Genetics: Major Organs

Diseases Affecting Major Organs - Neurological Disorders

LIVER SHUNT - is the most common congenital liver problem. Most often this is the result of blood bypassing the liver and flowing directly into the system. This bypass of the liver is normal during fetal development. The bypass normally closes off shortly after birth. The liver has many functions including metabolism, temperature regulation, circulation, detoxification and waste removal. In the case of a dog with a shunt, the liver cannot do its job properly and resulting in non-detoxified blood circulating freely through the body slowly poisoning the body’s tissues and cells. This poisoning may be expressed as failure to thrive, poor weight gain, sleepiness, vomiting, blindness and seizures. Early diagnosis and prompt treatment offer the best outcomes. The success of surgery depends on the severity and the location of the shunt. Medical management may be tried for inoperable shunts but can be difficult and very expensive with limited success. Responsible breeding can drastically reduce/eliminate this problem. Most serious liver shunts are diagnosed in early puppy development but some less serious shunts may not be discovered till 3-5 years of age.

HEART DISEASE - Cardiomyopathy occurs when one or more diseases cause inflammation and scarring of the heart muscle which becomes less efficient in supplying the body and organs with blood. The heart eventually weakens leading to congestive heart failure and death. Heart disease appears to be genetic. Though the disease may start at an early age ( 2-5 years) the signs may not appear for several more years (9-12 years of age) when the disease becomes severe and signs appear rapidly over a matter of days. By then, the dog may already be in the stage of severe heart failure. Symptoms of unexplained lethargy, sudden weight loss, cough, fatigue, and shortness of breath may be signs of a dog developing a heart problem. Congestive Heart failure is life threatening; a visit to the veterinarian is essential to diagnose the problem and begin treatment.

NEUROLOGICAL DISORDERS - such as epilepsy have been diagnosed in the Havanese but are relatively uncommon at this time. The most evident symptom of epilepsy is seizures. Seizures can be inherited or they may be caused by medical diseases such as diabetes, liver disease, etc.  They may be seen as spells in which the dog demonstrates repeated jerking of the entire body or just one part, followed by a period of disorientation. Multiple seizures are usually required to make a correct diagnosis Determining the cause is essential to make appropriate treatment choices as well as future breeding decisions. Not all seizures are due to epilepsy. Hypoglycemia low blood sugar - is a common cause of seizures in toy breeds. Dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, kidney or liver disease may also produce seizures as can internal parasites, infections, food allergies and chemical toxins. If no other reason can be found, then epilepsy is the likeliest cause of the seizures. Treatments for epilepsy include medications to prevent and control seizures.