Medication Pros & Cons

Also..OCD, coughing, skin problems and suggestions for kenneling for harsh winters.

I have been a reader of Gun Dog magazine for a number of years now and have always enjoyed your articles and insight and thought you could help me through this situation.

I am concerned about kenneling my spaniels outside during the winter. I am from Sudbury, Ontario, and our winters are rather harsh with gusting winds and extremely cold temperatures. I moved recently and I have to construct a new kennel design and am considering types of bedding and other factors.

Are there any other added precautions I should be taking? I would appreciate all recommendations and will likely put as many as possible into practice. Thank you . --SC

Spaniels should be able to stay outside under most cold weather conditions if given a few essentials. Protection from the wind is important. This may be accomplished with high board fences and placement of the runs on the south side of a building, away from the prevailing winds.

The dogs should also have small nest boxes, just one-third larger than the dog. This lessens heat loss, minimizing the amount of heat the dog has to generate. I feel the best bedding material is prairie hay; I call it sweet grass hay.

Obviously you can insulate the doghouse to reflect the climate that you are in. Avoid using aluminum as a construction material for the doghouse as it is a great conductor of cold and can cause frostbite if a dog is lying directly against it.

Think about your feeding and water scheme also. If you force the dogs to drink cold water and eat cold food they then have to expend extra calories to warm that food up so that it can be digested and utilized by the body. It is just as easy to offer water that is body temperature and food that has been stored in a warm house as it is to give cold stuff.

My seven-month-old female Deutsch drahthaar pup was diagnosed with OCD of the front left shoulder. They took x-rays to make sure, which showed the flap or mouse. My veterinarian informed me that surgery was highly suggested, the sooner the better. He prescribed an anti-inflammatory for her while I took her to hunt for a week out west. She did very well on them and I just see a slight "hitch" at times in her gait when she is walking.

I informed the breeder about the situation and he said not to have the surgery; that "she would grow out of it." He told me that he had only one other case of it in his breedings over the years and that he didn't think that OCD was a hereditary problem.

Is surgery the best way to take care of this problem? What is the professional opinion regarding whether it is genetic/hereditary? What percentage of success goes along with this type of surgery? Should I keep her on the anti-inflammatory until hunting season is over? --TS

I am reluctant to use anti-inflammatory on young dogs just so they can be hunted. I think this dog should be rested while the underlying condition is diagnosed and corrected. If there is a loose flap on the head of the humerus or a piece of cartilage floating around in the joint then I would recommend operating on the joint.

This surgery is highly successful in cleaning up the defect and encouraging it to fill in and heal. If you don't do surgery these dogs often go on to have chronic arthritis. Prevailing opinion is that these defects are hereditary. I have seen multiple cases of OCD in certain bloodlines and my recommendation is that the dogs not be bred.

My 12-year-old male vizsla has developed a problem of coughing and then gagging. This occurs about 15 times in a 24-hour period. He's had this problem for about nine months. I've had the dog to the local vet twice. X-rays and blood tests give the dog a clean bill of health. When he gags nothing comes up.

The dog also has developed skin tumors. I had the original tumors surgically removed. Now he's developed more. What do you suggest I do?

The dog is too old to hunt and is now a retired house pet. He sleeps in his chair most of the time. He is not overweight and has a good appetite. Thank you for your time. --SO

Cough in old dogs is most commonly caused by an inefficient heart. As dogs age their hearts often enlarge, the muscle becomes weak and flabby and the valves fail to close completely. This leads to pooling of blood in the lungs with fluid leaking into the tissue and a resultant cough. This condition is commonly referred to as congestive hear failure. I would expect that the veterinarians who examined your dog would have picked up on this condition if it were present.

Another disease process that I would consider is chronic bronchitis. This irritation of the trachea and airways of the lung can be caused by irritation such as dry air, tobacco smoke and fumes from woodstoves. More serious conditions to rule out are lung tumors and heartworm disease.

I hope that when you had some of the skin tumors removed you had them sent in for pathology. Often in older dogs these tumors over the top line are just benign papillomas and if you know this they are not as worrisome. I would suggest you biopsy some of these and find out what they are.

I have been a long-time subscriber to this great magazine. When we had some trouble with medication for our dog, I felt that you should know about this problem and perhaps give a heads-up to your readers.

Two weeks ago I took my golden in to the vet for a check-up so that we would be carrying a valid health certificate when we went hunting in North Dakota last weekend. At the time our dog had been shaking his head and I asked the vet to have a look. She said that there was a bit of build-up in his ears.

She put medication in his ears and told me to put some in each morning and evening. This was on a Monday afternoon and on Wednesday evening our dog was stone deaf.

My husband and I then read the note inside the medication box and it said that for sensitive dogs, hearing loss may be irreversible. I took my dog to the vet on Thursday and explained the situation. The vet then called the manufacturer. In some instances the deafness is permanent but in other cases they get some to all of their hearing back. The medication is called Mometamax.

At this time, it has been two weeks and there is no sign of auditory recognition to any sounds. I had trained him myself and he had lost only two waterfowl in 10 years. He also was a wonder at pheasant. But right now, my wonderful hunting dog is worthless. --SG

Let me say first that I am certainly sorr

y that your dog has lost its hearing following the use of Mometamax. Our society has become a drug-based culture that relies on medication to solve most of our problems from functional issues to disease processes to emotional abnormalities. Fortunately, the Food and Drug Administration has responded to this flood of new drugs with strict testing for both efficacy and toxicity.

With this in mind you need to understand that as veterinarians in clinical practice we must weigh the benefit of a drug to the potential for adverse reactions. We also read the package insert as you did, using it as a guideline for therapy.

We supplement this information with continuing education courses and scientific articles published in various periodicals.

If it sounds like I'm defending veterinary medicine, you are right. If we rejected every drug that has been reported to have an adverse reaction we would have nothing but warm water to treat disease. Again, I am sorry your dog has suffered from the use of Mometamax. I have used many doses of this drug in my practice and have never experienced an adverse reaction with it.

I have a three-year-old German shorthair whom at two years was diagnosed with Addison's disease. She takes a 5mg prednisone pill each day and gets a Percorten injection every 25 days.

When she first got sick her hair grew very long. Her problem now is that she grows very little hair from the center of her sides to the middle of her legs. She gets very chafed and cut up when she hunts because she has so little hair.

My vet says her weird hair growth is due to her disease. She is also very prone to eye infections. Can you please give us any help? --RB

Both the disease and the drugs used to treat it will affect the skin and hair quality. I would concentrate on keeping the disease process under control the best you can and then worry about the thin skin and sparse hair.

Try using a vest during training and hunting sessions. These are not the easiest things to manage but they do work fairly well. Some hair coat supplements might also help. The ones I use are Zinpro and fatty acids. Human skin moisturizing creams can also be used if the skin becomes dry and cracked.

Contact Tom Holcomb, DVM, at:

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