Archive : May

Eye Infection in Newborn Dogs

Ophthalmia Neonatorium in Dogs

Puppies can develop infections of the conjunctiva, the mucous membrane that lines the inner surface of the eyelids and the eyeball, or of the cornea, the transparent front surface coating of the eyeball. The infection will typically take place after the top and bottom eyelids separate and open, at about 10 to 14 days of age.

Often the source of the infection is from infectious vaginal discharge that is transmitted at birth, but an unhygienic environment can also lead to infection in newborns. Staphylococcus spp. bacteria, or Streptococcus spp. bacteria are usually responsible for infections in puppies. If left untreated, infections of this nature can lead to blindness.

Symptoms and Types

Eye may develop conjunctivitis, with inflammation, redness, and discharge of the conjunctivaUpper and lower eyelids are stuck together due to dried and crusted dischargeEyelids are sticking to the front of the eyeDischarge from the eyes that is puslike, or has mucous (clear fluid) with some pusUpper and lower eyelids bulge outward due to swelling and/or fluid build-up in the socket or orbitUlcerated cornea (sores on the surface of the eyeball where bacteria has eaten holes through the coating)Collapsed eyeball



Vaginal infections in the dam (mother dog) near the time of birthUnclean environment for the newborn puppies


Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on the affected newborns, and will need a complete medical history of the pregnancy and birth, as well as a background medical history of the mother that has given birth. If your adult pet, the mother, has had any infections that you are aware of, you will need to share information of the symptoms and the time they began with the doctor. Even if there has not been any indication of infection in the mother, if the symptoms the newborn is presenting appear to be the type of infection that is transmitted through the birth canal, your veterinarian will need to take a culture of vaginal discharge from the mother.

A culture of the eye discharge will also need to be taken for testing, and in order to fully examine the eye for possible trauma or lesions, your doctor will stain the cornea (the coating of the eye) with fluorescein, a fluorescent yellow-orange dye that illuminates the corneal surface, making even minute scratches and foreign objects visible under light.

Your doctor may also order a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, a urinalysis, and an electrolyte panel, in case the newborn has an underlying systemic disease that also needs to be treated.


Your veterinarian will separate the puppy’s eyelids by moistening them and pulling them gently apart. Once the eyes have been opened, your veterinarian will be able to wash the eye and the eyelids to get the infected cellular matter out. To prevent the eyelids from sticking together again, warm compresses will be applied, and will be recommended for home treatment as well. Your veterinarian will also prescribe a topical antibiotic ointment to be applied to the eye.

Living and Management

Apply warm (not hot) compresses to the eyes of affected puppies after returning home to prevent the eyelids from sticking together again, and follow through with the full course of the prescribed antibiotic medication. If it appears that the infection is limited to only one or a couple of the puppies in the litter, you will still need to be watchful for signs of eye infection in the litter-mates that appear healthy, so that you can act quickly if symptoms do appear.

Some bacterial infections of the eye are highly contagious, and you will want to keep the uninfected newborns from contracting an infection. Have your veterinarian advise you on whether you will need to isolate the infected, or uninfected, newborns. (Do not isolate unless it is necessary, since it is important for the social and physical  development of the newborn puppy to be close to its mother and litter-mates.) Be sure to keep the eating and sleeping areas in which the newborns and mother occupy clean and hygienic, and wash the mother’s nipples often, using only warm water — no soap, as soap can lead to cracking and bleeding of the nipples — or as your veterinarian advises.

Small Sized Testes in Dogs

Testicular Degeneration and Hypoplasia in Dogs

Smaller than normal testes are generally easy to spot. There are different conditions that can lead to this disorder: underdevelopment or incomplete development of the testes is known as hypoplasia, an inability to grow and/or mature appropriately; and degeneration of the testes, which refers to the loss of potency after the stage of puberty has arrived.

Both of these conditions can be due to a condition that was present at birth — congenital — or can be due to some other cause that takes place after birth. The congenital forms are usually related to genetic abnormalities that have been inherited by the parent, but may also be due to something that occurred while the puppy was in utero, such as exposure to radioactive substances.

Dogs of any age or breed are predisposed to these conditions, but hypoplasia is most commonly seen in young dogs, and degeneration is more common in older dogs.

