A survey of risk factors for digit injuries among dogs training and competing in agility events

Debra C. Sellon DVM, PhD; Katherine Martucci DVM; John R. Wenz DVM, MS; Denis J. Marcellin-Little DEDV; Michelle Powers DVM, MS; Kimberley L. Cullen PhD

Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164. (Sellon, Martucci, Wenz); Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27607. (Marcellin-Little); Massachusetts Veterinary Referral Hospital, 20 Cabot Rd, Woburn, MA 01801. (Powers); Institute for Work and Health, 481 University Ave, Ste 800, Toronto, ON M5G 2E9 Canada. (Cullen)

Dr. Marcellin-Little’s present address is Department of Surgical and Radiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California–Davis, Davis, CA 95616.

Address correspondence to Dr. Sellon (dsellon@vetmed.wsu.edu).

OBJECTIVE To identify potential risk factors for digit injuries in dogs training and competing in agility events.

DESIGN Internet-based, retrospective, cross-sectional survey.

ANIMALS 1,081 dogs training or competing in agility events.

PROCEDURES Data were collected for eligible animals via retrospective surveys distributed electronically to handlers of dogs participating in agility-related activities. Variables evaluated included demographic (handlers) and signalment (dogs) information, physical characteristics of dogs, and injury characteristics. A separate survey of dogs competing in similar agility-related activities but without digit injuries was also administered. Multivariable logistic regression was used to develop a model for assessment of risk factors.

RESULTS Data were collected from 207 agility dogs with digit injuries and 874 agility dogs without digit injuries. Factors associated with significantly increased odds of injury included Border Collie breed (OR, 2.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.5 to 3.3), long nails (OR, 2.4; 95% CI, 1.3 to 4.5), absence of front dewclaws (OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.3 to 2.6), and greater weight-to-height ratio (OR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.1 to 2.0). Odds of injury decreased with increasing age of the dog (OR, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.76 to 0.86).

CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE Results should be cautiously interpreted because of potential respondent and recall bias and lack of review of medical records. Nevertheless, results suggested that retaining healthy dewclaws, maintaining lean body mass, and trimming nails short for training and competition may decrease the likelihood of digit injuries. Research to investigate training practices, obstacle construction specifcations, and surface considerations for dogs competing in agility activities is indicated.

Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH)

Submitted and written by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson DVM

What is the prostate?

The prostate is the only accessory sex gland in the male dog.  The gland secretes a fluid that aids in the transport of sperm.  It is located near the base of the bladder, just below the colon and surrounds the urethra.  Your veterinarian is able to feel the prostate to assess its size, symmetry and texture while performing a rectal examination on your pet.

What is benign prostatic hypertrophy?

This is a condition that is commonly seen in older dogs.  The cells in the prostate get larger and multiply.  They may also form small pockets of fluid within the gland.    Due to its association with hormones secreted by the testes, this condition is only seen in intact male dogs.  BPH is a natural consequence of aging and many dogs have it without showing any clinical problems.

How will I know if my pet has this condition?

Blood in the urine, a bloody discharge from the penis that is not associated with urination, straining to defecate, producing ribbon-like stools or infertility may be signs that your pet has prostatic disease.  Benign prostatic hyperplasia usually does not cause straining, small stools or pain.  Your veterinarian will be able to perform a rectal examination and assess whether the prostate is enlarged.  Radiographs may also indicate that the prostate is enlarged.  An ultrasonographic examination and additional tests such as a urine culture, semen evaluation, or prostatic aspirate, will give further information as to whether the enlarged prostate appears to be due to some other disease process such as infection or cancer.  Fluid from the prostate can be attained and assessed under the microscope to help rule out other causes of prostatic enlargement.  

What is the treatment?

The permanent treatment for this disease is castration.  Studies have shown that the size of the prostate decreases 70% nine weeks post castration.  If castration is not an option, there are some medical ways to manage the disease.  However, many of these medications have significant side effects and are not permanent solutions or nearly as effective at decreasing the size of the prostate.  Finasteride, a human drug for prostatic enlargement, is one effective treatment that does not impact fertility.




Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM


An unplanned breeding between sexually intact dogs during a time when the bitch could be fertile (in estrus). Sometimes it is hard to tell if the breeding actually occurred (dogs were found together, unsupervised) or if possible (sexually immature dog). It is also difficult to tell in some cases whether the bitch was at a likely fertile time of her cycle.  


  1. Spay: if the bitch is not intended for breeding, plan to have her spayed as soon as she is out of estrus. This is the easiest and least cost option of pregnancy prevention.
  1. Early treatment: if the timing seemed appropriate and fertility is likely, we can terminate the litter in the first 2-3 weeks. This involves injections of a compound twice per day for four consecutive days. The time when this treatment starts is crucial for success and an exam within one week of the mismating is needed to schedule these treatments. In some cases a second exam is needed to accurately determine when to do this treatment. The advantage of this treatment: relatively easy, lower cost than mid-term abortion. The possible negatives: not guaranteed to work (about 80% effective), owners must bring in female for the injections twice per day and each treatment takes about one hour. Then they must return for follow up ultrasound 30 days after the breeding. In addition: the medication used for this procedure is Lutalyse: a natural prostaglandin. Each injection can cause nausea and irritability for approximately 30 minutes.
  1. Mid-term abortion: 30 days after the breeding, we will do an ultrasound exam to determine if there is a pregnancy. At that time medications can be given to cause the uterine contents to abort. This takes 4-10 days of treatment. The advantage: we are only treating when we know there is a pregnancy and we treat to effect-until all fetuses are expelled. The negative: nausea and irritability with each treatment–although tolerance to the medication usually develops over the treatment period.

Note: There is no negative impact on fertility with option #2 or #3. We can see a return to estrus sooner than expected. She can be bred at that next cycle, or it can be skipped.


Bones Make Vet Bills

Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM

“Dietary Indiscretion” is a term veterinarians use to describe the domestic dog’s habit of eating something that results in indigestion. This includes a long list of unpleasant things dogs will eat I don’t need to mention here, but it unfortunately also includes things given to dogs by their well-meaning owners that get eaten and cause problems. Sometimes just mild indigestion, but sometimes serious esophageal damage, stomach perforation or bowel obstruction that can result in hospitalization, surgery and even death.

The best rule of thumb is not to give your dog anything to chew that it can eat. Large bones get chewed into chunks that get swallowed. Rawhide is chewed soft and swallowed. Pig ears, horse and cattle hooves, antlers, bull penis bones, chicken feet (!) all can cause digestive upset. Many of these items are manufactured outside of the USA, or from parts originating outside of the USA and have been found to contain toxic ingredients. Just think how the Chinese laugh while manufacturing these things Americans buy for their dogs.

If you insist on giving your dog something to chew, supervise the chewing and take it away before it can be swallowed. Realize that dogs also break their teeth (usually the large upper carnassial tooth) chewing on bones or hard toys like Nylabones, even if they cannot swallow them.

Of course, they LOVE these chew toys. But that doesn’t mean they should have them. Great substitutes for bones that I have found to work with my Labradors (major chewers!) include the Nylabone Durachew double action dental chew, the Spot Play Strong Rubber Stick Dog Toy or the Spot Play Strong Rubber Trident Dog Toy. Obtain a large enough version of the toy that it cannot be swallowed. Better yet, take your dog for a walk!


Submitted by CCLRC member Autumn Davidson, DVM

Heartworm prevention is advised now in all 50 states in the USA for both dogs and cats. The incidence of heartworm varies by geography, and can be seen on a great website about animal parasites, www.capcvet.org produced and updated by the Companion Animal Parasite Council.

Tulare County is listed as having a low incidence of heartworm disease, but it is present, especially in the foothills. We have the vector (mosquito) and we have reservoirs (coyotes, infected dogs). The mosquito crop is particularly robust this year because of the rain! Mosquitos ingest heartworm microfilaria when they get a blood meal from a dog, then infect the next dog with immature heartworms.

