Health Issues

Newfoundlands, just as any pure bred dog, can be prone to health issues. This page is intended only to share information regarding the most common to newfies. A breeder can not guarantee their puppies will be free of health troubles, just as a Physician can not guarantee that with a child. Pet Insurance should be a serious consideration for your puppy. A puppy may be predisposed to a particular issue and never develop any problem. However keeping them thin, growing slowly, no jumping, no slippery floors, no excessive exercise can all have an impact as to whether the problem is kept at bay or is exacerbated. Of course first step is to ensure you deal with a reputable breeder that does health testing on the parents prior to breeding (hip, elbow, heart and cystinuria).

Heart Diseases

Subaortic Stenosis (SAS)
This is an inherited disease in Newfoundland's, although the mode of inheritance appears complicated and is not yet completely understood. A ring of tissue forms below the aortic valve in the heart, restricting the blood flow and increasing the pressure within the heart. The heart tissue overgrows in response to the increased pressure, outgrowing its own blood supply and causing scar tissue to develop that interferes with the electrical impulses in the heart. Puppies can develop a murmur throughout their first year of life, but usually those with significant disease develop murmurs within the first 9 weeks of life Please remember that even breeding stock that has been cleared for SAS can still produce it.

Below are two other heart diseases that may be more common in other breeds, but that may occur in Newfoundland's, sometimes in conjunction with SAS.

Pulmonic Stenosis (PS)
In this disease a ring of tissue forms below the pulmonic valve in the heart. It causes murmurs and may affect the dogs health and life span, depending on the severity and if it appears in conjunction with other defects.

Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA)
In this disease the passageway between the two sides of the heart that normally closes at birth fails to close and the dog has a murmur. This can be surgically repaired.

Bloat / Gastric Dilatation Volvus (GDV)

This is an emergency, life threatening condition in which the stomach fills with gas and may twist back on itself cutting off the blood supply. A dog with bloat may act distressed and may try, unsuccessfully, to vomit. This disease requires immediate veterinary attention in order to save the dogs life. Outcome of the surgery is dependent on the dog’s general condition and the damage done to the stomach and other internal organs during the bloat.
Symptoms The earlier this is recognized and veterinary help obtained, the better. First the dog will be restless. It may attempt to vomit every 10-15 minutes, with no relief, or a white frothy saliva may be seen. The stomach may be distended. The dog will then start salivating ,panting and shock will develop. This is a MEDICAL EMERGENCY and should be treated now.

Allergies

Newfoundlands, as well as most other breeds of dogs may have allergies to food, fleas, pollen or other environmental allergens. Typically allergies cause skin problems, recurring ear infections or digestive problems. Medications, proper parasite control, and sometimes diet changes can effectively manage many allergies.

Orthopedic

Ruptured Cruciate Ligament
Chances are any dog that suddenly has rear leg lameness has a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament; the most common knee injury of dogs. This ligament stabilizes the dogs knee or stifle joint. A rupture of the ligament causes sudden lameness in the rear (i.e. holding up one rear leg or a severe limp) while a partial tear may be subtle, with only mild lameness. This problem may have some genetic basis, but is also a common twisting injury. There are several clinical pictures seen with ruptured cruciate ligaments. One is a young athletic dog playing roughly who takes a bad step and injures the knee while playing. This is usually a very sudden lameness in a young large breed dog. Strains and partial tears may respond to rest, medication and rehab while more severe damage will likely require surgical repair.

