Health of Your Pomeranian

There are several components that come together to make a healthy dog – genetics, nutrition, environment, and exercise – but implementing and maintaining a preventative healthcare program for your Pomeranian, along with watching for symptoms and seeking veterinary treatment as soon as your dog becomes ill, is the basic foundation for giving him a life of wellness.

First and Future Exams

Within 24 to 72 hours of bringing home your new Pomeranian, it is important to schedule a new puppy veterinary examination. The appointment may also be a good opportunity for your dog to meet his veterinarian under less stressful circumstances than when he will be seen in the future for medical treatment.

Your puppy’s history will be reviewed and recorded. Any vaccinations that are due will be given. The vet will perform a thorough physical examination and check for internal and external parasites. She will also check your puppy for obvious congenital defects during the first visit. This appointment is a good time to ask any questions about puppy care or behaviour. Your vet can provide general information about the common health problems which Pomeranians may develop. You may also wish to discuss a future time to have your dog spayed or neutered.

New Puppy Exam

On his first visit to the vet, your puppy will be weighed and have his:

  • Coat condition and skin observed, checked for fleas;
  • Stool sample tested for worms;
  • Chest, heart and lungs listened to with stethoscope;
  • Eyes, ears, mouth, teeth and gums, tongue, throat examined;
  • Abdomen palpated;
  • Eating and elimination habits described;
  • Joints moved and flexed;
  • Activity level described.

A lifetime of good health starts with a well-puppy exam, and your Pom should have an annual veterinary check-up every year after. This examination will be similar to the new puppy exam. Blood and urine samples may be taken, and possibly an x-ray. If vaccinations are due, the annual check up is a convenient time to have them given.

Annual well-dog exams are an excellent tool for diagnosing conditions that may just be in the early stages. Additionally, any health problems which your dog might have developed will be monitored at the annual exam. Diets, medications, and treatment plans will be adjusted if necessary. As your Pom ages, special emphasis on preventive health care can give him a more comfortable, longer life with you.

One of the most important responsibilities an owner assumes for his dog is to provide regular, quality veterinary care. There are many elements that make for a healthy dog-genetics, diet, exercise, and environment-but following a strong preventive healthcare program, along with keeping a watchful eye for symptoms of disease and seeking treatment for your Pom, are all key steps to giving him a life of wellness.

The Perfect Vet For Your Pom

Before you can take your new Pom for his first exam, you need to carefully select a veterinarian, one who is knowledgeable, compassionate, and with whom you feel comfortable. First, look close to home for quicker transportation time to the clinic, particularly in an emergency. But don’t be unwilling to drive a greater distance if the best veterinarian is farther away.

Word of mouth is an excellent way to find a veterinarian. Ask people like your groomer or training instructor-people who talk with many dog owners on a regular basis-which vets they have heard are skilled caregivers. Where do your friends take their dogs? What do they like about the veterinarian, the staff, and the clinic? Referrals may be also obtained through veterinary professional organizations.

After narrowing your search, schedule an appointment to meet the new veterinarian and visit her clinic. Find out if the vet has experience with toy dogs, particularly Pomeranians. Is she educated about breed-specific conditions? Is the clinic clean and the staff helpful? Are the hours convenient and the fees reasonable for the services provided? Is the veterinarian willing to speak with you and are you able to understand what she is telling you? Do you feel like you can build a client-patient-doctor relationship that will work?

Don’t wait until there is an emergency to choose your veterinarian. Finding a vet in whom you are confident enough to entrust your dog’s care is not an easy task. There are many questions you should ask and factors to analyse when making your decision, but personal intuition is important as well. If you don’t feel comfortable with a veterinarian, keep looking-your dog’s life may depend on your decision.

Spaying and Neutering

Neutering or spaying is surgical sterilization and results in the loss of ability to produce puppies. Sterilization prevents unplanned litters, as well as many types of cancer and other diseases of the reproductive organs.

Most importantly, neutering reduces the pet population. Although the Pomeranian is a much loved and admired breed, there are still for too many of them who end up unwanted, neglected, and for lack of sufficient available good homes, may be euthanised.

Additionally, the greatest majority of Poms do not have enough outstanding traits to pass on their genes to future generations of the breed and should not be bred. However, if you have hopes of being a real breeder, do your homework!! lt take years of study, research, showing, and planning, and is very expensive to produce even one litter of healthy, quality Pomeranian puppies.

Remember-the only reason to have puppies is for betterment of the breed, not for profit, so make an appointment and sterilize your Pom.

Vaccinations

Protection through vaccination against fatal or life-threatening, infectious diseases is one of the most important aspects of veterinary care. Originally given every year as part of the annual examination, vaccination protocols are currently being redefined by veterinary colleges, professional organizations, as well as manufacturers of vaccines. The possible association of disabling, chronic illness due to what may be excessive vaccination has been the main reason given for this change.

Even with changing schedules, it is still important for your dog to be vaccinated. Decide with your veterinarian how often you will vaccinate and for which diseases. Vaccines (immunisation against Viruses) for the most prevalent and potentially lethal diseases come in either individual products or in combination for multiple viruses.

Illnesses

Your Pom may be vaccinated against the following illnesses:

Rabies

This fatal virus attacks the nervous system and causes encephalitis. Rabies is transmitted in saliva from animals such as raccoons, foxes, skunks, bats, and infected domestic animals who bite. Symptoms include personality changes, fever, aggression, salivation, paralysis, and death. Vaccination is done at between the ages of three months and one year, then every three years.

Distemper

Extremely contagious, this virus affects the lining of many organs including the eyes, respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, and brain. Symptoms include fever, loss of appetite, dehydration, mucous discharge, hard calluses on the foot pads, vomiting, and diarrhoea. Infection leads to death in nearly all cases, with very few dogs making a full recovery from the disease. Puppies are vaccinated at ages 8, 12, and 16 weeks.

Parvovirus

Another highly contagious virus, parvo is transmitted through faeces. The virus is difficult to kill and can be carried on clothing, feet, and fur, as well as live in contaminated crates, bedding, and bowls. Loss of appetite, profuse and sometimes bloody vomiting and diarrhoea, and a high fever are the main symptoms. Puppies contract the disease most frequently and become severely ill or die, often within a few hours. Vaccination schedules for parvo vary, but usually start at 6 to 8 weeks of age and are given every three to four weeks, with a possible additional booster at age 16 or 20 weeks.

Hepatitis

A virus that attacks the liver, kidneys, and lining of the blood vessels, hepatitis is transmitted through urine, faeces, and saliva. The disease takes multiple forms, ranging from mild to fatal, with symptoms that include high fever, loss of appetite, bloody vomit and diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and jaundice. Immunizations are given at ages 8 and 12 weeks.

Kennel Cough Complex

KCC is a group of highly contagious diseases that cause bronchitis and inflammation of the throat, resulting in a deep, spasmodic, hacking cough. The most common causes of KCC are the parainfluenza virus or the bordetella bacteria, and the illness is sometimes known by these names. Both are easily spread through droplets sprayed during sneezing or coughing, and via contaminated bowls, bedding, and so forth. Both types of KCC are largely preventable through immunization. Parainfluenza vaccine can be administered in conjunction with distemper or hepatitis shots, or by intranasal spray as early as 2 weeks of age. The bordetella bacterin (immunization against a bacterial infection) is also available for intranasal administration, or as an injection. Annual immunization against bordetella is recommended for any dog who is frequently around other dogs, such as in a kennel or at dog shows.

