Category Archives: Decatur Ga Vet

5 Signs of Dog Dementia

by Katherine Tolford


While your beloved senior dog can’t really forget where he put his car keys, it turns out that he is capable of experiencing “senior moments.” If your dog forgets the route on your daily walk or if he’s not enjoying the things he once did, like chasing after his favorite toy or greeting you at the door, he could be suffering from canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD), or the doggy version of Alzheimer’s.


Canine cognitive dysfunction can occur for a number of reasons, like an accumulation of abnormal proteins in the brain. This creates a build-up of plaque, which eventually damages nerves and results in the loss of brain function, which can affect your dog’s memory, motor functions and learned behaviors.


Most dogs, regardless of breed, experience some form of CCD as they age. In a study conducted by the Behavior Clinic at the University of California at Davis, researchers found that 28 percent of dogs aged 11-12 years, and 68 percent of dogs aged 15-16 years, showed one or more signs of cognitive impairment.


Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a board-certified veterinary behaviorist, says a lot of dog owners aren’t aware that their dogs can suffer from CCD until they take them to the vet for what they think are physical or behavioral problems.


“The first thing you should do is to talk to your vet to make sure that it’s cognitive dysfunction and not something else. It comes on gradually and owners don’t always notice things,” says Dr. Beaver.


“What did your dog stop doing that he used to do? Is he not chasing his ball because he has arthritis? Or is it that he doesn’t care anymore? It’s important to differentiate between physical and mental causes.”


Some symptoms of CCD can overlap with other age related conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and kidney issues, as well as hearing and sight loss. Depending on your dog’s symptoms your vet may propose x-rays, blood tests, urinalysis, or other diagnostic tests.


Dr. Denise Petryk, a former emergency room vet who now works with Trupanion pet insurance, says the widely accepted DISHA acronym can help dog owners characterize the most distinct signs and changes associated with CCD.


The term DISHA refers to the symptoms Disorientation, [altered] Interactions with their family members or other pets, Sleep-wake cycle changes, House soiling, and Activity level changes. 


“It gives us the ability to check against a list of things to show that something else isn’t going on. If your dog has one of the symptoms or some combination then we’re more likely to call it cognitive dysfunction.”


Dr. Beaver says to keep in mind that there isn’t necessarily a progression to the symptoms your dog may be experiencing.


“The more signs and frequency we see, the greater significance of the problem. Each sign or symptom doesn’t really signify a particular phase,” she says.


Here’s the DISHA list of possible symptoms that may demonstrate cognitive dysfunction in dogs:


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An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


A medical condition in which the joints become inflamed and causes a great deal of pain.

Failure to Thrive in Collie Dogs

Cyclic Hematopoiesis in Dogs


Cyclic hematopoiesis (formation of blood cells) in color-dilute gray collie pups is characterized by frequent episodes of infection with failure to thrive and early death. Clinically, the pups may appear normal for the first 4–6 weeks and then develop diarrhea, conjunctivitis, gingivitis, pneumonia, skin infections, carpal joint pain, and fever. A frequent cause of death of the pups is intussusception (blockage) of the small intestine.


Episodes of illness, varying from inactivity accompanied by fever, to life-threatening infection, repeat at 11- to 14-day intervals. The gray pups are usually smaller than their litter mates at birth, weak, and often pushed aside by the bitch.


Cyclic hematopoiesis has been observed in many collie bloodlines in the U.S. and in other countries; however, experienced collie breeders do not attempt to raise the affected pups and frequently will not acknowledge the presence of the responsible gene in their bloodline. As a result, gray collie pups are not commonly observed.


Cyclic hematopoiesis in the collie breed is present only in the color-dilute pups. The color dilution and bone marrow disorder are inherited as an autosomal recessive trait (presumably the same gene). The bone marrow disorder and color dilution was present in pups resulting from a collie/beagle cross and could occur in any mongrel with collie bloodlines in both parents, if both parents had the recessive gene. Clinical signs occur as early as 1–2 weeks of age and are always apparent by 4–6 weeks of age.


An apparently similar disease was reported in normal-colored pups in two Border collie litters in the UK. Single cases of cyclic hematopoiesis have been reported in Pomeranians and cocker spaniels; the disease is not well characterized in these breeds.


Symptoms and Types


  • Coat color is diluted gray
  • Smaller and weaker than litter mates
  • Weakness
  • Failure to thrive
  • Conjunctivitis, may be symptomized by watery eyes, crusted discharge on eyes
  • Gingivitis, symptomized by reddened and/or swollen gums
  • Diarrhea
  • Pneumonia
  • Skin infections
  • Carpal joint pain, observed during the initial recovery phase of the disease cycle
  • Fever




This cellular disease is inherited genetically.





You will need to provide a thorough history of your puppy’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Any details that you can provide about the pregnancy, birth, and infancy stages will be helpful for your veterinarian in determining the appropriate course of action. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on the puppy, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel, and a urinalysis.


If the complete blood count shows an abnormally low number of neutrophils at two week intervals, and the collie shows expression of genes for a dilute coat color along with a nasal epithelial color dilution, this is strong support for a diagnosis of cyclic hematopoiesis.


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The term for an animal of mixed breed


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


A medical condition in which the gums become inflamed


A type of toxin that is produced within a living thing and is released upon destruction of that living thing, usually along with its disintegration or decomposition


The term referring to the various lines of breeding within the family.


A female dog that has not been spayed.


