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Cherry Eye (prolapsed third eyelid)

The third eyelid is situated between the cornea and the eyelids at the inside corner of the eye. In dogs it contains tear glands responsible for the lubrication and protection of the eye. This gland secretes 40 - 60% of the dogs tears.. It is kept in position by a thin fibrous band which if weakened or absent, may result in the gland prolapsing. The exposed gland can be damaged by drying out and secondary inflammation or infection. This can destroy the glandular tissue and thus result in a dry eye. This is a common problem in Bulldogs, Spaniels, Shar Pei, Chow Chow and Daschunds but is seen in all breeds.

Signs

The enlarged gland is seen in the inner corner of the eye and is usually red, hence the name "cherry eye". In long standing cases the gland may become pigmented.

Treatment

Because the gland secretes a substantial amount of the dog's tears, it is very important that it is not removed, but replaced, as soon as possible, before damage to the glandular tissue occurs.

The correct treatment is to salvage this gland and replace it in a small conjunctival sac. This procedure requires good magnification using an operating microscope and very fine dissolvable surgical suture material. Although the surgical procedure is very successful, reprolapse may occur and is well described in the literature. Such prolapse may occur in cases where the gland has been exposed for an extended time or when previous surgery has resulted in scar tissue formation.

Reference: Johannesburg Animal Eye Hospital - http://www.animaleyehospital.co.za

Dwarfism

The correct term for the condition is osteochondrodysplasia, chondrodysplasia or chondrodystrophy and its a series of problems involving the cartilage and bones, most often of the feet and legs, though the spine may become involved as well. The disorder is genetic and there is no cure.

As it is caused by an autosomal recessive gene, two healthy looking parents may have one or more affected puppies.. Puppies are most often born with the disorder, though signs or sysmptoms may not be visible until several weeks of age; X-rays must be done to ascertain the condition of the puppies with certainty . In Beagles the problem is usually noticed at about 3 weeks of age. As the disease progresses, the limbs of the dog become abnormal in shape and in length, often leading eventually to the dog becoming painfully deformed or crippled. The carpal and radius bones of the front legs are the parts of the canine body most commonly involved and effects of the disease range in severity; some afflicted dogs are almost normal in appearance, simply displaying a short stature (with no clinical issues), while others are severly crippled due to extensive deformations such as bowed limbs, angled limbs, loose limbs, joints that are enlarged and deformed and lameness.

Dogs suffering from this condition may experience a range of other problems, including serious arthritis and joint pain, deafness, skull deformities and shortened life span. While the limb bones are most often affected, chrondrodystrophy can also have an effect on the vetebrae of the spine, causing a shortened body and painful disc disorders. Degenerative disc disease is one of the vetebral disorders associated with chrondrodystophy. Unfortunately, as mentioned, there is no cure for this disease. In cases of mild to moderate chrondrodysplasia, joint pain is treated with anti inflammatory drugs and pain killers, while a surgery msay be performed to temporary correct a painful deformity. In severe cases, experts and owners have painfully agreed that euthanasia is most likely the most humane option, as the dog is so crippled that movement without extreme pain is impossible.

Due to the fact that this disorder is inherited animals affected with the problem, as well as parents that produce puppies with this "dwarfism" should not be bred.

There are several steps in the elimination of the recessive gene from a breed gene pool.

  1. All chrondrodysplastic animals are sterilised
  2. All animals producing a chrondrodysplastic pup are strilised
  3. Littermates of all known carriers either undergo a test breeding to determine if they are carriers or are sterilised.

 Epilepsy

Epilepsy means repeated fits due to abnormal activity in the brain. It is caused by a problem in the brain itself. A convulsive seizure is the physical evidence of an electrical storm within the brain. This abnormal electrical activity is a phenomenon caused by the physical and chemical makeup of the discharging nerve cells in the brain. The overactivity of these cells produces disturbances in consciousness and in muscular coordination.

Some dogs seem to know when they are about to have a fit and may behave in a certain way which you will come to recognise as meaning that a fit is about to start. Often they just seek out their owners company and come to sit beside you. Once the fit starts a dog is unconscious. They cannot hear or repond to you. Most dogs fall on their sides and make running movements with their legs. Sometimes they will cry out and may lose control of their bowels or bladder. Most fits last between 1 and 3 minutes - it is worth making a note of the time the fit starts and ends because it often seems that a fit goes on  for a lot longer than it really does. After a fit dogs behave in different ways. some dogs just get up and carry on with what they were doing whilst others appear dazed and confused for up to 24 hours afterwards. Dogs often have set pattern of behaviour that they follow after every fit - for example going for a drink of water or asking to go out in the garden to the toilet. If your dog has had more than one fit you may well start to notice a pattern of behaviour which is typical for your dog.

