Common Medical Conditions Found in Bloodhounds

By Dr. John Hamil, DVM

The following appeared in the American Bloodhound Bulletin,
Spring l995 and is reprinted here with the author's permission.

[Ed. note: In April, l993 Bloodhound enthusiasts met at a Bloodhound
Roundtable in Italy. Dr. John Hamil, DVM lectured on the following topics.]


The following conditions are representative of the problems common to the hundreds of bloodhounds seen in my veterinary practice in Southern California during the past 15 years. These dogs represent show, working (Mantrailing), and commercially bred bloodhounds. Many of these conditions have genetic implications that should be considered in deciding the reproductive future of this breed. This is not intended to cover all the problems of this breed nor should the diagnoses and therapies be considered to be anything other than commonly employed possibilities. Each patient needs to be evaluted individually by a veterinarian.


Definition: A rare, poorly understood condition in which inorganic calcium ions are deposted as a solid phase in soft tissues.

Cause: Unknown, commonly associated with Cushing's Disease in other breeds, less commonly associated with primary hyperparathyroidism, secondary renal hyperparathroidism, and nutritional hyperparathyroidism. Appears to be dystrophic calcification, possibly associated with injury in the bloodhound.

Signs: Usually seen as red raised papules, plaques, and nodules in the skin, tongue, and subcutaneous tissue of the pads and other pressure points like the elbow, hock, and carpus. On incision there is a gritty texture and a chalky white, pink or yellow color. Serum calcium and phosphour usually normal.

Diagnosis: Histopathology.

Therapy: Topical antibiotics and corticosteriods, may spontaneously regress but usually requires surgical excision.


Definition: Decreased thyroid hormones that results from decreased formation, secretion, or improper perpheral cell interaction with thyroid hormones.

Cause: "Primary" - most common in dog, usually lymphocytic thyroiditis, may have genetic basis, occasionally idiophathic or secondary to neoplasa "Secondary" - due to decreased TSH secretion often associated with other illness, "sick thyroid syndrome." "Tertiary"- hypothalamic dysfunction "Nutritional", iodine deficiency.

Signs: Often heavy, "over done" individuals, "dull" attitude, lethargy, exercise intolerance, weight gain with normal appetite, bilateral hairloss, poor coat condition - dull, dry seborrhea, hyperpigmentation, callus formation on pressure points, pyoderma, allergy, female - infertility, male - decreased libido.

Diagnosis: Anemia, elevated cholesterol, and CPK, radio immuno assay for T 3 &/or T4 decreased. Decreased TSH Stimulation test.

Therapy: Sodium levothyroxin (T 4)-22 ug/KG BID, Recheck and adjust dose. Sodium liothyronine (T3)-5 ug/KG TID, rarely needed.


Definition: Recurrent seizures arising from a nonprogressive intracranial cause, may be acquired or congenital. Seizure - a sudden, involuntary, time-limited alteration in behavior characterized by a change in motor activity, consciousness, sensation or autonomic function and accomplished by a paroxysmal electrical cerebral dyshythmia.

May be partial - simple, partial - complex, or generalized. If longer than 15 minutes or repeated without regaining consciousness, considered status epilepticus, which can be dangerous, especially in hot humid weather.

Causes: Congential (Primary or idiopathic) - no demonstrable cause, usually have first seizure between l.5 and 3 years of age, inherited in some breeds, infectious, metabolic, toxic, vascular or neoplastic.

Diagnosis: Signalment, history, clinical signs, rule out diagnosis needing extensive workup including bloodwork, urinalysis, xray, electroencephalogram, cerebrospinal fluid analysis, CAT scan or MRI

Therapy: Phenobarbital - first and best - 1-20mg/kgBID or TID Start at 2-3mg/kg devided, primidone, phenytoin, valproic acid, diazepam, potassium bromide - add to phenobarbital if ineffective-20-60mg/kg, may cause vomiting, should check serum levels - phenobarbital 15-45 micrograms/ml, potassium bromide 1-3 mg/ml


Definition: Infiltration of normal tissues with malignant lymphocytes.

Cause: Unknown but seems to be line related.

Signs: Depends on type, duration and severity. Multicentricperipheral lymph nodes enlarged but not hot or painful, cranial mediastinal, gastrointestinal, and cutaneous, may see dyspnea, weight loss, lethary, vomiting or diarrhea.

Diagnosis: Clinical signs, CBC, Xrays, bone marrow, aspiration or surgical biopsy.

Therapy: COAP (Cyclophosphamide (cytoxan), Vincristine (oncovin), Cytosine Arabinoside (Cytosar), Prednisone) weekly with periodic lab work.

