BaxterBoo Blog
January 25, 2012

Health Problems of Popular Dog Breeds

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Photo courtesy: cloneofsnake

There’s a reason pet store are still in business and pure-bred adoption agencies have grown; people just can’t seem to get enough of pure-bred puppies. One of the number one reasons people pick a pure bred over a mix is because they think they know what they’re getting when they are able to choose the breed. It’s believed that when you get those AKC papers, your pup is perfect.

While every pup is prefect in their own way, many don’t realize that even pure breeds sometimes have hidden health problems. Some breeds are more prone to certain health problems that can later cause you heartache and your wallet to become slimmer. Don’t be left in the dark when it comes to your breed, be sure to check out all the factors (the good and the bad) before choosing the breed that’s right for you.

Photo courtesy of: amlamster

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel: Mitral Valve Disease

The King Charles Spaniel is often referred to as a very loving dog. However, despite its sweet disposition, the breed is often prone to develop a bad heart. Mitral Valve Disease often affects elderly small dogs, but it seems to affect the King Charles Spaniel earlier in its’ life.

The disease affects the heart’s mitral valve. The valve’s main propose is to prevent the backflow of blood running from the left ventricle into the left atrium. The valve contains a set of double flaps that close like a set of one-way doors during each heartbeat.

When these flaps close, it prevents blood from go backwards. However, when a person or canine, has the disease, the valve doesn’t work properly, allowing blood to leak backward when the heart pumps. The backflow of blood puts a strain on the heart.

Symptoms of Mitral Valve Disease:

  • Exercise intolerance
  • Breathlessness
  • Weight loss
  • Fainting
  • Progressive coughing

The King Charles has been known to develop the disease by their fifth birthday, while most breeds won’t develop the disease until they’re around 10-15 years of age. That makes them 20 times more likely to develop the disease than other breeds.

With annually screenings, the disease can be detected and treated before it gets too severe. The first sign of the condition is a heart murmur. Detection is extremely important because with monitoring and the right medication, a dog with the disease can live for years with very few symptoms.

Photo courtesy of: kevinpoh

Maltese: White Shaker Syndrome

You may think your little Maltese just has some killer dance moves, but her shaking may not be caused by a new-hit Beyoncé tune. Maltese’s typically suffer from White Shaker Syndrome.

This funny sounding disease is no laughing matter. It affects the dog by causing a tremor to occur throughout the dog’s body. The tremors tend to get worse with handling or when the dog gets excited.

Symptoms of White Shaker Syndrome:

  • Head tilts
  • Limb weakness
  • Seizures 

The name is derived from the type of dogs it primarily affects: small, white coat pups.  Maltese and West Highland White Terriers are most commonly at risk to develop the disease.

The cause for the disease is thought to occur due to inflammation in the cerebellum of the brain. The inflammation can be decreased by use of corticosteroids, which are steroid injections. The injections are often given to the dog in relatively high doses at first, and then the amount is decreased as progress is determined by the veterinarian.

Photo courtesy of: jwillier2

Great Dane: Bloat

While bloating in humans is usually a slight weight gain, causing your new jeans to take a backseat to sweat pants, it’s a more serious problem for Great Danes.

Bloat, also known as gastric dilation or volvulus, can be a fatal disease. Common in mostly giant breeds, bloat occurs when the stomach fills up with gas and twists, trapping food and gas in the stomach.

Symptoms of Bloat:

  • Firm distension of the abdomen
  • Weakness
  • Depression
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hyper-salivation
  • Retching without vomiting
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling after eating

If caught early enough, bloat can be treated with surgery. By recognizing the symptoms and prevention of bloat, you can potentially save your dog’s life from this fatal disease.

Photo courtesy of: Soggydan

Pomeranian: Hair Loss

This fluffy haired pet seems to have enough hair to support a groomer’s salary for life, but the breed actually has a disposition for a hair loss condition. Alopecia X, an adrenal gland disease, causes hair loss and usually begins its onset when the pup is still young.

Alopecia X is still a disease that is not fully researched. Not only are the causes varied, but the condition also varies in how it affects the dog. It typically shows up around the 3rd year of age, but the progress varies in individual dogs.

