Note from archiver<at>cs.uu.nl:
This page is part of a big collection
of Usenet postings, archived here for your convenience.
For matters concerning the content of this page,
please contact its author(s); use the
source, if all else fails.
For matters concerning the archive as a whole, please refer to the
or contact the archiver.
Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Canine Medical Information [Part 2/2] FAQ
This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:21 GMT
Last-modified: 15 Sep 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with
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 II
Cindy Tittle Moore, email@example.com
Table of Contents
* Hip Dysplasia (HD, or C(anine)HD)
+ In general
+ Clinical symptoms
+ Environmental Influences
+ Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia
+ Life for dogs with Hip Dysplasia
+ Treatment of Hip Dysplasia
+ Prevention of Hip Dysplasia
+ References of Interest
* Infectious Canine Hepatitis
* Interdigital Cysts
* Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis)
* Kidney Failure
* Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
* Panosteitis (puppy limp)
* Patellar Subluxation
+ Local Poison Control Centers
+ National Animal Poison Control Center
+ Poisonous houseplants
+ Poisonous outdoor plants
+ Poisonous household items
+ Poisonous animals
* Puppy Strangles
* Thyroid Disorders
* von Willebrand's Disease
* Wobblers -- Cervical Vertabral Instability
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.
Hip Dysplasia (HD, or C(anine)HD)
An _excellent_ source of information on hip dysplasia is:
A Guide for Dog Breeders and Owners
2nd Edition 1989
By E.A. Corley and G.G. Keller
A single copy is available for a donation and multiple copies are
$3.00 each at Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Inc, 2300 Nifong
Blvd, Columbia, MO 65201, 573-442-0418. It is informative, and highly
The work is copyrighted and permission to reproduce the work was not
given since the costs of production are still being recouped, so only
highlights from the monograph are presented here. I do encourage you
to get your own copy.
Another good source of information on Hip Dysplasia may be found in
the chapter "Hip Dysplasia" in _Genetics of the Dog_ by Malcolm B.
Willis (Howell Book House). Information from this chapter is also
Other online information includes:
Hip dysplasia ("bad development") appears in people and many species
of animals. In some breeds of dogs, it is the most common cause of
osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Because both humans and
dogs get hip dysplasia, dogs made a good subject to use in research.
Most of these techniques below are also used on humans.
Research on hip dysplasia suggests that CHD is a more complex disease
than was first thought. There are no simple answers or solutions to
the problem. The complexity of CHD results in research findings that
appear to be contradictory. However, many aspects of the disease have
been repeatedly and independently documented and are generally
accepted by the scientific community. Three important ones are:
* Canine hip dysplasia is caused by the presence of many genes
(polygenic). While no environmental cause has been found, many
environmental factors contribute to its expression in a particular
* The only current means for reducing the occurrence of CHD is by
selectively breeding for normal hips.
* Radiography is the accepted means for evaluating the hip status.
Regardless of what the initiating factor or factors may be, abnormal
looseness of the hip joint after 2 weeks of age seems to be the event
most commonly reported to result in hip dysplasia. However, there are
exceptions to this, and dogs with tight hips have developed hip
The early changes are not easily detected. Severe cases may be
diagnosed as early as 7 weeks of age; others may not show up in
radiographs until over 2 years of age. This is why OFA only certifies
dogs over two years of age.
Most inherited traits in animals are polygenic. These traits do not
follow patterns based on dominant/recessive pairs because polygenic
traits are affected by many genes. Only some puppies will have the
same combination of genes for a trait as the parents. Some will have a
more desirable combination while others will have a less desirable
pattern. As the number of involved genes increase, the possible
outcomes also increase. In addition, remember that it is also possible
for different genes to have a different level of influence on the
trait, complicating the outcomes considerably. Predictions of a
specific outcome from a particular mating involving polygenic traits
is currently impossible.
In Corley and Keller's opinion, a dog with excellent hips but with
more than 25% of its brothers and sisters affected with hip dysplasia
is a poorer breeding prospect than a dog with fair hips and less than
25% of its brothers and sisters exhibiting dysplasia.
(from Corley & Keller)
"...[T]he signs [of hip dysplasia] vary from decreased exercise
tolerance to severe crippling. They include: a reluctance or inability
to go up or down stairs, difficulty in rising from a sitting or prone
position, bunny-hopping gait when running, stiffness early in the
morning that improves as the dog warms up, change in disposition due
to pain, lameness after exercise, wobbly gait, a clicking sound when
walking, and many others. Many dogs will shift their center of gravity
forward in an effort to relieve weight and pressure on the hips. These
dogs generally present a front end that appears well-developed
relative to the rear end.
"In dysplastic dogs, the hip joint is a weakened structure that is
more subject to being injured by normal activity such as jumping off a
couch, or rough housing with a playmate. Frequently, this results in
an acute lameness that in the mind of the owner was caused by the
injury, whereas the underlying dysplasia actually made the joint more
susceptible to injury. Obviously, the normal hip can be injured, but
the radiographic examination can usually distinguish between a hip
problem due to dysplasia and one due to other causes.
"CHD can not be diagnosed by observing how the dog moves, acts, lies
down, etc. The clinical signs may be caused by other problems;
therefore, a complete orthopedic and radiographic examination is
required before arriving at the conclusion that the signs are caused
Environmental factors such as type of food and exercise in puppyhood
have been shown to affect the displayed symptoms within the same
litter. However, subsequent generations from both groups showed the
same rates of dysplasia meaning that while the phenotype may be
affected, the genotype is what determines whether a dog has the
potential for being affected with HD.
In general, low protien diets and low activity levels through
puppyhood reduced the symptoms of HD markedly. However, the degree of
diet reduction and no activity may or may not be practical for the
average dog-owner to attempt. (See Willis.)
