Sunburned noses aren't solely the domain of small children in summertime. Certain breeds of dogs also can be sensitive to sunlight, causing them to develop lesions on their noses, eyelids and lips. Known as nasal solar dermatitis (NSD) or "Collie nose," it is an inherited disorder and is usually worse in locations with a sunny climate. [...]
Retinal dysplasia, or RD, is an inherited disorder in which the retina of the eye is malformed. To understand retinal dysplasia it's first necessary to understand the basics of the eye's anatomy. The retina itself is the nerve-containing structure in the back of the eye that takes in light and converts it into electrical signals. These signals are then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve, and interpreted by the brain as vision. Formation of the eye in utero is a complex, multi-stage process that is closely tied to development of the entire nervous system.
There are three forms of retinal dysplasia. The first and least serious occurs when the two primary layers of the retina do not form together properly, creating folds in the inner retinal layer. In geographic RD there are larger areas where the retina is malformed in addition to the inner retinal layer. In the most severe form of the disease, the two retinal layers do not meet at all, resulting in retinal detachment, or separation, from the rest of the eye. [...]
If you notice your dog squinting and pawing at its eyes, or if the eyes are red, inflamed and watering heavily, a trip to the veterinarian is in order. It's possible in this case that your dog may have distichiasis, a condition that occurs when the eyelashes grow abnormally, placing them in direct contact with sensitive eyeball tissue. The hairs are often long and stiff and grow out of oil glands within the eyelids. In most cases there are multiple improperly grown hairs, and both eyes are affected. Also, even though dogs usually have no lower eyelashes, in cases of distichiasis both lower and upper eyelids can be affected. [...]
One of the more heartbreaking disorders that can strike your dog is an inherited brain disorder known as cerebellar abiotrophy. In this condition there is premature aging and deterioration of the cerebellum, which is the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. In most animals with this condition, the cerebellum matures normally before the puppy is born, but then specific cells in the cerebellum, known as Purkinje cells, deteriorate steadily after birth. Occasionally cells in other areas of the brain are affected as well. [...]
In normal male canines, the testicles develop in the abdomen and then descend into the scrotum before or shortly after birth. In pups with a condition known as cryptorchidism, however, either one or both testicles fail to descend within two months after birth and are left underdeveloped and non-functional. The undescended testicle(s) may remain inside the abdominal cavity or else drop into the groin tissues outside of the scrotum. [...]
Watching any animal attempt to run and play while battling arthritis can be hard. Yet it's especially heartbreaking for owners whose animals have a form of rheumatoid arthritis known as Juvenile Onset Polyarthritis Syndrome. One of a wide variety of types of polyarthritis, this incurable disease strikes early and cripples the dog's limbs, causing chronic severe pain and lameness.
This type of arthritis begins with an abnormal immune cell response that causes too many white blood cells (the body's disease-fighters) to invade the joints. Once there they release chemicals that create swelling, joint pain and fever. Animals with polyarthritis often feel ill and are reluctant to move around. Rheumatoid arthritis is especially aggressive in eroding cartilage that cushions the joints. Plus, over time, it deforms the bones surrounding the joints as well, leaving the limbs deformed and unable to bear the dog's weight. The disease usually affects more than one joint; often all of the dog's joints are involved. [...]
Dermatomyositis (and its related disorder, ulcerative dermatosis) occurs when a dog's skin and underlying muscles become inflamed. The first sign of the disease is a series of lesions that appear on the skin by the time the dog is six months of age. In many cases, muscle problems also develop later on. In dogs the condition is similar to that of humans, producing blisters and crusting that occur mainly in the groin and underarm regions. [...]
We all know how painful it can be to have a single eyelash stuck in our eye. Imagine, then, the unending torment of an entire eyelid full of eyelashes turned inside out, with all of those lashes continually pressed against sensitive eye tissue.
This problem occurs in many breeds of dogs, and is known as eyelid entropion, or a rolling in of the eyelid. The condition is not only painful, but it also can cause ulcers or erosion on the cornea of the eye, resulting in scarring and reduced vision. [...]
