Archive : July

Gallbladder Obstruction in Dogs

Gallbladder Mucocele in Dogs

Gallbladder mucocele causes obstruction of the gallbladder’s storage capacity due to the formation of a thick, mucoid bile mass inside the gallbladder, impairing its ability to function. The accumulated bile may extend the gallbladder, resulting in necrotizing cholecystitis – tissue death due to inflammation of the gallbladder. 

Gallbladder mucocele is common among middle-aged to older dogs, particularly Shetland sheepdogs, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers, and is not gender-specific. 

Symptoms and Types

Gallbladder mucocele may be symptomatic or asymptomatic (without symptoms). The general symptoms are:

FeverVomitingAnorexiaDehydrationAbdominal discomfort or painYellowish skin (jaundice)Polyuria/polydipsia (excessive urination/excessive thirst)Collapse – vasovagal or bile peritonitis (inflammation of the abdominal lining or dysfunction of the blood vessels)


Lipid metabolism problems, particularly among Shetland sheepdogs and miniature schnauzers—this condition may be inherent in some dogs.Gallbladder dysmotility (lack of intra-organ movement)Cystic hypertrophy (abnormal enlargement) of the mucous-producing glands of the gallbladder, a common feature among older dogs—this condition may act as a trigger for gallbladder mucocele.High-fat diet, raised cholesterol or hyperthyroidismTypical or atypical adrenal hyperplasia – the abnormal multiplication of cells, and previous glucocorticoid therapy.  



The determining diagnosis of gallbladder mucocele will be based on the distinctive conditions that would cause abnormal functioning (dysmotility) of the gallbladder. Some of the possible factors responsible for bile blockage (stasis) are neoplasia (tumor growth), pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and choleliths (gallstones), amongst other observed causes. 

Diagnosis is made through blood biochemistry, hematology, lab tests and imaging studies. The common observations are:


Analysis of liver enzymes, ALP, GGT, ALT and AST—high liver enzymes indicate illness. Sometimes, this may be the only sign of illness in dogs or it may manifest in the acute stage of the disease.Increased bilirubinLow albuminElectrolyte abnormalities with fluid and acid-base disturbances, which are due to excessive loss of fluids from vomiting or triggered by bile peritonitis.Pre-renal azotemia


AnemiaLeukocyte imbalance

Lab tests

High triglycerides


Radiography or ultrasound studies showing liver abnormalities, distended gallbladder and bile duct, gallbladder wall thickening, presence of gas in the liver, and loss of detail in the abdomen due to inflammation of the soft lining of the abdomen (peritonitis).The common diagnostic procedure is aspiration sampling of fluids drawn from biliary structures, or from the abdominal cavity, by use of laparotomy (incision into the abdominal cavity), liver biopsy, bacterial cultures and sensitivity tests, and cell examinations.



Gallbladder mucocele treatment depends on the condition of the patient. Outpatients are generally put on anti-inflammatory and liver protecting agents like ursodeoxycholic acid and S-Adenosylmethionine (SAM-e). Inpatients are treated according to imaging and ultrasound results. Patients with higher lipids are restricted from fat-rich foods. If inflammation of the abdominal lining (bile peritonitis) is confirmed, abdominal cleansing (lavage) is recommended. All patients should be put on hydration therapy to correct fluid and electrolyte imbalances.

Other than broad-spectrum antimicrobials, depending on symptoms, the patients are put on anti-emetics, antacids, gastroprotectants, Vitamin K1 and antioxidant medications. After the treatment, all gallbladder mucocele patients must be periodically monitored with biochemistry, hematology and imaging studies to exclude/include various complications like cholangitis or cholangiohepatitis, bile peritonitis and EHBDO.

Labrador Retriever

The Labrador Retriever is the most popular dog breed in the United States, based on registration statistics obtained by the American Kennel Club. This breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1917 and originated in Newfoundland.

Labradors are medium- to large-breed sporting dogs and weigh 55-80 pounds on average, with females on the lower end of this range. Typically, their height is between 21-25 inches. They have a wide skull and nose, deep chest, strong tail, and a very muscular build.

Caring for a Labrador Retriever

It is for good reason that the Labrador Retriever is so popular. Labradors tend to be highly affectionate toward people, even strangers, and do exceptionally well with children and other dogs. However, supervision is still important when first introducing a Lab to these family members.

Labrador Retrievers have a double coat that repels water. An undercoat of short hair is covered by a layer of longer hair. Due to this double coat, Labradors shed a lot, and frequent brushing to manage the shedding is required.

Labrador Retrievers love water and are great companions for families who like to spend a lot of time outdoors.

Labrador Retriever Health Issues

Labrador Retrievers are generally a healthy breed, but there are some potential health issues owners should be aware of.

Ear Infections

Labrador Retrievers are prone to ear infections for a couple of reasons:

They have ears that hang down loosely, which can trap moisture and wax, leading to inflammation and infection within the ear canal.

Most Labrador Retrievers love water and swimming, but water that gets in their ears during swimming or a bath can lead to an ear infection.

Symptoms of an ear infection can include:

Redness of the ear canal

Brown or yellow debris in the ear canal

Head shaking

Head tilt

Rubbing ears on carpet/furniture

Odor in ears

Pawing at ears

To minimize the risk of ear infections in Labrador Retrievers, clean their ears with an ear cleaner that contains a drying agent (like EPIOTIC® Advanced). Do this every 2 to 3 weeks for maintenance, and also after swimming or a bath.

Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia

The tricuspid valve pumps blood on the right side of the heart from the atrium into the ventricle. Labrador Retrievers with tricuspid valve dysplasia (TVD) have a valve that does not function properly and allows blood to leak backward into the right atrium. Over time, the right atrium and right ventricle become enlarged.

Labrador Retrievers with TVD may or may not have a heart murmur that can be heard during a routine physical exam. They can be asymptomatic or show signs of right-sided heart failure, which include:


Fluid in the abdomen

Distended abdomen

Difficulty breathing

Rapid heart rate

TVD is usually diagnosed with patient history, physical exam, chest x-rays, ECG, and echocardiogram. Surgery can sometimes be performed to replace the tricuspid valve with a prosthetic one from a cow or a pig. Heart medications are often needed for management of this condition.

The prognosis of TVD in Labrador Retrievers can vary based on the severity of the disease. Some Labradors with TVD can live a normal life span. Those that have TVD or a familial history of TVD should not be bred.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia encompasses several inherited orthopedic conditions that ultimately lead to degenerative joint disease (DJD) within the elbow. Labrador Retrievers may have:

Ununited anconeal process (UAP)

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)

Medial compartment disease (MCD)

Elbow joint incongruity

Any of these conditions can cause lameness in the affected forelimb, especially after exercise. Pain is often detected when a veterinarian checks the range of motion in the elbow.

Sometimes elbow dysplasia can occur in both elbows. X-rays or advanced imaging (CT scans) are the most common tests used to diagnose this condition.

Orthopedic surgery is needed to treat elbow dysplasia. There is generally a good prognosis if surgery is done when the dog is young and the disease process is in its early stages. Labrador Retrievers with a history of elbow dysplasia should not be bred.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an inherited orthopedic condition where the head of the femur does not sit snugly in the hip joint. As a result, the femoral head tends to rub against the hip socket, and over time, there is bony remodeling of the hip joint, which leads to arthritis.

Hip dysplasia can develop in one or both hip joints. Some Labrador Retrievers are born with congenital hip dysplasia (although this is rare); others develop it during their geriatric years. Symptoms include:


Slowness to rise from a lying-down position

Bunny-hopping gait when running

Reluctance to run, jump, or go up or down stairs

Holding the affected leg out to the side when sitting up

PennHIP is a screening method that can be performed on puppies as young as 16 weeks of age. It requires sedation or anesthesia. Specialized x-rays of the pelvis are taken to detect which dogs will likely develop hip dysplasia during their lifetime. Identifying these dogs through a PennHIP evaluation allows for early treatment.

