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   Danny & Ruth Ann Ford, 20 years of Dedicated Experienced  Breeding of Exclusive Quality Butterfly Dogs

    Information on Papillon Care, Health, Grooming, Pap Markings, Frequently Asked Questions,  Puppy pictures

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Papillon Health Concerns

PCh. Lyndylore Black Russian "Nicholas" 15 years oldapillons are normally a long-lived healthy toy breed of dog. The usual life expectancy of a Papillon isEden's Lord & Taylor, "Taylor"  Now passed at 17 1/2 years of age somewhere between 12 and 16 years of age. Comparing Paps to many other breeds of dogs there are few health concerns. Of course, when it comes to health & life of any living creature nothing is totally 100% predictable. The following are statements of our opinions and we make no claims of being experts in health or genetics.

On each subject we have added an underlined hyperlink. Each hyperlink takes you to a more in-depth web site that discusses the particular health concern. We hope that this page will help educate you on the possible health risks that you may find in a Papillon.

Please note:  This page has been copied and plagiarized on many Papillon websites.  Forevr Papillons Showpaps.com site is the original author of the page comprised below. If for some reason your not willing to take the time to write and create your own webpage would you please at least give us credit on your site?

Neuroaxonal Dystrophy Disease( NAD ) - This is health concern just coming forward recently in Papillons. Research and blood samples are currently being submitted to find a genetic marker. ( NAD) A progressive disorder where brain and spinal cord swelling occurs and deterioration continues. . The puppy shows slight gradual signs the disease by 8 weeks of age and usually by 19 weeks the puppy has to be euthanized. Signs of NAD are wobbling head treamors later poor coordination, unable to use back legs, inablity to eat on its own.   It is believe to be autosomal recessive. ( This maybe the same type of inheritance as Progressive Retinal Atrophy - PRA ). In order to produce offspring with this disease BOTH parents must carry the gene.  NAD at this time is rare and very few breeders that we know of have had affected puppies.

Patellar Luxation - common in all toy breeds of dogs. In the active Papillon, luxation can be genetic or be caused by injury from over use of the knee joint. Genetic luxation is usually found in young dogs, the average age of diagnosis is 3 months to 12 months. We have observed that sometimes a female Pap will show slight temporary luxation during a heat cycle or in whelp.  It is our opinion that in many cases injury luxations is usually found in a healthy Adult Pap that either bounces up and down on their back legs a great deal or works in some type of performance that uses the knee often in jumping climbing, running. As for all athletes (human or canine),  there can be stress related injuries and the knees are the common stress injury of the Pap. Knee's are also called Stifles. For more Petallar information we also suggest visiting the OFA site.    http://www.offa.org/ofapatlx.html

Progressive Retinal Atrophy - or "PRA" is late onset (between 6-10 years of age) retinal degeneration. PRA affects Papillons by the gradual loss of eyesight. An early sign of PRA is the loss of night time vision that causes your dog to be more cautious in dim light settings and finally  leads up to  running into objects that are out of place. Dogs that have PRA can be diagnosed with an eye examination by a Veterinary Ophthalmologist and also by ERG testing. Consult an ophthalmic veterinarian for expert advice. Because of the large gene pool there are few known cases of PRA in the United States and Canada. Some European countries, with their smaller gene pools, are more prone to find this eye abnormality.

Periodontal - Since Papillons have small mouths and their lips lay tight against the teeth and gums it is very common for Papillons to need regular dental maintenance. Maintenance includes regular brushing. We use a tiny infant's tooth brush. Baking soda or doggy toothpaste is suggested to use along with the brush. In a pinch, we have successfully used a tiny drop of human tooth paste in place of baking soda. Purchasing of a tooth scaler to remove excess plague is a good idea and an inexpensive investment. Annual dental cleaning performed by a veterinarian is highly recommended. Tooth loss of dogs over the age of 4 is very common. The warning signs of gum disease are bad breath, red and swollen gums, a yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gum line, and pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth. Providing bones and hard kibble will assist in keeping plague build up at a minimum. Feeding moist food is discouraged.

