Archive : July

Lakeland Terrier

A relative of the Bedlington and Fox Terriers, the Lakeland Terrier was originally used for fox hunting. Playful and quick, the Lakeland Terrier makes a great companion for active and fun-loving owners. It could easily spend all day outdoors, exploring and playing, if it has a nice, indoor home to retreat to and rest at the end of the day.

Physical Characteristics

The small, square-proportioned, short-backed Lakeland Terrier has a sturdy build resembling a workman. Its deep and narrow body allows the Lakeland Terrier to squeeze itself through narrow passages after the quarry, and its long legs enable it to run fast and travel through the tough shale terrain of the mountain countryside, where the Lakeland Terrier originated. The ground covering and smooth gait of the dog has good drive and reach.

This terrier’s double coat is comprised of a hard and wiry outer coat, which comes in a variety of colors including blue, black, liver, red, and wheaten, and a soft undercoat. Its expression, meanwhile, ranges from happy to intense or playful, perfectly reflecting its mood.

Personality and Temperament

Although reserved with strangers, the Lakeland Terrier may act overtly aggressive towards small animals and other dogs. This stubborn, independent, and clever breed can become mischievous at times, too. Therefore, the sensitive Lakeland Terrier requires a patient trainer and one that incorporates playful games.


The Lakeland Terrier’s wire coat requires combing once or twice a week. Shaping and scissoring should be done about four times a year. Stripping is good for show dogs, while clipping suits pets. Clipping also helps in softening the coat and lightens the color.

A moderate leash-led walk or an energetic game in the yard is all this active dog needs to satisfy its exercise requirements. But when given a chance, it loves to wander around, investigate, and hunt. And although the dog enjoys spending its day in the yard, it should be given plenty of time to rest indoors at night.


The Lakeland Terrier, which has an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years, is prone to minor health concerns such as lens luxation and distichiasis, and major health issues like Legg-Perthes disease and von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD). A thorough eye exam is recommended for the Lakeland Terrier.

History and Background

Farmers of the Lake District in the United Kingdom were the first to keep Lakeland Terriers, using them as well as packs of hounds to hunt foxes. The Lakeland Terrier was also successfully at chasing and exterminating vermin and otter. Despite the lack of documentation for the breed, it is believed the Lakeland Terrier shares a similar ancestry with the Bedlington, Fox, and Border Terriers.

Originally referred to as Elterwater, Patterdale, and Fell Terrier, it was formally recognized as the Lakeland Terrier in 1921. The American Kennel Club would later register the breed in 1934. Today it is considered an important dog show competitor and a fun-loving pet.

Heartworm Disease in Dogs

What Is Heartworm Disease in Dogs?

Dirofilaria immitis is the organism that causes heartworm disease not only in dogs, but also in cats, ferrets, and other mammals. It is a large worm, reaching up to a foot or more in length, and as it completes its life cycle, which takes about six to seven months, it ends up in the heart and pulmonary vessels, where it can live for several more years. As the heart becomes clogged with worms, there is less blood it can push out to the rest of the body, and heart failure can result.

Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

The severity of the infection will be related to the symptoms present, and symptoms of heartworm disease are related to the organs affected: the heart and lungs. Symptoms often include:  



Exercise intolerance  


Sudden death   

Some dogs may show weight loss, difficulty breathing, and even excessive panting. Left untreated, dogs may go on to experience right-sided heart failure and ascites (buildup of fluid in the abdomen).

Causes of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

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Mosquitoes serve as the primary vector (carrier) for transmission of heartworm disease; transmission cannot occur from one dog to another. As mosquitoes bite and take a blood meal from an infected host, they ingest circulating microfilariae, or young immature heartworms. Inside the mosquito, the microfilariae undergo three stages of larval development (called L1, L2, and L3).  

When the same mosquito bites a dog, the L3 is deposited onto the dog’s skin, and it then migrates into the dog’s body and develops into L4. Then as an L5, it migrates throughout the tissues and bloodstream, winding up in the heart, where it takes up residence as an adult. This entire process usually takes about four months to complete. 

A few months later, around 7 months of age, the adult females become sexually mature, mate, and produce microfilariae. The commercially prepared tests to diagnose heartworm disease in the veterinary hospital detect antigens (proteins uniquely found on the surface of an organism that are used to detect the presence of that organism in the sample) produced by the female adult heartworm; that’s why testing usually starts around 7 months of age.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Dogs 7 months and older should be tested for heartworm disease at least annually. If the dog misses a dose of prevention, then she should be tested more frequently. Testing is often done in the hospital at the bedside and requires a small amount of blood.  

The most widely used method for diagnosing heartworm disease is antigen-based testing. Antigens are proteins uniquely found on the surface of an organism that are used to detect the presence of that organism in the sample. In this case, the antigens being tested for are produced by the female adult heartworm, and if the test shows positive, then the dog is infected.  

Other tests that can be performed include a blood smear or a modified Knott’s test (often a test that is sent out for diagnosis), which are done to check for the presence of circulating microfilariae.  

Once diagnosis has been obtained, your veterinarian may recommend more testing, which is used to find out the severity of the infection as well as the amount of risk involved for treatment. Other testing often includes chest radiographs, EKG, blood pressure, cardiac enzyme evaluation (NT-proBNP), echocardiogram, blood work, and urine testing.  

Class I dogs are those with the lowest amount of risk for treatment, and Class IV dogs are those often diagnosed with caval syndrome and are at highest risk. This means the worm burden is so great that the worms are blocking blood from exiting the heart. These dogs are dying and require surgical removal of the worms (often done by a specialist) to survive.

Treatment of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Once your dog is diagnosed, your veterinarian will most likely explain to you next steps including treatment options, more diagnostics, and time frame for follow-up visits.  

First, your dog should have his activities restricted as exercise can increase the potential for the heartworms to dislodge and cause clots elsewhere in the body. Additionally, if your dog has circulating microfilariae in his bloodstream, mosquitoes, after ingesting a blood meal from your dog, can then transmit the parasite to others, so limited exposure to the outside is recommended.  

Certain medications may be prescribed, such as: 

Steroids: to decrease inflammation created by the worm itself 

Antibiotics: doxycycline is used to kill Wolbachia, a symbiote organism that lives within the heartworm. Without the symbiote, the host heartworm becomes easier to kill and secondary inflammation is minimized. 

