Just a reminder for everyone: It is a good idea to check pill bottles when a prescription is filled to make sure the dosage matches your vet’s actual prescription. Over the past year, there have been three incidents reported where the dosage was incorrect on the bottles, and the owners, who followed the directions on the bottles, under-dosed their dogs. This led to discomfort for one dog, extensive hospitalization in a specialty hospital for the second, and death for the third. 

Please make sure that the dosing on the pill bottle matches its prescription and the discharge instructions, and if you have any questions, contact your vet immediately.  

Although seizures are not common in Deerhounds, they do occur. According to the most recent health survey, Deerhounds have an incidence of seizures (4%) that is similar to the incidence in the dog population as a whole (1-5%). There are many causes of seizures, not all of which are genetic. Although there are families of Deerhounds that appear to have more dogs with seizures than others, we don’t know whether that is because of genetics or all of the dogs are exposed to the same environmental cause.

If your Deerhound has a seizure, you should contact your veterinarian. Deerhounds are not more or less likely than other breeds to be affected by many of the conditions that can cause seizures, such as cancer (insulinomas and brain tumors in middle-aged and older dogs), trauma, allergies, infections, toxins, etc., at least as far as we know. However, there are some illnesses that should be ruled out when any Deerhound has seizures:

LIVER SHUNT is definitely a problem in Deerhounds, and it can cause seizures at any point in an affected dog’s life. Even if your dog has tested normal on a routine blood test for liver function, liver shunts don’t always show up on those: you need to do a bile-acid test, which is a special blood test, which includes two blood draws and a specific feeding protocol, to rule it out. Many breeders routinely test their puppies for this before they go to their homes, but not every breeder does, and some people use an in-house test that isn’t always reliable. This DEFINITELY needs to be on the rule-out list for any Deerhound with seizures, and the bile-acid test needs to be sent out to a lab.

TICK-BORNE DISEASES, including Lyme Disease, Anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, list seizures as a symptom. One breeder has reported seizures in three dogs, all of which tested positive for Anaplasmosis, a tick-borne disease that is common in many parts of the U.S. One dog would seize (and he eventually developed other neurological symptoms) every time his owner tried to take him off doxycycline, even years after his initial diagnosis and without his titer going up, so Anaplasmosis was implicated at least in this dog. These dogs might have had a genetically lower seizure threshold that was triggered by the Anaplasmosis, which has seizures as a listed symptom. Another Deerhound, from an unrelated line, had other neurological problems after developing Anaplasmosis. There are other tick-borne diseases, such as Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, where seizures are a listed symptom, so all should be ruled out.

HYPOTHYROIDISM & ADDISON’S DISEASE: Although Deerhounds do not commonly get hypothyroidism, it does sometimes occur so is worth ruling out. Ditto for Addison’s Disease, which is sometimes seen in Deerhounds.

It is important to contact your dog’s breeder, not only because your breeder needs to know they bred a dog that has seizures, but also because if there are seizures already in the line the breeder might be able to give you some helpful information.

For some cases, consultation with a veterinary neurologist can be helpful.

For more information on seizures in Deerhounds, see John Dillberger’s article reprinted from the Claymore.


by John Dillberger, DVM

Reprinted from the November/December 2008 Claymore

Medicines are wonderful things—miracles, really, that conquer illness or let us live with it on terms we can accept. Dogs and people both have benefited from the discovery and development of new medicines in the 20th century. We take these medicines for granted most of the time; specifically, we take for granted that they will be safe and effective if we use them as prescribed or as the package label instructs. Have you ever thought about why that is so? This month I want to explore that subject.

History in a Nutshell

Today’s abundance of medicines can be traced to breakthroughs in chemistry made in the 18th and 19th centuries. Not that there weren’t medicines before then. There always have been, and always will be, medicines derived from plants and animals, such as willow bark and opium for pain. Chemistry’s contribution was to extract the pain-relieving substances in willow bark and poppy sap, deduce their molecular structures, and figure out how to make them in a laboratory and then in factories. Suddenly, we could have an endless supply of aspirin or morphine instead of being limited to what we could get from willow trees or poppies.

But that was just the beginning. Once we had the blueprint for a medical molecule, we could tweak its structure in a hundred different ways to see if we could come up with an even better version—one with longer-lasting activity, or that was stronger, or non-addictive, or more stable. This is the history of the medicines that fill today’s pharmacy shelves. And the process is still going on today in pharmaceutical companies and university research labs around the world. Read more

by John Dillberger, DVM

Reprinted from the September/October 2010 Claymore

I have not written about diarrhea before now because, frankly, the subject is too large and complicated to tackle in a monthly column. That is partly because diarrhea is not a disease in itself, but a symptom of disease. The list of diseases that can have diarrhea as part of the picture would itself fill many pages of this magazine.

Given the plethora of causes for diarrhea, where should an owner or veterinarian begin when presented with a dog having diarrhea? Intuitively, the best chance of ending an episode of diarrhea is to identify the underlying disease and treat it. For that reason, diagnostic tests are often part of the initial response to diarrhea. But while diagnostic tests are often helpful, one can also treat diarrhea directly, without knowing the cause. How a dog responds to treatment can provide a valuable clue to the cause of the diarrhea. This month’s column deals with an example of this approach. Read more