Thursday, February 13, 2014

Brachycephalic- Don’t you just want to pinch those lips? PART 2- Nares are Nostrils

Brachycephalic- Don’t you just want to pinch those lips?
PART 2- Nares

Anyone who has ever known a brachycephalic dog has experienced what I refer to as “sea spray”  You reach in to smooch that adorable little smush face and next thing you know your face is covered with a cold wet sensation as your little friend send nasal secretions shooting all over you.

Nostrils or Nares as they are technically called are a big component of brachycephalic syndrome.  Look closely at your little friends nares and you will see that they are very small compared to an average breed of dog.  This is particularly an issue in the smaller brachycephalic breeds such as Boston Terriers, French and English Bulldogs.

Above are images of 2 very different sets of Nares/Nostrils.  The image on the top is from the adorable pug baby from Part 1: Introduction to Brachycephalic Syndrome.  The second image on the bottom is from a Labrador Retriever which is a Dolichocephalic or long nosed breed of dog.  Notice how much wider and open the airway is in the Lab compared to the Pug.

Here are the same 2 images but I have highlighted the airways for you.  The difference should now be clear.  So what does it matter that their nostrils aren't open as wide as a Labs?  Resistance to airflow from breathing through a narrow diameter opening results in many of the problems Brachycephalic breeds experience.  There is a mathematical equation that defines the issue: R = 8nl / pr4I know, I hate math to but it’s an important concept and I’m sure all of my Boulder Veterinary Hospital clientele are capable of understanding the principal.  In this equation R = resistance to airflow which makes breathing hard.  Think about trying to jog while only breathing through a straw.  The harder you breathe the more resistance you experience and it becomes even more difficult to get the air you need to keep jogging.  N= viscosity.  This refers to the thickness of the air we breathe and is pretty constant. L =length and refers to the length of the airway or to maintain our analogy the length of the straw.  Larger breeds would have a longer airway then smaller breeds.  r = radius of the airway or straw.  Radius is half the distance of the airway from the center of the circle to the edge.  Pi is the constant we all know and love.  This equation tells us that by doubling the radius of the airway we can reduce resistance of airflow 16 times.  That’s huge!  It also means that a little dog with brachycephalic syndrome whose nare/nostril is half as wide as it should be is experiencing 16 x more resistance to move air in and out of its lungs compared to a normal dog.  That’s a whole heck of a lot.  That increased resistance leads to swelling, inflammation and sometimes even collapse of the airway from all that pressure needed to move air down into the lungs and back out.  These nares or nostrils are the narrowest part of the upper airway and therefore contribute to 60 – 80 % of the total resistance to breathing.  Basically, they make a HUGE difference in how easy it is to breath.  Let’s go back to our straw analogy.  If you’re jogging and breathing through a little straw and then trade it for a straw with a radius that’s twice as big it sure is a whole heck of a lot easier to jog and breathe through that straw.  Therefore, the size of the nostrils makes a big difference in how easy it is for a dog to breathe.  This is an area where we can intervene and help these brachycephalic dogs’ live better longer lives.  Ideally when breeding these dogs we would try and breed for larger airways to help minimize the problems associated with brachycephalic dogs and cats too.    Stay tuned for the next chapter and we will discuss treatment for small nostrils soon.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Brachycephalic- Don’t you just want to pinch those lips?


Brachycephalic- Don’t you just want to pinch those lips?

Brachycephalic is a term that refers to certain breeds of dogs.  It primarily refers to the shape of their face and muzzles.  The most representative breed that most people think of is English Bulldogs, Pugs, and Boxers.

What is it about these breeds that makes them so endearing?  Many anthropologists suggest it is the exaggeration of their childlike features that make them look like human infants which makes us so infatuated with these adorable little monkeys.  Those large round eyes and big foreheads and tiny little noses are just plain irresistible.

Brachycephalic breeds often make wonderful pets and companions but they come with their own challenges that are fairly unique.  This blog post will be broken up into several sections and is not meant to be an all encompassing discussion of brachycephalic breeds but we will briefly talk about BRACHYCEPHALIC AIRWAY SYNDROME, HEMIVERTEBRAE, and INDOLENT CORNEAL ULCERS.  Please feel free to visit our website and click on the pet library link for an excellent set of articles on these specific topics as well.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Charli's Motor Muttin' Halloween!

Sorry to make everyone wait, we've had some technical difficulties with the internet today but here she is........Ready to hop on her hog and head to Sturgis!  Well maybe hop in her side car anyway.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Happy Halloween!


