This page is intended as a general guide to potential or existing dog owners – including details about some of the common health issues the Dobermann breed faces. The page endeavours to provide useful information in the hope it will assist dog owners to have a rewarding relationship with their pet.
Keeping your Dog Worm Free
Unfortunately you cannot vaccinate against worms, so regular worming treatment from puppyhood is the only way to ensure that your dog stays worm free. ROUNDWORMS, TAPEWORMS, HOOKWORMS and LUNGWORMS are the chief offenders.
Even without showing obvious symptoms a dog can be suffering from a worm infection. Dogs carrying worms can pose a health risk, not just to the dog but to other animals, and to humans.
Sign of infection to watch out for include:
- tapeworms shed in segments that stick to your pet’s bottom and become itchy.
- weight loss
- dull, lifeless coat
- change in appetite increased or decreased
- lack of energy
- pot bellied appearance (most commonly seen in puppies)
- breathing difficulties and any other general changes in behaviour
ROUNDWORMS Toxocara canis, are spaghetti like in appearance and live in the small intestines. The adult worms shed thousands of tiny eggs which pass out in the faeces contaminating the environment. Dogs can be infected by eating worm eggs which are present in the soil in large numbers. Puppies are commonly infected whilst still in the womb and can have infection passed on through the milk when suckling. Adult dogs usually carry infections without showing any signs
People are infected with Toxocara worms by swallowing eggs found on their dog’s coats or in the environment, having been passed out in the faeces.
An infection picked up by an adult will likely be destroyed before any problems can be caused, but a child’s immune systems does not respond in the same way. Signs of toxocara infection in people vary widely but may include: blindness, liver disease, lung disease, high temperature, asthma and seizures
TAPEWORMS also live in the small intestines and shed segments containing eggs, which pass out in the faeces. The eggs may then be eaten by an intermediate host, including small rodents and fleas. There are three important tapeworms that can affect pets in the UK
Dipylidium Caninum the ‘flea’ tapeworm, so called as the common household flea is an integral part of this worm’s lifecycle. Your pet may become infected if whilst grooming itself, it accidentally swallows a flea. If your pet is regularly flea treated as well as wormed, this should eliminate the risk of infection
Taenia tapeworms can affect small rodents, sheep and cattle in the UK. Dogs pick up infection from scavenging, from being fed raw meat or from hunting infected small rodents
Echinococcus Granulosus a sheep and dog tapeworm, most commonly found in Wales and the Hebrides. Dogs are infected if they come into contact with worm eggs, for example through scavenging or eating uncooked meat. If the eggs are accidentally ingested by people this parasite can form a large cyst full of larvae in the person’s liver or lungs. One ‘hydatid cyst’ can grow as big as a football over a number of years, These cysts usually require surgical removal.
LUNGWORM in dogs is caused by the parasite Angiostrongylus Vasorum. Adult lungworms live in the pulmonary arteries and right ventricle of the heart. Affected dogs can show a wide variety of symptoms including coughing , fits, blood clotting problems and lethargy. The lungworm parasite is carried by slugs and snails which act as an intermediate host, even snail slime trails left on grass and dog toys can become infected with lungworm.
Lungworm disease in dogs often affects young dogs less than two years old and can be a chronic disease, lasting months or years. Occasionally it may cause sudden death. It can manifest as weight loss, breathing difficulties and coughing up blood, vomiting, persistent bleeding, stomach and back pain, fits, paralysis, circling and heart failure.
Prevent potentially fatal lungworm disease in your dog by collecting and disposing of your dog’s faeces regularly, worming your dog at least every 3 months using a wormer effective against lungworm and preventing contact with, and/or consumption of, snails and slugs. Infection very much depends on the area you live in, your dog’s diet and where you exercise therefore you might need to consider monthly treatment of your dog to assist parasite control. Consult with your vet before embarking on any treatment plans.
Neutering – To Neuter Or Not?
Today many organisations and veterinarians are advocating early castration or spaying for our pets. What does this exactly entail? If you have not fully considered the implications you may like to – read this article – with its related links and form your own opinion.
At the end of the day responsible ownership prevents unwanted puppies and proper socialisation and training produces a dog that is a pleasure to own. If you are considering taking on – one of our rescued Dobermanns – please be aware that they are a high maintenance dog requiring dedicated and knowledgeable owners.
Please think carefully before taking on one of these beautiful dogs and deal with accredited breeders or organisations who are obviously in a position to offer the back up and advice that you may need.
