Golden Retrievers are one of the most popular breeds we care for at our hospital. They are predisposed to certain diseases though, so careful observation of your pets daily routine is important. Any significant change in this routine is cause for an examination. Our web site in the Diseases Section has detailed information on many of the diseases they are prone to.
Golden Retrievers are susceptible to hip dysplasia, a disease characterized by malformation in the hip socket, which eventually causes arthritis. The symptoms of this disease can vary, from a pet that is just not as active as it should be, to a dog that can barely get up after laying down. This breed also gets joint problems in other bones, particularly to the elbow joint and shoulder joint. Problems here are usually manifested by limping in the front legs. A physical exam and x-rays will help make the diagnosis.
Hereditary cataracts are a common eye problem in the Golden Retriever. The problem can occur at an early age in affected Goldens, and while cataracts may or may not interfere with the dog’s vision, some do progress into severe or total loss of vision. Golden Retrievers can also have an inherited deficiency in one of the clotting factors of the blood. Dogs affected with this disease may have symptoms varying from very mild to severe bleeding. If your pet bruises easily or bleeds excessively, this disease is a possibility.
Hypothyroidism, a metabolic disease characterized by inadequate thyroid hormone circulating in the bloodstream, is common in the breed. Symptoms include obesity, lethargy, and/or coat problems. Affected animals may also have various reproductive problems, including irregular or absent estrus (heat cycle), and lack of fertility.
Another hormone problem is called Insulinoma. Golden’s with this problem have a low blood sugar due to excess insulin. They might appear weak, in-coordinated, behave strangely, can collapse, and even have seizures.
If your Golden is underweight and regurgitates its food it might have an esophagus problem secondary to myasthenia gravis.
This breed is prone to many skin problems, particularly allergies and hot spots. The usual symptoms are excessive scratching, flaky or bumpy skin, an odor to the haircoat, and hairloss. Run your hands over its haircoat daily because they can even get a malignant skin cancer called a mast cell tumor. These can appear as minor bumps or areas of inflammation, yet they can be highly malignant.
Goldens can get a kidney disease at an early age that can lead to kidney failure. Any symptom of excess drinking or urinating, weight loss, lethargy, or poor appetite is cause for an immediate exam and blood panel.
A vast array of eye problems can occur. Any discharge, redness, swelling, squinting, or pawing at the eyes is reason for an immediate exam.
Goldens are also prone to ear trouble, which can be very painful without your realization. Any sign of head shaking, pawing at the ears, inflamed ears or odor requires veterinary attention. Daily checking for odors or discharge, and proper cleaning when needed, will help prevent this problem.
Several different types of heart problems can affect them. Look for symptoms of lethargy, exercise intolerance, coughing, and poor appetite as a clue.