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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vaccine Related Head Tremors in Puppies

White Feather as a puppy just before her first shot and when head tremors began

White Feather at 18 months old. No signs of head tremors since treatment.
Illy as a puppy prior to her second shot at which time the head tremors began.

Illy at 8 months old with no signs of head tremors after treatment.

There have been a few posts on this issue in our blog. The last time the head tremors occurred, there was a very informative email string with a friend also in the Hedlund Husky Preservation project. Instead of paraphrasing or trying to rewrite the entire email string, I am publishing that particular string in its entirety with permission. As in any email string, you'll have to read from the bottom up. Special thanks and appreciation goes out to Thom Swan from Stardancer Kennels and his partner Janice Rollet, CCB.

---Original Message---
Subject: RE: Vaccine related head tremors
Date: Sun, 20 Feb 2011 11:10:43-0900
From: Thomas Swan
To: Linda Newman

The 1 mg per pound recommendation is the MINIMUM recommendation for 5-HTP supplements.  It's better to go higher than to go lower.  If you can't find 50 mg capsules, 100 mg once each day will be OK and still preferable to Melatonin.

You'll need to continue the supplements for at least 1 month but you should not hesitate to continue it longer if  that feels like the right thing to do, based on your observations of her neurological status, development and behavior.

Also, you should delay her third round of vaccinations until at least 3 months of age.  It she were in my kennel I'd probably delay it even longer, but that needs to be weighed against the prevalence of the diseases in your area.

This morning Janece and I discussed the potential genetic link, and the reason I sent so much extra information was because we agree it is a concern that Hedlund owners and especially breeders should be aware of.  Hopefully we can avoid some of the issues by vaccinating late in the recommended schedules and vaccinating judiciously throughout or dog's lives.  We are fortunate that the Stardancers have vets who adopted the AAHA recommendations very early on and have no problem with us following our own schedule (Mark May and Melissa Rouge).  For example, I didn't vaccinate the Torus / Lucky pups against rabies until they were 1 year old, and that was with a 3-year product.  They'll get one more and then we'll most likely run titers rather than follow a systematic schedule.  Rather than vaccinate my "oldsters" Daisy, Gump and Sheenjek, I ran titers on them, filed the results in their health files with a grin, and never needed to stick a needle in them again.

For some kennels, race rules or local laws may demand more aggressive vaccination.

Obviously we can't recommend disobeying the law.   If you do want to consider reasonable acts of civil disobedience I'd suggest you be very cautious in managing your kennel(s) to ensure that strays or wild animals can't contact your dogs, and be very, very cautious when your dogs are interacting with strangers, especially children.  Keep copies of the recommendations you base your decisions on in case you need to defend those decisions in the courtroom/  Learn the potential legal consequences or disobedience and be prepared to accept those consequences should they arise.  That's the part of Ghandi's philosophy that is often ignored by activists


“A good dog is so much a nobler beast than an indifferent man that one sometimes gladly exchanges the society of one for that of the other.” William Francis Butler

On Feb 20, 2011, at 10:14 AM, Linda Newman wrote:

This is all excellent information, Swanny. I had forgotten about the link between neurological issues from vaccines and more primitive lines.

Interestingly enough, Illy and White Feather(head tremors after 1st shot at 8 weeks old) seem to be very similar in temperament which could suggest that they were dealt a similar set of genetics which are indeed more primitive than the other pups in each respective litter. WF is Tumac's sister. And, of course, Tumac is Illy's sire.

Clarification - The dosage of the 5-HTP doesn't seem to compute unless I am missing something. You mentioned 1mg per lb then said that it is alright to give them 100mg per day. Illy is now roughly 25lbs.

Then how long is each supplement given? I seem to recall a time frame of two weeks?

I will keep you all updated on Illy's progress.

Thanks again.


On 2/20/2011 12:28 PM, Thomas Swan wrote:
I've added to the address list to more widely share the information.  If I've missed any of our Hedlund group members, please forward it.

