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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Canine Medical Information [Part 1/2] FAQ

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/medical-info/part1 URL: http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/medical/medical-info.01.html Last-modified: 02 Mar 1998
======= There are many FAQ's available for this group. For a complete listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via the Web at http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/lists/faq-list.html, or via email by sending your message to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with send usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list in the body of the message. This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed. It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s). This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is" without express or implied warranty. ========== Canine Medical Information, Part I Author Cindy Tittle Moore, rpd-info@netcom.com Copyright 1996. Table of Contents * Prologue * Addison's Disease * Anal Sacs * Anesthetics + Why is anesthesia used for OFA X-rays? + How dangerous is anesthesia? + What can I do to improve the odds? * Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) * Breathing Disorders * Bloody Stools * Brucellosis * Canine Parvovirus (CPV) * Chondrodysplasia (CHD or Chd). * Coccidiosis * Deafness * Degenerative Joint Disease * Distemper * Elbow Dysplasia + Osteochondritis Dissecans + Fragmented Coronoid Process + Ununited Anconeal Process + Diagnosis and Registry * Epilepsy * Eye Problems + CEA + PRA + Glaucoma + Cataracts + Retinal Dysplasia + Dealing with Blindness + References * Gastric Dilation and Bloat * Giardia * Heartworms _________________________________________________________________ Prologue Much of the information found in this article is summarized from Carlson & Giffin. I would like to thank them for their informative and accessible information. Any mistakes made in the summaries are my responsibility and not Carlson & Giffin's. I believe that I am within copyright laws by using summarizations (no direct quoting, except for the toxic plants section), my own organization of the material, and precise acknowledgement where relevant. -Cindy Tittle Moore An _excellent_ resource that details all aspects of health issues for dogs, and one that every conscientious dog owner should have is: Carlson, Delbert G., DVM, and James M. Giffin, MD. _Dog Owners's Home Veterinary Handbook (Revised and Expanded)_. Howell Book House, Macmillan Publishing Company, 866 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022 USA (1992, 2nd ed). ISBN: 0-87605-537-4 (hardcover). This comprehensive book is a complete guide to health care of dogs. It lets you know when you can treat the dog, or when you need to take it to the vet post-haste. It lists symptoms so that you may inform your vet of relevant information about its condition. The arrangement of the material facilitates rapid reference. Illustration of key procedures (pilling, taking pulse/temperature, etc). Lists poisonous substances, including houseplants. A must have home veterinarian handbook. Other books/articles that you may find of use include: * Shearer, Tamara S. DVM. _Emergency First Aid for your Dog_ Ohio Distinctive Publishing, Inc., 4588 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43220. * McGinnis, Terri DVM. _The Well Dog Book_, second ed. 1992. * Miller, Harry. _The Common Sense Book of Puppy and Dog Care_. Bantam Books, Third Edition (revised) (1987). ISBN: 0-553-27789-8 (paperback). * White, Darlene, DVM. "Eliminating the Threats of Zoonoses," in Dog World, April 1992 (v77n4); a Maclean Hunter Publication, 29 N. Wacker Dr., Chicago IL 60606-3298. * Hampton, John K. Jr., PhD, and Suzanne Hampton, PhD. _Senior Years: Understanding your Dog's Aging Process_. Howell Book House. 1993. ISBN: 0-87605-734-2. * _Nutrient Requirements of Dogs, Revised 1985_ [there may be a newer revisi on] Published by the National Academcy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20418 This is written by the Subcommittee on Dog Nutrition, Committee on Animal Nutrition, Board on Agriculture, National Research Council. It reads pretty well for something put out by a committee. Lots of references. Lots of tables of nutrient contents of various foodstuffs. Don't expect any discussions of what dog food is best! For the most part, consumers are left to figure this out for themselves. * _The Collins Guide to Dog Nutrition_, 2nd Ed., HOwell Book House 1987. ISBN: 0876054181. * Hart BL. "Effects of neutering and spaying on the behavior of dogs and cats: Questions and answers about practical concerns," in JAVMA 1991;198:1204-1205. * Houpt KA, Coren B, Hintz et al. "Effects of sex and reproductive status on sucrose preference, food intake, and body weight of dogs," in JAVMA 1979; 174:1083-1085. * Johnson SD. "Questions and answers on the effects of surgically neutering dogs and cats," in JAVMA 1991;198:1206-1213. * Marrion, Ruth, DMV. "New Views on Neutering," in _Purebred Dogs/American Kennel Gazette_, April 1992 (pp50-54). There are also many sources of online information about general veterinary matters. The best place to start is Ken Boschert's NETVET site, at http://netvet.wustl.edu/. Some help is available on VETMED, a moderated mailing list in which people ask about adn discuss veterinary problems -- not everyone subscribed is a veterinarian, of course, but quite often people here can point you to where you should look. Email to listserv@iupui.edu with SUBSCRIBE VETMED yourfirstname yourlastname in the body of the message. Be sure to substitute your own first and lastnames in the subscribe command. You can also do research and article searchs at most University libraries: ask the librarian about the following services: Agricola, BIOSIS Previews, CAB Abstracts (produced by Commonwealth Agricultural Bureaux), Focus on Veterinary Science & Medicine (produced by the Institute for Scientific Information). MEDLINE indexes about 60-70 veterinary journals and is a place to start, but is not as comprehensive as the above services. If the library does not have them separately, they are also available on the Dialog service, which most University libraries subscribe to. _________________________________________________________________ Addison's Disease Addison's Disease (hypoadrenocorticsm or adrenocortical insufficiency) is an uncommon but potentially fatal disorder in which the adrenal glands do not secrete enought gluco- and mineralo-corticoids. Without these hormones, death will occur. The symptoms are vague and non-specific, so it's easy for the disease to become life-threatening before it is diagnosed. Symptoms include depression, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, weight loss and shivering. A veterinarian may find decreased mental ability, a slow heart rate, poor pulse quality, and low body temperature. Blood tests may