Leptospirosis

This bacterial infection is transmitted in the soil, from wildlife, and through the urine of infected dogs. Lepto is more prevalent in some regions of the country than others. There are multiple strains of leptospirosis but the main symptoms are fever, incontinence, nausea and vomiting, and pain. Complications are common and include kidney failure, liver damage, dehydration, internal bleeding, haemorrhage, and death. Immunisation can be done at ages 9, 12, and 15 weeks.

Coronavirus

Coronavirus is a virus that affects the gastrointestinal system and causes foul-smelling, bright yellow or orange diarrhoea. Other symptoms may include loss of appetite, depression, and vomiting. Most cases are mild and self-limiting, but puppies and debilitated dogs can become quite ill or even die. Vaccination against corona is recommended for dogs who are in frequent contact with other dogs.

The suggested schedule of vaccination is two doses 2 to 3 weeks apart. It is also available in a multi-component vaccine.

Lyme Disease

If your dog is bitten by a deer tick, he is at risk for Lyme disease. Symptoms of this chronic bacterial infection include depressed appetite, weight loss, lethargy, fever, and primarily lameness and swollen joints. Possible development of arthritis and heart inflammation can occur. Immunization is available against Lyme, but the bacterin’s effectiveness is still being studied and is recommended only for dogs that live in areas with high tick infestation or who spend a great deal of time in the woods.

Vaccination Protocol

Based on a slowly growing body of evidence, many veterinarians are recommending that booster immunizations be given every three years instead of every year. Additionally, the criteria for determining which vaccines to administer are being evaluated. Vaccines have been divided into two groups: core and non-core vaccinations. Core vaccines are for diseases that are life-threatening or fatal if contracted. Non-core vaccinations are advised for dogs who have a greater than average risk of being exposed to the infectious agent, partially based on whether or not the region where they live has a high occurrence of the disease.

Based on your Pom’s current health status and his medical history, how often he is in contact with multiple other dogs, the type of activities in which you and he engage, and his risk of having an adverse or chronic reaction as the result of vaccination, your veterinarian will recommend which vaccines your dog should receive and how often.

Vaccination Reactions

Immediate or Short-Term: It is possible for your dog to be feverish and lethargic, lose his appetite, and experience swelling or discomfort at the injection site for 24 to 48 hours after he has been vaccinated. These symptoms are mild, and normally pose no health threat. But vaccinations can result in more serious, allergic reactions which can be fatal.

Symptoms of an allergic response are itching, hives, swelling of the face and head, vomiting or diarrhoea. Allergic reactions can progress into anaphylactic shock. Symptoms are the same as an allergic reaction but are worse and also include swelling of the eyelids, tongue and throat, fluid in the lungs, wheezing, difficulty breathing, restlessness, rapid heartbeat, collapse, convulsions, coma, and death.

Small dogs like the Pom may be more prone to allergic reactions because of their size. If your dog shows any of these symptoms within a few minutes or hours after receiving a vaccine, seek veterinary treatment immediately.

Delayed or long-Term: The most common side effect from vaccination is believed to be possible over-stimulation of the immune system, which may result in autoimmune disease, a condition in which the body attacks and gradually destroys its own tissues or organs. Vaccination-related autoimmune diseases can affect the joints, kidneys, blood or vascular system, the skin, nervous system, or gastrointestinal tract. Symptoms are widely varied.

Besides a misdirected immune system, the opposite is possible and resistance to other infectious diseases may be reduced. Some veterinarians believe that recurring ear and bladder infections might be one sign of this condition.

The long-term effects of frequent, repeated vaccination are just beginning to be studied. If you have concerns about the possible effect of vaccinations on your dog’s health, discuss them with your veterinarian.

Common Health Problems In The Pomeranian

Although the Pomeranian, as a Nordic dog, is by nature hardy and healthy, that doesn’t meant that the breed is exempt from health problems. A few conditions are more likely to occur in Toy dogs simply because of their size, while others have a genetic component and may occur slightly more often in the Pomeranian than most other breeds.

While most responsible breeders plan their litters to avoid inheritable conditions and to maximize the potential for good health in their dogs, because the Pomeranian is such a popular companion animal, there are individuals who sell puppies only for profit, breeding any available dog regardless of his health status.

”If you are buying a puppy, you should be able to look at the parents. Check out the health condition of the parents. Be aware of what you are purchasing,” recommends Florida veterinarian and Pomeranian owner Kandra L. Jones, DVM. “Have the puppy checked out by a veterinarian within three days of purchasing him. ] the vet feels there are problems, then discuss them with the breeder. The best way to avoid many health problems in a new puppy is by finding an ethical, reputable breeder who genetically tests her dogs and breeds only the healthiest Poms, whose relatives were also healthy.

Luxating Patellas

Patellar luxation, the technical term for a slipped kneecap, is the top orthopaedic problem in the Pomeranian. Although the condition can occur as a result of trauma, the majority of cases of this congenital disorder are hereditary.

A luxating patella occurs because the femur (long thigh bone) develops abnormally, which in turn pulls on the thigh muscle attached to the patella (kneecap). As a result, the bones and ligaments of the knee are misaligned and become deformed due to constant orthopaedic stress. It is also possible that the groove in the thigh bone, which aligns and holds the kneecap in place, is not deep enough to prevent improper movement out of the joint. This condition usually manifests midway between puppy-hood and adulthood, or in young adult dogs.

Instead of walking normally, a dog with a luxating patella may take a “skipping” step, and will experience intermittent periods of lameness and discomfort. Another possible sign of patellar luxation is if he stops walking and stretches his leg out behind him in an attempt to get the kneecap to slip back into place. Or the dog may walk in a crouched position as the condition worsens. Additionally, arthritis is likely to develop in the affected joint.

Patellar luxation appears in varying degrees of severity. The least problematic is a subluxated patella, which results in a mild tendency towards joint weakness and limited episodes of temporary misalignment. In most cases the kneecap returns to its proper position on its own. Treatment is normally not necessary for subluxation because there seldom is long term damage to the joint.

However, the remaining degrees of luxation-rated as a grade 2, 3, or 4-indicate a progressive state which typically worsens over the years with normal usage of the leg. The higher the grade number, the more severe the degree of luxation. Surgery is the treatment of choice to repair and realign the joint. Keep in mind that some Pom breeders feel it is best to wait until the dog is about 18 months old before any corrective surgery is performed, as some dogs may outgrow a minor problem. Your veterinarian can give you some guidance as to whether waiting is appropriate or not for your pet. If your Pom shows signs of patellar luxation, seek veterinary attention to reduce the level of his pain and the likelihood of future deterioration of the joint.

Pomeranians who are prone to patellar luxation should not be permitted to jump off of raised surfaces such as a grooming table. Ramps may prove helpful for getting on and off of beds or furniture without jumping, which could help slow the progression of joint and leg damage. Care should also be taken to avoid certain types of exercise and prevent obesity, both of which can further strain an affected joint.

