Doberman Genetic Diseases and why you should know about them
Doberman health is a controversial topic in the doberman community worldwide. Despite modern diagnostic tools (DNA and medical tests) the longevity of the breed continues to decline due to Doberman genetic diseases. There are more and more Dobermans dying at a younger age.
Ability to sell puppies worldwide through social media had dramatically changed mentality of many breeders.
It seems that more breeders produce puppies purely for profit to supply the demand of online shoppers.
And why not? Be honest with yourself: when you see a cute puppy photo online – you are already sold.
And majority of puppy buyers won’t even look beyond that. So, why not sell more of those cute puppies if the demand is already high?
Some doberman genetic diseases are more common in certain types than others (read working vs show dobermans about different types of dobermans). And there are common diseases that are prevailing in the Doberman population worldwide. Breeders from different countries focus on different sets of Doberman genetic diseases. For American Doberman Pinscher the list is most likely to start with wobbler’s syndrome and von Willebrand’s disease. Western European Doberman (working line) breeders focus on thyroid. Eastern European Doberman breeders tend to disclose a variety of eye diseases.
Majority of breeders avoid mentioning the most fatal doberman genetic diseases. Perhaps, they don’t want to scare away potential puppy buyers.
Below is a comprehensive list of known Doberman genetic diseases in ascending order (from the least severe to the most fatal).
1. Genetic eye diseases. Eye diseases are more common in Eastern European Dobermans than American Doberman Pinschers (read american vs european doberman type). Dogs with genetic eye disorders are easily identified during ocular exam by an ophthalmologist.
PHTVL/PHPV (Persistent hyperplastic tunica vasculosa lentis/persistent hyperplastic primary vitreous) are rare disorders. The blood vessels on the back of the eye are not fully developed or deformed in fetus. This can cause small pigmentation (dots) on the back of the lens. In more severe cases – bleeding in the eye, cataract, blindness.
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is an inherited disease of the retina, in which the rod cells in the retina are programmed to die.
Cataract – the lens of the eye becomes cloudy and eventually all functional vision is lost.
Hypoplasia/Micropapilla – optic nerve disease.
In years, that I’m observing the European Doberman breed, I came across only a few cases of serious eye issues in European Dobermans due to inherited eye diseases. Eye diseases are not fatal, but expensive to care for.
2. vWD (von Willebrand’s disease). It’s an inherited bleeding disorder caused by lack of certain protein (von Willebrand factor protein) that is responsible for blood clotting. The vWD disease is easily identified by the DNA test, performed once in a lifetime. The disease appears only if a dog has two copies of the gene. It’s a well known disease and easily controlled with selective breeding.
What you need to know about von Willebrand’s disease is that the entire Doberman population is divided into three categories:
– vWD-clear – don’t have the gene, don’t have the disease,
– vWD-carrier – have only one copy of the gene, don’t have the disease, and
– vWD-affected – have two copies of the gene and are affected by bleeding disorder.
Only vWD-affected dogs have bleeding disorder. Nearly half of the modern population of European Dobermans are vWD-carriers (have the gene, but not the disease). It is common to breed vWD-clear to vWD-carrier. Breeding carrier to carrier will produce partially affected litter (some puppies will be affected). vWD-affected dogs should not be bred to other affected or carriers.
In general, Dobermans develop only a mild form of this disease. So, even affected dogs can live long life with proper management of the disease. vWD-affected Dobermans are more common in Western European (working) lines, and American Doberman Pinschers. I have not come across a vWD-affected Eastern European dobermans.
If you wonder why not eliminate even vWD-carriers – the answer is: genetic diversity. Each gene is responsible for many traits than just one known disease. Eliminating vWD-carriers will wipe out a large genetic pool, that the breed so desperately needs. And there are breeders that are willing to breed vWD-affected dogs in order to diversify the population.
3. HD – Hip dysplasia (and elbow dysplasia – ED). In other words it’s a badly formed hip that restricts movements. The disease progresses as the dog ages. Hip and elbow dysplasia are identified with X-Rays when a dog is about 2 years old (when the bones are fully formed).
Usually, the hips are rated as Excellent (HD-A), good (HD-B), fair (HD-C), and downhill from there. Ideally, you want a dog with HD-A or HD-B rating.
Hip dysplasia was a big problem in the breed about 20-30 years ago. To the point that it was made mandatory for all dogs to send x-ray results to the main registry in Germany. Dogs with hip dysplasia were banned from breeding. This is still mandatory for German Shepherds since it’s an acute issue for that breed.
Hip issues still occur in Dobermans. So, when buying a puppy, just make sure that both parents were old enough when X-Rays were taken. Demand to see veterinary certificates. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.