Most epiletic fits will occur while your dog is relaxed and resting quietly. It is very rare for a fit to occur at exercise. Often fits occur in the evening or at night and again it is common for a pattern to develop which you will recognise as specific to your dog.

When your dog is having a fit the first thing to remeber is to stay calm. Remember that your dog is unconscious during the fit and is not in pain or distress. The fit itself is likely to be more distressing for you than your pet. Make sure that your dog is not in a position to injure himself, for example by falling down the stairs, but otherwise do not try to interfere with him. Never try to put your hand inside his mouth during a fit as you will very likely get bitten.

It is very rare for a dog to injure themselves during a fit. Occasionally they may bite their tongue and there may appear to be a lot of blood but it is unlikely to be serious. If a fit goes on for a very long time (more than 10 minutes), then it is possible for the brain itself to become a bit more damaged.

When you dog starts a fit make a note of the time. If your dog comes out of the fit within 5 minutesthen allow him time to recover quietly before contacting your vet. If this is the first fit your doh has had your vet may ask you to bring your dog in to the next routine appointment for a check, provided he has no more fits in the meantime. It is far better for your dog to recover quietly at home rather than be bundled into the car and carted off to the vets straight away. However, if your dog does not come out of the fit within 5 minuets or has repeated fits close together, then you should contact your vet immediatrely and they will want to see your dog straight away. Always call your vets practicebefore turning up at the clinic to be sure thereis someone there who can help you.

There are many things besides epilepsy that cause fits in dogs. When you vet first examines your dog they will not know whether your dog has epilepsy or another condition.

Epilepsy most commonly starts in dogs between 1 and 5 years of age, so if your dog is outside this age range then it is more likely they have a different problem. However, it has been said that Beagles can fall outside these ages. There are a whole range of tests which need to be done and possibly X rays, or other tests such as brain scanning. If no other cause can be found then a dianosis of epilepsy may be made.

Often there is no apparent reason why your dog should have developed epilepsy. In some breeds of dogs, most notably the German Shepherd Dog, it is inherited and is most often seen in males. Sometimes it is the result of minor damage to the brain caused by a blow to the head or the result of oxygen starvation at birth. Usually the fits would start many years after the damage had occurred, so it is not easy to make a connection between the two events.

If your dog has only had one fit you vet may advise waiting before starting any treatment. The drugs used to treat epilepsy will often not stop the fits altogether but will make them less frequent. Therefore,it is important to know how often the fits would happen without treatment to be sure that the treatment is having an effect. Once your dog starts on treatment it is likely that this will have to be continued for the rest of his life. As some dogs only ever have one fit they may end up having treatment which they did not need. Once you dog starts on tablets these must be given at roughly the same time every day. If you stop the drugs suddenly you may cause your dog to fit. It often takes a few months to get the dose of drug just right for your dog. During this tiime your vet will keep in regular contact with you, and may need to take a number of blood samples from your dog to check that the blood levels of the drug are not too hiigh or too low.

It is rare for epileptic dogs to stop having fits altogether, Drugs may control the fits so that they do not affect your dogs lifestyle but , in most cases, if you stopped treatment the fits would come back. However, provided your dog is checked regularly by your vet to make sure the drugs are not causing any side effects,many epileptic dogs lead a full and happy life.

Reference:Vetstream Owner Factsheets.

Factor VII

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a clinical syndrome caused by inadequate production and release of the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and throxine (T4), which are essential to normal metabolic function. The symptoms of hypothryroidism in dogs are often nonspecific and quite gradual in onset, and they frequently vary based upon the dog's breed and age at the time of onset of throid hormone deficiency.

