Monday, November 26, 2012

Gifts that keep on giving for the dogs

At the holidays, we all wish that every dog could have a belly full of food, enough water and a great big bed in a warm home.    Wouldn't that be great?
Well, we won't be able to get all of them this year, but every little bit helps to get one more.  
So, when you are shopping and full of holiday spirit, give the gifts that keep on giving. 

Here are some ways you can help;
Check our events pages and come on out to support us-  

-buy from our bake sales

-buy GSROC logoed merchandise for GSD lovers
-cook plain chicken and plain brown or sweet potatoes and drop off for the dogs. 
Plan a holiday visit to one of our special events-   

-visit our Costa Mesa boutique on 12/1

Go to our website to learn how to sponsor a dog in someone's name and get a certificate sent to that person-

-sponsor a dog in someone's name (we provide a certificate to present)

-forego gifts in favor of having people make a donation in your name....etc.
Shop through for all of your online shopping and choose Association of German Shepherd Rescuers as your charity. 


The dogs will thank you!  

Monday, November 19, 2012

A caution about holiday overeating...for your dog.

Los Angeles Animal Services Important Pet Alert
Over-eating during Thanksgiving can be serious for pets too!

Thanksgiving is the time of year when family and friends get together to enjoy each other’s company and a myriad of delicious foods. We have a tendency to include our four-legged family members in this feast, which often results in overindulgence. Even when we don’t purposely include them, the agile and creative dog or cat can capture a special treat from the kitchen counter, trash or even the dining room table!

Thanksgiving weekend is also a busy time for emergency veterinary clinics. Dogs and cats suffer very serious and sometimes fatal consequences from turkey bones, too much rich and fatty foods and just plain overeating. If your pet is not acting like himself or herself, consult your veterinarian. Your best friend could be seriously ill.

It is difficult to comprehend, but when giving pets treats you must consider the relative size of their body compared to yours. If you weigh 150 pounds and your dog weighs 25 pounds, he or she is only 1/6th of your total weight. If you visualize yourself as a whole pie, comparatively your dog is only one slice of pie. Consequently, sharing an unfinished plate that still holds a generous serving of mashed potatoes with gravy, a side of very rich dressing, a few bites of turkey and a small slice of pumpkin pie with your best friend can make him or her feel miserable.

You do want your pets to enjoy the holiday. Stop by a pet food store and purchase some new dog biscuits or cat treats; then reduce the amount of their regular meal to accommodate the treats they will be getting throughout the day. Remember, biscuits and treats are usually much higher in calories than regular pet food so having them skip dinner may be a prudent choice if they have been snacking all day.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Extraordinary Efforts to save dogs

Today is Maria Dales birthday, and there are thousands of dogs who lived to see another day because of this lady. 
There isn't much I can say about her that hasn't been said already.  She is dedicated and tireless in her quest to save dogs.   You would think someone who has seen the dregs of humanity would not have much compassion for people, but she does.   Along the way of saving the lives of countless animals, she gives and gives to people. 

Maria spends all of her free time furthering the rescue.  She is not some voice behind a desk; she comes out every weekend to hold a dog.   She goes to the hoarders and walks among the abused to save the ones we can... and some we can't but she can't bear to leave behind.   She goes to the ER vet in the middle of the night to hold the head of desperate animal who just needs a little kindness in her last moments.   Maria does the heart wrenching shelter walks.  She walks the walk.   Every now and then, I hear someone say "If I ran this rescue I would do this differently, or that"... and I say, "Yes, but you don't do it, do you.  She does." 

Happy Birthday MD.   This world is a better place because of you. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dogs and food allergies

One of the most common problems presented to all veternarians is the itchy pet. Most often the source of itch is allergies. With conventional medicine, the treatment is often suppression and in difficult cases this can mean endless rounds of antibiotics and steroids. As clients and veterinarians become frustrated, they often begin to look for alternatives. 

In the interest of full disclosure and responsibility, this is being written based only on my experience and I absolutely recommend that if your dog, or any other animal is experiencing any of the symptoms I mention, you need to go to a vet.   Although I am writing this article about allergies in dogs, there are many, many illnesses whose symptoms mimic food allergies and you have to first go to vet to get certain illnesses ruled out.  A blood panel can make sure your dogs organs are working properly and there are no underlying illnesses.   A skin scraping can rule out mites and/or mange which can look like a food allergy, and is much more common than you think.  So please, make sure you rule out any other more serious options before you consider a food allergy...

However, once you know your dog is basically healthy but is itchy, chewing herself, and getting hotspots... you need to immediately consider three things-
  • Am I giving my dog enough exercise or is she chewing because she is going crazy with boredom?

  • Am I feeding a high quality food in accordance with her natural diet?

