Your Redbone Coonhound
Caring for Your Faithful Companion
Redbone Coonhounds: What a Unique Breed!
Your dog is special! She’s your best friend, companion, and a source of unconditional love. Chances are that you chose her because you like Redbones and you expected her to have certain traits that would fit your lifestyle:
- Excellent hunting dog
- Devoted, loyal, and protective
- Good watchdog with a loud bark
- Great with kids and other dogs: a true family pet
- Affectionate, easygoing, and lovable
- Intelligent and reliable
However, no dog is perfect! You may have also noticed these characteristics:
- Can be rambunctious and rowdy, especially as a younger dog
- Requires vigorous, frequent exercise and space to run
- May have a tendency to bark excessively
- Easily bored or distracted if not given something to do
- Sees cats and small animals as prey unless trained otherwise
- Can be independent and strong-willed
Is it all worth it? Of course! She’sfull of personality, and you love her for it! She is highly athletic and active outdoors, but with enough exercise and a confident owner she is a laid-back and gentle family companion.
The Redbone Coonhound originated in the Southern United States during the late 1800’s. Redbones were bred for looks as well as performance and are the only Coonhound with a solid color coat. They were bred mainly for treeing raccoons and hunting small game; they are able to cover a variety of terrain while maintaining their speed and agility. The Redbone Coonhound is an extremely vocal dog on the hunt and at home; they have a loud bay that can be heard from a great distance. Redbones are sociable, happy, and playful. They are eager to please and are more responsive to training than other hounds. Redbone Coonhounds enjoy attention from their family but are not overly demanding of affection. The Redbone Coonhound is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 11-12 years.
Your Redbone Coonhound’s Health
We know that because you care so much about your dog, you want to take good care of her. That is why we have summarized the health concerns we will be discussing with you over the life of your Coonhound. By knowing about health concerns specific to Redbone Coonhounds, we can tailor a preventive health plan to watch for and hopefully prevent some predictable risks.
Many diseases and health conditions are genetic, meaning they are related to your pet’s breed. There is a general consensus among canine genetic researchers and veterinary practitioners that the conditions we’ve described herein have a significant rate of incidence and/or impact in this breed.That does not mean your dog will have these problems; it just means that she is more at risk than other dogs. We will describe the most common issues seen inRedbone Coonhoundsto give you an idea of what may come up in her future. Of course, we can’t cover every possibility here, so always check with us if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms.
This guide contains general health information important to all canines as well as the most important genetic predispositions for Redbone Coonhounds. This information helps you and us together plan for your pet’s unique medical needs. At the end of the booklet, we have also included a description of what you can do at home to keep your Redbone looking and feeling her best. You will know what to watch for, and we will all feel better knowing that we’re taking the best possible care of your pal.
General Health Information for your Redbone Coonhound
Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And unfortunately, your Redbone Coonhound is more likely than other dogs to have problems with her teeth. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If we don’t prevent or treat dental disease, your buddy will lose her teeth and be in danger of damaging her kidneys, liver, heart, and joints. In fact, your Coonhound’s life span may be cut short by one to three years! We’ll clean your dog’s teeth regularly and let you know what you can do at home to keep those pearly whites clean.
Redbone Coonhounds are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections—the same ones that all dogs can get—such as parvo, rabies, and distemper. Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which we will recommend based on the diseases we see in our area, herage, and other factors.
Obesity can be a significant health problem in Redbone Coonhounds. It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease. Though it’s tempting to give your pal food when she looks at you with those soulful eyes, you can “love her to death” with leftover people food and doggie treats. Instead, give her a hug, brush her fur or teeth, play a game with her, or perhaps take her for a walk. She’ll feel better, and so will you!
All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your Redbone’s body, inside and out. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest herskin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into her system in a number of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your canine friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death, so it’s important that we test for them on a regular basis. We’ll also recommend preventive medication as necessary to keep her healthy.
Spay or Neuter
One of the best things you can do for your Coonhound is to have her spayed (neutered for males). In females, this means we surgically remove the ovaries and usually the uterus, and in males, it means we surgically remove the testicles. Spaying or neutering decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminates the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies. Performing this surgery also gives us a chance, while your pet is under anesthesia, to identify and address some of the diseases your dog is likely to develop. For example, if your pet needs hip X-rays or a puppy tooth extracted, this would be a good time. This is convenient for you and easy for your friend. Routine blood testing prior to surgery also helps us to identify and take precautions for common problems that increase anesthetic or surgical risk. Don’t worry; we’ll discuss the specific problems we will be looking for when the time arrives.
Genetic Predispositions for Redbone Coonhounds
You’ve probably heard of hip dysplasia, an inherited disease that causes the hip joints to form improperly and leads to arthritis: it is common in Redbone Coonhounds. You may notice that he has lameness in his hind legs or has difficulty getting up from lying down. We can treat the arthritis — the sooner the better — to avoid discomfort and pain. We’ll take X-rays of your dog’s joints to identify the disease as early as possible. Surgery is sometimes considered in severe and life-limiting cases of hip dysplasia. Keep in mind that overweight dogs may develop arthritis years earlier than those of normal weight, causing undue pain and suffering.
