Public Service Announcement:
What they do: Grapes and raisins cause vomiting 1 to 3 hours after ingestion, diarrhea, central nervous system depression, and eventually acute renal failure.
Toxic dose: The dose that can cause serious problems is 0.7 ounces per kilogram of grapes and 0.1 ounce per kilogram of raisins. This means that 3 grapes (or 3 raisins) could be fatal for a 2.5 pound puppy, and 12 grapes (or 12 to 15 raisins) could potentially kill a 10-pound animal. The toxic element is also present in grape stems.
Treatment: Consumption of grapes or grape-related food items usually requires us to induce vomiting and administer activated charcoal, and this toxicity can require hospitalization and fluid therapy for 24 to 48 hours.
This article on appropriate exercise for dogs and puppies pertains to all dogs but is especially poignant for Bernese Mountain Dogs, given their large size and potential muscular-skeletal issues. This piece is written by Nash, a New Zealand physiotherapy and preventative care specialist. Visit her blog for more information.
I have recently been getting a few young dogs coming in for AMRT sessions for arthritic changes and joint pain. So, I decided to do a newsletter ‘series’ for dogs that will include exercises and care from the young dog through to the older dog. The purpose of the suggested exercises and care will be to support preventative care for joints while ensuring your dog stays fit, no matter their age.
“Exercise not only builds puppies' bodies, it helps build their minds” is the motto that has been ingrained in us, though exercise that’s not appropriate for a puppy’s age and development can cause significant and irreversible damage.
An exercise that resulted in a simple sprain for an adult dog could leave a puppy with a misshapen or shortened limb, so the subject of age-appropriate exercise is one that should be taken seriously.
Understanding Puppy growth
The first concept to understand when it comes to puppy exercise is “growth plates.” Growth plates are soft areas that sit at the ends of the long bones in puppies and young dogs. They contain rapidly dividing cells that allow bones to become longer until the end of puberty.
Growth plates gradually thin as hormonal changes approaching puberty signal the growth plates to close. In puppies, this closure is normally completed by approximately 18 months old.
Until the growth plates close, they’re soft and vulnerable to injury.
After sexual maturity, the growth plates calcify and the rapid cell division ends. The growth plate becomes a stable, inactive part of the bone, now known as an epiphyseal line.
A study published in the UN National Library of Medicine found dogs spayed and neutered at less than a year of age were significantly taller than those de-sexed after age 1.
Furthermore, the bones of pups spayed and neutered before puberty continue to grow. Dogs spayed or neutered at a younger age often have longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This results in altered body proportions of certain bones relative to others. But, it isn’t just a cosmetic issue.
This disproportion often results in increased stress on ligaments, which can later easily cause injury. Another study published in the UN National Library of Medicine found that dogs spayed or neutered before 5 1/2 months of age were much more likely to develop hip dysplasia than those spayed or neutered after 5 1/2 months of age.
Also, dogs spayed or neutered younger than 24 weeks were more likely to develop infectious diseases than dogs who were spayed or neutered at ages older than 24 weeks. As for female dogs, there has been an increase in urinary incontinence in those spayed too early.
Early de-sexing can also have unwanted behavioural effects. A further study published in the National Library of Medicine showed that dogs neutered before 5 1/2 months of age had an increased incidence of noise phobias and unwanted sexual behaviours.
Also, recent research by the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation found that when females were spayed too young, they were more likely to develop fearful behaviors while their male counterparts were more likely to show aggression.
Obviously, if you decide to delay your spaying and neutering of your newly adopted pup or kitty, please be responsible if they have reached sexual maturity and are able to reproduce. Make sure they are under your control at all times and don’t breed. I am in huge support of not contributing to the pet over-population crises. By providing these findings, I’m simply suggesting you do your research before you decide what age is best for your dog.
A dog’s bones are held together with muscles, tendons, and ligaments - soft tissue. In an adult dog, if a joint experiences a stress such as bending the wrong way or rotating too much, the bones will hold firm and a soft tissue will be pulled, resulting in a sprain.
In a puppy, however, his muscles, ligaments and tendons are stronger than his growth plates, so instead of a simple sprain, his growth plate is liable to be injured - the puppy’s own soft tissue can pull apart his growth plate.