4. Thyroid (Hypothyroidism). It’s a thyroid hormone insufficiency. Dysfunction of thyroid gland when it’s not producing enough hormone to maintain dog’s metabolism. Diagnosed by blood test analysis.
I didn’t come across thyroid issues in Eastern European Doberman, but it is more common in Western European Doberman (again referring to working vs show dobermans) and American Doberman Pinscher (read american vs european doberman type). For breeding purposes in Eastern European dobermans the test is performed once in a lifetime, but it is advised to repeat the test as the dog gets older. In Western European lines and American Doberman Pinscher – thyroid is tested more often (annually?).
Hypothyroidism is easily (and inexpensively) controlled with daily medications. And just like with von Willebrand’s disease – there are some breeders that are willing to breed dogs with thyroid insufficiency in order to diversify the gene pool. If left untreated – hypothyroidism can lead to serious autoimmune issues.
5. DM (degenerative myelopathy), CVI (cervical vertebral instability – aka Wobbler’s syndrome). DM and CVI are genetic spinal diseases. Degenerative myelopathy in dobermans usually affects rear limbs. Wobbler’s syndrome is specific to cervical vertebrae – a spinal cord compression that can lead to neck pain and paralysis. There is a DNA test for DM, performed once in a lifetime. I think CVI (Wobbler’s) is identified only after a dog shows signs of the disease.
It’s not a very common disease in Eastern European lines, but it happens occasionally. I more often see DM/Wobbler’s discussions about American Doberman Pinschers.
6. Cancer. Cancer in Dobermans is rapidly spreading, taking the second place as a cause of death in Dobermans worldwide. It is a silent killer that is difficult to spot until it is too late. There are no genetic tests allowing to screen Dobermans for genetic cancer predisposition.
As you probably know – some forms of cancer are environmental (acquired). Like lung cancer in people who smoke, or skin cancer in people who exposed to sun. In dogs, environmental cancer largely points out to commercially produced dog food (kibble). For that reason, there are many veterinarians advocating for home-made or raw diets for all dogs (not only Dobermans). Read about better dog food options.
Inherited cancer or cancer predisposition is clearly traceable from generation to generation in some bloodlines and can be tied to certain popular dogs in pedigrees. Unfortunately, cancer is not the problem number one for the Doberman breed and breeders often just ignore it when selecting mating partners.
7. DCM (dilated cardiomyopathy). This is a complex genetic disorder and is the leading cause of death of the Doberman breed worldwide. Doberman DCM is a genetic disease of a heart muscle which becomes progressively weak and eventually leads to heart failure. Dogs literally drop dead. DCM is the main reason for decreased longevity in the breed.
It is suspected that about 70% of Dobermans worldwide are affected by this disease (as of 2017). At the rate the disease is spreading, by 2040 , 100% of the Doberman breed will be affected. In some dogs the disease occurs at a later age (around 9 years old or older), but there are more and more dogs that die from DCM at a younger age. Many popular studs (that already produced hundreds of offsprings) get diagnosed at the age of 4 yo.
In a nutshell – the disease can only be reliably identified with annual heart tests – 24 Holter monitor and Echo-Doppler test. DNA test is inconclusive and as of 2018 still means nothing and are not reliable for breeding. Actively bred dogs must be tested with Holter and Echo-Doppler annually and within a year prior to mating.
So, if you see that parents of the litter are “Cardio free”, “heart tested”, “DCM DNA clear” – this means nothing. DEMAND to see authentic certificates (signed by a veterinarian cardiologist) for 24 Holter monitor AND Echo-Doppler (both, not just one). If the test is older than a year, if the breeder refuses to show you the certificates, if the breeder relies on the DNA test only – DO NOT BUY FROM SUCH BREEDER. You are more likely to end up with a puppy that will drop dead in a couple of years. Also, my advice – don’t buy puppies from very young parents. Genetic diseases tend to manifest themselves in mature dogs.
DCM is an acute issue for the breed and a complex topic that I’d like to discuss in a separate article in more details (the article is coming soon).
There are several other genetic diseases that appear in the breed, but they are rare and in most cases are the result of certain gene combination from both parents. Unfortunately, there are no screening for genetic compatibility in dogs to eliminate mating of dogs that can produce offsprings with these diseases:
– Autoimmune disorder is when dog’s immune system attacks its own cells. It is suspected that vaccination is the main trigger of autoimmune disorder, but it is unclear if some dogs are genetically predisposed to it.
– Kidney dysplasia is when kidneys don’t mature and at some point can no longer extract toxins from the body.
– Entropion – is an inverted eye lid.
– Epilepsy is a neurological disorder and causes abnormal brain cell activity.
Obviously, dogs that developed these diseases should not be bred. And parents, who produced such an offspring should not be bred together again (but can be bred to other dogs).