Treatment of hip dysplasia can vary depending on the severity. In some cases, hip dysplasia can be managed through supplements, medications, and reduced activity levels. In other cases, a dog may need to undergo surgery to correct the issue.

Centronuclear Myopathy

Centronuclear myopathy (CNM) is a rare congenital disease that affects the skeletal muscle. With this condition, reflexes in the hind limbs become impaired.

Clinical signs include an abnormal gait and the inability to perform physical exercise, like go on a walk or run. The muscles become weak, especially in colder climates. Usually, symptoms first arise in Labradors at 2-5 months of age. By age 1, the dog’s head, neck, and leg muscles generally become atrophied, which causes weakness and continued gait issues. The condition tends to become stable after 1 year of age.

A muscle biopsy is needed to diagnose this condition. Genetic therapy is the treatment of choice. DNA testing is available to determine if a Labrador Retriever carries the genetic mutation for CNM. Reputable breeders will have their dogs tested and will not breed those that have the genetic mutation.

Exercise-Induced Collapse

Exercise-induced collapse (EIC) is an inherited neuromuscular disease that first affects the hind limbs. A Labrador Retriever with EIC will have episodes of decreased muscle tone in the hind limbs after vigorous exercise or excitement. The hind limbs will suddenly become weak, which can lead to incoordination when walking and even collapse.

Dogs usually recover, but can have more episodes of EIC later on. During an episode, a dog’s rectal temperature can reach 107 ℉, which is life-threatening. Labrador Retrievers with EIC usually start having episodes around 12 months of age. Your veterinarian can help you determine the best action plan if your dog suffers from EIC.

A DNA test can be done to detect whether a Labrador Retriever carries the genetic mutation and is at risk for EIC. Dogs that have the genetic mutation should not be bred.


Hemangiosarcoma (HAS) is an aggressive form of cancer that most often originates in the spleen, liver, or heart of a Labrador Retriever and forms a blood-filled tumor that can rupture at any time, causing a dog to bleed internally, which is life-threatening.

Some clinical signs include:


Pale gums (white)

Fluid in the abdomen (ascites)

Lack of appetite

Difficulty breathing

Hemangiosarcoma can spread very quickly to other areas of the body and at first may not be detectable with imaging (x-rays, ultrasound, or CT/MRI). This cancer has a very grave prognosis.

Nutritional Dilated Cardiomyopathy

Nutritional dilated cardiomyopathy (nutritional DCM) is a heart disease Labrador Retrievers may acquire by eating a grain-free diet that contains peas, legumes, or lentils among the top five ingredients. DCM causes the heart to become dilated and unable to function properly.

Labrador Retrievers with mild to moderate DCM may be asymptomatic. In severe cases, symptoms include rapid heart rate, cough, difficulty breathing, lethargy, lack of appetite, collapse, weight loss, and even death.

This heart condition may first be detected by a veterinarian hearing a heart murmur during a routine exam, or by a blood test called an NT-proBNP assay that measures heart function. If a Labrador Retriever has an elevated proBNP and/or a heart murmur, additional testing will be recommended (ECG, blood pressure, chest x-rays, and echocardiogram) to determine the cause.

If nutritional DCM is diagnosed early, it can be reversed by feeding the dog a high-quality diet containing grain, and also by providing cardiac supplements. If the disease is advanced it cannot be reversed, but heart medications may be able to manage it for a period of time. You can prevent this condition by feeding your Labrador a well-balanced diet that includes grain.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a disease of the eye that can occur as a result of various genetic mutations. The retina slowly degenerates over a period of time, leading to permanent dilation of the pupils and eventual blindness.

PRA can be diagnosed with an eye exam. It usually develops in Labrador Retrievers at 3 to 9 years of age.

Gene therapy may be helpful for dogs with this condition, but more research needs to be done to improve the outcome. Reputable breeders will have their dogs DNA-tested for the genetic mutations for PRA. Dogs that carry these genetic mutations should not be bred.

What to Feed a Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever puppies should be fed a high-quality puppy formula made for large breeds until they are a year old. Once they reach adulthood, they will need to transition to a high-quality adult formula for large breeds.

To avoid complications with nutritional dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), talk with your veterinarian about appropriate dog foods that are not grain-free. A grain-free diet with peas, legumes, or lentils among the top five ingredients has been linked to this heart condition.

Make sure that whichever dog food you choose is approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).

How to Feed a Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retrievers do best with twice-daily feedings, morning and evening. They love to eat and are known to eat very quickly. If you notice your dog gobbling food down, consider a slow-feeding device. This will regulate the amount of food your dog can eat at one time and prevent regurgitation and stomach upset that can happen if they eat too quickly.

Labrador Retrievers are deep-chested, and if they eat too quickly this can lead to bloat, an emergency situation where the stomach twists on itself.

How Much to Feed a Labrador Retriever

Labrador Retriever puppies have rapid growth spurts, so feed them a high-quality puppy formula when they are under 12 months of age. Puppy food will provide the extra calories they need to grow to their full potential. Follow the feeding guidelines on the back of the bag of large-breed puppy formula based on age and expected body weight.

Once your Labrador Retriever is 1 year old, switch to a high-quality large-breed adult formula—which has fewer calories than the puppy version—to prevent unwanted weight gain. To determine how much to feed your Labrador Retriever, check the feeding guidelines on the bag and chat with your veterinarian to find the appropriate portions to help keep your dog at a healthy weight.

Nutritional Tips for Labrador Retrievers

Starting a Labrador Retriever on a joint supplement early in life can help slow down or possibly prevent arthritis. Virbac Movoflex, Synovi Chews, Dasuquin, Cosequin, and Flexadin are some examples of joint supplements that have gone through clinical trials and been proven effective.

Another supplement to consider for a Labrador Retriever is an omega-3 fatty acid (fish oil). This supplement helps to reduce inflammation in the joints, makes the coat shiny, and protects the skin barrier from allergens in the environment. Some good fish oil supplements are Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet, Vetoquinol Triglyceride Omega 3 Fatty Acids, and Nutramax Welactin Omega 3.

Behavior and Training Tips for Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retriever Personality and Temperament

Labrador Retrievers have a wonderful temperament. They are very affectionate toward children, other pets, and even strangers.

They love to play and are highly energetic throughout most of their lives. They need lots of exercise and attention to make them happy.

Labrador Retrievers are considered moderate barkers. They are not known for digging in the yard. It is rare for a Labrador Retriever to show any sign of aggression.

Labrador Retriever Behavior

Labrador Retrievers are prone to eating things that they shouldn’t—especially as puppies. They may try to eat socks, shoes, furniture, and other items, or get into the trash. Therefore, keep a watchful eye on puppies and spend the time to train them on what they can and cannot eat.

To help deter barking, start redirecting the behavior early and finding healthier outlets.

Labrador Retriever Training

Labrador Retriever puppies are very energetic and will grow into very strong dogs. It’s important to take the time to train them correctly when they are young.

It is highly recommended that Labrador Retriever puppies participate in puppy training and obedience training classes. They need to be socialized with different people and pets, so they get used to being around others at a young age.

Be sure to quickly correct any bad puppy behaviors that arise—such as biting, growling, chewing on objects, and trying to eat random items—so that these behaviors do not continue and worsen over time.

Fun Activities for Labrador Retrievers

Scent work



Obedience training

Dock diving

Labrador Retrievers can go through specialized training to become service dogs or participate in drug and bomb detection or search and rescue. They also make great therapy dogs.

