Although cardiac disease is not a known, prevalent issue with Picards, a basic heart exam with a standard care veterinarian is recommended to insure heart health.
An OFA heart exam is one of the optional tests for the CHIC number requirement and must be done by a board certified cardiologist. Veterinarians of many Picards have expressed concern of heart murmurs during routine exams. As per the OFA website, “While there are exceptions, virtually all common congenital heart defects are associated with the presence of a cardiac murmur.”
Not all heart murmurs mean heart disease, however. Often, a stressed dog’s heart will be beating fast due to stress of being in a new place, being with strangers or just general excitement. This rapid heartbeat can sometimes result in the same swishing sound associated with a heart murmur. It is recommended that if a murmur is thought to be heard, the dog be allowed to calm down or be retested at a different, less stressful location. Also, using a cardiac stethoscope (instead of a standard stethoscope) is critical to hearing the heart correctly. If a standard care veterinarian suspects a heart murmur or heart disease, it is recommended that follow up be done to properly diagnose and care for any heart issues, with a certified veterinary cardiologist.
It is recommended that even slight murmur be followed with an echocardiogram with heat sensitive doppler resolution to rule out any underlying issues.
More information about cardiac tests can be found at: http://www.offa.org/cardiac_guidelines.html
Cardiac Evaluation/Submission form: http://www.offa.org/pdf/cardapp_bw.pdf
The Berger Picard Club of America supports the testing of thyroid hormone for breeding stock as part of the CHIC certification program. This test can help us avoid thyroid issues in our breed by not breeding dogs that do not test within the normal range. Bitches that require thyroid medication to support a pregnancy may have an autoimmune disease and may pass this heritable disease to their offspring. In other breeds, thyroid problems have evolved into larger issues with a high percentage of dogs requiring medication to sustain pregnancy and may have other problems related to the disease.
The issues with thyroid disease are not limited to reproductive problems. Hypothyroidism (disease of thyroid hormone production deficiency) is the most common endocrine disorder of dogs. Autoimmune thyroiditis (also called lymphocytic thyroiditis) is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism in dogs and is known to be an inherited disease. Often, the symptoms will resemble other diseases or issues. Reproduction, temperament and the body’s immune system are affected and can be misdiagnosed. If any of these issues arise with a Picard, it’s suggested to get the thyroid tested, implementing a full test panel.
Autoimmune thyroiditis, with sudden onset behavioral problems, can start at puberty when sex hormonal changes and maturity occur. It is suggested that if you have a Picard with behavioral issues, thyroid tests be performed to rule out any impact the thyroid may have. It is helpful to be aware if the parents of a troubled Picard required thyroid medication, even if it was just to maintain a pregnancy.
More information about the thyroid and OFA thyroid testing can be found at http://www.offa.org/ under the “Thyroid” tab and the form for thyroid submission is here: http://www.offa.org/pdf/thyapp_bw.pdf
Another handy form is the Dentition database. Since the Picard is faulted for missing teeth, it is very handy to have a verifiable record that your dog has all of its teeth. This is particularly important for stud dogs.