Common Health Issues in Pomeranians
Common Health Issues in Pomeranians
Pomeranians have a few health issues you should know about before considering owning one. Even when breeders do there best to breed for 100% soundness these issues are so common, they can turn up in ANY breeding program. It is more often that problems occur in older pomeranians. This is often due to old age. When your pom is 8 years or older. I often hear people who will at this age blame the breeder for these issues. However, in all honesty, it is simply old age setting in just as it does with people. :D

  • patella luxation
  • Open fontanel
  • Heart problems
  • Collapsed Trachea
  • BSD-Alopecia X
  • Bad Teeth
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Thyroid imbalance
  • Cushing's Disease
  • Seizures
  • Ear Infections
  • Skin problems-dry flaky skin
  • Drastic fur changes-Molting-color changes
  • Injury
  • Allergies
  • Liver Shunts


Pomeranians are hearty little fur balls. Even with the above mention health issues the average poms life span is 10-18 years old. I get frequent calls from Pomeranian owners who lost their pom at 14-18 years old. So when you think about getting a pom, please keep in mind the longevity of your commitment!

Here is a little bit more info on the health issues mentioned above.

Patella Luxation
Pomeranians knee caps can slip out of place, and cause the dog  pain when moving. Often signs of this is when the dog is walking/runnin they will hold one of the back legs up every few steps. Other signs are if your dog is constantly stretching out his/her hind leg over and over again. There are Four GRADES of Patella's ranging from 1-2 being normal to slightly affected to 2-4 being slightly affected to chronically affected. Some vets will recommend surgery in a grade 4 patella or higher. Always get a second opinion when diagnosing this. Some vets are trending to be greedy and opt for surgery when none is needed. Here is a great link to learn more about this condition: CLICK HERE

Heart Problems
Pomeranians can have heart murmurs and enlarged hearts. Most of the time these issues will not affect the over all health or longevity of the dogs life. However sometimes the case may be severe and require vet assistance or medications and or special requirements/precautions. Most common is a heart murmur. This is an abnormal heart sound. It can be simple or it could be a sign that that dog has a more serious heart condition. Most are harmless (We had a chi growing up with heart murmur who lived to be 18), but all require a vets attention. For more details CLICK HERE
For more info on enlarged hearts, or mitrovalve prolapsed. CLICK HERE for more info on these conditions.

Open Fontanel
This is a soft spot, just like human babies get. Many Pomeranians will be born with a soft spot, especially the extra small ones. Most of the time this is a harmless condition and most will close naturally as the dog ages. Occasionally a tiny puppy the soft spot never closes. This is not fatal or anything to worry about, however it is something to be mindful of to help avoid the dog being hit in the head or soft spot. In some very rare cases the puppy will also have water on the brain, this is called hydrocephalus. This condition is usually fatal. But most puppies with this condition will not live past 5-6 weeks of age and therefor are not usually sold. They often have an enlarged head that is out of proportion to its body, coordination problems, and will not reach normal milestone markers. CLICK HERE for more information.

Collapsed Trachea
This condition is very common in small breed dogs. It is when the cartridge of the trachea weakens and the trachea collapses. Symptoms are coughing and sounding like a goose, especially after being excited or after physical activity. Most cases can be treated by med's. Severe cases are not as common, but anyone who suspect their dog has this should see a vet. CLICK HERE for more information.

Bad Teeth
Pomeranians do not have the strongest teeth. They are prone to plaque, retaining baby teeth, and weak teeth that need extractions or constant cleaning. This is common and affects the breed as a whole. CLICK HERE For more info on how to care for your pomeranians teeth.

Thyroid Problems
This is another common issue that pomeranians deal with. Some have a sluggish thyroid. Hair loss is the #1 symptom. CLICK HERE or HERE for more information on Thyroid conditions. This is one of the first tests that will be done with a Pom who experiences hair loss. If test comes out normal Cushing's will also be tested for before Alopecia X or BSD is diagnoses.

Cushing's Disease
This disease can also cause hair loss, weight gain, and frequent urination, high blood pressure. It is caused by a pituitary tumor or over active hormones. It most often affects older dogs. CLICK HERE and HERE for more info

Alopecia X and BSD Disease
BSD and Alopecia X are the same condition. Alopecia X means Hair loss w/out a known cause. The X stands for mystery. Symptoms are hair loss on the body, mostly the saddle area, tail and back. The head and legs are usually not affected. Most affected dogs have no other health problems related to BSD itself other then simply being bald, or balding.

