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Miniature Schnauzer Health Problems

Dec 30, 2021

You love your adorable miniature schnauzer. This playful little dog likely feels like a precious member of your family. Who couldn’t love that sweet, little face? To keep your pup healthy and happy, be on the lookout for these health issues, and take preventative measures whenever you can. Your little pup is worth it. 

Common Health Issues

Common Health Issues

Here are some of the common health issues you may encounter with your miniature schnauzer. While none of these is a guaranteed issue, it’s important to be aware of the possibilities so you can recognize the signs of a health issue developing, and take preventative measures to avoid them. As with any dog, it is important that you take your miniature schnauzer to the vet for regular check-ups, and be sure to talk to your vet if you notice anything concerning about your dog’s health. 

1. Kidney stones

Miniature schnauzers are the breed most likely to develop kidney stones. Known as Calcium Oxalate Urolithiasis, which means kidney stones in the urinary tract. It’s also possible for your dog to get bladder stones as well. One study found that 40% of dogs with kidney stones were miniature schnauzers. Male miniature schnauzers are three times more likely to develop kidney stones than females. The average age of a miniature schnauzer with kidney stones is 9 years. Scientists suspect miniature schnauzer kidneys have a genetic weakness in their urinary tracts, which makes them more susceptible to bladder infections as well. 

If a kidney stone completely blocks the urinary tract, it could be life-threatening. If you have a miniature schnauzer over the age of six, please be on the lookout for the following symptoms and take your dog to the vet immediately if you observe:

  • Abdominal discomfort

  • An increase or decrease in urination

  • Blood in your dog’s urine

  • Fever

  • Kidney pain

  • Lethargy

  • Poor appetite

  • Vomiting

  • Straining when urinating

2. Eye disease

If you’re researching before adopting a miniature schnauzer, you can choose a schnauzer from a breeder whose dogs are certified by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation. This means that the parent dog’s eyes have been examined by a certified veterinary ophthalmologist and have been deemed healthy. While this doesn’t guarantee that your dog will never develop an eye disease, it does eliminate some genetic predispositions for eye disease. The good news about eye diseases is that even if your dog suffers from vision loss, she can still lead a long and happy life with you. Here are some of the common eye issues that miniature schnauzers might encounter.

a. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) affects the retina, which is the part of your dog’s eyes that senses light. As the name implies, this is a progressive disease, which means it slowly gets worse over time. With this disease, the retina slowly atrophies or deteriorates, which eventually leads to blindness. The type of PRA that miniature schnauzers get is called photoreceptor dysplasia, and they are the only type of dog that develops this particular form of PRA. Symptoms don’t usually start developing until a dog is 3 years of age or older. Afflicted dogs will start to lose their night vision and this will progress to blindness. However sad this is, if you’re willing to make a few adjustments, your dog can live a happy life with vision loss.

b. Retinal dysplasia is an eye defect that causes the retina’s layers to either not form at all, or to be attached improperly while in the womb. Puppies can be checked at birth for this genetic defect. The severity of this defect can range from being a minor issue to causing all-out blindness. Blindness is caused by completely detached retinas. A minor case could become more advanced with age, leading to your dog’s retina eventually detaching. Laser surgery can be done on some cases of retinal dysplasia. Lastly, other eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts can develop in dogs with this defect. 

3. Heart disease

Miniature schnauzers can tend towards many different kinds of heart disease, which can occur at any point in their lives. It’s incredibly important that you take your dog in for regular check-ups with their vet, so they can check on their heart. Early detection allows for more effective treatment, which can help your dog live a happy, healthy life. Also important for your miniature schnauzer’s heart health is keeping their teeth healthy with regular cleanings and being at a healthy weight. Most unfortunately, heart failure is the most common cause of death in older miniature schnauzers.

a. Heart disease is caused by either a weakening or a slow deformity of a dog’s heart valves, which makes them unable to form a proper seal when pumping blood. This causes blood to leak out of the valves and put pressure on the heart muscles. This condition is called a heart murmur, or mitral valve disease. There’s good news though. If this condition is caught early, some medications can help your pet live a happy life for many years. 

