All dog breeds are susceptible to certain health problems. And sometimes these issues are related to the size of the dog – small dogs have different health issues to large breeds. If you’ve decided to adopt a large dog it helps to know what kinds of health issues he might develop. Here are a few common health concerns in large dogs.
Hips and elbow dysplasia
Hip dysplasia occurs when hip joints don’t fit correctly, and we know large dogs are more likely to develop the condition. Elbow dysplasia also occurs more often in large breeds. A dog with elbow or hip dysplasia can have a happy, healthy life. However, if they have difficulty walking or experience a lot of pain, they might need surgery to correct the condition. Because there are tests for hip and elbow dysplasia, many dog breeders are trying to eliminate the disease. Ask your breeder about this when you visit to choose your dog.
Cruciate ligament tears
It’s not just us humans who can tear a cruciate ligament, which usually occur when the body makes a sudden movement or as a result of too much activity. Thanks to their heavier bodies, and the fact they aren’t as agile as smaller dogs, large breeds are also susceptible to these tears. You can help avoid this type of injury by not overexercising your large dog, and keeping his weight down. If he is overweight, gentle exercise and a strict diet are important to slowly get that weight down. And try to avoid exercises and play that force your dog to jump or twist.
Because of their susceptibility to hip and elbow dysplasia and cruciate ligament tears, bigger dogs are also more likely to develop arthritis. Keep an eye on your dog as he ages and get him to the vet if you notice he is not moving as freely as he once did.
Dilated cardiomyopathy is a condition in which the heart becomes inflamed and doesn’t work as it should. There is no cure for this disease but it can be managed with medication. Aortic stenosis is also a serious heart condition in which the aortic valve shrinks and restricts blood flow. Both conditions can be fatal. However, breeders have some control in eliminating the conditions as they can test which dogs are affected and take them out of their breeding programs.
Bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus, occurs in bigger, barrel-chested dogs much more than smaller breeds. If a dog is experiencing bloat, his stomach will fill with air, which very quickly becomes life threatening. Symptoms include abdominal distension, weakness, depression, difficulty breathing, hyper-salivation, and retching. The dog becomes very uncomfortable and needs to be taken to a vet straight away.
Spondylolisthesis, or wobblers syndrome, causes an unsteady gait in dogs due to a malformation of the cervical vertebrae. It’s usually large dogs that are affected and the disease is hereditary. It is also progressive, which means an affected dog will soon be unable to move around normally.