image: Rottweiler Health Foundation

Rottweiler Health Foundation Mission Statementimage: Trotting Rottweiler

To raise money to fund critical research into the genetic, communicable and acquired diseases that plague our beloved breed, the Rottweiler.

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Winter 2008-09

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Disease brought on by the bite of a tick. Dogs who frequent fields, woods, barn and tall grasses are most prone.  Symptoms are usually immediate with dogs showing signs of distress - throwing up, nexplained fever, lethargy,  some have eye bleeds.  Medication prescribed by vet is usually Doxy.

Removing the Stigma of Genetic Disease
By Jerold S Bell, DVM     First published in the October, 2003 AKC Gazette

An inevitable consequence of breeding is the occurrence of genetic problems. No one wants to produce affected dogs, yet some breeders and owners are quick to assign blame. There are no perfect dogs, and all dogs carry some detrimental genes.

The emotional reaction to producing a dog with a genetic disorder often follows what is called the grief cycle:

  • Denial: This isn't genetic. It was caused by something else.

  • Anger: This isn't right! Why is this happening to my dogs?

  • Bargaining: My dog sired more than 100 other dogs that are healthy. So this one doesn't really count, right?

  • Depression: My kennel name is ruined. No one will breed to my dogs.

  • And, finally, acceptance: My dog was dealt a bad genetic hand. There are ways to manage genetic disorders, breed away from  this, and work toward a healthier breed.

Getting beyond denial

Unfortunately, many breeders can’t get beyond the denial stage. Some will hold to increasingly improbable excuses, rather than accept that a condition is genetic. They will falsely blame relatively rare disorders on common viruses, bacteria, or medications. The fact that these organisms or drugs are common to millions of dogs annually that do not have these disorders is not considered.

Some owners state that their veterinarian recommended not sending in a hip radiograph because the dog would probably not get certified. Then these owners lull themselves into believing that since the dog wasn't evaluated, it does not have hip dysplasia. The fact that a dog does not have an official diagnosis does not mean the dog is normal or "not affected."

It is important to confirm diagnoses of genetic disorders with blood tests, radiographs, or pathology specimens. However, the primary concern should always be for the individual dog. If an affected dog is not suffering, it should not be euthanized simply to obtain a pathological diagnosis. The increased availability of non-invasive techniques has made diagnoses easier to obtain.

Once confirmation of a genetic disorder is made, denial sometimes becomes deception, which is not acceptable. There are breeders who actively seek to prevent diagnoses and later necropsies, but who eventually realize that their actions are detrimental to their breed, and in the long run to themselves.

Working together to improve our breeds

Reducing the stigma of genetic disease involves raising the level of conversation from gossip to constructive communication. Dealing with genetic disorders is a community effort. Each breeder and owner will have a different level of risk or involvement for a disorder. We do not get to choose the problems we have to deal with. Breeders should be supportive of others who are making a conscientious effort to continue breeding their dogs while decreasing the risk of passing on defective genes.

Breeders ought to follow up on the puppies they have placed. They should periodically contact their buyers and ask about the health of the dogs. Some breeders fear they will be castigated if a dog they placed develops a problem. However, the vast majority of owners of affected dogs are pleased that their breeder is interested in their dog, and in improving the health of the breed so that other affected dogs are not produced.

A breeder cannot predict or prevent every health problem. If an owner's dog is discovered to have a problem, show your concern.

Breeders and breed clubs should be cooperative and supportive of researchers studying genetic disorders in their breed. Through research funded by breed clubs and by the AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF), new genetic tests for carriers of defective genes are continually being developed.

The Canine Health Information Center was established by the CHF and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals.  CHIC is an online registry that works with the breed parent clubs to establish a panel of testable genetic disorders that should be screened for in each breed. The beauty of the CHIC concept is that dogs achieve CHIC certification by completing the health-checks. Passing each health test is not a requirement for certification. CHIC is about being health conscious, not about being faultless.

My hope for each breed is that there will eventually be so many testable defective genes that it will not be possible for any dog to be considered "perfect." Then we can put emotions aside and all work together on improving our breeds.

Breeders must lead the way to remove the stigma of genetic disorders. The applications for both the OFA and CHIC health registries include options that allow for open disclosure of all health-test results or semi-open disclosure listing only normal results. It is up to breeders to show that we are ready to move genetic disorders out of the shadows and check off the boxes for full disclosure.

More national clubs are having health seminars and screening clinics at their specialties. It was thought these events would scare away potential owners. We now know that without addressing the problems, in the long run, the breed may not be there for the owners.

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Plastic, Vinyl, Rubber Dish Syndromes (submitted by Elaine Starry)

General: Dog - uncommon; no age, sex or breed predilection

Etiology:  Delayed type hypersensitivity; percutaneous contact with plastic vinyl, and synthetic rubber (the latter contains accelerators and antioxidants which are allergenic); usually associated with feeding dishes

Clinical features:  Distribution - lips and nose; lesions - depigmentation (leukoderma) plus erythema and alopecia (hair loss); diagnosis including history and physical examination

Treatment:  remove dish and administer glucocorticoids

Prognosis - pigment rarely returns

The Mysteries of Murmurs
Reprinted with permission from AKC Gazette

Hard to hear but not to fear, heart murmurs demand serious listening to ensure your dog is sound.  If you veterinarian detects a heart murmur in your dog, the first questions are always, "What is a murmur and what effects will it have on my dog?"  Basically, a heart murmur is an abnormal sound detected when the heart beats.  The sound is caused by alterations in blood flow patterns into, through or out of the heart.  A heart murmur is a signal that something has changed the normal blood flow.  It does not, however, necessarily mean the change will significantly affect your dog's health.

Many people have "innocent" murmurs -- heart murmurs that are not caused by significant changes and that never lead to health problems.  Although dogs can also have innocent murmurs, most are not innocent and are called pathologic.  Pathologic murmurs present at puppyhood are usually caused by birth defects called congenital defects, such as subaortic stenosis (SAS) and patent doctus arteriosus (PDA).  Some, but not all, birth defects of the heart are inherited.

The majority of murmurs in dogs are acquired -- that is, they are not present at birth but they develop during adulthood.  Most acquired murmurs are associated with leaky heart valves.  When the valve does not close tightly, blood leaks through it during the heart's contraction.  The leak produces abnormal blood flow, which causes the murmur.  When the valve itself is abnormal, the condition is considered primary valvular dysfunction.  The most common primary valvular disease of dogs affects the mitral valve.

Secondary valvular dysfunction occurs in normal valves when the heart muscle or other supporting structures change.  The most common cause is cardiomyopathy, a degeneration of the heart muscle.  When this muscle becomes too thick, too thin or doesn't contract normally, the valves distort, become leaky and generate a murmur.

Although the likelihood is great that a murmur is pathologic and not innocent, pathologic murmurs are not necessarily severe, life-threatening or even significant.  Unfortunately, simply listening to a dog's heart cannot help one differentiate between an innocent or a pathologic murmur.  Special tests are needed to determine what a murmur means for the health of the dog.

Any diagnostic tests to look at the heart must be performed on a moving target because, unlike any other organ, the heart is always beating, and thus always moving.  Although vets may recommend a chest x-ray when a new murmur is detected, results of x-rays cannot differentiate between an innocent or pathologic murmur, nor can they differentiate between primary valvular disease, cardiomyopathy or heart disease.  Without an exact diagnosis, designing a treatment protocol, predicting the prognosis and identifying healthy breeding stock are little more than guesses.

Cardiac ultrasound is the most efficient and least invasive test that can usually reveal information to determine the diagnosis, severity, treatment plan, prognosis and heritability.   Ultrasound examines the entire heart while it works.  Measurements taken during different stages of contraction and filling reveal how well or poorly the heart works, and where the murmur is being generated.  More subtle abnormalities or more complex defects may require more difficult tests.

One of the most frustrating challenges concerning murmurs is accurate detection.  Many factors determine whether or not a murmur will be detected.  First and foremost is the vet's skill.  Like all other talents, detecting heart murmurs requires special skill and experience.  Very loud murmurs are no problem for most vets, but soft, subtle murmurs are easily missed.  Even moderate murmurs may go undetected by some vets, particularly if the pup or dog is squirmy, breathing hard or panting.

Patience is invaluable under less-than-ideal circumstances.  Breath sounds can be mistaken for murmurs if the vet is not careful or is not highly skilled at listening.  Background noise, such as barking, fans, ringing phones, music and conversation can hinder the detection of murmurs.  Vets particularly interested in hearts, as well as those who recognize certain breeds as prone to heart disease, will spend extra time to listen comprehensively.  Owners often wonder if a murmur can be significant when it is so hard to hear.  The answer is a definite yes.  Certain types of heart disease generate very soft murmurs.

Board-certified cardiologists are the gold standard for detecting murmurs, especially in potential breeding dogs or pups.  A board-certified specialist in internal medicine is a great resource if a cardiologist is unavailable.  Many general practitioners are adept at detecting murmurs; however, since many vets practice in groups, having more than one vet listen to each dog may be worthwhile.

