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Are Samoyeds healthy?
Yes, they are, generally speaking. The Samoyed is an ancient canine breed that has experienced minimal genetic manipulation by humankind. As such, these dogs tend to be pretty healthy and seamlessly fit in with their human companions.
But like any other dog, Sammy also can experience health issues. If you plan to get one of these dogs, then you must be aware of the length and breadth of Samoyed health problems and the different ways to deal with these issues, if or when they emerge.
Are Samoyeds healthy dogs?
From a genetic standpoint, Samoyeds are a healthy breed. Pure-bred Samoyeds are perhaps the most closely related of all modern canines to the primitive dogs of the past. And unlike most modern breeds, the Samoyed’s lineage is bereft of any wolf or fox-like genetic markers and is called a basal breed.
But genetic robustness does not automatically make every Sammie malady-proof. While the occurrence may be rare in these dogs, and depending on the manner and quality of breeding, Samoyed health issues, nonetheless, can exist in some pups.
Typical Samoyed Health Problems
Whether purebred or mixed, Samoyed health problems are an inescapable reality. Some inherit the medical condition from one of the parents, whereas for others, it could be a natural consequence of age. Yet there are other cases where the dog exhibits severe reactions to a medication.
Typical health issues Samoyed face can be categorized into problems of the eyes, heart, bones, gastrointestinal system, endocrine system, and immune system. Let take a closer look at Samoyed’s health.
Here are some Samoyed health problems associated with their eyes. Regardless of the nature of Samoyed eye problems, it is strongly advised that you get the issue checked by a veterinarian immediately.
Samoyeds may develop a variety of differing types of cataracts like punctuate cataracts (anterior or posterior) and juvenile cataracts, to name a few. Besides inheriting cataract causing genes, these forms of Samoyed eye problems can also be a result of aging and poor nutrition.
Common cataract symptoms include cloudiness in the pupil of the dog’s eye, squinting, and inflammation around the affected eye. While some cataracts are apparent to the dog owner, others are so small that only a veterinary ophthalmologist can detect them after a thorough examination of both Samoyed eyes.
While something like a minor punctuate cataract does not require any treatment, certain other advanced cataracts can pose serious Samoyed health risks. They might lead to permanent blindness without surgery.
Glaucoma is an abnormality characterized by increased pressure in a dog’s eye(s), primarily because something has blocked the eye’s drainage system internally. Samoyed eye problems of this nature can affect one or both eyes. If left untreated, it can damage the optic nerve and/or retina, and ultimately lead to blindness.
The symptoms of glaucoma include squinting, sensitivity to light, redness, and excessive tear production in the eyes. In most cases, Samoyed health risks associated with glaucoma can be mitigated through early diagnosis and treatment. A veterinary ophthalmologist typically does diagnosis by measuring the pressure within your Samoyed’s eye. Based on the severity, treatments could range from simple eye drops to complex surgery.
A rare disorder seen in less than 6% of the Samoyeds examined in the United States since 1991, Distichiasis refers to an abnormality where eyelashes emerge from ducts within the eye, otherwise not known to produce these follicles. While these hairs themselves may not be a cause for concern, their uncharacteristic growth pattern, however, can irritate the cornea of the eye.
Symptoms of Distichiasis include excessive tearing, redness, squinting, tear staining of the eye, and can lead the Samoyed to rub the affected eye continually. Treatment for problematic Distichiasis will depend on the number of these extra eyelashes and where they are located.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an untreatable condition known to affect less than 2% of the Samoyed population. The symptoms generally start with night blindness, wherein the Samoyed pup might hesitate to walk in the dark. PRA brings about a complete destruction of the animal’s retina over some time.
There are several forms of PRA that affect Samoyeds. However, the most common is X-linked, where X-Chromosome carries the mutant gene. Luckily, screening procedures can be conducted on parents to ensure the disorder is not passed on to their children.
Retinal Dysplasia refers to an abnormality in the development of the retina. It is one of those Samoyed eye problems that can be screened and identified by an AVCO test. It can manifest in a pup in one of three different forms – detached, folds, or geographic.