Symptoms and Types

In addition to abnormally small testes, infertility is the single most common symptom of these conditions. Semen analysis will show a low sperm count (oligospermia) or an absolute absence of sperms (azoospermia) in the seminal fluid is usually reported.


Degeneration of the testicular sacs Radiation exposure Metal toxicity, including lead Chemical toxicity Other toxins Exposure to heat Inflammation of the testes (orchitis) Hormone imbalance Increasing age Adverse drug reaction (e.g., antifungal drugs) Hypoplasia Genetic Injury, trauma Tumor of the pituitary gland


Dogs with these conditions are typically presented to their veterinarians with a compliant of infertility. You will need to give a complete known history, including any such problems that were present in the previous generations of your dog’s familial line and any trauma or injury that may have affected your dog’s scrotum.

Your veterinarian will thoroughly examine the scrotal region and should be able to immediately ascertain whether they are of normal size or are smaller than what they should be for your dog’s breed, size and age. A finding of abnormal size is enough to urge your veterinarian to conduct further tests in order to differentiate testicular degeneration from hypoplasia. An ultrasound image of the testes is usually done to confirm the visual diagnosis of smaller than normal testes.

Your veterinarian will also take a semen sample for laboratory testing, to check for abnormal cell development and to do a standard sperm count. The sperm count will evaluate the number of viable sperm cells in your dog’s semen. If it appears to be called for, under the circumstances, a small tissue sample may also be taken from the testicular sac, using a fine needle, to be sent to the laboratory for further evaluation.


Treatment depends on diagnosis of the underlying cause of degeneration or hypoplasia. Hormonal therapy has been used in animals with these conditions with variable results reported. Your veterinarian will discuss the possibilities of your dog’s future fertility using the various treatment protocols that are available, depending on the final diagnosis. Treatment is not available in all cases, but this cannot always be determined without the appropriate tests being conducted first.

If your doctor does determine that treatment is a viable option, follow-up visits will include serial semen analyses to evaluate the efficacy of the therapy.

Living and Management

There is no special at home care that is recommended for dogs with testicular hypoplasia or degeneration. You may need to take your dog for subsequent laboratory testing during the period of treatment, but this will be entirely dependent on the diagnosis your veterinarian has settled on and the treatment protocol that has been outlined for him.

Dogs with hypoplasia have a poor chance of ever becoming fertile; the chances are a bit better for dogs with degeneration of the testes, but in general, the prognosis for successful breeding remains poor. In any case, the prognosis depends on the underlying cause and successful response to treatment.

Recessed Vulva in Dogs

What Is a Recessed Vulva in Dogs?

A recessed vulva, also referred to as a hooded vulva, is when there is extra skin surrounding and folding over the vulva. This extra skin allows for moisture to be trapped underneath. 

Female dogs that have hooded vulvas are more likely to develop vaginal infections (vaginitis) and urinary tract infections. Once bacteria grow within the skin fold of a hooded vulva, they move into the bladder and can cause a urinary tract infection. Yeast infections around the vulva are also more common in dogs that have hooded vulvas.

Symptoms of Recessed Vulva in Dogs

Some dogs may not have any health issues caused by a recessed or hooded vulva, although this condition can cause chronic vaginitis and recurring urinary tract infections with irritation and pain. Infected skin around the vulva will look moist, red, or black and may have an odor.

When a dog has vaginitis or a urinary tract infection, they may not show symptoms. This makes it difficult to determine that there is a problem. However, most dogs will show symptoms. For instance, if the skin around the vulva is infected, a dog will often lick excessively at the vulva due to itchiness and discomfort caused by the infection. Dogs may also scoot their rear end along the floor to try and “scratch the itch.”

If a dog with a recessed vulva has a urinary tract infection (UTI), the most common symptoms are:

Urinating more frequently (polyuria)

Drinking more water (polydipsia)

Urinary accidents in the house

Straining to urinate (squatting more but urine may not always come out)

Bloody urine (hematuria)

If there is a skin infection around the vulva, it can be diagnosed during a routine physical exam. To diagnose a urinary tract infection, a urine sample is needed for testing.

Causes of Recessed Vulva in Dogs

A recessed vulva was once thought to be a genetic issue, but the genetic link has not yet been found.  Medium to large breeds are more prone to having a recessed vulva, compared to small or toy breeds. Obese dogs are at greatest risk, due to fatty tissue that accumulates around the vulva, causing a fold of skin to fully surround it.

