Amongst the most popular breeds today include the toy breeds. Such breeds like the Maltese and Poodle, to name two popular breeds, are not only highly intelligent, but very loyal and wonderful family pets. Compared to larger breed dogs, most of the toy breeds have a significant longer lifespan than larger or giant breed dogs.
As veterinarians we are often asked what are the common health problems seen in certain breeds. With the toy breeds, there are several conditions that come to mind. Given their small size and often immune and genetic sensitivity, these are the breeds that are the ones I see more reactions to various chemicals, drugs and vaccinations. That is why I will often stress the most natural lifestyle possible for these little tikes, including feeding less processed foods and more natural diets such as Eat Great. Be Well., and giving the least number of vaccinations possible.
Immunity to core viruses like parvo and distemper can last 5-10 years, and rabies should not be given more frequently than every 3 years. I also recommend that one never gives multiple vaccinations at once to these toy breeds, separating vaccinations out by at least 3 weeks, so as to avoid the increased risk of immune reactions. Common health issues that can come up include certain musculoskelatal conditions or back issues like trick knees, known as patella luxations, as well as occasional genetic problems of the hips, known as Legg-Perthes Disease. There are also some breeds that may be predisposed to degenerative disc disease.
Cardiovascular issues can include narrowed or inflamed airways such as collapsing trachea syndrome, chronic obstructive or pulmonary airway disease, known as COPD, and degenerative heart disease of the mitral valves called mitral regurgitation. Because of their immune sensitivity, many toy breeds are prone to skin allergies, often secondary to inhalant/contact allergens, food allergens, or flea bite allergies. Dental disease appears to be fairly common as well, especially as they get older, stressing the importance of regular at home dental care with excellent products like C.E.T. toothpaste and C.E.T. rinse. Endocrine or hormonal issues can also be seen, including low thyroid known as hypothyroidism, as well as an overactive adrenal gland, known as Cushing’s disease.
Toy breeds also seem to be prone to urinary tract issues, both behavioral urine problems at times due to their emotional sensitivity, as well as urinary tract infections, including the occasional formation of bladder stones. However, with good diet and regular routine veterinary exams and evaluations many of these problems can be avoided or detected early. Toy breeds are for the most part wonderful canine companions, and I would highly recommend them to any canine lover.