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Irritable Bowel Disease, Colitis, Gastritis and Ulcers
By Lew Olson LMSW-ACP PhD Natural Health,  

One of the leading problems in dogs today is a gastric problem. The problems are frequently accompanied with symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. These can lead to either poor appetite (or always appearing hungry), loss of weight, and coat and skin problems, which result in worry and frustration for the owner. These problems appear to be inflammation of either the small or large intestine and in some cases both. Some dogs may suffer spasms in the digestive tract, which create pain and loose stools. This creates increased inflammation in the digestion tract and poor absorption of the nutrients in the food. It is generally believed that if the irritation and inflammation is in the small intestine, more vomiting will be seen. If the seat of the problem is in the large intestine, frequent loose stools will be seen. It can also be a combination of both of these symptoms.

There is no way to diagnose this problem through blood work or a physical examination. Occasion­ally elevated liver enzymes may be present or decreased protein appears in the blood work. However, the most definitive way to proper diagnosis is through the use of an endoscope. A gastric specialist can use an endoscope to obtain a small sample in the intestine. The sample is checked by biopsy to note inflammation of the intestines. If inflammation is found, often a diagnosis is given of Irritable Bowel Disease.

While there is no apparent reason for how this disease occurs in some dogs and not others, some theories include genetics, poor immune system, autoimmune disorder, allergic responses to food and even a particular tendency in dogs that are hyperactive or of an anxious nature. Other problems that can mimic IBD symptoms include parasites, hyperthyroidism, bacteria infections and liver disease. These problems need to be ruled out, so it is important to always get a veterinarian check up and diagnosis for gastric issues.

Traditional treatments for gastric problems include the use of antibiotics, metronidazole (flagyl), steroids, certain immune suppressive drugs, anti-inflammatory agents and antidiarrheal drugs. Most frequently high fiber prescription diets are offered. Another management technique is to use hypoallergenic diets with one protein source and one carbohydrate source. While some of these treatments may be effective to help reduce vomiting and produce better stools, they don't offer a permanent solution, they often keep the immune system suppressed, and they offer a less than nutritious diet. High fiber foods help to remove excess moisture in the large intestine for a more normal looking stool, but it also continues to irritate the intestinal tract. Thus these methods may offer temporary solutions, but only while they are being used. Most dogs will relapse once these techniques are stopped. Long-term use of steroids (including prednisone) can cause liver and kidney problems, increased thirst and urination, increased appetite, panting, increased chance of pancreatitis, thinning of hair coat, and continued immune suppression. The following web link contains information on tapering off of steroids for IBD patients and side effects: sholland/Papers/Steroid.html.

Flagyl is not FDA approved for dogs and long-term use can cause liver problems, neurological signs and occasionally allergic reactions such as itching. While most of these treatments are recommended and prescribed, common philosophy is that IBD and other gastric problems cannot be cured, but merely controlled. Consequently, the owner and the health care practitioner battle to create a balance between anti-inflammatory drugs, antibiotics, anti-diarrheal medicines and steroids, along with high fiber diets.

Newer treatment options have been developed for human patients over the last few years and many of these have been also found effective in dogs. These have few if any side effects and are designed to help digest the foods better, help to heal irritated and inflamed digestive tracts and assist better assimilation and motility of the food through the digestion process. These include:

  • Digestive Enzymes. There are several types of digestive enzymes that help break down certain foods. Protease help breaks down proteins, lipase helps to break down fats and amylase assists in breaking down carbohydrates. There are many enzymes that fall under each category, and different types for various stages of digestion. The two types of enzymes that are most common are those either from animal or plant sources. Both are necessary to aid in all phases of digestion. Dogs with irritated or inflamed digestive tracts have difficulty breaking down the food for the nutrients, and digestive enzymes can help with this process and help offer better nutrition in the small intestine. Some plant enzymes help fight inflammation and reduce swelling and the most useful one is Bromelain, an enzyme that comes from pineapple. Important enzymes for fat digestion include pancrelipase. Trypsin is also helpful for gastric retention and fighting inflammation and helps to speed healing of the digestive tract. Probiotic Powder. These are often a blend of beneficial bacteria that aid in digesting food, preventing gas and discomfort and also help to boost the immune system. Antibiotics indiscriminately kill the good bacteria along with the bad and it is important to replenish these with good flora and fauna bacteria such as acidophilus, streptococcus and enterococcus. These also help to fight yeast overgrowth and keep bacteria from multiplying into harmful amounts by keeping a balance in the digestive tract. Healthy amounts of these friendly bacteria help fight spasms and cramping.

  • L-Glutamine. This is an amino acid that has shown promising results in the last few years to provide healing in the digestive system. Studies have shown it helps to repair intestinal tissue at the cellular level and it is a precursor to glutathione, an antioxidant. L-glutamine is also an aid to help restore muscle atrophy. It also induces the large intestine to remove excess water, which is helpful for dogs prone to diarrhea.

  • NAG- N-Acetyl Glucosamine. Research has shown that heavy mucus lines the digestion that is replaced every three to four days. Part of the make up of this mucus is NAG. However, in dogs with gastric upset and IBD, this mucus can turn over in production much more frequently. It was discovered in humans that with such a rapid recovery rate, they were unable to manufacture enough NAG. NAG is part of the important process to prevent permeability in this lining. Without enough NAG, a condition called leaky gut syndrome developed. Improper digestion and poor healing resulted. Studies showed that patients given NAG were able to produce enough NAG to stop the poor digestion and help in developing a healthy mucus coating. It was also shown to help repair damaged tissue. More information on this can be found at this website:
  • Salmon oil and Marine Lipids. There is a promising study that shows the anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oils are helpful for patients with Crohn's disease. You can read this study at the following website: Fish oil possesses some immune regulating properties. This may be helpful to IBD and other gastric upsets.

There is also some speculation that these disorders may be autoimmune related. Antioxidants are important for dogs diagnosed with IBS, as the poor digestion in these animals often creates a deficiency in these nutrients. These would include vitamin C, Bioflavanoids, vitamin E and zinc. Equally important are the B complex vitamins. Mineral supplements could be offered by kelp, alfalfa and algae blends, which are high in phytonutrients and other immune enhancing nutrients. These single cell foods are easy to absorb.

Diet. This is an important topic for dogs with gastric problems. Most commercial dog foods offered, including premium or prescription foods, are high in fiber and grains. These generally come in kibble form and the texture, dryness and high fiber content tend to make digestion more difficult and it adds a burden to the dog's short digestive tract, which is not designed to handle high fiber foods. They also contribute to gassiness and spasms of discomfort in the intestinal tract. Even human IBD and Crohn's diets are suggesting less fiber for times of setback and relapse. Both raw diets and home cooked diets are a better alternative for dogs, as the fiber content can be reduced to amounts that are better tolerated. Fresh foods that aren't heavily processed such as in commercial diets are more bioavailable (easier to digest and absorb) and aid in ease of digestion and absorption.

Raw diets seem to be most helpful in that they are served with raw meaty bones. The bones help to keep the stools firm. Easier digested fiber can be utilized, such as pulped or pureed vegetables rather than grains. Higher protein amounts are found useful and fresh fat or lightly cooked fats are easier to digest than the heavily processed fats found in commercial diets. A suggested diet would consist of a higher amount of proteins, medium amount of fat and low content of carbohydrates and fiber. The following is a sample diet: Meal One (feed 2% to 3% of body weight in total food daily) 3/4 meat, either raw lean hamburger, beef heart, canned, drained and rinsed mackerel or salmon, and 1/4 pulped vegetables (as in a juicer), mostly cabbage and broccoli, celery, dark leafy greens (collards, mustard, turnip greens or spinach). I also add one egg and two tablespoons of plain yogurt. Meal two (suggested amount for a 100 pound dog) four to six chicken necks (raw, skin removed), or four chicken backs, or five chicken wings. A cooked meal would not include bones (these splinter and can be dangerous if cooked) so the first sample meal (meat and vegetables) would be repeated, with the addition of calcium. Save the eggshells from the eggs, dry overnight and grind in a coffee bean grinder. Add at 1/2 teaspoon per pound of meat served. Vegetables from the cruciferous family (cabbage, broccoli) are helpful for healing the digestive tract, so remember to include these daily. A helpful hint for helping to stop vomiting is to boil organic cabbage for twenty minutes and let cool. Save the juice and give 5 CC's to a small dog, 10 CC's to a medium and more to a larger dog for aid in settling the stomach. Repeat as needed. For diarrhea, plain canned pumpkin is helpful in absorbing moisture from the stool. Give one teaspoon to a small dog, half a tablespoon for a medium dog and a tablespoon for a large dog. Repeat as needed.

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Treatment of Inflammatory Bowel Disease - 'IBD'
Requires Dietary and Medical Management
Reprinted with permission from Purina ProClub 'Rottweiler Review'

Canine inflammatory bowel disease or IBD is the most common cause of chronic vomiting and diarrhea in dogs.  Unfortunately, clinical symptoms can be difficult to manage and require taking a systemic approach using dietary and medical therapeutics to treat individual dogs.

