An Overview of Health Issues in Popular Dog Breeds
When you get a new dog, one of the factors you likely consider is potential health problems within the breed. While many pups are generally healthy, there are still varying health issues in dogs that are more prevalent in certain breeds over others. Therefore, when selecting your future canine companion, it’s worth noting what, if any, health conditions he’s prone to. Then, you can know exactly how to best care for your precious pup.
10 of the Most Popular Dog Breeds and Their Top Health Issues
Of course, there are over 200 dog breeds, each with unique qualities and predispositions. Some of these breeds are relatively rare, while others are extremely popular. It’s essential to note that just because specific health issues are common in some breeds, it does NOT mean that all dogs of that breed will have those particular health problems.
Here is a snapshot of 10 of the most popular dog breeds in the United States and the health issues that are most common in the breed:
The Lab’s most common health problems are hip and elbow dysplasia, arthritis, Hyperthyroidism, seizures, and cancer.
Some of the most common issues among German Shepherds are hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, Pancreatitis, Degenerative Myelopathy, Perianal Fistula, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), UTIs, and cancer.
The Golden’s common health issues include cancer, hip and elbow dysplasia, bloat, Epilepsy, luxating patella, skin problems, ear infections, eye issues, Von Willebrand’s’ Disease, and Hyperthyroidism.
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Some of this breed’s more common health concerns include Intervertebral Disc Disease, hip dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Degenerative Myelopathy, Von Willebrand’s Disease, and Epilepsy.
A Closer Look at Common Health Issues in Dogs
Health issues in dogs are not necessarily a significant cause for alarm. After all, many conditions can be somewhat mild or treated easily with lifestyle changes or medication. However, some health problems are more severe and demand more rigorous (and often expensive) attention.
Here is a closer look at the health issues mentioned above and what exactly they entail:
Addison’s Disease -- Dogs with Addison’s produce low amounts of hormones. It affects young, female dogs most often. Signs can include depression, appetite loss, vomiting and diarrhea, and weakness. Stress can make these symptoms worse since one of the hormones that the dog produces less of is cortisol, which typically helps deal with stress.
Allergies -- Your pup could have a food allergy, seasonal allergies, or an allergic reaction to a medication. The only way to know for sure is a visit to the vet and proper testing. However, common signs of allergies are red and itchy eyes and skin, bald spots, excessive self-biting or scratching, and sometimes vomiting and diarrhea.
Arthritis -- This inflammation of the joints can come on with age or result from certain injuries or other health conditions, like hip dysplasia. Typically, you can manage your pup’s arthritis with medication.
Bloat -- This is a life-threatening condition that you need to address right away. When the stomach fills with fluid or gas, it starts to expand and presses on nearby organs. It can lead to reduced blood flow, heart problems, stomach issues, and breathing issues. Sometimes bloat can be due to fast eating, so if your dog tends to gobble down his food in one gulp, a slow-feed bowl could be a good idea.
Cancer -- Several different cancers affect dogs, and they range in severity and treatability. Luckily, nowadays, there are more ways to help dogs with cancer, including medication, surgery, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy.
Cardiomyopathy -- This is when the heart muscle loses the ability to contract normally, and it’s a major cause of heart disease in dogs. Typically it affects large breed dogs more than small ones.
Cherry Eye and Other Eye Issues -- Several eye issues can plague many pups, including Dry Eye Disease, corneal ulcers (scratches on the eye), and cherry eye. Cherry eye is when the tear-producing gland in the third eyelid protrudes, showing up as a red bulge near the bottom of your pup’s eye. When the gland stays out, it can lead to dry eye issues and become nonfunctioning. Although sometimes medications can help, surgery is often needed to fix the problem altogether.
Collapsing Trachea -- Typically affecting toy breeds and small dogs, this is when the rings of cartilage in the trachea start to collapse on each other. Your dog might make a honking cough sound.
Degenerative Myelopathy -- This chronic condition is when the spinal cord begins to deteriorate over time. It might appear as a weakness in the back limbs, leading to paralysis in the hind legs and eventually the front legs.
Ear Infections -- If your dog starts to shake his head, hold his head to one side, or scratch at his ears non-stop, he might have an ear infection. You might also notice discharge or a smelly odor coming from his ear. Ear infections can be due to many reasons, but if left untreated, can cause major issues, so address them quickly.
Elongated Soft Palate -- This is when the soft palate (the roof of the mouth) extends into the airway, causing interference with air trying to enter the lungs. If your dog is coughing or gagging or having trouble breathing, then you’ll need to talk to your vet about surgery to correct the problem.