Cruciate Ligament Injury
The two Cruciate ligaments; the cranial or anterior ligament and the caudal or posterior ligament, are situated in the knee joint. The cranial ligament is the most commonly injured in canines which causes knee instability that may, in turn, develop other complications such as cartilage damage and Osteoarthritis.
With dogs, and particularly large breeds ones, the damage to the cruciate ligament seems to degenerate gradually over time and not so much from a sudden rupture from intense exercise, this can occur from quite an early age and is often seen in both legs.
The University of Liverpool Small Animal Teaching Hospital currently has a research programme investigating the causes of this gradual degeneration in certain “at risk” breeds including Labradors, Rottweillers and Mastiffs and why it appears that the ligament structure is genetically prone to failure.
If your dog has been diagnosed with a cruciate ligament injury further information regarding treatment, surgery and post operative care can be found from the links below.
Achillles Tendon Tears and Ruptures
The Achilles tendon is the largest and most complex tendon in a dog, consisting of a group of five tendons. Four of these tendons attach to the heel or calcaneous bone and one goes over the back of the heel bone to the toes of the hind limb
These tendons can break down with tears and ruptures , laceration or degeneration over time, alternatively this condition can be due to sudden trauma.
First indications of the onset of problems are lameness and often the hock(s) become less upright and more parallel with the ground and the dog may walk with a crouching stance
It has been reported that Dobermanns have this chronic form of injury occurring in both rear limbs, more so than any other breed. though, at present it is not known why. You will see in the picture on the right of a Dobermann in our care that his rear hocks are severely affected.
Below are links with more information regarding treatment, surgery and recovery from an Achilles tendon injury together with a news article published in the Daily Mail in September 2012 describing the special splint aids that can help with post operative care of the condition.
Lick Granuloma (also known as Acral Lick Dermatitis)
Dobermanns are prone to lick granulomas especially when this active breed is left alone for long periods or is living under stressful conditions. There are various triggers besides stress ranging from bacterial infections, demodectic mange (parasitic mites), allergies to joint disease. A common cause is separation anxiety. The consequence of an untreated lick granuloma is dire and the condition must be addressed immediately. The picture shows a Dobe whose wound had developed to a very difficult stage to control. The owner was beside himself and wanted to surrender the dog as he could not cope. A traumatic situation for both dog and owner. Dogs have been known to chew right through to their bone with this obsessive behaviour. Seek veterinary advice immediately if your dog begins to show signs of obsessive licking or sucking on his joints. You may well have to use an Elizabethan Collar to break the habit as well as address the cause meaning the dog cannot be left unattended unless you are absolutely one hundred percent sure it cannot aggravate the wound. Some dogs seem more inclined to an outbreak in the Spring/Summer months indicating their problem may be triggered by an allergic reaction. There are several helpful websites and a more detailed description can be read by – clicking here – remember it is imperative not to delay treatment as untreated and unsupervised the situation can be irreversible.
Lungworm – Is Your Dog At Risk?
- Is your dog inquisitive?
- Has your dog ever eaten slugs, snails or frogs, either on purpose or by accident… and would you know?
- Are there foxes, slugs and snails where you live or walk your dog?
If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above questions then your dog could be at risk from a potentially life-threatening lungworm; Angiostrongylus Vasorum which is spread by slugs, snails and occasionally frogs. Foxes are natural hosts for lungworm and are also responsible for the spread of the disease.
Lungworm is a life threatening disease with more and more cases being reported, it appears to be on the increase. The reason for the increase is unknown. This lungworm used to be confined to South Wales, the South West and some areas of the South East but increasingly cases are being diagnosed over a much wider area throughout the U.K. and Ireland.
For dogs to become infected they have to eat infected larvae. These may be present in slugs, snails and sometimes frogs. Some dogs may not eat the slugs or snails on purpose but if you leave toys or bones outside they may accidentally ingest them. Research has shown that the infective lungworm larvae can also be released from the slug or snail in the slimy trail they leave behind, so larvae could potentially be found wherever these trails appear.
When the lungworm gets inside a dog it can result in a number of quite different symptoms, some of which are easily confused with other illnesses. Your dog could present with one or more of the following symptoms:
- Breathing problems or coughing – tiring more easily
- Poor blood clotting leading to excessive bleeding from minor wounds, nose bleeds, bleeding into the eye and anaemia
- Behavioural changes, seizures (fits), spinal pain, weight loss
- Loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhoea
For further information you might like to – click here – lungworm is not treated by conventional worming tablets so please see your veterinary surgeon if you think your dog may have been infected.
