The intelligent, independent miniature schnauzer guarantees nobody comes near your home without his alerting you. This breed will faithfully monitor the premises. Meanwhile, you'll have to monitor him, too. The miniature schnauzer breed has a genetic predisposition to high triglycerides in the bloodstream, which can cause lots of problems.
Triglycerides are lipids -- fat molecules that supply energy to muscles and the cardiovascular system, among other body parts. Along with cholesterol, triglycerides are among the most important lipids in the dog's body. If your schnauzer has too many triglycerides in his system, he'll suffer from a condition called hypertriglyceridemia. A blood sample, taken after the dog fasts for 12 hours, determines triglyceride level.
According to the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, approximately a third of miniature schnauzers have dangerously high triglyceride levels "and are presumed to have idiopathic hyperlipidemia." That means too many lipids circulate in the dog's blood. Usually, lipid levels including triglycerides rise after a dog eats, then drop back. In dogs suffering from hyperlipidemia, levels remain elevated. While some dogs don't show symptoms, signs of the condition include hair loss and scratching, seizures, eye inflammation and fatty deposits in the skin or blood vessels. Hyperlipidemia can lead to pancreatitis.
Acute and chronic pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, is prevalent in miniature schnauzers. According to the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, dogs with a history of pancreatitis have higher triglyceride levels than healthy dogs of the same age. Dogs who develop pancreatitis usually do so at the average age of 8 or 9 years. Symptoms include appetite loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea vomiting, fever, lethargy and depression. The sudden-onset, or acute, variety often proves fatal because of organ failure. Chronic pancreatitis might be managed with dietary changes and careful monitoring. Keep a close eye on your schnauzer, so that he goes to the vet at the first sign of gastrointestinal problems.
Because elevated triglyceride levels are so common in the breed, with the potential to wreak so much havoc, ask your vet about taking dietary precautions with your dog. Your vet will measure your pet's serum triglyceride levels, when the dog appears healthy and asymptomatic, in order to establish a baseline, with which levels can be compared when your dog is symptomatic. Ask your vet to recommend a lowfat diet with lots of fiber, which might help your dog avoid high triglyceride issues. In the meantime, don't feed your dog any table scraps and keep him at a healthy weight, with plenty of exercise.
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.