b. Another heart condition that afflicts miniature schnauzers is called sick sinus syndrome. This condition affects part of the heart called the sinus node, which is part of the heart’s electrical system. Sick sinus syndrome causes the heart to beat improperly due to the malfunction of the electrical system. This condition causes a low heart rate, which means your dog could faint after exercising. The good news is that mild cases can be treated with medications.

c. Miniature schnauzers can also develop a condition called patent ductus arteriosus, or PDA, where a small vessel that carries blood between different parts of the heart stays open after birth when it should close. A dog that still has that vessel open as she grows will have too much blood flowing to the lungs, which causes a build-up of fluid and puts strain on the heart. 

4. Dental disease

Dental disease starts as a build-up of plaque on the teeth. This plaque build-up eventually leads to infections of the gums and then the roots of the teeth if it’s not regularly cleaned. Most dogs develop dental disease at some point in their lives, and unfortunately, your precious miniature schnauzer is at a higher risk than most dogs. This means that preventative dental care is essential for your pooch. Also, taking care of your dog’s teeth can help your miniature schnauzer’s already vulnerable kidneys. Did you know that there is a correlation between dental disease and kidney disease in dogs? The kidneys are especially vulnerable to the bacterial overgrowth in the mouth caused by dental diseases like periodontitis, which is a disease of the gums. Preventative oral care includes daily brushing or teeth sprays, dental treats, or dry food, and regular teeth cleanings at the vets. 

Unfortunately, dental disease is very difficult to detect in dogs at home. Most dogs will eat normally, even if their teeth are hurting them. This is why regular check-ups and cleanings are so important. If you notice any of the following symptoms, make a dental appointment for your pup right away.

  • Swelling on one side of the face

  • Especially foul breath

  • Blood on toys or in the water bowl

  • Bleeding or inflamed gums

  • Brown or yellow teeth

  • Eating only with one side of the mouth

  • Excessive drooling

5. Ear infections

Miniature schnauzers are known for their triangular, adorable ears. Some schnauzer ears are floppy, but others may have had surgery to make them more triangular. Whatever shape your dog’s ears are, you probably really enjoy petting your schnauzer’s ears. Unfortunately, miniature schnauzers are prone to ear infections. Because of the hair, a miniature schnauzer has in its ears it is easier for dirt to get trapped in the ear, causing irritation. The hair also keeps moisture in the ear, preventing evaporation. And bacteria, yeast, and fungi love a warm, dark, moist place to grow, which means miniature schnauzers can develop ear infections easily. Signs of infection include a bad odor coming from your dog’s ears, redness of the inner ear, or an unusual discharge from the ear. Also, if you notice your pup shaking his head frequently, or rubbing and scratching at his ears, these could be signs he has an ear infection. This means a trip to the vet. Ear drops and other medications will clear up the infection quickly. 

Thankfully, however, with regular care and maintenance, you can help prevent ear infections. 

a. Clean your dog’s ears every week to remove dirt and ear wax. Use a cotton ball and a commercial ear cleaning fluid from the pet store. Follow the instructions carefully, and be sure to not go too deep in your dog’s ears. 

b. Pluck the hair from inside your dog’s ears. These inner ear hairs trap dirt and moisture, making a perfect environment for an infection or ear mites to grow. If you don’t want to do this yourself, or if your dog fights you, take your dog to a professional groomer for this unpleasant task. They’ll be able to pluck the hairs quickly and with little discomfort to your dog. 

When to Go to the Vet

Make sure you are taking your dog in for her yearly check-up at your veterinarian. Your miniature schnauzer’s veterinarian is a wonderful resource for your dog’s health. Even with preventative measures, there may be times when you need a little extra support to keep your dog healthy. If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, like bad odors from the mouth or ears, scratching at eyes, or increasing fatigue, etc, please take your dog to the vet immediately. It’s likely nothing or an easy fix, but it’s better to be on the safe side with your precious pup. 

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