The Maltese is a small dog with a lively and playful demeanor who originates from the Mediterranean region. It was bred primarily as a companion and lap dog, although it may have been put to work in rodent control in its past. As with many small dogs, the Maltese can be subject to dental and eye problems as well as conditions of the knee. The dog may be prone to a serious condition called portosystemic shunt, which leads to toxification of the blood stream. The Maltese’s life expectancy ranges from 12 to 14 years.
Primary Health Conditions of the Maltese
The Maltese is prone to dental problems, including tooth loss at an early age and gum disease. These dogs should receive regular dental care at the veterinarian as well as at home. The dogs teeth should be brushed regularly, it should never eat sweets, especially human food. The Maltese may also develop eye ulcers, which, when treated quickly with topical medication, are not generally serious. Eye irritations caused by the dog’s long hair getting into the eye are also possible. More serious for this breed are portosystemic shunts, an inherited condition in which blood is not circulated through the liver. With this condition, blood is not cleansed of toxins, and this can lead to seizures and death. Surgery is an option, but often times the condition can be managed with diet and medication.
Secondary Health Conditions of the Maltese
Many dog breeds can be prone to patellar luxation, or movement of the kneecap, and the Maltese is no exception. This hereditary condition can cause pain or discomfort for the dog, for which surgery is an option and weight management a treatment. Dogs with the condition should not be bred. Hydrocephalus, literally “water on the brain,” occurs when an excess of spinal fluid occurs in brain tissues. There are hereditary and acquired versions of the disease, both of which can present with sleepiness, blindness, seizures, and coma. Surgery is the most common treatment, but sometimes the condition can be managed with medication.
Maltese Exercise and Walking Needs
The lively, playful Maltese needs a daily walk of moderate length and plenty of playtime with its owner, either outside or in. These dogs are very attached to their owners and can become lethargic or over-excited when they do not receive enough attention from them. A healthy, active Maltese that is getting enough sunlight will display a black nose rather than a grayer or lighter colored nose. Even with the Maltese’s long hair, its lack of an undercoat makes it susceptible to the cold.
Maltese Nutritional Needs
The Maltese is not a dog that is prone to weight problems, but its does have a tendency to develop diseases of the teeth and gums. For this reason, these dogs should not be given people food, especially anything sweet. Beyond that requirement, the Maltese should be given a moderate, twice daily feeding of a high quality dog food. Adjustments should be made to portions as the dog becomes older and less active.
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard or delay seeking professional advice due to what you may have read on our website.