1. Correct Canine Bites
  2. Canine Obesity
  3. When to Spay / Neuter Your Dog
  4. Retained Puppy Teeth
  5. Vaccinations

1. Correct Canine Bites

Dental health is important for your dog. Below are the four basic bites that your dog could have. The healthy and correct bite is a scissor bite. Your dog should also have the right number of teeth to help him chew his food. Next time you are at your vet’s ask him to have a look at your dog’s bite, just to be sure. Your vet should do this as part of his annual exam.

You can actually brush your dog's teeth! There are doggie tooth brushes that are available at pet stores. Use doggie toothpaste, not human toothpaste. Twice a week is the suggested frequency for brushing. Alternatively, you can use a medical gauze pad with your finger. The tartar that builds on the incisors can often be removed with your finger nail. Ask your vet to show you. Tartar accumulation, just like on humans, can lead to periodontal problems and bad breath. Another alternative to help keep teeth clean is letting your dog chew beef bones, large enough that they can not be swallowed. You can get raw bones from your butcher. Never feed small or cooked pork or chicken bones. They are prone to splintering that can be dangerous to your dog.

Below is what a correct scissors bite looks like from the front.  Notice the midline of th supper and lower jaws are aligned.  Normally the lower teeth should intersect the upper lateral incisors and upper canines.

2. Canine Obesity

Norwich Terriers are relatively easy to overfeed. They are always at your feet when food is being prepared. Don't be fooled by them telling you they are starving! The main causes of canine obesity are overfeeding and insufficient exercise. Owners should be aware that maintaining fitness and agility, just like for humans, is very important for a beloved pet.Many veterinarians believe canine obesity is the greatest health issue facing our pets. Studies now indicate that obesity can reduce a dogs lifespan by 3 years less then fit dogs!

The following health concerns may occur as a result of obesity:

  • Joint or locomotion difficulties ... Extra pounds put added stress on joints, bones, ligaments and muscles. Conditions such as arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease and ligament ruptures may be caused or aggravated by obesity.
  • Heart and Respiratory Disease ... Heart and lungs have to work harder to provide adequate oxygen and circulation. Also, extra fat in the chest cavity and around the heart muscle can decrease the efficiency of the heart and lungs.
  • Diabetes ... Just like people, diabetes is much more common in obese dogs and cats.
  • Liver Disease ... Obese animals are prone to liver disease.
  • Heat Intolerance ... Insulating properties of excessive fat make obese animals uncomfortable and unable to tolerate heat.
  • Skin Problems ... Obese animals often have trouble grooming themselves. The rolls of skin built up by fat deposits can often harbor dirt, bacteria and other harmful organisms.
  • Gastrointestinal Disorder ... Pancreatitis is seen all too often in obese dogs. This condition is painful and life threatening.

Obesity in dogs is totally controllable by responsible owners when you consider that we control everything that goes into their mouths. The cause of obesity is simple: Intake of dietary energy exceeds expenditure of energy. Unless there is a medical reason, there is really no excuse for morbid obesity in a dog.

How do I check if my dog is overweight?

Correct weight has everything to do with body type.  Norwich, according to the written standard should weigh 10-12 pounds (5 kg). However some body types carry more weight and some less.

To evaluate your dog's weight, the abdomen should be tucked up when the dog is viewed from the side and a prominent "waist" visible behind the ribs when the dog is viewed from the top. Place your hands on either side of your dog's chest. Individual ribs should be easily felt but not seen. If the ribs protrude or are visible, your dog is too thin; if pressure is required to feel the ribs, your dog is overweight.

My dog is too fat what do I do?

Remember that dieting alone will not ensure that your companion will lose weight, but it is THE most important part, probably 3/4 of the solution! The other component is exercise. Combining a good 20 minutes a day of exercise, walking, running, swimming, playing fetch are good ways to get the exercise needed. However, being left in the yard to play is NOT exercise! While you may prefer to change the food your dog eats to something less caloric I would suggest that you don't change the food but rather feed less. Simply reduce the amount by 1/3 per feeding and in two weeks you should see some weight loss...provided you are also exercising your dog. If you don't see any weight loss in two weeks you can reduce the daily feeding by a third again. The greatest failure in dieting dogs is with giving dog cookies that are often highly caloric. Instead substituted dog cookies for a healthy alternative like a piece of carrot or other vegetables.

Lets recap...If your dog is fat:

  • Reduce the amount of food you are giving him.  You control the food, not your dog.
  • Add some exercise to his life a few times a week.
  • Choose healthy alternatives for snacks.

The end result is a happier, healthier companion dog with a higher quality of life for a longer period of time.

3. When to Spay / Neuter Your Dog

In many parts of the world bitches and dogs are not spayed or castrated unless they have reproductive tract issues. In North America this practice of spay / neuter only became popular after WW2 when the increasing affluence of families permitted some animals to be treated as household pets and anesthetics became available to complete the surgery in dogs over 6 months of age. Surgical techniques, new anesthetics and anesthetic monitoring equipment have further advanced making spay / neuter possible in very young animals.