Inducing death on an animal or putting them to sleep

Failure to Absorb Vitamin B12 in Dogs

Cobalamin Malabsorption


Cobalamin malabsorption refers to a genetic abnormality by which the vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, fails to be absorbed from the intestine. This condition occurs secondary to the absence of a specific binding receptor in the lower intestine (the ileum) for intrinsic factor-cobalamin complex (IF-cbl). This is a rare disease that tends to affect Giant Schnauzers, Border Collies, and Beagles. In the Giant Schnauzer, it is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive trait. Symptoms generally appear at 6 to 12 weeks of age in Giant Schnauzers, and around four to six months in Border Collies.


Symptoms and Types


  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Failure to gain weight




The cause of this disease is genetic inheritance.




Your veterinarian will perform a thorough physical exam on your pet, with a complete blood profile, including a chemical blood profile, a complete blood count, and a urinalysis. The blood serum will be examined for cobalamin concentration levels; low levels would be indicative of an absorption failure. The serum check will also give some information on any secondary conditions affecting the body by how high the levels of white blood cells are in the blood serum. Urinalysis may return higher than normal levels of white blood cells as well. You will need to provide a thorough history of your pet’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms, including any genetic information you have.


Your veterinarian may find chronic non-regenerative anemia, where the body does not respond to a deficiency of red blood cells, or mild to severe neutropenia, where the body is suffering from an abnormally low amount of white blood cell neutrophils.


Further tests may show that the failure of cobalamin to absorb is related to other congenital metabolic diseases, or to a parasite in the gastrointestinal tract.



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A decrease in the number of neutrophilic leukocytes in an animal’s blood


An in-depth examination of the properties of urine; used to determine the presence or absence of illness


The impairment of nutrient intake into the intestines


The term for the last part of the small intestine, between the jejunum and the large intestine.


The digestive tract containing the stomach and intestine


A condition of the blood in which normal red blood cell counts or hemoglobin are lacking.


Transmitting genes from parent to child

Eyelid Protrusion (‘Cherry Eye’) in Dogs

Prolapsed Gland of the Third Eyelid in Dogs


Prolapsed gland of the eyelid refers to a pink mass protruding from the animal’s eyelid; it is also called a “cherry eye.” Normally, the gland development is anchored by an attachment made up of fibrous material.


This medical condition occurs in both dogs and cats, although it typically affects younger animals. If you would like to learn how this disease affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.


Symptoms and Types


The most common sign of “cherry eye” is an oval mass protruding from the dogs’s third eyelid. It can occur in one or both eyes, and may be accompanied by swelling and irritation.




“Cherry eye” is most commonly associated with a congenital weakness of the gland’s attachment in the dog’s eye. However, it is not known whether the condition is inherited.


While this medical condition can occur in any breed, it is more common in Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, Beagles, Bloodhounds, Lhasa Apsos, and Shih Tzus.




The veterinarian will review the mass in the dog’s third eyelid and determine if there is an underlying cause for the condition. The diagnosis of the prolapsed gland could be scrolled or everted cartilage in the third eyelid, abnormal cells in the third eye, or a prolapse of fat in the dog’s eye.



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The falling forward of something, usually visceral


Turned inside out

Eyelash Disorders in Dogs

Trichiasis, Distichiasis, and Ectopic Cilia in Dogs


Trichiasis, distichiasis, and ectopic cilia are eyelash disorders that are found in dogs. Trichiasis is in-growth of the eyelashes; distichiasis is an eyelash that grows from an abnormal spot on the eyelid; and ectopic cilia are single or multiple hairs that grow through the inside of the eyelid. In all of these conditions, the eyelash hair can come into contact with and damage the cornea or conjunctiva of the eye.


These conditions are commonly seen in young dogs but dogs of any age or breed may be affected. However, trichiasis does tend to appear more frequently in Pekingese, English cocker spaniel, pugs, and bulldogs; distichiasis is common in cocker spaniels, miniature long haired dachshunds, English bulldogs, golden retrievers, toy and miniature poodles, Shetland sheepdogs and Pekingese; and ectopic cilia are more commonly found in dachshunds, lhasa apsos, shih tzus, boxers, golden retrievers, and Shetland sheepdogs.


Symptoms and Types 



  • Change in pigmentation of the iris (colored portion of the eye)
  • Abnormal ticking or twitching of the eyelid (blepharospasm)
  • Overflow of tears (epiphora)
  • Swelling of eyes



  • Mostly no symptoms can be seen
  • Stiff cilia (eyelash)
  • Pawing at eye
  • Abnormal tick or twitch of eyelid (blepharospasm)
  • Overflow of tears (epiphora)
  • Increased blood vessels in the cornea
  • Change in iris pigmentation
  • Corneal ulcers


Ectopic cilia

  • Eye pain
  • Severe abnormal ticking or twitching of the eyelid (blepharospasm)
  • Overflow of tears (epiphora)




  • Facial conformation and breed predisposition
  • Unknown etiology in many cats






Your veterinarian will carefully inspect the eye structures and eyelashes to discern exactly which eyelash disorder your dog has. The diagnosis is usually straightforward in most cases. Your veterinarian will perform a Schirmer tear test to measure tear production and evaluate whether the affected eye is producing enough tears to keep it moist, and a fluorescein stain over the surface of the eye to make corneal ulcers visible. Determination of intraocular (within the eye) pressure is also an important test in evaluating the eye. This test will allow your veterinarian to evaluate the level of fluid pressure inside the eye. More specific testing may be performed to evaluate both the superficial and deep structures of eye.


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Found inside the eye


The colored layer around the pupil


The study of the various causes of disease


The excessive production of tears


A condition in which there are two rows of lashes in place of one


A condition of an animal involving involuntary spasms of the eyelid.

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North Dekalb Veterinary Clinic


2485 Lawrenceville Hwy
Decatur, GA 30033


(404) 321-7756


(404) 321-7757

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Monday: 8am - 6pm
Tuesday: 8am - 6pm
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