Liver Shunt - The incidence of this disease in Papillons is still relatively low, but seems to be on the increase. The Papillon Club of America is suggesting bile acid tests on breeding dogs but this is not a requirement.  There are two types of shunts. Shunts can occur inside the liver, in which case they are referred to as intravascular shunts and outside the liver, in which case they are extrahepatic shunts. All of the shunts are portosystemic shunts. Portosystemic shunts include poor weight gain, sensitivity to sedatives (especially diazepam), depression, head pressing (pushing the head against a solid object), seizures, weakness, salivation, vomiting, poor appetite, increased drinking and urinating, balance problems and frequent urinary tract disease or early onset of bladder stones. If the signs of problems increase dramatically after eating this is a strong supportive sign of a portosystemic shunt.

Extrahepatic shunts include porto-caval shunts which are one of the most common types of extrahepatic shunts. There are several ways that blood can by-pass the liver and empty directly into the systemic circulation, though. The advantage to the surgeon of an extra-hepatic shunt is that there is usually a place to surgically obstruct the shunt and re-route the blood flow to the liver which is where it belongs. Extra-hepatic shunts are easier to repair due to this.

Intrahepatic shunts are more difficult to repair because the shunt is hidden inside the liver where it is not easy for the surgeon to work. There are surgical procedures for fixing them, though. These are costly procedures and are probably done primarily at veterinary teaching hospitals associated with veterinary colleges. The success rate for surgery for intrahepatic shunts is less than for extrahepatic shunts.

If surgical repair is not an option due to the expense it is possible to manage many dogs with portosystemic liver shunts medically with reasonably good success. A low protein diet combined with administration of lactulose and/or neomycin can help to relieve the symptoms associated with liver shunts.

Anesthesia - Any breed of dogs that are anesthetized are under the risk of having problems while anesthesia is being used. As veterinary medicine improves so do the rate of dog reviving from being under anesthesia. Isoflurane gas is the anesthesia of choice for many Papillons. There are some new types of anesthesia on the market, and while their costs are rather expensive, they are well worth the peace of mind. Consult with your veterinarian when making surgery plans. If they do not use Isoflurane or some other reasonable safe anesthesia, then seeking a second opinion may be advisable.

Thyroid - The thyroid gland is a small gland located in the neck. It very important role in regulating the body's rate of metabolism, or what "speed" the body is running. Occasionally a middle aged Papillon will have a thyroid gland that is UNDERACTIVE, causing a slow metabolism. This is hypothyroid. A Hypothyroid Pap are often obese and gain weight even on a restricted diet. They may sleep more and have reduced stamina. They seek out warm places to nap and have an overall reduced tolerance to the cold weather and often have dry, skin and a dull coat. Hypothyroidism isnít life threatening, but it does diminish quality of life. By consulting a veterinarian about Thyroid concerns they will take blood and perform a thyroid panel. If your dog is diagnosed, the disorder is relatively easy to treat with medication.

Hypoglycemia - Toy breed puppies are prone to hypoglycemia at young ages because of liver glucose storage/utilization problems. Most often you will see a puppy experience symptoms of Hypoglycemia after playing hard and lack of a full tummy. We also call hypoglycemia, in laymen's terms, "Going Down on Sugar". If you find your Papillon puppy is slightly trembling, lacking in energy, gums colored white, or eyes a bit glassy looking, your dog could be experiencing some problems with Hypoglycemia. Our immediate treatment is a small amount of Nutracal in the mouth. If you do not have Nutracal, mix honey, Karo syrup, or sugar with water. Slowly syringe the mixture, about 3cc's or about 3 teaspoonfuls, into the puppies mouth making sure they swallow. Wrap the puppy in a blanket, and keep quiet for about 1 hour. A heating pad on low setting can help the puppy feel warmer.  When your puppy's gums start to look pinker and it starts to  move around normally, put them in a quite place like a dog crate and offer them their favorite food, kibble or treat. If no response is made to treatment, immediately take the dog to the vet.