Possible Causes of Alopecia X:

  • Genetics
  • Stress
  • Parasites/bacteria
  • Nutrition
  • Endocrine problems
  • Corticosteroids

While no test is designed yet to specifically diagnose the condition, veterinarians attempt to use skin biopsies, blood tests, and hormone tests as a means of detecting it. Veterinarians have found that drug therapy, such as hormone therapy, or neutering the pet, will sometimes jumpstart hair regrowth.

Treatment Mediciation for Alopecia X:

Photo courtesy of: Christopher Macsurak

Miniature Schnauzer: Diabetes

Shh! Don’t tell Baxter! Miniature Schnauzers are prone to Diabetes Mellitus, or as you know it, simply diabetes. It can form in any breed, but the poor Mini Schnauzer seems to be at a higher risk. The condition is serious, but with careful monitoring, your pet can live a long, healthy life.

When the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin in the body, blood sugar (also called hyperglycemia) rises. The insulin is a much needed hormone that carries glucose through the blood to the cells. Without insulin, glucose cannot move into engery-producing cells. Therefore, glucose levels in blood rises to abnormally high levels.

Symptoms of Diabetes:

  • Excessive water consumption
  • Frequent urination – more than usual
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Excessive appetite
  • Lethargy

The cause of diabetes can result from obesity, genetics, bad diet habits, hormones, stress, or drugs (no, not the drugs you’re thinking, but rather prescription drugs).

Treatment can put a damper on one’s life with the amount of requirements, but for most of us, there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for our cuddle buddies. After first being diagnosed with diabetes, veterinarians will usually keep pets hospitalized for a couple days to determine what exactly is needed for successful treatment.

A test insulin injection will usually be administered to the pup, with several checks throughout the day of the blood sugar levels. Once the level of required insulin is determined, the veterinarian will send you home with an insulin schedule. It’s also important to not only administer the medication properly and timely, but changes will most likely have to be made in the dog’s diet, exercise routine, and stress environments.

Photo courtesy of: gregwestfall

Poodle: Glaucoma

While many humans use “alternative medicinal” remedies to treat glaucoma, poodles are stuck with taking the hard road. Glaucoma can affect any breed, but poodles are at an increased risk.

Symptoms of Glaucoma:

  • Pressure
  • Pain
  • Blindness - caused from a buildup of fluid in the eye

A painful and uncomfortable disease, glaucoma rests as the number one cause of blindness in animals. In most cases, the left eye is the first to be affected, while the right eye usually takes about 5 months to 2 years to be affected.

The bright side? The condition is treatable with medicine and sometimes surgery. The worst case scenario would result in removal of the affected eye, but let’s hope that never has to happen.

Photo courtesy of: SKimchee

Yorkshire Terrier: Portosystemic Shunt

Yorkies are one of most popular toy breeds. Their teddy bear appearance tends to win over hearts, but many owners and potential owners aren’t aware that the breed is actually prone to a blood vessel birth defect called Portosystemic Shunt (PSS).

Symptoms of Portosystemic Shunt (PSS):

  • Poor growth
  • Vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures

Symptoms can occur as soon as 6 months of age. Painful bladder stones can also form due to increased amounts of uric acid that is excreted by the kidneys. If you’ve ever had bladder stones, you can concur that it’s an extremely painful experience.

Veterinarians are finding ways to diagnosis the PSS by testing ammonia levels or bile acids in the blood. Detecting the disease can lead to surgery, resulting in a long, healthy life.

Photo courtesy of: mikebaird

Cocker Spaniel: Ear Infections

Do your ears hang low? Do they wobble to and fro? Well, if you’re a Cocker Spaniel they do! Big, fuzzy floppy ears are a traditional mark of the Cocker Spaniel. However, as cute as they may be, those big ears are prone to frequent infection.

Since the ears hang so low and grow so much hair, there isn’t much breathing room for the ear canal. Ear infections can be painful and when your pup can’t speak to tell you what’s bothering them, it’s important to take steps to prevent any pain possible.

By cleaning the ears every couple of weeks, ear infections can be prevented. Also, at times when you’re snuggling on the couch watching television with your pooch, flipping back the ears to allow them to “breathe” will also help to cut back on possible infections.

Photo courtesy of: dinghyman

Boxer: Cancer

Cancer is scary for humans and pups. The detrimental condition invades your body, and like a vicious wildfire, it can spread extremely fast. While any animal can get cancer, Boxers are particularly at risk for lymphoma and mast cell tumors. Lymphoma is a type of cancer that invades the lymph nodes and mast cell tumors are a type of skin cancer.

