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Health Issues Common to Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are one of the adorable pet dogs one can have at home. Their temperament and their obedience, coupled with their beauty, add excitement to your environment. The incredibly loyal Golden Retriever comes with health issues too. As a first dog owner or a Golden Retriever owners must know the implications that it comes with. It is better to know for you to help take care of them in the right way. Also, a responsible Golden Retriever owner can take preventive measures too. Let us take a look at the common health issues that the Golden Retrievers may face during its lifetime.

Hip Dysplasia

This is a type of joint problem. Any medium to large-sized dogs may face such troubles. Golden Retriever is no exception in this regard. On the other hand, this is a type of a health issue that is common among this breed. This is primarily caused due to abnormal growth or development of a ball in the dog’s hips. Usually, the ball that lies in the socket clearly fits the thighbone, and this is considered normal.

The ball rotates as the dog walks or runs. This ball smoothly rotates inside the socket if the dog is healthy enough. This is the most important part of your Golden Retriever as it sets the tone for it to lay down as well. The two parts of the body; leg and the hip is connected together by a stable ligament. It is also covered by a sturdy connective tissue that ensures stability too.

A Golden retriever suffering from Hip dysplasia is due to three primary reasons. Firstly, it can be the socket that is too shallow to hold the ball. Secondly, the ball can be big enough to fit into the socket. Thirdly, it can also because of the weak connective tissue. Any which ways, the dog shall develop deformed joint areas. It can indeed cause permanent disability to the dog so that it cannot even walk.

If this goes unattended, there shall be immense pain and inflammation in the hips. Of course, the breed when you had bought while it was a pup must have undergone checkups. It is suggested to check before you buy one for your house thoroughly. As the age of the pet, the dog requires a support system for the joints and the immune system. It is highly advised to feed the dog with maximum nutrients from the young age itself. It shall avoid the dog from facing such troubles.

There are several ways you can treat a Golden Retriever if it is facing such problems. It ranges from lifestyle modification to surgery. There are possibilities that Hip dysplasia is not severe. At such times, you can follow non-surgical procedures to keep the dog fit.

Solutions for Hip Dysplasia

  1. Weight Reduction: This is one of the best ways to reduce stress in the joints. Golden Retrievers indeed love to eat. Feed them timely and healthily. This shall not only keep your dog fit but also reduce weight. Also, regular exercise can make them reduce weight. These are best practices that you must follow from its pup’s age.
  2. Restrict Exercises on Hard Surfaces: Having said previously to allow the dog to exercise, do not practice it in hard surfaces. It shall be better if it lands on a soft cushion or a thick grass lawn. This shall reduce its strain in the hips.
  3. Physical Therapy: Alternatively, you can take the dog to the veterinarian to offer physical therapy. You must follow the regime consistently so that your golden retriever is not facing any complications.
  4. Joint Supplements: You can give them joint supplements that are suggested by your vet. This reduces the inflammation and also allows the connected tissue to grow thick as well.
  5. You can also give them non – steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs too. The cases of surgery are in the advanced stages. Please do not allow your dog to reach that stage as your dog’s thigh part might be replaced with plastic as well as metal implants.

Skin Conditions

There is no priority between this one and the previous. Golden Retrievers are prone to skin diseases, Especially due to the thick fur coat and it houses a lot of bacteria in it. The bacteria formation is due to many reasons. It can be

  1. The mould
  2. The food
  3. The pollen
  4. The fleas
  5. The mites
  6. The ticks
  7. The parasites

Also, the bacteria can form due to warm and cold air too. It creates allergies in the skin and can also lead to severe problems of pyoderma. The red patches are formed due to the infection if left unattended. Be watchful of your pet as Golden Retrievers require constant care. If your Golden retriever is suffering from skin problems, please visit a vet immediately. It can be a sign of some serious trouble too. There are a few skin infections that we have mentioned below

  1. Lick Granuloma: This is common among dogs and especially Golden Retrievers. Lick Granuloma is a skin disorder found in the legs that makes the dog lick one of the legs often. Though bacterial infection is attributed as one of the reasons, your Golden Retriever may face this problem because of psychological issues too. They tend to lick its feet in case of anxiety, stress and boredom. Most of the time, the separation anxiety puts them under this sickness. Give them maximum love and make your Golden Retriever understand that you are there for them always. While this could be due to bacterial or fungal infection, a vet’s intervention is most suggested.
  2. Sebaceous Adenitis: This is caused due to the Sebaceous Glands. When the gland gets inflamed, it leads to severe hair loss. You will find the fur very thin. It is mostly found on young adult dogs. You may find this in the face, head, trunk and pinnae. Many emollients are available in the market, use them once prescribed by your vet.
  3. Seborrhea: If there is a defect in keratinization or cornification of the outer surface of the skin or the hair follicles Seborrhea is caused. Keratinization helps in the process of formation of new skin cells. When there is a defect, it forms scales and thereby skin rashes. It may be found with the excessive greasiness of the skin or the coat.
  4. Sebaceous cysts:  When the sebaceous gland is blocked, it forms a cyst-like structure in the skin. It is seen as lumps or swellings with a jelly-like structure inside. They tend to become red and sore too. This skin disorder is mainly found in older dogs.
  5. Lipomas: This is caused due to the same reason as the previous one. It can also be due to the blockage of oil glands. The lump can be found prominent and lead to severe infection over time.

