Alaskan malamutes are a noble breed, prized for their stamina, strength, and kindness. However, like all dog breeds, they have a unique set of health risks that owners need to be aware of. Understanding these risks will help you provide the best possible care for your canine companion. Here are the five most common health problems seen in Alaskan Malamutes, along with signs that might suggest your dog is dealing with these issues.
1. Hip dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common genetic disorder in many large dog breeds, including Alaskan Malamutes. The condition is characterized by abnormal formation of the hip joint, leading to instability, pain, and eventually arthritis.
Signs to look for include a reluctance to climb stairs or jump, difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position, an obvious limp or “rabbit hop” gait when running, and a marked decrease in activity levels. Early intervention is essential to manage this condition, so if you notice these symptoms, it’s crucial to see a vet.
2. Chondrodysplasia (dwarfism)
Chondrodysplasia, commonly known as dwarfism, is a health problem seen in Alaskan Malamutes. This genetic disorder affects the growth and development of the dog’s bones, leading to short limbs compared to body size.
In puppies, signs include smaller size compared to littermates, bowed front legs, and noticeably short, thick bones. While it may be visually apparent, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a vet, as other health issues can cause similar symptoms. Dwarfism does not necessarily affect the lifespan of the dog, but it can lead to other complications such as early-onset arthritis.
Hypothyroidism is a common health problem in Alaskan Malamutes. This condition is caused by low production of thyroid hormones, leading to slow metabolism.
Signs of hypothyroidism may be subtle initially, but can include weight gain despite normal eating habits, lethargy, hair loss, dry skin, and intolerance to cold. If your Malamute begins to display these symptoms, consider scheduling a vet visit. With the right medication, hypothyroidism can be well controlled and your Malamute can lead a normal, healthy life.
4. Hereditary polyneuropathy
Hereditary polyneuropathy (PI) is a neurological disorder seen in Alaskan Malamutes. This condition progressively affects the dog’s ability to move, beginning with weakness in the hind limbs and gradually moving to the forelimbs.
Signs of IP include a change in the cortex, difficulty swallowing, hindlimb weakness, high steps, and incoordination. This condition can be difficult to diagnose, since many of these symptoms overlap with other health problems. However, it is important to seek veterinary help if you notice these signs. While there is no cure for PI, supportive care can help control symptoms and improve quality of life.
5. Eye problems
Alaskan Malamutes are susceptible to a variety of eye problems, including cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and corneal dystrophy. These problems can lead to partial or complete loss of vision if not treated in time.
Signs of eye problems may include clouding of the eye, clumsiness or bumping into objects, reluctance to enter dark areas, excessive tearing, redness, or constant pawing at the eyes. Regular eye checkups are essential for early detection and treatment.
In conclusion, awareness and early detection are vital to managing health problems commonly found in Alaskan Malamutes. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet and plenty of exercise can help maintain your Malamute’s health. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, don’t hesitate to consult with your vet. Remember, your vigilant attention can make a significant difference in the life of your Alaskan Malamute.