Labrador Retriever Grooming Guide

Labrador Retrievers don’t require a lot of grooming, but they do shed a lot. Deshedding and brushing will be important parts of your daily, weekly, and monthly grooming care routines.

Skin Care

Labrador Retrievers do not require any specialized skin care routines, but it’s important to ensure that they are fully dried after swimming and baths to avoid skin issues.

Coat Care

Labrador Retrievers have a thick double coat that is water-repellent. A double coat means that a thick undercoat of short hair is covered by a layer of longer hair. Due to this double coat, Labrador Retrievers shed a lot and require frequent brushing to manage the shedding.

Labradors also need an occasional bath to keep their skin and hair coat clean.

Eye Care

Labrador Retrievers often have a mild amount of clear or brown eye discharge, which is normal. It’s helpful to use a moistened washcloth to clean the eye discharge away when it forms.

Ear Care

Due to their pendulous ears and love for swimming, Labrador Retrievers are prone to ear infections. It’s helpful to routinely clean their ears with an ear cleaner that contains a drying agent (like EPIOTIC® Advanced) every 2-3 weeks, as well as after baths and swimming, to minimize the risk of ear infections.

Considerations for Pet Parents

Labrador Retrievers are great family dogs. They are energetic, friendly, and love to go on adventures with their families. However, their high energy and strong tails can be dangerous for toddlers and other young children.

The Labrador Retriever is also a high-shedding dog breed. These dogs will need consistent brushing to keep their shedding under control, but be aware that dog hair will have a permanent presence in your home.

Labrador Retriever FAQs

Is a Labrador Retriever a good family dog?

Yes, Labrador Retrievers make excellent family dogs, as they are affectionate and have the patience and tolerance to do well around children and other dogs.

Are Labradors Retrievers smart dogs?

Yes, Labrador Retrievers are very smart, and therefore easy to train. They aim to please and will quickly learn various tricks to receive the praise and treats that follow.

What are the drawbacks of Labrador Retrievers?

Labrador Retrievers shed a lot due to their dual-layer coat. They need frequent brushing to minimize shedding. They are also a very energetic breed, so they require exercise to keep them content and less destructive.

Labrador Retrievers are prone to ear infections, so they need to have their ears cleaned with a routine ear cleaner that contains a drying agent, ideally every 2-3 weeks, to minimize the risk. They also tend to eat things they shouldn’t—especially as puppies—so taking the time to train them properly at a young age is important.

Labradors can develop a heart condition called nutritional dilated cardiomyopathy if they are fed a grain-free diet that contains peas, lentils, or legumes among the top 5 ingredients. They are also predisposed to elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, hemangiosarcoma, exercise-induced collapse, progressive retinal atrophy, centronuclear myopathy, and tricuspid valve dysplasia. Most of these are genetic predispositions and are less likely to occur in a Labrador Retriever that is purchased from a reputable breeder.

What are the different types of Labrador Retrievers?

There are yellow, black, and chocolate Labrador Retrievers, depending on coat color.

Featured Image:

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="44312/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…

Herpesvirus in Dog Pups

Canine Herpesvirus Infection (CHV) in Dogs

This infection is a systemic, usually fatal disease in young pups caused by the canine herpesvirus (CHV). Found worldwide, CHV especially causes high mortality rates in pups (two to three weeks old) due to their immature immune systems and poor temperature regulation. In fact, it rarely affects dogs older than three to four weeks.

Although any breed can be affected, purebred dogs are more prone, as are young pregnant females and their pups. Herpesvirus infections are also a leading cause of fetal death and spontaneous abortion.

Symptoms and Types

The following signs should be taken seriously, as the onset of symptoms is sudden and death can occur just 12 to 36 hours afterward:

Nasal discharge Difficulty breathing (dyspnea) Severe gasping (in terminal animals) Loss of appetite (anorexia) Soft, odorless stool that is grayish, yellow, or green in color Persistent and distressing crying Eye inflammation 



This infection is caused by the canine herpesvirus (CHV).



You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health to your veterinarian, including the onset and nature of the symptoms. He or she will then perform a complete physical examination as well as a complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis — the results of which are typically within normal ranges. In some dogs, however, a decreased number of platelet cells (which are responsible blood clotting) may be observed. Otherwise, your veterinarian will attempt to isolate the causative virus by conducting cell cultures or frozen tissue examinations.


Typically, treatment is not recommended in pups with this form of herpesvirus infection, as antiviral therapy is ineffective. Instead, preventative measures are often the only recourse. A serum removed from bitches that have recovered from CHV infection, which contain protective antibodies, will be injected into pups before the illness’ onset.

Living and Management

Pups that survive from CHV infection may suffer from blindness, deafness, kidney damage, and nervous systems, while the bitches often give birth to future healthy litters. And although there is a CHV vaccine available in Europe for pregnant bitches that are at high risk, the effectiveness of the vaccine has not yet been proven.

How to Calculate Your Dog’s Healthy Weight

A wide range of body sizes and types exist among dog breeds, which makes it hard to determine the “average” dog weight. For example, the graceful Greyhound and the short-legged Basset Hound may both weigh 60 pounds, but these two breeds have different physiques and metabolic needs.

So instead of comparing your dog’s weight to a generic chart, veterinary research groups have come up with a better way. They’ve conducted nutritional studies that have shown that an animal’s target weight is best estimated using a combination of body weight and body condition score (BCS).

Step 1: Calculate Your Dog’s Body Condition Score

The Body Condition Score is a popular tool used to estimate the amount of fat on the body. Canine BCS is most commonly evaluated on a 9-point scale, and dogs that score in the middle of the scale (a 4 or 5 out of 9) have a healthy body condition.

Dogs scoring 1 to 3 are considered too thin, whereas a score of 6 or 7 implies that a dog is overweight. Obese dogs typically receive BCS scores of 8 or 9, and it is possible for morbidly obese dogs to have a BCS greater than 9.

BCS is evaluated by examining the ribs, abdomen and waistline by sight, and more importantly, by touch.

The ribs should be palpable and covered by minimal amounts of fat. When viewed from above, the dog’s waistline should be visible by a subtle inward curve behind the ribs.

A side view of the dog should reveal an “abdominal tuck,” or a slight upward curve of the belly behind the ribs.

Overweight dogs will have excess fat covering the ribs and will lack a noticeable waistline or abdominal tuck. In contrast, underweight dogs will have an accentuated waistline and abdominal tuck, and the ribs, pelvis and vertebrae will be prominent and lack any palpable fat.

Step 2: Calculate Your Dog’s Target Weight

Now that you know your dog’s BCS, you can use it to figure out their ideal weight. This method was created by researchers at the University of Liverpool and Royal Canin.

Use the following steps to estimate your dog’s ideal weight:


Example: 50-lb. dog with BCS of 9

1. Take your dog’s starting BCS and subtract 5.

9-5 = 4

2. Multiply that number by 10.

4 x 10 = 40

3. Add 100.

40 + 100 = 140

4. Divide 100 by the result from Step 3. Round to 3 digits.

100 / 140 = .714

5. Multiply that by your dog’s current weight.

.714 x 50 pounds = 35.7 pounds

Dog’s Target Weight:

35.7 pounds

Here’s the formula we used for the calculations in the table above:

< img src="20106/Healthy-dog-weight-formula.png">

Let’s enter the 50-pound dog’s numbers into this formula:

< img src="20106/example-calucation-of-healthy-dog-weight.png">

According to the calculation, this 50-pound dog’s target weight (after weight loss) is 35.7 pounds. If the dog had a different BCS, their target weight would be different.

Why It’s Important to Know Your Dog’s Ideal Weight

Knowing your dog’s ideal body weight can help you plan a successful weight loss program, or it can let you know what your pet should weigh if your pet is underweight or losing weight inexplicably.