– Color dilute alopecia and albinism are specific to American Doberman Pinschers only. This is due to unregulated breeding practices in the US that allowed breeders to create variety of colors in Dobermans. It is in high demand among uneducated puppy buyers, who don’t know what health issues are behind multi-colored Doberman Pinschers. There are only two acceptable colors of Doberman in Europe – black and brown. In the US – there are also blue and fawn. Color dilute is genetic hair loss and skin issue that causes dog to suffer from severely dry skin, hair loss and bold patches. Color dilute is an essential disorder of every blue and fawn doberman. Albinism (white doberman) was also produced in the US and turned out to be an incredibly sickly type. Luckily, they now ban albino dobermans (and those, carrying the gene) from breeding.
Breeders will always breed. For decades they were unable to resolve minor (like eye disorders) or life-threatening health issues (DCM being the major one) in the breed. Unregulated breeding practices led to creation of more severe doberman genetic diseases. Doberman organizations worldwide are ignoring health situation in the breed, focusing on beauty contests and easy money. Doberman clubs in some countries don’t even regulate breeding practices, which allow breeders to put any two dogs together and profit from the result. While we – buyers and breed fanciers – have to watch our dogs suffer and die, spending thousands of dollars on vet bills. And until we – buyers and breed fanciers – are willing to blindly pay for a cute puppy – this will not change.
When looking for a puppy – make sure both parents are tested for all known genetic diseases. As you can see – doberman genetic diseases list is long. Don’t trust what’s written on the websites, social media posts or words of the breeder. Demand to see proper and all test certificates. If a breeder doesn’t show all or some of the health certificates – this should be alarming. If you leave health concern to chance – chances are high you will have to pay for it later.
Thank you: http://dobermanblog.com/doberman-genetic-diseases/
What is Cocci?
COCCIDIA are small protozoans (one-celled organisms) that multiply in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats. They are most common in puppies and kittens less than six months of age or adult animals that are stressed or have a suppressed immune system.
Young Doberman puppies during birth are naturally exposed to their mother's feces, urine and any fecal load shedding from the stress of birth thru her milk.
If the mother is shedding the infective microorganisms in her feces from the stress of a new litter, then the young Doberman puppies will likely ingest the invisible protozoa and coccidia will develop within their intestines.
Most young puppies who are clinically ill from coccidia are two weeks of age and older. As a young animal ages, he tends to develop a natural immunity to the effects of coccidia and they are never thought of again....l
The primary sign of a puppy suffering from coccidiosis is diarrhea. The diarrhea may be mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucous may also be present.
Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated, or worse.
Fortunately, coccidiosis is treatable with A prescription drug called Ponazuril, if your veterinarian is still prescribing the dangerous and ineffective drugs such as Albon® and trimethoprim/sulfa please ask him to consider the newer and more effective drug Ponazuril
Because these drugs do not kill the organisms, but rather inhibit their reproduction capabilities, elimination of coccidia from the intestine takes time.
By stopping the ability of the protozoa to reproduce, time is allowed for the puppies own immunity to develop and remove the organisms.
To give your puppies digestive tract a boost while being treated, try Acidophilus+or Bene-Bac Pet Gel.
Most importantly start your puppy out on NuVet Vitamin Supplements
Rest assured your new Doberman puppy has NOT been raised in a stressful "Kennel" situation, however your Unique Doberman puppy has been raised naturally with the freedom to explore his outdoor world where he has been exposed to the native bacteria and protozoa that lives here in western America, some of which are of course Giardia and Coccidiosis.
Your puppy is free to explore and chase the Hawks, Eagles, rock chucks, cottontail bunnies, blue bellied lizards, white tailed deer, fox and coyote that may travel across our acreage.
This is why we strongly recommend that you continue your puppy on the great line of NuVet products that they and their parents have been on since before conception.
Use Order Code: 69685
To Order NuVet Toll-Free call: 1-800-474-7044
Use Order Code: 69685
International customers (including U.S territories) please call 800-474-7044 to order
Another reason your family should own a Unique Doberman..
"Earlier studies have shown that growing up on a farm reduces a child's risk of asthma to about half. We wanted to see if this relationship also was true also for children growing up with dogs in their homes. Our results confirmed the farming effect, and we also saw that children who grew up with dogs had about 15 percent less asthma than children without dogs. Because we had access to such a large and detailed data set, we could account for confounding factors such as asthma in parents, area of residence and socioeconomic status" says Tove Fall, Assistant Professor in Epidemiology at the Department of Medical Sciences and the Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, who coordinated the study together with researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
"These kind of epidemiological studies look for associations in large populations but do not provide answers on whether and how animals could protect children from developing asthma. We know that children with established allergy to cats or dogs should avoid them, but our results also indicate that children who grow up with dogs have reduced risks of asthma later in life. Thanks to the population-based design, our results are generalizable to the Swedish population, and probably also to other European populations with similar culture regarding pet ownership and farming" says Catarina Almqvist Malmros, senior author on the study, Paediatrician at Astrid Lindgren Children's Hospital and Professor in Clinical epidemiology at Dept of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm.