Specific kind of heartworm preventive: to prevent younger worms from developing into adults and to rid the bloodstream of any circulating microfilariae   

An injection containing the arsenic-based compound melarsomine will be given to your dog 60 days, 90 days, and 91 days after diagnosis by the veterinarian. This is a medication designed to kill the adult heartworms and is usually administered in the lower back deep into the muscle. As it is painful, pain medications will most likely be sent home at those visits as well.     

Prevention of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

The best way to treat your dog is to do your best to prevent the disease in the first place with year-round heartworm prevention. The good news is that there are multiple types and forms of heartworm prevention on the market, and they are all affordable.  

There are tablets, topicals, and even injectable versions that can provide anywhere from 1 month to 12 months of protection. There are even products that are combined with flea and tick control to give your dog a more comprehensive preventive profile.  

All products are designed to kill the L3 and/or L4 heartworm larvae, and some will clear the blood system from circulating microfilariae.  

If your dog tests positive for heartworm disease, it is important to discuss the specific type of preventative needed while treating it, as there are only a few that should be given to minimize secondary complications.  

You should speak with your veterinarian to decide the best type of prevention for your dog’s lifestyle and your budget. Limiting your dog’s exposure to mosquitoes will also help, but in some places, limiting exposure is nearly impossible. It only takes one infected mosquito to cause heartworm disease.  

Recovery and Management of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Treatment for heartworm disease is not risk free. Dogs that undergo heartworm treatment as discussed above can suffer from anaphylaxis (shock), emboli (clots), and sudden death, not to mention the possibility of abscess (pocket of pus) formation at the site of melarsomine injection and the emotional distress from months of exercise restriction.  

Dogs can also suffer from long-term health risks from the damage caused by the worms to their heart and lungs. Scarring and inflammation (swelling) generated by the worms makes it difficult for blood to be pumped through the heart and lungs, and right-sided heart failure can develop, even with successful treatment. 

The degree of severity will affect the prognosis, and the sooner the disease is caught and treated, the greater likelihood there is for a good outcome. Unfortunately, dogs that suffer from heartworm disease do not get immunity and are at risk for becoming infected again in the future. That is why year-round prevention is critical for your dog’s health.

Heartworm Disease in Dogs FAQs

Can heartworms affect humans?

Heartworm disease has primarily been known to cause health-related issues in dogs, cats, and ferrets. Yet heartworm disease can affect multiple mammals, and according to the CDC, that includes humans. Fortunately, your dog is not contagious: the disease in humans is acquired from the mosquito itself and is not that common.

Can heartworms in dogs be cured?

Yes. If caught early and treated appropriately, your dog may go on to have a good quality life.  Unfortunately, some dogs may experience undesirable consequences either from treatment or from the disease itself and may end up with lifelong complications.

What are the first signs of heartworms in dogs?

Some dogs may not show any signs, especially if they live a more sedentary lifestyle. Others, however, may show exercise intolerance and coughing.

What is the survival rate for dogs with heartworms?

Dogs presenting with Class I heartworm disease, and even Class II, have a much better prognosis and survivability than those in Class III and IV. Class IV dogs require surgery for lifesaving treatment and will die without it.

Featured Image:

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Michael Kearley, DVM


Dr. Michael Kearley graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. He graduated with a certificate in…

Runny Nose in Dogs

As with people, dogs can have an occasional runny nose, especially if they’re prone to seasonal allergies. A little bit of thin clear discharge once in a while may be normal, but if it’s an abnormal color (yellow, green, cloudy, or bloody) or there are other signs such as congestion, coughing, sneezing, a change in behavior, or trouble breathing, prompt medical attention is recommended.

In younger dogs, the underlying cause is more likely to be congenital (an underlying issue they were born with), infectious, or related to toxicity. With older dogs, the cause is more likely to be related to a dental issue, cancer, or systemic disease.

What To Do if Your Dog Has a Runny Nose

As long as there’s a small amount of clear discharge without any additional signs, simply continue to monitor and watch for worsening signs. However, contact your veterinarian if you notice:

Congestion or labored breathing

Noisy breathing

Discolored nasal discharge (including blood)

Lethargy (abnormal tiredness)

Coughing, or coughing to the point of gagging

Eye discharge

Anorexia (reluctance to eat)

Any pain or swelling on the face or nose

If your dog is overheated there can be clear discharge coming from their nose. Unlike humans, who sweat through their skin, temperature regulation in dogs is through the pads of their feet and nose. If you notice clear discharge and your dog has recently been active or is out in warm temperatures, move them to a cool spot, preferably indoors, and be sure to provide water; if your dog continues to be exposed to heat, it could result in heatstroke, which is a medical emergency.

Causes of Runny Nose in Dogs

Nasal discharge is a relatively vague symptom that can encompass a wide range of causes. Working with your veterinarian to figure out the underlying cause is the best way to formulate a treatment plan. A runny nose in dogs could be caused by the following conditions:


In general, dogs can have allergies to fleas, a particular food, or allergens in the environment. A runny nose may indicate an environmental allergy; dogs can have seasonal allergies especially during the spring and fall as pollens, mold, and yeasts are increasing. It’s important to work with your veterinarian when allergies are suspected.


Cleft palate: The roof of a dog’s mouth is called the palate, and with a cleft palate, there’s an opening down the middle of the roof of the mouth. This opening allows communication between the nose and the mouth. Because a cleft palate can lead to serious medical problems, it’s important to contact your veterinarian if you suspect this condition.

Foreign body or trauma

Because dogs love to have their noses to the ground, they can inadvertently inhale things like blades of grass, seeds, or small pieces of wood. They can also accidentally bump into things and injure their noses.

Dental issues

Tooth root abscess

Oronasal fistula: an abnormal passageway, typically through the roof of the mouth into the nasal cavity, caused by a diseased upper tooth.


There are different types of nasal tumors in dogs, and swelling, deformity and irritation can cause nasal discharge. Specifically, adenocarcinomas are generally localized and develop from glands that produce mucus; because of the local aggressiveness of this type of cancer, there can be an incredible amount of damage to nasal tissue.


Canine Infectious Respiratory Disease Complex (Kennel Cough)

Fungal infections


Nasal mites

How Veterinarians Diagnose the Cause of Runny Nose in Dogs

Your vet will ask lots of questions to get a detailed history and perform a physical examination, focusing on listening to the heart and lungs and looking inside your pet’s nose and mouth.

If a viral infection is suspected, the history and examination may be enough for a diagnosis. However, your vet may ask to do a nasal swab cytology, which would involve using a swab to gently obtain some discharge to examine under a microscope.

