You Make The Diagnosis: Weimaraner

Weimaraners are a fun and sometimes stubborn breed with a lot of personality.  Originally bred for hunting, they have become a popular pet.  It is easy to see why after working with Jade, the Weimaraner pictured below.  She came into the clinic with a pitiful expression on her face.  After her examination was complete, her eyes brightened and she stretched out on the floor with her front paws crossed.  As I said before, Weimaraners have a lot of personality.

Unfortunately, some members of this breed suffer from a serious health problem that often appears between 12 and 15 weeks of age.  Name the disease.

Diagnosis:  Weimaraner Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Weimaraner immunodeficiency syndrome is a serious problem.  Affected individuals usually present with life-threatening infections between 12 and 15 weeks of age when the maternal antibodies are gone.  Symptoms vary depending upon where the infection is located but most exhibit fever, lethargy and anorexia.  If joints are infected they become swollen and painful.  

So far, the exact cause of Weimaraner immunodeficiency syndrome is unknown.  It is thought that affected pups may not produce the antibodies IgA and IgG or that one of their white blood cells, the neutrophil, is not functioning correctly.  In any case, be very careful when vaccinating a young Weimaraner.  Using a live vaccine with multiple antigens might trigger this syndrome. 

In my experience, most dogs who have Weimaraner immunodeficiency syndrome die or are euthanized before one year of age.  If they reach adulthood, affected individuals are subject to chronic infections that require long term treatment with antibiotics.  Fortunately, Jade is a healthy girl and having survived this trip to the vet, she should have a great life ahead of her. 

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.