Hypoglycaemia

Hypoglycaemia is the medical term for low blood sugar. Glucose, the form of ”sugar” that circulates in the body, is the final product obtained when foods, particularly carbohydrates as found in fruits, vegetables, grains, sugars, are metabolised. It is the body’s primary and most readily-available source of energy. Levels of glucose are regulated by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas. Excess glucose is stored first in the liver as glycogen, then around the body as fat. Because tiny toy dogs such as the Pom cannot always maintain sufficient stores of glycogen, they may be prone to episodes of hypoglycaemia.

Episodic hypoglycaemia tends most frequently to affect puppies approximately ages 6 to 16 weeks. Poms are high-energy, active dogs who burn a lot of calories-and glucose-during play. Because of their small size, their bodies cannot store and generate enough blood sugar for their activity level, particularly as young, growing pups.

Signs that your Pom’s blood glucose may be dropping too low include sluggishness, weakness, confusion or unusual behaviour, depression, drowsiness, staggering, chills, pale gums, shaking and tremors, dilated pupils, convulsions, collapse, or possibly coma. Not every puppy will experience all these symptoms, so watch your pup closely for a sudden onset of any of these signs.

A puppy that is observed to be experiencing an episode of hypoglycaemia should receive treatment immediately. Many breeders recommend keeping a supply of Nutrical-a flavoured product packed with sugars and vitamins-on hand. Karo syrup can also be used in an emergency. Rub the sugar substance on the gums until your dog begins licking. Afterwards try to get the dog to eat a nutrient-dense meal.

If the dog has lost consciousness, this is a serious emergency. Seek veterinary treatment. Intravenous fluids with dextrose may be necessary to treat swelling of the brain caused by the drop in blood sugar levels. Hypoglycaemia is not a trivial problem. Repeated occurrences can cause permanent brain damage.

Although most puppies outgrow this condition, it is possible for some adult Pomeranians to be hypoglycaemic throughout their lives. Attacks can be precipitated by missing a meal, illness, getting chilled or overly tired, nervousness, or new situations that induce high levels of anxiety. To prevent the problem, try free-choice feeding of a premium, calorie-dense kibble, oversee playtime so that your Pom doesn’t exceed his limits, and keep him warm during cold weather.

Dental Problems

Retained Deciduous (Baby) Teeth

Puppies are usually born with 28 baby teeth that begin to emerge around 3 or 4 weeks of age. In small breeds like the Pom, these teeth come in more slowly than in larger dogs, and by age 6 to 9 weeks, all types of the deciduous teeth should be present.

Somewhere between the ages of 4 or 5 months, and lasting for about 2 to 3 months, the adult, or permanent teeth begin to erupt. Normally, the roots of the baby teeth are being reabsorbed during this time as the permanent teeth push the deciduous teeth completely out. Puppies tend to chew more during this period, which helps the process along. However, in Toy dogs such as the Pomeranian, it is not uncommon for the baby teeth to be retained (remain in place) as the adult teeth grow in. The problem may first be noticed when a dog opens his mouth and it appears as if there is a double set of teeth, or a small tooth is overlapping a larger one.

Retained baby teeth can cause the development of a malocclusion (bad bite) that lasts a lifetime. Not only do malocclusions look funny, they are a source of pain when chewing and can contribute to dental decay. Because Poms can easily retain baby teeth, it is strongly advised that the bite be checked frequently from about 3 months of age on through the entire teething period, to catch any problems that might be developing. Treatment of retained deciduous teeth is removal by a veterinarian.

Tooth Loss

”Dog or human, the most common cause of tooth loss in any species is periodontal disease,” says Paty Aird, Certified Dental Assistant and Pomeranian owner, Periodontal disease is also the main cause of oral infection and manifests in two ways-gingivitis and periodontitis.

Normal, healthy gum tissue is pink, but in gingivitis the gums turn bright red due to inflammation. A dog with gingivitis may also have bad breath, experience discomfort when chewing, and his gums may bleed. Gingivitis is primarily caused by the build-up of plaque (soft, whitish, sticky material composed of decaying food and bacteria) around the gum-line.

As gingivitis progresses, the gums may recede from the teeth and small pockets develop. These pockets trap more food and bacteria, generate more plaque and more gingivitis in a self-perpetuating cycle. Eventually, pus may form, causing the dog more discomfort along with a possible decrease in appetite. Untreated gingivitis frequently leads to periodontitis.

As plaque builds up on teeth, and gums become more and more inflamed, it hardens into tartar, also known as calculus because it contains calcium-based substances. Unlike plaque, tartar is yellowish to brown and has rough edges which also build up around the gum-line. While plaque in the early stages can be removed by basic brushing, calculus cannot. Some smaller breeds have a greater tendency to deposit more plaque and tartar on their teeth than other breeds.

Periodontitis ensues when the structures that hold teeth in place are gradually destroyed by the ever-increasing amounts of bacteria. Teeth are held onto the bone by connective tissue known as the periodontal membrane or ligament. It is this tissue, along with the bone and the roots of the teeth destroyed by infection, eventually causing teeth to loosen and fall out.

”Since Poms have such tiny teeth, the roots and ligaments are very small, so it doesn’t take as much bone loss, or as long for the gums to recede and cause the teeth to come out,” Aird explains. ”It’s not that calculus builds up faster for Poms; they just have such tiny teeth that it doesn’t take long to compromise the integrity of their teeth.”

The best method for treating periodontal disease is to prevent it by feeding dry kibble, regularly brushing your Pom’s teeth, and providing him with safe chew toys (such as Nylabones) that also help keep teeth clean. However, if your Pom already has either gingivitis or periodontitis, these conditions need treatment by a veterinarian. Treatment methods include scaling and removal of plaque or tartar, normally under sedation or general anaesthesia, possible trimming of gingival tissue that can’t be saved, or removal of affected teeth and repair of the bone structure.

If periodontal disease is not too advanced, it is possible, in some cases, that the teeth can be saved and reattach themselves. Antibiotics are normally given to prevent the spread of infection and the veterinarian may advise cleaning your dog’s teeth with a special, hydrogen peroxide-based solution at home.

Collapsing Trachea

The trachea (windpipe) is the tube that serves as the passage for air moving between the mouth and lungs. It is supported in its normal, open position by bands (rings) of cartilage. In Toy dogs, these rings can weaken and collapse, which in turn reduces the flow of air and causes coughing.

At one time, collapsing tracheas were thought to be an acquired condition, but current veterinary texts note that metabolic deficiencies have been found in some dogs that cause tracheal cartilage to develop less rigidly than is necessary for proper support. Tracheal collapse can be caused by trauma, but this occurs less frequently, or may just be the incident which triggers symptoms of the pre-existing condition.

Signs of a collapsing trachea may begin gradually, usually sometime in early – to mid – adulthood and older. These signs may have been present for some time, but have not been detected due to the intermittent nature of the early stages of the collapse. Typically, symptoms include a honking cough, and episodic coughing, along with possible shallow breathing, gagging, or coughing-up of mucous which is often mistaken for vomiting. Fainting may occur if the coughing lasts long enough and air intake is sufficiently restricted.

