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

A compendium of Claymore Health and Genetics columns on two possible causes of “Deerhound Neck.”

Here is another article on Deerhound Neck that was posted on July 11, 2016.

Some Deerhounds can develop mild-to-severe neck pain that isn’t apparently related to injury. Causes can range from something simple, such as the dog habitually sleeping with its head hanging off furniture or thick dog beds, to something more serious. John Dillberger, DVM, delved into two possible causes—Steroid-Responsive Meningitis-Arteritis and Cervical Vertebral Facet Joint Arthrosis—in three separate articles in his Health and Genetics column in The Claymore,  all of which are reprinted here.

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by Dr. John E. Dillberger

Reprinted from The Claymore


Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States has devoted a lot of time and effort to preparing for future emergencies. Those of us with dogs should also spend a little time now and then preparing for emergencies. This was brought home to me recently by an “adventure” with my own Deerhounds. Thankfully, everything turned out all right, but the episode reminded me how easy it is to grow complacent. I share it with you as an introduction to the subject of being prepared.

My Story

One winter afternoon, my wife and I were walking our two hounds on the farm—or more accurately, on the 40-acre tract of wooded hills and pasture on the lower part of the farm that we fenced off last year as a safe place for them to run and explore. The fence is heavy-gauge, 4-foot high, woven wire, which allows deer to jump in and out and has no sharp points to snag a dog. There are four gates, and all are chained and locked so that no one can accidentally leave them open for a dog to escape.  Read more


Below are the normal ranges for Scottish Deerhounds that you should share with your veterinarian and specialist.

These values were established by Dr. Philip Fox, from the cardiac clinic he did at the Vermont National Specialty in 2004. It is the only data extant for our breed, and it was never published by Dr. Fox (however Betty Stephenson did publish them in The Claymore).

Also, please do not think that “Scan in a Van” and the other mobile technologies one sees at dog shows are a substitute for an evaluation by a veterinary cardiologist. Those are for screening purposes only, and it’s definitely “Buyer Beware”–the variability of echo equipment and the skill of the person performing the echo need to be taken into consideration.

The following is a general clinical guide for echocardiographic examination based upon normal Scottish Deerhounds (avg wt, 45kg) :

Left atrium (mm) should be no larger than 50-55 mm Aorta (mm) should be no wider than 30-33 mm

LA:Ao ratio should be <1.5:1

Left ventricle end diastolic dimension should be no greater than 55-60 mm

Left ventricle end systolic dimension should be no greater than 40-45 mm

LV Wall end- diastolic thickness should be > 8-9mm

LV Shortening fraction should generally be > 20 %, and more comonly, >25% Heart Rhythm should be sinus or sinus arrhythmia

Note: The echocardiogram is one part of the data base that includes medical history , physical examination, ECG, and chest radiograph. Optimal diagnosis is based upon consideration of these variables.

These should be used as GENERAL guidelines and a particular normal dog, particularly a large or small animal, could fall outside of this range.

 by John E. Dillberger, DVM

Originally published in the March/April 2011 issue of The Claymore.

UPDATE: Click here for a follow-up article written in 2014.

Every few months I hear of another Deerhound that has unexpected bleeding after surgery. The stories are much the same. Dogs typically emerge from surgery in good shape and go home with their owners, only to begin bleeding 24 to 36 hours later. The bleeding doesn’t originate from a single blood vessel; instead, blood seems to seep from every vessel that was cut during surgery. Indeed, the only vessels that don’t bleed are those that were specifically tied off or cauterized during surgery.

Some Deerhounds that have delayed post-operative bleeding survive, but only with heroic and expensive supportive care. Many don’t. Some dogs are simply found dead the morning after surgery.

The recent discovery of an inherited Factor VII gene mutation in Deerhounds led some people to speculate that this might explain the delayed post-operative bleeding. (Factor VII is one of many proteins that help create a blood clot.) Unfortunately, the Factor VII mutation does not explain the problem in Deerhounds. Delayed post-operative bleeding has occurred in dogs with two normal Factor VII genes.

The biggest mystery surrounding delayed post-operative bleeding is also the biggest clue to what may be happening; specifically, the time when bleeding begins. It is as if the Deerhound forms normal blood clots after surgery, but those clots “come unglued” the next day. In other words, the problem is not in the dog’s ability to form a blood clot, but instead in the dog’s ability to maintain the blood clot for a normal length of time.  Read more