Prognosis: Remissions common with peripheral lymphadenopathy, results poor with gastrointestinal form. 4-8 weeks without therapy, 6-l8 months with chemotherapy.


Defintion: Disproportionate hypertrophy of left venticular septum with respect to left ventirucular freewall.

Cause: Unknown.

Signs: Usually males, may see sudden deaths in kennel, after exercise, or an as unexplained anesthitic death. May see signs of left sided heart failure - apical systolic murmur, dyspnea, cough, exercise intolerance, weak pulse, prolonged capillary refill time, pallor, or cyanosis.

Diagnosis: Antemortem - clinical signs, xray, electrocardiogram, echocardiogram. Post mortem - histopathology.

Therapy: Poor response to standard therapy for CHF, might try Propanolol - 0.5-l.0mg/kgPO TID or Verapimil 5-l0 mg/kg PO BID


Bloodhound are not unusually sensitive to general anesthetics, therefore should not be used as an excuse for not performing diagnostics or therapeutics, must monitor carefully during recovery, as we have had several bloodhounds bloat during recover (all responded to simple stomach tube and had uneventful recovery).

If compromised by age or illness always perform preanesthetic exam and lab work, keep warm, IV fluids, and monitor respiration and ECG continuoulsly.

Short sedation: l/2 CC Ketamine HCL (l00 MG/CC) and 1/2 CC Diazepam (5mg/ml) per 5 kg body weigth intravenously. Gives good analgesia, immobilization, and adequate relaxation for examination, xrays or short surgical procedures.

Intubation: Same mixture and dose in small animals, approximately 1/2 dose in middle size and large dogs, prior to gas anesthesia.

General anesthesia: Fluothane (Halothane) or Isoflurane - 2% with at least 1 liter of oxygen per minute. Also works well for C-sections.


Definition: Inward rolling or turning of the eyelid margin with resulting irration of the cornea.

Cause: Usually congenital with genetic predisposiiton but may be spastic or acquired. American Standard describes an abnormal eye prone to this and other lid abnormalities.

Signs: Epiphora (Tearing), Blepharospasm (Squinting), discomfort, Keratitis or ulceration of the cornea, purulent conjunctivitis, and photophobia.

Diagnosis: Physical examination.

Therapy: Medical if spastic, many require some sort of surgical correction. If problem is severe in young animals, place vertical mattress sutures below lid margin to evert lid and prevent corneal damage. An attempt to correct the problem too early may necessiate additional surgery when the animal matures. We must also remember that any surgery that alters the animal's appearance disqualifies them from being shown.


Definition: Eversion of lower lid margin.

Cause: Congenital - genetic predispostion., Acquired - injury with scar formation. Intermittent - tiring, usually seen in working dogs late in the day.

Signs: Lid turned outward exposing conjunctiva, conjunctivitis, ocular discharge and epiphora.

Therapy: Unnecessary if mild, surgery if severe with the same concerns about corrrecting lid conformation in young animals and those intended for show. Often see dogs with both lateral entropion and central ectropion.


Defintion: condition characterized by a reduction or absence of the aqueous phase of the precorneal tear film leading to a "dry eye" with associated inflamation of the cornea and conjunctiva and assocated thick mucoid discharge.

Cause: Drug induced - sulphonamides, surgical - excision of the complete gland of the third eyelid, idiopathic - majority are unexplained, autoimmune - not completely understood, trauma - to periorbital area, canine distemper, chronic bacterial infection - possibly associated with eyelid abnormalities and associated conjunctivitis, hormonal - may be associated with hypothyroidism.

Signs: Blepharospasm, mucopurenlent discharge, corneal ulceration, corneal vascularization, conjunctivitis, dry cornea, corneal pigmentation, dry nostril on the same side.

Diagnosis: Clinical signs, many dogs with chronic conjunctivitis that is poorly responsive to treatment, reduced tear formation as demonstrated by a Schirmer tear test.

Therapy: KCS Mixture - l.5 ml 5% gentamicin injectable, 6 ml 20% acetylcystein (Mucomyst), l.5 ml 4% pilocarpine, 16 ml artifical tears - refrigerate - 1-2 drops in affected eyes 1-3 times daily as needed.

Topical mixture to stimulate tear production - 22 CC cyclosporine (Sandimmune) oral solution with 8 cc corn or olive oil filtered through 22 micorn milipore filter. Very good results, 1 drop in affected eyes twice daily for first week then once daily therafter.

Parotid duct transposition surgery if medical therapy fails., good results but the dogs "cry" when they eat!


