Dew Claws: Chris Zink VETERINARY SPORTS TRAINER Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Pathologists Veterinary Sports Trainer
Chris Zink is a canine Sports Medicine Consultant, evaluating canine structure and locomotion and designing individualized retraining and conditioning programs for canine athletes. She is the award-winning author of Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete and Dog Health, Nutrition for Dummies and The Agility Advantage and co-author of Jumping From A to Z: Teach Your Dog to Soar and the DVD Building the Canine Athlete. Her books have been translated into numerous languages worldwide.
Dr. Zink has also obtained more than 80 agility, obedience, retrieving, tracking and conformation titles on dogs from the sporting, herding, working, terrier and hound groups. She was voted Outstanding Woman Veterinarian in 2009. Dr. Zink presents Coaching the Canine Athlete® seminars worldwide to rave reviews. Her veterinary training and experience in canine athletics provide a unique perspective on canine sports medicine.
I am a vet that works exclusively with performance dogs, developing rehabilitation programs for injured dogs or dogs that have had surgery because of performance-related injuries. I have seen many dogs now, especially field trial/hunt test and agility dogs, that have had chronic carpal arthritis, frequently so severe that they must be retired or at least carefully managed for the rest of their careers. Of the over 30 dogs I have seen with carpal arthritis, only one has had dew claws. The others have all had them removed.
If you look at an anatomy book (Miller's Guide to the Anatomy of Dogs is an excellent one – see figure below) you will see that there are 5 tendons attached to the dew claw. Of course, at the other end of a tendon is a muscle, and that means that if you cut off the dew claws, there are 5 muscle bundles that will become atrophied from disuse. Those muscles indicate that the dewclaws have a function. That function is to prevent torque on the leg. Each time the foot lands on the ground, particularly when the dog is cantering or galloping, the dew claw is in touch with the ground. If the dog then needs to turn, the dew claw digs into the ground to support the lower leg and prevent torque. If the dog doesn't have a dew claw, the leg twists. A life-time of that and the result can be carpal arthritis. Remember: the dog is doing the activity regardless, and the pressures on the leg have to go somewhere. They can be absorbed by the dew claw, or they will move up and down the leg to the toes, carpus, elbow, and shoulders.
As to the possibility of injuries to dew claws. Most veterinarians will say that such injuries are not very common. And if they do occur, then they are dealt with like any other injury. Better to deal with an injury than to cut the dew claws off all dogs "just in case."
I hope this explanation helps!
What do all the Hunt and Field test Acronyms mean?
Abbreviations for AKC Titles,GRCA, AKC Awards: CH-Champion (conformation), FDHF-Field Dog Hall of Fame, CERF-Canine Eye Registration Foundation, FC - Field Champion, OS-Outstanding Sire, OFA-Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, AFC-Amateur Field Champion, OD-Outstanding Dam, NAHRA-North American Hunting Retriever Association, NAFC-National Amateur Field Champion, VC-Versatility Certificate, SR - Started Retriever-1st hunting title, CD-Companion Dog-1st obedience title, *-Placement in sanctioned Field trial, WR - Working Retriever - 2nd hunting title, CDX-Companion Dog Excellent - 2nd obedience title, **-Placement in licensed Field Trial, MHR - Master Hunting Retriever - 3rd hunting title, UD-Utility Dog - 3rd obedience title, *** - Qualified Open All-Age; placed Championship stake Field Trial, JH-Junior Hunter - 1st hunt test degree, WC-Working Certificate (Field), SH-Senior Hunter - 2nd hunt test degree, WCX-Working Certificate Excellent (Field) MH-Master Hunter - 3rd hunt test degree, CGC-Canine Good Citizen certificate.
United Kennel Club (Hunting Retriever Club) Title Explanations UKC Bases has a points based system. Along with specific levels of tests. This is why you may see "Honorable 500 points club" at the top of some dog's pedigree page.
GRHRCH - Grand Hunting Retriever Champion -- Top level UKC/HRC level title
HRCH - Hunting Retriever Champion -- Finished Level Hunt test
HR -- Hunting Retriever -- Seasoned Level Hunt Test
SHR -- Started Hunting Retriever -- Started level Hunt test
American Kennel Club (Hunt Test) Title Explanations
MNH -Master National Hunter -- have to pass the Master National 3 times to earn title. If a number preceeds the title (MNH4 or MNH5) that particular dog passed the National the # of times.
MH - Master Hunter -- Top level AKC title
SH -- Senior Hunter -- Intermediate Level Hunt Test
JH -- Junior Hunter -- Entry level Hunt test
Note: Some dogs will run the Master National & you may see this title (MNR). This is a major accomplishment and is awarded by the Master National Retriever Club to dogs that have passed the Master National 2 times. This is a "club" title and not part of a dog's pedigree. For more information visit www.masternational.com
“The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is an organization that was founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dog’s lives was being affected by heritable eye disease. CERF was then established in conjunction with cooperating, board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists, as a means to accomplish the goal of elimination of heritable eye disease in all purebred dogs by forming a centralized, national registry.
