- in Dog Health
Today most of the dogs in the world can live totally healthy lives provided the necessary conditions are met. These conditions are proper care and routine veterinary checks. However, a dog that is well taken care of is not automatically invincible.
The range of possible health problems dogs can get is quite large, and even just enlisting every possible disease would turn into quite a formidable article. They can get acne, allergies, cancer, viral diseases and so and so forth. And even if we would list all of those we still wouldn’t cover every possible problem.
Because each breed is also susceptible to a number of hereditary diseases. Golden Retrievers are no exception, so let’s take a look at some of the possible hereditary problems you may encounter and why they exist. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like these problems will disappear anytime soon because Golden retrievers are increasingly popular and this results in more and more indiscriminate breeding.
It still depends on the dog and his lineage. Furthermore the risk for some of these problems can be minimized by paying extra attention to specific things, depending on the problem in hand. Choosing a respectable breeder is crucial if only to see the dogs heritage and avoid sad, crushing moments.
Hip Dysplasia Is Fairly Common
This term means a poor formation of the hip joint. This disease is very common in many breeds, and describes a developmental disease that has its first onset when the dog is between four and nine months of age. It is undetectable earlier.
It can range in seriousness from a slight irregularity in the dogs walking style to crippling the dog completely. However, improvement and even complete removal of the symptoms may occur as the dog matures, so even if a dog is momentarily crippled there is still a chance. However he will usually develop some form of arthritis later in life.
Golden Retrievers have quite high pain thresholds, and many are not even aware they have this problem. Usually it’s diagnosed using x-rays, but you’re not going to try if your dog doesn’t appear to be in pain, so he might have it and you would never know about it.
As I’ve said before it can range in seriousness, but an important note is that external factors also play a role. This disease is probably debilitating to any dog who is supposed to be a working dog, as demanding activity will worsen the situation. The most common factors are exercise, trauma and nutrition.
Elbow Dysplasia Is Estimated To Affect 10% Of All Golden Retrievers
Similar in concept to hip dysplasia, it is another developmental disease that most likely appears in young dogs, but symptoms can start at any age. Yet, unlike hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is not nearly as common and it is believed to affect 10% of the total Golden Retriever population.
Another dissimilarity between the former and the latter is that elbow dysplasia may display no symptoms at all but the carriers will pass it to their offspring. It can range from mild stiffness to effective crippling. It, too, is affected by external factors: rapid growth, usually the result of overfeeding, is the number one detrimental environmental influence.
It can be difficult to diagnose because even though the necessary x-rays can be taken by any doctor, the expertise required to correctly interpret these x-rays is a skill few veterinarians have.
In both hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia cases the dog is not recommended for breeding. But most afflicted dogs lead normal, happy lives and, for those with severe symptoms, certain surgical procedures can help.
Hereditary Heart Disease
Commonly known as SAS this disease (Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis) is specific to the Golden retriever breed. All animals should be examined by a certified cardiologist. However, even if test results are negative it can’t be ruled out. Unfortunately some hereditary forms are undetectable when the dog is alive.
It goes without saying that animals with hereditary heart disease shouldn’t be bred, but the lack of a sure way to diagnose this disease makes it impossible to completely eliminate it from Golden Retriever experience
Hereditary Eye Disease
Last but not least on our list come eye diseases. Hereditary cataracts are a common problem in Golden Retrievers. Some forms appear at an early age, some forms eventually progress to total loss of vision. There are also forms of non-hereditary cataracts.
Eyelash and eyelid problems may occur, some of hereditary origin, others not. Entropion and ectropion mean the turning in or out, respectively, of the eyelids. Trichiasis and distichiasis mean the eyes are being irritated by hair. There are simple surgical procedures that can correct these problems but the dogs are still ineligible to be bred.
There are others, such as CPRA (Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy), retinal dysplasia, hypothyroidism, seizures and so on. However for most of those routine screening is not performed. The reasons vary but nevertheless Golden Retrievers are susceptible to quite a few problems. But they are also pretty good at dealing with them too.