Originally bred as a hunting companion, the wonderfully good-natured Basset hound is a loyal and mellow family oriented canine. According to Just Basset Hounds, these stocky low-riders are generally strong, healthy and long-lived dogs. However like most dog breeds, there are certain hereditary health issues to which Basset hounds are predisposed.
Gastric dilatation-volvulus, commonly called bloat, occurs in dogs with deep, narrow chests like the Basset. It develops when a dog takes in tremendous amounts of air during exercise or when gulping food or water. If the air is not released properly the stomach rotates, cutting off blood supply to the heart. If not treated almost immediately it can be fatal. Symptoms include swollen belly, excessive drooling, abdominal pain, restlessness, panting, shallow breathing and nonproductive vomiting or retching.
Glaucoma occurs when extreme pressure builds inside the eyes. According to Dogtime.com, if not treated in its early stages glaucoma can cause blindness. Signs of glaucoma in Bassets do not typically appear until a dog is approximately 2 years old, but when they do appear the disease progresses rapidly. Symptoms to watch for in one or both eyes include redness, squinting, tearing, bulging, enlarged pupils, cloudy corneas or indicators of pain such as rubbing or pawing at the eyes.
Canine thrombopathia and Von Willebrand's disease are hereditary bleeding disorders common in Basset hounds. Both of these conditions prevent proper clotting and cause prolonged or excessive bleeding. Signs of a bleeding disorder include blood in stools or urine, excessive bleeding from wounds, bleeding from the nose or gums and red splotches on the belly.
Patellar luxation occurs when the kneecap pops or slides out of its normal position. This condition is usually present at birth but typically does not manifest until much later. There are four grades ranging from occasional luxation to severe dislocation that may require surgical correction. Signs of patellar luxation include intermittent lameness, abnormal gait, hopping or skipping and pain while running.
According to Just Basset Hounds, hip and elbow dysplasia are common conditions in Bassets. They occur due to abnormal development in the hip or elbow joint. Hip dysplasia can cause debilitating lameness and arthritis. Signs of hip dysplasia are staggering, difficulty running or jumping, abnormal gait and difficulty standing or sitting. Elbow dysplasia usually can be treated but may lead to arthritis as your dog ages. Signs of elbow dysplasia are stiffness or lameness in the front legs.
Intervertebral Disc Disease
Like other breeds with long spines, the Basset is prone to intervertebral disc disease. It's important to support your Basset's back and bottom when lifting him, and to not allow him to jump up or down from extreme heights. Symptoms of back problems include difficulty raising up on the hind legs, paralysis and loss of bladder or bowel control. Depending on the severity of your dog's condition, treatment can range from anti-inflammatory medication to surgical correction.
Yvette Sajem has been a professional writer since 1995. Her work includes greeting cards and two children's books. A lifelong animal advocate, she is active in animal rescue and transport, and is particularly partial to senior and special needs animals.