What Should I Feed My HALO Rescue?

In order to ensure a long and healthy life for our mill rescues, HALO expects our adopters to provide good quality diets for the dogs they adopt. Generally, the lowest price dog foods are the lowest quality. However, you don’t have to buy the most expensive food to get good quality. There are many good quality dog foods at reasonable prices. Also, Havanese eat only a small amount of food due to their size so even an otherwise expensive food won’t be very costly. 

There are 2 basic types of commercialized dog food – canned and dry. When you read the list of ingredients, the protein source should be highest on the list. Optimally, you want there to be a high quality meat source and not meat byproducts (which are unspecified parts left over after animals are slaughtered). At the top of the ingredient list, you want to see a specific named protein source such as beef, chicken, lamb, fish, veal, etc. Low quality foods sometimes don’t identify the sources and may put “meat” or “animal” instead. The next ingredient in a good quality food will likely be a meat source that has the word “meal” after it. Grain-free food is optimal for many dogs. If there are any grains, these should be whole grains and grains should not be used as cheap filler. Corn, which is often used as a cheap filler, should be avoided. As well, look for a food that is not preserved with chemicals and has no artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. 

If fed a dry kibble, Havanese often need a “small bites” choice in order to chew and digest their food properly. Be aware that Havanese may skip a meal and do not always finish their meals. It is important not to switch foods every time this occurs. (None of our rescues have ever starved with a bowl of food available to them.) Havanese should be fed twice a day because their small size makes it difficult for their blood sugar to stay at the right level if they are only fed once. You should confer with your vet as to the amount of food that will keep your dog at a healthy weight. 

Many of our HALO owners feed their dogs a raw diet, either commercially prepared or homemade. This can be a very high quality, healthy choice. If you choose this type of diet, and particularly if you use homemade food, you should fully research this so as to ensure a proper balanced diet with the necessary vitamins and minerals. Dogs’ nutritional needs are very different from those of humans. 

There are some non-profit groups that analyze dog food and provide recommendations as to which brands provide the most nutritional benefit. It is noteworthy that many of the “big name” brands that are found in grocery stores consistently receive failing grades from these groups because of having meat by-products and corn. These brands are on the “worst food” section of websites that analyze dog food: Purina, Science Diet, Iams, Beneful, Kibble ‘n Bits, Alpo, Pedigree, Gravy Train, Iams.

The following are foods typically ranked highly, as being among the best dry dog food: Blue Buffalo Wilderness, Wellness Core, Artemis, Acana, Orijen, Taste of the Wild, Fromm – Grain Free line, Merrick, Solid Gold Naturals, Canidae and Northwest Naturals. 

We recommend you look at www.dogfoodadvisor.com and review the foods they list as either 4 or 5 star foods. This is a free resource provided by a non-profit group. As well, learn how to figure out if a food is high quality or not for yourself. Remember too that even if a particular food is a highly rated, it may still not be the best choice for your particular dog. Some dogs have sensitive stomachs or special dietary needs. There are articles on www.dogfoodadvisor.com giving advice on special diets too. 

Another good resource is the online and print magazine Whole Dogs Journal. They do charge a subscription fee to receive their publication in print, but you can often access past years’ “approved food” lists for free.

It’s important to also be careful about the treats you give – make them high quality too and limit the amount. Many of our HALO members have found that their dogs enjoy bits of raw or cooked vegetables as treats. These add almost no calories and lots of crunch. Some of the favorites include the crunchy bits of romaine lettuce, red peppers, baby carrots, cut up bits of broccoli stems, cucumber and celery. Fruit can also be a great treat although it does have more calories so it should be given in limited amounts. Please remember that grapes/raisins are toxic to dogs and should never be given. 

Overall, remember that the food you give your rescue is one of the most important factors you control that determines his/her health, energy and longevity. 


Vaccinating Your Dog

Research has clearly shown that vaccines protect dogs for longer than previously believed and in many cases for life. As well, there is increased awareness and concern that vaccination is not a risk-free procedure – there is a real risk that dogs may have an allergic reaction to a vaccination or may develop serious health problems as a result of it. It is now clear that annual core vaccines should not be given.

HALO endorses the vaccine protocol set out by Dr. Jean Dodds (see the end of this article), a nationally recognized and eminent veterinarian who does research into vaccine protocols. Our mission to provide our rescues with a healthy and safe life includes ensuring that they are not over-vaccinated and receive only those vaccines necessary for their good health or required by law. We expect our adopters to take on this task. If you have a vet who continues to insist on annual vaccines, you need to question them or find another vet. If you would like further articles or information to share with your vet, please feel free to contact us.

The American Animal Hospital Association issued a set of canine vaccine guidelines to assist veterinarians in making appropriate recommendations for their patients. These guidelines were first released in 2003, and then revised in 2006 and 2011. The guidelines separate vaccines into “core” and “non-core” groups and make recommendations for each group.

Core vaccines are those that give protection against diseases that are very serious or potentially fatal, and that are found in all areas of North America. The diseases are easily transmitted. Core vaccines are the following: distemper, adenovirus, parvovirus and rabies. The AAHA recommends that after the initial series of core vaccines as a puppy and at one year, that core vaccines are administered every 3 years. Rabies administration is a matter of state law and generally must be done every 3 years (though some states have a one year requirement). It’s important to reiterate that the American Animal Hospital Association DOES NOT recommend annual core vaccines and this has been the case for over 10 years.

Many animal health experts believe that boosters every 3 years are unnecessary. They recommend conducting titer testing (a blood test) every 3 years to check the dog’s antibody levels. If the titre shows low immunity for a particular disease, they recommend giving only that vaccine, and not a combination vaccine which they feel needlessly exposes dogs to additional health risks. They point out that in doing titer testing; most pet owners will find that their dogs never need a booster and that the original vaccination series will protect the dog for life. Titre testing is endorsed by HALO. It enables you to use vaccines only when it is necessary so that you avoid the serious consequences that can occur due to overvaccination.

