Maltese FAQ section iv|
Q: My Maltese has a scab-like sore that is not mange and which does not respond to antibiotics. Any suggestions?
After doing some research into the subject of skin disorders, we found the topic to be so broad and complex that we realized it is not possible for us to know exactly what to suggest in this forum. To see just how complicated the diagnosis of a skin disorder can get, go to the following web page and try it for yourself:
Skin Rashes and Other Changes
, American Academy of Family Physicians
However, we are able to direct you to several sources of useful information where you may (hopefully) find a solution. The following links to web pages at the MedlinePlus website, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, each have several links to information about dermatitis and skin diseases, respectively:
Some hints that might lead you in the right direction are the facts that your dog's sore is not mange and probably not bacterial (since antibiotics have no effect). This leaves several other possibilities though; for example: Atopic Dermatitis (i.e., allergies, usually to dust mites); Hormonal Imbalance (e.g., hypothyroidism); Mastocytosis (similar to allergies); Viruses (e.g., warts, cold sores, etc.); Parasitic Infestation (e.g., demodex); Genetic Skin Diseases; etc.
Note that in cases of atopic dermatitis, a loss of moisture from the epidermal layer can occur, causing the skin to become very dry and reducing the skins resistance to bacterial, viral or fungal infection. If there is coincidental infection, the combined condition can make a correct diagnosis more difficult. Some successful therapies for atopic dermatitis include the following:
- Increased essential fatty acids in the diet
- Moisturizing skin lotions or conditioners
- Hyposensitizing (desensitizing) vaccines
- Allergen avoidance
(Use drugs or vaccines only after consultation with, and recommendation by, a veterinarian.)
Atopic Dermatitis In The Dog, Stephen Shaw, BVetMed, CertSAD, MRCVS, cir. 1994 for The International Journal of Veterinary Medicine
Handout on Health: Atopic Dermatitis, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health; January 1999, Revised April 2003
Q: Are Maltese prone to low blood sugar? If so, how can I treat it or prevent it in my dog?
Yes, in our experience, Maltese dogs have been affected by low blood sugar episodes. The medical term for low blood sugar is Hypoglycemia, and the treatment and prevention of the condition is best understood by learning a bit more about the condition itself. So, we'll start with a summary of our research of the subject and then try to answer those questions.
Hypoglycemia in General
Hypoglycemia is a condition which occurs in humans and some animals when their blood sugar, or glucose, level falls below normal. Glucose is a form of sugar which is such an important fuel for the body, and especially the brain, that a deficiency can cause serious health problems. The main dietary sources of glucose are carbohydrate-rich foods such as grains, starchy vegetables, dairy products, fruits, and sweets.1
The pancreas assists in regulating blood glucose levels by producing insulin, which lowers blood glucose levels. Increased pancreatic insulin production is also stimulated by increasing amounts of physical exercise. Excessive insulin production can result in "insulin shock", which is one form of severe hypoglycemia that causes unconsciousness.2
A more common form of hypoglycemia, called relative hypoglycemia, is a condition in which a newborn's blood glucose is low. This can occur if the mother's blood glucose is consistently high during pregnancy. Before birth, the fetus produces insulin to control the glucose it is receiving from the mother. After birth, the newborn no longer receives the mother's glucose, but is still producing insulin at pre-birth levels. This can drive the infant's blood sugar level down. In severe cases, this condition can result in seizures and damage to the baby's nervous system if not treated immediately.2
Hypoglycemia in Maltese Dogs
While Maltese dogs can be affected by relative hypoglycemia during infancy, they are also more generally susceptible to yet another form, which is low blood sugar resulting from inadequate food intake. The causes, among other things, could be related to: loss of appetite due to mood, stress, illness, injury or trauma; an increase in physical exercise activity without a corresponding increase in food intake; improper diet or feeding schedule.
If untreated, extreme cases of hypoglycemia in Maltese dogs can result in permanent nervous system or brain damage and even death. Therefore, it is very important to know the warning signs of hypoglycemia and what to do if they appear.
Symptoms of Hypoglycemia in Maltese Dogs
(in increasing order of severity)
Treatment for Hypoglycemia in Maltese Dogs
- Fatigue, Weakness, Listlessness
- Nervousness, Trembling, Shakiness
- Confusion, Dizziness
- Rapid Heart Rate, Palpitations
- White Gums
- Rolling Eyes
- Convulsion or Seizure (spasms, locking jaws, rigid muscles)
- Breathing Stops
Immediately feed them a few teaspoons full of something that contains some form of sugar (food, supplement, drink) in order to raise the blood glucose level.1,2
(Force feed if necessary--worry about the mess later.) We recommend Nutri-CalTM/Nutri-StatTM
, a high calorie food supplement gel containing molasses, protein, fat and several essential vitamins, complex carbohydrates, amino acids and omega fatty acids. If Nutri-Cal is unavailable, honey is a good substitute. Hydration is also very important--make sure that they drink some fluids.
