Rottweiler Health Concerns
Rottweilers, as with other breeds, are susceptible to some health problems, some of a genetic nature, others viral. The following is a listing of some of the known health issues that affect the Rottweiler breed.
- Addison’s Disease (Also known as Hypoadrenocorticism)
- Aortic Stenosis (AS)
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
- Panosteitis (Pano)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
- Von Willbrand’s Disease
Addison’s Disease is a disease where the adrenal glands secrete an insufficient amount of adrenal hormones. This is an extremely serious disease as these hormones are essential for life.
Primary adrenocorticism affects glucorticoid and salt/potassium balance. It is not known why it occurs but may be an immune mediated process.
Secondary adrenocorticism usually only affects the glucocorticoids, and probably occurs most often when prednisone or other cortisone are suddenly withdrawn. It can occur as a result of pituitary cancer or other process that interferes with production of the hormones that stimulate the adrenal glands.
Initial symptoms include gastrointestinal problems, such as vomiting, lethargy and poor appetite. When an affected dog is stressed or when potassium levels are high enough to interfere with the heart, more severe symptoms may be seen including severe shock which can be fatal, heart arrythmias can occur or the heart could even stop. In some cases, especially secondary, no changes in electrolyte balance can be detected.
Aortic stenosis(AS) has been reported to be the most common congenital cardiac disorder in Rottweilers. AS is characterized by a narrowing of the aortic valve, the outflow tract from the heart’s left ventricle. This causes a partial obstruction of blood flow into the circulation, increasing the heart’s workload and in turn cause an increase in the thickness of the left ventricular wall. Aortic stenosis may be subvalvular, valvular or supravalvular, depending on where the constriction is located. Subvalvular, or Sub Aortic Stenosis (SAS) is most common.
Like humans, dogs can get cataracts. If the dog is in good health, cataracts can be surgically removed usually with good results. Inheritance is the major cause of cataracts in dogs, although they can be caused by injuries to the eye, uveitis, and diabetes mellitus.
This is a group of conditions in which there is a deficiency of the hormone insulin or an insensitivity to it. A diabetic animal has insufficient insulin to stop glucose production by the liver or to efficiently store excess glucose derived from energy giving foods. Therefore, the blood concentration of glucose rises and eventually exceeds a level beyond which the kidneys can dispose of it into the urine. This causes larger than normal volumes of urine to be produced. The excessive loss of water in urine causes increased water consumption.
Symptoms of a dog affected by Diabetes Mellitus include: excessive urination; excessive water consumption; and weight loss. Other clinical signs may include: cataracts, increased appetite, exercise intolerance and recurrent infections. If the production of ketones by the liver is excessive a condition called ketoacidosis occurs which makes the affected dog very sick.
The normal treatment is insulin by injection. Unfortunately, oral hypoglycemics are not useful in the treatment of dogs with Diabetes Mellitus.
HIP AND ELBOW DYSPLASIA
Canine Hip Dysplasia afflicts millions of dogs each year and can result in debilitating orthopaedic disease of the hip. It is caused when the femoral head does not fit properly in the hip socket, causing instability of the joint. Over time, this malformation can cause degenerative joint disease which causes increased pain and immobility.
Elbow Dysplasia may be due to different growth rates of the three bones making up the elbow. In affected dogs, the joint is lax or loose and, in mildly affected dogs, leads to painful arthritis.Severely affected dogs can develop osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), fragmented medial coronoid processes and united anconeal processes resulting from the stress in the joint.
Through selective breeding strategies, veterinarians and breeders are attempting to eliminate Canine Hip Dysplasia. All breeding dogs should be x-rayed and certified clear by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and/or by the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP).
(Also known as “long bone disease,” “wandering lameness,” or “pano.”) Most commonly seen between the ages of five to 12 months. Pano is caused by excessive bone production on the long bones. Normally, a dog affected by this condition will grow out of the problem, but it is painful.
Diet is thought to be a contributing factor in the development of Pano. High protein puppy diets may make the puppy grow too fast and increase the chance of the pup experiencing Pano which is also sometimes described as “growing pains.” Pano can also show up in any leg and may come and go without warning. Puppies usually completely outgrow Pano by the age of 18 months and it rarely goes beyond two years.
PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA)
PRA is a family of diseases involving the gradual deterioration of the retina. In the early stages of the disease, an affected dog becomes nightblind and cannot see well in dim lighting. As the disease progresses, daytime vision also fails. Provided that the affected dog’s environment remains constant, an affected dog can adapt quite well to this handicap. As the affected dog’s vision fails, the pupils become increasingly dilated, causing a “shine” to his eyes. The lens of the eyes may also become cloudy, or opaque, resulting in a cataract. It should be noted that while some breeds are affected early in life, others can develop PRA much later.
vWD is a blood disorder, a deficiency in clotting factor VIII antigen. This substance is called “Von Willebrand’s factor.” Dogs affected by the disease do not effectively utilize their platelets for blood clotting and therefore are more likely to have excessive bleeding episodes upon injury. This is similar to hemophilia in humans.
The most common form — Type I vWD, the type found in the Rottweiler breed, is thought to be inherited by an autosomal trait with incomplete dominance. Meaning, offspring may inherit the disorder if either parent carries the gene, but not all offspring will be affected to the same extent. Dogs with Type I vWD have reduced but measurable levels of Von Willebrand factor (1 to 60 per cent). Animals that inherit the gene for Type I vWD from both parents die before birth or shortly thereafter.
The main symptom of vWd is excessive bleeding, generally occuring after an injury or surgery. Dog’s with Von Willebrand’s disease may also develop nosebleeds or bleeding from the gums; bleeding in the stomach or intestine may also occur; and some dogs may have blood in their urine. Symptoms similar to those of arthritis may also occur if bleeding is into the joints.
Note: This is a partial listing only of some of the health concerns that have been seen in the Rottweiler breed and should not be considered as a complete listing. This section is provided as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.