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Toy Dog Health Articles

Below: The dog illnesses or medical problems listed for the Maltese and toy dogs arecompiled by various vets.
Please use the Read more..... links for more information compiled about these health issues.

Maltese dogs are basically a healthy breed.
Don’t let the list below scare you! These are dog illness and medical issues toy breeds are prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians and artcles at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. *The information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Patellar Luxation-Hind leg limping or raised—An unusually shallow spot on the femur and weak ligaments or misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint. This allows the knee cap (patella) to float in and out of position. It can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your Maltese has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several dogs have had the problem and if you reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, you’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg. Read more.......
  • Hypertrophic Pyloric Stenosis—A narrowing of the opening into the small intestine. The dog will vomit food and water after eating. Usually seen in puppies. Generally a problem for the breeder. Read more.......
  • Distichiasis—An eye condition involving the cornea. Eyelashes, growing improperly on the inner surface of the eyelid cause corneal ulcers due to the constant rubbing and irritation. The problem is fixed by having the vet remove the lashes if the ulcers don’t heal. Read more.......
  • White Shaker Syndrome—A problem found in small white dogs. The affected dog’s head and body actually “shakes” - sometimes mildly and in other dogs, a lot. Commonly found in the Maltese, Poodle and Westie. The shaking can incapacitate the dog, cause her paws to land where she didn’t intend, cause rapid eye movement. Cause is unknown. Medication is given to relax the dog which helps. Tremors are reduced when the dog relaxes or sleeps. A vet must be seen for this rare disorder.
    Read more.......
  • Open Fontanel—Hereditary. The Skull bones don’t close completely at birth leaving an opening on top of the skull. This condition is often associated with hydrocephalus which is too much liquid around the brain causing pressure and swelling. Increased pressure can prevent brain tissue development and there will always be a “soft spot” on the skull. Read more.......
  • Hypoglycemia—Small dogs and Toy breeds as well as puppies, are especially prone to hypoglycemia because they are already small and have no space to store glucose so any dip in the level is a big problem. The brain must have sugar to function, but has little space to “store” the glucose/sugar hormone. Abnormally low blood glucose, or sugar, causing lethargy, weakness, lack of coordination, SEIZURES, loss of nerve control and the Maltese may even become unconscious in severe occurrences.The solution is small, Nutri-Cal and frequent meals each day and a few treats tossed in. Read more.......
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosis—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposes to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.
    Read more.......
  • Hydrocephalus—An excess of spinal fluid built up in the brain caused by an obstruction in the fluid pathway. Congenital Hydrocephalus is most common and occurs shortly after birth. A number of things can cause it. Adult dogs can get it from tumors or infections in the brain. Some neurological signs are seizures, loss of coordination, unusual behavior, walking in circles, and blindness. Doctors have various tests to detect this disorder so don’t fool with it if you suspect something is wrong. Read more.......
  • Valvular Heart Disease—Usually older dogs. A progressive disease. Heart valves thicken and degenerate. Symptoms include difficulty breathing, reluctance to exercise, fainting, excessive coughing, no appetite, constant fatigue. See vet immediately for treatment program!
  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your vet right away. Read more.......
  • Portacaval Shunt—Hereditary in origin, neurological and other serious problems are caused by a tiny embryonic blood vessel that exists within the liver before birth to disintegrate after birth allowing fluids to flow where they shouldn’t. Symptoms include central nervous system disorders and undersized, underweight puppies are also suspect. Medical and surgical remedies are in place. If a puppy survives surgery, there is a chance for it to live a good life. Read more.......

Other health problems can occur in your Maltese. If you notice anything unusual with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. *This web page is for general information only and is not intended to be a medical guide.

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