Dogs With Dwarfism

Dogs With Dwarfism

Humans aren’t the only ones who can suffer from dwarfism due to a shortage of growth hormones. Dogs can experience the same condition. Dwarfism is rare in dogs, but some dogs are more susceptible to the health condition than others.

What is dwarfism in dogs?

Dwarfism in dogs is a condition that occurs when there is a deficiency in growth hormones available for the dog. Sometimes called pituitary dwarfism, the condition is caused by underdevelopment of the pars distalis of a young puppy, especially during the gestation period. If the pars distalis fails to function correctly, the whole pituitary gland becomes deficient in secreting growth hormones.

  • Dwarfism in dogs of course stunts growth and causes poor development, but it can also affect the dog’s quality of life and reduce its lifespan.
  • Some breeds are more prone to dwarfism than others, including German Shepherds, Miniature Pinchers, Spitz, Karelian Bear Dogs, and others.
  • Dwarfism in dogs is a hereditary condition that can be passed on as a recessive trait. Sometimes, dwarfism is caused by selective breeding, such as in dachshunds, or it can be considered a severe health condition.

Signs of dwarfism in dogs

When you look at your dog, you should be able to see any aberration of its growth pattern. Most dogs who suffer from dwarfism will have similar symptoms, which all reflect a genetically acquired bone disorder.

The symptoms of pituitary dwarfism in dogs include:

  • Slow or total lack of growth. For example, very short legs, which are caused by a delay in the closure of growth plates in the long bones. This becomes noticeable when the dog is at least six months old.
  • Head becomes larger than normal
  • Joints become enlarged
  • Shorter jaws, with crooked teeth. Puppy teeth may be retained for longer than usual, stopping adult teeth from developing.
  • Badly shaped bones
  • Forelimbs bow sideways
  • Spinal cord becomes deviated to one side of the body
  • The puppy coat is retained longer than normal, causing an asymmetrical pattern of hair loss
  • Heart issues
  • Fear and aggression

Can dwarfism in dogs be treated?

If you notice the above symptoms, your dog ought to see a vet.

Your vet will carry out a series of urine analysis, blood tests, and biochemical profiling to measure if your dog’s growth hormones are in the right proportion. Your vet may also use x-ray scans or bone biopsies to identify the extent of the dwarfism.

It is possible to treat and manage skeletal dwarfism in dogs. It can be managed with prescribed dosages of growth hormone injections over several months. In a mature dog, spaying or neutering can also help. If the dwarfism is light, the dog can manage well on anti-inflammatory drugs to ease joint pain. A dog with dwarfism should not be bred from.

If your dog has dwarfism, you should be aware of it as it ages, as it can become prone to other health problems including obesity, arthritis, and joint pain. Feed your dog a healthy diet and give it regular exercise to aid mobility and avoid obesity.

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