It's best to keep your puppy from any kind of jumping for the first
year or so in life. It's also best to keep from sustained exercise
until at least a year old. Sustained exercise includes: jogging with
owner, pulling weights, mushing, running with owner on bike, etc. Even
for dogs not at risk from HD, it's wise not to exercise too strongly
too early as such exercise may interfere with proper growth of joints,
leading to similar problems such as arthritis on the joint or OCD.
Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia
Any diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia must be made via expert radiographic
diagnosis. This involves taking xrays of the joint and typically
sending the film to organizations that will evaluate, register, and
certify the dog. Veterinarians will often "diagnose" the film
themselves but if the question is critical its best to have them
properly evaluated (unless, of course, your vet is experienced with
radiographic evaluation -- not all are).
You cannot, repeat, cannot make a reliable diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia
on the basis of external symptoms such as lameness or gait.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is the most well known registry
in the United States. It grades all joints, most commonly hips, as
severe, moderate, fair, good, and excellent. It will certify all
passing grades given to dogs over 2 years of age. Contact:
PennHIP is a new evaluation technique that flexes the limbs
differently to produce the xray pictures. There are only a handful of
vets around the country that have been certified to take xrays using
the PennHip method. See also:
Genetic Disease Control, UC Davis
There is a program here for radiographic evaluation of dogs. Wind
Morgan is the most well known of these programs, offered to Labrador
Retrievers. There are similar programs for Rottweilers and a few other
breeds. Wind Morgan will certify at one year of age or older and
requires xrays of hips, elbows, and hocks. They will hold clinics
around the country to help hold costs down.
Genetic Disease Control is actually a larger effort to collect data on
all kinds of genetic diseases, of which Hip Dysplasia is only one.
They have registries and information on a wide array of diseases. All
their registries are open, in an effort to make more information
available to breeders in making informed choices about their breeding
stock. For more information, write to
PO Box 222
Davis, CA 95617
Outside the United States
Each country typically has its own hip evaluation program. These are
not consistent from country to country and may differ with the
evaluations give by the above US organizations. In Australia, dogs are
evaluated by the Australian Veterinary Association that has an
Australian wide scoring scheme with averages for each breed.
Life for dogs with Hip Dysplasia
First of all, be sure that your dog has been accurately diagnosed with
HD. Many vets do not have the expertise in reading the x-rays, so you
need to be sure that an experienced radiologist reads them. If you're
not familiar with the competencies of the vets in your area, your best
bet is to have the x-rays sent in to OFA for evaluation. You CANNOT
definitively diagnose HD on the basis of external appearance or
palpitation of the joint or anything like that. Many things can cause
limping, some of which are correctible, so it pays to be certain you
have the correct diagnosis.
Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia is not an automatic death sentence for your
dog! Because it is a polygenetic trait, the variability of expression
is actually quite wide. Some dogs may experience little or no
discomfort and you may never know they have HD unless you test for it.
Other dogs may experience more pain, but it may be easily controlled
with proper exercise and judicious use of aspirin under the direction
of a vet. Only a small percentage of cases are so crippled by HD that
they must be put down.
You _should_ immediately neuter any dog that has HD. The only known
means of eliminating this disease lie in well-managed breeding
programs, so do your part by eliminating the possibility of your dog
contributing to the overall problem.
Discuss with your vet appropriate strategies for dealing with HD. In
most cases, the general advice is to keep the dog from doing any kind
of jumping or causing other sudden stress to the joints. However, as
solid muscle buildup around the joint helps to ease the pressure on
the joint, regular exercise is generally recommended, with swimming
topping the list as gaining the most benefit with the least stress to
Treatment of Hip Dysplasia
In many cases, simple restriction of exercise and perhaps aspirin as
directed by the vet is all that the dog needs to remain comfortable.
However, there are several options for the more severely affected
Non-traditional treatments (not validated by controlled trials):
* vitamin therapy (generally Vitamins C & E & selenium)
* superoxide dismutase
Medical therapy (aimed at reducing pain/inflammation from arthritic
* adequan therapy
"Adequan is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan which is used
primarily for treatment of degenerative joint disease in horses. In
fact, it is not actually approved in the U.S. for dogs. However, I
have seen remarkable results in many of my older patients with
chronic DJD. In theory, it stimulates increased production of joint
fluid and the joint moves more freely and with less pain. It does
not always work, but when it does, it is usually dramatic." -Ralph
M. Askren, DVM
* Gycoflex, Cosequin (a synthetic glycosaminoglycans supplement)
glucosamin -- similar effects to Adequan
* Rimadyl -- a new non-steriod anti-inflammatory drug, can help
considerably in some cases without the typical side effects of
traditional steroidal drugs.
* Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO)
TPO is a surgical procedure to rotate the acetabular portion of
the pelvis so that there is increased coverage of the femoral
head. Increasing coverage promotes improved articulation and, in
the ideal situation, joint degeneration is halted. However, if
degeneration is already present within the hip, cartilage
breakdown is likely to continue, even with improved articulation.
This is why checking your dog at 6-8 months regardless of symptoms
is often recommended. The best candidate for TPO is a young dog
(6-8 mths) with moderate laxity that has no damage to the dorsal
acetabular rim or early evidence of degeneration of radiographs.
Currently, the cost of Triple Pelvic Osteotomy, including
examination, radiographs and hospitalization, is approximately
* Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
Sometimes the head of the femur can be simply removed and the
muscles around the site compensate for the missing joints The dog
is pain free afterwards and learns to walk again, but running and
jumping are not done normally again. Most commonly, smaller dogs
are the best candidates for this surgery. Obese or very large dogs
will still experience some pain, as the muscles cannot totally
* Uncemented hip prosthesis (subcategory of hip replacement surgery)
Dr. David J. DeYoung of NCSU, professor of orthopedic surgery in
the College of Veterinary Medicine, helped develop the prosthesis
based on a human version that is held in place without cement. The
prosthesis features a beaded surface into which bone and fibrous
tissue can grow and secure the components. More than 100 of the
new prostheses have been implanted in dogs over a five-year period
without loosening or infection, two of the main concerns with
cemented total hip replacements,
* BOP shelf arthroplasty
This is a relatively experimental method, whose effectiveness is
debated. Polymer "lattices" are implanted in the affected joint.
