Bergleerson Leonbergers Leonberger Breeders Sheffield South Yorkshire England    
 
 
  Leonberger Health Concerns

Anal furunculosis (AF) Eye disorders
Bloat/gastric torsion Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) Panosteitis
Diarrhoea Plant hazards to dogs
Dilated Cardio-Myopathy (DCM) Polyneuropathy
Ears Skin problems
Elbow dysplasia  

Anal furunculosis (AF)

This is a disease that, unfortunately, appears now and again in most of the breeding lines of Leonberger dogs. It is very common in German Shepherds – 80% of all cases are attributable to this breed. The exact cause is stil unknown although it appears that it is Auto-Immune triggered – similar to Crohn's Disease in humans. Many factors contribute to its appearance and several theories aspire to dry kibble food, over-vaccination, bacterial gut intolerance, genetics and viruses.

AF is a condition that effects the anus of the dog. Usually weeping holes or fistulous tracks appear on the surface of the anus. The area under the tail can appear wet due to the weeping nature of the disease. Initially the dog may show no signs but, as the disease progresses, straining, with painful defecation (often with blood stained faeces) may be noticed. There will be excessive licking and often self-mutilation combined with a reluctance to sit. Tail movements may become painful and there may be resentment to any attempt to examine the anal region.

Many dogs show personality changes which can often be vague. It is usually seen in dogs between 5 and 8 years of age and it appears to be more common in males than females.

This condition, if very mild and caught early, is treatable with a Probiotic 1.0% paste applied externally. In medium to severe cases the drug Atopica (Cyclosporine) is prescribed. Unfortunately re-occurrence of this condition is common. The drug Cyclosporine, combined with another drug – Ketoconazole, works well and reduces the cost of the treatment. The combination of the two drugs reduces the dose of Cyclosporine required. Ketoconazole is cheaper than Cyclosporine and therefore reduces the overall costs of the treatment. (The Liver breaks down the Cyclosporine which is why a relatively high dose is required – the Ketoconazole stops the liver breaking it down which therefore reduces the amount of Cyclosporine needed for the treatment.

Recommended DAILY dosage is 5mg per Kg of body weight for Cyclosporine with 10mg per Kg of body weight for Keyoconazole for the first 2 weeks; thereafter half the dosage of both drugs for the next 4 weeks of treatment then half the dosage again for both drugs for the last 6 weeks of treatment.

Although it can be initially unpleasant for the dog it is usually a manageable disease but expensive to treat at over £200/Month for the required 3 Months of treatment. Often re-occurrence means another course of treatment may be required 6 months to 1 Year after the first treatment.

It is important to note that the Cyclosporine treatment should be continued for AT LEAST 3 MONTHS at a reduced dosage compared to the first 2 weeks – if treatment is stopped after only 2 Months then re-occurrence is much more likely.

Usually, within a couple of weeks, a vast improvement is seen with no discomfort being shown by the dog thereafter. In very rare case all treatments fail and the dog may have to be euthanized – although this is more common with German Shepherds than Leonbergers.

TRY AND MAKE SURE THAT YOUR INSURANCE COVERS THIS DISEASE AS IT IS VERY EXPENSIVE TO TREAT.

Bloat/gastric torsion

This is fairly common with deep-chested giant breeds such as Leonbergers – IF IN ANY DOUBT AS TO WHETHER OR NOT YOUR DOG HAS BLOAT YOU SHOULD NOT HESITATE – TAKE HIM TO THE VET WITHOUT DELAY.

IF IT DOES OCCUR THEN THIS IS A 'REAL' EMERGENCY AND YOU MUST GET YOUR DOG TO THE VET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE… YOUR DOG COULD DIE FROM THIS IN JUST A MATTER OF HOURS.

Bloat is also known as Gastric Dilation progressing to Torsion.

SYMPTOMS: The stomach rapidly swells filling with gas causing the dog to struggle to breathe making it feel unwell and depressed very quickly.

The dog may attempt to be sick but is unable to do so. If the stomach then twists, then with the pressure of the gas inside, it becomes Torsion and the dog can die very quickly. Unfortunately Bloat tends to occur in the middle of the night on an empty stomach.

It is thought that the following increases the risk of Bloat occurring:

(a) Feeding Dry Food (or even pre-moistened) is a major contributing factor – and is a dfficult one to change given today's lifestyles.

(b) Dogs that have a deep, narrow chest ratio are at the highest risk of developing Bloat.

(c) Exercising the dog within an hour of feeding – this can stretch the stomach ligament due to the weight of the food in the stomach.

(d) Old age – the older the dog the more likely Bloat will occur.

(e) Feeding One Large meal per day is NOT good. You should feed at least twice per day – (say) morning & early evening. A large meal can stretch the stomach ligament due to the weight of the food in the stomach.

