Your best four-legged buddy inherited more than just a cute, fuzzy face from his parents. Both mixed breed and purebred dog can can inherit conditions from both of their parents. Additionally, some breeds of dog are just more prone to develop certain conditions because of their body structures.
Knowing your dog’s genetic predisposition to certain conditions can help you avoid a veterinary crisis.
For example, Dachshunds and Corgis have long spines paired with short, little legs. They at risk for back injuries, as is any dog built like a Dachshund or Corgi. That’s why smart Dachshund and Corgi owners keep their pups from jumping off elevated areas. If you’ve got a low-rider yourself, don’t let them jump on and off beds and couches unassisted. Provides steps, a helping hand, or simply keep them off.
But not ever danger is that obvious. That’s why it’s important to know and be able to recognize the early stages of these six conditions. Early detection and treatment is essential to preventing your dog from becoming seriously disabled.
Start with this overview of the top six most common conditions your dog might inherit.
#1 HIP DYSPLASIA
Mastiffs, Saint Bernards, Great Danes, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, and Golden Retrievers, Labradors and especially German Shepherd Dogs are the breeds most commonly-diagnosed with hip dysplasia.
Mixed breeds whose bloodlines traces back to one of these breeds can also develop this condition, but the risk level is slightly lower.
Hip joints of all mammals are pretty much the same/ The ball-and-socket design gives us a full 360 degrees of mobility.
Let’s break down what “ball-and-socket” means.
The ball is the top or head of the long bone (femur). The socket is the curved section at the bottom of the pelvis. It’s known as the acetabulum.
Hip dysplasia occurs when the acetabulum isn’t well-formed, which means pelvis can’t hold the femur securely in place. When the ball isn’t seated properly in the acetabulum, the bones grind together, and the femur can pop out of the socket during physical activity.
Early signs of hip dysplasia include an irregular gait, pain, mobility difficulties, stumbling and early onset arthritis. There is no cure for hip dysplasia, but it can be managed or even prevented in some cases. If your dog is already diagnosed with hip dysplasia, hydrotherapy, physical therapy and pain control can help relieve some symptoms, but surgery is often necessary.
You can lower your dog’s risk through weight management with a healthy diet and at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. Veterinarians also find joint supplements to be highly-effective at preventing major problems. A daily joint and hip supplement will support the structures of the joints, delaying or even preventing the problem from occurring.
#2 BLADDER STONES
Bladder stones can affect any breed of canine but Miniature Schnauzers, Bichon Frises, Newfoundlands, and especially Dalmatiansare the breeds most commonly diagnosed with them.
Bladder stones are mineralized structures that form inside the urinary bladder due to a pH imbalance in a dog’s urine. They come in a wide range of shapes and sizes and their mineral composition can vary quite a bit.
Though there are a variety of bladder stone types, they all cause the same symptoms in dogs. Pain during urinating, straining to urinate, an absence of urination, dark colored urine, bloody urine and licking of the vulva or penis.
Bladder stones leave traces of mineral deposits in a dog’s urine, which makes diagnosing the condition relatively simple. Diagnosis is confirmed with imaging and urinalysis. Treating bladder stones requires removing the stones surgically or breaking them apart with sounds waves (lithotripsy) so that they can be excreted.
You can manage the condition and prevent further stones from developing with the right diet.
Golden Retrievers, Labs, Dachshunds, Keeshonds, Belgian Tervurens, Beagles and German Shepherd Dogs are prone to type of epilepsy called idiopathic epilepsy. Where other forms of epilepsy are can be caused by organ failure, poisoning, drug reactions or heat stroke, idiopathic epilepsy occurs for no known reason.
It can be difficult to diagnose a dog with this form of epilepsy unless you actually see your dog having a grand mal seizure. Petit mal seizures can look like your dog is just staring off into the distance or may consist of just small tremors or disorientation.
There is no cure for epilepsy, but drug therapy has been proven to be quite effective for relaxing excitable cells in the brain that cause the condition.
#4 HEART DISEASE
Bulldogs, Boxers, Great Danes, Dobermans, Dachshunds, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and a number of other dog breeds are predisposed to developing heart disease. Heart disease is a broad term used to describe a variety of heart ailments. However, the symptoms of heart disease are the same across the board, no matter which part of the heart is affected.
Heart disease can be difficult to recognize initially. Early signs include abdominal distention, poor appetite, weakness, fainting and collapse. The single best way to catch early heart disease is to make sure your dog gets an annual exam by a vet. By listening to your dog’s heart, a vet can usually catch problems very early, and the right treatment can prevent further damage to the heart. Early diagnosis is critical.
#5 DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY
Pugs, Kerry Blue Terriers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Welsh Corgis, the Borzoi, Boxers, the Bernese mountain dog, the American Water Spaniel and, above all, the German Shepherd Dog have a predisposition to this neurological disease.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a disease of the spinal cord, specifically the myelin sheath that covers the nerve fibers. Nobody knows why, but, the myelin sheath degenerates over time, making it impossible for the signals from the brain to reach the nerves.
Without the brain’s direction, the limbs that those nerves are assigned to control become paralyzed and the dog loses the ability to control them. DM usually starts in a dog’s back end and the degeneration process slowly moves its way toward the head.
Degenerative Myelopathy is not painful for dogs, but it is a painful condition to witness. There is no cure. A dog with this condition eventually becomes completely paralyzed. Caring for a dog with DM can be very labor intense for pet parents. Because the deterioration is gradual, the decisions about when the quality of life has deteriorated are difficult.
#6 BRACHYCEPHALIC SYNDROME
People love dogs with flat, squished faces like the Cavalier Kind Charles Spaniel, Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Pug, Boston terrier, French bulldog and English bulldog. But these flat-faced pups often suffer severe breathing problems. When the design of the posterior respiratory system results in chronic difficult in breathing, it’s called brachycephalic syndrome.
Brachycephalic breeds have exactly the same anatomy as a dolichocephalic (longnosed) dog like a Greyhound, but all the structures and tissues are just smushed back into their heads. The soft palate inside the mouth is elongated, the nostrils are narrowed and even the trachea is narrowed. With such small breathing structures, it is very difficult for these adorable dogs to breath and that can be life-threatening. Brachycephalic dog breeds are predisposition to exercise intolerance, which leads to weight gain, and heat strokes.
The only true way to treat brachycephalic syndrome is to surgically correct the narrowed breathing structures, allowing more air to pass through. In addition to brachycephalic syndrome, flat-faced dogs are also prone to developing eye problem, skin issues and dental abnormalities.