For the owner of a Rottweiler suffering with IBD, the main concern is ending a dog's vomiting or diarrhea.  "The underlying cause of IBD is poorly understood, which makes it a challenging disease to treat," says Stanley L. Marks, B.V.Sc., Ph.D., associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Universty of California-David School of Veterinary Medicine.  "Once established, the cycle of IBD is hard to break."

Speculation about the cause of IBD includes a hypersensitivity response to antigens, or substances that cause an allergic reaction, in the gut.  There are a number of factors that can precipitate this abnormal response, including dietary proteins, intestinal bacteria, intestinal parasites, and genetic predispositions.  The altered intestinal immune response results in the accumulation of inflammatory cells in the lining of the gut, causing tissue damage and the clinical signs of vomiting, diarrhea or weight loss.

There are a number of different types of cells that can cause inflammation in the intestinal lining, and Rottweilers appear to be predisposed to a form of IBD called eosinophilic gastritis or gastroenteritis.  The average at which IBD is diagnosed is 6.3 years, although dogs as young as 6 months are occasionally diagnosed with the syndrome.

A tissue biopsy is required to confirm the diagnosis of IBD.  It is important to realize there are many known causes of intestinal inflammation resembling IBD, thus, diagnosing the syndrome is a matter of exclusion.

Dogs with IBD often are malnourished to some extent, although the disease and its effects may was and wane.  Malnutrition can result because of a loss of appetite, the rapid passage of food through the intestines, fluid imbalances, and vitamin and mineral malabsorption.  Water-soluble vitamins such as cobalamin, and fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin K are the vitamins most often depleted in dogs with IBD.

Treatment of IBD has three goals: reduction of the incidence and frequency of diarrhea and vomiting; promotion of healthy weight gain and proper nutrition; and reduction of intestinal inflammation.  The three goals offer supportive intervention, rather than a curative outcome.

Owners should not be concerned if their veterinary specialist suggests orderings a series of tests and medical imaging to rule out cancer.  Intestinal cancer can sometimes mimic the signs of IBD and other gastrointestinal diseases, and it is important not to overlook this possibility.

"Corticosteriods remain the cornerstone of medical therapy of IBD, despite the lack of published controlled clinical trials documenting their benefit in dogs," Mark says.  "Oral prednisone is the most common form, but this well-known, powerful drug has both benefits and adverse effects.  It is highly recommended that owners and their veterinarians work together closely concerning a dog's condition and any changes in medication dosage."

"Once established,
the cycle of IBD is hard to break."

Other medications may also be recommended in conjunction with prednisone.  These drugs might be used to lower the dose of the prednisone or provide a more potent immunosuppressive effect based on the severity of the disease.

Nutrition is important in long-term management of IBD.  Among the nutritional approaches that seem to help some dogs with IBD is feeding a novel, highly digestible protein source, Mark says.  A hypoallergenic diet is sometimes helpful, especially in dogs with advanced disease or in dogs showing adverse reaction to multiple protein sources.

Feeding a fat-restricted diet may help IBD canine patients, but there are potential drawbacks as well.  Fats are potential drawbacks as well.  Fats are a necessary nutritional component, but too much fat can precipitate diarrhea in some dogs.  Increasing dietary fiber may aid in treating IBD, particularly if the disease is localized to the large bowel.  Different types of fiber can gel and bind fatty acids and bile acids in the bowel, assisting in resolving diarrhea.

A Collaborative Approach
The best outcome in managing canine IBD occurs when an owner and veterinarian work together to determine the optimal treatment for an individual dog, Marks says.  Meanwhile, the future holds promise that scientists will eventually better understand the disease and will gain knowledge about certain medications and diet components that can interact to improve a dog's health and well-being.

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Updated Vaccination Protocol
May, 2008

Dr. W. Jean Dodd's vaccination protocol is now being adopted by all 27 North American veterinary schools.  Some of this information will present an ethical and economic challenge to vets, and there will be skeptics.

Some organizations have come up with a political compromise suggesting vaccinations every 3 years to appease those who fear loss of income vs. those concerned about potential side effects. Politics, traditions, or the doctor's economic well being should not be a factor in medical decision. ~ Jean Dodds, DVM, 938 Stanford Street, Santa Monica, CA 90403 (310) 828-4804; FAX (310) 828-8251

"Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus (MLV)vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces an immunity which is good for the life of the pet (ie: canine distemper,parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory
cells induced." Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. "There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual
administration of MLV vaccines."

Puppies receive antibodies through their mothers milk. This natural protection can last 8-14weeks. Puppies & kittens should NOT be vaccinated at LESS than 8weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced.
Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart suppress rather than stimulate the immune system. A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age.  Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of
age (usually at 1 year 4mo) will provide lifetime immunity.

Distemper & Parvo "According to Dr. Schultz, AVMA, 8-15-95, when a vaccinations series given at 2, 3 & 4 months and again at 1 year with a MLV, puppies and kitten program memory cells that survive for life, providing lifelong immunity." Dr. Carmichael at Cornell and Dr. Schultz have studies showing immunity against challenge at 2-10
years for canine distemper & 4 years for parvovirus. Studies for longer duration are pending. "There are no new strains of parvovirus as one mfg. would like to suggest. Parvovirus vaccination provides cross immunity for all types." Hepatitis (Adenovirus) is one of the agents known to be a cause of kennel cough. Only vaccines with CAV-2 should be used as CAV-1 vaccines carry the risk of "hepatitis blue-eye" reactions & kidney damage.

Bordetella Parainfluenza: Commonly called "Kennel cough" Recommended only for
those dogs boarded, groomed, taken to dog shows, or for any reason housed where exposed to a lot of dogs. The intranasal vaccine provides more complete and more
rapid onset of immunity with less chance of reaction. Immunity requires 72 hours and does not protect from every cause of kennel cough. Immunity is of short duration (4 to
6 months).*

Lyme disease is a tick born disease which can cause lameness, kidney failure and heart disease in dogs. Ticks can also transmit the disease to humans. The original Ft. Dodge killed bacteria has proven to be the most effective vaccine. Lyme disease prevention should emphasize early removal of ticks. Amitraz collars are more effective than Top Spot, as amitraz paralyzes the tick's mouthparts preventing transmission of disease.

Multiple components in vaccines compete with each other for the immune system and result in lesser immunity for each individual disease as well as increasing the risk of a reaction. Canine Corona Virus is only a disease of puppies. It is rare, self limiting (dogs
get well in 3 days without treatment). Cornell & Texas A&M have only diagnosed one case each in the last 7 years. Corona virus does not cause disease in adult dogs.*

Leptospirosis vaccine is a common cause of adverse reactions in dogs. Most of the clinical cases of lepto reported in dogs in the US are caused by serovaars (or types) grippotyphosa and bratsilvia. The vaccines contain different serovaars eanicola and
ictohemorrhagica. Cross protection is not provided and protection is short lived. Lepto vaccine is immuno-supressive to puppies less than 16 weeks.

Giardia is the most common intestinal parasite of humans in North America, 30% or more of all dogs are infected with giardia. It has now been demonstrated that humans can transmit giardia to dogs and vice versa.

VACCINES BADLY NEEDED New vaccines in development include:
Ehrlichia [one of the other tick diseases, much worse than Lymes] for dogs.

Most vets recommend annual boosters and most kennel operators require them. For years the pricing structure of vets has misled clients into thinking that the inherent value of an annual office visit was in the "shots" they failed to emphasize the importance
of a physical exam for early detection of treatable diseases. It is my hope that you will continue to require rabies & Kennel cough and emphasize the importance of a recent vet exam. I also hope you will accept the new protocols and honor these pets as currently vaccinated. Those in the boarding business who will honor the new vaccine protocols can gain new customers who were turned away from vet owned boarding facilities reluctant to change.

Dogs no longer need to be vaccinated against distemper and parvo every year. Once the initial series of puppy vaccinations and first annual vaccinations are completed, immunity from MLV vaccines persists for life. Imagine the money you will save, not to mention less risks from side effects.  PCR rabies vaccine, because it is not adjuvanted, will mean less
risk of mediated hemolytic anemia and allergic reactions are reduced by less frequent use of vaccines as well as by avoiding unnecessary vaccines such as K-9 Corona virus as well as ineffective vaccines such as Leptospirosis and FIP.

Perform vaccine antibody titers for distemper and parvovirus every three years thereafter, or more often, if desired. Vaccinate for rabies virus according to the law, except where circumstances indicate that a written waiver needs to be obtained from the primary care veterinarian.  In that case, a rabies antibody titer can also be performed to accompany the waiver request.  For more information on:

W. Jean Dodds, DVM
938 Stanford Street
Santa Monica, CA 90403
310-828-4804; Fax 310-828-8251

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Sub-Aortic Stenosis - 'SAS'
...a heart condition
(read findings on completed SAS study)
(NEW 2010 Grant 1313 on Familial SAS)

Sub-Aortic Stenosis is a common congenital defect found in dogs. Breeds that are predisposed are: golden retriever, Newfoundland boxer, German Shepard, and Rottweiler. This defect is very uncommon in cats.

