Dog Health:  Dog Diseases

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As dog owners and people who care deeply for animals and wildlife, we wanted our Dog Encyclopedia to be a website that could empower pet owners to create the most positive, loving environment for their dogs. Dog Encyclopedia realizes that owning a dog is like adding a new member to your family.

No one wants to see their dog come down with an illness or disease. here is a list of some of the most common health problems for dogs. If you feel your pet may have the signs or symptoms of any disease listed, please visit a vet immediately. It is important when picking choosing a dog breed to be aware of any hereditary diseases that may affect your dog. Each page of our Dog breeds lets you know what diseases or illnesses are common for that particular breed. If a breed suffers from a higher probability of a certain dog illness or disease, it is important to make sure the puppy or dog you are purchasing has had all possible health screenings and has a certificate of good health.
Bleeding Disorders
CanineVon Willebrand's Disease (VvWD)- This is an inherited bleeding disorder. 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. The vWF factor is a blood protein which binds platelets to blood vessels when they are injured. Absence or deficiency of the factor can, therefore, lead to uncontrolled bleeding episodes. In dogs, the most common clinical signs are spontaneous bleeding from the gums or nose, blood in the urine or gastrointestinal tract, or excessive bleeding at the time of surgery. Dogs at highest risk for this disease include the Corgi, Poodle, Scottie, Golden Retriever, Doberman, Sheltie, and Akita.  Other breeds with a known prevalence of vWD  include Basset Hound, Dachshund, German Wirehaired Pointer, German Shepherd, Keeshond, Manchester Terrier, Miniature Schnauzer, and Rottweiler.

Eye Problems
PRA-PRD-Progressive retinal degeneration ( PRD ) is also known as progressive retinal atrophy ( PRA ) and refers to retinal diseases that cause blindness. PRD refers to a broad group of inherited retinal disease which result in the blindness of dogs. Because of the nature of the disease and sometimes late onset, repeated examinations may be required to detect individuals with the condition. Patients affected should not be used for breeding. PRA has been shown to be autosomal recessive in the poodle, Irish setter, Norwegian elkhound, and Samoyed. The recessive nature makes this disease extremely difficult to eliminate from affected bloodlines. There is no treatment for the disorder.

GLAUCOMA-  This is a serious eye problem. It usually it leads to partial or total blindness. It is due to an increase of fluid pressure within the eyeball caused by an interruption of fluid exchange between the eyeball and the venous circulation. Glaucoma initially affects just one of the eyes. If the pupil in one eye is larger than the other, something is definitely wrong. If treatment in the dog is not started to combat glaucoma in a few days or, in some cases a few hours, vision will probably be lost completely from the affected eye. The pressure can crush the cells of the retina and optic nerve, rendering them nonfunctional.

CATARACTS- A cataract is defined as a loss of the normal transparency of the lens of the eye. Any spot on the lens that is opaque, regardless of size, is considered a cataract. Treatment consists of surgical removal of the lens ( cataract extraction ). This operation is usually recommended for the dog who has so much visual impairment that it has trouble getting around. Breeding of affected animals is not recommended.

DISTICHIASIS-  Distichiasis is a condition in which small hair structures abnormally grow on the inner surface of the eyelids. The abnormal hairs growing on the inner surface of the lids cause irritation to the cornea. The affected eye will become red, inflamed, and may develop a discharge. The dog will squint or blink very often, much like a person when a bug or other foreign matter enters the eye. In severe cases, the cornea may become ulcerated and appear bluish in color. Left untreated, severe corneal ulcerations and infections can develop. Treatment involves the removal of the hairs through the use of surgery or electro-epilation.

LUXATED LENS- Luxated (displaced) lens occurs when the zonula (ligament fiber) which holds the lens in place deteriorate allowing the lens to fall out of its normal site behind the pupil. Treatment varies due to the severity of the disorder. Surgical removal of the lens will alleviate pain and allow partial vision. This surgery is expensive and not always shown to be effective. Sometimes a combination of eye drops and oral medication is helpful. In severe cases, removal of the eye is necessary.

