Common health problems with Pomeranians

17 June 2024 - 4 min read
Image of a brown Pomeranian with its tongue out looking into the camera on a beige background

Intelligent, playful and with a unique personality, Pomerianians are much-loved for their bold outlook and fluffy coats.

Initially, they were big sledging dogs, but over time, they've become smaller and smaller, but that doesn't mean they've abandoned their workmanlike attitude: they're a fantastic choice for all types of owners, even if you're active.

But like any pedigree, they're prone to certain health issues. Below, we discuss the most common Pomeranian health conditions, how they're diagnosed and how to care for one.

Most common health conditions in Pomeranians


Patella luxation

Pomerians are bow-legged. This means the groove where the kneecap (patella) sits doesn't develop properly. Over time, this can cause the kneecap to dislocate, preventing the knee from extending properly. Dogs with patella luxation have a characteristic ‘skipping’ lameness.

The condition is graded from one to four. A low grade means the dislocation is temporary and the patella is easily replaced. A high grade means the patella remains dislocated causing pain and inflammation.

Lower grades are often being treated medically whilst higher grades require surgical correction. Patella luxation can lead to osteoarthritis in the knee and puts extra stress on the cruciate ligament.

Since it's one of the most prominent health issues in Pomeranians, it's essential to keep an eye on this.

Tracheal collapse

The trachea is held open during breathing by strong cartilage, but with Pomeranians, this can weaken over time. The airway flattens and narrows, which makes it hard to breathe. It causes a characteristic ‘honking’ cough, which worsens with exercise, stress, excitement or heat.

This can progress to a wheezing sound when a dog is breathing in. Eventually, it can lead to episodes of collapse and severe breathing difficulties. Mild cases are usually managed medically with cough suppressants, anti-inflammatories, or bronchodilators.

Some more severely affected dogs will go on to require surgery to give the trachea permanent support.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is one of the main Pomeranian health issues. It's the most common cause of forelimb lameness in dogs. It refers to several abnormalities that can occur during the development of the elbow joint.

It's a genetic condition, but obesity and overexercise in puppyhood contribute to the problem. Vets usually diagnose it before a dog is two.

In the long term, it leads to pain, osteoarthritis and microfractures due to the abnormal forces in the joint. It can be treated with anti-inflammatories, physiotherapy or hydrotherapy. In severe cases, a vet may recommend surgical intervention.

Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia

A complex condition caused by a difference in the size of the brain and the skull. Essentially, the skull is too small for the brain. This obstructs the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which helps protect the brain and spinal cord. A slow CSF flow leads to a build-up of pressure, causing severe pain.

There are varying degrees of severity with symptoms like:

  • Vocalisation

  • Seizure-like behaviour

  • Compulsive behaviours (air scratching and fly-catching)

  • Reluctance to jump

  • Weakness

Vets use an MRI scan of the brain and spinal cord to diagnose it. A neurologist will then assess the scan, and a grade will be assigned to the dog to determine the severity or risk.

Some dogs need surgery, but some can be managed with medication, like painkillers and diuretics.

Any dogs with neurological symptoms should be checked by a vet as soon as possible.

Eye problems

There are two major eye problems Pomeranians suffer from. The first is hereditary cataracts.

It causes the eyes to appear cloudy and is usually spotted in puppies. Cataracts prevent light from getting through the eye, leading to vision problems and blindness. Many dogs manage well, but cataracts can be surgically removed.

Another common condition is entropion, which is caused by the eyelids rolling inwards. The eyelashes then rub the surface of the eye. It’s common in breeds with short noses and causes pain, inflammation, corneal ulcers and infections.

The eyes might look red, often closed and weepy. Surgical removal of some skin above or below the eye allows the eyelid to be rolled into the correct position.

How to care for a Pomeranian


Maintaining a healthy weight

Many of the common Pomeranian health issues can be prevented with weight management.

You can keep your dog’s joints healthy by maintaining a healthy weight, as obesity can worsen conditions like patella luxation.

Pomeranians need regular exercise, but be very careful when your puppy is growing. They shouldn't climb stairs or jump into the car when their bones are developing to lower the chances of developing dysplasia. Walks should be kept short.


Joint supplements might also help prevent osteoarthritis.

Check breathing issues immediately

If you’re concerned about your dog’s breathing or a cough, you should always get them checked by a vet. X-rays and examination of the back of the throat will determine if a dog has tracheal collapse.

Avoiding exercise on hot days, reducing stress and managing over-excitement might help reduce your dog’s symptoms and prevent an emergency.

Always keep up with your routine vet visits as preventative pet care is essential.

Screening and genetic tests

The BVA and Kennel Club Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia scheme is not compulsory for Pomeranians, but screening can be done.

There are genetic tests available for hereditary cataracts, but entropion can only be diagnosed on clinical examination.

Careful breeding and picking a responsible breeder

Some Pomeranians with hereditary conditions shouldn't be used for breeding. For example, dogs with elbow dysplasia.

There are no health screening schemes for Pomeranians that registered breeders need to comply with, as many of the conditions they are prone to cannot be screened for. But you should still choose a responsible breeder.

How dog insurance helps

Pomeranian insurance has all you need to stay prepared for the unexpected and protect your pet.

Dog insurance helps with up to £15,000 vet fee cover, unlimited 24/7 vet calls with FirstVet and a host of other perks.

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After graduating from the University of Nottingham, Holly spent two years as a farm animal vet. She then travelled and volunteered in India, working at neutering clinics and with injured street dogs. Holly now works in small animal practice, balancing this with writing and volunteering with the comms team at Vet Sustain. She's also a marine mammal medic!