"Polymyositis in the Kooikerhondje dog breed
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"Polymyositis in the Kooikerhondje dog breed

Dogs
Health & Safety

The Kooikerhondje dog breed originates from the Netherlands, where they originated as duck tolling dogs and that have a long recorded history, with dogs of this type being shown in paintings from as far back as the 17th and 18th centuries. However, within the UK this breed is fairly uncommon and there aren’t a lot of Kooikerhondjes around, which means that if you are considering buying one as a pet you might have to travel some distance to find a breeder and wait some time for a puppy to become available.

Kooikerhondjes are small dogs recognised within the Kennel Club’s utility dog grouping, and that have a lot of strong plus points in their favour when it comes to their versatility and suitability as pets. Dogs of the breed tend to have high energy levels without being ridiculously challenging to manage, and this is matched by equally high intelligence, which makes dogs of this type great working partners that are very amenable to training.

They are a low-shedding breed that doesn’t need a lot of grooming, and they are also tolerant of being left alone for a couple of hours at a time without making a fuss.

In terms of the breed’s temperament, Kooikerhondjes tend to be person-centric, friendly, loving, kind natured and keen to get involved in family life, which makes them a good choice of pet for families with children. They also tend to be fairly sensitive dogs that don’t deal well with too much noise or upset, and they respect a kind word and lots of praise.

If you like what you hear about the Kooikerhondje dog breed as a whole and are beginning to research the breed in more detail to find out if it is a good fit for you, you also need to learn a little bit about the breed’s general health and longevity. Dogs of the breed tend to live for between around 12-15 years and are generally healthy, although there are a couple of hereditary health conditions that owners of dog of the breed should be aware of.

One such health condition is called polymyositis, and this is a potentially immune-mediated inflammatory muscle disorder that can affect adult dogs who inherit a hereditary predisposition to it. In this article we will look at the basics of polymyositis in the Kooikerhondje, covering its symptoms, risk factors, and treatment. Read on to learn more.

What is polymyositis?

Polymyositis is a hereditary health condition that is thought to be immune-mediated, or caused by a malfunction or problem with the dog’s immune system, which leads to it attacking the dog’s own body and functions.

It is a type of muscle disorder that leads to pain and inflammation of various muscle groups, and which generally develops for the first time in adult dogs rather than puppies. Polymyositis in the Kooikerhondje may be either slow to develop and progressive in nature, or it may be fast in onset and acute.

Why are Kooikerhondjes at risk of developing polymyositis?

Whilst we don’t know the exact mode of heredity of polymyositis, it is a hereditary health condition, and this means that in order to develop symptoms, the dog must inherit the markers of the condition from their parents.

Hereditary problems can take hold and spread within any limited gene pool, such as is the case for individual dog breeds, and they will spread more widely across significant populations of dogs of a breed if only a relatively small number of unrelated dogs are available as breeding stock in any given country, as is the case for the Kooikerhondje in the UK.

What are the symptoms of polymyositis?

Polymyositis can be a tricky condition to diagnose accurately, as it causes a varied range of symptoms that may not present in every dog, and that are also common to some other health conditions too. Some of the most common symptoms of Kooikerhondje polymyositis you might observe at home in the first instance include:

  • Weakness and muscle tremors.
  • Loss of weight without a corresponding loss of appetite.
  • Depression and general lethargy, which may manifest as a lack of interest in play and exercise.
  • Lameness on one or more legs.
  • Loss of muscle tone, and general muscle atrophy.
  • Muscle pain.

Can polymyositis be treated or cured?

Assuming that you are able to recognise the signs that something is amiss and get your vet to examine and properly diagnose your dog, polymyositis can generally be brought under control and an episode stopped or limited with medications. This usually involves the administration or oral steroidal meds, which generally have to be given for three to four weeks at a time.

However, repeat occurrences of polymyositis are not uncommon, and some dogs will be prone to having other attacks again in the future. Once you have learned to spot the symptoms that dogs might display and get to know the early warning signs of an imminent attack, you can act quickly to get treatment and restore your dog’s quality of life.

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