10 Common Beagle Health Issues and What to Do About Them

Written by Dr. Marcelle Landestoy, DVM

Beagles are highly attentive and energetic, making them exciting outdoor companions.

Their natural hunting skills require them to be fast, agile, and strong.

However, there are several common health issues that may affect these lovable dogs, limiting their activities.

Common health issues beagles may suffer from include eye problems like glaucoma and distichiasis and genetic issues affecting their physical development like chondrodystrophy. While some of these issues can be prevented or treated, others cannot and require special management.

In this article, I will discuss the common health issues beagles have, their symptoms, and how to diagnose and manage them.

Understanding these things can help pet parents ensure their precious fur babies are able to enjoy their best lives.



Beagles are susceptible to several eye problems, such as glaucoma.

The condition is due to the poor drainage of fluid in the eyes, resulting in increased pressure behind them. 

It can be caused by a genetic deformity in the eye’s structure, reducing fluid drainage.

It can also be a result of an eye injury. Either way, left unattended, glaucoma can result in blindness.


  • Watery eyes
  • Cloudy eyes
  • Showing discomfort by scratching or rubbing the affected eye
  • Redness on the affected eye
  • Bulging of the eyes

Diagnosis and Treatment

When you notice your beagle showing any of the symptoms above, your veterinarian can confirm whether your dog has glaucoma using a tonometer to check the pressure in their eyes.

Early-stage and less severe glaucoma cases can be treated with pain relievers to alleviate the pain from the increased pressure in the eye.

Some doctors may also prescribe medications to improve the balance between fluid production and drainage.

In severe cases, pet eye specialists may recommend surgery to prevent blindness.

It is best to consult your vet for the available treatment and management options to reduce your beagle’s pain and discomfort.


distichiasis BEAGLE

Another eye condition common among beagles is the abnormal growth of eyelashes on the tear-producing glands, otherwise known as the Meibomian glands.

This hereditary condition is called distichiasis and results in the irritation of the cornea or excessive watery discharge.


  • Eye redness
  • Corneal abrasions
  • Eye pain
  • Watery eyes
  • Squinting 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Some dogs might not show any symptoms, especially if their eyelashes are short and soft, the condition may go unnoticed.

However, long and stiff eyelashes may cause severe symptoms.

Diagnosis involves the physical inspection of the Meibomian glands to see the effect on tear production and determine the extent of damage to the cornea.

Treatment typically involves palliative care through the regular application of eye lubricant to prevent corneal abrasion.

It can also help reduce your dog’s discomfort and prevent them from pawing at their eyes.

More severe cases may require surgery to deactivate or kill off the follicles in the Meibomian glands to prevent them from producing new eyelashes.


Microphthalmia beagle

Some beagles may have microphthalmia, a developmental disorder that occurs while the dogs are in the womb, resulting in one or both eyeballs being smaller than usual. 

It can occur when a mother dog has vitamin A deficiency during fetal development.

It can also be hereditary. Sometimes, uterine infections or side effects of drugs or medications given during pregnancy may also result in microphthalmia in newborn puppies.


  • Small eye/s
  • Blindness in one or both eyes

Diagnosis and Treatment

Veterinarians usually recognize the condition after a physical inspection of one-month-old puppies.

However, pet eye specialists may require a more thorough examination to check how the condition can affect eyesight.

Microphthalmia has no cure, but many affected dogs can live normally.

However, genetic disorders resulting in the condition may also affect the other parts of the eyes, such as the optic nerve. 

If the condition is accompanied by pain and discomfort, your veterinarian may recommend palliative care using painkillers.

Always consult your vet for alternative ways to manage a dog with severe symptoms associated with microphthalmia.

Cherry Eye


Like many other dog breeds, beagles may exhibit a protruding red lower eyelid before they turn one year old.

This happens due to a condition called cherry eye or the popping out of the third eyelid gland. 

The condition can be unsightly, but, more importantly, it can be uncomfortable for your dogs.

Affected dogs tend to paw on their eyes due to discomfort and may cause corneal lacerations.


  • Red swollen protrusion in the lower eyelid

Any swelling in your dog’s eyelids is a cause for alarm.

It can sometimes be due to an infection or an even more severe condition, such as the cherry eye.

Left unattended, the swelling can get bigger and more uncomfortable, so it’s best to consult your veterinarian immediately.

Diagnosis and Treatment

A physical examination of the eye can help a vet diagnose the condition.

After diagnosis, your doctor may recommend surgery immediately to replace the affected third eyelid gland to prevent further damage to the other parts of the eye, like the cornea. 



Chondrodystrophy is a genetic mutation common among several dog breeds, including beagles.

