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1.  Intervertebral disc disease in Dachshunds radiographically screened for intervertebral disc calcifications 
Intervertebral disc disease (IDD) is a very common neurological disease, Dachshunds being the breed most often affected. In this breed, IDD has a hereditary background and is associated with intervertebral disc calcification (IDC), an indicator of severe intervertebral disc degeneration. In Finland, spinal radiography is used, when screening for IDC before breeding Dachshunds. We evaluated the association between IDC and IDD in Finnish Dachshunds radiographically screened for IDC.
A questionnaire was sent to owners of 193 radiographically screened Dachshunds aged at least ten years. Clinical signs indicative of IDD were compared with IDC grade (grade 0 = no calcifications, grade 1 = 1 – 2 calcifications, grade 2 = 3 – 4 calcifications and grade 3 = 5 or more calcifications) and with age at the time of the radiographic examination. The diagnosis of IDD was confirmed by a veterinarian.
IDD was common in the study population with 31% of dogs being affected. IDD and IDC were clearly connected (P < 0.001); IDD was rare in dogs with no calcifications (grade 0) and common in dogs with severe IDC (grade 3). The IDC grade was strongly positively associated with frequency of back pain periods (P < 0.001), and dogs with IDC grade 3 had frequent periods of pain. Reluctance to jump onto a sofa had a strong positive association with back pain. No association existed between age of the dog at the time of the radiographic examination and clinical signs indicative of IDD.
Radiographically detected IDC and IDD are common in Finnish Dachshunds and are strongly associated with one another. Spinal radiography is an appropriate screening tool for breeders attempting to diminish IDC and IDD in Dachshunds. A breeding program that screens dogs and selects against IDC can be expected to reduce the occurrence of IDD in future. Twenty-four to 48 months of age is a suitable age for screening.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13028-014-0089-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4285634  PMID: 25523328
Intervertebral disc calcification; Intervertebral disc disease; Canine; Radiographic screening
2.  Large Outbreak Caused by Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius ST71 in a Finnish Veterinary Teaching Hospital – From Outbreak Control to Outbreak Prevention 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e110084.
The purpose of this study was to describe a nosocomial outbreak caused by methicillin resistant Staphylococcus pseudintermedius (MRSP) ST71 SCCmec II-III in dogs and cats at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital of the University of Helsinki in November 2010 – January 2012, and to determine the risk factors for acquiring MRSP. In addition, measures to control the outbreak and current policy for MRSP prevention are presented.
Data of patients were collected from the hospital patient record software. MRSP surveillance data were acquired from the laboratory information system. Risk factors for MRSP acquisition were analyzed from 55 cases and 213 controls using multivariable logistic regression in a case-control study design. Forty-seven MRSP isolates were analyzed by pulsed field gel electrophoresis and three were further analyzed with multi-locus sequence and SCCmec typing.
Sixty-three MRSP cases were identified, including 27 infections. MRSPs from the cases shared a specific multi-drug resistant antibiogram and PFGE-pattern indicated clonal spread. Four risk factors were identified; skin lesion (OR = 6.2; CI95% 2.3–17.0, P = 0.0003), antimicrobial treatment (OR = 3.8, CI95% 1.0–13.9, P = 0.0442), cumulative number of days in the intensive care unit (OR = 1.3, CI95% 1.1–1.6, P = 0.0007) or in the surgery ward (OR = 1.1, CI95% 1.0–1.3, P = 0.0401). Tracing and screening of contact patients, enhanced hand hygiene, cohorting and barrier nursing, as well as cleaning and disinfection were used to control the outbreak. To avoid future outbreaks and spread of MRSP a search-and-isolate policy was implemented. Currently nearly all new MRSP findings are detected in screening targeted to risk patients on admission.
Multidrug resistant MRSP is capable of causing a large outbreak difficult to control. Skin lesions, antimicrobial treatment and prolonged hospital stay increase the probability of acquiring MRSP. Rigorous control measures were needed to control the outbreak. We recommend the implementation of a search-and-isolate policy to reduce the burden of MRSP.
