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Fluid Therapy

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Fluid therapy might just be the most important medical therapy we perform on sick animals. Dehydrated pets feel ill, cannot fight disease well, do not eat well, and cannot metabolize drugs efficiently. Dehydration decreases the circulation to two very important organs, the liver and the kidney. These organs are then unable to perform vital functions, some of which include detoxifying drugs and removing waste products.

We give fluids to a wide variety of species in addition to dogs and cats. They can be ill and needs fluids for many different reasons.

This guinea pig being examined by one of our externs has a problem with overgrown teeth and cannot eat well. This has caused him to become dehydrated, and in need of supplemental fluids.

Before coming in for treatment this rabbit was painful from a broken leg and not eating well and became dehydrated. Supplemental fluids to correct the dehydration, and a splint to take away the bone pain and allow the healing, were needed to get him back to being a normal bunny again. You can see how we treated his fracture here

Yup, we even give fluids to 120 pythons when they are ill or dehydrated. This is probably not something you want to try at home!

Signs of dehydration include lethargy, anorexia (poor appetite), sunken eyes, sticky gums, constipation, and a general feeling of malaise. It is diagnosed based on a history of anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, or extra fluid loss, in combination with a physical exam and diagnostic tests. During an exam a dehydrated pet will shows signs of dehydration when the problem is greater than 5 %. A blood sample will also give clues to dehydration, especially the total protein level and the hematocrit.

This is the hematocrit test, checking the percentage of red blood cells in the serum, giving us information on the state of your pet’s hydration

After the hematocrit is measured we break the tube in the middle and place the serum on an instrument called a refractometer to check the protein level. In conjunction with the history, exam findings, and hematocrit level, the protein level helps us determine the degree of dehydration.

The page talks about the two primary methods used to give fluids to pets. The first is intravenous, and is performed only by us in the hospital. This is not a treatment method you will do at home.

The second method used to administer fluids is subcutaneously (under the skin) between the shoulder blades. The administered fluid slowly absorbs over several hours. In this hospital and on an out-patient basis, this method is used for pets that are not seriously ill, but just need some additional fluids to maintain hydration, fight a fever, or stimulate the appetite.

Intravenous (IV) Fluids

I.V. (intravenous) catheters are used extensively in pets that are sick or those pets that are about to be anesthetized. These catheters allow us to administer medication directly into the venous system for rapid distribution to the whole body. Medication given this way acts faster and is more controllable, a significant advantage for an ill pet or in an emergency.

Intravenous fluids are important during surgery. We monitor this closely in many ways, especially with the blood pressure.

If your pet is ill and staying in the hospital, or about to undergo anesthesia for any reason, an I.V. catheter to allow fluid administration is one of the most important therapies we can institute, and can literally be life saving.

This dog getting his teeth cleaned was put on IV fluids before the procedure to stabilize the kidneys for the anesthesia. The fluids are continued for the duration of the procedure, and will be administered until this pet is fully awake and its owner is picking it up.  

The placement of the catheter requires technical skill and knowledge, particularly in small or dehydrated pets (the veins in these pets are small and damage easily). Improper placement of the catheter can literally cause more harm than good. Our nurses excel at placing I.V. catheters in all species.

Because the catheter is introduced directly into the venous system, it must be placed in an aseptic (sterile) manner. The hair over the vein is shaved, and special tape is placed over the catheter. 

Comfort is also important when placing the catheter due to the small nature of some of our patients, and the duration the catheter must stay in the vein. This tape and catheter is constantly monitored by our staff for comfort and sterility. After 3-5 days we usually replace the catheter in order to minimize the chance of the catheter causing an infection. 

I.V. catheters are usually placed in one of three veins:

Cephalic Vein-This is by far the most common vein to use. It runs along the top of the foreleg of dogs and cats. The illustration below shows the placement of this catheter in a large dog.

Jugular vein-This vein is in the neck. A catheter placed in this vein allows longer term use and the ability to give larger volumes of medication with different viscosity’s.

Saphenous-This vein is on one of the back legs. It is mostly used when the cephalic vein is unusable, but can be used at any time.

Various other veins are sometimes used, by they are reserved for some of the more unusual species of animals we deal with.

Your pet’s catheter will stay in for the duration of its hospitalization or procedure, and will not be removed until you return to pick up your pet. Your pet may go home with a small piece of tape and cotton where the catheter was. It can be removed several hours later after you return home.

We use many different types of fluids, the most common one being Lactated Ringer’s Solution. The amount of fluids are monitored carefully, and given with a special pump that gives a consistent amount of a period of time.

