It is an unfortunate fact that many dogs are affected by genetic disorders that can impact their overall health and lifestyle to varying degrees. However, this does not mean that one cannot enjoy a long and fruitful relationship with a dog who is prone to or suffering from one of these disorders. In fact, knowing the most common genetic disorders can allow one to take precautions that may help minimize the extent to which their dog may be affected.
Common Genetic Disorders in Dogs
Some purebred dogs tend to suffer from certain genetic diseases due to their basic genetic makeup, whereas some dog breeds just tend to be healthier and suffer fewer medical problems than others. However, this does not mean that all purebred dogs are automatically doomed to a life filled with medical problems and all mixed breed dogs are automatically immune to all medical problems. When considering the most common genetic disorders in dogs and which breeds they most commonly affect, recognize that any dog sharing this breed lineage may possibly be affected.
- Hip dysplasia. In order for a dog’s hip to work well and comfortably, the ball of the joint must fit snugly within the socket. Anything less than this can lead to cartilage degeneration, arthritis, and pain. A dog suffering from hip dysplasia usually has difficulty lying down and getting up, using stairs, getting onto furniture or into vehicles, running and sometimes even walking. Hip dysplasia is often treated with pain medications, physical therapy, cold laser treatments, glucosamine chondroitin products, stem cell therapy or even hip replacement surgery. Dog breeds most commonly affected by hip dysplasia include German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Bulldogs, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Neapolitan Mastiffs, and Retrievers. Consulting with a veterinarian can help one to establish a healthy diet and exercise regimen for dogs falling into this category, which may help to reduce or eliminate their chance of suffering from hip dysplasia.
- Urinary bladder stones. A dog suffering from urinary bladder stones usually experiences urinary accidents, increased urination frequency, blood in the urine and a need to strain in order to urinate. Urinary bladder stones are often treated through cystoscopy, laser lithotripsy or surgical removal of stones. Dog breeds most commonly affected by urinary bladder stones include Dalmatians, Newfoundlands, Bichon Frise, and Miniature Schnauzers. Consulting with a veterinarian can help one to establish a healthy diet for dogs falling into this category in an effort to help prevent against stone formation.
- Epilepsy. A dog suffering from an epileptic seizure usually stiffens and falls to the ground, salivating, moving their legs, vocalizing, and losing control of their bladder and bowels. Epileptic seizures are normally managed through anticonvulsant medications that seek to decrease their frequency and severity. Dog breeds most commonly affected by epilepsy include German Shepherds, Beagles, Belgian Tervurens, Keeshonds, Dachshunds, and Retrievers.
- Heart disease. A dog suffering from heart disease may experience coughing, weakness, poor appetite, abdominal distention, difficulty breathing, and collapse. Heart disease is normally managed through a healthy diet and exercise regimen, as well as various medications. Dog breeds most commonly affected by some form of heart disease include Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Dachshunds, Doberman Pinschers, Great Danes, Bulldogs, and Boxers.
- Brachycephalic syndrome. Brachycephalic is literally translated as “short-headed” and refers to those dogs with flatter faces, and therefore an elongated soft palate, narrowed nostrils, throat tissue that obstructs airflow, and a narrowed windpipe. While many owners find the snoring and snorting sounds of brachycephalic dogs to be cute, the fact is that they are perpetually suffering from respiratory difficulty and they often also suffer from dental issues, skin issues, and eye problems. Precautions must be taken to not over-exert brachycephalic dogs, and to protect them in hot and humid weather that can exacerbate their condition. Dog breeds most commonly affected by brachycephalic syndrome include English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Pugs, Pekingese, Shih Tzus, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.
Many of the most popular dog breeds are affected by one or more of the above common genetic disorders. This means that both breeders and owners have a responsibility to ensure that dogs remain as healthy as possible, through rendering proper preventive care and treatment. When this occurs, even dogs suffering from genetic disorders can live long, healthy and satisfying lives.