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Tag: bone

Researchers unearth evidence of America’s earliest dog … and proof that it was eaten

A University of Maine graduate student says he has found a bone fragment from what he believes is the earliest domesticated dog ever found in the Americas — one that walked the continent 9,400 years ago.

And where he found it — ensconced in a dried-out sample of human waste — gives proof that eating dog was part of America’s culture, at least before America was America.

Graduate student Samuel Belknap III came across the fragment while analyzing a sample of human waste unearthed in  the 1970s. Carbon-dating placed the age of the bone at 9,400 years, and a DNA analysis confirmed it came from a dog — as opposed to a wolf, coyote or fox.

The Associated Press  reports that the fragment — which was the dark orange color characteristic of bone that has passed through the digestive track — was found in Hinds Cave in southwest Texas. 

The fragment provides the earliest evidence that dogs were eaten by humans in North America, and may have been bred as a food source, he said.

Belknap was studying the diet and nutrition of the people  in the Lower Pecos region of Texas between 1,000 and 10,000 years ago when he came across the bone.

Belknap and other researchers from the University of Maine and the University of Oklahoma’s molecular anthropology laboratories, where the DNA analysis was done, have written a paper on their findings, scheduled for publication in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology later this year.

The fragment is about six-tenths of an inch long and three- to four-tenths of an inch wide. Belknap said he and a fellow student identified the bone as a fragment from where the skull connects with the spine. He said it came from a dog that probably resembled the small short-haired dogs that were common among the Indians of the Great Plains.

Other archaeological findings have found evidence of domestic dogs in the U.S. as long as 8,000 years ago.

A 1980s study reported dog bones found at Danger Cave, Utah, were between 9,000 and 10,000 years old, but those dates were based on an analysis of the surrounding rock laters as opposed to carbon dating. In Idaho, researchers believed they’d found 11,000-year-old dog bones, but later tests showed them to be no more than 3,000 years old.

Worldwide, studies have found evidence of dogs going back 31,000 years from a site in Belgium, 26,000 years in the Czech Republic and 15,000 years in Siberia.

The earliest dogs in North America are believed to have come with the early settlers across the Bering land bridge from Asia.

Belknap said eating dogs was once common in Central America, and that some Great Plain Indian tribes ate dogs when food was scarce or for celebrations.

 ”It was definitely an accepted practice among many populations,” he said.

FDA: Don’t give the dog a bone, ever

dog-boneGiving your dog a bone — any bone —  is a dangerous practice that can cause serious injury to your pet, the Food and Drug Administration says.  

It’s not like they’re recalling bones, but the agency has issued a warning in an article appearing on the FDA’s online Consumer Updates page.

However popular the idea may be that it’s natural for dogs to chew on bones, the tradition –  knick-knack paddy-whack aside — falls into the danger zone, in the FDA’s view.

“Some people think it’s safe to give dogs large bones, like those from a ham or a roast,” says Carmela Stamper, D.V.M., a veterinarian in the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration. “Bones are unsafe no matter what their size. Giving your dog a bone may make your pet a candidate for a trip to your veterinarian’s office later, possible emergency surgery, or even death.”

The FDA lists 10 reasons why bones are a bad idea — and we’ll pass them on verbatim:

  1. Broken teeth. This may call for expensive veterinary dentistry.
  2. Mouth or tongue injuries. These can be very bloody and messy and may require a trip to see your veterinarian.
  3. Bone gets looped around your dog’s lower jaw. This can be frightening or painful for your dog and potentially costly to you, as it usually means a trip to see your veterinarian.
  4. Bone gets stuck in esophagus, the tube that food travels through to reach the stomach. Your dog may gag, trying to bring the bone back up, and will need to see your veterinarian.
  5. Bone gets stuck in windpipe. This may happen if your dog accidentally inhales a small enough piece of bone. This is an emergency because your dog will have trouble breathing. Get your pet to your veterinarian immediately!
  6. Bone gets stuck in stomach. It went down just fine, but the bone may be too big to pass out of the stomach and into the intestines. Depending on the bone’s size, your dog may need surgery or upper gastrointestinal endoscopy, a procedure in which your veterinarian uses a long tube with a built-in camera and grabbing tools to try to remove the stuck bone from the stomach.
  7. Bone gets stuck in intestines and causes a blockage. It may be time for surgery.
  8. Constipation due to bone fragments. Your dog may have a hard time passing the bone fragments because they’re very sharp and they scrape the inside of the large intestine or rectum as they move along. This causes severe pain and may require a visit to your veterinarian.
  9. Severe bleeding from the rectum. This is very messy and can be dangerous. It’s time for a trip to see your veterinarian.
  10. Peritonitis. This nasty, difficult-to-treat bacterial infection of the abdomen is caused when bone fragments poke holes in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Your dog needs an emergency visit to your veterinarian because peritonitis can kill your dog.