The premise is that new bone will gro owver the lattice,
correcting the degeneration and/or deformation of the joint. than
it is experimental)
* Total Hip Replacement (THR)
This traditional surgery involves replacing the femoral head or
ball portion of the joing with a metal prosthesis. The acetabulum
is replaced with a polyethylene socket. The procedure thus removes
the source of pain and inflammation as the bone is no longer in
contact with the degenerated joint.
When the dog's pain cannot be controlled nor alleviated
Prevention of Hip Dysplasia
There is no known method of preventing hip dysplasia except for a
thoughtful and carefully executed breeding program with regular
radiographic analysis of all stock before breeding. It is possible to
reduce symptoms entirely to the point where the dog will radiograph
much less severely , however followup studies show that these dog's
offspring have the same risk for HD as they would have whether the
parents had been so treated . The implication is that it is
unethical to use as breeding stock dogs that were treated to prevent
their symptoms from disappearing. On the other hand, pet owners with
no intention of breeding their dogs might consider reading .
 Kealy, et al. "Effects of limited food consumption on the
incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs." JAVMA, v201, n6 Sept 15
 Willis, Malcom, _Genetics of the Dog_.
_Radiographic Diagnosis and Control of Canine Hip Dysplasia_ by Joe P.
Morgan, DVM, Vet.med.dr. (Stockholm) and Michele Stephens, DVM.
References of Interest
This is by no means a conclusive list, I add to this from time to time
as I come across them. Feel free to send me more. Also, Working
Retriever Central has a great list kept at
Belkoff, SM et. al: Development of a Device to Measure Canine
Coxofemoral Joint Laxity. VCOT 1: 31-36, 1989.
Kealy, RD, Lawler, DF, Ballam, JM, Lust, G, Smith, GK, Biery, DN,
Olsson, SE: Five-year longitudinal study on limited food consumption
and development of osteoarthritis in coxofemoral joints of dogs. (J Am
Vet Med Assoc 1997; 210:222-225)
Lust G et al: Joint Laxity and Its Association with Hip Dysplasia in
Labrador Retrievers. Am. J. Vet. Res. 54: 1990-1999, No. 12, December
Popovitch, Catherine A., DVM; Gail K. Smith, VMD, Ph.D.; Thomas P.
Gregor, BS; Frances S. Shofer, Ph.D. Comparison of susceptibility for
hip Dysplasia between Rottweilers and German Shepherd Dogs. JAVMA, Vol
206, No 5, March 1, 1995
Smith, GK et al: Coxofemoral Joint Laxity from Distraction Radiography
and its Contemporanious and Prospective Correlation with Laxity,
Subjective Score, and Evidence of Degenerative Joint Disease from
Conventional Hip-Extended Radiograph in Dogs. Am. J. Vet. Res. 54:
1021-1042, No. 7, July 1993.
Smith, Gail K., VMD, PhD; Catherine A. Popovitch, DVM; Thomas P.
Gregor, BS; Frances S. Shofer, PhD. Evaluation of risk factors for
degenerative joint disease associated with hip dysplasia in dogs.
JAVMA, Vol. 206, No 5, March 1, 1995
Swenson, L, Audell, L, and Hedhammer, A: Prevalence and inheritance of
and selection for hip dysplasia in seven breeds of dogs in Sweden and
benefit:cost analysis of a screening and control program (J Am Vet Med
Swenson, L, Audell, L, and Hedhammer, A: Prevalence and inheritance of
and selection for elbow arthrosis in Bernese Mountain Dogs and
Rottweilers in Sweden and benefit:cost analysis of a screening and
control program. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1997;210:215-221)
Infectious Canine Hepatitis
(summarized From Carlson & Giffin)
This disease should NOT be confused with human hepatitis. This is a
highly contagious disease transmissible only to dogs. It affects the
liver, kidneys and lining of the blood vessels. It can sometimes be
hard to distinguish from distemper as there are a variety of signs and
symptoms that range from mild to fatal. Exposed dogs rapidly become
contagious and remain contagious throughout convalescence.
Fatal form: the dog becomes ill, develops bloody diarrhea, collapses
and dies. Puppies may die without symptoms.
Acute form: High fever, bloody diarrhea, possibly bloody vomit.
Refusal to eat and painful movements. The dog can become
Mild form: Lethargy, possible loss of appetite.
Interdigital cysts are a common problem in short haired breeds of
dogs. Males do seem to be worse and Labs probably worst of all. There
are a number of differential diagnoses to consider such as demodex,
fungi, pyoderma secondary to atopy, dermoid cysts, etc. Dermoid cysts
are invaginations of the skin which forms a pocket of hair and misc.
junk. They are often infected and they always recurr unless surgically
Especially if the cysts are recurrent, a good option is to have the
cyst surgically removed and send it to a _dermatopathologist_, not a
regular pathologist. It is expensive but it will greatly reduce the
number of return trips to the vet. With that diagnosis, it will be
easier to deal with future recurrences.
Other treatment includes long-term antibiotic treatment... three to
six months may be required. Make sure the antibiotic choice and dosing
is appropriate. Culture & antibiotic sensitivity tests are
Also demodectic mange may be underlying the problem. Skin scrapes can
make the diagnosis, but false negatives are possible. Foot dips in
mitoban (diluted) followed by warm soaks in dilute chlorihexidine may
clear it up.
Fitting the dog with a rubber boot to protect the foot may help speed
recovery following the removal of the cyst.
Kennel Cough (Infectious Tracheobronchitis)
This is characterized by a harsh, convulsive cough. It is persistent,
contagious, and often develops into secondary complications, such as
chronic bronchitis. This disease can eventually be fatal especially in
the very young, very old, or already ill. If your dog is exposed to
many other dogs, or will be boarded at a kennel, it should be
vaccinated against this. It is so-called, because it spreads rapidly
under "kennel" conditions -- many dogs kept relatively close together.