I'm pretty sure that just about everybody loves Halloween.  What's not to love, we get to put on fun costumes, play fun games, and kids are just about cute as can be all dressed up.  And lets not forget about the candy!  I'm pretty partial to peanut butter cups but rarely have I been able to turn down a sweet treat.  We get so excited during this joyful time that sometimes we don't realize that our furry friends have slipped out of their little costumes and gotten into the stash of treats we have for the adorable kids coming to our homes or perhaps even the hard earned treats our little ones spent the evening collecting and enjoying.

Chocolate can be toxic to our pets.  Typically its the doggy members of our family that tend to indulge in a chocolaty treat.  The reason that chocolate can be toxic to dogs is that it contains a chemical called THEOBROMINE.  Theobromine is chemically a compound in the same family as CAFFEINE.  How much harm could that do right?  Many of us drink several cups of coffee every day with out any ill effects.  Have you ever had a really strong cup of coffee though and experienced some shaking in your hands or little jitters?  Well, that is what can happen in dogs from eating to much chocolate.  They can get a large dose of Theobromine and sometimes it can be even large enough to cause generalized seizures, rapid irregular heart rates in addition to vomiting and diarrhea.  This can escalate and result in a very sick pet sometimes. It's pretty rare though.  Most of the time our pets get into a small amount of MILK Chocolate like some M&M's or perhaps a Hershey's bar.  For an average sized Golden, Lab or other medium to large dog this is not going to cause any significant problems.  If they ate a large 1 pound bag they may have some mild gastrointestinal signs like diarrhea or vomiting.  Sometimes these can require supportive care or treatment but we don't expect to see signs of true chocolate toxicity in these individuals.  For the Chocolate lovers out there who prefer dark chocolate cacao or who are baking using bakers chocolate or other dark rich chocolates, that is where we tend to get into trouble.  Particularly when a small pet is involved.  It really doesn't take much dark chocolate to make a 3 pound Yorkie have potential for chocolate toxicity.  Fortunately it's rare to see these types of treats being given out around this time of year.  Visit our website's CHOCOLATE TOXICITY CALCULATOR located at the bottom of the homepage to see how much milk or dark chocolate it will take to make your pet have clinical signs. 

We often forget about all those wrappers and packaging too.  If enough material is ingested there is potential for gastro-intestinal foreign body obstruction to occur.  This is rare but can happen if enough packaging material is ingested to get to the "good stuff".  This can particularly become an issue with some of the larger skull shaped plastic containers that some Halloween candy comes in.

We wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween and may it be as spooky as you like!  Stay tuned for Charli's new costume this year, it's a riot!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Chicken Jerky Treats

Chicken Jerky treats have been suspicious for causing kidney illness in dogs for some time.  These treats have been continued to be imported and sold in pet stores nationwide.  Not enough evidence has been available to link the suspected illness directly to the treats but the FDA is ramping up warning for pet owners.  The warning is specifically for treats MADE IN CHINA but personally I suspect many of the treats labeled as made in the USA are only packaged in the USA from materials made in China so I personally would not recommend the feeding of ANY chicken jerky type treat.  Please visit the FDA warning site below and feel free to call Boulder Veterinary Hospital at 303-442-6262 if you have any concerns about your pet.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ticks sure are disgusting aren't they?  Did you know that they also transmit disease?  Most people have heard about Lyme disease which is well known tick borne disease.  Luckily in Boulder we don't have the Lyme disease parasite called Borrelia in our ticks.  But we do have several varieties of ticks that can transmit other disease.  Ticks are typically know as the disease vector meaning that they spread the disease and are not made sick by the organism.  They just carry it.  Our Veterinarians have been seeing an early population of ticks starting to come out and clients are reporting more ticks then we would expect at this time of year.  Ticks need to be attached and feeding for about 48 hours to effectively transmit disease.  Checking your pets after hikes and runs through fields is an important part of prevention.  Finding ticks and removing them before they attach themselves or very shortly after will aide in prevention.

Prevention consists of the application of a medication that will kill ticks once they bite our pets.  Most commonly our Vets recommend using Frontline Plus applied monthly during tick season which typically runs from April to June.  Once it starts getting hot and dry we don't typically see to many ticks except in lush riparian areas around rivers.  Ticks are often found around Button Rock reservoir in Lyons throughout the summer.