Collapse can either be partial or total, and can occur in two different regions of the trachea: upper, more in the throat (cervical); or lower, more towards the lungs (intrathoracic). Cervical collapse tends to occur when the dog inhales. During this type of collapse it is also possible for part of the tracheal membrane to drop down into the airway, causing additional irritation and coughing. Collapse of the lower trachea happens during exhalation of the breath. Other, small airways may also be weakened and close at the same time, increasing cough and inflammation.

Tracheal collapse is found more frequently in poorly bred Poms, such as those from puppy mills, or Poms which are overweight. Although many dogs will be normal between episodes, stress, hot weather or overly warm indoor temperatures, high humidity, and excitement can all actuate the problem. Other triggers include exercise, eating, drinking, inhaling smoke or other irritants, pressure on the throat (such as from a leash pulling a collar too tightly) and respiratory infections.

If your Pom has episodes of a honking cough while gasping for air, have him checked for tracheal collapse. The vet will listen thoroughly to your dog’s throat and chest while he breathes, palpate his throat area and probably take x-rays. If the problem is more severe, the vet may also perform a tracheal wash or a bronchoscopy to look for additional issues that could complicate the condition.

Treatment is usually aimed at controlling the factors which trigger a collapse and at reducing symptoms during an episode. Weight loss is recommended for Poms who are obese although exercise must be reduced in frequency and intensity. Efforts must be made to control exposure to hot and humid environments, as well as to irritants such as smoke, or even fragrances which can incite an episode of coughing.

Medications that may be used include cough suppressants, a limited course of anti-inflammatories to reduce irritation, or possibly bronchodilators, which increase the lungs’ ability to handle air. If a secondary infection is present, antibiotics may also be prescribed.

Surgery is not recommended if lifestyle changes and medication can control the symptoms. However in some dogs, particularly those with more frequent or total collapse, surgery to support the trachea with prosthetic (artificial) rings may be recommended. This surgery is described as a high-risk procedure and should only be performed by a specialist skilled in the technique.

Although tracheal collapse is an irreversible condition, it is possible to control the symptoms reasonably well. The good news is that the condition is seldom life-threatening. And, even though a Pom with a collapsing trachea may need to be less active, a happy, normal life is still possible.

Oral Health

An important note about dental disease: the bacteria found in plaque and calculus can spread to other organs such as the heart or kidneys, and cause serious, possibly life-threatening disease. So even when it’s inconvenient or difficult, make the effort to brush your Pom’s teeth on a regular basis. In the meantime, watch for signs that your Pom maybe developing dental problems. For most conditions, signs include pawing at the mouth, difficulty chewing, loss of appetite or disinterest in food and chew toys, drooling or excessive salivation, bad breath, bleeding or red gums, discomfort or pain when chewing. If some of these symptoms are present, consult your veterinarian.

Severe Hair Loss Syndrome

Hair loss – alopecia, in technical terms – does not refer to normal shedding, but more extensive loss of fur over large areas of the body that become bald as a result. There are many causes of alopecia, the most common being flea and other allergies, mange, stress, Cushing’s Disease, and hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels). However, Pomeranians are also prone to a type of hair loss that is usually unrelated to these causes.

Because the exact mechanisms that cause the hair loss and related skin problems have not precisely been determined, the name of the condition also varies. It may be referred to as alopecia X, black skin disease, pseudo-Cushing’s disease, elephant skin disease, one of multiple sex-hormone associated dermatoses or growth hormone (GH)-responsive alopecia, also known as hyposomatotropism. Due to all the confusion in names and causes, the American Pomeranian Club proposed referring to the condition in Pomeranians as ”severe hair loss syndrome” (SHLS).

The syndrome tends to appear at puberty or in young adults, although dogs of any age can acquire the condition. Both sides of the body lose hair in symmetric patches, usually striking the trunk, back of the thighs, neck, tail, and ears. Hair loss may be total or just affect the guard hairs, sparing the undercoat. The fur that does remain often becomes dry and coarse, and breaks or falls out easily. Coat colour may also change, acquiring a reddish tint.

Before the fur falls out, the disease may remain undetected, only to be found if the Pom is clipped during grooming and the hair fails to regrow. Additionally, seasonal shedding may fail to occur. Once the fur is lost, hyper-pigmentation (darkening of the skin) usually develops, and may be so intense that the skin appears black. The skin may also thicken or become thinner.

Testing

Prior to beginning any treatment, careful testing should be done to rule out other conditions such as thyroid disease. A thorough history and physical exam comes first. Skin scrapings or a biopsy may be needed. X-rays may be taken to detect the presence of tumours which might have caused the imbalance and resultant hair loss. Blood and urine are collected and analysed.

In dogs with GH-responsive alopecia, most of these basic test results are normal, including thyroid and adrenal function. At this point, sex hormone levels may be tested and oestrogen, progesterone, or testosterone may be discovered to be either too high or too low. It is possible to measure growth hormone levels but the expensive test is not without risk and is not readily available to most primary care veterinarians.

”Treatment and diagnosis begins with the primary veterinarian,” Dr. Jones says. ”Some vets may choose to refer cases of this nature if they don’t feel comfortable [dealing] with endocrine disorders. But usually, any vet should be capable of diagnosing and treating these [hair loss] disorders.”

Treatment

Once other conditions have been ruled out, treatment options can be considered. First, if the dog has not been spayed or neutered, this should be done, as it corrects SHLS in many cases in fertile dogs.

But be aware that the disease may return-the condition is seen just as frequently in dogs who have already been sterilized. Depending on the levels of various hormones, sex hormones specific to the deficiency or imbalance may be administered. Side effects can be serious and include anaemia, bone marrow suppression, aggressive behaviour, or liver damage.

Growth hormone levels may be supplemented if other therapy is not appropriate. GH is given by injection over several days and in multiple treatments. Synthesized GH may be expensive and difficult to obtain. After about a month or slightly longer, hair may begin to regrow. Symptoms can return in as little as six months, but remission from the disease may last for a few years following treatment.

Yeast

Another possible cause of SHLS and black skin may be related to a fungal growth, Malassezia yeast. This yeast has been found in chronic ear inflammations, irritation of skin that rubs together such as the arm pit and chest, and in general dermatitis related to oily, scaly skin. Like other causes, early signs such as slight redness, mild itchiness, presence of yellowish dander, or excess oil may be missed, and the condition undetected until the hair is lost. Noticeable symptoms are the same-extensive hair loss and darkening of the skin.

Before attempting to treat for a yeast infection, a thorough veterinary exam and testing is warranted to rule out other causes.

In most cases, a correct culture for the presence of Malassezia overgrowth should be found to make the diagnosis. Veterinary treatment usually consists of administration of an oral anti-fungal drug, bathing in special shampoo, and possibly a combination antibacterial / anti-fungal dip. Dogs undergoing treatment should be monitored about every two weeks until the condition clears and treatment is completed.

