The average Pomeranian is not just cute, but long-lived. These little furballs can live to their midteens to late teens if they receive good care. Like all purebred dogs, poms are prone to certain genetic diseases. One of the most common diseases in poms affects what should be the dog's gorgeous coat.
Black Skin Disease
Pomeranians are famous for their luxurious coats, but black skin disease robs the pom of his crowning glory. This form of alopecia, or hairlessness, rears its ugly head at an early age, when the puppy coat falls out but the adult coat doesn't come in. Other terms for this skin issue include "woolly coat," "coat funk," and "severe hair loss syndrome" -- that last one sure says it all.
However, "black skin disease" is also a straightforward description, as the dog's skin starts darkening where the hair falls out. The dog retains facial hair. Relatively little can be done to treat this disease, and poms with suffering from it should never be bred.
Always use a harness and leash to walk your pom, rather than a collar and leash. Little dogs such as poms are prone to collapsed trachea, often because someone pulled on their collars too harshly. Symptoms include harsh coughing that worsens over time. Your vet makes a diagnosis by physical examination and by X-rays. Medication and items such as vaporizers and nebulizers sometimes are effective in treating this condition.
Many small canines suffer from luxating patellas, or displacement of the kneecap. The dog shows obvious lameness. Surgery is necessary to correct the condition. Sometimes the kneecap slippage is intermittent, so your pom appears to hop or just take a bad step. Luxating patellas can predispose your Pomeranian to arthritis and other joint problems.
As your pom ages, his eyes might develop cataracts. The good news is that most cataracts respond to surgical treatment if caught early enough. Although your vet inspects your dog's eyes during his annual checkup, you should watch for any cloudiness, change of eye color or swelling and inflammation around the eyes. Any eye problem requires calling the vet. You don't want to potentially sacrifice your best pal's vision.
Another common pom eye disease, entropion, occurs when the eyelid rolls inward. This irritates the cornea, and it can cause vision loss unless it's surgically corrected. If your Pomeranian suffers from this condition, you'll know something is wrong because his eye will be teary and he'll probably rub at it because of pain.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.