Immune Deficiencies in Weimaraners

The purple-glowing Weimaraner is no less healthy than the nonglowing variety.

The purple-glowing Weimaraner is no less healthy than the nonglowing variety.

If you've got your heart set on bringing the gray-haired, green-eyed Weimaraner into your life, don't let the threat of immunodeficiency syndrome deter you. It's a rare disease in the breed, so your odds of acquiring an affected puppy are slim.

Weimaraner Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Although Weimaraner immunodeficiency syndrome appears in certain bloodlines, the exact cause of the disease is not known. Dogs with this disease should be spayed or neutered. Other dogs can be carriers, and their offspring may be affected. While Weimaraner immunodeficiency syndrome is a hereditary disease, no testing currently exists to identify the problem gene. While rare, it's not uncommon for several puppies in a litter or an entire litter to suffer from this immune disorder.

Symptoms

Weimaraners affected with immunodeficiency syndrome exhibit symptoms in puppyhood or as young dogs. The primary symptoms are frequent fevers and muscle and skin infections. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, these bacterial septicemias usually invade the joints and bones. Other symptoms include urinary tract infections, lethargy and appetite loss. If your Weimaraner is constantly suffering from infections, take him to the vet for a thorough examination.

Diagnosis

Your vet will take blood samples for testing to aid in the diagnosis. Affected Weimaraners have impaired neutrophil function, the white blood cells that protect the body against infection. They also have low levels of immunoglobins, or antibodies.

Treatment

No cure existed for Weimaraner immunodeficiency syndrome by mid 2013, so your vet can only treat the symptoms. Chronic infections require antibiotics, both oral and topical. Your vet might also prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and control pain, along with steroids. Some puppies might succumb to the frequent infections, or might have to be euthanized because of the illness. Other dogs respond well to treatment, although they might experience relapses and medication must be adjusted.

Growth Hormone Deficiency

Even rarer than Weimaraner immunodeficiency syndrome in the breed is another immune disorder, growth hormone deficiency. Provet says that one litter of Weimaraners reported to have this disease suffered constant severe infections and poor growth rates. In addition to growth hormone deficiency, the puppies also had low T-cell lymphocytes, cells that aid immunity. Administration of bovine growth hormone apparently successfully treated the condition.

 

About the Author

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.

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