  • Have I used Frontline or Advantage regularly and can I completely rule out a flea allergy?   ( This is such a no brainer I won't address it again, but if there is the possibility that your dog is dealing with fleas and flea bites, please address this immediately with a regular flea treatment)

  • Do I have any plants that could be aggravating her skin?  (There are several common plants that are considered more allergic than most for dogs.  Check your yard and your walk path.) 

Ok, so you rescued a dog who appears to have allergies.   The range of severity is huge... my first "all mine, I am grown up" shepherd Halo had allergies that caused hot spots and minor chewing.  She and I were growing up together.  She came to college with me and I wish I knew then what I know now.   I imagine the mac and cheese I fed her, and the beach romps after which neither of us bathed did not help her allergies.  I believe I have mentioned that many times I ran into the local grocery store at midnight and bought a bag of dog food so she had breakfast.  Now that I know what was in that food... the mac and cheese was probably a better choice. 

My second shepherd  with food allergies came to me almost bald, and so underweight we thought she was a coyote when we first saw her.   This is when my lessons really began.  (Sorry Halo)   After making sure she was healthy inside, I went to work learning about what was making her bald, and skinny.   I was lucky enough to learn from someone who was making one of the first accessible, limited and high quality ingredient dog foods on the local market.   He taught me how different meats, different vegetable and different grains have different vitamins, different enzymes and different digestive qualities that actually work WITH a dogs system to keep them healthy.  He taught me that the quality of meats and other "foods" in most dogs foods were sub par, and would never be approved for humans.  He also taught me that a lot of dog foods out there have so many fillers that are just not natural to a dogs system that they can cause short term and long term issues.  Corn is big ingredient in dog food, yet  dogs have never eaten corn and as far back in the genetic chain of dogs did wolves even eat any animal who ate corn.   It is just not in the digestive chain of dogs.  Neither is wheat.  

I learned through a process of trying the raw diet, cooking for my dogs, and finally settling on a mix of cooked meat and veggies and a high grade kibble that what you feed your dogs can affect their health.  I also learned that if you have a dog with allergies... it is imperative that you absolutely commit to feeding a high quality, limited ingredient food for 60 days minimum with NO EXCEPTIONS. 

Once you embark on the 60 days of only feeding a limited ingredient diet, which should include something like Dick Van Pattens Venison and Sweet Potato or Call of the Wild two ingredient food  (check the label if you try something else) you have to absolutely commit to it.  No treats that contain anything else, no slipping them table scraps that go against the diet, nothing.  It is hard.  You can still give treats, just make sure they are one of the limited ingredients you have decided are on the menu. 

It takes at least 60 days of feeding your dog an isolated protein to see if there is an improvement in the symptoms.   You can't expect a complete cure, but if you see an improvement you may be on the right track. 

You may not see an improvement.   This can be a long process of elimination.  You cannot give up.   Symptoms can range from minor itching and hot spots to huge wounds, major hair loss and major behavioral changes.  (Can you imagine being itchy all the time?)   I have met dogs who developed anxiety, aggression and neurotic behaviors that all cleared up once their allergies were addressed and they were not physically uncomfortable all the time.  

If you haven't seen an improvement, it is possible that you chose the food that has the protein your dog is allergic to, so you have to switch from Venison to Fish or vice versa.   You may know that someone in your home was cheating and giving your dog treats that are not on the approved list.   It can be a long process.   You may need to partner with your vet to get antibiotics if there are any wounds that are not healing...but stick with it.  Be diligent.   Hopefully you will be successful with the limited ingredient HIGH quality diet.  Please please please include regular exercise for your dog...not running around in the backyard but a good solid leash walk to help alleviate the nervous itchy energy.  By including regular leash walks you are insuring your dog is getting the mental stimulation she needs and isnt chewing herself like a neglected housewife chews her nails...

There are some basic, general guidelines to look for when dealing with allergies...  There are often differences in the history or in the pattern of itch that is suggestive of one cause of disease or another.  For example, inhalant allergies in dogs (allergies caused by pollens, trees, molds or grasses) tend to be seasonal and often include itchy feet and ear infections as part of the history.  Flea allergies tend to concentrate around the tail base and stomach in dogs and often cats as well. Finally, with food allergies, you see year round problems which may show signs predominantly around the mouth, ears and anus.

Commit 100% to this.   It is like having chicken pox for your dog... it is uncomfortable and can be life threatening.   Take care of it.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I need to turn my dog in, but it isnt me...