Why this matters so much is that, unlike a sprain, injuries to the growth plate may not heal properly or not heal in time for the puppy to grow up straight and strong. Injury to a growth plate can result in a misshapen or shortened limb which, in turn, can create an incorrect angle to a joint which can make the puppy more prone to yet more injuries when he grows up.
Puppies have Soft Bones
In addition to having soft growth plates at the end of long bones, a puppy’s bones in general are “softer.” Dogs, like people, don’t reach their maximum bone density until after puberty.
Spiral fractures of the tibia (lower leg bone) are very common in puppies - 50% of all fractures occur in puppies under 1 year of age. A spiral fracture is where the bottom half of the bone twists in one direction and the top half twists in the other.
This kind of juvenile injury is known as “Toddler Fracture” in humans, and it’s thought to be caused by the fact that the outside, fibrous layer of the bone (periosteum) is relatively strong in relation to the elastic bone inside. So any exercise that puts torque on (twists) a bone puts the puppy at risk for a fracture.
Puppies are fit for short runs
Puppies don’t have the cardiovascular system for endurance. Furthermore, until they mature, they're probably not able to build much endurance no matter how much they exercise.
In human children, sustained exercise only increases aerobic capacity by up to 10%. In adults, that kind of exercise can increase aerobic capacity by up to 30%. Long walks and exercise sessions increase risk of injury and yield few benefits for puppies, so endurance training is better left until the puppies have grown up.
Puppies naturally exercise in small bursts of activity, not sustained walks.
Correct Exercise increases Bone Density
After reading about growth plates and toddler fractures, you may find yourself not allowing your puppy to move, let alone run and play. Relax! Not only is appropriate exercise not dangerous for your puppy, exercise has been shown to increase bone density in children. Furthermore, those children who exercised were a whopping 50% less likely to fracture a bone. There’s every reason to believe the same holds true for dogs, so appropriate exercise is key to building strong bones in your puppy and preventing adult fractures. So let’s talk about guidelines for puppy exercise.
Exploring low rock walls and gardens at their own pace is great mental and physical exercise for puppies.
Guidelines for Puppy Exercises
Self-directed play is an overriding rule for any puppy under 18 months old. The majority of his exercise should be free play, exploring, roaming around. If he shows any fatigue, flops down, refuses to walk, you should listen to him and let him rest.
Do not underestimate the value of a good digging session. Consider digging up a soft patch in a corner of your yard and burying “doggy treasures” in it - great natural exercise for your puppy!
‘No’ to repetition exercises
Probably the biggest cause of growth plate and soft tissue injury is repetitive exercise with a young puppy. So, until they are about 18 months old, long hikes and walks are out and lots of free-play sessions are in.
Sniffing and Strolling great for pups
While long hikes are out, strolling around in the backyard with you is great. If no backyard, short, rambling walks are great. Let your puppy sniff, explore and take it at his own pace. You can use short training sessions in your walks to work on heeling/loose leash walking, but the majority of the time should be at your puppy’s own pace and discretion.
If hiking, you could bring your puppy along - great socialization for puppies under 12 weeks old & older puppies. But just like a small child on a walk, be prepared to carry your puppy a good portion of the way. If you’re jogging or walking on a manicured trail or paved park road, consider investing in a puppy stroller to put your pup in for most of the walk.
Long walks with a nice stroller are great for everyone.
Kibble trails are also a great way to tire out a puppy both mentally and physically. Kibble trails allow puppies to stay outside a long time and cover a lot of ground in a very natural way. You can start with treats/ kibbles, etc only a few inches apart initially and later 2-3 m apart.
Always remember to deduct the amount of treats given from their daily feed so as not to over-feed.
Play with a well-matched and gentle playmate. Sometimes size can be a factor, as a very large dog, especially one that likes to play with a lot of paw whacks, can inadvertently injure a young or small breed puppy.
That said, a gentle giant may be a better playmate than a feisty small breed dog who likes to body slam. Keep a very careful eye out and be prepared to throw handfuls of cookies down to interrupt any overly physical play. Body slams and crazy rolls are spiral fractures waiting to happen!
A gentle giant may be a better playmate than an over-the-top small dog.
Jumping off of beds and couches are major causes of spiral fractures in puppies - we are constantly on guard until our puppies reach two years old and keep them off furniture and beds unless we’re there to help them off. Use heavy carpet pads and carpets around all furniture and beds to cushion impact, should a young (or old) dog slip by and get up on a high piece of furniture.
