You Make The Diagnosis: Irregular Dermal Masses Found In Young Dogs

Pictured below is the mouth of a young dog who came into the clinic after her family found many growths in her mouth. The masses don’t seem to bother her although I have seen other dogs chew, rub or lick them. Besides the mouth, these kinds of growth may be found on the skin, genitals and paws. Study the picture then answer the following questions: What is the diagnosis? What causes this disease? What is the treatment?

Diagnosis: Viral Papillomatosis (Warts)

Viral papillomatosis or warts are found on the face and mouths of young dogs. The most common cause is canine papilloma virus-1. In older dogs, the warts can occur anywhere on the body. Dogs with immature or compromised immune systems become infected after direct contact (touching the warts) or indirect contact (touching objects that have been contaminated with the virus including bowls, bedding, toys and collars). In most cases, the warts will resolve on their own as the dog’s immune system matures.

For more information on canine viral papillomatosis, please seen my next blog.


-Brooks, Wendy. ‘Viral Papillomas of Dogs’, Published 09/10/2001, Revised: 06/09/2017.

You Make The Diagnosis: Name This Fecal Parasite Found in Dogs

Pictured below is a worm that was found crawling on the fur around the anus of a dog. The owner also found more of the worms on the dog’s stool. Study the picture of this flat, off-white colored worm and then answer the following questions: 1) What is the name of this parasite? 2) How is it differentiated from maggots? 3) How are animals infected?


Diagnosis: Tapeworm Taenia pisiformis and Dipylidium caninum are the most common types in dogs.

The worm or parasite in the picture is a tapeworm segment.  Unfortunately, no eggs were found during fecal analysis to determine the exact species. The segments of tapeworms are flat whereas maggots are round. Dried segments look like grains of rice. Tapeworms are made up of a head and neck followed by segments that make up the rest of the body. Each segment absorbs nutrients from the small intestine of the host. Segments at the end of the worm, break off and are discarded in the feces. Fleas eat the segments releasing the eggs inside. Dogs and cats are infected when they eat fleas.


-Rothrock, Kari. ‘Tapeworm Infestation’ Associate Database, VIN last updated 10/31/2012.

You Make The Diagnosis: Dental Fracture In Dogs

Pictured below is the right side of a dog’s mouth. During her annual exam, I noticed an abnormality on her upper fourth premolar called a slab fracture. Part of the enamel had fractured away from the rest of the tooth exposing the pulp cavity. The gingival tissue is still attached which holds it in place. With the  nerves exposed, the tooth was painful. It was also infected. The tooth was removed and now this dog is pain free. Please study the picture then answer the following questions: What is this fracture called?  What causes this type of injury to occur?

slab fracture

Diagnosis: Slab Fracture

Chewing on hard objects is the cause of these fractures. Here is a list of the most common objects that I have seen cause slab fractures in my canine patients:

  1. Cow hooves
  2. Ice cubes
  3. Bones
  4. Hard toys such as Nylabones. The gumabones from the same company are softer.
  5. Deer antlers

When deciding what to let your dog chew on, remember the advice given by the veterinary dentist, Dr. Steve Holmstrom. He discourages people from giving their dogs anything that doesn’t bend or break easily, anything that makes you grimace at the thought of chewing it yourself and anything that would hurt if it hit your kneecap.

You Make The Diagnosis: Thickened Black Skin in Dogs

The pictures below are of the abdominal skin of a dog. The skin is black in color and thickened like an elephant’s skin. Although this dog developed it on the abdomen, it can also commonly occur around the anus, underarms and muzzle. Look closely at the pictures and then answer the following questions: What is the term used to describe this kind of skin?  What causes this condition to occur?

photo 1 (8)

photo 2 (7)

Diagnosis: Lichenification

Lichenification is the term used to describe skin that looks like elephant skin. Here are the most common causes of this condition ranked in the order I see them:

  1. Food Allergy
  2. Pyoderma – Bacterial infection of the skin
  3. Malassezia Dermatitis – Fungal infection of the skin by an organism called Malassezia
  4. Atopic Dermatitis – This is often simply called allergies or environmental allergies
  5. Demodectic Mange – I have seen dogs with lichenification of all their skin from demodex mites
  6. Cutaneous Diroflilariasis
  7. Primary and Secondary Acanthosis Nigrans

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


You Make The Diagnosis: A Dog’s Teeth

Pictured below is the  X-ray of 3 year old, female Boxer taken during a dental evaluation. She sometimes bled from her gums, especially after chewing on hard objects. Her physical examination was normal except for one problem – she was missing two of her lower incisors. Incisors are the small teeth between the large fangs or canine teeth. Normally, there are 6 incisors on the upper and lower jaws – 3 on the rights side and 3 on the left. Her family thought they fell out awhile ago. Study the image and then answer the following questions: 1) Identify the abnormalities found on this film? 2) Did the missing incisors fall out? 3) How is this condition treated?