A rhinoscopy (scope of inside of nose) is also done to look deeper inside the nose to see if a biopsy is needed.

If additional tests are needed, blood tests do not usually reveal the cause for nasal discharge. They may, however, show indications of other underlying systemic issues. X-rays or advanced imaging such as a CT scan may be required.

Treatment For Runny Nose in Dogs

Here are some ways you can help at home:

Until your dog is seen by a vet, continue monitoring them for worsening signs.

If your dog is not eating well, try warming up canned food so they can smell it better, making it more palatable.

If you’ve noticed some congestion, as long as your dog is otherwise acting normally you can try a humidifier to loosen any mucus.

After your pet has a diagnosis, treatments will vary depending upon the underlying cause.


If seasonal allergies are the offender, your veterinarian may offer supportive care or allergy medications, such as antihistamines or other prescription medications, to help ease the clinical signs.  


With any nasal tumor, your veterinarian will go through a series of diagnostics to determine the type of tumor, but also to determine if it has spread throughout the body. Once the tumor is staged (identifying the class and level of tumor), your vet will determine an overall treatment plan.

Cleft palate

Because of the opening in the palate that leads to the nose, food and water can get into the nose and cause a multitude of problems. Almost all cases of cleft palate require surgery to correct the abnormality and to help prevent additional and potentially fatal medical issues, such as aspiration pneumonia or infection.

Foreign body or trauma

If you know that your dog has something stuck in their nose, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately so it can be removed.

Dental Issues

If your vet suspects a dental issue, they will do dental X-rays to see the condition of the roots and bones. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics, pain medication, or extractions, then recommend a prescription diet.


Treating the cause of an underlying infectious illness is entirely dependent on the infectious agent. In the case of kennel cough or pneumonia, if a bacterial infection is involved, antibiotics are sometimes prescribed. In the case of fungal and parasitic infections, antifungal and antiparasitic medications are prescribed by your veterinarian.

Featured Image: Kravchenko


Brooks W. Kennel Cough in Dogs. Veterinary Partner, 2016.

‌Feldman E, Ettinger S. Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Vol 1. 6th ed. Elsevier Saunders; 207-210.

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Dr. Shawna Abrams


Ureter Stones in Dogs

Ureterolithiasis in Dogs 

Ureterolithiasis is a condition involving the formation of stones that may lodge into and block a dog’s ureter, the muscular tube that connects the kidney to the bladder and carries urine from kidneys to the bladder. Typically, the stones originate in the kidneys and pass down into the ureter.

Depending on the size and shape of the stone, the stone may pass down to the bladder without any resistance or it may partially or completely obstruct the ureter, resulting in the dilatation of the upper portion of the ureter and subsequent kidney damage.

There are a number of different types of stones found in animals and type of stone may vary in according to breeds, age, and sex of the dog.

Symptoms and Types

Some dogs with ureterolithiasis display no symptoms, especially during the initial stages. Otherwise, be attentive to the following symptoms:

Pain Kidney failure Enlargement or shrinkage of the kidney Accumulation of waste products like urea Rupture of ureter, resulting in urine accumulation in the abdomen


The underlying cause may vary depending on the type of the stone. Typical causes include:

Genetic factors Urinary tract infections Adverse drug reaction Cancer Diet and/or supplements Surgery that has lead to the narrowing or scarring of the ureter


Your veterinarian will conduct a complete medical history and perform a physical examination on your dog. He or she will then use routine laboratory tests including complete blood count, biochemistry profile, electrolyte panel, and urinalysis to assess the condition of your dog and severity of the disease. These tests also help in evaluating your pet for any other concurrent disease or condition.

Abdominal X-rays are extremely useful in visualizing the stones and their size; it will also confirm if the kidney has become enlarged as a result of the stones. Similarly, X-rays will depict if the ureter is intact or ruptured. In some cases, a special dye is injected intravenously and X-rays are taken afterward. This helps better visualize the stones by providing contrast. Ultrasound scans is another method for detecting ureter stones and kidney size.


Removing the obstructing stones is the primary objective of treatment. Fortunately, advances in modern technology has enabled veterinarians to remove the stones without surgery. A new technique called extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy removes stones located in kidney, ureter, or bladder by producing shockwaves that break apart the stones, which can then be passed through the urine. Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy technique does not work for all animals, so consult with your veterinarian if it is right for your dog.

For dogs in which surgery is necessary, intravenous fluids are administered to maintain them hydrated. Antibiotics are also prescribed for dogs with concurrent urinary tract infection.

Living and Management

As relapses are common, continuous monitoring of the dog’s condition is necessary. Typically, followup evaluations are done every 3-6 months. Depending on the type of stone, your veterinarian will suggest dietary changes to prevent future episodes of stone formation. If your dog is not tolerating the dietary changes well, contact him or her for necessary changes.

The overall prognosis is highly variable depending on the type of the stones.

Sperm Abnormalities in Dogs

Teratozoospermia in Dogs

Teratozoospermia is a morphological (referring to form and structure) reproductive disorder characterized by the presence of spermatozoal abnormalities. That is, 40 percent or more of the sperm are abnormally shaped. The sperm may have short or curled tails, double heads, or head that are too large, too small, or badly shaped.

The effect of specific abnormalities on fertility is largely unknown, but optimal fertility is expected in dogs that have at least 80 percent morphologically normal spermatozoa. Therefore, it is known that it is nearly impossible for sperm that are abnormally shaped to fertilize an egg.

This condition can affect dogs of any age, but older dogs are more likely to have other age-related diseases or conditions that affect overall sperm quality. There is no breed predilection, however, Irish wolfhounds have been reported to have significantly lower semen quality than dogs of other breeds.


Spermatozoal abnormalities are sometimes classified into primary and secondary defects. Primary defects occur during spermatogenesis, the development stage, and secondary defects occur during transport and storage within the epididymis (part of the spermatic duct system). Often there are no outward symptoms of this disorder. The most obvious symptom makes itself apparent in the breeding dog, when the male dog fails to impregnate a breeding partner.