I almost titled this blog... "I know EVERYTHING there is to know about dogs", because I talked to two people today who did...they know everything about dogs, but still are dealing with issues that are so severe, they are literally costing these dogs their homes, and potentially their lives.  
My 12+ years of experience rescuing, re-homing and keeping dogs in their homes was of no importance to either of these women...individually they have had 4-6 dogs and "always been able to train them".   How is that working out for you Ms. Smarty Pants?  (that is me screaming in my head)

So, I had four issues on the table today that will keep me awake tonight worrying about these two dogs.   One is a black shepherd who was adopted out to a fellow "rescuer" (I use the term loosely because no rescuer would return a dog.  PERIOD)  who has two issues.  The adopter has had this dog for 9 months and this little gal has started trying to get out of the yard and running the neighborhood.  From the endless chatter of Ms. Dog Owner of the Year (I couldn't bring myself to say Dog Mom as she is returning her dog), I gathered that she is outside in the yard for 8+ hours a day, and once the escapes began, she spent "thousands" of dollars reinforcing the fence by lining the perimeter with cinder block   As you can imagine, she did not hear me when I told her she just added a nice step for her dog to jump... a platform really... but what do I know?   I also mentioned that perhaps she is leaving because she is BORED and needs some walks and even an obedience class just for fun, it fell on deaf ears.  I know, beyond a shadow of doubt that if this dog went to an obedience class and got walked daily... this behavior would stop.  I know it.  If you don't try a daily walk and basic obedience class at the first sign of ANY trouble... you are missing the easy fix.  This is tried and true advice, over hundreds of dogs... over a decade of trying.  (I am kind of screaming again in my head)

In addition Ms. Dog Owner of the Year mentions, our little gal is attacking her old dog.   This is a completely new behavior and of course, it is unacceptable for one dog in a home to attack another.   However, if you ever find yourself in this horrible situation, check your dogs over.  Look (and smell) for ear infections, teeth, a wound somewhere, a broken toenail...consider arthritis or anything that would make you cranky.  If there isn't something obvious, I would take the dogs in for blood work and a vet check.   I know it is expensive, so if you have to pick one, pick the dog who is getting picked on.   It is an inherent pack trait to kill off the weak or sick dogs.  It is almost an act of mercy really.   So listen to your dogs.  

Also, please remember, every single dog is different.  Even if you have always been able to train your dogs before, you may need a different approach, a different tactic... chances are, you are the one that needs to change your behavior so your dog can thrive.   Can you set aside your ego and help your dog?    It may not be about sit, stay, heel... it may be about helping your baby find her confidence so she can be all she is.  Make the time. 

Here are some MUST DO things you absolutely MUST DO when you are having behavioral issues-  ( an unstimulated dog is a bad dog)

  1. walk your dog, on a leash for mental and physical stimulation. 
  2. walk your dog, on a leash.  Yes, it is important enough to get the top 2.
  3. go to an obedience class.  
  4. go to an obedience class.  Yes... that important. 
  5. Feed a high quality dog food. 
  6. Make sure your dog doesn't have any ailments. 
If you cannot make the time to do these extremely basic things, think again, and make the time.   You committed to this animal, so make the time. 

GSROC is taking this dog back, and we will do better by her this next time.  I personally will offer her my apologies.  She deserved better.  

So, I will write about the other dog another day...again, some very basic issues that can so easily be addressed.   Allergies and Boredom... stay tuned. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Rainy days and dogs


When it starts raining at our house, we have a drill-

  • run up and grab 5-6 rugs and 3-4 towels
  • put the rugs out underneath the dog doors incoming and outgoing
  • go throw two door mats on the part of the grass that gets the muddiest
  • bring in another water bowl so as to cut down the in/out traffic

We keep the towels right by the dog door to dry off the dogs when they come tearing back in from the rain.   I go on high alert for the clicking of the dog door as it falls behind the dogs when they run in so I can get to them before they shake off the water.  

It also becomes a strategic puzzle as to how I can fit in a walk when the rain stops... and sometimes it is a small window.   And there are the days when we miss a walk and my big boy follows me around... bored and waiting.   I often wonder what he would do if I wasn't here to follow around. 
Pets need stimulation just like people.  They need entertainment, so when a pet is cut off from mental and physical stimulation he can develop bad or destructive habits, such as chewing or barking.  (no, not shepherds!  :)  )  

As we hit the rainy season, consider picking up a few new toys for your dog that you can leave him with for his lonely rainy days.   The kong type toys are fun to find new treats you can put into and can give them hours of "play".   Make sure you get the right size kong for your dog so there are no choking issues. 

Good luck with the rain, and remember....


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Strangles, the puppy disease

One of the things about being a rescue volunteer that would have to go both in the pro and con column is that you learn about a lot of doggie diseases and disorders.  Surprisingly, after over a decade, I am still learning new diseases. 
This week, we brought in a puppy from a shelter who has a disease called Strangles, or Juvenile Cellulitis.  
Strangles is a condition that usually affects puppies younger than four months of age. Vets don't fully understand what causes puppy strangles, but they believe that it may be at least partly hereditary in origin. Learn more about this mysterious illness, its symptoms and its treatment.

Risk Factors for Puppy Strangles

Strangles occurs in dogs younger than four months old. It causes inflammation, crusting and pustules of the skin. Vets believe that strangles may have a genetic component in dogs. It occurs most often in Golden Retrievers, Dachshunds and mixes of those breeds.