A total of more than one million children were included in the researchers' study linking together nine different national data sources, including two dog ownership registers not previously used for medical research. The results are being published in JAMA Pediatrics. The goal was to determine whether children exposed to animals early in life are at different risk of asthma.
Materials provided by Uppsala Universitet. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
Urinary Tract Treatment and Prevention:
Cranberry Extract is high in Vitamin C and prevents bacteria from adhering to the bladder wall.
1) Cranberry Extract—prevents adhesion of bacteria to mucosa, high in vitamin C, cooling properties
3000 mg of Cranberrier = 24 oz of juice
1/8-1/4 capsule TID cats & small dogs
½ capsule TID large dogs
1 capsule TID giant dogs
NO SIDE EFFECTS
2) Couchgrass (Crab Grass)—contains mannitol & mucilages, good for inflammation, mild antibacterial effect
3) Garlic—antibiotic, good for E. coli, Klebsiella, Proteus, Staph
Average clove of garlic has 100,000 Units of Penicillin
VERY HIGH doses can cause Heinz body anemia in cats
2-4 drops S-BID cats & small dogs
4-10 drops S-BID medium dogs
Garlitrin 1 tablet SID large dogs
4) Goldenseal—antimicrobial, stimulates immune system be enhancing macrophage activity
Caution is indicated in animals with low blood pressure, low blood sugar and pregnancy
Do NOT use for prolonged periods of time.
5) Horsetail—strong diuretic, soothing, anti-inflammatory, lithotriptic (dissolves stones)
Good for dogs with IVD and urine retention
6) Marshmallow Root—soothing and healing to inflamed mm., enhances WBCS, diuretic
7) Uva Ursi—antiseptic, diuretic, strengthens and tones
Do not use with concurrent GI problems or pregnancy,
long term use lowers K (potassium)
8) Vitamin C—antioxidant, enhances immunity, increases interferon, increases thymic hormones
During stress, the body secretes more vitamin C and makes more susceptible to infection
DOSAGE FOR ACUTE SYMPTOMS —Give every 2 hours to bowel tolerance for 24-48 hours
250-500mg BID small
500-750 BID medium
750-1000 BID large
1000-2000 BID giant
Water-soluble-->excess is excreted
ANIMALS’ APAWTHECARY—Standard dosing …
12 drops per 20 pounds—Glycerin-Based Formulations
Cigarette smokes contains cadmium--> promotes urinary stone formation
1) Vitamin B6—lowers production & excretion of oxalates:
2-10 mg/day small, 10-20 mg/day medium, 30 mg/day large, 40 mg/day giant
2) Magnesium—low levels increase calcium oxalate stone formation (phenonomena seen w/Struvite diets)
Lose Mg in stress situations, sulfate form can cause loose stool
50 mg SID small, 100 mg SID, medium, 300 mg SID large, 400 mg SID giant
3) Glucosamine—inhibitors of growth & aggregation of Ca+ oxalate crystals,
250-1000mg BID, NO side effects
4) Corn Silk—anti-inflammatory, diuretic properties, removes gravel from urinary tract
Infusion for large (1-2 oz) and giant (3-4 oz) dogs QID initially then BID
NO known side effects, prolonged use can irritate bladder
5) Gravel Root—powerful solvent, can be used alone or in combination, NO known side effects
Decoction-->3 ml TID small, 5-10 ml TID medium, 1-2 oz TID large, 3-4 oz giant
6) Wild Carrot—highly valuable for gravel, stricture or any obstruction in urinary tract, “ace in the hole”
No side effects, can be given to rabbits too
Infusion-->3-5 ml B-TID small, 5-10 ml medium, 15-20 ml large, 1 oz giant
What to Feed Your Unique Doberman for optimal health
Is your young adult or adult Doberman hyperactive, does he chase his tail bite at imaginary friends or run crazily thru the house and yards acting like a RACE HORSE?
Well, let me ask you... Are you Feeding your Puppy or Adult Unique Doberman like a Race Horse!
We here at Unique Dobermans feed a grain free high quality kibble along with steamed Normandy vegetables, cottage cheese, scrambled eggs, raw and cooked meat, pressure cooked poultry bones and all and any other high quality and unprocessed food. Our kibble is from Costco, their puppy food in the blue bag. We have also sucessfully fed our puppies Taste of the Wild.
