Maltipoos are adorable balls of white fluff. They are incredibly playful and good with children, making them ideal for families. But no one wants to fall in love with a dog only for it to become ill unexpectedly. So what health problems do Maltipoos have? And what can be done about them? Read on to find out.
What Health Problems Do Maltipoos Have?
Maltipoos struggle with a variety of different issues inherited from Poodles and Maltese. These include allergies, thyroid issues, neurological issues like shaker syndrome, and epilepsy. Joint and endocrine issues are also common.
Let’s look at some of the issues that the Maltipoo may inherit from its parent breeds, the Poodle and Maltese. In the rest of this article, I’ll look at how you can identify these issues, treat them, and if they can be prevented at all.
Maltipoo Health Issues Inherited for Maltese and Poodles
It is important to look at the issues that the Maltipoo inherits from both the Poodle and the Maltese. While issues that only originate from one parent may not be displayed in your Maltipoo, they are far more likely to display these issues if both parents may be affected.
This is even true if neither parent shows any indication of having these issues. Without genetic testing, it is unclear whether they may be carriers of disease.
Allergies are one of the most common issues in Maltipoos. The allergies that these little dogs experience are very similar to those that we might experience.
Symptoms include itchy skin or redness with occasional changes in texture. Alternatively, some Maltipoos might experience watering eyes and rub at their faces.
Treatment includes medication to treat pollen or dust-related allergies. Or changes in diet and shampoo.
There is not much that can be done to prevent allergies. But once the cause has been identified and treatment decided, allergies can be managed with ease.
2. Thyroid Issues
Both Poodles and Maltese struggle with hypothyroidism. The hormones that the thyroid releases control a lot of processes in the Maltipoo’s metabolism and other bodily functions. So when it does not function properly, these processes are affected.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism in your Maltipoo may include rapid, unexplainable weight gain and lethargy.
Treatment may vary depending on the cause of the hypothyroidism. If there is something wrong with the thyroid gland, such as a tumor, surgery may be required. In most cases, there are no visible abnormalities though, and taking oral hormone replacements is the only solution.
There is no way to prevent hypothyroidism, and treatment will have to continue as long as the Maltipoo is alive.
Legg-Calve-Perthes, also known as LCP, is prevalent in smaller dog breeds like the Maltipoo. It occurs when the blood supply to the hip is disrupted, which causes the ball joint to die and start breaking down.
This process will start when your Maltipoo is very young. As early as a few months. Symptoms include limping that appears slowly at first but continues to worsen.
Treatment of LPC in Maltipoos often involves surgery. Exactly what is done will depend on what is causing the loss of blood flow. In some cases, where blood flow cannot be returned or the bone is too far gone, the ball joint may need to be replaced entirely.
There is no way to prevent this disease. It is also very easy to pass on, so Maltipoos with LPC should be desexed as soon as possible to prevent accidental breeding.
Maltipoo Health Issues Inherited from Maltese
Now, let’s look at some of the issues that your Maltipoo is only likely to inherit from the Maltese only. These should appear less often in the Maltipoo than they do in the Maltese.
4. Shaker Syndrome
Shaker syndrome, also called “white dog shaker syndrome,” occurs very often in dogs with little to no fur pigmentation, just like the Maltese and Maltipoo.
As the name suggests, the symptoms involve shaking in the body and head. The cause of these tremors is unknown. But, steroid treatment has been shown to improve the condition.
Sometimes this steroid treatment can be short-term. When the steroids are gradually tapered off, the shaking doesn’t return. In other instances, the condition may require longer attention.
5. Corneal Ulcers
Corneal ulcers are a type of eye infection that the Maltese and Maltipoo are prone to.
Symptoms include obvious signs of discomfort, redness, swelling, and discharge. Your Maltipoo might not want to open the affected eye at all.
Although the Maltipoo is more prone to these genetically, the biggest trigger is physical trauma. This means that corneal ulcers can be prevented in your Maltipoo. Make sure that other animals in your home are well-behaved around your Maltipoo. Discourage rolling, or face rubbing on carpets or grass to prevent scratches.
If your Maltipoo does end up with a corneal ulcer, the treatment is simple and consists of antibiotic eye drops. Make sure that you get your Maltipoo treated as soon as possible, though. Otherwise, the infection may cause more severe issues, such as permanent damage to the eye.
6. Portosystemic Shunts
Although the term ‘Portosystemic shunt’ sounds very complex, it is a rather simple, explanatory title. It simply means that the portal vein shunted, or bypassed, the liver.
This means, of course, that the liver cannot perform its intended function. Symptoms include abnormally slow or stunted growth and generally off behavior such as disorientation, seizures, etc.
Treatment will likely have to continue for the rest of your Maltipoo’s life and includes a special diet to reduce toxins in the blood that the liver is not able to remove, as well as keeping certain medications that need to be metabolized by the liver out of their system.
It is important to note that there is nothing that can be done to prevent portosystemic shunts once the dog is born. And, no matter how well you manage your Matipoo’s condition, they are unlikely to live to be three years old.
7. Necrotizing Meningoencephalitis
Necrotizing meningoencephalitis is a horrible disease that causes the brain to become inflamed because the immune system attacks the tissue. The cause seems to be largely genetic, as it occurs in certain breeds more than others. Adult Maltipoos between five and ten years are the most at risk.