PMCID: PMC4198203  PMID: 25333798
3.  Ranking of physiotherapeutic evaluation methods as outcome measures of stifle functionality in dogs 
Various physiotherapeutic evaluation methods are used to assess the functionality of dogs with stifle problems. Neither validity nor sensitivity of these methods has been investigated. This study aimed to determine the most valid and sensitive physiotherapeutic evaluation methods for assessing functional capacity in hind limbs of dogs with stifle problems and to serve as a basis for developing an indexed test for these dogs. A group of 43 dogs with unilateral surgically treated cranial cruciate ligament deficiency and osteoarthritic findings was used to test different physiotherapeutic evaluation methods. Twenty-one healthy dogs served as the control group and were used to determine normal variation in static weight bearing and range of motion.
The protocol consisted of 14 different evaluation methods: visual evaluation of lameness, visual evaluation of diagonal movement, visual evaluation of functional active range of motion and difference in thrust of hind limbs via functional tests (sit-to-move and lie-to-move), movement in stairs, evaluation of hind limb muscle atrophy, manual evaluation of hind limb static weight bearing, quantitative measurement of static weight bearing of hind limbs with bathroom scales, and passive range of motion of hind limb stifle (flexion and extension) and tarsal (flexion and extension) joints using a universal goniometer. The results were compared with those from an orthopaedic examination, force plate analysis, radiographic evaluation, and a conclusive assessment. Congruity of the methods was assessed with a combination of three statistical approaches (Fisher’s exact test and two differently calculated proportions of agreeing observations), and the components were ranked from best to worst. Sensitivities of all of the physiotherapeutic evaluation methods against each standard were calculated.
Evaluation of asymmetry in a sitting and lying position, assessment of muscle atrophy, manual and measured static weight bearing, and measurement of stifle passive range of motion were the most valid and sensitive physiotherapeutic evaluation methods.
Ranking of the various physiotherapeutic evaluation methods was accomplished. Several of these methods can be considered valid and sensitive when examining the functionality of dogs with stifle problems.
PMCID: PMC3630007  PMID: 23566355
Canine; Stifle; Cranial cruciate ligament; Osteoarthrosis; Physiotherapy; Evaluation; Functional; Testing
4.  Thermographic Imaging of the Superficial Temperature in Racing Greyhounds before and after the Race 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:182749.
A total of 47 racing greyhounds were enrolled in this study on two race days (in July and September, resp.) at a racetrack. Twelve of the dogs participated in the study on both days. Thermographic images were taken before and after each race. From the images, superficial temperature points of selected sites (tendo calcaneus, musculus gastrocnemius, musculus gracilis, and musculus biceps femoris portio caudalis) were taken and used to investigate the differences in superficial temperatures before and after the race. The thermographic images were compared between the right and left legs of a dog, between the raced distances, and between the two race days. The theoretical heat capacity of a racing greyhound was calculated. With regard to all distances raced, the superficial temperatures measured from the musculus gastrocnemius were significantly higher after the race than at baseline. No significant differences were found between the left and right legs of a dog after completing any of the distances. Significant difference was found between the two race days. The heat loss mechanisms of racing greyhounds during the race through forced conduction, radiation, evaporation, and panting can be considered adequate when observing the calculated heat capacity of the dogs.
PMCID: PMC3477662  PMID: 23097633
5.  An un-commissioned randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind study to test the effect of deep sea fish oil as a pain reliever for dogs suffering from canine OA 
An un-commissioned randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled clinical study was planned using a deep sea fish oil product for pets. Seventy-seven client-owned dogs with osteoarthritis were randomly assigned to supplement the food with either the fish oil product or corn (=placebo) oil. Our main outcome variables were force platform variables peak vertical force (PVF) and impulse, the validated Helsinki Chronic Pain Index (HCPI) and the use of rescue NSAIDs. Secondary outcome variables were a locomotion visual analog scale (VAS), a Quality of life VAS, a comparative questionnaire, a veterinary assessment, owners’ final assessment of outcome and guessing the product given.