How Veterinarians Diagnose a Recessed Vulva in Dogs

A recessed vulva can be diagnosed during a routine physical exam because the vulva will not be easily visible as it should be. Instead, it will be covered by a fold of skin that will need to be pushed back in order to see it properly. No tests are needed to diagnose it. 

A veterinarian may perform a tape impression test if the skin around the vulva appears infected.  This test involves taking a small, clear piece of tape and gently applying it to any skin lesions around the vulva. The tape is then removed and stained. It will then be examined under the microscope to see if there are bacteria or yeast present. Topical or oral medication will be prescribed for treatment if a skin infection is diagnosed.

If a dog with a recessed vulva is showing signs of a possible urinary tract infection, a urine sample will be needed for a urinalysis. This test helps diagnose an infection by checking for red and white blood cells, urinary crystals, and bacteria. It also checks kidney function and screens for diabetes.

Treatment For a Recessed Vulva in Dogs

Dogs that have this condition and do not have any associated medical issues will not need treatment—only dogs with a recessed vulva that have vaginitis and/or urinary tract infections. Medicated anti-bacterial or anti-fungal wipes may be prescribed to help keep the skin clean around the vulva on a daily basis to prevent or minimize skin and urinary tract infections.

 If obesity is the suspected cause of a recessed vulva, a weight loss plan will be recommended. Weight loss may allow for the vulva to be properly exposed and eliminate a fold of skin covering it up. It is also possible that weight loss may not fully eliminate a recessed vulva, but it may lessen it, so that recurring skin infections and UTIs no longer develop. 

Surgery is required for treatment if a dog is  a healthy body weight and has a recessed vulva that causes recurring skin and/ or urinary issues.. The surgery, called an episioplasty or vulvoplasty, involves surgical removal of extra skin around the vulva, allowing it to be exposed normally.

If a dog is diagnosed with a recessed vulva and needs to be spayed, then a vulvoplasty can be done at the same time as the spay. If there is a severe skin infection around the vulva prior to surgery, this infection needs to be fully treated before surgery can be performed. 

Recovery and Management of a Recessed Vulva in Dogs

Oral medications, consisting of an antibiotic and pain medication, are prescribed after surgery to prevent infection and provide pain relief. A sedative is often prescribed as well to keep the dog calm after surgery. Dogs do recover quickly after a vulvoplasty, and their energy level and appetite are typically back to normal within 24 hours of surgery. However, the incision takes 10-14 days to heal.

Post-surgery, it is important to:

Limit the dog’s activity level until the stitches are removed in 10-14 days by a veterinary professional. This means taking the dog on short leash walks only.  No running, jumping, or rough play are allowed until the stitches are removed to ensure that the stitches do not pop during recovery.

Provide crate rest to limit activity if the dog is crate-trained

Use an e-collar (cone) around the dog’s head to prevent licking at the incision site, which can lead to infection and also cause the incision to open up.

Monitor the incision site daily for redness, swelling, drainage, and an odor.  Report any of these findings to your local veterinary hospital as soon as possible if they are observed.

The vulvoplasty should stop the recurring skin infections and ongoing UTIs if the recessed vulva was the cause. If a dog becomes obese after a vulvoplasty, a hooded vulva may develop again and cause vaginitis or UTIs.

If a dog has ongoing vaginitis and UTIs due to a recessed vulva and does not have surgery or treatment for the infections, the infection around the vulva or bladder can cause a kidney infection. This can lead to kidney failure if left untreated, with decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting, increased thirst, increased urination, urinary accidents, and ultimately a poor quality of life.

A recessed vulva that causes recurring symptoms should always be treated to prevent long-term health issues.

Featured Image:

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="4671/Michelle Diener headshot_1.jpg">


Michelle Diener, DVM


I live in Raleigh, North Carolina. I obtained by BS degree in Biology at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2000 and my DVM degree at NCSU in 2006. I have…

Choosing the Best Feeding Method for Your Dog

< img src="72500/dog_and_foods.jpg">Nurturing a dog or cat is not as easy at it looks from the outside. Suddenly, you find yourself fretting over dog collars, shampoos, treats… Once you have finally picked the right dog food, then you have to decide which method of feeding you are going to use. There are two main methods, both of which have their own benefits and drawbacks.

