You Make The Diagnosis: Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Pictured below is a wonderful Rhodesian ridgeback named Callie.  Callie is a sweet girl who is shy about coming to the veterinarian.  She tried to crawl under the chair her owner was sitting on when I entered the room.  Smart girl!  

Some Rhodesian ridgebacks are born with a congenital abnormality associated with the ridge of hair on their backs.  Name the disease.


Diagnosis:  Dermoid Sinus

A dermoid sinus is an abnormal connection between the skin and central nervous system.  During development, the pup’s skin does not separate properly from the neural tube which eventually becomes the spinal cord and brain.  The hair and sebum cause inflammation which leads to abscesses and draining tracts.  Affected individuals are prone to bacterial meningitis. 

As you can see from the close up of Callie’s back, she is a healthy girl.  If she had a dermoid sinus, surgical repair would be indicated.  Although it is not an easy procedure, removal of the abnormal communication is the best way to prevent the infections associated with this disease. 

Arizona Women’s Expo 2011

If you are in Arizona next weekend, I extend the invitation to meet at the Arizona Women’s Expo!  It is a large gathering and is held this year on April 30th and May 1st, 2011 at the Phoenix Convention Center.  I will be there with a booth signing books.  Please stop by if you are able as I would love to meet more of the people who read this blog.  Here is a link to the show’s website;

The past few months have been great fun – speaking to the Associated General Contractor’s of America conference and a book club in Las Vegas, radio interviews from Hawai’i to Connecticut and North Carolina and seeing Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life on the shelf at a fun bookstore named Bookends in Kailua.  The best part is meeting fellow animal lovers in person so I hope you will step forward if you are at the expo.

You Make The Diagnosis: Name A Common Health Problem for Chinchillas

Chinchillas are small mammals native to South America where they live high in the Andes Mountains.  To cope with the harsh environment, they have thick hair coats that require dust baths to keep them in shape.  Pictured below is Razzy, one of the nicest chinchillas I have ever met.  She sat on her owner’s shoulder while I performed a physical exam.   

Chinchillas are prone to a health problem that causes weight loss and pain.  Name the health problem.

Diagnosis:  Dental Disease

Like most herbivores, chinchillas are prone to dental disease.  Over time, the grinding of plants may produce uneven surfaces on the molars and premolars.  These “spurs” abrade the gingival tissue and make it painful to eat.  The roots of the premolars and molars are continuously growing so the chinchilla will never wear out its teeth.  Unfortunately, the roots can become infected or grow excessively, causing extreme pain.  Signs of dental disease include weight loss, drooling, problems eating such as dropping food out of the mouth, pawing at the mouth, poor hair coat because they don’t feel well enough to take a dust bath and/or excessive chewing on their water bottles.  I think the cool water brings relief to their inflamed mouths. 

Like all pets, chinchillas should see a veterinarian at least once a year.  During the physical exam, the veterinarian will insert a cone into their mouth to examine the teeth and check for dental problems.  

You Make The Diagnosis: Name A Common Eye Problem In German Shepherds

Last week, I had the privilege of meeting Bruno, a six week old German Shepherd.  With his adorable face and sweet disposition, this little guy had me wrapped around his paw in an instant.  What a charmer!  I can’t wait to watch him grow into those paws.

German Shepherds are prone to an eye problem that usually develops between three and eight years of age.  The disease causes a fleshy-like material to grow over the cornea obstructing vision.  Name this disease.

Diagnosis:  Pannus

Pannus is an autoimmune disease found in many breeds.  Pink, granulation tissue spreads over the eye in response to antigens in the environment.  Although German Shepherds seem to be predisposed to this condition, no specific inheritance pattern has been established so genetic testing is unavailable.  If diagnosed early, the condition can be controlled with topical steroid therapy.  The tissue slowly disappears leaving a clear cornea behind.  In chronic cases, corneal scaring can impact vision. 

Unfortunately, pannus usually requires lifelong therapy to control it.  I had one patient with pannus that resolved when the dog moved with her family from Minnesota to Florida.   

As you can see from the photo, Bruno has beautiful clear brown eyes.  He was rewarded for his good behavior with a chew that kept him busy for the entire visit. 

Join Me At The Police K-9 Trials On April 10th

This weekend is the 9th annual “Desert Dog” Regional Police K-9 Trials in Scottsdale, Arizona.  If you haven’t been to a trial before, I highly recommend it.  Watching these amazing canine athletes at work with their handlers is fascinating.  Teams from all over the southwest will be competing in building searches, an obstacle course, obedience, bite work and narcotic/explosives detection.  I will be there on Sunday cheering on Kaos and Athos from Scottsdale Healthcare Security and their handlers, Lance and Gabe.    

The action starts at 9am at Scottsdale Stadium.  A one dollar per person gate donation is required.  Bring your family and friends for a day full of fun.  More information is available at     

You Make The Diagnosis: Name This Bald Breed Of Dog

Pictured below are two adoreable puppies who belong to a rare breed of dogs.  The puppies were born pink like pigs.  Their color develops slowly over their first year of life.  Name this bald breed of dog.

Diagnosis:  Mexican Hairless Dog

The Mexican Hairless breed of dog is a popular pet thorought Central and South America.  They usually weigh between twenty and thirty pounds at maturity which makes this breed one of the largest in the toy category.  I think of them as a Chihuahua on steroids.  They are devoted to their immediate family but not overly friendly with strangers.  Aren’t these two cute!