Health Problems in the Papillon
PRA - Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Usually starts in middle age dogs. They gradually lose sight in their eyes. If your vet regulary health checks your dog including eyes, than quite often they will pick up something unusual and will refer you on to an eye specialist that can do the proper test to determine what they problem is. There is no surgery available to reverse or correct the problem. Dogs generally adjust to the problem and manage to get along with the loss of vision. Best precaution is to obtain your puppy from a breeder that eye tests the parents.
The patella is also known as the stifle or the knee. Luxation means that the joint slips. Commonly found as a problem in dogs, especially the smaller toy dogs. Most Papillons and Phalenes will live fine with the problem, other than the most severe cases where the dog is lame and favoring the leg by not using it or holding it up a lot. If you have a case of the dog being lame, seek veterinarian advice on the best course of action.
Liver Shunts - now referred as MVD and PSVA
This disease has been split into two categories. MVD being the milder of the two and PSVA the more serious of the two. Surgery is possible on the more serious cases but people are finding they are able to be maintained well on a special low protein diet. Some situations may require an addition of an antibiotic along with lactolose also. Diet is showing such great results I would look at that seriously before automatically going the surgery route. Much research has been done on this disease and the prognosis is so much better than years past. If you have a puppy or dog you are suspicious of the first thing would be doing bile acid tests. Although this is not rampant in the breed yet, it's something to watch for closely as the other breeds it moved in to, it progressed rapidly within the breed lines.
NAD - Neuroaxonal Dystrophy
This is a genetic brain and spinal disorder affecting young puppies. Generally signs are seen by 8 to 10 weeks of age. Symptoms start out with puppies moving in a stiff manner or a clumsy puppy falling down and continues to progress to much worse symptoms. There is no cure or help for a puppy with this disease and it is fatal. The end is horrendous and you need to make a decision on it before it comes to that. They do not live past young puppyhood.
Overall the Papillon is a very healthy and happy breed. Caution in obtaining a puppy from a reputable breeder that breeds with quality dogs and is aware of the problems out there and how to breed properly will help you in avoiding these problems in your own dog. Doing yearly health checks does make a difference in keeping your dog in good shape. Taking good care of their teeth is also important. Just like with humans, dental disease can lead to other health issues so take good care of their teeth, either by brushing which is best, or at the least veterinarian teeth cleanings periodically.
Ken & Nana Ridgeway
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Owned by Nanken Papillons