Skip to content

Boston Terrier Health Problems – 10 Most Common Health Issues

Boston Terriers are generally healthy dogs with an average life expectancy of 11-13 years. However, like all breeds, they may be prone to certain health issues, some of which are hereditary. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, exercise and proper grooming are essential for maintaining their overall well-being.

10 Most Common Health Problems & Issues in Boston Terriers

1. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

Brachycephalic dogs, including Boston Terriers, have short noses and flat faces, which can lead to brachycephalic airway syndrome (BAS). BAS encompasses several respiratory issues, such as stenotic nares (narrow nostrils), elongated soft palate and narrowed trachea, causing breathing difficulties.

  • Symptoms: Signs of BAS include snoring, snorting, wheezing, rapid breathing and difficulty exercising.
  • Causes: The unique facial structure of Boston Terriers contributes to airway obstructions, making it challenging for them to breathe normally.
  • Treatment: Lifestyle adjustments, avoiding hot and humid weather and using harnesses instead of collars can help. In severe cases, surgical interventions may be necessary to correct the underlying structural issues.
2. Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is a common orthopedic condition where the kneecap slips out of its normal position, causing pain and lameness.

  • Symptoms: Affected dogs may have intermittent limping or an inability to put weight on the affected leg.
  • Causes: Patellar luxation can be genetic or due to injury, obesity, or muscle weakness.
  • Treatment: Mild cases can be managed with rest and physical therapy, while severe cases may require surgery to realign the patella and stabilize the joint.
3. Cherry Eye

Cherry eye is a condition in which the third eyelid gland prolapses, causing a red, swollen mass to protrude from the corner of the eye.

  • Symptoms: The visible reddish or pink mass in the corner of the eye is a hallmark sign of cherry eye.
  • Causes: Weakness in the connective tissues that hold the gland in place is thought to be the primary cause.
  • Treatment: Surgical correction is often necessary to reposition the gland and prevent further complications.
4. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common inherited condition where the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly, leading to joint instability and arthritis.

  • Symptoms: Dogs with hip dysplasia may show signs of pain, stiffness, difficulty rising and reduced mobility.
  • Causes: Genetics and environmental factors, such as excessive weight or rapid growth, can contribute to hip dysplasia.
  • Treatment: Management may include weight management, physical therapy, joint supplements and, in severe cases, surgical interventions.
5. Allergies

Boston Terriers can suffer from food allergies, environmental allergies, or contact allergies.

  • Symptoms: Signs of allergies include itching, skin irritation, redness, ear infections and excessive licking or chewing.
  • Causes: Allergies result from an exaggerated immune response to common triggers like pollen, certain foods, or substances they come into contact with.
  • Treatment: Identifying and avoiding allergens, hypoallergenic diets, medicated baths and allergy shots can help manage allergies.
6. Deafness

Some Boston Terriers may inherit congenital deafness, which can be unilateral (affecting one ear) or bilateral (affecting both ears).

  • Symptoms: Deaf dogs may not respond to sounds or exhibit startle reactions when touched from behind.
  • Causes: Genetic factors and age-related changes can contribute to deafness.
  • Treatment: There is no cure for congenital deafness, but training with hand signals and vibrations can aid communication with deaf dogs.
7. Heart Murmurs

Heart murmurs are abnormal heart sounds often detected during routine veterinary exams.

  • Symptoms: Murmurs may or may not be accompanied by clinical signs, but some dogs may experience exercise intolerance or lethargy.
  • Causes: Murmurs can result from congenital heart defects or valvular abnormalities.
  • Treatment: Treatment depends on the severity and underlying cause of the murmur, which may involve medications and monitoring.
8. Cataracts

Cataracts are characterized by the clouding of the eye’s lens, leading to impaired vision.

  • Symptoms: Affected dogs may have difficulty seeing, bumping into objects, or showing signs of visual impairment.
  • Causes: Cataracts can be genetic or caused by age, injury, or underlying health conditions like diabetes.
  • Treatment: Surgical removal of cataracts is the most common treatment to restore vision.
9. Von Willebrand Disease

Von Willebrand Disease is an inherited bleeding disorder affecting blood clotting.

  • Symptoms: Dogs with Von Willebrand Disease may experience prolonged bleeding from minor injuries or surgeries.
  • Causes: The disease is caused by a deficiency of the von Willebrand factor, an important blood clotting protein.
  • Treatment: There is no cure, but careful management during medical procedures can prevent excessive bleeding.
10. Gastrointestinal Issues (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, Flatulence)

Boston Terriers may be prone to gastrointestinal issues like gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), commonly known as bloat and flatulence due to their body structure and diet.

  • Symptoms: Bloat can manifest as a distended abdomen, restlessness, unsuccessful attempts to vomit and weakness. Flatulence is characterized by excessive gas production and foul-smelling emissions.
  • Causes: GDV can occur when the stomach becomes twisted, trapping air and preventing the escape of gas. Flatulence can result from swallowing air while eating or due to food intolerances.
  • Treatment: GDV requires immediate medical attention and surgery may be necessary. For flatulence, dietary changes, reducing meal size and slowing down eating may help.

Precautions & Preventative Measures

To ensure the health and well-being of your Boston Terrier, it’s essential to take preventive measures and follow specific precautions. By being proactive in their care, you can minimize the risk of health issues and provide them with a happy and fulfilling life.

  • Provide a balanced and nutritious diet suitable for your dog’s age, size and activity level.
  • Regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and muscle tone.
  • Avoid exposing your Boston Terrier to extreme heat or cold, as their flat faces make temperature regulation challenging.
  • Use a harness instead of a collar to reduce pressure on the neck and throat.
  • Schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian for early detection and management of potential health issues.

What Do Boston Terriers Usually Die From?

Boston Terriers typically die from a variety of causes, including old age, cancer and heart-related issues. Providing proper care and regular check-ups can help prolong their lifespan and enhance their quality of life.

Boston Terrier Health Problems – 10 Most Common Health Issues in Boston Bull Terriers