"Kennel Cough" is a generic name for a set of symptoms caused by a
number of organisms. These include parainfluenza as well as
bordatella, as well as many others. Dogs vaccinated with the
bordatella vaccine can still get "kennel cough" because of all the
bugs involved, but it tends to be much less severe.
Bordatella vaccine is squirted into each nostril of the dog and should
be repeated semi-annually. Parainfluenza vaccine should be a normal
part of your dog's regular shots.
The vaccination is not effective for the first 24 hours, so if you are
getting your dog vaccinated because you will be boarding it, get it
done at least several days in advance!
Acute kidney failure, or kidney failure, is sudden and extreme and
requires urgent care. Usually the dog recovers completely if it
survives at all.
Chronic kidney failure, or kidney disease, is common in old dogs. The
kidneys slowly wear out over a long time. It can be diagnosed by a
blood test or urinalysis. Early signs include drinking and urinating
more, since the kidneys need extra water, and foamy urine is sometimes
Treatment is mostly dietary. They need a very low protein diet that is
also low in certain minerals. The kidneys are stressed by too much
protein and will wear out more slowly on a low protein diet. Dogs with
sick kidneys should be given all the water they will drink.
The best known kidney diet is Hills K/D, but there is also Hi-Tor
Neodiet, Neura Kidney Diet, and others. Some "senior dog food" is low
in protein as well, but not as low as the kidney foods.
If you have any reason to suspect it, have the dog checked by a vet.
Many old-dog kidney cases live happily for years with no special care
other than the food.
Causes appear to be multiple. Trauma, such as excessive pulling on the
leash or other pressure/force to the neck have been implicated. Older
Labrador Retrievers account for a large proportion of cases.
Overactive thyroid levels can contribute to the problem.
While the symptoms can vary somewhat, you will notice coughing while
exhaling, particularly after exercise. The coughing sometimes sounds
very odd. As the condition progresses, the dog may have problems
breathing and panting.
Secondary complications such as bronchitis, etc. may occur.
As there are various possible causes for shortness of breath and/or
coughing, you must have your veterinarian look at the dog. The vet may
put your dog under in order to examine the laryngeal muscles, xray to
check the condition of the dog's lungs. Anesthesia is required to be
able to observe the laryngeal muscles at work.
The standard treatment for dogs with LP is to surgically "tie back"
one of the laryngeal muscles. This allows adequate air flow without
giving pathogens, etc. completely unimpeded access to the dog's lungs.
Typically, a specialist may be called in to do the surgery, it is not
normally done in most veterinary clinics.
In most cases the disease is mild. Primary symptoms are fever,
listlessness, loss of appetite and depression. Other symptoms involve
the kidneys: a "hunched up" look due to kidney pain, ulcers on the
mucus membranes of the mouth and tongue, thick brown coating on the
tongue, bleeding from the mouth or bloody stools, severe thirst with
increased urination. The whites of the eyes may turn yellow.
Persistent vomiting and diarrhea are common. This disease is more
prevalent in some areas than others. (Summarized From Carlson &
Many dogs seem to be allergic to the leptospirosis vaccination. If
your dog is vaccination against lepto for the first time, keep a close
eye on it for a few hours afterwards. If the dog goes into
anaphylactic shock, get him back to the vet immediately.
Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, so if you come into contact with
a dog that has Lepto, consult with your own doctor.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Summarized from a set of articles posted by Jim Jaskie,
Retrievers that lick their paws excessively, horses that "stump suck",
Dobermans that "flank suck" share the same disorder. The disorder is
generally mild and most people never notice it, but sometimes it can
go too far and become a hindrance to normal functioning.
Dr. Judith Rapaport (head of the Child Psychiatry Branch of the
National Institute of Mental Health and author of "The Boy Who
Couldn't Stop Washing") explored this area thoroughly, because of
similarities with a human malady called "Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
(OCD)." This is a disorder that induces unusual behavior such as an
irresistible desire to wash your hands, over and over, even when they
are not dirty.
The experiments at NIMH showed that this behavior is caused by a lack
of Seratonin. This lack can be caused by a genetic predisposition and
also by stress. Proper medication was shown to relieve similar
problems in dogs, horses and people! Some of the reported results were
on Labradors that literally licked the hair off of their paws,
dropping the habit completely after medication.
This research is also a landmark in the understanding of the effect of
some of the neural transmitters and has led to a whole new family of
some wonderful new medicines. This work has already saved dogs, horses
and people from one of nature's less pleasant maladies, and promises
to shed light on other problems such as epilepsy.
The medication that Dr. Judith Rapoport found to work for dogs with
acralick dermatitis as well as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is
Clomipramine (brand name is Anafranil). However, Fluoxetine (brand
name is Prozac) is now being used very successfully for OCD and has
fewer side effects. You should discuss this with your vet, who will be
able to prescribe these medications for your dog if it has OCD.
Some old-ish but very informative articles that describe this problem
are "Chemistry of Compulsion" by Robert Trotter in the June 1990 issue
of Discover magazine and the very thorough but easy to read article,
"The Biology of Obsessions and Compulsions" by Dr. Rapoport in the
March 1989 issue of Scientific American. Only the first article
specifically mentions Rapoport's work with dogs, but if you want to
understand what is really going on, read both articles.
Panosteitis (puppy limp)
Also called pano, this is an inflammation of the membrane covering the
bone and is relatively common. Rest, quiet, and sometimes a
vet-approved painkiller are generally recommended for the puppy. Some
vets recommend a reduced protien (usually an adult mixture) diet. This
can strike anytime between 6-18 months of age and rarely lasts past
two years of age.
If the limping goes from leg to leg (i.e., one day the dog limps on
the right rear leg and the next it limps on the left front), it is
very likely pano. Pano can also be diagnosed via x-rays.