Each patient receiving fluids has a custom fluid chart outside its cage for close and constant monitoring of the fluids. Our doctors make adjustments in the type and amount of fluids as diagnostic tests like blood panels, and your pet’s response to treatment, are analyzed. 

Subcutaneous (SQ) Fluids

This section on SQ fluids contains  detailed step-by-step descriptions on how to give fluids at home on an ill pet, an older pet, or a pet with kidney disease. When you first read it you might think there is no way I can do all of that. Once you observe us do it in front of you, and then do it yourself, you will realize it is not anywhere is difficult as you think when you read about it the first time.

This video is how we give sq fluids at our hospital. Notice how calm this dog is.

SQ fluids are of special benefit for pets that need long term fluid administration at home, usually older (geriatric) cats or those with kidney disease. This is the animal version of dialysis in people, and it works extremely well. These fluids at home are highly beneficial, and have had cats with chronic kidney disease do well for years with this treatment at home.

If your doctor feels your pet needs SQ fluids at home you will be taught how to administer them by our nursing staff. At first it might seem an impossible notion to give your pet fluids at home. Not only is there the psychological fear of using a needle, or worry about hurting your pet, there is also a worry that your pet will not stay cooperative long enough for the few minutes it takes to give the fluids.

Rest assured that you will not be forced into giving these fluids if you feel uncomfortable, although we have yet to encounter a client that was not able to perform this procedure at home. This is because we have extensive experience in this area, and we teach you at your own individual pace. Only when you feel you are ready will you proceed on your own.

You will be given as many personal demonstrations as necessary, and can return to the hospital at any time for further demonstrations or to make sure you are performing the procedure properly. You are welcome to bring your pet in at any time for assistance in giving the fluids, so do not feel you are on your own. If you are out of town, your house sitter can bring your pet in for these fluids. We consider you part of our nursing team and are willing to give any assistance needed. Before you are given a live demonstration the following basics will help prepare you.

The scariest part of the whole procedure for most people is the actual insertion of the needle into the skin so that the fluids flow under the skin (SQ). You will watch us do this as many times as you need to overcome any fear you might have. When you realize it is not all that difficult by watching us do it, we will hold your hands when it is your turn if needed.

Practicing by inserting a needle into an orange or similar fruit can be helpful. Different sized needles, ranging from 22 gauge to 18 gauge, are used to give SQ fluids. During the demonstration we will show you which one works best for your pet.

The 18 gauge needle, at the top, has the largest diameter. Fluids flow fast through this needle, taking less time to give them. If this size needle is uncomfortable for your pet, we will try the 20 gauge next because it is smaller, although the fluids will flow more slowly. On small pets we might even use the 22 gauge needle. 

During this demonstration you will be told exactly how much fluids to give. For most cats with chronic kidney disease, this is 100ml once or twice daily. The fluid bag has 1000ml (1 liter), so for the average cat you will be able to give these fluids for ten days. This might vary depending on many factors, and your doctor will determine the amount and frequency. Do not change this unless instructed to.

Keep children and other pets away if they are disruptive during the process of giving the SQ fluids at home. Have all of your equipment readily available, usually on the same table as your pet. Depending on the size of your pet, the table should be around waist to chest high. It is helpful to set up one area of your house to give the fluids. Hang the fluid bottle in this room for easy access. It should be at least a few feet above the table for optimum flow. You will be shown how to set this up by one of our staff.

Store the fluid bag at room temperature and cover the bag so no light hits it. We sometimes add medications like vitamins and electrolytes to the bag, and light can affect them.

When you purchase a fluid bag from us it needs to be set up with the IV line. We will show you how to do this in person. You only need to set it up when you purchase a new bag. After that, you give the fluids with a new needle each time, keeping the IV set attached, until the bag is empty.

Never use the needles more than once since they are sterile and very sharp when first opened. Repeated use could cause an infection in your pet, and makes the needles dull, causing discomfort on administration. Needles are inexpensive, so don’t take the chance by re-using them.

When you purchase the bag it comes wrapped in a plastic wrapping. Remove the wrapping at home when you are ready to set it up to give fluids to your pet. After you remove the outer wrapping lay the bag on your table or hang it from a coat hanger. 

Open the sterile IV set and lay it on the table


These are the components of the IV set

The large white end with clear receptacle goes into the fluid bag once the white cap is removed. The clear container above will be filled part way with fluid once attached. 

 At the opposite end of the IV line is a small blue cap. You remove this blue cap when you attach a needle, which you will learn about later. 

The large blue plastic piece in the center allows you to turn the flow on and off, and also adjusts the rate of flow. Make sure the white wheel is in the off position like this when first setting it up. 