SAS is a congenital defect, meaning that is present from birth. There is also very good evidence that it is also heritable, meaning that it is passed on from generation to generation genetically. This genetic trait is what is called polygenic, so that the inheritance is complex. An animal might have the genes for SAS, yet have no sign of SAS. Also, an animal might have signs of SAS, and yet offspring with signs of SAS may not be seen for a couple of generations. Any animal that has SAS should not be bred, because they can definitely pass the defect on to future offspring. There is some controversy as to whether the parents of an animal with SAS should be bred again.

image:  Canine Heart With Stenosis

SAS is a disease where the aorta, as it leaves the left ventricle, is narrowed. The narrowing is caused by scar-like tissue just underneath the aortic valve (hence the name sub-aortic (underneath the aorta) stenosis (narrowing). The narrowing makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood forward to the body. The heart muscle, to compensate, gets very thick Oust as lifting heavy weights causes muscles to get larger). As the heart muscle thickens, blood supply to the heart muscle is inadequate, and scarring of the heart muscle itself results from this inadequate blood supply. This scarring causes rhythm disturbances of the heart, and it is these rhythm disturbances that generally lead to problems. The hallmark of this disease is sudden death. These dogs are generally without any symptoms, and then die suddenly from a lethal rhythm disturbance. Some animals may develop congestive heart failure, with fluid in the lungs, but this is not nearly as common.

The prognosis for this disease depends on the severity of the narrowing. Animals with mild sub-aortic stenosis usually have normal life spans and exercise tolerance. Dogs with moderate SAS generally have decreased exercise tolerance, but can have normal life spans. Some of these dogs with moderate SAS will die suddenly at an early age (from 3-7 years of age). Dogs with severe SAS generally have decreased exercise tolerance, and die suddenly at early ages, from 2-4 years of age, although the rare animal may live considerably longer.

Treatment options for dogs with SAS depends on the severity of the disease. Dogs with mild disease need no medication or limitations. Dogs with moderate to severe disease may benefit from medication with a beta blocker, but this has not been definitively proven. Dogs with severe disease should be placed on medication with a beta blocker, even though this has not been proven to be beneficial, because the theoretic benefits are substantial. Surgery can be performed, but this is an open heart surgery, and is quite expensive. This surgery is available at very few universities.

There are certain diagnostic tests that are necessary to accurately diagnose sub-aortic stenosis, to tell you how bad the problem is, what can be done about the problem, and what you can expect in the future for your pet. An echocardiogram (or heart ultrasound) is used to look within the heart, confirm the diagnosis, and to look for other problems within the heart that might confound therapy. The echocardiogram must also include Doppler ultrasound to give you complete information. The echocardiogram is the most useful diagnostic tool, and gives very specific information. X-rays (radiographs) are not very helpful with this disease, as most of the heart enlargement is within the heart, and X-rays do are not very helpful in making the diagnosis. If other defects are found by echocardiography, especially a concurrent leak past the mitral valve, then radiographs to look for evidence of fluid in the lungs may be essential. An electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) is very useful to check for rhythm disturbances or evidence of lack of oxygen to the heart muscle (but is not very useful otherwise), and may be repeated to assess response to certain medications. Monitoring at home is difficult, because most of these animals die suddenly without any other signs.
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USDA Grants Conditional Approval
for First Therapeutic Vaccine to Treat Cancer

Merial's New Vaccine Treats Deadly Cancer in Dogs
March 26, 2007

Duluth, Georiga - Merial, the world's leading animal health company, gained conditional approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a breakthrough vaccine to treat canine melanoma, a common yet deadly form of cancer in dogs. This is the first time that the U.S. government has approved a therapeutic vaccine for the treatment of cancer - in either animals or humans.
The vaccine will initially be available for use by specialists practicing veterinary oncology, so pet owners will want to ask their veterinarians about how to access this treatment option.
The vaccine was developed through a partnership between Merial, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and The Animal Medical Center (AMC) of New York. Drs. Alan Houghton and Jedd Wolchok of MSKCC were doing laboratory testing of a melanoma vaccine they developed. An inquiry by Dr. Philip Bergman of The AMC, seeking novel treatments for canine melanoma, resulted in the clinical trial of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering melanoma vaccine at The Animal Medical Center. Subsequent parallel trials at AMC and MSKCC refined the dosage and protocol to the current therapeutic regimen for dogs.

"Both humans and dogs develop this cancer in exactly the same way. The disease occurs spontaneously through an interaction of genes with the environment," explained Jedd D. Wolchok, MD, PhD, an oncologist on the Clinical Immunology Service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering. "By conducting trials in humans and in animals that live in the same surroundings as humans, there can be a synergy that we hope will result in improved cancer treatment for all."

Canine melanoma is an aggressive form of cancer that typically appears in a dog's mouth, but also may appear in the nail bed, foot pad or other areas. Dogs with melanomas that have gone beyond initial stages typically have a lifespan of one to five months with conventional therapies. To date, the most common treatments for this form of cancer have been radiation and surgery. "Melanoma spreads readily, and, unfortunately, is often resistant to chemotherapy," said Bob Menardi, DVM, a veterinarian and spokesperson for Merial.

Clinical studies of the vaccine in dogs led by Philip Bergman, DVM, MS, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM-Onc. at The Animal Medical Center's Donaldson-Atwood Cancer Center and Flaherty Comparative Oncology Laboratory, demonstrated significantly longer life spans even in dogs with advanced stages of melanoma. In fact, many dogs have survived beyond the 389-day median survival of the initial study.
"Historically speaking, treatment of oral melanoma with surgery, radiation or chemotherapy has not been very effective," said Dr. Bergman. "This therapeutic vaccine is an adjunct therapy for dogs that have been diagnosed with this often fatal disease."

Merial obtained licensing rights from MSKCC and AMC, and, using their access to and experience with DNA vaccine technology licensed from Vical Incorporated (Nasdaq: VICL), completed the industrialization and regulatory requirements for conditional licensure. The vaccine will be administered via a new Canine Transdermal Device, which delivers the vaccine without the use of a needle. The device was developed in conjunction with Bioject, a Portland-based research pharmaceutical device company (Nasdaq: BJCT).

"We're all very proud of what we've accomplished here," said Tim Leard, DVM, PhD, Director of Biologics Research and Development at Merial. "We've brought together a number of partners, all committed to innovation and discovery. This product will improve the health and well-being of dogs, and we're very excited about continuing this work, leveraging technology, and developing more treatments."

The USDA has issued a conditional U.S. Veterinary Biological Product License for this therapeutic vaccine. This conditional license is a response to an application and assurance of safety and purity, and a reasonable expectation of efficacy based on initial trials performed at MSKCC and AMC.
During the period of conditional licensure, Merial will conduct additional research to further support the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. Production under this license is in compliance with all regulations and standards applicable to such products.

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Cancer Research Center Genetics of Canine Cancer - Melanoma and Lymphoma
Report by: Jamie Modiano, Ph.D. - Center for Cancer Causation and Prevention, AMC

Cancer is a group of diseases whose common thread is unregulated cell division and proliferation. Cancer can effect any dog of any breed at any ages. Osteosarcoma was recognized as a cancer that Rottweilers appeared to have a predisposition to. Evolution of tumors is due both to environmental factors and genetics. Tumors are made up of heterogeneous cells populations making them difficult targets to treat. The clustering of specific cancers in breeds and families suggests that a hereditary component may be important in the development or progression of the disease. Unlike other heritable conditions, genetic susceptibility to cancer might not manifest in disease until a dog has reached middle age and long after it has achieved breeding potential. When present, this genetic susceptibility is most likely to be due to a process called loss of heterozygosity. At conception, individuals inherit 2 copies of each gene, one from each parent. Each of these gene copies is referred to as an allele. A family line or breed may have, through the course of time, lost a functional allele of a tumor suppressor gene through mutation. Tumor suppressor genes encode proteins that prevent or retard cell division. The leading cause of cancer is loss of heterozygosity.

RHF Grant
Modiano's study is fairly well explained in literature that I will be submitting to the RHF for distribution. He will be looking at the frequency of mutations in families of Rottweilers studying osteosarcoma. Hopefully this research will lead to tools that will help predict the risk of a dog or its offspring to develop this devastating tumor. When combined with strict breeding practiced the incidence of these cancers should decrease. Additionally, this research should lead to advanced molecular therapies for canine cancer. Cancer in dogs closely mimics cancer in humans. Breed clubs could assist this research by identifying dogs afflicted with disease and blood relatives that are disease free.  Read the 2002 Conference Report: 'Genes, Dogs, and Cancer'
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Tramadol - New Horizons for a Safe Pain Medication for Dogs and Cats
By Lew Olson LMSW-ACP PhD Natural Health, May 2005

(Note: We are interrupting the series of “The History of Dog Feeding” to bring you some important information on a new and safe pain medication for dogs and cats.  The final installment of the History of Dog Feeding will continue in June and will include recipes that were used at that time.  These recipes *not* recommended to be used; however I am will include them simply for historical interest.)