Free Feeding

Free feeding is when you fill a bowl and leave it out for your pet, allowing her to eat as much as she chooses when she chooses to. This method works best with dry foods, since they do not spoil as quickly as wet dog food. One of the obvious advantages of free choice feeding is that you do not have to worry about making it home in time for meals, a challenge for people with very busy schedules or who are confined to the vagaries of commuter traffic. Also, if pets were given the option, it seems apparent that they would choose to have food available whenever they wanted it. It could also serve multiple pets’ needs, since they would be able to eat from the same bowl throughout the day.

Of course, there are disadvantages. One being that in multiple pet homes, one pet might hoard and bully over the bowl, not allowing the others to have a turn. There is also the risk of the animal becoming overweight from eating too much. Some breeds of cats and dogs are particularly known for eating well beyond the feeling of fullness.

Scheduled, Portion Controlled Feeding

If you have a predictable enough schedule that you can depend on being home at meal time, the scheduled feeding method works well and is the healthier method, since it limits the amount of food your dog is taking in at each meal. There are variations on this method. You might fill the bowl with food and take it away after a reasonable time has passed, allowing the dog to eat his fill. Ten to twenty minutes is generally enough time. Or, you may choose to measure out a portion of food at each meal time and then leave it for your dog to eat at his own pace.

It almost goes without saying that dogs that have been placed on a prescription or weight control diet have to be given controlled portions of food. This method also works well for dogs that need to be given medications mixed with their foods. For other considerations, such as conditions that might make feeding time a struggle, weight loss that needs to be regained, or illness, measured and scheduled feeding times can allow you the opportunity to monitor your dog, making sure that he is eating all of his food. With scheduled meal times, you can use this time of day to bond with your pet.

A major disadvantage to scheduled feeding is that you will need to feed your pet multiple times during the day. This can be especially challenging when caring for puppies, which even under normal circumstances need to eat smaller and more frequent meals than adult dogs.

Weigh Your Options

If you cannot decide which method will work best for you and your pet, talk to your veterinarian for suggestions. There may be age and breed considerations that you need to consider, or you may want to think about arranging for someone to come into your home to help with the scheduled feedings. There are also mechanical food bowls that can be set to feed your dog small portions at specific times of the day.

In the end, remember not to base your decision solely on convenience, but on the long term health of your dog.

Image source: jaroslavd / via Flickr

Defect of the Ventricular Septum in Dogs

Ventricular Septal Defect in Dogs

A ventricular septal defect (VSD) causes irregular communication in the ventricular septum, the wall that separates the ventricles (the two lower chambers of the heart) from one another. This results in blood being diverted, or shunted, from one side of the heart to the other. The direction and volume of the shunt are determined by the size of the defect, the relationship of the pulmonary and systemic blood vessel resistances, and the presence of other anomalies.

Most VSDs in small animals are subaortic (below the aortic valve) and have a right ventricular hole that is beneath the septal leaflet of the tricuspid valve. In addition, most VSDs in dogs are small and therefore restrictive (i.e., the difference between left and right ventricular pressures is maintained). Moderate-sized VSDs are only partially restrictive and result in various degrees of high blood pressure in the right ventricle. Large VSDs, meanwhile, have an area that is as large as or larger than the open aortic valve in the left ventricle. They are nonrestrictive, and right ventricular pressure is the same as the body’s blood pressure. Only moderate and large defects impose a pressure load upon the right ventricle.

This defect is relatively uncommon in dogs.

Symptoms and Types

Cats generally present no symptoms of the defect (asymptomatic); however symptoms commonly associated with ventricular septal defects include:

Difficulty breathing Exercise intolerance Fainting Cough Pale gums (only if pulmonary hypertension causes a right to left shunt) Increased rate of heart beat


The underlying cause for ventricular septic defects are unknown, though a genetic basis is suspected.


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health and onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, with a complete blood profile, chemical blood profile, complete blood count, urinalysis and an electrolyte panel to rule out other concurrent diseases.

Imaging techniques like thoracic X-rays may help to detect larger VSDs, which would cause a left (or even a generalized) enlarged heart from the increased flow of blood through the heart. High blood pressure in the lungs, chronic heart failure and right to left shunts may be visualized as well.

A two-dimensional echocardiographic study, which uses sonographic imaging to view the activity of the heart, may demonstrate heart enlargement. The right heart will also be enlarged if the defect is moderate-sized or large, or if there are other heart abnormalities in addition to VSD.


