Other Health Issues

The following health issues occasionally surface in Swissys. Some are hereditary while others are influenced by the environment or nutrition (some types of allergies) and age (cancer).

Skeletal disorders:  Elbow dysplasia - Patella luxation
Gastrointestinal tract: Swissy lick
Urinary tract:  Juvenile Incontinence
Eyes: Cataracts
Other:  Allergies - Cancer

There are several forms of ED: OCD, FCP (fragmented coronoid process) UAP (ununited anconeal process) and DJD (degenerative joint disease, another term for arthritis).
The form most often diagnosed in Swissys is DJD, a slowly progressive form of cartilage degenaration usually caused by trauma or abnormal wear of the joint. DJD is classified as primary (idiopathic or of no known cause) or secondary (a known predisposing cause such as OCD, FCP, UAP or traumatic injury exists).
Anecdotal evidence suggests that most Swissys diagnosed with DJD during radiographs of the elbows for OFA certification fall into the the primary form of the condition and its mildest form classified as grade I (there are 3 grades). These dogs have never displayed any clinical signs such as pain, stiffness, decreased motion or lameness.
With DJD, genetic predisposition cannot be established as convincingly as with other orthopedic diseases. Therefore, there is a wide range of opinions among Swissy breeders with regard to breeding a dog affected with DJD grade I. There is, however, general consensus among breeders not to breed Swissys with DJD beyond grade I as well as with any other form of ED such as OCD.
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PATELLA LUXATION   Slipping kneecap, popping knee
This condition with its two forms of medial (MPL, dislocation to inside of joint) and lateral luxation (LPL, dislocation to outside of joint) is hereditary but may also be caused by trauma. Conditions that predispose to dislocation of the patella are a shallow groove, weak ligaments and malalignment of the tendons and muscles that straighten the joint.
In Swissys, non traumatic  knee problems are seen mostly in dogs with extreme straight rear angulation. Corrective surgery is the only option to relieve an affected dog from this painful condition. Like with other large and giant breeds, LPL is more common then MPL.
As with other orthopedic conditions presumed to be hereditary, Swissys with non traumatic patella luxation should not be bred.
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This is an entirely unscientific term to describe the sudden onset of frantic licking of anything in range such as carpet, bare floors, walls, etc. and the indiscriminate eating of anything that can be ingested such as grass, leaves, fiber from carpets, torn up bedding and the gobbling up of air.
It is obvious that the behavior is due to severe gastrointestinal discomfort. It often can be alleviated with OTC medications such as Mylanta gelcaps, Gas-x capsules or other gas and acid reducing remedies. Benadryl can also have a calming effect. Sometimes, a small amount of food will lessen the symptoms. Occasionally, hydrogen peroxide or table salt can be administered to induce vomiting which invariably will stop the licking.
What exactly causes the "Swissy lick" is a matter of discussion among Swissy owners but there seems to be no single or distinct factor responsible for this condition. Any number of theories have been offered, from excessive gas pressure to acid reflux to allergic reaction to a food substance. Some believe that it is a precursor to GDV but this cannot be unequivocally substantiated either as many Swissys who have had these licky fits never went on to develop GDV. While the condition seems to affect primarily young dogs, it has also been reported in older Swissys. Often, young dogs eventually will outgrow the condition.
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If a young pre-estrus Swissy female starts to have accidents in the house, i.e. she wakes up in a puddle of urine after a relaxing nap or nightly sleep, she could be having juvenile incontinence. Keep in mind that urinary irregularities can also be caused by bacterial urinary tract infection (UTI), hence a urine test should be run first to rule out UTI
Juvenile incontinence is a condition that  occasionally occurs in immature Swissy females and it almost always disappears after the first heat cycle. Nobody knows why this seems to occur in Swissys more that in other breeds, we think that it has something to do with hormonal levels because it so often resolves itself after the first cycle. If indeed it is juvenile incontinence, i.e. nothing else is abnormal with her urinary tract, the only temporary remedy is to put her on phenylpropanolamine or PPA which is sold under the name ProIn. This is a very effective and relatively inexpensive medication and is routinely prescribed for females that become incontinent after spaying or later in life when the condition becomes age related.
Because the incidence of post spay incontinence in Swissys spayed prior to their first heat cycle is roughly twice as high as in females neutered before the first estrus, we strongly recommend not to spay Swissy females prior to their first heat cycle.
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This is the loss of normal transparency of the eye's lens. The opacity is usually white but may also give a bluish white cast to the lens behind the pupil.
A cataract can be singular or multiple, of any size or shape and may affect different areas or the entire lens. The degree of vision impairment is determined by the size and location of the cataract within the lens.
While most cataracts are considered to be inherited, some may result from trauma to the eye or from metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Congenital (present at birth) cataracts may or may not be inherited and generally do not progress to blindness. Most hereditary forms of cataract occur in dogs under the age of 5 years. Senile cataracts in older dogs are quite common and are considered to be the result of the aging process. Like other ocular abnormalities, cataracts can be confirmed by an opthalmologic exam.
Cataracts occasionally crop up in Swissys, often as punctate or capsular type cataracts considered by CERF to be of "unkown significance". Because these small cataracts very rarely progress to significant vision loss or even blindness, most Swissy breeders will decide whether or not to breed a dog with such cataracts on a case by case basis.
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An allergic reaction is an unwanted side effect caused by an inappropriate response of the immune system to various airborne substances such pollen, mold, dust (grouped under the term atopy), insect bites, external parasites, certain foods, drugs and chemicals. Exposure to them triggers a reaction, usually through, itching, sneezing, coughing, tearing, vomiting or diarrhea.
The most frequently encountered allergies in Swissys are reactions to certain kinds of food, pollen and flea bites. Food allergies occurring at a young age sometimes disappear, i.e. the dog outgrows the allergic reaction eventually.
Allergies can be frustrating because they can be difficult to diagnose and manage. A number of Swissy owners have been able to get a handle on allergies by having a blood allergy panel done and switch to a food compatible with the dog's immune system or having an allergy serum created to treat the dog's allergic reactions to a specific allergen.
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Age is the most important risk factor for the development of cancer in dogs, for it is the aging process that permits the long term events leading to malignant tumor development and progression to occur.
As in humans,  for most types of tumor, the risk for malignancy increases with age.
There are many types of cancer affecting dogs such as: various types of skin tumors such as mast cell - tumors of the bone such as ostesarcoma - tumors of the lymphoid tissues such as lymphosarcoma - tumors of blood producing organs such as hemangiosarcoma and others.
The most common forms of cancer in Swissys are hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma and mast cell. While there have been some cases of cancer in younger dogs, most neoplastic diseases occur during the geriatric phase of a Swissy's life, usually around the age of 8-10.

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