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.
An excellent source of information on hip dysplasia is:
Hip DysplasiaA 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 recommended.
A Guide for Dog Breeders and Owners
2nd Edition 1989
By E.A. Corley and G.G. Keller
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 presented below.
Other online information includes:
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:
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.
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.
"...[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 by CHD."
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.
You cannot, repeat, cannot make a reliable diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia on the basis of external symptoms such as lameness or gait.
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
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 the joints.
Non-traditional treatments (not validated by controlled trials):
"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
 Kealy, et al. "Effects of limited food consumption on the incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs." JAVMA, v201, n6 Sept 15 1992.
 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.
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 1993.
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 Assoc 1997;210:207-214)
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)
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 light-sensitive.
Mild form: Lethargy, possible loss of appetite.
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 recommended.
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" 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!
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 seen.
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.
Secondary complications such as bronchitis, etc. may occur.
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 & Giffin.)
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.
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.
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, causing pano.
Lethargy and listlessness, proceeding rapidly to almost uncontrollable diarrhea and vomiting.
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.
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).
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.
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:
For further information, write to: The American Humane Association, 63 Inverness Drive East, Englewood, CO 80112-5117, or call (303) 792-9900.
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.
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.
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 situation.
(from Carlson & Giffin.)
chrysanthemum poinsettia creeping fig weeping fig spider mum pot mum
arrowhead vine majesty boston ivy neththytis ivy colodium pathos emerald duke red princess heart leaf (philodendron) split leaf (phil.) saddle leaf (phil.) marble queen
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
delphinium poke weed indian tobacco daffodil bittersweet woody wisteria castor bean ground cherry soap berry indian turnip fox glove skunk cabbage larkspur
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
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 dumb cane
marijuana periwinkle morning glory peyote nutmeg loco weed
china berry nux vomica coriaria water hemlock moon weed
Acetaminophen Laxatives AntiFreeze Lead Aspirin Lye Bleach Matches 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 Deoderants/Deoderizers Phenol 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 Herbicides Turpentine Insecticides Windshield Fluid Kerosene Woodstains
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 flying overhead.
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.
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 ($$$). If the infection is severe, oral griseofulvin is effective but also $$$.
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.
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 possible.]
More subtle signs:
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 , pp 40-42.
Inceasing attention is being paid to this problem. OFA now has a registry for thyroid function, details may be found at http://www.prodogs.com/chn/ofa/thyroid.htm.
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 "acquire" vWD.
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 risk) were:
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 certain.
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 (800-4-VETGEN).
For other breeds, test kits and instructions for vWD are available from:
Comparative Hematology Section - Diagnostic LaboratoryThese 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.
College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University
P. O. Box 5786
Ithaca, NY 14852-5786
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.
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 apparent.
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.)