Fortunately, lasting effects are uncommon, and most puppies outgrow
it. It is not known what causes pano, the belief is that there is
either a hereditary link, perhaps just a predisposition toward,
This is one of the most deadly viral infections for dogs. Young
puppies who have not yet finished thier vaccination schedules and dogs
with compromised immune symptoms are most at risk.
Transmission & Symptoms
The virus is easily transmitted through a fecal-oral route. You can
track in fecal matter on your shoes and expose your dog to it at home.
Parks that have many dogs using it are high-risk areas, as are unknown
dogs which may be shedding the virus. Some breeds, for example the
Rottweiler, are more subsceptible to contracting this disease.
Lethargy and listlessness, proceeding rapidly to almost uncontrollable
diarrhea and vomiting.
The puppy must be taken in immediately to the veterinarian for round
the clock monitoring and IV's to replace the fluids the puppy is
If the puppy survives, he will make a full recovery. There are no
lasting effects of the illness and he will be fully immune to the
disease thereafter, assuming a healthy immune system.
A full series of vaccinations, with the last shot being scheduled for
after 20 weeks of age is essential. Isolation -- don't let the at-risk
dog be exposed to other dogs or their feces.
If you have an area (house and/or backyard) that has been exposed to a
dog with Parvo, you can clean it up with a 3% bleach solution (3 parts
bleach to 100 parts water).
Thanks to Edwin Barkdoll for this summary, and to Jeff Parke for
There are many types and degrees of patellar luxation. The patella
(kneecap) can luxate (dislocate) medially (towards the body midline)
or laterally (away from the midline) and can be traumatic or
congenital in origin. Small or toy breeds are much more likely to have
this problem than larger breeds and they tend towards medial
luxations; larger breeds tend to have lateral luxations if they
develop this problem.
A system has been devised for grading patellar luxations: Type I -
luxation seen only with leg in extension and when pressure is applied
to the patella directly say during a physical exam by the vet,
luxation resolves spontaneously when pressure is removed. Type II -
patella is usually in normal position, but luxates with pressure or
during flexion of the limb. The patella does not spontaneously return
to normal but can be returned to normal manually or by the dog itself.
Type III - patella is luxated most of the time but can be temporarily
returned to normal position manually. Type IV - patella is always
luxated and cannot be returned to normal position manually.
Surgical correction is not usually considered necessary unless the dog
shows symptoms - pain, gait abnormalities - but you should talk with
your vet about your options and get a second opinion if necessary.
Regarding surgical success, apparently about 50% of surgically treated
cases demonstrate _recurrent_ patellar luxation after 1-7 years
although the severity of the patellar luxation at followup was reduced
and about 90% (!) showed no signs of lameness. For the curious, the
(incomplete) reference for these data is Willauer and Vasseur (1987)
in _Veterinary Surgery_.
If you need to _induce_ vomiting, first make sure that it's
appropriate to do so. Don't induce vomiting
* more than two hours after ingesting problematic substance
* when the substance is an acid, alkali, solvent, or petroleum
product, as it will do as much damage on the way up as it did the
* when dog is comatose or very depressed
To induce vomiting:
* 1 teaspoon hydrogen peroxide per 30lbs body weight; give once,
repeat after ten minutes; don't administer more than three times;
some dogs will drool and look miserable before vomiting
* 1 teaspoon syrup of Ipecac per 10lbs body weight; works quickly
* 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt placed far back on the tongue or dissolved
in 1 oz water; do _not_ repeat dosage; dry mustard powder (s ame
instructions) may be substituted
Local Poison Control Centers
Check the emergency room of the local hospital and ask for the number
of the local Poison Control Center. You should have this number up on
the refrigerator alongside the vet's number and the emergency care
National Animal Poison Control Center
The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC) provides a 24-hour
emergency hotline that every dog owner should keep in plain sight. The
hotline numbers are (800)548-2423 and (900)680-0000. The 800 number
requires a credit card number and charges a flat $30; the 900 number
is $2.95 per minute for a maximum of $30.
The NAPCC is a non-profit service of the University of Illinois and is
the first animal-oriented poison center in the United States. Since
1978, it has provided advice to animal owners and conferred with
veterinarians about poisoning exposures. The NAPCC's phones are
answered by licensed veterinarians and board-certified veterinary
toxicologists. They have specialized information that lets the
experienced NAPCC staff make specific recommendations for your
animals; plus over 250,000 records are in their database.
When you call, be ready to provide:
* Your name, address, and phone number;
* If calling the 800 number, your credit card number;
* The species, breed, age, sex, weight, and number of animals
* The poison your animals have been exposed to, if known;
* Information concerning the poisoning (the amount of poison, the
time since exposure, etc.); and
* The problems your animals are experiencing.
Household products and plants are the most common culprits in
poisoning cases. In the case of poisoning from household products,
many companies cover the costs the pet owners incur when it has been
determined that their product is responsible for the reaction.
For further information, write to: The American Humane Association, 63
Inverness Drive East, Englewood, CO 80112-5117, or call (303)
Chocolate, tea, coffee, cola:
It is not chocolate itself that is poisonous to dogs, it is the
theobromine, a naturally occuring compound found in chocolate.
Theobromine causes different reactions to different dogs: dogs with
health problems, especially epilepsy, are more affected by theobromine
than healthy dogs. Theobromine can trigger epileptic seizures in dogs
prone to or at risk of epilepsy. The size of the dog will also be a
major factor: the smaller the dog, the more affected it is by the same
amount than a larger dog. Therefore, toxicity is described on a mg/Kg
Furthermore, theobromine can cause cardiac irregularity, especially if
the dog becomes excited. Cardiac arythmia can precipitate a myocardial
infarct which can kill the dog.
Theobromine also irritates the GI tract and in some dogs can cause
internal bleeding which in some cases kills them a day or so later.
