July 16, 2024

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Schnauzer Health and Mobility | Walkin’ Pets

4 min read

The Schnauzer is a playful, affectionate breed that loves their family. With their distinctive look, most people know the Schnauzer for their mustached faces and thick eyebrows. This is one breed with a lot of personality! This unique breed is available in Miniature and Standard sizes, with the Miniature Schnauzer weighing between 11 to 20 pounds and the larger Standard Schnauzer weighing up to 50 pounds.

Although generally easygoing, the Schnauzers are known to get a bit feisty and can be barkers, but their big personality is a part of their charm. Like any other dog, there are some breed-specific genetic health risks that every Schnauzer mom and dad should be aware of. Here’s what you need to know about your Schnauzer’s health.

Fibrocartilaginous Embolism in Miniature Schnauzers

Also known as an FCE or spinal stroke. FCEs are more common in Miniature Schnauzers than any other breed, with one study showing 24% of the cases included were among Miniature Schnauzers. A spinal stroke can occur very suddenly and usually happens after a dog has been very active. Sudden paralysis, dragging legs, and a stumbling gait are common signs a dog has an FCE.

Depending on where the stroke occurs in the spine, a dog may only have one side of its body affected or just the front or back legs. With quick treatment and rehabilitation, most dogs can walk again. During treatment, a dog wheelchair may be used to help support the dog and keep them mobile as they recover. A Schnauzer wheelchair can help the dog overcome balance issues, assist them to stand or walk, and help the dog throughout their FCE rehabilitation.

Eye Problems – Cataracts

Although known for their bushy eyebrows and dark eyes, the Schnauzer is predisposed to several eye problems, including cataracts. Cataracts can appear at any age, with a cloudy film covering the lens of the eye. A cataract can cause blindness, which can be treated in some cases with corrective eye surgery.

Additional eye issues that Schnauzers are prone to include Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Glaucoma. Make your Schnauzers’ eye health a priority and have their eyes examined during every annual checkup. In between veterinary checkups, watch for any visual changes to the eye, including discoloration or cloudiness in the eye, as this may indicate a change in a dog’s vision.

Hip Dysplasia

Schnauzer puppy running in field

Although hip pain can affect any size dog, Hip Dysplasia is more common in the larger Standard Schnauzer than its smaller cousin. Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint condition that can impact a dog’s mobility and cause joint pain. There are varying degrees of hip dysplasia. Young dogs can be diagnosed with the condition but may not feel the effects of the hip condition until they are much older, as the dysplasia can progress over the years.

Early diagnosis is key to keeping your dog’s hips healthy. For young Schnauzers diagnosed with hip dysplasia, it’s best to keep your dog at a healthy weight and introduce them to a joint supplement at a younger age to promote joint health and ease occasional stiffness. Your veterinarian will check your Schnauzer’s hips during their annual checkup, looking for any signs of discomfort and impact on its range of motion.

Luxating Patella

Patella luxation occurs when a dog’s kneecap slips out of the patellar groove. This is quite common in smaller dog breeds such as the Miniature Schnauzer. A healthy kneecap should move up and down as a dog’s knee flexes and moves. When the kneecap luxates, it essentially dislocates and pops out of place, which can cause discomfort and impact a Schnauzer’s ability to move normally. When this happens, you may see your dog hold their back leg behind them as they get around on three legs until the kneecap pops back into position.  

Depending on the severity of the patella luxation, the knee may pop back into place on its own, with assistance, or in the most advanced degree surgery may be recommended.

Myotonia Congenita

A genetic muscle disease that causes hyper-reactive muscles that contract easily. When the muscle stiffens, the muscles can bulge making it difficult for the Schnauzer to move. And in some cases, this can even impact the Schnauzer’s ability to swallow. The condition is incurable and impacts about 2% of the breed, with approximately 20% of all Schnauzers as genetic carriers of the condition. Any Schnauzer exhibiting signs of Myotonia Congenita need to be seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Understanding Your Schnauzer’s Health

It’s important to know that the Schnauzer is, overall, a healthy dog breed that makes an excellent pet. Although it’s important to understand any health risks so that you can be aware of any signs your dog’s mobility or health is changing, with regular checkups and living a healthy lifestyle, your Schnauzer should live a long and happy life.

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