PCD in Dogs

All About Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia

Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, or PCD in dogs is a disease of the respiratory tract that occurs in humans, dogs and other species. It is genetically transferred; the mode of inheritance is currently believed to be autosomal recessive. PCD affects the cilia, or hair-like structures, on the lining of the mucus membranes in the nose, trachea and lungs.

Normal cilia move together in a wave-like fashion to move fluids through the system and protect the respiratory tract from inhaled pathogens. In a respiratory tract afflicted with PCD, the cilia are incorrectly formed and can’t move in unison. Consequently, fluids in the respiratory tract collect along with pathogens creating respiratory ailments and infections.

 

Because the symptoms mirror other more common respiratory ailments, cases of PCD have been misdiagnosed as bronchitis, bronchiectasis, bronchopneumonia and even canine distemper viral infection. Microorganisms that have been isolated from animals with PCD include streptococcus, staphylococcus, pseudomonas and mycoplasma.

In addition to the respiratory tract, PCD can affect other parts of the body:

  • Otitis media which causes infections and inflammation of the ears;
  • Renal fibrosis
  • Hydrocephalus which is a build-up of fluid inside the skull causing brain swelling; and
  • Bone abnormality, including abnormal sternum, vertebrae, and ribs.

 Proper Diagnosis of PCD

PCD usually appears in the neonatal period or prior to two weeks and up to 12 weeks of age in a dog. A majority of puppies affected have a rattling, raspy or snorkeling sound coming from their noses. A breeder may incorrectly believe the amniotic fluid has not been cleared from the puppy’s airway or that it is not nursing properly. Nasal discharge is also a common symptom of PCD.

It is harder to identify an adult dog with the disease. Generally, the adult dog affected with PCD will have repeated bouts of sinus infections, upper respiratory problems and pneumonia. If the dog has repeated chest or nasal infections, PDC should be suspected.

Unfortunately, a firm diagnosis can only be made by examining the cilia with an electron microscope or by a Gama x-ray. Puppies are not physically big enough for samples to be taken until they are about five weeks old. It is, therefore, important for your veterinarian to be familiar with the disease and to rule out other, similar health issues, such as bronchitis, bronchopneumonia and even canine distemper.

Fortunately, treating PCD is similar to treating other respiratory ailments. Also, adjusting the dog’s environment to remove dust, pathogens and other irritants will help your dog to live as comfortably as possible.

PCD usually appears in the neonatal period or prior to two weeks and up to 12 weeks of age in a dog. A majority of puppies affected have a rattling, raspy or snorkeling sound coming from their noses. A breeder may incorrectly believe the amniotic fluid has not been cleared from the puppy’s airway or that it is not nursing properly. Nasal discharge is also a common symptom of PCD.

It is harder to identify an adult dog with the disease. Generally, the adult dog affected with PCD will have repeated bouts of sinus infections, upper respiratory problems and pneumonia. If the dog has repeated chest or nasal infections, PDC should be suspected.

Unfortunately, a firm diagnosis can only be made by examining the cilia with an electron microscope or by a Gama x-ray. Puppies are not physically big enough for samples to be taken until they are about five weeks old. It is, therefore, important for your veterinarian to be familiar with the disease and to rule out other, similar health issues, such as bronchitis, bronchopneumonia and even canine distemper.

Fortunately, treating PCD is similar to treating other respiratory ailments. Also, adjusting the dog’s environment to remove dust, pathogens and other irritants will help your dog to live as comfortably as possible.

Treating the Dog with PCD

The good news is that many Dogs with PCD live happy, healthy and otherwise normal lives. Adjustments in the living environment, diet and exercise will help reduce how often or how severe your Dog’s infections and ailments will be.

Sinus and Ear Infections

Dogs with PCD will present different symptoms, but the typical one is a nasal discharge that is yellow or green, indicating infection. Dogs may also have a clear runny nasal discharge. Changes in thickness or in color may be the first indication that there is an infection. Increased ‘snorkeling’ or a wheezing sound, coughing or reverse sneezing are also signs of an infection.  Please note that your Dog may still be active and playful at the beginning of an infection.

Early treatment of infections is essential. If left untreated, they can become more serious and even progress into pneumonia.  Signs of pneumonia include lethargy, arching of the back, loss of appetite, labored breathing, increased coughing and fever.

The ears can also become infected. It’s important to treat these infections early, as well. Chronic ear infections can lead to loss of hearing. Early diagnosis and therapeutic interventions allow us to try and prevent the possible long-term complications of this condition.

The proper course of antibiotics and length of treatment is critical to insure infections are gone and a relapse is unlikely. Additionally, proper treatment limits the resistance to antibiotics that results from too much use. It is important to have a good relationship with your vet and to have an emergency plan in effect in case your Dog becomes sick over a weekend at night or on a holiday.

The Lungs

The Dog with PCD will have trouble clearing its lungs of mucus and particles from the air, such as dust and pollen, causing him to cough, wheeze, sneeze and potentially develop an infection. There are some techniques you can use on a daily basis that will help your Dog clear his lungs. It is important that dogs with PCD never be given steroids or cough suppressants because coughing is the only way of clearing the lungs and nasal passages.

Steaming or Nebulizing and Coupage

Steaming loosens the mucus in the lungs and coupage aids the dog in coughing it out. Steaming can be done in a small bathroom by running hot water in the shower. You can also use a steamer such as a facial steamer designed for home use found in beauty supply stores and. Holding your dog or putting him in a crate will allow you to direct the steam toward his face. It’s important that you keep the steam at least five inches from the dog’s face so that you do not burn him. After ten minutes of steam, you should use a technique called coupage that uses body positioning and percussion to move drainage from the lungs. It is important you ask your veterinarian to show you the proper way to perform coupage. After two minutes of coupage, exercise will help the Dog to cough out the mucus, keeping his lungs clear and healthy. Playing indoors reduces the risk of the dog being exposed to dust and outdoor allergens. Up to three sessions a day is suggested.

A nebulizer is a device used to administer medication or moisture to people or dogs in forms of a liquid mist to the airways. It can be used in lieu of steam and takes less time. Your veterinarian can suggest the proper nebulizer for your dog. As with steaming, follow nebulizing with coupage and exercise.

A Suggested Daily Routine to Maintain Healthy Lungs

Consult with your veterinarian before using the suggested daily routine listed below.

If your dog is wheezing, coughing or has nasal discharge:

  • Morning:   10 minute Steam, 2 minute Coupage, exercise.
  • Afternoon:  Quick Coupage & Exercise.
  • Evening:  10 minute Steam, 2 minute Coupage, Exercise.

Note that with Coupage, you may NOT get an active cough

1 dose of Metacam to help with inflammation.
2 drops of SinoFresh in each nostril once every 24 to 48 hours

If your dog has PCD but is not experiencing any symptoms of PCD, it is suggested you follow this routine once or twice weekly.

This article and information contained herein are not to be used as a substitute for proper veterinary care.
It is critical that you get a VETERINARY diagnosis of PCD prior to using and discussing the following treatments with your vet.

 


0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*