  • Acutely (sudden and severe) swollen face – especially the eyelids, lips, and muzzle
  • Salivary gland lymphadenopathy: a disease process affecting a lymph node or multiple lymph nodes
  • Marked pustular and oozing skin disease, which frequently fistulates (develops into a hollow passage); develops within 24–48 hours
  • Pustular ear infection
  • Lesions often become crusted
  • Affected skin is usually tender
  • Lethargy in 50 percent of cases
  • Loss of appetite, fever, and presence of sterile suppurative arthritis in 25 percent of cases (acute inflammation of membranes, with leaking into a joint, due to bacterial infection)

  • Diagnosing and Treating Strangles in Puppies

    Your vet will need to perform a complete physical exam, and will need your dog's medical history. Skin scrapings will be necessary to confirm a diagnosis of strangles. Skin biopsies are also taken. The symptoms of strangles are often similar to those of demodectic mange and allergies.
    Treatment for puppy strangles usually involves administering a combination of antibiotics and steroid drugs. These medications will need to be administered several times daily. Steroids are used to treat the inflammation associated with the disease, and promote the healing of lesions. Antibiotics help to prevent or treat secondary infections, which can lead to increased scarring and serious complications.
    You will need to follow your vet's instructions carefully when administering your puppy's medication. When properly treated, puppy strangles usually doesn't come back. However, relapse can occur if medication isn't administered properly.
    Scarring is a very common complication of puppy strangles. Scars can be extensive and severe. Prevent severe scarring by seeking veterinary care for your puppy right away. Follow your vet's home care instructions carefully, and avoid any aggressive cleaning or topical treatment of your puppy's lesions.
    While there is no way to prevent puppy strangles, it usually clears up with proper treatment. In most cases, puppy strangles does not come back.


    Monday, October 8, 2012

    Always asking for something...

    German Shepherd Rescue is in another voting contest to win money, and I started putting up the daily pleas on Facebook asking my friends and family to vote.   I know it is a lot, but I really was shocked when I got a message from a "friend" saying that she was unfriending me because she couldn't stand the requests to vote all the time.  No offense she said, but it bugged her.   I chose not to respond at the time, and I really thought about it.  I know it can be I decided to look through the GSROC website at every single dog we have in the rescue right now.  We have so many amazing dogs-
    •  Henry, who was not treated kindly and could be such a jerk but instead is a big, handsome love bug. 

    • Dolce who has been in the rescue so long.  She is so beautiful and has had extensive training but was not socialized when she was younger so needs a special home with no other animals. 

    • Connor who is just a baby who ended up in a high kill shelter because he has Mega-e so will need a family who can tend to his needs.

    • Dakota and Nevada who had obviously never been touched or loved before we got them.  They would scream and urinate if touched...

    So many dogs who are safe now, but still not in families.   And then, there is the list of dogs who people are trying to surrender to us.   Heartbreaking and frustrating stories and situations... but the worst ones are the URGENT emails that come daily from every shelter in Southern California with the list of dogs that will be euthanized that night if someone doesn't come.   The numbers are staggering, the emails heartbreaking.   The pictures are devastating.   These dogs are not safe, and will not die peacefully in someone's arms.   They will die alone and scared and that is why GSROC keeps on working to save one more...

    That is why we ask people to vote.   That is why we keep asking.  We don't post the pictures of the terrified dogs waiting outside the Euthanization room... we just ask you to vote.   We don't post the emails that people send us telling us the impound # of their 10 year old family dog they just dropped off at the shelter...we just ask you to vote.   We don't share the stories of the dogs we couldn't save because our resources are stretched to the breaking point...we just ask you to vote.

    We know that our GSROC people will vote, and vote and vote and help us win every contest and save every soul we can, and we thank you for that.   We love you for that.   So, please vote again-   :)    $10,000 saves A LOT more dogs.  


    Thursday, September 27, 2012

    Perianal what???

    Sometimes there are topics that, as a dog owner you have to learn about...things you find yourself talking about at the dog park you never thought you would discuss with strangers.   This is one of those things that as a German Shepherd dog parent and or lover, you should know about.  (I do draw the line at pictures, though.  Sorry)

    Perianal fistula

    Perianal fistula is characterized by multiple chronic fistulous tracts or ulcerating sinuses involving the perianal region. The cause is not known, but apocrine gland inflammation (hidradenitis suppurativa), impaction and infection of the anal sinuses and crypts, infection of the circumanal glands and hair follicles, and anal sacculitis have all been proposed. The gastrointestinal system becomes involved because of excessive scar tissue formation around the anus. Self-mutilation can also be a major problem associated with this disorder.


