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Health Info & Bio Sensor

Ovary Sparing Spays & Vasectomies:
For many years I have know that a puppy's sex hormones are important for proper growth. The struggle came with wanting puppy purchasers to wait to spay/neuter until puppy was fully grown (about 12 to 18 months), conflicting with what most of their vets recommend of spay/neutering at 6-8 months in order to prevent accidental litters. I tried for years to balance both by not enforcing a minimum age to spay/neuter in my purchase contract like many breeders do, and at the same time recommending waiting until puppy was a year old. The results continually disappointed me as most our pups ended up spay/neutered by 8mths old, which I knew was detrimental to their health. So I started to rethink my contract and to searching for an alternative if there was one to be found. In my research I found out two things:

1. That those sex hormones were so much more important than I originally realized - with very significant increases in
occurrence
 for labs of ACL tears, bone cancers, and joint issues when removed early - along with many other effects on health. Please see this veterinarian written paper for a great break down SterilizationOptions - Chapman.pdf
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  as well as this vet's video testimony regarding spay/neuter.

2. I found exactly what I had been searching for! There was indeed a sterilization procedure (satisfying the vets pet overpopulation concerns) that would leave sex hormones intact (satisfying my want for doing what was best for the health of the puppies we produce) -ovary sparing spays (oss) and vasectomies! Please see this page for a simple to read explanation of oss.

So after weeks of research both online and in speaking to many vets, I decided that it was in the best interest of my pups that these procedures now be done on all pet and service dog puppies before going to their new families. By doing so I can be sure that the sex hormones will be spared for the essential time frame, and eliminate the occurrence of accidental litters or dishonest backyard breeding of our pups (breedings done without the proper health testing - see below). Few vets in Canada yet perform these procedures, but after much searching I was delighted to find one somewhat local! For the purchaser this means that their pup does NOT need another surgery down the road :)

For males I see no need to remove testicles down the road. With some breeds there may be concern of testosterone related aggression, but this would not apply to labs in my opinion - my intact males are as much loving sucks for attention as my females are and have shown no aggression with other males when I take them to dogshows – let alone the negative personality effects removing the sex hormones can have on dogs as detailed in the links/attachment above.

Females will still display signs of being in heat twice a year – vulva will swell and will smell attractive to males and stand for breeding – so care will still need to be taken to keep her away from males during this time as all breedings come with physical and disease risks. However, bloody discharges should be non-existent or very minimal (a couple drips for a couple days) since the entire uterus is gone. The only time I foresee a purchaser wanting to remove ovaries down the road is when there is a male dog also in the family which would make keeping the female separate druing her heat harder.

Click here to see a video of our first litter sterilized by these procedures, less than 24hrs after their surgeries.


DNA TESTING
HEALTHIER PUPPIES =
RESPONSIBLE BREEDING
 


I can not emphasize enough how important DNA disease testing and OFA Hip & Elbow certification (see below) is for labs! One in three dogs we've tested comes back as a 'carrier' of EIC or PRCD - it is that common! So if a breeder isn't doing DNA testing, its quite certain they will breed two carriers together at some point and be producing pups with these incurable diseases. And it only takes a quick youtube search to see how devastating they are. We test our dogs to ensure ALL of our breedings will produce pups free from the follow genetic diseases (as described on the DDC Veterinary & Genomia websites). THESE DISEASES CAN NOT BE CURED, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE TO ELIMINATE THEIR OCCURRENCE THROUGH GENETIC TESTING!!!

Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM) - inherited disorder characterized by muscle weakness and exercise intolerance.

Cystinuria - a metabolic disorder that can cause stones in the urinary tract. Most usually found in males and occurs in approximately 70 breeds.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) - is a degenerative disease of the spinal cord, characterized by muscle weakness in the hind limbs eventually leading to paraplegia.

Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) - a genetic syndrome where affected dogs show signs of muscle weakness, incoordination, and life threatening collapse when participating in just 5 - 15 mins of strenuous exercise or activity. Signs become apparant in young dogs and can range from dragging of the hind legs to complete collapse.

Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration (
PRCD) - affected dogs first become night blind, and then progress to cataracts and total blindness.

