Health Problems in a Shetland Sheepdog

  • 31/03/2011

The chances of owning a sickly Shetland Sheepdog is very minimal. However, owners and potential buyers must be aware of the inheritable diseases that are found in this type of dog breed. The list includes: hip dysplasia, thyroid disease, Dermatomyositis and von Willebrand's disease. If you happen to own a Sheltie, its best to learn about the potential problems that your dog can have. Knowing what types of diseases a breed can be prone to, can help owners become more equipped at handling such. It might even be possible to prevent them from happening.

Low thyroid or hypothyroidism occurs when the dog's body cannot maintain enough levels of thyroid hormones. This particular hormone is responsible for the regulation of metabolism. Various symptoms exist when thyroid levels are low. Depending on the degree of severity, a Sheltie can experience slow pulse, weight gain, thinning fur, and intolerance to cold. The disease can be brought about by old age or it can be caused by other medications and illnesses. However, most people believe that this condition is inherited. In order to diagnose hypothyroidism, ask your veterinarian for a complete thyroid test. Treatment is in the form of supplements which correct low hormonal levels.

CHD or Canine Hip Dysplasia in Shetland Sheepdogs is unusual, compared to its presence in other breeds. This disease causes the degeneration of the joint in the hip. It is possible to have it in both or just a single hip. This condition can be noticed through the way a dog walks. Difficulty in standing, climbing stairs and irregular patterns of walking are symptoms. An x-ray can determine whether or not a dog has CHD. Treatment includes proper weight management but only a hip replacement surgery can correct the condition.

A symptom of the von Willebrand's disease is when a dog's blood can't clot properly. This bleeding disorder is inherited as it is passed through one recessive gene. Other symptoms may include hemorrhaging, a lot of bruising and prolonged bleeding time. In order diagnose it, the dog's DNA sample will be collected and sent for analysis.

DM stands for Dermatomyositis is another inherited disease. This appears in the form of skin lesions. In worse cases, these affect even the muscles. Primarily, this can be found in Shetland Sheepdogs and Collies but other breeds can have this as well. In most cases, skin lesions begin to appear on the head to be followed by appearance on the ears and front legs. Lesions have yellow or white crust. They can show up in a bald spot or where dry skin is prevalent. Scarring and severe hair loss can occur in moderate cases. DM is diagnosed using a method called the skin punch biopsy. It will then be examined by a dermapathologist. This disease is often overlooked because the symptoms are similar to mange or allergic reactions. DM has no cure. The common treatment is steroids. In some cases, the dog gets better without treatment but severe ones require long term use of the drug. Sunlight and stress can worsen the condition.

A knowledgeable Shetland Sheepdog owner can provide more comfort and relief for his or her dog. This information is also helpful when selecting Sheltie pups.

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