Chest Conditions

Any medium to large dogs is prone to heart diseases. This is a tricky sickness condition with the Golden Retrievers. Apart from heart diseases, this breed tends to develop certain lung conditions too. This may also lead to circulatory system troubles. You will not be aware of such conditions is developed in your pet. You have to be careful and can never be diagnosed at a younger age.

This breed is prone to develop a condition called Sub valvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS). This condition develops when the Aorta gets narrowed. That too the front part of the Aorta gets closed profusely. The natural job of the Aorta is to act as an artery. That means to say, and it pushes the oxygenated blood for circulation. When SAS strikes the dog, the blood from the left ventricle to the Aorta gets partially blocked.

This makes the heart to function abnormally. When this happens continuously for several days, the heart stops functioning, leading to death.

This state is to be identified early. And this can happen only when you take your pet regularly to the vet. As he thoroughly examines the body shall give you suggestions to cure it. Also, there are no therapies available, and it can be cured only with the help of a vet’s intervention. If you want your pet to live a pain-free life, it is advised to keep vet visit on your calendar.  While SAS is attributed to a genetic disorder, this is not as common as we see the other sicknesses in Golden Retrievers.

Cancer

This is one of the catastrophic sicknesses that the Golden Retriever may face. It is sad to note that 60% of the Golden Retrievers in the US face this problem. Also, it is more common among male dogs. Around 66% of the male dogs when compared to 57% of female dogs make us say that. The only solace is, the percentage of Golden retrievers that have cancer is less than that of other breeds.

Hemangiosarcoma

This is the most common cancer that is found in Golden Retrievers. Mostly found in medium to large-sized breeds. It is located in the blood vessel walls of the dog. Cancer of this type is found in dogs in the middle to older age groups. This is the cancer that affects the spleen or the heart of the Golden Retrievers. This cancer is a type of tumour that is found in the heart.

Around 25% of this breed may suffer from this cancer. There are Non-Visceral forms of this cancer, that may have signs of skin infection. This might be the sign too. This is one reason why we suggest the dog owners visit the vet if their dogs have skin infection of any type. But certain times, it is not noticed unless there is a tumour tissue rupture, but this leads to death.

Lymphosarcoma

This type of cancer is the 3rd most diagnosed cancer in the Golden Retrievers. This is cancer caused in the Lymphocytes. At times it is formed in the Lymphoid Tissues too. As the lymphoid tissues are found in most parts of the dog’s body, cancer can be developed anywhere.

Mostly, the bone marrow is the place where it affects. Although Golden Retrievers of any age can be affected by Lymphosarcoma, it is most commonly observed among the dogs between the ages 6 and 9 years. There are different types to it, but the signs are very similar to Hemangiosarcoma.

Mastocytoma

This is due to the proliferation of mast Cells which happen uncontrollably. These accumulate as clusters and form lumps on the skin. The sad part is, it is not significant most of the times. They are small to be noticed too. For the fur it has, it shall also be hidden. This type of cancer is hazardous to dogs.

Osteosarcoma

This is Cancer in the bones. Primarily called a Bone tumour. This shall form on the bones in the limbs. At the same time, it can develop in the skull too. It is a pretty dangerous type of cancer which may also form in mammary glands. You may find your golden retriever very lame and also see the bone portion swollen too. If you find the dog having some difficulty in eating and find any lumps near the jaw or the head, it needs medical attention.

There are many treatments available for these cancer types. But avoiding them is considered prudent. Offer the pet dog with nutritious food and take him for regular exercise.

Von Willebrand disease

vWD is a common bleeding disease found in Golden Retrievers. This is due to the deficiency of a specific protein in the blood cells that cause it to clot. The platelets that are deficient of this protein shall make the dog bleed even for simple injuries. You may find them bleeding through gums and nose too. Also, you may notice blood in the urine too. Excessive blood loss causes severe damage to the dog’s health.

This deficient protein is widely known as vWF – Von Willebrand Factor. The strange factor about this disease is, the dogs do not show such sicknesses as the signs. While a few Golden Retriever may haemorrhage through the nose, urinary bladder and also through its vagina. This is common among the female breeds, and they excessively bleed after birth.

