Irish Setter Health Issues: Ailments to Watch Out For

Are you planning to get an Irish setter, or would you like to know about the general Irish setter health issues? Either way, it’s best to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms common in these dogs. You’ll be able to address your Irish setter’s health concerns fast—keeping them healthy and happy over time.

See the most common health issues in Irish setters below and how to address each one.

Irish Setter Health Issues – The 12 Most Common Ailments

irish setter health issues

Like any purebred dog, Irish setters can develop many health issues in their lifetime. Although most are minor and don’t need immediate attention, some can be a concern. From hip & elbow dysplasia to laryngeal paralysis, here are common Irish setter health issues:

✅ Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

An Irish setter’s hips and elbows are prone to dysplasia. It’s an inherited disease that affects the dog’s joint growth. Irish setters affected can develop joints wrongly, which often leads to arthritis. Luckily, this health issue isn’t something that would affect your Irish setter instantly. 

Still, it can affect how your dog functions. After all, hip and elbow dysplasia can cause stiffness. And this can be an issue for your Irish setter as it ages. When left untreated, Irish setters will experience lameness in their legs. So, it’s best to treat hip and elbow dysplasia in Irish setters early. Although there’s no set time, it’s better to do it earlier to reduce pain and discomfort. 

If too late, don’t worry, as hip and elbow dysplasia are curable via surgery. But only opt for this during severe or life-limiting instances.

✅ Bone Pain

Growing Irish setters can experience painful inflammation on their leg bones. This specific health issue is called eosinophilic panosteitis. It often begins when an Irish setter reaches 6 to 10 months of age. And this can affect all your dog’s legs, shifting from one to the other. Luckily, as painful as this condition is, it won’t cause permanent damage to your Irish setter. 

Still, most vets recommend medication to help your dog fight the pain. Meanwhile, if your Irish setter has developed a gait, it might need rehabilitation. 

Remember that you can also prevent bone pain on your Irish setter by giving them a proper diet. Aside from that, it would be best if you tried to let your Irish setter exercise regularly to keep the dog fit and pain-free. 

✅ Gastric Torsion (Bloating)

Gastric torsion or bloating is one of the Irish setters’ most common health issues. And that’s all thanks to this breed’s narrow chest. Although bloating isn’t much of an issue, it’s a different story for Irish setters.

When an Irish setter’s stomach bloats, their stomachs twist on themselves—filling them with gas. And this action can cut off the blood supply in your dog’s stomach and spleen. This condition can be fatal to your Irish setter if unaddressed, and sometimes it can kill these dogs as fast as 30 minutes! So, if you see any symptoms of gastric torsion, bring your Irish setter to the ER quickly. 

You may also opt for preventive measures like surgically tacking down or suturing the stomach to prevent twisting. 

✅ Megaesophagus

When an Irish setter’s esophagus isn’t contracting like it’s supposed to, it can stretch out a lot. As a result, the food gets stuck in the esophagus instead of going down to the stomach. You can tell its megaesophagus if your Irish setter starts throwing up tube-shaped portions of their food. Aside from that, this condition can also be dangerous as dogs affected with megaesophagus inhale small bits of their food by accident, eventually leading to pneumonia. 

Luckily, you can take several measures to manage this health issue. From specialized feeding positions to dietary changes—these are the things that can help you stop your Irish setter’s esophagus from stretching. 

✅ Thyroid Problems

Irish setters are vulnerable to thyroid issues, especially hypothyroidism. It’s a condition where your dog’s body doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormones. And the common symptoms of hypothyroidism in Irish setters are the following:

  • A sudden drying of the skin and coat
  • Unexplained hair loss
  • Fearfulness
  • Sudden aggression
  • Unexpected weight gain

If you spot any of these signs on your Irish setter’s behavior, bring them to the vet immediately! Luckily, treatment is simple and only requires medication. 

✅ Neurologic Issues

Many neurological diseases can affect an Irish setter. 

