Lymphedema in the German shorthaired pointer

Lymphedema in the German shorthaired pointer

Health & Safety

The German shorthaired pointer is a medium-sized dog breed from the Kennel Club’s Gundog grouping, and these handsome, pointing dogs are versatile all rounders that make for great pets for active families that like to spend plenty of time outdoors.

German shorthaired pointers are incredibly intelligent dogs that also have high energy levels, and they are also really great dogs to train, being keen to learn new skills and engage their active minds. However, they can be a handful for the first-time dog owner who doesn’t research the breed’s core traits to find out what they are getting into, as managing a high energy dog that is also really smart can be a challenge.

This means that the German shorthaired pointer is a good choice of dog for an experienced, active owner that is looking for a clever dog that can learn lots of commands, but that any prospective owner should do plenty of research into the breed’s core traits before committing to a purchase.

As well as looking at the breed’s core temperament traits and behaviours, learning about breed health and certain hereditary health conditions that can be found in German shorthaired pointers is important too.

One health condition that can be found in certain German shorthaired pointer breed lines is called lymphedema, and within this article we’ll explain a little bit more about the condition, how it affects dogs, and what owners or prospective owners of German shorthaired pointers should know. Read on to learn more.

What is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is also sometimes referred to by the names of lymphatic oedema or lymphoedema, and it is characterised by areas of localised fluid retention and soft tissue swelling across the body. These symptoms are caused by problems with the dog’s lymphatic system, leading to interstitial fluids being present in the bloodstream.

This fluid collects in different areas of the body, most commonly areas of subcutaneous fat.

Not all forms of lymphedema are hereditary, and the condition can arise as a secondary complication of other health conditions such as cancer. However, German shorthaired pointers have a hereditary predisposition within certain breed lines to developing the condition independently by means of heredity, without another trigger or root cause.

Why might a German shorthaired pointer develop lymphedema?

Whilst German shorthaired pointers might develop lymphedema as a complication of another health condition just like any other dog can, they are also one of the breeds most prone to inheriting the disorder and becoming affected by it without any other underlying cause.

Pups of affected breeds can be born with lymphedema, which in turn occurs when the dog’s lymphatic system is not properly developed or fully functional. This might happen due to things like fibrosis of the lymph nodes, valvular incompetence, or aplasia.

What are the symptoms of lymphedema?

German shorthaired pointers who inherit their lymphedema from their parents will tend to become symptomatic whilst still young.

The condition’s symptoms begin with a build-up of fluid in pockets often related to fatty tissues of the body, which are called oedemas. Often, it is a puppy’s limbs that will swell up first, and this may affect anything from just one leg to all four. The swelling tends to worsen progressively, travelling further up the limb over time.

Generally lymphedema isn’t painful for affected dogs, but if the swelling is very pronounced it may be uncomfortable and cause lameness and pain when placing weight on the leg or legs in question.

Whilst the limbs are often the first part of the dog’s body that will swell up, this is not always the case.

In order to diagnose lymphedema in the German shorthaired pointer, your vet will need to take into account the dog’s history and symptoms, and they may also want to run blood and urine panels to narrow down the cause and rule out other conditions that can present with similar symptoms.

Lymphograpy is another specialist test your vet may perform too, which enables them to better identify the condition via x-rays.

Can lymphedema in the German shorthaired pointer be treated or cured?

Unfortunately, there is no cure for lymphedema in German shorthaired pointers, although there are a number of approaches your vet might wish to use to treat and manage the condition.

For some dogs, the application of pressure bandages on the affected limbs can help to ease swelling and fluid drainage, and antibiotics may be effective in some cases too, either on their own or in combination with pressure bandages.

This means that caring for a dog with lymphedema largely depends on addressing and mitigating the symptoms and providing supportive care, as well as keeping an eye out for any secondary problems that may develop as a result of the swelling.

In extreme presentations of the condition in which dogs cannot walk comfortably or that are in pain, euthanasia may be advisable, but this is quite unusual. Some pups will actually go into remission on their own over time, but this is not something that can be relied upon.

Dogs with lymphedema should not be used for breeding, as they can pass the condition onto their own young.



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