Thursday, October 6, 2011

Are Small Dogs Healhier than Large Dogs?

Some people believe that small dogs have less health problems as they age than large dogs do. This is actually a myth - small dogs are just as likely to get sick as large dogs. There are some health issues, for instance, that are more common in smaller dogs. And some diseases can actually be found almost exclusively in small dog breeds.
So what are the health risks for your small dog?
What if you notice that your dog is having trouble breathing, coughing, and making a coughing sound that resembles the honk of a goose? These may be signs of a collapsed trachea. This health problem is found almost exclusively in small dog breeds, and can cause severe problems. It interferes with the dog's daily life, and should be treated right away to avoid complications.
Another common small dog health problem is known as luxating patella. This happens when a dog's kneecap slips out of place. When a dog is suffering from this condition, he cannot straighten his leg. He has to stand with his leg bent and he walks oddly (skipping). Once again, this issue is very common in small dog breeds like the Pomeranian, the Pug, and other toy dog breeds.
As you can see, the small dog has his own set of health problems. Still, there are some other health issues that you should be aware of, even though they're not as common in small dogs as in large dogs. For instance, arthritis is more likely to affect large or obese dogs - but many smaller dogs suffer from it as well. In fact, arthritis can cause big problems for small dogs because the more aggressive procedures to treat arthritis , like surgery, can be very stressful for their little bodies.
This is why it's a good idea to watch out for symptoms of arthritis in your dog, regardless of his size. Some signs to watch out for are:

Difficulty walking, jumping, or even just standing
Limping or favoring a limb
Behavior changes and sudden bad behavior
Being less active and playful in general

If you are concerned about your dog, it's better to take him to a vet than to wait it out. Arthritis can be treated but as it advances, the treatments become more invasive and stressful. It's a great idea to have a list of questions ready for your vet visit, so that you know you are covering everything you're concerned about.

Alice England


Giupetto and Gianna Tails said...

Good post Alice.
Both of my small dogs do have fluxating patellas. They suggested a daily dosage of Phycox, a joint supplement.
Giupetto also has collapsing trachea. It happens when he gets excited. It happens every time I walk into the house. I'm supposed to ignore him when I walk in, but I can't do that. So I pick him up and try to calm him down until he is breathing again.
Vet said it is too high up on the trachea for surgery, but it seems the same now as it did 7 years ago.

FrumsGlass said...

Nice article. Our Farfalle had all these issues. His patellas popped out of place 3 times in the first 10 days of adopting him. With exercise, instead of a crated life, they were better.

With the same amount of teeth, in a tiny mouth, many toy dogs can have dental problems.

Unknown said...

great article and I learned alot. Ive pondered over this several times since im an owner of large dogs and my parents are owners of little dogs.

HappyDapperDogs said...

Great blog, Alice! Very informative about some of the issues smaller dogs have.

Tisha said...

Very informative info. My Dinky has had back issues in the past. We were able to treat his problem with steroids and limited movement. I have since started giving him glucosamine and chondroitin in his food that I believe has helped. I learned this in my nursing career, while working with an Internist who recommended this product for his patients with arthritis. Plus my hubby built a ramp off our porch, so no stair climbing. I've not ever heard of the patella problem. Thanks for informing me.

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