The Clumber Spaniel is generally a healthy breed however there are some general conditions that may affect them from time to time. Please visit the Hips & Elbows, Eyes, EIC and PDP1 pages for more information.
The following list is not meant to frighten you. It is to make you aware of some of the more common health issues affecting Clumber Spaniels. All breeds have some incidence of defects and diseases, just as humans do. Awareness makes you better prepared to deal with potential problems. The Clumber Spaniel does seem to be afflicted with more than its fair share of problems but most of them are controllable with a little bit of understanding, common sense and tender loving care.
ANAL GLAND IMPACTION
Impacted anal glands become itchy and sore and typically the affected dog will drag his anus along the ground or bite himself around the base of his tail. The major cause is dietary leading to stools that are insufficiently bulky to force sac expression during defecation. Increasing the fibre content of the dog’s diet can often cure mild cases. More serious cases may need the glands to be emptied by manual pressure (usually by a vet). In severe recurrent cases it may be necessary to have the glands removed.
AUTOIMMUNE HEAMOLITIC ANAEMIA
This is a potentially life threatening condition where the body attacks it’s own immune system, causing a profound anæmia. Most common symptoms are a dramatic sudden decrease in the dog’s energy and activity level. The dog may barely be able to get up and may be quite reluctant to move. It is important that you seek veterinarian advice as soon as possible.
This is the inflammation of the large bowel or colon. Fæces tend to be soft and may contain spots of blood and an increased amount of mucus. The dog appears to be healthy in all other respects. This rarely requires a trip to the vet, as it responds well to dietary management. Withhold food for 24 hours while ensuring an adequate supply of water is available. After this time, feed the dog on a light diet, such as chicken and rice or fish and rice for a couple of days and then gradually put him back on to his normal diet. If this problem reoccurs frequently, you may want to consider feeding your dog a diet especially formulated for dogs with sensitive stomachs.
DRY EYE (KERATO CONJUNCTIVIS SICCA)
With this disease the dog fails to produce tears. As the cornea dries, the surface of the eye becomes covered with a grey, sticky mucus. It is important to keep the eye area clean, which can be achieved with a bit of Optrex on cottonwool. Artificial tears and anti-inflammatory drops will be needed to control the condition.
One of the most common causes of ear infections is lack of adequate ventilation. In mild cases there may be little to see apart from an increase in wax. As the disease progresses, the ear will begin to smell and the dog may shake its head. The ear may become very painful. Regular maintenance should prevent this from becoming a problem. The ears should be regularly checked and cleaned with an ear cleaner. Excess hair should be cut away from inside the earflap, so improving ventilation.
In this condition, the edge of the eyelid rolls in so that the lashes and hairs rub against the surface of the eye. Corrective surgery may be necessary, but unless causing the dog severe discomfort should be postponed until the dogs head has finished developing, as quite often it corrects itself as part of development.
Is not life threatening but may cause extreme discomfort in severely affected dogs. All Clumber Spaniels have hip dysplasia, and in all likelihood, should your veterinarian x-ray your dogs hips, he will probably tell you that your dog has the worst hips he has ever seen. Needless to say, to the best of my knowledge there are very few Clumbers that actually ‘suffer’ because of their hips. This breed is a heavy breed and is not designed for 10-mile daily hikes. As long as you respect this and follow your breeder’s instructions on bringing your puppy up, you should hopefully not experience hip problems. The Clumber Spaniel Club encourages members to X-ray breeding stock and submit plates to the BVA/KC scheme.
INTERVERTEBRAL DISC DISEASE
These discs are soft cartilagenous structures located between individual spinal vertebrae to allow smooth frictionless movement of the spine. When a disc ruptures, the jelly like centre is squeezed upwards against the spinal cord and nerves, applying pressure and causing inflammation and pain. The two most common locations for disc disease are in the neck and the midback. Disc disease is usually seen in the middle-aged dog due to the disc finally rupturing after much wear and tear. Some cases will respond well to medical treatment aimed at reducing the inflammation and swelling around the disc. Those with recurrent pain may require spinal surgery to remove the affected disc. Not all dogs with disc problems recover – some may be left with completely paralysed hind legs. Many owners give a supplement of Glucosamine with Chondroitin throughout the dogs life which has been shown to rehabilitate cartilage and reduce the progression of arthritis.
Most skin diseases are as a result of a reaction between the dog’s skin and its environment. These disorders may be chronic, intermittent or seasonal, and so may require constant or intermittent treatment. Most common causes of skin irritations are: – parasitic e.g. fleas, mites (mange); bacterial (pyoderma) – this is usually secondary to some other skin disease; contact allergies ~ the skin becomes directly sensitised to some material in his environment; food allergies; and anal gland impactionTreatment depends on the cause of the irritation.
An umbilical hernia occurs where the umbilical cord was attached to the puppy from the placenta. It is a hole or rupture in the body wall, through which abdominal fat protrudes. In most cases only a small piece of fat protrudes and this becomes sealed off so that the hernia cannot be reduced by finger pressure. If the hole is large enough for a loop of intestine to pass through, then it will be necessary to have it surgically repaired to prevent the hernia becoming ‘strangulated’.
A condition of the whelping bitch who either fails or gives up having contractions. An injection of the hormone oxytocin may stimulate contractions but should only be used if the cervix is fully open. If there has been no response from the injection after 20 minutes then a Caesarean section may be the only course of action (A car ride, or walk around the garden has frequently been know to stimulate a bitch to start contractions)
The following is an unusual case which the owners wished to share so that anyone who has a Clumber presenting with similar symptoms may identify the cause more quickly.
A Case of Steroid Responsive Meningitis(SRM) in a Clumber:- Meningitis