Conditions known in the Alaskan Malamute Breed

    Canine bloat, or gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), affects mostly large and giant breeds and
    is found in the Alaskan Malamute. In cases of gastric dilatation, the stomach fills with gas.
    Increasing pressure prevents the gas from escaping by compressing both ends of the
    stomach. Most cases involve gastric volvulus, in which the stomach twists, cutting off the
    openings to and exits from the stomach.

    Bloat is extremely painful and life-threatening. Almost one-third of dogs will die, or must be
    euthanized following a bloat episode. Dogs suffering from volvulus cannot swallow, belch or
    vomit, and they will drool and show increasing discomfort as stomach gases expand. The
    pressure causes the abdomen to distend, and the stomach may feel very hard or make a
    noise like a drum when tapped.

    Known risk factors include a deep, narrow chest, old age and feeding one large meal of dry-
    type food daily. It is best to manage this latter risk by feeding smaller, more frequent meals. If
    you suspect your dog is bloating, get him to the vet immediately-bloat is an emergency!
    When the dog is affected by dilatation but the stomach has not twisted, the vet will insert a
    stomach tube down the throat to allow gases to escape. In cases of volvulus, in which a tube
    cannot reach the stomach via the esophagus, a hollow needle will be inserted through the
    gut wall. When the dog has recovered, it is advisable to have the vet perform gastroplexy, in
    which the stomach is tacked to the gut wall to prevent it from twisting in the future.  Without
    this surgery, an affected dog is at dramatically increased risk of torsioning in the event of a
    repeat incident.  Dogs that have bloated and survived are a high risk to bloat again.

    Source: Developed from information obtained from "Risk Factors for Canine Bloat", Jerold S.
    Bell, DVM

    Hypothyroid Disease:

    This Disease may be inherited. Not easy to identify. Chronic or temporary illness,
    reproductive hormones,drugs, obesity can affect the test.
    Veterinarian my suggest test thyroid test, which is down through a blood test, if your pet has
    gained weight or having chronic skin infections or in breeding dogs experiencing
    reproductive difficulties, especially if the animal lacks energy and has a dull coat. Symptoms
    are lethargy, mental lassitude, weight gain, dull coat, skin infections, constipation, diarrhea,
    cold intolerance, skin odor, hair loss, greasy skin, dry skin, reproductive problems,
    aggression and more. Treatment is a simple supplement based of the levels and may
    require retest to make adjustments.

    Day Blindness:

    Also know as Hemeralopia. In an Alaskan Malamute it is that the dog is blind in bright light.
    This is an inherited problem.

    Hip Dysplasia-

    Meaning an abnormality in the development of the hip joint. Usually an imperfection of the
    ball or socket assembly in the pelvis. The degree of imperfection can vary from mild to
    severe. Alaskan Malamute being a larger breed are susceptible to dysplasia.  It can be
    inherited, may feel it is polygenic ( many genes involved) and influenced by the environment.
    Some are not badly affected and can lead normal and happy lives but should not be breed.
    The Orthopedic Foundation for Animal ( OFA) and Penn Hipp are two ways of screen for this
    problem. Certifications can be giving on the parents after the age of 2 years old for OFA and
    younger with Penn Hipp.  I personally feel that inbreeding and line breeding contribute to
    this but that is my personal opinion.

    Hot Spots:

    Can start out as a small spot, sometimes brought about by moisture and can spread quickly.  
    Treatment would be to shave the area and depending on the size you can apply ointment or
    in some cases the doctor my medicate and antibiotic's. Malamutes have a  thick coat and
    this can come about from not rinsing well after a bath , licking an area excessively and it has
    also been know to be cause from corn or wheat allergies. Corn , wheat and beef allergies
    can also cause ear infections and loose stools.

    Holistic approach :
    Grapefruit seed extract, found in most health stores is an effective antibacterial agent. Dilute
    to 33 percent extract in five to six parts water and spray directly on hot spot. The unpleasant
    taste of grapefruit seed extract is helpful to discourage a dog from further licking and
    chewing of the spot.

    Apple Cider vinegar can be sprayed on a hot spot diluted half and half . Spray on
    surrounding area to discourage bacteria growth and soothe the skin.  Repels fleas and ticks
    as well.