Remove the white plug from the bottom of the bag. The cap is in solidly, so you will need to pull hard to remove it.

 You can do this while the bag is hanging, or while it is laying on the table. Discard the white cap, it will not be used again. 

Remove the white cover from the IV set receptacle. It is sterile, so do not touch it to anything at this point. 

Hold the hanging bag steady, or lay it flat while doing this, so you can put it straight in without touching anything else. 

Insert it all of the way into the fluid bag 

Hang the bag, then squeeze the receptacle until the fluid fills half of the receptacle

It should look like this when you are done

Lay the needle next to the end of the IV set that has the blue cap

Remove the clear plastic at the base of the needle by twisting it either direction. The open base of this needle is sterile, so do not touch it to anything until you insert it into the IV line. 

Remove the blue cover at the end of the IV set. Turn the fluids on and let a few seconds of fluids flow through the IV line to remove the air. Let these few drops flow into a small bowel or on to a towel. Do not touch the end of this line to anything. 

A few air bubbles left inside the IV line will not cause any problems 

Insert the needle straight into the opening. Hold you left hand still as you twist clockwise with your right hand to lock it tight

Hang the IV set over the fluid bag. You are now set to give the fluids. 

Every pet reacts differently to the actual giving of the fluids, and they feed off of your emotions, so cool and calm usually works best. If either one of your gets worked up, stop and try again later.

Make sure the location to give the fluids is subdued and calm, with no excessive lighting or noise to alarm your pet. Take your time by bringing your pet to the table and interacting with it by petting it and holding it. You can even feed it while giving the fluids. A towel for restraint, or another person holding the head, might even be appropriate.

Hold your pet to the side, make a small tent of the skin between the shoulder blades, remove the cap over the needle, and rapidly insert the needle between the shoulder blades in one motion.

Insert it all of the way in until the hub touches the skin. Turn on the fluids completely on by moving the white wheel all the way to the top, and give the prescribed amount of fluids. For most pets, this takes only a few minutes of your time daily, a few minutes of your time that will be highly advantageous to your pet. 

When you are finished giving the fluids remove the needle from your pet and cap it. Remove the used needle and place a new sterile needle at the end of the IV set, and hang the IV set over the bag as before. You are now ready to give the fluids again the next time one of our doctors prescribes.

Finally, pat yourself on the back for a job well done, have a seat, and breathe deeply (or get a stiff drink if needed to calm your shaking hands).

Place all used needles in a safe place with no access to children or pets. A sharps container to hold these needles is the best place to put them until disposal. Dispose them according to the guidelines in your community. Here are some local disposal centers for needles. If you are not near one of these areas call us at 562-434-9966 for other locations:

EDCO Recycling and Transfer Center

2755 California Ave.

Signal Hill, CA 90755

562-597-0608

L.A. County Sheriff- Lakewood Station

5130 N. Clarke Ave.

Lakewood, CA 90712

Huntington Beach Collection Center

17121 Nichols Lane

Huntington Beach, CA 92647

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Gall Bladder Removal in a Dog

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Surgical removal of the gall bladder is called cholecystectomy. Most of us have heard of gall bladder surgery in people. It is not as common a surgery in animals. This page has pictures of a surgery to remove the gall bladder in a dog. At the end of this page you can see what gall stones look like.

Graphic surgical pictures on this page.

Our patient is an 11 year old Silky Terrier that came to us with some significant symptoms. They included anorexia for several days and lethargy. Her initial blood panel showed high elevations in Alk Phos., AST, and bilirubin.

Her blood panel is typical of a dog with this problem. You can see the significant elevations in her liver enzymes and bilirubin. Even the electrolytes are abnormal.

Her urinalysis showed significant amounts of bilirubin 

We could see hepatomegaly on her radiograph. Initial treatment consisted of antibiotics, fluids, vitamin supplements, and I/D food. Heather rapidly got better on the treatment.

This is what the liver looks like on an abdominal radiograph

She had a recurrence of the problem 3 weeks later. At that time an ultrasound was performed and it was determined that she had a  problem with her gall bladder.

Her gall bladder, the dark area on the top left had a problem. The line in the center is measuring the size of her common bile duct, which is large in her case. 

This is her ultrasound report

She responded well to treatment with antibiotics and actigoll. When her enzyme test were almost back to the normal range we removed her gall bladder.

Before we do any surgery on the liver we make sure the clotting system of the body is working well. The liver is intimately involved with the bodies clotting mechanism, and we need to make sure we are not going to encounter a severe bleeding problem during and after surgery. This test is making sure her red blood cells are adequate (no anemia is present), along with the 4 clotting tests on the bottom, starting with Prothrombin Time. 

