5 Common Health Issues for Small Dogs

By PetMD Editorial on Dec. 2, 2014
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Small-Breed Health Problems

Small dogs like Boston Terriers, French Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Lhasa Apsos (pictured here) are cute and cuddly. However, they are also prone to certain health concerns. Promote a healthier lifestyle by feeding your mini dog a quality diet developed to meet their specific needs, visiting your veterinarian regularly and watching out for the following health issues. 

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1. Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation occurs when the dog's kneecap (patella) is dislocated from its normal anatomic position in the groove of the thigh bone (femur). Although it can occur in any breed of dog, small dogs, such as the Boston Terrier pictured here, are more prone to the condition. The specific symptoms of a dislocated kneecap will depend on the severity and persistence of the condition, though typically the dog will exhibit prolonged abnormal hindlimb movement and lameness. 

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2. Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD)

"IVDD [also known as intervertebral disk disease] is a condition in which one or more of the cushions that exists between each vertebra comes into contact with the spinal cord causing an array of clinical signs," says Ashley Gallagher, DVM. "These can range from irritation that results in pain to [spinal cord] compression that can lead to weakness and paralysis." Small breed dogs, like the Dachshund picture here, are often more prone to this disease.

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3. Pancreatitis

Pancreatitis develops when the pancreas becomes inflamed, which can occur for a number of reasons (obesity, infection, trauma, metabolic disorders, etc.) or seemingly out of nowhere. This can lead to fever, vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, and mild to severe abdominal pain. Although pancreatitis can occur in any dog breed, it tends to affect small dogs, like the Miniature Poodle picture here, more often.

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4. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome is the medical term related to various upper airway problems found in short-nosed, flat-faced dog breeds. These flat-faced (or brachycephalic) breeds also happen to be among some of the most popular small dogs, such as the Pug, Chihuahua and Shih Tzu (pictured here).

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5. Ectropion

Ectropion is another abnormality which commonly affects short-nosed, flat-faced dog breeds such as the French Bulldogs, Cairn Terriers and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (pictured here). It causes the margin of the eyelid to roll outward, resulting in exposure of tissue that lines the inner lids (palpebral conjunctiva).