Pain relief medication for dogs and cats did not offer many options until the advent of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDs) medications such as Rimadyl, Deramax, Etogesic and Metacam. Up until that point, pain in animals was not well addressed, nor was it given the attention it needed. These NSAID medications work by blocking inflammation though inhibiting COX (cyclo-oxygenase). COX inhibitors block prostaglandins, which are considered the precursors of pain. While these drugs looked very promising in the beginning, problems began to develop. Side effects were discovered and included:  loss of appetite, change in drinking habits (refusal to drink or increased water consumption), unusual pattern of urination, blood in the urine, sweet-smelling urine, an overabundance of urine, urine accidents in the house, vomiting,  diarrhea, black, tarry stools or flecks of blood in the vomit, lethargy, drowsiness, hyperactivity, restlessness, aggressiveness, staggering, stumbling, weakness or partial paralysis, full paralysis, seizures, dizziness, loss of balance, jaundice (yellowing of the skin, mucus membranes and whites of the eyes)

When newer drugs were introduced, such as Deramax, further side effects were discovered such as increased bleeding on initial use of the drug and a much higher death rate:

Another problem with NSAIDs is that they can’t be used with steroid drugs such as dexamethazone, prednisolone, Vetalog or Depomedrol. The prostaglandins also protect the liver and kidney and when these are blocked, kidney and liver problems can quickly develop in some dogs (cats should not take NSAIDs). More information on contraindications with NSAIDs can be found on this web page:

So for those of us with dogs that have sensitive stomachs or kidney and liver issues, there were no good alternatives or choices for pain control. Even aspirin is a COX inhibitor and Tylenol can cause severe liver problems. Opiates could be used for severe cases (such as Fentanyl patches or morphine) but these tended to cause disorientation and drowsiness in dogs.

I felt very left out for pain control in my animals. I have a dog with a congenital kidney condition that could not use the non steroidal type medications. I had another dog with elbow dysplasia, and continuous use of NSAIDs seemed too risky. And last, I had a dog with bone cancer in her front leg that also had a herniated stomach. But through the modern world of the “Internet,” I heard about this drug called Tramadol.  Tramadol basically works as an opiate where it helps to block pain receptors, but does not have the heavy duty side effects of morphine (such as confusion and sleepiness). Furthermore, Tramadol is not a narcotic, so it needs no special paperwork. It is a prescription drug, but does not create addiction or mood altering experiences. It is safe for dogs with kidney and liver conditions and does not cause gastric bleeding. And if necessary, it can be combined with NSAIDs or steroids (NOTE: never combine NSAIDs and steroids.  That is very dangerous).

It is generally given twice daily, although dosing and times need to be determined by your veterinarian. It is a relatively new drug, so many vets are not aware of it yet. If your vet would like more information, provide these websites for further information:

For my girl with bone cancer, the use of Tramadol reduced her pain and as a result, it increased her appetite, gave her more mobility and better quality of life. For my dog with elbow dysplasia, Tramadol has given him a new lease on life and freedom from his elbow pain. I have not yet needed to use it for my dog with kidney problems, but I have ease of mind knowing there is a good pain medication for him should he ever need it.

Good pain control is important in so many ways for dogs and cats  (tramadol is also safe for cats). It helps relieve pain which in turn can increase appetite. It can help with mobility in arthritis and bone cancer pain. It can give many dogs and cats a new lease on life with greater comfort and ease in their day to day to living. It could well be a good pain medication to give in some surgical recoveries.

Do not give Tramadol with Deprynyl (often used for Cushings Disease), serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors.

The side effects of Tramadol can include nausea, and drowsiness. Neither of my dogs experienced nausea, but both were drowsy the first day or so but this quickly subsided (and might be due to the fact that they were pain free and feeling very good!) Side effects are considered rare with Tramadol.

In veterinary medicine there has been a recent explosion in the development of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for the control of animal pain, particularly canine.

These medications act by inhibiting cyclo-oxygenase, an enzyme that creates assorted inflammatory biochemicals.  Unfortunately, cyclo-oxygenase also creates some much needed biochemicals as well and there are different forms of cyclo-oxygenase with different functions. These medications are virtually never safe for feline use (except in one-time doses as in the control of pain associated with surgery).  Further, occasionally, a dog will develop a reaction to one of the so-called COX-inhibiting anti-inflammatories. For these patients, tramadol may be just the ticket.

Tramadol can be used for pain relief in both dogs and cats. (Most non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are dangerous for feline use, so this provides a nice choice for cats with chronic pain issues.) Tramadol is given two to three times daily.

Side Effects

If a pet develops apparent sedation or bizarre behavior, the Tramadol dose should be reduced. Upset stomach is occasionally observed with Tramadol. Side effects are generally considered rare.

Ultram is the brand name for Tramadol. Dogs should never be given Ultracet, which also contains acetominophen and is very dangerous for dogs (and cats).

B-Naturals offer two natural anti-inflammatories that can be used safely with Tramadol. Tramadol blocks the pain receptors, but other products may be needed to help fight inflammation.

The first is Tasha's Herbspirin, an herbal blend that contains Vegetable Glycerin, Distilled Water, Black Cohosh, Meadowsweet, White Willow Bark, Celery Seed, Alfalfa Lead, Hawthorne Berry, Rosehips, Prickly Ash Bark and Flower Essences. Herbspirin (Willow Bark) for dogs is formulated to help relieve inflammation, aid connective tissues and address the accompanying sense of insecurity, rigidity and anxiety which dogs experience when living with the challenges of stiffness and reduced movement. It is also useful after surgery or accidents, and for general pain relief. Always give WITH meals.

The second is Azmira’s Yucca Intensive. Yucca Intensive contains natural steroidal saponins which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. It is especially beneficial in the treatment of bone, joint and gastrointestinal disorders. Tissue swelling reduces blood flow through injured areas and increases toxins that irritate the liver and kidneys. Yucca cleanses these organs, promoting blood flow and tissue repair. It contains Concentrated, Purified Yucca Extract and Potassium Sorbate (mineral-based stabilizer). Use at one drop per ten pounds of body weight, twice daily WITH meals.

Also helpful for dogs and cats in stress is the Rescue and Relief Essence. Rescue & Relief Essence is a must to have on hand in your first aid kit. It helps to minimize the effects of any sudden trauma or loss. It reduces states of panic or grief from an accident, or emotionally difficult experience. It helps during onset of illness, too. It contains the Bach Flower Remedies Star of Bethlehem (reduces trauma, shock and grief), Rock Rose (for panic, fear and terror), Clematis (reduces fainting and spaceyness), Impatiens (for stress, tension and irritability) and Cherry Plum (to help maintain control). This can be repeated every 5 to 15 minutes initially up to 1 hour, as needed. It may be added to the water dish.

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New Form of Canine Pain Medication Approved
by Sherry Morse, 2003 Animal News Center, Inc. - June 20, 2003

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved use of an injectable form of the canine pain medication most commonly pre­scribed by veterinarians. Only an oral from of the medication, a drug calld Rimadyl that was developed by Pfizer, had previously been approved for use by the FDA.

"The combination of Rimadyl Injectable and oral take-home dosing creates the first complete program for managing canine pain caused by arthritis or surgery," said Pfizer Animal Health Sedation and Pain Management Team Director Michael McFarland, DVM. "Now, veterinarians and pet owners can ensure proper pain management for dogs before, during and after surgery, as well as ongoing pain control for chronic conditions like arthritis."

The oral form of Rimadyl has been in use in the United States for treatment of pain caused by arthritis since 1977. FDA approval for use of the oral form to treat pain resulting from surgery was granted in 2002.

"We now have the ability to provide a highly effective one-two punch against pain," said Bernadine Cruz, DVM, who practices at the Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California. "That means enhanced quality of life for the dog and added peace of mind for the dog owner."

Sources:  Pfizer. FDA Approves Rimadyl(R) (Carprofen) in New Injectable Form Cheryl Hogue, Research Coordinator, VetGen 1-800 483-8436.  The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. Updated Labeling Released for Rimadyl.

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Revisiting Rimadyl
by Christine Wilford, DVM taken from the AKC Gazette with permission

There is no question that Rimadyl (carprofen) has become a very popular non­steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. In its first year on the market, Rimadyl caplets were used by more than 22,000 veterinary practices to treat more than one mil­lion dogs. A new report on Rimadyl has just been released by its manufacturer, Pfizer Animal Health, to help owners and veterinarians make more informed decisions about the drug's risks and benefits.

As with any medication, when a drug is first sold to the general market, the number of patients receiving it increases and so does the probability of an adverse reaction. Vets or owners must report information on possible adverse reactions to a drug's manufacturer or an independent reporting agency.