The CERF Registry not only registers those dog's certified free of heritable eye disease by members of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ), but also collects data on all dogs examined by A.C.V.O. Diplomates. This data is used to form the CERF data base which is useful in researching trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility. Not only is this data useful to clinicians and students of ophthalmology, but to interested breed clubs and individual breeders and owners of specific breeds.”
HOW DOES CERF WORK?
“After the painless examination of the dog’s eyes, the A.C.V.O. Diplomat will complete the CERF form and indicate any specific disease(s) found. Breeding advice will be offered based on guidelines established for that particular breed by the genetics Committee of the A.C.V.O. Bear in mind that CERF and the A.C.V.O. are separate, but cooperating entities. The A.C.V.O only provides their professional services and expertise to ensure that uniform standards are upheld for the certification of dog's eyes with the CERF organization.”
Years of Dedication to the Advancement of Canine Health The OFA Databases
“The OFA databases are core to the organization’s objective of establishing control programs to lower the incidence of inherited disease. Responsible breeders have an inherent responsibility to breed healthy dogs. The OFA databases serve all breeds of dogs and cats, and provide breeders a means to respond to the challenge of improving the genetic health of their breed through better breeding practices. The testing methodology and the criteria for evaluating the test results for each database were independently established by veterinary scientists from their respective specialty areas, and the standards used are generally accepted throughout the world. The following databases have been developed and are maintained by the OFA today:”
“OPTIGEN is a service company established to provide DNA based diagnoses and information about inherited diseases of dogs. We promise the highest quality diagnostic and testing services available in the fields of veterinary medical genetics and molecular diagnostics. Our testing procedures are developed by research scientists and veterinarians associated with OPTIGEN, and are extensively field-tested in cooperation with breeders of dogs.” They are the leading test facility for prcd-PRA (progressive rod-cone degeneration form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy)
The Golden Retriever Club of America GRCA “Your puppy's purchase price may be a smidgen of what you spend over its lifetime. Think ahead to 10-12 years of veterinary bills and the importance of choosing a puppy whose ancestors have been screened for common health issues which have a genetic basis.”
Serious Health Problems Often Develop in Puppies Who Grow Too Fast “There are several factors that contribute to the skeletal development of puppies, including genetics, exercise, trauma and nutrition. One of the most important factors is nutrition. The good news is that nutrition is something you, as a pet owner, have complete control over. A number of orthopedic diseases, which are problems with a dog's bones, joints, tendons, muscles and nerves, take root in poor feeding practices during the puppy's growth period. These diseases include osteochondrosis, some forms of hip dysplasia, hypertrophic osteodystrophy and Wobbler's syndrome. Many large and giant breed dogs are genetically predisposed to grow too fast. Unfortunately, humans continue to help the process along by feeding inappropriate, high-growth pet food formulas to these puppies. When a puppy's body gets too big, too fast and gains a lot of weight, it puts stress on the developing skeleton. Rapid bone growth can result in structural defects of the bones, which makes the skeleton even less able to bear the increasing body weight. Sometimes developing cartilage can't keep up with rapid bone growth, and cartilage defects can occur. Also, big dogs have less bone density than smaller breeds, meaning their bones are more fragile and prone to injury.
Protein is Not the Culprit -- Excess Calories and Minerals Are “Researchers have studied the diets of large breed dogs for over 30 years to understand the link between improper nutrition and skeletal problems. Studies have repeatedly concluded dietary protein levels have no effect on the development of skeletal problems in large and giant breed dogs. But still today, many breeders of large dogs, owners and even some veterinarians will tell you protein is the problem, even though there is no evidence to prove it. Protein excess is not the problem. In fact, it's often a dietary protein deficiency that contributes to skeletal problems. The elements of nutrition that have been scientifically proven to negatively impact skeletal developments in puppies are excessive calories and high or unbalanced mineral content, specifically calcium and phosphorus.”
What Does AKC Registration Mean? “AKC registration simply means the sire and dam of your Golden Retriever are the same breed. It does NOT guarantee health, temperament, structural soundness or breeding quality.”
What is Ichthyosis? When a scaling skin disorder first showed up in Golden Retrievers in the 1990s, it was frequently misdiagnosed as seborrhea, a condition that also causes scaling and dandruff. More than a decade later, veterinary specialists began studying the disorder and realized it is specific to Golden Retrievers. More recently, geneticists identified the causative mutation and developed a direct DNA test to identify affected and carrier dogs.
Ichthyoses are a diverse group of hereditary, usually congenital, diseases characterized by faulty formation of the outer layer of the epidermis, the stratum corneum, with resultant scaling.2,3,4 Skin biopsies have revealed two types of ichthyoses: epidermolytic ichthyosis (EI) and nonepidermolytic ichthyosis (NI).
Golden Retrievers develop the NI type, which also occurs in American Bulldogs and Jack Russell Terriers though in a more serious, yet not common, form. Among the breeds that develop EI are Norfolk Terriers, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and Labrador Retrievers. Purina
The test for ichthyosis is now available at Optigen