Removing a tick can be quite easy.  BVH's Veterinarians recommend using an index finger and a thumb to grasp around the tick as close to the skin as possible and gently squeeze and lift.  You will often hear a little pop sound as the tick is removed from the skin.  Those little suckers hang on tight so sometimes a little force is necessary.  It is not uncommon to see a little welt develop at the site of the tick bite which should resolve in several days.  Veterinarians do not recommend using a burning match or any other method to remove a tick.  People are often concerned about whether the entire tick has been removed.  You can check the tick after removal to ensure the entire tick is present.  If there are still some small parts of the tick remaining under the skin it is not of extreme concern.  A word of caution; sometimes things like skin tags or moles look a lot like a tick.  Ticks have legs and moles do not.  Please make sure that you are removing a tick before you start pulling!

The primary tick borne diseases that our Vets see at Boulder Vet are: 1.) Ehrlichi (pronounced Er-lick-ee-uh)
2.) Rocky Mounted Spotted Fever

Ehrlichia is a parasite of red blood cells and platelets.  Platelets are a cell that helps clotting after injuries.  They are the first responder cell that helps stop bleeding quickly until the biochemical process known as the clotting cascade can completely stop the bleeding process.  Patients that have become infected with Ehrlichia typically come into Boulder Vet not feeling well.  They are typically sick and don't want to eat and have lower energy then normal.  Our Vets perform a nose to tail physical exam on all patients and the Vets report that a typical Ehrlichia patient will have a temperature, swollen lymph nodes under their jaws or behind their knees, pale mucous membranes, and sometimes a bloody nose.  A blood test is typically recommended to aid the diagnostic process.  Veterinarians often identify some abnormalities on the screening blood test including a low red blood cell count know as Anemia, a low platelet count known as Thrombocytopenia and often blood protein levels are increased.  Rarely the pathologist who reviews the sample in the laboratory will actually see the parasite living within the red blood cells on the sample.  Ehrlichia is typically treated with an antibiotic called Doxycycline and most patients do quite well and are feeling much better within several days of starting treatment.  Ehrlichiosis can often resemble an immune mediated destruction of red blood cells and platelets so it is not uncommon to start treating your pet for both diseases until we can determine the true cause of the problem.  For more information on Ehrlichia please visit and click on the link for the PET MEDICAL LIBRARY.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is a tick borne disease caused by an organism called Rickettsia (pronounced Rick-et-sea-uh).  RMSF (Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever) is a very severe disease typically that results in a condition called Vasculitis.  Vasculitis is a severe inflammatory process that occurs in blood vessels like veins and arteries.This vasculitis can result in clotting abnormalities and anemia as seen with Ehrlichia   RMSF dogs can often have such a sever inflammatory process occurring within their blood vessels that they can develop DIC which is severe life threatening complication of many disease processes where the clotting cascade mentioned above goes hay-wire and our blood starts clotting within our vessels.  Diagnosis of RMSF is difficult and often a diagnosis of exclusion.  Fortunately it is fairly rare and we don't see to many cases.  It is a severe disease and often carries a poor prognosis.  Treatment is supportive and involves dealing with the complications caused by the organism and starting an antibiotic like Doxycycline to kill the offending organism.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Meet Charli!  She has unofficially become Boulder Vet's mascot.  You may see her pop up frequently on our facebook page and she may great you in our reception area.  Sometimes she thinks the cookie jar is there just for her so she may let out a few barks but rest assured she is a sweet heart and would love for you to come say hello. 

Charli came to Dr. Berman after a client of his became overwhelmed after the addition of a beautiful baby boy named Reid to their lives.  They made the very difficult decision, that with their 2 toddler aged children and other Frenchie they just didn't have the time that a sweet little girl like Charli deserved.  Knowing that Dr. Berman was looking for a Frenchie after becoming smitten with the breed they asked if he would give Charli the love and attention she deserved.   

Of course I was ecstatic and welcomed Charli into my home with open arms and an open heart.  Over the last year I have realized just how lucky I am to have this sweet little girl in my life.  She is absolutely the most wonderful little dog that I've ever had the pleasure to care for.  She is so silly and constantly brings a smile to my face and causes me to break out in laughter.  Frenchie's are just so silly.

Charli is my example of how special the human animal bond is to me as a veterinarian.  I see this bond in the eyes and actions of people on a daily basis but it is so hard to place in to words.  I hope to use this blog as a platform for trying to express the importance of this bond in the lives of people who care for animals.