Breed related diseases in Dogs – Boxer

Did you know that dogs are affected by the greatest number of naturally occuring genetic disorders of any non-human species. Many of these conditions seem to appear in specific breeds.  This is the second of our series of breed related diseases in dogs, and this time we feature Boxers

Below we discuss the commoner diseases that Boxers are prone to.  Some of these are known to be genetic. Please note: These are not the only diseases Boxers can get.

Aortic Stenosis

This is where there is a partial obstruction of the flow of blood as it leaves the left side of the heart (the left ventricle) through the main blood vessel (the aorta) and carries blood to the rest of the body.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Boxer Cardiomyopathy

This is an inherited disease where the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn’t work as well as it should.  Causes include a genetic predisposition and viral infections.  The condition is most commonly found in Doberman Pinschers and Boxers and can result in heart failure and sudden death.  Signs to look out for include exercise intolerance and fainting.

Atrial Septal Defect

This is where the dog’s heart has an opening in the wall (septum) between the right area and left area of the upper part of the heart.  A Consequence of this is that some blood from the left atrium flows through the hole in the septum into the right atrium and increases the total amount of the blood that flows toward the the lungs. The increased blood flow creates a swishing sound, which is known as a heart murmur.

Skin Disease

Canine Acne

Allergic Skin Disease

These include food allergies and environmental allergies (atopy). Itchy feet, faces, armpits, groin and bottom are the commonest signs

Seasonal Flank Alopcia

A non itchy hair loss on the flanks

Endocrine (hormonal) Diseases: 

Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid gland)

Cushings Disease

Eye Problems:

Corneal Dystrophy

The outermost layer of the eye is known as the cornea and is a clear, dome shaped surface that covers the front of the eye.  A corneal dystrophy is a condition where parts of the cornea lost their normal clarity due to a build up of cloudy material.  The disease is inherited, affects both eyes equally and is not caused by outside factors, such as diet or injury

Cherry Eye

This where the gland of the third eyelid, prolapes as a pink fleshy mass  protruding over the edge of the third eyelid. It cn become inflamed and ulcerated.

Corneal Ulceration

Boxers are very prone to corneal ulcers and they can be very challenging to treat.

Other Ailments for Boxers Include:

Tumours – Boxers are prone to many types of tumours including mast cell tumours, haemangiosarcomas, melonoma, lymphosarcoma etc.

Cryptorchidism – Retained testicles

Hip Dysplasia

GDV or Bloat

Histiocytic Ulcerative Colitis – This is an inflammatory bowel disease and is found most commonly in boxers.  It causes inflammation and sores, called ulcers, in the lining of the large intestine.

If you have any questions about the about the above topics please feel free to contact the clinic

The Vets Says…Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) or Bloat

GDV can also be known as Bloat or Gastric Torsion

Introduction

GDV is a life-threatening emergency. It is a common condition in large,deep chested breeds such as German Shepherds, Weimeraners, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, St Bernards and URGENT VETERINARY ATTENTION is needed. Although larger breeds are most commonly affected any size dog can suffer from GDV.One of the most important factors as to whether a dog survives this condition is how quickly they receive veterinary attention. Unfortunately, even with excellent treatment death rates of upto 45% have been reported in studies.

Causes

The exact cause of GDV is not known. Something causes gas to accumulate in the stomach (gastric dilatation) resulting in the dogs tummy (abdomen) getting bigger and bigger. In many cases this is accompanied by the stomach twisting (volvulus). It would seem logical that gas accumulation occurs first and then the stomach twists. However, some studies have shown that twisting may occur before bloating in some cases. Many studies have been carried out in an attempt to identify the cause of GDV. No absolute cause has been found but the following have found to be risk factors that may increase the risk of GDV:

  1. Large and giant breed dogs and deep chested dogs are at highest risk.
  2. Dogs with a first degree relative (eg father-son) with a history of GDV are at higher risk. Ideally these dogs should not be bred from.
  3. Risk increases with age
  4. Risk may increase after spleen removal
  5. Rapid gulping of food may increase risk
  6. Eating from a raised dish may increase risk
  7. Stress (grooming, dog shows, boarding, other dogs) may precipitate GDV
  8. A happy easy going personality may reduce the risk

As a result the following recommendations can be carried out at home to reduce risks of GDV:

  1. Feed several small meals a day

  2. Avoid stress during feeding eg separating dogs in the household.

  3. Restrict exercise before and after meals. Do not allow dogs to gorge on water after meals or exercise

  4. Do not use an elevated food bowl

  5. Do not breed from a first degree relative that has had GDV

Clinical Signs

Classically a dog with GDV will be bloated. The tummy (abdomen) swells up. They are uncomfortable and restless. Breathing rate increases. Attempts to vomit are unsuccessful. Quickly they develop signs of shock such as pale mucous membranes, weak pulses, cold extremities and soon will collapse.

Progress of the disease

GDV has many profound and serious effects on the body. Dogs die very quickly if left untreated. The respiratory rate (breathing) system struggles due to the pressure on the diaphragm from the gas build up. Blood supply to the stomach is rapidly loss leading to death of the stomach wall and pancreatitis. Major blood vessels are crushed by the expanding stomach stopping the circulation working. The heart begins to beat out of rhythm. Very quickly shock develops. Urgent treatment is needed.

Diagnosis

History and clinical signs will alert the vet to a GDV. Xrays can be used to confirm the diagnosis and differentiate a dilatation (gas build up) from a GDV

Treatment

Initial treatment is aimed at treating the shock to prepare the dog for general anaesthesia and surgery. Rapid intravenous fluid therapy and oxygen is needed. Also hear arrhymias are treated. Stomach decompression via a stomach tube or needle/catheter can be attempted. When the dog is stable enough they are anaesthatised – this is very risky in such cases but is vital for treatment. During the surgery the stomach is decompressed ( all the gas removed) and twisted back into its normal position. Then a gastropexy is performed. This is a technique to attach the stomach to the body wall permanently. There are many different ways of doing this and depends on surgeon’s preference. If the stomach has been twisted for a while there may be areas that are necrotic (dead). These have to be removed during the surgery and greatly reduce the chances of success. Sometimes the spleen is damaged at the same time as the stomach twists and needs to be removed. There are many possible post operative complications including infection (peritonitis), pancreatitis, heart arrhythmias etc

Summary

It can not be stressed enough that urgent treatment is needed in suspect cases of GDV. There is nothing that can be done at home so do not hesitate to contact your vet.