Some Pomeranian health issues are common to most toy breeds, such as dental disease. That's because the full set of 42 adult teeth must fit in that little mouth. Poms are subject to many of the same orthopedic problems as many little dogs, but some genetic conditions Poms share in common with their much larger Northern breed relatives. That's especially true of a disorder that can devastate a Pom's coat.
Pomeranian puppies might experience bouts of low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia. Toy breed puppies require frequent feedings, perhaps five or six daily. If they miss a meal or go for several hours without eating, their blood sugar levels can drop dramatically, causing a life-threatening situation. Symptoms of hypoglycemia include lethargy, lack of coordination, seizures and even collapse. Your vet can give you a supplement to rub onto your puppy's gums if he experiences a hypoglycemic episode, but he still needs veterinary attention.
Pom puppies are born with a fontanel, a soft spot on the top of the skull. This should close within a few months, and certainly by the time the dog is full-grown. If the fontanel doesn't close, it leaves the Pom vulnerable to a brain injury from trauma, or it could signal that a dog has hydrocephalus, or "water on the brain." There is no treatment for a fontanel that doesn't close, and such Poms shouldn't be bred.
Your Pom's furry coat is his crowning glory. If he develops alopecia X, a genetic issue resulting in hair loss, you might see more skin than coat on his little body. Also known as black skin disease, an affected Pom usually starts losing his hair by the age of 3. Although the bald spots can end up spreading over most of the body, it's not an itchy condition, so secondary bacterial infections are generally not an issue. Your vet will conduct various blood tests, especially hormone testing, to ensure the dog isn't suffering from Cushing's disease or hypothyroidism, which also cause hair loss.
Treatment includes spaying or neutering intact dogs, since the loss of sex hormones might cause hair regrowth. Your vet also might recommend melatonin, a nutritional supplement sold as a sleep aid. Use of this supplement may benefit hair growth over time. If this doesn't work, you and your vet can decide to use certain hypothyroid medications, which might result in hair regrowth, but at possible risks to your pet's health. Alopecia X might look awful, but the dog is in no pain and is generally healthy otherwise.
Like many toy dogs, Poms are prone to luxating patellas, or slipped kneecaps. Many times, mildly luxated patellas can be pushed back into place, but serious cases require surgical correction. Poms might be born with hip dysplasia, a condition resulting from a malformed hip joint. It can cause early arthritis symptoms. Severe cases need surgery. Leggs-Calve-Perthe disease reduces the amount of blood the femoral head of the hind leg bone receives, resulting in cell death and leg shrinkage. This, too, requires surgery so that the dog can walk normally. The operation of choice is removal of the femoral neck and head.
Other Common Conditions
Other common diseases affecting the breed include hypothyroidism, or insufficient thyroid hormone. This usually affects middle-aged and older Poms. Your vet can treat this endocrine condition by prescribing a daily thyroid hormone pill. Poms might suffer from heart disease, with congestive heart failure a particular concern. Regular checkups allow discovery of a heart issue early on, perhaps leading to preventive medication. Always walk your Pom on a leash attached to a harness, not the collar. That can help prevent tracheal collapse, a weakening of the fibrous rings in the windpipe. Serious cases require surgery. Poms often experience seizures, with the cause usually unknown, a hereditary condition known as idiopathic epilepsy. Your vet can prescribe medication for seizure control.
- American Pomeranian Club: Pomeranian Health Concerns
- Veterinary Partner: Alopecia X
- Embrace Pet Insurance: Pomeranians
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Pomeranian
- The Pomeranian Club: How to Assess for Insufficient Closure of the Fontanel
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Toy Breed Hypoglycemia
- The Greenwood Veterinary Clinic: Open Fontanels in Dogs
- Photo Credit Laures/iStock/Getty Images
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