Volume II, Issue IV

April 2006


        Heartworm Clinic

        Glaucoma is an Emergency in Dogs, Cats, and Horses

        Does Breed Banning Work?



Take Advantage of Our Heartworm Clinic

Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease to dogs and cats.  Heartworms eventually cause death.  You can prevent the disease.  A simple blood test will detect the presence of heartworms.


Call (276) 236-5103 to schedule an appointment to check your dog.  During the Heartworm Clinic on May 9, Healing Springs will provide:

        Special education on heartworm disease,

        A sample free month of preventative for animals not already using preventative,

        And coupons for future purchase.

For your pet’s safety, vets must conduct a blood test before providing heartworm preventative.  Providing heartworm preventative in the presence of mature heartworms causes death.  With the support of our vendors, we are able to discount the heartworm test to only $12 during the Heartworm Clinic.

Heartworm Clinic

At Healing Springs Animal Hospital

May 9, 2006

9 am to 4:30 pm



Glaucoma is an Emergency in Dogs, Cats, and Horses


Glaucoma occurs when too much fluid collects in an eye.  This painful condition affects dogs, cats, and horses.  In addition to severe pain, glaucoma can rapidly cause permanent blindness.  When owners identify glaucoma quickly, they can save the eye.  Periodic screening for dogs and cats can identify the problem in time for effective treatment.


Glaucoma can be subtle and difficult for owners to detect.  While it can be quite painful, it is not always painful in horses.  Signs of glaucoma include a bulging eye, dilated pupil, inflammation, cloudiness, discomfort, redness, and blindness.  There may be only one of these signs or a combination of signs.  Some types of glaucoma are likely to affect one eye in horses and then later affect the other eye.  Dogs have a tendency to tilt their heads toward the swollen eye and to paw at a painful eye.  Blindness can result quickly from pressure on the optic nerve, especially in dogs.  Blindness does occur later in the disease process for horses than it does for dogs and humans.  If you suspect glaucoma in your animal, contact Healing Springs Animal Hospital right away.  A mere hour can make a difference in the outcome of some cases. 


In the past, accurate diagnosis of glaucoma required referral to a specialty hospital.  However, Healing Springs Animal Hospital is now equipped for state-of-the-art diagnosis of glaucoma in dogs, cats, and horses.  A device called the Tono-Pen enables our veterinarians to measure the pressure inside an eye.  The device is portable and will be available for large animal calls if the owner alerts Healing Springs to possible eye problems when scheduling the visit. 


The pain and other symptoms of glaucoma can be easy to miss, especially when the effects develop over a time span of weeks or months.  This is why routine evaluations for glaucoma are so important.  Only veterinarians properly equipped for this testing can reliably evaluate for glaucoma.  Healing Springs will make Tono-Pen assessment a standard part of the senior wellness screening for cats and dogs.  Cats and dogs should begin having annual senior wellness screenings around age 7.  Veterinary ophthalmologists also recommend that the 42 breeds predisposed to glaucoma should be evaluated annually beginning year 1 (see list to the right). 


Dogs and cats have an exciting new treatment option for glaucoma.  In the past, the primary treatment option was I.V. Mannitol.  Now, owners can drop Latanaprost in the affected eye once or twice daily to manage the glaucoma.  The first treatment works in one to two hours.


Treatment in horses begins with antibiotics and eye drops.  Positive effects are often seen in seven days.  If not, the medications need to be changed.  If that still doesn’t work, laser surgery may be an option.  Laser surgery works by destroying the ciliary body (the body responsible for creating fluid in the eye). 


If the eye is already blind or if medications are not working, you should have your vet surgically remove the eye.  Even when the eye is blind, it can be continuously painful for the animal.   Surgically removing the eye will remove the pain and provide for a better quality of life.


Dog Breeds Predisposed to Glaucoma (alphabetical)




Alaskan Malamute

Basset Hound


Border Collie

Boston Terrier

Bouvier Des Flandres

Cairn Terrier

Cardigan Welsh Corgi



Cocker Spaniel



Dandie Dinmont Terrier

English Springer Spaniel

Giant Schnauzer

Great Dane


Manchester Terrier

Miniature Pinscher

Norfolk Pinscher

Norwegian Elkhound

Norwich Terrier

Pembroke Welsh Corgi




Scottish Terrier

Sealyham Terrier

Shih Tzu

Siberian Husky

Smooth-Coated Fox Terrier

Tibetan Terrier

Welsh Springer Spaniel

Welsh Terrier

West Highland White Terrier


Wire-Haired Fox Terrier




Does Breed Banning Work?


