The Basset Griffon Vendéen Club
Specific Health Corncerns
For many years, since the introduction of the breed into the UK (and other countries), a few health problems have been identified. As with all canine health issues, no one concern is restricted to BGVs. Some of the disorders are known to be congenital, whether inherited or caused by the environment. A congenital condition therefore may or may not be hereditary. The Health Sub Committee invites anyone whose BGV has a health problem to contact them and or complete the Health Information Form. All information will be confidential and may prove invaluable in the future should any health issue warrant further research and investigation.
More information on the known conditions that are monitored within the breed can be found here.
CUSHING’S DISEASEWHAT IS CUSHING'S DISEASE?
Cushing's disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, is a condition where the body overproduces the cortisol steroid hormone. It's a fairly common condition in middle aged and older dogs. Dogs normally need some steroids for their bodies to function properly and they are produced by the adrenal gland, which sits next to the kidney. The adrenal gland is sent messages to produce cortisol by the pituitary gland, which sits at the base of the brain. If a dog gets a growth on either of these glands, this can send hormone production into overdrive which leads to a number of symptoms. However the majority of Cushing’s cases are caused by a benign tumour on the pituitary gland. Tumours on the adrenal gland also cause this disease but are less common. High level use of steroids, used to treat immune disorders or allergies, can also cause Cushing’s disease.
Most owners will notice excessive thirst and urination. One of the first signs is that their dog suddenly begins needing to go out to the toilet in the middle of the night. There can also be hair loss, weight gain, panting, skin changes, lowered immunity and abdominal swelling, which can make the stomach appear to sag. A lack of energy is another symptom you may notice. In most cases the symptoms are quite mild and for this reason – along with the fact that there could be other causes of these signs – getting a confirmed diagnosis can be difficult. Keep in mind that all symptoms are not apparent in every patient and that many of the signs can also be associated with other diseases. To determine whether or not a dog has Cushing’s disease, a vet will need to look not just at the symptoms but also at the results of several different diagnostic tests.
It Is not always necessary to treat Cushing’s disease. This in itself is not without risks so you should discuss the right course of action with your vet. Treatment also depends on the type of Cushing's your dog has but medication can be used in most cases. If your dog’s illness is due to the most common cause, a benign pituitary tumour, daily medication will help manage the disease. Such treatment may not be necessary if symptoms are mild and, in any case, your vet may want to monitor your dog closely for a while first. Specialist surgery to remove a pituitary tumour may also be an option. Where the Cushing’s disease is caused by a growth on the adrenal gland, the dog will need a scan to see whether the condition is benign or malignant. If there is just one tumour, your vet may advise a course of medication to shrink it, followed possibly by surgery to remove it. In some cases, further tumours may spread through the body and in severe cases are unfortunately untreatable. Dogs who have developed Cushing’s due to taking steroids for other health conditions such as allergies or immunity issues will need to be weaned off those steroids under the advice of a vet. Coming off steroids too quickly can lead to further, potentially fatal, problems.
While Cushing’s disease cannot be cured, in most cases it can be managed but it is a costly condition to treat. Medication will be needed for the rest of the dog's life, accompanied by regular vet checks, which often includes blood tests.
An inadequate or subnormal thyroid function results in immune destruction of the thyroid gland. Clinical signs include obesity, lethargy, mental sluggishness, hair loss, change in coat texture, infertility and hyperpigmentation of the skin. While hypothyroidism cannot realistically be prevented, it is not particularly difficult to diagnose and treat. There is no evidence at present that this is hereditary in BGVs but obviously, if the condition is diagnosed, it is advised not to breed from that individual.
The pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for the digestion of foods, producing the enzymes that digest food, and producing insulin. When a condition occurs to cause inflammation of the pancreas, the flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area. If this occurs, the digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and proteins in the other organs, as well as in the pancreas. In effect, the body begins to digest itself. Because of their proximity to the pancreas, the kidney and liver can also be affected when this progression takes place, and the abdomen will become inflamed, and possibly infected as well. If bleeding occurs in the pancreas, shock, and even death can follow. Inflammation of the pancreas (or pancreatitis) often progresses rapidly in dogs, but can be treated without any permanent damage to the organ. Always consult your vet who will begin a course of treatment but you can help your BGV by feeding bland, low fat, high carbohydrate, easily digestible food until the condition has cleared thoroughly.
REMEMBER - IF YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS ABOUT YOUR BGV'S WELL-BEING WHICH APPEAR TO BE RELATED TO ANY OF THE KNOWN HEALTH PROBLEMS IN THE BREED, LET US KNOW. WE ARE HERE TO SUPPORT YOU.