Dogs with fucosidosis (a metabolic disorder caused by a deficiency of the enzyme fucosidase, which breaks down the sugar fucose) have been found to have an associated abnormality in spermatogenesis (the process by which spermatogonial stem cells develop into mature sperm cells) and sperm maturation (retention of proximal droplets), with morphologically abnormal sperm and poor motility (movement); English springer spaniels have an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern, but only males have presented reproductive abnormalities as a result Primary ciliary (hair-like cells) dyskinesia (difficulty in performing voluntary movements) – an abnormality of the cilia which results in absent or abnormal motility of the ciliated cells; affected animals are infertile; reported in many breeds; probably autosomal recessive inheritance Idiopathic (cause unknown) inherent poor sperm morphology Testicular underdevelopment


Conditions disrupting normal testicular thermoregulation (temperature regulation) – trauma; hematocele (swelling due to a flow of blood); hydrocele (collection of fluid in a sac); orchitis (inflammation of the testis); epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymus, the ducts through which the sperm are conveyed); prolonged fever secondary to systemic infections; obesity (increased scrotal fat); inability to adapted to high environmental temperatures; exercise-induced heat exhaustion; seasonal (summer months) Infections of the reproductive tract – prostatitis; brucellosis (infectious diseases caused by the bacteria Brucella melitensis); orchitis (inflammation of the testis); epididymitis (inflammation of the epididymus, the ducts through which the sperm are conveyed) Drugs Testicular cancer Prolonged sexual abstinence in a non-neutered male Excessive sexual activity Testicular degeneration


You will need to give your veterinarian a thorough history of your dog’s health, along with any possible incidents that might have led to this condition, such as trauma, infection, or travel (as other climates, especially hot climates, may have played a role).

A history of your dog’s infertility will help your veterinarian to make a diagnosis. For example, has he been infertile after appropriately timed mating to several reproductively-proven bitches? Have spermatozoal abnormalities been found during routine breeding soundness evaluation? Your veterinarian will probably do a hormonal profile as well as an examination of the ejaculates (the sperm cells). Your doctor will also test for bacterial infections, and may use visual diagnostic tools to examine the reproductive tract. An ultrasound examination may show whether there is a blockage, orchitis (inflammation of the testis), hydrocele, hemorrhage into a cavity, cyst of the epididymus, or tumor in the testicular region that is affecting the sperm ducts and sperm morphology.


There is no a specific treatment for spermatozoal abnormalities; if applicable, the underlying disease or condition will be treated. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory agents will be prescribed for infectious diseases and swelling due to inflammation. Unilateral surgical removal may be recommended for unilateral testicular tumors or severe orchitis. Your veterinarian may recommend sexual rest for edema (swelling) or for a cyst associated with trauma. Frequent semen collection may temporarily improve sperm quality in dogs with idiopathic teratozoospermia, but the quality of the sperm will have to be tested before it is used for breeding purposes, to avoid genetic abnormalities resulting from poor sperm. If your dog is in an extremely hot environment, or it is the summer season, protect your dog from high ambient temperatures by moving him to a cooler space. In addition, alter your dog’s exercise program to reduce heat stress, unless your veterinarian has specifically ordered more exercise for treatment of obesity.


It may help to provide a climate-controlled environment for your dog if it is not adapted to high environmental temperatures. Also, avoid heat exhaustion during exercise or grooming (e.g., drying cages).

Living and Management

If an underlying cause is identified and treated, your veterinarian will want to perform a sperm evaluation at 30 and 60 days after the condition is resolved. In cases due to reversible causes, a complete improvement in sperm morphology does not usually occur before 60 days — the approximate length of a complete spermatogenic cycle. 

Spina Bifida in Dogs

What Is Spina Bifida in Dogs?

A dog’s backbone (spinal column) is made up of many smaller bones called vertebrae, which are connected by spongy intervertebral discs. Together, they allow movement and protect the spinal cord. 

Spina bifida is a congenital defect (present at birth) that occurs when the upper portions of these vertebrae fail to close. This leaves the membranes that cover the spinal cord, or the spinal cord itself, exposed. This defect can cause a wide range of neurological problems ranging in severity such as the inability to walk, urinate, or defecate.

Fortunately, this condition is relatively rare in dogs. When it occurs, it usually affects the lower lumbar spine. Spina bifida often occurs with other neurological conditions and most often is apparent in the first few weeks of life when puppies learn to walk. Sadly, because most of these puppies have a poor prognosis of a functional life, many of them are humanely euthanized. For the few that are not significantly impacted by the defect or have minor symptoms, they can go on to live a relatively normal life with minor inconveniences to the pet parent. 

Symptoms of Spina Bifida in Dogs

Symptoms of this condition include:

Weakness of the rear limbs

Urinary and/or fecal incontinence

Poor muscle tone

Poor use of the tail (lack of wagging or weakness in tail movements)

Abnormal reflexes

Lack of pain perception

Knuckling of the toes

Bunny hopping or abnormal gait

Hyperesthesia (increased sensation) and pain

Additionally, dogs may have a dimple (a small external visible depression) along the spine, which often is painful when touched.  Some dogs, depending on the severity of spina bifida, may have few symptoms or neurological deficits that aren’t detrimental to their long-term well-being.

Causes of Spina Bifida in Dogs

Spina bifida occurs when tissues do not form properly within the womb. The exact reason this happens is unknown, but it could be associated with several factors such as exposure to toxins or certain environmental conditions while the mother is pregnant. 

Other congenital defects often occur with spina bifida, such as:

Meningomyelocele (protrusion of the meninges and/or spinal cord with or without fluid pockets)

Hemi or block vertebrae (abnormally shaped vertebrae)

Hydrocephalus (excess fluid in the skull, causing brain swelling)

Dermoid sinus (tubular sac arising from the skin and extending to deeper tissues)

The English Bulldog is the breed most affected by this condition, but it has also been seen in Collies, English Cocker Spaniels, French Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, Miniature Poodles, Chihuahuas, and Dobermans. Males seem to be affected more than females.

How Veterinarians Diagnose Spina Bifida in Dogs

Your veterinarian may recommend basic blood work like a complete blood cell count (CBC), internal organ function screening, and a urinalysis. The results from these tests provide a baseline and can also help rule out other conditions. X-rays are often recommended as a next step and can help identify related conditions.

Pet parents most likely will be referred to a veterinary neurologist for an MRI, which is the standard test for this condition. A CT scan and a CSF (cerebrospinal fluid) tap may also be recommended and performed with this specialist.  

If unable to perform these tests due to no MRI available or the cost, your veterinarian may perform a myelogram, in which contrast dye is injected into the fluid surrounding the spinal cord. This test is not without risks for dogs with certain health conditions and requires anesthesia.