The Health and Genetics Committee of the American Pomeranian Club has a suggested guideline for treatment at home, based on a British veterinary study. Begin by rubbing the dog with a degreasing hand cleaner, then rinse with water or wash off with mild, diluted anti-bacteria] dish detergent. Bathe in an anti-fungal shampoo which contains chlorhexiderm and allow it to remain on the coat and skin for 15 minutes, then rinse. If a water-only rinse was used following application of hand cleaner, now bathe with the dish detergent as described above. Dry the dog thoroughly to eliminate damp spots that may promote fungal growth. Repeat every three days for three weeks. Wash and disinfect grooming tools between every use (on each dog, if multiple dogs are in the household).

If Malassezia yeast is a contributing factor to SHLS, after cleansing as above, hair regrowth may be seen in just a few weeks. Yeast overgrowth can occur concurrent with other health problems, so return to the vet clinic if symptoms recur; multiple causes and conditions may need to be addressed.

While SHLS causes a drastic change in a Pom’s appearance, in most instances it is not a serious condition and affected dogs can lead normal lives. Just remember to keep a hair-challenged dog warm, and dress him in sweaters during chilly weather.

If your Pom has extensive hair loss and darkening of the skin, schedule an appointment for a complete veterinary consultation. Your vet will be able to help determine what the cause of your dog’s alopecia might be and suggest a treatment plan with which you and your dog can live, and hopefully regrow hair.

Other Problems

Other potential health problems to be aware of, if you are getting a Pomeranian, include chronic bronchitis, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, age-related heart disease, tiny legs which break easily, and risk of side effects from general anaesthesia.

Anaesthesia Reactions

Because of their size, Poms can react badly or even die while under anaesthesia. If your Pom needs anaesthesia, be mindful that the risk may be reduced if procedures are short, or if only one procedure is done at a time. ”Anaesthesia is never without risk,” explains Dr. Jones, “The aesthetic I prefer to use on a Pom is Propofol intravenously, then sevoflurane gas for maintenance”.

Ask your vet questions about the procedure and type of anaesthesia if you are concerned.

Broken Legs

The best bets for broken legs are caution and prevention. Keep your Pom from jumping from high furniture. If he jumps onto a surface which is too high for a safe dismount, lift him down. A ramp may be useful if your Pom insists on getting up on elevated furnishings, such as a high bed, to sleep with you. And always set him down off the grooming table. Also watch out for stepping on little paws and legs with a Pom who likes to walk close to your feet.

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis causes intermittent episodes of coughing, but instead of being trachea-related, the condition is related to inflammation of the lungs. Symptoms may occur more often in overweight dogs, or those who are repeatedly exposed to irritants in the air.

Epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that affects how electrical impulses are conducted in certain parts of the brain. Dogs with epilepsy have repeated episodes of seizures that can either be mild or severe. If your Pom has a seizure, take him to the vet immediately. Epileptic seizures can cause brain damage. Medications may need to be administered for the remainder of the dog’s life, and dosages or types may need readjusted periodically. Affected Poms should be prevented from becoming anxious or overly stressed.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Many bodily functions and organ systems can be negatively impacted, including the heart. Hypothyroidism may stand alone as a problem or be part of another disease process. If your dog gains weight easily, has thinning fur, is lethargic, and maybe has bulging eyes or a nasty change in personality, ask your vet about a possible thyroid problem. Once a

diagnosis has been made, treatment is usually simple-a daily dose of thyroid hormone. Thyroid levels will need to be monitored as long as your dog is on meds, and regular trips to the vet to watch for the development of other related conditions will be necessary.

Heart Disease

Age-related heart diseases can happen to any breed, not just a Pom. There are many different conditions requiring different treatments. A few signs that indicate your senior dog may be acquiring a heart condition are coughing, difficulty breathing, laboured breathing after exertion, shortness of breath, or swelling of the legs. Other symptoms may be noticeable, but vary depending on the type of heart problem. If you suspect your Pom has a heart problem, have him checked by a veterinarian. Some cardiac conditions can be managed through medication and lifestyle changes.

Whatever your Pom’s health problems may be, if you notice signs that he is not feeling well, schedule an appointment for a veterinary check-up. Prevention and early treatment are often the keys to maintaining a life of good health.

Parasites

Although owners don’t like to think of their cuddly little Poms crawling with fleas or other creepy creatures, it’s not uncommon for dogs to become infested with parasites, both internal and external. Parasites are so common, some owners may take their co-existence with their dogs as just a nasty fact of life with a pet. However, parasites can cause serious health problems and should never be ignored.

External Parasites

Fleas

With warm weather or outdoor play, the chance of your dog getting fleas is quite high if he and his environment are unprotected. And, the thick, long coat of the Pom provides the perfect haven in which fleas can hide.

If swallowed, fleas, most commonly, can cause a tapeworm infestation. Long-term f lea infestation can result in anaemia, which can be serious, even deadly, in puppies or very small dogs.

Some Pomeranians can have an allergic reaction to flea saliva that is injected into a dog’s skin when he is bitten. Flea allergy dermatitis, or FAD, causes extreme itching, scratching, and chewing. FAD is treated by bathing the dog and applying a soothing spray. Dietary supplementation with fatty acids also helps. An antihistamine or corticosteroid may be administered by your veterinarian to stop the allergic reaction.

The most important way to treat flea related problems is by keeping your Pom flea free. At the start of flea season, apply a 30-day, topical spoticide if your veterinarian recommends it as safe for your Pom. Spoticides work by killing adult fleas and interrupting the growth cycle (IGRs) of developing fleas. Dogs that are sensitive to spoticides, which cling to the coat for three to four weeks, may need to be dipped by a veterinarian in a special flea-killer instead. Or ask about a preventive spray that can be applied lightly to the coat a few times weekly prior to going outdoors. Monthly oral preventives are also available, but first make sure your veterinarian thinks this is the safest route for your Pom.

If your dog already has fleas, as detected by black flecks in the fur, repeated scratching, and red bumpy bites, you will need to treat him and his environment to get rid of the pests. Bathe him in a flea shampoo recommended by your vet. A water-based spray containing IGRS and made from Chrysanthemums and labelled as pyrethrins (natural form) or permethrins (synthetic form), can be applied afterwards. A spoticide may then be used, but you must wait 48 hours after a bath before applying. Outdoors, areas that promote flea reproduction also need to be treated. Remove dead leaves, grass, pine needles, or other organic debris. Fleas thrive in the shady, moist environments underneath these materials. Apply a pesticide weekly for three weeks by diluting and spraying with water. Permethrin or chlorpyrifos are some chemicals suggested by professionals as either less harmful to pets or as more effective against fleas. Keep your dog out of chemically treated areas for the time recommended by the product’s manufacturer.

Inside, wash all dog bedding and vacuum all carpets and upholstered furniture. Sodium polyborate powder can then be applied to carpeted areas. This flea eliminator is purported to have little if any toxicity and be effective for almost a full year. Surfaces may also be sprayed with products containing IGRs, or pyrethrins or permethrins, which are also effective and safer for pets than indoor chemical insecticides containing organophosphates or carbamates.

Be cautious when treating your dog, the house, and the yard.

Combining multiple chemicals can be a recipe for a sick dog. For the safest recommendations on complete flea removal and control, consult your veterinarian.

