Tag Archives: Chihuahua

New hope for diagnosis of Chiari-malformation in toy dog breeds

Continuing to build on their specialist work in this area, researchers in collaboration with neurologists at Fitzpatrick Referrals and Helsinki University and a geneticist at the University of Montreal, have developed two separate studies, published the journal PLOS ONE last month, to learn more about these painful conditions affecting toy dogs.

Study one focused on how the Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia disorder affects the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, a breed which is predisposed to the condition.

ckc-spaniels

Chiari malformation is the premature fusion of bones in the skull, which alters the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in a collection of fluid pockets within the spinal cord. These fluid pockets are commonly known as Syringomyelia and over time can cause irreversible damage to a dog’s spinal cord.

Using a novel MRI mapping technique, which can standardise images for different size dogs, researchers were able to examine a section of the dog’s skull, brain and vertebrae in greater detail and highlight via a movie clip how such disorders develop in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Examining the footage from the MRI movie clip, researchers were able to observe the compression of a dog’s brain caused by the premature fusion of bones in the skull. Such fusions also occur at the front of the head causing a dog’s face to become flatter, creating the often desirable doll like features common in this breed.

Study two examined characteristics that increased the risk of Syringomyelia in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua and the Affenpinscher dog breeds. Using a similar technique to study one, the study found that skull and neck conformation that increased the risk for Syringomyelia associated with Chiari-like malformation were subtly different between breeds.

Researchers found that Syringomyelia-affected Chihuahua’s tended to have a smaller angle between the base of the skull and the first and second neck vertebrae, whereas the Affenpinshers had a smaller distance between the first and second vertebrae. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels had reduced space between the joint on the skull base and the first cervical vertebrae. All breeds had a reduced hind skull which altered the angulation of the skull base with neighbouring bones in affected dogs and observed in the movie clips.

Dr Clare Rusbridge, from the University of Surrey, said: “Toy dogs are increasingly popular and as such demand for these breeds is unprecedented. Due to selection for rounded head shapes with short muzzles we are seeing more and more dogs with the painful Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia disorder.”

“The innovative mapping technique used in this study has the potential to provide a diagnostic tool for vets, helping them to quickly identify dogs suffering from these painful disorders.”

Source:  University of Surrey media release

My other posts on toy breeds and the Chiari malformation include:

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Norbert: the little therapy dog with a series of books

Norbert

Norbert shows his High Five (photo courtesy of Norberthood.com)

Norbert is a special therapy dog.  He’s a very tiny (3-pound) cross-breed who was the only puppy born to his dog mother in California.  His owners believe he is a Chihuahua, Cairn Terrier  and Lhasa Apso cross.  Adopted in 2009 from PetFinder.com, Norbert was his human mother’s first-ever dog and he traveled to Boston to live with her.

At the age of one, he passed his therapy dog tests and began working with children and the elderly. Along the way he learned new tricks like High Five, Namaste (stay) and Zen (lie down).

Then his mom decided to write a book, and then another, and (soon) another….

Book 1: Norbert - What can little me do?

Book 1: Norbert – What can little me do?

Book 2: Norbert - What can little you do?

Book 2: Norbert – What can little you do?

Book 3 (due out in November 2015): Norbert & Lil Bub - What can little we do?

Book 3 (due out in November 2015): Norbert & Lil Bub – What can little we do?

Therapy dogs are special dogs providing important emotional support services to those in need.  I like the fact that there are children’s books featuring Norbert – if we tell children about dogs and their personalities, and teach them lessons along the way, we set them up to be compassionate adults who are prepared to be responsible pet owners.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The dog mayor of San Francisco

On Tuesday (18 November 2014), Frida the Chihuahua was sworn in as Mayor of San Francisco for the day.

Frida, after her swearing in ceremony (photo by NBC News)

Frida, after her swearing in ceremony (photo by NBC News)

Frida earned the honor because her owner had the winning bid of $5,000 at an auction to benefit the Department of Animal Care and Control, which runs the city’s animal shelter.

“We applaud Mayor Frida’s ability to rise above her humble start as a single mom in an animal shelter to Mayor for the Day,” said Miriam Saez, acting director of the Animal Care and Control Department.

Frida

At the end of the day on Tuesday, Frida’s retirement package included a dog bed, toys and a gift basket.

Go Frida!

Skull shape and its implication for animal welfare

Syringomyelia (SM) is a painful condition in dogs that is more common in toy breeds like the Chihuahua and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. It involves the formation of fluid-filled cavities, known as syrinxes, in the spinal cord.  In these toy breeds, SM is usually secondary to a specific malformation of the skull called Chiari-like Malformation, CM for short.

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

New research conducted at the University of Bristol’s School of Veterinary Sciences has identified two significant risk factors associated with these painful neurological conditions.

