Maltese Health

A healthy Maltese should enjoy the normal life expectancy of around 15-16 years. With proper care and careful breeding Maltese are a generally healthy breed. However, there are some concerns that are particular to Maltese:



PawPrintLiver Shunts
PawPrintDental Disease
PawPrintLuxating Patellas
PawPrintCollapsing Trachea
PawPrintDiabetes & Cushings
PawPrintEye Issues & Tear Stain
PawPrintSkin Problems and Allergies



Liver Shunts
Liver Shunts are a problem in many small breed dogs including Maltese. Active research is being conducted through the funding of the AKC Health Foundation to find a genetic marker for this devastating disorder. While there is not yet a genetic marker, the leading researcher, Dr. Sharon Center, has developed a set of tests that can determine if a dog is affected. The first of those tests is the paired Bile Acid test. If levels are elevated on the Bile Acid test, a further Protein C test may be conducted to determine if the problem is related to MVD, a more common condition, or Liver Shunt. Further Reading.

These forms of idiopathic encephalitis are also a plague on our breed. Much more research needs to be done to determine the cause of this ailment and at present there is no reliable test that can be conducted to find this illness on a living animal. Therefore, this illness is only found after a dog presents symptoms. Further Reading.

Dental Disease

Proper dental care is important for all dogs, though there is some evidence that small breeds like the Maltese seem to have increased issues when dental care is neglected. Dental disease causes problems such as bad breath and tooth loss. In addition, evidence suggests that the constant buildup of bacteria in the dogs mouth can contribute to problems with heart disease. Further Reading.

Luxating Patellas
A common orthopedic condition among many toy breed dogs, in laymen's terms this means that the dog has a knee that pops out of joint. While many owners wait until symptoms display, any dog that may participate in performance events that require jumping should be evaluated by a veterinarian. Though they can result from injury, patella problems are heritible in Maltese and the OFA maintains a database for breeders who choose to participate in registering the dogs they have had tested. Further Reading.

Collapsing Trachea
A collapsing trachea means that there is a weakening in the rings lining up windpipe of the dog. This weakness causes the windpipe to collapse almost like a bend in a straw. Like many toy breed dogs Maltese are vulnerable to this condition. Care should be taken to protect the necks of Maltese as leash injuries are believed to exacerbate this problem. Further Reading.

Diabetes & Cushings
These two hormonal diseases affect the endocrine system of dog. Usually separate conditions, they share some common symptoms and are both chronic, requiring medication to mediate the symptoms and ensure survival. They also both usually develop in middle age. Further Reading.

Eye Issues and Tear Staining
A variety of eye conditions can affect Maltese and CERF maintains a database for breeders who wish to register their breeding dogs with the foundation. The biggest complaint of most Maltese pet owners, however, is tear staining. Maltese have tear staining for a variety of reasons. Often basic grooming, dietary and healthcare precautions can help prevent tearing. Further Reading.

Skin Problems and Allergies

Where human allergies are often exhibited in the form of sneezing and head congestion, animal allergies usually affect their skin. Skin problems from allergies may also result in hair loss or hot spots. Common allergens include pests such as fleas, dust, pollen, and food. It can be tough to determine the cause of allergies and often owners will use band-aid techniques such as steroids. If the conditions is chronic, it is important to get a diagnosis as steroids are not a good long-term management technique. Further Reading.


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