***Cruciate troubles, not just in our Newfoundlands Preventing Canine Crucite Ligament Damage- Information and suggestions from Dr. James L. Cook, DVM, PhD, DACVS, DACVSMR. Dr Cooke developed the Tightrope Procedure to fix cranial-cruciate-ligament, or CCL, deficiencies in dogs. Back in 2008 Dr Cook estimated approx 1 million dogs undergo surgery for ligaent rupture/damage in their knees every year.
Dr Cook recommends not allowing a dog to go from crate (rest) to activity without warming up, stretching muscles, just as humans need to do. A dog who lays around while you work all day then suddenly gets wound up excited and running around when you come home, is a prime candidate for injury. He also goes on to state: "Warming a dog up can help prevent CCL damage, which has been on the rise for several decades. The reason for this increase is somewhat unknown. Scientists are exploring genetic links, conformation differences in lines, possible bacteria in the ligament sheath and more. However, there are undeniable steps you can take to help reduce the chance of CCL damage, and thats to not only warm your dog up prior to exercise, but to keep it lean and muscular. Over the last four decades, hip dysplasia has increased slightly but not much. CCL damage however has skyrocketed,” said Cook, attributing part, but not all, of the increase to better healthcare and diagnosis. He said the biggest factor is something wholly controlled by owners, that being feeding rations and weight management. “The trend of obesity in dogs almost perfectly matches the increased trend of CCL tears in this country over the last forty years.” Keeping your dog lean will greatly reduce its chance of injuring a CCL, and a dog with good muscular development can recover from an injury faster – and, with good muscle support, can actually get along quite well without the CCL."

Dr James Cook and Dr James Stannard, in my opinion, are two of the top Orthopaedic Institute Doctors in the USA. Did you know that Missouri University is the only place veterinary patients can receive total biological joint replacement? If your dog has ruptureed their cruciate, be sure to check into the Tightrope procedure developed by Dr Cook!

Hip Dysplasia
Causes of hip dysplasia are considered to be multifactored: including both hereditary and environmental factors. Rapid weight gain and growth through excessive nutritional intake may encourage the development of hip dysplasia. Mild repeated trauma causing joint lining inflammation may also be important. The clinical signs of hip dysplasia are lameness, reluctance to rise or jump, shifting the weight to the forelimbs, loss of muscle mass on the rear limbs, and pain when the hips are manipulated. Dogs may show clinical signs at any stage of development of the disease, although many dogs with hip dysplasia do not show overt clinical signs. Some dogs are painful at 6 to 8 months of age but recover as they mature. As the osteoarthritis progresses with age, some dogs may show clinical signs similar to people with arthritis such as lameness after unaccustomed exercise, lameness after prolonged confinement, and worse problems if they are overweight.

Elbow Dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia is a multifactorial, polygenetic developmental condition affecting many large breeds including newfoundlands. 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. An affected dog may show forelimb lameness and elbow pain. These conditions may actually be different manifestations of a single disease process, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) . While this in an inherited defect, environmental factors such as diet, activity, and trauma also have a role in the development and progression of the disease. Incongruent Elbow- The bones which form the elbow joint grow at different rates and do not fit together properly.
Lameness usually starts insidiously at 7 to 10 months of age. It is present every day, and may be most obvious when your dog first gets up, or starts to walk or run. The likely outcome depends on how far the disease has progressed when treatment begins. Good clinical results (ie. your dog will not be in pain) are usually seen if treatment starts early, before osteoarthritis (degenerative changes in the joint) has developed. If left untreated, your dogs pain and lameness will gradually get worse.

Cystinuria

Affected dogs have an abnormal absorption of cystine (an amino acid) by the kidney that results in the formation of crystals and/or stones in the urine. This can lead to recurrent or frequent urinary tract infections and causes painful urination especially in males. Males, because of the anatomy of their urinary tracts, are at risk for a blockage by a stone. This is an emergency that often requires surgery to remove the stones. Some cases may be managed by restrictive diet. This is an inherited disease in Newfs and is caused when a puppy inherits two copies of a recessive gene, one from each parent. Dogs that carry only one copy of the defective gene are called “carriers” and do not have the disease or show any symptoms of the disease. However, if two carrier dogs are bred together, approximately 25% of their offspring will have the disease. DNA testing is available to determine the clear (no copies of the gene) or carrier (one copy of the gene) status of unaffected animals. Additionally, a dog may be determined clear by pedigree since it must be clear if both its parents are clear.

These are only a few of the conditions you should be aware of. Therefore, it is very wise to invest in pet Insurance, so that your pet is covered should it require a costly procedure.

Last Updated:12/20/2014
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Connie Bonczek
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