    No one wants to wish this on anyone. Seizures are not alway hereditary. Some rescue are
    exposure to toxins, some are the indication of underlying disease, and some are the results
    of an injury. In some cases if there is no permanent brain damage the dog will stop after
    treatment.  Idiopathic epilepsy is considered to be genetic. But it is not easy to diagnose.  
    Usually not fatal but if they occur in clusters the dog may be prone to develop a condition
    called status epilepticus which is continuous, uncontrollable seizures.  Continuous seizures
    can lead to exhaustion, hypoglycemia, hyperthermia, oxygen depletion, brain damage and
    eventually death.  

    Pemphigus foliaceus :

    Autoimmune skin disorder

    Peripheral vestibular disease:

    Abnormal function of the vestibular nervous system associated with abnormal


    A genetic condition involving the development of growth plates in the legs,
    resulting in stunted or deformed growth.  Forelegs can become short, squat, and
    bow inward under the body.  With study in the late 1990 dwarfism is rarely seen
    outside the test breeding.

    Snow Nose or Bad pigmentation:

    This can appear during the cold months but disappear during the warmer months.
    Mostly carried are dogs  with white genes and lighter colored dogs. Some times is
    due to a Zinc deficiency but not alway.  I have also seen this a lot in inbreed dogs.
    Protection from the sun and cold may be advised.
    Yeast over growth problems:

    Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA)
    In dogs with autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA), the immune system destroys red blood cells faster than new ones can be produced. The result is anemia, or
    reduced red blood cells, which means less oxygen is circulated to the tissues. This disorder is occasionally seen in the Alaskan Malamute.

    AIHA is most common in middle-aged dogs, and it is more often found in females than in males. Evidence of disease ranges in severity -symptoms can be mild and
    hardly noticeable, or severe symptoms may come on suddenly. Vague symptoms are common and include poor appetite, weakness, listlessness and lack of energy.
    The dog's gums may be pale, or they may be yellowish due to jaundice as a result of the breakdown of red blood cells. A dog with AIHA may have a rapid heart beat
    and rapid breathing. One form of AIHA (cold agglutinin disease) causes circulation problems. The ear or tail tips, or feet may become infected and dark in color.

    A veterinarian will draw blood for testing to determine if a dog is anemic. Diagnosis of AIHA is made by ruling out other causes of anemia and identifying antibodies
    on the surface of the red blood cells. Corticosteroid treatment can slow the destruction of red blood cells. Blood transfusions are needed when the red blood celllevel
    is critically low; transfusions can buy the dog some time while his/her own blood cell levels are recovering. Severely affected dogs may die even with the best
    treatment. This mostly
    occurs in the first few days since the onset of the episode due to kidney, liver, or heart failure, or because of a bleeding problem.Dogs that recover from an episode of
    AIHA may experience future relapses.

    Dogs that have been diagnosed with AIHA should not be used forbreeding.

    Chondrodysplasia is a genetic disorder in which puppies are born with bone deformities, which may become evident in abnormal shape and length of limbs as they
    grow. Also known as "dwarfism,"chondrodysplasia is caused by a simple recessive gene, which means that both parents must carry this gene to produce an affected
    (chondrodysplastic) puppy.

    In very young puppies (under six weeks of age), the deformity is usually impossible to detect without x-rays, even to the practicedeye. Chondrodysplastic dogs
    (dwarfs) can be affected in varying degrees. Some adults may appear almost normal, perhaps just unusually small, while others may have a disturbing resemblance
    to a Bassett hound. Chondrodysplastic malamutes can vary in size, just as normal malamutes do.

    After it became obvious in the 1970s that chondrodysplasia has a simple recessive pattern of inheritance, a test-breeding program was implemented by the AMCA to
    distinguish carriers from non-carriers. While the program has been the source of occasional controversy, there is no doubt that it has been highly effective in limiting
    numbers of carriers of chondrodysplasia in the breeding population. The AMCA chondrodysplasia certification committee is still active today and has been working
    with the Alaskan Malamute ResearchFoundation to produce a DNA test that will simplify the task ofidentifying carriers and non-carriers.

    Coat funk is a disorder found in malamutes and a few other breeds, such as Pomeranians, Samoyeds, and Keeshonds. Veterinary dermatologists simply call the
    condition "alopecia X" because no one knows much about its cause or cure. In malamutes, the disorder appears to be inheritable, because many such dogs can be
    traced back
    to ancestors who had the disorder.