In detached retinal dysplasia, the retina itself is separated from the eye, and this causes visual deterioration. Whereas ‘folds’ refers to the retinal folding, which looks like faint lines across the puppy’s eyes. In most cases, the problem gets resolved with age. With geographic retinal dysplasia, there is irregular retinal development. This variation in thickness leads to eye-sight impairment.
OculoSkeletal Dysplasia (OSD)
OSD or OculoSkeletal Dysplasia is a condition wherein the canine has a defective eye and forelimb development. Subsequently, Sammy with OSD shows stunted growth and eye abnormalities. Genetic screening tests can be conducted on parents to ensure that the puppies are not afflicted with this form of Samoyed eye problems.
If your Samoyed pup seems to be bumping into places and things, being withdrawn, less active, or shy, it could be symptoms of it having OSD. Unfortunately, this ailment cannot be treated.
Cardiac System (Heart)
Cardiac related conditions in Samoyeds can be quite complicated as they are not very easily picked screenings. In turn, it makes it quite difficult to control the risk of a breeding Sammy passing on a disorder to its offspring. Two such cardiac conditions are explained below.
Aortic Stenosis/ Sub-aortic Stenosis
A congenital condition, aortic stenosis or sub-aortic stenosis, is a physiological anomaly where the tract that manages the outflow of blood, from the left-sided heart chamber, is restricted. As a result, it has to work much harder to maintain healthy blood circulation in the body. Samoyeds have it 2.8 times worse with this cardiac condition when compared to the general dog population.
The symptoms produce tremendous Samoyed health risks such as the presence of heart murmur in pups beyond the age of 8-weeks; the sudden collapse of the cardiovascular system, and even death. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatments may include medication, surgery, or both.
Pulmonic Valve Stenosis
Another congenital condition, pulmonic valve stenosis, outlines the problem where the tract that manages the outflow of blood, from the heart’s right side, gets restricted. Here too, the heart has to work harder to maintain regular blood flow to the lungs.
Similar to aortic stenosis, the problem could be valvular (inside the valve itself) sub-valvular (below the valve) or supra-valvular (above the valve), as are its symptoms. Pulmonic valve stenosis requires heart catheterization, wherein a veterinary surgeon inserts a balloon into the affected area to dilate the blockage.
Skeletal System (Bones)
When preparing for breeding, it is impertinent to evaluate the canine X-ray to minimize the possibility of any genetic deficiency in Samoyed bones such as hip and elbow dysplasia. A more detailed explanation of these conditions can be found below:
Samoyed hip dysplasia is the condition where the hip joint has undergone abnormal development, so the leg bone does not properly fit into the pelvis. It puts excessive pressure on the cartilage around the joints leading to severe arthritis. In case a Sammie is overweight; the condition becomes even more challenging to manage.
The primary symptom of Samoyed hip dysplasia is limping, it can be treated with surgery or medications is some cases. Regulating the breeding of Samoyeds with this condition through X-ray evaluation over the years is the main reason why the population of Sammies with hip dysplasia came down to 7.22% in 2010 from 13.21% in 2005.
Another condition that affects Samoyed bones, elbow dysplasia refers to the underdeveloped elbow structure of a puppy. Seen in 2.2% of the Samoyed population, the condition limits joint movement; produces an abnormal walk and even lameness in affected pups. It can be treated by surgery or through medications (for minor cases only).
Usually occurring as a life-threatening emergency, bloat is an affliction of the gastrointestinal system in the Samoyeds.
Bloat (Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus)
Volvulus, gastric dilation, or bloat are critical problems that result in the dog’s stomach being twisted inside the abdomen. Symptoms may include vomiting, pain in the abdomen, excessive drooling along with a tight and full stomach. The Samoyed could also have a heightened heartbeat, refuse to eat, appear restless, or be roaching their backs.
Immediate emergency surgery might be the only way to save your Sammie from bloat.
It is essential to assess the immune system of a Samoyed before breeding or adoption. VKH is one such syndrome that is known to affect some Sammies.