Not many things have as dramatic an impact on your dog’s quality of life as the proper functioning of his eyes. Unfortunately, Red Bone Coonhounds can inherit or develop a number of different eye conditions, some of which may cause blindness if not treated right away, and most of which can be extremely painful! We will evaluate his eyes at every examination to look for any signs of concern.
Entropion is a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes to rub against the cornea (surface of the eyeball). This is an extremely irritating and painful condition that can ultimately lead to blindness. It can happen in any dog breed; however, your Coonhound is especially at risk for this heritable disorder. Surgical correction is usually successful if performed early.
Ectropion is a defect where the eyelids droop or hang away from the eye. While ectropion can cause those sad looking puppy dog eyes, the problem more importantly exposes the eye to environmental contaminants and leads to irritation, drying, and can progress to eye infections. Coonhounds are a bit more likely than other dogs to show this deformity. The good news is it can usually be surgically corrected.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited disease in which the eyes are genetically programmed to go blind. Unfortunately, Redbone Coonhounds are a bit more likely than other dogs to have this condition. PRA is not painful, but also not curable. In dogs with the bad gene, early symptoms such as night blindness or dilated pupils generally begin around three to five years of age. A genetic test is available for this condition.
Coonhound Paralysis is a disease that causes rapid loss of leg function and sometimes complete paralysis but gradually improves with time. It usually occurs after a dog has received a bite from a raccoon and is thought to be caused by an immune system reaction to raccoon saliva, although it can also happen to dogs with no raccoon exposure. With intensive care and rehabilitation most Redbone Coonhounds recover over the course of a few weeks.
A relatively rare blood disorder called Pelger-Huet Anomaly can occur in your Redbone Coonhound. If he is a carrier of the disease, his infection fighting white blood cells will look abnormal microscopically, but operate normally. Puppies that inherit a copy of this abnormal gene from both parents, however, usually die before or shortly after birth. For this reason, it is important to diagnose breeding dogs who are carriers of this defect so they don’t pass it along to their offspring.
Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch her diet, make sure she gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush her teeth and coat, and call us or a pet emergency hospital when something seems unusual (see “What to Watch For” below). Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that we recommend for her. This is when we’ll give her the necessary “check-ups” and test for diseases and conditions that are common in Coonhounds. Another very important step in caring for your pet is signing up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures she will need throughout her life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Build her routine care into your schedule to help your Redbone live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine.
- Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep her out of trouble and away from objects she shouldn’t put in her mouth.
- She has low grooming needs. Brush her coat as needed, at least weekly.
- Redbone Coonhounds generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!
- Clean her ears weekly, even as a puppy. Make sure to keep her floppy ears dry. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how!
- Always walk your Redbone Coonhound on a leash, she has a tendency to run off after interesting smells.
- She’s a smart dog with lots of energy, so keep her mind and body active, or she’ll get bored. That’s when the naughty stuff starts.
- She loves the water, and swimming is a great form of exercise for your Redbone Coonhound.
- Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give her people food.
- Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for her age.
- Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.
What to Watch For
Any abnormal symptom could be a sign of serious disease, or it could just be a minor or temporary problem. The important thing is to be able to tell when to seek veterinary help, and how urgently. Many diseases cause dogs to have a characteristic combination of symptoms, which together can be a clear signal that your Redbone Coonhound needs help.
Give us a call for an appointment if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Change in appetite or water consumption
- Tartar build-up, bad breath, red gums, or broken teeth
- Itchy skin (scratching, chewing, or licking), hair loss
- Lethargy, mental dullness, or excessive sleeping
- Fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes
Seek medical care immediately if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Scratching or shaking the head, tender ears, or ear discharge
- Inability or straining to urinate; discolored urine
- Cloudiness, redness, itching, or any other abnormality involving the eyes
- Leg stiffness, reluctance to rise, sit, use stairs, run, jump, or “bunny hopping”
- Paralysis or loss of leg function
Partners in Health Care
DNA testing is a rapidly advancing field with new tests constantly emerging to help in the diagnosis of inherited diseases before they can become a problem for your friend. For the most up-to-date information on DNA and other screening tests available for your pal, visit www.Genesis4Pets.com.
Your Coonhound counts on you to take good care of her, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that she lives a long and healthy life. Our goal is to provide the best health care possible: health care that’s based on herbreed, lifestyle, and age. Please contact us when you have questions or concerns.
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- Gough A, Thomas A. Breed Predispositions to Disease in Dogs and Cats. 2nd Edition. Wiley-Blackwell; 2010.
- Crook A, Dawson S, Cote E, MacDonald S, Berry J. Canine Inherited Disorders Database [Internet]. University of Prince Edward Island. 2011. [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http://ic.upei.ca/cidd/breed/redbone-coonhound
- Breed Specific Health Concerns [Internet]. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc. [cited 2013 Apr 11]. Available from: http://www.akcchf.org/canine-health/breed-specific-concerns/?breed=redbone-coonhound