Ticks

Dog ticks, deer ticks, and others are bloodsucking parasites that live in brushy woods on common wildlife such as deer, squirrel, and rabbits-or in your yard and on your dog.

Ticks start out tiny, attaching themselves to a dog in hidden places like behind the ears, in the armpits, or on the inside of the legs in order to draw blood and feed. As they become engorged with blood, the ticks grow larger and eventually lay eggs on the host dog. With their tough exterior shell, ticks are difficult to kill.

Ticks should not be viewed as merely a disgusting insect. They are carriers of very serious diseases. If bitten, dogs can become infected with a variety of tickborne illnesses which are difficult to diagnose and treat. These diseases are debilitating, and can induce a critical anaemia, result in permanent damage to joints, or bring about a chronic disease state. Many cases can be fatal or cause life-threatening heart, kidney, or liver damage.

Like fleas, prevention is the best approach to managing ticks. Mow areas where your dog plays outside and keep them clear of fast-growing weeds. If you are using a spoticide or spray~on flea preventive, choose one that incorporates a tick repellent or killer.

Any ticks that your dog does get should be removed immediately. Carefully use a pair of tweezers to pluck the tick – body and head – from your dog’s skin, then thoroughly cleanse the bite with alcohol. Follow-up cleaning can be done with a little hydrogen peroxide on a cotton ball.

Symptoms of tickborne disease can show up over a long range of time, from within a week to a few months after a bite. If your Pom shows signs of lameness, weakness, or any other indication that he doesn’t feel well after removal of a tick, take him to the veterinarian and request a tick panel.

Mange Mites

There are three types of mange in dogs, all caused by a different type of mite. Each type has a predilection for attacking different areas of the body. Scabies, or sarcoptic mange, usually effects dogs

living in dirty conditions and can be passed to humans. Other types are cheyletiellosis, also known as ”walking dandruff ,” and demodectic mange. Puppies contract the latter types more often than adult dogs. Dogs with demodectic mange seem to have a genetic predisposition to damage to the skin. To kill the mites, a veterinarian must prescribe the application of a topical insecticide. Oral medications may also be given to help relieve itching, promote healing, and reduce the chance of recurrence.

Internal Parasites

Thinking about a dog having worms may be enough to make an owner’s stomach turn. But it is not uncommon for dogs to have intestinal or other internal parasites at some point in their lives. Many puppies are born with worms, even when the dam appears parasite free or has been wormed prior to conception. Except for heartworms, worms are not a frequent cause of disease in dogs.

However, any infestation should be treated.

Heartworms

These worms are transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes. Once infected, the worm’s larvae travel through the blood to the right chamber of the heart, where they spend several months maturing. Signs of heartworm infection include coughing, which is sometimes bloody, weakness, shortness of breath, exercise intolerance, and lethargy. Heartworm disease is well advanced by the time symptoms are present. Permanent heart damage or disease is possible, as is death.

To prevent your dog from becoming infested with this life-threatening parasite, place him on preventive. Be cautious when you choose which product to use, as dosing in some brands may be too high, even in the lowest dosage, for a tiny Pomeranian. Even though your dog is on preventive, it is still important to have his blood tested every spring for the presence of heartworm microfilaria (the larval stage). If you are just starting your Pom on heartworm prevention for the first time, also make sure to test for the parasite first as dogs who are given the preventive and are positive for heartworms may go into prophylactic shock (see first-aid section below) and die.

Should your dog test positive for heartworms, your veterinarian will prescribe medication which must be administered in the clinic, with your dog in observation. Treatment can have serious, even fatal side effects and may take several months before your dog is heartworm clear. 80, like most parasites, prevention is the best cure. Plus, an added benefit of giving heartworm preventive is that it also helps prevent most other types of worms.

Tapeworms

To obtain the nutrients on which it feeds, this nematode attaches its head by suckers and hooks to the wall of a dog’s intestine. This worm, which can grow to several feet, is composed of reproducing segments. Each segment resembles moist, mobile grains of cooked rice and are passed in your dog’s faeces. Segments may also crawl around near the anus. After tapeworm sections have been shed, they look like dried rice grains in the stool.

Tapeworm infestation can cause mild diarrhoea, reduced appetite, and possibly weight loss. Fur may become dull as a result of long-term infestation. Besides swallowing fleas which carry tapeworms, dogs can also acquire them from eating wild animals. Prescription medication is necessary to kill the tapeworm and its head, which controls the parasite’s growth.

Roundworms

Nearly every puppy is born with roundworms, so it is routine to treat for this type of helminth postnatally. Older dogs can also get roundworms, sometimes from ingesting soil contaminated with their eggs. As it develops from egg into adult, the roundworm moves through various body systems, and at different stages can be found in the stomach, intestines, lung, organ or muscle tissue, and even the breast milk of nursing dams.

Signs of infestation include a pot belly, dull coat, failure to thrive, gagging cough, vomiting (often of worms), and even death in young puppies. Worms may also be present in the stool. They are several inches (cm) long and look like pale strands of motile spaghetti.

Hookworms

These small, narrow worms live in the soil and are found in the faeces of infected animals. Hookworms fasten to the small intestine of the host dog. Acute infestation may be present in puppies. Symptoms include anaemia and bloody diarrhoea. In adult dogs or with any longterm infestation, symptoms also include diarrhoea and anaemia, in addition to weight loss and weakness.

Whipworms

Whipworms are about 2 inches (5.1 cm) long, and as their name implies, resemble a whip. Dogs become infected from soil contaminated with worm eggs. Adult worms fasten to the wall of the large intestine. Signs of infestation include diarrhoea, weight loss, and an overall unhealthy appearance. It may be necessary to examine multiple stool samples before the presence of Whipworms can be confirmed.

As part of promoting your Pom’s good health, internal parasites should be prevented by keeping his outdoor play area clean, and if your veterinarian recommends it, by placing him on a preventative.

If your dog acquires worms, he should receive treatment to kill the parasite. Be cautious of your own health, as some worms can be transmitted to humans. Take a sample of your dog’s stool to the veterinarian for analysis and to receive the correct de-worming meds, if he has symptoms that indicate a possible worm infestation. At his annual well-dog exam, you can provide a stool sample, which is a good way to stay ahead of internal parasite problems.

Holistic And Alternative Healthcare

Like human medicine, veterinary medicine has kept pace with technology. More high-tech diagnostic testing and treatments are available for dogs each year. But like human medicine, veterinary medicine also has areas where technological advancement has not been able to increase cure rates or promote a better quality of health, usually in chronic conditions where symptoms tend to linger throughout a dog’s lifetime.

As a result, some owners have turned to alternative treatment methods that might improve their dog’s quality of life in such chronic disease states. These new options incorporate a variety of ancient and new approaches to treatment. Holistic healthcare focuses on treating the whole dog, not just the illness or injury, while at the same time reducing the discomfort and stress of treatment. This practice emphasizes balance and encompasses a combination of traditional and alternative medicines. Holistic practitioners View the canine patient with compassion and respect, and try to choose less invasive techniques which maximize effectiveness and minimize harm to the dog.