Keep your Unique Doberman puppy in a healthy weight, if you don't know what that is please take him to your veterinarian, or better yet keep in close contact with your breeder (ME), you don't want an overfed puppy as it could lead to bone growth issues, nor do you want your puppy's growth stunted by being feed too little.
A Unique Doberman puppy will grow very rapidly, keep organic coconut oil on hand and give him a tablespoon over his food each day, this will help his coat and help keep his heart healthy as well as provide extra energy for those fast growing days.
Our Unique Dobermans are "Ranch" dogs first and foremost!
They run and hunt each day on our acreage where they may find a variety of dinner menu ideas running around.
Raw meat is natural and healthy for our Dobermans. We feed lots of raw beef with the bone on, this is great for our dogs coats and teeth. Big hardy bones give our dogs plenty of exercise and is a natural stress reliever.
We also "Free Feed" our active Dobermans. Each bedroom has fresh water in an auto water which comes directly from our 280 foot deep well, and each bedroom also holds a 35 lb bag of high quality kibble either from Natures Domain (grain free) or Taste of the Wild. (not ever more than 28% protein)
Our Dobermans are also feed steamed vegetables with pressure cooked poultry each week.
Each Unique Doberman is an individual with different needs and each is feed accordingly.
Our treasured mothers are fed a high quality diet which resembles our puppy diet.
Help! My Puppy Has Papilloma Viruse Warts
The most common methods of Natural Wart Removal include:
Home remedies for warts
EPA Announces Voluntary Cancellation of Toxic Chemical in Flea Collars
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Friday that it has reached agreement with two major pet product companies to cancel flea and tick pet collars containing the insecticide propoxur. The agreement, with a long phase-out period, was reached between the agency and the two companies as a result of EPA’s risk assessment in fall 2013, which found unacceptable risks to children from exposure to pet collars containing propoxur.
The agency found that children were exposed to propoxur pet collars on the first day following application. Flea and tick collars work by leaving a pesticide residue on dogs’ and cats’ fur, which can be transferred to people by hugging, petting, or coming into contact with the pets. The major source of exposure to these chemicals is from absorption through the skin after directly touching the treated pet. Small children may ingest pesticide residues when they touch a treated cat or dog and subsequently put their hands in their mouth.
Under the cancellation agreement, Sergeant’s Pet Care Products, Inc. and Wellmark International will have until April 1, 2015 to continue producing the pet products containing propoxur under the trade names Bansect, Sentry, Zodiac and Biospot, and can continue to distribute them until April 1, 2016. EPA states that it will continue to watch for incidents from the use of these collars and is prepared to take further action if necessary.
Though this is a remarkable step towards removing a harmful product from the market, the extended phase-out period continues to allow children to be exposed. In fact, EPA has an astounding history of negotiated multi-year phase-outs with industry. As seen in other EPA decisions, cancellation of a toxic pesticide does not mean that the chemical would be removed from the market, but it is allowed to linger on the market for years continuing to threaten human health and contaminate the environment.
Propoxur is a carbamate insecticide first registered in the U.S. in 1963 for the control of household pests. Despite the fact that it was banned in 2007 for indoor uses to which children would be exposed, it remained widely used in flea and tick collars. EPA completed the propoxur pet collar risk assessment in fall 2013 in response to a 2009 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) petition to cancel the uses.
A 2011 study published in the journal NeuroToxicology found a positive link between exposure to the pesticide propoxur and poor motor development in infants. At the age of two, children exposed to propoxur in the womb experience poor development of motor skills, according to a test of mental development. Propoxur can be very dangerous to humans and the environment. Common symptoms of poisoning include malaise, muscle weakness, dizziness, and sweating. Headache, nausea, and diarrhea may also result. EPA considers propoxur a possible human carcinogen, while the state of California classifies it as a known human carcinogen. Propoxur is also highly toxic to beneficial insects such as honey bees as well as crustaceans, fish, and aquatic insects.
Source: EPA Press Release
#1 Weed and Feed Products Threaten Human Health, and are Especially Dangerous For Children
A growing body of scientific evidence continues to confirm the widespread health
effects of Weed and Feed products. 2,4-D, the pesticide in most Weed and Feed products,
is a neurotoxicant and contains half the ingredients in Agent Orange. Studies show that
exposure to 2,4-D is associated with neurological disorders, reproductive problems,
kidney/liver damage, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other cancers, and disruption of
the endocrine (hormonal) system.1 Children are especially at risk for increased
exposure to Weed and Feed since they play on lawns for extended periods of time and
put their hands and other objects into their mouths.2 In general, children are most
susceptible than adults to pesticides because they take in more chemicals relative to
their body weight than adults and they have developing organ systems that are more
vulnerable and less able to detoxify chemicals.3 Endocrine disruptors are of particular
concern for children because, depending on timing, minute doses can effect the
function of cells and tissues and cause problems during critical growth stages.
