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Maltese Shih Tzu Health Problems – 10 Most Common Health Issues

The Maltese Shih Tzu, also known as the Mal-Shi or Malti-Tzu, is a crossbreed between the Maltese and Shih Tzu. Due to their mixed ancestry, they may inherit health issues from both parent breeds. These small dogs generally weigh between 4 to 15 pounds and have a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years.

10 Most Common Health Problems & Issues in Maltese Shih Tzus:

1. Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome

A condition common in breeds with short noses and flat faces, leading to breathing difficulties.

  • Symptoms: Noisy breathing, snoring, exercise intolerance, fainting spells, gagging.
  • Causes: Genetic, due to the conformation of the skull and airways.
  • Treatment: Weight management, avoiding stress and heat exposure, surgical correction in severe cases.

2. Dental Issues

Mal-Shis are prone to dental problems due to their small mouths and teeth overcrowding.

  • Symptoms: Bad breath, tooth loss, red or swollen gums, difficulty eating.
  • Causes: Plaque buildup, genetics, diet.
  • Treatment: Regular dental check-ups, daily tooth brushing, professional cleanings, and dental chews.

3. Patellar Luxation

A common issue where the kneecap dislocates or moves out of its normal position.

  • Symptoms: Limping, skipping steps, sudden lameness, pain.
  • Causes: Congenital or developmental, trauma.
  • Treatment: Weight management, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory medications, and in severe cases, surgery.

4. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

A degenerative disease affecting the retina, leading to progressive vision loss and eventual blindness.

  • Symptoms: Night blindness, dilated pupils, difficulty navigating in low light, eventual total blindness.
  • Causes: Genetic.
  • Treatment: No cure, but affected dogs can adapt to their blindness with supportive care and environmental adjustments.

5. Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)

A condition where the cushioning discs between the vertebrae either bulge or burst into the spinal cord space, causing pain, nerve damage, and possibly paralysis.

  • Symptoms: Pain, reluctance to jump or move, paralysis, loss of bladder/bowel control.
  • Causes: Trauma, age-related degeneration, genetics.
  • Treatment: Rest, anti-inflammatory medications, pain relief, and in severe cases, surgery.

6. Hypoglycemia

Especially in smaller dogs like Mal-Shis, low blood sugar can be a concern.

  • Symptoms: Weakness, lethargy, trembling, seizures, unconsciousness.
  • Causes: Poor nutrition, stress, strenuous activity, underlying health issues.
  • Treatment: Immediate treatment involves offering a quick source of sugar. Long-term management includes regular, nutritious meals and snacks.

7. Ear Infections

Their floppy ears can trap moisture and debris, leading to infections.

  • Symptoms: Ear odor, scratching at ears, head shaking, redness, discharge.
  • Causes: Yeast, bacteria, allergies, trapped moisture.
  • Treatment: Regular ear cleaning, avoiding water in the ears, and medication for infections.

8. Allergies

Mal-Shis can suffer from various allergies, including food, environmental, or contact allergies.

  • Symptoms: Itchy skin, recurrent ear infections, sneezing, paw licking, skin infections.
  • Causes: Allergens in food, pollen, dust mites, mold, certain fabrics or cleaning products.
  • Treatment: Identifying and removing the allergen, antihistamines, special diets, topical treatments, and in some cases, immunotherapy.

9. Shaker Syndrome

A condition characterized by generalized tremors, more common in small, white breeds.

  • Symptoms: Widespread tremors, normal during rest but worsen with activity or excitement.
  • Causes: Unknown, but thought to be immune-mediated.
  • Treatment: Corticosteroids can often control symptoms effectively.

10. Liver Shunt

A congenital condition where blood bypasses the liver, leading to a buildup of toxins in the body.

  • Symptoms: Poor growth, disorientation, seizures, excessive drinking and urination, vomiting.
  • Causes: Congenital defect.
  • Treatment: Dietary management, medications to reduce toxin buildup, and in some cases, surgical correction to close the shunt.

Precautions & Preventative Measures:

Owning a Maltese Shih Tzu comes with the responsibility of providing them with the best care possible to ensure their health and well-being. By taking proactive precautions and implementing preventive measures, you can significantly improve their quality of life. Here are some essential steps you should consider:

  • Provide a balanced diet with high-quality dog food appropriate for their age and size.
  • Regular exercise to maintain a healthy weight and promote overall well-being.
  • Keep them in a comfortable, well-ventilated environment to prevent respiratory stress.
  • Regular grooming, including brushing their coat and cleaning their ears and teeth.
  • Schedule routine veterinary check-ups to catch any health issues early.

What do Maltese Shih Tzus Usually Die From?

Maltese Shih Tzus typically pass away due to old age-related conditions and diseases, including heart failure, kidney failure and cancer.

Maltese Shih Tzu Health Problems – 10 Most Common Health Issues in Maltese Shih Tzus