Pets That Need to Lose Weight

Pet weight loss programs usually involve some degree of calorie restriction in order to help your dog lose weight at a gradual pace. By having a target body weight in mind, your veterinarian can help estimate your dog’s daily caloric needs so that you know exactly how much to feed your dog.

Through diet modification and regular exercise, your dog’s metabolic needs will likely change as he begins to lose weight. This is why regular monitoring, including monthly weigh-ins and BCS measurements, are important to help your pet reach his target body condition in a safe and healthy manner.

Underweight Pets

Determining your pet’s body score and ideal weight can also help pets that are underweight. If your pet is not at the weight they should be, you can work with your veterinarian to find out if you should be increasing their food intake or whether it’s caused by an underlying health issue.

Weight loss that has no apparent reason can be a result of many different conditions, including parasites, cancer, kidney disease, advanced heart disease, diabetes, Addison’s disease, GI problems, dental disease, stress or changes in diet.

Whether your pet is overweight or underweight, your vet can help figure out the issue and tailor recommendations to their individual needs.

Featured Image:

< img src=";base64,R0lGODlhAQABAIAAAAAAAP///yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7">< img src="20106/natalie-stilwell-dvm.jpg">


Natalie Stilwell, DVM, MS, PhD


Eye Inflammation (Choroid and Retina) in Dogs

Chorioretinitis in Dogs

Chorioretinitis is a medical condition that affects the eyes; the term refers to inflammation of the choroid and retina. The retina is a layered membrane that lines the inner eyeball and which contains the light-sensitive rods, cones, and cells that convert images into signals and send messages to the brain to allow for vision. The choroid is located immediately under the retina and is part of the middle layer of the eyeball that contains the blood vessels. The choroid is also called the posterior uvea., which is the entire middle layer of the eyeball that contains the blood vessels. The uvea is composed of the iris (the colored or pigmented part of the eye), the ciliary body (the area between the iris and the choroid), and the choroid. Spreading inflammation may result in separation of the back part of the eye (retina) from the underlying, vascular part of the eyeball (choroid); a condition known as retinal detachment. Chorioretinitis may be a sign of a generalized (systemic) disease, therefore, appropriate diagnostic testing is important.

Dogs with uveodermatologic syndrome (an immune-mediated disease that causes inflammation of the eye and loss of clear sight, along with loss of pigment in the skin and whitening of the hair) may also present as inflammation in the front part of the eye, including the iris. In the case of an uveodermatologic condition, inflammation of the skin (dermatitis) will also require management. Uveodermatologic syndrome is more likely to occur in Akitas, Chow Chows, and Siberian Huskies. An immune-mediated disease requires lifelong therapy to control inflammation of the choroid and retina.

Other causes for chorioretinitis are generalized fungal infections, known as mycoses, which are more common in large, hunting-breed dogs; and a Borzoi breed-specific eye disorder with multiple areas of fluid build-up in the retina (referred to as retinal edema) or loss of tissue in the choroid and retina (chorioretinal atrophy) resulting in deterioration of the retina, causing pigmented and hyper-reflective areas (referred to as Borzoi chorioretinopathy). Secondary glaucoma, in which the pressure within the eye is increased secondary to inflammation in the eye, can also be a complication related to inflammation, and will also require treatment.

Symptoms and Types

Chorioretinitis is not usually painful except when the front part of the eye, including the iris, is affected. Some of the symptoms that may point to chorioretinitis include vitreous abnormalities, which can display as tearing, bleeding, or will show evidence of the vitreous becoming liquefied (the vitreous is the clear, gel-like material that fills the back part of the eyeball between the lens and the retina). A condition usually seen in dogs is invasion of the eye by fly larvae. Tracts from migrating larvae may be seen when the eye is examined with an ophthalmoscope.

Changes in the appearance of the retina when examined with an ophthalmoscope may include change in color, darkened or lighter areas, scars, and changes in the contour/surface of the retina. A close examination may show few, or small, lesions.


The conditions that can lead to chorioretinitis are varied, as you can see in the list below. Your veterinarian will need to consider biological, chemical, and genetic causes, just to name a few. There is also the possibility that a cause for the condition will not be found, in which case it will be classified as idiopathic (of unknown origin) in nature.

Parasites Fungal infections Bacterial infection (e.g., Rickettsia) Viral infections (e.g., canine distemper virus, rabies virus, and herpes virus, which is rare and usually seen in newborn puppies) Algal infections (water plant based infection, typically from plants growing in stagnant water) Protozoal infection Autoimmune disease Genetic predisposition Metabolic Cancer Generalized infection, such as blood poisoning or bacteria in the blood Toxicity (e.g., antifreeze poisoning, or adverse reaction to medications) Physical trauma


Your veterinarian will use diagnostic tools that are both invasive and non-invasive in order to make a correct diagnosis of chorioretinitis. The non-invasive methods will include measuring your pet’s blood pressure; screening a large area of the retina with indirect ophthalmoscopy (an instrument used for viewing the interior structure of the eye by use of a light reflecting mirror), or using direct ophthalmoscopy for closer examination of the affected areas of the eye. If results are not conclusive at that point, the need for invasive procedures will become a factor in pinpointing the cause for the chorioretinitis.

Your veterinarian may be able to make a diagnosis by examining a fluid specimen from the eye, which will be a fairly simple procedure, or there may be a need for a deeper examination, in which case your doctor will want to take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (also called spinal fluid, the liquid that bathes the brain and spine) to look for infection, or for an indication of central nervous system disease or optic neuritis. Cerebrospinal fluid is removed through a procedure called a spinal tap, where a needle is inserted into the vertebrae of the spine and the fluid is allowed to collect into a vial. The sample is then sent to a lab for testing. It is a fairly quick procedure, but your pet would have to be sedated and might be affected for the rest of the day afterward.


Treatment will be dependent on the physical condition of the patient, but is usually outpatient.

Living and Management

The possible long-term complications of chorioretinitis include permanent blindness, cataracts, glaucoma, and chronic eye pain. In the worst cases, death can occur secondary to a systemic disease.

The expected course and prognosis for chorioretinitis is guarded to good for retaining vision, depending on the amount of retina affected and on the underlying cause. Visual deficits or blindness may be a permanent complication if large areas of the retina were destroyed. Focal and multifocal diseases do not markedly impair vision permanently, but do leave scars on the animal’s eyes.

How Long Do Flea and Tick Medications Take to Work on Dogs?

How Long Do Flea and Tick Medications Take to Work on Dogs?

If you’ve found fleas or ticks on your dog, don’t panic. With the right treatment, these common pests can be quickly eradicated—often in a few hours. Fortunately, all flea preventions, both topical and oral, show great speed in controlling flea infestations. Topical preventions have been shown to clear current flea burdens on dogs within 12–48 hours, and oral preventions often work within the first two to four hours.

When it comes to ticks, both oral and topical options should cause tick death in 24–48 hours. Ask your vet about the best tick treatment for pets in your area, since not all treatments target the same kind of ticks. Ticks may need to be removed from your pet, as they may or may not fall off after they die. Routine checks of your pet’s skin to monitor for ticks are recommended, especially in areas that are highly populated for parasites.

Signs Flea and Tick Medication Is Working on Your Dog

After administering flea and tick medication to your dog, expect to see at least some dead fleas within 24 hours of treatment. However, it will probably take a few days for the itching to decrease. If your pet has a severe infestation, several rounds of treatment over several months will be needed to eliminate the problem, because the life cycle of the flea (from egg to adult) is about three months. 

Ticks are hardier than fleas, so it will take longer (closer to 24–48 hours depending on the type of treatment utilized) for a treatment to work. Dead ticks may or may not fall off your dog. It is generally recommended to have dead ticks removed by a veterinarian as soon as possible, to ensure that the head of the tick, which can be buried under your dog’s skin, is completely removed.

