Health Related Issues of the Bloodhound

© Canada's Guide to Dogs - 2003

Bloodhounds, like all breeds, are subject to some genetic disorders and other health problems. The following is a brief outline of some of the more common health concerns in the Bloodhound:


Gastric Dilitation-Volvulus (Bloat)

Bloat is a condition caused by a twisting of the stomach and thus trapping the stomach contents and gases resulting in a rapid swelling of the abdomen accompanied by pain and eventual death if untreated. It is an emergency, requiring immediate veterinary action. This condition is most often found in large, deep chested dog breeds. Anyone owning a deep chested breed, susceptible to Bloat should be prepared to handle the emergency procedures necessary, including having readily available the name and phone number of emergency clinics and/or after-hours Veterinarians.

Breeds with a deeper and narrower chest are most susceptible, including the Bloodhound. Within the breed, dogs with the deepest, narrowest chests are the most vulnerable.

Symptoms can be subtle. You should learn to recognize them:

  • Continuous pacing and/or lying down in odd places
  • Salivating, panting, whining
  • Unable to get comfortable
  • Acting agitated
  • Unproductive vomiting or retching (may produce frothy foamy vomit in small quantities)
  • Excessive drooling, usually accompanied by retching noises
  • Swelling in abdominal area (may or may not be noticeable)

If ANY combination of these symptoms are noticed, CALL YOUR VET and get the dog there as fast as possible. Bloat is LIFE-THREATENING.

Additional Information:

  • Medical and Surgical Considerations Regarding Bloat — Most veterinarians will see only a few Bloodhounds in their practice lifetime. This brochure is offered by the American Bloodhound Club in an attempt to educate the owners of bloodhounds about the life-threatening nature of this complex syndrome as well as to familiarize veterinarians with some of the peculiarities of the breed and a protocol which has been employed successfully in treating GDV syndrome.
  • Bloat — Canine Inherited Disorders Database
  • Bloat: The Mother of All Emergencies — Mar Vista Animal Medical Center
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus; Bloat — The Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America, Inc.

For more information on what you can do in the case of a Bloat emergency, see First Aid for Bloat.


Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia afflicts millions of dogs each year and can result in debilitating orthopaedic disease of the hip. It is caused when the femoral head does not fit properly in the hip socket, causing instability of the joint. Over time, this malformation can cause degenerative joint disease which causes increased pain and immobility.

Elbow Dysplasia may be due to different growth rates of the three bones making up the elbow. In affected dogs, the joint is lax or loose and, in mildly affected dogs, leads to painful arthritis.Severely affected dogs can develop osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), fragmented medial coronoid processes and united anconeal processes resulting from the stress in the joint.

Through selective breeding strategies, veterinarians and breeders are attempting to eliminate Canine Hip Dysplasia. All breeding dogs should be x-rayed and certified clear by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and/or by the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHIP).


Eye Disease

Bloodhounds are susceptible to several eye problems, including: Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, Prolapsed Gland of the Third Eyelid, Ectropion, Entropion, and Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome.

Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS) (Dryeye)

Caused by abnormal tear production due to a deficiency in production of the watery secretions from the lacrimal glands. Normal tears are essential for the health of the cornea. Deficient tear production causes chronic irritation of the cornea and conjunctiva resulting in corneal ulcers and eventually corneal scarring and can also result in blindness.

There is a predisposition to this condition in some breeds, including the Bloodhound. KCS can also occur in any breed as a result of viral infection, inflammation, drug-related toxicity, or immune-mediated disease.

KCS can develop very quickly or more slowly, in one or both eyes. Usually, it is diagnosed in one eye first and then develops in the other eye within several months. The extent of discomfort is dependent upon the severity of the tear deficiency and the length of time the condition has been present. A dog displays irritation and discomfort by rubbing their eyes, squinting and being sensitive to light. The eye may appear reddened and inflamed and there may also be a thick mucous type discharge in and around the eye.

If left untreated, over the long term, the normally transparent cornea becomes thickened and scarred. Blood vessels and pigmented cells move into the cornea and blindness may result.

Tear stimulants and artificial tear replacements are used to treat KCS. This is not a cure but away to manage a frustrating, painful, and potentially blinding condition.

Prolapsed Gland of the Third Eyelid (Cherry Eye)

The third eyelid (also called the nictitating membrane (or membrana nictitans) and haw) is a triangular shaped structure in the inner corners of a dog's eyes that sometimes partly covers the eye. It consists of a t-shaped cartilage and a tear gland. The third eyelid is important in protection of the surface of the eye, and in tear production.