The best sign is the prolonged bleeding after any medical examination that leads to any minor surgery. Other than this, you may never identify such ailment exists in it. While this is inherited as a genetic disorder, there are cases that we have come across that has caused due to medication as well. So, the vet that you are taking them for regular checkup must be an experienced person.

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Luxating patella

This is primarily caused due to dislocation of the kneecap. The term ‘luxating’ means the same. When the kneecap moves out of place, you will find your Golden Retriever limping or even skipping sometimes. You may also see your dog running in three legs. The kneecap is ideally located under the patellar ligament. This ligament extends from the lower thigh bone to the upper thigh and traversing through the kneecap. This is the ligament that keeps the kneecap in place. If the ligament gets weak, there are significant possibilities for the kneecap to get dislocated easily.

When this happens, the dogs cannot bear its weight. There shall be no signs of pain, but the dog might find it very difficult to walk. Being a large dog, you may find this very prominent. This has long term implications too. If you find your dog facing this trouble often, the only solace is surgery. If this is added with arthritis, then the treatment shall not be 100% successful.

Cataract

Cataract and glaucoma are the collective vision sicknesses the Golden Retriever may face. This is the common reason for your pet to lose its vision. The eyes of the Golden Retriever are usually black. This is because of the transparent lens. However, when the cataract forms in between the pupil and the lens, you may find the eye grey in colour. At times, you may find that white in colour too.

Cataracts shall form gradually, and you may not identify the dog getting uncomfortable. First of all, it gets used to the partial vision loss as the cataract develops slowly. Secondly, dogs have incredible senses. It uses the other senses to navigate without any disturbance. The trouble lies here as you may not know when it would lose its vision completely.

Not all the time greyish eyes symbolize cataract. It is an ageing process too. Incidentally, cataract develops faster in the older age only. Lenticular Sclerosis is typical among dogs. This may make the eyes look cloudy. The best aspect of lenticular Sclerosis is, it does not affect the vision of the dog. But, a cataract does. That means to say, congenital abnormality does not have any impact on the dog’s view. However, it is highly suggested to consult a vet if you happen to see such a cloudy substance in the eyes. Also, if it appears at a younger age, more often than not, it is a cataract formation.

There are natural extracts that are available that can cure your dog’s cataract. The vision herb; bilberry is a fantastic natural extract that can treat the cataract. Likewise, rosemary, burdock can also be included in the list. You can also wash the eyes of the dog with the help of eyebright tea.

The experts even suggest greater celandine wash. Although there is no non-surgical treatment to cataract, these remedies shall help gain vision. As the cataract, most of the times shall stop developing in the eyes. The main reasons for a cataract to advance in your dog’s eye are

  1. Diabetes Mellitus
  2. Due to Old age
  3. Inflammation due to Uveitis
  4. When the calcium levels drop in blood
  5. At times, the exposure to radiation may also cause cataract

Thyroid issues

Golden Retrievers are prone to thyroid issues, and this critically affects the immune system of the dog. This sickness is called Autoimmune thyroiditis as such Hypothyroidism is because of this sickness. Moreover, autoimmune thyroiditis can also happen because of a disorder called lupus erythematosus. The experts suggest that critical examination of the dog is essential.

Hyperthyroidism

As we are aware, this happens when the thyroid glands secrete too much of thyroid hormone. It increases the metabolic levels of your golden retriever. The severe case is, the metabolic levels reach the danger state also. It is common among animals, but when it attacks the dog, it is considered critical.

Also, there is a type of cancer that also cause Hyperthyroidism. This cancer is called Thyroid Carcinoma. If this is identified, the vet shall prescribe treatments, and it must be carried out for the safety of your pet. Moreover, the procedure shall be suggested based on the state of cancer. If the tumour is significant, they may suggest chemotherapy too.

There are several treatments available for this. The vet may suggest

  1. Surgery
  2. Chemotherapy

It all depends on your dog’s condition. When such treatments happen, the dog shall also be given medications to control the hormone levels. The significant symptoms that you can come across if your pet is suffering from Hyperthyroidism are

  1. Weight Loss in the Dog
  2. The dog starts behaving very excited always
  3. You may notice that the dog’s appetite must have increased
  4. It may also feel very thirsty and drinks water often
  5. Also, increased urination.

While these being the primary symptoms, you may also come across some signs which you must not ignore. The thyroid gland may enlarge because of this. This shall be seen as a lump near the jaws. Also, you may find your pet vomiting and also having diarrhoea. This is a serious sickness where the dog might poop many times in a day. Hyperthyroidism may cause the heart rate to increase. In few cases, you may hear the heart murmur too. In advanced stages, you may find your golden retriever not able to breathe correctly. It might have an enlarged heart and prevents it from breathing appropriately also.