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anaemia [AIHA]
In hemolytic anaemia, a loss of red blood cells [rbcs] occurs due to destruction of the red blood cells. The destruction occurs due to antibodies which stick to the rbcs and cause the body to react, leading to destruction of the cell. This can be the direct result of a drug, toxin, blood parasite, virus or other primary cause – or it can be an unexplained immune mediated reaction. It can occur inside the blood stream [intravascular hemolysis] or outside the bloodstream [extra vascular hemolysis]. In most cases in dogs, hemolysis occurs outside the blood stream in the spleen, liver and bone marrow. The destruction of red blood cells often leaves recognisable cellular debris in the blood stream. In particular, a form of damaged rbc known as a spherocyte occurs. Finding spherocytes on a blood smear almost guarantees that some form of hemolytic anaemia is occurring. However, it does not really give a clue as to whether the IMHA is due to a primary cause, or if it is occurring for no apparent reason. Since this disorder does not stop the production of red blood cells, there are usually immature red blood cells in the bloodstream which can be detected on the blood smears as well [a regenerative anaemia].
Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
With this condition, the heart is enlarged and compensatory mechanisms are acting to maintain blood flow. The dog will initially have no clinical symptoms – but it will eventually exhibit lethargy, will tire easily [due to the heart not being able to pump enough blood around the body], start coughing [fluid in lungs], or other similar symptoms [basically the symptoms of congestive heart failure].
There is no cure for dilated cardiomyopathy, but there are treatments that will improve cardiac function which will deninish the clinical symptoms. The typical treatment consists of enalapril [angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitor], lasix [diuretic], and digoxin [improves the contractility of the heart to make it function better]. The treatment, in addition to lessening the clinical manifestations of the disease, may prolong the dog’s life. Since cardiomyapathy is a progressive disease, treatment prior to the appearance of clinical symptoms may slow down the progression and increase the dog’s life expectancy.
Healthy Heart Checks for DOBERMANNs!
Leading veterinary cardiologists are looking for owners of purebred Dobermanns (between 5 and 9 years old, in good health), who would be willing to allow their dog to be screened for early signs of heart disease.
One or more common causes of heart disease in dogs is dilated cardiomyopathy. Here the heart muscle becomes flabby and weak, so that eventually the heart is unable to pump effectively. This can take many months or years, meaning that the dog may have heart disease for a long time before visible symptoms can be seen by the vet and owner. However, eventually it results in the appearance of signs of heart failure, such as weakness, exercise tolerance, difficulty breathing, coughing and weight loss.
The condition is most common in large (e.g. Dobermanns) and giant (e.g. Great Danes) breeds of dogs. The cardiologists are specifically interested in the effects of the disease in Dobermanns, and a medication (pimobendan) that may delay the onset of symptoms of heart failure. This medication is already licensed, and widely used to manage the symptoms of heart failure in dogs once they arise.
If you are interested in taking part in this study and your dog is suitable for screening, you will be offered a free of charge consultation and a detailed diagnostic examination by one of the UK’s leading veterinary cardiologists. Should your dog be identified as having the hidden signs of dilated cardiomyopathy, it will then enter a free long term trial.
For further information, or if you would be interested in helping with this study, please contact your veterinary surgeon, or phone the PROTECT information line on 01344 742574 and leave your details. Thank you.
A hormonal disorder usually occurring in dogs that are around 2-5 years old. Clinical signs are lethargy, hair loss, bacterial skin infections, excessive skin pigmentation, coarseness of the hair, and obesity. Dogs affected will be lethargic and will tend to feel the cold more. This condition can be diagnosed by means of a simple blood test.
Hip Dysplasia (HIPS)
Hip dysplasia means, literally, an abnormality in the development of the hip joint, and it is characterized by a shallow acetabulum [the 'cup' of the hip joint], together with changes in the shape of the femoral head [the 'ball' of the hip joint]. These changes may occur due to excessive laxity in the hip joint. Hip dysplasia can exist with or without clinical signs. When dogs exhibit clinical signs of this problem they are usually lame on one or both rear limbs.
Severe arthritis can develop as a result of the malformation of the hip joint, and this results in pain as the disease progresses. Many young dogs exhibit pain during or shortly after the growth period, often before arthritic changes appear to be present. It is not unusual for this pain to appear to disappear for several years and then to return when arthritic changes become obvious.
