A proposed radiographic classification scheme for congenital thoracic vertebral malformations in brachycephalic “screw-tailed”dog breeds

Congenital vertebral malformations are common in brachycephalic “screw-tailed” dog breeds such as French bulldogs, English bulldogs, Boston terriers, and pugs. The aim of this retrospective study was to determine whether a radiographic classification scheme developed for use in humans would be feasible for use in these dog breeds. Inclusion criteria were hospital admission between September 2009 . . . → Read More: A proposed radiographic classification scheme for congenital thoracic vertebral malformations in brachycephalic “screw-tailed”dog breeds

Study identifies effects of Chiari malformation on the canine brain

GriffonA UK study has identified the specific effect Chiari malformation has on the shape of a dog’s skull and brain, laying the groundwork for early screening.

The prevalence of Chiari malformation (CM) has increased due to selective breeding of brachycephalic toy breeds including Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Griffon Bruxellois, Affenpinschers and Chihuahuas.

According to the authors of the study, CM is a complex abnormality characterised by overcrowding of the craniocervical junction and a disparity between the brain parenchyma (too big) and the skull (too small). This can result in obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid channels, leading to the spinal cord disease syringomyelia.

Chiari malformation can be described as trying to fit a big foot into a small shoe,” said lead author Clare Rusbridge from Surrey University’s School of Veterinary Medicine. “It can be very painful, causing headaches and pressure on the brain and can result in fluid filled cavities in the spinal cord.”

In the study, published in PLOS ONE, researchers measured the brains, skulls and vertebrae of 155 Griffon Bruxellois and compared measurements of those with CM to those without.

They found that in Griffons, CM is characterised by a shortening of the entire cranial base, and possibly by increased proximity of the atlas to the occiput. They hypothesise that increased height in the rostral cranial cavity, lengthening of the dorsal cranial vault and considerable reorganisation of the brain parenchyma (including ventral deviation of the olfactory bulbs and rostral invagination of the cerebellum under the occipital lobes) are compensatory changes.

To date variations in morphology in animals with CM add to the difficulty in diagnosis. Early detection means that affected dogs can be desexed prior to breeding, preventing the condition being passed on to offspring. Continue reading Study identifies effects of Chiari malformation on the canine brain

The clinical utility of two human portable blood glucose meters in canine and feline practice

BACKGROUND: Portable blood glucose meters (PBGMs) are useful for serial measurements of blood glucose and creation of blood glucose curves in veterinary practice. However, it is necessary to validate PBGMs designed for people for veterinary use. OBJECTIVES: Our objective was to evaluate the accuracy of 2 PBGMs designed for people for use in dogs and cats. . . . → Read More: The clinical utility of two human portable blood glucose meters in canine and feline practice

Vet Ethics: The True Meaning of Welfare

“Bounce”, a healthy and well fed Golden Retriever, has an active and varied life. On most days she is able to leave her sleeping quarters and go for a much-anticipated outing for several hours. She shows much enjoyment and excitement on her daily romps, especially when she meets and plays with other dogs (and people too) – some of whom she has got to know and especially like. She loves to follow a scent, roll about in the dirt, run full pelt through the grass, and wade through water. Her escapades often leave her tired and sore, but she is just as happy to do it all again the next day.

“Loafer” the Labrador has a very different life. From a young age he has been kept in a small enclosure. In fact, he has never been exposed to the sort of activities Bounce looks forward to, and consequently does not miss them. Instead, his savvy owners (who are rarely home) have installed a machine that dispenses tasty food to him on a frequent basis. Actually, Loafer the Lab (unsurprisingly) enjoys eating very much; and his diet is so well formulated he is (surprisingly) not obese. He gets vaccinated and wormed and has ready access to veterinary attention, although he has never been ill. Though he is solitary and sedentary, Loafer seems perfectly content.

Perfectly content he may appear, but does he have a good life? Or is it the reverse: does Loafer’s life go badly for him? If you think it does not go badly, do you nonetheless think that his life is significantly worse than Bounce’s or, if you prefer, that Bounce’s life is significantly better than his?

The reason I am asking these questions is because, like many vets, I am interested in “animal welfare”. But more specifically, I want to know what constitutes good and bad animal welfare. Some people have thought that science is the method we should use to answer these basic questions. So, for example, we could run certain tests and make careful and repeated observations of Loafer and Bounce. Continue reading Vet Ethics: The True Meaning of Welfare

Multiple eccrine poromas in the paw of a dog

A 5-year-old, spayed female boxer dog presented to the referring veterinarian with a year-long history of swelling, ulceration and pain in the paw pad of the fourth digit of the right forelimb. Histologically, the paw pad was expanded by a mass composed of small polygonal cells forming broad bands and trabeculae within the lower epidermis that . . . → Read More: Multiple eccrine poromas in the paw of a dog