You can start training in agility but no jumping higher than wrist height until 6 months old, no jumping higher than elbow height until 18 months old.
Stairs not great for young hips
A study of 500 Newfoundland, Labrador, and Leonberger puppies found that puppies who climbed flights of stairs daily before they were 3 months of age had an increased risk of developing hip dysplasia. Although these breeds were selected for the study because of their relatively high incidence of hip dysplasia, the study seems to indicate that stairs represent a strain on any puppy’s joints, so consider ramps or carrying your puppy down stairs if possible.
Although climbing flights of stairs on a daily basis represents an inappropriate strain on puppy joints, doing one or two not-too-steep steps with a non-slip surface would not represent any risk to the puppy and may be a nice body awareness, coordination exercise.
Interestingly, the same study found that off-leash, self-directed exercise on gently rolling, varied, and moderately soft ground for puppies under 3 months old decreased the risk of developing hip dysplasia.
And it’s important to get that exercise in early! Free play after 12 weeks old, while certainly beneficial in general, was not shown to decrease the risk of hip dysplasia in the study. So, once again, self-directed play in your backyard or garden is the best exercise for young puppies.
Ground only toys and playing nice
A puppy chasing a toy will not stop until they are literally on top of the toy, causing both heavy impact and twisting on the bones and soft tissue. Roll balls or drag toys on the ground for all puppies. Tug toys should be held low and steady - don’t pull up or back on your puppy’s neck!
Puppy necks are delicate! Hold toys low and allow the puppy to pull instead of you tugging on the toy.
Tiring Puppies out
Worried that you won’t be able to tire out your puppy without long exercise sessions? Try 15 minutes of mental exercise such as walking over poles. Have your dog work for their food - place your pup’s meals inside a toy and they have to roll it around in order to get the food to come out of the hole. Or you can use a puzzle toy or teach him a new trick like ‘sit’ etc. or a ‘follow your nose’ game! These will wear out your pup more than constant exercise, which can get them more excited and increase the chance of injury.
Puppy Exercise General
Obviously, Bernese are native to colder climates, so the heat in many parts of the country can be devastating to them. We want to remind everyone to take special precautions during the summer. These include being prepared for overheating. Keep frozen ice packs in your freezer in case your dog overheats. Ask your vet for some if you don’t have them as they often have plenty since vaccines and medications are shipped with them.
If your dog shows signs of overheating, which include excessive panting, bright red gums, irregular heartbeat, it is important to cool them down quickly but monitor them. Using ice backs in the chest area, in the groin area, on the feet (place ice pack on bottom and wrap around feet with wet towels). Keep monitoring the temperature every few minutes and immediately call your vet to walk you through cooling the dog down.
PLEASE NOTE: Many breeds can be wet down with cold water but with Bernese, with their heavy coat, this isn’t ideal as the heavy wet coat can actually trap in the heat and make things worse. Use the ice packs instead of wetting them totally down, as wetting them is like putting a heavy wet blanket over them. You can use cold running water on their feet but wetting the whole dog can cause more problems. Avoid exercise during the heat of the day. Your dog may want to go out and play, and not have the sense to know it could kill them. Limit exercise to early morning and late evening after the air temperature has cooled a bit.
Please do NOT leave your dog in a car even for a very few minutes. Even with the windows cracked or down, it is just too dangerous, especially with our breed. There are numerous charts on line to reference, but if the air temperature is 80 degrees, in 10 minutes, it will reach 100 degrees in the car. If it is 90 degrees, it will hit 100 degrees. A dog can die in that length of time or suffer irreversible damage to organs. Just don’t do it. It is also dangerous to leave the car running, as many cars will overheat and the air conditioning will fail, and the result is fatal. If you are going somewhere that you may have to leave the dog in the car even for a very few minutes, it is better to leave them home than risk their lives.
When walking your dog, remember asphalt absorbs heat and holds it and walking your dog on it can seriously damage its paws. As a rule, put your bare foot, or your hand down on the surface you are going to walk, and if you cannot keep
your hand or bare foot on it for 5-7 seconds, it is too hot for your dog to walk on. Allow the dog to walk off the sidewalk or path on the grass and avoid walks during the hottest parts of the day. Limit walks to early morning and later in the evening when the air, and the asphalt, have cooled. Also, the pads can be more susceptible to damage after the dog has been swimming and they are softer, so use the same rules listed above before walking them on pavement.
