Dwarfism in dogs - Causes, symptoms and treatment

Image: @ranger_thegshepherd

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Dwarfism consists of lack of growth hormone production, disease that can occur in dogs. It is a process that is diagnosed when the dog is growing and is observed as a growth that is not as it should be according to its age and breed. In addition, deficits of other hormones that lead to other endocrine processes, such as hypothyroidism or heat problems in females, as well as testicular atrophy in males, can occur at the same time; in addition to dermatological problems and secondary infections. The diagnosis is made with the help of laboratory measurements and treatment is with progestogens, in order to increase growth hormone.

If you have never seen a dog with dwarfism, here is a picture of a German shepherd with dwarfism. Just this furry one, another of the same age appears, but healthy. In fact, both dogs are brothers from the same litter. Keep reading this AnimalWised article about the dwarfism in dogs, causes, symptoms and treatments to learn more about this endocrine problem that can affect our dogs.

You may also be interested in: Hypothyroidism in Dogs - Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Index
  1. What is canine dwarfism?
  2. Canine dwarfism symptoms
  3. Diagnosis of dwarfism in dogs
  4. Canine dwarfism treatment

What is canine dwarfism?

Dwarfism or pituitary dwarfism in dogs is a endocrine disease in which there is a deficiency of growth hormone (GH) that sometimes appears together with deficiencies of hormones generated in the hypothalamus, such as TSH and prolactin.

This results in dwarfism or lack of normal growth as the months go by.

Causes of dwarfism in dogs

It is a congenital disease: puppies inherit it from their parents under an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern.

The most predisposed breed seems to be the German shepherd, although it can also be seen in the weimaraner, pinscher and spitz.

Symptoms of canine dwarfism

Symptoms of pituitary dwarfism appear when dogs reach two or three months of life, before they look like normal puppies. However, from this moment on they continue with puppy hair, then they begin to lose it causing a bilateral alopecia on the trunk and present a small but proportionate size. In addition, in a dog with pituitary dwarfism it can be observed:

  • Lengthening of the closure of the epiphyses of the long bones.
  • Fontanelles open longer than in a normal puppy.
  • Calcification of the penile bone.
  • Delayed appearance of teeth.
  • Hyperpigmentation.
  • Thin and hypotonic skin.
  • Progressive peeling of the skin.
  • Comedones and papules on the skin.
  • Secondary bacterial infections of the skin or respiratory system.
  • Hypothyroidism at 2-3 years of life.
  • Reproductive disorders: anestrus (lack of heat) in female dogs and testicular atrophy in dogs.

Although dwarfism is not deadly in itself, yes reduces life expectancy less than 10 years. However, if your dog does not grow, it may be due to other reasons, as we explain in this other article about ¿Why is my dog ​​not growing??

Image: Fdas

Diagnosis of dwarfism in dogs

The diagnosis of pituitary dwarfism is based on clinical signs and laboratory diagnosis.

Differential diagnosis

Differential diagnosis of dwarfism in dogs includes the following diseases:

  • Juvenile hypothyroidism.
  • Hypoadrenocorticism.
  • Iatrogenic hyperadrenocorticism.
  • Juvenile diabetes.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Portosystemic shunt.
  • Gonadal dysgenesis.
  • Bone disease.
  • Renal disease.

Clinical diagnosis

The clinical diagnosis is based mainly on the observation of a proportionate reduction in the size of the dog according to the characteristics of its breed and age, which commonly comes together with other clinical signs that we have discussed, such as skin problems..

Laboratory analysis

The laboratory analysis will be based on a blood test with measurement of certain factors and hormones:

  • Blood count and biochemistry: the hemogram and biochemistry in these dogs are usually normal, although there is the presence of hypophosphatemia, mild hypoalbuminemia and in some cases there may be azotemia (increased creatinine or urea), since growth hormone deficiency can affect the development of the renal glomeruli, responsible for filtering urine.
  • Hormone analysis: the analysis of thyroid hormones usually reflects an increase in free and total T4 but unlike what is expected in hypothyroidism which is an increase in TSH, in dogs with dwarfism there is a decrease in TSH due to the lack of release by the hypothalamus in this disorder.
  • Insulin growth factor analysisInsulin growth factor 1 (IGF-1) assay is the best way to indirectly reflect growth hormone values. In dogs with dwarfism this factor is significantly reduced, being less than 50 ng / ml.

Other ways of diagnosis

Another way to reach the definitive diagnosis is by stimulating the release of growth hormone using xylazine or GNRH. In a healthy animal, the growth hormone will increase after this administration, however, in dwarfism this effect does not occur.

Canine dwarfism treatment

The treatment of canine dwarfism is carried out with the administration of progestogens, such as medroxyprogesterone, at a dose of 2.5-5 mg / kg every three weeks in 6 doses. Subsequently, if needed, it is repeated every 6 weeks. This drug induces the production of growth hormone in the mammary gland. Must monitor and check the dogs every week, as it can cause acromegaly or diabetes. Generally, clinical skin signs improve, adult hair grows, and weight gain.

Nowadays the treatment that was carried out with bovine, porcine or human growth hormone is not recommended, since in addition to having a high price, insulin resistance or hypersensitivity may appear. The administration of thyroid hormones or glucocorticoids should also be considered, if necessary..

This article is merely informative, at AnimalWised.com we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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