    Dogs German shepherd dog and Irish setter most commonly affected breeds Mean age, 7 years (range, 7 months-12 years) No gender predisposition reported, but sexually intact dogs have a higher prevalence A genetic basis has been proposed, but not proven


    Vary with the severity and extent of involvement : Dyschezia, tenesmus, hematochezia, constipation, diarrhea, malodorous mucopurulent anal discharge, fecal incontinence, painful tail movements, licking and self-mutilation, anorexia, weight loss, reluctance to sit, posturing difficulties, and personality changes

    causes and risk factors

    Proposed causes involve an inflammatory component Low tail carriage and a broad tail base are risk factors predisposing the dog to inflammation and infection because of poor ventilation, accumulation of feces, moisture, and secretions High density of apocrine sweat glands in the cutaneous zone of the anal canal of German shepherd dogs Hidradenitis suppurativa may be associated with immune or endocrine dysfunction, genetic factors, and poor hygiene

    diagnosis: differential diagnosis

    Chronic anal sac abscess Perianal adenocarcinoma that is ulcerated and draining Rectal fistula


    Results usually normal. Patients with inflammation may have an inflammatory leukogram.

    other diagnostic procedures

    Presumptive diagnosis is based on clinical signs and results of physical examination. Definitive diagnosis is made by biopsy of the affected area.


    Surgery is considered the most effective treatment. However, a tremendous amount of controversy exists as to which surgical method should be used, and none of those currently employed result in consistent resolution of the problem. Surgical options include electrosurgery, cryosurgery, surgical debridement with fulguration by chemical cautery, exteriorization and fulguration by electrocautery, surgical resection, radical excision of the rectal ring, tail setting, tail amputation, and laser surgery. Each technique has advantages and disadvantages that must be weighed when making a choice. The primary objective of surgery is the complete removal or destruction of diseased tissue while preserving normal tissue and function. Multiple procedures may be necessary for complete resolution.


    Medical treatment of perianal fistulas is usually unrewarding and can be detrimental by delaying more definitive treatment and allowing progression. Medical palliation involves clipping hair from the affected area, daily antiseptic lavage, systemic and topical antibiotics, hydrotherapy, elevation of the tail, and systemic corticosteroids.

    contraindications/possible interactions

    Corticosteroids are contraindicated when infection is possible.


    After surgery for appropriate healing, signs of recurrence, and associated complications

    Complications associated with the various surgical procedures include recurrence, failure to heal, dehiscence, tenesmus, fecal incontinence, anal stricture, and flatulence. The incidence of postoperative complications is directly related to severity of disease.

    Prognosis is guarded for complete resolution except in mildly affected patients. Clients often become frustrated with the difficulty of attaining definitive resolution of this disorder.


    Matthiesen DT, Marretta SM. Diseases of the anus and rectum. In: Slatter D, ed. Textbook of small animal surgery. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 1993;627-644. van Ee RT. Perianal fistulas. In: Bojrab MJ, ed. Disease mechanisms in small animal surgery. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger, 1993;285-286. Author James L. Cook

    Consulting Editor Brent D. Jones

    Current Recommendations for the Treatment of Perianal Fistula

    Author Kyle Mathews, DVM, MS, DACVS


    The surgical treatment of perianal fistula has been fraught with complications and a high recurrence rate (generally, 40% to 50%). Recommended treatments have included cryosurgical destruction of diseased perianal tissues, electrofulguration, rectal pull-through, and caudectomy (tail amputation). Complications have included rectal stricture, recurrence, and fecal incontinence. Medical treatment with cyclosporine may be effective in some cases.


    The underlying cause of perianal fistula is not known. It is thought to be the extension of infection or inflammation of superficial tissues (hydradenitis) or of the anal sacs. Conformation has also been thought to play a role in the formation of a fistula, such as a tight tail base or a sunken or recessed anus. These anatomic peculiarities may result in a persistent fecal film in the perineal region, predisposing to infection. Reports of clinical response to immunosuppressive drugs suggest that perianal fistula may be a primary immune-mediated disease or have an immune-mediated component.

    In one canine study, 9 of 27 (33%) German shepherd dogs with a fistula and histologically confirmed colitis had resolution of their fistula after being placed on a high dosage of corticosteroids and a hypoallergenic diet.1

    An important change in the treatment of canine perianal disease occurred recently with the report that the immunosuppressive drug cyclosporine results in marked improvement or resolution of perianal fistula in many patients.2 After 16 weeks of treatment, the fistula healed in 17 of 20 dogs (85%). Humans with a form of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease) may also develop perianal fistulation that often responds to cyclosporine.3

    I typically start treatment of perianal fistula with administration of microemulsified cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, East Hanover, New Jersey) at 3 mg/kg PO q12h. Neoral comes in 50-ml vials (approximately $300 per vial) and the proper dose can be aspirated in a syringe and then added to an empty gelatin capsule. The drug is also available in 100-mg gelcaps, which is often close to the proper dose for the typical German shepherd with this disease.