If you’ve been using a particular preventative tick medication for the first time and are seeing the same or increased numbers of ticks on your dog, tell your veterinarian. You might need another type of tick repellent.

How to Get Rid of Fleas and Ticks in Your Home

To get rid of all fleas and ticks, you must do more than just administer medication to your dog. It’s important to also:

Ensure that all pets in the home are on flea and/or tick prevention. This includes dogs, cats, ferrets, and rabbits.

Vacuum daily to remove flea eggs and larvae, even if you have hardwood or tile flooring. Make sure to discard the vacuum bag or empty the canister immediately after use.

Wash all bedding with hot water weekly.

Bathe your dog weekly to remove dead fleas if you’re managing a flea infestation.

Keep a neat yard. Fleas and especially ticks love shaded, dense areas, so keep a distance between your home and any forested areas, dense brush, or tall grasses.

Consider having a professional company come to spray your home and yard; just be sure it is a pet-friendly treatment.

Ask your vet about insecticides for home use. Sprays, bug bombs, or powders can be beneficial, but it’s crucial to only use pet-safe products and follow the instructions carefully. 

Treating Additional Problems Related to Fleas and Ticks

Fleas and ticks can cause itching, skin irritation, and inflammation just by their presence on the body. The greater the number of these pests, the more irritation. Many dogs are allergic to flea spit, which can cause a skin condition called flea allergy dermatitis,  where a dog may develop inflammation, itching, open sores, scabs, and hair loss secondary to the allergic reaction to the flea bite. The loss of fur and skin irritation most commonly appears around the lower back, tail, or hind legs.

Treatment depends on the severity of the dermatitis and may include use of medicated shampoos, medicated wipes, oral antibiotics, or anti-inflammatories.

In large enough numbers, fleas and ticks can cause anemia in dogs as they ingest a blood meal from our pets. If that happens, your pet may have pale gums or be lethargic. Treatment may be as simple as giving your pet an oral iron supplement, or if the anemia is serious enough, it may require that your pet get a blood transfusion.

Additional Diseases from Fleas and Ticks

While fleas and ticks can do a vast amount of damage to pets by themselves, they also can carry other diseases that can sicken your dog. Fleas are very likely to carry tapeworms, an intestinal parasite, and  several types of bacterial diseases such as cat scratch fever. If your dog has fleas and develops any additional symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, or lethargy, talk to your veterinarian. They may recommend additional testing for one or more of these conditions.

Ticks often carry bacteria that may cause diseases including Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Ask your vet if your dog should be tested for common tick-borne illnesses. If your pet has contracted a tick- borne disease, additional treatments such as antibiotics will likely be needed.

How to Prevent Flea and Ticks Year-Round  

Year-round flea and tick prevention is paramount to keeping your dog healthy. There are many forms of flea and tick preventions, and it is important to work with your veterinarian to determine which is best for your pet.

Oral Flea and Tick Preventative Medication

While topical preventions have typically been the most common, new oral preventions are proving their worth with their rapid efficiency and ease of use. These are great products to utilize when there are multiple-species pet households or young children present in the home. Oral preventions are currently the most recommended product types by veterinarians.

Isooxazoline: Isooxazoline medications are a newer and highly effective preventative that offer great efficacy against fleas and several types of ticks. These medications include:

NexGard (afoxolaner)

Simparica (sarolanar)

Bravecto (fluralaner)

Credelio (lotilaner)

Spinosad: Spinosad is an effective oral flea preventative. This medication includes:



Comfortis and Trifexis do not prevent or treat ticks.

Nitenpyram: This is the only category in the oral preventative section that is over the counter. This product has rapid onset against fleas, but is only effective for 24 hours. These medications include:



Milbemycin/lufenuron: Milbenmycin is a heartworm prevention and lufenuron is a flea prevention. Lufenuron does not kill fleas. Sentinel is the only product on the market that contains lufenuron.


Topical Flea & Tick Preventative Medication

Topical preventions are liquid products that are generally applied to the skin at the nape of the neck. These products can be toxic when ingested (especially if a cat ingests a dog flea prevention), so it is important that these products have dried on dogs before other pets or children are allowed to interact with them. Bathing may affect the efficacy of these products; please see the product packing for more information.

The most common topical flea and tick preventative medications include:







Advantage II/ /Advantage Multi/ K9 Advantix II

Flea & Tick Preventative Medication Collar

These products are not all equally effective. Generally, older products use insect growth regulator ingredients (like tetrachlorvinphos or deltamethethrine) which have variable and questionable efficacy. These products should not be handled by young children. Seresto is a newer product and has much greater efficacy than older products. It is labeled for over-the-counter use in dogs, works within hours, and can be effective for up to 8 months.

After handling any flea/tick prevention collars, pet parents should wash their hands thoroughly.


Dobler G, Pfeffer M. Fleas as parasites of the family Canidae. Parasites & Vectors. 2011;4(139). 

Rust MK. The Biology and Ecology of Cat Fleas and Advancements in Their Pest Management: A Review. Insects. 2017;8(4):118.

Saleh M, Sundstrom K, Duncan K, et al. Show us your ticks: a survey of ticks infesting dogs and cats across the USA. Parasites & Vectors. 2019;12:595.

Sischo W, Ihrke P, Franti C. Regional distribution of ten common skin diseases in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. 1989;195(6):752-756.

Cruthers L, Slone R, Guerrero A, Robertson-Plouch C. Evaluation of the speed of kill of fleas and ticks with Frontline Top Spot in dogs. Veterinary Therapeutics: Research in applied veterinary medicine. 2001;2(2):170-174.

Everett R, Cunningham J, Arther R, Bledsoe D, Mencke N., Norbert. Comparative evaluation of the speed of flea kill of imidacloprid and selamectin on dogs. Veterinary Therapeutics: Research in applied veterinary medicine. 2000;(1):229-34.

Franc M, Bouhsira E, Böhm C, et al. Evaluation of spinosad for the oral treatment and control of flea infestations on cats in Europe. Veterinary Record Open. 2014;1(1).

Six R, Becskei C, Carter L, et al. Evaluation of the speed of kill, effects on reproduction, and effectiveness in a simulated infested-home environment of sarolaner (Simparica) against fleas on dogs. Veterinary Parasitology. 2016;222:23-27. 

Stanneck D, Kruedewagen E, Fourie J, et al. Efficacy of an imidacloprid/flumethrin collar against fleas, ticks, mites, and lice on dogs. Parasites & Vectors. 2002;5(102). 

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Stephanie Howe, DVM


Dr. Stephanie Howe graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2011, after receiving a Bachelor of Science…

German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointers are often described as “noble” or “aristocratic” in their appearance and are known for their speed, agility, and endurance. GSPs are “gun dogs,” hunting dogs trained to find or retrieve game. Because they are often used to retrieve birds, GSPs are also known as “bird dogs.” GSP dogs, unlike other gun dogs, point and signal when they are trailing a game scent by stopping and standing with their nose pointing in the direction of the scent. In this stance, they await a signal from their hunter to flush out the animal.

As a medium-sized breed, adult male German Shorthaired Pointers average 55-75 pounds and 25-27 inches tall, while female GSPs are typically 45-65 pounds and 24-26 inches tall. GSP colors are either solid liver or a combination of liver with white, which can be liver and white ticked, liver patched and white ticked, or liver roan.

Along with being well-loved gun dogs, German Shorthaired Pointers make great family dogs that are always ready for any outdoor activity.

Caring for a German Shorthaired Pointer

German Shorthaired Pointers make excellent working dogs and hunting partners because of their high energy levels and endurance. For this reason, GSP dogs require homes with ample activity to keep them both physically and mentally stimulated.