After Rimadyl was on the market for one year, Pfizer reviewed all the reports it received from owners and vets on possible reactions associated with the drug and put together a product safety assessment for veterinari­ans. What follows is a review of their findings.

The overall incidence of an adverse reaction that could be associated with Rimadyl was 0.2 percent, or two out of every 1,000 dogs receiving Rimadyl. Keep in mind that many reports included reactions that were thought to be associated with Rimadyl, but there was no evidence to prove this. Further investigation revealed that many of the reported reactions were caused by something other than Rimadyl.  Gastrointestinal disturbances (vomiting, anorexia, or abnormal stools) were responsible for approximately one-third of all reports, or 12 cases per 10,000 dogs. These symptoms disappeared with the discontinuation of Rimadyl. Reports of gastrointestinal ulceration were rare. In some cases, diseases that could have posed additional risk factors for ulceration were found in the affected dogs. In a few cases, no concurrent conditions were diagnosed.

Possible adverse events involving the kidneys were also rare (three cases per 10,000 dogs). Like the gastrointestinal system, a pre­existing disease may have increased the risk of adverse reactions in the kidneys. The discontinuation of Rimadyl in dogs showing evidence of kidney dysfunction, resulted in an improvement in the majority of the dogs. A few of the adverse kidney reactions were fatal.

Adverse reactions associated with the nervous system occurred in approximately two out of every 10,000 dogs. Clinical signs included weakness, a lack of coordination and, in some cases, seizures. The behavioral changes reported in approximately three out of every 10,000 dogs included hyperactivity, aggression and depression or sedation. Most of the affected dogs improved after withdrawal of the medication.

Liver problems are the most notorious adverse effects associated with Rimadyl and are separated into two categories: cases where there are elevated liver enzymes and normal liver function (hepatopathies), and cases where there is evidence of liver insufficiency or failure (hepatic dysfunction). Hepatopathies occurred in approximately five out of every 10,000 dogs receiving Rimadyl. Most dogs were clinically normal and the elevated liver enzymes were detected during routine monitoring or during the diagnostic evaluation of another problem. Dogs with hepatic dysfunction, however, became clinically ill. Two out of every 10,000 dogs showed clinical signs of the disorder including vomiting, lack of appetite, jaundice (yellowing) or lethargy.

Although anecdotal reports about deaths asso­ciated with Rimadyl abound, the data regarding the actuality of such occurrences is reassuring. Only 25 percent of all mortality reports sent to Pfizer were assessed as being possibly related to Rimadyl therapy. In other words, only five out of every 100,000 dogs receiving Rimadyl suffered a fatal reaction that could possibly be ascribed to the medication.

The disturbing statistic is that in 50 percent of the mortality reports, a necropsy was not performed. This means that although owners or vets might suspect or blame Rimadyl for the cause of death, there was non conclusive evidence to support the claim. When we do not gather important information through a postmortem, we lose the opportunity to learn more about a drug's safety. It is easy to blame Rimadyl for bad outcomes when there is no medical proof to the contrary. In one-fourth of the mortality reports submitted to Pfizer, however, other fatal conditions that had previously gone unrecognized were identified when necropsies were performed.

It is important to weigh a drug's side effects against its therapeutic effects before using it. It is also important to make sure a drug is the cause of an adverse effect before labeling it as such.  

Early Spay/Neuter Linked to Osteosarcoma

Research has linked early neutering and spaying before first cycle to significant increases in the risk of osteosarcoma in Rottweilers.

"The researchers found that 14.8% of the Rottweilers studied developed appendicular bone cancer. The relative risk was 1.65 castrated males, 1.34 in spayed females and 1.03 in intact females. The risk of developing bone cancer was significantly higher in animals that were neutered at less than 1 year of age compared with intact animals.  Dr. B. C. Beranek, Purdue University"
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Curcumin Inhibits Cancer Cell Growth In Studies
By Allen S. Josephs, M.D., President,

For the last several years, I have been very closely following the nutritional medical literature. I make it my business to, at least once a day, scan for various articles. I have noticed a very curious thing in recent weeks, that being the publication of several articles on the anti-cancer effects of curcumin.

Curcumin, the active ingredient from the herb turmeric, is actually a spice and food coloring compound that has shown increasing potential as an anti-cancer agent. It has previously been shown that curcumin protects against the development of colonic tumors in rats treated with agents that can induce colon cancer. In a study published in the May edition of the Journal of Carcinogenesis, researchers monitored responses to the addition of curcumin to two human colon cancer cell lines. It was found that curcumin appeared to induce cellular arrest. In another study published in the May journal of Cancer Letter, researchers studied the effect of curcumin on human lung cancer cells. They had indicated that previous studies had shown that curcumin's anti-cancer effects appear to be due to its ability to induce apoptosis, a predetermined death of cells, as well as to arrest the cell cycle. In this study, human cancer cells were again treated with curcumin. It was found that this nutrient did induce apoptosis in these human lung cancer cell lines. In the May edition of Journal of Cell Biochemistry, human skin cancer cells were, likewise, exposed to curcumin and shown to be a potent inhibitor of cancer cell growth. In another recent study out of Rutgers University, in my home state of New Jersey, several nutrients were studied -- including green tea, components of red wine, and curcumin -- regarding human cancer cell lines. All of these nutrients appeared to inhibit cellular cancer growth, but by different mechanisms. In the June edition of the journal Prostate, researchers from New York studied the effects of curcumin on human prostate cancer cells. It was found that curcumin inhibited cancer cellular growth by interfering with the growth factor receptor pathways and other mechanisms. The researchers concluded that curcumin may inhibit growth factor collaboration between prostate cancer cells and osteoblast/stromal cells, thus exhibiting a potential to prevent the establishment of bony metastasis. Osteoblast cells are bone-forming cells, while stromal cells are composed of connective tissue.

I believe that there are currently some human clinical trials underway in the United States testing the effects of curcumin as a cancer preventative agent. It appears from the laboratory data that the evidence is overwhelming. I am certainly excited by what I have been reading. Curcumin even showed some benefit experimentally in a recent study published on cystic fibrosis. Other studies indicate possible benefits for joint function, reducing inflammation and pain. It appears to be quite an amazing nutrient.

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Leaner Dogs Live Almost Two Years Longer
Nestle Purina PetCare Study Proves Lean Living Adds Nearly Two Years to Life

In the first completed canine lifetime diet restriction study, conducted by Nestle Purina PetCare, researchers proved that maintaining dogs in lean body condition extended their median life span by 15 percent - or nearly two years for the Labrador retrievers in this study.

The 14-year study*, initiated in 1987 and completed in 2001, took place at the Purina Pet Care Center and compared 48 Labrador retriever dogs from seven litters. The dogs were paired within their litters according to gender and body weight and randomly assigned to either a control or lean-fed group. The control group was fed ad libitum during 15-minute daily feedings, while the lean-fed group was fed 75 percent of the amount eaten by its paired littermates. All dogs consumed the same 100 percent nutritionally complete and balanced diets (puppy, then adult formulations) for the entire period of the study; only the quantity provided was different.

Median life span was increased by 1.8 years, or 15 percent, in the lean-fed dogs compared to the control dogs. Median life span (age at which 50 percent of the dogs in the group had died) was 11.2 years in the control group compared to 13.0 years in the lean-fed group. By age 10, only three lean-fed dogs had died, compared to seven control dogs. At the end of the twelfth year, 11lean-fed dogs were alive, with only one control dog surviving. Twenty-five percent of the lean-fed group survived to 13.5 years, while none of the dogs from the control group lived to that age.

*Published in the May l, 2002 (Vol. 220, No.9) issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Effects of diet restriction on life span and age-related changes in dogs. Gail  Smith, VMD, PhD, study collaborator and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine states.

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Deciphering the Downs...when your dog isn't feeling well
by Christine Wilford, DVM taken from the AKC Gazette with permission

When your dog is right on its marks, there is no better feeling, but when it's off, that sick feeling in your stomach can be hard to take.  Many factors, s ome frivolous and some serious, can affect your dog's performance.  Since your dog can't tell you what's going on, deciphering the cause of your dog's "downs" begins with thorough backtracking.  Here are some points to help you troubleshoot, and perhaps avoid, some of those low times.

If you haven't traveled with your dog recently, there are fewer potential factors, but still some influences to consider.  The same simple things that make us perform less than our best, such as a sleepless night or unexplainable upset stomach, can also affect your dog.  Consider whether your dog's normally stable routine was significantly changed, particularly if mealtime, exercise or sleep was different than usual. 

Recent vaccination can cause mild to moderate side effects that last for days to several weeks after administration.  If side effects such as muscle pain, stiffness, joint pain or a low-grade fever develop, they are likely to affect performance.  Many types of medications, from antibiotics to pain relievers, may also cause mild side effects.  Consider any recent medications that your dog received if its performance is not up to par.  Remember to always report to your veterinarian all suspicious adverse effects associated with any type of medication.