If you are a breeder, don’t breed dogs outside in the summer if the temperature is over 70-75%. While the dogs may breed quickly, remember they have to stand there in the position for 20-30 minutes, and are obviously excited. This can prove to be fatal. Breed them indoors in air conditioning or do artificial inseminations. Getting a natural breeding is not worth taking the chance killing either of the breeding pair.
The BMDCA Health Committee gives tips to keep dogs (especially Bernese) safe this summer.
The"Berner" breed was developed by Swiss farmers. The dogs were originally kept for their ability to serve the farmers' need for a reliable, multipurpose farm dog. Historical photographs of the breed show us the 'roots' of present day Bernese. Throughout the breed's history and in present day, owners and breeders have appreciated the gentle nature and working capabilities of Berners. Bernese have been the subject of paintings and have been written about in books. Some Berner art from the mid 20th century depicts the environment in which the ancestors of today's Bernese lived and the kinds of work the dogs were expected to do. Experiencing the exceptional human understanding that is typically seen in Bernese has drawn devoted individuals to the breed. Owners' and breeders'understanding of the Breed Standard can serve the task of preserving the breed's finest qualities and protecting the best interests of Bernese Mountain Dogs. Click here for more info.
The thighs are broad, strong and muscular. The stifles are moderately bent and taper smoothly into the hocks. The hocks are well let down and straight as viewed from the rear. At increased speeds the legs converge to the center line. Click here for more info.
The natural working gait of the Bernese Mountain Dog is a slow trot. However in keeping with his draft and droving work, he is capable of speed and agility. There is good reach in front. Powerful drive from the rear is transmitted through a level back. Click here for more info.
BerNESE vs. Burmese vs. Bernaise vs. Bernard!
Place the palm of your hand on the pavement. If you cannot hold it for 5 seconds, it is too hot to walk your dog on it.
1. Fetch me a treat
2. Rub my belly
3. Pick up my poop
4. Wipe my feet
5. Speak baby talk
6. Throw the ball
7. Don't hog the bed
8. Give me a kiss
9. Buy me a toy
10. Fetch me a treat (this one's good!)
Gas accumulates in the stomach but the stomach does not empty as it should. The stomach starts to dilate and twist.
Blood supply to part of stomach is cut off. Shock begins to develop.
Spleen and stomach tissue become Necrotic. Very Severe. Fatal.
Bananas, Blueberries, Kiwis, Pineapple, Strawberries
Apples (no seeds), Lemons (bitter), Oranges (moderation), Peaches (remove the pit), Watermelon (remove the rind)
Avocados, Cherries, Grapes, Raisins
-My Breeder studied my pedigree for a very long time and carefully chose my mum and dad.
-My parents and their parents were health tested.
-My whole family proved at shows that they conform to the breed standards.
-My parents and their parents proved typical BMD temperament in tests.
-Someone had me in their thoughts and loved me.
-My Breeder took great care of me so I grew up well.
-My Breeder made a lot of effort to socialize me.
-My Breeder chose my new family carefully.
-I can always go back to my breeder at any time and for any reason.
-Responsible breeders protect, preserve, and better the breed.
-Be a responsible dog owner - choose your breeder wisely.
This is a hotly contested debate with reasonably concerned parties on both ends. Should you find yourself in a position where you are left with little choice but to remove the precious down, please research the problems first. Here is a good place to start.
Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on October 9, 2012. Enjoy! Anyone who has ever had an infirmed, unsocial or elderly dog is going to love The Yellow Dog Project, a global movement for parents of dogs that need space. The concept behind it is quite simple. If you see a dog with a yellow ribbon or other items tied to its leash, that signifies a dog who needs space and you should not attempt to pet the dog or bring your own dog over for a greeting. Now here’s an idea that’s long overdue. The Yellow Dog Project has now made its mark in 45 countries and educational materials have been translated into 12 languages. Fans are calling it, “Brilliant” and “The best thing to happen since the invention of the leash!
Dogs see more colors than just black and white. However, they do not see the color spectrum that most humans see. Dogs, it turns out, are color blind. This is very important is agility sports for dogs. Kristen (aka agilitymatch) wrote an article for PetHelpful in February, 2016 that explains dog vision and agility succinctly. Take a look at her article here.