Our patient is now ready for gall bladder removal This is a specialized surgery that is tedious and requires an experienced surgeon. In Heather’s case we called in Dr. Linda Larsen, a specialist in surgery.

Dr. Larsen is a board certified surgeon, and experienced at this surgery

Monitoring of anesthesia is critical in an older pet with liver disease. Monitoring Heather’s blood pressure is an important aspect of anesthesia.

Surgery-Monitor

We keep a close tab on important physiologic parameters for all of our surgeries. Monitors like this give us an early warning of an impending problem.

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Once our surgeon has scrubbed up and is  in sterile gown, gloves, and mask, the surgery begins

The incision into the abdomen is made at a special location called the linea alba. It is here that the tendons of the stomach muscles come together, and will hold the sutures after we close the abdomen.

The swollen liver is apparent as soon as she enters the abdomen

The first thing our surgeon does is locate the gall bladder

Now the careful dissection of the gall bladder starts so it can be removed

After careful dissection it almost full exposed at this point

As dissection of the gall bladder continued she traced it down to the common bile duct. The arrow points to the gall bladder under our surgeon’s finger. The vertical bluish structure below the gall bladder is the enlarged common bile duct.

The bile that is stored in the gall bladder is removed with a suction apparatus. This allows better visualization.

When she is satisfied with the exposure she puts several very strong sutures where the gall bladder attaches to the liver

Here is the trouble maker after it has been removed


A biopsy is taken of the liver to give us substantial information as to its health

The abdomen is flushed many times to remove any contaminants 

The long incision in the linea alba is sutured. After this layer, there are several more layers of sutures placed in the subcutaneous tissue and the skin.

At this point our patient is given a local anesthetic on the suture line, an additional pain injection, and the skin incision is treated with companion laser to decrease swelling and aid in healing,. You can its use on the video below.

Gall Stones

This is a different gall bladder removed from a different patient. This gall bladder was thickened due to stones in it.

The inside of the gall bladder after removal. The chronic thickening is apparent.

These are the gall stones that were found inside of it

The pathology report on this gall bladder

This is the analysis of these stones

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Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds we care for at our hospital. They are predisposed to certain diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of the diseases they are prone to.

Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to hip dysplasia, a disease characterized by malformation in the hip socket, which eventually causes arthritis.  The symptoms of this disease can vary, from a pet that is just not as active as it should be, to a dog that can barely get up after laying down. This breed also gets joint problems in other bones, particularly to the elbow joint and shoulder joint. Problems here are usually manifested by limping in the front legs. A physical exam and x-rays will help make the diagnosis.

If your young lab seems lethargic, disoriented, or just not with it, especially after eating, it might have a liver disease called a portosystemic shunt.

Unfortunately, the also can get a malignant cancer of the lymph nodes called lymphosarcoma. Please refer to our Learning Center to learn how to perform a lymph node exam. One of our doctors will help you find them.

Active labs that run and jump vigorously are prone to tearing a ligament in their knee call the cranial cruciate ligament. This occurs where there is a twisting or tweaking motion. Symptoms range from a subtle lameness to complete limping.

Labradors are also at risk for several eye problems including PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), cataracts, and retinal dysplasia. All of these eye problems manifest themselves by a loss of vision. If we suspect one of these problems we will refer you to our ophthalmologist. Hereditary cataracts can also occur. The problem can occur at an early age, and while cataracts may or may not interfere with the dog’s vision, some do progress into severe or total loss of vision.

Labrador Retrievers can also have an inherited deficiency in one of the clotting factors of the blood. Dogs affected with this disease may have symptoms varying from very mild to severe bleeding.  If your pet bruises easily or bleeds excessively, this disease is a possibility.

Hypothyroidism, a metabolic disease characterized by inadequate thyroid hormone circulating in the bloodstream, is common in the breed. Symptoms include obesity, lethargy, and/or coat problems. Affected animals may also have various reproductive problems, including irregular or absent estrus (heat cycle), and lack of fertility.

Other hormone problems include Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushings), Diabetes Mellitus (sugar diabetes), and insulonima (causing low blood sugar). Symptoms vary, and usually include excess drinking and urinating.

If your Lab is underweight and regurgitates its food it might have an esophagus problem secondary to myasthenia gravis.

This breed is prone to many skin problems, particularly allergies and hot spots. The usual symptoms are excessive scratching, flaky or bumpy skin, an odor to the haircoat, and hairloss. Also watch for a lack of pigmentation on the nose or flakiness to the nose.