This condition is a plague on the Pomeranian breed. There is currently no tests to identify carriers. There are no known facts on how it is passed on. This condition can show up in a dog from that ages of 1-6 years old. Most often a dog is used for breeding that is fully furred, healthy, and non symptomatic. This one dog in its 6 years of life can create many generations, who will also produce their own offspring, and so on. By the time the dog shows signs of BSD, there may be several generations on the ground. At that time it is virtually impossible to weed out, or remove that bloodline from the Pomeranian gene pool once we KNOW there is a problem. I believe this is how it all got started. Much like This dog will be just one factor, he can have cousins, nieces, nephews, aunt and uncles who can also produce carriers that show no signs but may silently be spreading the disease. For this reason we must all assume that ALL Pomeranian bloodlines and gene pool are suspect to carry this or possibly produce a dog who will have Alopecia X no matter how careful or ethically they try to breed away from it.  Until there is a test to help breeders understand how to eliminate it from there lines, its is all currently a guessing game at best. Please CLICK HERE to see the page I have devoted to this condition.

Seizures
Seizures in Pomeranians can happen for a few reasons. Pomeranians can have seizures for many reasons including
  • a liver shunt
  • a head injury
  • Severe Hypoglycemic episode
  • Water on the brain (hydrocephalic)
  • Epilepsy

Head injuries are the #1 cause of seizures and death in young puppies. Many new owners are not aware of how to properly  protect their puppies or hold them correctly. Some new owners allow children to hold them, who frequently drop them. Some owners allow small puppies on their couch or bed, and the puppy falls off. I don't know how many times breeders have been blamed when this happens. New owners pretend the puppy "just started acting funny" or "had a seizure all of the sudden".  Many lies have been told to try to get a new puppy from the breeder or to get the breeder to pay vet bills that were the result of neglect on the new owners part.  CLICK HERE for more info on head injuries in dogs.

Hypoglycemia is another common problem that can cause Seizures. Many new owners, even when well advised, take their new puppy to work, to friends or family homes to show off, introduce, and enjoy their new puppy. What they do not realize is that they are not feeding the puppy during this time, and its very stressed out, this leads to hypoglycemia. Again, the breeder is usually blamed and the new owners try to skirt the blame and guilt and go after the breeder for vet cost or death of the puppy due to their neglect. See below for more info on Hypoglycemia.

Liver Shunts
They are complicated to explain but they are basically a internal wiring issue that can cause proteins to not be processed by the body. They can cause a puppy to not grow and that is why it seems to affect the extra tiny puppies.  Liver shunts can cause a puppy to have seizures especially after eating. To find out more about them CLICK HERE for more info.

Epilepsy
is a nurological condition that can cause seizures through a dogs life. Seizures can be extreme or infrequent. Medications can be given to help control seizures. Epilepsy can be caused by injury or be genetic. CLICK HERE to read more about this condition.

Hypoglycemia in Pomeranian puppies
This condition is one of the most common and frequent health issue new owners may see in their new small breed puppy, such as Pomeranians. This condition is caused when the puppies blood sugars drop. The most common cause for any new puppy is stress (ie: leaving their home for a new one, new people), or not getting enough to eat (neglect on the new owners part, does not get enough to eat).  Often it can be a secondary effect caused by an infection or illness as well. (Guardia and coccid are extremely common in puppies and often a cause of Hypo). Also smaller puppies, onces that are smaller then normal for the breed, tend be more prone to hypo. Keep that in mind when searching for a tiny teacup puppy of any breed. Be aware of the special needs they will have including special feeding rutine to help avoid hypo.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia
  • Listless, non responsive puppy
  • a puppy that is found on its side, eyes rolled back, and not moving when called
  • A limp puppy
  • A puppy walking like its drunk
  • a puppy who will not wake up
  • Paddling as if swimming
  • Clamping the jaw shut tight
  • in severe cases seizures may occur
  • in extremely severe cases, death can occur

Prevention of Hypoglycemia
  • Be sure your new puppy eats and drinks often
  • Leave food out for your puppy at ALL times 24/7
  • Beef Baby food can be given to a picky eater who is stressed and will not eat puppy food
  • Let your puppy adjust to you and its new home before taking them on any long outings
  • If going out be sure you have food for your puppy
  • Do not take your puppy out for longer then 2 hours at a time for the first few weeks
  • Be sure to monitor your puppy and be sure they eat several times a day, not just once or twice