Theobromine is also present in differing amounts in different kinds of
chocolate. milk chocolate has 44-66 mg/oz, dark chocolate 450 mg/oz
and baking/bitter chocolate or cocoa powder varies as much as 150-600
mg/oz. How much chocolate a dog can survive depends on its weight (and
other unknown circumstances). Under 200 mg theobromine per kg body
weight no deaths have been observed.
Theobromine will stay in the bloodstream between 14 and 20 hours. It
goes back into the bloodstream through the stomach lining and takes a
long time for the liver to filter out.
Within two hours of ingestion, try inducing vomiting unless your dog
is markedly stimulated, comatose, or has lost the gag reflex. If your
dog has eaten a considerable amount of chocolate, or displays any of
the above symptoms, take it to the vet without delay.
In the absence of major symptoms, administer activated charcoal. The
unabsorbed theobromine will chemically bond to this and be eliminated
in the feces. In pinch, burnt (as in thoroughly burnt, crumbling in
hand) toast will do.
Walnuts are poisonous to dogs and should be avoided. In particular,
there is a type of fungus common to walnuts (especially wet deadfall
walnuts) that will cause severe episodes of seizuring. Many nuts are
not good for dogs in general, their high phosporous content is said to
possibly lead to bladder stones.
Onions, especially raw onions, have been shown to trigger hemolytic
anemia in dogs. (Stephen J Ettinger, D.V.M and Edward C. Fieldman,
D.V.M. 's book: Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine vol. 2 pg
1884.) Also: "Six Cases of Heinz Body Haemolytic Anaemia Induced by
Onion and/or Garlic Ingestion" - CM Edwards and CJ Belford
Aust.Vet.Prac. 26 (1) March 1996, 18-22.
Potato poisonings among people and dogs have occurred. Solanum
alkaloids can be found in in green sprouts and green potato skins,
which occurs when the tubers are exposed to sunlight during growth or
after harvest. The relatively rare occurrence of actual poisoning is
due to several factors: solanine is poorly absorbed; it is mostly
hydrolyzed into less toxic solanidinel; and the metabolites are
quickly eliminated. Note that cooked, mashed potatoes are fine for
dogs, actually quite nutritious and digestible.
Turkey skin is currently thought to cause acute pancreatis in dogs.
In assessing the risk to your dog from these plants, you need to
consider both the age of your dog and it's propensity to chew on
plants. Many of the below toxic plants rarely cause problems because
most dogs don't chew them -- the exceptions being, of course, young
puppies who are inclined to explore the world with their mouths,
teething dogs who may chew on _everything_, and older dogs that are
simply fond of chewing. Oleander, for example, is rather toxic, but
most cases of poisoning involve 1) cattle, other grazing livestock 2)
puppies and 3) human babies/toddlers.
Dumb cane is probably the one plant that should always be kept out of
reach, since it takes only one nibble to have a potentially fatal
(from Carlson & Giffin.)
* That give rash after contact with the skin or mouth:
(mums might produce dermatitis)
chrysanthemum poinsettia creeping fig
weeping fig spider mum pot mum
* Irritating (toxic oxalates), especially the mouth gets swollen;
tongue pain; sore lips; some swell so quickly a tracheotomy is
needed before asphyxiation:
arrowhead vine majesty boston ivy
neththytis ivy colodium pathos
emerald duke red princess heart leaf (philodendron)
split leaf (phil.) saddle leaf (phil.) marble queen
* Toxic plants - may contain wide variety of poisons. Most cause
vomiting, abdominal pain, cramps. Some cause tremors, heart and
respiratory and/or kidney problems, which are difficult for owner
amaryllis elephant ears pot mum
asparagus fern glocal ivy ripple ivy
azalea heart ivy spider mum
bird of paradise ivy sprangeri fern
creeping charlie jerusalem cherry umbrella plant
crown of thorns needlepoint ivy
Poisonous outdoor plants
(from Carlson & Giffin.)
* Produce vomiting and diarrhea in some cases:
delphinium poke weed indian tobacco
daffodil bittersweet woody wisteria
castor bean ground cherry soap berry
indian turnip fox glove skunk cabbage
* May produce vomiting, abdominal pain, and in some cases diarrhea
horse chestnut buckeye western yew apricot, almond
rain tree monkey pod english holly peach, cherry
privet wild cherry mock orange
japanese plum american yew bird of paradise
balsam pear english yew black locust
* Varied toxic effect
rhubarb buttercup moonseed
spinach nightshade may apple
sunburned potatoes poison hemolock dutchman's breeches
tomato vine jimson weed mescal bean
loco weed pig weed angel's trumpet
lupine water hemlock jasmine
dologeton mushrooms matrimony vine
marijuana periwinkle morning glory
peyote nutmeg loco weed
china berry nux vomica coriaria
water hemlock moon weed
Poisonous household items
Boric Acid Metal Polish
Brake Fluid Mineral Spirits
Carbon Monoxide Mothballs
Carbuerator Cleaner Nail Polish and Remover
Christmas Tinsel Paint & Remover
Cleaning Fluid Perm Solutions
Detergents Photo Developer
Disinfectants Rat Poison
Drain Cleaner Rubbing Alcohol
Dye Shoe Polish
Fungicides Sleeping Pills
Furniture Polish Soaps
Gasoline Suntan Lotions
Hair Colorings Tar
Insecticides Windshield Fluid
Bufo toads. Found in various areas, especially in south Florida. Very
poisonous -- it can kill a small dog in a matter of minutes. It burns
the mucous membrane of the mouth (gums) which is why they drool and
foam, and that's also how it enters the bloodstream. It kills by
elevating the heart rate and blood pressure to deadly levels, similar
to the effects of chocolate. There is an antidote and the effects can
be lessened if you immediately flush the dog's mouth with water before
taking it to the vet.