Run your hands over its haircoat daily because they can even get a malignant skin cancer called a mast cell tumor. These can appear as minor bumps or areas of inflammation, yet they can be highly malignant.

A vast array of eye problems can occur. Any discharge, redness, swelling, squinting, or pawing at the eyes is reason for an immediate exam.

Labs are also prone to ear trouble, which can be very painful without your realization. Any sign of head shaking, pawing at the ears, inflamed ears or odor requires veterinary attention. Daily checking for odors or discharge, and proper cleaning when needed, will help prevent this problem.

Several different types of heart problems can affect them. Look for symptoms of lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, and poor appetite as a clue.

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Dachshunds

Doxies are full of personality. They are predisposed to certain diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of the diseases they are prone to.

They are susceptible to a problem with their spinal cords called Intervetebral Disk disease (IVD). This is a serious problem that can lead to paralysis. Symptoms can include lethargy, lack of appetite, crying or whining, reluctance to move or jump, or even anxiety, is cause for immediate examination. Please use our web site to learn much more about IVD.

Several different types of heart problems can affect them. The most common is one called a Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA). Look for symptoms of lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, and poor appetite as a clue.

This breed is prone to many skin problems, particularly allergies and hot spots. The usual symptoms are excessive scratching, flaky or bumpy skin, an odor to the haircoat, and hairloss. Run your hands over its haircoat daily because they can even get a malignant skin cancer called a mast cell tumor. These can appear as minor bumps or areas of inflammation, yet they can be highly malignant.

Hypothyroidism, a metabolic disease characterized by inadequate thyroid hormone circulating in the bloodstream, is common in the breed. Symptoms include obesity, lethargy, and/or coat problems. Affected animals may also have various reproductive problems, including irregular or absent estrus (heat cycle), and lack of fertility.

Two other hormone disease that can occur include Cushing’s disease and Diabetes Mellitus (sugar diabetes). Symptoms here vary, but commonly represent as excessive thirst and urination.

Many cancers can occur and affect a wide variety of organs. Look for lumps or bumps on the skin, mouth and anus. Also check the feet for swelling of the toes or lameness because they can get a cancer called Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

A vast array of eye problems can occur. Any discharge, redness, swelling, squinting, or pawing at the eyes is reason for an immediate exam.

Doxies can also get a bladder stone (called urolithiasis). Look for symptoms of straining to urinate, blood in urine, licking, or urinating small amounts frequently.

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Shar Pei

Shar Peis are known for their unusual and distinctive skin wrinkles. In 1978 the Chinese Shar Pei was one of the rarest dog breeds in the world, and this means that every Shar Pei alive today comes from a small number of breeding individuals, so inbreeding had to take place in order to increase their population. This has caused a high incidence of inherited diseases.

When purchasing a Shar Pei chose one that has been genetically screened by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals; www.offa.org) to help minimize the numerous genetic conditions of this breed.

Before you purchase one you need to be familiar with the significant and chronic diseases you will be dealing with for the life of your pet.

Hip dysplasia, loose knee caps, and elbow dysplasia are not uncommon. Any limping or lameness in the legs that does not resolve after 1-2 days of rest should be checked for these congenital diseases.

An eye problem with the retina can occur. If your pet has any vision problems this needs to be checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist.

They also get a problem where the immune system attacks the thyroid gland and prevents it from producing enough thyroxine (thyroid hormone). This disease can cause many different symptoms, so any sign of disease warrants and exam and blood panel.

Skin problems are very common in Shar Peis, including allergies and skin and ear  infections. They can become chronic in nature leading to debilitating conditions and unnecessary suffering. Any skin problem needs immediate diagnosis and usually long term treatment to prevent it from progressing.

Entropion, a painful eye condition where the eyelids roll inwards and allow the eyelashes to irritate the surface of the cornea. This condition usually needs surgical correction, and if untreated can lead to blindness. Squinting, pawing at the eyes, or eye discharge are the first signs of this problem.

Familial Shar Pei Fever is a serious and common inherited disease causing chronic fevers, swollen hocks and debilitation. There is no test for Shar Pei Fever, but some dogs may respond to treatment if instituted early enough.

Share Pei fever can also lead to Amyloidosis, an enzyme deficiency results in abnormal accumulations of amyloid proteins, causing liver or kidney failure.

Shar Pei are high maintenance dogs and need constant monitoring for problems. Keeping their weight down, and having their teeth cleaned every 6 months with our non-anesthetic dental, along with constant monitoring for problems, is the best way for them to achieve their full lifespan.

All of these possible problems emphasize the need for yearly exams and routine diagnostic tests to catch problems early. Many of the diseases of this breed are found in the Diseases section of our web site.

