Whether you’re considering getting a purebred dog or you’re an experienced dog owner, it’s important to understand the health issues that can arise from certain breeds. By selecting a dog that faces fewer medical issues and diseases, you can avoid trips to the vet and enjoy years of healthy, happy companionship with your best friend.
1. Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip and elbow dysplasia is a genetic predisposition that’s most common in large breed dogs, like Great Danes and Saint Bernards. But it’s also found in medium-sized dogs, such as German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador Retrievers.
The problem begins when abnormal growth causes a part of the elbow joint (the coronoid process) to break off and separate. This creates microscopic stress fractures and can cause pain and lameness.
Elbow dysplasia is most often diagnosed when a dog is between 4 and 6 months of age, at which time the joint growth plates are still closing. But even mild cases can go undiagnosed until they’re old enough to show signs of arthritis, which typically develops around 7 or 8 years of age.
2. Collapsing Trachea
The trachea is a tube-like structure that helps carry air from the nose and mouth to the lungs. It’s made of sturdy C-shaped cartilage rings.
When the cartilage rings weaken, the trachea flattens and narrows the space between them, making it harder for the air to pass. This can lead to a cough that sounds like a goose honking or hiccuping.
This condition can affect dogs of all sizes and breeds. Dogs with tracheal collapse may also be more prone to respiratory emergencies, such as pneumonia and other infections, because their airways are less able to clear these pathogens efficiently.
The primary goal of treatment is to control the symptoms of tracheal collapse and prevent further damage. This is done through a variety of medications. These include oral and injectable medicines to treat inflammation, pain, and coughing.
3. Skin Infections
When your dog suffers from a skin infection it can be incredibly itchy and uncomfortable for them. Itching can be a sign of a number of different conditions, including yeast or staph infections.
While itching is quite normal in dogs, itching persistently and excessively can indicate something more serious. Itchy skin can also cause licking and chewing behaviors that can lead to further irritation and infection.
Fungal or bacterial skin infections are common in dogs, and treatment can differ depending on which type your pet has.
Most bacterial skin infections respond well to antibacterial medication, but more severe cases may require systemic antibiotic therapy. Fungal skin infections can be treated with topical and oral medications, based on the severity of your dog’s condition.
4. Yeast Infections
Yeast is a naturally occurring organism that occurs on the skin and in the ears of healthy dogs. Under normal conditions, this yeast is kept in check by the dog’s immune system.
When an issue causes a dog’s immune system to be less effective or weakened, opportunistic yeast infections can occur. These can be caused by allergies, food and environmental sensitivities; hormonal problems like thyroid disease or Cushing’s Syndrome; or other issues that disrupt the body’s natural defenses.
In most cases, a vet will diagnose the presence of yeast by taking a sample from the skin, or an ear, and performing a simple test called cytology to identify the organism under a microscope. The veterinarian may also take a blood sample to see if there are any other potential causes for the infection.
5. Cherry Eye
Cherry eye, also called prolapsed nictitating gland, occurs when the gland that produces tears in your dog’s third eyelid – a small membrane inside the lower eyelid – becomes thicker and slips out of place. It causes a red, swollen lump to appear in your dog’s eye.
It may be a one-time thing, or it can be chronic and cause problems like dry eyes, irritated eyelids, and infections. Your veterinarian will help you determine if this condition is the cause of your dog’s health issues and recommend a treatment plan to alleviate them.
The most common treatment for cherry eye is surgery to position or replace the prolapsed gland. This helps prevent the condition from recurring and allows your dog to produce the necessary tear production to keep their eyes healthy.