Britain’s First Grammar School for Dogs

This is a clip of Britain’s first Grammar school for dogs!

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Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is a blood disease caused by a deficiency of von Willebrand Factor, an adhesive glycoprotein in the blood required for normal platelet binding (clotting) at the sites of small blood vessel injuries. Von Willebrand Factor is a carrier protein for coagulation Factor VIII (which is necessary for blood to clot). Similar to hemophilia in humans, von Willebrand’s disease can lead to excessive bleeding following an injury, since the blood isn’t able to clot.

Von Willebrand’s disease is the most common hereditary blood clotting disorder in dogs, occurring more frequently in German Shepherds, Doberman Pinscher, Standard Poodles, Shetland Sheepdogs and Golden Retrievers.

The symptoms to look out for: spontaneous hemorrhages from mucosal surfaces (nosebleeds, blood in the feces, bloody urine, bleeding gums or bleeding from the vagina), skin bruising, prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma, after prolonged bleeding blood loss anemia.

Your veterinarian will need to perform a blood chemical profile, including a complete blood count, a urinalysis and an electrolyte panel. A clinical diagnosis of vWD is based on a specific measurement of plasma von Willebrand’s Factor concentration bound to the antigen.

Your dog may need blood transfusions of blood, plasma or cryoprecipitate to supply von Willebrand’s Factor. Component therapy (adding plasma or cryoprecipitate) is best for surgical prevention or for nonanemic patients to prevent red cell sensitization and blood volume overload. Dogs with severe von Willebrand’s disease may require repeated transfusions to control and/or prevent hemorrhages. If your dog does require surgery, a pre-op transfusion will be given.

If your dog has mild to moderate von Willebrand’s disease, there’s no reason why he wouldn’t experience a good quality of life, though he may minimal to no special treatments. You’ll simply need to monitor when he has an injury. However, a dog experiencing severe von Willebrand’s disease will require much more diligence and potentially a lot more interventions. Most of the time, a dog can be maintained comfortably but his activities will need to be monitored and limited. No matter the severity of his condition, any time your dog experiences prolonged bleeding, get him to his vet immediately for medical treatment.

English Springer Spaniel

AKC Group: Sporting

Springer and Cocker Spaniels were considered to be the same breed until the 1800s. England was the first to divide them. Cocker Spaniels weigh under 25 pounds and were used to hunt woodcock. Springer Spaniels weigh over 45 pounds and were used to “spring” game birds into the air where hawks would retrieve them. When hunters started relying on guns, Springer Spaniels flushed out the birds and retrieved them themselves.

Size: 18 to 21 inches; 40 to 55 pounds

Color: Black or liver with white; black or liver roan; tri-color (black or liver and white with tan markings). The white on the coat can be flecked.

Life span: 12 to 14 years

Health problems: Ectropion, glaucoma, retinal problems, hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, epilepsy, Van Willebrand’s Disease (a blood disease), subaortic stenosis (a heart disease). Thyroid problems, allergies and skin conditions have also been noted.

Springer Spaniels are medium-sized dogs that sport a gorgeous weather-resistant coat. It’s a straight, silky, close-fitting coat. They have long silky ears that hang down the side of their face to complete their sweet-as-honey expression. The Springer Spaniel is an active, intelligent, eager to please dog. They love the companionship and affection that a human family can provide and make a real people-oriented dog when they’re properly socialized. They learn quickly and love to play and exercise. Some Springer Spaniels can be overly boisterous while others can become clingy. With training, both these problems can be tackled. A Springer Spaniel becomes destructive and anxious when left alone too long. Springer Spaniels do great with kids, other pets and strangers. (Some may be slightly more aloof than others of the breed.) Faithful, devoted and loyal, a Springer Spaniel will alert you of possible dangers.

The Springer Spaniel coat will demand attention several times a week to be brushed and combed. During heavy periods of shedding, he’ll require more time at the “hair salon.” He’ll require clipping about every three months. You should trim his bottom hair regularly (for hygienic reasons) and check his ears.

