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Your dog is special! Chances are that you chose her because you like Belgian Sheepdogs and you expected her to have certain traits that would fit your lifestyle:. Is it all worth it? Of course! She is highly intelligent and requires a strong leader. Belgian Shepherds work hard and thrive when given an important job. The Belgian Shepherd or Sheepdog originated in the area of Groenendael, Belgium during the 19th century. They were used as an all-around working farm dog, skillfully herding and guarding.
The breed still retains a strong working instinct and thrives when active. They require almost constant attention from their master. The Belgian Shepherd is a generally healthy dog with an average lifespan of years. They have been known to suffer from some common conditions such as epilepsy and cataracts. Early detection is the key to a long and happy life, so be sure to schedule routine checkups. We know that because you care so much about your dog, you want to take good care of her. That is why we have summarized the health concerns we will be discussing with you over the life of your Groenendael.
By knowing about health concerns specific to Belgian Shepherds, we can tailor a preventive health plan to watch for and hopefully prevent some predictable risks. That does not mean your dog will have these problems; it just means that she is more at risk than other dogs. We will describe the most common issues seen in Belgian Shepherds to give you an idea of what may come up in her future.
This guide contains general health information important to all canines as well as the most important genetic predispositions for Belgian Shepherds. At the end of the booklet, we have also included a description of what you can do at home to keep your Belgian Sheepdog looking and feeling her best. And unfortunately, your Belgian Shepherd is more likely than other dogs to have problems with her teeth. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. Belgian Shepherds are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections — the same ones that all dogs can get — such as parvo, rabies, and distemper.
Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which we will recommend based on the diseases we see in our area, her age, and other factors. Obesity can be a ificant health problem in Belgian Shepherds. It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen t problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease.
Instead, give her a hug, brush her fur or teeth, play a game with her, or perhaps take her for a walk. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest her skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into her system in a of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone.
One of the best things you can do for your Groenendael is to have her spayed neutered for males. In females, this means we surgically remove the ovaries and usually the uterus, and in males, it means we surgically remove the testicles. Spaying or neutering decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminates the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies. Performing this surgery also gives us a chance, while your pet is under anesthesia, to identify and address some of the diseases your dog is likely to develop.
For example, if your pet needs hip X-rays or a puppy tooth extracted, this would be a good time. This is convenient for you and easy for your friend. Routine blood testing prior to surgery also helps us to identify and take precautions for common problems that increase anesthetic or surgical risk. There are three types of seizures in dogs: reactive, secondary, and primary. Secondary seizures are the result of a brain tumor, stroke, or trauma. If no other cause can be found, the disease is called primary, or idiopathic epilepsy. This problem is often an inherited condition, with Belgian Shepherds commonly afflicted.
If your friend is prone to seizures, they will usually begin between six months and three years of age. An initial diagnostic workup may help find the cause. Lifelong medication is usually necessary to help keep seizures under control, with periodic blood testing required to monitor side effects and effectiveness.
Note the length of the seizure, and call us or an emergency hospital. Unfortunately, Belgian Shepherds can inherit or develop a of different eye conditions, some of which may cause blindness if not treated right away, and most of which can be extremely painful! We will evaluate his eyes at every examination to look for any s of concern. Cataracts are a common cause of blindness in older Groenendaels. Many dogs adjust well to losing their vision and get along just fine. Surgery to remove cataracts and restore sight may also be an option.
In affected breeds, inflammatory cells infiltrate the cornea clear part of the eye which darkens with exposure to ultraviolet light, and may lead to complete blindness. Doggie sunglasses are also an option to help reduce sun exposure. Progressive Retinal Atrophy PRA is an inherited disease in which the eyes are genetically programmed to go blind. Unfortunately, Belgian Shepherds are a bit more likely than other dogs to have this condition. PRA is not painful, but also not curable. In dogs with the bad gene, early symptoms such as night blindness or dilated pupils generally begin around three to five years of age.
A genetic test is available for this condition. Cancer is a leading cause of death among dogs in their golden years. Your Belgian Shepherd is a bit more prone to certain kinds of cancer starting at a younger age. Many cancers are cured by surgically removing them, and some types are treatable with chemotherapy. Early detection is critical! Hemangiosarcoma is a type of bleeding tumor that affects Belgian Shepherds at greater than average incidence.
