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Pyloric Stenosis In The Maltese Dog Breed

Maltese dogs are one of a number of small, cute and fluffy little white dog breeds, and they are very affectionate and personable, which is reflected by their place in the Kennel Club’s toy dog grouping.

The Maltese is a great little all rounder with a lot to recommend them to all dog owners including first time buyers, being as they are small enough to fit into smaller homes comfortably, as well as being very low shedding and so, not prone to dropping lots of hair around the home. They are reasonably smart and easy to train, even for people who have never trained a dog before, and they need a couple of daily walks but are not hard to keep happy in terms of the amount of exercise they require.

All of this – plus of course, the lovely temperament and cute appearance of dogs of the breed – means that Maltese dogs are in great demand as pets, and they’re actually the 28th most popular dog breed overall in the UK.

However, the Maltese dog breed is also one that has higher than usual risk factors for quite a number of hereditary health conditions that can affect the dog’s quality of life as well as their lifespan, which all potential Maltese puppy buyers should be aware of. One such condition is called pyloric stenosis, and this is something that anyone who is considering buying a Maltese pup or who might be thinking of breeding from their own Maltese dog should be aware of, and learn a little about.

In this article, we will look at pyloric stenosis in the Maltese dog in more detail, explaining what the condition is, how it affects dogs, and what can be done about it. Read on to learn more.

What is pyloric stenosis?

Pyloric stenosis is a congenital defect in which the part of the dog’s stomach that exits into the small intestine is narrower than it should be, which means that the dog can’t digest their food properly and will be prone to vomiting shortly after eating, as the food they eat cannot pass properly from the stomach into the small intestine to begin the next stage of the digestive process.

The stenosis or narrowing itself occurs when the pyloric valve thickens, which limits or prevents food from passing out of the stomach into the small intestine. This triggers the dog’s vomit reflex as there is no other way to empty the stomach, and the pup won’t get any nutrients from their food and will be continually hungry.

Understandably, this is very serious because dogs can’t live on thin air, and also because this process of repeated vomiting means that the risk of your dog inhaling food into their lungs increases, causing further complications.

What sort of dogs are at risk for pyloric stenosis?

Pyloric stenosis is a hereditary health defect, which means that only dogs that inherit it from their parents will be affected by the condition. Certain dog breeds are more at risk for this than others, with the Maltese being one of the most notable.

Both male and female dogs are equally likely to be affected by pyloric stenosis, and the condition tends to become evident whilst affected dogs are still young.

Often, the condition will be diagnosed for the first time at around the time that a new litter of pups are weaned onto solid food, because it is of course harder for food to pass through a narrow opening than it is for milk or other fluids to do the same.

In some cases, the vomiting might be only occasional or infrequent, due to a less acute narrowing of the exit from the stomach, and this can mean that dogs with the condition are not diagnosed until they are somewhat older.

What are the symptoms of pyloric stenosis in the Maltese dog?

The signature symptom of pyloric stenosis in Maltese dogs is a propensity to vomit soon after eating, usually within an hour but often sooner. If the dog vomits after all or most meals, this is a strong indicator, particularly if the dog is young.

Additionally, a pup with pyloric stenosis won’t gain weight properly (and may lose weight) and will generally fail to thrive, as their bodies are being denied the food and nutrients they need to grow and develop.

To diagnose pyloric stenosis in the Maltese dog, you vet will need to assess their symptoms and run some tests, which usually involves an endoscopy and physical examination.

Can pyloric stenosis in the Maltese dog be treated or cured?

How pyloric stenosis in the Maltese dog is treated or managed depends on how serious the condition is, and the affected dog themselves.

Ideally, pyloric stenosis will be corrected surgically, which allows the dog to eat more or less normally and prevents future vomiting and associated symptoms, permitting the dog to get up to full health.

In some cases, dietary changes can be used to manage the condition if surgery is not an option, and generally, you will need to feed even a dog that has had a successful operation for pyloric stenosis with care for the remainder of their life.

However, once the condition has been treated and is successfully managed, affected dogs can go on to enjoy their lives as normal.


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