Linda wrote "Could you please give me the doses again for the Melatonin and Ester C for the head tremors we discussed over a year ago? I gave puppy shots a week and a half ago (the 2nd round) and began noticing head tremors over the weekend in Illy.  I didn't think we would be dealing with his again. I wonder if it is potentially growing pains in this line that will eventually go away even without the Ester C and Melatonin. I don't want to take the chance, however.

It's good that I was unable to remember the dosages, because it prompted me to ask my partner (certified canine behaviorist Janece Rollet).  It turns out there has been a relatively new scientific development that makes it possible to resolve vaccine related neuro issues a little more quickly.

If you can find 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), also known as oxitriptan, it can be administered rather than melatonin.  Like melatonin, 5-HTP is a precursor to seratonin, but because it is higher on the chain of conversion, its therapeutic effects occur more quickly.  You can learn the most important pharmacological details about 5-HTP at .

The doseage of 5-HTP for puppies is at least 1 mg per pound of weight.  It is better to give more rather than too little.  It is now widely available over the counter as a dietary supplement for humans.  Most commonly you'll find 100 mg capsules, which is fine.  The puppy can have one, 100 mg capsule per day.  If you can find it in 50 mg capsules, you can administer 1 capsule, twice each day to maintain a more consistent blood level.

If all you can find is melatonin, administer 9 mg (thee 3mg capsules) three times each day.

The dosage of Ester C starts at 150 mg per day, and is increased as the puppy's gastrointestinal system adapts to absorbing it.  EsterC is bowel intolerant, so start at 150 mg and watch her stool.  If her stool remains firm, you can increase the dosage in 2 days (or after her stool firms up again), observe again when if you are still seeing firm stool you can increase the dosage again...  and so forth to reach the dose of 500 mg per day.

Neither Janece nor I are veterinarians, but Janece has worked closely with Dr. Jean Dodds for many years and stays current on the related sciences regarding canine vaccinations.  Dr. Dodds has recently posted an updated recommended schedule for vaccinations, which you can see on-line at .  Dr. Dodds is recommending vaccination against distemper and parvovirus at 9 weeks, 12 weeks and between 16 - 20 weeks.  This is a bit later than the schedule recommended by many vets.  She recommend vaccination against rabies at 24 weeks or older (as much older as permissible by law), followed at 1 year of age with a killed, 3-year product and she stressed that rabies vax should be administered no earlier than three to four weeks before or after parvo/distemper vaccination.

She specifically does NOT recommend giving distemper & parvo vax prior to 6 weeks of age and does not recommend corona, leptospirosis, lyme, bretella or giardia at all.  This is consistent with current AAHA and AVMA vaccine recommendations.

All of us in the project need to be aware of vaccine related neuro issues.  Hedlund huskies, like most dogs of near-indigenous origins, are considered to be 'primitive' dogs (as opposed to dogs that are phenotypically removed from ancient genetic stock).  Current scientific evidence suggests the hypothesis that primitive breeds tend to have a more active response to vaccines than the more "sophisticated" types, which can result in a higher incidence of vaccine related neurological issues.

If your vet insists on a more aggressive vaccine schedule, please don't hesitate to remind him or her that the AVMA has adopted the vaccine recommendations of the American Animal Hospital Association, which are available for download at .
Please don't hesitate to print a copy of the recommendation if your vet resists the idea of limiting vaccinations or vaccinating more aggressively than Dr. Dodd's recommendations.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Out of the Heat Twilight Zone


Illy and Aise

Ilo and Zala

Journey still has her huge winter coat!

Sweet Pea is naked, having lost her coat a couple months ago.

Tuloon decides to nurture her grandpuppy this time instead of torment her.

White Feather, Illy and Aise

White Feather and Journey

Wimzi, Oken and Aise

Tuloon dares Illy to get another closer. Every time she does, Tuloon lifts her lips up and snarls.

Illy with Grandma Tuloon in the back ground

Phoenix, Tuloon and Illy

Topa and Aise

70s and breezy today! The dogs and I think that this is the way a good summer day should feel. They were bouncing off the kennel walls this morning, excited about getting out to run and play in this wonderful weather.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Bizzy Honey Bees

Gosh, I wish the table wouldn't have tilted on me.....