Treatment of Spina Bifida in Dogs

Unfortunately, this condition is lifelong and carries a heavy burden on the pet parent, with limited quality of life for the dog. Euthanasia is often chosen. Surgery cannot cure spina bifida in dogs, but it can alleviate some symptoms and make a dog more comfortable. Surgery will be pursued if symptoms are mild and the dog is in good health.

Dogs with less severe symptoms are often more prone to urinary tract infections, skin infections, and muscle atrophy, so frequent follow-up visits and rechecks are still necessary. Dogs often require medication to help with manual expression of the bladder.

The three goals of treatment for this condition are: improvement in neurologic deficits, enhanced bladder and bowel function, and better movement. Consistent grooming habits, bathing, and hygiene care are needed and even a doggy wheelchair or similar device may be required for improved mobility. 

Recovery and Management of Spina Bifida in Dogs

When surgery is an option for a dog, the recovery is often lengthy and requires rehabilitation and physical therapy. Several days of hospitalization are needed and physical therapy can last several weeks to months.

Partnering with your veterinarian, particularly if they are a member of the American Association of Rehabilitation Veterinarians, to get an individualized treatment plan is advised. Acupuncture, laser therapy, and massage could be additional post-surgical therapies. 

Long-term care depends on the symptoms, and many dogs require some form of nursing care.  Again, physical therapy coupled with pain medications or NSAIDs when needed will be vital to improve your dog’s strength and mobility while limiting or preventing muscle atrophy. Toe-grips for traction, rugs, a harness, or a wheelchair are all tools that can help your dog remain mobile and enjoy a better quality of life. 

Joint supplements such as Cosequin®, Dasuquin®, and Welactin®, among others, as well as feeding your dog a well-balanced high-quality food, can reduce inflammation and support joint health.  Maintaining proper grooming habits and the use of doggie diapers and pads can be helpful if they are changed frequently, and the skin should be inspected for signs of infection and urine scalding. 

Spina Bifida in Dogs FAQs

What is the life expectancy of a dog with spina bifida?

Depending on the severity of symptoms experienced, some dogs can have a relatively normal life.  However, many dogs with spina bifida have little to no control over their hind limbs or control of their urinary and fecal habits. In these cases, euthanasia is often chosen.  

Can spina bifida in dogs be cured?

There is no cure for this condition and dogs usually require some form of life-long extensive management. Depending on severity, however, some dogs can have a functional life and committed pet parents can ensure their lives are filled with joy and dignity.

Featured Image: Adobe Stock/zinkevych


Wilson JR, Kurtz HJ, Leipold HW, Lees GP. Spina Bifida in the Dog. Veterinary Pathology. 1979;16(2):165-179.

Arias M, Marcasso R, Margalho F, et al. Spina bifida in three dogs. Brazilian Journal of Veterinary Pathology. 2008;1(2):64-69.

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Michael Kearley, DVM


Dr. Michael Kearley graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. He graduated with a certificate in…

Noisy Breathing in Dogs

Stertor and Stridor in Dogs

Unusually loud breathing sounds are often the result of air passing through abnormally narrowed passageways, meeting resistance to airflow because of partial blockage of these regions. The origin may be the back of the throat (nasopharynx), the throat (pharynx), the voice box (larynx), or the windpipe (trachea). Abnormal breathing sounds of this type can be heard without using a stethoscope.

Stertor is noisy breathing that occurs during inhalation. It is a low-pitched, snoring type of sound that usually arises from the vibration of fluid, or the vibration of tissue that is relaxed or flabby. It usually arises from airway blockage in the throat (pharynx).

Stridor is high-pitched, noisy breathing. The higher-pitched sounds result when relatively rigid tissues vibrate with the passage of air. It often occurs as the result of partial or complete blockage of the nasal passages or voice box (larynx), or collapse of the upper part of the windpipe (known as cervical tracheal collapse).

The upper respiratory tract or upper airways includes the nose, nasal passages, throat (pharynx), and windpipe (trachea).

Noisy breathing is common in short-nosed, flat-faced (brachycephalic) dog breeds. Inherited paralysis of the voice box, known as laryngeal paralysis, has been identified in Bouviers des Flandres, Siberian huskies, bulldogs, and Dalmatians.

Acquired paralysis of the voice box (laryngeal paralysis) is more common in certain giant-breed dogs, such as St. Bernards and Newfoundlands, and in large-breed dogs, such as Irish setters, Labrador retrievers, and golden retrievers, than other breeds.

Affected short-nosed, flat-faced dogs with inherited paralysis of the voice box typically are younger than one year of age when breathing problems are first detected. Acquired paralysis of the voice box typically occurs in older dogs. Inherited paralysis of the voice box has a 3:1 male-to-female ratio.

Symptoms and Types

Change or loss of voice – inability to barkPartial blockage of the upper airways produces an increase in airway sounds before producing an obvious change in breathing patternUnusually loud breathing sounds may have existed for as long as several yearsBreathing sounds can be heard from a distance without the use of a stethoscopeNature of the sounds range from abnormally loud to obvious fluttering to high-pitched squeaking, depending on the degree of airway narrowingMay note increased breathing effort; breathing often accompanied by obvious body changes (such as extended head and neck and open-mouth breathing)


Condition of abnormal breathing passages in short-nosed, flat-faced animals (a condition known as brachycephalic airway syndrome), characterized by any combination of the following conditions: narrowed nostrils (stenotic nares); overly long soft palate; turning inside-out of a portion of the voice box or larynx (everted laryngeal saccules), such that the space for air to pass through the larynx is decreased; and collapse of the voice box or larynx (laryngeal collapse), and fluid build up (edema) of the voice box or larynxNarrowing of the back of the nose and throat (nasopharyngeal stenosis)Paralysis of the voice box or larynx (laryngeal paralysis) – may be inherited or acquiredTumors of the voice box or larynx – may be benign or malignant (cancer)Nodular, inflammatory lesions of the voice box or larynx (granulomatous laryngitis)Reduction in the diameter of the lumen of the windpipe (trachea) during breathing (tracheal collapse)Narrowing of the windpipe (trachea; tracheal stenosis)Tumors of the windpipe (trachea)Foreign bodies in the windpipe (trachea) or other parts of the airwayInflammatory masses that develop from the middle ear or eustachian tube (nasopharyngeal polyps)Condition caused by excessive levels of growth hormone, leading to enlargement of bone and soft-tissues in the body (acromegaly)Nervous system and/or muscular dysfunctionAnesthesia or sedation – if certain anatomy exists (such as a long soft palate) that increases susceptibility to abnormal, loud breathing soundsAbnormalities or tumors of the soft palate (the soft portion of the roof of the mouth, located between the hard palate and the throat)Excessive tissue lining the throat (redundant pharyngeal mucosal fold)Tumor in the back of the throat (pharynx)Fluid build-up (edema) or inflammation of the palate, throat (pharynx), and voice box (larynx) – secondary to coughing, vomiting or regurgitation, turbulent airflow, upper respiratory infection, and bleedingDischarges (such as pus, mucus, and blood) in the airway lumen – may occur suddenly (acutely) after surgery; a normal conscious animal would cough out or swallow them

