Monday, January 31, 2011

Brachycephalic Syndrome

The American College of Veterinary Surgery has done a fantastic job at describing the Brachycephalic Syndrom. To put it simply, this syndrome deals with short nosed breeds of animals and their difficulty breathing due to the shape of their head, muzzle, and throat.

The signs and symptoms listed below is just a clip of ACVS's article.

"Dogs with elongated soft palates generally have a history of noisy breathing, especially upon inspiration (breathing inward). Some dogs will retch or gag, especially while swallowing. Exercise intolerance, cyanosis (blue tongue and gums from lack of oxygen), and occasional collapse are common, especially following over-activity, excitement, or excessive heat or humidity. Many dogs with elongated soft palates prefer to sleep on their backs. This is probably because this position allows the soft palate tissue to fall away from the larynx. The signs associated with stenotic nares and everted laryngeal saccules are similar."

Image on left is a stenotic which is malformed nostrils that are narrow or collapse inward during inhalation, making it difficult for the dog to breathe through its nose. Image on the right is a normal nose.

To see detailed photos and find out more on what happens during the physical exam, the treatment options, and the recovery period, visit their website by clicking here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Signs, Test, & Treatment Options For Bone Tumors

When our pets feel ill or are facing serious health situations, it can be very stressful for the owner. We feel that the more information you know about what your pet is going through, the better you may help them and be prepared.

The four primary bone tumors are osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma. 95% of bone tumors found in pets is osteosarcoma.

Signs & Symptoms
  • Lameness and swelling of the affected bone.
  • Generalized weakness.
  • A swelling or mass is the first sign of a tumor, particularly the skull, jaw, and ribs.
  • Respiratory difficulties with rib tumors.
Diagnostic Test
  • Physical and orthopedic examination.
  • Blood tests (complete blood count and serum biochemistry).
  • Radiographs of the affected bone, chest radiographs.
  • Computed tomography (CT) scans.
  • Bone scan are recommended for dogs with a suspected primary bone tumor.
PHOTO: A whole-body bone scan of a dog with a tumor in the prostate. The bone scan shows multiple bright white areas, indicating of wide spread metastasis to bone.

Treatment Options
  • Pain-killing drugs are usually effective initially, although stronger analgesic drugs or drug combinations may be required as the tumor progresses.
  • Radiation therapy usually once weekly radiation for 3 to 4 weeks or once monthly.
  • Surgery, the affected limb can be amputated if the bone tumor is very painful or fractured.

The vast majority of dogs will adapt very well after limb amputation, even if arthritic in other joints, overweight, or a large dog breed.

The photograph of the dog to the left was taken 6 months after a hind limb amputation for osteosarcoma.

This information was taken from the American College of Veterinary Surgery. More on bone tumors may be found in their article to pet owners by clicking here.

We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any questions, you may reach us at our office by calling 828.684.0019.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hip Dysplasia Signs, Causes, and Treatments

One of the services we offer at Western Carolina Veterinary Surgery is help for Hip Dysplasia. We would like to highlight a great reference for hip dysplasia found on the American College of Veterinary Surgery website.


Canine Hip Dysplasia is a condition which begins in immature dogs with instability or a loose fit of the hip joint. The hip joint laxity is responsible for early clinical signs and joint changes. The abnormal motion of the hip stretches the fibrous joint capsule and ligament connecting the head of the femur to the pelvis, producing pain and lameness. The acetabulum (the hip socket) is easily deformed by continual movement of the femoral head.

Causes of hip dysplasia are considered to be multifactorial; including both hereditary and environmental factors. Rapid weight gain and growth through excessive nutritional intake may encourage the development of hip dysplasia. Mild repeated trauma causing synovial (joint lining) inflammation may also be important.

Incidence and Prevalence
The incidence of hip dysplasia is greatest in large breed dogs. Two populations of animals show clinical signs of lameness: (1) patients 5 to 10 months of age, and (2) patients with chronic degenerative joint disease.

Signs and Symptoms
The clinical signs of hip dysplasia are lameness, reluctance to rise or jump, shifting the weight to the forelimbs, loss of muscle mass on the rear limbs, and pain when the hips are manipulated. Dogs may show clinical signs at any stage of development of the disease, although many dogs with hip dysplasia do not show overt clinical signs. Some dogs are painful at 6 to 8 months of age but recover as they mature. As the osteoarthritis progresses with age, some dogs may show clinical signs similar to people with arthritis such as lameness after unaccustomed exercise, lameness after prolonged confinement, and worse problems if they are overweight.

Risk Factors
Risk factors for CHD include breed (genetic), rapid growth and nutrient excesses.

When to Seek Veterinary Advice
Some veterinarians recommend radiographing the hips at 6 months of age to help identify dogs with hip dysplasia early enough to perform a triple pelvic osteotomy. For many dogs, the owners seek veterinary surgery advice when the dog has been consistently lame, and has not responded to medical therapy. Many of the surgical treatments for hip dysplasia are performed by surgical specialists.

Treatment Options
Treatment depends on the dog’s age and degree of discomfort, physical and radiographic findings, and owner’s expectations and finances. Conservative and surgical options are available for juvenile and mature animals with hip pain secondary to hip dysplasia. Most immature animals are best treated with conservative or medical management. Although early surgical intervention with juvenile pubic symphysiodesis or triple pelvic osteotomy may increase the prognosis for long-term acceptable clinical function, approximately 75% of young patients treated conservatively return to acceptable clinical function with maturity. The remaining 25 % require further medical or surgical management at some point in life.

In puppies less than 20 weeks of age, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS), a technique for stopping the growth of the pubis (part of the pelvis) may be performed to alter the growth of the pelvis and increase the degree of coverage of the acetabulum over the femoral head. Most puppies of this age do not show clinical signs of hip dysplasia, so diagnosis depends upon use of a screening technique for documenting hip laxity, such as Penn Hip, to determine which animals may be candidates for the procedure. Although specific criteria for application of JPS have not been developed, puppies under 20 weeks of age that have palpable and radiographic evidence of laxity on a hip distracted view can be considered for the procedure.

Immature dogs (less than one year) with loose fitting hips, but no arthritic changes can be treated with a pelvic osteotomy (also sometimes called a triple pelvic osteotomy). This procedure involves cutting the pelvic bone in three places and rotating it to stabilize the hip joint and in many cases slow the progression of osteoarthritis.

More information and photos on Canine Hip Dysplasia may be found on the ACVS website.
Click here to view the report.