Bracco Italiano Club

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Health

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Eyes

 

Entropion

 

Entropion describes a condition where the eyelid "rolls in" on itself. It can affect one or both eyes, and the lower and/or upper eyelids.  Entropion can occur as a result of structural abnormalities of the eyelids, or secondary to other causes such as painful eye condtions (e.g. conjunctivitis).

Facial shape is the primary genetic cause of entropion. In short-nosed, brachycephalic breeds of dogs there is more tension on the ligaments of the inner eye than would normally be seen. This, along with the conformation (shape) of their nose and face can lead to both the top and bottom eyelids rolling inward toward the eyeball. Giant breeds have the opposite problem. They tend to have excess slack in the ligaments around the outer corners of their eyes. This permits the outer edges of the eyelids to fold inward.

Repeated bouts of eye infections (conjunctivitis) can cause spastic entropion, which can lead to functional entropion. This can also be caused by other types of eye irritants and is generally the case in breeds that do not normally exhibit entropion. Lastly, inflammation of the chewing muscles or severe weight loss can lead to loss of fat and muscle around the eye socket, which may be another cause for entropion.

Entropion can cause severe irritation and injury to the eye -- eyelashes and hair on the eyelids constantly rubbing on the surface of the eye are irritating and can cause damage to the cornea. Left untreated, entropion can eventually leading to scarring of the cornea and loss of vision.

 

Early or mild cases may cause eye discharge or excess tear production and blinking (called blepharospasm), squinting, and painful eyes (manifested by rubbing of the eyes). More severe or chronic cases can produce symptoms of conjunctivitis, keratitis, and corneal ulceration as well.

 

Diagnosis is usually straightforward, as the inward turning of the eyelid is usually apparent on exam. Further tests may be done to check that the inward rolling is not secondary to eye pain, and to check for injury to the cornea.

Treatment

Entropion due to structural abnormalities usually requires surgery to correct the problem. Eye ointment is often prescribed prior to surgery to treat irritation or damage caused by the entropion. In young animals, sutures (stitches) can be used to temporarily tack the eyelids in the "unrolled" position. In mild cases the temporary tacking may be sufficient, but surgery is often required. Tacking may need to be repeated to prevent irritation to the eye until corrective surgery is performed. Corrective surgery to reshape the eyelids is usually performed when the animal is more mature. Maturation of the involved structures reduces the chances of over- or under-correcting the condition.

In cases that occur secondary to pain from chronic conjunctivitis or other eye conditions, treating the underlying problem may resolve the entropion and should be attempted before surgical correction.

There are known cases of entropian in the Bracco Italiano, but it should ne noted that these cases can be developmental and surgery should not be rushed into.

 

Ectropion

 

Ectropion is an outward rolling or sagging of the eyelid. It can be seen in any breed, but some breeds are predisposed.

Ectropion can occur simultaneously with entropion on different sections of the eyelid, especially in some giant breed dogs. The sagging appearance of the lower eyelid is typical for ectropion and readily seen upon examination.

In contrast with entropion, where the eyelids roll in, ectropion rarely leads to serious issues. However, the sagging of the eyelid leaves the lining of the eye susceptible to irritants and infections. Discharge from the eye is commonly seen, and dogs with ectropion may suffer repeated bouts of conjunctivitus and may also develop dry eye.

Treatment

Surgery can be done to correct ectropion by "tightening up" the eyelid. Surgery is best done once the dog has reached a mature size. Eye ointments can be used to treat infections and conjunctivitis as needed in the meantime. In very mild cases, where irritation and conjunctivitis are intermittent, medical management of they symptoms may be all that is necessary, rather than surgical correction. Your vet can help you decide what treatment option is best for your pet.

 

Cherry Eye

 

Cherry eye is a disorder in which a tear gland that is normally positioned at the base of the third eyelid protrudes and swells, appearing as a lump in the inner corner of the eye. Other terms for cherry eye include prolapse of the gland of the third eyelid or prolapsed nictitans gland. While cherry eye is not thought to be painful, the exposed tear gland may become increasingly irritated and inflamed if left exposed for too long.  Don’t delay making an appointment with your vet if your dog has signs of cherry eye:

 

• Protruding mass at the edge of the third eyelid (at the inner corner of the eye).

• Mass may be pink or red.

• May come and go at first, though usually persists eventually.

• May be accompanied by discharge from the eye.

• May occur in one eye but often in both (not necessarily at the same time).

 

Typically the history and physical examination is sufficient to make a diagnosis. In older dogs further tests may be run to make sure the mass is not a tumor.