For years there were many advocates for early spay / neuter based on claims of health, behaviour and reproductive control. In fact these recommendations were not based in science: no one has performed a large-scale study in which bitches and dogs underwent spay/neuter at various ages and were tracked throughout life to determine what abnormalities developed relative to age at spay/neuter. New studies now demonstrate that exact opposite results for health and behaviour!

The reality is Science advances its self at a remarkable rate. There is now sufficient evidence to suggest that neuter/spay before six months of age has more disadvantages than advantages. Science now shows that early-age neutering is also associated with several medical problems including long-term negative effects that may impact the dog's health and behavior as it reaches middle age. There is more an more evidence suggesting that early spay of females increases the likelihood of incontinence problems thereafter.

The argument of you doing your part to avoid pet overpopulation is probably the weakest argument. Your dog very likely doesn’t roam freely. The majority of the dogs at the pound were intentionally mated.

We recommend that you read Dr. Chris Zink’s article on spay/neuter for a first hand look at her findings. http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/spay_neuter_considerations_2013.pdf   The study has been updated in 2013. While the article is titled for canine athletes, these finding benefit every dog.

Here is another link that is more comprehensive by Dr Ron Hines http://www.2ndchance.info/spayneuter.htm 2013 Study - Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0055937

So, when should you spay/neuter your puppy?

To be fair, each situation should be assessed individually. Read the articles linked above to make an informed decision. Our point is science advances. The reasons we did things in the past may no longer be valid with new information.

We now strongly recommend:

  • Males:
    • Do NOT neuter your male dog. Dogs neutered before puberty (generally age 6 months) tend to grow a bit bigger than dogs neutered after puberty (testosterone is involved in the causing bones to stop growing so without testosterone the bones stop growing later). Norwich Terriers are not aggressive breeds so there is no reason to early neutering...and the studies show neutering does not effect behaviour except perhaps make the dog more lazy.
    • If you don’t believe the science, then do a vasectomy. The dog gets the benefit of the testosterone but cannot reproduce.
  • Females: Females dogs are more likely to have chronic problems if spayed at a very young age. At a minimum wait two heat cycles. Ideally wait until the female is 5 years old.

4. Retained Puppy Teeth

Above is is a retained deciduous tooth. Normally the (baby) deciduous tooth's root is resorbed, making room for an adult tooth. Then the baby tooth falls out. Should this fail, the adult tooth may deviate from it's normal position, producing malocclusion. The resulting double set of teeth overcrowds the dental arch, causing food to become trapped between the teeth, leading to early periodontal disease. A double set of roots may also prevent normal development of the socket, and erode periodontal support around the adult tooth, resulting in early tooth loss. A retained deciduous tooth should be extracted as soon as an adult tooth is noted in the same area as the baby tooth. This usually happens naturally.  If it does not an extraction should be performed early so as not to effect the normally position of the adult tooth .

5.  Vaccinations

For years, the pricing structure of veterinarians has misled clients into thinking that the inherent value of an annual office visit was in the "shots." The value is in the physical exam of your companion. Twelve months of your pet’s life is equivalent to approximately 7 years for you and I. We take our children to the pediatrician more than every 7 years. Hopefully we see our own M.D. more often than every 7 years for a physical. Most men over 40 know their blood pressure and their cholesterol levels. Most women over 40 have a mammogram. The point is early detection of treatable diseases can provide a longer and higher quality of life for our beloved family member, our dogs.

Vaccines are not harmless. Avoiding unnecessary vaccinations can minimize unnecessary side effects and adverse events. Our dogs now have access to the best medical care in the history of veterinary medicine. Following the initial puppy immunization series, dogs should be boostered one year later and then every three years thereafter. However an annual check-up is always a good practice to assess the general health of your dog. We do a “titers test” which checks the levels of immunization to ensure that we are not over vaccinating our dogs. For adults over 7 years of age chances are there is no need to vaccinate the dog any more since the immunization levels should be more than adequate, and in fact unnecessary. We recommend a "titers test" to see the levels of immunization that your dog has built up over his lifetime. This should simply confirms that vaccination is no longer necessary.

According to the most recent studies, the findings of which are supported by the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Association of Feline Practitioners, and 22 Schools of Veterinary Medicine, the duration of immunity for vaccines for diseases like rabies, distemper, and parvovirus have been shown to be 7 years. More importantly it has been scientifically proven that, after the initial series, when vaccines are re-administered the immune status of the patient is not enhanced. Antibodies from the initial vaccine block the subsequent vaccines from having any effect. Although the true interval at which re-administration of Rabies, Distemper, Parvovirus, Adenovirus and Para influenza vaccinations will enhance the immunity in a significant number of dogs has not been determined, an arbitrary compromise interval of every three years has been agreed upon. It is the consensus of immunologists and experts that the duration of immunity is much longer and probably the life of the patient. This three-year compromise interval will greatly reduce the number of antigens administered, and therefore the risk of adverse reactions, while providing the most complete protection against preventable diseases possible.

