MalteseA small, energetic toy breed, the Maltese is easily recognized by its silky white coat. This breed of dog is often trained for competition but they are also popular as family pets because, while many small breed dogs tend to be snappish, the Maltese is very gentle mannered. The Maltese is a very attractive dog and its beautiful coat requires daily brushing and frequent grooming to prevent matting. Though they may require a little more upkeep than other breeds, the Maltese redeems itself with its playful, affectionate manner and the readiness with which it responds to training.

Though the Maltese is typically a hardy, healthy dog there are a few health concerns to which the breed is prone. Some of these health concerns include joint conditions, teeth problems and eye defects. Pet insurance may help you cover treatment and medications for these conditions.

Joint Conditions
One of the most common joint problems affecting the Maltese is a condition called patellar luxation, in which the patella, or knee cap, slips out of its normal location. Over time, this condition can lead to joint damage and arthritis which can not only cause the dog pain but may eventually lead to lameness. Surgical joint repairs can be done to correct this condition for between $1,200 and $4,000. The Maltese is also susceptible to other joint injuries and conditions including osteoarthritis which can be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. If surgery for this condition becomes necessary, it usually costs around $1,500.

Teeth Problems
Like several other small breeds, the Maltese is prone to losing its teeth at an early age. Decay and infection are some of the most common causes of tooth loss and they can easily be prevented through regular dental check-ups and cleanings. Comprehensive dental cleanings generally cost around $500 but tooth brushing can also be done at home to reduce the need for frequent comprehensive dental cleaning. Even providing a nylon bone or tartar-fighting food and treats can help to prevent tooth and gum diseases.

Eye Defects
Tear staining, or a darkening of the hair around the tear ducts, is a condition most noticeable in breeds with white fur. The Maltese is susceptible to this condition which is often caused by tear duct defects or irritation of the eye. While a veterinarian should be consulted to determine the cause of the problem, the stain itself can generally be removed with a fine-toothed comb and lukewarm water. Another eye defect to which the Maltese is prone is retinal atrophy, an inherited condition in which the retina progressively degenerates leading to eventual blindness. There is currently no cure or medical treatment for this disease and many dogs adapt well to a loss of vision.

Disclaimer: Symptoms, conditions, and costs may vary. Consult a licensed veterinarian to inquire about treatment options and cost of care for your particular situation. Check actual coverage and benefits for your dog to determine whether you will be covered by pet insurance.