Many prescription heartworm preventatives are on the market, manufactured specifically for dogs and FDA approved. The products I like best are given orally once a month, and are flavored such that dogs readily gobble them. In fact, the packages need to be kept out of their reach! The best products combine ingredients that prevent both heartworms and common, insidious intestinal parasites like roundworms (which are dangerous to people). Some prevent fleas as well. These drugs should be given with the guidance of the prescribing veterinarian, because they are drugs and are not always innocuous. Some breeds of dogs are best treated with certain drugs.

I give my dogs preventative year around. I don’t want to worry about exposure to infected mosquitos at any time, and I’ve seen mosquitos in Three Rivers almost year around. If I travel, I don’t want to worry about getting the dogs restarted on preventative in time. It is easier to remember it on the first of every month. Even indoor cats have been reported to have contracted heartworms. Roundworms can be contracted year-round.

The CAPC advises annual heartworm testing even for dogs on preventative. Why is this? Two main reasons: 1. No drug is 100% effective. 2. If heartworm infection is diagnosed early, it can be treated before serious consequences (lung and heart disease) occur. Untreated heartworm infection can be lethal. Additionally, the dog is exposing other dogs via mosquito bites.

The older drugs used for heartworm prevention could cause serious problems if given to dogs already infected; this is no longer the case, but dogs should still be tested to assure they are clear before starting preventative (if they are 6 month of age or older), and ideally 6 months later (in case they were infected with larval heartworm when the test was first performed). (The most accurate heartworm test used today looks for adult heartworms, not larvae.) If your veterinarian follows the guidance of CAPC they will advise annual testing. Many veterinarians will not REQUIRE it to refill the preventative prescription, but they feel obligated to educated clients that it is advised. You maybe asked to sign a waiver if you choose not to test, that way the veterinarian cannot be accused of malpractice.

In order to get a prescription for heartworm prevention, your dog must be a current patient of a veterinarian. The California Veterinary Medical Board requires veterinarians to have examined a pet and recorded the findings of that exam within a year, to establish the “veterinary-client- patient” relationship. If a veterinarian prescribes drugs for a dog that is not a current patient, they have violated their license laws. Veterinarians should then be willing to dispense the preventative, or provide a written prescription that can be filled on line or at a pharmacy.

CCLRC Shamrock Specialty – Entries close 3/1

We would like to invite you to our 4th Annual CCLRC Shamrock Specialty.  This is a great event for both veterans and novices who are interested in Labrador conformation.   Or just come out to watch and support the club.

4th Annual CCLRC Shamrock Specialty
Sunday, March 19, 2017

Stanislaus County Fairgrounds
900 North Broadway, Turlock, CA

Also plan to attend:
San Joaquin Valley Labrador Retriever Club Specialty
Friday March 17th and Saturday March 18th 2017


SDLRC Specialty – Entries Close 2/1

From our friends at SDLRC….

Happy New Year!  The premium list is up for the 2017 SDLRC Specialties at Bates Nut Farm on February 18 and 19, 2017.  Come spend the weekend with family, friends, and Labradors!  I have attached the premium list and it is also available through the club website at http://sdlrc.com/ or Sharon Licciradi’s site at http://slicciardi.com/.

Saturday night SDLRC will be hosting our Mexican Fiesta dinner.  The final date to RSVP is Monday, February 13.  Contact Kim Jacobson at kimj@dmtc.com or 858-449-5668 to make reservations.  Also, our specialty is only as successful as our club members help make it.  When you renew you membership, please sponsor a trophy or dinner table and/or donate an opportunity drawing prize.  Membership renewals and trophy donations can be made online at http://sdlrc.com/.  All help is greatly appreciated!

Entries close Wednesday, February 1, at 6:00PM.  We hope to see you there!


By Sara Lopez and Megan Cooper
Want to learn something new with your dog and have loads of fun? There are many activities that will challenge you both and help build a stronger bond between you and your best friend. Make 2017 the year! Here are a just a few activities to get you started.


