Educational Articles

Dogs + Medical Conditions

  • Burr tongue is the common name for burdock tongue (also called granular stomatitis or granulomatous glossitis) caused by ingestion of the burrs from the burdock plant. Burr tongue is most commonly seen in long-haired dogs when they accidentally traumatize their tongue and mouth on the burrs during grooming. The hooked scales of the burrs become embedded in the tongue and gums and cause an intense foreign body reaction. Affected dogs often have small red bumps on the tip and edges of their tongue, front of the lips and gums, and occasionally the base of the nose. Based on the severity of the condition, treatment ranges from letting the injuries heal on their own to administering antibiotics and pain medications, to surgical intervention.

  • Calcium deposits in the skin have a variety of causes. Calcinosis circumscripta is deposition of calcium at bony prominences or, in the footpads and mouth. It is usually a disease of large dog breeds and occurs before two years of age. Calcinosis cutis is induced by local skin damage in susceptible animals and takes two forms: dystrophic or metastatic. The appearance of the skin lesions may lead your veterinarian to suspect calcium deposits as the problem, particularly when the age, breed, and clinical history are considered. Blood tests can help indicate some underlying conditions, but confirmation by skin biopsy may be necessary. While small deposits may be resorbed without treatment over time, surgery is the best choice for larger deposits.

  • One of the more common uroliths in the dog is composed of calcium oxalate crystals. Current research indicates that urine high in calcium, citrates, or oxalates and is acidic predisposes a pet to developing calcium oxalate urinary crystals and stones. The most common signs that a dog has bladder stones are hematuria and dysuria. The only way to be sure that a bladder stone is made of calcium oxalate is to have the stone analyzed at a veterinary referral laboratory. Unfortunately, calcium oxalate stones have a somewhat high rate of recurrence, despite careful attention to diet and lifestyle.

  • Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial intestinal infection usually acquired by exposure to raw meat, poultry or infected water but can be spread between pets and humans. Signs of infection are watery or mucoid diarrhea with straining, possible cramping, lethargy, and fever. Most infections are self-limiting and do not require treatment. As many asymptomatic dogs carry these bacteria, diagnosis can be difficult and includes fecal culture and DNA(PCR) testing. Treatment, if required, is based on fecal culture sensitivity results as the more common infective species are resistant to many antibiotics. Prevention includes good personal hygiene and keeping your pet’s environment clean.

  • Canine coronavirus (CCoV) is not the same virus as SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. Canine coronavirus disease, known as CCoV, is a highly infectious intestinal infection in dogs, especially puppies. CCoV does not affect people, and causes gastrointestinal problems as opposed to respiratory disease. Crowding and unsanitary conditions lead to coronavirus transmission. Dogs may be carriers of the disease for up to six months (180 days) after infection. The most typical sign associated with canine coronavirus is diarrhea, typically sudden in onset, which may be accompanied by lethargy and decreased appetite. There is no specific treatment for coronavirus. Canine coronavirus vaccines are available. This vaccine will only work for the CCoV type of coronavirus.

  • Canine influenza virus (CIV) is primarily the result of two influenza strains: H3N8 from an equine origin and H3N2 from an avian origin. Both of these strains were previously known to infect species other than dogs, but are now able to infect and spread among dogs. The canine influenza virus is easy to transmit.

  • Carpal hyperextension is an abnormality of the carpus that causes hyperextension of the joint. There are many causes of carpal hyperextension: in young dogs, it may be caused by a developmental abnormality, it can be caused by trauma, and in older dogs, it may occur as a degenerative condition. Dogs with carpal hyperextension have a noticeable bend at the wrist, forcing their lower limb into an abnormally flattened position. If carpal hyperextension is caused by trauma, it may also be associated with pain and swelling. A tentative diagnosis of carpal hyperextension can be made based on initial observation, but a thorough physical examination is necessary because dogs with carpal hyperextension may also have abnormalities in other joints. Treatment of carpal hyperextension depends upon the severity of the condition.

  • Carpal laxity is a condition in which the carpus has an abnormal or excessive range of motion. Carpal laxity can show up in one of two ways: carpal hyperextension or carpal flexion. The underlying cause of carpal laxity has not been definitively determined but may be caused by nutritional factors (specifically excessive caloric intake and/or excessive calcium intake), genetic factors, and being raised on slippery flooring surfaces. Signs of carpal laxity may be seen at any time from 6 weeks of age onward, but the condition is most commonly noted between three and six months of age. Activity modification is often recommended for affected puppies by keeping them off slippery surfaces. Most puppies with carpal laxity will appear completely normal within six to eight weeks.

  • Inside the eye is a lens that focuses light on the back of the eye, or retina. Vision occurs at the retina. The structure of the eye is similar to a camera, which has a lens to focus light on the film. A cloudy or opaque lens is called a cataract.

  • The intervertebral discs allow movement in the spine and act as shock absorbers between the vertebrae. If the disc degenerates or is damaged in some way, the disc may bulge and put pressure on the spinal cord and/or the roots of the spinal nerves that come off the sides of the spinal cord. This pressure can cause symptoms ranging from severe pain to weakness to paralysis. There are several breeds that experience a higher frequency of the condition. The severity of a dog’s clinical signs depends upon several factors. Conservative management with pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication is recommended with a gradual onset of clinical signs or when clinical signs are limited to pain and/or a mildly wobbly gait. Surgery is recommended when there are repeated episodes of neck pain, when neck pain is severe, when there are severe nervous system deficits, or when the dog has not responded to conservative treatment.