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Beagle Health


Overall, the Beagle is a very healthy breed, they have an average life span of 13 years, but can live quite a bit longer with excellent care. This breed is sturdy, strong and less prone to canine disease than many other dog breeds.

However, as with all breeds, there are some conditions which develop with the Beagle more than others. This does not mean that your dog is going to have any of these conditions. This means that an owner should be aware of them in order to keep an eye out for the symptoms. Early diagnosis is the best step for successful treatment. So, let's look at the issues and concerns that an owner may have.
Before Buying 

If you are looking to obtain a Beagle puppy and are purchasing from a breeder, please be sure to check references and ask for proof of health certificates for sire and dam. We recommend AKC registrable pups, since the AKC has much stricter guidelines and checks for breeders than the CKC (Continental Kennel Club - not to be confused with the reputable Canadian Kennel Club).

The puppy should be up-to-date with all vaccinations, have had at least 1 de-worming (sometimes 2) and have a health guarantee (most guarantee against genetic defects that would cause serious medical issues).

Keeping Your Beagle Happy and Healthy

There are many things that you can do, over the course of your Beagle's life, to keep him or her at their healthiest.

New Beagle Puppies-

Plan the introduction to the home - this can be a stressful event for the pup. While it's a happy time, it can be overwhelming for any pup to leave their littermates, the dam and the only home that they knew.
healthy Beagle puppy
Snoopy, 6 months old
Photo courtesy of owner Silvia Martinelli
Make sure that you know the exact food that the breeder (or previous owner) was feeding your Beagle. If you plan to change brands or to switch to home cooking, do this as a gradual change, over the course of 3 or 4 weeks.

Locate an excellent veterinarian, preferably one who has experience with Beagles and the health problems that can occur with this breed. If you are unhappy with the vet, don't hesitate to find a new one. You should feel comfortable with and trust the professional who will be in charge of your Beagle's preventative care and handling any potential health issues.

On Going Preventative Health Care-

Plan to spend at least $500 per year on care. This is to keep your Beagle updated in regard to vaccinations, purchase any needed medications, provide chews, toys and care elements such as a proper bed and more. Try to have a little "rainy day" money set aside for any emergency issues, since the very nature of emergencies issues is that they occur without warning.

Take time to meet daily exercise needs since this breed does well when living indoors with his human family, yet needs daily exercise to stay fit and healthy. A daily walk (or two) along with outside cardio exercise keeps the body in good health. Offer fun activities: Running around in the dog park, hiking over forest trails, jogging along the beach, etc. Generally, a Beagle will be thrilled to join you in any outdoor setting. 
healthy Beagle dog 20 months old
Pippa, 20 months old
Photo courtesy of owner: Matt 
Keep meals healthy and don't let snacks be an afterthought as some dogs can end up eating more calories in snacks than they do from meals. Raw baby carrots are a great alternative to manufactured chews. 

Provide a good sleeping and resting area - while a dog will snooze on a floor, this can wear on bones, joints and muscles. Offer a quality orthopedic canine bed which will allow your Beagle to sleep in comfort and allow the body to rejuvenate while doing so. 

Stay up-to-date regarding known health problems with this breed, so that you can be aware of early symptoms. When in doubt about any issues, sign or symptoms, please seek the advice of a professional veterinarian as it is not worth risking your Beagle's health and early detection is the first key in resolving conditions and finding the right treatment.  
The Following are Conditions that this Breed can be Prone to:

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

This is an intestinal disease that can be chronic (long term).

The Symptoms:
  • Diarrhea or very soft bowel movements, which may come and go
  • Elimination more than usual
  • Only passing a small amount of feces at a time
  • Straining when trying to eliminate
  • Visible bloating of the Beagle's stomach
  • Excessive gas
  • Abdominal discomfort - Your Beagle may not want to run around or play and may want to retreat to his bed for another quiet spot to rest
  • Occasional nausea and vomiting
  • A change to the Beagle's diet
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Anti spasmodic/tranquilizer combinations for abdominal bloating and pain
  • Medication to minimize gastrointestinal gas
Home Care and Prevention

It will be important to give your Beagle all prescribed medications and to follow meal changes. Do not feed table scraps or other non-approved foods, including rawhides which are potentially harmful treats. If conditions do not improve after treatment has started, it will be important to bring your Beagle back to the veterinarian. Because stress may play in this disease , potential stressors in the home environment should be identified and minimized.

Anal Gland Tumors

These glands are found anywhere around the dog's anus, at the base of the tail and surrounding the male genitalia. Perianal gland tumors are often benign and occur frequently in male, un-neutered dogs. Female dogs can be affected, These tumors are dependent on testosterone and will often disappear on males after neutering. In less than 5% of the cases, perianal gland tumors are malignant (fast growing).