VKH (Uveodermatologic Syndrome)
Uveodermatologic syndrome or VKH is an autoimmune condition that could be treated with steroids. If a dog shows signs of excessive light sensitivity, de-pigmentation of the nose, lips, eye-lids; or severe tearing, redness or cloudiness of the eyes, it could be VKH syndrome. A Sammie may develop this condition when it is between one and a half to four years old, which leads to retinal damage, cataracts, and blindness.
Endocrine (Hormonal) System
Out of the entire spectrum of hormonal imbalances seen in canines, the following are two of the most common maladies faced by the Samoyed:
Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus)
Diabetes is a health problem that usually develops in Samoyeds between the ages of 4 and 10 years. Different studies show that a Sammie can be anywhere from 7.58 to 21.7 times more susceptible to diabetes than other dog breeds.
As with humans, in canine diabetes, too, the cells that produce insulin in the body are destroyed. The affected Samoyed exhibits lethargy, weight loss, excessive water intake, frequent urination, and an increase in appetite. Diabetes can also be a pathway to other Samoyed health risks like cataracts. The condition is kept under check through a combination of diet regulation and insulin injections.
Hypothyroidism is the other endocrine-related condition that affects Samoyed immune system. In this condition, the body produces inadequate quantities of thyroid hormone, because the affected Samoyed immune system keeps attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland, which is responsible for the production of the hormone.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include infertility, lethargy, hair loss, and increased weight. The hormonal affliction can be treated with daily supplements of synthetic thyroid.
What Is The Average Life Span Of A Samoyed?
So, how long does a Samoyed live? The average Samoyed lifespan is between 10 to 12 years, provided one meets the minimum requirements of hygiene, dietary quality, exercise, and grooming. Being a working dog, a Samoyed’s life expectancy is greatly influenced by the amount of physical activity and diet it receives through different stages of its growth and maturity.
In cases where the dog enjoys a significantly better quality of life, the Samoyed lifespan can extend up to 15 years and beyond.
How To Handle A Health Issue?
As explained in the preceding section, a number of Samoyed health problems can occur due to reasons not linked to heredity. If such a situation were to arise, what are your options? Apart from getting the dog checked by a vet, your Sammie will require the right type of diet, supplementary nutrients, and care. Additionally, regular exercise will quicken your dog’s path to full recovery.
Typical health issues Samoyed dogs can have are so many in number and complexity. So, we have picked out the most common set of problems and explain what you can do to handle them efficiently.
Samoyed puppies begin shedding their deciduous (or milk) teeth between the ages of 14 and 30 weeks. When this happens, remember to keep track of the fallen teeth, schedule an appointment with your veterinary orthodontist (in case of irregular tooth loss), and let the pup chew for its own comfort. Once their adult teeth come out (42 in total), begin brushing their teeth every day in the initial months to keep dental plaque from forming.
To further preserve the condition of your Sammy’s gums and teeth, stop giving him/her table food and instead feed a diet focused on maintaining dental health. With some Samoyeds, periodontal infection can spread in the pocket between the tooth and gum. If that happens, immediately take the dog to your vet, perform a thorough check of the dental area, and clean up any infection.
Excessive bad breath in Samoyeds can be an indication of a deeper-rooted problem that may not even be related to the mouth. For instance, a sweet, pleasant smell could be a sign of diabetes, whereas a breath that smells like urine could be a symptom of kidney disease. Any time you notice your Sammy exhibiting bad breath, combined with other symptoms like weight loss, bad mood, loss of appetite etc, set an appointment with the vet.
Fleas, Ticks and Heartworm Issues
Fleas and ticks can be a problem for Samoyeds during the summer season. Regularly brush his/her coat, and follow it up with a session of thorough combing. There are several new technologies for tick mitigation, something that your Samoyed’s doctor can help you understand well.
Your Sammy is at risk of developing heartworms if there is a high concentration of mosquitoes in your area. While a new heartworm infection may not show any symptoms, your Samoyed health risks get amplified as the disease progresses.
