Health Screening

  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Similar to haemophilia in humans, von Willebrand’s disease is an inherited condition that can result in life-threatening bleeding. Knowing if your dog has this disease before an emergency situation arises can mean the difference between life and death. Many go undetected until a minor surgery or a superficial injury results in significant blood loss. To avoid a minor issue becoming a big problem, we recommend that breeds with a higher incidence of this disease get tested. As many as 50% of Dobermans are affected; other commonly affected breeds include German shepherds, German shorthaired and wirehaired pointers, golden and Chesapeake Bay retrievers, Pembroke Welsh corgis, poodles, Scottish and Manchester terriers, and Shetland sheepdogs. Some animals show no signs of the disease but are genetic carriers of it, which means that they can pass it on to their offspring if they are allowed to reproduce. It is strongly recommended that all breeders test their dogs for von Willebrand’s disease. If you are interested in learning more, or would like to schedule a screening test for your dog, please contact us.

  • Renal Dysplasia
  • Renal dysplasia is a genetic disorder in which the kidneys do not develop normally. Most dogs become clinically ill with symptoms of kidney failure before 1 year of age. Management options are limited and are generally expensive. Although some dogs are only carriers of this disorder and have normal kidney function, they can still pass the trait onto their offspring. It most commonly affects Shih Tzus, Lhasa apsos, and soft-coated wheaten terriers. We strongly recommend testing for this disorder in dogs involved in a breeding program, especially those that are one of the at-risk breeds.

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Canine hip dysplasia begins when the hip joint in a young dog becomes loose or unstable, resulting in abnormal development of the hip joint. If left undiagnosed and untreated, this instability causes abnormal wear of the hip cartilage and ultimately progresses to osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Signs of this condition are pain, reluctance to get up or exercise, difficulty climbing stairs, a “bunny-hopping” gait, limping, and lameness, especially after periods of inactivity or exercise.

    Hip dysplasia most commonly affects large- and giant-breed dogs; however, smaller dogs can also be affected. Although genetics often play a role in this disorder, young dogs that grow or gain weight too quickly or get too much high-impact exercise are also at risk. Being overweight can aggravate hip dysplasia.

    We can help prevent or slow this condition by monitoring food intake and ensuring that your dog gets proper exercise as he or she ages. We can also screen your dog for hip dysplasia; the earlier we can diagnose hip dysplasia, the better the possible outcome for your dog. Screening methods include:

    OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) Certification

    We can x-ray your dog’s hips for hip dysplasia at 2 years of age. We will forward these radiographs to the OFA, where board-certified radiologists will evaluate and grade your dog’s hips for OFA certification. Correct positioning of your dog is essential for proper radiographic evaluation, so a general anesthetic is required.

    PennHIP Method

    We can x-ray your dog’s hips using the PennHIP method for evaluating hip dysplasia in dogs, which can be performed much earlier (at 16 weeks of age) than OFA certification. Requiring a general anesthetic, it involves x-raying your dog’s hips in three different positions to measure how loose the joints are to determine the presence or likelihood of osteoarthritis. If you are a breeder, consider using this test to help you select good breeding candidates at a younger age. If your dog competes athletically, consider using this technique to evaluate the future soundness of your dogs or puppies.

    Please contact us to discuss your dog’s risk of developing hip dysplasia, to schedule a screening, or to discuss treatment options.