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Discussion Starter #1
A lot of folks we already know have heard it, but it is a good learning experience for anything who enjoys Maltese, owning or just admiring.

Mikey was a normal, healthy puppy. He was active, energetic, and very intelligent. He finished his AKC championship at a little over a year of age, owner-handled. He started agility about the same time. He had excelled in obedience, but was bored by formal obedience so we never bothered to compete. He learned a whole lot of goofy tricks instead, including sneezing on cue.

Around the time he finished, he stopped eating well. Then, he started vomiting off and on and having soft stools. At 18 months of age, his vomiting was alarming enough that he had a work-up done including endoscopy and biopsies of his stomach and small intestines. It showed mild inflammatory bowel disease and bacterial overgrowth. We treated him with conservative medical treatment for his IBD, novel protein diet, and added in Chinese herbal medicine. He never got better, but was managable.

At age 2, he was starting to drink and urinate a lot more. A urinalysis showed he was shedding cells from his kidneys. Another extensive work-up including an ultrasound revealed early kidney disease, something that we should just monitor.

Around age 3, he was sick more often with vomiting and diarrhea. A few months after his third birthday, I learned that my other dog, a close relative of Mikey, had microvascular dysplasia, a hereditary liver condition in Maltese, as well as some inflammation in his liver recently being identified in Maltese with MVD. We tested Mikey's bile acids, a screening test for liver dysfunction including shunts and MVD which are genetic in Maltese. Mikey's results indicated he had liver disease. He had another ultrasound which did not find a shunt, so we opted for exploratory surgery to get full-thickness GI biopsies at the same time.

Mikey was diagnosed with eosinophilic IBD, MVD, and the same type of inflammation in his liver. We immediately put him on the recommended treatment, although he could not tolerate the ideal diet. We stuck with a GI-friendly diet.

A few months later, Mikey hadn't improved, but he had started limping on his right rear leg. Because of his liver condition, we could not give him anti-inflammatory drugs, so surgery was the best option for his luxating patella. At the same time, he underwent his 4th surgery for distichiasis, a painful eyelid condition where lashes grow into the eye and require surgical removal.

Leg fixed, Mikey could walk again, but he continued to do worse and worse with his GI signs. He was put on a trial of prednisone which did not help. He saw two internists and had another ultrasound. At age 4, my happy, healthy, energetic puppy acted more like a geriatric dog and was uncomfortable most of the time. Over the last few months, he has done trials of a variety of drugs including budesonide, cyclosporine, and currently azathioprine. His prognosis is poor as he did not respond to prednisone of the cyclosporine. He is 4 1/2 now and his vets are happily amazed that his is still alive. 2 weeks ago he was in ICU on IV fluids, his liver values having shot up due to the chronic inflammation in his stomach and intestines.

Mikey is the poster-dog for why Maltese breeders need to do health testing. ALL of his problems have screening tests available to help decrease the likelihood that they occur. Luxating patellas can be tested for and certified with OFA. Eyes can be certified annually with CERF. Liver shunt and MVD can be screened for with a simple blood test, a bile acid profile. He looks great on the outside, lovely coat, movement, etc. On the inside, however, he is a disaster.
 

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Gosh, Jackie, this is an incredible story..... so many different problems in one dog.... Just awful....


May I ask what type of situation you purchased him from..... regular breeder, pet store, etc. ?

I hope and pray that one of the medicines will start working for him.....
 

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I purchased him and his paternal uncle from a breeder who showed. Mikey was bought as a show potential pup at 4 months and did finish his Ch.

I know of only a few breeders who do any health clearances. I didn't even know before Mikey how important they were. I thought problems would be obvious, but they aren't.
 

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Originally posted by JMM@Nov 29 2004, 09:57 PM
I purchased him and his paternal uncle from a breeder who showed. Mikey was bought as a show potential pup at 4 months and did finish his Ch.

I know of only a few breeders who do any health clearances. I didn't even know before Mikey how important they were. I thought problems would be obvious, but they aren't.
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I assume the breeder knows what happened to Mikey and his uncle. Did he/she make any changes in their breeding program as a result of the information?
 