reveal increased kidney indices and electrolyte imbalances of low sodium and chlorine and high potassium. A simple test called ACTH stimulation confirms the disease. Treatment traditionally involves replacing mineralocorticoids with fludrocortisone acetate (Florenef Acetate); glucocorticoids may also be replaced depending on the dog's condition. Dogs tend to be resistant to the desired effects of Florenef, thus high doses are required and side effects include increased thirst, urination, and urinary incontinence in some cases. An experimental drug that may soon be approved for use in animals is desoxycorticosterone pivalete (DOCP, available through Ciba Animal Health) injected subcutaneously. Preliminary studies are encouraging, and details may be found in JAAHA March/April 1995. _________________________________________________________________ Anal Sacs (summarized from Carlson & Giffin) Normally, anal sacs are emptied when the dog defecates. Some dogs with overactive anal glands may require occasional help. Your vet can demonstrate the procedure. A common indication of trouble with anal sacs is "scooting" (dragging the rear on the ground). Impaction: occurs when the anal sacs fail to empty properly. This is more common in smaller breeds. Squeezing the sacs yourself as needed will control the problem. Infection: complicates impaction. There is blood or pus in the secretions, and the dog may scoot (drag its rear on the ground). It may be painful. Check with your vet for an antibiotic you can apply after you empty the sacs. Abscess: Signs of anal infection, with a swelling at the site of the gland. It goes from initially red to a deep purple. You will have to have it lanced and cleaned by the vet. Dogs whose anal sacs become repeatedly infected and/or abscessed will need to have the glands removed. Surgery is uncomplicated, although the dog will have poor bowel control for the next few days after surgery. Try putting a pair of small boy's underpants, with the dog's tail through the third opening, on the dog to contain accidents. _________________________________________________________________ Anesthetics Remember that this is not intended as complete information by any means. Your best source for that is from your veterinarian. Don't be afraid to ask questions. IVC had a great article on anesthesia. How dangerous is anesthesia? While anesthesia is not without risks, it is most certainly not guaranteed death for your dog. Your vet anesthetizes dozens of animals a week without losing them, and your pet should be no exception. There are a number of different anesthetics available, each with their own benefits and risks: Methoxyflurane This is just about archaic and should not be in much use any more. Some vets still use it because it is inexpensive, but it is not as safe as newer anesthetics available today. Halothene Probably the most commonly used. It is a good general purpose anesthesia which is simple to control. A drawback is that it takes animals up to an hour to completely wake up from it and they usually behave sedated for up to another 12 hours. The only real reason to use it now is that it is less expensive than isoflurane. Isoflurane Extremely safe, produces complete anesthesia for any type of surgery and it is not metabolized by the kidneys in the same manner as halothene or methoxyflurane. What can I do to improve the odds? The greatest danger from anesthetics is improper processing of the drug by the dogs metabolism. All these anesthetics are eliminated from the blood stream through the liver and kidneys. Older dogs in particular can have defects in these organs that can cause complications under anesthesia. If you are concerned about this your vet can do a preliminary blood panel to detect potential problems. If your pet has a heart murmur or a respiratory problem make sure your vet is aware of it. These are not necessarily problems during anesthesia, but will allow your vet to make an informed decision should a problem arise. You should also ask your vet if sie knows of any problems peculiar to your breed. Sighthounds in particular are more sensitive to anesthetic and require lower levels to achieve the same effect. Make sure that you keep a complete medical history of your dog and that you take a copy of it with you whenever you change vets. Why is anesthesia used for OFA X-rays? Most Xrays can be taken without any sort of sedation, but OFA Hip X-Rays require certain amount of stretching and twisting of the legs to get the hips into a proper position. Most dogs will struggle from the handling (or in some cases, pain if they are dysplastic), and the resulting X-rays can end up blurred. While for many cases this would be OK, OFA requires very sharp images. It is possible (as has been mentioned here often) to get acceptable X-rays without sedation or anesthetic, but it requires a lot of work and experience along with a cooperative dog and this may miss some borderline cases. Other anesthesia pages * http://www.cvm.okstate.edu/%7EACVA/prevabst.htm * http://everest.radiology.uiowa.edu/spie/paper4/paper4.html _________________________________________________________________ Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) This disease is only partially understood at this time. See also http://www.vetinfo.com/dimmune.html#IMHA. Symptoms include: * pale gums, possibly yellow in severe cases * yellow feces (from bile pigments) * red or orange-brown urine (but may look normal) Procedures to reverse this condition include various chemotherapies, steroids, cyclosporin, and blood transfusions. However, the only "tried and tested" treatment is corticosteroid therapy. Other cytotoxic drugs, like cyclosporin, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine and danazol are recommended by various people, generally because somebody else recommended them somewhere else. Their actual benefit seems uncertain. The general consensus is that cyclophosphamide is the best of these drugs to use. Blood transfusions are the topic of much controversy. One school of thought is that the animal is likely to hemolyse the transfusion, so blood should be tranfused only in lifethreatening situations. The other school argues that transfusions have never been proven to be dangerous in this disease (and goes on to assume that they are therefore safe). There are two types of AHA: primary, where the system destroys its own red blood cells for no apparent reason, and secondary, where the red cell membrane is changed (perhaps by a virus or parasite) and is then destroyed as abnormal. Prognosis for secondary AHA is much better and depends on how well the underlying cause can be treated. The prognosis for primary AHA is much worse, with only 50% of the animals living beyond 12 months. _________________________________________________________________ Breathing Disorders Dogs that breath noisily may have a serious health problem. For example, some animals have an elongated palate, which prevents them from breathing properly. The animal can also