If the dog won't take the food willingly (or consciously), put some mashed food on your finger and rub it on the roof of their mouth and on their tongue. Then, if necessary, insert a syringe (without needle) of water into their mouth and gently squeeze the water in for them to drink and wash down the food. Be careful not to force too much at a time, or they could choke. Once something is ingested, you should see a quick improvement and lessening of symptoms--if not, get immediate emergency attention from a Veterinarian. Even if you decide to go to the Vet from the beginning, try to get something into them to raise their blood sugar levels while on the way to the Vet because time is critical.
Prevention of Hypoglycemia in Maltese Dogs
At regular intervals, feed small meals containing complex carbohydrates (rice, yogurt, etc.), as well as the usual fiber, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals.1,2
Give a daily nutritional supplement that will maintain glucose levels, such as the recommended Nutri-CalTM/Nutri-StatTM
high calorie supplement. Avoid skipping meals. Balance extra exercise activity with extra food.2
1: Hypoglycemia, NIH Publication No. 03-3926, March 2003; National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health
2: Hypoglycemia, Healthline(sm) Beta, Copyright ©2005 Healthline Networks, Inc.
Q: My Maltese has some light brown markings on her stomach and is beginning to have some beige color in her coat. Is this normal?
Yes. Splotchy areas of even darker (black or nearly black) skin pigmentation anywhere on the body are not uncommon. In fact, this dark skin pigmentation is generally considered desirable because it usually results in accentuating the Maltese standard characteristic called "Black Points"; that is, black skin pigmentation of the: eye lids, nose, lips and toe pads. While Black Points are essentially a required characteristic for conformance to the Maltese standard in the show ring, dark skin pigmentation elsewhere on the body is not a requirement. The Maltese standard allows for some light coloration of the coat and this too is normal.
Note: some breeders actually feed powdered Seaweed supplement to their Maltese dogs in an effort to enhance dark skin pigmentation. However, while seaweed supplement may have beneficial nutritive value, we are not aware of any scientific evidence that proves the feeding of seaweed supplement will increase dark skin pigmentation.
In our experience, we have noticed in many cases that Maltese having more dark skin pigmentation will tend to have some areas of beige coloration of the coat. In our opinion (it seems obvious), this light coat coloring often referred to as "lemon", actually is a result
of the dark skin pigmentation. Conversely, we've noticed that many Maltese having less skin pigmentation often have whiter coats or less coloration of the coat. Another observation, some Maltese having weaker skin pigmentation may wind up with defects in their Black Points, like a pink toe pad, a pink portion of an eye lid, or a winter nose, etc. So, there is often a trade-off between having bolder Black Points and having a whiter coat.
While at least minimal Black Points and a mostly white coat are considered standard, the acceptability or desirability of any other areas of skin pigmentation or light coloration of the coat are merely a matter of preference. However, there is no denying that the beauty of a Maltese having both a purely white coat and
bold Black Points, is striking and exceptional.
Q: What are the odds that our 1 year old Maltese dog killed a rat that we found near the house?
You may be surprised, but based upon our experience, we think it is entirely possible that your dog killed the rat. As we have mentioned elsewhere, every individual Maltese has a unique personality, and while some are passive and shy, there are a few that get downright aggressive at times. The more aggressive "Alpha" types (male or
female) may go after small animals for sport; and as they sometimes do with their toys, if they catch the little critters they will shake the living daylights out of them and even rip them into pieces. We have seen some Maltese go after mice, gophers and snakes on our property. Some of them have even brought mice and gopher heads into the house. I know, it sounds shocking, but it's true. Please note, however, that we live on a ranch in a rural area. City dwellers are probably less likely to see anything like this.
Q: How long will the period last when my Maltese comes in heat?
When an adult Maltese female comes "in season," the period typically lasts about 21 days. The heaviest bleeding occurs during the first 10 to 14 days, after which time the discharge steadily becomes clearer and has decreasing volume. Although Maltese are typically the most fertile at around the mid-point of their heat period, we have seen conception on as late as the 20th day! Note that when they first come of age, their first heat may be shorter and with less flow. They will typically come in heat once every 6 months.
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