Health

Common Health Problems In Weimaraners


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As dog owners, we would prefer if our beloved pets never got sick. Unfortunately we don’t live in this ideal world and health problems for our dogs are too real.

While Weimaraners are generally a healthy breed, there are some health problems that every owner should be aware of. Please bear in mind this is not a comprehensive list of all health problems a dog could have.

When To Get Help

You should contact your vet when your dog is having any of these symptoms:

  • no interest in walks or play
  • diarrhea, constipation or is throwing up
  • no appetite or desire to drink water (or drinking too much without prior exertion)
  • signs of pain, lack of movement
  • nasal or eye discharge
  • cavities seem either too red or too pale
  • changes in skin and fur, increased itching

It’s always better to make three unnecessary vet visits rather than one visit that is too late.

It’s always better to have a vet that knows your dog from puppy age (or since you’ve adopted the dog) and their entire medical history. If your vet doesn’t offer emergency services, make sure to have a 24/7 vet clinic contact on your phone in case of emergencies.

For non-emergency related questions, you can either join a Facebook Group Pet Vet Corner, where only veterinarians can respond, or use service such as Pawp that gets you a 24/7 access to a certified vet via phone call, text or video chat.

Weimaraner Health & Lifespan

There are several indicators which show whether your Weim is healthy or ill.

A healthy Weimaraner will have:

  • temperature between 100 and 102 Fahrenheit (37,5-39°C)
  • 60-160 heartbeats per minute
  • 10-30 breaths per minute (more if the environment temperature is higher)

On average, Weimaraners live between 11 to 12 years. The oldest recorded Weimaraner lived to be 18 years and 10 months.

Diseases and Illnesses

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (bloat)

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat is acute and life-threatening state, which needs immediate surgery. Weimaraners are strongly predisposed to this often fatal syndrome.

Large chests of some breeds allow the stomach to expand with gas during dilatation and can cause it to twist. This way the gas has no way to go and as the stomach expands, it starts to press against other organs and veins, making breathing difficult and less blood supply to the heart. Since the stomach is twisted, the blood supply is cut off from it as well and therefore can become necrotic.

Note: although not every gastric dilatation is accompanied by the stomach twisting, it’s still very dangerous!

Causes

As I mentioned earlier, deep-chested breeds are more at risk – Great Danes, Weimaraners, German Shepherds, Setters, Dobermans. However, smaller and medium breeds can suffer from GDV as well.

Clinicians are still not sure what causes GDV. The most common speculated causes are:

  • type of food and water intake
  • exercise after eating
  • possible genetic predisposition
  • elevated bowl

One study states that there hasn’t been any significant correlation between GDV and gender, genetics, bowl placement, number of meals per day and neutering .The same study also shows, that dry food with fats and oils in the first 4 ingredients can increase the risk of GDV.

Symptoms

  • distented abdomen, can sound like a basketball when tapped
  • trying to throw up but nothing is coming out except excess saliva
  • during torsion, gums might be pale to gray as veins are compressed
  • dog can be hunched over
  • apathy, general unrest, laying down and geting up
  • weakness (in hind legs especially), shaking

Here is a good educational video with an akita to further illustrate how bloat can look like. It’s tough to watch but recognizing the symptoms can save your pup’s life.

Prevention

There is really no sure-fire way to prevent bloat completely but there are some precautions that we can take:

  • while inherited predisposition to GDV hasn’t been proven, it’s more likely your dog will have GDV if either parent did
  • don’t feed from elevated bowls
  • feed twice a day
  • avoid feeding large quantities at once
  • avoid exercise two to three hours after eating
  • keep an eye on the dog, GDV most often appears 2-3 hours after eating
  • preventative surgery (gastropexy) – the stomach is secured to the stomach wall, preventing it from twisting

If you need to feed your dog dry kibble, buy ones that have animal protein at the top and avoid kibble with oils and fats in the first four ingredients. Otherwise I’d recommend switching to raw food (I wrote a review for an ebook on raw feeding here).

Treatment

If there is even the smallest suspicion that your dog might be suffering from bloat, quickly go to vet emergency, which is equipped to handle these types of cases. Call them on the way so they are prepared.

As bloat can be fatal, it’s very important to act quickly!!!

Some cases could be treated medically, while the most serious cases are usually treated surgically, especially if the stomach has twisted.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is one of the most common orthopedic diseases in dogs. It’s when the hip joints grind against each other instead of sliding. This can cause pain, stiffness, trouble getting up, change in movements, avoiding jumping or going up and down the stairs.

While hip dysplasia is somewhat influenced by genetics, the larger part is the dog’s lifestyle and past diseases. You as the dog owner can influence whether or how much will hip dysplasia affect your up.

You can prevent dysplasia from occuring or worsening by feeding quality food, natural physical activity and good environment. Keep your dog a healthy weight to prevent joint problems.

Hip displasia is more common in larger breeds and may cause arthritis in the future.

Diagnosis

There are multiple methods which hip dysplasia is diagnosed with. Most common is by x-rays. Depending on the location, there are three different scoring methods when evaluating the x-rays.

