The Beagle is a small hardy hound dog with a sweet, gentle, and loving disposition. Beagles are always happy to see their human friends. They greet you with the same exuberance regardless of whether you’ve been gone for days or simply out to the mailbox. It’s heart rendering to see these loving pets get sick, but they do. It’s important that owners understand the symptoms of their common illnesses and how to respond to them.
Most beagles, when properly fed and cared for will live out their expected 12 to 15 years in good health, but, as with all living creatures, they are susceptible to disease, parasites, and accidents that can threaten their health and longevity. One disease, recognized and experienced by humans, is epilepsy. The symptoms of seizures are easy to recognize, but specific diagnosis is difficult because the symptoms are normally gone when the dog is with the veterinarian. Treatment usually consists of the life-long administration of Phenobarbital, an anticonvulsant. Unless the seizures are very long or frequent, your dog’s brain should not be affected.
Hypothyroidism is another disease to which beagles are prone. It is not life threatening, but can affect weight and behavior. Treatment consists of life-long treatment with a synthesized thyroid hormone. The beagle’s long floppy ears are the culprit regarding ear infections. The floppy ears cover the inner ear so efficiently that moisture becomes trapped and infections develop. Once an infection is resident, an antibiotic treatment is necessary. Prevention is a matter of regular grooming during which the ear canals are wipe dry with a clean cotton swab.
Beagles are prone to glaucoma, which acts much as it does in humans causing eventual blindness if not treated. The current treatment involves the administration of anti-glaucoma drugs to reduce inner eye pressure. When drug treatment is ineffective, several surgical techniques are available. Older beagles that are sedentary or overweight can develop hip dysplasia and heart trouble. This can be prevented by providing adequate exercise opportunities. good eating habits, and controlled snack practices.
Some beagles are born with a condition called Pulmonic Stenosis, which is an abnormal stricture of the pulmonary artery. This condition can lead to severe high blood pressure. Treatment involves corrective surgery to reshape the valve. This reshaping can be done in some cases by balloon valvuloplasty, but is not as effective as the surgical approach.
As the beagle ages it becomes more prone to the discomforts of polyarthritis, in which the dog’s own immune system attacks the joints. Cortisone treatment helps to relieve the symptoms. Various cancers become more common in old age, as with all dogs. Standard treatments reflect those used in humans, including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy.
Funny Puppy, the name undoubtedly coming from observing a dog’s uncoordinated behavior, causes the beagle to develop weakness in the legs and a crooked back. This condition appears to be unique to beagles. The afflicted animals are normally healthy but do seem prone to frequent illnesses.
Being active field dogs, beagles are always bringing home parasites and exhibiting small cuts and sprains. Most of these problems can be taken care of at home by the owner. Tapeworm, however, would be best treated by a veterinarian.
One final affliction, that is not really an illness, is worth a mention. It’s called reverse sneezing. When the dog experiences this. it sounds like it is choking or gasping for breath. It apparently does no harm to the dog, but it certainly does scare the daylights out of the owner until he gets used to the sound.
These illness and diseases mentioned above are common ones seen in beagles and other dogs. Once recognized, the illness should be addressed as soon as possible to ensure that your beagle enjoys a long and healthy life as your faithful companion.