Risk Factors

High environmental temperatureFeverHigh metabolic rate – as occurs with increased levels of thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) or a generalized bacterial infection (sepsis)ExerciseAnxiety or excitementAny breathing or heart disease that increases movement of air into and out of the lungs (ventilation)Turbulence caused by the increased airflow may lead to swelling and worsen the airway obstructionEating or drinking


You will need to provide a thorough history of your pet’s health leading up to the onset of symptoms. Your veterinarian will use a stethoscope to listen to the entire area from the pharynx to the trachea. If the sound persists when your pet opens its mouth, a nasal cause can virtually be ruled out. If the sound occurs only during expiration, it is likely that airway narrowing is the cause. If the abnormal sounds are loudest during inspiration, they are from disease other than in the chest. If you have noticed a change in your dog’s voice, the larynx is the likely abnormal site. Your veterinarian will systematically listen with the stethoscope over the nose, pharynx, larynx, and trachea to identify the point of maximal intensity of any abnormal sound and to identify the phase of respiration when it is most obvious. It is important to identify the location from which the abnormal sound arises and to seek aggravating causes.

Internal imaging techniques, such as radiography and fluoroscopy, are important for assessing the cardiorespiratory system and to rule out other or additional causes of respiratory difficulty. Such conditions may add to an underlying upper airway obstruction, causing a subclinical condition to become clinical. X-rays of the head and neck may help to identify abnormal soft tissues of the airway. A computed tomography (CT) scan may also be used to provide additional anatomic detail.

In some cases, your dog’s physiological inheritance can make the diagnosis more apparent, such as with dogs that are brachycephalic. In these situations, your veterinarian will determine the location that is being most affected by your dog’s conformation and decide where to go from there.


Keep your dog cool, quiet, and calm. Anxiety, exertion, and pain can lead to increased movement of air into and out of the lungs, potentially worsening the airflow. Low levels of oxygen in the blood and tissues, and decreased movement of air into and out of the lungs occur with prolonged, severe blockage to airflow; supplemental oxygen is not always critical for sustaining patients with partial airway collapse. In addition closely monitor the effects of sedatives that have been prescribed, as sedatives are known for relaxing the upper airway muscles and worsening the blockage to airflow. Be prepared for emergency treatment if complete obstruction occurs.

Extreme airway blockage or obstruction may require an emergency intubation (that is, passage of an endotracheal tube through the mouth and into the windpipe [trachea] to allow oxygen to reach the lungs). If obstruction prevents intubation, an emergency tracheotomy (a surgical opening into the windpipe [trachea]) or passage of a tracheal catheter to administer oxygen) may be the only available means for sustaining life. However, a tracheal catheter can sustain oxygenation only briefly while a more permanent solution is sought. Surgery may be required if a biopsy has indicated a mass in the airways.


Avoid strenuous exercise, high ambient temperatures, and extreme excitement. Your veterinarian will advise you on the correct level of exercise to encourage in your dog.

Living and Management

Your dog’s breathing rate and effort will need to be monitored closely. Complete blockage or obstruction could occur after an apparently stable patient is taken home or if continual observation is not feasible. Even with surgical treatment, some degree of obstruction may remain for 7 to 10 days due to postoperative swelling. Care will need to be taken during this time to protect your dog from complications due to labored breathing.

After surgery, your dog may feel sore and will need proper rest in a quiet place, away from other pets and active children. You might consider cage rest for a short time, until your dog can safely move about again without overexertion. Your veterinarian will also prescribe a short course of pain killers until your dog has fully recovered, along with a mild course of antibiotics, to prevent any opportunistic bacteria from attacking your dog. Medications will need to be given precisely as directed, at the proper dosage and frequency. Keep in mind that over dosage of pain medications is one of the most preventable causes for death in household animals.

Breeding Timing in Dogs

Breeding Timing To Maximize Fertility in Dogs

Breeding timing refers to the purposeful timing of insemination during the estrus period—commonly refrred to as being “in heat”—in order to maximize fertility and the chances of conception. This technique may be utilized to ensure conception in dogs.

The condition or disease described in this medical article can affect both dogs and cats. If you would like to learn more about how this condition affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.

Symptoms and Types

In order to maximize the odds of conception with properly timed breeding in dogs, it is best to pin-point, as closely as possible, the day of ovulation for the female dog—more commonly referred to as a bitch, which is the correct terminology. Symptoms of estrus-onset in the bitch are evidenced by swelling in the vulva and the appearance of a clear to brownish vaginal discharge. The male animal, or stud, will show interest in the female, and she may exhibit “flagging,” by which she will respond to being stroked at the genital region by elevating the tail to one side. A vaginal exam, however, serves as a better indicator of a fertile period than the aforementioned physical and behavioral signs.


Breeding timing and related fertility-maximizing techniques may be utilized for a number of reasons. This may be deemed necessary if there is an apparent failure to achieve conception in the female dog.


The most reliable method of determining the ovulation cycle is via vaginal exam and vaginoscopy in order to examine the vaginal lining and determine if the bitch is in estrus. Hormone levels, such as LH, and progesterone, will be tested to determine when fertility levels are peaking. Additionally, an ultrasound of the ovaries may help verify ovulation.


To maximize fertility when breeding dogs, it is necessary to estimate the female’s day of ovulation. Because of this, a luteinizing hormone (LH) may be given to female dogs in order to control ovulation and regulate the bitch’s cycle, allowing breeding to be timed accordingly. The period of maximum fertility occurs approximately five to six days after the LH peaks. In this time, multiple breedings may be done by inseminating the bitch up to three times per week after progesterone levels rise. Frozen semen, though less likely to work than fresh chilled semen, may be used to inseminate the bitch – a single insemination five or six days after LH hormones peak is common. It is important to time insemination based on progesterone levels in order to improve chances of conception.