The US uses the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) standards classified from excellent to severe score.

In the UK (British Veternirary Association/Kennel Club), hip dysplasia is scored on 9 criteria, each of these criteria is scored 0-6 by severity.

Europe and the rest of the world uses the FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) categories. Each hip is evaluated and categorized from A (no signs of dysplasia) to E (severe dysplasia).

Treatment

The treatment largely depends on the severity of the hip dysplasia. For less serious (or early) stages, making changes in exercise and diet, so that there is no risk of obesity, as well as drug therapy.

Just like with humans, the less pressure on the joints during exercise, the better. Therefore hydrotherapy and swimming is a great low-impact exercise to strengthen hip muscles and minimize the pain from movement.

Drugs won’t prevent from dysplasia from worsening but it can relieve pain. Veterinarians commonly prescribe NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) but recently people have tried hemp and CBD medication for their pups with great results.

There are a few surgical options based on the dog’s age, including total hip replacement.

Epilepsy

Weimaraner is certainly not the only breed that is affected by hereditary (or non-hereditary) epilepsy. It’s generally believed that there is about 3% of epileptic dogs.

Hereditary epilepsy will usually appear between the ages of one to five. Such dogs should be removed from further breeding, as well as their parents and their parents’ puppies.

Non-hereditary epilepsy can be caused by multiple diseases – infections, inflammation, cancer or injuries. Sometimes the cause of epileptic seizures is unknown.

Not every seizure has the typical grand-mal seizure with muscle spasms and unconsciousness. There can be “smaller” seizures which only cause stiffening of the body or parts of the body (eyelids, lips) and weird behavior such as staring into space.

All seizures are different for each dog so it’s not always easy to choose the best medication at the right dosage. It might take a while to find the appropriate medication, so you have to be patient. Please be aware that medications may not get rid of the seizures completely but even lessening the appearance of them is a big success.

Seizures can be scary to witness depending on their severity. Sometimes the dog owner can notice an “aura” as a warning for an upcoming seizure. The dog can be nervous, disoriented, can drool excessively, etc.

The recovery from a seizure depends on the dog, sometimes they can recover pretty fast, other times it may take hours for the after effects to go away. The dog can be nervous, bump into things and even be temporarily paralyzed.

In some cases the owner can spot what triggers the seizures – it can be yelling, loud music/noises, fireworks, shooting, car rides, types of food, certain smells, etc.

Entropion & Ectropion

Both entropion and ectropion are hereditary conditions and pups with this problem should not be bred.

Entropion

Entropion is the inward rolling of the eyelid (one or both eyes), which most commonly occurs on the bottom eyelid. The cornea is irritated by the eyelashes and the hair on the eyelid which can be very painful for the pup.

The symptoms include increased tearing, squinting, eye rubbing and in case of prolonged irritation an infection can set in.

Entropion usually appears before one year of age.

Ectropion

With ectropion, the edge of the bottom eyelid gets separated from the eyeball. You have probably seen ectropion on breeds like Basset Hound, Bloodhound, Great Dane, Saint Bernard and other breeds that have loose hanging skin around the face. Of course ectropion can occur in any breed, even Weimaraner.

The eyelid droops so low that it exposes a part of the eye that shouldn’t be exposed. This condition can cause the irritation of the cornea with things like dust, pollen and other irritating agents. This can lead to conjuctivitis or infection of the cornea.

Treatment

With entropion, surgery is necessary to treat the condition. This procedure usually takes place after the dog has finished growing. Be prepared for about 3 weeks of healing time and making sure the dog can’t rub their eye(s).

With ectropion, the less serious cases can be treated with saline solution for hydration and cleaning of the general eye area. More serious cases require surgery where small amount of tissue from the eyelid is removed then stitched together to tighten the area.


References

  • Grosse Darrelmann, I.K., 2019. Gastric dilatation volvulus in large breed dogs and its prevention (link)
  • Hasa et al., 2019, The Gastric Dilatation and Torsion In Dogs, Diagnosis and Treatment (link)
  • M Vallès Barberà, 2019, Diagnosis of the hip dysplasia in the canine species (link)
  • Jenna Parry, 2018, Canine hip dysplasia: A comprehensive analysis (link)
  • David J. Maggs, Paul E. Miller, Ron Ofri, Douglas H. Slatter, 2008, Slatter’s Fundamentals of Veterinary Ophthalmology



2 comments

  1. Kathy
    Kathy
    June 20, 2021 at 4:21 pm

    Can an inner ear infection, be undetectable by vet?

    Can ear infection cause a Weimaraner dog to fall over, and have difficulty getting up?

    Reply
    • Dana - WeimaranerPlanet.com author
      Dana
      Author
      June 20, 2021 at 4:40 pm

      I’m pretty sure vets would be able to detect an ear infection.

      I’m not a vet, so I can’t give advice on this. Has your vet done other tests? It might not be an ear infection. Depending on your dog’s age, it also could be hip dysplasia or arthritis. If you don’t trust your current vet, I’d get a second opinion from another one.

      Reply

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