Most patients can be treated on an outpatient basis. Large shunts may be surgically repaired during a cardiopulmonary bypass. Patients with moderate or large shunts may also undergo pulmonary artery banding as a palliative (relieves some discomfort but does not cure the disease) procedure.

Living and Management

If your dog  is showing signs of congestive heart failure (CHF), its activity should be restricted. Your veterinarian will advise you on an appropriate physical routine. Your doctor may also advise you to impose a strict low sodium diet if your dog is diagnosed with CHF, to minimize pressure on the heart. Animals that are diagnosed with overt CHF are generally given 6 to 18 months to live with medical treatment. Pets with small shunts may continue to have a normal life span if there are no concurrent disease that are posing a direct threat to their health.

Do not breed your dog if it has been diagnosed with ventricular septal defect, as this defect is thought to be genetically transmitted. Your veterinarian will schedule regular follow-up appointments for your dog to follow its progress, retake X-ray and ultrasound images, and adjust any medications or therapies as needed.

Kidney Enlargement in Dogs

Renomegaly in Dogs

Renomegaly is a condition in which one or both kidneys are abnormally large, confirmed by abdominal palpation, ultrasounds, or X-rays. All of the body’s systems are affected by renomegaly: the respiratory, nervous, hormonal, urinary, and digestive systems.

In addition, renomegaly is not exclusive to dogs; cats can suffer from it, too. If you would like to learn more about how this condition affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

There are occasions when the dog is asymptomatic, or does not display any signs whatsoever. However, some of the more common symptoms seen in dogs with renomegaly include:

LethargyVomitingDiarrheaOral ulcersDehydrationWeight lossLoss of appetite (anorexia)Discolored urinePale mucous membraneFoul-smelling breath (halitosis)Abdominal painAbdominal massAbnormally large abdomenOne or both kidneys palpably largeExcess urine and excess thirst (polyuria and polydipsia)


The kidneys may become abnormally large as a result of inflammation, infection, or cancer. Renomegaly can also occur due to urinary tract obstruction, degeneration of the urinary tubes (ureters), formation of cysts in the urinary tract, various infections, abscesses, inflammatory conditions, genetically transmitted diseases, clots in the kidneys, and toxins in the system.

Exposure to infections such as leptospirosis may also lead to renomegaly.


A complete blood profile will be conducted, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. A palpation exam and X-rays will also be performed to assist your veterinarian in visualizing the abnormality in the kidney size, and thus diagnose your dog’s condition.

For dogs with cancer, thoracic X-rays will help your doctor to determine if the cancer has spread. Ultrasonography, which uses sound waves, will also help distinguish the structural details of internal organs so that your doctor can determine the amount of renal swelling, or detect irregularities in other organs.

Aspiration of renal fluid and a biopsy is another procedure which may be performed on your dog.


Your dog will be treated on an outpatient basis unless it is suffering from dehydration or renal failure. Treatment will begin with diagnosing and treating the underlying cause, maintaining fluid balance with intravenous fluids if necessary, and replenishing minerals and electrolytes. If your dog is otherwise healthy, a normal diet and normal exercise will be advised.

Drugs prescribed by your veterinarian will vary according to the underlying cause of renomegaly. However, drugs that may have a toxic effect on the kidneys should be avoided.

Living and Management

You veterinarian will want to see your dog during regular follow-up examinations, where he or she will assess the dog’s physical recovery and hydration status.

If your dog’s symptoms return, you will need to contact the veterinarian immediately. Possible complications of renomegaly include kidney failure and hormone imbalances that mimic hormone-producing cancers.

Incoordination of the Legs in Dogs

Hypermetria and Dysmetria in Dogs

Dysmetria and hypermetria are outward symptoms of a dysfunction of the pathways that control voluntary movement in a dog. More specifically, dysmetria is characterized by the dog’s inability to judge the rate, range, and force of its movements — literally, an inability to measure space. Hypermetria, meanwhile, describes the action of overreaching, or high stepping, the intended location.