Puppy strangles occurs in puppies 4-16 weeks of age. It is a juvenile
cellulitis of the face, ears, and lymph nodes. Affected puppies may
have a fevero, be lethargic and not eat. The cause is _unknown_. An
heritable immune dysfunction is _suspected_. CBC and biochemistry
tests are normal in uncomplicated cases. Bacterial cultures of lesions
are negative except with secondary infection. Biopsy results are
multiple granulomas and pyogranulomas consisting of large epitheloid
macrophages and neutrophils. Agressive therapy is indicated to prevent
severe scarring of the face. Standard medications are usually steroids
and antibiotics for secondary infections.
Rabies is probably the oldest and most well known (if also
misunderstood) of the diseases that can affect almost all warm blooded
mammals. Dogs are easily vaccinated against rabies: most counties and
cities require that all dogs be vaccinated before they can get their
dog licences, and veterinarians must report all the dogs they
vaccinate. Thus it has one of the highest compliance rates of all the
routine dog vaccinations available.
Rabies is transmitted by body fluids -- urine, saliva, or blood.
Ironically, if your dog tangles with a rabid animal, you may be more
at risk than your dog, since your dog is the one with regular rabies
shots whereas these are rarely administered to humans.
For rabies to infect you, it must come in contact with the skin or be
ingested. Dogs and cats can ingest it by getting the saliva or blood
of a rabid animal in their mouths where it will be absorbed through
the mucous membranes. Humans are particularly at risk since we have so
many minute cuts in our skin, that if we touch our dog or cat after
he/she has met a rabid animal, we can become infected.
Keep in mind that bites are the most common way for humans to contract
rabies from dogs, although other routes are possible. Some other
methods, such as urine spray from flying bats have been documented as
a means of transmitting rabies, but you are unlikely to encounter dogs
Rabies cannot be detected by a blood test since it invades the neural
system. The only detection at this time is by examining the brain
after death for signs of the infection. The incubation time is 3-6
months, which is why the standard quarantine for animals in some
countries is 6 months.
Call the local health inspector, animal control officer, or police if
your dog or cat has tangled with another animal that you suspect might
be rabid. Dogs and cats which have been vaccinated against rabies
should wear a tag at all times when not in the house to prevent being
destroyed to check for rabies. Most veterinarians will recommend
another booster as soon as possible if the dog has been bit or is
suspected to have been bit. The sooner the better to help protect
against the virus before it has time to spread.
_Just Bats_, Brock Fenton, University of Toronto, 1983, page 140.
(prepared by Edwin Barkdoll)
Despite the name, ringworm is caused by a fungus _Microsporum canis_
and less frequently by other species. Ringworm infections remain
limited to skin and superficial structures like hair and less
frequently nails in cats and dogs. The infecting fungi require the
keratin in superficial skin layers and nails, horns etc for their
metabolism and furthermore do not grow well at the warmer temperatures
of subcutaneous tissues, hence the superficial distribution. Note that
ringoworm agents are obligate parasites - they normally live on the
skin, although not in pathogenic numbers.
It can be transmitted between animals by skin abrasion or mild trauma,
grooming tools, scabs etc particularly if the animal's immune system
has been compromised, e.g. with steroids. In a normal, healthy animal
ringworm infections are usually mild and self limiting, say 1-2
months. A major motivation for getting rid of a ringworm infection is
to prevent _you_ the owner from getting it.
If it is a mild infection topical application of lime sulfur is
supposed to be good, although it can be smelly. Chlorhexidine shampoo
is also effective as is also a relatively new 2% miconazole shampoo
($$$). If the infection is severe, oral griseofulvin is effective but
The round, ring-like lesions are suggestive but _not_ diagnostic and
are not even the typical lestion in cats and dogs. The animal may have
itchy, scaly, crusty and hairless areas. Fungal culture is probably
the best diagnostic method but many vets are not set up to culture
fungi. A Wood's lamp can be used but not all ringworm agents will
fluouresce so absence of fluourescence does not mean no ringworm,
furthermore other things besides ringworm also fluoresce. In other
words Wood's lamp is not a great test. Microscopic examination of skin
scrapings may reveal the actual organism.
Finally, if you think your dog/cat has ringworm take it to the vet for
diagnosis and treatment. If it does have ringworm, _you_ can get it,
but prevention is straightforward - treat your animal.
Common symptoms are:
* seeking warm places to curl up
* lessened activity
* slow coat growth, brittle fur
* ring around the neck where fur won't grow, or loss of hair in
* loss of appetite/excessive appetite
* dry, thickened skin
* prone to skin infections
Dogs are often middle-aged or older, although this also occurs in
younger dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, hypothyroidism
is common in all breeds and all sexes, although the incidence is
highest in spayed females. Treatment involves daily thyroid pills, a
In the March '92 issue of Dog World is an excellent article,
"Autoimmune thyroid disease" by Dr. Jean Dodds DVM (a nationally
recognized expert on the subject) explains a lot about thyroid
conditions in dogs. She also goes to great effort to explain that dogs
can be hypothyroid _without_ showing the "classic" signs. She also
explains typical course of treatment and followups. There's also a
long list of breeds that are "predisposed" to problems.
[As a counterweight, note that many vets do not take Dr. Dodds
seriously because she does not publish in respected journals such as
JAVMA but rather in "popular" magazines. So always discuss fully and
candidly with your vet and bear in mind that many otherwise
"asymptomatic" dogs are diagnosed with low or abnormal thyroid levels.
This article is not attempting to argue one way or another over Dr.
Dodds' credentials, it's merely trying to be as informative as
More subtle signs:
* overweight despite controlled diets
* thin coats (not hair loss)
* smelling bad
* chronic ear infections
* sudden changes in temperament
The article by Dr. Dodds points out that the "subtle" signs are just
now being recognized by the veterinary community.
There is another article about thyroid problems in the Sept or Oct
('91) _Dog World_, and again, pointing out more unusual signs in the
Sept. '92 issue of _Dog World_.
