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The Daily Vet by petMD

The Daily Vet is a blog featuring veterinarians from all walks of life. Every week they will tackle entertaining, interesting, and sometimes difficult topics in the world of animal medicine – all in the hopes that their unique insights and personal experiences will help you to understand your pets.


Few dogs can express their intellectual capacity in a manner that will produce a piece of written work. Bugsy, a Goldendoodle who served as a constant companion to his family and as the brand mascot for Lucky Dog Cuisine (LDC), was one of those special dogs.

Although Bugsy passed away in 2011, his message lives on through Educating Humans on life from a dog’s point of view, an endearing and amusing collection of life lessons for other dogs and their care-taking humans.

Here are a few of my favorites.

On Car Rides

Bugsy holds the popular canine perspective that car rides are great, since "we [dogs] never know where we are going." Even if the trip’s destination is the veterinarian’s office, the ride is likely reminiscent of other outings until the final turn into the hospital’s parking lot.

As modern life is scheduled with numerous responsibilities dictating every waking moment, I appreciate Bugsy’s openness to uncertainty. The simpler existence most dogs lead permits the outlook that each experience is novel and potentially rewarding.

As part of my efforts to live more simply in 2012, I am striving to embody Bugsy’s positive perspective. I’ll start by taking more spontaneous car outings to the adventuresome places enjoyed by my dog, Cardiff. Perhaps a new beach or hiking trail will serve as our uncharted destination.

On Training

Bugsy hails the merits of early, consistent, and positive reinforcement based training. I agree with and embody Bugsy’s directives with Cardiff well into his adulthood. After all, good behavior strengthens the bond between humans and their canine companions.

Bugsy also notes dogs' ability to direct human behaviors typically benefitting dogs' desires. "When I pace back and forth at 5:30, you know it is dinnertime" is reminiscent of Cardiff’s habit of strategically placing a paw onto the person responsible for provision of his food.

On Computers

Bugsy shows remarkable dedication to writing "while [his] peers are all fetching, running in the park, and peeing on hydrants."

Besides being governed by primordial behaviors, Bugsy lists "The Top 20 Reasons Dogs Do Not Use Computers" (courtesy of TopFive.com). My top five favorites are:

5. Too difficult to "mark" every website they visit

4. Three words: Carpal Paw Syndrome

3. Can’t stick their heads out of Windows ’95

2. Can’t keep attacking the screen when they hear "You’ve Got Mail"

1. Butt-sniffing [is] more direct and less deceiving than online chat rooms

On Pizza

Bugsy shares his impressive knowledge of canine anatomy by describing a dog’s ability to detect pizza’s scent via the vomeronasal (Jacobson) organ. This tiny sensory structure is housed in the roof of the mouth just behind the nose and contributes to a characteristic behavior called the flehmen response.

Dogs and other animals exhibit the flehmen response upon detecting substances that stimulate their olfactory (smell) senses, such as pheromone drenched urine. Flehmen distributes the scent across the vomeronasal organ and appears as simultaneous licking, sniffing, and chewing.

I appreciate Bugsy’s instinctual attraction to pizza and frequently strive to maximize my intake of the delicious aroma.

On Spaying and Neutering

Bugsy shares an intriguing perspective that spaying all female dogs would negate the need to neuter male dogs. Such holds true when considering the situation exclusively from a population control perspective.

As a veterinarian, I am always prioritizing the best interest of my patients’ health, so I must mention that intact male dogs are more prone to testicular and prostate tumors and urethral impinging prostate enlargement than neutered male dogs.

Sorry Bugsy, but I think that we must consider both male and female sterilization when it comes to restricting reproduction and prioritizing canine health.

On Vegas

I completely agree with Bugsy’s disdain for Vegas. I just don’t connect with the appeal of "Sin City" (anymore) and the endless options for shenanigans that purportedly stay there.

As most Vegas buildings have "no grass, no windows, and not much room for running…" I feel compelled to make a run for the nearest open field or beach, preferably accompanied by an activity seeking pooch.

On Oprah

Bugsy had the "caninitarian" goal of channeling the power of Oprah to promote better canine health. If only Bugsy had met Oprah and inspired her to proclaim to her devoted legions, "don’t tether your dog, make sure you walk them every day, and feed them whole foods rather than commercial dog food."

