As our pets age, they become more susceptible to disease. While most diseases can happen in any size or breed of dog, following are most common small dog diseases in Idaho Falls.

Small breeds tend to be less than 25 lbs.; examples of small breeds include Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Rat Terriers, Boston Terriers, and Pugs. If your dog falls into this category, it may be at risk for any of the following diseases as he or she ages.

1. Heart Disease: Many senior aged small dogs have a heart murmur. Heart murmurs are a very common aging change that is most often related to mitral valve degeneration. This means that the valve separating the top and bottom chambers of the heart on the left side becomes diseased and doesn’t close like it should normally. This allows for a backflow of blood into the upper chamber of the heart.

Heart murmurs are often associated and worsened by severe dental disease. Bacteria from the mouth enter the bloodstream and sticks to the heart valves where it grows and causes the valves to malfunction.

2. Collapsing Trachea: Do you have a small breed dog that coughs a lot? Toy breeds – especially Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas – are commonly affected by this small dog disease in Idaho Falls. The windpipe has a defect that causes it to collapse or close when the dog is breathing causing a harsh, “goose-honk” cough.

In mild cases, this may only happen when the dog is very excited, barking a lot, during heavy exercise or when they are being pulled on a leash connected to a neck collar. In severe cases, dogs may cough constantly and may even have difficulty breathing and performing normal day-to-day activities.

Most mild cases can be managed with a cough suppressant and use of a harness instead of a neck collar. Severe cases may need surgery to open up the airway and prevent the trachea from collapsing.

3. Disc Disease: This disease affects the discs between the vertebrae in the back and is most commonly seen in dogs with short legs and long backs such as Dachshunds and Bassett Hounds. It is also commonly seen in other small breeds such as the Shih Tzu, Maltese, Pekingese and Pug.

In mild cases, dogs may experience back and neck pain, stiffness and an unwillingness to jump or play. In severe cases, these pets will become suddenly paralyzed in the hind limbs or all four limbs. Depending on the severity, your dog may need surgery to fix this problem.

4. Pancreatitis: This condition is caused by inflammation of the pancreas and is most often set off by a high fat meal such as table scraps, new food or getting into the trash.

Just like in people, this condition is very painful and dogs may vomit, be lethargic and refuse to eat. There is a simple blood test that can diagnose this disease in dogs, and most pets do very well with treatment. In rare circumstances, pancreatitis can be fatal so it is important to have it treated as soon as your dog is showing signs of being sick.

5. Cushing’s Disease: Has your older dog started drinking a lot of water, urinating excessively, eating a lot and gaining weight? It may have Cushing’s disease. This illness is caused by overactive adrenal glands that secrete too much Cortisol, a hormone responsible for helping the body deal with stress.

Your veterinarian can perform a blood test to measure this hormone level. Dogs with this disease are treated with daily medication that can reverse the symptoms and helps them return to normal weight and activity.

If you would like more information regarding small dog diseases in Idaho Falls – or if your pet is experiencing any of these symptoms – call our office today to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience!

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