The Maltese breed is a fairly hardy one with a long average lifespan of between fifteen and eighteen years. And with few health issues, most owners spend more money on grooming than vet bills. This does not mean, however, that the breed is without any problems. All breeds have some health issues that owners or potential owners should be aware of. The following are the top three health concerns for your Maltese.
#1 – Heart Diseases
Heart disease is becoming a real problem in the Maltese breed. The two most common are patent ductus arteriosus (PMD) and mitral valve disease (MVD). PMD is when the ductus arteriosus does not close at birth, causing blood to be diverted in abnormal patterns throughout the heart. Blood will flow from the aorta to the pulmonary artery and then into the lungs. This can cause a host of issues including congestive heart failure or thickening of the blood. MVD is when the mitral valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle begins to fail. This is a one-way valve that is supposed to keep blood from flowing backward. The first sign of MVD is a heart murmur. While there are medications to improve health, MVD is eventually fatal.
#2 – Eye Disease
Maltese are prone to variety of eye diseases including tear duct disorders, corneal ulcers, eyelash abnormalities, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and glaucoma. Some of these are caused by their long hairs getting into their eyes, so regular grooming to keep face hairs short can drastically reduce the risk of some of these issues, including tear stains cause by an over-production of tears and corneal ulcers.
#3 – Hypothyroidism
Up to 22 percent of Maltese have hypothyroidism, ranking them at the 9th highest out of 140 breeds in the Michigan State University Thyroid Database. A simple blood test can determine whether your Maltese has it and if they do, your vet can put them on medication to help them live a normal life.