Symptoms and Types

Signs of cerebellar disease that may be present include:

Head tiltBody swayingBody tremors; often more pronounced with movementWide leg stanceLoss of the menace response – the reflexive closing of the eyes when a finger is stabbed toward the eyeUnequal pupil size (anisocoria)Abnormal, jerky movements


Trauma to the brain or back is often the primary cause for spinal or brain injury, leading to lack of coordination or overreaching of the  limbs. Lesions on the cerebellum, the part of the brain that is responsible for coordinating voluntary movements and balance, or on the nerves leading to the cerebellum, are believed to be one of the causes for these symptoms. Lesions can be caused by strokes, or by tumors located near these nerves.


Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your dog, taking into account the background history of symptoms and possible incidents that might have led to this condition. If there are no other signs of cerebellar disease, it will be important to establish whether a high-stepping thoracic limb gait is normal for your dog. Some dogs, especially small breeds, have a normally occurring high-stepping gait in their front limbs, so your veterinarian will want to differentiate what is normal as opposed to what might be an underlying cause for the odd movements. If there are no other signs of cerebellar disease, it is important to establish from the owner whether a high-stepping thoracic limb gait is normal for his or her dog. Diagnostic imaging, such as with X-ray or ultrasound, is generally performed to review possible injury or damage to the brain and spine, and is especially recommended for older animals.

Your veterinarian will check your dog’s reactions and responses to stimulus. One test that is standard is checking the dog’s menace response, or menace reflex, an involuntary eye response that occurs when a finger is stabbed toward the the eyes. If the dog does not reflexively close its eyes and jerk away when your veterinarian does this, your doctor can assume that there is a of loss of eye sight, or neurological dysfunction.


If the condition is severe and/or rapidly progressive, hospitalization is recommended for an immediate diagnostic work-up and treatment. If the condition is mild or slowly progressive, treatment is often done on an outpatient basis. Generally, dogs that are suffering from this condition are confined to ensure that they are not at risk of being injured while they are healing. You will need to set up a place in the house where your dog can rest comfortably and quietly, away from other pets, active children, and busy entryways. Trips outdoors for bladder and bowel relief should be kept short and easy for your dog to handle during the recovery period. You may consider cage rest for a short time, if it is difficult to keep your dog confined to one place.

However, it is important that your dog is not left alone for extended times, as this can be a very stressful time for the dog. Your dog’s healing process will benefit from being comforted by you.

Living and Management

It is recommended that periodic neurologic examinations be performed to monitor your dog’s progress.

Liver Fistula in Dogs

Image via bozsja/

Intrahepatic arteriovenous (AV) fistula is a congenital based condition that is uncommon in most cats and dogs, but it can also develop through surgical injury, trauma, and abnormal tissue or bone growth (neoplasia). When it occurs abnormal passages develop between the proper liver (hepatic) arteries and the inner liver (intrahepatic) portal veins.

This acute illness can be addressed with fair results when a proper diagnosis has been settled on. Most treatment will be on an outpatient basis and will include a planned diet, dietary restrictions, and long term observation.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.


Symptoms and Types

Dogs that suffer from AV fistula may show lethargy, anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, excessive thirst (polydipsia), dementia, and abdominal swelling. There are several other signs of AV fistula, such as: 

Ascites, congenital heart malformations, hemorrhages, abnormal portal vein coagulation (thrombosis), protein loss in the kidney (nephropathy), intestinal abnormality (enteropathy) hypertension, liver disease, and cirrhosis of liverOr those affecting the central nervous system: distemper and other infectious disorders, lead poisoning, water on the brain (hydrocephalus), idiopathic epilepsy, metabolic disorders, brain degeneration associated with liver failure (hepatic encephalopathy)


There is not a breed that shows a higher predisposition than another. Hepatic AV is a vascular (vessel) malformation that is genetically determined during the embryonic stage of development, also referred to as embryologic anlage. Most conditions present in young dogs, but in some cases, surgical injury, traumas, or tumor growth (neoplasia) can lead to the problem.


The disorder can be tested by using complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry, and urinalysis techniques; coagulation tests, abdominal (peritoneal) fluid analysis, evaluation of bile acids (digestive secretion from the liver), X-rays, ultrasounds, liver biopsies, and exploratory laparotomies (incision into the abdominal wall) are other exams that may help diagnose the liver malformation.


While some pets will require surgical care, most can be treated at home with nursing care. Modifications to the diet will often include restrictions on nitrogen intake and sodium. Hydration and electrolyte disturbances will also be addressed and treated. Drugs that rely on liver biotransformation should be avoided, along with any drugs that will react with GABA-benzodiazepine receptors (the transmitters that inhibit anxiety and over excitement). Veterinarians will commonly prescribe histamines for blood pressure reduction, and diuretics (furosemides) to relieve excess fluid.