 

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Standard Poodle

The largest of the poodles, the Standard Poodle was originally a hunting dog, especially as a water dog and retriever. The traits that made them excellent hunting dogs are still present today: a good working intelligence, webbed feet (making them good swimmers), athleticism, and a water-resistant protective hair coat. They were also trained as working war dogs during WWII.

Standard Poodles have become a very popular dog breed since then and make excellent family pets, but do have some health and behavior issues to be aware of. When purchasing a Standard Poodle chose one that has been genetically screened by the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) to help minimize the numerous genetic conditions of this breed.

They can suffer from separation anxiety and other behavior issues. Good socialization and obedience training are extremely helpful for Standard Poodles, beginning in puppyhood. A commitment to caring for their coats regularly is also important, as the poodle coat grows continuously and will become tangled and matted without regular brushing and grooming.

If you dog is lethargic, is drooling thick saliva, or appears bloated, it could have GDV (gastric dilatation and volvulus). This is an emergency, and should be checked immediately if you poodle shows any of these symptoms.

Addison’s disease (a disorder of the adrenal glands) is especially prevalent in Standard Poodles compared to other dog breeds. Symptoms are variable, and can be subtle. They range from a pet that seems a little sluggish to complete collapse, and anything in between. Any symptom of disease in your poodle warrants an exam and a blood panel to check for this.

They can also get another adrenal gland disease called Cushing’s. In this disease they will routinely drink and urinate more than usual, might pant excessively, have skin changes, and even a pot bellied abdomen.

von Willibrand’s Disease (a type of hemophilia) can cause anemia. There might not be any symptoms, or your pet might be lethargic, have decreased exercise tolerance, and have a poor appetite. Our learning center shows you how to check the gums for anemia. This disease is diagnosed with a blood panel.

Heart disease can also occur, so a routine yearly exam can help detect this by listening to a murmur or irregular heart beat.

An eye problem with the retina can occur. If your pet has any vision problems this needs to be checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist.

Standard Poodles are hardy and long-lived dogs. Keeping their weight down, and having their teeth cleaned every 6 months with our non-anesthetic dental, along with constant monitoring for problems, is the best way for them to achieve their full lifespan.

All of these possible problems emphasize the need for yearly exams and routine diagnostic tests to catch problems early. Many of the diseases of this breed are found in the Diseases section of our web site.

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Shih Tzu

Shih Tzus are wonderful pets due to their friendly personality. Their name comes from the Chinese word for “lion dog”, because the breed resembled the lion as depicted in traditional oriental art.  They have silky long hair and typically weigh between 11 and 15 pounds.

Shih Tzus are predisposed to certain diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for a veterinary examination. Our web site at https://www.lbah.com/word/search-by-disease/ has detailed information on many of the diseases Shih Tzu are prone to.

Shih Tzus can develop kidney disease (renal dypsplasia) early on in life, which verifies the importance of routine exams on a yearly basis. The initial symptoms of this disease are subtle, consisting only of a mild increase in thirst and urination. Due to this subtle nature, it is a good idea to quantify how much water you put in your pets bowl everyday. This problem is diagnosed with a blood sample and a urinalysis.

Shih Tzus are genetically predisposed to many different types of bladder stones; calcium oxalate, urate, struvite calcium phosphate, and silica crystals.  These problems are diagnosed with fresh urine samples, and typically treated with medications and diet changes.

Shih Tzus are particularly prone to eye problems because of their large dark eyes, affecting the eyelids, cornea, and retina.  Specifically; entropion, where the eyelid folds towards the eye and the eye lashes scratch on the eye ball. They can get a dry eye, where they eyes do not produce enough tears.  Any sign of squinting, redness to the eye, ocular discharge, cherry eye, or cloudiness, warrants an exam.  After our preliminary exam we may even have our ophthalmologist examine the eyes.

Shih Tzus are also prone to ear infections.  So plucking the hair in the ear canals, along with cleaning and inspecting the ears on a regular basis will help prevent this painful problem. You can learn more about this common problem at the following link- (/word/canine/ear-infection/

Like most small breed dogs dental disease is especially prevalent.  Please visit our web site to learn more about this important problem and its prevention. /word/services/dentistry/.

Male Shih Tzus are commonly affected by a disease of the stomach musculature called antral pyloric hypertrophy.  The result of this malady is a reduction of outflow and resultant back-up of ingesta in the stomach.  Abdominal pain and vomiting are typical signs if this problem is present.  X-rays and ultrasound are used in the diagnosis.

