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Breed Associated Conditions & Diseases

The canine conditions and diseases listed below are those deemed: Breed Associated. They are not specific to the Neapolitan Mastiff, NOR are all Neapolitan Mastiffs genetically predisposed to developing or contracting each condition or disease. Breed associated conditions and diseases are those, which research has shown, can affect individual dogs of an individual breed.

Cherry Eye – Prolapse of the Gland of the Third Eyelid.

This condition, seen as a pink mass in the corner of the eye closest to the nose, is a prolapse of the nictitans gland of the third eyelid. The third eyelid is not seen normally but is an important structure for the health of the eye as it carries lymphoid tissue and some tear-forming gland tissue on its inner surface. Swelling of the lymph tissue may cause the whole gland to bulge and become prominent. The nictitans gland has been called the tonsil of the eye because it has a protective function, but it may become enlarged and cause discomfort to the dog. Treatment with eye drops and cream may help but surgical procedure to remove the swollen gland is recommended in the Neapolitan Mastiff.

Entropion - Eyelids Turning Inwards.

An inward turning of the eyelid, causing eyelashes to rub on the surface of the eyeball (cornea). If left untreated, the cornea may ulcerate and this could well lead to an opacity and blindness. Affected dogs show a continuous watery discharge from the eye, and the eyelids are screwed up because of severe pain and irritation. Once diagnosed a relatively simple operation to evert the eyelid edge will be required.

Ectropion – Lower Eyelids Turning Outward.

Ectropion is the opposite condition to entropion where the lower eyelids droop and turn outwards with undue exposure of the pink lining of the lid known as the haw. The condition is produced by a lower eyelid that is too large for the size of the eyeball which may develop due to different growth rates of the skull and the skin of the face. Inflammation of the exposed area of the eye and tear overflow can be treated with ointment, and there are surgical procedures to correct the slackness in the lower lid if recommended.

Hip Dysplasia.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint and one of the best-known hereditary defects is where the joint does not develop properly. The condition of a shallow hip joint and a poorly fitting head of the femur (thigh bone) make the joint unstable, leading to the development of bony changes and eventually arthritis. Although there is an inheredited genetic basis, there are many other influences on a growing dogs joints such as exercise, nutrition, body weight, and the method of puppy rearing used. Affected dogs show abnormal sitting or an unusual way of walking described as crabbing, the back legs may seem stiff and affected dogs are slow to sit and rise, unwillingness to walk, run, jump or climb steps. With appropriate medical or surgical treatment, the majority of dogs with hip dysplasia can enjoy a pain-free life and there are a number of surgical procedures to treat the different stages of the condition.

Elbow Dysplasia – Osteochondrosis.

The disease of the growing dog characterised by abnormal thickness of the cartilage and a failure to convert the older cartilage layers into new bone. Rapid bone growth is considered a factor in delaying the mineralisation of the cartilage at the growing joint ends of the long bones. This condition has become recognised as an important cause of lameness of the large breeds, especially during late puppy hood when the bones are growing rapidly. Restricting exercise and not feeding a puppy to full appetite demand may help to reduce the incidence of elbow dysplasia. Once the condition has been identified there is a choice of either operating on the joint to remove any cartilage flap, or to rely on controlled exercise with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Cruciate Ligament Injury / Rupture.

The stifle or knee joint is not robustly constructed; two of the ligaments that support the knee joint cross over the centre of the joint in a cruciform shape and provide a major stabilising effect. As long as Mastini are kept reasonably lean and fit, there is not a great risk of this injury, but once a dog becomes overweight, the stifle which depends on the ligaments and cartilages holding it together and giving free movement, may become at risk. The stifle is used in jumping and forward propulsion; bursts of activity or jumping out of vehicles can damage the ligaments. Slight lameness standing with only toe touching ground is sign of cruciate injury and enforced rest is advised. Ruptured or torn ligaments will usually require a surgical procedure.