Living and Management

After initial fertility-maximizing measures have been taken, a follow up pregnancy examination can be done to determine the success of the procedure. This can be done via vaginal specimens. The gestation period for dogs lasts approximately 63 days from ovulation.


Age related factors may make conception more difficult for older animals.

What Do Flea Eggs Look Like and How Do You Get Rid of Them?

Just the word “flea” can make us itchy—and it’s no wonder why. One flea can rapidly turn into an infestation of parasites that lay innumerable little flea eggs on dogs and cats.

Catching fleas early is essential for controlling a flea outbreak. To get a flea infestation under control, it is important to fight fleas at every life stage, including targeting flea eggs.

Here are some tips for identifying flea eggs on pets and how to get rid of them so you can keep your pet (and home!) pest-free.

What Do Flea Eggs Look Like?

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Photo credit: Flickr/Denni Schnapp

While adult fleas can be identified pretty easily, flea eggs can be a little trickier to detect.

Flea eggs are almost microscopic—typically about 0.5 millimeters in length and about half as wide. That’s about the size of a grain of salt. Flea eggs have a soft shell called a “chorion” that has an off-white color, similar to a grain of salt, though they are more oval in shape.

Because flea eggs are easy to mistake for dry skin or sand, it’s usually not the first thing pet parents notice if their pet has a flea problem. If you have a flea infestation, finding flea dirt or actual fleas on your pet or in the home are more obvious signs.

If you’d like to discern a flea egg from something else, place the speck on a dark piece of paper under a magnifying glass to identify the characteristically oval shape of a flea egg.

Flea Eggs vs. Flea Dirt

People often mistake “flea dirt,” or flea feces, for flea eggs—though both are signs of a flea infestation.

Unlike flea eggs, flea dirt is dark and crumbly. You can identify flea dirt by putting a few of the specks on a white piece of paper and adding a couple drops of water. If you see a red color—which signals the presence of digested blood—then you’re dealing with flea dirt.

Flea dirt itself isn’t actually harmful and it’s easy to wash away with a gentle bath. The bad news is that it absolutely indicates a flea problem, which means your pet will require more than just a bath for treatment.

What Do Flea Larvae Look Like?

Flea larvae hatch from flea eggs. They are an off-white color and look like tiny worms, ranging from 2–5 millimeters in length. But you may not see them during an infestation because they quickly burrow deep into carpets, cracks, and grass.

How To Get Rid of Flea Eggs

At any given time, flea eggs make up more than half of a flea population, so it makes sense that you’ll want to address them quickly and effectively. However, getting rid of flea eggs should be a part of a multi-pronged approach to eliminating a flea infestation.

Treating Pets to Kill Flea Eggs

Many modern flea treatments for pets contain ingredients that kill adult fleas and insect growth regulators (IGRs), which stop flea eggs from maturing into adults. Some IGRs also work to sterilize female fleas so they can’t lay viable eggs.

Talk with your vet to decide which treatment they recommend for killing flea eggs on cats or dogs. They can help you choose the best product for your pet.

Products for Eliminating Flea Eggs in the Home

Foggers provide a simple way to kill flea eggs (and many other pests). It’s recommended to use foggers in combination with sprays or other products that can be used under furniture, where foggers have trouble reaching.

Many pet parents choose to use an environmental insect growth regulator to stop fleas from developing. Sprays with IGR, such as Sentry Home household flea and tick spray for pets, are great for killing flea eggs in your home.

Vacuuming and Cleaning to Get Rid of Fleas

Another effective way to get rid of flea eggs at home is to vacuum thoroughly. Flea eggs aren’t sticky, so while adult fleas typically lay their eggs on their host, those eggs soon fall off into the environment.

Several years ago, people commonly believed that the fleas would continue to develop in the vacuum and make their way into the environment, but that’s simply not the case. Vacuuming kills adult and non-adult fleas (eggs, larvae, pupae), which means you don’t need to worry about what to do with the vacuum bag or canister.

You can remove 32–90% of flea eggs (depending on the type of carpet you have) by simply vacuuming every other day while treating your flea infestation. Vacuuming will also lift up carpet fibers so that other environmental treatments work more effectively.

Vacuuming is a great idea even if you don’t have carpet—on hard surfaces such as hardwoods or tile, vacuuming can lift flea eggs from hard-to-reach cracks. Mopping and steam cleaning can help to kill flea eggs, and washing linens, bedding, and pet beds in the washing machine on the hot cycle is also advisable.

If possible, declutter your home so it’s easier to clean and there are fewer places for flea eggs to hide.

It’s important that your flea-control program tackles fleas at all of their life stages, including flea eggs. Employing multiple types of flea protection will help to cover any gaps in your strategy.

Be sure you speak with your veterinarian about the safety of any products you choose to use in your home and on your pet.

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Jennifer Coates, DVM


Dr. Jennifer Coates is an accomplished veterinarian, writer, editor, and consultant with years of experience in the fields of veterinary…


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The Maltese is a toy dog breed that’s best known for their luxurious, floor-length white coats and playful personalities. These dogs originated on the Mediterranean island of Malta and have been loyal companions for centuries, with references to the breed found in Ancient Greek and Roman literature. Weighing an average of 7 hearty pounds, these tiny yet fearless dogs are highly adaptable and make charming and devoted companions.

Caring for a Maltese

Maltese have minimal health issues but require regular maintenance because of their long, silky, white coat. Their big, dark eyes and nose make these playful and moderate energy dogs irresistible. Despite their small size they have big, willful personalities and generally respond positively to reward-based training.

Maltese Health Issues

Most Maltese will live well into the double digits, with a typical lifespan of 12-15 years. They are a generally healthy breed with few health concerns. But there are a few inherited conditions that pet parents need to be aware of for health management.

Luxating Patella

Maltese can develop luxating patellas, an inherited condition where one or both of the kneecaps pop in and out of place. Although patellar luxation is not generally considered a painful condition, it may cause the dog to favor one leg and can predispose them to other knee injuries (such as a cranial cruciate ligament tear) and arthritis. Depending on the severity of the luxating patella, surgery may be recommended to prevent further injury and improve your Maltese’s quality of life.  

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Responsible Maltese breeders will screen their puppies for heart abnormalities such as patent ductus arteriosus. PDA is an inherited condition where the ductus arteriosus, the normal opening between the two major blood vessels in the heart that closes shortly after birth, does not close. This condition causes blood to flow improperly and forces the left side of the heart to work harder. This leads to eventual failure of that chamber.

