Popular Subjects: dogs

The Long and the Short of it…

Spot the difference…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Images taken from University of Cambridge BOAS research group website)

These images are both CT scans of dog heads. The dog on the left is a Labrador Retriever and the dog on the right is a Pug. Both dogs have the same anatomical structures except the Pug has them packaged in a much more compact skull. Pugs are just one type of dog classed as a brachycephalic breed. The term ‘brachycephalic’ literally means ‘short head’. French bulldogs, Bulldogs, Boxers and Shih-tzus are also considered to be brachycephalic breeds.

The black areas on the scan pictures represent air within the skull making it possible to compare the airways of these two dogs. When dogs inhale, air is sucked into the nostrils and flows over the nasal turbinate bones. It then passes through the naso-pharynx (throat) and continues into the trachea (windpipe) before reaching the lungs. The scan of the Labrador’s skull shows the airways are relatively wide and unrestricted. The scan of the Pug’s skull shows a much shorter nose with a narrower airway which becomes almost completely constricted around the throat.

Trends in the popularity of specific dog breeds are not uncommon in the UK. According to The Kennel Club, Labradors were the most popular breed in the UK for nearly 30 years before being nudged into second place in 2018 by French Bulldogs. The popularity of all brachycephalic breeds has soared in recent years. Images of these dogs have been widely used in many advertising campaigns promoting products ranging from insurance to mobile phones.

The more demand there is for these dogs the more intensely they are bred and this can lead to a higher rate of breed-related health problems. Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome (BOAS) is a condition affecting a large number of these animals. Some dogs have severely deformed airways which can lead to serious breathing problems.

The main physical features seen in dogs suffering from BOAS include: narrowed nostrils, excessive soft tissue inside the larynx, an over-long soft palate,a narrowed trachea.

Dogs suffering from BOAS display symptoms that include: noisy breathing and snoring, reduced exercise tolerance (including collapse in severe cases), sleep apnoea, swallowing problems, reverse sneezing.

Environmental factors can contribute to the severity of the disease. Hot weather is particularly difficult for brachycephalic dogs; they can overheat very quickly and may develop life threatening hyperthermia. Dogs who are overweight carry excessive fat around their throats which can exacerbate the symptoms of BOAS.

The severity of BOAS varies between individuals; a grading system has been produced by Cambridge University to help identify dogs in danger of developing life threatening breathing difficulties.  Brachycephalic dogs who score Grade 0 are entirely unaffected and can breathe normally. Dogs who fall into the Grade 3 category are severely affected and will require surgical intervention in order to lead a normal life.

The Kennel Club is funding a research project led by the University of Cambridge into BOAS as there are concerns that unless responsible breeding programs are introduced the number of dogs suffering from BOAS will continue to rise.

Dogs who are affected by BOAS may lead a better quality of life if they undergo surgery to widen their nostrils and reduce the amount of soft tissue obstructing their airways.

At Avonvale we support responsible breeding and therefore feel it is important to highlight BOAS as a potential concern associated with brachycephalic breeds. We see many brachycephalic patients and enjoy getting to know these fascinating dogs with huge personalities; they can make wonderful family pets.

Before buying a puppy it is worth doing a bit of research to ensure that breeders have considered BOAS and are only producing puppies who are not affected by this syndrome. It is a good idea to view both parents and also any offspring from previous litters.

If you would like any more information about BOAS or are worried about your dog please contact us at any of our surgeries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in General News, Pet health care advice | Tagged , , ,

Top tips to help protect pets around fireworks season

It may be hard to believe but it’s that time of year again, when we start thinking about how best to care for our pets as fireworks season gets under way.