Honey Bee in the cone flower

Today was so much nicer than a few days ago when the poor dogs were enduring the heat index of 122. Still hot and humid but not nearly as bad.

It was so nice and the purple cone flower were in full bloom, making it the perfect time to get some new photos for the Scent from Nature website. At the same time, I caught some good photos of the honey bees doing their job.

To see all of the new photos on the website you can visit Scent from Nature.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Heat Index of 122!!

Lounging around in the air conditioning

Klaus is still hot once inside with his winter coat intact

Blueberry doesn't mind the extra company but Copper isn't too happy about it

Klaus watches Topa eat her Nylabone. He's got one too but wants hers!

With the combined temperature and dew point, the heat index was 122 degrees here in central Minnesota today! This has been the absolute worst year for bugs and heat and the sled dogs and I just are down right sick of it all. Who would have thought that Minnesota would ever be having higher dew points than the Amazon!

Those dogs most vulnerable have been staying inside in the air conditioning. That changes from time to time based upon how far along they are in their healing from the bug and heat induced ailments. So far we've had various dog with hot spots sparked by bug bites. Now we've got four dogs on antibiotics and in various stages of healing.

Phoenix is one of the lucky ones to be inside, depending upon how you look at it. Despite aggressive attempts to keep the flies off of his ears, the tip of one has now been eaten to the skin and he needs to remain inside to heal. This dog must have a chemistry that attracts the flies more than others because he is forever having issues when most of the dogs are not even bothered. Sweet Pea had an infection between her shoulder blades at the contact point of the Frontline I put on her several weeks ago. Klaus is one of our older dogs and has yet to begin shedding his winter coat! Topa, although recovered from the hot spot on her head, is now recovering from one on her lower jaw. Then there's Tuloon. She's inside because she's Tuloon.

Tomorrow is predicted to be an even hotter day! Hard to imagine. So three groups of five dogs will take turns being in crates in the air conditioning for several hours at a time with the most vulnerable dogs being inside during the hottest part of the day.

We are supposed to get a cold spell on Thursday when it drops down to 88 degrees. Dew points are also expected to drop drastically.
I sure hope all of this heat and humidity means a long and cold winter.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Illy and Aise (Eye Sha) Update

Look at the legs on that girl!

Illy's front legs need to catch up with the growth of the back ones!

Aise's growth has been fairly even

Illy and Aise

I thought I would include the phonetic pronunciation of Aise's (Eye Sha's) name this time around because the person who named her (me) thought it would be clever to spell it in a cryptic fashion which tends to leave folks confused. Yes, it does look like "Icey" and, well, this is becoming her nickname. So really, either one works.

Aise and Illy are now 7 1/2 mos old. Illy has sprouted some legs but now the front legs need to catch up with the back ones. They are undeniably in the gangly teenager stage, however Aise seems to be growing more evenly than Illy at the moment. Aise is still taller by an inch. She's at 26" at the shoulder while Illy is at 25". Illy still appears to weigh more. They are both very happy, happy girls that are always busy. Tried to separate them at one stage because you'd like them not to get overly attached to each other. Too late. They're way too codependent and it just isn't worth it to separate them now. They do each have a special individual bond with me which is what I was hoping for so if they need to stay together to be happiest, then they will. 

 Despite the heat and humidity yet again, I got an awful lot done in the dog yard today! Since the incident where we thought Klaus ate an entire copper scrubby while we were away and we spent a fortune on an x-ray that told us he did only to find out when we returned and he relieved himself, that it was merely a wad of grass, we no longer use copper scrubbies. We bleach all of the water buckets and wading tubs instead. I did this today. It is really amazing how long the buckets stay free of algae after a bleaching compared with the scrubbie method. What happened to the copper scrubbie, you ask? We believe that it got shredded bit by bit and strewn all over the kennel floor because that is where we found what we believe to be all of the original scrubbie later that night. Thank goodness!