Living and Management

It is important to monitor the biochemistry of the dog every few weeks, and then every few months following the initial treatment routines. Prognosis is fair for the dog when it is properly treated, although the dog will require ongoing monitoring and treatment to address any health issues that may arise.


As the health issue is mostly congenital in nature, there are no preventative measures to consider.

Are Succulents Poisonous to Cats and Dogs?

Succulent plants are popular options because they are easy to care for and work well as houseplants.

Marked by their thick, fleshy leaves, succulents are native to desert environments but adapt easily to a variety of conditions.

These hardy plants can thrive both indoors and outdoors, making them a favorite among both experienced gardeners and budding green thumbs.

While succulents can be great, low-maintenance houseplants for humans, they are not always a great option if you have furry family members.

If ingested, some varieties of this trendy plant could harm cats and dogs.

Most succulents are nontoxic to our pets, but some are dangerous and even poisonous.

Succulents That Are Poisonous to Dogs and Cats

If you have a dog or cat in your household, you should steer clear of the following varieties of succulents.

Aloe Vera

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One of the most popular succulents, aloe vera is frequently used for medicinal and therapeutic purposes. Its sap is traditionally used to treat sunburns, and the plant’s extracts can be found in supplements, cosmetics, and flavored waters.

However, this succulent can be poisonous to pets. Aloe is known to cause gastrointestinal distress, such as vomiting and diarrhea, even making the pet lethargic.

Aloe plants are characterized by long, spiked tendrils. Some varieties have white spotted foliage, while others flower periodically. All varieties should be kept away from pets.


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Kalanchoes are beloved for their plentiful blossoms, ranging in color from pale pink to fiery orange. Popular as a houseplant, this tropical succulent is known by a number of nicknames, including devil’s backbone, mother of millions, and mother-in-law plant.

This plant is predominantly a gastrointestinal irritant, causing vomiting and diarrhea. However, heart arrhythmias can also occur.

If your pet ingests kalanchoe, seek immediate veterinary care.


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A large, diverse genus, euphorbia includes plants ranging from tiny, low-growing plants to sprawling trees.

Many succulents in the euphorbia genus, such as the pencil cactus and crown of thorns, are poisonous to both cats and dogs.

Symptoms of poisoning from ingesting this succulent range from gastrointestinal upset to skin and eye irritation.

If you have pets, it is best to avoid any plant in the euphorbia genus, including the poisonous poinsettia.


< img src="15590/Jade-Succulent.jpg">

Image via Nikitin

Like aloe vera, jade is a common, easy-to-grow houseplant that can be found on many windowsills. Jade plants have thick, woody stems and plump, oval leaves, giving them a tree-like appearance.

There are a number of varieties of jade—and all should be kept out of reach of pets. If your cat or dog ingests jade, they may experience symptoms including gastrointestinal upset and incoordination.

Succulents That Are Safe for Cats and Dogs

If you are really looking to expand your plant collection and think succulents are the way to go,you can consider the following:

Hens and Chickens

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Also known as houseleek, hen and chickens (hen and chicks for short) among the most popular succulents, and for good reason.

Famously low-maintenance, they thrive everywhere from planters to rock gardens to succulent wreaths. The main plant—aka the “hen”—is connected to the smaller offshoots (her “chicks”) through small, delicate roots, making for a visually appealing display.


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If you’re a fan of aloe vera’s spiked silhouette, consider a haworthia instead. Also known as the zebra cactus, this easy-to-grow succulent has a similar appearance but is nontoxic to pets.

Burro’s Tail

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With lush trailing tendrils, the burro’s tail is perfect for displaying in hanging planters and on shelves. Although it doesn’t usually bloom, some plants will offer pink or red flowers under perfect conditions during the summer.

Protecting Your Pets From Toxic Plants

With thousands of varieties of succulents and increased availability of exotic plants, the best way to protect your pets is to identify exactly which plants are poisonous to dogs and cats, and refrain from bringing them into your home.

Before buying a new plant, check the ASPCA’s extensive poisonous plant database as well as the Pet Poison Helpline’s toxicity list.

If you already have plants in your home and garden, look up each one to verify that it is safe for pets.