Deafness - Somewhat rare.  This condition is possibly linked to Papillons which carry a Piebald gene. The genes affect the amount and distribution of white areas on the body.  Deafness can be described as (1) congenital or late onset, (2) hereditary or acquired, and (3) conductive or sensor neural.  Congenital deafness is affected by a Piebald gene.  That makes the mismark or almost all white Papillon being a suspect of  higher incidence because it is an extension of the piebald gene. The mechanism of inheritance is not known, and not only mismarks have been affected by deafness.  Unilateral (one ear) and bilateral (both ears) deafness has been diagnosed in Papillons. Not enough Papillons are routinely tested to compile reliable statistics about deafness. 

Behavioral deafness detection with young puppies  in the home is difficult, as the deaf young cue off the behavior of their littermates. Often deafness is not noticed until the puppies are separated from their littermates. A puppy that does not awaken in response to a loud noise is almost certainly bilaterally deaf, but the unilaterally deaf cannot be detected with any reliability. As a consequence, behavioral hearing assessment of animals in the clinic or home is of limited reliability.  If deafness is suspected a "BAER" Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (electro diagnostic) test should be given by a qualified veterinarian.

Epilepsy - occasionally is  talked about by Papillon breeders, though we hear of very few dogs diagnosed as Epileptic. Epilepsy  is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Although seizures are always abnormal events, not all seizures in dogs are caused by canine epilepsy. Epilepsy is a disorder of the brain where abnormal electrical activity triggers further uncoordinated nerve transmission. This uncoordinated and haphazard nerve tissue activity scrambles messages to the muscles of your dog's body and the coordinated use of the muscles is then inhibited. Because there are many causes of chronic recurrent seizures in dogs, canine epilepsy is not a specific disease or even a single syndrome, but rather a diverse category of disorders. Canine Epilepsy is broadly divided into idiopathic and symptomatic disorders. Idiopathic Epilepsy, also called primary epilepsy, means that there is no identifiable brain abnormality, other than seizures. Symptomatic epilepsy (also called secondary epilepsy) is seizures that are the consequence of an identifiable lesion or other specific cause. Most dogs with idiopathic epilepsy suffer their first seizure between the ages of one and five years of age. A genetic basis for idiopathic epilepsy is strongly suspected in several breeds. At this time the Papillon does not have high incidence for suspicion.

Legg-Calve-Perthes - disease is rare in Papillons and we know of only an occasional case. L.C.P. is a disorder of the blood supply to the femoral head, the "ball" of the hip joint. It usually occurs in miniature and toy breeds of dogs between the ages of four months and a year of age in its classic form but sometimes occurs as a traumatic problem in older dogs or bigger breeds. It causes death of the bone which leads to arthritis of the hip. Since hip dysplasia also causes hip problems the conditions could be confused, although clinically evident hip dysplasia is not a major problem in dogs of this size. It is usually possible to rule in or rule out femoral head necrosis through radiographic (X-ray) examination. Femoral head necrosis is a painful process and may be a cause of subtle lameness to total lameness affecting one or both rear legs. Some dogs are able to recover on their own with just rest and pain relief but many dogs require surgical removal of the femoral head (femoral head ostectomy) for good long term pain relief. This can be done on both sides, if necessary, in the small dogs who have this problem.

Reverse Sneezing - Reverse sneezing, or hurfing, is when the trachea goes into a spasm. This seems to occur when a Pap has become over excited, sniffed up pollen or dust or swallowed a treat and their throat is dry.   People have thought the gagging nose they make is the dog choking.  Some people have diagnosed this as kennel cough.  The inhaling snoring  snorting noise has also been called a "backward sneeze." There is no cure for this and no preventative. When this occurs, the owner should gently massage the throat encourage the dog to swallow and stay calm. Covering the nose in an attempt to get the dog to breathe through his/her mouth helps sometimes. In severe cases putting your finger down their mouth and making them swallow can remedy the hurfing. We have found that placing a treat in your hand and allowing the Pap to nibble on it really helps.  If your dog reverse sneezes this is not usually a sign that they have a soft palette or a soft trachea.

For more Papillon Related Articles take a look at these pages at the Papillon Club of America's Website

Take a look at the PCA Papillon health survey:  http://www.papillonclub.org/PapillonHealth/Health-Survey.html

PCA Genetics Page - http://www.papillonclub.org/PapillonHealth/welcome.html

PCA Eduation Page - http://www.papillonclub.org/Education/index.htm

Questions about Papillons? 


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