A beagle whose parents possess gene mutations responsible for chondrodystrophy is likely to exhibit the same condition growing up. 

The condition can lead to intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), which can be fatal to dogs.

It results from the premature calcification or hardening of the nucleus pulposus or the jelly-like component of a dog’s vertebral column.

As the vertebral discs harden, they may protrude inward and squeeze against the spinal cord, affecting a dog’s motor functions, such as difficulty walking.


  • Short limbs
  • Unnatural gait or limping
  • Lameness
  • Drooping or painful neck (IVDD-associated symptom)
  • Panting
  • Incontinence
  • Lower back pain (IVDD-associated symptom)

Diagnosis and Treatment

The symptoms of chondrodystrophy can show in affected beagles as early as one year old, while the more severe IVDD symptoms can start showing when the dogs turn 3-7 years old. 

Physical exams to check commonly affected body parts can help dog parents confirm the likelihood of their dogs having chondrodystrophy or IVDD.

To get a more accurate diagnosis, veterinarians may recommend magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) because an X-ray typically does not show which intervertebral discs are affected.

Although the genetic mutation resulting in chondrodystrophy cannot be cured, pet parents can help their beagles manage the condition before it escalates to a more severe form of IVDD.

Once confirmed, vets may recommend surgical or non-surgical treatments, depending on the severity of the condition.

Dogs with mild symptoms may improve with anti-inflammatory drugs or physical therapy.

On the other hand, dogs with more severe symptoms may have to undergo surgery, which can alleviate the vertebral disc’s pressure against the spinal cord, allowing your dog to recover their motor functions.

Hip Dysplasia


Hip dysplasia is a medical issue where the joints connecting the hip and leg bones become loose or worn down.

It can be due to fetal development disorders resulting in weaker or deformed hip and leg bones or the natural degeneration of the joints in elderly dogs.

Although the condition is more apparent in larger dog breeds, beagles are also susceptible to hip dysplasia, and affected dogs typically start showing symptoms a few months after birth. 

However, some dogs with a mild condition may not have difficulty walking until they are a few to several years old, making it challenging to diagnose and remedy the situation before it gets worse.

Active dogs with mild hip dysplasia may experience more severe injuries on their hip and leg bones since they may overestimate their abilities.

It can also be challenging for pet parents to recognize if their puppies have the condition until the signs become more evident.


  • Lethargy or decreased interest in playtime
  • Awkward gait
  • Weakness on the hind legs
  • Joint pain
  • Lower back pain

The sudden onset of these symptoms, even without a prior accident or injury, can indicate that your dog suffers from an underlying medical condition that requires immediate attention.

It is highly unlikely that the symptoms will go away without appropriate medical care.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Veterinarians can diagnose the condition from x-ray results, and treatment depends on several factors, including the following:

  • The age of the dog. Older dogs with age-related hip dysplasia may receive palliative care to help manage pain. On the other hand, younger dogs may be recommended to undergo surgery to ensure they can still enjoy physical activities and exercise.
  • The severity of the condition. Early detection of mild cases of hip dysplasia can help pet parents design appropriate exercises and limit their puppies’ physical activities to avoid further damage to the bones. However, severe conditions may require hip replacement surgery or prosthetics.

Your vet may also recommend physical rehabilitation every few months to observe your dog’s recovery or to check if they’ll need more treatment.


Beagles are energetic dogs, and any pet parent will tell you they have a big appetite!

It makes them prone to obesity, especially if they cannot release their energy through playing or running.

Obesity in beagles can lead to other health issues, such as diabetes or multiple organ failure.

You may need to cut back on giving your beloved pet extra treats.


  • Excessive belly fat
  • Slow movement
  • Panting after play or exercise
  • High demand for food outside of feeding time
  • Increased thirst

Diagnosis and Treatment

Average adult beagles typically weigh 20-30 lbs (9.1-13.6 kg). Your vet can diagnose your dog’s obesity through a physical checkup and weighing them.

More tests may be required if your dog exhibits other symptoms indicating potential organ damage. 

Your vet will likely recommend cutting back on the calories and engaging your beagle in a series of exercises that may gradually increase in intensity until they reach a healthy weight.

Other medical issues resulting from obesity will require different treatment.

You must work closely with your vet until the other health issues are resolved.



Low levels of thyroid hormones in the blood can result in hypothyroidism.

It is common among beagles, and affected dogs are likely to produce puppies with the same condition.

Early detection of the condition is crucial to improving your pet’s survival rate and quality of life. 


  • Thin fur
  • Bald spots
  • Weight gain despite proper diet
  • Lethargy
  • Flaky skin

Diagnosis and Treatment

A blood test is adequate to show the blood levels of thyroid hormones.