Disruption of the endocrine system is associated with a range of developmental
problems including deficient brain function, learning disabilities, and other problems.
Exposure to herbicides such as 2,4-D is not limited to the outdoors. Studies have
shown that lawn chemicals drift and are tracked indoors where they may remain in
carpets and on surfaces for up to a year when not exposed to direct sunlight.4 A single
turf application of 2,4-D can remain inside the home at exposure levels ten times
higher than pre-application exposures.5 In a 2003 study of indoor air toxins, 2,4-D was
detected in the dust of 63% of sampled houses.6
#2 Weed and Feed Hurts Dogs and Wildlife
2,4-D has been shown to have negative impacts on a number of animals. Studies have
found that dogs whose owners use 2,4-D lawn products are twice as likely to develop
canine malignant lymphoma.7 The latest EPA assessment of 2,4-D acknowledges the
susceptibility of dogs to poisoning by 2,4-D and other lawn pesticides but does not
propose any label warnings to users.8 Wildlife is also negatively affected by Weed and
Feed. Exposure to 2,4-D has shown to reduce hatching success and cause birth defects
in birds.9 Studies also show 2,4-D products to be toxic to earthworms that are vital to
healthy soil, and to have negative impacts on beneficial insects, such as honeybees,
predatory beetles, and ladybugs. 10,11
#3 Weed and Feed Pollutes Drinking Water Sources
Since Weed and Feed combines a fertilizer and an herbicide, it directs the user to spread
the herbicide throughout the lawn instead of just where weeds are present. Most users
are believed to overuse Weed and Feed products, not realizing that it actually contains a
pesticide or just by thinking that more is better. This is exacerbated by the fact that
only around half of households actually read and follow the label carefully when
using pesticides and fertilizers.12 Since 2,4-D is highly mobile in soil13 the overuse of
Weed and Feed products leads to runoff that contaminates groundwater and
watersheds. Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey show 2,4-D is the number one
herbicide most frequently detected in streams and shallow ground water throughout
the country from home and garden use.14 2,4-D has also been detected in groundwater
in at least five states and Canada.15 Partially due to the problem of overuse and water
contamination, the Canadian Medical Association passed a resolution calling for the
ban of Weed and Feed products.16
#4 Local Governments Are Calling For a Ban on Weed and Feed
As part of EPA’s assessment of 2,4-D for reregistration in March 2005, the public was
able to submit comments. Over 1000 letters calling for the cancellation of Weed and Feed
products were received by the agency including some from local governments and
state and local agencies such as Seattle Public Utilities, the California Regional Water
Quality Board, Clark County(Washington), and King County(Washington).17
#5 We Don't Need Weed and Feed
Weed and Feed is not an effective solution to weed maintenance. It can actually damage
the health of lawns by harming microorganisms, beneficial insects, and earthworms
that are essential to maintaining healthy soil and therefore, healthy turf. Typically,
weeds cover a small fraction of lawn area, and any herbicide applied to weed-free
areas is wasted. Even if a lawn contains as much as 50% weeds, then half of the
herbicide is unnecessary and contributes to runoff and health risk without providing
any benefit. There is no need to expose the public to this toxic chemical in the water,
the air and the soil when safe and effective alternatives exist. Examples of alternatives
to 2,4-D include corn gluten as a safe pre-emergent general herbicide, vinegar to
selectively kill certain weeds, weeder machines that simply use hot water or heat, long
handled mechanical weed pullers, and pulling out weeds by hand. Natural organic
fertilizers or slow-release fertilizers help to maintain a healthy lawn.
Doberman – Melanoma, Lipoma, Histiocytoma, Fibroma, Myxoma, Primary brain tumor
Your pet’s chances of acquiring both bladder cancer and lymphoma dramatically increase if your pet is exposed to certain lawn and garden products. The lawn and garden care chemical most notorious for being toxic is called 2, 4-D, and is almost surely in your weed killer product among others. Aside from 2, 4-D, you’ll want to avoid products with Carbary, Pronamide, Chlorothalonil, or Maneb, common pesticide components which seem to correlate closely with increased cancer risk.
According to the report “Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: What We Can Do Now” by the President’s Cancer Panel established in 1971): “The entire U.S. population is exposed on a daily basis to numerous agricultural chemicals, some of which are also used in residential and commercial landscaping. Many of these chemicals have known or suspected carcinogenic or endocrine disrupting properties. The EPA has required testing of less than 1 percent of the chemicals in commerce.”
Pesticides and Autism:
Mount Sinai is leading an effort to understand the role of these toxins in a condition that now affects between 400,000 and 600,000 of the 4 million children born in the United States each year.
