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Saint Bernard Health Guide

The Saint Bernard is a large breed that was and still is used in the field of rescue. Being thick-coated and great swimmers, the Saint Bernard is excellent for tracking missing persons in the snow, as well as pulling swimmers into shore.

In addition, the Saint Bernard is a gorgeous dog, one with a sweet personality and even temperament, making him a wonderful family addition.


Health Problems in the Saint Bernard

As with most, larger breed dogs, the Saint Bernard has trouble with hip dysplasia, a joint disease that is debilitating and painful. With hip dysplasia, the hip ball does not fit into the head properly. With this, the entire joint becomes seriously, unstable.

Ranked as one of the leading inherited orthopedic disease in larger breed dogs, you want to make sure when buying a puppy that you choose a breeder that has the dog certified against this and other problems.

Another common condition is known as elbow dysplasia. The only difference between this and hip dysplasia is that the elbow is affected. Typically, growth rate and size are key factors with this disease. Unfortunately, as the elbow becomes loose, painful arthritis develops. In extremely bad cases, Osteochondritis Dissecans or OCD also develops in which the bone becomes fragmented, causing significant stress.

Saint Bernard dogs can also develop cataracts of the eyes. Most often, when cataracts form, the dog can undergo a surgery similar to what would be performed on a person in which the cataract is removed. If the surgery is performed by a skilled veterinarian, the outcome is usually good. Another possible eye problem is called Distichiasis, in which the eyelashes turn inward or form incorrectly, causing irritation to the eye. Again, a veterinarian can correct the problem with minor surgery.


Saint Bernard Health Guide


A more serious problem is called Progressive Retinal Atrophy or PRA, also called Progressive Retinal Degeneration or PRD. With this, the retina of the eye begins to deteriorate. When first discovered, night blindness or dim lighting makes it difficult for the dog to see. However, as the disease progresses, the lens become cloudy, which then leads to a cataract.

Retinal Dysplasia has to do with abnormal development of the retina. Typically, this disease is found with regular check-ups rather than symptoms. Although usually inherited, this eye disease can also be caused from nutritional problems, viral infection, or injury. Finally, Epilepsy is not commonly seen but it can affect all breeds to include the Saint Bernard.

In this case, your dog would experience seizures. The most common causes of Canine Epilepsy or Idiopathic Epilepsy are from low blood sugar, hypothyroidism, ingestion of toxins, brain tumors or brain damage, and even some vaccinations.

If at any time your dog has a seizure, you need to seek immediate medical attention.


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