If your vet recommends medication for your dog at a time when you anticipate attending an event in the near future, be sure to ask about any potential side effects regardless of how uncommon.  Depending on what is being treated and the potential adverse effects, you may decide not to gamble.  Some flea and tick treatments can make dogs feel a little less perky than usual. Furthermore, dips containing organo-phosphate chemicals can be seriously toxic and can have a cumulative effect, causing depression and, potentially, seizures.  Topical products sold at pet supply and grocery stores often contain pesticides that may cause minor to serious adverse effects.

Some dogs need weeks to adjust to a new diet, even when gradual changes are made.  What many people don't know is that a new bag of your dog's usual brand of food or a new batch of its usual canned food may cause the same problems as a drastic food change.  Manufacturers periodically change the formulas of their diets.  Most  recipe changes are slight, but even small changes may cause increased intestinal gas and abdominal discomfort.  If significant formula changes are made, transient intolerances and diarrhea may occur for no obvious reason.

Just like at conformation shows, your dog becomes exposed to lots of dogs you don't know at performance events.  Try to recall whether any known exposures to suspiciously ill dogs have occurred, particularly at parks, rest areas or places where large numbers of dogs congregate from different areas.

Traveling poses all kinds of disruptions and introduces more potential factors that may interfere with performance.  From bedding and time zone changes to strange smells and the taste of different water, just being out of their normal environments can be stressful for some dogs.

If you are fortunate to live in an area that has no fleas, and must travel through or to a climate with lots of fleas, your dog could be miserable.  Anywhere you stop along your drive to the event:  your hotel room, the hotel property and grounds of the event are great areas to pick up flea infestations.  Dogs that are not used to fleas tend to be more aggravated by fewer bites than dogs that are used to fleas.  Two excellent flea-control products, Advantage and Frontline, should eliminate the flea threat to your dog, but you have to plan ahead and apply the protection before your trip.  If you're unsure about whether the region has fleas, be on the safe side and apply protection.

Any areas where dogs or other animals have defecated are potential foci for infections, particularly gastrointestinal parasites.  Walking across what looks like a clean field can expose a dog to hookworms, roundworms and whipworms.  A sudden out­break of diarrhea may be the first sign of a large exposure to worm eggs in an otherwise well-feeling dog.  Parvovirus may lurk for many months in the soil where carrier animals defecate.  Water from sources other than clean tap water might contain giardia, an organism found in many regions of the country that causes vomiting and diarrhea. 

Dogs that are prone to episodes of pancreatitis or bloat may develop problems as a result of stress and changes during shows and travel.  A slacking performance may be nothing to worry about, but if you are able to identify an otherwise innocuous event that might be associated, then you may be able to prevent problems in the future.

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Raisin and Grape Toxicity In Dogs
By Laurinda Morris, DVM - April 17, 2004

This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet.  My patient was a 56 pound, 5-year old male neutered lab mix who ate a half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 and 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.  He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday but the owner didn't call my emergency service until 7:00 a.m.  I had heard somewhere about raisins and grapes causing acute renal failure but hadn't seen any formal paper on the subject.

We had her bring the dog in immediately.  In the meantime I called the ER service at MedVet and the doctor there was like me -- had heard something about it.  Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said to give IV fluids at 1-1/2 times maintenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-71 hours.   The dog's BUN (blood<BR>urea nitrogen level) was already 32 (normal less the 27) and creatinine over 5 (1.9 is the high end of normal).  Both are monitors of kidney function in the bloodstream.  We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids.  Rechecked the renal values at 5:00 p.m. and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids.  At this point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care.  He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values have continued to increase daily.  He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic.   He was on three different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn't control his vomiting.  Today his urine output decreased again.  His BUN was over 120 and his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorous was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220.  He continue to vomit and the owners elected to euthanize.

This is a very sad case involving a great dog and great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxic.  Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk.  Poison control said as few as 7 raisins could be toxic.  Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats.  Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern.  Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Laurinda Morris, DVM, Danville Veterinary Clinic, Danville, Ohio
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Parasitic Worm:  Heterobilharzia Americana
Posted October 20, 2004

With all the recent wet weather conditions, especially in the South, dog owners should be aware of a nasty parasitic worm called Heterobilharzia Americana.

Learn more about this worm by clicking on the following links:
and the American Association for Veterinary Parasitologists: 

A recent dog list on the internet had a post from a dog breeder in Texas.  The breeder was looking for some assurance and help, but also wanted to send out a warning to other dog owners.  She explained that about six weeks ago one of her bitches stopped eating and rapidly started losing weight. Her dog would not eat. Then she developed messy stools. Trying everything under the sun to entice her dog to eat, the dog still refused food.  After spending over two thousand dollars, the bitch continued to decline, going from 60-plus pounds to 34 pounds.  This bitch had just turned 2 years old and fed a natural raw diet since birth.

A couple weeks later, when she was let out of her crate, she staggered.  Checking her out, she seemed extremely dehydrated despite drinking and sub-q fluids, she was taken to the vet emergency clinic, where she continued to decline. By 2:00 a.m. she started seizuring and when the breeder went to pick her up at the emergency clinic in the morning, the dog slipped into a coma.  She took the dog to her regular vet and the dog was put down.  The pathology revealed a nasty parasitic worm called Heterobilharzia Americana.

The snail that can carry this worm apparently thrives in standing water. The breeder is now landscaping the yard to eliminate wet areas and are planning on spreading diatomaceous earth to get rid of the snail population.

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Glaucoma Risk Heightened by Collar Tension

A study conducted by a University of  Madison-Wisconsin veterinary ophthalmologist showed an increase in intra-ocular pressure in dogs while pulling on a collar.  This confirmed a correlation between glaucoma and collar stress.  Glaucoma is a disease of the eye in which the interior fluid pressure behind the eyeball builds up and cannot be released through normal channels of tear ducts and sinuses.   The study involved 26 sled dogs and was conducted during a six month span.  Dogs with weak or thin corneas or with glaucoma caused by other conditions should wear harnesses rather than collars, according to the study.  There was greater elevation in intra-ocular pressure in older dogs.  Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies experienced less change in pressure, possibly due to the way the dogs braced against their harnesses.  There was a significant rise in pressure when force was applied to the neck, through a collar and leash, but not when the leash was fastened to a harness.  However, the make and fit of the harness in working dogs is important in mitigating possible negative effects on the eyes.  It is possible that even small increases in intra-ocular pressure can have detrimental effects on the optic nerve and retina, according to Dr. Ellison Bentley, one of the researchers collaborating on the study.    Further research is needed to determine if those dogs that developed higher pressure had other predisposing factors for glaucoma in addition to the tension caused by pulling against a collar.
DVM Newsmagazine, July 2006).
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New, Safer and More Effective Vaccine Protocol

Dateline June, 2006 -- VACCINATION NEWSFLASH
Below is the vaccine protocol that all 27 veterinary schools in North America are in the process of changing their protocols for vaccinating dogs and cats as suggested by known immunologist Jean Dodd DVM's vaccine protocol.

NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY:  Dogs and cats immune systems mature fully at 6 months. If a modified live virus vaccine is given after 6 months of age, it produces immunity, which is good for the life of the pet (ie: canine distemper, parvo, feline distemper). If another MLV vaccine is given a year later, the antibodies from the first vaccine neutralize the antigens of the second vaccine and there is little or no effect. The titer is not "boosted" nor are more memory cells induced.

Not only are annual boosters for parvo and distemper unnecessary, they subject the pet to potential risks of allergic reactions and immune-mediated hemolytic anemia. There is no scientific documentation to back up label claims for annual administration of MLV vaccines.

Puppies receive antibodies through their mother's milk. This natural protection can last 8-14 weeks. Puppies & kittens should NOT be vaccinated at LESS than 8 weeks. Maternal immunity will neutralize the vaccine and little protection (0-38%) will be produced.

Vaccination at 6 weeks will, however, delay the timing of the first highly effective vaccine. Vaccinations given 2 weeks apart SUPPRESS rather than stimulate the Immune system.

A series of vaccinations is given starting at 8 weeks and given 3-4 weeks apart up to 16 weeks of age.

Another vaccination given sometime after 6 months of age (usually at 1 year and 4 months) will provide lifetime immunity.

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Warning about Artificial Sweeteners

Xylitol, the sweetener used in place of sugar can be fatal to dogs.  It is a five carbon sugar alcohol found in the fibers of many fruits and vegetables.  It can be extracted from corn fibers, birch, raspberries, plums and mushrooms.  It is apparently harmless to people but causes major health problems in dogs.  Here are some of the products which contain Xylitol.  Candles, sweeteners, chewing gum, toothpaste, baking powders, multivitamin compounds, chocolate, food storage containers, mouthwash, fresh-breath capsules, moisturizing nasal wash.

