From the Editor

Choices we make and paths we take

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When it comes to healthcare for our dogs today, it’s all about options. While at times the range of choices can seem overwhelming, we have to appreciate the fact that science has come so far, allowing us to get beyond a one-size-fits-all approach.

Few diseases take as great an emotional toll on us as cancer does. Once the initial shock sets in, the questions begin to mount. Perhaps the most basic question is: Will we treat the disease palliatively or aggressively? Dr. Deb Eldredge addresses the subject knowledgeably and compassionately in “Facing Cancer” (page 42). As one of her interviewees, Dr. Robyn Elmslie, puts it, “Our aim is to achieve, maintain and prolong great quality of life for the dog involved.” Among the key factors to consider at the decision-making stage are the age and constitution of the patient.

Dr. Narda Robinson explores acupressure, a subject that predates written history, in her feature “The Healing Touch” (page 30). As she explains, acupressure involves massaging or pressing specific body sites. As nerve endings are stimulated, the nervous system responds to pressure by releasing endorphins that block pain. Acupressure is a fascinating tool with wide application, as you will see after reading Dr. Robinson’s article.

“It’s all in the fine print” has practically become a cliché. However, as responsible breeders and owners, it behooves us to read that fine print if we are to knowledgeably decipher and demystify the language of dog-food labels. Author Liz Palika has written extensively on pet foods. In “The Fine Print” (page 34), she walks us through the regulation of labels and the agencies that oversee the industry.

Do you know your DACVECC from your DACVIM? Were you aware that, generally speaking, veterinarians must have extensive training after graduating from veterinary college, plus additional experience, often in the form of a residency at a veterinary teaching hospital or specialty practice, before they become a diplomate (the technical term for certification)? In “Generalists and Specialists” (page 48), D. Caroline Coile, Ph.D. discusses the relationship that exists between the two. By knowing how to find the right veterinarian for the job, you and your dogs will benefit from the collective research thankfully available to us today.

Coile’s “Breeder’s Notebook” column this month (page 14) looks at the health and disease registries that enable us to make the most informed breeding decisions possible. From OFA and CERF to PennHIP and CHIC, these organizations are a boon to the conscientious breeder. There are countries where screening protocols for breed-specific health concerns are not voluntary but expected. While that isn’t the case here in the U.S., the tools and expertise that we have at our disposal make any fancier’s decision to breed without testing first simply unacceptable.

Here’s to healthy, long-lived dogs, and the wisdom to choose the best options for them every time.

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