Health

Listed below are some of the health issues suffered by Rottweilers:

JLPP

Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis and Polyneuropathy (JLPP) in Rottweilers

Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis and Polyneuropathy (JLPP) is an inherited disease, and it must be fought.  Although it is hoped that the disease is not yet widespread, complete testing of all breeding animals must continue.  It is expressly emphasized that most adult dogs are carriers of the disease, even if they cannot fall ill, because the disease had shown at a young age. Unless your dog or bitch is JLPP free by parentage, BOTH must be tested prior to breeding.

The symptom of JLPP have become apparent in Rottweilers in recent years.  I would like to begin with an outline of the symptoms that are characteristic for this disorder and its typical progression.  I will start by explain where the term itself come from. Neuropathy is a word used to describe a severe disorder of the nervous system.  The prefix “poly” indicates that neuropathies can affect many different parts of the body at the same time.  In a healthy dog, nerve structure control muscles and perform a range of complex additional functions.  In its fully expressed form, polyneuropathy causes control over the muscles to be lost to an ever-greater degree until it is ultimately lost entirely.  Pronounced symptoms of paralysis of the larynx and the surrounding tissue comprise the second component of JLPP. The onset of the disease is typically marked by breathing problems in affected dogs, especially during physical exertion or when they are excited.  Dogs may cough when eating or drinking and the sound of their bark often changes.  This is followed, somewhat later, by a loss of coordination in the hind limbs and subsequently also the forelimbs.  These symptoms worsen until the dog is unable to move. The disorder typically appears either shortly after weaning age or in somewhat older juvenile dogs.  The risk of misdiagnosis cannot always be eliminated.

The disease causes immense distress to affected dogs.  It is inevitably terminal: no cure exists.  We can consider ourselves lucky, that its appearance can be avoided with absolute certainty. This situation represents the best possible scenario for everybody seeking a Rottweiler puppy.

SWRA MEMBERS DISCOUNT ON JLPP TESTING

We are very pleased to be able to offer our current, paid-up members a discount on JLPP testing.

Laboklin: 10% discount giving a reduced test price of £43.20 (was £48)

Animal Diagnostics: 5% discount giving a reduced test price of £39.90 (was £42)

Please contact Victoria Clapp for a form/discount code rockstarotts@yahoo.co.uk 07930329400

Aortic Stenosis

This is due to a partial obstruction to the flow of blood as it leaves the left side of the heart (the left ventricle) through the main blood vessel (the aorta) that carries blood to the rest of the body. Due to the obstruction, the heart must work harder to pump adequate blood. Clinical signs depend on the degree of the narrowing. Some puppies have what are called “innocent” murmurs which disappear. Others need further investigation.  There are tests for this condition – an Auscultation (stethoscope) ECG, and more extensive investigations such as Doppler echocardiography and chest x-rays. These should be carried out by qualified Cardiologists (e.g. SAC veterinary surgeons) who can issue a certificate.  In its mildest form there are no problems for the dog, but it may still be passed on to its offspring. The recommendation is that no affected dogs or bitches are used for breeding.

Some breeders are now Heart Testing their breeding animals through the BVA Scheme (the British Veterinary Association). This is a quick and painless test done by a qualified cardiologist vet. Electrodes are attached to the dog’s skin and a paper read-out is produced (just the same as a human’s heart test).  A certificate is given to the owner stating whether the heart was Normal or Abnormal and only those animals who receive a Normal reading should be bred from.

Hip Dysplasia (“HD”)

Hip dysplasia is the most common inherited orthopaedic disease in large and giant breed dogs, and occurs in many medium-sized breeds as well. The hip joint is a “ball and socket” joint: the “ball” (the top part of the thigh bone or femur) fits into a “socket” (acetabulum) formed by the pelvis. If there is a loose fit between these bones, and the ligaments which help to hold them together are loose, the ball may slide part way out of the socket (subluxate). The mode of inheritance is polygenic (caused by many different genes). Scientists do not yet know which genes are involved, or how many genes. Factors that can make the disease worse includes excess weight, a fast growth rate, and high-calorie or supplemented diets. The disease is progressive.