Epilepsy and Seizures -- Sometimes inherited, sometimes due to trauma to the brain, and sometimes due to an unknown cause; Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological problems in dogs. It can lead to seizures of varying intensity and requires a vet diagnosis to determine the proper course of treatment.
Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia -- Hip dysplasia is a looseness in the hip joint that can lead to mobility problems. Signs can range from limping to hesitation to jump or run to hip pain.
Hyperthyroidism and Other Thyroid Issues -- Hyperthyroidism results in an overproduction of the hormone that increases your dog’s metabolism. This can send your dog into hyperdrive. Different issues affect the thyroid, so a trip to the vet is warranted if you suspect a thyroid problem.
Internalized Tail (Screw Tail) -- This is when vertebrae in the tail fuse together, causing various issues, including tail immobility, anal obstruction, and skin infections in the anal area. Some mild cases can be handled with medication and proper care, while more serious conditions may result in amputation of the tail.
Intervertebral Disc Disease -- Intervertebral discs are found between each vertebra, connecting the vertebrae and providing shock absorption. Sometimes one of these discs can start to degenerate or protrude into the spinal column or act in other abnormal ways. This can lead to pain, loss of feeling in the limbs, and paralysis.
Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease -- This is when the blood supply to the top of the thigh bone (that rests in the hip socket) becomes interrupted, leading to the bone cells’ death. The bone may then try to reform once blood flow starts up again but now has trouble fitting appropriately in the hip socket, leading to pain and stiffness in the joint.
Luxating Patella and Shoulder -- This is when the kneecap or shoulder slides in and out of place. It can cause a lot of discomfort and significantly impair your dog’s mobility. Although mild cases might not need treatment, others require surgery.
Obesity -- Obesity is one of the most common dog health problems, but it’s also very preventable. Ensure your pup gets a nutritious diet and proper exercise, as obesity can lead to a slew of health problems.
Pancreatitis -- A condition that develops when the pancreas, which helps regulate blood sugar, becomes inflamed. Some signs include appetite loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. This condition has many causes, including a reaction to a certain drug or certain foods, so it’s best to see a vet who can rule out various possibilities.
Perianal Fistula -- This condition is categorized by lesions and sores around the anus that can greatly reduce your dog’s quality of life if left untreated.
Portosystemic Shunts -- This is typically an inherited issue that results in the liver being unable to grow to its proper size due to interruptions in blood flow from other organs. It is usually only fixed with surgery.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy -- An inherited disease in which the retina degenerates over time, leading to vision loss.
Retinal Dysplasia -- A viral infection or trauma can cause this condition, or it can be inherited. It is when the retina has some sort of abnormal development, and it can vary in severity.
Skin Issues -- Hot spots, allergies, inflammation, parasites; these are just a few of the possible things that can lead to skin issues. If your pup’s skin is red, itchy, flaky, or he’s scratching or biting at himself, take him to the vet to get to the root of the problem.
Stenotic Nares -- Stenotic Nares is a genetic condition often found in brachycephalic breeds, resulting in narrow nostrils that can eventually make it difficult to breathe.
Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) -- If your pup is frequently peeing or seems really thirsty, he might have a UTI. Other signs could be extreme tiredness or blood in his urine. Don’t dismiss your pup’s abnormal potty habits as bad behavior; bring him to the vet.
Von Willebrand’s Disease -- The von Willebrand Factor (vWF) protein is a protein in the blood that is responsible for controlling bleeding from a blood vessel. A dog that has inherited this disease lacks this protein. Bleeding issues can be mild to severe, and you need to manage them accordingly.
Other Common Health Issues in Dogs
On top of the specific issues mentioned above, some very common health problems dogs can have are vomiting, diarrhea, and dental disease. Many things can cause vomiting and diarrhea, like gastrointestinal problems, your dog eating something toxic or that doesn’t agree with him, or more serious conditions. Your dog can also experience gastrointestinal issues from things like tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms, and more.
Dental disease is more likely in some breeds over others, but it’s essential to take care of your dog’s teeth, no matter what breed he is. Your dog’s teeth play a significant role in his overall health. You should schedule annual dental checkups for your pup and brush his teeth regularly.
As with any health concern, if your pup is showing signs of illness or discomfort, your best course of action is to contact your vet as soon as possible. For more information about how to take care of your pup and to learn more about everything pet-related, check out the rest of our blog. You’ll find all sorts of interesting resources and products designed to help you be the best pet parent you can be.
- Fernando Becattini