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This article is courtesy of The Stafford magazine Spring 2004 issue

Click the resource links for more information on this disease and testing options:

OPTIGEN    (Recommended Genetic Tests)

VETGEN      (L2-HGA: L2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria)


The following links show video footage of how dogs are affected by L2-HGA

A segment on Tapes: Echinococcus Multilocularis


How you ever found those rice-like segments in your pets’ bed? If you have had the pleasure of finding these, you would be familiar with echinococcus - or the tapeworm. But what if this tapeworm was so small you didn’t notice it? And what if you could also be infected? Let us introduce you to Echinococcus multilocularis.


What is Echinococcus multilocularis?

Echinococcus multilocularis is a small zoonotic tapeworm. Zoonotic meaning it can be passed from animals to humans. It is found most commonly in the small intestine of wild and domestic canids. Cats can also be infected, however, it is uncommon. 


What is the lifecycle?

Eggs are laid in the intestine of the primary definitive host (coyotes, foxes, and dogs) and are shed in their feces. The feces are then ingested by the intermediate hosts, which are typically rodents. Once ingested, the eggs release a hexa-canth embryo that travels to the liver and causes the development of an alveolar hydatid cyst. The cyst behaves like a tumor, causing alveolar echinococcus, and ultimately death of the intermediate host. When the intermediate host is consumed by the dogs, wild canid or cat, the lifecycle is complete. The eggs are then excreted in the feces to begin the lifecycle again. Development to the mature tapeworm takes approximately 4-5 weeks. 


How do dogs get infected?

Dogs are infected by ingesting the affected intermediate host.


How do people get infected?

Humans can be infected by ingesting contaminated food from coyote or fox feces. For example, vegetables or fruit from a garden that have come into contact with infected feces. We can also be infected by handling dogs or (rarely) cats that have had access to areas where coyotes or foxes frequent. Humans are an accidental host, but the lifecycle is the same as it would be in a wild canid, domestic dog or cat. Ingestion can result in a developing an alveolar cyst, again typically in the liver. In humans, the infection can have an incubation period of 5-15 years and can be fatal. 


Where is it found in Canada?

There had been no know cases of Echinococcus multilocularis in Canada until 2009. In British Columbia a case of alveloar echinococcus was diagnosed. Two or more cases in 2012, one in southern Ontario, and the other in a dog who lived in both Alberta and Manitoba. Between 2013-2015 three other cases were diagnosed in southern Ontario. Of all 6 cases, none had traveled outside of Canada. Reproduced with permission of Allandale Veterinary Hospital Professional Corporation







Canine Nasal MItes

Nasal mites are a common but rarely diagnosed mite that infects the nasal passages of dogs and wild canines. The scientific name for nasal mites is “Pneumonyssoides caninum”.


What are the symptoms of a nasal mite infestation?

Infestation with this mite usually does not cause any serious symptoms, however, some dogs may develop a heavy infection and will suffer from bouts of sneezing or nose bleeds. Other dogs may develop a chronic nasal discharge from the infection. 


How is a a nasal mite infection diagnosed?

The mite lives inside the nasal passages, but some mites will travel to the other edges of the nostril. A healthy dog becomes infected when it has nose to nose contact with an infected dog. Other sources of contamination can be wood chips or shavings, straw or hay. If the infection causes symptoms, the mite can be identified by taking a swab of the nasal passage and applying it to a microscope slide. There are usually a large number of mites visible on the slide if an active infection is present. In some cases, especially when the dog is resting, tiny white mites can visible be seen crawling in and out of the nostrils.


How is nasal mite infestation treated and prevented?

Treatment is vary straightforward and consists of administration of oral ivermectin. This is an off label use of Ivermectin in dogs, and the drug must be administered by or under the recommendation of a veterinarian. Prevention includes keeping your dog out of contact with infected or stray dogs, and using bedding materials from trusted sources. The veterinary prescribed topical product ‘Revolution’ has also been known to be effective in treated an infestation of nasal mites.  


Can I get nasal mites from my dog? 

No. Pneumonyssoides caninum is zoonotic. Ie) it is not transmissible to humans and only infects dogs. 



Infestation with this mite is not frequently diagnosed. They are tiny and barely visible to the naked eye. It should be considered as a cause of chronic sneezing, nosebleeds, or nasal discharge. Fortunately, it is easily diagnosed if suspected, and easily treated. 


Article courtesy of Drs. Foster & Smith’s


Diet Related Heart Disease


Heart disease affects 10-15% of cats and dogs, with even higher rates in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dobermans and Boxers. A recent increase in heart disease in dogs eating certain types of diets is cause for concern. Owners may be trying to feed their pet(s) a high quality diet and inadvertently putting them at risk for certain diseases.


Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM occurs in cats where it is associated with a nutritional deficiency. DCM is a serious disease of the heart muscle which cause the heart to beat less effectively and to enlarge.DCM can result in abnormal heart rhythms, congestive heart failure or sudden death. In dogs, in typically occurs in large or giant breeds such as Doberman Pinchers, Boxers, Irish Wolfhounds and Great Danes, where it is thought to have a genetic component. Recently, some veterinary cardiologists have been some increased rates of DCM in dogs - in both the typical breeds and those not usually associated with DCM, such as Miniature Schnauzers and French Bulldogs. There is suspicion that the disease is associated with eating boutique or grain-free diets, with some of the dogs improving when their diets are changed. 


It’s not yet clear if diet is causing the issue. The first thought was a deficiency of an amino acid called taurine. DCM used to be one of the first common heart diseases in cats until it was discovered that feline DCM was causes by insufficient taurine in the diet. It was shown that DCM in cats could be reversed with taurine supplementation. All reputable commercial cat foods now contain enough taurine to prevent the development of DCM. Taurine induced DCM still occurs in cats on occasion, but usually when owners are feeding a vegetarian or home-prepared diet, supplemental diets, or diets made by manufacturers with inadequate nutritional expertise or quality control.


In dogs, Golden Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, Newfoundlands, St. Bernards, English Steers, Irish Wolfhounds, and Portuguese Water Dos have been found to be at increased risk for DCM caused by taurine deficiency. Other breeds may be affected as well. The reasons for taurine deficiency in dogs is not completely understood but could be due to reduced production of taurine due to dietary deficiency or reduce bioavailability of taurine or its building blocks, increased losses of taurine in the feces, or altered metabolism of taurine in the body. 


The number of dogs with taurine deficiency and DCM appeared to decrease until recently when cardiologists noticed higher rates of DCM in Golden Retrievers and in some atypical dogs breeds. The cardiologists also noticed that both the typical and atypical breeds were more likely to be eating boutique or grain-free diets and diets with exotic ingredients - kangaroo, lentils, duck, pea, buffalo, tapioca, salmon, lamb, barley, bison, venison and chickpeas. Some vegan diets have been associated with DCM, as well as raw or home prepared diets. Some of these affected dogs had low taurine levels and improved with taurine supplementation. Some dogs were not taurine deficient,but still improved with taurine supplementation and diet change. And some dogs simply have DCM unrelated to diet.  What seems consistent is that DCM is more likely to occur in dogs eating boutique, grain-free or exotic ingredient diets. 


The figures seem to vary based on some extent to location, but food sensitivities are thought to occur in 5-20% of dogs According to the most recent research, the most common cause of food sensitivities in dogs are beef, dairy products, chicken and wheat. Corn which is an issue by many is not on the list. And wheat is the only grain, so so grain-free food is not superior for dogs with food sensitivity. Overall, grains do not contribute to health problems and are used in pet food as a nutritious source of proteins, vitamins and minerals.


Marketing has portrayed exotic ingredients as more natural and healthier than typical ingredients. However, there is no actual evidence to show this as being true. The exotic ingredients are not only unnecessary in most cases, they also require the manufacturer to have much more nutritional expertise to be nutritious and healthy. They have different nutritional profiles and different digestibility than typical ingredients and have the potential to affect the metabolism of other nutrients. 


Research is being done to determine the consistent factor between the diets being implicated in diet related DCM. It may be related to companies’ inadequate nutritional expertise or lack of rigorous quality control. The problems could also be related to problems with bioavailability or interaction with other ingredients in the diet. And DCM could even be the result of an ingredient in the diet that is toxic to the heart. 


What can you do to try and prevent diet-related DCM?

Assess your dog’s diet. If you’re feeding a boutique, grain-free or exotic ingredient diet, is it necessary?Does your dog have food sensitivities that require this type of diet?

If you are feeding your dog a boutique, grain-free, or exotic ingredient diet, watch for early signs of heart disease - weakness, slowing down, less able to exercise, shortness of breath. coughing or fainting. If you notice any of these signs, then see your veterinarian. 

If your dog is diagnosed with DCM and eating one of these diets, then test taurine levels, change your dog’s diet and start taurine supplementation. There is no guarantee that the DCM will improve, and if it does it can take 3-6 months.


This article is written and reproduced with permission by Dr. Patti Lechtin - Allandale Veterinary Hospital Professional Corporation

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