"A large number of the chemicals in widest use have not undergone even minimal assessment of potential toxicity and this is of great concern," says Dr. Landrigan. "Knowledge of environmental causes of neurodevelopmental disorders is critically important because they are potentially preventable."
CEHC developed the list of ten chemicals found in consumer products that are suspected to contribute to autism and learning disabilities to guide a research strategy to discover potentially preventable environmental causes. The top ten chemicals are:
4. Organophosphate pesticides
5. Organochlorine pesticides
6. Endocrine disruptors
7. Automotive exhaust
8. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
9. Brominated flame retardants
10. Perfluorinated compounds
In addition to the editorial, the other four papers also call for increased research to identify the possible environmental causes of autism in America's children. The first paper, written by a team at the University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee, found preliminary evidence linking smoking during pregnancy to Asperger's disorder and other forms of high-functioning autism. Two papers, written by researchers at the University of California -- Davis, show that PCBs disrupt early brain development. The final paper, also by a team at UC -- Davis, suggests further exploring the link between pesticide exposure and autism.
A study presented in the January 2012 issue of the journal Environmental Research concluded that exposure to professionally applied lawn pesticides was associated with a significantly (70 percent) higher risk of canine malignant lymphoma (CML).
It’s a broad conclusion and light on specifics. The case-control study, conducted between January 2000 and December 2006 at the Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, was structured around a 10-page questionnaire that was mailed to dog owners who were having their pets treated at the Foster Hospital; the resulting data came from the owners of 266 dogs with confirmed cases of CML and 478 dogs in two control groups (non-CML cases).
The questionnaire was not included in the article; a summary stated that it covered a wide variety of data considerations, including breed, weight, medical history, and the types of chemicals used in the home. The characteristics of the CML cases did not vary much from the controls, other than in the weight category (the CML dogs tended to weigh more than 50 pounds). Exposure to types of flea and tick products and frequency of administration was similar among the groups, as was overall exposure to lawn care products.
What did show cause for concern was that the CML cases were more likely to live in homes that reported professionally applied pesticides and herbicides, though the results were only marginally significant for the herbicides. Exposure to other types of professionally applied lawn care products was not associated with increased risk. There was an increased risk, however, for dogs who live in homes where owners applied lawn-care products containing insect growth regulators – substances that inhibit the development of insect eggs and larvae.
One disappointment: specific lawn care chemicals or insect-growth regulators were not identified. Instead, the umbrella categories of herbicide, pesticide, insect growth regulators, fungicide, rodenticide, and fertilizer were used. It could be that some of these chemicals are already designated as known carcinogenics. The article notes that studies evaluating frequency of exposure and exposure dose are needed; thus it appears that the researchers did not determine which chemicals the dogs were exposed to, in what quantities, or for how long.
Also disappointing was the fact that genetic factors were apparently not considered as part of the study. Three-fourths of the CML dogs were classified as purebred, as was the control group. The incidence rate of CML is not the same for all breeds; increased risk has been reported for several breeds including Basset Hounds, Boxers, Airedales, Golden Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Bulldogs, Bullmastiffs, and Scottish Terriers. This predisposition could indicate an inherited characteristic.
Like the canary in the mineshaft, dogs can serve as sentinels for human disease because they are our close companions and are subjected to many of the same environmental influences. Canine cancers have the same biology and behavior as human cancers, and in some cases have identical histology and response rates to treatment. The goal of this study was to identify risk factors for CML from exposure to environmental chemicals in an effort to provide insight to risk factors for humans in developing non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Keep in mind that exposure to lawn care products is different for canines than it is for humans. People can know if a lawn has been recently treated with chemicals and thus avoid it and take precautions when handling such chemicals. Our pets have no such option; their uncovered and unprotected bodies come in direct contact with the environment. They see an enticing outdoor carpet, perfect for rolling around on, running across, playing fetch and wrestling with playmates on, and even ingesting. Dogs have their mouths on everything: themselves (grooming), their playmates, their toys and sticks lying in the grass, and yes, the grass itself. And those mouths can be the conduit from external to internal exposure.
Though more study is needed, the preliminary findings of this study suggest that you can reduce your dog’s risk through the following:
-Don’t use pesticides on your own lawns, or allow lawn-service providers to use them on your property.
-Don’t use lawn care products that contain insect growth regulators.
-Prevent your dog from walking on (or rolling on, eating, etc.) any lawns, unless you are able to determine that absolutely no pesticides are used to maintain them. (Most municipalities are required to make their chemical lawn-care regimens available to the public. It says something about these chemicals that their use is prohibited on most public school grounds.)
– Barbara Dobbins
Minnesota becomes the first state to ban the toxic antibacterial pesticide triclosan in consumer personal care and cleaning products statewide. Read the press release, and learn more about triclosan here.