Although the signs of hypothyroidism can be subtle, most affected dogs have one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Mental dullness
  • Lethargy; listlessness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Reluctance to engage in normal activities
  • Intolerance to cold ("heat seekin"behaviour)
  • Weight gain, without increased appetite or food consumption
  • Symmetrical hair loss (alopecia), without itchiness (bilaterally symmetrical, non pruuitic truncal alopecia; the head and legs are often spared
  • Excessive shedding
  • Greasy skin: flaky skin (seborrhea)
  • Dandruff
  • Pimples or other pustules on the skin (pyoderma)
  • Chronic ear infections (otitis)
  • Dry, brittle coat hair
  • Skin thickening, especially on the face and forehead (myxedema), giving a puffy appearance referred to as a "tragic facial expression"

The dog's neuromususcular, reproductive, cardiovascular and/or gastrointestinal systems may be affected as well, causing one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Slow heart rate (bracycardia)
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Incoordination (ataxia)
  • Seizures
  • Heart arrhthmias (irregular heart rhythms)
  • Anemia
  • Infertility
  • Decreased libido (reduced sex drive)
  • Abortion
  • Testicular atrophy

These more generalised symptoms are suggestive of hypothyroidism especially when they  accompany the more specific, primary dermatological symptoms mentioned above.

Signs of altered metabolism may not be appreciated by owners until thyroid hormone supplementation is started. Weight gain obviously can be attributed to overeating and a lack of sufficent exercise. However, if a dog's diet and exercise routine have not changed, and the dog is gaining weight for no apparent reason, hypothyroidism should be on the list of suspects. Similarly, hypothyroidism should be considered when a dog develops unexplained skin and coat abnormalities, with hair thinning on the back and around the tail, excessive shedding, greasy, flaky skin or other dermatological disorders.

TReatment is typically accomplished by giving daily doses of a synthetic T$ thyroid hormone called sodium levothyroxine, in the form of oral tablets. Successful treatment depends on maintaining proper thyroxine levelsin the dog's blood. The ftrequency of dosing will vary between dogs, but most protocols call for either once or twice daily treatment. The attending veterinarian will periodically test the dog's blood to make sure thhat circulating hormone levels are maintained at normal levels. These tests probably will be more frequent at first (maybe every 4 to 6 weeks), and then will decrease in frequency as throid hormone leveld are stabilised.

The prognosis for dogs with primary hypothyroidism is very good to excellent, once they are put on an appriate hormone replacement protocol. Secondary hupothyroidism caused by cancer of the pituitary gland has a much more guarded prognosis.

 

Musladin-Lueke Syndrome , MLS, (previously Chinese Beagle Syndrome)

By Samantha Goldberg BVSc MRCVS

A few years ago Beagle breeders in the USA and Canada stepped forward and said they wanted to stop producing puppies with so-called Chinese Beagle Syndrome (now more correctly named Musladin-Lueke Syndrome). They enlisted the help of scientist Dr Mark Neff to collect DNA samples and look at the genetics of the condition. Fortunately for the breed this condition was found to be a recessive disorder and a DNA test was developed from the research, which is now available commercially at The Veterinary Genetics Laboratory at UC Davis.

MLS is a genetic disorder, caused by a founder mutation ( a gene mutation which has been dated to the foundation of the Beagle population over 100 years ago) and having two copies of the gene results in a beagle born with several defects characterised by short outer toes on the front and sometimes all four feet giving a ballerina gait, high set creased esars on a flat skull with extra cartilage in them, slant narrowed eyes and very thick tight skin with little scruff. Such pups are small in stature with a very stiff gait BUT not all affected puppies will show all these signs. They have a very good gregarious temperament although many have been reported to develop seizures. There are some clear dogs that have conformational defects as above so we must be careful and not assume anything unless a dog has been DNA tested.

This condition was always assumed by breeders here (UK) not to be present in the UK BUT it is actually present worldwide and two uK breeders stepped forward in August 2010 and publicised it here so that the Beagle people were aware of it. Since the news broke there have been several people who feel they may have seen it over the years in the UK and reports of Beagles in packs having it, so it is likely as in other countries, we have had it unrecognised for some time. Now that testing is underway it has been confirmed that there are carriers present in the UK Beagle population and also people abroad have begun testing to see what their status is. (Carriers have been found amonst the tested South African Beagle population).

Dr Neff along with others has published a scientific paper describing the distribution as being seen in many countries and unique to Beagles. It is likely to have originated as a single mutation at the point the Beagle was being developed and populsation spread around the world so probably (at) the end of the nineteenth century. It is first described in the literature in the 1970's as being an incidence of 2-3% in the Beagle population in Britain and Australia. The November 2010 edition of Hounds talks about MLS and how the Masters of Beagles should be looking at the condition and avoiding breeding cases.

