Specialty Heart Clinic Still Needs Participants

Photo by Terri Crawford.

UPDATE: We have made the minimum! Only eight dogs to go before the clinic is full!

We are still three dogs shy of the 10-dog minimum we need to hold a heart-screening clinic at the 2021 National Specialty in Richland. Board-certified veterinary cardiologist Dr. Bryan Eason of Evergreen Veterinary Cardiology is available to do cardiac ultrasounds on Friday, June 4, IF WE CAN GET A MINIMUM OF 10 DOGS.

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Genetic Testing Information

The SDCA Health & Genetics Committee has published two position statements on genetic testing, the first being an introduction to genetic testing and the second on Factor VII. It appears that we will have more genetic tests sooner rather than later (YAY!), so it is imperative that all breeders understand how to use these tests and owners understand how they are used so we can all work together to eliminate these disease-causing variants without reducing the breed’s gene pool.

You can read these position statements here. These position statements can also be found on the SDCA’s main web site.

by Betty Stephenson, DVM

Reprinted from the March/April 2014 Claymore

I graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 1981, and our options for anesthesia were considerably more limited then than they are today. Inhalation anesthetics available were methoxyflurane and halothane with or without nitrous oxide, injectables were ketamine, xylazine, ultrashort barbiturates, and pentobarbital. While we might still use ketamine as part of a mixture for induction, it’s about the only one listed that’s still in common use in small animal practice. Most practices didn’t even have inhalants in those days. Now a small animal practice without it is in danger of being sued for malpractice if surgery is done there at all. Methoxyflurane gave way to halothane, and halothane to isoflurane as safer products became affordable for animals. Now many practices use sevoflurane, the next generation inhalant which is more quickly metabolized and excreted than its forebears. Soon newer and better drugs will replace these. And so anesthesia for Deerhounds will change with time, just as it changes for all breeds. Read more

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.


Reprinted from the January/February 2014 Claymore.

While there haven’t been any earth-shattering discoveries this year, research into the health problems that affect Deerhounds has made some slow and steady progress on several fronts. There are also a couple of new projects. Read more

Dr. Guillermo Couto, who was spearheading the fibrinolysis research at Ohio State University, has retired, and no one there is continuing this research. Right now, we only suspect that some Deerhounds with bleeding issues have the same problem as Greyhounds, which is suspected to be fibrinolysis. To help us decide what the best next step would be, we thought we would collect some anecdotal information that will help us to determine whether aminocaproic acid helps Deerhounds with post-operative bleeding as it does Greyhounds.

If you have a dog that experiences post-surgical bleeding and the administration of aminocaproic acid stops the bleeding, we would be very interested to hear about that. If you administered aminocaproic acid during a bleeding episode and your dog did not stop bleeding, or your dog starts to bleed even though you were giving your dog aminocaproic acid prophylactically, we would be interested to hear about those experiences, too. As always, your information will be kept confidential. For more information on using aminocaproic acid for post-operative bleeding, go to http://sdcahealth.wordpress.com/health-issues/bleeding-problems/fibrinolysis/.

Please send this information to John Dillberger at P.O. Box 2118, Nashville, IN 47448-2118; (812) 988-6175; or at John “at” Greymorn.com. Please help us to determine whether aminocaproic acid works or not so we know the best next steps to take concerning this problem.


by John Dillberger, DVM

Reprinted from the September/October 2013 Claymore

Based on the results of the 2011 Deerhound Health Survey, one of the more important health problems in Deerhounds is pneumonia, which was reported for 14 (5%) of 273 males and 12 (4%) of 315 bitches. Several people reported single bouts of pneumonia, but many others said their dogs had more than one episode. For example, one male “had kennel cough after the first dog show of his 2nd and 3rd years of age that progressed to pneumonia each time.” A 1½-year-old bitch also had pneumonia that “began as kennel cough,” but she “also had frequent aspiration pneumonia due to megaesophagus.” A 2-year-old male had “chronic pneumonia from aspirated food.” A 3-year-old male was “treated twice for tandem episodes of pneumonia.” For a young bitch, “the first episode was after whelping, and she had repeated episodes as she aged.” In all, nine Deerhounds (four males and five bitches) had chronic and/or recurrent pneumonia.

Pneumonia is a serious disease in all animals, and Deerhounds are no exception. Pneumonia was the cause of death for eight Deerhounds, making it an important cause of death for our breed.

I was not surprised by the survey results. Over the past 25 years, I have had conversations with many Deerhounders whose dogs had pneumonia—sometimes more than one episode.

Recently I learned of research being done to investigate pneumonia in Irish Wolfhounds, under the joint direction of Dr. Margret Casals at the University of Pennsylvania and Dr. Iris Reichler at the University of Zurich. Because of the close relationship between Wolfhounds and Deerhounds, the Wolfhound research may shed some light on pneumonia in our breed. This month I will share what I learned. Read more

by John Dillberger, DVM

Reprinted from the May/June 2013 Claymore.

At the 2012 National Specialty, researchers from The Ohio State University (OSU) collected blood samples from 96 normal, healthy Deerhounds. They analyzed the samples to measure various parameters in order to establish what are called “reference intervals” (RIs). RIs provide a range of normal results for a particular blood test.

The OSU group will publish this work in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Small Animal Practice. I my column this month, I summarize the OSU paper. I suggest that you keep a copy of the column for your own reference and also give a copy to your veterinarian. Read more