have a hard time drinking and eating. This also can affect the heart since it has to work extra hard to breath. If your dog has this problem check with your vet. There is an operation that can correct the problem of elongated palates. In any case, dogs should not be constantly panting and breathing noisily, so a vet check is in order. In general, breathing anomalies should be investigated: noisiness, wheezing, excessive panting, excessive coughing. _________________________________________________________________ Bloody Stools Blood in the stool can appear in several ways, each indicating a different problem. Black stools mean bleeding high up in the digestive tract, most likely a bleeding stomach ulcer. Reddish stools indicate blood further down the pipe, after the digestive juices have been neutralized somewhat. This can be anything from ulcers in the small intestine to ulcerative colitis. Red blotches/streaks on the surface of the stools (with normal color otherwise) indicate bleeding in the last segment of the large intestine or rectum, after the stool has begun to solidify (the function of the large intestine is to neutralize digestive juices and absorb liquid). This can be ulcerative colitis (or some other inflammatory bowel disease) or bleeding hemorrhoids. Each of these problems can be very serious, and in some cases life-threatening (with the exception of hemorrhoids). Coloring (natural or artificial) in food can also directly color the stool so you can't be sure of anything without a chemical analysis. A sudden diet change/addition can also affect stool color. Get a sample to the vet. _________________________________________________________________ Brucellosis Brucellosis is one of the few venereal diseases among dogs. It is associated with testicular atrophy. It causes sterilization (sometime obvious, sometimes not) in the male, embryonic reabsorption, abortion, weak pups that die soon after birth and eventual sterility in females. Males are contagious for months through their semen, females are contagious for several weeks after the failed pregnancy. _*Brucellosis may be passed to humans.*_ It can cause suppressed immune systems and sterility in humans. However, brucellosis in this form cannot be passed back to animals or other humans, as this disease is not adapted to humans. Diagnosis can be quickly made, although animals tested less than three weeks after exposure will show negative. False positives are possible; followup diagnosis with more reliable methods should follow any initial positives. Treatment for brucellosis is not generally very successful and often very expensive. Extensive antibiotic therapy, evaluation and additional testing will add up quickly, with no guarantee of success. No vaccine is available. Any animal with brucellosis should not be bred, and should be eliminated from the kennel or other breeding stock before infecting the entire colony. Animals entering the breeding area, male and female, should be tested for brucellosis PRIOR TO breeding. _________________________________________________________________ Canine Parvovirus (CPV) This is a recent disease, first noted in the late seventies. It is highly contagious and puppies have the highest mortality. There is a vaccine available, and you should make sure your dog is up on its shots. In some areas where parvo is prevalent, you may need booster shots every six months instead of every year. Parvovirus comes in several forms: (summarized from Carlson & Giffin) * Diarrhea syndrome: Severe depression, loss of appetite, vomiting. Extreme pain. High fever follows with profuse diarrhea. No other disease comes close to matching the amount of diarrhea induced by CPV. * Cardiac syndrome: Affects the muscles of the heart, especially in puppies. Puppies stop nursing, cry and gasp for breath. Death can occur suddenly or after several days. Puppies that recover often develop chronic congestive heart failure that may kill them several months later. Dogs may have either or both syndromes. Treatment is difficult, requiring hospitalization; those who recover are immune. The quarters of an infected dog should be thoroughly sterilized; a solution of 1:30 bleach and water is recommended. As with any use of bleach, make sure you do not mix it with ammonia, which results in mustard gas and can kill you and your dog. Be sure to rinse the bleach off thoroughly after application. In the US, there is a current upswing in Parvo infections. Make sure your dog is up-to-date on its vaccinations. Don't let a too-young puppy roam where possibly infected dogs have been (for example, in the park). Contact with feces or un-vaccinated dogs is the primary source of transmission. Some breeds seem to be especially sensitive to parvo, such as Rottweilers. _________________________________________________________________ Chondrodysplasia Chondrodysplaysia was discovered around 1930-1940s. This disease is neither "dwarfism" as it is commonly referred to nor is it dysplaysia (in the true sense of the word). This debilitating disease is actually a birth defect causing the dog's upper foreleg to become overly massive, short, and twisted and appears in Malamute and related breeds. Malamute breeders were appalled by this condition when it appeared and immediately set out to eradicate it. Steps were taken to locate these recessive genes. By breeding an unknown dog to a known CHD, the pups were then rebred to CHD dogs and percentages were calculated. Most Malamutes today have been CHD rated. The percentage is the actual likelihood of CHD showing up in a breeding. Malamute breeders tend to agree that 6.25% (one great-great-great grandparent is a carrier) is the upper limit of acceptablity in a CHD rating. Puppies are CHD rated now by taking the CHD factors of both parents and averaging them together. Example: Dog 1.75% Bitch 2.01% --------------- (1.75 + 2.01)/2 = puppies 1.88% Needless to say, an non-CHD certified Mal or a Mal that is certified above a 6.25% should not be bred, in order to contain the disease. Non-CHD certified dogs can be CHD certified, but it is a very expensive procedure. CHD may be diagnosed with various tests that include blood tests and x-rays. _The Complete Alaskan Malamute_ by Riddle and Seely covers this disease fairly well. _________________________________________________________________ Coccidiosis (Adapted from email discussion with Ron Mandsager, aerrane@okway.okstate.edu.) Coccidiosis is caused by protazoal parasites of either Eimeria spp. or Isospora spp. Crowding, poor sanitation, or stress may facilitate its spread. Symptoms depend on the species of protozoa, the infective dose, and the amount of damage caused. They can range from mild diarrhea to severe, bloody diarrhea with subsequent dehydration and anemia. Following infection, the affected animal may become a carrier. Coccidiosis is a cause of diarrhea in puppies. It may result in death in puppies. Treatment consists of supportive therapy once disease develops. Drug therapy is ineffective - all of the available agents are coccidiostatic agents; they can prevent infection, but will not treat an established infection. Good sanitation is essential in preventing coccidiosis. Most disinfectants are ineffective against coccidian oocytes, but boiling water and 2% formaldehyde are effective if they reach the oocyte. Scrupulous cleanliness is the best preventive, although it is no guarantee against Coccidiosis. Because coccidia is an environmental contaminant that produces an opportunistic infection, stress of any kind, such as vaccination, may be all that it needs to manifest. Adult dogs are carriers, and the coccidia oocysts are pretty resilient to most common disinfectants. Coccidiosis may be a major problem in an unclean environment, but may crop up a well run operation as well. An adult carrier will serve as a potential source of infection to puppies. The fact that a kennel has problems with coccidia is not itself a scathing indictment of the kennel - it's just a fact of life that has to be dealt with. _________________________________________________________________ Deafness While some dogs certainly become deaf through illness, trauma, or old age, most dogs are deaf through heredity. Some of the breeds most affected by this problem include Dalmatians and English Setters. Many of the pigmentation genes are connected with deafness. For example, blue eyes and deafness are statistically associated to a high degree of certainty. Lack of corneal pigment is also connected. Since a puppy with only one unilaterally deaf parent is twice as likely to be deaf as a puppy with both parents hearing in both ears, any dog that flunks the BAER test should not be bred. The definitive test for assessing a dog's deafness is the BAER test, which can tell whether a dog is unilaterally (one ear) or bilaterally (both ears) deaf. In breeds where deafness is a problem, you should insist on a puppy that has been BAER-tested.o There is a mailing list for owners of deaf dogs that can help you answer many of your questions (mail deafdogs-request@cybervision.kwic.net for information). In addition, you should look at their informative web site, http://www.cybervision.com/~cairo/deaf.html. _________________________________________________________________ Degenerative Joint Disease DJD = Degenerative Joint Disease (osteoarthrosis): DJD is a degeneration of cartilage that can either occur as a primary condition in older animals as a result of normal wear & tear, or as a secondary condition to any other condition that affects a joint and surrounding structures. It is not an inflammatory condition, as opposed to infectious forms of arthritis or immunologic forms of arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis or systemic lupus erythramatosus). DJD can be ruled out with radiographic analysis such as OFA or Wind Morgan provide. _________________________________________________________________ Distemper (summarized From Carlson & Giffin) Distemper is the leading cause of infectious disease death in dogs, most commonly in unvaccinated puppies 3-8 months of age. Among infected dogs: half show little in the way of illness; many show mild symptoms; and in a few the illness is severe or fatal. Malnourished and ill-kept dogs tend to show more acute forms of the disease. Secondary infections and complications with distemper are common. Prognosis depends on how quickly the dog is diagnosed and treated, and which form of the disease the dog has. There are two stages. Symptoms in the first stage include fever, loss of appetite, listlessness, and a watery discharge from the eyes and nose. It may appear like a cold -- but dogs do not get colds the way people do; a "cold" is therefore much more serious in a dog than in a person. Within a few days the discharge will thicken: a primary indication of distemper. Dry cough, pus blisters on the stomach, diarrhea (and associated dehydration) may follow. At this point, the dog may recover, or proceed on to the second stage which involves the brain. Dogs with brain involvement do not usually survive. _________________________________________________________________ Elbow Dysplasia "Elbow Dysplasia" is a general term that includes any of several conditions: 1. Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) 2. Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP) 3. Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP) 4. Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD) Heritability Evidence that both OCD of the elbows and FCP are heritable in at least one breed was discussed in "The Inheritance of Osteochondritis Dissecans and Fragmented Coronoid Process of the Elbow Joint in Labrador Retrievers" by GA Padgett, UV Mostosky, CW Probst, MW Thomas, and CF Krecke, published in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, Vol. 31, pp 327-330. Test breedings showed and increase in both OCD and FCP when selected for, demonstrating a genetic potential. However, as normal siblings were also produced, this condition is _not_ a simple recessive. Most probably it is a polygenetic trait, similar to Hip Dysplasia, with the attendant difficulty of removing from the gene pool. As of this writing, early screening for these conditions in the breeding stock is strongly advised to eliminate dogs with this condition. In addition, littermates and close relatives of affected dogs should be reconsidered as good breeding stock, as they are likely to carry some of the genes for these conditions. The paper focused on Labrador Retrievers; however it is quite likely that as with Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia is heritable in a number of other breeds as well. Osteochondritis Dessicans Osteochondrosis dissecans affects dogs of the large, rapidly growing breeds between the ages of four and twelve months. It usually is found in the shoulder or elbow joints, but rarely it can affect the hocks or stifles. It is due to a defect in the cartilage overlying the head of one of the long bones. A puppy who jumps down stairs might sustain such an injury. The tendency for cartilage to be easily damaged may be hereditary. Repeated stress to the joint perpetrates the condition. The signs are gradual lameness in a young dog of one of the larger breeds, typically between six to seven months of age. The lesions primarily affect cartilage and secondarily bone, and can occur in the elbow, shoulder, hock, and/or stifle, though the elbow is by far the most common. When the condition is associated with inflammatory joint changes it is known as OCD. Pain is present on flexing the joint. X-rays may show fragmentation of the joint cartilage, or a loose piece of cartilage in the joint. OCD in the elbow has been proven in the Labrador to be hereditary, but no such proof has been shown for other forms of OCD or heritability in other breeds. However, it would be prudent to assume that outside of traumatic origin, a polygenetic mode of inheritance is at work. Surgery is indicated to remove the pieces of cartilage, smooth both