For as well as humans have adapted to the ever-changing world over the last few million years, we’re still afflicted with a lot of really weird medical issues. People develop physical anomalies all the time (you’ve seen people who can’t stop growing, right?) and others fall into emotional and psychological disarray.
But bizarre medical issues are not left to humans alone: these 10 strange syndromes affect only our beloved pets and other wild animals trouncing around the animal kingdom. After checking out the medical hardships some animals face, some serious human issues won’t seem so bad…
1. Balloon Syndrome: Like the name of this condition implies, balloon syndrome occurs when a hedgehog puffs up so much it begins to resemble an inflated balloon. Scientists don’t fully understand the disorder, but they do know it occurs when air becomes trapped under the animal’s skin.
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Some speculate balloon syndrome may occur as the result of a punctured lung, so when the hedgehog breathes it’s actually sending air under its skin. By puncturing small holes on the body, vets can release this built-up air until the hedgehog’s lungs have fully healed.
2. Black Dog and Black Cat Syndrome: According to most animal shelters, black dogs and black cats are less likely to be adopted than non-black animals. This is likely due to the fact that dark-colored animals typically lack distinguishing features, making adopters less apt to notice them.
However, this phenomenon may actually be a result of the superstitions surrounding black animals. Black cats are most commonly associated with witchcraft and bad luck, while some believe that black dogs are actually vampires in disguise.
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3. Floppy Trunk Syndrome: The name of this disorder may sound funny, but its effects are deadly for the suffering animal. Floppy trunk syndrome causes elephants’ trunks to go limp, making it difficult for them to eat and putting them at risk of starvation.
This condition is caused by heavy metal poisoning. If an elephant ingests a large amount of concentrated lead – commonly found in dry riverbeds – the nerve endings in its trunk will become paralyzed, rendering the appendage useless.
4. High-Rise Syndrome: This disorder refers to the act of cats falling from great heights. Cats are known to scale tall objects and high places, but doing so puts them at great risk of falling, which happens quite often.
Surprisingly, cats are more likely to get injured from a fall of less than two stories than one of a greater height. This is because falls of more than two stories allow the cats more time to land on their feet, whereas a short fall does not give such luxury.
5. Rage Syndrome: Also known as sudden onset aggression, dogs suffering from this disorder will suddenly attack anyone around them, especially if approached while sleeping. Remarkably, most dogs suffering from rage syndrome won’t recall an attack if one does take place.
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Unlike some of the others on this list, rage syndrome is a genetic disorder. Springer Spaniels are most likely to suffer from this condition, but Dobermans, Poodles, and even Golden Retrievers are known to exhibit symptoms of rage syndrome.
6. Irritable Male Syndrome: A disorder typically observed in Soay sheep, reindeer, and other male animals with seasonal breeding patterns, irritable male syndrome occurs as a result of low testosterone levels. Male animals will become nervous and aggressive, attacking almost anything that irks them.
Unsurprisingly, this phenomenon also occurs in human males between the ages of 40 and 60. Considered by researchers to be the male version of menopause, these men are prone to sudden fits of anger, irritation, and hostility.
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7. Limber Tail Syndrome: Also called acute caudal myopathy, limber tail syndrome causes a dog’s tail to go completely limp. This disorder occurs when a dog engages in tiring activities or gets exposed to cold water, which prevents blood from reaching the tail and causes it to swell.
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This syndrome is particularly painful for afflicted dogs, and most sufferers will refuse to sit, eat, or even relieve themselves because of the pain. Luckily, the condition isn’t permanent and will usually pass after a few days.
8. Domestication Syndrome: This syndrome is indiscriminate, meaning that no one species is more susceptible than others. Domestication syndrome is caused by the domestication of an animal, leading to droopy ears, lighters coats, and smaller brains, among other notable traits.
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Russian farmer Dmitry Belyaev was the first to notice this phenomenon after he began domesticating silver foxes in the 1950s. After breeding them through 20 generations, he discovered the foxes had lost most of the traits possessed by their wild counterparts, leaving them docile and ill-equipped.
9. Small Dog Syndrome: This condition is most prevalent in – you guessed it – small dogs. Any dog suffering from this disorder will typically become overly aggressive when around other dogs or humans, growling and biting at anything they perceive to be a threat.
Animal experts believe that small dog syndrome is fueled by the behavior of the pet’s owner. If an owner becomes lax with a dog’s training and allows it to get away with things a larger dog would not, this reinforces the bad behavior and may lead to this disorder.