OFA Hips & Elbows:
We also have ALL our dogs
OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) Certified FREE from Hip & Elbow Dysplasia at two years of age (minimum age required for certification). This is a heritable trait most common in medium-large purebred dogs and symptoms can range anywhere from mild (stiff and sore joints) to severely crippling (osteoarthritis). Dysplasia also can have environmental influences such as being overweight, injury, and overexertion or repetitive motion on forming joints (ie. jogging with a pup under the age of 1 year). So although OFA certification in itself is not a guarantee a pup won't develop dysplasia, it is your best defense against a pup inherting it - and another way a breeder can prove accountable!


Vaccines: 
Oh the controversy never ends! Risk vs Benefit! Please see
'3 Puppy Vaccination Mistakes',  'Dr. Dodds Vaccination Protocol' (MLV means Modified Live Virus), and I love the info in this chart peteducation. In the breeder community I am a part of, the general consensus is to vaccinate 'core' vaccines (distemper, adenovirus, parvo) at 8 - 12- 16 weeks, and then rabies NO EARLIER than 6 months of age. Personally, with pups I choose to hold back, I wait until they are 16 weeks of age and then administer one vaccination - but I ensure the pup does not leave our farm during this time (as well as no 'outside' dogs come onto our farm). For pups leaving our property going to their new homes, they will receive their first vaccination 4 days before. I suggest limiting exposure of your pup to other dogs owned by family and friends who are current on their vaccinations, and saving doggy parks and other public areas until it has had its final booster (around 16 weeks).


Bio Sensor:
At Ace Labradors we have also been following the
Bio Sensor program with our pups for years! To date I have seen very few breeders take the time to give their pups this added enhancement.

Bio Sensor was a program developed by the U.S. military to improve the performance of the dogs used in their canine program. Just as infants go through a period of very rapid brain growth and development in their first year of life where having various forms of stimulus are extremely important (as sadly displayed in many children raised in institutions lacking stimulus from birth resulting in various physical, mental, and emotional disorders - most irreversible), puppies go through a similar period. Studies confirmed that the specific time in puppies where early neurological stimulation has optimum results began at the third day of life and lasts until the sixteenth. The military developed a daily 'workout' with a series of exercises designed to produce neurological stimulations that would not naturally occur during this early period of life....so that is what we do with each pup.

Five benefits were observed in canines that were exposed to the Bio Sensor program:

 - Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)

 - Stronger heart beats

 - Stronger adrenal glands

 - More tolerance to stress, and

 - Greater resistance to disease.

Quoting Carmen L. Battaglia, PhD of Roswell Georgia "In tests of learning, stimulated pups were found to be more active and were more exploratory than their non-stimulated littermates over which they were dominant in competitive situations. Secondary effects were also noted regarding test performance. In simple problem solving tests using detours in a maze, the non-stimulated pups became extremely aroused, whined a great deal, and made many errors. Their stimulated littermates were less disturbed or upset by test conditions and when comparisons were made, the stimulated littermates were more calm in the test environment, made fewer errors, and gave only an occasional distress when stressed."

The second stage of development in a puppy is called socialization and lasts from the fourth to the sixteenth week of age. Without proper socialization pups would typically be fearful of unfamiliar objects and generally prefer to withdraw rather than investigate.

Again quoting Ms. Battaglia, "Regular trips to the park, shopping centers and obedience and agility classes serve as good examples of enrichment activities. Chasing and retrieving a ball on the surface seems to be enriching because it provides exercise and includes rewards. While repeated attempts to retrieve a ball provide much physical activity, it should not be confused with enrichment exercises. Such playful activities should be used for exercise and play or as a reward after returning from a trip or training session. Road work and chasing balls are not substitutes for trips to the shopping mall, outings or obedience classes most of which provide many opportunities for interaction and investigation." 

Researches have found that generally genetics account for about 35% of the performance, but the remaining 65% is attributed to other influences such as training, management, and nutrition. In conclusion, I will do the best I can to provide your puppy with the best start possible in the eight weeks that it is in my care - but the rest is up to you! So put some time and energy into proper socialization and training in those early weeks, and some money into providing proper nutrition for your large-breed-rapid-growing puppy, and you will have a dog that you will be proud of for many years!


"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man." Mark Twain
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