Noncore vaccines, which are the following: kennel cough, Lyme disease and leptospirosis, are those for which the AAHA felt a decision to vaccinate or not should be made on an individual basis, based on the recommendation of a veterinarian. The issues to consider include age, breed, current health, living environment, travel habits, as well as the possible effects of the vaccine and the ability to treat the disease. The leptospirosis vaccine leads to more reactions than any others, including serious and/or fatal reactions especially in small dogs. As well, these three diseases can be treated with antibiotics. Most vets do not recommend leptospirosis vaccine for Havanese.

We speak to veterinary offices all over the country while arranging for the care of our rescues. This past year, we asked a number who indicated they still do annual vaccines why they do it. Here are some of the answers we got:

•    It’s a way to get clients to bring their animals in for a check-up

•    We’ve always done it this way

•    I don’t think it causes health problems

•    The vaccine manufacturers recommend it

We have also found that some veterinary offices charge very high amounts for titering (remember this only involves taking blood and testing it in a lab). Dr. Dodds owns a lab in Southern California that charges approximately $50 to titer for the core vaccines. You can ask your vet to ship your dog’s sample to this lab for testing. You can also ask if it would be more cost effective to use a veterinary university lab. Although titering every 3 years will cost more than revaccinating, remember that revaccinating can be very costly when health problems result! If you need help or advice in understanding or arranging for titering, please speak to us.

In summary, there is no good reason for annual core vaccines – and by doing so, you may cause serious health problems. Our organization has had dogs become very ill or even die from overvaccination. This is a very important issue for us.

2016 Dodds Vaccination Protocol for Dogs

9 - 10 weeks of age
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV
e.g. Merck Nobivac (Intervet Progard) Puppy DPV

14 – 15 weeks of age
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV

18 weeks of age
Parvovirus only, MLV
Note: New research states that last puppy parvovirus vaccine should be at 18 weeks old.

20 weeks or older, if allowable by law
Rabies – give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines

1 year old
Distemper + Parvovirus, MLV
This is an optional booster or titer. If the client intends not to booster after this optional booster or intends to retest titers in another three years, this optional booster at puberty is wise.

1 year old
Rabies – give 3-4 weeks apart from other vaccines

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian. In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request.

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
Hemopet / NutriScan
11561 Salinaz Avenue
Garden Grove, CA 9284


A Closer Look at Puppy Mills

Puppy mills are large-scale commercial dog breeding operations where profit is placed above the well-being of animals.

The number of dogs in a puppy mill can vary significantly, ranging from 10 to 1,000 breeding dogs. Because not all puppy mills are licensed and inspected, it's impossible to know the true average.

To maximize profits, female dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no recovery time between litters. When they are physically depleted to the point that they no longer can reproduce, breeding females are often killed. The parents of the puppy in the pet store window are unlikely to make it out of the mill alive—and neither will the many puppies born with overt physical problems.

Puppy mills usually house dogs in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions, without adequate veterinary care, food, water and socialization. Puppy mill dogs do not get to experience treats, toys, exercise or basic grooming. Dogs are often kept in cages with wire flooring and it is not unusual for cages to be stacked up in columns. Breeding dogs at mills might spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements, or crammed inside filthy structures where they never get the chance to feel the sun or breathe fresh air.

Tips to Avoid Purchasing a Puppy Mill Dog

Many pet store owners will tell you they get all their puppies from "licensed USDA breeders" or "local breeders." In fact, in order to sell puppies to pet stores, a breeder must be licensed by the USDA. Pet stores often use this licensing to provide a false sense of security to customers, when what it really means is that they do, in fact, get their puppies from puppy mills. Being registered or “having papers” means nothing more than the puppy's parents both had papers. Many registered dogs, as well as pedigreed dogs, are sold in puppy mills. The only way you can be sure that a puppy came from a reputable source is to see where he or she came from yourself. Puppies sold online often come from puppy mills. Responsible breeders would never sell to someone they haven't met because they want to screen potential buyers to ensure the puppies are going to good homes. Never meet a breeder at an off-site location, and never have a puppy shipped to you sight-unseen.

Puppy Mills Across the United States

The highest concentration of puppy mills is in the Midwest, specifically in Missouri, but there are also high concentrations in other areas, including Pennsylvania, Ohio and upstate New York. Commercial dog breeding is very prevalent among Amish and Mennonite farmers. There are typically between 2,000 and 3,000 USDA-licensed breeders (commonly referred to as puppy mills) operating in the United States. This number does not take into consideration the number of breeders not required to be licensed by the USDA or the number of breeders operating illegally without a license. Because so many of these breeders are operating without oversight, it's impossible to accurately track them or to know how many there truly are. The ASPCA estimates that there could be as many as 10,000 puppy mills across the nation.

Puppy Mill Legislation

The federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA), passed in 1966, requires breeders who have more than three breeding female dogs and sell puppies to pet stores or puppy brokers to be licensed and inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In most cases, the standards that breeders are required to meet by law are extremely minimal. Under the AWA, it is legal to keep a dog in a cage only six inches longer than the dog in each direction, with a wire floor, stacked on top of another cage, for the dog's entire life. Conditions that most people would consider inhumane, or even cruel, are often legal.

Unfortunately, 21 states have no laws on the books regulating commercial dog breeders—and a number of states that do require breeders to be licensed and inspected by the state only require commercial breeders to meet USDA standards of care.

(From an article by the Humane Society of the U.S.)