Treatment

The recommended treatment is surgery to return the gland to its proper position and stitch it in place. Removal of the gland should be avoided, as the gland makes a significant contribution to tear production, and its removal increases susceptibility to dry eye (which can have serious consequences).   Medication alone is not considered an effective treatment for cherry

eye.

 

Ears

 

Ears should be checked regularly and if necessary cleaned with a propriotary ear cleanser.

 

Hips

 

Like most large breeds, the Bracco Italiano can suffer hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can cause extreme lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. It is a genetic (polygenic) trait that is affected by environmental factors. It can be found in many dog breeds, particularly the larger breeds.

The British Veterinary Association / Kennel Club hip scoring scheme was instituted in 1984. Under the scoring scheme, nine features of each hip are assessed on the x-ray with points being given for undesirable features (and zero being the score for a perfect example of that feature). The individual scores are added to give a total score for each hip and then a total score for the dog. For each hip the scores may range from 0-53 and for a given dog from 0 - 106.

 

Currently the Bracco Italiano has hip scores ranging between 4 and 79 with the current breed mean score being 15.

 

 

Elbows

 

Three bones make up the joint of a dog's elbow: the radius, the ulna, and the humerus. These three bones are supposed to grow together and fit perfectly to form the elbow joint.

There are four developmental problems that can occur in a dog's elbow joint:

•         Ununited anconeal process (UAP)

Ununited anconeal process describes a condition in which the bony protuberance within the elbow becomes detached from the ulna and causes joint irritation and degeneration.

•         Fragmented coronoid process (FCP)

An FCP describes a small piece of ulna bone that breaks off inside the elbow joint. This little piece of loose bone irritates the lining of the joint and wears away the cartilage of the humerus.

•         Osteochrondrosis dissecans (OCD)

Osteochondritis dessicans is a condition in which a piece of cartilage comes loose or pulls away completely from the surface of the joint, resulting in inflammation and pain. After the inflammation or "itis" is gone, the condition is called osteochrondrosis dessicans.

•         "Elbow incongruency" is a term used to describe imperfect conformation of the joint, which causes the cartilage to wear down quickly

There is a current BVA/KV scoring scheme for elbow dysplasia (ED) which was launched in 1998.   Both elbows are graded (between 0-3), but only the higher grade is used as an overall elbow grade for the dog. The lower the grade the better, with the advice given to breeders is to ideally breed from dogs which have an elbow grade of 0.

 

Elbow Dysplasia 

It appears that this could be linked to the 'bendy legs' issue that has been around in the breed for several years. Below is a short description of the form of dysplasia being treated at the moment.

There are 4 types of disease associated with abnormal development of the elbow joint in puppies :-

 

1. Fragmented medial coronoid process.

2. OCD of the medial humeral condyle.

3. Ununited anconeal process.

4. Incongruity of the elbow joint.

 

Ununited Anconeal Process

UAP is commonly referred to as elbow dysplasia or non fusion of the elbow joint. It is a condition caused by a faulty union of the anconeal process (one of the elbow bones) with the ulna.

The loose fragment of bone sets up an irritation in the elbow joint. This first becomes noticeable at about 5 - 6 months of age. The dog will display intermittent lameness and you will notice a thickening on the outside of one or both elbow joints and the feet and pasterns will turn outwards.

This condition can only be diagnosed by an x-ray being taken of the elbow joint. The most effective treatment is surgical removal of the loose piece of bone, although some specialists now prefer to screw the loose piece of bone into place to help normal bone growth.

The cause of elbow dysplasia is not fully understood. Certainly there is a complex genetic basis and it is likely that several different genes are involved. It is also likely that environmental factors (exercise, growth rate, nutrition) play a role.

 

 

Bendy Legs

 

Occasionally the front legs of puppies bow outwards, to varying degrees, this is not thought to be an inherited condition rather a trait found in Bracchi. Treated correctly the legs will, in most incidences, correct themselves. It is felt that correct feeding and restricted exercise will help to prevent the problem. The Bracco is a very fast growing breed and care needs to be taken not to put excessive strain on the body during this time.

 

Domitor - Sensitivity to Anaesthesia

 

There have been several cases reported of Bracchi that are sensitive to the drug Domitor and its newer replacement Dexdomitor. Sadly some Bracchi have died following the use of Domitor, we are not aware of any fatalities with the use of Dexdomitor. Although the drug Domitor is not so widely used now it is still used in some practices the UK and your Vet should be notified of the breeds sensitivity to these drugs before any treatment involving anaesthesia.

 

Bracchi do seem to be sensitive to sedation in general and should be monitored more carefully during procedures and the recovery period.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Below is a link to a survey being run by SABI (the Italian Bracco Italiano club) in conjunction with  Department of Veterinary Science at Pisa University. The survey is on Bracco Italiano behaviour. Thank you.   Link to survey