As most commercial dog foods contain highly processed, pet grade ingredients deemed unfit for human consumption, I passionately share in Bugsy’s message of whole food feeding as a means of promoting better health.

Why would any pet loving people feed a dog any form of provision that they would not consume themselves? Does Oprah eat her dogs’ food? If they ate Lucky Dog Cuisine, then she’d likely be willing to take a taste.

Thank you, Bugsy, for sharing your insightful perspective. If all humans appreciated your life lessons, the world would be a better place.

Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Image: Bugsy Wonderdog

Comments  7

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  • Spueter
    01/03/2012 07:02am

    "Bugsy shares an intriguing perspective that spaying all female dogs would negate the need to neuter male dogs. Such holds true when considering the situation exclusively from a population control perspective."

    That might be somewhat true of a population control situation, but doesn't neutering male dogs have a tendency to make them less aggressive?

    Before all the breeders jump on me, please note that I'm ASKING, not offering an opinion.

  • 01/03/2012 10:41am

    Thank you for your insightful question.
    In practicing veterinary medicine for nearly 12 years and being a frequent attendee in multidog social situations, I have observed that some male dogs become less aggressive post-neuter, while others do not.
    In the dog park situation, sexually intact male dogs (and females) often attract much attention from other intact and altered dogs. The hormones and pheromones just seem to drive other dogs instincts crazy and aggression emerges.
    From an observational standpoint, it usually seems as though the unneutered male is not at fault in these situations. Yet, their presence directly contributes to the melee.
    If a male dog is aggressive, then I definitely recommend neutering as a means of benefiting society in general.
    Dr PM

  • Caution to your readers
    01/03/2012 11:26am

    Although the pet food company you endorse here attempts to use marketing to set themselves apart, they are still beholden to the regulations and laws that require all pet foods to bear a Nutritional Adequacy Statement. Your readers should be aware that this food is not balanced (ie it does not provide all the essential nutrients dogs need), and as such is must state on the label "Intended for intermittent or supplemental feeding only." If it does not, then it is illegally labeled. This is not uncommon for these inexperienced, niche pet food companies; however, it is unfortunate since pet owners do not realize that feeding such foods long term may cause adverse effects.

  • Meets AAFCO Guidelines
    01/09/2012 05:07pm

    It was interesting to read the comment above re Nutritional Adequacy Statements. It is always good to be concerned about what goes into your pet's food. As one of the founders of Lucky Dog Cuisine I would like to draw your attention to the fact that as stated clearly on our website "Lucky Dog Cuisine is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrition Profiles for all life stages." Our company principals have over 25 years of experience in formulating and manufacturing Pet Food and most importantly we feed only Lucky Dog to our own canine family.

    Suggesting that "niche companies" may cause adverse effects is much like saying all doctors that don't work in hospitals are inferior Doctors. (Just because a follows b does not mean that b caused a)
    Typically the proliferation of niche companies arises because of a need not being filled by the traditional corporate entities. (In this case a lack of "human grade, all-American ingredients)
    Lucky Dog was founded as a labor of love. We are proud of our product and encourage the feeding of "whole food" diets for all dogs. There is a substantial list of reference materials on our site that will validate and substantiate our product to anyone that wishes to take the time to learn. Meeting AAFCO guidelines is just the beginning with us. We have also been tested by both the SC Dept of Ag and independent labs as well.

    Most importantly we pass the common sense test of our own loyal customers. The plethora of recalls of pet foods for things like melamine and exceeding the allowable amount of aflatoxins in dog food make me question, "Why is there an allowable amount of aflatoxins in the first place?

    Do your dog a favor. Learn about what goes into his food and please, if you wouldn't eat it please don't feed it to your dog.

  • Cautionary warning stands
    01/09/2012 11:39pm

    Sigh. Ok, let’s discuss this with the relevant facts, since this has nothing to do with your marketing angle, pet food recalls, your years of “experience in formulating and manufacturing Pet Food”, or whether doctors not working in hospitals are inferior or not (??).

