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Know the Signs: 5 Most Common Health Issues in Malteses

Written by: Arlene D.
| Published on May 24, 2023

The Maltese breed, adored for their gentle and friendly disposition, make wonderful companions. However, like all breeds, Malteses are susceptible to specific health problems. It’s crucial to recognize the signs early to ensure the best possible care for your furry friend.

  1. Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation, common among small breeds, involves the dislocation of the kneecap. This condition can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from intermittent limping to severe lameness, depending on the severity of the dislocation.

Watch for signs such as a sudden yelp during play, intermittent skipping, or favoring one hind leg. If untreated, it can lead to arthritis or even lameness, but with early detection and treatment, which may include surgery, many dogs lead normal lives.

  1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is a degenerative eye disease that eventually leads to blindness. In Malteses, the disease typically progresses slowly, starting with night blindness and gradually affecting daytime vision.

Early signs include bumping into furniture, reluctance to go outside at night, or dilated pupils. While there is currently no cure for PRA, early detection can help manage the condition and prepare your pet for vision loss.

  1. White Shaker Syndrome (WSS)

WSS is a neurological condition, frequently seen in small breeds with white coats, including Malteses. It’s characterized by generalized tremors, unsteady gait, and rapid eye movements.

Signs of WSS often start suddenly and can include shaking or tremors, difficulty walking, and abnormal eye movements. While the cause is unknown, with proper medication, dogs with this condition often lead normal, healthy lives.

  1. Dental Disease

Malteses are particularly prone to dental issues due to their small mouths, leading to overcrowded teeth, plaque buildup, and eventually periodontal disease. Dental disease can cause severe discomfort, tooth loss, and complications like heart disease if left untreated.

Signs of dental disease include bad breath, difficulty eating, drooling, pawing at the mouth, and red or swollen gums. Regular dental check-ups, at-home tooth brushing, and dental chews can help prevent this common issue.

  1. Collapsed Trachea

A common issue in small breeds, including Malteses, a collapsed trachea is characterized by a weakening of the tracheal rings in the windpipe. This can lead to coughing, difficulty breathing, and intolerance to exercise.

Signs of a collapsed trachea can include a dry cough, often described as a “goose honk,” difficulty breathing, and blue gums due to lack of oxygen. In severe cases, surgery might be necessary, while others may manage symptoms with medication and lifestyle modifications, such as using a harness instead of a collar.

In conclusion, it’s essential to recognize these common health issues in Malteses to provide your pet with the best possible care. Regular veterinary visits, proper dental care, a healthy diet, and moderate exercise can go a long way in preventing these conditions. Knowledge is the key to prevention; understanding these potential health issues will help ensure your Maltese leads a long, healthy, and happy life.

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