Health Problems To Watch Out For In Small Dogs

As dogs’ age, both their breed and their size are important factors in predicting what health issues they are likely to face.

Smaller breed dogs (those under twenty pounds) are considered geriatric. Some small breeds such as Maltese. Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apsos and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels are all prone to problems with one of the valves in their hearts known as the mitral valve. 

The valve becomes inefficient and blood flow backs up as the heart pumps, leading to an accumulation of fluid in the lungs. This can lead to congestive heart failure with shortness of breath and exercise intolerance.

When detected early, which is critical, the condition can be managed with restrictions on exercise and attention to diet.

Small dogs can also have dental problems due to their small jaw size. These dogs need particular attention to dental hygiene with regular dental cleanings and home bruising.

Other smaller breeds such as Welsh Corgis and Dachshunds are at risk for developing diseases and injuries of their spines as they age. Owners of these breeds need to pay particular attention to maintaining these dogs’ at a normal weight. These dogs need ramps to help them get in and out of cars and should not be allowed to jump on furniture to diminish the risk of injury.

Small dogs are so lovable so it’s important to keep their later years as comfortable and pain free as possible.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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