Other than their need for adventure, German Shorthaired Pointers are fairly low-maintenance dogs with short coats that require minimal grooming and shed moderately. They are typically healthy dogs and live an average of 10-12 years. With family, they are loyal and loving and do well with children as well as other pets.

German Shorthaired Pointer Health Issues

German Shorthaired Pointers are generally healthy dogs, but they can be prone to certain inherited conditions. As GSP dogs are considered a deep-chested breed, they can also be predisposed to bloat or gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), a life-threatening disorder.

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia are conditions where the bones of the hip or elbow joints don’t align properly. This misalignment causes rubbing and grinding of the bones. Over time, this leads to deterioration and arthritis of the joint, causing pain and loss of function.

Hip and elbow dysplasia can be hereditary conditions that affect GSP dogs. However, they can also be exacerbated by other factors such as exercise habits, weight, and nutrition.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) is a group of degenerative diseases that affect the eye’s retina, eventually causing blindness. PRA is an inherited disease that affects German Shorthaired Pointers as a result of both parents carrying the gene, even though they may not show signs of PRA themselves.

While this disease cannot be prevented or treated, there is a DNA test that can screen for the defective gene in potential carriers. Reputable German Shorthaired Pointer breeders will screen their dogs for PRA.

Subaortic Stenosis

Subaortic stenosis is an inherited disease seen in GSP dogs. It causes a narrowing of the aortic valve, which is responsible for regulating blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. When the valve narrows, it causes the heart to work harder. If left untreated, it will eventually lead to heart failure.

Some common signs of subaortic stenosis include lethargy, decreased exercise tolerance, and fainting. Subaortic stenosis is typically detected by a veterinarian during physical examination as a heart murmur in young dogs, often before they are 1 year old. Treatment will depend on the severity; mild cases may not require treatment, while more severe cases may warrant lifelong medications. 

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulvus

Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), a severe case of bloat, is a condition that can affect deep-chested breeds such as German Shorthaired Pointers. GDV commonly occurs following a large meal that causes the stomach to dilate or swell. The mixture of gas and food in the stomach prevents anything from exiting, increasing the stomach’s pressure and size. In turn, this can block blood returning to the heart from the abdomen, cause loss of blood flow to the stomach and possible rupture, and increase pressure on the diaphragm, preventing normal breathing.

To help prevent GDV, prophylactic stomach tacking (gastropexy) surgery can be performed on GSP dogs as an at-risk breed. Feeding should also be split into two or three smaller meals a day instead of one large meal.

It’s important to know if your German Shorthaired Pointer is showing signs of GDV and to seek immediate veterinary care. These signs may include:

Distended abdomen

Retching without producing any vomit

General signs of abdominal pain, such as standing and stretching or excessive drooling

What To Feed a German Shorthaired Pointer

Selecting the best diet for a German Shorthaired Pointer is based on the individual needs of the dog. While it’s always important to choose dog food that contains high-quality ingredients, ask your veterinarian what to feed your GSP based on their specific medical history.

If your GSP dog does not engage in extensive physical activity, they can become obese. So, it’s vital to avoid overfeeding your German Shorthaired Pointer in order to maintain proper body conditioning and weight.

How To Feed a German Shorthaired Pointer

Due to their active lifestyle, German Shorthaired Pointers should be fed a diet that contains a higher fat/protein ratio. If a GSP dog lives in a cold climate or is primarily outdoors, they may require more food in order to help maintain their body heat. For specific information on portion sizes, talk with your veterinarian.

GSP dogs do well with eating two meals a day, one in the morning and a second in the evening. The evening meal should take place after the day’s activities to help prevent GDV.

How Much Should You Feed a German Shorthaired Pointer?

The average weight of an adult German Shorthaired Pointer can range from 45-75 pounds, so the amount of food they require can vary. It’s also dependent on their activity level and can therefore range from 2-5 cups of dry food a day, divided into two meals.

Nutritional Tips for German Shorthaired Pointers

For German Shorthaired Pointers that have hip or elbow dysplasia, nutritional supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin can help keep their joints healthy. Omega-3 supplements can also aid in protecting joint health along with keeping their skin and coat healthy.

Behavior and Training Tips for German Shorthaired Pointers

German Shorthaired Pointer Personality and Temperament

German Shorthaired Pointers are revered hunting dogs due to their speed and endurance. In the home, this means that they need a lot of daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. If they are not used as sporting dogs, then they require at least 1-2 hours of exercise every day, which should not be limited to walking.

Running, fetching, or agility games are great ways to spend time with a GSP dog and to exercise their mind and body. As a rule of thumb, a tired GSP is a happy GSP. As long as their energy needs are met, they love to snuggle up with their family members in the evenings. However, a GSP dog that is not given the exercise they need will become troublesome—and often destructive.

German Shorthaired Pointer Behavior

A German Shorthaired Pointer’s job is to “follow their nose,” which can sometimes lead them into trouble if they are not working. They should be kept in a fenced yard so that when an interesting scent catches their attention, they don’t wander off and become lost.

German Shorthaired Pointer Training

German Shorthaired Pointers train well with their handlers due to years of breeding as hunting companions. Sometimes, however, their independent nature can make training a bit more challenging. This is best overcome with consistency and positive training methods.

In non-hunting homes, GSP dogs enjoy playing outside with their humans and can be successful with obedience and agility training. 

Fun Activities for German Shorthaired Pointers




Running, especially alongside a bicycle

Playing fetch or Frisbee



German Shorthaired Pointer Grooming Guide

With their short, shiny coats, German Shorthaired Pointers typically don’t require much in the way of grooming. They are average shedders, but this can be minimized with weekly brushing.

Skin Care

Skin care for a German Shorthaired Pointer varies from dog to dog. That said, this breed does not typically have sensitive skin.

Coat Care

German Shorthaired Pointers have a short, smooth coat and are average shedders. Weekly brushing reduces shedding, and bathing is only necessary every few months (or if your GSP dog rolls in something smelly).

Eye Care

Routine cleaning with a soft, damp cloth will help prevent normal tearing and debris from building up around your GSP’s eyes.

Ear Care

Routine cleaning with a veterinary-approved ear cleanser is vital in maintaining your GSP dog’s healthy ear canals. This should also be done any time your GSP is in water, such as after swimming or bathing.

Considerations for Pet Parents

As with any breed, it’s important for pet parents to understand the physical and mental needs of the dog they are considering before bringing them into their home. For GSP dogs, their high energy requirements must be met to avoid unwanted and destructive behaviors. Therefore, they are best suited for active homes.

Their energy demands can make GSP dogs a poor match for first-time dog parents. However, after expending their boundless energy on outdoor adventures, German Shorthaired Pointers love nothing more than to lie around with their humans. Their energy, size, and playful demeanor make them quite suitable for families with children.

German Shorthaired Pointer FAQs

How much does a German Shorthaired Pointer cost?

A German Shorthaired Pointer can cost between $600-$1,500, depending on the breeder’s pedigree.

How long do German Shorthaired Pointers live?

The average German Shorthaired Pointer lifespan is 12-14 years.

What do German Shorthaired Pointers hunt?

German Shorthaired Pointers have been bred to hunt a variety of game, including (but not limited to) rabbits, raccoons, birds, and even deer.

How big do German Shorthaired Pointers get?

Adult German Shorthaired Pointer males average 55-70 pounds and 23-25 inches tall. Female GSP dogs average 45-60 pounds and stand 21-23 inches tall.