One of those is called the “wobbler syndrome” and can happen when the dog’s vertebra is narrowing. When this occurs, your Irish setter’s vertebrae may accidentally pinch its spinal cord. And this will never have good results. After all, dogs need their spinal cord to send signals to the brain, and when the latter doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, expect issues to arise. Common symptoms of wobbler syndrome are:

  • Unstable hind legs
  • Frequent stumbling
  • Falling 

Luckily, you can still cure your Irish setter of “wobbler’s syndrome” via medications, neck braces, rehabilitation, or surgery. 

Another common neurologic condition in Irish setters is called “degenerative myelopathy.” It’s a disease that can cause weakness and faulty nerve function in the dog’s hind legs. You must pay attention to symptoms such as sudden weakness in the hind legs. If not, you’re risking your Irish setter getting paralyzed. 

Unfortunately, there’s no cure for degenerative myelopathy in Irish setters. Still, exercises, acupuncture, dietary changes, and rehabilitation can help!

✅ Allergies

Allergies in Irish setters can cause their skin to itch. This skin allergy is called “atopy,” and it’s typical for this dog breed, young and old. Usually, this affects the Irish setter’s stomach, skin folds, ears, and feet most. You should be able to see symptoms of atopy in Irish setters when they reach 1 to 3 years old. And unfortunately, this might get worse each year. 

Here are common signs of atopy in Irish setters:

  • Excess licking of the paws
  • Sudden rubbing of the face
  • Unexplained ear infections 

Once you spot any of these on your Irish setter, bring your dog to the vet ASAP. They should be able to provide you with the best treatment for your dog’s allergies. 

✅ Dental Diseases

Dental diseases are among the most chronic health issue in Irish setters. It affects 80% of the breed by age two and often starts with excess tartar build-up. If left untreated, that tartar can progress to gum infection or root of their teeth. The earlier you address dental health issues in Irish setters, the better. If not, your dog will lose their teeth early on—putting them at risk for kidney, heart, and liver damage. 

Also, you should know that an Irish setter’s life span can be cut short due to dental disease by about 1 to 3 years! So, remember to have your Irish setter’s teeth cleaned regularly by the vet. And you may also ask them what you can do to keep your dog’s teeth healthy, clean, and white!

✅ Infections

Irish setters are prone to viral and bacterial infections. And like most dog breeds, Irish setters are at most risk for parvo and rabies. Fortunately, bacterial and viral infections in dogs are treatable. Still, it’s better to prevent your Irish setter from getting infected in the first place by getting them vaccinated! 

You can help your Irish seter avoid most of these infections through vaccinations, which your vet will recommend based on the diseases common in your state, your dog’s age, and other factors. 

✅ Obesity

Obesity can be a massive health issue for Irish setters when left unaddressed for a long time. It can lead to or worsen existing joint conditions, metabolic or digestive disorders, bone pain, and heart disease. So, as tempting as it is to give your Irish setter treats whenever they do something cute, don’t. Instead, reward your dog with cuddles and playtime!

✅ Eye Problems

Eye issues are among the most debilitating conditions an Irish setter can experience. After all, it dramatically impacts the dog’s overall quality of life. And unfortunately, Irish setters are prone to inheriting or developing many eye conditions. Some can only cause temporary discomfort, while others can permanently blind your dog! 

Here are common eye problems in Irish setters you should be aware of:

  • Cataracts. This eye issue is the reason for blindness in many older Irish setters. Fortunately, many dogs adjust relatively well, even when losing their eyesight! But if you want to help your dog, you can also opt for surgery to remove the cataract.
  • Progressive renal atrophy. This is an inherited eye disease in which your dog’s eyes are destined to go blind due to genetics. Luckily, this eye condition isn’t debilitating. But it doesn’t have a cure. 
  • Entropion. It’s an eye condition where the Irish setter’s eyelids roll inward, causing their eyelashes to rub against their eyeball. Although not life-threatening, this can be incredibly painful and irritating for your dog. 