the top of the joint and the cartilage to stimulate new growth without flaps or chips. Recovery and prognosis are generally very good; there are many cases of dogs who had this surgery and went on to compete in obedience and agility once completely recovered. However, no matter how sucessful the surgery, the dog should not be bred if a hereditary cause is suspected. Fragmented Coronoid Process Ununited Anconeal Process Ununited anconeal process has been known for quite a while in in the German Shepherd Dog, but can also occur in other breeds (Dobermans and, increasingly, Golden Retrievers) It is really only one part of a constellation of problems collectively referred to as elbow dysplasia. This is a serious condition because it usually results in arthritis and efforts need to be made to be sure that the dog has enough exercise to keep fit, but not so much or of the wrong kind that would make the arthritis more severe. The condition should be handled surgically by an experienced orthopedic specialist. It is thought to be genetic, and OFA now certifies dogs based on X-rays in the belief that its incidence will be reduced this way. Diagnosis and Registry Any of these conditions must be diagnosed via radiographic analysis. OFA will certify elbows on dogs 24 months of age or older. Abnormal elbows are reported as: Grade I--minimal bone change on the anconeal process Grade II--additional subchondral bone changes and/or osteophytes Grade III--well developed degenerative joint disease Because awareness of these conditions is relatively new, there haven't been nearly as many assessments for elbow dysplasia as for hip dysplasia. In their reports, OFA separates ratings into dogs and bitches. Here are some stats, for the breeds with more than 1000 evalustions: Rottweiler, 1042 bitches, 38.1% dysplastic--890 dogs, 47.9% dysplastic GSD, 2940 bitches, 18.2% dysplastic--2156 dogs, 23.9% dysplastic Labs, 1398 bitches, 10.4% dysplastic--801 dogs, 15.2% dysplastic It isn't known why males are consistently higher in percent dysplastic. This pattern is true for all 16 breeds listed as having more than 75 evaluations registered. Besides OFA, GDC will also evaluate and rate elbows. ________________________________________________________________________ Epilepsy Please see the independent FAQ on Canine Epilepsy. ________________________________________________________________________ Eye Problems Following are short synopses of the most common forms of eye problems. CEACEA (Collie Eye Anomaly) is the most common form of eye problem found in the collie, both rough and smooth variety. It is also found in the border collie, shetland sheepdog, and bearded collie. It is believed to by controlled by a genetic cluster, or large group of genes, and thus, it is hard to control by breeding, and ranges in severity. PRAPRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is common in MANY breeds of dogs (including mixed breeds), and is not isolated to the collie like the CEA tends to be. PRA affects the entire retina and is the canine equivalent of retinitis pigmentosa. This disease manifests itself differently in different breeds. The most common form of PRA in the collie is detectable at early age (6wks and over). The form of PRA in Irish Setters is also early-onset. In Labrador Retrievers, on the other hand, the age of onset is much later, typically four to six years of age, making it much harder to find and isolate carriers in this breed. PRA has been detected as early as six weeks in puppies, and these puppies are usually blind by six to eight months. An electroretinography can be used to detect the early signs of PRA. Animals to be tested in this manner are anesthetized while lenses are placed on the eyes to record the retina's reaction to light. (Like wearing contacts.) In other cases, ophthalmological examination by ACVO-certified vets can pick up cases of PRA and confirm them with electroretinography if desired. All dogs affected with PRA eventually go blind. Carriers show no clinical symptoms. Symptoms are subtle, starting with night blindness, some eye dilation, to progressive blindness. It's quite common to not notice anything is wrong until the dog is nearly completely blind. Proactive testing is always recommended, especially for breeding stock. Current research is beginning to isolate the genetic markers for this disease. At present, there is a genetic test to identify carrier and affected dogs in the Irish Setter breed. Work is underway for one for the Labrador Retriever. This disease is thought to be a simple autosomal recessive gene. Thus two recessive genes are needed for a dog to be affected. A single recessive gene masked by the healthy dominant means the dog is a carrier. Therefore, an affected dog's parents are carriers or also affected. NOTE: In October 1945 the Kennel Club of England added PRA to the list of disqualifications from winning any award in the show ring. GlaucomaThis is a condition where the pressure of the fluid in the eye increases until the sight is gone in that eye. If it strikes one eye, the other eye is likely also to be affected. Glaucoma is one of the leading causes of blindness in dogs. Any underlying problem that increases the fluid pressure inside the eye is the culprit; most of the time this is due to inadequate drainage of fluid from the eye (as opposed to overproduction of fluid). A few forms of glaucoma are thought to be hereditary. Signs of glaucoma include reddened conjunctival tissue (red eye), weeping, light sensitivity, or even enlargement of the eye. As pressure increases, the pupil can become dilated and the cornea cloudy. Early diagnosis is critical to save the vision of the dog, and involves treating the underlying causes of the increased pressure if at all possible. Once the retina is damaged and the sight is gone the options are as follows: * Inject the eye with a fluid which kills the fluid producing cells in the eye, hence no further increase in pressure and no pain. This is not a guaranteed solution. * Diode laser cyclophotoablation * Remove the eye and sew the lids shut. Probably the most practical. * Remove the eye and replace it with a prosthetic (i.e., glass eye). There are potential problems with infection of the eye socket. CataractsCataracts are relatively common in dogs and most are hereditary. An ACVO-certified veterinarian can easily detect these cataracts. Haziness or cloudiness in the eyes in older animals is often _not_ cataracts. Hereditary cataracts can be found in many breeds of dogs and can be detected early in age, so all breeding stock should be screened for cataracts before being bred. Cataracts may be stable or progressive. In the former case, owners may never be aware that their dog has cataracts until or unless the dog is examined. In the latter case, the dog often adapts very well to the gradual loss in vision until a certain point is reached. General diagnosis can be done by ophthalmoscopic examination; if a more detailed examination is needed, a slit lamp examination