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Ignore June/July: The Golden Retriever

History of the Breed
The Golden Retriever (and equally popular Golden-Doodle), is one of the most common breeds seen at Westgate Pet Clinic.  The Golden Retriever has its roots in Scotland. In the mid-18th century, wildfowl hunting was very popular among the wealthy, and a dog was needed that could retrieve from water and land because the land was covered in ponds and rivers.  Hence the Golden Retriever was developed with a love for the water and boundless energy when they are young. 
The Golden Retriever is known for it's intelligence and eager to please attitude.  They make a great family dog because they love people, and generally get along with other dogs and cats in the house.  They have a reputation for being profuse shedders, hence the popularity of crossing them with a poodle.  Although Golden-Doodles can still shed, the amount of hair that you will find around your house is considerably less. 
Health Concerns
Preventative Care Recommendations
Because ear infections are so common in Golden Retrievers, we want your dog to tolerate ear cleaning and treatments.  Starting when she is a puppy, touch and play with the ears regularly.  Also, clean the ears on a regular basis, every 2-4 weeks.  Cleaning the ears keeps them free of wax build up, and also if you clean a lot of black or brown debris out of the ears, then you know that she has an ear infection.  
Hip and elbow dysplasia is not uncommon in Golden Retrievers.  If your Golden Retriever develops a lameness, bring her in to the veterinarian to be assessed. Your veterinarian may recommend taking radiographs to assess her joints.  
Your veterinarian may recommend abdominal radiographs on your geriatric Golden Retriever to screen for an enlarged spleen.  An enlarged spleen, and anemia can be the first signs of hemangiosarcoma in your dog.  
Your veterinarian may recommend screening for thyroid disease when she gets to be middle aged (6-7 years of age).  This is a blood test that can be done at your dog's annual wellness exam. 
Retrieve a Golden Retriever of Minnesota

Blastomycosis a Deadly Disease at the Lakes


Blastomycosis is a disease caused by a fungus in the soil, Blastomyces dermatidis. The organism is found in rich, acidic soil along the waterways of the Midwest and central United States.  

In Minnesota, most Blastomycosis cases are found in St. Louis, Itasca, and Beltrami
counties, but more recently Chisago and Washington counties also.  This disease must be reported to the Minnesota Department of Health.  The disease can be deadly and affect the respiratory system, skin, eyes, bones, urinary system, and central nervous system. The incubation time is about 45 days and September is the most common month that it is diagnosed.



Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy is thought to be an autoimmune disorder in which the patient's own immune system attacks their central nervous system.  The immune attack leads to the loss of myelin (insulin around nerve fibers) and axons (nerve fibers).   When nerves do not have myelin, they cannot conduct neurologic signals, and the muscles and organs they innervate cannot function properly.  Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) in dogs is like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in people and has a similar course of disease.  The patients may start to initially stumble or drag a foot.  The disease typically progresses in a waxing and waning fashion with the weakness and poor coordination leading to paralysis of the rear legs. DM is not thought to be a painful condition, but pets can get distressed by their lack of mobility.  Most patients are euthanized within 1 year of diagnosis because their rear limb paralysis greatly decreases their quality of life. 
A diagnosis of DM is made by a history of progressive weakness in the rear legs.  Often these signs can mimic other disease conditions such as Type II Disk Disease or a growth in the spinal cord.  An x-ray of the back and an MRI of the spinal cord can help rule out other disk or spinal cord problems. 
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals offers a genetic test for dogs to help determine if a dog has the genetic propensity to develop DM.  It is important to note that not all dogs that test "At Risk" for DM will develop DM.  Also, there are some dogs with DM that show up negative on the test.  If a dog tests "At Risk" for DM, AND is showing clinical signs of the disease, a diagnosis of DM is made.  A test result of "At Risk" means that the dog is carrying the genetic defect leading to DM from BOTH their mother and father.  If they have just one set of genetic markers, then the dog is considered a carrier of the disease, but will likely not develop it.  Click here for information on how to interpret the DM genetic test.
Click here to read the research article on the DM test
Click here to purchase the DM test.  This is a cheek swab that is performed at home and sent to OFA.
1.) Rehabilitation Therapy
The only treatment that has been proven to be effective in the management of DM is rehabilitaton therapy (like physical therapy for humans).  Click here for a research abstract regarding rehabilitation therapy for DM.  
2.) Nutritional Supplements
Nutritional supplements and home-made diets aimed at reducing inflammation and the circulation of free radicals in the body are recommended by many neurologists for management of this disease.  It is important to note that use of these nutritional supplements has shown improvement only anecdotely, and has not been seen to be effective in clinical trials. 
Click here for an abstract showing that medication and nutritional supplementaiton was not helpful in treating DM.
Click here if you are interested in using nutritional supplements and a home-made diet as part of the management program for your dog with DM. This article was written by Dr. R.M. Clemmons, a well respected veterinary neurologist.   

3.) Medication
Two medications have been offered up as part of a treatment regiment for DM.  Neither medication has been shown to be effective in clinical trials, but anecdotely they have been shown to be helpful. 
Aminocaproic acid: This medication is being used for it's anti-inflammatory properties.  The dosage is 10-15mg/kg every 8 hours. 
Acetylcysteine: This medication is considered an antioxident with neuroprotective effects.  The dosage is 25mg/kg given every 8 hours.  

If you are interested in using these medications, work with your veterinarian to have the medications compounded for your dog.
4.) Acupuncture
Acupuncture has been reported to be helpful in treating pets with DM.  Click here to read more about acupuncture. 
5.) Mobility Aids
As your dog's mobility declines, mobility aids such as the ones listed below, can help your dog stay mobile longer.
Biko Brace
Power Paws
Dr. Buzby's toe grips
Help em up Harness

One piece of chewing gum sweetened with xylitol could poison a dog

gumballs freeDid you know that even one or two pieces of chewing gum sweetened with xylitol could poison a dog?

Xylitol (pronounced zahy-li-tawl) is a sweetener that's used in gum, mints, baked goods and many other foods. In people, xylitol is digested into a sugar alcohol that doesn't affect insulin or blood glucose levels. Because of that, it has become very popular as a sugar substitute in all kinds of processed foods. Unfortunately, it isn't well known that this ingredient is very dangerous if ingested by a dog. 

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4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
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