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Canine Coronavirus 

Cancer Incidence in various dog breeds

Collapsed Trachea

Coccidiosis - A cause of diarrhoea

Corneal Ulcer

Craniomandibular Osteopathy

Cruciate Ligament Rupture and Repair

Cushing's Disease

Canine Coronavirus


Canine Coronavirus (CCV) is the second leading viral cause of diarrhoea in puppies with canine Parvovirus being the leader. Unlike Parvovirus, Coronavirus infections are not generally associated with high death rates.

Canine Coronavirus is not new to the canine population; it has been known to exist for decades. Most domestic dogs, especially adults, have measurable Coronavirus antibody titres indicating that they were exposed to canine Coronavirus at some time in their life.

Canine Coronavirus has been widespread among the canine population for many years. Many dogs, especially adults, are either naturally immune and not susceptible, or develop a very mild, oftentimes unnoticeable case of the disease.

Puppies less than twelve weeks of age are at the greatest risk and some especially weaker ones will die if exposed and infected. Most puppies, however, will recover after several days of mild to severe diarrhoea.

What is the management?

As with canine Parvovirus, there is no specific treatment for canine Coronavirus. It is very important to keep the patient, especially puppies, from becoming dehydrated. Water must be force fed or specially prepared fluids can be administered under the skin (subcutaneously) and/or intravenously to prevent dehydration.

Vaccines are available to protect puppies and adults of all ages against canine Coronavirus. Sanitation with commercial disinfectants is highly effective and should be practised in breeding, grooming, kennel housing, and hospital situations.


Cancer Incidence in various dog breeds


Below is a list of dog breeds that are at a high risk of developing cancer. The list comes from a wide variety of sources.

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • West Highland White Terriers
  • Rottweilers
  • Dobermann Pinschers
  • Schnauzers
  • Flat Coat Retrievers
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Great Danes
  • Greyhounds
  • Standard Poodles

The most common types of tumour found in dogs is:


It accounts for approximately 20% of all cancers in dogs. The main problem you would notice is weight loss and general lethargy in your pet. These tumours can be picked up at health checks when your dog is in for its yearly booster for example.

This is when we may notice that the lymph glands may be raised or enlarged and need a further workup such as a biopsy.

Lymphomas or lyphosarcomas can affect any breed at any age. Males and females are at equal risk. Particularly high incidence is found in

  • Golden Retrievers
  • Boxers
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • Scottish Terriers
  • Westies
  • Pointers


These are tumours that you would notice as lumps under the skin. They can occur in dogs of any age (average 8-10 years). Boxers are especially prone to these tumours, so any lumps noticed on your boxer especially on the back quarters must be seen as soon as possible, removed surgically and sent for histopathology.


Occurs commonly in dogs with dark pigmented skin and accounts for approximately 6% of all canine tumours. Any dog can be affected, but Cocker Spaniels, Gordon Setters, Standard and Miniature Schnauzers, Dobermann Pinschers and Scottish Terriers among others are at an increased risk of developing melanoma. If a melanoma occurs in the mouth, it is particularly dangerous.


This is the most common type of primary bone cancer. Of total canine malignancies (cancers that spread), osteosarcoma accounts for about 5%. The disease usually becomes evident during middle age (about 7-10 years), although bone cancer can affect dogs <1 year of age.

The giant breeds are particularly susceptible eg Great Danes, Mastiffs, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Irish Wolfhounds. Large breeds such as Rottweilers, Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Dobermanns, Weimeraners, Greyhounds and Boxers are also at increased risk.

It is vital to have any suspicious lumps or pain checked in your old pet by us before it is too late.


Collapsed Trachea


Collapsing trachea (or collapsed trachea) is a common condition that causes coughing in small and toy breeds of dogs.

What is a collapsed trachea?

The trachea is supported by tough rings made of cartilage. Occasionally, the trachea will lose its rigidity and collapse while the dog is breathing. For unknown reasons, the cartilage rings weaken and the trachea no longer has proper support.

