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The Mission of the Health and Wellness Committee is to develop plans to protect and improve the health of our Breed through education, screening tools and working with other Regional PWD Clubs and the PWDCA.  As stated on the PWDCA's official website, "Responsible breeding practices are encouraged to reduce or eliminate hereditary health problems which can lead to increased veterinary costs, decreased quality of life, and/or premature death."  We will bring many important health and wellness related topics to our members on our Health and Wellness web page and in our News Buoy, on our social media outlets such as Facebook and Instagram, and email, just to name a few.

Keep up to date with CDDY in our PWDs

Dr. Danika Bannasch DVM PhD gave a seminar about Chondrodystrophy to the PWDCA membership on January 31, 2023. See link below:

February 7, 2023 PWDCA Update on CDDY:

The Board is following up on the topic of intervertebral disc disease/disc herniation and the associated CDDY genotype in PWDs. Through the PWDCA's efforts with research groups such as UC Davis, we are learning more about this abnormality each day. As a reminder:
  • There exists a simple test to determine the presence of the CDDY genotype, offered by UC Davis and other providers.
  • The PWDCA subsidized UC Davis testing costs for up to 300 PWDs.
  • UC Davis has conducted roughly 636 tests on PWDs and of those approximately 25% indicate at least one CDDY gene copy. 
  • We are early on in the research process and accordingly the PWDCA strongly encourages PWD owners to have their dogs tested, as the test results matched with additional data will be critical in developing a better understanding of CDDY implications.
  • Please let us know if you have additional information regarding CDDY, and continue to be on the lookout for updates on this topic.

With additional questions/concerns, feel free to reach out to:

Dave Wichterman

(302) 233-4747 


Sandra Caruso slcaruso@MSN.COM

(215) 460-4043

Everything Eyes

The Importance of Eye Exams

Canine eyes are a complex organ allowing perception of color, forms, and depth. Careful inspection and examination of the eyes can help diagnose local or systemic problems. Inherited and acquired eye diseases exist in all dog breeds, including Portuguese Water Dogs. The PWD breed is vulnerable to certain inherited eye diseases, which can lead to vision impairment or loss. Some eye issues are acquired and occur with aging (cataracts, dry eyes, glaucoma), injury (corneal abrasions), or environmental exposure (allergens). Eye issues can be caused by other health concerns, such as hypertension, diabetes, chronic dental disease, and cancer. Since dogs cannot communicate changes in vision, it is up to the owner to be proactive about eye health. Dogs may show red eyes, tearing, squinting, excessive blinking, thick eye discharge, rubbing of the eyes or head, or vision loss. These signs should alert the owner to an array of possible eye ailments. Careful observation and routine ophthalmology exams are crucial in maintaining healthy eyesight.

Eye Conditions Documented in PWDs:

  • Microphthalmia Syndrome (MOS-PWD):  also known as “Puppy Eye Syndrome.” This genetically transmitted (autosomal recessive) disease affects both eyes and is distinguished by a small globe and may be accompanied by persistent papillary membranes, glaucoma, retinal degeneration, cataracts, stunted growth, low platelet count, anemia, and possible behavioral issues. DNA testing is now available through PennGen.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): this disease is irreversible and progressive, causing photoreceptor cells to deteriorate, eventually leading to total blindness.  Most PRA is autosomal recessive but other forms have been identified. Although PRA cannot be diagnosed by eye exam until the dog is around 3-6 years of age, genetic testing is available to determine which dogs are carriers.
  • Early Onset Progressive Retinal Atrophy (EOPRA): an inherited, subtype of PRA causing early onset blindness. Visual deficits begin around 2-3 years of age. Genetic testing is available.
  • Cataracts: opacity of lens; a common cause of visual impairment in the older dog.  
  • Distichiasis: eyelashes abnormally emerge from the eyelid margin and can cause chronic eye pain and corneal abrasions.
  • Retinal Dysplasia: retinal folding  (partial or complete), which may resolve with maturity.
  • Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM): are remnants of blood vessels that do not properly regress during the newborn period.
  • Injury: examples are foreign body (dust and dirt) or corneal trauma (blunt or sharp injury or chemical burns).
  • Infection: can be viral, bacterial, allergic, or fungal.
  • Keroconjunctivitis Sicca (dry eyes): an autoimmune condition that causes lack of tears to properly lubricate the eyes and can lead to sore, itchy, infected eyes.

The most important measure to prevent and improve the outcome of eye problems is to have your dog routinely examined.  All dogs should receive routine eye exams. The PWDCA recommends all breeding dogs receive annual eye exams by a board certified ophthalmologist. All other dogs, age 4 years or older and not exhibiting eye problems, should receive routine eye exams every other year until age 10.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) provides a certificate to owners of dogs with normal eye exams. OFA records these exam and places results in a national registry. This registry provides breeders with information regarding canine eye diseases so that ethical breeding decisions can be made to produce healthier dogs and improve the breed.  Dogs with normal exams are eligible for OFA certifications, which are valid for 12 months. Breeders should provide prospective puppy buyers with results of current OFA results for both the sire and the dam.