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Originally posted by JMM@Nov 29 2004, 10:02 PM
They know and to the best of my knowledge nothing was altered.
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Oh my goodness!! That is awful that if indeed this is a genetic disease that they would continue breeding the same dogs...... And it sounds like this was what one would call a "responsible" breeder under other circumstances.... It seems to be a crap shoot as to who to trust and what the health of our babies is going to be.....
 

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Thank you for sharing his/your story. He has a large amount of determination and fortitude to make it through all that! What a trooper!!! Brinkley and I send lots of hugs and kisses!!!
 

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Jackie,
It just hurts to read about all of Mikey's problems and to know that his breeder is aware and is not altering his/her practices. Know that you and Mikey are in my thoughts and prayers for him to be as comfortable as possible, I truly feel for what you are going through with him.
Quincymom
 

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Your story, and Mikey's, is heartbreaking. While screenings would have been useful, it is also a reminder that no matter what you pay, or whomever your breeder is, there are no guarantees. But breeders can surely do better!
 

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Awww. I hope only for the best for you and Mikey. 1000's of XOXOXO's for you guys
.
 

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I know Mikey Man's story, but it still breaks my heart to hear it. For those of you who haven't visted Jackie's website, you can see pictures of Mikey doing agility. It is heartbreaking to think that once vital dog is a "disaster" inside, as Jackie says.

As most of you know, my Lady also has multiple health issues. That's why I am consently dragging out my soapbox here and urging people to be so careful about who they get a puppy from and prepare (save, save, save) for unexpected medical expenses down the line.

Jackie, since you are so knowledgable, could you tell us what type of test results to ask for when we speak to a breeder about a puppy?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Mikey's breeder is not a bad or evil person, but, like the vast majority of Maltese breeders, does not know or educate themselves about health testing. Trust me, almost every line that has been around for a while has produced shunts and/or MVD, luxating patellas, etc.

I've met a great deal of resistance despite citing veterinary publications on the health testing available in Maltese. The single thing you can insist on is having bile acids done before you pick up your puppy. This is a screening test for a shunt or other major liver dysfunction. In Yorkies and other breeds prone to shunts, it is recommended by Dr. Karen Tobias at the University of TN to do bile acids (pre and post-prandial) at 12 weeks.

In border collies, labs, collie, Aussies, etc. breeders have the parent's hips and elbows x-rayed, eyes cleared annually, and even take the whole litter around 7 weeks of age to have their eyes checked. I highly doubt you would find somebody willing to do that, but bile acids is fairly inexpensive and easily accessible to any pet owner and liver disease, to me, is more scarey and dangerous than a luxating patella or repairable eye problem.
 

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Originally posted by JMM@Nov 30 2004, 02:30 PM
Mikey's breeder is not a bad or evil person, but, like the vast majority of Maltese breeders, does not know or educate themselves about health testing. Trust me, almost every line that has been around for a while has produced shunts and/or MVD, luxating patellas, etc.

I've met a great deal of resistance despite citing veterinary publications on the health testing available in Maltese. The single thing you can insist on is having bile acids done before you pick up your puppy. This is a screening test for a shunt or other major liver dysfunction. In Yorkies and other breeds prone to shunts, it is recommended by Dr. Karen Tobias at the University of TN to do bile acids (pre and post-prandial) at 12 weeks.

In border collies, labs, collie, Aussies, etc. breeders have the parent's hips and elbows x-rayed, eyes cleared annually, and even take the whole litter around 7 weeks of age to have their eyes checked. I highly doubt you would find somebody willing to do that, but bile acids is fairly inexpensive and easily accessible to any pet owner and liver disease, to me, is more scarey and dangerous than a luxating patella or repairable eye problem.
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Jackie, if our dogs seem healthy now, should we go ahead and have the bile acids test done? Is this a condition that can be any less dangerous if found early? Is there an average age when liver problems start? I had never even heard of the liver problem in Maltese until reading about it on MO, AMR, and SM.
 

