There's a reason the American Kennel Club lists the Pomeranian as one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, and why the breed was one of Queen Victoria's favorites. These small dogs are energetic, playful, friendly, and very loyal to — and protective of — their human families. And it doesn't hurt that the pom-pom, as it's often known, is simply adorable.
Pomeranians are susceptible to certain health problems, like any dog is. And it turns out that these dogs are more prone to a few problems than other breeds are.
What can Pomeranian owners do to keep their beloved dogs happy and healthy? The first step is understanding common health problems that the Pomeranian dog breed faces, including signs and treatment options. You can also follow a few best practices to maintain your Pomeranian's health.
Read on to learn about some of the most common Pomeranian health issues and how you can keep your beloved Pom happy and healthy for life.
7 Common Health Problems in Pomeranians
The typical lifespan of a Pomeranian is around 12 to 16 years. If you're lucky, your Pomeranian will remain happy and healthy throughout that time. But realistically, your Pom will probably face some sort of health issue at one point or another. And it's up to you as a good pet owner to quickly recognize and appropriately respond to these issues so your dog can get back to normal as soon as possible.
Some of the most common Pomeranian health issues include:
1. Luxating Patella
The Pomeranian is considered a toy breed. Toy dogs are particularly susceptible to something called patella luxation, otherwise known as slipping kneecaps. The cause of this is thought to be genetic. Signs include:
- Skipping or hopping while walking or running
- Kicking the leg to pop the kneecap back in place
If your pet has patellar luxation problems in only one leg and it doesn't affect their daily life, there might not be any treatment necessary. If symptoms are more severe, however, your veterinarian may recommend surgery to keep the kneecap from popping out of place.
2. Collapsed Trachea
Small dogs are also susceptible to something called tracheal collapse. The trachea, also known as the windpipe, is made of rings of cartilage. For unknown reasons (possibly genetics), this cartilage can form incorrectly. This results in symptoms like:
- Coughing or hacking, perhaps producing a honking noise
- Difficulty breathing
Many instances of collapsed trachea go away on their own and don't require treatment. If the problem is severe, your vet might recommend surgery to strengthen the windpipe and keep it from collapsing.
Another problem the Pomeranian is prone to is a thyroid condition called hypothyroidism. This means your dog's system doesn't make enough of the thyroid hormone. Symptoms include:
Dogs with hypothyroidism can usually live a normal life thanks to prescription medications that supplement the thyroid hormone.
Hypoglycemia is a Pomeranian health issue that involves having low blood sugar levels. This can happen if a Pomeranian is fed food that is nutritionally lacking, or if they’re not fed enough food. It’s also possible that a Pom who exercises or plays too much could experience low blood sugar. Signs of hypoglycemia in Pomeranians include:
- Lethargy and weakness
- Sleeping more than usual
Let your vet know right away if you think your pet is more sedentary or weaker than usual. You might need to supply your dog with glucose in the form of honey or syrup to get the blood sugar level back up, or your vet may recommend you bring your Pom in for an examination.
5. Severe Hair Loss Syndrome
Severe hair loss syndrome, also known as Black Skin Disease (BSD) or alopecia x, is caused by other health issues, like hypothyroidism or kidney disease, liver disease, mites, fungus, allergies, or infections. Sometimes, the cause is unable to be determined, although it's thought that genetics could play a role.
- Gradual hair loss, eventually resulting in near total coat loss around the body
- Bald patches
- Dark or black pigmentation of the skin
It's possible for both adult Pomeranians and Pomeranian puppies to develop BSD. Treatment usually includes bathing with medicated shampoo and making additions to the diet such as melatonin, vitamin D, or omega-3 fatty acids that can support skin and fur health. Ask your vet for exact treatment guidelines.
Looking for an omega-3 supplement for your dog? Native Pet's Omega Oil is the perfect choice. It can help promote healthy skin and fur to maintain your dog’s good coat health. Bonus: It also boosts your dog's joint health.
6. Eye Problems
Toy breed dogs are more prone to eye problems, and the Pomeranian breed is no exception. Some common Pomeranian health issues involving the eyes are cataracts, entropion, and distichiasis. Cataracts is a clouding over the lens of the eye, and it's a common cause of blindness in older Poms. Entropion involves the eye rolling inward, leading to irritation and even possible blindness if left untreated, and distichiasis is an inherited disorder that causes extra hairs to grow inside of the eyelid and cause irritation.
Symptoms of eye problems in dogs can include:
- Clouded lenses (most common with cataracts)
- Red, inflamed eyes and eyelids
- Discharge or pus coming from the eyes
- Visible discomfort such as pawing at the eyes and face
If you see these symptoms, let your vet know. Cataracts might require surgery to remove if the issue is bad enough, and entropion can also be treated with surgical intervention. Treatment for distichiasis involves removing the extra hairs inside the eyelid.
Seizures are another relatively common Pomeranian health issue. Idiopathic epilepsy is one possibility; epilepsy means repeated seizures, and idiopathic means the cause is unknown. It’s also possible for Poms to develop seizures because of a head injury. For example, if a Pomeranian puppy was dropped at a young age, they may experience seizures throughout their life. Severe episodes of hypoglycemia can also lead to seizures.
Talk to your veterinarian if your Pom experiences seizures. He or she can advise you on how to keep your pet safe during seizure episodes (most will subside after only a few minutes) and whether medication, surgery, or other treatment options might be helpful to manage this Pomeranian health issue.
How to Keep Your Pomeranian Healthy
If you spot the above symptoms of common Pomeranian health problems, tell your veterinarian right away. The best way to ensure your dog's health is with quick veterinary action. Additionally, there are a few general practices you should follow to make sure your Pomeranian remains healthy throughout their life.
Get your dog examined at regular veterinary check-ups. When your vet sees your Pomeranian regularly, it’s easier for them to catch and treat any abnormalities or health problems early.
Feed your dog a high-quality diet that's formulated for their small size and age. Proper nutrition is essential at every stage of life. It helps your dog build and maintain muscle tone, aids in digestion, strengthens the immune system to prevent disease, and much more.
You can also add supplements to the diet to improve certain areas of health. Native Pet's probiotic powder, for example, is great to improve gut health and create a thriving environment for healthy flora. An antioxidant supplement can help to prevent cell damage to reduce inflammation and even slow the signs of aging, and a multivitamin supplement can boost general nutrition to help all body functions.
Make sure your Pomeranian gets at least a half hour of exercise per day by going on walks and having play sessions. This is essential for avoiding obesity and keeping your dog's mind engaged. And be sure to supervise your dog closely both outdoors and inside so you can protect them from dangers like cars, small objects they could choke on, or toxic substances.
Recognizing and Responding to Pomeranian Health Issues
If you own a Pomeranian or plan on adopting one soon from a reputable breeder or a rescue facility, you should understand some of the most common health issues this breed faces. That way, you know what warning signs to look for so that you can let your veterinarian know right away.
Some common Pomeranian health issues include luxating patella (slipping kneecaps), tracheal collapse, hypothyroidism, severe hair loss syndrome, and eye problems like cataracts, entropion, and distichiasis. Make yourself familiar with the symptoms of these disorders so that you can take quick action.
Throughout your Pomeranian's life, follow good health practices like regular veterinary check-ups, close supervision both indoors and outside, feeding a great diet, and regularly exercising your dog. This gives your beloved pet the greatest chance of living out their lifespan to the fullest.
Would you like more insight into your dog's health, wellness, and care needs? Visit the Native Pet blog.