When thinking about the breed of the new puppy you’d like to welcome home, you’re likely considering adorable features and desirable personality traits. You should also give thought to common breed-related conditions your new pup may have been born with, or may develop. For example, German shepherd dogs are often linked with hip dysplasia and Great Danes to stomach bloat. Therefore, before you pick a puppy based solely on looks or a sweet temperament, research breed-related issues so you know exactly what you’re getting.
Respiratory disorders in puppies
Puppies with adorable smushed faces are at a much higher risk for respiratory disorders and breathing problems, namely brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome. Flat-faced pups, such as pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers, are genetically designed with shortened airways to create that smushed-face appearance. Small nostrils, an elongated soft palate, and a narrow trachea mean your pug puppy may snore, but these features can also become a life-threatening emergency if the pup becomes overheated. Also, if your puppy becomes too heavy, breathing can be more difficult. Some puppies with brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome may require reconstructive surgery to open up their airway to allow for easier breathing.
Orthopedic issues in puppies
While you may not think of a young puppy having bone and joint issues, you’d be surprised at how many puppies suffer from orthopedic conditions. Toy and small breeds routinely experience luxating patellas, in which the kneecap pops out of its groove as the pet walks. Larger breeds can develop hip dysplasia fairly young, or other conditions like osteochondritis dissecans, panosteitis, and hypertrophic osteodystrophy, which can all cause lifelong bone and joint pain. Although you can’t prevent these diseases, you can reduce the risk by purchasing a puppy from a reputable breeder who performs hip, elbow, and knee testing on their pets to ensure they are healthy and sound. You can also feed your puppy an appropriate diet for their age, weight, and breed, and prevent them from gaining weight too quickly as they grow. A lean pet is much healthier and places less stress on developing joints than a chubby puppy.
Eye problems in puppies
Cherry eye, which occurs when the third eyelid prolapses, is a common eye issue in flat-faced puppies. Lhasa apsos, beagles, cocker spaniels, and Cavalier King Charles spaniels are breeds that routinely develop eye issues, especially cherry eye and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (i.e., dry eye). Flat-faced breeds are also more prone to a proptosed eye after a traumatic incident, because their eye sockets are shallower than longer-muzzled breeds. If you have a young pug, bulldog, or Lhasa apso, take care when playing and avoid being too rough.
Cardiac conditions in puppies
Many heart diseases can appear in young puppies. Some are present at birth, such as patent ductus arteriosus, which is the result of the fetal ductus not closing at birth, causing blood to bypass the lungs and remain unoxygenated. This condition is most common in Cavalier King Charles spaniels, German shepherd dogs, Maltese, poodles, Pomeranians, and Shetland sheepdogs. Some dog breeds—bull terriers, rottweilers, Great Danes, and German shepherds—are more likely to be born with a defective heart valve, resulting in congestive heart failure. Although not a heart condition, a portosystemic shunt deals with circulatory issues in which the portal vein bypasses the liver, failing to remove toxins from the blood. Yorkshire terriers are most commonly affected by this circulatory problem, which can be surgically corrected. Any number of heart or circulatory conditions can be caused by a congenital defect present from birth, or based on the breed. Cavalier King Charles spaniels are one of the most common breeds to develop heart issues, so choose a puppy from a reputable breeder who breeds healthy adults.
When choosing a new puppy, carefully do your research prior to making the important decision. Many purebred dogs have genetic health conditions that could spell trouble for your pup in the future, so take the time to meet with breeders, discuss your concerns, and investigate their health screening of their adult dogs.
If you’ve recently welcomed a new puppy into your family, call your Boca Midtowne Animal Hospital team for an appointment. We’d love to meet your new addition, check them out for breed-specific problems, and give them a clean bill of health.