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. [...]
Hearing loss in dogs, as in humans, can be caused by a wide range of disease, trauma, and/or congenital problems. In congenital cases, the dog is born deaf. Hearing loss can come on suddenly or gradually due to injury, disease, ear infections, exposure to loud noises or explosions, or simply the wear and tear of old age.
Hearing loss is categorized as unilateral (affecting one ear only) or bilateral (affecting both ears). Dogs with white or partially white coats are often subject to a congenital form of deafness connected with the special pigmentation in their skin. In these cases the dog may have unpigmented skin in the inner ear, which causes the nerve endings inside the ear to wither away and die when the affected puppy is only a few weeks old. The end result is deafness.
Unlike some conditions, hearing problems are usually noticeable to the pet owner. [...]
It's startling for many pet owners to learn that their furry friends also are susceptible to allergies, including hives (urticaria). Contact with plants, insect stings, or certain types of food can cause a dog to break out in hives. While usually not serious and rarely lasting for more than a few days, these welts are extremely itchy, and many dogs will scratch themselves raw during an outbreak. In conjunction with this problem, many dogs also develop swelling of the face, a condition known as angiodema.
The good news is that hives aren't very common in animals. Those that are affected, however, tend to have them constantly, and it can become a challenge to identify the cause. Complicating the problem is that an animal may suddenly develop an allergy to something that it has been around its entire life without prior problems. [...]
In a normal eye the lens is clear and translucent, the better to perform its job of transmitting and focusing light onto the retina in the back of the eye. When disease, aging, or injury clouds and/or damages this lens, a variety of vision-related problems can occur.
One commonly recognized form of lens opacity is a cataract, which causes a cloudy film to gradually grow over the lens, obscuring vision. Most cataracts in dogs are genetically related. How old the dog is when cataracts appear and how severe they become depends largely on what type of breed is affected. [...]
In dogs, heart failure is usually characterized by problems with the mitral valve. This is especially true of smaller breeds, but is applicable to at least some extent with all dogs. The mitral valve refers to the muscular valve that separates the left atrium and ventricle. Its function, when working properly, is to prevent the back flow of blood once it has passed through one section of the heart to increase the efficiency of the heart's pumping, i.e. - each portion of blood that passes through the heart only needs to be pumped once because the mitral valve prevents it from flowing backwards. Over time, however, this valve begins to shrink and harden as a natural consequence of aging. [...]
Pancreatitis is a disorder of the pancreas wherein it fails to properly perform its roles as the producer of digestive enzymes. More specifically, the enzymes are still produced, but the pancreas loses its unique ability to handle them effectively and so they break down before they're delivered to the parts of the body where they're needed. Instead of digesting food, they break down the tissue in and around the pancreas itself.
Pancreatitis can have a number of causes, and is usually the result of several causes coalescing. Diets that are high in fat may lead to obesity, which is a major contributing factor to the development of the disease. In addition, certain medications used to treat other diseases may increase the risk that a dog will contract pancreatitis, including corticosteroids and azathioprine. [...]
Panosteitis is a canine disease about which very little is known. It seems to occur almost at random (although German Shepherds as a breed tend to produce the most cases) and has a tendency to vanish and return with seemingly little provocation. The disease manifests as a sudden lameness in one leg without any preceding trauma, strain, or any of the problems usually associated with lameness. Typically, it will appear first in one of the front legs and then without warning shift to another leg (leaving the initial area) with no predictable pattern.
Because of the mysterious nature of the disease, it often either goes undiagnosed or is misdiagnosed. However, recent studies have shown that X-Rays will almost invariably reveal a greater than usual bone density in animals that carry the disease. [...]
One of a group of similar diseases (including pemphigus vulgaris, pemphigus vegetans, and pemphigus erythematosus) known collectively as the pemphigus complex, pemphigus foliaceus is a disease in which the body mistakenly produces antibodies that attack the outermost layer of skin. Though all breeds of dog are susceptible to this disease, the most common victims include Akitas, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, Spitz breeds, and Bearded Collies.
Because pemphigus foliaceus affects the most superficial skin layer, it is fortunately very easy to spot and diagnose. It usually manifests at first as a scaly texture to the skin, which then results in blisters that quickly rupture and cause scabs and other pus-filled sores. The blisters tend to come to a head and drain rapidly so they may be hard to find, but in general the disease has a very distinctive look and feel that makes it hard to misidentify. [...]
Most people are either unfamiliar with the term "shunt" or are used to its application as a treatment to drain excess fluid from the brain following a stroke.
There is another type, however, that can occur in animals, including dogs. Specifically, a portosystemic shunt is an abnormal connection between the hepatic portal vein and the rest of the circulatory system. This vein connects the gastrointestinal tract to the liver. This abnormal connection in turn causes blood from the gastrointestinal tract to bypass the liver, depriving it of oxygen and vital nutrients. When this occurs, the liver is unable to completely perform its own vital functions, including assisting with the body's metabolism and eliminating toxins from the system. The final effect is to expose the affected animal's body to toxic byproducts from its own digestive system. [...]
Among the many hereditary eye disorders that can appear in your canine is an unusual condition known as an ocular coloboma. Colobomas are a congenital anomaly in which some of the structures of the eye are missing. This occurs when tissues fail to fuse and/or form completely while the puppy is still in the mother's womb. In ocular colobomas, for example, there is a visible black hole or cleft in the ocular nerve.
Colobomas also can be found in other structures within the eye, including the iris, choroid, ciliary body, eyelid, lens, and retina, where they again are present as a hole, split or cleft in the affected structure. [...]