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jackie, i am always amazed at how much energy a healthy minuscule maltese has but seeing all of what your mikey has gone through is beyond amazing. it is so sad and cruel that he should have such health issues and i hope the little trooper will keep on trooping. he certainly is in good hands, hats off to you.
 

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It is so important to know what to look for when getting a puppy. Jackie has shared and is still sharing such great knowledge with us.

A friend emailed me yesterday, she got a maltese on Friday at 5:00pm and at 11:00 pm she was at the emergency vet clinic. The 10 week old puppy ate and then vomited & diarehea. The supplier (I actually think she dealt with a broker) of the dog met her at the clinic etc. etc. Paid the bills and refunded her money. He was VERY concerned. The dog died Monday morning of Parvo. She sent me an email photo which wasn't too good and I noticed the eyes were cloudy and the feet and bottom part of the body was yellow (sitting in urine ?). Needless to say she is very upset about this whole situation. She said she did an investigation and this guy didn't get his puppies from puppy mills and that his facility was clean, etc. etc. It was just a very sad story.

n.
 

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Originally posted by CalsMom@Nov 30 2004, 03:09 PM
It is so important to know what to look for when getting a puppy.  Jackie has shared and is still sharing such great knowledge with us.

A friend emailed me yesterday, she got a maltese on Friday at 5:00pm and at 11:00 pm she was at the emergency vet clinic.  The 10 week old puppy ate and then vomited & diarehea.  The supplier (I actually think she dealt with a broker) of the dog met her at the clinic etc. etc.  Paid the bills and refunded her money.  He was VERY concerned.  The dog died Monday morning of Parvo.  She sent me an email photo which wasn't too good and I noticed the eyes were cloudy and the feet and bottom part of the body was yellow (sitting in urine ?).  Needless to say she is very upset about this whole situation.  She said she did an investigation and this guy didn't get his puppies from puppy mills and that his facility was clean, etc. etc.  It was just a very sad story.

n.
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Oh, your poor friend. I can't imagine what she must be feeling.
 

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Originally posted by CalsMom@Nov 30 2004, 04:09 PM
It is so important to know what to look for when getting a puppy.  Jackie has shared and is still sharing such great knowledge with us.

A friend emailed me yesterday, she got a maltese on Friday at 5:00pm and at 11:00 pm she was at the emergency vet clinic.  The 10 week old puppy ate and then vomited & diarehea.  The supplier (I actually think she dealt with a broker) of the dog met her at the clinic etc. etc.  Paid the bills and refunded her money.  He was VERY concerned.  The dog died Monday morning of Parvo.  She sent me an email photo which wasn't too good and I noticed the eyes were cloudy and the feet and bottom part of the body was yellow (sitting in urine ?).  Needless to say she is very upset about this whole situation.  She said she did an investigation and this guy didn't get his puppies from puppy mills and that his facility was clean, etc. etc.  It was just a very sad story.

n.
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Very, very sad story...


The facility may be clean but I would still be very suspect since it apparently is one that sells puppies to dealers... no responsible breeder does that.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Some dogs show no signs till even 8 years of age. We had a Shih Tzu that was diagnosed with a shunt at age 9! Most of them are pups and young adults that shows signs. It is not a bad idea to do bile acids, but unless the dog has symptoms or their bile acids are indicative of a shunt, no vet is going to recommend biopsying for MVD or further diagnostics. It is a good piece of information to have to avoid medications that might not be good for the liver like Rimadyl or ketoconazole.

My other dog has MVD and is fine...totally normal. It was found incidentally and he is 6 and has never had any problems from his liver. He's normal as his goofy butt ever will be. It is nice to know so we avoid some medications and, if he had been a dog I considered breeding, it would be very important to know.

That poor puppy...alas, that's not unusual out of a mill, clean or not.
 

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Thank you again for sharing your story!! I am in the process right now looking for a puppy but never knew of all the tests that should be done. So now when I hopefully get to talk to one of the breeders, I will ask about the acid bile test. I only thought of that test for yorkies. Please if anyone has any other advice for me or anyone else looking to get a pup, please share; i've been learning alot here!
 
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