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Carpal Pad injuries: also, dealing with heart murmurs.


ACE, MY 5-YEAR-OLD male Brittany, and I have been hunting for 5 years. I notice that when we are hunting tight cover in Minnesota for grouse and woodcock or when we are hunting hillsides, Ace will develop abrasions on the back of his front legs. Also, he will have cuts and abrasions where his carpal pad meets his leg. This can wear away his fur and leave his legs raw or in some cases, bleeding.

I treat this with antibiotics, a wrap, EMT Gel and he does fine with a collar and a few days off. The problem is that it limits the frequency and duration of his hunting during a trip. The odd part to this is that it does not seem to affect my friend's Brittany or other dogs being run by our guide.

What can I do to prevent this and keep my dog in the hunt? I would like to avoid any severe tears to his carpal pad. Is there a non-surgical solution like putting loose "vet wrap" around his front legs and carpal pad during the hunt? Would you ever consider surgery?--T


I think the idea of wrapping the legs with tape is great. You will just have to figure out what is sticky enough to stay on during hunting but is not impossible to get off afterwards. I would ask your veterinarian to help you select a product from their supply; otherwise you will spend a long time trying every possible tape out there.

Surgery doesn't seem like it would be the answer for this problem. If there is a significant laceration, surgery would be needed to speed the healing, but only if the full thickness of the skin had been cut. It sounds like your dog must just run through the brush differently than some other dogs. It is great that he is hitting the good cover with such intensity!


MY FEMALE ENGLISH cocker spaniel is 11 years old and was recently diagnosed with a heart murmur. How common is this and is it safe to hunt her next year? She acts normal right now but the vet said she might start coughing and not be able to tolerate as much exercise. He also said she may need medications of some kind in the future.--D


Hopefully this is the most common type of murmur caused by irregularities on the edges of the heart valves. A large percentage of older dogs have these changes on some of their valves within the heart. The murmur sound we hear with our stethoscope is from turbulence when blood flows backwards through valves that do not shut completely tight. When this backflow worsens congestive heart failure occurs.

Many heart murmurs in dogs are not clinically significant to them initially. The heart is still pumping fairly efficiently. I would assume that this is the situation your dog is in now. At her age I would want to check her heart every 3-6 months.

You can also monitor her at home by measuring her sleeping respiratory rate. It should be less the 30 breaths per minute. If it is not then she may not have efficient oxygen exchange in the lungs from congestion due to the backflow of blood at the site of the murmur. If the sleeping respiratory rate is above 30 per minute she needs to be seen by your vet and will probably start medications at that time.

Medications for congestive heart failure are used to reduce congestion in the lungs, make it easier for the heart to pump blood forward and increase the strength of the heart muscle. Your veterinarian will have to determine which medications and when to start them based on a physical exam, radiographs, electrocardiogram (ECG), and possibly ultrasound evaluation of the heart. The doctor may also consult with a board certified cardiologist after providing them with this information. It is amazing how efficiently these consultations can be done now.

Your dog should be able to hunt like most 11- or 12-year-old dogs. You should use caution and common sense. Make sure she is conditioned prior to the season and limit the duration and frequency of the hunts.

John Holcomb, DVM

Contact Dr. Holcomb with jour questions at
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Title Annotation:Veterinary Clinic
Author:Holcomb, John
Publication:Gun Dog
Date:Feb 24, 2016
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