The collapsing trachea syndrome is most often seen in toy breeds, especially Yorkshire Terriers over the age of five.


The pet appears to tire easily as it becomes short of breath. Dogs with a collapsing trachea will generally cough as if trying to clear the airways, and occasionally this cough will sound like a goose honk. In very severe cases, the tongue and gums will appear blue as breathing becomes restricted.

What is the management?

Depending upon the severity of the condition, medications will help. Veterinarians usually prescribe drugs to help dilate the airways.

If your pet is obese, we suggest a stricter diet. Finally, activity should be restricted and not encouraged.

Dogs with collapsing tracheas should wear harnesses instead of collars in order to take any pressure off of the trachea. With the help of medication and modification of lifestyle, the collapsing trachea can be controlled but seldom cured.

In severe cases, surgery to help open the airways may be beneficial, but most cases are managed medically not surgically.


Coccidia (Coccidiosis): A Cause of Diarrhoea

Coccidia are small protozoans (one-celled organisms) that multiply in the intestinal tracts of dogs and cats, most commonly in puppies and kittens less than six months of age, in adult animals whose immune system is suppressed, or in animals who are stressed in other ways (e.g change in ownership, other disease present).

In dogs and cats, most coccidia are of the genus called Isospora. As a puppy ages, he tends to develop a natural immunity to the effects of coccidia. As an adult, he may carry coccidia in his intestines, and shed the cyst in the faeces, but experience no ill effects.


The primary sign of an animal suffering with coccidiosis is diarrhoea. The diarrhoea may be mild to severe depending on the level of infection. Blood and mucous may be present, especially in advanced cases. Severely affected animals may also vomit, lose their appetite, become dehydrated, and in some instances, die from the disease.

How can coccidiosis be diagnosed?

Examination of the faeces under a microscope can identify the oocysts that are passed.

What is the treatment of coccidiosis?

Sulphonamide antibiotics are effective in treating this condition. Because coccidia is spread by the faeces of carrier animals, it is very important to practice strict sanitation. All faecal material should be removed.

Housing needs to be such that food and water cannot become contaminated with faeces. Clean water should be provided at all times.


Corneal Ulcer

A corneal ulcer is an erosion of the superficial layer of the cornea, which is the clear membrane at the front of the eye.

What causes it?

Most corneal ulcers are caused by trauma, such as a cat scratch, a branch in the bushes, or rubbing the eye against something such as a grass seed caught in the eyelid or an ingrown eyelash. Another possibility is a chemical burn, for instance by erosive fluids or even irritating shampoo.

Some infections and diseases can also cause ulcers. Finally, a lack of tears, such as in the condition called ‘dry eye’ (or Kerato-Conjunctivitis Sicca) can also lead to ulcers. This is common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.

How is it diagnosed?

A corneal ulcer is very painful and the dog will scratch or rub the eye, close its eyelids and possibly have a discharge from the eye. It may show as a clouding of the normally clear cornea. Your vet will often have to perform a special staining test on the eye, sometimes after the application of local anaesthetic drops, to diagnose a corneal ulcer.


Treatment of corneal ulcers will vary with the degree or depth of the ulceration. Mostly it will be with the use of eye drops or ointment. In some cases it may be necessary to perform minor surgery on the affected eye by removing the loose edges of the ulcer.

In some cases we may decide to perform a ‘third eyelid flap’, whereby the third eyelid, the small membrane in the inside corner of the eye, is stitched over the corneal ulcer to help the healing process. At the end of the prescribed treatment period we will have to do the staining test again to check whether the entire ulcer has healed.


Craniomandibular osteopathy


Craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO) is a bone disease of growing dogs. It affects the bones of the skull, including the mandible (lower jaw), tympanic bullae (bone surrounding the middle ear) and temporal region (bone of the skull, which forms a joint with the lower jaw called the temporomandibular joint).