”A truly holistic View involves looking at all options and choosing what works best with the fewest side effects,” describes veterinary practitioner Shawn Messonnier, DVM, author of The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats, and columnist of The Holistic Pet. ”I’m a conventional doctor by training, and I use conventional therapies in my practice. Whenever possible, I like to integrate as many different therapies as possible, since the best results in my practice tend to occur when conventional therapies are combined with complementary therapies. The holistic approach looks at all treatment options and chooses what works best for each patient.”  Therapies -or complementary modalities -can include chiropractic, acupuncture, homoeopathy, herbal medicine, acupressure, massage, magnetic therapy, flower essences, crystals, energy healing, and special diets and nutritional supplements.

Acupuncture

The philosophy on which acupuncture is based purports that disease is created when an imbalance of energy occurs in the body. Treatment consists of gently inserting very fine needles at Specific locations, believed to be energy points and lines, in the body to redirect and rebalance the energy. Stimulation of these points results in actual physiological and biochemical changes that produce a healing effect.

Acupuncture treatment may produce mild discomfort but is well tolerated by most dogs.

This method has been used on animals for at least 4,000 years to help relieve pain and treat musculoskeletal disorders, nervous disorders, and diseases of the urinary tract, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory system and the skin.

Acupressure

Acupressure is similar to acupuncture in its philosophy and the use of specific points during treatment, except that no needles are used. Conditions treated are similar, but effects of the treatment may not be as profound as in acupuncture. Many acupuncturists are also qualified to do acupressure, and some trained pet massage therapists can provide this treatment as well.

Massage

Massage has become a popular and effective way to assist healing of some injuries and certain disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Massage for dogs reduces stress and relieves pain. If you think your Pom might benefit from massage, ask your veterinarian for a referral to a therapist. Books on pet massage are also available to help you learn several techniques for use on your dog at home.

Chiropractic

For decades, humans have opted to receive chiropractic treatment, the gentle manipulation of the spine and skeletal system. Trained veterinary chiropractors are now accessible to dogs. This form of treatment operates on the theory that in order to function properly, the body needs to be in correct alignment.

Accidents, stress which causes muscles to tense, abrupt movements, athletic activity, injuries, and more can result in subtle shifts in placement of the joints or spine, and resulting misalignment of the skeletal structure. Chiropractic believes that this causes simultaneous disruption of signals from the nervous system to affected areas, which increases pain and slows healing. The body is returned to proper alignment through adjustment, a treatment which does not produce discomfort.

Homeopathy, Flower Essences

In traditional treatment, medicines are considered weapons in a battle against illness and are used to fight symptoms. The principle in homeopathy is nearly opposite: like cures like, by activating the bod 5 natural resources to gently heal itself. Homeopathy uses ”remedies” that in healthy individuals would cause the same symptoms of disease that the sick exhibit. This practice isn’t just a wild theory; its founder, Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, developed the system in the 18005 after extensive scientific research.

Remedies, which capture the ”energetic essence” of the disease state they are used to cure, are derived from plant, mineral, animal, bacterial, viral, or other naturally occurring sources. Flower essences, originally created by a homeopathic practitioner; are mild remedies made from flowering plants and believed to work on the mind or emotions.

Herbal or Botanical Medicine

Throughout the millennia, as long as people have been getting sick, there have been healers and practitioners who used herbs to treat disease. Because dogs manifest disease in a manner similar to humans, herbs used to treat people may also be used to medicate dogs.

Herbal preparations are made from different parts of a plant-roots, leaves, or buds-and are biochemically active. Because of these chemical properties, herbs can be used like drugs to treat various conditions. Traditional prescription drugs today are still sometimes manufactured from plant products. But just like drugs, they can have side effects or interact with other medications or herbs.

Herbs tend to be useful in chronic conditions. However, keep in mind that herbs generally take longer to be effective, and may produce milder results. If you want to see if herbal treatment might be helpful for your Pom, consult a veterinarian who is experienced in this practice.

First Aid And Emergency Care

Would you know what to do if your dog had an accident or became critically ill during the hours when your veterinarian’s office is closed? If you live in an urban, or even a progressive but semi-rural area, it’s likely that there is a veterinary emergency clinic where you can take your Pom. Regardless, you still need to recognize when your dog requires emergency care and be able to provide first aid until you can get him to a veterinarian. Following are descriptions of symptoms of critical conditions and some first-aid techniques to use at home or in transit to a clinic.

Difficulty Breathing or Cardiovascular

Distress Gasping, choking, straining to breathe, noise when breathing, rapid or shallow breathing, extreme anxiety, and collapse. Like human first aid, remember ”ABC”- check airway, breathing and circulation. Chest compressions or artificial respiration may be needed.

  1. Open dog’s mouth, clear saliva and remove any foreign objects if possible.
  2. Lay dog on right side and place both hands on chest; press down with sharp motion and quickly release. If dog doesn’t begin breathing, start artificial respiration.
  3. Pull tongue forward, then hold mouth tightly closed with hand.
  4. Put mouth over nose, covering nostrils, and blow gently for two to three seconds. The chest should expand if airway is unobstructed.
  5. Continue respirations until dog begins to breath on own.
  6. If less of respiration is due to drowning, hold dog upside down so water runs out of the mouth. Head should be positioned lower than body.
  7. If heart is not beating, or no pulse can be felt, heart massage may be necessary. Dog should be in same position as for compressions and have airway cleared.
  8. Put thumb on one side and two fingers on other side of breastbone, behind the elbows.
  9. Compress (with the positioned thumb and fingers) six times, wait five seconds and repeat. Repetitions may be continued until dog breathes or until no heartbeat is detected for five minutes.

Uncontrolled Bleeding

Copious flow of blood; arterial blood is bright and spurts, blood from veins is dark and flows.

  1. Use sterile gauze (or clean cotton cloths if gauze unavailable), place over wound and apply pressure.
  2. Tape in place for transport to emergency clinic.
  3. Watch for swelling in leg below bandage; slightly loosen bandage to relieve.
  4. More severe bleeding may require application of a tourniquet. Wrap several layers of gauze or cloth around wound.
  5. Loop gauze tightly, insert stick into top of loop and twist.
  6. Loosen stick for five to 10 seconds every 10 to 15 minutes.

Distended Abdomen; Acute Abdomen

Bloating with lack of gastrointestinal activity. Or, sudden abdominal pain with retching and vomiting, restlessness, assumption of position with chest down and abdomen up. Possible causes are intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis, urinary stones, ruptured bladder, bloat, or torsion. Rush to clinic, as all conditions are lifethreatening. Bloody or violent vomiting or diarrhoea also requires immediate treatment.

Inability to Urinate

Straining to urinate, no urine produced, or small amounts of bloody urine.

  • Seek immediate treatment; dog may need catheterisation. Failure to pass urine can lead to kidney failure and death.

Neurological Symptoms

Staggering gait, tremors, convulsions or seizures, loss of balance, loss of consciousness, sudden loss of vision, tilted head sometimes with circling.

  • Keep dog calm and warm.
  • Wrap in blanket to prevent self-injury. Get medical attention.

Poison

Many chemicals and plants cause violent illness or death. Symptoms vary with substance ingested but include vomiting, diarrhoea, panting, drooling, salivating, difficulty breathing, seizures, loss of bladder or bowel control, coma, and death.

