Health problems specific to or common in the miniature schnauzer might be congenital or hereditary issues appearing later in life. Regular wellness visits to a veterinarian familiar with the breed can nip certain issues in the bud, or result in prompt treatment before a condition gets out of hand. You can help your dog avoid one common health problem in the breed, obesity. Give your miniature schnauzer plenty of exercise, feed him a quality dog food and don't overdo the treats.
Miniature schnauzers are prone to several hereditary eye diseases. These include progressive retinal atrophy, which eventually renders the dog blind, and congenital juvenile cataracts. The latter are present at birth, as the name implies, and without surgical correction the cataracts grow over time and cause partial to complete vision loss. Avoid the likelihood of some miniature schnauzer vision problems by insisting on a puppy's parental certification from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation from the breeder.
Older miniature schnauzers are subject to cardiac problems. Mitral valve disease results in heart valve deterioration, eventually leading to congestive heart failure and death. Early signs include heart murmurs, progressing to coughing and breathing difficulties. Unfortunately, it's not possible to detect future mitral valve disease in puppies. Symptoms are treated in affected dogs, but there is no cure.
Some miniature schnauzers are born with pulmonic stenosis, a heart defect. Mildly affected canines remain relatively asymptomatic, but dogs with a severe defect experience exercise intolerance, breathing problems and possibly collapse. The disease may progress to congestive heart failure. Dogs diagnosed with pulmonic stenosis might be candidates for surgery, but it's a risky option. Treatment generally consists of a low-sodium diet and as stress-free a lifestyle as possible.
Comedones are the formal term for blackheads and whiteheads. This canine acne is so common in the miniature schnauzer its earned the nickname "schnauzer bumps." While poor hygiene and an inferior diet can cause these bumps, they also result from allergic reactions or metabolic disorders. Your vet will perform tests to get to the bottom of your miniature schnauzer's acne and prescribe appropriate treatment. Never squeeze these blackheads or use human acne medication on your dog.
Skin disorders, including hair loss, skin thinning and frequent infections can indicate Cushing's disease or hypothyroidism, both metabolic issues common in the breed and generally occurring in older dogs. Once diagnosed, medication can bring these diseases under control.
Urolithiasis -- formation of bladder or kidney stones -- is especially common in the miniature schnauzer. Symptoms of urinary problems include frequent urination, often with blood in the pee. Take your pet to the vet at the first sign of any urinary tract problem. Early treatment can prevent stone formation, as well as life-threatening blockage should the stone obstruct the urethra.
Treatment of urolithiasis depends on the type of stone involved. The struvite type might form due to chronic infection. The oxylate type can result from too much blood calcium or low urine pH. While a prescription diet helps deter stone formation, a blockage is an emergency and requires immediate surgery.
Hyperlipidemia and Pancreatitis
Another common disorder in the breed is pancreatitis, or inflammation of the pancreas. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness and abdominal pain; you're dealing with a very sick dog. In miniature schnauzers, pancreatitis can result from hyperlipidemia, or elevated levels of fat in the bloodstream. Pancreatitis requires hospitalization, and not all dogs recover. Once a dog has been through a bout of pancreatitis, he's at risk for a recurrence. It's another good reason to keep your miniature schnauzer's weight down.
- Vetstreet: What You Need to Know About Miniature Schnauzer Health
- MIniature Schnauzer Club of Canada: Miniature Schnauzer Health and Genetics
- Veterinary Pet Insurance: Miniature Schnauzers
- Cactus State Miniature Schnauzer Club: Common Mini Schnauzer Health Problems
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare: Mitral Valve Disease
- PetMD: Congenital Heart Defect (Pulmonic Stenosis) in Dogs
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.