The lesions are bilateral or affecting both sides and consist of irregular enlargements of the affected bones.

What causes craniomandibular osteopathy and which breeds does it affect?

The cause of CMO is unknown. It is not cancerous or caused by inflammation. It is an inherited condition in West Highland White Terriers. It has also been reported in the Boxer, Labrador Retriever, Great Dane, and Doberman Pinschers.

What are the signs of craniomandibular osteopathy?

The signs of disease usually occur between 4 and 8 months of age. There is swelling of the jaws, difficulty eating, and pain on opening the mouth; sometimes there is actually an inability to open the mouth. Dogs may drool and be depressed.

Often the body temperature will fluctuate over time, with fever occurring in phases every 10-14 days. In severely affected dogs, the masticatory muscles (those involved in chewing) may shrivel with disuse (atrophy) and there may be lymphadenopathy (swollen glands).

Radiographs (x-rays) of affected dogs demonstrate irregular thickenings of the various facial bones. It may be necessary to sedate or lightly anaesthetise the dog to obtain good radiographs, since it is a painful condition and the dog may not lie quietly.

What is the treatment of craniomandibular osteopathy?

Currently, there is no treatment that will alter the progression of the disease. Therapy is usually targeted at making the dog more comfortable through the use of pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs.

Proper nutrition must be provided, and in severe cases, it may be necessary to place a gastrostomy (stomach) tube.

How is craniomandibular osteopathy prevented?

Since it is an inherited condition in West Highland White Terriers, those dogs with the disease, or with parents or siblings with the disease, should not be bred.


Cruciate Ligament Rupture and Repair


The cruciate ligaments are the two ligaments, which run inside the knee joint of your dog, which is the joint in the hind leg just below the groin. The cruciate ligaments cross over in the middle (hence their name as they resemble a cross) and give stability to the knee joint.

On the inside and outside of the joint are the collateral ligaments, giving further support. When the knee joint is stressed in an abnormal way such as jumping and twisting, one of these cruciate ligaments can tear or rupture (the ‘cranial’ cruciate ligament or CCL).

It is more common in larger breeds of dogs and especially in unfit or overweight dogs.


1. Conservative treatment, which means rest, exercise control and anti-inflammatories. This type of treatment is usually restricted to small dogs, for instance under 15 kg body weight. Most dogs will be sound after a few months but will certainly develop arthritis in the affected joint.

2. Surgery: this involves stabilisation of the knee joint. There are many different methods available to this purpose and your vet can best advise you on the best method in your dog’s case. Even if surgery is performed your dog will still develop arthritis in the knee, but it will be mobile and free of lameness sooner. If your dog is overweight, we may advise a weight control diet.


Cushing's Disease (Hyperadrenocorticism)


Cushing's disease (hyperadrenocorticism) is a condition that results from the chronic overproduction of too much glucocorticoid (a hormone) in the body. In the normal dog, the pituitary gland produces a hormone called ACTH, which stimulates the adrenal gland to produce the steroid hormone glucocorticoid necessary for the function of many systems in the body.

If something goes wrong in the pituitary gland or adrenal gland and too much glucocorticoid is produced, then Cushing's disease develops. This is a very complicated disease with a wide range of symptoms and causes.


  • Increased water consumption and urination
  • Increase in appetite
  • Abdominal enlargement
  • Hair loss and thin skin
  • Increased panting, recurrent urinary tract infections, or losses in reproductive ability are other symptoms often noted with this disease.


Cushing's disease can present with a variety of symptoms and may also be involved with several different disease processes. Therefore, it is recommended that any dog suspected of having Cushing's disease should have a complete blood count, blood chemistry panel and urinalysis performed as a routine part of the evaluation.

Non surgical treatment is the most often used treatment for most cases of canine Cushing's disease. Lysodren (Mitotane) is the drug of choice. During the initial phases of the therapy, the dog must be very carefully monitored, and there must be close communication between the veterinarian and the owner.