  • Immediately try to locate plant or chemical ingested.
  • Do not induce vomiting unless certain that it is appropriate; some agents are treated without inducing vomiting, but are diluted with milk instead. Do not induce vomiting if dog is unconscious or having seizures.
  • If induction of vomiting is advised, give one teaspoon hydrogen peroxide per five pounds (2.25 kilograms) of weight, to a maximum of three tablespoons. Activated charcoal may also be given, if advised, to help absorb poison.
  • As soon as you have done as instructed, seek emergency treatment; poisons can have long-term effects.

Broken Bones; Spinal Injury

  • Stabilize break to restrain movement. Avoid moving broken leg or back to limit damage.
  • Temporarily splint limb by wrapping loosely in multiple layers of gauze or newspaper.
  • Carefully slide onto wood plank or heavy cardboard, or wrap in heavy coat and transport to clinic for treatment. Dog may need to be muzzled, if muzzle doesn’t interfere with breathing

Eye Injury

  • Flush with sterile saline, cover with sterile pad if drainage or bleeding is moderate to profuse, and get dog to clinic.

Heatstroke; Hypothermia

Exposure to hot weather temperatures can cause fatal heatstroke. Signs are raspy, intensely rapid breathing, very red gums and tongue, thick saliva, moderate to severely elevated body temperature, and vomiting. Progression to death is rapid.

  • Move to cool room or area, immerse in cool water, or spray with garden hose. If collapse is imminent, give cool water enema.
  • Veterinary treatment may include drugs to reduce heat-related inflammation. Heatstroke is preventable; avoid situations where dog could get overly warm. For example, it only takes a few minutes for an unventilated vehicle, even parked in the shade, to exceed temperatures compatible with life during warm weather.
  • Exposure to cold temperatures for prolonged periods can result in hypothermia-loss of minimum body temperature necessary to maintain life. Toy-sized dogs are most susceptible. Signs are violent shivering, apathy and lethargy, body temperature below 97° F (36°C).
  • Move to warm room or area. Wrap in towels or blankets.
  • Hot water bottles, or heating pads set to ”low” can be applied over the towels. Hair dryers on ”warm” setting may also help. Dogs must be monitored during use.
  • When dog is warm, give food to return blood sugar (glucose) to normal levels.

Allergic Reactions

Can cause anaphylactic shock, a possibly fatal collapse of the body’s systems. Reactions to drugs, insect bites, and some foods can result in hives, vomiting, difficulty breathing, swelling of airways, shock, and death.

  • Give antihistamine based on the dosage chart on the packaging for your dog’s weight to conscious dogs and rush to emergency clinic.

Accident or Trauma

Due to fall, struck by vehicle, penetrating wound, chest or abdominal wound, broken bones, severe bleeding, or a neck, head or back injury.

  • Shock may ensue. Muzzle (unless breathing is impaired), give first aid (ABC), and go for immediate treatment. If muzzle is not available, gauze or strips of any soft cloth such as cotton rags, or even a loose, cloth-covered elastic hair scrunchie may be substituted.

Shock

Possible result of severe, acute trauma, allergy, or illness. Detected by pale gums, shallow respiration, rapid heart rate, weakness or collapse, depression, confusion, and faint pulse.

  • Check airway and breathing, treat as described above, control bleeding if applicable.
  • Calm dog and keep him warm. Do not impede breathing with muzzle. Rush to emergency clinic.

The Senior Pomeranian

As your Pom ages, there will be changes in his health, such as difficulty moving, seeing, hearing, or chewing. When a dog is a cute puppy bouncing around, it’s hard to imagine that he will one day grow old. But ageing is inevitable. Providing extra care and support can allow your elderly Pomeranian to live his last days in greater comfort. Physically, it’s important to monitor your dog’s weight and nutrition.

Health conditions common to older dogs can be worsened by obesity. Foods designed for senior dogs provide essential nutrients in balanced amounts but with fewer calories, reducing the chance of excess weight gain. Older dogs can also become too thin and may require a more appealing food that is higher in calories to maintain proper weight and energy level.

Skin and coat problems that may increase with age can be improved by regular grooming.

Although you may need to change techniques or shorten grooming sessions, don’t stop grooming your Porn. Continue to bathe and brush him to keep his fur clean and free of mats. And don’t forget to brush his teeth, as always. Bacteria from gum disease can put extra strain on ageing organs.

Make sure your older Pom’s space is comfortable and safe. Use soft, supportive bedding in a room that isn’t too cold, draughty, or damp. Place multiple water bowls throughout the house so he doesn’t have to walk too far to get a drink. However, don’t stop exercising your dog just because he’s getting older-physical activity promotes better circulation and digestion, which tend to be problematic in older dogs. Plan exercise around your Pom’s limitations, and don’t let him overdo it.

As he ages, take your senior Pom to the vet about every six months for a wellness and preventive exam. This provides an opportunity to catch age-related problems as they occur.

Ageing also affects emotional health. Changes in the brain may be observed in altered sleep-wake patterns, moments of disorientation, or changes in behaviour. Canine nutritionists have discovered that antioxidants in the diet can be beneficial for the senior dog’s mental health. It has also been shown that keeping your older Pom’s mind stimulated helps. Providing new toys, playing games that make him think, and continued interaction with people and pet friends are all ways to help him stay alert.

But probably the most important part of keeping the older Pomeranian healthy is to make him happy and to love him as much in his old age as you did when he was a puppy.

Saying Goodbye

An old cliché says that all good things must come to an end. Sadly, this is true even for the life of a beloved dog. No matter when it occurs for your dog-at the end of a long life or following an early death from accident or disease-it will be too soon. And it will be one of the most sorrowful events in your life.

At that time, you may be called upon to make what may be the most difficult decision you ever face: whether or not to euthanise your best friend. Euthanasia is done as humanely as possible by giving an overdose injection of a strong sedative. If your dog is anxious, a mild tranquillizer may be given prior to help calm him. Most dogs simply lie down and close their eyes. A few may vocalize or experience mild twitching, but for the most part, their passing appears peaceful. It is heart-wrenching to decide to end your dog’s life, but it is equally painful to watch him lose his dignity or die suffering or in pain.

If you never had to euthanise a pet, it may be difficult to believe, but it is likely that your dog will let you know when he is ready to go. It may even be clear to you that he is asking you to help him be released. Or your Pomeranian may pass quietly in his sleep.

Whichever way your dog’s death occurs, you may experience doubts about your actions and choices. You will also grieve and be intensely sad over your loss. These feelings are normal, but you don’t have to suffer in silence. Nearly all veterinary colleges offer toll-free telephone numbers for bereaved owners to call and speak with a trained grief counsellor.

Your days spent in each other’s company will be over, but you will be left with your memories. The best way to prepare for the eventual loss of your Pomeranian is to make the most of your time together now. Live your life with your canine companion in such a way that you have few regrets. Treat him well, take good care of him, play with him, travel with him, and love him. Then when the day arrives that you say your final goodbyes, your memories will be that much sweeter, as the bond you once shared lives on in your heart.

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