ID MyHorse

Does Your Dog Have GERD?

I just completed four days of veterinary academia. My mind cannot absorb another fact. I attended workshops on GI issues, skin issues, neurological evaluations and diseases, and behavior. I listened to the latest and greatest news about nasty ticks and their migrations. Interestingly enough, the toxicology presenter who discussed tick-borne diseases is actively working with a company to create a better tick-repellent product for horses.

I love neurology. In fact, I really enjoy nearly everything related to internal medicine. I don’t get too excited about surgery or dentistry. After the neurology lecture, I approached the presenter and showed her the video of my beloved Reilly last summer. I lost Reilly to a probable brain tumor. Although Reilly’s gait had been deteriorating for quite some time, I assumed it had to do with her arthritic joints. But over a relatively short period of time, her gait worsened and I was forced to face facts. The neurologist concurred with a brain tumor diagnosis. I wrote about Reilly in several blogs last summer. In the neurology lecture, we saw videos of multiple types of neurological disorders and diseases. Here is a video I took of her at the clinic as her gait worsened.

Did you know that dogs can suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux, or GERD? I suffered from GERD for many years until I had a stomach surgery to address the issue. It is a relatively new concept that dogs can also experience reflux. It is primarily a problem in Brachycephalic breeds. Brachycephalic refers to all dogs with a skull shape that manifests a “squished” nose! (Collie types and dogs with long noses are dolichocephalic, and the in-betweens are mesocephalic.) Brachycephalic dogs often exhibit breathing difficulties and upper airway obstruction. When they labor to breathe, they affect the mechanics of swallowing. Acid refluxes back into their esophagus and creates inflammation and pain, just as it does in people. We use the same drugs to treat dogs that physicians prescribe for people.

Another lecture that drove a point home was about heartworm disease. Of my 5 dogs, 4 are rescued. Two of those dogs had heartworm disease when they were rescued but were successfully treated. However, I learned that even before heartworms can be detected in the dog, they have caused significant damage to the heart. Additionally, pieces of dead worms can be found in the heart and lungs of dogs years after they have been successfully treated. Untreated dogs will usually progress to clinical signs of heart disease. I wanted to believe that dogs treated early and effectively would not suffer serious consequences from their infection, but the slides and the presentation gave me pause. It does make me wonder if Finn or Mica will ever have problems because of their once-positive status. The bottom line is make sure your dog never gets heartworms at all!

After four long days of class, I enjoyed a ride on the Finnster. A friend often rides with me and she keeps Kadeen in shape when Alan is at work. We did about 10 miles, and only walked. I had no brain power for fighting him. At one point, I did ask him to be the leader and he balked. He got the popper to the posterior, to which he responded with a buck… but he did move forward! He’s being consistently uncooperative when it comes to saddling him, so between work days this week we are going to address that. We’ll start with lessons in ground tying and standing still, and move on to standing quietly when saddled. Never a dull moment with the Finnster.

We are having gorgeous weather in Kansas. I hope you are too, and perhaps enjoying some time with your critters. Ride safely!

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