Common Symptoms of Lymphoma:

  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Enlarged, painless lymph nodes in the neck, under the front legs, or in the groin area
  • Enlargement of the tonsils
  • Enlargement of the spleen

Common Symptoms of Mast Cell Tumors:

  • Tumors anywhere in the skin but occur most often on the limbs or testicles of males
  • Firm, white tumors with areas of bluish-purple colors
  • Soft, flabby yellowish tumors

Early detection of these cancers is extremely important to save the life of your pooch. By feeling for unusual lumps or bumps on your dog’s body, you might be able to treat the cancer.

Photo courtesy of: Oscalito

Shih Tzu: Wobbly Kneecaps

If you happen to see your sweet, little shih tzu shaking at the knees, don’t think she is just cold. Ole’ wobbly kneecaps isn’t just a funny nickname, it’s actually a condition that is extremely common in the toy breed. Patellar luxation, wobbly kneecaps, occurs when the kneecap pops out of place.

Symptoms of Wobbly Kneecaps:

  • Hobbling
  • Skipping a step
  • Limping
  • Posture change
  • Lack of use of the rear legs

Sometimes the kneecap will pop back into position on its own. However, if the condition only worsens, an uncorrected patella can lead to severe arthritis or the need for kneecap reconstructive surgery. Your veterinarian will determine which option is best for your dog if surgery is needed.

Three Types of Wobbly Kneecap Surgery:

  • Trochlear Modification - the groove which the patella rests in is made deeper to help keep the knee cap from sliding out.
  • Lateral Imbrication - the knee cap is tightened to the outside of the knee preventing it from moving or slipping out of position.
  • Tibial Crest Transposition - the bony projection where the quadriceps tendon attaches to the tibia is cut off and reattached in a more lateral position.

Photo courtesy of:

Beagle: Epilepsy

It’s not shocking to hear of humans suffering from epilepsy, but it may be shocking to know that the common disorder affects beagles more than any other dog. The brain disorder causes frequent seizures.

Epileptic dogs typically have their first seizure within the first half of their lives (somewhere between 6 months – 3 years). The incurable condition brings about unforeseen seizures (ranging from mild to violent) and can be very scary for surrounding people.

With anti-seizure medication, the condition can be managed. But, just in case, it's always a smart idea to be prepared.

What To Do If Your Dog Has a Seizure

  • Immediately call the vet
  • Do NOT move the dog
  • Place a blanket on the dog to keep him warm
  • Stay calm
  • Check to make sure the dog can't roll onto anything that could hurt him
  • Be prepared for the release of bodily fluids, such as: vomit, urine, or fecal matter
  • Do NOT try to hold its tongue 
  • Make sure the dog will not bump its head on anything

Photo courtesy of: mrbbking

Labrador Retriever: Obesity

Dog panties not fitting anymore? No, not you; I’m talking about your dog, silly! Labs are frequent overeaters, which can cause their waistline to expand. Obesity can cause a variety of health problems.

Consequences of Obesity:

So, how do you combat the onset of diabetes? Your veterinarian can formulate a good diet plan based off your dog’s needs.

Typically, labs have high energy and need vigorous exercise. By managing your dog’s meals and allowing extra outdoor play, your pup can keep a healthy weight and body.

Photo courtesy of: IndiePics!

Pug: Eye Problems

This pup is known for their squashed faces and bugged-eyed looked. While it’s comical, the risks that are involved with bulgy eyes are actually quite serious. In fact, it can be so shocking; your eyes might pop out of your head (sorry, for the corny joke)!

But really, since the eyes of the dog protrude outward, it isn't a rarity that one of the eyes falls out. Accidents or fights with other dogs are usually the causes for the eye-popping occurrence.

Extremely scary (and gross), it typically startles people so much they lose sight of the problem. But, if it ever happens, cover the eye with a damp cloth and rush your dog to the vet. You see, your vet is the only one who can properly put the eye back into place.

Knowing what potential problems your pet could have, will benefit you in the end. Don’t get me wrong, every breed (mixed or pure) can have problems and you shouldn’t let that deter you from getting a new companion. However, if you’re aware of the potentials, you might become more knowledgeable about which breed would be right for you.

Joanne on April 11 at 10:27 PM said:

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