Intelligent and naturally obedient, training your Springer Spaniel shouldn’t present many challenges. They are emotional dogs and can easily have their feelings hurt, so be mindful to not yell, be harsh or punitive. They easily read your mood and will react accordingly. Positivity and positive reinforcement is all you need! They do need mental stimulation, so feel free to enroll them in any kind of obedience, tracking, fielding or therapy training program. Each and every trick you can find to teach a dog, your Springer Spaniel can learn and excel at. These guys have a lot of mental energy to expend in order to curb behavioral issues. This is not a couch potato, let-my-brain-turn-to-mush kind of dog. Feel free to let your children in on the training; a Springer can learn and respond just as well to children. (Junior handling is a fantastic activity for both human and canine.) If you talk to your Springer enough, you can train him through simple casual talk. This is a breed who can learn anything you have the time and/or energy to teach!

English Foxhound

AKC Group: Hound

English Foxhounds were bred naturally from various breeds of hounds. Foxhounds were used in pack hunts and have fantastic scent hunting abilities — and the stamina for a long hunt.

Size: 20 to 27 inches, 65 to 75 pounds

Color: Hound colored. Most often are black, white and tan tricolor. White with one other color also occurs.

Life span: 10 to 13 years

Health problems: Pancreas problems, renal disease or hip dysplasia

English Foxhounds are stouter and slower than their cousin, the American Foxhound. English Foxhounds continue to be used for hunting as they have the stamina to go for hours upon any type of terrain. They were bred for their speed, enthusiasm and voice. If you’re a city dweller and want a Foxhound, know that he can be heard from great distances (and your neighbors will not appreciate your dog as much as you). These are friendly and kind dogs, but they aren’t easily trained. These are hunting dogs through and through and refuse to drop a scent. Any animal that resembles the size of a fox will get hunted. They love other dogs though! This pack mentality helps them to be able to easily follow an owner. To turn him into a family companion and not a hunter will take work with lots of training and exercise time. They also take extra time to mature. They retain the energy of a puppy for an extended length of time.

English Foxhounds are low shedders, so you can brush him minimally. Wipe down with a damp cloth often to keep his coat clean and gleaming. Make sure his ears are clean and dry. To establish your position, you’ll need to be assertive. Foxhounds know instinctively the pack mentality, so he’ll naturally look to you. If you’re not up to the task of being a pack leader, he will soon stop looking to you. This does not mean that you’ll need to dominate him; simply be consistent. If something is right, it’s always right and vice versa, no it’s okay sometimes in certain circumstances. Keep his training fun. English Foxhounds are a working, wonderful hunting dog. Set him up some “hunts.” He’ll learn better when his sessions are fun. Since he seems to possess the energy of several dogs in one, you will need plenty of stamina of your own to keep up with him. Once your Foxhound is trained properly, he’s more than willing to comply and will seek to please you. Keep in mind: The English Foxhound’s mind runs a mile a minute too. He may not ever be able to singularly focus on you. They’re distracted easily. You will need to keep him on task.

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD)

Mitral Valve Disease (MVD) or Endocardiosis (as referred to by veterinarians) is a chronic degenerative heart disease affecting the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle. Deposition of mucopolysaccharide in the valve and its attached cords causes the valve to become distorted and allows blood to leak back into the atrium during contraction of the ventricle. Most often only the mitral valve is affected, but in one-third of affected dogs, the tricuspid valve (between the right atrium and the right ventricle) is affected as well. MVD is most often seen in small breeds, particularly the Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and most other small spaniels. The Chihuahua, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Pinscher, Dachshund, Pekinese and Whippet can be affected as well.

A diagnosis of MVD is usually done by auscultation. Murmurs are rated as grade 1 through 6 and is dependent on how loud the heart murmur is.¬†As MVD progresses, your dog’s heart murmur will be become louder; to the point that you’ll be able to hear the murmur without a stethoscope. As the heart disease progresses, other organ systems can be affected. Controversy remains about when to start treatment for MVD. Commonly, treatment begins at stage 3.

The most common treatments include a vasodilator such as enalapril, a diuretic such as furosemide and digoxin, a drug to help the heart beat slower and stronger. Surgical mitral valve replacements have been successful, but this is not considered standard treatment yet. A yearly heart exam is strongly recommended.