These tumors commonly form in the spleen, but can form in other organs as well. Unbeknownst to a pet owner, the tumor breaks open and internal bleeding occurs. Some tumors can be volleyball-sized or larger before s of sickness show. We often find clues that one of these tumors is present during senior wellness testing, so have his blood tested and an ultrasound performed at least yearly. Abnormal lymphocytes, as seen under the microscope, confirming a diagnosis of lymphoma.
Lymphoma or lymphosarcoma is a type of cancer that afflicts Belgian Shepherds more than other breeds. This disease makes the body form abnormal lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell. Because white blood cells can be found throughout the body, this cancer can show up almost anywhere. Lymphoma is a very treatable form of cancer, with an excellent success rate in dogs receiving chemotherapy. Treatment can be costly, however, and is a lifelong commitment.
Luckily, lymphoma is one of the few types of cancer that can often be found with a blood test, so we may recommend a complete blood count twice yearly. You might notice that he runs along and suddenly picks up a back leg and skips or hops for a few strides. If the problem is mild and involves only one leg, your friend may not require much treatment beyond arthritis medication.
When symptoms are severe, surgery may be needed to realign the kneecap to keep it from popping out of place. Both hips and elbows are at risk for dysplasia, an inherited disease that causes the ts to develop improperly and in arthritis. You may notice that he begins to show lameness in his legs or has difficulty getting up from lying down. We can treat the arthritis—the sooner the better—to minimize discomfort and pain.
Surgery is sometimes a good option in severe and life-limiting cases. Keep in mind that overweight dogs may develop arthritis years earlier than those of normal weight, causing undue pain and suffering! It affects Groenendaels more frequently than other breeds. If your dog has this disease, he will become increasingly weak and disabled in the hind legs and will eventually suffer from paralysis in his hindquarters, along with incontinence.
Rehabilitation, exercise, acupuncture, and dietary supplements can be helpful, but there is no cure. A genetic test is available to determine whether your dog is at risk for this heritable disease. Underbite prognathism affects Belgian Shepherds more than other breeds.
In this condition, the lower jaw sticks out further than the upper jaw. Most cases do not require treatment, but if the abnormally positioned teeth are digging into his mouth, chronic pain may result. Extractions or orthodontic work may be needed. The thyroid glands rest on both sides of the neck alongside the windpipe. s can include dry skin and coat, hair loss, susceptibility to other skin diseases, weight gain, fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes.
Treatment is usually simple: replacement hormones given in the form of a pill. Subaortic Stenosis or SAS is a heart defect involving a narrowing just below the aortic valve. This causes the heart to become overworked as it tries to pump blood past this narrow opening. The result can be an irregular heart rhythm leading to sudden death. A characteristic heart murmur can sometimes be heard with a stethoscope. If this is heard in your Belgian Shepherd, we may recommend further testing, including an echocardiogram to rule out other likely causes and to help guide treatment. Medications can sometimes help, but many puppies with SAS die suddenly.
Vitiligo is a pigment disorder that turns the skin or hair a lighter color. It looks like patchy white spots. There is no proven treatment, although B vitamin supplementation is thought to be helpful by some. Belgian Shepherds may develop a disease of the muscles, called myopathy, somewhere between three and seven months old. Physical s include bunny hopping, loss of muscle tone in the limbs, a stiff gait, or carrying the head low.
Most dogs with myopathy are stabilized by twelve months of age, have a normal life span, and are suitable as house companions: no hunting or working! Both male and female Groenendaels are prone to pattern baldness. As with balding men, the hair gradually falls out and does not grow back.
The hair loss does not cause itchiness, though the skin can sometimes be dry. Usually the areas affected are the throat, chest, belly and the insides of the legs. If it is true pattern baldness, we can offer supplements or hormones which may help, though there is no cure. When the dog breed is more rare, or has not been studied because of geographic or other isolation, we have no stockpile of documented history to draw upon when making preventive healthcare recommendations.
We can however, make some educated guesses based on disease risks for dog breeds that share conformational or genetic links with your Belgian Shepherd. Based on these similarities, the following disease risks may carry higher risk, although supportive research has not been identified.Looking for Belgium companianship
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