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Dogs + Breeding

  • Lysosomal storage diseases are a rare collection of conditions that are inherited. Many of them are more prevalent in certain breeds and are seen in the first few months of life. Clinical signs vary depending on the type of disease, but commonly include failure to thrive, incoordination, vision loss, and seizure. Prognosis is usually poor for long-term survival.

  • Mastitis is a term used to describe inflammation of a mammary gland. In most cases, mastitis is caused by a bacterial infection. Trauma to the mammary gland, or prolonged periods of milk accumulation without milk removal, can lead to inflammation within the mammary gland. Most dogs with mastitis can be treated on an outpatient basis with oral antibiotics and pain medications, though severe cases may require hospitalization or surgery.

  • Miscarriage refers to the death of a fetus during pregnancy, with the most common cause being bacterial infection. Hormonal shifts or abnormalities may also cause miscarriages. In many cases, there are no visible signs of miscarriage. If miscarriage is suspected, ultrasound is used to assess the pregnancy and determine whether the fetuses are alive. Finding a cause for the miscarriage, especially if that cause is a treatable condition, may improve outcomes in future pregnancies.

  • Many herding breeds (most commonly Collies and Australian Shepherds) have a mutation at the MDR1 gene that makes them more sensitive to the negative effects of certain medications. These drugs include several antiparasitic agents (when given at high doses), the antidiarrheal agent loperamide (Imodium®), and several anticancer drugs. The effects of the mutation vary in severity, depending on whether the dog carries one or two copies of the mutation. There is a cheek swab or a commercially-available test that assesses blood samples for the presence of the MDR1 mutation.

  • Although uncommon, cats and dogs are at risk for several diseases during the two months of their pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia occurs if the mothers cannot keep up with the demand for calcium to produce bones and milk. Gestational diabetes can occur due to high concentrations of hormones and result in increased drinking, urination, inappropriate weight loss and lethargy. Mastitis is a bacterial infection of one or more mammary glands that is contracted either through the blood (sepsis) or from the external environment from unsanitary conditions and/or injury from babies’ teeth or nails. Retained placentas can occur and will result in lethargy, pyrexia and abnormal vulvar discharge. Be aware of the signs, symptoms and management for all four conditions.

  • A blood test detects pregnancy in the pregnant dog by measuring levels of a hormone called relaxin. This hormone is produced by the developing placenta following implantation of the embryo, and can be detected in the blood in most pregnant dogs as early as 22-27 days post-breeding.

  • Pyometra is a serious and life-threatening infection in the uterus, occurring in female dogs who have not been spayed. The condition must be treated quickly and aggressively. The preferred treatment is to surgically remove the uterus and ovaries by performing an ovariohysterectomy. There is a medical approach to treating pyometra, although the success rate is highly variable and not without considerable risk and potential long-term complications.

  • Most dogs care for their puppies with little need for human intervention; however, if they do not, then their caregivers will need to step in. Maintaining a warm environment and ensuring puppies are receiving enough milk is critical to survival. Weights should be checked daily in the first 2 weeks and any prolonged crying should be investigated thoroughly. Feeding can be supplemented with commercial milk replacer if needed and all puppies can start the weaning process around 4 weeks of age by offering gruel-like puppy food mixed with milk replacer. Milk fever or eclampsia can affect the mother causing spasms and panting around the weaning time and must be addressed by a veterinarian immediately. Puppy diets meeting AAFCO requirements for growth are recommended. Puppies normally receive temporary immunity from ingesting their mother’s milk in their first day of life. This immunity starts to fade around 6 weeks of age and vaccination is recommended at that time. Worms are a common affliction in puppies and regular deworming is recommended starting at 2 weeks old. Contact your veterinarian for specific recommendations. Commercial over the counter dewormers can be harmful to young puppies.

  • Cryptorchidism is the failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Toy breeds may be more at risk, but it can affect any breed of dog and is believed to be an inherited trait. Diagnosis can usually be made by palpation but sometimes requires blood testing or an abdominal ultrasound if the dog’s history is unknown. Risks of retained testicles include testicular cancer, spermatic cord torsion, and the development of undesirable male characteristics, so neutering is strongly recommended. Surgery is generally routine, and recovery is similar to any abdominal surgery.