Defintion: Common group of ocular disorders manifested by lens opacities of varying size and shape and varying in etiology and rate of progression.

Times of development: Embryonal - renatal influences, Congenital - at birth, often nonprogressive, Developmental (juvenile) - occur at any time before adulthood. Seninle - aged animals, usually preceded by nuclear sclerosis, Acquired - any noncongenital, including secondary to injury or ocular disease.

Cause: Complicated (secondary) - due to other ocular disease, metablic - diabetes, etc. Traumatic - direct or indirect trauma, toxic, electrical, radiation, nutritional. Heredity - proven in many breeds, suspected in others, congenial not necesarily hereditary. General rule - animals with cataracts of uncertain status are unsuitable for breeding.

Signs: Any opacity within lens. All should be examined by a veterinary opthalmoligist. May or may not lead to blindness. Often go unnoticed, may be more common than we realize.

Therapy: Surgery - lens extraction by conventional surgery or phacoemulsification. No effective medical therapy available at this time.


Definition: A condition charazterized by the invagination of a proximal portion of the bowel into the lumen of its adjacent distal portion, ie. telescoping, thereby causing an obstruction.

Cause: usually associated with bowel irritation such as enteritis, severe intestinal parasitism, foreign bodies (tendency to eat rocks seems to be a line related behavior), and following bowel surgery.

Signs: Variable, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, depressed attitude, plapable cylindrical abdominal mass. We have seen a tendency for some lines of bloodhounds to ingest foreign bodies, particularly rocks. Following several bloat and foreign body surgeries our patients subsequently developed intussusception.

Diagnosis: History, clinical signs, physical examination, xrays - may require an upper GI series.

Therapy: All surgeries involving the small intestine are best followed by plication above and below the surgery site.


Definition: An acute life-threatening condition which initiates complex cardiovascular and metabolic changes that result in high mortality following dilatation and rotation of the stomach on its long axis.

The stomach usually rotates from right to left with the pylorus and duodenum passing ventrally to rest dorsally on the left side above the cardia.

Cause: Unknown. Seen primarily in large deep chested breeds and, although heritability has not been proven, it does seem to be more prevalent in certain lines. Often associated with ingestion of large meals and drinking water, post feeding excercise, following general anesthesia, stress and gastroenteritis with vomition.

Signs: Restlessness, pacing, lethary, unresponsiveness, unproductive retching, salivation, arched back, epigastric pain, abdominal distention, tympathy, pallor, weak pulse, cyanosis, weakness, inability to stand, moribund, and endotoxic shock red injected mucous membranes and rapid capillary refill time.

Diagnosis: Signalment, history, clinical signs, xray in right lateral recumbency.

Therapy: If in shock, decompress immediately by gastric tube or trocar then follow regular protocol.

If not in shock, take blood and urine sample and xrays, place IV catheter, start IV lactated ringers solution, give corticosteriods, antibiotics, sodium bicarbonate, start ECG and cardiac medications if has ventricular premature contractions, sedate lightly with tranquilizer if necessary to pass stomach tube and lavage stomach removing all content, give coative with simethicone, give 10 mg metoclopromide SQ, monitor intensively for cardiac complications. When stable the next day with cardiac signs normal, perform gastropexy.

If unable to pass gastric tube, stand dog on rear legs and "bounce" up and down, if still unable to pass stomach tube, trocarize, if still unsuccessful take to surgery.


Definition: Disease of young rapidly growing dogs in which nonunion or partial union of the anconeal process to the olecranon of the ulna occurs, resulting in instability and degenerative joint disease (DJD) with associated osteoarthritis.

Cause: Unknown, probably an inherited developmental anomaly.

Signs: Subtle to severe front leg lameness with pain and/or crepitus on palpation of elbow. Usually seen betwee 6-9 months of age but may be later in life.

Diagnosis: Clinical signs and xrays.

Therapy: Surgical excision.


Definition: Syndrome of the immature joint characterized by localized separation of the articular cartilage and subchondral bone that may lead to the formation of a cartilage flap or ossicle (joint mouse). Shoulder most commonly affected but can be seen in other joints including the stifle and hock.

Cause: Unknown, possible associated with hypercalcitionism due to overnutrition, secondary to trauma that interrupts circulation to a portion of the articular cartilage, may be due to osteonecrosis, seems to be line related.

Signs: Variable degree of lameness in one or both fron limbs. Pain or crepitation on flecion and extention of shoulder joint.

Diagnosis: Signalment, history, clinical signs, and xrays.

Therapy: May improve spontaneously with normal activity but usually requires surgery.

imageReturn to Bloodhound Bunch's home page