When comparing the two test groups at the end of the trial (16 weeks) there was no significant difference in any of the main outcome variables but owners of dogs that had taken fish oil were significantly happier with the treatment at the end visit and did significantly better at guessing what group their dogs had been in, compared to the placebo group. When comparing variables within the fish oil group as change from baseline to trial end, there were significant positive changes in PVF, HCPI, NSAID use, Quality of life VAS, as well as in all three scores in the comparative questionnaire (locomotion, every-day situations, and skin & coat). There were similar positive trends in force platform impulse and in the veterinary assessment variables, although they did not reach significance. Within the placebo group there were significant positive changes only in the HCPI and a significant deterioration according to veterinary assessment.
When compared to placebo, there was not a major statistically significant benefit in using deep sea fish oil as a pain reliever in our study population of dogs suffering from osteoarthritis. However, the fish oil treated patients improved significantly in many of the variables, when comparing baseline values to the study-end values within the group, indicating a true but small relief in symptoms. Deep sea fish oil supplementation could be considered a part of the multimodal pain relieving approach currently recommended for dogs suffering from OA, especially for individuals that do not tolerate anti-inflammatory drugs.
PMCID: PMC3514349  PMID: 22950577
Osteoarthritis; Pain; Fish oil; Omega-3; Fatty acid; Canine / Dog; Supplement; Joint; RCT; Double-blind
6.  Alternative classification and screening protocol for transitional lumbosacral vertebra in German shepherd dogs 
Lumbosacral transitional vertebra (LTV) is a common congenital and hereditary anomaly in many dog breeds. It predisposes to premature degeneration of the lumbosacral junction, and is a frequent cause of cauda equina syndrome, especially in German shepherd dogs. Ventrodorsal hip radiographs are most often used in diagnosis of LTV in screening programs. In this study, value of laterolateral lumbar spine radiographs as additions to ventrodorsal radiographs in diagnosis of LTV, and characteristics of LTV and the eighth lumbar vertebra (L8) in laterolateral radiographs were studied. Additionally, computed tomography (CT) features of different types of LTV were elucidated.
The ventrodorsal pelvic and laterolateral lumbar spine radiographs of 228 German shepherd dogs were evaluated for existence and type of LTV. Morphology of transverse processes was used in classification of LTV in ventrodorsal radiographs. The relative length of sixth (L6) and seventh (L7) vertebrae (L6/L7) was used in characterization of these vertebrae in laterolateral radiographs. CT studies were available for 16 dogs, and they were used for more detailed characterization of different types of LTV. Non-parametric χ2 statistics, generalized logit model for multinomial data, and one-way analysis of variance was used for statistical analyses.
In all, 92 (40%) dogs had a LTV, the most common type being separation of first spinous process from the median crest of the sacrum in 62 dogs (67% of LTV). Eight dogs had eight lumbar vertebrae. Those dogs with LTV had longer L7 in relation to L6 than dogs with normal lumbosacral junctions. When L6/L7 decreased by 0.1 units, the proportion of dogs belonging to the group with L8 was 14-fold higher than in the group with normal lumbosacral junctions. L8 resembled first sacral vertebra (S1) in length and position and was therefore classified as one type of LTV. With CT it was shown that categorizing LTV, based on shape and visibility of transverse processes seen in ventrodorsal radiographs, could be misleading.
We suggest that L8 be included as a part of the LTV complex, and the laterolateral radiographs of the lumbar spine be considered as an addition to ventrodorsal projections in the screening protocols for LTV.
PMCID: PMC3403972  PMID: 22549019
Lumbosacral transitional vertebra; Radiographic screening; Dog; German shepherd dog

Results 1-6 (6)