Vail Pet Talk column: Some dogs can be genetically predisposed to diseases
January 27, 2017
Just like in people, dogs also have diseases they are more prone to suffer from due to their genetics. This means we can't do anything to necessarily prevent them from happening, but we can certainly take steps to help our best friends stay healthy so that they can live as long of a life as possible, free from suffering.
"Smoosh-face" dogs are some of the most popular breeds out there — everybody loves them. This includes pugs, boxers, bulldogs and any other short-snouted breed. These dogs are called Brachycephalics, due to their shortened nose and the impact this has on their airways. These dogs may suffer from an obstructed airway syndrome, symptoms of which include exercise intolerance, loud breathing and heat intolerance, to name a few. It is important to always keep a close eye on these dogs' breathing, as it can affect their quality of life. There are certain things your veterinarian can do to help them out, so don't ever hesitate to ask.
A dog has a ligament in its knee similar to a human's anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL. It's called the cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL. A cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common causes of hind-limb lameness in dogs. There are certain breeds that are more likely to suffer from this injury due to conformation and other genetic predisposing factors.
If you find your dog lame on a rear leg, it is important for it to be evaluated by a veterinarian. The veterinarian can determine what the problem is and make recommendations for treatment. The most common treatment recommendation for a dog with a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament is surgery, and your veterinarian can discuss with you which surgery is best. It is less common that management without surgery is recommended, due to the significant osteoarthritis that will form in the joint, making your dog chronically lame.
Heart disease, specifically that which involves the valve in the left side of the heart, the mitral valve, could happen in any dog but is more common in certain breeds. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are one of the more common breeds where this is present. Your veterinarian normally diagnoses this disease via a physical exam and echocardiogram, or ultrasound of the heart. It also can be managed so that your dog can live as normal a life as possible. Be sure to ask your veterinarian what steps you can take to ensure your best friend's comfort.
Hip dysplasia is a condition that can occur in any breed of dog but is more common in large-breed dogs. It is due to abnormal formation of the hip joint (ball and socket joint between the hip and the femur), which can lead to severe arthritis and pain in your dog. There are ways in which your dog can remain comfortable — be sure to ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
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As veterinarians, we want your pet to remain as happy and healthy as possible. We are also a wealth of knowledge and love to share. Always contact us with any questions or concerns you have regarding your pet's health.
Liz Foster, DVM, is an associate veterinarian at Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center. She can be reached at 970-328-7085.
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