Browse Our Dictionary
Type: Medical Issues

ADD

Attention Deficit Disorder. A psychological problem diagnosed in humans, which is sometimes used as shorthand to describe a dog with poor concentration, reactivity or high arousal.  There is no official test for ADD in dogs.

Anxiety

The general term given to an emotional state of apprehension or fear, especially of events that have not happened yet or things in the environment that do not pose a specific threat. Behaviors associated with anxiety include:

  • Excessive grooming and licking
  • OCD behaviors such as circling
  • Hypervigilance
  • Loose stool

Anxious dogs can become aggressive, or afraid of going to places where scary things have happened. An anxious dog might react with fear to any unexpected object, like a Christmas tree left at the side of the road.

Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

Also called Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.  A relatively newly-diagnosed condition in senior dogs, which presents some similarities to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. CCD is characterised by disturbed sleep and changes in activity patterns, a loss of housetraining, aimless wandering and the onset of compusive behaviors.  The condition can be managed with medication if it is caught in early stages; selegiline is commonly prescribed.

Debarking

An elective surgical procedure, aimed at reducing problem barking. The surgery is done by a vet, during which a small incision with a bladed or laser scalpel is made in the larynx, and some of the tissue of the vocal cords is removed. This results in a softer, muted bark, although results can vary.

Epilepsy

Like in humans, epilepsy in dogs is described as sudden, unprovoked seizures that occur on a recurring basis in the dog’s life.  Epileptic seizures can be caused by other medical issues like drops in blood sugar, by strokes or other brain injuries, or they can be idiopathic, meaning there is no specific trigger.

Euthanasia

The humane killing of a dog, usually by massive dose of sedatives administered by injection.

Hot Spot

A lesion on a dog’s skin, which comes up as the result of an allergen such as a flea bite or a food allergy. Also called acute moist or pyotramatic dermatitis. Hot spots are warm to the touch.

Hypothyroidism

A disorder of the endocrine system, which controls levels of hormones in the body. The thyroid gland does not produce enough hormone, which can lead to symptoms including aggression and anxiety. Hypothyroidism is diagnosed through a blood test and treatable with medication.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome

A gastrointestinal condition characterized by bouts of diarrhea and constipation, often caused by food intolerances and sometimes made worse by stress.  IBS in dogs is often found alongside general anxiety.

Lyme Disease

A tick-borne disease that affects dogs in many countries, also called Lyme borreliosis.  Lyme disease can cause many medical complications, and is associated with changes in behavior such as depression and increased sensitivity to touch, which may be misidentified as problems with obedience.

Lyme disease can be treated with antibiotics, but in some cases symptoms may never completely go away.

Microchip

A microchip is a small device, containing a unique number that can be linked to an online database.  The dog’s owners can enter their contact details alongside their dog’s microchip number in the database, allowing anyone who reads the chip to be able to call them and return their dog.

The microchip is inserted just under the dog’s skin by a vet, usually between the shoulder blades.  It is read using a handheld scanner.

Naturally Reared

NR – Naturally Reared or sometimes Naturally Raised, means that a dog or puppy is not being given the usual kinds of preventive medical interventions.  Breeders and owners who believe in Natural Rearing do not vaccinate their puppies or adult dogs, and may only use nutraceutical, plant-based and/or homeopathic preparations to treat any illnesses or infestations.

Advocates of Natural Rearing sometimes use the term “Poison Reared” – PR – to distinguish themselves from those breeders who choose to follow the recommendations of the veterinary profession.

Neurosis

A disorder of the neurological system, accompanied by dysfunctional behavior. A neurotic dog is almost always in a perpetual state of anxiety and may show OCD behaviors or panic.

Nutrigenomics

The study of how elements of a dog’s diet interact with elements of his genome.  For example, different compounds in the diet can alter the expression of some genes, which is considered by some researchers in the field to be a promising avenue for preventive medicine in the future.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD behaviors are a sign of anxiety or neurosis in a dog.  Behaviors that a dog does without an obvious trigger, which he also cannot stop once started are labelled as obsessive compulsive.  OCD behaviors are more common in dogs that have spent a long time in a confined space like a shelter.  Examples of these behaviors:

  • Tail chasing
  • Snapping at “flies” in the air
  • Licking one spot on the ground or the body
  • Running in circles
  • Side sucking
  • Pacing
  • Repetitive barking with no obvious triggers

Parvo

Contraction of parvovirus, a contagious disease that can be fatal to puppies.

Rage Syndrome

A kind of neurological problem, most commonly found in English cocker spaniels and show lines of Springer spaniels.  Rage syndrome is also called Sudden Onset Rage (SOR), Springer rage, and idiopathic aggression.  It is characterized by a sudden outburst of aggressive behavior, often preceded by a ‘glazed over’ expression, and followed by an immediate return to normal.
Rage syndrome can be diagnosed with an electroencephalogram (EEG) and has a strong genetic component.
There is some dispute over whether rage syndrome is an identifiable medical condition or whether it is usually the result of misdiagnosing some other type of aggression, such as resource guarding.

Separation Anxiety

When a dog has excessive anxiety about being left alone by his owners.  Can be accompanied by destructive and self-injurious behaviors and attempts to escape, although not always. Some dogs with separation anxiety are less anxious when left with other humans, or other dogs, but some are specifically anxious about being left by the humans they are most closely bonded to.

Side Sucking

Also called flank sucking. Side sucking is a compulsive behavior in dogs, where the dog curls into a ball and sucks his flank. It is especially common in Doberman pinschers, although it’s not unique to the breed. Left unchecked, this behavior can sometimes lead to lick granuloma.

Titre Test

A test that is designed to determine levels of immunity to a disease, by measuring the amount of antibodies present in a blood sample.  Titre tests are being used to determine whether a dog is immune to a disease and does not need further vaccination, or whether he lacks immunity and is at risk without vaccination. These tests are not always accurate, however, as having a high titre level does not always guarantee immunity.

Vaccinosis

The name for any adverse reaction, or suspected adverse reaction, to a vaccination in a dog.  It is not an officially recognized veterinary diagnosis as the term has been used to refer to both acute, short-term issues following vaccination such as swelling at the injection site and fever, and to long-term issues like arthritis, leukemia and behavioral problems.

 

Zeuterin

A chemical compound that can be used to sterilize male dogs without surgery.  It contains zinc gluconate and arginine, an amino acid.