Additional laboratory or imaging tests may be necessary to check the damage to your dog’s nervous, circulatory, and endocrine systems.

There is no cure for hypothyroidism in dogs, but pet parents can take extra measures to ensure their pets are comfortable and happy.

Your vet may recommend a levothyroxine medication, depending on the severity of the condition.

Dogs with hypothyroidism may also have a compromised immune response, making them susceptible to infections.

Consult your vet for management recommendations to address individual symptoms.



Epilepsy or seizures are common among beagles and can be alarming for any pet parent, especially the first time they happen. 

Epilepsy can be due to nutrient deficiency, microbial infection, or other underlying medical issues that need immediate medical attention.

Sometimes, it happens without apparent cause. 

Regardless of the cause, epilepsy can be dangerous, and pet parents must keep their dogs safe from a hard fall or hitting surrounding objects.

Dog seizures typically occur in three stages, including the events that occur before and after the episode, and each stage has various symptoms.


  • Whining (before and after seizure)
  • Dazed look (before seizure)
  • Collapsing
  • Drooling or foaming
  • Fainting
  • Mild to violent shaking
  • Confusion (after seizure)

Diagnosis and Treatment

As discussed, epilepsy can be due to several medical issues.

A thorough medical checkup involving blood tests, physical exams, and imaging may be necessary to identify the underlying cause.

Treating the cause can often help resolve a dog’s seizures.

However, beagles may suffer from idiopathic epilepsy, making it challenging for veterinarians to recommend an appropriate treatment.

If your dog has seizures of unknown causes, your vet may recommend management practices for when they have episodes, such as placing cushions underneath your dog’s head to prevent them from getting injured.

However, avoid putting your hand between your dog’s jaws during a seizure.

Otherwise, you risk getting injured.

Instead, your vet may recommend you place a soft chew toy to prevent your dog from biting their tongue. 

Skin Allergies


Many beagles are sensitive to numerous allergens, resulting in skin allergies.

Some common triggers that beagles are sensitive to include parasites, pollen, and specific proteins from food.

Puppies with either parent suffering from skin allergies are highly likely to show similar symptoms.


  • Flaky skin
  • Rashes
  • Dry elbows/knees
  • Itchiness
  • Redness or dryness on skin folds
  • Obsessive licking of paws or itchy body parts
  • Bald and dry patches on the ears

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis of skin allergies among beagles involves physical observation and history checking to rule out other health issues.

The treatment depends on the cause of the allergy symptoms:

  • Seasonal allergy. If your dog shows symptoms only at specific times of the year, they are likely to have seasonal allergies. Your vet may recommend keeping your dog indoors during this time. You may also need new exercises and activities to keep your dog entertained during the season.
  • Parasite allergy. Some beagles are sensitive to fleas, mites, or ticks. Eliminating these parasites will often help alleviate the symptoms.
  • Food allergy. It can be challenging and costly to determine the exact ingredient your dog is sensitive to. Your vet may recommend a hypoallergenic diet. Always consult your vet before trying out commercially available products claiming to be hypoallergenic.

Final Thoughts

Beagles are precious companion dogs who can add more life to any household.

However, like many other dog breeds, they are prone to several health problems.

Although beagles are susceptible to numerous health issues, they are mostly manageable.

Adequate care and proper management of symptoms can help you and your pup spend more quality time together.

Taking your pet to a vet for annual physical and medical checkups can help you detect health issues early and improve their chances of recovery.



  • Pet MD: Glaucoma in Dogs
  • VCA Animal Hospitals: Glaucoma in Dogs
  • UC Davis: Veterinary Medicine: Distichiasis
  • National Library of Medicine: Prevalence and Heritability of Distichiasis in English Cocker Spaniel
  • Paw Print Genetics: Microphthalmia
  • VCA Animal Hospitals: Cherry Eye in Dogs
  • UC Davis: Veterinary Medicine: Chondrodystrophy (CDDY and IVDD Risk) and Chondrodysplasia (CDPA)
  • National Library of Medicine: The Chondrodystrophic Dog: A Clinically Relevant Intermediate-Sized Animal Model for the Study of Intervertebral Disc-Associated Pain
  • Pet MD: Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: All-in-One Guide
  • American Kennel Club: Beagle
  • Universities Federation for Animal Welfare: Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals
  • American Kennel Club: Canine Hypothyroidism: No Cure, But Manageable
  • Fetch by WebMD: Seizures in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and What to Do
  • Harlingen Veterinary Clinic: Beagle

Veterinary Hospital Director at UCE
Dr. Marcelle is a general veterinarian with a Small Animal Medicine Specialty | Director of the UCE School of Veterinary Medicine | Certified by the International Veterinary Acupuncture Society

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