Our 2013 Havanese Health Survey revealed that overall, Havanese are a very healthy breed. Thanks to good, ethical breeders who diligently work to ensure the breed is healthy!
Health testing that ALL Breeders should be doing on the Havanese they are breeding are:
CERF - Simple, inexpensive, painless exam of the eyes performed by an Ophtalmologis approved by CERF. This should be performed annually on all Havanese.
PATELLAS AND HIPS - Patella's can be checked and certified by a veterinarian, it is not necessary to radiograph or sedate the dog. Hip conformation needs to be confirmed by radiograph then sent to OFA for certification by OFA radiologists.
BAER - Simple, painless test to determine whether a dog has normal hearing in each ear. Only needs to be performed once in a dogs lifetime.
BLOOD PANELS - Baseline blood panel, liver values, tyroid, CBC, Chem panel.
CARDIAC - Listening to the heart should be a part of the annual physical exam to determine if further testing is needed.
Here are some possible symptoms of liver shunts:
1. Poor Doer: A puppy/dog that is always getting sick. Because liver shunts cause toxicity in the blood because the dog is not having its blood filtered by the liver. This causes various illnesses to occur often.
2. UTIs: A puppy/dog that has frequent urinary tract infections or looks like it is having a urinary tract infection due to having many accidents all over the house, isn't able to be housebroken or urinating small amounts.
3. BAD ODOR: A puppy/dog that has bad mouth odor and/or bad urine odor. Often, the urine is also a darker color yellow instead of the "barely" yellow of normal healthy urine. (Note: Puppy and young dogs should have good breath. Bad breath is a RED FLAG that something isn't right)
4. Head Pressing: Dogs with liver shunts don't filter their blood which results in ammonia build up in the blood. Ammonia toxicity causes their heads to feel funny - so they rub their heads a lot.
5. CRYSTALS IN URINE: This is from the excess ammonia in their system. Any dog with crystals in the urine should have a bile acid test.
6. Complete Blood Count (CBC): This test is easily given in the vet's office. Liver shunt dogs often have a lower than normal BUN and Creatin count.
7. Depression: Liver shunt dogs are not very active or they may be active for very short periods of time. They are known as "quiet" puppies or "quiet" dogs. A "quiet" puppy usually isn't very normal and all "quiet" puppies should have a bile acid test to make sure they are okay.
8. Low Weight: Puppies with liver shunts look normal with a milk belly, etc. As they grow into dogs it is obvious they are too skinny. Their ribs show, their bones are prominant and they don't develop muscle mass. Not all liver shunt dogs have low weight though, but many do. They tend to have low weight because their liver cannot absorb and process nutrients to bring these liver shunt dogs to their normal weight.
9. Small: Dogs with liver shunts often do not grow as much as their siblings. They have smaller than normal livers and sometimes smaller than normal features.
10. Anorexia: Many liver shunt puppies/dogs do not eat normally. They eat very little dog food. They may chow down on a newly introduced canned food or people food - but they invariably resort back to not eating very much. Eating food makes them not feel well because of the higher toxicity they have after a meal - so they tend to shun food.
11. Breed: Any breed can have a liver shunt, but Yorkshire Terriers are famous for having them.
ANOTHER VERY GOOD BREEDER WEB SITE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HAVANESE HEALTH ISSUES AND COLORS CAN BE FOUND ON SUZANNE MCKAY'S WEB SITE.