There are two human diseases which are similar called "Stiff skin syndrome"and Geleophysic dysplasia both of which are rare inherited disorders. MLS sufferers have thick inelastic skin and thick fibrous muscles with little flexion even under anaesthesia. This leads to the stiff gait and also the hard inflexible abdominal wall. The facial features are produced as the bone is very dense and the ears and skin thickened pulling back the skin and hence the slanted eyes.

Lynn Bailey has set up a website www.salenko.co.uk that discusses the condition and how to test for it. There is a large searable database on there, which breeders can use (as ) a tool in their breeding. Obviously eventually we would like to eliminate the gene but we must not dismiss our carriers (please see Wendy Hall's excellent article for a discussion of this). The only way to know which Beagles are carriers, is to test using the VGL DNA test. The gene causing the mutation is a recessive one so both parents need to be carriers to produce affected puppies. A recessive gene is one that is hidden (as opposed to a dominant gene which produces visible characteristics). For a discussion of genetics please see the website. We can use the test to mate clear dogs to carriers and not lose important features of the carriers. Testing is simple and inexpensive so lets not pretend this is not here but test if possible. Pups may be tested before they are sold, as the only criteria are not to have eaten or drunk for 60 minutes before the swabs are taken.

Very importantly the Kennel Club have agreed to accept our testing for their database which means that the results will be published on registration papers. Genetically clear puppies that will not need testing will be recorded once both parents are recorded as tested clear. Do not send your results to us for recording and include permission for the KC to be sent the results.

Test kits can be ordered from University of California Davis, Veterinary Genetics Laboratory 

  

NCD

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA, is a condition of the retina of the eye. PRA  encompasses many disease which all progress over time and eventually lead to blindness. The retina works in the eye much as the film in a camera works. It changes the light it receives into images which are then sent down the optic nerve to be interpreted by the brain. When a dog has PRA the retina either stops developing prematurely or the light receptors degenerate early in life. With this condition both eyes are equally affected. The different forms of PRA vary in the age at which they first develop and in the rate at which they progress. Cases can be early onset with rapid progression to late onset with slow progression or any combination of the sorts. Every case is different and definite age of onset or how quickly progression will occur can never be known for sure.

PRA is hereditary disorder which means it is passed from parents to offspring and animals that have this condition should not be used for breeding.

PPRA over time will lead to blindness. The first sign of this disease is typically night blindness. Owners may observe their dog being hesitant to walk down dark hallways or staircases, or be less likely to go outside at night. As PRA progresses daytime vision will also be lost. In addition to these symptoms, pupil dilation, or enlargement is seen due to the eye attempting to let in more light along with an increase in the amount of light reflected back off the eye. In some cases cataracts may appear but are not the cause of the blindness. There is no pain associated with PRA and dogs seem to adjust very well to their blindness. In some cases owners may not even realise the dog is having problems seeing until they are taken out of their home environment.

PRA is diagnosed by an eye examination by a veterinarian. There are certain changes which can be seen in the eye characteristic of PRA. In addition to an eye examination an electroretinagraphy may be done to obtain a disagnosis. An electroretinoagraphy measures the electrical responses in the retina to determine if it is functioning properly.

Blindness is the eventual result of PRA. Because the blindness does not occur quickly dogs have time to adjust to not being able to see well. Dogs that are blind can still live normal healthy lives. There are certain things that you as owner can do to help your pet adjust. One of these is keeping your furniture in the same place. Your dog will become accustomed to the layout of your house. If you move furniture it may cause them to run into chairs or tables because they are not used to them being in that place. Another thing you can do is to keep floors and walkways clear of clutter. This will prevent your dog tripping over objects. When introducing your dog to a new area always leash walk them around first so they can get a feel for the area and learn the boundaries. All of these will help your dog adjust to their vision loss.

Steroid Responsive Meningitis

Samantha Goldberg BVSc MRCVS (KC Health Coordinator for the UK Beagle Clubs) 

This diease is also called Stiff Beagle Disease, Immune Mediated Meningitis or Beagle Pain Syndrome and associated with

Arteristis and Vasculitis in some texts.

There are more breeds than Beagles affected by this condition, and I have seen several different ones. Bernese Mountain Dogs seem to get it too but Beagles are "över -represented " as a breed when the number reported are compared to the percentage of Beagles in the canine population. As a Health Coordinator for the breed I get more calls about this than any other condition and it seems to cause more distress to the owners than anything else since it debilitates so much.

