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Common Health Problems of Boston Terriers

Picture of a Boston Terrier on the grass

Boston Terriers are charming, active dogs who love to chase balls and play games. They seek companionship and love being a part of a family, which is why they also make great pets for families with children. They’re also known to be amazing companions for the elderly, especially since they are so sensitive to their guardian’s mood. 

But like any other breed, Boston Terriers can suffer from a variety of health problems. In this post, we will describe some of the most common medical issues that these dogs are more exposed to compared to other breeds. 

In general, however, if you want a dog that has a coat that’s easy to care, that’s sturdy yet small, and that’s generally well-behaved, a Boston Terrier might make a good choice for you. On the other hand, most of them tend to housebreak slowly, they suffer from gas, and you’ll have to put up with a lot of wheezing, snorting, snoring and slobbering. 

Brachycephaly and respiratory problems

Brachycephaly is a characteristic of this dog breed, meaning that all Boston Terriers have a narrow airway, a long palate, and a somewhat flat nose. Like many other breeds that have brachycephaly, such as French Bulldogs or Pugs, these dogs are prone to developing some respiratory problems, too. 

A brachycephalic dog breathes more through his or her mouth than through the nose because it is so narrow. Due to this problem, these dogs are more predisposed to heat stroke, particularly since they take a while to cool down just with panting. The amount of exercise that a Boston Terrier needs to be limited when the weather is hot and the sun is shining in the sky. 

Some dogs have such severe brachycephaly that they might need surgery in order to breathe properly. Usually, the operation is performed early in the pooch’s life as many Boston Terriers are born with such defects. 

It’s not uncommon for such a dog to develop chronic inflammation in his/her airway, so there is less air getting into the lungs. If your Fido develops inflammation, you’ll notice symptoms such as a harder time exercising than usual, a hard time drawing breath, and even fainting due to hypoxia. 

Eye problems

One of the reasons Boston Terriers are so popular is because they have big and expressive eyes. But since they’re also brachycephalic, they are predisposed to a very wide range of eye problems.

Given that anatomically, their eyes protrude more than in other dog breeds, Boston Terriers could scrape their eyes a lot easier. Almost anything can irritate their eyes – from extra dust in their living space to corners or a variety of items in your home. 

It’s actually a good idea to walk your dog in a park where there are no branches that your friend could accidentally run into and damage his or her eyes when playing. 

Cataracts

While this is a health problem that traditionally affects dogs as they begin to age, in Boston Terriers, it can occur in younger dogs, too. In fact, there are some studies that suggest that cataracts are genetically transmitted in this breed. Needless to say, if your Fido also suffers from diabetes, he or she is even more predisposed to developing cataracts. 

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is also considered hereditary, but it typically shows up in dogs that are at least 2-years-old. In essence, glaucoma is a condition where too much pressure builds up inside a dog’s eye, and besides it being extremely painful, it can also lead to loss of vision.

You can prevent this condition by taking your Boston Terrier to the vet for regular checkups, especially since glaucoma tends to affect one eye individually instead of both at the same time. So you can at least save one of your Fido’s eyes if you go to the vet as often as possible. 

Cherry eye

In this condition, the dog’s third eyelid is affected. Surgery can be used to fix the problem, but usually, the earlier it is diagnosed, the better the prognosis. If one of your dog’s eyes is affected, cherry eye can be developed in the other, too, so prevention is key, in this case. 

Entropion

This is an extremely common eye condition that affects many brachycephalic dogs, and Boston Terriers are no exception. It happens when the dog’s eyelashes grow inwards, so they irritate and scratch the eye all the time. If it is left untreated, entropion can cause corneal ulcerations and therefore, permanent damage to the pooch’s sight. 

Other eye problems that Boston Terriers can develop are corneal ulcers, dry eye (keratitis sicca), or distichiasis (several eyelashes growing from the same follicle and potentially causing corneal ulcers).

Additional Health Problems in Boston Terriers

Herniated discs and back problems

This breed is known to commonly develop herniated discs. Because of their anatomy and the fact that they have curly tails and short back legs, Boston Terriers’ spines suffer from too much pressure. Like any other dogs or even humans, the vertebrae in a Boston Terrier’s spine have cushioning discs that, when they are herniated or dislocated, they move out of place. 

On the sides of a dog’s spine, there are important nerve terminations and nuclei, many of which are responsible for mobility and sensitivity in certain areas of the body. In some of the more severe cases, a slipped disc can cause paralysis. 

Deafness

Deafness is another hereditary medical problem that some Boston Terriers can suffer from. In general, these dogs are quite responsive and will come to you when you call them. But if you notice any change in your canine friend’s behavior, you should take him or her to the vet as soon as possible.

A hearing-impaired dog has to be taken out on a leash as the likelihood of accidents happening is much higher. Deaf dogs also need to be trained so that they respond to hand signals. 

If you get your Boston Terrier from a breeder who has tested their dogs for a variety of health problems and the line is deafness-free, you can at least avoid having to deal with this problem later on. 

Allergies

Although a Boston Terrier’s coat is generally easy to care for, in some situations, they could develop atopic dermatitis or allergies. If you notice a rash, dandruff, or any changes in how your pooch’s coat looks, go to the vet clinic as soon as possible.

In this breed, allergies are very commonly associated with ear infections. Also, Boston Terriers are more sensitive to environmental allergens such as pollen, weeds, or the cleaners you might be using in your home. 

Epilepsy

This is another hereditary problem in this breed. Some suspect that because they are brachycephalic, Boston Terriers don’t get enough oxygen delivered to their brain, and that’s why they are more exposed to seizures or other neurological problems. 

When diagnosed early, epilepsy can be managed with the help of anti-seizure medication, but in most cases, it is not reversible. 

Other health problems

Like any other dogs out there, no matter their breed, Boston Terriers are predisposed to developing typical health problems as they age. These range from cancer and heart failure to arthritis, periodontitis, and a variety of others. 

So, is a Boston Terrier the right dog for you? As you might have noticed, it’s a breed that calls for a lot of commitment and also a lot of care and attention. Being a responsible guardian to this dog breed requires some financial efforts, too, since you will have to take your pooch to the vet more often than with other breeds. Consider getting pet insurance if you want to become a Boston Terrier owner. 

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