Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bearded Collie Diagnostic Therapeutic and Disease

New Diagnostic and Therapeutic Investigations of Neurological Disease in Dogs was Simon Platt's topic.

Bearded Collie
With any neurological disease immediate and accurate diagnosis is crucial for the best results. The use of MRI, including the 3T MRI he gets to use at the University of Georgia, is rapidly expanding our understanding of the cause and best treatment of these diseases. 50% of epilepsy though is still classified as idiopathic because the cause has not been determined. Intravenous valium remains the initial treatment of choice (the effect is far more rapid than rectal valium) but there are some promising new therapies.

There is a new preparation of intranasal midazolam. It is introduced as a liquid but forms a gel in the nose which adheres to the mucosa and maximizes absorption. Maximal levels are reached within 3 minutes, longer than the average actual seizure, but in dogs who have repetitive seizure episodes this is really appreciated. Up to 20% of seizures don't respond to traditional seizure drugs like phenobarbital and the bromides. New drugs that show a lot of promise are gabapentin, zonisamide and levetriacetam.

A new extended release formulation of the latter, Lacosamide, is particularly useful as the short half life and need for frequent dosing with many of these drugs in dogs limits their current use. Syringomyelia is a disease of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) and Brussels Griffons primarily in which the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) is pushed out of the brain into the spinal cord with each heart beat. In the worst cases parts of the brain are also pushed out. It is inherited, although severity varies markedly. Surgery is of questionable benefit and there is no other treatment.

Bearded Collie Dogs get more brain tumors than humans but the types and classes are very similar. Outcome is influenced by age as well as neurological status. In humans MRI can predict outcome with 65-96% accuracy, and the degree of edema (fluid accumulation) correlates well with malignancy. MRI can be used for the same purpose in dogs although biopsy is needed for definitive identification. Speed of uptake of injected contrast material can help identify the tumor type, determine the best treatment and the prognosis. Examination of CSF is not helpful. Strokes present differently in dogs than in humans.

Bearded Collie Dog
Often the dog is blind on one side, and circles in one direction with difficulty in balancing. It can be hard to differentiate from old dog vestibular disease without an MRI, and is mostly seen in dogs over 7, especially greyhounds and spaniels. Most strokes in humans result from high blood pressure but this is rarely if ever the cause in Bearded Collie and dogs. Spinal strokes are common in large breeds and Border collies and result from small pieces of disc material entering the spinal fluid. In the first 5 days after a cerebral stroke levels of the neurotransmitter glutamate increase, it has been speculated that using glycine, which has opposite neurological effects, in early stroke might be helpful.

Cytokines also increase in the first 5 days after a stroke, and anti-inflammatory drugs may be helpful. Most exciting is the use of stem cells derived from the patients own fat cells. These are very potent and very safe. Meningoencephalitis is most common in toy dogs and 80% of the inflammation seems to be immune mediated. Toys are also more susceptible to post vaccination meningitis.

Mark Oyama's presentation Matters of the Heart: Advances in Canine Cancer Research was equally packed with exciting new material, although fortunately Beardies are not at high risk of genetic heart disease (I have a lot more information on these that I will omit here). Mitral valve disease (MVD) results in more than 75% of all canine heart disease. In breeds in which it is inherited it may well manifest after the Bearded Collie dog has been bred. Collagen is progressively lost from the valve and replaced by extracellular matrix so that it becomes thicker and weaker, blood flows back from the left ventricle into the atrium rather than out through the aorta to the rest of the body. Ultimately this causes congestive heart failure, heart enlargement and activates neurohormones.

Certain drugs especially those that increase serotonin, ergot alkaloids (used for treating migraines) and dopamine agonists (used for human Parkinsons) as well as the banned fen-phen can all increase the risk of mitral valve disease. The mitral valve cells can make serotonin. Too much causes vasoconstriction. It can also damage the valves on the right hand side of the heart. A human drug that blocks serotonin shows promise for slowing the progression of MVD. Nutrition (amino acids) and environmental factors are also being explored for their effect on causing/preventing/slowing MVD. Small Bearded Collie and dogs, (especially CKCS) are more prone to MVD.
Bearded Collie
Here in the Midwest we are having a Highland Winter snow, cold and wind; not exactly training weather. For
those Bearded Collie who work on chores daily, and for those who do want to get in some practices in these extreme weather conditions, we have to give some consideration to the possible adverse effects of rough weather on the Bearded Collie dog. We do like to have our dogs inside with us year-around, so there are bound to be some side effects of such an "easy" life! First will be the dog's feet. Housedogs' footpads are never as tough as will those for an outside, rough-life dog, and will tend to become painful fairly quickly in cold snow. The pad hair will also tend to collect snow, leading to a possibility of lameness or even slight frostbite.

One would think that the heavier coats would serve a a better protector from the weather, but such coats can become portable snowball machines as well. The correct coat will accumulate a coating of snow on the surface only, leaving the dog himself warm and dry until he comes into a heated area. One hefty shake and the snow will be off the coat and on the carpet instead! Bearded Collie, with their longer nasal passages, can breathe fairly well in very cold air. If the dog is excited and panting (remember that this is the only way a dog can lower excess body heat), then there is a slightly higher risk of chilling the lungs to the point of possible damage. As with heat, any temperature that we find uncomfortable can have a negative effect on our dogs. Be observant and aware of the potential injuries in severe weather. Work in shorter time increments (including outside potty times) and watch for any sign of discomfort in your Bearded Collie.


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