You Make The Diagnosis: Common Borzoi Health Problems

The Borzoi breed of dogs came from Russia where they were used to hunt wolves. Borzoi have long thin bodies that are built for speed. I think of them as Greyhounds with long hair. They are part of the sighthound group which includes Afghan hounds, Basenji, Ibizan hound, Irish Wolfhound, Pharaoh hound, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound and whippets as well as greyhounds.

Pictured below is a beautiful girl named Shoshone. Like most Borzoi, she is a quiet girl who rarely barks. She enjoys a morning run with the other dogs in her family, checking on the horses and long naps on her well-cushioned bed. Although she is healthy, Borzoi are prone to several health problems. Name the disease. (HINT: Most of these are the same problems found in other sighthounds.)



  1. Hypothyroidism caused by either autoimmune thyroiditis or idiopathic. Since sighthounds generally have lower levels of T4 and free T4, correctly making this diagnosis can be difficult. Testing for TgAA is used to look for dogs who are genetic carriers of this disease.
  2. Ophthalmic Disease including microphthalmia (small eyes) and chorioretinal disease. Although retinal degeneration is seen in Borzoi, it is under debate because the degeneration is different than what is commonly observed in other breeds.
  3. Cancer including hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma and osteosarcoma. In my experience, osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is more common in large and giant breeds of dogs. The most common places I see it are on the femoral and humeral heads.
  4. Bloat which is a life-threatening condition where the stomach fills up with gas. Although it can occur in any breed of dog, it is far more common in large, deep chested dogs.
  5. Heart disease including cardiomyopathy as well as valve disease.
  6. Allergies especially in the white coated dogs.
  7. Dysplasia of the hip and elbow.
  8. Degenerative myelopathy which is a progressive disease that results in paralysis.

Sources:                                                 -www.borzoiclubofamerica/org


You Make The Diagnosis: Abnormal Bowel Function In Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Pictured below is an X-ray of a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. The dog’s belly was distended and painful. This patient was also having problems walking.  The dog had been normal up until a few days ago. Study the film and then answer the following questions: 1) What is the gastrointestinal condition seen in this X-ray? 2) Does the dog have any orthopedic or neurological conditions? 3) What sex is this dog? 4) Does this dog suffer from anorexia?

Whidby ConstipationIVD Xray before

Whidby ConstipationIVD Xray before annotated


  1. Constipation – The colon is distended with feces. It is so full that gas is accumulating in the small bowel causing bloating. (Marked with yellow lines that extend from side to side.)
  2. Intervertebral Disc Disease – Look closely at the vertebra between the ribs and pelvis. The disc spaces between lumbar vertebra 2-3, 3-4 and 4-5 are narrowed which indicates a disc problem. (The disc space marked with a red circle is L3-4.  L2-3 is to the left of the circle and L4-5 is the the right.)
  3. Bridging Spondylosis – On the bottom of the 3rd and 4th lumbar vertebra, an abnormal outgrowth of bone is forming. The bone is trying to bridge the gap between the two vertebrae to stabilize the joint. (Marked with the red circle.)
  4. Male – Dogs have a bone in their penis that shows up on X-rays. Look at the right side of the X-ray just in front of the femur to see a long narrow bone lying under the abdominal wall. (Marked with a blue box.)
  5. This dog has a great appetite. His stomach is full of food with a little gas. (Marked with white star.)

Treatment of this dog started with an injection of an opioid to relieve pain and an enema to evacuate the colon. After two enemas, the bloating and feces were gone. Although there was still gas in the intestines, the little guy felt so much better. I think his constipation occurred because his disc disease was either making it too painful to defecate and/or it was interfering with nerve function in the colon. He was discharged with medication to soften his stools as well as medication for his back.

Here is the X-ray taken after the enema. Now his intestines are filled with gas which looks black on X-rays.

Whidby Constipation IVD Xray After