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  • Writer's pictureBridget M.

Common Genetic Deformities in Pomeranians

Common Pomeranian Genetic Deformities

On the whole, Pomeranians are a healthy breed that generally live to be about 15 years old. But like all breeds, especially the ‘toy’ dogs, they do have their share of genetic health issues that you should look out for.

We’ve listed a few of the significant health problems that Pomeranian have a genetic predisposition for, but there are others as well. If you’re worried or interested in finding out about any more genetic conditions, we recommend the American Pomeranian Club website. Ultimately, the best resource is your vet who can screen or test your furry companion for these issues.

Patella Luxation

Patella luxation, which can also be known as ‘slipping kneecaps’, is one of the more common health issues that your Pom may have. This condition is when the kneecap of your pup slips out of the groove it’s meant to be in. The degree to which patella luxation affects your pet can vary. The American Kennel Club details that there are four grades of this problem, with grades one and two being quite common in ‘toy’ breeds. Grades three and four may require surgery (to put the kneecap in place), even in a young dog.

Animal Health Center NH says to look out for your dog running “along and suddenly picks up a back leg and skips or hops for a few strides”. They go on to say that if this doesn’t occur often, and only with one leg, there may be no need for treatment, but still bring it to the attention of your vet. If this hopping and skipping happens frequently, it may be a sign that your pooch needs a more intense form of treatment.

If your dog is not in pain and has a low grade, surgery will not be recommended unless the condition worsens. This health issue can be alleviated with light exercise (short walks or playing time in the house, over long hikes or rigorous activity) and joint supplements. Whether your Pomeranian has luxating patellas or not, they should not be jumping from high distances (like the couch), which could exasperate an underlying condition. With Pomeranians who have a higher grade, like 3 or 4, and are exhibiting pain, the veterinarian will most likely recommend surgery to repair the slipping kneecap and alleviate pain. Recovery takes a few months for the dog to fully regain muscle strength and they may need assistance getting back to walking "normally."

Tracheal Collapse

If your Pomeranian regularly makes heaving or wheezing noises or sounds, like they are trying to cough something up, this may be a sign that they have issues with their trachea. Made of rings of cartilage, the trachea depends on these rings to keep the structure intact or upright.

According to the Animal Health Center, most cases of tracheal collapse are mild and can be easily treated with medicine, such as ones that treat coughs or inflammation. If tracheal collapse is left left unmonitored, untreated, it may get to a severe, possibly fatal point. Surgical correction may be necessary only in LIFE-THREATENING cases; surgical correction by a splint is not recommended for mild to moderate tracheal collapse. A visit to the vet and an X-ray can diagnose the severity of the issue, and your dog can get recommended treatment to alleviate the symptoms of tracheal collapse. Unfortunately, tracheal collapse is a progressive condition and does not have reversible options.

While this does have a genetic component, dental disease can largely contribute to severe tracheal collapse over time. The bacteria from dental disease can drip down the throat and can inflame it; over time, this untreated inflammation can result in the closing of the airway. It is vital that a dog owner regularly cleans their dog's teeth to prevent further, fatal conditions.

Heart Disease

Pomeranians are susceptible to developing heart problems, even in their days as a puppy. There are a variety of heart diseases that your dog may have, but one common in Pomeranians is called Patent Ductus Arteriosus. This condition occurs when, after birth, the blood vessel that transfers blood between the two main parts of the heart doesn’t close when it should. Symptoms include coughing, weakness in the hind legs, weight loss, shortness of breath, or great fatigue during exercise. Vets can listen to your pup’s heart for a specific murmur that indicates the presence of this condition, and treat it accordingly with medication and exercise and diet recommendations. In serious cases, surgery may be required to repair the vessels.

Eye Issues

There are two eye-related health issues that Pomeranians are more predisposed to experiencing, thanks to their genetics. The first is called Entropion, or a condition in which the eyelids of your dog roll inwards, which causes their eyelashes to make contact with the cornea. If left untreated, your pup may experience lots of pain and potentially blindness. Surgery can correct this issue, just ask your vet what they recommend. Age can be a factor, so make sure to have a good relationship with your vet and have your pet checked for all the common breed health conditions.

Another eye health problem that is more common in Pomeranians than other breeds is called Distichiasis. Distichiasis is a health issue where extra hairs grow inside the eyelid. This means that the eye will become irritated from the excess hairs. If left uncorrected, this condition can cause corneal ulcers and chronic eye pain. The treatment is a corrective surgery where the vet removes the excess hairs.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc disease, also known as IVDD, is another one of the more common health conditions that Pomeranians can suffer from. The jelly-like cushion between that resides between the vertebrae in the spinal cord help the body move and function. IVDD is caused by one of these cushions slipping or rupturing in a way that applies pressure to the spinal cord itself.

Symptoms of IVDD include an inability to jump up or go up the stairs, a hunched back, refusing to eat or go to the bathroom, dragging their back feet, or in the worst case, becoming paralyzed. For the less intense cases of IVDD, vets will typically give your pooch medications and require they rest. They may even recommend a back brace. For those extreme cases, the slipped or ruptured discs will need to be removed through surgery. Ensuring that your Pomeranian is at a healthy weight and minimizing the amount they need to jump up and down are preventative measures you can take.

Keep an Eye Out...

for common health issues related to the Pomeranian breed. While you can take steps to prolong the appearance of or ease symptoms, these are problems that commonly affect Pomeranians specifically. Doing your research to recognize the signs and establishing a trusting relationship with your vet can ensure that you are best prepared to help your Pomeranian live a long, healthy life!



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