 

Heart Disease:

All heavier breeds of dog may be subject to cardiac disorders that can lead to an earlier than normal age for death. Heart murmurs are a feature of most congenital heart defects (CHD) and mitral valve disease (MVD). Some common forms of CHD include: aortic stenosis (AS), patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), pulmonic stenosis (PS). Abnormal heart rhythms may occur without murmurs in dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). Myocardial degeneration is the disease of the heart muscle that leads to congestive heart failure.

Any severe heart condition such as heart valve disease can eventually produce heart muscle damage leading to heart failure. The driving force of the cardiac pump becomes weakened and failure of the right side of the heart leads to distended veins, swelling of the abdomen due to fluid (ascites) and muscle weakness of the hind legs due to poor circulation. If the left side of the heart fails first, then there is rapid breathing and breathlessness after moderate exercise, all due to oedema fluid in the lungs. Coughing is not so common sign of lung congestion due to heart failure as in some breeds. The various congenital heart defects that occur in dogs can be managed medically or, in some cases, by advanced surgery.

Bloat – Gastric Dilation / Volvulus (GDV).

The name for the condition where the stomach is distended with gas. The gas filled stomach presses on the diaphragm restricting breathing, resulting in frequent shallow breaths and a purplish discolouration of the tongue. The weight of the enlarging spleen, attached to the greater curvature of the gas filled stomach, can make the stomach twist in a clockwise direction. Accumulation of gas in the stomach may be due to fermentation of cereal products when there is insufficient gastric acid present, but most gas is thought to be air that is swallowed during the eating process. Bloat may be followed by torsion or twisting of the stomach, especially in the larger breeds. It is particularly associated with feeding regimes where a highly digestible food can be swallowed rapidly, followed by drinking large quantities of water. Feeding immediately before or after strenuous exercise has been blamed also. This condition is a dire emergency, the sooner you recognise and react to this condition, the more chance your dog has of survival and full recovery

Low Immune System – Immunosuppression.

Neapolitans in general, do not have very strong immune systems; this fact should be reiterated to your vet.

The state of a reduced immune response may occur after some infections and a lowered resistance may lead to secondary bacterial infections and skin parasites such as Demodex. Antibiotics may be needed to protect the dog against many infections that normal resistance would fight off.

Thyroid Disease - Hypothyroidism.

The condition of hypothyroidism occurs when insufficient hormone is produced by an under-active gland and can be immunity-related. The condition is quite common in dogs, particularly young to middle aged large breeds. Symptoms appear insidiously and often go unnoticed at the beginning, weight gain without increase of food intake, sensitivity to cold, skin disorders (alopecia, dry skin, pyoderma), reproductive problems including infertility, cardiac disorders, and neuromuscular problems with fatigue.

Treatment involves replacement therapy with daily doses of thyroid hormone.

Skin Conditions: Dermatosis

Malasezzia.

This is a yeast-like surface organism that appears in dogs with low resistance to infection. The organisms which occur in greatest numbers in moist areas and places such as between the toes and under the tail are used for examination. The yeast will also be found in the ear canal and can multiply to cause a type of discharging otitis. Treatment includes regular washes with correct preparation.

Mange – Demodex & Sarcoptes.

Mange is caused by mange mites, which cannot be seen with the naked eye. If they are suspected, scrapings from the skin surface are examined under a microscope and diagnoses made. The two forms of mange can be distinguished in this way, as the bare patches of low-grade infection are quite similar. There are a number of differences in the two forms of mange; most poignant is Demodex mange can be transferred via mammary gland to suckling puppies who then develop bare areas on face and forelegs.

Demodex in the older dog usually remains as a scaly hairless patch and although an obvious blemish, does not cause a lot of scratching. Sarcoptic is very contagious and very itchy with skin crusting, thickening, and redness, and spreads form dog to dog. A variety of treatments for both conditions include skin washes.

 

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