If that is the case, then consult your vet about starting a heartworm preventive for your Samoyed puppy, since there is no vaccine for this condition. This could typically entail giving your dog a pill every month during the year’s warm and wet period. Usually, in areas with hotter climates, vets often recommend year-round administration of heartworm medication.
Samoyeds often get exposed to worms, and more so if you live in a rural area. It is an intestinal affliction that can affect even the healthiest pups. Generally transmitted through stool, early diagnosis by a veterinary practitioner can ensure that the prescribed medication works with utmost efficacy.
Never choose a dewormer for your Samoyed because intestinal worms can vary in their makeup. As such, a hookworm-purging dewormer will not kill tapeworms and vice versa.
Samoyed health issues, like hip dysplasia and other problems related to pain in the muscles, tendons and/or joints become more common as your dog inches towards the senior years. When your Samoyed is aching or is in pain, it will be prone to displays of aggression; excessive licking of an area in an effort to ease the pain; labored breathing and squinting; hunched posture or a combination of these symptoms.
To alleviate the pain, you could try massage therapy or canine acupuncture, both of which come with other attached health benefits. Pain relief medication for Samoyeds generally opioids, NSAIDs, neutraceuticals, or a combination of them. However, you should never decide what pain medication to give your Sammy by yourself. Instead, consult your Samoyed’s doctor and follow whatever treatment path he/she advises.
Whether it spaying (for females) or neutering (for males), consider deciding before your Sammy reaches the age of six months. Samoyed health risk of breast cancer is significantly reduced in females if she goes through spaying before attaining maturity.
It also eliminates the probability of diseased uterus, which can be a traumatic experience for older female Samoyeds. Similarly, neutering can prevent Samoyed health problems like testicular diseases and hernia in a male canine during their later years.
Vaccines For Your Samoyed
Samoyed inoculation should begin when they are puppies. While some vaccines are administered once, others need to be repeated until the pup reaches the age of 4-5 months. If your puppy becomes ill during his vaccination months, you must wait for a full recovery before any inoculations can be administered.
Re-immunization or administration of booster shots is a process that is repeated over a longer time period (1-3 years). For instance, rabies are administered once to puppies, followed by a booster shot a year later and from thereon repeated once every three years.
The topic of re-immunization in the United States has been a hot button topic for some years now. And it espouses varying opinions among health officials and state bodies for what Samoyed vaccine is truly necessary, and if so, for how long should its booster shot be administered.
Based on recommendations of the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), certain vaccines are essential (known as core vaccines) for your Samoyed dog, whereas others are needed in specific cases. Then, there are shots that the AAHA does not recommend because the prevalence of the disease among pets is too low, or the efficacy of the vaccine itself is below acceptable limits.
The AAHA panel is in agreement that the shots for the following diseases should fall into the category of core vaccines for Samoyed dogs:
The non-core class of Samoyed vaccine, according to the AAHA is only necessary for situations where there is a high likelihood of exposure to the following diseases:
- Bordetella Bronchiseptica
- Lyme disease
Samoyed Vaccine Tips
Ideally, Samoyed pups are given a combination injection known as the “five-in-one” shot once when they are two months old, repeated twice again at age, 3, and 4 months. Booster shots of the same may follow this once every year, or any time frame that you vet deems necessary.
Traditionally, five-in-one shot protects against parvovirus, distemper, leptospirosis, parainfluenza and hepatitis. However, there are combination shots that include rabies, adenovirus and Bordetella.
In the rare event that your Sammy was not inoculated and is older than 4-5 months, then the young canine may require a series of two ‘five-in-one’ shots given 2-4 weeks apart and then followed by yearly booster shots. However, this is a decision that should be made by your vet.
Also, Samoyed vaccine administration and socialization should happen in tandem. Not only do socialization classes important for teaching social integration and obedience training, they also let the vaccines do the work they were intended. Think of it this way – inoculation allows your Samoyed puppy’s immune system to understand the infections it needs to fight, but all that workout only comes to fruition in a real social environment.