    I check the patient's trough plasma concentration of cyclosporine 2 weeks after beginning the medication and make appropriate dosage adjustments based on the results. The target concentration is 300 to 500 ng/ml (using an HPLC assay) or 500 to 750 ng/ml (using the TdX assay at North Carolina State University). Make sure you know which assay your laboratory is using. Most laboratories associated with human hospitals run this assay, but they may not for veterinary patients or it may be expensive.

    Cyclosporine should be kept in a dark cupboard at room temperature. Blood samples should be drawn in the morning, 12 hours after the last evening dose was given, and before giving the dog his or her morning medications. The blood should be mailed in an EDTA (purple-topped) blood tube in a crush proof container to the laboratory by next-day delivery. Samples should not be sent on a Friday or before a holiday because they may not be delivered promptly. The sample does not have to be frozen for shipment.

    The cyclosporine dosage is increased if the trough concentration is low, particularly if the response is minimal or absent after 1 month of drug administration. Trough concentrations as low as 75 ng/ml (HPLC) may be effective in some dogs.4

    A decrease in fistula size is not usually seen for the first 2 weeks. However, many clients report an improvement in their dog's energy level, decreased licking at the area, and diminished tenesmus within the first 2 weeks.

    Unanswered questions regarding cyclosporine and perianal fistulas include these:

    What is the proper duration of treatment? I administer the drug to fistula patients for at least 2 weeks after complete resolution based on visual examination. It is unclear if these dogs should be treated longer in order to keep the disease in remission or if it is better to treat only during recurrent episodes. Small fistulas recurred in 7 of 17 dogs 2 to 24 weeks after discontinuing treatment.5 What is the underlying cause and reason that cyclosporine works? What is occurring at a cellular level before, during, and after treatment with cyclosporine?

    Why do some dogs respond and others do not? One study showed no difference in the mean blood or intestinal tissue concentration of cyclosporine in human responders and non-responders with Crohn's disease.6

    What ancillary treatments are appropriate (e.g., dietary modification and antibiotics)?

    Should other medications be given to inhibit cyclosporine metabolism and thereby decrease the cost of treatment (e.g., ketoconazole)?

    I currently recommend cyclosporine administration for the treatment of perianal fistula; however, medication costs and the surgical options and their potential complications need to be discussed so that the guardian can come to an informed decision. In addition, excision of persistent or recurrent fistulas may be required.


    The cause of perianal fistula and why many dogs respond to treatment with cyclosporine is poorly understood. The cost of cyclosporine is prohibitive for some clients. However, the cost and risk of multiple potential surgeries must be considered as well. Cyclosporine has greatly simplified the treatment of perianal fistula in many animal patient. Questions regarding recurrence rate and long-term therapy will likely be answered within the next few years.


    1. Harkin KR, Walshaw R, Reimann KA, et al. Association of perianal fistula and colitis in the German Shepherd Dog: response to high-dose prednisone and dietary therapy. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc 1996;32:515.

    2. Mathews Karol A, Sukhiani HF. Randomized controlled trial of cyclosporine for treatment of perianal fistulas in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;211:1249.

    3. Present DH, Lichtiger S. Efficacy of cyclosporine in treatment of fistula of Crohn's disease. Digest Dis Sci 1994;39:374.

    4. Wooldridge JD, Gregory CR, Mathews KG, et al. Clinical evaluation of leflunomide alone, leflunomide and cyclosporine, and cyclosporine at varying dosages in the treatment of perianal fistulas in dogs. Submitted, J Am Vet Med Assoc, 1999.

    5. Mathews KA, ibid.

    6. Sandborn WJ, Tremaine WJ, Lawson GM. Clinical response does not correlate with intestinal or blood cyclosporine concentrations in patients with Crohn's disease treated with high-dose oral cyclosporine. Am J Gastroent 1996;91:37.

    Thursday, September 6, 2012

    Attacked by....Golden Retrievers???

