While the Coton is a generally healthy breed with a long lifespan (14 - 17 years), if you are considering adding this adorable rare breed to your family, it's important to be aware of potential common Coton de Tulear health issues.
By understanding these health issues, you can take steps to prevent or manage them and ensure that your dog stays happy and healthy.
Some health conditions may be hereditary and can be passed down through their genes. That's why it's super important to find a breeder who does genetic testing to nip any inherited problems in the bud.
#1 - Luxating Patellas are one of the most common health issues in Cotons. It occurs when the kneecap slips out of place, which causes pain and discomfort. Medical management through weight control, pain management, and anti-inflammatory medication is usually prescribed for mild cases. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the position of the patella and stabilize the knee joint.
#2 - Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease that affects the hip joint and hind legs and is most commonly diagnosed using X-rays. It's caused by a malformation of the ball and socket joint, which can lead to arthritis and lameness.
Instances of hip dysplasia are relatively low for the Coton due to responsible breeding practices. In addition to genetics, this condition can also result from added weight putting pressure on the dog's joints. Losing weight often reduces symptoms, but surgery may be required for more severe cases.
#3 - Skin Problems and Allergies: Cotons de Tulear are prone to skin allergies, which can cause itching, redness, and discomfort. Environmental factors such as pollen, dust, and mold can trigger allergies in some dogs.
In other cases, food allergies or sensitivities can cause skin problems. My Coton, Luc, had severe skin allergies - he was allergic to several environmental allergens and also had food allergies. He was even allergic to my cat!
It was frustrating and heartbreaking because there was no quick and easy way to determine the cause of his discomfort. And when we did finally find the reasons, it took years of trial and error to discover the proper treatment for him. You can learn more about dog skin allergies here.
#4 - Ear Infections: Long-eared dogs like the Coton are prone to ear infections caused by allergies, moisture in the ear, hormonal imbalances, or foreign bodies.
Treatment for ear infections typically involves a combination of antibiotics or antifungal medication to clear the infection and anti-inflammatory medication to reduce swelling and pain. Routine cleaning and keeping the ears dry, especially after grooming, can help prevent infections.
#5 - Dental Issues: Cotons may face dental issues such as tooth decay and gum disease. Regular dental check-ups and proper dental hygiene can help prevent dental problems. Learn how to keep your dog’s teeth clean here.
#6 - Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a genetic disorder that causes the gradual degeneration of the retina that can lead to vision loss and eventual blindness. Unfortunately, there is no cure or treatment available to slow down the disease's progression.
Dogs that carry the gene for PRA should not be bred. But dogs are resilient, and supportive care, such as home adaptations and special training, can help improve the quality of life for dogs with PRA.
#7 - Canine Multifocal Retinopathy (CMR) is another genetic disease that affects the retina. CMR causes small lesions to form on the retina, which can lead to vision loss. While not all dogs with CMR have vision loss or show signs of the disease, it can be detected through genetic testing. Dogs that carry the gene for CMR should not be bred.
# 8 - Primary Hyperoxaluria (PH) is a genetic disease that affects the liver and kidneys. Dogs with PH produce too much oxalate, which can lead to the formation of kidney stones and kidney failure. According to the ACC, signs of the disease start to show up as early as 3-4 weeks old and will eventually result in kidney failure. In some dogs, managing the disease through dietary changes and medication is possible. Dogs with PH should not be bred.
In addition to these Coton de Tulear breed genetic issues, other health challenges are also possible for all small dogs regardless of breed. These challenges include obesity, tracheal collapse, arthritis, hypoglycemia, broken bones, disc disease, and heart disease.
Just because the Coton is more prone to specific genetic diseases doesn't mean it's a foregone conclusion. There are things you can do to lower the odds of these health problems cropping up.
It's a bit like our own health, isn't it? If heart disease runs in your family, it doesn't mean you're destined to face the same fate. By making healthy choices, you can outsmart your genes.
The same goes for your Coton. You're not just at the mercy of genetics; there are proactive steps you can take to help ensure your dog leads a healthier, happier life. It's all about turning those possibilities into opportunities for wellness.
Genetics are a possibility, not a certainty.
No.1 - Provide daily care and maintenance: Cotons de Tulear require daily care and maintenance to keep them healthy and happy. This includes grooming, dietary needs, and physical and mental activities. Here are some tips to keep your Coton in good condition.
No.2 - Behavior Modification: Cotons are known for being intelligent, friendly, affectionate, and playful dogs. However, like any breed, they can develop certain behavioral issues if not properly trained and socialized. Two important behavioral traits to consider when owning a Coton de Tulear are separation anxiety and socialization.
No. 3 - Breeding and Puppy Care: Your dog's genetics and early puppy care are the beginning of their health journey and can lay the foundation for their entire life. These early factors play a huge role in shaping their journey into adulthood:
One of the things I've learned from having a dog with health challenges is that you have to be prepared for this responsibility when you decide to bring a puppy home.
There are things you can do to mitigate potential health concerns, as discussed above, and you can prepare financially by getting pet insurance, but the main thing you can do is love your dog in sickness and in health. My sweet Lucy has taught me so much about unconditional love. What a gift she is!
Learn more about Coton de Tulear health issues,(and much more) in Meet the Cotons: Everything You Need to Know About Living with and Loving the Wonderful and Quirky Coton de Tulear.
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