Colour Dilution Alopecia – Special Care for Blue or Isabella Dobermanns
Colour Dilution Alopecia (CDA) is a genetic based skin disease that can affect a Blue or Isabella coat coloured Dobermann. The onset of the hair loss of the coat usually begins between four and eighteen months of age, although in some cases the condition only becomes apparent much later in life. the condition is progressive with a gradual onset of a dry, dull and a poor hair quality coat and can, after several years progress to complete alopecia extending from the trunk to the flanks but usually sparing the head, tail and limbs and all non-diluted coat areas. The skin, in the affected areas, can become scaly and scuffy.
All this sounds distressing, however, except for the poor skin and coat, a CDA diagnosed Dobermann IS A PERFECTLY HEALTHY DOG, and if you are aware of the special day to day needs of these Dobies, then there is no reason what-so-ever that these Dobes can not lead a very happy comfortable life.
Once you have a diagnosis of CDA from your veterinary surgeon, having ruled out any inflammatory causes such as bacterial or parasitical infections, or non-inflammatory causes such as Hypothyroidism (a Thyroid test can rule this out) there are some things that as an owner of a blue or Isabella Dobe, you can adopt that can help to manage the condition,
You may find that your Dobermann’s skin becomes oily and dirty more frequently because of the lack of hair that would normally be absorbed by a normal coat. regular washing and a change of bedding will help to keep this at bay and prevent that “doggy smell” developing, a gentle, non-biological washing powder or simple soap flakes should be used. You can also use a dog shampoo and conditioner specially formulated for dry and flaky skin with the possible addition of Tea Tree Oil again on a regular basis so long as you can persuade your Dobie to participate in taking a bath or a shower.
Good nutrition is a must, use a high quality dog food that has Omega -6 and 3 fatty acids included. You can also give some nutritional supplements, but CONSULT YOUR VETERINARY SURGEON before adding any extra supplements to the food.
VITAMINS AND MINERALS THOUGHT TO BE BENEFICIAL TOWARDS PROMOTING A HEALTHY SKIN AND COAT.
- FATTY ACIDS with Omega-6 and 3, may also boost the immune system and can be found in fish oils (avoid Cod Liver Oil) Safflower Oil, Flaxseed Oil and Sunflower Oil
- VITAMIN E a good anti oxidant
- KELP an excellent source of trace elements and Iodine that can help Thyroid function
- BREWER’S YEAST & GARLIC yeast is a great natural source of the B Vitamins, and as Brewer’s Yeast is inactive it will not produce bloating or fermentation in the stomach. Garlic is thought to repel fleas
- FOLIC ACID AND THE B VITAMINS are good for both the skin and coat
- VITAMIN C an excellent anti-oxidant
- LECITHIN is a good emulsifier
- NATURAL LIVE PRO-BIOTIC YOGHURT helps to promote a natural balance of beneficial bacteria in the stomach, aiding digestion
- ZINC & SILICA an essential element for healthy skin and hair
Please consult your own vet before giving any extra nutritional supplements to your Dobermann’s food, they can advise you on the benefits, necessity and safe quantities that should be used. Not everything should be used for every dog.
A PERSONAL VIEW by Sue Henschker
I cared for my blue Dobermann, Kodi, for almost 14 years and very soon discovered that she, like most Dobies, disliked getting cold and wet, but once she was dressed in the variety of hand made dog coats that I manufactured specially for her to combat all sorts of weather conditions, then she was just as enthusiastic to go out everyday regardless of temperatures and the local weather forecast. During really cold periods and heavy snow falls, then she wore two coats at once, a cosy fleece next to her body and a water and wind proof one on top. With this attire we were able to plough through three foot snow drifts, driving rain and howling winds with no problems.
During the hot summer days I always carried a bicycle water bottle with a sealable spout that Kodi would drink directly from and took walking routes that passed near to rivers, lakes and ponds so that she could lay down for a good soak and cool off and help her regulate her body temperature. I also took note of any garden taps or public buildings where I could refresh the water bottle from. Walking in the early morning or at dusk is also a sensible precaution to adopt thus avoiding the hottest time of the day. The thin coat did expose her skin to direct sunlight and so I had to keep an eye on her that she did not get sunburnt or showed signs of heat stroke.
We never had any trouble with fleas and if she did pick up any other parasites, such as sheep and deer ticks and harvest mites they were so visible on her that I was able to quickly deal withy them before they could burrow down and take hold.
CDA never stopped us doing anything that any other Dobermann would do, we climbed mountains, sailed a crossed the seas, flew the Channel and the Atlantic and travelled the length and breadth of the country and led a full, adventurous and exciting life with so many compliments and exclamations from so many people regarding how beautiful Kodi was. So I say, there is nothing wrong with A CDA Dobermann so long as you take into consideration that they require that little bit of extra care and consideration.