All dogs should have ophthalmology exams. Vets recommend pets be examined every other year. Experts recommend eye exams for breeding dogs be done yearly, whereas genetic testing for PRA, EOPRA, and MOS be done once prior to breeding.

How To Ensure the Overall Health Of Your Dog’s Eyes:  Bring your dog to Eye Clinic!

What to expect at eye clinic: Upon arrival, you will receive OFA paperwork to complete. A brief medical history of your dog will be obtained. The microchip will be checked and verified. Your dog’s eyes will be dilated, and the eye exam will begin approximately 20 minutes after drops are instilled. A measure of tear production and intraocular pressure will be completed. Slit-lamp biomicroscopy (examination of the eyelids, cornea, and lens) and indirect ophthalmoscopy (using light mounted to a headset with handheld lens to allow examination of the retina and optic nerve) will be done. The exam is painless and should take less than 10 minutes.  Your dog’s eyes will be sensitive to light for up to 8 hours after receiving the dilation drops.  


This article was adapted from the following online sources: (1) PWDCA PWD Health Conditions: Eyes (2) Companion Animal Eye Registry CAER Overview, (3) PRA article by Dr. Brady Beale, VMD (January 2018), (4) “Canine Eye Health” (November 8, 2013),  (5) The New York Times: “Does Your Pet Need an Eye Exam” (June 6, 2017), (6) Purina Pro Club “American Fanciers Embrace the Portuguese Water Dog,” (7) University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine, “Inherited Ocular Diseases: Using CAER Exams to Show We Care” (May 11, 2021), (8) VMCLI “Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) Exams” by Dr. Noelle La Croix, DVM.            

Obstructions & Toxicity

Canine bowel obstruction commonly occurs when foreign material is ingested and becomes partially or completely lodged in the intestines. The obstruction prevents food and water from passing through the gastrointestinal tract and can lead to decreased blood flow, malabsorption, bowel deterioration, and more.

Common objects causing bowel obstruction include ingestion of bones, balls, toys, rocks, orthodontic retainers, corncobs, clothing (underwear, bras, socks), fruit pits, and feminine hygiene products. Linear objects, such as thread, string, yarn, tampons and rope, are especially dangerous because they cause twisting and telescoping of the bowel. Ingestion of a wire orthodontic retainers can lead to perforations and bleeding in the digestive tract.

Signs of bowel obstruction include loss of appetite, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, straining to stool, lethargy, restlessness, and arching of the back. 

Seek veterinary care immediately if blockage is suspected. If left untreated, bowel obstruction can cause pain, dehydration, intestinal perforation, and death. The veterinarian will complete a thorough history and exam and may obtain an abdominal x-ray or ultrasound to confirm the presence and location of the foreign object, provide subcutaneous or intravenous fluids, or administer pain and anti-nausea medication.  If the foreign material does not pass in the stool, surgery may be required to remove the object. The first 72 hours post-op are the most critical in the recovery process.

Prevention is key! Always monitor your dog while playing with toys or bones, dispose of any toys that are broken, splintered, or shredded, place harmful objects out of reach, and keep garbage containers sealed at all times. Keeping your dog fully enriched can also help to prevent them from looking for alternative means of engagement. Our Winter 2023 News Buoy linked here goes into detail on various enrichment tools for our dogs! Bowel obstruction surgery is expensive. The cost depends on extent of the surgery, the duration of the obstruction, length of hospital stay, and general health of your dog. Consider purchasing insurance for your dog - shop around for a policy that meets the health needs of your dog and your budget.

For more information, see what the AKC has to say about obstructions.

Dog Friendly Garden, or NOT

Spring has sprung! Keep informed about hazards in your garden, how to identify and manage if your dog has ingested a poisonous substance, and more!

Planting a dog friendly garden with the AKC

Identify toxic plants and how to manage it with the AKC

UC Davis weighs in on 10 toxic plants

Marijuana Toxicity

Another weed that can cause issues for our dogs, Marijuana, THC, CBD, and other derivative have become more and more common with legal support nation wide. With these substances readily available, don't forget to keep them out of the reach of your dogs to prevent toxicity issues. To learn more, visit the links below!

Marijuana Toxicity from UC Davis

THC CBD Poisoning with VCA

Whole Dog Journal on what to do if your dog ingests Marijuana

Tools repair icon cartoon style Royalty Free Vector Image  Useful Tools for the Unexpected  Tools repair icon cartoon style Royalty Free Vector Image

Watch this video from the AKC  to learn how to do CPR on your dog!

And do you know how to do the doggy Heimlich? Check out what the AKC has to say here!

1. Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435

2. Your closest 2-3 emergency vets. Make sure to call ahead and explain your situation to the vet before you arrive. Although some emergency vets are open 24/7, not all have the capacity to handle your case OR they like to be prepared for your arrival and give specific arrival instructions. 

3. Your local vet. Some vets have "urgent care" time slots aside for their patients that have an urgent (but not necessarily emergency) case. Call ahead to make sure they're prepared for your dog.

4. First Aid Kit

See here for more first aid kit tips!

You never know when disaster will strike so be prepared!

Keep this Pet Disaster Checklist handy and along with some tips from the Red Cross here.

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