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
If you have experienced any health problems with your Bracco Italiano including skin conditions, please can we ask that complete this health form.
Amyloidosis and Kidney issues.
What do we know about amyloidosis in the Bracco Italiano?
Amyloidosis is most often diagnosed in young to middle aged Bracchi Italiani. It has been diagnosed in dogs as young as 13 months of age, and as old as 10 years. Most commonly, it is diagnosed around 5 years of age. The range in age may be due to variability in how the disease is inherited or how it progresses. Protein loss in the urine, improperly concentrated urine, or increased kidney values on bloodwork in a young to middle-aged Bracco would be concerning
for hereditary kidney disease.
We have not seen any increased risk by sex or color pattern (orange-white and brown-white appear equally affected). It has been diagnosed in many different breeding lines from many countries. We know that it is passed from generation to generation and runs in family lines, although we have not (yet) identified a genetic marker or determined how it is inherited. Due to the complexity of the underlying disease and the small gene pool of the Bracco Italiano, I do
not feel that simple pedigree analysis will be adequate to evaluate inheritance.
The presenting symptoms are highly variable. The most common presenting symptom is loss of appetite. Some dogs have increased thirst/urination and weight loss but not all. Seemingly unrelated symptoms (such as joint pain, coughing, and eyelid swelling) have been seen in dogs diagnosed with amyloidosis. This proves the importance of a thorough diagnostic investigation, including urinalysis, for any sick Bracco Italiano.
Most Bracchi Italiani with amyloidosis are proteinuric (have protein loss in the urine). The proteinuria can be very severe. Some complications seen with severe proteinuria include decreased blood protein levels (low albumin, which can lead to edema of the limbs and face, and fluid build up in the abdomen or chest) and an increased risk of abnormal blood clots (thromboembolism, which can affect the lungs, brain, heart, or kidney and result in respiratory
distress or sudden death). A couple of dogs have had joint inflammation associated with their disease, similar to Shar Pei Fever (swollen hock syndrome).
Many dogs have a decreased blood albumin level. This could be related to underlying inflammation and/or protein loss in the urine. Some dogs may have increased white blood cell counts or anemia. Abdominal ultrasound is often largely unremarkable, although the kidneys may show a mild loss of their normal layering (called decreased corticomedullary distinction).
As stated above, most Bracchi have amyloid deposition in the glomerulus of the kidney. The tubules are usually also affected, either directly by amyloid deposition (less common) or secondary inflammation (more common). Many dogs have chronic kidney disease changes when their kidney tissue is evaluated under a microscope. Deposition of amyloid in other body tissues is possible, and it is unknown what portion of Bracchi have systemic amyloidosis.
In ongoing research, roughly 13% of apparently healthy Bracchi Italiani had evidence of kidney disease on a single routine screening performed at a national breed event in the USA. The normal prevalence of kidney disease in a population of dogs is closer to 0.4%. The survival time for amyloidosis is poor once the dog becomes symptomatic. In our initial results, we found that the median survival time after diagnosis (half of the dogs lived longer, half did not survive as long) was 75 days. More severely affected dogs lived only days or weeks
after diagnosis. If intervention is achieved before they show symptoms, survival times may be significantly improved with treatment. There is no cure for amyloidosis, and it is considered ultimately life limiting for most dogs diagnosed with the disease. Read More here
We are seeing a growing increase in skin conditions, hotspots, ear infections. These are not alwasys allegy related, although it could be and some natural solutions can also be sought.
Yeast and a build up of yeast might also be an underlying cause as opposed to a a serious chronic illness.
A thyroid screen could also be something anyone considering breeding from their dogs undertakes. Thyroid conditions are in the breed, chronic skin and ear conditions can be a symptom of the condition.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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 should be checked regularly and if necessary cleaned with a propriotary ear cleanser.
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.
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.
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.
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 some historical 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.