X-rays are taken when the dog is over one year old.  These are sent to the BVA for scoring.  The hip-scoring system warrants explanation as it is quite confusing for the uninitiated. The score is determined by allocating points to each imperfection on the ball and socket of each hip joint. The minimum (best) score for each hip is 0 per hip, while the maximum (worst) is 53, making a total of 106 when adding the two scores together.  Basically, the higher the score, the more likelihood of Hip Dysplasia developing.

The hip scores should be well within the average (mean) score for the Rottie, which is currently a total of 13.  The BVA advise that breeders wishing to try to control HD should only breed from animals with hip scores below the breed mean score.  So, if the parents of your puppy have scores below 13, that would be an indication that your puppy should have sound hips. If the parents had a score of 0:0, that would be a perfect score! You should look for scores as even as possible e.g. you don’t want an uneven number such as 1:12, as this could indicate a problem in one hip. If possible, try to ascertain the scores of the ancestors of the puppy’s parents. Some breeders note these on the animal’s pedigree.

The recommendation is to breed from the lowest hip scores. The SWRA’s Code of Ethics for members states that the highest score which can be bred from is 20, with no more than 10 on either hip i.e. 10:10. The lower the score the better.

Elbow Dysplasia   (“ED”)

The term elbow dysplasia refers to several conditions that affect the elbow joint: osteochondrosis of the medial humeral condyle, fragmented medial coronoid process, ununited anconeal process and incongruent elbow. More than one of these conditions may be present and this disease often affects both front legs.  This is a polygenic condition, although it is not currently known how many or which genes are responsible. Environmental factors such as over-feeding, which causes fast weight gain and growth can also affect the development of this condition in dogs that are genetically predisposed to it.

The scoring system is totally different from the hip scoring system and can be quite baffling. The grades for each elbow are not added together as they are for the two hips in the hip dysplasia scheme.  Two x-rays are taken of each elbow and the grading system is simple:

Grade                   Description

0                            Normal

1                            Mild ED

2                            Moderate ED or a primary lesion

3                            Severe ED

The overall grade given for both elbows is the grade that was given to the elbow with the highest score. The lower the grade, the less the degree of elbow dysplasia evident on the x-ray.  It is recommended by the BVA that those who score 2 and over are not used for breeding. Another source advises that dogs who produce the condition should not be used for breeding again.

Entropion

Entropion is a rolling inwards of the eyelids causing the eyelashes to rub on the surface of the eye.  This is particularly distressing and painful to the dog and results in damage to the cornea, causing ulcers.  There are degrees of Entropion ranging from a slight in-rolling to a more serious case requiring surgical correction.

Ectropion

Ectropion is a rolling outwards of the eyelids which usually resolves as the dog grows and matures.  It may predispose to conjunctivitis but is usually cosmetic and rarely requires corrective surgery.

BOTH CONDITIONS ARE INHERITED

Cruciate Ligament Rupture

These are the ligaments which cross-over behind the kneecap, holding the top and bottom parts of the hind legs together (i.e. femur and tibia/fibula).  These ligaments can sometimes rupture or stretch: sometimes they snap completely rendering the dog severely lame.  They can be fixed with surgery.  Although considered to be partly hereditary through straight angulation in the hindquarters, contributory factors towards this common condition include: height, obesity, muscular and ligament laxity, uncontrolled exercise, turning suddenly and sharply, getting legs caught in rabbit holes or jumping fences etc.

OCD (Osteochondritis Dessicans)

OCD is a general term given to problems which occur most commonly in the joint areas, i.e. elbows, shoulders and hocks.   Problems usually start in young dogs at around 4-6 months of age.  The growth of the bone ends can be faulty because they do not grow at the same time or are misshapen and are therefore not always covered by synovial fluid.  As bones grow they can sometimes split, and small pieces of bone dislodge into the joint space, causing ulceration and pain.  This can be intermittent and uncomfortable and would be rather like having a stone in your shoe.  Sometimes the joints simply do not fit together properly.  These problems can be detected by x-ray and to some degree can be corrected by surgery, but this is not always successful.

Cancer

This ugly, insidious disease has, unfortunately, been reported in far too many Rottweilers.  It occurs in many areas of the dog but the most common examples are lymphoma (cancer of the lymph glands), bone, liver and spleen and many other malignant lumps.  It has not been established whether there is a hereditary link or whether feedstuffs, vaccinations or lifestyle can be a contributory factor.