SRM is more commonly first seen in the young Beagle under one year of age and repeated bouts of the disease flare up until about two to two and a half years when they "grow"out of it. Occasionally cases are seen in older Beagles. Symptoms include lethargy, neck pain, reluctance to eat or drink, reluctance to exercise, fever,bad temper, (due to pain), and sometimes gastro - intestinal upset. There is not currently a test for the disease in an apparently healthy Beagle and the only definitive test during illness is a spinsl tap taking fluid from the spine just behind the skull. Blood results often show a rise in white blood cells but this in itself doesn't diagnose the condition. Dogs with SRM show abmormal spinal fluid during the ill ness with white blood cells present at high levrels.

The only treatment which works is a course of steroids with prednisolone being commonly used in the UK. A high dose to start with and the dose is tapered down Some Beagles may get a recurrence when the dose drops below a certain level but most can be weaned off. Recurrent bouts can be rapidly treated the same way and within 24 hours your bouncy Beagle is returned. The cause of SRM is unknown at thev moment, but there is discussion about their being an underlying genetic predisposition in the breed for this immune response to occur. This is unproven but the suspicion is there because of the high numbers of Beagles seen with it compared to other breeds of dog. Possible triggers or causes to investigate include:

Enviroment

  1. Vaccination - Most cases are not seen immediately after vaccination but we need more information on timing, vaccines used by people and the regimen used.
  2. Feeding - This is very varied but again information on diet may throw up some common factors.
  3. Worming - Types of wormer may be trigger.

Other illnesses

There may be an immune response which is over reactive in the Beagle and results in SRM as a secondary problem when the body is combating other disease. Most of the reports I get appear to come out of the blue without something else being diagnosed but there might be a trigger as yet not detected.

Genetic or Congenital effect

  1. Congenital means literally "born with" and can be caused by something which affected the pups in utero or during birth. This could be for instance if the mother was ill during pregnancy. If a caesarean was required or the birth was difficultthe pup could be damaged or affected in some way. There is some suggestion that lack of oxygen at birth might trigger epilepsy in children and certainly there seems to be a link with cerebal palsy and difficult birth.
  2. Genetic implies the condition can be passed on to offspring. Genetic disease can be carried as a simple gene or inherited as a multifactorial condition. Simple genes are either recessive or dominant. With dominant conditions there needs only be one copy in an individual to show the condition which can come from either parent. With recessive conditions two copies need to be present and one comes from each parent. Multifactorial conditions rrequire several genes present and these can come from both parents.

In order to find more out about SRM, I have contacted the Animal Health Trust at Newmarket. They are involved with a lot of the genetic screening tests that have been produced to test pure bred dogs. My contact there, Dr Catherine Mellersh, suggests that in orderfor us to find out more about the disease they need information on dogs affected and whether litter mates or cohorts (companions or associates) are affected. So if more than one individual in a litter were affected this information would help. Pedigrees of such individuals will help elucidate whether there is any connection between affected Beagles or not. These initial statistics would advise us whether it is worth doing any genetic study and may hopefully throw up any connection through environment or other disease. Unless we put together some information we won't find out what is causing SRM. Please contact me for details of how to help with the survey.

Steroid Responsive Meningitis - where are we?

The SRM investigation at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) has completed the first stage. DNA samples from affected Beagles were scanned versus unaffected beagles to look for any obvious differences. The first scan has proved inconclusive which was not entirely unexpected as it is likely that this condition is multi-factorial. Anecdotally, there seems to be a famial pattern to this condition with some lines seeming to be more affected than others.

At the moment we have no idea if this is due to a DNA defect or maybe certain lines have a difference in how their immune response occurs.  Many people have reported this condition to me in breeds other than Beagles, so it may be that we have missed an infectious cause as yet or it may be that dogs in general are more susceptible.

Is it safe to breed from my Beagle?

I would not suggest breeding from any Beagle that has been diagnosed with SRM. Whether it is okay to breed again from a parent or sibling is hard to say. We don,t know enough about why this happens to answer the question. All I can advise that any related dog is not mated until over 2 years of age as 8 - 18 months is the most common age to develope SRM. Also consider that the dog you are mating to is not closely related or closely related to another who has it.

We would have no Beagles left if we tried to avoid all who had a connection to SRM as it pops up here and there all the time. Unfortunately most breeders have come across a case even if not in their own show dogs, either in a puppy they have sold or one sired by a stud.