Goitres

Not all the time the swelling near the jaw is cancerous. There are other reasons too. Goitres are genetically inherited sickness which you might find as lumps near the jaw area. Of course, this is also caused due to Hyperthyroidism but not cancer at all. It is recommended to approach a vet if there is a lump like formation near the neck. Let us not neglect it as the problem can be otherwise too.

Not many times, the prognosis has been successful. It is suggested to look for a vet who makes an accurate diagnosis as the prolonged prognosis is also catastrophic to dogs.

Ear Infections

When we say this is common among Golden Retrievers, it must not be left unattended. Your Golden Retriever has a thick fur coat, and lot of hair is available in the ears too. Moreover, the ears are flappy, and it tends to flap most of the time. The airborne bacteria are prone to house itself in such areas. When this prolongs, it develops a skin infection. It is ideally recommended to clean your dog’s ears often. Also, have the hair trimmed near the ears, which may reduce the bacterial formation.

The ear infection that shall be caused this way has a serious impact when it comes to the dog’s look. This may develop into other skin conditions, and you may find your dog having red patches all around the body. Though the treatment for the skin ailment shall be useful, the root cause is the infection in the ears. This is one of the prime reasons we suggest to groom the Golden retriever thoroughly and regularly.

Golden retriever does not have firm ears too. The other dogs have it, and it keeps the ears lot drier. But, this is not the case with the Golden Retriever. Suppose you happen to get bad smell from the ears of the dog. Or if you find the dog shaking the head vigorously, it is seriously a cause of concern. It is treatable at home but does it diligently.

Apart from going to the vet, you may also attempt spraying a mixture of water and apple cider vinegar in the infected area. This removes all the bacteria from the ears. Also, garlic oil mixed with mullein is a good medication too. Put 4 to 5 drops of this mixture for a period of 10 days, and the infection is off. Additionally, you can compress the dog’s ear with a warm compress. It shall be soothing to the dog, and as you know, external warmth shall remove the bacteria too.

If required, you may take the dog to the vet. All he does is to clean the ears with medical cleansers, and the infection is gone. It is always a matter of time. If you groom your pet regularly, you will never face such troubles.

Stomach Bloating and GDV

The most pathetic information about this sickness is not many owners know about it. The stomach of the dog is a sensitive organ, and it may get dilated due to gas, food or fluids. It gets enlarged to such a level where the stomach shall stop the blood circulation too. This may lead to severe complications. The dog’s stomach walls may get ruptured. At times, the stomach may also turn upside down due to gas.

If a Golden Retriever is suffering from gastric dilatation-volvulus, it increases the internal pressure in the stomach. It leads to many complications like

  1. The blood from the abdomen does not reach the heart
  2. At the same time, the blood flow does not reach the stomach lining too
  3. The stomach wall can tear
  4. The lungs shall get compressed causing the dog not to breathe properly

This leads to the body of the dog getting dried, and there shall be no ventilation inside. It causes death.

There are only a few reasons that cause GDV. Suppose you happen to leave your dog to mingle with others which has the same condition. If your dog is older, it may become prone to such sicknesses.

But the major problem is due to overfeeding. If you feed your dog with an excessive meal, it shall get into this complication. You may easily notice if your dog has such a condition. There are a few signs that the dog might show and you must decipher it with the help of a vet.

You might find your dog stretching itself invariably. The dog has the habit of stretching, but by this, we mean excessive stretching. You may also find your dog seeing its abdomen with anxiousness. Excessive drooling shall also be the sign of GDV.

If the sickness gets severs, you will find your dog pant for breath. You may see them with expanded belly and at times they may collapse too. The causes for the GDV is not completely known, but experts have identified it with observations from the sickness caused to Golden Retrievers all these years.

  1. It can be due to Environmental influence
  2. Of course, it is genetically inherited too
  3. If the basic anatomy of the dog is at fault, it might get into this condition

While these are some of the uncontrollable reasons for GDV, other factors lead to such a situation.

  1. If you feed your dog or if it intakes an excessive amount of food or water, this condition may develop.
  2. If you involve your dog with too much activity after a meal
  3. If you do not feed your dog at appropriate intervals

The primary preventive measure is in taking care of your Golden Retriever. You might not want your pet to suffer by overfeeding or underfeeding.

Elbow Dysplasia

As hip dysplasia is the worst disease in the Golden Retrievers, the elbow one is also of the same type. This is also due to the connecting ligament. If it gets weak, this problem arises in the dogs. Also, the elbow dysplasia is common among older dogs, and it is not guaranteed that the middle-aged dog may not face this issue.

There are several sicknesses your Golden Retriever may face. It is prudent to prevent them. Moreover, a regular visit to the vet makes your job more comfortable too. All the more, you need to take care of the pet as a responsible owner.­

References

  1. https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/abs/10.1098/rstb.2014.0230
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s40575-017-0053-5

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