Shih Tzus are also genetically predisposed to back problems (intervertebral disk disease, /word/canine/disk-disease-ivd/).  If this occurs, they will have back pain, loss of the coordination of their back legs, and they can even become paralyzed.

Shih Tzus can have breathing problems related to the shape of their nasal passage ways and face.  This is called Brachycephalic syndrome.  They can have a soft pallet that is too long, a trachea (windpipe) that is to small, and  smaller than normal nostrils.  As Shih Tzu’s age they can also have a collapsing trachea.  The cartilage rings of the trachea become weakened and flat.  They may have a “goose type honk” when they become excited.  Certain surgeries can be performed if you pet has a serious problem caused by snorting, snoring or passing out.

Their beautiful long silky coat, which reaches the floor, requires daily brushing, and frequent grooming, and should be clipped short for comfort if your pet seems uncomfortable or has skin conditions during the summer.

Shih Tzu are to some degree hypoallergenic, in comparison to other breeds.  They do not shed to the same degree, only losing small amounts of hair when bathed or brushed.  Remember that it is the dog’s dander and saliva that trigger most allergic reactions in people.  Always keep the hair out of their eyes.

Allergies (www.lbah.com/word/skin-allergies/) also affect Shih Tzu, as evidence by hair loss, itching, and licking.  The symptoms of allergies can mimic other skin conditions, which may have completely different causes.  For example, hypothyroidism (/word/canine/hypothyroidism/) which can be a genetic problem in Shih Tzu causing hair loss, weight gain, muscle loss, and being lethargic. Therefore, it is imperative that we make an accurate diagnosis early in the course of this problem, and institute a long-term treatment regimen that will prove beneficial to your pet.

 

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Doberman Pinscher

The Doberman Pinscher (DP) is an intelligent, alert, and loyal dog commanding a level of respect matched by few other breeds. DP’s are predisposed to many diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of the diseases they are prone to.

DP’s are prone to several heart diseases. The common ones are atrial septal defect and cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is serious and prevalent, and should be checked for as your DP ages. Any symptom of lethargy, coughing, poor appetite, or exercise intolerance could be a sign of a heart problem and should be investigated. Our Heart Disease page has details.

Several skin diseases have been reported in Dobies.  They are susceptible to bacterial and fungal skin infections, inhalant and food allergies, along with several diseases in which the immune system behaves inappropriately. Symptoms include lots of itching, hair loss, and smelly skin, in addition to chronic ear problems. These can be chronic in nature so early diagnosis and treatment is imperative.

Hormone problems also occur that cause internal disease. The primary one is low thyroid, called hypothyroidism. Symptoms can include weight gain, lethargy, and skin conditions.

They are prone to a large number of cancers that can be of the skin, lymph nodes, reproductive organs or internal organs. Cancer in DP’s can cause many different symptoms, so diligence in checking for any problems in home and prompt examination is imperative

Problems with the red blood cells are not uncommon. This can cause anemia and bleeding disorders (the most common one is called Von WIllebrand’s). Watch for lethargy, easy bruising, limping, or blood in urine or stool. Perform a weekly exam of your DP’s mucus membranes (gums) to make sure they are pink. Our Learning Center located on the Home Page shows you how to do an in-home exam to check for this.

Bloating, known as gastric dilatation-volvulus is a problem to be on the alert for at all times. Your dog might be lethargic, have stringy mucous from its mouth, or quite distended. If you see these symptoms consider this an emergency and get immediate care. We can potentially prevent this when we spay a female by tacking down part of the stomach.

Eye problems can occur at many different ages. Some involve the eyelids while others involve the internal structures of the eye. In some cases symptoms are apparent, while others need a thorough ophthalmic exam.

A kidney problem can occur starting as early as one year of age. Pets with this problem might be drinking and urinating more than usual. Early care is important due to the chronic nature of this disease.

 

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Cocker Spaniel

The Cocker Spaniel is a warm and loving pet that is full of personality. Cockers are predisposed to certain diseases, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of these diseases.

This breed is prone to skin problems that can become chronic in nature and require constant attention. The usual symptoms are excessive scratching, flaky or bumpy skin, an odor to the hair coat, and hair loss. Some of the causes are mange, allergies, bacterial and fungal skin infections. Our allergy page in the Diseases section of our web site goes into more detail.

A variety of eye diseases are another group of problems to which Cockers are predisposed.  These can include lashes which grow inappropriately, inward rolling lids, outward rolling lids, third eyelid problems, retinal problems, cataracts and glaucoma.  If these problems are not addressed early there can be permanent changes to the eye. Any sign of squinting, redness to the eye, ocular discharges, pawing at the eye, or cloudiness, warrants an exam.