    Yesterday, I packed up my daughter and leashed up my two dogs and headed down to our local park.   We walk down there several times a week just before lunch to get everyone some exercise.   It is a nice walk down a big hill, and there is a great playground and usually lots of kids E's age.   It is also nice for Violet the Pom and Odie the Shepherd to get in an extra walk.   
    We meandered down, checking out every snail and roly poly on the path.   Between Violet and Ella...I don't think we missed one.    As expected, once we got to the park lots of the regulars were there and Ella joined in the fun swinging, sliding and playing in the sand.   Odie, Violet and I sat on the bench chatting with some of the moms and nannies.   After a while, Ella came over for a snack.   We sat on the bench sharing an apple.    Violet was patiently waiting for the Goldfish crackers to come out and Odie was just hanging...
    All of a sudden, Odie stood up and growled.  Oddly enough-Violet the yappy little watch dog was SILENT.   I turned and saw two large Golden Retrievers barreling down the hill at us.   Two young boys were chasing behind them screaming.   Trouble.   
    I grabbed Ella and threw her up on the bench.   Have you seen the signs around trails telling you if you see a Mountain Lion to put your kids on your shoulders and keep them high??  That flashed through my mind.   I used my serious mommy voice telling her to STAY and scooped up Violet and put her over my shoulder.   Odie was already in front of us-directly in front of us and he took a big hit as the first retriever slammed into him.   It really was like Clash of the Titans.  It was so loud. Then the dog grabbed Odie by the neck.   Odie was bucking and twisting but the dog would not let go.   Ella was screaming now, as were lots of the others parents.   Violet, over my shoulder was still SILENT.   
    I started kicking the retriever... he was at least 80 pounds...a big thick male.   I was so afraid he was ripping Odie's throat open.  I kicked him twice in the ribs.  Nothing.   So with my flip flops I started kicking him in the face.  After 4 solid kicks to his face and shoulder he let go.   Odie went crazy and the dog backed off to stand with the other dog.   One of the young boys, who I later learned was 14, grabbed the attacking dog and dragged him off.   There was blood all over Odie's shoulder so I frantically checked him with my free hand while I told everyone it was ok.  It is ok Ella.   It is ok Odie.   It is ok Violet.   That is not how I felt inside though.   I couldn't find any real wounds in Odie's thick fur.   His ear was bleeding but not badly.    I screamed over at the remaining kid that I needed his mom's number now.   He was reluctant to give out personal information so I gave him an option-give me the name, number and address of your parents now or sit there while I call the police.    He gave me the info which I entered into my phone.   This was a small miracle because my hands were now shaking.   Really shaking.   I dialed the number to make sure it was good, and left a message.  "Hi, my name is Liz.  Your dogs just attacked my 100 lb German Shepherd and he is bleeding.  Call me."   Click.  
    I grabbed my three babies and headed up the hill.   I just wanted to get Odie home so I could treat his wounds which I was sure were bad.  It was so violent.  I had never seen a dog fight like that.    The hill seemed really long and really steep today.   I stopped about halfway and just took inventory and gave every one hugs.   I still couldn't find the source of the blood.   As I walked, I called my friend Maria to make sure I was doing everything right, as my brain was now pure adrenaline.   She agreed.   Just get home.   Check your boy.   
    Just as I rounded the corner to my house the mom of the dogs called.   She was very apologetic and had already talked to her boys.   I told her I was going to have to call her back.  I had to get home.   
    Once I got home, I spent a long time going over Odie.   I wet his neck so I could see better.    No wounds other then a small one of the tip of his ear.   The blood must be from the other dogs mouth.   I gave Odie some Metacam because I was sure he was going to be sore.   It was hitting me that he had absolutely protected us.   If the dogs had gotten Violet she would be dead.   Now the tears started and all I wanted to do was hug my big boy and thank him.   I had always known he was amazing, and that he would protect us, but now I had witnessed it and it was so powerful...he is such a sweet, gentle soul...but his German Shepherd blood kicked in and he absolutely was not going to let anyone hurt us.   Do you know what that feels like?   It began to dawn on me that all this talk about how a dog would die for you... it is true.   This may have not been a life threatening situation for us, but Odie didn't know that when he stood out in front of us.   I looked over at my two little girls... Ella and Violet.   Wow.   How do you thank a dog for that?    I am not 100% sure, but I will spend the rest of this magnificent creatures life trying...

    Stay tuned for more on the Golden Retrievers and two little boys very important life lesson.   

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    A guest post from a Volunteer about....volunteering!

    Here is another way you can help at the German Shepherd Rescue of OC-contribute to our blog.    

    The below blog is from MaryBeth.   She is part of the walking team.   Her and the other walking team members go out every week and make sure our dogs who are being cared for in kennels, get out for a walk.   This is very good for the dogs, and is also very helpful in us learning more about the dogs so we place them in the home that will be a perfect fit...after all, we are looking for forever homes.   

    From MaryBeth O-

    Often times when I tell someone that I volunteer with the German Shepherd Rescue of OC I get the following response or variations of: "I don't know how you do it, it would break my heart" or "I could never do that, I would want to take them all home!"
    To be honest, both of those statements ring true when I am spending time with our dogs that are waiting for a home.  As part of one of our walking teams, I spend time Sunday mornings taking some of our dogs out for a walk, roll in the grass and some well deserved belly rubs.  There is nothing like the excitement they have when they come barreling out into the sun!  Yes, it is hard to take them back knowing they are going back to kennel run, but I know that they have had a blast being out for even just an hour.
    However, if the other volunteers or myself were not there for our dogs, who would be?  It is because of the 150 plus volunteers at GSROC that thousands of dogs have been spared their lives and have found wonderful loving homes and many more dogs in the future will as well.
    Do you have a special talent, time to donate or resources to lend and love German Shepherd Dogs? We would love to have you as part of our volunteer team!  Check out to fill out the volunteer application....