We know this can be a very tough time of year for pets, who can become stressed and unsettled as fireworks are used ever more frequently – not only for the traditional November 5th bonfire night but also in celebration of Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of top tips to ensure your pet stays safe during fireworks season:

  • Always keep cats and dogs inside when fireworks are let off
  • Some pets like to hide in the bathroom. Make sure toilet lids are down if you have a small dog or cat. Beware if you have the older style of toilet with the exposed U-bend as some dogs can wedge between the pipework and become stuck
  • Close all windows and doors, draw curtains and seal up cat flaps
  • Let your pet pace around, whine, mew and hide if they want to. Don’t try to coax them out – they are trying to find safety and should not be disturbed
  • Hutches and cages should, if possible, be taken into a quiet room indoors or into a garage or shed. If this isn’t possible, turn them around to face a wall, creating a black-out from the flashes of fireworks
  • Give your small pet extra bedding to burrow into so it feels safe
Posted in General News, Pet health care advice | Tagged , , , , ,

Body condition scoring

Our final weight loss blog is on body condition scoring.

Weight alone can be misleading because dogs vary so much in size- a Great Dane will obviously weigh a lot more than a Yorkshire Terrier! For this reason body condition scoring can be really helpful.

Body condition scoring was developed as a way to standardise the assessment of whether animals are underweight or overweight. It is based on a scale running from 1-5 where 1 is an emaciated animal and 5 is grossly obese. The place on the scale on which the animal falls is determined by assessing several criteria. These are:

– How easily felt the ribs are
– How obvious the waist and abdominal tuck are – How much excess fat is beneath the skin
– How much muscle mass is present

 It has been shown that the body condition score, or BCS,  is related to the percentage above which dogs and catsare overweight and consequently can be used to suggest a target weight for dieting overweight pets. Since even within individual breeds there are a range of shapes and sizes that dogs come in, body condition score allows target weights to be tailor made rather than just suggesting the breed average. Once on a diet, body weight is used as a precise measure of the progress you pet is making.

Click to enlarge. Image courtesy Hill’s Pet Nutrition®

This diagram gives the basic principle of how to body condition score your pet. If you are unsure, or would like to discuss your pet’s BCS, please talk to one of our nurses.

Posted in Pet health care advice | Tagged , , ,

Compulsory microchipping- what does this mean for you?

You may be aware that as of 6th April 2016 microchipping will be compulsory for dogs. Here we explain what this change means for you and answer some FAQs.

 

What are the rules?

In England, all dogs will need to be microchipped from 6 April 2016. Dog owners will need to:

  • Have their dog microchipped and registered on one of the authorised commercial databases
  • Register the details of any new owner before they sell or give the dog away
  • Keep their contact details up-to-date on the databases


What is a microchip?

A microchip is a small chip implanted under the skin which stores a unique 15 digit number linked to a database where your chosen contact details are held. A microchip is NOT a GPS tracker; the Microchip needs to be scanned by a hand held scanner and once the microchip number is read the microchip database that you have chosen to store your details on will be contacted.

Microchips help reunite strays with their owners, help tackle puppy farming, and encourage responsible ownership.

 

How is a microchip implanted?

Microchips are implanted under the skin at the back of the neck by injection. It is a quick and easy process which can be done by a vet or vet nurse during a consultation. An anaesthetic or sedation is not required, however if your pet is having an anaesthetic for another reason we can implant the microchip at the same time- simply let us know on the morning of your pet’s procedure.

Once implanted, we will register your details for you on the Petlog database. We will give you details of your pets microchip number and Petlog details at the time, and you will also receive confirmation directly from Petlog within 14 days.

 

How much does it cost to get my dog microchipped?

Microchipping is free for members of our Junior Pet Club or Pet Club Plus (www.avonvets.co.uk/puppy-and-kitten-care / www.avonvets.co.uk/healthy-pet-club). For clients not part of our Pet Clubs, the cost of the microchip is around £20.

 

What do I do if my contact details have changed?

You need to keep the contact details held on the database up to date. You can do this online or over the phone. Details of how to do this can be found on the Petlog website at www.petlog.org.uk/pet-owners/update-your-contact-details/.

 

Does this apply to my cat too?

The legal requirement for microchipping applies only to dogs, however we strongly recommend your cat is microchipped as well. If your cat is found or goes missing then a microchip is the quickest and most effective way to reunite you.

 

If you want to book your pet in for microchipping, or you have any other questions regarding microchips, please call your usual surgery where we will be happy to help.

Posted in General News | Tagged ,