10. Berserk Male Syndrome: Another disorder that causes sudden fits of aggression, berserk male syndrome causes animals such as llamas, alpacas, and peacocks to attack anything in their paths. This condition is caused by pet owners that allow these animals to stay around them when they are young.
Being around humans from a young age will cause these animals to view their owners as members of their pack, which can become dangerous once the animal reaches adulthood. A territorial animal suffering from berserk male syndrome will attempt to attack anyone who invades their personal space.
11. Short-Spine Syndrome: As dog owners, we want to know our furry friends are as healthy and happy as possible. Besides only wanting the best for our beloved companions, caring for animals with health problems can be difficult.
That being said, there’s absolutely no reason a dog with a special condition—who may look different from others—can’t be provided with proper care and affection! That was certainly the case with one sweet dog named Cuda…
When animal control officer Julie LeRoy responded to a call about the abandoned puppy, she realized she was unlike any she’d ever encountered. Cuda had a serious underbite (just like her namesake), and that wasn’t all…
Julie knew if she didn’t adopt her, the dog would likely be euthanized. So, that’s exactly what she did! As soon as she brought Cuda home, the dog immediately fell asleep next to her cats. Julie immediately knew Cuda felt safe in her new dwelling, despite her strange deformity…
At first, Julie’s husband was hesitant about adopting Cuda since the couple already owned several pets, but after spending some time with her, he knew it was the right choice for their family. Cuda didn’t take long to warm up to them, either!
Julie began to research Cuda’s strange appearance, which she suspected had to do with inbreeding. She began a Facebook page in hopes it would lead to some information about Cuda’s condition…
Still trying to understand her adopted pup, Julie attended lots of events over the next several months. She even entered Cuda into the World’s Ugliest Dog Competition! She thought Cuda’s unique shape would certainly be the talk of the contest.
Cuda didn’t end up winning the competition, but Julie introduced Cuda to lots of people while she was there. Everyone who met little Cuda absolutely adored her, and no one cared that she didn’t look “normal!”
After the competition, Cuda’s Facebook page became more popular. Eventually, people all around the world began to reach out to Julie about her dog’s condition, hoping to help answer her questions. That’s how Julie learned about Quasi, a dog living in Italy who looked a lot like Cuda…
Quasi’s owner told Julie that the condition was known as “short-spine syndrome.” Dogs affected by it are born with shortened spines and ligaments. When Quasi was born, she was unable to move her head and needed ligament surgery in her knees.
Quasi’s owner revealed that her pup actually won World’s Ugliest Dog in 2015. That’s right—she took home first place! Cuda was in better company than anyone suspected, but there was still a lot Julie wanted to learn about the condition…
Quasi’s owner directed Julie to an academic paper entitled “Historical Evidence of an Unusual Deformity in Dogs (Short‐Spine Dog).” Apparently, the condition had been documented as early as the 17th century!
An artist named David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl even painted several dogs afflicted with what he believed to be quite the bizarre deformation, referring to the animals as “monster of wolf and dog” and “monster of fox and dog.”
In South Africa, dogs with this genetic mutation were known as “baboon dogs” because of their shape and the similarly hunched posture that both animals seemed to take while they walked…
This rare genetic phenomenon was also discussed in a series of articles written between 1956 and 1961 about a Japanese dog with the syndrome. It seemed that, throughout history, this condition fascinated all who saw it.
A paper by Elaine Ostrander called “Genetics of the Dog” (published in 2001) confirmed what Julie suspected all along: short-spine syndrome was linked to inbreeding. It not only affected the dogs’ quality of life but females’ ability to have puppies as well.
As time passed following Julie’s discovery, more and more people reached out to her about other special pups with short-spine syndrome. One such pooch was named Mojo, a dog who lived in Ohio.
The owner of another dog with short-spine syndrome, Pig, from Alabama, connected with Julie. Before long, Julie realized she’d brought together an entire community of dogs and their owners thanks to Cuda.
Most dogs like Cuda can live long, happy lives despite their condition, but inbreeding is a dangerous practice that puts these poor animals’ lives at risk. Thankfully, Cuda and her friends were adopted by loving humans and can live the life they deserve…
Despite Cuda’s physical maladies, she was still a loving and amazing dog, and Julie wouldn’t trade her for the world. Short-spine syndrome might look startling at first, but these animals just want what every other dog has: love!