    I promise you that you won't regret having your heart strings tugged at when one of the GSROC dogs past or present recognize you with a tail wag followed by a big wet kiss!

    Friday, August 24, 2012

    Dogs and kids

    I have three dogs, a foster dog, a 20 year old cat and a two year old daughter.   Crazy, right?    I take my 2 year old daughter to the rescue events. She can be seen sitting in the puppy pen with puppies on any given Saturday out in front of a Petsmart.    We walk our dogs daily, and yes... Ella walks Odie who happens to be a 95 lb German Shepherd.  

    Which brings me to the question I get asked more than anything else-

    Are your dogs good with kids? 
    Yes, my dogs are great with this kid... Ella.  Believe me, it didn't just happen overnight.   Now Ella- she still has some training to go.   Did I just throw Ella into the mix and expect everyone to get along.   Ummm, no.   We didn't do any of the fancy introduction stuff when Ella was born.  We did not bring her dirty diapers home to the dogs before we brought our newborn little princess home, or her umbilical cord as some people suggested.  That was a little much for me.   We just brought her in in her little carrier and quietly put her down on the ground for everyone to see and sniff.   I am not saying this is what everyone should have to know your own pack and what works, but this worked for us.   At the time, we had two shepherds and two poms and they all looked, some sniffed, a couple of kisses were given and that was pretty much it.   Our life changed a little...the dogs had to learn to walk around the stroller, the love was spread out over one more creature, but things were still good. And then- she started getting around on her own.  Three of four of the dogs learned to scatter.  Our youngest dog, Violet learned how to play with Ella.   We immediately started teaching mutual respect from all parties.   In reality, it is a two way street between kids and dogs.   As soon as Ella could understand we started teaching her that you must be gentle and slow around dogs and that if you hurt a dog, they will hurt you back, and they have bigger teeth. 
    I also STRONGLY believe that you should NEVER teach a dog to not growl at a child.  I think you should teach a child that if a dog growls, back off.   Odie growls at Ella often.  Actually much less now that she is a more seasoned dog girl, but how else could he tell her that he didn't want her pulling his tail, or coloring on his feet, or whatever else she thought was cool.   The truth is, Odie stayed out of her way for most of two years.   Now that Ella is a little more predictable in her movements and actions, he is ok to be petted and loved by her.   He was however, always quietly her protector. 
    So, when people call the rescue and say they want to turn in their dogs because their dogs aren't getting along with their kids, or they don't like the baby... I say... get in there, do the work.   Of course the dogs don't like the baby.   She is taking some of their attention.  She screams.  She takes food out of their bowls.   She is a pain.  But you know what else?
    Ella has these amazing creatures in her life that are teaching her respect and patience.   She also has buddies to play with... and play they do.  Violet and Ella wrestle.  They play chase.  They cuddle and sleep together.   They actually make my heart bigger just watching them love each other.   These are things that every child should have.  
    Dogs and kids do mix.   Are my dogs good with all kids.  No way.  I keep my dogs close to me when we are around other kids and if someone wants to pet my dogs, they have to obey the rules of mutual respect.  
    And I will keep teaching Ella the same thing that my dogs teach her every day... kindness and mutual respect will take you far in this life kid.  

    Sunday, August 12, 2012

    Protecting our dogs from the heat

    It is HOT here in Southern California.   I live in a Coastal area and it is HOT, so I know it is hot, hot, hot out there.   It was so hot that when I got up to take the dogs out for a quick walk this morning, 3 of the 4 opted out.   They just laid where they were and looked at me.   Considering that normally when I get close to where the leashes are they go crazy, I realized that the heat really gets to them. 

    I started thinking about all the warnings you see about keeping your dogs cool, making sure they have water, making sure they have shade...and I couldn't help but think about some of the dogs out there who, on a normal day get the bare minimum they need to survive, let alone thrive.   How are they fairing today? 

    As I wet down my dogs  and put ice cubes in their water dishes for the third time today, I worried about the dogs out there. 

    I think MOST people know that you cannot leave your dog in the car when it is hot...but what about the dogs who live in the yard?   Did you know that the temperature on a slab of cement can get so hot in the sun it can actually burn a dogs feet?   I mean like, blisters burn!   And asphalt is worse.  So bring your dogs in, and only walk early in the morning or later in the evening. 

    Did you know that dogs can die from overheating in a garage?   A garage can get so hot that even with water available, dogs can die from overheating in a very short period of time.   Can you imagine?   How horrible.   Locking a dog in a garage in the heat can be as deadly as a hot car.   Bring them inside.

    So add GSROC to the list of people sending out warnings about protecting your four footed babies from the heat.   Give them extra water, extra shade, and remember... you are responsible for their lives AND their comfort.