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The Most Common Small Dog Breeds Health Problems

The Most Common Small Dog Breeds Health Problems
Dog breeds weighing less than 22 pounds qualify as small breeds. Generally, they are shorter than sixteen inches.
Common examples of small breeds are – Chihuahua, Dachshund, Yorkshire terrier, and Beagle.

They are excellent choices if you want a companion dog or live in a tiny apartment. However, know that small breeds come with their own set of health problems that you need to be on the lookout for. Don’t think that because of their small size they won’t need regular exercise.

Many breeds are highly energetic which requires regular channeling via exercise so they don’t run out of the apartment. Others like to just lie on the couch. Size can’t always be an indication of their energy levels. This is why it’s advised to choose a dog/breed that fits your lifestyle.

Let’s now move on to the most common health problems of small breed dogs -

• Intervertebral Disc Disease or IVDD

Advancing age and injuries are two leading causes of this health issue. Dogs with short legs and long backs like a Dachshund are at an increased risk of IVDD. The spine has vertebrates that are cushioned by discs. A sudden rupture or herniation of these discs can trigger myriad clinical symptoms such as stiffness and/or neck/back pain.

Dogs with IVDD can also have trouble walking, running, and performing other movements. Sometimes it can even lead to paralysis. 

In terms of the treatment, you may have to give your dog crate rest and make certain lifestyle changes. Medication and even surgery are also other options. Your vet will evaluate various factors (age, general health, the severity of the situation) before devising a treatment plan. Make sure to buy a comfortable dog chain and leash to avoid straining your dog’s back.

• Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

It mostly links to the respiratory and airway conditions. Brachycephalic breeds (those that have flat, short noses like pugs and bulldogs) are more prone to this issue. This is mostly a genetic condition. But, things like allergies, obesity, hot weather, and over-excitement can exacerbate it.

Elongated soft palate, narrow nasal passage, and obstruction of the upper airway are general respiratory issues linked with this syndrome.

Common symptoms are – excessive painting, snoring, rapid breathing, trouble eating, loud breathing, and even collapsing. Though you can manage mild cases with lifestyle changes, severe cases may require preventative/corrective surgery. 

• Ectropion

This condition entails droopy eyelids where you can see the pink tissues sitting underneath the white of the eye. Although it’s usually genetic, Ectropion can also be a symptom of some other disease/condition. 

Typical symptoms include – constant eye pawing, brown stain underneath the eye, discomfort, protruding eyelids, etc. Ointments and eye drops should treat a mild case of ectropion. However, for severe cases, surgical intervention may be the only viable option.

• Pancreatitis

Although all kinds of dogs can develop this condition, small dogs in particular like miniature poodles and Miniature Schnauzer are more prone to it. This condition involves an inflamed pancreas where the pancreatic enzymes start leaking into the abdomen causing fats and proteins of the surrounding organs to break down.

Common symptoms include – abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and fever. Depending on the severity of the condition, you may have to opt for medical supplements and fluid therapy. Call your vet to get an approved diet (generally low-fat). The vet may also monitor the condition to avoid exacerbation.

• Dental Health Issues

Small breeds generally have uneven and crooked teeth. It means it’s that much easier for tartar and plaque to build-up leading to all kinds of periodontal diseases.

Although with regular brushing and cleaning, you can manage most dental issues; more severe ones may call for medical intervention. Your dog’s reluctance to eat, a shy head, and blood on his toys may be few indications of an undiagnosed periodontal disease. Know that dental health issues may not always exhibit any major signs/symptoms.

• How To Keep Small Breeds Healthy 

Regular care and visits to the vet should largely help manage most health problems that small breeds are prone to. A yearly appointment with a vet might do the job when they are small. But, as your dog ages, you may have to visit twice a year.

Pay special attention to maintaining a good diet involving high-quality foods. Also, ensure regular exercise and energy levels. Make sure your dog gets enough sleep (ideally 14 hours a day), but it’s not a thumb rule. Opt for an orthopedic dog bed once your dog enters the ‘senior hood’.
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