Padgett, George DVM "Caniine Genetic Disease" Dog World, December
1996, January 1997, and March 1997 (in three parts).
Bodner, E. "Hypothyroidism: a New Direction", AKC Gazette Feb 1997 ,
Inceasing attention is being paid to this problem. OFA now has a
registry for thyroid function, details may be found at
von Willebrand's Disease
_Contributed by Gary Mason_
Von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder. It
is a complex and difficult disorder to deal with, because genetics,
diagnostic abnormalities, pathogenic mechanisms, and sometimes
conflicting clinical signs are all involved. The commonality between
all vWD is a reduction in the amount or function of von Willebrand
factor (vWF), which is manifested through abnormal platelet function
and prolonged bleeding time. Different breeds exhibit different
variations of the disease, and some individual animals appear to
While the bulk of the information available is based upon purebred
dogs, the disease is not unknown in mixed breeds. The total number of
breeds affected by vWF exceeds 50. The disease also appears in cats,
pigs, horses, and humans.
Human variants of vWD are broken into three main types which can be
used to describe canine vWD. Type I vWD is characterized by a low
concentration of normally structured protein. In screening studies
done at Cornell over a period of years (1982-1992), percentages of
dogs of some breeds tested as carrying the disease, and with
concentrations of vWF less than 50% of standard (considered to be at
Breed Total # Tested Average % Affected
(through 1/93) 1982-87 1988-92
----- -------------- ------------------
Corgi 3726 29 42
Poodle (std & min) 4048 17 29
Scottie 6505 14 30
Golden Retriever 6906 14 27
Doberman 22255 64 74
Sheltie 9393 22 34
Akita * 981 0 27
Cairn ** 411 0 23
* Totals for years 1989-1992.
** Totals for years 1990-1992.
All others for years 1988-1992.
Other breeds with a known prevalence of vWD in excess of 15% include
Basset Hounds, Dachshunds (mini & std), German Wirehaired Pointers,
German Shepherds, Keeshonds, Manchester Terriers (std & toy),
Miniature Schnauzers, and Rottweilers.
Type II vWD is characterized by a low concentration of an abnormal
vWF. Breeds in which severe type II-like vWD has been diagnosed
include American Cocker Spaniels, German Shorthaired Pointers, and
German Wirehaired Pointers.
Type III vWD is essentially the complete absence of vWF. Severe type
III vWD has been diagnosed in Australian Cattle Dogs, Chesapeake Bay
Retrievers, Fox Terriers (toy), German Shepherds, Scottish Terriers,
and Shetland Sheepdogs.
In vWD dogs, bleeding can be spontaneous - usually from the mucosa of
the mouth, nose, or gastro-intestinal tract. Injury that is
accompanied by bleeding may continue unabated until a transfusion is
administered. Whether or not bleeding from small wounds will stop
without treatment is not predictable.
Living with one of these affected animals can get quite interesting.
You must be careful with him in the house; by always having him on a
leash or within our sight in a portable pen when outside; and by
having a unit of frozen plasma at the veterinarian's at all times.
Obviously, elective surgery is not advised. Required surgery can be
preceded by transfusion with good results, though you can never be
Lastly, most of these diseases can be stopped by testing before
breeding, and through selective breeding. Unfortunately, experience
and hearsay indicate that the AKC is not active in the enforcement of
these preventive measures. Apparently the breeders, at least some of
them, are not either. You should insist that the parents of a litter
in a high risk breed have been checked prior to breeding -- and that
the puppies have likewise been tested.
There is a definitive genetic test for Type III vWD in Scottish
Terriers. The non-invasive test is available from VetGen
For other breeds, test kits and instructions for vWD are available
Comparative Hematology Section - Diagnostic Laboratory
College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
P. O. Box 5786
Ithaca, NY 14852-5786
These folks are very concerned and cooperative. I have exchanged
several Emails and phone calls with them. They are interested in the
dog's history, and are happy to hear anecdotal information - it is
just one more piece to the puzzle. They also maintain a (large) kennel
for affected dogs, so that might be an alternative if you can't keep
one, but don't want to put it down.
_NOTE: Most of the information above has been gleaned from data and
information developed at, and published by, the New York State
Department of Health Hematology Laboratory. _
The "traditional" vWD test (non DNA based) has enormous problems with
accuracy and determination of precise vWD status. The blood collection
for the vWD test must be done very carefully: you can only extract
blood once, and you must not shake or separate the blood. If the test
is done consistently and very carefully it can be useful. However, it
is difficult to diagnose vWD without the test as there are many other
things that can cause a bleeding problem, such as warfarin (rat
poison) poisoning. So you might see non vWD dogs bleeding to death
that are kept in a rat infested environment, for example.
Homozygous dogs rarely survive puppyhood. Heterozygous dogs generally
have clotting problems (taking longer to stop bleeding and form a
scab) which generally show up when the dog's tail is docked, dew claws
are removed, or other surgery is done in which the problem becomes
Wobblers -- Cervical Vertabral Instability "Wobblers" is the common term for a
spinal condition called cervical vertebral instability (also caudal cervical
spondylomyelopathy). It has not been proven genetic, but it is widely
considered to be as it is quite prevalent in the Doberman breed.
There are several different types, but in sum the neck vertabrae are unstable,
which causes the vertabrae to move or causes the disks in between to swell.
Some dogs have no pain but are paralyzed; other dogs are in extreme pain but
are mobile and some dogs are both.
Not very much is known about this disease. The mode of inheritance is unknown
(and it is only suspected to be inherited, not proven). There is no cure. As a
stopgap, surgical or medical intervention to reduce the swelling or stabilize
the vertebrae can be tried. There is no easy, safe method of diagnosis. The
only method of diagnosis is by myelogram which in itself can paralyze or even
kill the dog.
(Thanks to Robin Nuttal for the basic information on this disorder.)
Canine Medical Information, Part II FAQ
Cindy Tittle Moore, firstname.lastname@example.org