must be performed. Surgery is the only option for cataracts that seriously impair vision. Most surgery involves removal of the lens; however, implants can also be performed. Recovery and prognosis for these dogs are generally good. Retinal Dysplasia There are several types of Retinal Dysplasia: Retinal Dysplasia-complete Relatively rare, puppies are blind from birth and appears to be a simple autosomal recessive. Mostly reported in Europe. No skeletal abnormalities are associated with this form of RD. Retinal Dysplasia-folds This form of RD is called "retinal and vitreal dysplasia with skeletal abnormalities" or "dwarfism with retinal dysplasia". In this disease, three different ocular phenotypes are present (normal, localized retinal dysplasia (retinal folds), and complete retinal detachment) and two different skeletal phenotypes are present (normal or dwarf). This is an inherited condition, whose mode of transmission is as follows: Call N the normal gene and rd the gene for retinal dysplasia. + N x N normal eyes, normal skeleton + N x rd classic symptoms, retinal folds, normal skeleton + rd x rd dwarfism, eye problems/blindness, skeletal problems The gene acts as an autosomal recessive in regards to dwarfism, but acts as though it were dominant when only one parent passes on the gene to its offspring. If we bred NN x Nrd we would expect half of the puppies to be affected the others normal. If we bred Nrd x Nrd we would expect the following: + 1/4 normal + 1/2 afflicted carriers, can be identified in puppies + 1/4 dwarf that the ocular and skeletal defects are inherited together, and that the skeletal effects act as a recessive trait and the ocular effects act as an incomplete dominant trait. This implies that 1) any Labrador with any type of RD is a carrier for dwarfism, and 2) at least one of the two parents of puppies with RD is a carrier for dwarfism. Retinal folds _may disappear with age_, so an accurate evaluation for RD requires that puppies be evaluated, ideally between 8 and 10 weeks of age. In mild cases of retinal dysplasia, sight is probably not affected much, if at all. In severe cases, skeletal abnormalities are present. Dealing with Blindness Dogs that become blind rarely have all that much trouble with it. Unlike humans, sight is not a primary sense; dogs would be much more upset at losing their sense of smell. Most people with a blind dog find that dealing with blindness is not difficult nor traumatic for the dog. To avoid confusion, do not move your furniture around (except for any piece that the dog does keep bumping into. Be sure the dog knows when you are near so it is not startled. When you go out on walks, establish habitual trails. Your dog will adjust quickly. References For more information on Canine Eye disease contact: CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) South Campus Courts C, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47906 Vanderlip, Sharon Lynn, DVM. _The Collie: A Veterinary Reference for the Professional Breeder_. Dr. Lionel Rubin, V.M.D., U of PA Vet Sch on Retinal Dysplasia. Carrig, Sponenberg, Schmidt, Tvedten, JAVMA, Nov 1988. Oliivero, DVM, Retriever Field Trial News, June 1993. Rubin, Lionel F. _Inherited Eye Diseases in Purebred Dogs_, Williams & Wilkins, Baltimore, 1989. CERF Publication "Ocular Disorders Proven or Suspected to be Hereditary in Dogs". The publication can be ordered directly from CERF by calling their office at (317) 494-8179. Barnett, KC, et al: Hereditary retinal dysplasia in the Labrador Retriever in England and Sweden. J of Small An Prac, 10:755, 1970. Carrig, CB, et al: Retinal dysplasia associated with skeletal abnormalities in Labrador Retrievers. JAVMA, 170:49, 1974. Carrig, CB, et al: Inheritance of associated ocular and skeletal dysplasia in Labrador Retrievers. JAVMA, 193:1269, 1988. Neslon, B, MacMillan, A.: Multifocal retinal dysplasia in the field trial Labrador Retriever. JAAHA, 19:388, 1983. __________________________________________________________ Gastric Dilation and Bloat Other references: + http://wwwis2.dal.ca/~dcodding/szbloat.html + http://www.vet.purdue.edu/depts/vad/cae/bnaprwb.htm _Note: Current thinking is that dogs with certain physical features (large, deep chest and high tuck) are most likely to bloat. The most recent research has not implicated diet -- although dogs that have previously bloated seem to benefit from carefully scheduled feeding._ The following information is several years old now. A condition more commonly seen in larger breeds. Gas in the stomach causes it to swell. In some cases, the stomach rotates on its axis, closing off both ends of it. Digestive processes continue unabated and the stomach swells up. The cause of bloat is unknown. Some forms of bloat are fatal untreated; survival depends on understanding what is happening and getting the dog to the vet, the earlier the better. Terminology: + The stomach is full of gas and begins to swell: gastric dilation. + The stomach partially rotates on its axis: torsion. + The stomach rotates 180 or more degrees: volvolus. Some facts (from Carlson & Giffin): + Dogs who bloat are almost always at least 2 years old. + Two-thirds are male. + Larger, deeper chested breeds are affected. + They eat large amounts of dry kibble. + They exercise vigorously after eating and tend to drink water in large amounts after meals. + They may have a history of digestive upsets. + There may be a familial association with other dogs who bloat. According to Carlson & Giffin, the symptoms are: excessive salivation and drooling, extreme restlessness, attempts to vomit and defecate, evidence of abdominal pain and abdominal distension. Abdominal fullness, whining, pacing, getting up and lying down, stretching, looking at the abdomen, anxiety. History is important: in nearly all cases, there is a history of overeating, eating fermented foods, drinking excessively after eating, or taking vigorous exercise after a meal (within two or three hours). If your dog is able to belch or vomit, it is more likely a gastric upset. If it cannot, rush it to the vet or emergency care *now* for emergency surgery. If your dog is at risk for gastric bloat, you should discuss it with your vet before a possible episode. Your vet may recommend (and demonstrate) some things you can try to do as life-saving measures while getting it to the vet. Measures thought to reduce the risk of gastric torsion ("bloat") [From the Bloat Panel, sponsored by the Morris Animal Foundations, published in the August 1992 Irish Setter Club of America's _Memo To Members_.] + Feed two or three times daily. Be sure someone is around to observe after-feeding behavior for possible symptoms. + Water should be available at all times except immediately after feeding, especially if the dog seems to over-drink. Or mixing dry kibble and water before eating to prevent later swelling up in the abdomen. + Vigorous exercise, excitement and stress should be avoided one hour before and two hours after meals. Walking is alright and