Obedience trials showcase dogs that have been trained and conditioned to behave well at home, in public places, and in the presence of other dogs. AKC Obedience trials allow exhibitors and their dogs to enjoy companionship and competition as they proudly earn AKC titles. (AKC.org)

Titles include: Companion Dog(CD), Companion Dog Excellent(CDX), Utility Dog(UD), Utility Dog Excellent(UDK), and Obedience Trail Champion(OTCH).

Optional titles include: Beginner Novice (BN), Graduate Novice(GN), Graduate Open (GO)

For those who want to get their feet (and paws) wet in the ring, Beginner Novice is an excellent place to start.
Exercises include: An on leash heel, on leash figure eight, a sit for exam (to the end of a 6ft leash), sit and stay in place while the handler walks the perimeter of the ring, and the only off leash portion being a short recall with no finish.


AKC Rally® is a companion sport to AKC Obedience. It too requires teamwork between dog and handler along with performance skills similar to obedience. Rally provides an excellent introduction to AKC events for new dogs and handlers, and can provide a challenging opportunity for competitors in other events to strengthen their skills. All dogs are eligible to compete in rally. (AKC.org)

Titles include: Rally Novice (RN), Rally Advanced(RA), Rally Excellent(RE), and Rally Advanced Excellent(RAE)

If Obedience still seems a little scary, not to worry. Rally Novice is a great way to get your confidence boosted! The Rally Novice Course is made up of 10-15 stations or signs with the entire couse being done on leash. In Rally Novice exibitors are allowed to provide words of encouragement and commands, along with clapping their hands or patting their legs to guide their dogs through the course. Each team starts with a score of 100 points and points are deducted for any mistakes made throughout the course. A score of 70 or higher is required to earn 1 qualifying leg, and 3 legs are required to earn a title. Legs must be earned under at least 2 different judges.

Barn Hunt:

Barn Hunt is the new and quickly growing dog sport catching fire across the country! Barn Hunt is based on the traditional roles of many breeds in ridding farms, barns, crop storage areas, and homes of destructive vermin. Some breeds were specifically created to fill this role, and for many of those breeds, Barn Hunt provides their first true opportunity for responsible breeders to test proper working traits in their dogs. Barn Hunt is also open to any dog of any breed or mix who wishes to play the game and can fit through an 18″ wide by bale-height tall tunnel. Barn Hunt has titles, levels of increasing difficulty, and championships. Barn Hunt is an independent sport, but titles are recognized by both the American Kennel Club (AKC) and United Kennel Club (UKC). (barnhunt.com)

Titles include:

Instinct(RATI), Novice(RATN), Open(RATO), Senior(RATS), Master(RATM), Rat Champion(RATCH), and Rat Champion Excellent(RATCHX)

If you want to jump right into it and skip Instinct(which you are allowed to do), Novice is the place to start! After the judge tells you to release your dog, in the fenced in Novice course, the time starts. The dog has 2 minutes to climb and put all four feet on a bale of hay, go through a tunnel, and find 1 Rat. The handler must clearly call “RAT” when they believe their dog has indicated that they found a live Rat in one of the 3 hidden tubes. You must do this 3 times in order to receive the title.
For more a in depth explanation on the rules and regulations of Barn Hunt please visit the Barn Hunt Association website at barnhunt.com.
Here’s to a new year, with hopefully some new titles to go with it! Have fun and happy training!

WC Weekend Success

Thank you to everyone who came out to the 9th Annual WC Weekend and made it a great success. 

Thank you Judges, Jeane Collier and Sue Gallagher.

Thank you Candy Templeton for being a great marshal and keep us on time. 

Thank you to Christine Tye and Patty Gallagher for checking everyone in and getting this big group fed. 

Thank you to the gunners, Matt, Brent, and Mo.

Thank you to many others to jumped in to help where it was needed.  

Lastly, a big thank you to Pat and Ed Collom for organizing this event.  

Congratulations to the dogs and handlers who passed the test.  

For those who didn’t pass, don’t get discouraged.  Every dog who attended has the potential to pass with a bit more training.