Vomiting, weakness, ataxia, seizures, hypoglycemia and hepatic failure are some of the more frequent effects of ingesting this ingredient.  [taken from Dog News]

Treating Arthritis with Dog's Own Stem Cells
Working dogs suffering from arthritis are being treated with their own stem cells and finding relief.  The treatment will help provide new cells which will produce more sonovial fluid around the impaired joint. They are seeing success with older dogs and arthritis treatment within a week of injecting the newly separated stem cells harvested.

In one dog's case, they took fat from near the liver (there are other sites) which apparently has a concentration of stem cells, sent it overnight to a bio-company that separates out the stem cells. They concentrate the cells, mail them back overnight, and the vet just has to inject them in the area needed. The stem cells receive their "orders" from the dog's body and develop into the cells needed at the site and go to work. They are using it in younger dogs as well.

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(Compiled by Karin Lillington; with permission to link, crosspost, and reproduce)


Background information: Explanation of SM and current treatments:

SM support list:

SM general discussion list:

CKCS SM Website:


This document is an attempt to gather together symptoms shown by syringomyelia-affected Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Cavaliers unfortunately are affected by SM in disproportionately larger numbers to any other breed. The primary symptoms (usually at least one of these is present) are described as:

  • excessive scratching (especially while on the lead, and often 'air scratching' where the dog scratches in mid-air, which may cause the dog to hop while walking)

  • ongoing tenderness around the neck, head, shoulders, or hind limbs; or weakness and/or pain in limbs

  • yelping as if in pain, but for no apparent reason

Understandably, such descriptions can be confusing – how much scratching is 'excessive', for example? Some people might turn to their vet with such questions, but many have found their vets either were unfamiliar or only vaguely familiar with syringomyelia. This document, an attempt to help clarify how affected dogs may act, is a compilation of descriptions of a whole range of symptoms from owners of syringo-affected cavaliers, offered by neurologists, vets and owners of affected dogs. While it might be tempting to dismiss particular symptoms because they may originate in a normal dog behavior, true SM symptoms are distinctive and become excessive, with most affected dogs showing odd behavior in conjunction with any of the three points above -- with a vet unable to find any other identifiable cause for any of the behaviors.


At this point an owner should consult with a neurologist, ideally one familiar with SM. If syringomyelia is suspected the only way to make a definite diagnosis is by an MRI of the head and neck regions. However, symptoms may be so distinct that the condition can be diagnosed from symptoms alone. At this point the dog may be treated with medication, homeopathy, or shunt or decompression (skull) surgery. Decompression surgery, while the most serious and invasive alternative, usually halts the progression of the condition but does not guarantee it will not return. However most dogs seem to significantly improve or at the very least, stabilize after surgery. About 25% of dogs develop scar tissue after surgery which can cause cerebro-spinal fluid (CSF) pressure to build again and SM to recur. Some neurosurgeons are experimenting with inserting a titanium mesh to reduce or prevent scarring, a technique used successfully in human surgeries. Information on the success rate of various treatments is at present only anecdotal.


Below, general symptoms are listed, and then a range of ways in which each has been expressed in different dogs. Keep in mind that many of these symptoms are also typical dog behavior, so owners should look out for a range of symptoms or a gradual worsening of a single or a handful of symptoms or *excessive* behavior. Symptoms typically show between 6 months and three years, but may appear at any time including in puppies as young as 8 weeks old. Dogs exhibiting symptoms before age 2 tend to be more severely affected. Dogs may go through good periods when the symptoms subside and bad periods when they are severe or return. Many of the symptoms typically occur when the dog is on the lead or excited. Note that although scratching and pain are considered key symptoms, some dogs never show one or the other, but may show some of the other symptoms. Fewer than 50% of dogs ever scratch as a symptom so SM should not be ruled out on the basis that the dog isn't scratching.



Dogs display frequent to almost continuous scratching at head, shoulders or ears, often on one side only. This can progress until the dog is scratching itself raw or scratching and yelping in pain, or scratching almost manically while lying on the floor. Scratching can happen in long 'episodes' of several minutes at a time. Sometimes scratching includes biting at areas, sometimes until those areas are raw. Sometimes touching the dog's ears brings on scratching.


Air scratching, a circular scratching motion with the leg, where the dog never actually scratches itself, is another common symptom – often occurring while on the lead. Often it becomes more frequent over time until walks become difficult. This can lead to a 'bunny hop' gait as the dog tries to scratch the air with one leg and walk.


If you suspect your dog may have SM, get a harness for the dog for walks as soon as possible, as this significantly relieves the pressure at the neck that makes dogs scratch in discomfort during and right after walks. The neck is often sensitive because this is where the brain protrudes into the spinal column of affected dogs and is also where syrinxes (fluid pockets) form in the spine due to CSF pressure.


General expression of pain

Often syringomyelia is first noticed because a dog begins yelping or whining or whimpering, even shrieking or screaming, seemingly for no reason. Again, this often occurs while on the lead. Pain episodes can disappear then return even after a year or more. Some episodes can be severe with the dog shivering with pain and crying out for long periods.


Often the dog is so uncomfortable and tender that it cannot abide being touched in areas such as the head, neck or shoulders or even on an entire side. Sometimes the pain is so severe that the dog can not be picked up or held. Eyes may look pained. Dogs may pant with pain.


In some dogs weather changes such as storms or a cold front seem to bring on pain episodes (some neurologists believe this may be due to shifts in atmospheric pressure which affect the CSF fluid pressure). When in pain, some dogs go seclude themselves under tables, chairs or beds. Some seem to have episodes mostly at night. Pain can occasionally make the dog irritable with other dogs or with people.


Seeking cool areas or restlessness

Often an affected dog will shift constantly rather than sleep comfortably, and go in search of cold places such as tile or cement floors or even out in the rain, which seems to bring some relief.


Weakness in Limbs

Some dogs acquire a "rolling gait" that can worsen. They may show a lack of coordination. They may collapse easily, even falling over while standing. Sometimes brushing, grooming or bathing  bring on collapsing episodes. They may fall over, usually to one side, when playing (though investigate Episodic Falling Syndrome if this happens frequently).


Dogs can start to have difficulty getting up and down stairs and couches and beds. They can have leg twitching episodes. They might not be able to balance well when set down. A paw or leg might go weak.


Feet Licking

Some dogs will lick at their paws or legs obsessively, often until raw.


Tiredness and lethargy

Some dogs become very sleepy and rest much of the day and night, often with their head elevated, which seems to be more comfortable for them.


Fly-catching, head shaking, lip-licking

Fly catching is a neurological condition in which the dog snaps at the air, as if snapping at flies, and has been reported in many syringomyelia dogs though it occurs as a separate condition on its own, as well. Dogs often will shake their heads and ears, yawn excessively (probably an attempt to clear pressure they feel in their heads), or lick at their lips excessively.


Eating and Drinking

Many dogs become uncomfortable eating with dishes placed at a low level and raising them seems to significantly help relieve discomfort. Some dogs start to choke on food or refuse food.


Head rubbing

Some dogs start to rub their head from side to side on the floor as if their heads hurt, doing this excessively (NB: normal dogs will do this with pleasure, often before rolling on the floor). They sometimes 'mush' their face against the floor. In severe cases dogs have rubbed their faces raw on the floor.


Digging or pushing

Some dogs begin to dig obsessively at carpets or sofas especially after they have experienced an episode of pain. They may run along the length of a sofa pushing themselves against it. Again, this behavior is normal in many dogs; with SM dogs, the activity is frantic and an expression of pain.


Walking in a circle

Some dogs start to walk in circular patterns.


Nerve damage, stiffness, seizures

This can affect a dog in many ways, from loss of feeling, hearing, or muscular movement. Some dogs have neurological problems with their eyes. Nerve damage seems to be progressive with this condition though some dogs have little or no visible damage and others have severe damage. The surgery seems to halt the progression of such damage but will not reverse existing damage.


Some dogs develop a stiffness in the neck, back and/or limbs. In severe cases the neck may stiffen and bend permanently to the right or left ('neck scoliosis'), or the whole body may bend into a 'C' shape when the dog runs. The head may tilt permanently to one side or the other. The dog may have head tremors. Some dogs have begin to have seizures, in some cases, several a day and often very severe.



Keep in mind:


Many symptoms listed have nothing to do with syringomyelia so it is important for a vet to eliminate other possibilities first, including PSOM (primary secretory otitis media), or 'glue ear', which causes similar symptoms and is frequently seen in cavaliers. Allergies to many things, including diet, can also cause dogs to rub their heads on the floor. Ear infections, ear mites, skin conditions or skin irritants like mites or fleas can cause a dog to scratch obsessively or scratch or shake the head and ears.  Some dogs are also yelpers, especially when excited. It's a good idea to eliminate more common possibilities first before exploring whether a dog has syringomyelia. However, early treatment – especially if opting for surgery – is also important. Do not postpone taking a dog in to see a good vet – ideally, one familiar with this condition -- if its actions seem to point towards syringomyelia. Waiting even a matter of weeks may result in permanent neurological damage as health can decline swiftly in severely affected dogs.


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