“Always supervise your dog with any chew product, especially one your dog hasn’t had before,” adds Stamper. “And always, if your dog ‘just isn’t acting right,’ call your veterinarian right away!”

We agree with those last two points, at least, but can’t help but wonder if a total bone ban may be a bit over-protective, a bit contrary to the nature and roots of dogs, and one more step in turning dogs into humans.

Most bones are bad — chicken bones, as we all know, in particular. But there are those that, with supervision, I don’t hesitate to give my particular dog,  like marrow bones. They can help clean teeth, massage gums and, in my dog’s experience, seem quite safe.

What school are you in when it comes to bones? Do you think some are OK? Do you ban them in your household?  Do you have a bone to pick with the FDA? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

FDA reviewing complaints about dog treats

boneReal Ham Bone for Dogs — dog treats made in Missouri from the femurs of pigs — are under review by the Food and Drug Administration after complaints of them causing serious injury and death in dogs.

If warranted, an FDA spokesman said, the FDA will take appropriate action and notify the public, the Associated Press reported.

The product — a smoked pig femur sold as a dog treat or chew bone — is distributed nationally under the Dynamic Pet Products label of Frick’s Quality Meats in Washington, Mo.

The company said Thursday it was saddened to learn of the illnesses and deaths of customers’ pets, and that quality and safety remain priorities. The packaging contains a warning about the product not being for all dogs, and the possibility that it could splinter.”

“That is why every package contains a label that provides detailed instructions to owners on how they can help their pets best enjoy our products,” the company said in a statement. “We strongly encourage owners to supervise their pets with any treats or snacks.”

The Better Business Bureau of St. Louis said consumers have complained about the bones splintering, and pieces  obstructing dogs’ intestines. Consumers reported their dogs had become lethargic or were vomiting. One man came home to find his dog dead, bleeding from the mouth.

World’s tallest dog dies in California

Gibson, the tallest dog in the world, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, died after a battle with bone cancer.

Standing 42.6 inches tall, the giant Great Dane passed away last Friday in California, the Sierra Sun reported.

“The harlequin great Dane who spent time on Oprah’s couch, hugged Paris Hilton, graced the set of “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and warmed the hearts of hundreds of Nevada County convalescent hospital patients, died Friday,” the newspaper reported in the dog’s obituary.

Born in 2002, Gibson weighed 180 pounds and measured 7 feet 1 inch when standing on his hind legs. He worked as a therapy and special needs training dog, visiting centers for the elderly and schools throughout the California area. He also served as mascot for a company that makes canine-friendly artifical turf.

Gaining world wide attention due to his huge frame he was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right front paw in April of this year; the leg was removed in May in a seven-hour operation aimed at preventing the cancer from spreading further.

After the surgery, Gibson received chemotherapy and was reported to be recovering.  Last week, though, Sandy Hall, Gibson’s owner, learned that the cancer had spread to Gibson’s lungs and spine, at which point Gibson’s doctor stated that there was no other medical treatment that would save the dog.

“X-rays showed that the cancer had spread to his spine and his lungs. Ms. Hall made the very difficult decision based on her concern and love for Gibson to have him humanely euthanized,” said Dr. Peter Walsh, Gibson’s veterinarian.

“Gibson died peacefully in the loving arms of Ms. Hall,” he said.

With titanium leg, Cassidy may run again

A year ago, it was a struggle just to keep up on family walk. Now, with help from doctors at N.C. State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and some state of the art technology, Cassidy has the ability to run again.

Since getting an implanted prosthesis in his leg in July, 6-year-old Cassidy has been back to the vet school several times to make sure the implant was fusing with the bone, making it stable enough to support what would eventually become Cassidy’s right hind leg. On Tuesday, doctors fitted Cassidy with a titanium leg complete with a running foot that will replace a temporary peg leg Cassidy has been wearing.

