CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Sporting Shooter today CLICK HERE

A-Z of gundog health: D is for...

PUBLISHED: 16:21 01 July 2018

Englsih springers may be at higher risk of diabetes than some other breeds

Englsih springers may be at higher risk of diabetes than some other breeds

Copyright Jake Eastham Images

From canine deafness to diabetes, there are plenty of illnesses and coditions which can affect our gundogs. Gundog vet Vicky Payne lists those beginning with D

Gundogs are more likely to lose their hearing as they get older due to the nature of their workGundogs are more likely to lose their hearing as they get older due to the nature of their work


Many gundogs start to lose their hearing as they get older. Studies have shown that being housed in a noisy kennel can affect hearing in the same way as loud noises can affect human hearing. The effect of gunshot on dogs has not been studied, but as the noise can cause hearing loss in humans it seems likely dogs can be affected too. Peg dogs are probably at highest risk as they are closest to gunshot.

Temporary hearing loss can occur if the ears become blocked with infection, ear mites, or wax. Ears should be checked once a week for discharge and smell. Untreated infections can cause rupture of the eardrum or infection of the middle ear which could lead to permanent deafness.

Some puppies are born totally or partially deaf. This congenital deafness is most often associated with dogs with white ears and unpigmented skin.

Deafness can be difficult to spot in dogs as they are usually reacting to multiple cues when we give them commands. Home tests for deafness include clapping or rattling food in a bowl out of sight of the dog and getting a friend to observe if the dog reacts. BAER (Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response) testing can confirm deafness or be used to screen puppies and is available in some veterinary hospitals.


Diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) is relatively common in dogs. It is usually seen in middle-aged or older dogs and often in dogs who have been overweight. It can also occur after treatment with steroids, or with Cushing’s disease (see last month: C). Labradors, golden retrievers, and English springers may be at higher risk.

In diabetic dogs, the pancreas can’t secrete enough insulin to send glucose from the bloodstream into the cells. This high blood sugar, and the reduced supply of glucose to cells, results in symptoms including lethargy, weight loss, excessive drinking and excessive urination. Advanced cases can develop cataracts and nerve problems, and diabetes can be fatal if untreated.

Your vet can diagnose diabetes through blood and urine tests, and management will usually include changes to their diet and insulin injections.

Diabetic dogs can still work, though careful management of their food intake and insulin dose on working days is required.


Normal faeces should be sausage-like and easy to pick up. Dogs vary in how often they go each day, so learn what is normal for your dog. If the faecal consistency becomes soft and is passed more frequently than normal, this is diarrhoea.

There are many causes of diarrhoea including stress, hard work, changes in food, bacterial infections from bad food or water, viral infections and systemic diseases. By far, the most common causes are stress/hard work – and eating disgusting things!

If your dog is well, and the faeces are formed but soft, try a probiotic paste before you head to the vet. The best ones combine ingredients to bind toxins and dry up the diarrhoea with pre- and probiotics to restore healthy gut bacteria. If your dog is lethargic, the diarrhoea continues for more than three days, or the diarrhoea is watery or bloody contact your vet immediately.

Diarrhoea is more serious in puppies and older dogs who may become dehydrated quickly. Parvovirus is a potentially fatal cause of profuse watery bloody diarrhoea in puppies; ensure breeding bitches and puppies are appropriately vaccinated to reduce the risk.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Sporting Shooter visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Sporting Shooter staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Sporting Shooter account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Most Read

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter

SSA Membership

SSA Membership


Browse our galleries for our latest shooting images. We have posted photos from beating to wildfowling for everyone to enjoy…


Visit our online shop and get the best deals on magazine subscriptions, shooting DVDs and books…