may help stimulate normal gastrointestinal function. + Any dietary changes should be introduced gradually over several days. There is another article about bloat in the Spring '92 issue of _Today's Breeder_ (published by Purina dog foods) (pp 8,9,15). __________________________________________________________ Giardia (prepared by Dr. James Coggins) If your dog has been diagnosed with Giardia, it is infected with the one-celled protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia. These flagellate parasites are usually contracted by drinking contaminated water or sometimes by eating contaminated feces. Giardiasis, the disease caused by Giardia, can range from asymptomatic (no visible signs of distress) to extremely acute where the dog is severely ill. Canine giardiasis should be treated since it is potentially transmissible to humans and other animals. Giardiasis is a malabsorptive syndrome. The parasites adhere to the lining of the small intestine where they interfere with absorption of nutrients. Light cases of Giardia often go undetected and many dogs "self cure" by expelling and developing an immunity to the parasite. In heavier infections, Giardia can interfere with absorption of certain types of nutrients, especially fats and certain vitamins. Fats are not absorbed and result in excess mucus in the stools which are very pungent and diarrhetic. The parasites interfere with normal metabolism by forming a physical barrier between the lumen of the intestine and the absorptive cells. Excess mucus results from malabsorption of fats while excess water results in the diarrhea. The intestinal lining is not usually injured so stools should not contain blood. The parasites feed on partially digested food in the lumen of the intestine. They do not compete directly with the host for food. Their metabolism is primarily anaerobic, meaning that they do not utilize oxygen in their respiration. They lack cellular organelles concerned with aerobic respiration such as mitochondria. The active stage within the host is the trophozoite (feeding body); this is the only pathological form. The transfer stage of the parasite is the termed the cyst. Giardia forms cysts by extruding cellular food particles and other vacuoles and secreting a resistant cyst membrane around the cell. This highly resistant cyst is then passed from the host in the feces. Trophozoites may be passed but quickly die. Cysts that are passed into water can survive for an extended time, up to 1-2 months under proper conditions. Survival times on land are somewhat less. A new host becomes infected by drinking fecally contaminated water or eating the feces of an infected animal. While food-borne transmission is rare, it has been documented for humans. Dogs may become infected by drinking out of streams, lakes or ponds containing Giardia cysts. Other sources of infection are wild animals that visit the kennel area and deposit infected feces in an area accessible to the dog. Scats of other dogs or wild animals are potential sources of infection for domestic dogs. Giardia is potentially transmissible to humans so caution is warranted. Giardia can be difficult to detect even for professionals. It is too small to be seen by the unaided eye. A high quality microscope is needed for proper diagnosis; phase contrast microscopy is helpful. A definitive negative diagnosis should include stools collected on multiple days since cyst production tends to be cyclic with millions produced one day and few the following day. The cyst is the diagnostic stage of Giardia. Cysts tend to be approximately 9-15 micrometers in length and 4-5 um in width. Cysts are identified by size, the presence of four nuclei, axostyles and claw-hammer shaped median bodies. The current drug of choice is metronidazole, known by the trade name FLAGYL. Although highly effective it is a known carcinogen and mutagen in mice. Quinacrine (ATABRINE) can also be used but is not as effective. Treatment is usually one tablet per day for 7-10 days, depending on the weight of the dog. Recovery is usually uneventful but a dog may become reinfected after treatment. Thus, it is important to try to isolate and eliminate the source of infection. __________________________________________________________ Heartworms See also http://wrbu.si.edu/www/culicidae/heartworm.html. Symptoms may not appear until a full year has passed since infection. Because of this, the disease is often mistaken for another problem. The most persistant sign is a soft, deep cough. After exercise, the cough may be so severe that that the dog faints. Weight loss, discharge of bloody sputum, listlessness, and weakness are also common (from Carlson & Giffin). The rest of the information on heartworms was adapted from a very informative post by Kristin Thommes who posted it March 5, 1994. The Heartworm Lifecycle Start with an infected dog. This dog has adult heartworms living in its pulmonary arteries (they crawl into the heart after the dog dies). Female worms mate with male worms and produce microfilaria (first stage larva, L1, or a "baby" heartworm). The microfilaria enter the circulation of the dog. When this infected dog with circulating microfilaria is bitten by a mosquito, the mosquito will ingest 1 or 2 microfilariae. If the mosquito ingests more larvae than this, it will die! In the mosquito, the microfilariae (L1) will molt twice, to the L2 and then the L3 stage. At the L3 stage, the larvae migrate to the mosquito's mouthparts. Then when the mosquito bites a dog, the larvae are deposited ON the dog's skin and then crawl into the bite wound left by the feeding mosquito. If a mosquito with the L1 or L2 larval forms bites a dog, they will NOT be transmitting heartworms to the dog. Likewise, if the L1 forms are not removed from the dog's circulation by a biting mosquito, they will die off. The L1 stage does NOT "mature" into adult worms in the dog. So, the L3 larvae that crawl into a dog bitten by a mosquito will develop in the dog's subcutaneous tissues to L4 and finally L5 life stages. These then enter the venous system and enter the heart. They travel to the pulmonary arteries and become full-fledged adult worms, ready to reproduce. General principles of heartworm testing: When a dog is tested for heartworms, a sample of blood is drawn. The blood cells are lysed and the remaining sample is examined microscopically for the presence of microfilariae. (This is the Knott's test or Filter test, depending on how it's done). So, if no microfilariae are seen, the dog is diagnosed as being heartworm negative and you can restart medication. Because of the development that the larvae must go through prior to becoming adult worms and reproducing, it takes, on average, 6 MONTHS from the time a healthy dog is bitten and infected until the dog has circulating microfilariae. This means that a heartworm test done less than 6 months since a dog was bitten and infected will be *negative.