Bailey Pre-extraction snip

Diagnosis: Fractured Incisors. Crowns (Part of teeth above gum line) are missing but roots are still present.

Fractured teeth are a common problem in dogs and cats. The crown of the tooth breaks off leaving the root still embedded in the periosteal bone. Anesthesia and dental X-rays are required to find this condition. These painful roots would have been missed if an anesthesia free dental was performed.

Bailey Pre-extraction snip outlined roots

Broken roots are extremely painful. They were removed, the bone was curetted to get rid of infection and the gingiva was sutured closed. Note on the post op film that the entire root has been extracted. It is important to remove the entire root, tip and all, to prevent infection and pain.

Bialey Post-extraction snip

This dog did very well after her procedure. She is backing to eating well, without any blood.



You Make The Diagnosis: Coughing and Gagging Dog

Pictured below is the mouth of a friendly Labrador Retiever who needed dental X-rays and a periodontal treatment. When he was being intubated, examination of the back of his throat revealed an abnormal right tonsil. While I was examining the tonsil for a good place to biopsy it, I found the abnormal structure being held with the forceps. Examine the image and then answer the following questions: What is the mass? What caused it? How is this condition treated?

polyp tonsil

Diagnosis: Fibromucosal Polyp

The mass held with forceps is a fibromucosal polyp that was attached by a band of connective tissue to this dog’s right tonsil. Although this is a benign condition, it is very uncomfortable for the dog. This large mass hung in the back of his throat making it difficult to breathe and eat. He coughed, cleared his throat and gagged a lot. These polyps are caused by chronic irritation usually from trauma, an infection or a foreign body that is stuck in the tonsil. Surgical removal is curative as long as all of the polyp is removed. The good news for this dog is that the margins were clean. Here is the picture of his throat taken with the polyp removed. The tonsil is outlined in red and the sutured stalk is highlighted in yellow.

tonsil post op snip

You Make The Diagnosis: Dog Iris Abnormality

Pictured below is a closeup of the right eye of a dog. Look closely at the eye and then answer the following questions: Name the abnormal structure found in this eye. Will this condition cause problems? What breeds of dogs are most commonly affected?

Uveal Cyst

Diagnosis: Iridociliary (Uveal) Cyst

Iridociliary cysts are pigmented transparent structures which occur in dogs, cats and horses. The cysts can be attached to the iris as in this patient or free floating. Most are benign and require no specific therapy. On rare occasions, I have seen the cysts grow large enough to block vision. I have also had one patient develop so many cysts that they caused glaucoma (increased ocular pressure). In dogs, the condition is most often seen in Boston terriers, Golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers. They are thought to be caused by trauma or damage to the uveal tract. I have also seen them in pups with congenital cysts.

Uveal cyst red highlight



-Grey, Heather. ‘Iridociliary Cysts’ Associate Database, VIN last updated 10/22/2006.

You Make The Diagnosis: Cat Lower Jaw Problem

When I perform a physical examination on a cat, I try to open their mouth to check their teeth. I say ‘try’ because some cats absolutely refuse to give me a look inside. I hold the upper jaw (maxilla) with one hand and then gently apply pressure to the lower jaw (mandible) to open the mouth. When I did this to the cat in the video, I was in for a surprise. Examine the x-ray then the video clip by clicking below and make the diagnosis.

Video Clip of Cat Jaw

Fractured Jaw x-ray

Diagnosis: Mandibular Symphyseal Fracture

Mandibular symphyseal fractures are the most common type of jaw fracture I see in practice. Usually, the owner does not know that their cat has a fracture. I find it when I open the mouth and the two canine teeth move independent of each other.

Causes of this fracture include trauma from hitting the lower jaw when jumping down from high places or being attacked by another animal. It may also happen when the lower incisors are extracted. Another cause is failure of the growth plate between the right and left mandible to fuse when a kitten enters adulthood. The fracture is highlighted in yellow.

Fractured Jaw x-ray highlight