There is a strong genetic component for contracting MVD. Breeders are encouraged to use older stud dogs (over 5 years old) with healthy hearts. Another suggestion asks that Cavaliers be at least 2 to 2 and a half years old and free of heart murmurs when breeding.

Elbow Dysplasia (Also Fragmented Coronoid Process, Ununited Anconeal Process, Osteochondritis Dessicans, Joint Incongruity)

Elbow dysplasia is considered the leading cause of canine forelimb lameness. Elbow dysplasia is a general term meaning arthritis of the elbow and encompasses several elbow joint conditions, including fragmented coronoid process (FCP), ununited anconeal process (UAP), osteochondritis dessicans and joint incongruity. Each of the conditions cause elbow dysplasia but are different conditions with their own distinct pathophysiologies.

Fragmented coronoid process has a small piece of bone off the inner side of the joint breaks off the ulna. This fragment irritates the joint and wears away the cartilage of the humerus. Ununited anconeal process has a fragment break off on the back side of the joint that failed to unite with the ulna during the dog’s growth. Osteochondritis dessicans has a piece of cartilage that fully or partially detaches from the surface of the elbow joint. This causes inflammation in the lining of the joint and causes pain. Joint incongruity is when the joint doesn’t have the correct conformation and the joint cartilage wears out rapidly. This causes progressive arthritis.

Elbow dysplasia usually affects medium and large-size breeds and the disease first manifests in puppies, between 5 to 8 months of age. Dogs of any age can suffer the secondary condition of osteoarthritis from elbow dysplasia. High incidences of elbow dysplasia occur in Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers. The condition occurs less in Newfoundlands, Saint Bernards, Mastiffs, Springer Spaniels, Australian Shepherds, Chow Chows, Shar-Peis, Shetland Sheepdogs, and some terrier breeds. Typically both elbows are affected, but it can occur in only one elbow (unilateral).

All dogs affected by elbow dysplasia will experience forelimb lameness, though the degree of the lameness will vary. It usually gets worse after exercise. Your dog may seem stiff after he gets up from resting and he may tire easily. He will typically stand with both his elbows close to his body with his paws rotated outward. The elbow joint may appear thickened or swollen and he will probably resist having you touch or manipulate his elbow. He will have a decreased range of motion and arthritis will usually develop in the abnormal elbow joint over time.

Your veterinarian will diagnose your dog based on his history, clinical signs and after a complete physical exam, as well as using radiographs of the elbow(s). A CT scan and/or arthroscopy could be performed as they are more accurate than a traditional x-ray.

All forms of elbow dysplasia are genetically inherited and are not caused by an injury or trauma. There is some evidence that nutrition can play a role in the development of elbow dysplasia. Diets that promote rapid growth can lead to osteochondritis dessicans (OCD) which can then cause elbow dysplasia.

Elbow dysplasia is a progressive condition, meaning it will get worse over time. Surgery is the best option for affected dogs in addition to medical management. Your dog will benefit from physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication. When the dysplasia is due to ununited anconeal process or fragmented coronoid process, surgery is performed to remove the damaging bone fragments. OCD and FCP can be treated with arthroscopic surgery. In joint incongruity cases, surgery will alter the length or curvature of the radius and ulna.

Since elbow dysplasia is an inherited disorder, if you’re going for a purebred, research your breeder carefully. If your breed is prone to elbow dysplasia, feed them a diet that promotes slow and steady growth. Make sure your dog falls within a healthy weight range as this will help decrease the stress on his joints and slow the development of arthritis. If the worst happens and your dog develops elbow dysplasia, regular veterinary exams are essential to monitor the progression of the disease.

If your dog is able to undergo surgery, treatment will be most successful when treated early. Many dogs that develop elbow dysplasia still make great pets, but will not be able to work or participate in agility programs. After arthroscopic surgery, most dogs are using the limb the same day of the surgery and has lameness significantly reduced. Recovery varies between whether arthritis is present. 60% of dogs with ununited anconeal process return to normal function after surgery with only 10% not improving at all. 75% of dogs with a fragmented coronoid process benefit from surgery. Surgery cannot improve arthritis, so your dog will continue to suffer stiffness or lameness after exercise or during cool, damp weather. Unfortunately, if your dog is experiencing very swollen elbows prior to surgery, these surgeries have a low rate of success.