In giant and large dog breeds, particularly within the Molosser dog group and Mastiff Sibgroup, there are certain diseases that have unfortunately became a usual problem that to a great extent worry dog breeders and owners. We shall name a few that are most often represented, in particular with the breed of Neapolitan Mastiff: orthopedic bone diseases (panosteitis, hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondrosis), then “cherry-eye”, as well as demodex-demodicosis.
Panosteitis is an inflammation process that affects tube dog bones. Inflammation process usually occurs on long bones of the front and rear limbs. The main symptom is lameness. Sometimes, a diseased dog limps only on one leg, and sometimes on two at the same time, while lameness sometimes moves from one leg to another. Painful reaction at long bones palpation is noticeable during the examination. Males are more affected than females. It may occur as of 5 months of age until 18 months of age. Lameness may sometimes end without any therapy, within only a few days. This disease is among the less harmless ones, because the most often case is self-limiting.
The final diagnosis may be set only by examination, the step we take if the lameness does not decrease within a week. The exact mechanism of occurrence as well as changes on the bones that cause panosteitis has not been fully determined. It is assumed that gene factors are involved, and several more possible causes are also named (allergy reactions, long bones vascularization disorder at rapid growth, metabolic disorders). When lameness ends within a few days, treatment is not required. If, due to pains, the dog does not eat and it is lethargic, analgesics, recommended by a veterinarian, combined with rest are applied.
Osteochondrosis is a severe disorder of endochondral ossification (thickening), due to which meniscus cells, during the growth and maturing process, do not transform into the bone. There are several factors that impact the occurrence of this disease (genetics, rapid growth...) Changes occur on joint meniscus that thickness and as such it becomes less elastic and resistant to mechanical influences. The signs of weakness appear between the 4th and 8th month of age, and since it is painful, it is manifested by lameness that may be sudden. It may occur on one or more limbs, duration is form several weeks until several months. At the beginning, lameness might be barely visible, while later it becomes worse, and by time it is visible that the affected limb has atrophic musculature comparing to a healthy one. This disease affects shoulder joint, elbow or knees. Diagnosis requires x-rays analysis.
Hip Dysplasia is a term standing for numerous specific developments and other anomalies that affect hip joint. This is one of the most diagnosed orthopedic diseases in dogs and it often leads to osteoarthritis (degenerative joint disease). Dysplasia diagnostics is insisted on, because it is an inherited disease, and therefore affected animals stand big chances of passing this problem to their offspring.
Elbow Dysplasia is actually an abnormal elbow development. This term encompasses numerous specific abnormalities (OCD, FCP, UAP) that occur at different places within the elbow joint. They lead to a disordered meniscus growth that covers joint surfaces as well as structures around the joint itself. These changes represent primary damages that could later lead to secondary ones in form of osteoarthritic processes.
The basic cause of this disease is of genetic nature. For that reason, examinations that provide early detection of this disease enable animals with normally developed and healthy elbows to be mostly used for breeding.
Causes of these diseases are very complex and not fully clarified yet. It is known that several predisposing factor have big influence: heritage and gene features (both parents play equal rolls in process of disease transfer), then early and rapid growth of an animal and sudden body mass increase, as well as excessive and unbalanced food (to many calories, vitamins, minerals and proteins).
The only way to completely eliminate or diagnose hip and elbow dysplasia is to determine to what extent it is present is radiography, using x-ray machine.
In case of all the aforementioned diseases, we can to a large extent help our pets in form of properly balanced food, adding vitamin-mineral supplements, and all in consultations with the veterinarian prescribing adequate program for each animal. Additionally, there is a wide range of medicaments helping improvement of joint fluid and meniscus, as well as physical therapy.
Prolapse of the third eyelid can be easily noticed thanks to its characteristic appearance. It usually manifests as red, pea-sized ball that comes out of the eye (this is where the name Cherry-Eye comes from). Increased tearing occurs, and since it causes irritation, pet scratches. Prolapse most commonly develops on one eye, but it very often develops on the other one. A diagnosis is made by clinical examination, and it is surgically treated. Only the part of the third eyelid that came out is removed, while the rest is attached to the lower eyelid. The procedure is a routine one but it still requires veterinarian’s expertise. It is really important to apply techniques that would not remove or harm the gland, because in such cases the eye may lose its natural watering. In that case, your pet must have artificial tears applied in its eye for life time, in order to prevent serious eye problems, and eventually loss of eyesight.
Demodicosis is a parasite condition in dogs caused by large presence of mites. Demodex mites spend their entire lifecycle in dog’s skin and it is a normal inhabitant of the dog’s skin. It mainly lives in hair follicles.
Predisposing factors are malnutrition, bad accommodation, stress, "heat", giving birth, existence of endoparasites and some other disease. Demodicosis is communicable during breast feeding period from the infected bitch on puppies through direct contact within the first 2-3 days of puppy’s life. It is assumed that the most important roll in demodicosis is played by inappropriate immunological status of an animal. The important factor is also if an animal is prone to inherit demodicosis. There are two forms of demodicosis: localized and generalized. Localized demodicosis appears as small, red spot without hair on dog’s skin, with rear itch. The most often places for localized demodicosis on dog’s skin are head, particularly around eyes and mouth; changes are often on front limbs. After the appropriate treatment has been applied, hair shows up on affected spots within ca. 30 days. Lesions may disappear and reappear through several months period.
Generalized demodicosis usually shows up at already 3-18 months of age. That generalized form of demodicosis often occurs in dogs older than two years. There is a possibility that dog has a system disease, which might be a cause for demodicosis. Skin damages occur on head, bellow the neck, on front limbs, between toes, and eventually it spreads rapidly all over the body. These skin damages are complicated by secondary bacterial infections, which may cause swelling, redness and pain around lesions as well as scabs. Incre4ase in size of lymph nodes is noticeable. Demodicosis treatment must be carried out under the strict control of the veterinarian. Therapy could last for weeks, and even months and it requires a lot of engagement and patience of the owner. Taktik and Ivermetkin gave good results in therapy treatment of demodicosis. Apart form demodicosis, diseased dogs often need treatment of some other system disease that might have jeopardized immune system and induce demodicosis. It is important to underline that demodicosis cannot be transmitted from one animal to another, as well as to humans.