Please note that Bloat can sometimes happen at anytime for no apparent reason or cause.

IF EVER YOUR DOG'S STOMACH SWELLS SUDDENLY AND THE DOG BECOMES ILL AND DEPRESSED VERY QUICKLY TAKE HIM TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY. It is better to be told that there is nothing wrong than to have a dead dog.

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD)

Nearly all large/giant breeds, and some smaller ones, can be affected by CHD. It is a serious hip development abnormality.

SYMPTOMS: The dog will progressively lose his fluid movement. It may have trouble getting up from sitting or laying down, it may no longer be able to jump up and can no longer stand on his hind legs – and, in severe cases, cannot even walk. These symptoms are normally found from the age of 2 years onwards although, in severe cases, may be apparent from the age of 6 months upwards.

In layman's terms – when the head of the Femur Bone does not fit properly into the Socket of the Hip Joint then excessive movement will occur that eventually wears down the surfaces of the bones causing abnormal bone growths, loose joint movement, pain, osteoarthritis etc.

The causes are not fully understood but there are identified factors that help to reduce its incidence:-

INHERITANCE: It has been shown that the probability of CHD in dogs is significantly reduced if previous generations have low Hip Scores. Your Leo, and all of his near ancestors, have had their hips scored, and are all within acceptable limits, if not well below the 'mean' for the breed.

POOR DIET/NUTRITION: A poor diet, especially early on in the puppy's life, can be a factor for CHD. It is relatively easy to eradicate this factor by following a good feeding programme as previously outlined in this 'puppy pack'.

TOO RICH A DIET: Too high a level of Calcium etc. in the diet can have a detrimental effect with abnormal growths of Calcite Deposits developing on the Femur Head or within the Socket. This again should be relatively easy to eradicate by following a good feeding programme.

OVER EXERCISE: Too much exercise before the puppy's 1st birthday can cause problems. Giant breeds need a full year before their primary bone structure has completed its growth. Any changes forced on this structure by adaptation to a vigorous exercise regime can cause problems with joint formation.

OVERWEIGHT: Over feeding a puppy and allowing it to become overweight can cause structure changes – this makes the joints unable to cope with the excess weight and unable to aid movement etc. of the proper operation of the joint.

The Hip Scoring process: The hips are, usually after the dog has reached 12 Months of age, x-rayed and the x-ray is then assessed by experts at the British Veterinary Association (BVA) monitoring site.

Each Hip is given an overall rating of between 0 & 53 - 0 being perfect and 53 being the worst possible. Both Hip scores are then added together to give a Total Hip Score for the dog. Therefore the worst possible score is 106… which would imply 53 for each Hip and the best possible score is 0.

The BVA then publish the results for each breed to give average standards as guidelines.

Research has shown that the probabilities of a puppy developing CHD are as follows:

Both parents have CHD - 80% chance of puppy developing CHD
One parent has CHD - 58% chance of puppy developing CHD
Both parents are Normal - 30% chance of puppy developing CHD
Parents, Grandparents & Great Grandparents are Normal - <30% chance of puppy developing CHD

Taking these 'inheritance' statistics into account, and then also taking into consideration the other factors that are within your control (such as Diet, Exercise and Weight) means that you can make the risk of your puppy developing CHD very small.

LOWER HIP SCORES DO NOT GUARANTEE THAT A PUPPY WILL NOT DEVELOP CHD IN THE FUTURE – IT ONLY REDUCES THE RISK OF THIS HAPPENING.

Diarrhoea

One of the most common signs that your dog is unwell is diarrhoea. To clarify – diarrhoea is when the stools are being excreted as a liquid instead of a healthy solid form. Strangely, one of the most common causes of simple non-illness diarrhoea is Dry Kibble dog food! Persistent diarrhoea (with the dog showing no signs of illness) can usually be cured by switching to a Raw Prey Meat diet.

If the puppy is fine and energetic, even though he has diarrhoea, then it is not normally serious and could be caused by too rich or too much dry dog food. Just reduce the amount of food given and it usually clears it self. If it keeps happening then he may have a problem with the food and another brand should be tried.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph - persistent diarrhoea (with the dog showing no signs of illness) can usually be cured by switching to a Raw Prey Meat diet – this instantly 'firms' the stools.

If the puppy is unwell with the diarrhea – maybe quiet and subdued – then he has probably picked up a virus or stomach bug. They have a tendency to pick them up all the time for the first year… accompanied by several bouts of diarrhoea. Before rushing off to the vet the following could be tried:

(a) Starve the puppy for 12 to 24 Hours after the last stool movement –

Puppy up to 4 Months Old – Starve for approximately 12 Hours
Puppy 4 to 8 Months Old – Starve for approximately 18 Hours
Puppy 8 Months and older – Starve for approximately 24 Hours

(b) After the initial 'starvation period' than give very small meals around every 2 Hours of a very bland food such as raw or cooked chicken.