    My apologies for not finding your nutritional adequacy statement, although I looked in the logical places, including under the tabs “Our Menu”, “Nutritional Info”, “About Us”, and “FAQ” and could not find it. I see now that it is on the sidebar of the home page.

    The following assumes that the labels on your website truly represent your products, and that the ingredient list and guaranteed analysis are correct. Considering your product “Tail Waggin’ Turkey”, I estimated the diet has an energy density of roughly 1074 kcal per kg as fed, or about 3978 kcal per kg DM, so assuming the estimate is off a bit and that the density exceeds 4000 kcal per kg DM, you could use either the DM or the calorie content profiles per AAFCO. I have concerns about the concentrations of many essential nutrients in this diet based on the ingredient list, but since calcium is specified in your guaranteed analysis, let’s look at that one.

    The diet has a maximum of 0.37% calcium on a DM basis, or about 1 gram calcium per 1000 kcal (calculated from the label info stating calcium is 0.1% as fed). In order to meet the nutritional profiles for canine all life stages for dogs per AAFCO, the diet would have to provide a minimum of 1% calcium DM, or 2.9 grams calcium per 1000 kcal. Therefore, just based on this one nutrient, which is present in the diet at only 1/3 the required amount, there is no way that this diet is complete and balanced for all life stages let alone for maintenance!

    I didn’t check the other couple of dozen of essential nutrients in every product you make (that’s your job!), but I can say with confidence that the calcium issue in this one diet is not an isolated example, based on the ingredient lists of your products. It’s great that the key ingredient in your diets is “love”, but unfortunately that won’t support optimal health in any animal in the absence of adequate levels of essential nutrients. You should strongly consider getting some help from a qualified nutritionist and/or regulatory expert to correct your apparently illegal labels, or to reformulate your diets to meet AAFCO profiles.

  • 01/26/2012 05:28pm

    Interesting string of comments that have raised as a result of a simple book review.

    So, "Science Matters", who exactly are you and what is your role in the realm of veterinary nutrition? If you work for a company that produces pet food products, I challenge you to eat those foods yourself. If you won't eat the foods that you promote or feed your pets, then you are truly doing a disservice to the animal health community by fostering the notion that pets' overall health benefits from processed food based nutrition.

    First of all, I highly advocate feeding whole food based, human grade dog foods, like Lucky Dog Cuisine, over ANY commercially available dry or canned food. In my 12 years of clinical experience in general, emergency, and holistic veterinary practice, I have witnessed first hand that there is little benefit in animals consuming foods that are so completely devitalized of nature's intended synergy of nutrients as compared to whole food based diets. High heat cooking, fractionating protein/carbohydrate/other components, and added ingredients just so that manufacturers label requirements (hence, the Melamine/Cyanuric Acid food crisis of 2007) are satisfied is counterintuitive to whole food feeding principles.

    The number of patients I see having life threatening and often irreversible health conditions primarily resulting from the short or long term consumption of dry or canned pet grade foods is innumerable.

    With my own pet and patients, repeat laboratory testing results have shown no metabolic deficiencies as a result of ongoing feeding of human grade, whole foods such as Lucky Dog Cuisine.

    Dr PM

  • Let's stay on topic here.
    01/26/2012 11:39pm

    This is bizarre. Dr. Mahaney, you are not addressing the issue here. You are endorsing a private, for-profit company in this blog, and your comments sound remarkably like their marketing: eat it yourself, whole foods are great, human grade, etc. Do you have a conflict of interest to disclose here?

    I am not promoting anything, and I have not stated that any particular feeding method is better than any other. In fact, I couldn’t care less what you or anyone else feeds their pets: raw, kibble, canned, home prepared, etc.

    What I do care about is pet food companies that know what they are doing. I also care about nutrient requirements and whether consumers are getting a healthful, balanced product when they buy pet food. No company should be allowed to mislead consumers on their product labeling or marketing, and that includes stating that their products meet specific nutritional profiles when they very obviously do not.

    This company that has shown here that they have no idea what they are doing with regard to nutritional quality control and abiding by state feed control laws, and yet you continue to support them and endorse their misleading marketing tactics and false statements of nutritional adequacy. Your opinion about kibble along with the rest of your comment is a purposeful diversion, and it's condescending to your readers.

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