✅ Laryngeal Paralysis

Another health issue common in senior Irish setters is laryngeal paralysis. It’s a condition where the dog’s vocal cords get paralyzed, forcing them to hang down into the airways. As you can see, this can be fatal when left unaddressed. So, if you notice your Irish setter breathing loud when doing strenuous activities or under hot weather, bring them to the vet fast! 

Fortunately, this health issue can be corrected via surgery, so you must be diligent and keep an eye on your Irish setter. 

How to Keep Your Irish Setter Healthy? Tips to Prevent Common Health Issues

Irish Setter, Love For Animals, Stroke

Since Irish setters are susceptible to several health issues, you should always keep an eye on your dog as an owner. Here are some proven tips to help you keep your Irish setter healthy and disease-free:

✔️ Know the Common Irish Setter Health Issues 

Although Irish setters are a healthy breed but still susceptible to some health issues, these dogs are vulnerable to hip problems, epilepsy, bloating, or bone cancer. Being on top of all these things can help you spot if there’s something wrong with your Irish setter ASAP. As a result, you can address the health concern fast and prevent it from worsening!

✔️ Keep Your Irish Setter in a Controlled Diet 

Consult your dog’s vet to know how much food is best for them and prevent obesity. If you notice your Irish setter suddenly gaining weight, cut down on the treats and other snacks. I recommend giving them a controlled diet of 1 to 2 cups of food daily. 

✔️ Pay Attention When Your Irish Setter is Eating

Since Irish setters are susceptible to gastric torsion or bloating, it’s best to pay attention when eating. You can watch your dog and see if they’re recklessly eating their meals. I suggest doing this diligently, as bloating can be fatal in Irish setters. After all, as I mentioned earlier, bloating can twist your dog’s stomach and stop blood flow!

✔️ Ensure Your Irish Setter is Getting Daily Exercise

Ensuring your Irish setter gets at least one to two hours of exercise daily can guarantee the dog’s health and fitness over time. This simple gesture can protect your Irish setter against health issues like hip dysplasia or bone pain. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Do Irish setters have health issues?

A: Irish setters are prone to many health problems owners must keep an eye on, like bloating or hip dysplasia. And given the wide Irish setter varieties, they’re bound to face at least one condition. Still, these dogs are healthy and don’t often develop health issues. 

Q: What are the common Irish setter health issues?

A: Irish setters are prone to developing gastric torsion or bloating due to narrow chests. Aside from that, they’re also vulnerable to osteosarcoma due to their genetics. Other health issues common in Irish Setters are hip dysplasia and retinal atrophy. But despite all these, Irish setter dogs are generally healthy and live up to 15 years!

Q: How long does an Irish setter live?

A: Irish setters usually leave anywhere between 12 and 14 years. Throughout their lives, these dogs only develop minor health issues. So, owners don’t need to do much to keep Irish setters healthy and in their best conditions. At most, you only need to bring your Irish setter to the vet bi-annually. 

Q: What do I need to know about Irish setters before getting one?

A: To keep your Irish setter healthy and fit over time, you must ensure they get some exercise. After all, Irish setters are large dogs that are naturally outgoing and energetic. Aside from that, this also prevents your do from developing health issues like hip dysplasia. Try bringing your Irish setter for an hour or two walk daily if you can. 

Q: How much exercise does an Irish setter need to stay healthy?

A: Irish setters are active breeds and must participate in many physical activities. These energetic dogs need long walks daily and off-lead running in broad and open areas. Most experts suggest giving Irish setters at least 2 hours of exercise daily.  

Final Words

We’re aware that because you care so much about your Irish setter, you’d naturally want to take care of them! Familiarizing yourself with the common Irish setter health issues as mentioned should be able to help you help your dog ASAP. Knowing the health concerns specific to this breed lets you tailor preventive health plans to keep your Irish setter healthy and disease-free!