We subscribe to the 2011 Minimal Use Small Animal Vaccination Protocol advocated by the American Animal Hospital Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association and now taught at all 27 North American of the University Veterinary Teaching Hospitals.

“The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Vaccination Guidelines (supported by the British Columbia Veterinary Medical Association2) and the World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s (WSAVA) Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats both recommend that core vaccines should be administered at intervals of every three years or longer 7,8. They both acknowledge that studies have shown that duration of immunity is up to seven years for some vaccines. 7,8 (See and www.dogsafe.ca/vaccinations)

See also articles on canine vaccinations by Dr Jean Dodds

Your vet should be very knowledgable on the geographical risks of your environment to your dog and suggest other vaccines as appropriate. Based on the protocol above, we suggest the following:

"Core" Recommended Vaccinations

  • RABIES: Wait until puppy is 6 months old before puppy receives a rabies vaccination. One-year later puppy should get a second rabies shot but this should be a three-year rabies vaccination vice the more common annual rabies shot. This is to protect your puppy from over immunization. Rabies vaccinations should not be given in conjunction with any other vaccines. The suggested period is + two weeks between shots. Use only killed rabies, highly aduvanted.
  • DISTEMPER AND PARVOVIRUS , MLV: The puppy shot series provides lifelong immunity for these viruses. Use the modified live virus.
  • HEPATITIS (Adenovirus)-(CAV2): This is one of the agents known to cause “kennel cough”. Only Vaccines with CAV 2 should be used as CAV-1 carries the risk of “hepatitis blue-eye”. Use the modified live virus.
  • BORDETELLA – PARAINFLUENZA: Commonly called "kennel cough," this vaccine is recommended only for those dogs in obedience training, boarded, groomed, taken to dog shows, or for any reason housed where exposed to a lot of dogs. The intranasal vaccine provides more rapid onset of immunity with less chance of reaction. Immunity requires 72 hours and does not protect from every cause of "kennel cough" or every serovar of bordetella. Immunity to bordetella is of short duration (4-6 months), so vaccination should be repeated as needed. Use the intranasal application.
  • HEARTWORM: There are a great number of heartworm preventative medicines available. We have found that “REVOLUTION” has had particularly good results with our dogs. It also protects against fleas, ticks, ear mites and a host of other common parasites. Consult your vet.

"Non Core" Not Recommended Vaccinations

CANINE CORONA VIRUS: Canine corona virus is only a disease of puppies less than six weeks of age. It is a rare, self-limiting disease (i.e. dogs get well in 3 days without treatment). Corona virus does not cause disease in adult dogs. TAMU, Colorado State, University of California at Davis, Cornell University and Texas A&M University have only diagnosed one case each in the last 7 years. For a veterinarian to make a diagnosis of Corona Virus based on clinical signs is highly presumptive. Only electron microscopy of feces can verify the presence of canine corona virus. This is only done at places such as Texas A & M Diagnostic Laboratory, and they report no positive tests. The presence of the virus does not indicate it is the cause of disease. Dogs over 6 wks of age cannot be experimentally induced to exhibit disease from corona virus. This is age related immunity. Immunologists have reason to believe that the vaccine does not work. We see no justification for the use of corona virus vaccine.

LEPTOSPIROSIS: Owing to recent severe adverse reactions in puppy Norfolk and Norwich Terriers, we request that you refrain from administering leptospirosis vaccine until your puppy reaches adulthood (+1 year old) and then only if it is a risk in your area (currently includes Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio). The risks of side effects outweigh the benefits. Please be sure to tell your veterinarian when you make the appointment and again at the visit. Leptospirosis is a common cause of adverse reactions in dogs ranging from life threatening anaphylactic reactions to mild facial swelling and urticaria. It is an infection of the kidneys and liver. Dogs and people get it from contact with urine from rats, raccoons, cows and pigs. The risk of contagion from dogs to humans is very low. There is considerable debate among veterinarians whether this vaccine is effective at all.

LYME BORRELIOSIS: Lyme vaccine is not considered a core vaccine because lyme is considered a limited, regional disease. There are concerns regarding immune-mediated complications from this vaccines use which have neither been substantiated or refuted to date. Lyme vaccine may give owners a false sense of security and make them lax regarding tick control in general, leaving animals at risk for other tick-borne diseases. We suggest using this only if you are in a high risk area.

GIARDIA: The Giardia vaccine will diminish oocyst shedding and possibly clinical signs associated with infection, but not the infection itself. The vaccine is not considered to be zoonotic, even though humans are commonly affected. Management, hygiene, and treatment (fenbendazole) are preferred control methods over vaccination. Giardia is not recommended as a core vaccine because:

  1. Efficacy of Vaccine unsubstantiated by independent studies.
  2. IgA mucosal antibodies? Immunity against a complex organism?
  3. Natural infection does not provide immunity.

As I have said in other articles ... the science constantly improves.  It is well worth educating yourself on the best protocols for your companion, in your geographical area.  This is a very passionate debate for many veterinarians.  At the very least "google" and read the latest small animal vaccine protocals.  Here are a few links that support a minimalist view.


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