The Saint Bernard is a large
breed that was and still is used in the field of
rescue. Being thick-coated and great swimmers, the
Saint Bernard is excellent for tracking missing
persons in the snow, as well as pulling swimmers
into shore. In addition, the Saint Bernard is a
gorgeous dog, one with a sweet personality and even
temperament, making him a wonderful family addition.
As with most, larger breed
dogs, the Saint Bernard has trouble with hip
dysplasia, a joint disease that is debilitating and
painful. With hip dysplasia, the hip ball does not
fit into the head properly. With this, the entire
joint becomes seriously, unstable. Ranked as one of
the leading inherited orthopedic disease in larger
breed dogs, you want to make sure when buying a
puppy that you choose a breeder that has the dog
certified against this and other problems.
Another common condition is known as elbow dysplasia.
The only difference between this and hip dysplasia
is that the elbow is affected. Typically, growth
rate and size are key factors with this disease.
Unfortunately, as the elbow becomes loose, painful
arthritis develops. In extremely bad cases,
Osteochondritis Dissecans or OCD also develops in
which the bone becomes fragmented, causing
Saint Bernard dogs can also develop cataracts of the
eyes. Most often, when cataracts form, the dog can
undergo a surgery similar to what would be performed
on a person in which the cataract is removed. If the
surgery is performed by a skilled veterinarian, the
outcome is usually good. Another possible eye
problem is called Distichiasis, in which the
eyelashes turn inward or form incorrectly, causing
irritation to the eye. Again, a veterinarian can
correct the problem with minor surgery.
A more serious problem is called Progressive Retinal
Atrophy or PRA, also called Progressive Retinal
Degeneration or PRD. With this, the retina of the
eye begins to deteriorate. When first discovered,
night blindness or dim lighting makes it difficult
for the dog to see. However, as the disease
progresses, the lens become cloudy, which then leads
to a cataract.
Retinal Dysplasia has to do with abnormal
development of the retina. Typically, this disease
is found with regular check-ups rather than
symptoms. Although usually inherited, this eye
disease can also be caused from nutritional
problems, viral infection, or injury. Finally,
Epilepsy is not commonly seen but it can affect all
breeds to include the Saint Bernard. In this case,
your dog would experience seizures. The most common
causes of Canine Epilepsy or Idiopathic Epilepsy are
from low blood sugar, hypothyroidism, ingestion of
toxins, brain tumors or brain damage, and even some
vaccinations. If at any time your dog has a seizure,
you need to seek immediate medical attention.