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

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/medical-info/part2
Last-modified: 15 Sep 1998

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This article is Copyright 1997 by the Author(s) listed below. 
It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without
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                      Canine Medical Information, Part II

   Cindy Tittle Moore,
   Copyright 1996.
Table of Contents

     * Prologue
     * Hip Dysplasia (HD, or C(anine)HD)
          + In general
          + Development
          + Breeding
          + 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
     * Leptospirosis
     * Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
     * Panosteitis (puppy limp)
     * Parvovirus
     * Patellar Subluxation
     * Poisons
          + Local Poison Control Centers
          + National Animal Poison Control Center
          + Foods
          + Poisonous houseplants
          + Poisonous outdoor plants
          + Poisonous household items
          + Poisonous animals
     * Puppy Strangles
     * Rabies
     * Ringworm
     * 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:
     Hip Dysplasia
     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
   presented below.
   Other online information includes:
  In general
   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
       dog (phenotype).
     * 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.
  Clinical symptoms
   (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
   by CHD."
  Environmental Influences
   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
   the joints.
  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):
     * acupuncture
     * chiropractic
     * vitamin therapy (generally Vitamins C & E & selenium)
     * superoxide dismutase
   Medical therapy (aimed at reducing pain/inflammation from arthritic
     * aspirin
     * bute
     * 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.
   Surgical intervention
     * 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
     * Euthanasia
  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 [1], 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 [2]. 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 [1].
   [1] Kealy, et al. "Effects of limited food consumption on the
   incidence of hip dysplasia in growing dogs." JAVMA, v201, n6 Sept 15
   [2] Willis, Malcom, _Genetics of the Dog_.
   _Radiographic Diagnosis and Control of Canine Hip Dysplasia_ by Joe P.
   Morgan, DVM, (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
   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)
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

   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!
Kidney Failure

   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.
Laryngeal Paralysis

   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,
  Excessive licking:
   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,
   causing pano.

   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).
Patellar Subluxation

   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
       way down
     * 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.
  Poisonous houseplants
   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
       to interpret:

       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
    dumb cane

     * Hallucinogens
    marijuana             periwinkle          morning glory
    peyote                nutmeg              loco weed

     * Convulsions
    china berry           nux vomica          coriaria
    water hemlock         moon weed

  Poisonous household items
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

  Poisonous animals
   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

   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
   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.
   _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
   ($$$). If the infection is severe, oral griseofulvin is effective but
   also $$$.
   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.
Thyroid Disorders

   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
     * infertility
   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
   permanent regimen.
   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
     * seizures.
     * 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 ,
   pp 40-42.
   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
   "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
   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
     607/253-3900 Voice
     607/253-3943 FAX
   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. _
  Additional Comments
   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,
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