Dog owners need to realize that many of the common chemical herbicides are responsible for a large number of pet poisonings. Herbicides can have both short- and long-term effects. They can cause an array of problems that range from mild vomiting to cancers and death.
The Environmental Association for Great Lakes Education (EAGLE) sites the “Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association” and the “Journal of the National Cancer Institute” in their conclusion that dogs exposed to lawns treated with herbicides can double their chances of developing canine lymphoma. Herbicide use can increase the risk of canine bladder cancer in some breeds by as much as seven times.
When purchasing herbicides, always read the labels so that you understand the dangers associated with the product. The labels include information about the individual chemicals used in the herbicide and safety information that can help protect you and your pet. The labels also specify the amount of time that you need to keep your pet away from plants that have been sprayed. Pay close attention to this information. It is not there for decoration. It can save your dog’s life.
There are several dangerous chemicals found in herbicides. One is arsenic, which causes vomiting, diarrhea, pains in the abdominal area, coma and death.
Paraquat is another herbicide that has proven to lead to death.
Metaldehyde, which is generally found in snail and slug baits, has been associated with abdominal cramps, vomiting, tremors, seizures and death. One of the big problems associated with this herbicide is the fact that metaldehyde tastes good to dogs.
Disulfoton, which is still used to protect roses, is part of a class known as organophosphates. While many organophosphates have been pulled from the market, disulfoton, which is also used in fertilizers that contain bone meal and blood, attracts dogs. Unfortunately, it is still used despite the fact that it can make pets extremely ill and can lead to death.
Roundup, a commonly used herbicide, also presents dangers to your pets. Dogs exposed to the polyethoxylated tallowamine (one of the inert ingredients) in it can experience extreme vomiting and should be seen immediately by a veterinarian. Follow the directions and do not let your dog walk in areas where the herbicide has been sprayed for at least a day.
Most chemical herbicides are the most dangerous when they are wet. The threat becomes less when the herbicide application dries completely. However, dogs that ingest weeds sprayed with herbicides can still become very ill and death can occur.
Don’t assume that your yard will be safe even if you don’t apply herbicides. Your yard can become contaminated with the chemicals from spray that blows in from a neighboring property. If your municipality has an herbicide spray program, your yard can easily become contaminated from an herbicide application.
If you are on good terms with your neighbors, discuss the dangers of herbicide use with them. If they still insist on using the dangerous chemicals, hopefully they will notify you before they apply them so that you can take the proper precautions. If you know spraying is likely to occur, it is important to keep your dog indoors. Do not let toys or food dishes remain outdoors to become contaminated with the herbicide products.
If your neighbor or municipality embarks on a spraying program, ask that they give you 48 hour’s notice before applying herbicides. This will give you ample time to make arrangements to keep your dog from being exposed.
If you rent a property and the landlord cares for the yard, you need to discuss an herbicide application schedule with the person in charge. Again, ask for advance notice so you can be sure your dog is not outdoors when the spraying is done.
If you suspect that your pet has come into contact with freshly sprayed herbicides, call a veterinarian or pet poison control center immediately. Be prepared to provide as much information as possible so that the vets know how to treat the dog. Different poisons require different antidotes.
Try organic herbicides whenever possible. Vinegar is fast becoming one of the most popular organic herbicides. According to the Sustainable Agricultural Systems Laboratory, which is part of the USDA, vinegar has an 80 to 100 percent kill rate in concentrations of 10 to 20 percent. The vinegar you purchase from the grocery store contains only five percent acetic acid and will not work well as an herbicide. Visit your local garden store or check the Internet for vinegar that has higher concentrations of acetic acid.
You might also try using corn gluten meal in place of chemicals. Corn gluten meal (CGM) is a natural substitute for synthetic pre-emergence herbicides. Pre-emergence herbicides attack seeds while they’re still in the ground, before the seedlings emerge from the soil. CGM is a by-product of commercial corn milling that contains the protein fraction of the corn. Its use poses no health risk to people or animals. In fact, because it is 60% protein, corn gluten meal is used as feed for cattle, poultry, fish, and dogs. In addition to the 60% protein, corn gluten meal is 10% nitrogen, by weight.
Corn gluten meal is a relatively new herbicide that was discovered during turf grass research at Iowa State University. The study showed that corn gluten meal prevented grass seeds from sprouting. The meal works to stop the germination of seeds. It does not kill or stunt existing plants.
Corn gluten meal is available in powder or pellet forms. The meal should be applied late in April or early in May and again in mid-August for best results. The corn gluten meal should be applied at a rate of 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet of lawn. Water lightly after application to activate the corn gluten meal.
As more Americans move toward a greener lifestyle, more information is being published on organic herbicides. Fortunately, more commercial sprayers are offering organic treatments of weedy lawns. Don’t be afraid to ask for natural alternatives.