    Coat funk causes the guard coat in affected dogs to become dry and brittle, eventually breaking and falling out. The wooly undercoat, thus exposed, can become dry
    and matted, and it, too, may eventually come out, leaving the skin bare in spots. Bare skin tends to turn black, though it does not seem to itch or bother the dog. Care
    should be taken to prevent sunburn or frostbite.

    Symptoms vary widely, but one common aspect of all coat funk dogs is that they test negative for other "look-alike" disorders, such as allergies, hypothyroid or
    Cushing's disease. Indeed, the only way to diagnose coat funk is to rule out other possible causes for a coat problem. It does happen occasionally that a dog may
    have coat funk and another disorder, such as allergies or hypothyroidism. The dog's coat should return to health once the other problem is successfully treated.
    Suspect coat funk if the coat continues to worsen.

    Dogs with diabetes mellitus are unable to use carbohydrates/sugars normally. In a healthy dog, certain cells in the pancreas produce insulin to regulate sugar
    uptake into cells throughout the body. In some forms of diabetes, the cells do not produce insulin, while in other forms insulin is produced, but body tissues do not
    Diabetes is found in Alaskan malamutes.

    While diabetes is hereditary in some cases, genetics is only one of many causal factors. Severely affected dogs usually have apparent symptoms by six months of
    age - pups drink and eat excessive amounts, but develop very slowly. Increased urination and soft stools are seen.

    In other dogs, diabetes mellitus does not develop until middle age. Higher levels of glucose in the blood and urine cause increased eating, drinking, and urination,
    with weight loss. This can lead to the development of cataracts, liver disease, and pancreatitis. Many diabetic dogs also are more susceptible to bacterial infections,
    particularly of the urinary tract. Untreated diabetic dogs will develop ketoacidosis, a state of insulin deficiency aggravated byensuing hyperglycemia, dehydration, and
    acidosis-producing derangements in intermediary metabolism. Ketoacidosis is indicated by depression, weakness, vomiting, and irregular breathing patterns.

    To diagnose the condition, a veterinarian will look for elevated levels of glucose in the blood and urine. Ketones also may be present in the urine. A complete
    laboratory work-up also should be done to determine if any other condition may be causing or contributing to, or occurring as a result of, the diabetes mellitus .The
    standard treatment for diabetes mellitus is supplemental insulin, with a goal of normalizing blood glucose levels and minimizing variation in those levels. Diet
    changes and exercise
    usually are recommended. Emergency treatment for dogs with ketoacidois includes intravenous fluids and fast-acting insulin. Once the animal is stable, a regular
    regimen of longer-acting insulin, diet, and exercise can begin.

    Epilepsy, which is found in the Alaskan malamute, is the occurrence of repeated seizures. These seizures indicate that brain disease is present. A dog can have a
    classic "grand mal" seizure, or a partia lseizure (also known as simple or complex focal seizures).

    When a typical grand mal seizure begins, the dog stiffens and falls, then begins jerking movements. The dog cannot control its bladder or bowels during a seizure,
    and may urinate or defecate. The dog is not conscious during a seizure, though its eyes may remain open. A grand mal seizure usually lasts about two minutes. More
    serious seizures can occur in clusters, in which the dog seizes again and again in succession, sometimes culminating in a continuous seizure that doesn't stop
    (status epilepticus).

    Simple focal seizures are characterized by twitching, most commonly in the face. The pet is alert and aware while this is happening, and often becomes confused.
    The seizure may stop there, or it may become a classic grand mal seizure. Complex focal seizures may cause the dog to run uncontrollably; engage in senseless,
    repetitive behavior; or, rarely, fly into a rage. These types of seizures often are accompanied by a grand mal seizure.

    Anything that injures the brain in the right area can cause epilepsy. If the cause of the seizures can be determined, the dog has symptomatic (or secondary) epilepsy.
    If the cause can't be determined, the dog has idiopathic (or primary) epilepsy. Many idiopathic epileptics have inherited epilepsy, meaning that their
    epilepsy is caused by a genetic mutation inherited from their parents. Malamutes with idiopathic epilepsy frequently begin seizing between one and three years of

    Seizures can have a number of causes; therefore, a single seizure does not indicate inherited epilepsy. Common causes include toxins(such as those found in
    some plants and pesticides), metabolic diseases and physical brain injury (for example, trauma or a tumor). Diagnosing idiopathic epilepsy is a process of
    elimination. If yoususpect your pet is having seizures, your veterinarian can perform various tests to try to determine the cause, including physical and neurological
    examinations, a complete blood count (CBC), routine serum chemistry profile, urine analysis, bile acids assay andthyroid function tests. Affected animals should not
    be bred.