Steve Posovsky, Cassidy’s owner, said the dog’s artificial leg has gotten a lot of attention. “You can’t even walk down the street,” he said. “People take pictures of him, you get stopped constantly … ‘What is this, how did it happen? I’ve never seen it before. Can I take a picture with him?’ It’s non-stop.”

The new titanium prosthesis and its padded “foot” are designed to be more lifelike than typical artificial limbs, allowing Cassidy’s leg to bend naturally. A carbon fuse inside the prosthesis allows for rotation of the leg and guards against undue stress on the implant.

Doctors say the technology is moving in the right direction for eventual use in humans.

Shoplifting dog trotted 6 miles for heist

Remember the shoplifting dog — that suspected Siberian Husky who trotted into a grocery store in Murray, Utah back before Christmas, grabbed a rawhide bone and made a clean getaway, except for being captured on the security cameras?

She’s now been identified, after being returned to the scene of the crime by her owners, who live six miles from the store.

Yes, the thieving pooch apparently traveled six miles each way to snag the bone. (Now wouldn’t that make a great advertisement for whatever company made it?)

After seeing the video, the Stirling family of Murray suspected their dog — an 11-year-old Husky named Akira — was the culprit, and drove her down to the store so that she could be positively identified.

She seemed eager to go back, the family noted.

“Yeah there’s no question. That looks exactly like the dog,” store manager Roger Adamson said. Store employees agreed, according to NBC.

When they turned her loose, she followed her nose, straight to the dog treat section.

John Stirling said he didn’t understand his dog’s incredible journey. “We’re definitely feeding her, she has boxes of treats in the cupboards.”

On the return trip to the store, the Stirlings paid for Akira’s new bone, and the one she took back in December.

Charges? None were filed, but Akira may have received a jolt when she left home, and when she returned. The Stirling’s fenceline is supposed to give her collar a electrical jolt if she tries to pass over.

Apparently, she outsmarted that device, too.

Is shoplifting dog on the run from Oregon?

KSL-TV in Salt Lake City says it has heard from a woman who thinks the dog caught by surveillance cameras shoplifting a rawhide bone in a Utah supermarket is hers — a Siberian Husky named Balto who she lost four months ago at a motel in Oregon.

The otherwise unidentified Siberian Husky entered Smith’s Food and Drug store in Murray, Utah, made his way to the pet food aisle and snatched a rawhide bone from a shelf. He was last seen leaving the store with the bone clutched firmly in his teeth, ignoring the store manager’s order to “drop it.”

The story generated big national interest, with regular showings on CNN and one of the busiest days ever at KSL.com.

The TV station says they were contacted by Chanda McKeever of Washington state, who believes her dog Balto wandered all the way from an Oregon motel to Utah’s Salt Lake Valley. So far, there has been no confirmation that she’s the owner and the dog remains at large.

The original “Balto,”  was the sled dog who led his team on the final leg of the 1925 run to Nome, Alaska to deliver diptheria antitoxin  — a trip commemorated by the annual Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. There’s a statue in his honor in New York’s Central Park. (His name has nothing to do with Baltimore; he was named after Norwegian explorer Samuel Balto.) After his death, he was “stuffed” and donated to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

If McKeever’s Balto is the dog that shoplifted in Utah, he has covered an equally impressive amount of ground, though he may not become quite as famous as the original. He hasn’t save humanity; he just stole a bone. But there’s a certain admiration for him — and his successful you-do-what-you-gotta-do heist — and it seems to be growing, judging from Internet comments.

We’ll keep you posted.

Shoplifting dog snags treat, makes getaway

A dog in Murray, Utah walked into a supermarket on Christmas day, snagged a rawhide bone from the dog food aisle and calmly walked out — bone in mouth — despite the store’s manager order to “Drop it.”

The suspect, caught on a surveillance camera, appears to be a Siberian Husky.

The surveillance tape shows the dog arriving, sniffing a young girl near the cash registers, then wandering to Aisle 16, where the pet food is kept.

Store manager Roger Adamson confronted the dog as he headed for the exit with a $2.79 rawhide bone that he had not paid for.

“I said, ‘drop it!’” Adamson recalled. The dog didn’t obey. “I decided I wanted to keep all my fingers, so I didn’t try to take it from him.”

The dog is apparently still at large.

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