(c) Do not give them their normal dry food until such time as their stools have become solid again and then re-introduce it very gradually over the next couple of days until they have reached their normal full recommended amount.

If the stools do not become more solid after 12 Hours of the chicken then you should think about taking your dog to the vet for a check-up.

IF THE PUPPY GETS RAPIDLY WORSE AT ANY POINT (for example Vomiting as well as Diarrhoea) THEN GET THEM TO THE VET AS SOON AS POSSIBLE – THEY MAY HAVE PICKED UP A VERY BAD VIRUS AND THEY MIGHT NEED AN OVERNIGHT STAY ON A DRIP TO REPLACE ANY LOST FLUIDS.

Dilated Cardio-Myopathy (DCM)

This is a heart condition that afflicts all of the Giant breeds and also many of the smaller breeds. The heart, over time, enlarges which results in the heart muscle walls becoming thinner and eventually unable to pump blood efficiently around the body.

DCM is a disease characterised by dilation or enlargement of the heart chambers and markedly reduced contraction. The left ventricle is almost always involved. Advanced cases demonstrate dilation of all cardiac chambers.

DCM is very common in dogs representing the most common reason for Congestive Heart Failure (CHF). This heart disease can also cause heart valve leakage causing heart murmurs or abnormal electrical activity of the heart – producing arrhythmias (irregular or abnormal heartbeats). Large and Giant breeds, especially males are predisposed to this condition.

The clinical condition of Canine DCM can range from overtly healthy (Occult Disease) to severe heart failure. Some dogs experience primary electrical disturbances (arrhythmia) such as Atrial Fibrillation or ventricular tachycardia.

The average age of onset is 4 to 10 Years. DCM is very serious and the mortality rate – even in treated cases – is high. If caught early enough many DCM cases can be treated with modern drugs primarily Vetmedin. This drug can control the disease for many years for a relatively good, if quiet, quality of life for the dog. After diagnosis, typically, the dog will survive for 6 between 6 months and 2 years on the drugs.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
Weight loss without loss of appetite
Shortness of breath
Coughing
Exercise Intolerance
Collapse
Abdominal Distension
Lethargy

THE ONSET OF THESE PROBLEMS SHOULD ALERT YOU THAT A SERIOUS EMERGENCY IS LOOMING.

Ears

Periodically check the ears for excessive discharge of wax – when there is a problem it will appear Dark Brown and slightly smelly.

Try and clean the excess wax with baby wipes/cotton wool and a good ear cleaner.  The vet will be able to supply his for you – Epi-otic, Leo Ear Cleaner etc.  Take care and be gentle when cleaning as the inner ears are quite sensitive.

Ear Mites are the main cause of ear trouble in dogs and, as a remedy, a product called Thornit is highly recommended – it is an old remedy that deters Ear Mites – a few dustings a week of this White Powder will keep the Ear Mites at bay and your dog ear infection free!

Some dogs are allergic to the Ear Mite and, once bitten, the Inner Ear becomes red and slightly swollen with an increase in wax production.  With time the wax becomes brown and smelly – bacteria thrive in it and this eventually leads to an infection in the ear… followed by a trip to the vet.  Thornit stops this process by stopping the Ear Mite biting in the first place.

Elbow dysplasia

This is similar to CHD but affects the Elbows. It can be a problem in Leo's but less so than CHD.

Your Leo's parents have both had their Elbows scored and both are excellent.

Like the Hips the Elbows are x-rayed and again sent to the BVA for assessment. They are scored 0 or 1 or 2 or 3 for each Elbow.

0 = Excellent
1 = Acceptable (but the development of the dog to be monitored)
2/3 = Problem

Eye disorders

Leo's, like many other breeds of dog, can develop eye problems – primarily inherited Cataracts.

Both the parents of your puppy have had their eyes tested and these have shown to be clear with no problems. This Eye Test is carried out each year. However, there is some discussion as to its relevance over the age of (say) 4 or 5 Years as then age related illnesses can take over with no relevance to inheritance – in the United States of America they do not carry out Eye Tests over the age of 5 Years old.

Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)

This is one of the most common cause of death in Leonbergers (and Giant breeds in particular). Currently 47% of all deaths of Leonbergers are cancer related and half of this figure is attributable to Osteosarcoma.

Most commonly tumours grow at the end of the long bones at the joints. At first imntermittent limping will occur, gradually progressing to total disablement of the affected limb within a month or so. The tumour will become apparent at some stage and then growing very rapidly over a couple of months.

Unfortunately, once limping has occurred, then the cancer has already spread to the rest of the body – typically to the lungs inducing coughing and laboured breathing after a month or so and the dog is likely to survive only a couple of months more. The pain gets progressively worse for the dog. Treatment generally only prolongs the life of the dog for a few months and usually entails chemotherapy.