Symptoms of an inflamed brain in your Maltipoo include seizures, sudden violent outbursts or confusion, and even blindness.
Necrotizing meningoencephalitis is deadly if untreated. But immune-suppressing drugs may allow your dog to live a long life. They will be far more susceptible to other illnesses, though.
8. Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease is essentially a gum infection that is caused by poor dental hygiene. It is unclear why, but Maltese and Maltipoos are far more likely to suffer from periodontal disease than some other breeds.
Although periodontal disease on its own is not deadly, it can lead to bone degradation and other issues, such as heart disease.
Prevention involves good dental hygiene. Try not to feed your Maltipoo too much wet food, either. Dry kibble removes plaque and tartar from teeth when eating. But it is no substitute for brushing your Maltipoo’s teeth.
9. Collapsed Trachea
Collapsed tracheas occur when the ‘windpipe’ of the Maltipoo collapses. Some symptoms include wheezing and coughing.
Small breeds like the Maltipoo and Maltese are very susceptible to this. The reason behind this is not yet known. Surgery may be the only option if the collapse is severe enough. Otherwise, medication to prevent coughing and inflammation may be used.
Prevention is key and can be done by using a harness rather than a collar when training your dog. Also, try to keep them away from air pollutants. Weight reduction in obese dogs can also make breathing easier.
Maltipoo Health Issues Inherited from Poodles
A lot of the issues inherited from the Maltese are related to the small size of the Maltipoo. But the Poodle comes in a variety of different sizes. So, what issues can the Maltipoo inherit from the Poodle?
10. Addison’s Disease
Addison’s disease occurs when not enough cortisol is produced in the body of the Maltipoo. Usually, this is because there is something wrong with an adrenal gland.
Symptoms of this cortisol deficiency include hair loss, lethargy, bloody stools, and more. The cause of Addison’s disease in Maltipoos differs. There may be no obvious reason for the lack of cortisol production, or the adrenal gland may have been damaged by a tumor or medication that was previously taken.
Other than avoiding certain medications, there is no prevention for Addison’s disease in Maltipoos. If there is a tumor, treatment may require surgery; otherwise, hormone tablets to control cortisol levels are prescribed.
11. Progressive Retinal Atrophy
Progressive Retinal Atrophy refers to a few different diseases that all result in blindness by damaging the receptors that pick up light.
If your Maltipoo suddenly goes blind in the dark, it will probably be too terrified to move, may shake, and may even snap at you. Slowly, your Maltipoo will see less light and be blind more often.
Unfortunately, there is no prevention for PRA in Maltipoos and no treatment either. You may have to adjust your lifestyle to deal with a dog that is completely blind by two years old.
Epilepsy in dogs is similar to epilepsy in humans. One point of confusion is seizures when your Maltipoo is asleep. In my experience, dogs that are just dreaming will wake up if you call their names loudly. On the other hand, dogs having epileptic fits will not.
There is little that can be done to prevent epilepsy, and the cause seems purely genetic. Although, if you are lucky, your Maltipoo might outgrow it.
Treatment includes anticonvulsants. It may take some time to find the right medication for your dog, though.
13. Joint Issues
There are several joint issues that the Maltipoo may inherit from the Poodle. The first is dysplasia, where the ball and socket joint fit together poorly, causing pain and stiffness. The second is Patellar Luxation, where the patella, or kneecap, sometimes moves out of place.
There is little that can be done to prevent either condition, but try to minimize exercise in young Maltipoos to prevent further damage. Take it easy if you see they are tired too.
In the case of a patella that will not move back, surgery may be required. Otherwise, anti-inflammatory medication is the only treatment.
14. Gastric Torsion
Also known as bloat, this is common in larger Maltipoo varieties. This is where the stomach turns and needs to be surgically corrected as fast as possible. It can be deadly.
Symptoms include gagging, drooling, and a stomach that feels incredibly hard.
There is no true prevention but try not to exercise your dog for several hours after it eats.
How to Ensure a Healthy Maltipoo
Choose a Reputable Breeder
The best way to ensure your Maltipoo is healthy is to go with a reputable breeder. They have a reputation to uphold and are educated on the breed.
This means they will do genetic testing before breeding, preventing many conditions.
Diet and Exercise
Diet and exercise are just as crucial for your Maltipoo as they are for you. Diets help promote healthy joints and teeth. It can also be used to control allergies.
Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight and can be used alongside other treatments to decrease symptoms of collapsed tracheas and thyroid issues.
Regular Grooming and Teeth Cleaning
Regular grooming not only removes irritants that may cause an allergic reaction in the skin of a Maltipoo but also prevents periodontal disease. Nail clipping can also help prevent corneal ulcerations.
If you need more confidence in grooming your Maltipoo yourself, I recommend using a groomer every two months at least. However, your Maltipoo’s teeth should be brushed regularly at home.
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- How Big Will a Maltipoo Get? Maltipoo Size and Weight Guide
- Is a Male or Female Maltipoo Better? Differences Explained
- Maltipoo Coat Types and How to Care for Them
- Maltipoo Exercise Requirements for Health and Happiness
- Are Maltipoos Hypoallergenic: Do They Shed?