A prolapse of the gland occurs when the base of the gland flips up and is seen above and behind the border of the third eyelid. The prolapsed gland becomes swollen and inflamed. The condition frequently occurs in both eyes and is most common in young large breed dogs, including the Bloodhound.

The condition causes chronic irritation of the conjunctiva and cornea, and if untreated, can lead to Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca.

Ectropion

Conformational defect resulting in eversion of the eyelids, which may cause ocular irritation due to exposure.

Entropion

Conformational defect where eyelid margin inverts, or rolls inward, toward the eye causing eyelashes and hair to rub against the cornea resulting in ocular irritation.

Exposure Keratopathy Syndrome

Due to increased evaporation of tears and corneal exposure, chronic irritation of the eye is seen with Keratopathy Syndrome. Affected dogs experience chronic discomfort and are prone to ulceration of the cornea. This is a result of a combination of anatomic features including exophthalmos (protrusion of the eyeball), lagophthalmos (inability to close the eyelids completely) and macroblepharon (an exceptionally large eyelid opening, often associated with lower lid entropion). The result is inadequate blinking, and therefore reduced protection for the eye. Affected dogs experience chronic discomfort and are prone to ulceration of the cornea.

This syndrome is associated with a combination of anatomic features that are influenced by several genes affecting skull and facial conformation. Several breeds are affected by this, including the Bloodhound due to his exceptionally large eyelid opening.

Signs of irritation include reddening of the eye, increased tears and discomfort. Affected dogs are prone to eye injuries from dust, twigs, etc. Corneal ulcers may develop due to the increased corneal exposure. Over time, pigmentation of the cornea may occur and may eventually interfere with the dog's vision.

Additional Information:

  • Dryeye — Canine Inherited Disorders Database


Fold Dermatitis

Where there is excessive skin folds or wrinkles, inflammation of the skin can occur due to rubbing and trapping of moisture in the folds. Pyoderma (bacterial skin infection) commonly develops.

Fold Dermatitis is inherited and directly related to skin folding or wrinkling in a particular breed. The wrinkling trait is considered to be autosomal dominant. The Bloodhound is predisposed to Fold Dermatitis and Skin-Fold Pyoderma.

Depending on whether the area becomes infected, the condition can cause mild to significant discomfort and itching. Signs of Fold Dermatitis include reddened, moist areas in the folds of the skin.


Ear Problems

Those Wonderful Bloodhound Ears — Bloodhounds unfortunately have an ear designed for trouble. Those wonderful long, low set ears are great at trapping debris, moisture and heat producing the optimum dark environment for bacteria and yeast to grow.


Hypothyroidism

Canine Hypothyroidism is the most commonly diagnosed hormonal disease found in dogs. The term hypothyroidism simply means the underproduction of thyroxin, the hormone produced by the thyroid gland.

The thyroid gland is located on the trachea (wind pipe) of the dog, just below the voice box. It exerts its influence on the dog's body by producing and releasing thyroxin into the blood stream. This hormone, and thus, the thyroid gland itself, is very important in controlling growth and development and maintaining normal protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism of the dog.

Hypothyroidism usually occurs between the ages of two to six years. The most common sign is an increase in body weight. Lethargy and some form of skin disease (i.e., thin coat, loss of hair, dandruff, oily skin, increased scratching) are also common signs of Hypothyroidism.

The treatment is through thyroid hormone supplementation given orally once or twice a day. Usually thyroid supplementation improves the clinical signs associated with the disease within four to six weeks. All the clinical signs of hypothyroidism are reversible, once treatment is started.


Epilepsy

Canine Epilepsy is a chronic condition characterized by recurrent seizures. Seizures are the result of muscle responses to an abnormal nerve-signal burst from the brain. The cause can be anything that disrupts normal brain circuitry:

  • Idiopathic Epilepsy, meaning "no known cause", also referred to as Primary Epilepsy, is possibly inherited.

Secondary Epilepsy can be caused by:

  • Low blood sugar,
  • low thyroid function,
  • infections causing brain damage,
  • ingestion of toxins,
  • brain tumors, and
  • vaccinations.

Most dogs with Idiopathic Epilepsy suffer their first seizure between the ages of one and five years. A genetic basis for Idiopathic Epilepsy is strongly suspected in several breeds.

For complete details on Canine Epilepsy, visit The Epi Guardian Angels — An extensive resource for information, support, treatments and solutions for veterinarians and owners of dogs with Canine Epilepsy.


Note: This section is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters. The information provided here is a brief outline of some of the health issues which may be of concern for the Bloodhound and should not be considered a complete listing. Additional information can be found in the Health and Nutrition section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website.