PPM- Persistent pupillary membranes (PPM) are blood vessel remnants in the anterior (forward) chamber of the eye which fail to regress normally in the neonatal period. These strands may bridge from iris to iris, iris to cornea, iris to lens, or form a sheet of tissue in the anterior chamber. The last 3 forms pose the greatest threat to vision and when severe, vision impairment or blindness may occur. The membranes appear to be white, gray, or pigmented. There is no effective treatment for PPM.

Heart Diseases
Sub-Aortic Stenosis- Sub-Aortic stenosis (SAS) is a type of heart disease that is usually fatal. It is very different than what is termed a heart murmur. It sometimes shows up on a standard veterinary examination with a stethoscope when the dog is a puppy, and sometimes is not diagnosed until much later (well over a year of age). A Doppler EKG is the usual diagnostic tool used to pin point SAS. It is a progressive disease, untreatable and inoperable in dogs. Currently, research is being done on a significant incidence in Bouviers, where the pedigrees indicate that it is polygenic dominant.

Hips and Joints
Legg Perthes - Legg-Perthes, also called Legg-Calve-Perthes (LCP) disease, is a disease of the hip joints of small breeds of dogs. The head of the femur (the ball part of the ball and socket) begins to die and disintegrate. This causes limping, pain, and eventually arthritis. It usually appears between 6-12 months of age. It is treated surgically by removing the head of the femur and letting the muscles form a "false joint." It really does work. Veterinarians have begun to address the heritability of this disease, and it is generally agreed that although in very rare cases, the disease may be brought on by trauma, it is probably genetic. It has been well documented in terriers, including the Border Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, Jack Russell Terriers, and Yorkshire Terrier.

Luxating Patella- A condition in which the patella, or kneecap, dislocates or moves out of its normal location. Most cases of patellar luxation are medial and this is frequently a congenital problem in toy and miniature breed dogs. Breeds showing a predisposition for medial patellar luxation include miniature and toy poodles, Maltese, Jack Russell Terriers, Yorkshire terriers, Pomeranians, Pekingese, Chihuahuas and Boston Terriers. Large breed dogs are also affected and the Labrador retriever seems particularly predisposed. Genetics can play a role. The condition usually becomes evident between the ages of 4 to 6 months. Diagnosis is made through palpation of the knee. X-rays are used to further investigate cases. The luxating patella may causes no or very mild symptoms. There may be intermittent limping in the rear leg, and in higher-grade luxations, the lameness can be severe. Osteoarthritis typically develops secondarily.

Hip Dysplasia- It affects the hip joints of dogs, which is the bone structure that attaches the dog’s body to the hind legs. Hip dysplasia normally occurs during a young dog’s growing stages. Hip dysplasia may affect both the left and right hips, causing intense discomfort to your pet. Generally speaking, dogs of larger breeds are the ones that are most prone to this disease. The types of dogs that are likely to have hip dysplasia are Saint Bernard, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, and Rottweiler. If your vet had diagnosed this disease in your dog, you have to heed the health expert’s instructions and make sure that your pet receives proper care and medication, so that the disease will not progress.

Digestive Tract
Bloat- a serious canine condition that involves the twisting of a dog’s stomach from overeating. This serious condition is a common cause for dog death. The twisted stomach not only cuts off its own blood supply causing quick tissue necrosis, but also traps gas causing tremendous pain, with a relatively quick death. As a result, this condition needs to be treated quickly. Symptoms include restlessness, depression and dry heaves. The canines that have the greatest risk of bloat are older dogs, thin or underweight dogs, and dogs with an aggressive or anxious temperament. Also dogs that eat rapidly or have only one meal a day are susceptible to developing bloat.



You can help provide a better life for dogs in need. Find out how to support canine rights and welfare. The United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but our stray and feral animal overpopulation problem, in many areas of this country rivals that of some of the poorest countries of the world. 

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