Treatment for hypoglycemic puppies
  • Give your puppy a small amount Kayro Syrup or Honey or Nutra Cal (these are high in sugars) (even pancake syrup will work)
  • If the puppy is seizing or has its jaw clamped shut, get the sugar on your finger and rub it into gums
  • Some dogs need a few doses of sugar to fully recover, give every 5 mins up to 3 times
  • You will know its working if your puppy is able to hold up its head, and then stand
  • You will know it is not working if your puppy has no response to sugars given, Get to vet asap if this happens
  • If your puppy has seizures you may have to wait until the puppy stops seizing so you can get the sugar into its mouth

Hypoglycemia is common for many small toy breeds. Your breeder should have gone over this with you. If you need help, that is not covered here, contact your breeder immediately. They can often be a HUGE help in a crisis. (If they are reputable). I find it very unhelpful when new owners and vets alike point fingers at a breeder, for anything that goes wrong. Your breeders is usually the most informative and caring person you can contact for help when it concerns your puppy! Don't be afraid to call them when you need help! Many vets do not deal with small breeds as much as large breeds and your breeder may know some tips your vet doesn't! CLICK HERE For more info on Hypoglycemia in small breed dogs.


Ear Infections
Pomeranians are very prone to ear infections. They can be bacterial, yeast, foreign objects, injury, or ear mites. Symptoms are usually tilting of the head, scratching at the ear, or crying. Vet care is usually needed for diagnosis and treatment.  CLICK HERE for more info

Skin problems
Pomeranians are prone to many skin conditions just like any other breed. I will not list them all here. The most common is dandruff and dry flaky itchy skin. Most often it is due to the coat being so thick air does not reach the skin. It is more common in puppies and often they grow out of it when the mold out their puppy fur. Topical shampoos can help greatly! I recommend ones with hydrocortisone, or sylic acid. They have many on the market. Trail and error for your dog is recommended as believe some things work for some dogs and not for others. If they dry flaky skin persists after frequent bathing with anti itch shampoos I would recommend treating your dog with REVOLUTION to kill mites as some dandruff, can be 'walking dandruff' or mites.
Itchy skin can be food allergies to, or allergies to the environment such a carpet or carpet cleaners ect. If the case is severe, seeking vet diagnosis and treatment is advised. CLICK HERE For more info on SKIN PROBLEMS

Pomeranian Fur Molting
I have a page devoted to this with pictures! CLICK HERE to read more about PUPPY UGLIES and puppy molting!


Giardia/Coccidiosis
These are common protozoa that puppies can have in their systems. It lives in almost ANY and EVERY environment. It is often taught that only puppies from dirty living conditions get this, but that is not true. ALL puppies and ALL homes are prone to this, even very CLEAN yards and kennels, becasue everyone has a bird, squirrel, mouse ect that will run in the yard from time to time. These random visitors will leave feces behind, and will infect anything that comes in contact with infected feces. They infect the yard, and adult dogs get infected by comming in contact with infected feces. Giardia is most common in or near water such as watered grass, wet pavement, and ponds or standing water. Cocci is just anywhere, and infects the yard anywhere feces from critters can be found.
 
It is safe to assume ALL households, kennels, and yards will be exposed to these protozoa at some time. Adults can be carriers and not show symptoms as their immunes will protect them. Puppies may also have the condition but may not show symptoms until stressed. This is why it is common to have a perfectly healthy active puppy suddenly 'break' with the condition when they are stressed going to a new home. When they stress the immune system is lowered. Breederse should inform new customers of the high likely hood of this condition, and it should be mentioned at the time of sale that puppies should be tested for both at their first puppy well check. That way, if infected, they can get the proper meds and treatment before it becomes a problem.  Treating before symptoms are seen is best. Some breeders treat all puppies, some believe to overtreat will cause resistant strains. I believe only infected puppies should be treated as only 60% of infected puppies with severe symptoms these days will respond to common treatments. There are several treatments available from VET RX to herbal. I will be exploring those treatments soon, and will be posting here my findings. :D For now though the basics are:

Symptoms of Giardia and cocci
  • Runny or watery stool
  • slimy stools
  • loss of apitite
  • throwing up
  • lethargic
  • hypogycemia
  • loss of energy

Diagnosis
  • Stool samples need to be put under a scope to look for the protozoa
  • Tests are not 100% accuruate-both are easy to miss
  • If symtomes persist but no protozoa is found, treatment should be given just in case
  • All new puppies should be tested at the first vet exam as part of the 'puppy wellcheckup"

Treatment
Cocci-Albon
Giardia-Metronidazole  and or Fenbendazole

CLICK HERE and HERE for more info on Cocci
CLICK HERE and HERE for more info on Giardia

Internal Worms