The Symptoms: 

The first sign s a lump near the Beagle's anal glands. The area may be red in color. Your veterinarian will do an ultrasound, blood tests and a test of the urine. These often to not cause pain, but may cause a sensation that prompts the Beagle to lick the area; sometimes compulsively. 


The most common treatment is surgery for removal of the tumor; sometimes followed by radiation and chemotherapy.

Tip: Secretion from the anal glands does not indicate a tumor. All dog have a set of anal glands, 1 on each side of the anus. These are usually not noticeable.  They hold an oily substance that is released in tiny amounts when dogs meet each other as a marking and identification signal among canines.  Even now and then, they may become engorged (filled with too much fluid) or impacted (the fluid begins to solidify).  Signs of this other than visually seeing the glands being larger, is that a dog will scoot his/her rear across the grass or carpeting in an attempt to relieve the discomfort.  Sometimes the skin will break open when a dog does this and not only will the fluid break out, it will release a very over-powering stench.  If you notice that the glands are swollen, the groomer or the vet can attend to this.  If the glands pop open, the broken skin will be vulnerable to infection. 
Bladder Cancer

The most common bladder tumor in dogs is a malignant (progressively worsening) tumor called transitional cell carcinoma. This cancer usually develops from the inside surface of the urinary bladder in the dog.

  • Blood in the Beagle's urine
  • Straining to urinate
  • Increased frequency of urination with just a small amount of urine coming out at one time
  • Straining while eliminating
  • Having a difficult time exercising as normal
  • Difficulty breathing or coughing

Your veterinarian may refer you to an canine oncologist (a veterinarian that specialized in cancer). Treatment for urinary bladder cancer may include one or more of the following:
  • Surgery - For small masses confined to certain locations in bladder.
  • Chemotherapy
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug piroxicam (Feldene) has been shown to work during the treatment of dogs with transitional cell carcinoma. In one study, tumors shrunk in approximately 25% of dogs.
Home Care and Prevention
  • You will want to closely watch your Beagle for symptoms after treatment has begun, as they may point to additional tumor growth.
  • Avoid dipping your dog with flea and tick control products more than two times per year . This can possibly increase the risk of developing bladder cancer.

This is a malfunction of the Beagle's thyroid gland which greatly affects the dog's metabolism. This can develop at any age, but most commonly occurs with older dogs.

The Symptoms:
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Fur loss- the fur may come out in patches or it may appear as if the Beagle is shedding a lot more than normal.
  • Weakness- Your dog will not show enthusiasm to go for walks, play outside, etc.
This can be a very serious canine health condition, which left untreated can lead to coma and eventually be fatal.


Medication must be given. Thyroid hormones are man-made and can be given in tablet form. There are many forms of this, however one of the most widely used forms is levothyroxine sodium. Your vet will begin your Beagle on a certain dose, knowing that it will need to be adjusted. Too high of a dose can cause excessive thirst and diarrhea and too small of a dose will not resolve the issue.
black and white Beagle photo
Smoothie, 6 years old
Photo courtesy of owner:
Mick Brinkmann - Mick Adam Images

Seizures are actually a symptom and with the Beagle breed it is most often a sign of Primary Epilepsy (although other causes range from hypoglycemia to head injury). You can read more here: Beagle seizures.


Studies are still being run on figuring out more details of this canine health disease. This causes the heart of a Beagle to beat erratically. This is also more commonly known as an arrhythmia. This can happen randomly with no way of knowing when or how long it will happen for.

The Symptoms:
  • Fainting
  • Coughing

This can be fatal if the Beagle's heart keeps skipping enough to enter an unstoppable uneven rhythm. This is rare, but can happen when the dog's heart skips 100's and sometimes 1000's of times in a 24 period. However, in most cases anti-arrhythmic medication will control this.

Eye Problems

Even though this breed does not have protruding eyes as some other breeds, Beagles commonly have eye problems including cataracts, glaucoma and progressive retinal atrophy, cherry eye (the 3rd eyelid prolapses over).

Take note of any eye issues including:
  • Red, bloodshot eyes
  • Excessive eye discharge
  • A clouding of the eye(s)
  • Swollen tissue around the eye area
  • Itchiness
You may also be interested in:

Grooming a Beagle - From baths to brushing, how to keep your Beagle looking great, with healthy skin & a quality coat.
Beagle Tail Issues - Itching, chewing, injury, hold, set, color and more.
What to feed a Beagle - The food that your Beagle eats for both meals and snacks will have a direct impact on the puppy or dog's health.
Beagle Bad Breath Remedies - Reasons why halitosis may be a problem and how to resolve this.
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