Cockers are particularly prone to ear trouble, which can be very painful without your realization, and can even require major surgery if left untreated.  Any sign of head shaking, pawing at the ears, inflamed ears or odor requires veterinary attention. Daily checking for odors or discharge, and proper cleaning when needed, will help prevent this problem. Allergies to the environment along with food can be major predisposing factors.

Cockers are also prone to spinal cord problems. Any time your pet seems painful, reluctant to jump or move about it might have a slipped disk. You can learn more about this on our Intervertebral Disk Disease page.

Active Cockers are prone to knee problems. They can tear or rupture ligaments in the knee, which can manifest itself as a subtle lameness to complete limping. They are also prone to arthritis. Fortunately, we have many effective treatments that can dramatically improve your dog’s quality of life.

Heart disease occurs in Cockers. Any symptom of lethargy, coughing, poor appetite, or exercise intolerance could be a sign of a heart problem and should be investigated. In young dogs a disease of the heart called Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA) can occur. We check for this when we listen to your puppy’s heart with our stethoscope when it comes in for routine exams.

Problems with the red blood cells are not uncommon. This can cause anemia and bleeding disorders. Watch for lethargy, easy bruising, limping, or blood in urine or stool. Perform a weekly exam of your Cocker’s mucus membranes (gums) to make sure they are pink. Our Learning Center shows you how to do an in-home exam to check for this.

Skin tumors also occur, both benign and malignant. Rub your hands over the hair coat daily to feel for any lumps, bumps, or inflamed areas. Any problem here is a reason for an exam by one of our doctors.

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German Shepherd

The German Shepherd  (GS) is an intelligent, obedient, loyal dog commanding a level of respect matched by few other breeds. They are predisposed to many diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of the diseases they are prone to.

Skeletal disorders are common in German Shepherds and include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and panosteitis.  Most skeletal disorders occur in relatively young dogs and are first noticed when the pet seems to move painfully or becomes reluctant to play actively.  If your GS is limping mildly rest it for 24 hours, and if the problem persists come in for an exam and radiographs.

Some problems that seem skeletal (involve the bones and joints) are actually neurological (involve the nervous system). They range from epilepsy, to conditions that cause the inability to use the back end properly. Degenerative myelopathy, a serious problem of the rear quarters, is especially prevalent.

Several skin diseases have been reported in German Shepherds.  These dogs are susceptible to moist dermatitis, yeast dermatitis, and inhalant and food allergies, along with several diseases in which the immune system behaves inappropriately. Symptoms include lots of itching, hair loss, and smelly skin, in addition to chronic ear problems. These can be chronic in nature so early diagnosis and treatment is imperative.

Hormone problems also occur that cause internal disease. In some the growth is stunted, in others the adrenal glands secrete excess cortisone, the pancreas secretes excess insulin, or the parathyroid glands secrete too little or too much hormone.

They are prone to a large number of cancers that can be of the skin, lymph nodes, reproductive organs or internal organs. Cancer in GS’s can cause many different symptoms, so diligence in checking for any problems in home and prompt examination is imperative.

Problems with the red blood cells are not uncommon. This can cause anemia and bleeding disorders. Watch for lethargy, easy bruising, limping, or blood in urine or stool. Perform a weekly exam of your GS’s mucus membranes (gums) to make sure they are pink. Our Learning Center shows you how to do an in-home exam to check for this.

They have anal problems (called perianal fistulas) that sometimes need surgical correction if severe enough. Symptoms include rubbing, itching, odors, and infection. This is a potentially chronic problem and needs to be dealt with soon for a good outcome.

There are a wide array of diseases that can cause problems to the digestive system. Any abnormality of the digestive system such as regurgitation, vomiting, or diarrhea should be brought to our immediately. They are prone to a problem where the pancreas does not secrete enough digestive enzymes. Symptoms include diarrhea, greasy, and being underweight.

German Shepherds are predisposed to bloat, a serious and even fatal problem in the stomach.  Tacking down the stomach when a routine spay is performed on female dogs at an early age might be beneficial. Most of these GI diseases can be successfully treated if correctly diagnosed in a timely fashion.

Eye problems can occur at many different ages. Some involve the eyelids while others involve the internal structures of the eye. In some cases symptoms are apparent, while others need a thorough ophthalmic exam.

German Shepherds are prone to several heart diseases. Any symptom of lethargy, coughing, poor appetite, or exercise intolerance could be a sign of a heart problem and should be investigated. In young dogs a disease of the heart called Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA) can occur. We check for this when we listen to your puppy’s heart with our stethoscope when it comes in for routine exams.

 

 

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