* Dogs that have been taking Heartgard present another problem in the detection of heartworms. Heartgard will cause adult female worms already present in the dog to become sterile, so the females will not produce any microfilaria. Heartgard will not kill any adult worms. The adult worms cause heart problems with dogs who have heartworms, NOT the microfilariae. It is the adult worms that we are really attempting to protect the dog from when we use preventative medication. So if a dog is on Heartgard and is tested for heartworms using the Knott's test, chances are the dog will test negative even if there are adult worms present. There is a different, more expensive test for dogs who may have sterile worms. It uses a blood sample to test for antigens produced by the adult heartworms. If the dog has heartworm antigen, it has a greater than 99% chance of having heartworms. This test should be used on any dogs that are on Heartgard since they will not have microfilariae in their bloodstream. Likewise, if there are only low numbers of circulating microfilariae, the Antigen test will give a positive result where the direct Knotts (Filter) test may be negative. Just like the standard Knotts test, the Antigen test will be negative if the dog was infected less than 6 months ago. It is therefore very important for those dogs on the monthly medication to be tested with the Antigen test rather than the Knotts! Questions Can another dog can get heartworm by coming in contact with an infected dog's blood? (transfusion, bite) No. If a dog was infected and had circulating microfilaria, and these microfilariae were transplanted into a healthy dog via a transfusion, the healthy dog would NOT get adult heartworms because the lifecycle could not be completed within the body of the dog. A mosquito is needed for development from the L1 to the L3 stage. Could a pregnant bitch with heartworms give them to her own puppies? No, for the same reason as above, you need the mosquito for the intermediate stages between microfilarae and adult worms. While the placental barrier will keep the microfilarae out, even if this barrier broke down (which can happen), the pups will not be infested. How do those medications work anyway? There are basically 2 types of medication available that will help to prevent adult heartworm formation in dogs that are negative. One type is the daily medication Diethlycarbamazine (DEC). It works by killing any larvae that have crawled into the dog from the mosquito within approximately the past 36 hours. DEC kills L3 larvae. Once they molt into L4's, DEC will not kill them and these larvae may develop into adult worms. Preventive Medications The monthly medications are Heartgard and Interceptor. Heartgard is Ivermectin and Interceptor is Milbemycin Oxime. These medications work by killing any larvae that have entered the dog up to 45 days ago. They kill L3s, 4s, and 5s. These drugs are given monthly (30 days) for the convenience of giving on the same day each month and also to give you a safety margin. If you forget to give your dog his/her heartworm medication, you have about 15 days to remember to give it and the dog will still be protected. With the daily medication, forgetting for more than a day may result in your dog becoming infected. Most common ways that a dog will contract heartworms while on medication include not being given medication on a regular basis (e.g. completely missed dosages); traveling from a winter environment to a summer environment like Florida without giving the dog heartworm medication; not WEIGHING the dog while on the medication: the dog outgrows its dosage; and the dog vomiting or having severe diarrhea after being given its medication. What should you do if you forget your dog's medication? *IF* the dog is on daily medication, give the dog a monthly tablet within 45 days of the missed dose. Depending on what you feel comfortable with, you can then restart the dog on the daily medication, or continue giving the medication once a month. *IF* your dog is on monthly medication, give the medication anytime you remember, even if more than 45 days has passed. Giving heartgard to a dog with heartworms will not hurt the dog, and until 6 months has passed the dog will appear to be negative anyway. However, you should NEVER give daily medication to dogs who may have circulating microfilariae. The daily medication can cause an anaphylactic reaction if given to a dog with microfilariae present. Giving monthly medication will prevent the dog from acquiring a heavy worm load by being bitten by multiple infected mosquitoes. Just be certain to have the dog tested 6 months after the missed dose to be sure that the dog did not acquire heartworms. Treatment Of Heartworm Disease _As of 1997, there is a new treatment method for dogs with heartworm. I have been informed that Immiticide (Melarsomide) is an intramuscular injectable heartworm treatement that obsoletes Caparsolate. I do not know how this functions or how it differs in treatment considerations for the dog. _ Treatment for heartworms is difficult on the dog and prevention is easy. If your dog tests positive for heartworms and you decide to treat it, here is what will happen: Your vet will want to take a blood sample to begin with to check the dog's liver function. The treatment that kills the adult worms uses a drug called Caparsalate. This drug is given twice a day for 2 days while the dog is in the hospital. The dog must be kept quiet (caged) for 4 weeks after the adult worms have been killed. It takes 7 to 17 days from the time of treatment for the adult worms to die. Within this time, dead worms will fragment and travel to the dog's lungs. If dead worms are numerous, some of the blood vessels to the lungs will become blocked, and this is inevitable. However, if the dog is kept quiet and only allowed to move around enough to go outside, the blockage of pulmonary vessels may remain subclinical. If the dog is allowed to run around, the heart rate increases and many dead worm fragments will travel to the lungs at the same time. This is what you want to avoid. About 4 weeks after Caparsalate has been given, the dog will be given a high dose of ivermectin to kill the remaining microfilaria that are circulating. Although this is a high dose of ivermectin, it is below the lowest dose known to cause mild, self-limiting toxic side effects in Collies. Obviously, after being treated, dogs should be kept on heartworm preventative! Summary Of Medication Heartworm preventives include + Interceptor o Prevents hookworm infestations as well as heartworms. o Safe for Collies. Monthly. + Ivermectin o Excellent control of hookworms and roundworms as well as heartworms. o Has caused seizures in higher doses to Collies. Monthly. + Filarbits Plus o Contraindicated if microfilariae are already present in blood. o Controls hook, round, and whip worms to some extent. Can be used in puppies 8 weeks or older. Daily. __________________________________________________________ Canine Medical Information, Part I FAQ Cindy Tittle Moore, rpd-info@netcom.com Hosted by K9 WEB