Identifying a head shape in dogs that is associated with these diseases would allow for selection away from these conditions and could be used to further breeding guidelines. Dogs were measured in several countries using a standardised “bony landmark” measuring system and photo analysis by trained researchers.

The researchers found two significant risk factors associated with CM/SM in the skull shape of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  These were the extent of the broadness of the top of skull relative to its length, also known as brachycephaly, and the distribution of doming of the skull. The study suggests that brachycephaly, with resulting doming towards the front of the head, is associated with both conditions.

Thomas Mitchell, who was the undergraduate involved in the study, says “The study also provides guidance to breed clubs, breeders and judges that have a responsibility to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be harmful in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of the breed.  It will also provide vets with verified advice to provide to breeders outside the show ring and to occasional hobbyists.”

This research has been published online in the journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology.

Source:  University of Bristol media release

Please also see my earlier post on Your dog may have a permanent headache, which discusses the Chiari malformation and earlier research on the Griffon Bruxellois.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The world’s smallest dog

Miracle Minny

 

This one really is for the record books – how small do you think a dog can get?

The world’s smallest dog, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, is Miracle Milly.  She’s a Chihuahua who lives in Puerto Rico.

She is only 3.8 inches tall (see photo above for scale).

Since she is a Public Figure, Milly has her own Facebook page and, like many small dogs, her owner likes to dress her up for photos.

Miracle Milly in teacup

Your dog may have a permanent headache

Through selective breeding, toy breeds including the Griffon Bruxellois, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas and their crosses may have to live with a permanent headache and other maladies.

A Griffon Bruxellois Photo by © Vincent / Fotolia

A Griffon Bruxellois
Photo by © Vincent / Fotolia

Research published in the journal PloS One by researchers at the University of Surrey has identified the specific effect Chiari malformation has on the shape of a dog’s skull and brain.

Researchers took brain, skull and vertebrae measurements of 155 Griffon Bruxellois and compared dogs affected by the condition, with normal Griffons. They discovered that Griffons with the disease had taller foreheads and that it had also caused the shape of the brain to change, with severely affected animals having their cerebellum pushed underneath the main part of the brain.

The taller forehead makes some toy breeds look like a doll, making them more attractive to people looking to purchase a dog.

Although it can be asymptomatic, in many dogs Chiari malformation can cause headaches, problems with walking or even paralysis.

Lead author, Dr Clare Rusbridge says: “Chiari malformation can be described as trying to fit a big foot into a small shoe. It can be very painful, causing headaches and pressure on the brain and can result in fluid filled cavities in the spinal cord. Our latest discoveries will be significant in driving this research forward and hopefully allow us to identify which genes may be associated with the condition. Our next steps will be to apply our technique to other breeds with Chiari malformation and investigate more sophisticated ways of screening, so that risk of disease can be detected more easily, at an earlier age and with a single MRI scan.”

The research team wants to work with responsible breeders to use scanning technology so they can remove the condition from the breeding population.

Source:  AlphaGalileo press release

This is my last will and testament…

If you love your dog, you should consider what would happen if you died.  Who would care for them?  One way of dealing with this issue is to have a pet trust.

To establish a pet trust you need to:

  • Nominate a trustee
  • Designate a caregiver (it would be best to consult this person in advance and make sure they are happy with the responsibility)
  • Set aside a nominated amount of funding for the trust
  • Clearly state what standard of care your dog should receive
  • Establish the trust’s duration (a certain length of time, likely to cover the rest of your dog’s natural life)
  • Designate a beneficiary who will receive any remaining funds once your dog passes
  • Name your dog(s) to be covered by the trust

Here are some more notable bequests to dogs:

Leona Helmsley (The Queen of Mean) set up a pet trust for her Maltese, Trouble.  It was a whopping $12 million.  After the will was contested, the dog’s trust was reduced by $10 million.

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

Leona Helmsley with her dog, Trouble

In 2010, socialite Gail Posner left a home and a $3 million trust fund to her three dogs.   These dogs were very pampered and were said to have been given weekly spa appointments, traveling to those appointments in a gold Cadillac. Conchita, a Chihuahua, April Maria, a Maltese, and Lucia, a Yorkshire Terrier were the beneficiaries.

Before both of these ladies made their bequests, there was German Countess Carlotta Liebenstein.  She left approximately £43 million to her pet dog Gunther III when she died in 1991.  Gunther III and his son, Gunther IV,  enjoyed the services of a personal maid, chauffeur and a pool.

In 2004, after 10 years of contention, the bank that served as executor for tobacco heiress Doris Duke’s estate agreed to compensate the caretakers of her dogs.  Although Duke had made provision for them in her will, the will was contested for a number of reasons.  The settlement involved over $100,000 to pay two of Duke’s former servants who were responsible for feeding, medicating and cleaning up after the dogs.  Two of the dogs died over the 10 years of fighting.  Only Robert, an old shepherd cross remained.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand