Tag Archives: St. Bernard

Gastric dilation and torsion

This condition preferentially affects the large deep-chested breeds of dog such as Bassett Hounds, German Shepherd dogs, St. Bernard, Irish Setters, Great Danes and Dobermans but Dachshunds may also be affected. There may be a predilection for young male dogs, but torsion has been observed in dogs from 2 to 10 years of age. The cause is not known but predisposing factors include; breed, use of dry cereal-based diets, overeating or drinking, stress, exercise and aerophagia (Table Predisposing causes for gastric torsion). Cereal-based diets fed as one large meal per day result in larger and heavier stomachs than those found in dogs fed tinned meat and biscuit. This predisposes the dog to gastric dilation and torsion (). It is also possible that disordered gastric motility may be involved. Torsions most often occur to the left or clockwise effectively sealing off the oesophagus and pylorus (). In our experience the mortality rate can exceed 68%. Table Predisposing causes for gastric torsion Breed Diet Overeating Stress, excitement Gastric stasis Aerophagia Motility disorder Lax gastric ligaments Normally the pylorus is held in position on the right of the abdomen by Read more […]

Bone Heart Diseases

Diseases Of Different Organs Cardiac Failure Heart problems usually relate to either valve disease or deterioration in the heart muscle. Both make the heart less efficient in maintaining circulation, with consequent congestion due to accumulation of abdominal fluid in severe cases. Some dogs develop a characteristic dry cough on exercise. Hot summer days mean added stress on dogs with faulty heart function, and fainting and collapse can easily occur if the dog stays in the sun, especially if the dog is also obese. Some infectious diseases result in deterioration of the heart muscle, but heart valve deterioration is usually associated with age, although the two diseases may occur simultaneously. Drugs are available for many heart conditions and suspected cases need veterinary attention sooner rather than later. With proper treatment and revised life style they need not be fatal. Parasitism caused by heart worm (Dirofilaria immitis) can bring serious heart disorders. The parasite is widespread in the United States and in tropical areas of Asia and Africa. A mosquito is needed to complete the life-cycle of heart worms. Treatment and prevention are specialized areas of medicine, sometimes requiring surgical intervention. Endocarditis When Read more […]

Sensory Abilities: Audition

The dog’s ear is composed of an outer ear (pinna), auditory canal, and various structures designed to convert sound waves into auditory information. The pinna gathers and directs sound into the auditory canal, where it is carried to the tympanic membrane or eardrum. The eardrum is an extremely sensitive and elastic membrane reacting to the slightest vibrations on its surface: movement of less than one-tenth the diameter of a hydrogen atom can produce an audible sensation. The vibrations caused by the pressure of sound waves on the eardrum are mechanically conducted to the cochlea through the mediation of three tiny bones or ossicles: the malleus, the incus, and the stapes. The cochlea is a snail-like tubular structure that is innervated by the auditory nerve. Sound vibrations are passed into the cochlea at the oval window. These vibrations cause a fluid wave in the cochlear fluid, which causes a rippling effect against the surrounding basilar membrane. The vibratory displacement of the basilar membrane stimulates auditory receptors (called hair cells) to bend rhythmically, thereby evoking a nerve potential that is carried by individual fibers into the auditory nerve. Different sounds are distinguished by the specific Read more […]

The Dalmatian

The Dalmatian or Coach-Dog. (The Illustrated Book of the Dog (1881) by Vero Shaw, B. A.) In spite of the meagreness, in point of numbers, of the entries in the Dalmatian classes at most shows, few breeds attract more attention, simply we believe on account of the peculiarity of the markings, which are indispensable to success on the bench. It is so seldom that a really well-marked dog is seen following a carriage, that those unacquainted with the few really good ones which appear at shows invariably express great surprise and admiration at the regularity and brilliancy of their colouring. Of the antecedents of the Dalmatian it is extremely hard to speak with certainty, but it appears that the breed has altered but little since it was first illustrated in Bewick’s book on natural history, for in it appears an engraving of a dog who would be able to hold his own in high-class competition in the present day, and whose markings are sufficiently well developed to satisfy the most exacting of judges. Indeed, the almost geometrical exactness with which the spots are represented by Bewick impresses us with the idea that imagination greatly assisted nature in producing what he thought ought to be; his ideal, however exaggerated, Read more […]

Genetics and the Dog: Breed Action

In some breeds, admitting to the occurrence of an inherited defect is hazardous. Many breeders will openly condemn those who confess to having had a problem. It is as if breeders believe that silence will make the defect go away. This is clearly not the case, indeed, it is more likely that defects will spread. It is far more mature to admit to problems and collectively try to solve them. In the short term there may be heartache and economic loss for some, but in the long term the breed will benefit. It is crucial that breeders do not simply rely on pedigree data vvhen trying to evaluate problems. If a defect is recessive or suspected as being recessive, then the need is not only for five generation pedigrees of affected animals but also numbers of the litter born, their sexes status and, in the case of defects seen in later life, the age at examination. Given such data, a geneticist can help a breed examine the problem in depth. Given a list of “affected” pedigrees only on is in danger of “tracing the defect to a certain dog” without being aware that all pedigrees, affected and normal, trace to him. Any widely used stud might appear in “affected” pedigree without actually being the source of the problem though in some Read more […]

Genetics and the Dog: Selection for Particular Traits

There is some evidence that withers height and body weight are quite highly inherited and that they would tend to be related. We have data from GSD’s showing that sixty-day weight in the breed is about 45% heritable and thus vveights at other ages would be connected, while the genes which influence weight will also tend to influence height. In a breed seeking to increase height, progress should be reasonably rapid by the use of the taller animals in the breed. At the same time, body vveight would tend to be increased (whether one wanted this or not) and other related features would happen. Increased size vvould bring with it a more rapid growth rate and possibly increased risk of hip dysplasia. It would probably increase susceptibility of the long bones to diseases like panosteosis and it might lead to reduced hind angulation. There is also some evidence that increases in withers height are associated with greater litter size, at least up to a certain point. In breeds which are physically small, the associated low litter size has both economic and genetic drawbacks but there is minimal scope for increasing skeletal size beyond the odd centimetre or two. In general, most breeders are content to select to remain within Read more […]

Complex inherited traits

Not all polygenic characters can be classified into grades; some, such as epilepsy, are all-or-nothing traits in that the dog is either normal or abnormal. Such traits, known as threshold traits, are difficult to work with but can respond to selection. Anyone purchasing a dog in a breed in which polygenic defects are common should ensure that parental stock are evaluated. It would, for example, be foolish to purchase breeds like German Shepherd Dogs, Labradors, Golden Retrievers or the giant breeds like Newfoundlands and St. Bernards without seeking hip scores from the British Veterinary Association/German Shepherd Dog League or their equivalent in other countries. A dog is acquired for its virtues rather than for its defects, but virtues are different things to different owners. Sound character is the most important trait of any dog whether it is acquired as a family pet or as a potential show or working dog. In working breeds it should be possible to obtain a dog of sound character and working ability as well as beautiful looks, but in some breeds working and show strains have tended to diverge, polarizing in two quite different looking animals. Most of the aspects governing so-called beauty, character and working Read more […]