Sadly, Rottweilers aren’t perfect. For some reason, they are particularly susceptible to canine parvovirus and must be vaccinated against it as puppies and regularly as adults. There are definitely dangers to over-vaccinating, but a rottweiler puppy should probably get one extra parvo shot for good measure. Ask your vet to use Fort Dodge parvo vaccines. Fort Dodge is proven to provide protection for two full years, even for rotties.

Another vaccination you should be sure to give is rabies (do this as seldom as the local law allows, as rabies vaccines can cause cancer!). For a list of vaccinations and other preventive care, check with your veterinarian. Some areas of the country have a higher incidence of preventable diseases than others. Ask your vet about heartworm prevention, as this deadly parasite is becoming more and more prevalent throughout the USA.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is also very common in rottweilers, mostly because of poor breeding. Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a genetic disorder that can be prevented by not breeding dogs that have it. The only way to tell for certain whether a dog has CHD is through x-ray. A veterinarian cannot diagnose it (or give the all-clear sign) without examining an x-ray, and even then, many vets will not discourage breeding of a dog with a very mild case of it. The top breeders fork over lots of cash to have their dogs’ x-rays examined by a board of experts, called the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

If your rottie has hip dysplasia, it may not be bad enough to require treatment. Some dogs with severe dysplasia don’t seem to be bothered at all, while some with a very mild case act as thought they are in tremendous pain. Consult your vet if your dog struggles or whines when getting up. (Laying with the rear legs straight out behind him/her is not indicative of a hip problem. It’s actually quite common in all breeds!)

Those of us with older or dysplastic dogs sometimes struggle with what used to be simple things like getting the dogs in and out of our vehicles. I drive a large truck, and while it’s easy for my 7 yr old to jump in and out of, the 10 yr old and the dysplastic 5 yr old need some help. Here are some ideas that you might find useful:

These home-made styrofoam steps are light-weight but sturdy enough even for big dogs: http://www.gricgoldentown.com/dog-steps.shtml

 

Telescoping, carpeted dog ramp: http://www.dogramp.com/

General Health

As simple as it sounds, the dog food we choose has the best chance of providing us with a long-lived, healthy Rottweiler. We can’t change our dog’s genes, so the best we can do for him from this point forward is to assure that he has a high quality diet that’s formulated for his individual needs. If you don’t believe there’s much of a difference between pet food brands, read this!

I chose a human-grade food because it’s the only type of commercial pet food that’s good enough for my babies. Unfortunately, not all human-grade foods are really human grade, so you have to be careful. I recommend avoiding brands which also make a non-human grade line (such as Eagle Pack, Diamond and Nutro) — there’s too much of a possibility that the ingredients could be mixed. The January 2003 issue of the Whole Dog Journal has a very good article about that.