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The lively and energetic Beagle is an adventurous and family-friendly dog. Naturally curious and originally bred for hunting, Beagles love the outdoors. Characterized by their incredible sense of smell, this medium-sized dog needs a lot of exercise and may bark when excited. They can be a bit independent, especially when on the trail of a good scent, but the Beagle is an excellent addition to any family.
Like any breed, the Beagle is susceptible to certain hereditary health problems but for the most part the breed is very healthy. Here’s a quick introduction to a few conditions that may impact your Beagle’s health or mobility:
IVDD in Beagles
With their shorter legs and long backs, Beagles are known to have back problems and disc issues. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) being the most common spinal condition affecting them. This degenerative condition is prevalent in the breed, with an estimated 99% of Beagles considered at risk. Most Beagles will experience disc degeneration in their neck; however, the spine and lower back can be affected as well. Depending on the severity and location of the herniated disc, a dog may be paralyzed. After crate rest and when approved by a vet, a Beagle wheelchair can be used during therapy sessions to support mobility as the dog heals.
Beagle Pain Syndrome
Although named after the breed, Beagle Pain Syndrome can also impact other dog breeds. Beagle Pain Syndrome is a form of meningitis that causes blood vessel inflammation that usually impacts Beagle puppies between five to ten months old. It can cause back pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness in the neck. Because the condition is quite painful, the way the Beagle stands may change (with an arched back) and even show signs of weakness. Although rare, some puppies with Beagle Pain Syndrome have experienced paralysis and vision loss. Every Beagle will exhibit different symptoms, but if your Beagle puppy is showing any sign of pain or changes in mobility, they need to be examined by a veterinarian so they can receive treatment quickly.
Obesity is a growing problem in Beagles. With their sturdy build and shorter legs, keeping your Beagle at an optimal weight can help limit the strain placed on your dog’s joints. Excess weight can greatly impact a Beagle’s ability to move around and even cause back pain. A healthy diet, portion control, and plenty of exercise are essential to help your Beagle maintain a healthy weight. An adult Beagle needs around two hours of exercise every day to stay fit!
Hip Dysplasia is a joint condition caused when a dog’s hip socket doesn’t develop correctly. Over time, this can cause damage to the joint and lead to hip pain or arthritis. Although not widely prevalent among Beagles, 18.5% of all Beagles tested have abnormal hips. According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Beagles are considered a moderate risk for developing hip dysplasia. In advanced stages, hip dysplasia can limit a dog’s mobility, causing stiff movements and can make it difficult for a dog to bear its own weight. In these instances, a dog wheelchair is often recommended to support the dog’s weight and encourage them to walk.
The Beagle’s cute, floppy ears can impact their ear health. Due to the size and shape of their ears, Beagles are prone to developing ear infections. Regular cleaning and ear checks are recommended to prevent an ear infection. Other causes of ear issues in Beagles can stem from ear mites, bacteria or yeast buildup. Ear health is incredibly important, signs of an ear infection include:
Excessive digging or scratching at their ears
Smell or redness
Signs of pain
Ear infections are very treatable, and at any sign of ear aches your Beagle should be brought to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.
Epilepsy and Seizures in Beagles
Beagles are prone to seizures. According to a UK study, the Beagle was in the top 10 dog breeds for epilepsy. Beagle epilepsy can range from an occasional seizure to a more frequent and intense seizure that causes loss of consciousness. Epilepsy can occur in Beagles at any age, but most often start from a year and half on through adulthood.
If your dog has a seizure, first keep them safe and second try to time the seizure and note your dog’s reactions after the seizure stops. Behavioral cues can be helpful when your veterinarian is trying to determine the cause of your dog’s seizures. Some dogs may experience a one-off seizure and never have one again. Others will be dealing with chronic seizures that may require medical care. Always check with your veterinarian if your dog has a seizure, they can help determine what level of care your Beagle will need.
As a breed, Beagles are relatively healthy. With proper care, regular veterinary visits, and a healthy lifestyle your Beagle should live a long and healthy life. The average lifespan for a Beagle is between 10 – 15 years. Enjoy every minute with your best friend, and with a Beagle’s sense of adventure and great nose, be ready for lots of exploring!