Rather frighteningly, according to Pet Education, dogs weighing more than 80 pounds (36 Kg) 'are at least 60 times more likely to develop an Osteosarcoma than dogs weighing less' – and males are more susceptible than females.

Panosteitis

This is a relatively common 'growing pain' illness that affects Large/Giant breeds of dog.

Symptoms include a sudden lameness not associated with any trauma. It normally affects Male dogs between the ages of 4 to 18 months although females can also be affected. There are periods of lameness lasting as short as 2/3 weeks or to as long as 3 months and it may shift from leg to leg. The most commonly affected bones are the Radius, Ulna, Humerus, and Femur & Tibia. The Foot and Pelvic bones may also be involved.

The dog may show a reluctance to walk or exercise and, when the affected bone is squeezed, the dog reacts painfully. Occasionally affected dogs will have a fever, tonsillitis, or an elevated White Blood Cell count.

The condition is not life threatening and long term damage very rarely occurs. It causes pain and distress in the dog for the time that they are affected, and then the dog recovers quickly back to full energy and mobility.

Sometimes the dog can become disabled completely and lose the use of its back legs for a couple of weeks – unable to get up to go to the toilet or even to go to its food bowl. Again the condition passes and full mobility returns to the dog with no long term damage having occurred.

In an emergency please do not hesitate to contact your vet.

Plant hazards to dogs

The ingestion of plants by dogs can sometimes be a cause of illness. While in many cases animals appear to be unaffected, or suffer little more than gastrointestinal upset after eating plant vegetation that they should not eat, there have been a few reported cases where more severe symptoms have occurred.

In assessing the potential risk to your pets from toxic plants it is important to consider both the age of your pet and it's tendency to chew on plants. Many of the toxic plants mentioned below, rarely cause problems because most pets do not chew on them, with the exception, perhaps being young puppies and kittens who enjoy exploring and chewing on things that are new to them.

Past studies have shown that in the months from August through to December there is usually an increase in the number of enquiries that UK Veterinary Practices receive concerning the ingestion by pets of (in particular) Conkers, Acorns and Yew. The Autumn months are when trees/shrubs are shedding their leaves/seed cases/nuts and this is also when dogs of all ages seem all too keen to try something new of different to eat.

N.B. If your dog should ingest Leopard Lily you MUST get him to the vet IMMEDIATELY – any unnecessary delay could prove fatal.

Polyneuropathy

Polyneuropathy means 'many abnormalities of the nervous system'. The condition is generally characterised by a lack of co-ordination and instability that leads to a laboured gait. Many nervous system disorders, that affect both dogs and humans, are inheritable.

In dogs the breed most affected has been the Alaskan Malamute but cases have been discovered in the Leonberger – although the percentage of Leonbergers estimated to be carrying the affected gene is thought to be very small.

LPN1, One of possibly 3 strains of the disease, can now be tested for – LPN1 accounts for approximately 30% of the disease. Testing for LPN1 will shortly become a Leonberger Club of Great Britain (LCGB) Required Code of Ethics Health Check before mating can take place.

The condition is progressive with no cure and, ultimately, the dog will have to be euthanized.

Only dogs that are tested N/N (Clear) or N/D (Carrier) can be bred from in the following combinations: N/N (Clear) to N/N (Clear) or N/N (Clear) to N/D (Carrier).

The following combinations; Carrier to Carrier / Carrier to Affected / Affected to Affected CANNOT be bred from.

Skin problems

A lot of Leo's, at some stage in their life, can suffer from a skin 'hotspot'. This usually occurs during a spell of hot weather but can, to a lesser extent, occur all year round.

You may notice an area of fur that is damp and looks as if your Leo has been licking it quite heavily. If you look at it you might notice that it smells and there may also be a 'yellowy' discharge from the area in question… it is usually caused by an insect bite, or a dog bite when playing with other dogs or a scratch mark from barbed wire etc. If this is not treated promptly then it can spread like wild fire and develop into a large area of thick smelly discharge that will require specialist veterinary care.

IMMEDIATE TREATMENT:

(1) Wash the area immediately with water and a good antibacterial/antifungal shampoo such as Malaseb which you can get from your vet.
(2) Let the area dry naturally after minimal towelling – do not use a hair dryer.
(3) Monitor the spot 3 times a day – if it re-occurs then take your dog to the vet for specialist treatment.

This treatment should stop the infection spreading without the need to shave the infected area of his fur – which will take months to grow back. If you have no special shampoo then douse the infected area 4 times a day with a Salt solution ensuring that you part the fur back to the skin so that the brine can get to the infected skin and not just sit in the fur. You will know that you are winning the battle against the infection when a scab begins to form over the infected skin area. If this does not happen within a couple of days, or you feel unable to control the spread, take you dog to the vet as soon as possible.

 
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