Health Issues

When choosing a breed, it is important to be aware of any particular health problems which may be associated with that breed. The following list is provided as general information. Individual Weimaraners may be more or less susceptible to these problems depending upon genetic and environmental factors.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a problem of the structure of the hip joint. The head of the thigh bone should fit solidly into the cup (acetabulum) of the hip. In a dysplatic dog, loose ligaments, an improperly shaped acetabulum, or poor muscle tone allow the head to work free. This looseness of the joint leads to excessive wear on the surfaces of the joint. In time, this leads to arthritis, pain and limitation of movement.

Although environmental factors such as weight and nutrition of the growing puppy play a role in the development of dysplasia, the condition is considered to be moderately heritable. It is strongly recommended that any Weimaraner under consideration for breeding be certified free from hip dysplasia by either the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or other nationally recognized organizations. Statistics compiled by the OFA show that breeding only those dogs with non-dysplastic hips significantly reduces the incidence of hip dysplasia in bloodlines.

For more information, visit the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals web site which includes a searchable database of those dogs which have been evaluated by the OFA. More information is also available from PennHIP at the University of Pennsylvania.

Bloat (Gastric Dilation-Torsion Complex)

Bloat is a disease which affects large, deep chested dogs such as Weimaraners, Irish Setters and Great Danes. It involves a swelling of the stomach from gas and/or fluid (gastric dilation). Once swelling occurs, the stomach may twist along its axis. Minor twisting is referred to as torsion, while twisting of more than 180 degrees is called volvulus. Torsion or volvulus are life threatening occurrences which call for immediate veterinary attention. The symptoms of bloat include retching with no vomiting, extreme salivation, obvious discomfort, and distension of the abdomen.

To help minimize the risk of bloat, Weimaraners should be fed two or more small meals per day, rather than one large one. It is also recommended that a period of rest precede and follow each meal period.

For more information on current research, visit Dog Fence DIY's Canine Bloat Information web page.

Immune Mediated Problems and Vaccination

Reprinted with permission from the WCA Weimaraner Magazine

A small percentage of Weimaraner puppies manifest an autoimmune reaction following vaccination with combination MLV (modified live virus) vaccines. When the immune system of susceptible individuals is challenged by multiple antigens it becomes hyperreactive and responds in the same way it would to fight an infection, fever, elevated WBC (white blood count) and inflammatory reaction of tissues and joints.

Although many puppies can be vaccinated with the combination MLV vaccines, there is no way at the present time to determine which pups are going to adversely react. Therefore, the Board of Directors of the Weimaraner Club of America recommends that when vaccinating puppies the Distemper and Parvo vaccines be administered separately, a two week interval between each vaccine. Any other vaccines should be administered separately as well.

While this vaccine protocol helps in preventing autoimmune reactions, it does not prevent it in all susceptible individuals.

HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy)

HOD affects the long bones of growing puppies. The ends of the bones become swollen and tender which may lead to lameness or impaired growth. Symptoms include pain and swelling of the leg bones, fever, loss of appetite and depression. These symptoms may be periodic. The exact cause is unknown, but it may be associated with excessive dietary supplementation, vitamin C deficiency, infection, or a reaction to vaccinations. Diagnosis can usually be confirmed through radiographs (x-rays).

Other Issues

Weimaraners are also susceptible to thyroid problems, various skin and food allergies, mast cell cancer, distichiasis (extra eyelashes which may irritate the cornea), and Von Willebrands Disease (a rare bleeding disorder).



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