The Basset Griffon Vendéen Club
GENERAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
General health problems can occur in practically every breed of dog.
Grooming your BGV regularly provides the opportunity to feel over his body and
spot whether anything is wrong. Although no problem is prevalent in the breed,
the following may help should you find your BGV is suffering from some
form of skin or associated complaint.
Skin Complaints Skin complaints can flare up in any breed,
particularly in summertime. In general, BGVs have few skin
problems. However, having shorter legs, a few are more susceptible to the
various irritants found in grasses or even to insect stings or bites.
Some complaints are due to flea allergies, or fox mange (sarcoptes scabiei),
which may be transmitted to dogs. Nowadays this is not only restricted to
rural areas but can also surface in suburbia. What to do if your BGV has a skin problem: In general, any
skin problem, particularly if involving itching, scratching and hair loss,
should be seen by your vet.
What are Hot Spots?
Like a moist dermatitis, hot spots can be a problem in warmer
weather. An area of skin becomes inflamed and
infected, appearing as a moist, oozing, reddened area that is painful
and very itchy for your dog. Any licking, chewing, or scratching the
area worsens the condition dramatically.
How to treat Hot Spots
They can be treated successfully by taking the hair well away around the area
to allow the skin to breathe and dry out. Then by washing with
antibacterial soap and applying an antibiotic cream or antiseptic solution
prescribed by your vet.
How to deal with Ticks
One school of thought is that garlic is a natural remedy to ward off
ticks. Although used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes,
its use in dogs is a slightly contentious issue as garlic contains a compound
called thiosulphate. In extremely high levels this can cause haemolytic
anaemia in dogs. The right dose however can not only ward off ticks but
also stimulate and support immune function, trigger gastric juices for improved
digestion, encourage the growth of friendly bacteria, and prevent
Check your BGV regularly for grass seeds.
This is especially important in mid-late summer when they are everywhere
and can stick in the coat and gradually burrow into the skin. A seed can enter the nose or get between the eye and eyelids, but they are
mainly a nuisance for dogs like BGVs who have longer ears and coats. One
can become lodged between the hairs around the toes, with the sharp point against
the dog's skin. As the dog walks, the seed gradually pierces the skin of
the foot. Check your BGV's feet after a walk as this may save a lot of
anxiety and heartache, let alone a big vet's bill. If the dog is taken in
early, the vet is usually able to retrieve the grass seed, but occasionally it
migrates up inside the leg and causes all sorts of trouble, including pain,
irritation, and discharge.
The insides of the ear flaps need checking too, as longer ears can flick the
seed up into the ear. Every time the dog scratches, this pushes the seed
higher up into the ear canal and, the further it enters, this can become very
painful for the dog who may require sedation, or even anaesthetic, to retrieve
the seed. Watch for head shaking, rubbing the head along the floor, head
carried tilted on one side or scratching the ear frantically and
persistently. These are all indications of discomfort.
Caught early, one tip is to use magnesium sulphate paste or Epsom salts, a
pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulphate. This is known to flush
toxins and will help draw out the grass seed. However, unless removed
early, you will need to visit a vet.
Lumps and Tumours
Mammary Tumours Bitches of any breed are prone to these
tumours which may be benign or malignant. Causes are likely to be
hormonal or genetic. Surgery is advisable but the tumour may be slow
growing, and this option does not always guarantee a cure. Depending
on the age of your bitch, the type of tumour and the rate it has metastasized,
your vet may remove just the tumour or surrounding tissue, lymph nodes and
mammary glands as well. Spaying can reduce the risk of developing this
type of cancer.
Benign or Cancerous Lumps
Parting your BGV's coat regularly
will help detect any unusual lump or swelling. This should be dealt with
by your vet who will, in all probability, perform a lumpectomy.
This is a surgical procedure that involves removing a suspected malignant
(cancerous) tumour, or lump, and a small portion of the surrounding
tissue. This tissue is then tested to determine if it contains cancerous cells.
Mast Cell Tumours These can be difficult to detect but, by
parting your BGV's coat regularly and feeling over the body, you may detect a
small, unexplained lump which needs further investigation. Mast cells
are specialised cells that are normally found distributed throughout the
body. They help an animal respond to inflammation and allergies.
This type of tumour is among the most common type in dogs and is also the most
common type of skin cancer found in dogs. Surgical removal of
the entire tumour plus several centimetres of healthy
tissue around the perimeter gives hope of capturing any stray
cancerous cells that are not immediately obvious.
ALWAYS ASK YOUR VET TO EXAMINE ANY GROWTHS OR ABNORMAL LUMPS ON YOUR BGV'S BODY TO DECIDE WHETHER A BIOPSY OR SURGERY IS NECESSARY.IT IS BETTER TO BE SAFE THAN SORRY.