So, bleached the buckets. Then each dog got brushed (all 17 of them!) while they were out in play groups together. Imagine being sweaty from the thick humid air and caked in dog hair! Poop was picked up in the play areas which has needed to be done for days! And finally, fly gunk was installed on the tips of all ears. Those nasty little flies just won't stop. Some dogs seem to have a chemistry that attracts them worse than others. I can put fly gunk on Phoenix and his brother Ari's ears every day and they still seem to get eaten alive by the little buggars!

It seems that we may get a respite from the mosquitoes soon. I called our Metropolitan Mosquito Control (yes, there is such a thing) to report our overabundance and they came out the very next day to take a sample back to the lab for testing. They indicated that if we were over threshold then they would come out and treat for them! Can't believe we wouldn't be over threshold. I can barely go outside without a bug shirt these days.

So, despite our state government shut down where thousands of middle class folks who where probably struggling to stay afloat in the current economy in the first place, have been laid off while the law makers are paying themselves to debate less than an hour every couple of days whether or not anyone making over a million dollars a year deserves to be taxed a little bit more, (don't get me started) the Metro Mosquito Control is in full force. THAT is just how serious these darn mosquitoes are!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Heat, Humidity, Hot Spots and Hungry Mosquitoes!

"Don't get to close to me with that thing on", Oken says.

Ah, Summer; not a favorite time of year for us winter worshipers. To add to our 'misery', this summer has been excessively hot and humid which brought an army of ticks and now a bazillion (Neil likes words like that) little nasty mosquitoes, flies and horseflies that all helped lead to a rash (pardon the pun) of hot spots on our beloved furry companions.

Tuloon had the first, rather large, hot spots that began to appear on her stomach. Once shaved and cleaned, they healed relatively quickly. She didn't seem to mind that she had to spend all of her recovery time in the air conditioning. A small one appeared at the base of baby Aise's tail. This one healed without antibiotics once we shaved the area to allow the air to pass over it, keeping it dry.

Then there's Topa. Although she dislikes the plastic cone around her neck that is there to keep her from scratching her head, she's determined to keep the hot spots that began on her forehead from healing so that she can stay in the house with us. They have managed to heal twice now. All looks well and good and I remove the cone. Within an hour, she has scratched the area bloody yet again. The new strategy will be to keep the cone on her until it not only heals completely but the hair also grows back. This could take a while. She does get a break from the cone for a few hours each night when I can have my eye on her and we're inside. She LOVES this time and spends it locating then hiding all of the little dogs' toys, rolling on the sofa and burying her head in the cushions and playing with little Blueberry by getting as low to the ground as she can then trying to flip him over like a pancake with her head as the spatula. She's a very fun girl.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I now have to put on a bug shirt when I go out to do the dog chores, for the time being. I wish I could suit up each of the dogs so they could also get a respite from the bugs but not sure how long that would last. Do you think it's unrealistic of me to hope for a killing frost in July to put an end to the buzzing little beasts that are wreaking havoc on us all? 

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Bit of History; Coming Full Circle

Judy and Misty
Years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting a delightful and passionate man named Frank Hashek when he come out to adopt a dog we had rescued. He then told me about his "Misty". Frank adopted Misty in her retirement years after she had spent a full life working at Voyageurs Outward Bound in Ely, MN after being transported there as a puppy from somewhere far, far away. The links below will tell  you the story. Misty lived out a wonderful retirement with Frank and his wife Judy and passed away with her new family by her side. I've been fortunate to remain in contact with Frank throughout the years and hear about all of the wonderful things he currently does to change the lives of dogs in need.

Misty's Story (scroll down to "Misty's Tribute)

Misty's Story II

Points Unknown Dog Mushing Adventures 2012

Topa and Wimzi

Topa and Wimzi are happy to announce the 2012 Points Unknown Dog Mushing Adventures! We've got a new exciting remote location to share in the beautiful northwoods of Minnesota as well as adventures only 30 minutes west of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metro area! We're really that close! Click HERE for details.