One of the rarer conditions that can strike your dog is known as Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada Syndrome (VKH) or uveodermatological syndrome (UDS). In humans the disease is caused by an autoimmune response in which the person's own T-cells mistakenly attack the body's melanin-forming cells. These are the cells responsible for the color of a person's skin, hair and eyes. Specifically, the disease attacks the front portion of the eye, known as the uvea, which is the dark portion of the eye containing blood vessels. In many cases the iris also is involved, and occasionally the back portion of the eye is affected as well.
It's not yet known how UDS occurs in dogs, but it's believed to also be connected to the autoimmune response. Other potential, but not yet proven, causes include infections, metabolic disease, tumors and trauma or injury to the eye. [...]
Cuts and scrapes are a fact of life, for humans and animals. Yet they're a significant danger if your dog has Von Willebrand's disease, a condition similar to human hemophilia, in which blood cannot clot properly. Because of this, any injury, even a minor one, will cause the dog to bleed profusely. Without treatment, dogs can easily bleed to death following surgery or from what would normally be considered minor wounds.
Von Willebrand's Disease is an inherited disorder. Affected dogs are missing a specific element in their blood that helps the platelets to form clots. It's a substance that helps stabilize one of the blood's clotting elements, known as Factor VIII, which is vital to the clotting process. The missing substance is known as Von Willebrand's factor, after the Finnish physician who discovered and researched the condition in the 1920s. [...]
One of the more heartbreaking genetic diseases found in the canine world is a condition known alternatively as chondrodysplasia, achondroplasia or chondrodystrophy. Characterized by crippling deformities and abnormally shaped limbs, the disease causes the cartilage cushioning the joints to become deformed and the bones attached to that cartilage to grow abnormally.
The condition is transmitted through a recessive gene. When two carriers of this recessive gene are bred, the resulting animals frequently are born with the disease. Chondrodysplasia also typically occurs in connection with other serious medical problems, including deafness, dwarfism and abnormally shortened life spans. It has a wide range of severity. For example, in dogs whose front legs are affected, the dog may appear nearly normal, or else have front legs that are only slightly bowed. In extreme cases, however, the animal will be crippled due to severely deformed limbs. [...]
Groups of related diseases are often combined into one category, for medical classification purposes. That's the case with polyneuropathy - an umbrella term that describes a group of disorders which affect multiple nerves. These diseases can strike any combination of nerves, and may be either inherited or developed later in the dog's life (acquired).
Polyneuropathy affects the peripheral nerves. These nerves are found outside of the brain and spinal cord, which together comprise the central nervous system. The term "neuropathy" simply means that some part of the peripheral nervous system isn't functioning properly. [...]
Aging takes it toll on everyone, animals as well as humans. Among the hardest hit are the joints, especially the articular cartilage inside those joints, which normally provides a smooth, low-friction buffer between the bones. A variety of causes, including age, can cause this cartilage to break down or develop fissures, resulting in severe pain, inflammation, and lameness.
Although degenerative joint disease (and the resulting arthritis) is generally considered a problem of older canines, it's appearing in more and more younger large-breed dogs as well. Selective breeding has resulted in the altering of bone structure in several breeds, especially larger dogs such as German Shepherds, Great Danes and Mastiffs. In these animals, many are now born with a defect that prevents the development of normal cartilage, leading to permanent early lameness in the shoulders, knees, and ankles. [...]
Humans have their tennis elbow, but they don't have a corner on the market. Dogs also are prone to an inherited disease called elbow dysplasia.. Both elbows are normally affected, but the condition also can affect just one limb.
Elbow dysplasia describes a type of damage within the elbow joint, often resulting in severe arthritis. Some dogs will display only a slight limp or an otherwise abnormal gait; others will end up virtually crippled by the pain. Dogs in the early stages of the disorder often hold their elbows outward or stand with their feet rotated outward. Or, they may shuffle their feet excessively and flip their front feet outward as they walk. Some are notable only by the dog spending an inordinate amount of time sitting or lying down, keeping weight off of its feet. [...]
Humans don't have a monopoly on heart disease - our furry friends also are susceptible to a wide range of cardiovascular conditions. Smaller breed dogs, in particular, are more likely to develop heart disease, including heart "murmurs."
Heart murmurs occur when the animal's heart function has deteriorated, creating an abnormal blood flow within the heart's chambers. The condition may be congenital, meaning the animal was born with the problem, or else it can develop as the result of disease and aging. Some conditions aren't very serious; others will progress rapidly, causing congestive heart failure and death. [...]