For those of us in the dog world, much of our focus over the last couple of weeks has been on infectious respiratory diseases in dogs. While the current outbreak remains a mystery, today’s blogpost will focus on the well documented link between respiratory and gastrointestinal illness in dogs. The link between these two body systems might surprise the casual reader; however, the two systems share a common origin: the mouth. The mouth divides into the trachea (windpipe) of the respiratory system and the esophagus leading to the stomach.
Lately, there have been a surprising number of stories in the news about respiratory illnesses in dogs. First, there is the mystery respiratory illness that has been dominating the veterinary news cycle. Now there’s a shelter outbreak of respiratory disease in San Diego. And we can’t forget about the common and persistent Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex, also known as kennel cough. I’ll summarize the latest in canine respiratory illnesses in today’s blogpost.
There’s been a connection between canine liver disease and elevated levels of copper seen in a liver biopsy since the late 1970’s when veterinarians from the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers from Albert Einstein School of Medicine, identified copper storage disease in Bedlington terrriers. Twenty-eight years later, researchers identified a gene mutation in COMMD1, a gene controlling copper metabolism, as the cause of the copper storage disease in Bedlington terriers.
However, the link between copper and liver disease in dogs extends beyond this gene mutation, and veterinary researchers continue to study the connection. The image below shows a graphic representation of a National Library of Medicine database search for publications that meet the search criteria “canine AND copper hepatopathy”. (Hepatopathy is the medical term for liver disease.) Several of the publication peaks seen here can help explain the linkage between liver disease and copper.
Every month on Ask the Vet, radio show and podcast I host in partnership with Sirius XM, I answer listener question that come into our email box at AskTheVet@amcny.org. This past month I had so many good questions, I could not answer them all and still talk with my guest, AMC’s new President and CEO, Helen Irving. Two of the questions were about common respiratory problems managed by AMC specialists. The questions and my answers can be found below.
Pyometra is one of those medical words veterinarians use that often require translation for pet families. Pyo- is from the Latin word for pus, and metra is Greek for uterus. Once you know this etymology then you can understand why pyometra is an emergency. The pus in the uterus is the result of a bacterial infection, and dogs with pyometra become seriously ill. I’ll discuss risk factors, clinical signs and treatment options for pyometra in this week’s blogpost.