It’s also important to note that any plant, toxic or not, can cause problems for pets.

Even non-toxic plants can cause gastrointestinal upset when ingested, especially for pets with sensitive stomachs. Other plants can even have chemicals or pesticides on their leaves, causing additional issues with pets. Pets should always be discouraged from eating plants in the house.

It is helpful for pet parents should know the names of every plant in their home—including nicknames and Latin names.

If your pet does end up eating one of your nontoxic plants, or happens to eat a plant that could be poisonous while on a walk or while visiting a friend’s home, the best thing you can do is to first identify the plant.

Many veterinarians would have difficulty identifying many dangerous species of succulent. It is best to know the plants in your home and if a pet ingests an unknown plant, look it up immediately for potential toxicity and call your veterinarian immediately.

Before an incident occurs, you can familiarize yourself with some of the most common poisonous plants for dogs and cats that grow in your area or that friends might have as houseplants.

If you have any doubt whatsoever as to whether a plant is poisonous to pets, call one of these animal poison control hotlines:

ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661

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Calcium Buildup in Lungs of Dogs

Pulmonary Mineralizations in Dogs

Pulmonary mineralization is characterized by both calcification (mineral calcium build up in soft tissue) and ossification (connective tissues, such as cartilage, are turned to bone or bone-like tissue) of the lungs.

This condition generally affects older dogs and it may be generalized or localized. But if the mineralization is discrete, meaning that it in only one place, individual mineral deposits can be indentified. If mineralization is diffuse, however, it will spread out to more than one location, making it impossible to identify the individual deposits.

Pulmonary mineralization can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

Dogs with pulmonary mineralization may display no symptoms at all. However, some signs or symptoms that may be observed include:

Cyanosis Coughing Shortness of breath High respiratory rate Abnormal breathing sounds Exercise intolerance

Calcification can be dystrophic (degenerative), which occurs secondary to tissue degeneration or inflammation, or it can be metastatic (transmissible throughout the body), which occurs secondary to metabolic disease, affecting the breakdown of food and its transformation into energy.

Calcification may also be considered a normal part of the aging process, or with particular breeds (e.g., premature calcification of the tracheal and bronchial cartilages in chondrodystrophic [dwarf] breeds). Calcification is often associated with a wound, thus most focal calcifications are functionally unimportant.

Ossification, also called heterotopic bone formation (the abnormal formation of true bone within extraskeletal soft tissues), can take different forms: calcification of a bony matrix (formative tissue), and pulmonary ossification in the form of small, multiple nodules.

Generalized pulmonary mineralizations of unknown cause are reported in dogs under descriptive terms: pulmonary alveolar microlithiasis or pumice stone lung; bronchiolar microlithiasis; idiopathic pulmonary calcification; or idiopathic pulmonary ossification.


The underlying cause for pulmonary fibrosis is usually unknown (idiopathic). However, it may be also due to:

Metastatic calcification — secondary to metabolic disease that induces high calcium concentration and/or bone resorption (dissolution) Hyperadrenocorticism (excessive cortisol secretion by the adrenal glands), which may cause dystrophic mineralization Alveolar and bronchial stones — may be secondary to exudative lung disease (where fluid filters from the circulatory system into lesions or areas of inflammation), or granulomatous lung disease (a rare inherited primary immune deficiency disorder which causes inflammatory tissue growth of granulation tissue — tissue that is formed in response to a wound)


Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination, including a chemical blood profile, complete blood count, and a urinalysis. Your veterinarian will conduct a lung biopsy to retrieve samples of tissue from your dog’s lungs in order to determine whether mineralization is occurring. Testing for the presence of bacteria and fungus will also be done.

Other diagnostic tools include chest X-ray imaging of the chest, and a computed tomography (CT) scan, so that your veterinarian can get a better look at the condition of the lungs and lymph nodes. These tools will also help confirm or exclude the presence of a tumor or fungal infection.


There are some medications that can relieve breathing problems, or antibiotics and antifungal medications, if your veterinarian determines that there is a concurrent infection.

If there is an underlying metabolic disease, your doctor will prescribe medications for the treatment of that as well. Otherwise, all that is required is a a calm and quite space for your dog to recover.

Living and Management

As with any disease of the respiratory system, this is a serious condition. You and your veterinarian will need to carefully monitor your dog’s progress.