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Teresa Kho-Pelfrey, DVM


Dr. Teresa Kho-Pelfrey graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 and completed her clinical year at Purdue…

Coton de Tulear

The easygoing and sunny nature of the Coton de Tulear makes sense when you know their origins: These pups are island dogs. The small, fluffy breed resembles a cotton ball and is named for the port city of Toliara in Madagascar, where the breed originates.

Although their history is somewhat spotty, the dogs likely arrived on the island by ship in the 15th century and bred with local wild dogs. When France colonized Madagascar in the 1700s, the rare breed became the must-have dog for every noble on the island, according to the United States Coton de Tulear Club (USCTC). Others were forbidden from having Coton de Tulear’s, earning the breed the nickname “Royal Dog of Madagascar.”

Full-grown Coton de Tulear dogs stand 9–11 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 8–15 pounds. Most have primarily white coats, though some have spots or can appear grayer in color. 

Caring for a Coton de Tulear

The Coton de Tulear is an adaptive and happy breed that does well in most living situations. While they love a good romp around the yard, they do not need constant entertainment or activity to be happy. They do, however, adore their humans and do best in homes where they are not left alone for long stretches of time.

Cotons also make excellent family pets and travel buddies. The only things the adaptable Coton de Tulear asks of her humans is that they give lots of love and keep her fluffy white coat groomed.

Coton de Tulear Health Issues

Coton de Tulear dogs live long lifespans (typically 15–19 years), are generally healthy, and rarely get sick, according to the USCTC. But that’s no guarantee you won’t run into health issues with your Coton dog, and they are susceptible to a few conditions.  

Luxating Patella

Cotons, like many small dogs, can develop luxating patellas, where the kneecap slips out of place. Symptoms of this common hereditary condition include sudden lifting of a hind leg, a hunched position, bunny hopping, and/or popping noises when the knee bends.

Mild cases of patellar luxation can be treated with rest, anti-inflammatory medication, and weight loss. More severe cases may require surgery. Talk to your Coton de Tulear breeder about any health testing their puppies and doggy parents have gone through.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Coton de Tulear dogs can also be susceptible to a condition that causes slow loss of vision, called progressive retinal atrophy. The term refers to a handful of genetic disorders that can lead to blindness.

Dogs that suddenly hesitate to go into dark rooms or outside at night may be developing the disorder. PRA, which is inherited, cannot be treated. But blind dogs can live long, happy lives with a bit of extra attention.

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy 

Growing weakness in the hind legs can be a sign of degenerative myelopathy, which can affect the Coton de Tulear. The disease slowly destroys nerves in the spinal cord and can lead to paralysis of the hind legs.

The disease isn’t painful, but there is no cure for the nerve damage. The disease generally begins in middle or older age (often those over 8 years old), and symptoms include dragging paws and wobbly walking.

What To Feed a Coton de Tulear

Pet parents should feed their Cotons high-quality dry or wet foods (or a mixture of both) approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). The American Coton Club recommends foods with a protein content of about 30% to keep your pup healthy. 

How To Feed a Coton de Tulear

Coton de Tulear puppies need to eat three or four meals a day on a regular schedule. Adult Cotons generally eat twice a day, in the morning and evening.

How Much Should You Feed a Coton de Tulear?

The amount of food your Coton needs to eat every day depends on:

The type and brand of dog food

Your dog’s health history

Your dog’s age

Your dog’s current and desired weight

Your Coton’s dog food packaging will give basic guidance on portions, and your veterinarian can provide further guidance.

Nutritional Tips for Cotons de Tulear

As long as your Coton de Tulear is eating AAFCO-approved food, she should receive all the nutrients she needs. However, your vet may recommend supplements for your pup.

The American Coton Club recommends probiotics and enzymes to help the Coton’s digestive system, as well as fish oil to help maintain that soft, cotton ball-like coat. Senior Cotons can also benefit from joint supplements containing glucosamine. Never give your dog a supplement without speaking to your veterinarian first.

Behavior and Training Tips for Cotons de Tulear

Coton de Tulear Personality and Temperament

Coton de Tulear dogs are friendly, fun-loving fluff balls of energy that thrive on affection. They generally get along great with children and other pets—especially when introductions are done properly—and are easily trained. While they need daily playtime and walks around the neighborhood, they are not particularly hyper dogs that require constant stimulation.

But what they do need is near-constant attention. In fact, a Coton de Tulear can develop separation anxiety if her pet parents leave her alone for more than a few hours at a time.

Coton de Tulear Behavior

In general, Cotons are clown-like dogs who love to play with their pet parents. These little Madagascan dogs are friendly and adaptable, but they do tend to bark at strange noises or surprising movements. With proper training and early socialization, however, your Coton de Tulear puppy will learn that every passing person isn’t something to be concerned about.

Coton de Tulear Training

Cotons are people-pleasers, making them a relatively easy dog to train. But they won’t do well in military-style drills; their curious minds need variety and fun. Keep training sessions positive, short, and like a game.

Socialization is equally important. Coton de Tulear puppies must be exposed to a variety of new places, people, and experiences so they grow into confident, well-adjusted dogs. 

Fun Activities for Cotons de Tulear




Obedience training

Cuddling with their pet parents

Coton de Tulear Grooming Guide

The Coton de Tulear’s fluffy coat is one of the breed’s hallmarks, which is why they’re sometimes called the “cotton ball dog.” But that fluff requires a lot of maintenance to stay soft and free of tangles.

Skin Care

Cotons don’t usually require special skin care aside from a once-a-month bath. That said, pet parents should regularly check their dog’s skin for excessive dryness or any other changes. If you notice anything unusual, chat with your vet.

Coat Care

Coton de Tulear pet parents must brush these little fluffballs three to four times per week. Their hair can grow to be 4–6 inches long, and the best tool for brushing it is a pin brush. Brushing helps minimize matting, which can be particularly troubling behind the ears, legs, and elbows, according to the USCTC. The club recommends using a spray-on detangler to help with trickier knots and mats.

Eye Care

The Coton de Tulear’s beautiful white coat can easily develop tear stains. Routinely washing of your pup’s face with lukewarm water or using an eye wipe can help minimize the staining and keep your Coton clean.

Ear Care

Check your Coton de Tulear’s ears at least once a week for signs of infection. Hair growing inside the ear cavity should be trimmed, and ear wipes can help minimize the buildup of dirt and wax. 

Considerations for Pet Parents

The charming Coton de Tulear gets along with any family member, both two-legged or four. Their small statures make these adaptable dogs a great fit for apartments and houses alike. Cotons thrive on attention and affection, so they’re best in a family of homebodies or with people who will take them along on adventures and errands.

Though hardy and healthy, these cotton ball dogs need special attention paid to their fluffy white coats, which can be prone to matting and tear stains. But as long as you have the time to keep up with their grooming—and schedule daily one-on-one playtime and snuggles—your Coton will be happy.

Coton de Tulear FAQs

Are Cotons de Tulear hypoallergenic?

There is actually no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog. But the Coton’s coat is low-shedding, meaning they can be a good fit for some people allergic to dogs. Spend time with the breed before bringing home a Coton de Tulear puppy to see how your allergies react.  

Are Cotons de Tulear high-maintenance?

Cotons require near-daily grooming to keep their coat soft and healthy. They also need lots of attention and engagement from their pet parents.

Is a Coton de Tulear a good family dog?

Yes, the Coton de Tulear makes an excellent family dog. They make good playmates for kids who know how to properly interact with pets.

What’s the difference between a Havanese and a Coton de Tulear?

The Coton de Tulear bears a striking resemblance to another small dog breed: the Havanese. Although both are descended from the same ancient European breed, the Coton has a longer and thicker coat. And while Cotons are always white, Havanese have a wider variety of coat colors such as black, gold, and fawn.

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Elise Schmelzer

Elise Schmelzer is a journalist based in Denver, Colorado, where she lives with her two cats, Slurpy and Rosie. She writes on a variety…

Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs

What Is Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs?

Ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma is a rare cancerous (malignant) tumor that originates from the sweat glands found in the external auditory canal of a dog’s ear. The medical term for ear wax is cerumen. Ceruminous glands are responsible for producing ear wax. Ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma is only found in a dog’s ears and its surrounding structures. It always originates in the ear because it’s the only place in the body where ceruminous glands exist.  

Ceruminous gland adenocarcinomas begin to grow within the ear canal and are usually, but not always, distinguished from benign polyps (growth) by how they look. Generally, ceruminous gland adenocarcinomas are irregular in shape and ulcerate (break open) and bleed easily. In contrast, benign growths are smooth. 

Symptoms of Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs

Symptoms of ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma are similar to symptoms of a typical ear infection, except only one ear is affected. Common symptoms include: 

Ear scratching 

Head shaking 

Discharge and a foul odor from the ear  

Head tilt  


There is usually a greater volume of ear discharge with this type of tumor than with an ear infection, and the discharge may be bloody. If the tumor is large or affecting deep structures of the ear, your dog may show signs such as poor balance, walking in circles, dizziness, and falling to its side.  

Causes of Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs

The exact cause of ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma is unknown. However, it is suspected that chronic inflammation (swelling) of the ceruminous glands, like the type caused by chronic or recurrent ear infections, is a risk factor.  

This is another reason it is important to treat ear infections at their first sign and make sure they are fully healed before ending treatment. Treating ear infections promptly also prevents pain, ruptured ear drums, and deafness. Cocker Spaniels are more likely to develop ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma than other breeds. This may be related to their high risk for chronic ear infections.  

Ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma is the most common ear canal tumor in dogs but remains rare overall. It is more common in cats. 

How Veterinarians Diagnose Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs

Your veterinarian will examine the affected ear with an otoscope. This tool shines a light into your dog’s ear to examine the ear canal. Sometimes the tumor can be seen and diagnosed during the first vet exam visit.  

Depending on your dog and the diagnosis, your veterinarian may suggest a sedated ear exam. During this exam, your dog will be given medications to make them unconscious, then the ear will be flushed of all debris and a small camera is guided into the ear for further examination. 

Once the mass is found, your veterinarian may recommend a CT or a biopsy to determine the full extent of the mass. During a biopsy, your vet will carefully take a sample of the tumor. This tissue is examined by a veterinary pathologist to figure out whether it is a benign polyp (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous).  

Treatment for Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs

Surgery is the only treatment option to provide dogs with a good prognosis for survival      . 

Before any surgery to remove a cancerous mass, your veterinarian will perform bloodwork and x-rays of the lungs to look for metastatic disease (cancer spread). They may also take samples of lymph nodes near the affected ear to look for metastasis. This is known as staging and helps your veterinarian know whether your dog is a suitable candidate for surgery and the likelihood of a surgical cure. 

The treatment for ceruminous gland adenocarcinoma is surgical removal. The most common surgery for this cancer is a total ear canal ablation (TECA), which involves removal of the entire ear canal, its associated structures, and a deep cleaning of the inner ear. Since auditory structures of the external and middle ear are always removed, and sometimes the inner ear, the dog will be deaf post-surgery in the affected ear. 

If the tumor is contained within the ear canal, this surgery typically cures the condition. If the tumor extends to the skull bones, then radiation or chemotherapy may be needed depending on the diagnosis.  

After the surgery, your veterinarian will follow up with you regarding the results from the pathologist’s report. The pathologist will examine the mass that was removed during surgery and will provide clarity about the type of cancer and whether all was removed.  

Recovery and Management of Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs

After the TECA surgery, your dog will most likely need medications and rest for several weeks. It’s important to give your dog time to recover from major surgery and to adjust to being deaf on the side of the face where the ear was impacted. Most dogs handle this adjustment well, and your vet can help provide further instructions on how to help your dog adapt to their new environment.  

It is important to give all the medications prescribed by your veterinarian to ensure proper healing.   

If you are worried about anything your dog does during the first few weeks of recovery from surgery, call your veterinarian and explain the symptoms. It’s also important to maintain follow-up visits offered by your vet to ensure a speedy and healthy recovery.   

Ceruminous Gland Adenocarcinoma in Dogs FAQs

What does the ceruminous gland do?

Ceruminous glands release cerumen, also known as ear wax. Ear wax serves important functions, including protecting the deeper structures of the ear and preventing infection from bacteria and fungus (yeast). Sometimes, the ceruminous glands produce too much ear wax, which can promote infection.

How much does ear surgery for cost for a dog?

The cost of ear surgery will depend on the type of surgery, location, and other factors depending on your dog’s diagnosis. The most common type of surgery for adenocarcinoma is a total ear canal ablation (TECA) or total ear canal ablation with bulla osteotomy (TECA-BO). When performed by a board-certified veterinary surgeon, a TECA or TECA-BO may cost $3,500-$6,000. Always discuss specific treatment options and estimated costs with your veterinarian.

Can adenocarcinoma of the ear be fatal to dogs?

Yes, it is fatal without surgery. If left untreated, survival time is short. With aggressive therapy (surgery), dogs live an average of five more years.

Do dogs become deaf in the ear that undergoes surgery?

Dogs who undergo a TECA are no longer able to hear on that side. The auditory structures of the ear are removed in the surgery and thus dogs become deaf. Dogs are generally able to adjust quickly to their new situation especially since the cancer likely impacted their hearing before surgery and so it may not be much of a change for them.

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Hanie Elfenbein, DVM


Dr. Elfenbein graduated from the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in 2016. She currently practices in…

Brain Tissue Undervelopment in Dogs

Cerebellar Hypoplasia in Dogs

Cerebellar hypoplasia is a condition in which parts of the cerebellum have not completely developed. The cerebellum makes up a large part of the brain, lying under the cerebrum and toward the back, above and behind the brainstem. This condition can occur due to intrinsic (genetic) causes, or to extrinsic causes like infections, toxins or nutritional deficiencies. Symptoms become visible when the puppies begin to stand and walk, around six weeks of age. Cerebellar hypoplasia is hereditary in Airedales, Chow Chows, Boston Terriers, and Bull Terrier breeds.

Symptoms and Types

Head bobbing Limb tremors Aggravated by movement or eating Disappear during sleep Unsteadiness or clumsiness with a wide-based stance Unable to judge distance and disequilibrium: Falling, flipping over Slight improvement may occur as the puppy accommodates to its deficits


Hereditary in some breeds Infection of the body and/or brain Environmental toxins, ingested toxins Nutritional deficiencies


You will need to give a thorough history of your dog’s health, including a background history of symptoms, and possible incidents that might have precipitated this condition. If you can provide any information on your dog’s birth, or on the condition of the mother, it may help your veterinarian to pinpoint the cause of the defect. Your veterinarian will conduct a complete physical exam with a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis.

Animals affected with cerebellar hypoplasia show signs at birth or shortly thereafter. Puppies may show a slow progression of signs over weeks to months. After postnatal onset of signs of cerebellar hypoplasia, these patients should not show any further progression of signs. Age, breed, history and typical non-progressive symptoms are usually sufficient for tentative diagnosis.



There is no treatment for cerebellar hypoplasia. While these signs are permanent, they typically do not worsen and affected dogs have normal lifespans.

Living and Management

Your dog will be developmentally disabled, so it will not be able to make decisions to protect itself as other dogs do. You will need to restrict your dog’s activity and movement so as to prevent injuries and road accidents. Climbing, falling, or freedom of movement at the park, all of the normal things that dogs do, will need to be prevented with your dog. In the case of severely brain deficient animals that are unable to feed or groom themselves, or to be house trained, euthanasia may be considered.