Depending on the size of the opening, dogs may show minimal symptoms to severe signs of heart failure such as:

Difficulty breathing

Exercise intolerance

Stunted growth

Surgery is typically the best option to close the defect and when done prior to heart failure, dogs generally have an excellent prognosis. Some dogs that have already developed heart failure at the time of surgery may require medications afterward. 

Liver Shunts

Maltese puppies should also be screened for congenital liver issues such as shunts. Liver shunts are abnormal veins that bypass the liver, preventing the normal filtration of toxins, wastes, and medications from the blood before returning it back to the body. Dogs with liver shunts may have stunted growth and neurologic signs such as disorientation or seizures. Liver shunts can be screened with a blood test and are often managed with a diet change and medication, though sometimes surgery is required.

Dental Disease

Like all other toy breeds, Maltese require regular at-home dental care as well as routine dental cleanings to prevent periodontal disease. 

What To Feed a Maltese

Selecting the best diet for a Maltese is often based on the needs of the individual dog. While it’s always important to choose a diet with high-quality ingredients, it’s best to discuss diet with your veterinarian, as they can make a recommendation based on your dog’s specific medical history. Maltese dogs can be prone to obesity, so avoid overfeeding your pup so they can maintain a healthy weight. 

How To Feed a Maltese

Due to their tiny size, young Maltese puppies can be susceptible to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if they don’t eat enough food throughout the day. This can be avoided by feeding small meals three to four times a day until they are around 4 months of age. At this age, their more developed bodies are better suited to regulate glucose levels and they can transition to two (or three, if desired) meals a day. Adult Maltese typically do well with two meals a day, in the morning and evening. 

How Much Should You Feed a Maltese

Always follow the feeding guide provided by the specific food to ensure that your dog is receiving the appropriate essential daily nutrients. For a Maltese, based on an average weight of approximately 6-8 pounds, this will range from about 1/4 to 1/2 cups of dry food daily, divided into two meals. 

Nutritional Tips for a Maltese

For Maltese dogs that have luxating patella, it can be beneficial to supplement them with glucosamine and chondroitin to help keep their joints healthy. Additionally, omega-3 supplements can aid in protecting joint health and keep their skin and coat lush and soft. 

Behavior and Training Tips for the Maltese

Maltese Personality and Temperament

Maltese do well with some daily activity but don’t require vigorous exercise to maintain their physical or mental health. They can be somewhat stubborn, but with positive training methods Maltese dogs can do very well with activities such as agility.

Maltese are very affectionate with their family, but their tiny size makes interactions with young or boisterous children something they might try to avoid. A family with older children who understand how to interact with a dog may be better suited for them, and interactions between children and dogs should always be supervised.

Like many other toy breeds, Maltese tend to compensate their tiny stature with a big bark. They can be vocal, especially when they feel they are protecting their people or home. 

Maltese Behavior

Maltese are very attached to their families, and they show this with their tiny but mighty protective nature. This can also cause them to experience some anxiety when separated from their people, which can manifest in unwanted behaviors such as vocalization. 

Maltese Training

Maltese are an intelligent breed, and their stubborn side can make training difficult. Potty training Maltese puppies can be challenging, but consistency paired with positive reinforcement will yield the best results.

Despite their lavish appearance, Maltese dogs are an athletic breed and can thrive in sports such as obedience or agility. While Maltese have an abundance of energy, daily walks or playtime with their family are usually enough to keep them happy and healthy. 

Fun Activities for a Maltese


Indoor/outdoor playing 



Maltese Grooming Guide

Maltese are known for their long, silky white coat, which requires daily care to prevent mats and tangles. Their fur should be brushed or combed daily, and regular bathing will keep their skin and coat healthy and clean. Maltese tend to be low-shedding dogs and are often suitable for people with dog allergies. 

Skin Care

Skin care for the Maltese can vary depending on the individual’s needs. However, this breed does not typically have sensitive skin. Regular brushing and bathing to maintain their coat is the best way to keep their skin healthy as well. 

Coat Care

The Maltese’s long coat is prone to matting, which can cause skin infections if not cared for properly. Daily brushing is required to prevent their fur from matting or tangling. When bathing a Maltese, it’s important to thoroughly rinse and then dry the hair to prevent skin irritation or infection from the shampoo and moisture.  

Eye Care

Their white coat can predispose the Maltese to more prevalent tear staining, but routine cleaning with a soft, damp cloth will help keep this to a minimum. Excessive staining could be a sign of other underlying conditions (such as allergies or plugged tear ducts) and should be discussed with a veterinarian. 

Ear Care

Routine cleaning with a veterinary-approved ear cleaner is vital in maintaining healthy ear canals. This should also be done any time a Maltese is in water, such as after swimming or bathing.

Considerations for Pet Parents

The silky, white coat of Maltese dogs is often a major draw for new pet owners, but this breed will do best in a home that is able to provide daily maintenance of their coat. They need to be brushed every day—including after routine baths.

While they are high-energy dogs, Maltese don’t require a lot of exercise to expend that energy, which can make them well-suited for busier families. Their tiny stature makes the rambunctious nature of young children somewhat intimidating for the Maltese, but they’ll fit right in with families that have older kids.

Maltese FAQs

Is a Maltese a good family dog?

Maltese are very affectionate and loving toward their families. They do well with children who know how to interact properly with small animals, but may be best suited for a family with older kids who are always gentle. 

Are Maltese smart dogs?

Maltese have been human companions for centuries—and are therefore adept in training their humans to get what they want. This intelligence can be perceived as stubbornness, but Maltese dogs respond very well to consistency and positive training methods. 

Is a Maltese hypoallergenic?

“Hypoallergenic” dogs are actually a myth, as all dogs produce allergens from their coat, dander, urine, and saliva. But because of their low-shedding coat, a Maltese can be a good fit for some people who experience dog allergies. Before bringing home a Maltese puppy, spend time with the breed first to see how your allergies react.

How long does a Maltese live?

The typical Maltese lifespan is 12-15 years.

How much does a Maltese cost?

Depending on the breeder’s experience and the puppy’s pedigree, the cost of a Maltese puppy can range from $600-$2,000. 

Are Maltese quiet dogs?

Maltese are known to be moderate barkers, and they can be quite vocal in showing their displeasure about something. 

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Teresa Kho-Pelfrey, DVM


Dr. Teresa Kho-Pelfrey graduated from Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in 2015 and completed her clinical year at Purdue…