    Dogs with hypothyroidism have impaired production and secretion of thyroid hormones resulting in a decreased metabolic rate. The disorder may be acquired (a
    progressive deficiency of thyroid hormone) or congenital (present at birth). The acquired form is the most common in dogs and appears to be widespread in Alaskan
    malamutes, though we need more data to determine its exact prevalence.

    Found most commonly in dogs aged four years or older, the disorder is the result of gradual atrophy of the thyroid gland or progressive replacement of the thyroid
    gland with lymphocytes due to an autoimmune process (lymphocytic thyroiditis). The disease tends to run in families and is therefore thought to be genetic, though
    the exact mode of inheritance is unknown. Affected dogs should not be bred.

    A broad range of clinical signs make hypothyroidism a challenge to diagnose. Early signs include lower energy levels, unusual episodes of aggression, and
    increased susceptibility to infections. As the disease progresses, the dog may develop symmetrical hair loss, darkening of the skin, or dry or greasy hair. Other
    clinical signs include a slow heart rate, lethargy, difficulty maintaining body temperature, mental dullness, exercise intolerance, infertility, constipation and weight
    gain. A dog may exhibit all or only a few of these symptoms. When hypothyroidism is suspected, ask the veterinarian to do a complete thyroid assay.

    Standard treatment consists of thyroxin supplementation once or twice a day for life. Within a week of starting treatment, the dog's attitude and activity levels should
    improve, although improvement in the skin and coat can take up to six weeks or more. With treatment, all symptoms should eventually disappear. If they do not
    consider whether your dog may have been misdiagnosed. Because the symptoms are similar to those present in a variety of other disorders, hypothyroidism is
    among the most overdiagnosed of canine diseases.

    Hip Dysplasia
    Hip dysplasia is a genetically determined disease that causes a malformation of the hip joint. Faulty joint function leads to varying degrees of arthritis (also called
    degenerative joint disease). Degenerative joint disease can eventually result in considerable pain and debilitation in affected dogs. Hip dysplasia is caused by
    multiple genes, but scientists do not yet know which genes or exactly how many of them are involved.

    No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. Multiple environmental factors can worsen the severity
    of clinical signs and speed deterioration in the hip joint, including excess weight, accelerated growth rate, and high-calorie or improperly supplemented diets.

    Be alert for any stiffness in the dog's hindquarters, difficulty in getting up or lying down, or yelping or whimpering when moving the rear. There appears to be little
    correlation between the severity of radiographic changes (those seen on an x-ray) and a dog's actual mobility and comfort level. Many dysplastic dogs with extremely
    malformed hip joints and severe arthritis can run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong, yet other dogs who show very little joint deterioration on film are noticeably

    By the time osteoarthritis shows up on an x-ray, dysplastic changes are irreversible and usually degenerative. If a dysplastic dog has secondary arthritis and pain,
    most owners elect an initial treatment of weight control and exercise management. Studies have shown that up to 76 percent of severely dysplastic dogs with arthritis
    secondary to HD are able to function relatively normally and live comfortable lives with conservative management.

    Numerous drugs and alternative drug therapies known as "disease-modifying osteoarthritis agents" are available to control the signs of arthritis secondary to HD.
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and glucosamine supplements are among the most popular interventions. Several surgical procedures are currently
    available to help certain categories of affected dogs. An orthopedic specialist can help determine whether surgery is a good option for your dog. Prior to initiating any
    therapy, make sure that your veterinarian gathers a complete medical history and performs a thorough physical examination to help determine the best treatment for
    your dog.

    Because hip dysplasia is relatively common in malamutes, responsible breeders screen dogs for this disorder before using them in their breeding programs. The
    Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) evaluates x-rays and assigns a rating and clearance number to dogs two years and older with normal hip conformation.
    When inquiring about purchasing a puppy in the United States, expect the breeder to produce clearance certificates issued by the OFA for both parents. Another
    legitimate certifying body is Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHip), but this program is relatively new. At this time, most malamute breeders still use OFA.
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