In the United States, vaccination laws for pets can differ from state to state. For instance, in New York, it is state-mandated for all pets older than three months to receive their rabies vaccination with the subsequent immunization in a year and then once every three years. So consult with your vet on the directives that your state has with regards to immunization shots for pets.
How often should a Samoyed see a vet?
Right from the time he/she is born till the age of 4-months, expect your vet to want to see the Samoyed pup once every month. Besides the fact that puppies get all their inoculations done in this period, it is also the age when any health or diet-related issues emerge.
The frequency of visits to the pet clinic generally drops to once every three months for Samoyeds at the age of five to ten months. During this stage, dental examinations take precedence as do the check-ups and screening for heartworm and intestinal worms.
From year one and onward, your vet would need to see your Sammy once a year, which would entail administration of booster shots; tick and flea/worm prevention prescription and stool examination.
By year six, Samoyeds step into the geriatric age. The frequency of the visits to the vet will depend entirely on the general health of the dog more than anything else. Nevertheless, senior dogs tend to visit the clinic more frequently than they did in their young adult years. As they age more, your Sammy may experience body pains, gas-related issues, and cataracts, all of which require an appointment with the vet.
How Much Does It Cost To Treat A Samoyed
Medical costs are perhaps the most expensive aspect of owning a Samoyed, or any dog for that matter as the costs quickly add up. Here are some basic procedures, and the average price associated with each treatment your Samoyed might need.
|$45 to $70 per visit|
|Flea and Heartworm treatment|
$40 to $50 per test; $400 to $1000 for treatment
|$35 to $200 single time cost|
As for specific Samoyed health issues, the following cost chart should give you a rough idea of an average cost of treatment in the USA.
|$1,500 to $5,000 per eye, depending on the product used|
for one eye
for both eyes
$1,500$ to $2,000
|Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)|
$3,400 – $3,800
$3,500 to $7,000 per joint
$1,500 to $4,000 per elbow
|Aortic Stenosis/ Sub-aortic stenosis|
$500 to $600 per echo-cardiogram
|Pulmonic valve stenosis|
$500 to $600 per echo-cardiogram
|Bloat (Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus)|
$1500 to $7,000
|VKH (Uveodermatologic Syndrome)|
$500 to $1,500 – Diagnosis only; Medication cost depends on severity of symptoms
|Diabetes (Diabetes Mellitus)|
$100 to $200 per month
$70 to $200 – the cost for tests and medication per month
Q: What to do if your Samoyed puppy’s teeth aren’t coming out?
A: Typically, all of your Samoyed puppy’s teeth should fall out by the time the dog is about seven months old so as make way for the adult tooth. However, there are times when a stubborn puppy tooth (or two) refuses to fall out when the adult tooth grows. The retained tooth is often seen with the canine teeth and on the upper row of the dog’s mouth. If that is the case, then have an experienced vet look into it, as two teeth should not ideally occupy the same slot. Otherwise, it could lead to dental ailments for your Sammy.
Q: Do Samoyeds go senile as they grow old?
A: As a person ages, their mental health begins to show signs of weakening, and it is no different from animals, let alone dogs. Thus the risk of senility can be a factor during the later years of a Samoyed lifespan. Studies cited by the American Veterinary Medical Association point to the possibility of senility in aging canines, or some form of cognitive dysfunction at the very least. If you do notice behaviors akin to senility in your Sammy, then do get the dog checked by your vet, and discuss future course of treatment, medication and care with the professional.
Q: Can spaying/neutering cause a Samoyed to gain excess weight?
A: Typically, attributes like masculinity and self-identity are things that play into the existential crisis within human beings. For instance, your Sammy is neither going to miss his male parts after neutering nor do dogs’ physiology go through massive changes after spay procedure. In fact, these procedures do not affect a dog’s weight. Granted, your Samoyed is going to have an inactive period soon after recovering from the surgery, its life would resume once it has healed and gets regular exercise. Gaining or losing weight has many other contributing factors, but spaying/neutering is not one of them.