In a word, “no.”  Many localities across the U.S. have enacted laws that regulate or ban specific breeds of dogs.  Many more localities currently consider following suit.  In the name of public safety, such legislation has targeted American pit bull terriers, bull terriers, Rottweilers, Dalmatians, chows, German shepherds, Doberman pinchers, and any mix of these breeds.  The data used to ban these breeds is unreliable.  While there is no evidence that “breed specific legislation” improves public safety, there is evidence that it does not.  It is likely that the problem with pit bulls has more to do with humans than it does with the dogs.


The Statistics on Dog Attacks: Bull-types, Rottweilers, German shepherds, and huskies are the breeds most often associated with dog bites and dog attack fatalities.  From 1979 to 1998, “bull-type” dogs were implicated in 27% of the 284 recorded dog-bite fatalities.  The five categories of dogs listed above together receive the blame for 59% of dog-bite-fatalities. 


Breeds involved in human dog-bite-related fatalities between 1979 and 1998:

Source: Journal of the America Veterinary Association, Vol 217, No. 6: Sept 2000; p. 838.


Do dogs pose a high risk to you?  Statistically speaking, you are 893 times more likely to be killed by accidental exposure to electricity than you are to be killed by a dog.  No, realistically speaking, dogs pose very little risk to people.


Breed Statistics Unreliable: Even though JAVMA is a credible source, the data itself is highly unreliable.  In this study, as with others, untrained people were identifying the breeds.  Breed identification is very difficult.  See for yourself.  Follow the link below to 25 pictures of AKC recognized pure breed dogs.  One is an American pit bull terrier.  How many tries will it take you to identify the pit bull?  Note that a bull terrier is not a pit bull terrier.

Find the pit bull: www.pitbullsontheweb.com/petbull/findpit.html


Law Found Ineffective: We could find no evidence of a breed banning law actually improving public safety.  However, a task force formed in 2003 did evaluate the effectiveness of the pit bull ban in Prince George County, Maryland.  Even though the county spent roughly $250,000 per year enforcing the ban, the commission concluded that the ban did not reduce dog incidents or improve public safety.  They noted that, as with most localities, there is no transgression committed by animal or owner that is not covered by other laws (vicious animals, nuisance animals, leash laws, etc).  The task force recommended repeal of the expensive and ineffective ban.


Why did the law not work?  One popular theory, supported by the CDC, is that the problem never was with the pit bull.  Rather, the pit bull serves as the dog of choice for people who encourage aggressive behavior from their dogs.  When government removes the pit bull as an option, the same people simply switch to other powerful dogs.  This problem was encountered in Australia.  They started by banning pit bulls.  When that did not achieve the desired effect, they banned German shepherds, bull terriers, and Rottweilers.  When that did not work, they banned all dogs greater than 20 cm in height. 


Considering that you are 143 times more likely to be hit by a train than to be killed by a dog, does it really make sense to place such severe restrictions on pet ownership?  The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), states that breed banning laws only distract law enforcement agents from more productive endeavors.  The ASPCA supports laws based more on known behaviors and owner responsibility. 


What Makes a Dog Dangerous: Experience with humans, socialization, training, and reproductive status serve as reliable predictors of dog behavior.  More than 70% of all dog bites involve intact dogs – dogs that have not been neutered.  Timely neutering of dogs minimizes aggressive behaviors.  In addition, a chained or tied dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than an untied dog.  Dogs often feel trapped by their chains and are more likely to respond aggressively to perceived threats.  Consider fencing or the Invisible Fence to restrain unsociable dogs.  The freedom that the fence provides may give the dog more peace of mind, and an actual fence helps separate strangers from scared dogs.  Most importantly, realize that owners should not allow their dogs to be aggressive.  Training involving much positive reinforcement can rehabilitate many dogs.  Mildly aggressive dogs can benefit from socialization at dog training classes hosted by Healing Springs (click here for information on dog training). 


Given these facts, breed-neutral laws and laws focusing on actual bad behavior seem to be the more reasonable approach.  Laws requiring the neutering of aggressive dogs and laws encouraging neutering in general may help prevent the handful of incidents that occur nationwide.  Holding the owners responsible for unprovoked injuries will discourage owners from allowing aggressive behavior. 


What do you think?  E-mail us.  Your comments may be posted in a future edition of the Animal Health Bulletin.  Click here to launch an e-mail to the Animal Health Bulletin.






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Galax, VA  24333


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