Wet Eczema

Wet Eczema is very common in Rottweilers and any dog that has a thick undercoat.  It can start with a simple flea bite or a nip from another dog, then progresses into a weeping, purulent mass if not dealt with quickly.  It spreads!  Very quickly.  The best remedy is to cut the hair off close to the skin and wash skin regularly with Hibiscrub – at least three or four times a day until a crust is formed and the wound dries out.

Cold-Water Tail

Cold-water tail is a condition known throughout the working dog world but many breeds suffer from it, including Rottweilers. Not a great deal is known about the condition but it is thought the base of the tail temporarily becomes ‘dead’ by cold water or sitting in the snow.  The dog holds out the base of the tail for 4 or 5 inches then the rest hangs limply. This condition is usually only short-lived from approximately 2 to 5 days.  Some vets suggest a warm compress on the base of the tail.

Heat Exhaustion

All breeds of dog can quickly DIE if left in a car on a hot day. Please, NEVER LEAVE YOUR DOG IN YOUR CAR, even if you leave the windows down or you think you are only going to be a few minutes.

Bone Cancer in Rottweilers

A study in to Osteosarcoma in Rottweilers has been undertaken by Nottingham University by Shareen Akhtar, a long time Rottie owner herself. We feature updates on the study in our Year Book or you can look up Shareen on Face Book.

Osteosarcoma is a malignant bone tumour, which at present sadly represents a fatal progressive condition in the majority of affected dogs.  This generally presents with affected dogs becoming lame, sometimes significantly so and often a painful swelling develops in the affected bone.  The lameness may be subtle at first however can suddenly worsen as the affected region of the bone suffers a fracture.  Although commonly occurring on the limbs, these tumours can also arise in other sites including the bones of the skull, in the nasal cavity, the jawbone, ribs and hip bones.

Unfortunately in many dogs, particularly Rottweilers that are very tolerant of orthopaedic pain, this tumour only becomes obvious at a late stage.  This limits the ability of Veterinary Surgeons to improve their quality of life and their survival time is unfortunately limited.  This factor is a major drive to developing earlier methods of diagnosis to improve our ability as Vets to treat this disease successfully.

A number of breeds are suspected of having a higher incidence of Osteosarcoma.  The majority of these are giant breeds and include Irish Wolfhounds, Great Danes, St Bernards and Rottweilers.  A number of factors are thought to influence the development of Osteosarcoma and include early neutering, body weight and height.  There are a number of genes and molecules that have been shown to increase the risk of developing this disease.  Some of these also influence its aggressiveness and ability to spread and to enable it to persist and resist treatment.  A number of these have been shown in small studies to be present in Rottweilers.  As Rottweilers are suggested to be at an increased risk of developing Osteosarcoma it is very important for us to determine whether there is a clear genetic predisposition amongst Rottweilers in the UK.  The identification of underlying genetic susceptibility will lead to improvements in our ability to diagnose and treat this disease at an earlier stage.

Investigating particular characteristics of Osteosarcoma in Rottweilers is undertaken by liaising with histology laboratories and veterinary surgeons throughout the UK.  This will help determine the true prevalence of this tumour in the breed and enable us to determine more about its behaviour and development along with factors that seem to be influencing this.  Much of the work into Osteosarcoma in Rottweilers has been undertaken in the USA and this new study may therefore provide interesting and different information.

An important additional part of the study requires samples from as many Rottweilers as possible to investigate genetic influences in Osteosarcoma development.  This includes not only those dogs that are affected by the disease but also those that are not.  These samples will then be analysed using sophisticated genetic techniques to determine if there are any common features in all or some of these animals.  It is hoped we will be able to discover genes or abnormal areas of particular genes that might represent an increased risk.

As many Rottweilers and their owners as possible are encouraged to take part in this study.  The samples required are simple painlessly acquired cheek swabs.  These will provide sufficient genetic material for us to be able to analyse the samples.  The results will provide a fascinating insight into this frustrating and unpleasant disease and enable a brighter future for those unfortunate Rottweilers that are affected.