Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Warm weather tips for Frenchies

Friday, June 4th, 2010

One of the first things any prospective Frenchie owner needs to know is that they do NOT do well in extreme temperatures – especially heat!  Frenchies are a brachycephalic breed, meaning  they have been bred to have a normal lower jaw proportional to their body size, but they have a compressed upper jaw. While these smooshy faces are adorable, their health has been compromised to an extent to achieve their distinctive look.  Have a look at the comparison between the skull of a normal snouted dog and a brachy dog.

dog skull regular snout

dog skull brachy


The upper airways of the brachycephalic dog compromises their ability to easily take in air. Under normal conditions the compromise is not great enough to cause a problem.  It is vitally important than an owner not to let the dog become grossly overweight or get too hot in the summer months. 

Dog-Heat-StrokeThe brachycephalic dog is an inefficient panter and therefore often a victim of heat stress.  A dog with a more conventional face and throat is able to pass air quickly over the tongue through panting. When a dog pants, saliva evaporates from the tongue as air is passed across and the blood circulating through the tongue is efficiently cooled and circulated back to the rest of the body.

In a brachy pup, so much extra work is required to move the same amount of air that the airways become inflamed and swollen. This leads to a more severe obstruction, distress, and further over-heating. 

cooling vestOne thing you can do to help your pup stay cool in the summer months is invest in a cooling jacket.  This is basically like wearing an ice pak as they play outdoors.  Two come to mind if you are willing to pay the $30-$50 for them -  Chillybuddy cooling jacket and  Cool K-9 Evaporative Cooling Vest

cooling bandana


Something is better than nothing, so for $6-$10 you can purchase a cooling bandana.  Obviously this will not provide the same relief and protection from the heat, but at least it is something.  With the bandana, you will need to be vigiliant in keeping it cool and providing an extra way for your dog to cool off.  Our girls like a plastic kids waiding pool.

Frenchies love to run and play and clown around.  They do not know when to stop to catch their breath.  It is our responsibility as their owners to make sure they are protected.

heat stroke

Health update for June

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

One of the things we learned through our ongoing experience with UC Davis Vet Hospital is that Zoey, and possibly Abby, have some sort of liver issue.  You would never know it to look at them, but the lab results showed a slightly elevated liver value in Abby and a significantly elevated value in Zozo.

liver treats dogI freely admit that I don’t know much about the liver – in humans and especially in dogs.  When someone mentions liver in relation to a dog, I associate the freeze dried liver treats that give them the trots. 

liver colored dogThere are also liver colored coats on dogs, but I typically do not like them because the membranes are often pink.  My girls need black eyeliner around their eyes rather than pink.  Plus the pink burns more easily in the sun.

In my web searching, I found the following educational information which I offer for those interested…

Elevated Liver Function in Dogs

The liver works to convert substances in the body to particles it can use. When a dog’s liver is malfunctioning, it will cause several symptoms. These symptoms can be mild, masking the liver dysfunction in some instances. When the liver is malfunctioning, the systemic liver values will change. Testing for these values is imperative to the assessment of liver function. Treatment is available and successful in many cases. The causes of liver problems are varied, but will result in similar symptoms.

dog organ chart

The Liver

liver organ in dogThe liver’s function is to metabolize or break down foods into smaller particles that cells can absorb and use. Certain substances, like fat and protein, are harder for the liver to breakdown. The liver also breaks down medications, like antibiotics or pain killers. These substances can be taxing on the liver, though, especially with chronic use.


Elevated Function

One of the main determinants of liver function is to measure the systemic levels of the enzymes the liver produces. When the liver is malfunctioning, these enzymes are most often elevated. The degree of elevation will tell the vet how sick the dog is and the best course of treatment. The elevated liver enzymes can also indicate when more invasive testing, like a liver biopsy, may be in order. Testing for the level of liver enzymes is also an indicator of how well the dog is responding to treatment of the liver.


magnifying glass smallThere are two principle reasons for abnormal liver function in the dog. The first is liver disease or a problem with the liver function itself. The other is damage to the liver from medications or toxins. Certain viral and bacterial diseases can cause the liver to function incorrectly. Occasionally, the illness will leave permanent damage, forever impairing the liver’s ability to function properly. In the case of medication-induced liver issues, often stopping the medication will result in it returning to normal. In the case of toxins or accidental poisoning, supportive care, like hospitalization and intravenous fluids, may be required.


Symptoms of a dog with liver issues are jaundice, fever, weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia. The malfunctioning liver will often produce excess bile that causes nausea and even vomiting. Over a longer period of time, this will result in weight loss. Jaundice is a yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes. It is the result of an increase in bilirubin, a liver enzyme, in the extracellular fluid. Jaundice is typically present with severe liver dysfunction, so if noted, the dog should be seen by a vet immediately. 


So there you have it – Liver 101.  We have to wait a month or so for our third set of liver labs to see if the value is coming down.  It could have been from something they ate (hopefully) or it could be congenital.  Keep a good thought for us please…