be so proud of himself. He also loves his tennis balls, and he would work so hard at picking up as many as he could at one time. He got to four and that was already 3 more than I would have liked.

Well, Tanner LOVES cardboard . . . . loves ripping it up, that is. And, his dad says the video below shows him with 5 balls. That is hard to see, though, as that 5th one must be in the back of his mouth, which is incredibly dangerous (do check out this safety warning).

Dog folks ….. often such a stubborn lot

I think I must be really different than other dog people, because I actually listen to and seek out opinions from veterinarians and behaviorists. And, trust me, if I acted the following way in my vet’s office (and these incidents are 100% true), he’d throw me out in a heartbeat. How veterinarian, Dr. Jessica Volgelsang (Dr. V of Pawcurious fame), keeps her cool is just beyond me.

The ALWAYS fabulous Dr. Ian Dunbar (veterinarian, behaviorist & writer) speaks to dog trainers never actually listening …. and he is actually spot on. Just listen to him detail 3 simple strategies to successfully training a dog, which so many folks typically disregard.

We love the honesty in this recent video from Dr. Dunbar on binary feedback. We find that there is too much black and white in the training world, instead of realizing that a common sense eclectic approach that embraces the realistic grays of life is crucial.

The force and fear-based training of old is sadly still very much present today, with the utilization of positive and motivational approaches very much in the minority. And, it may be due to such training being given continuing voice in the media, such as we see in the strangely named, and in our opinion, horrid Dog Whisperer (Cesar Millan’s) show on the National Geographic Channel.

Dr. Sophia Yin speaks to this in her article: Experts Say Dominance-Based Dog Training Techniques Made Popular by Television Shows Can Contribute to Dog Bites.

According to a recent veterinary study published in The Journal of Applied Animal Behavior (2009), if you’re aggressive to your dog, your dog will be aggressive, too.

Says Meghan Herron, DVM, lead author of the study, “Our study demonstrated that many confrontational training methods, whether staring down dogs, striking them, or intimidating them with physical manipulation such as alpha rolls [holding dogs on their back], do little to correct improper behavior and can elicit aggressive responses.”

These techniques are pervasive in many T.V. shows and some popular books. For instance, The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan routinely demonstrates alpha rolls, dominance downs and forced exposure to things that cause fear or aggression, and has depicted Millan restraining dogs or performing physical corrections in order to take valued possessions away from them.

And like their previous bestselling books, Divine Canine by the Monks of New Skete focuses on correcting bad behaviors using choke chain and pinch collar corrections rather than proven non-aversive techniques.

These sources attribute undesirable or aggressive behavior in dogs to the dog’s striving to gain social dominance or to a lack of dominance displayed by the owner. Advocates of this theory therefore suggest owners establish an “alpha” or pack-leader role.

But according to the AVSAB position statement on The Use of Dominance Theory in Animal Behavior Modification, undesirable behaviors are most frequently due to inadvertent rewarding of undesirable behaviors and lack of consistent rewarding of desirable behaviors.

Learn lots more about dog training here. You will be glad you did.