Your Boston Terrier is a small, energetic dog that loves people. It’s a charming, well-behaved dog with a sense of humor and a personality bigger than its small size. Your Boston is a dedicated companion animal, and probably follows you around your home. It’s dedicated to you, and protective of children. Bostons are rightfully considered one of the best dogs for families.

Bostons play an outsize role in their families. That’s why health problems are so troubling in Bostons. Because of their genetic backgrounds, Bostons are particularly susceptible to specific diseases.

Respiratory Problems and Brachycephaly in Boston Terriers

All Boston Terriers have brachycephaly. They have flat noses, long palates, and a narrow airway. Like other brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs or French Bulldogs, Bostons are more likely to suffer from respiratory problems than other dogs. They are prone to overheating from hot weather or strenuous exercise.

Brachycephalic dogs breathe through their mouths more than their noses, because their nostrils are narrow. Their limited airflow means that they have a hard time cooling down from panting.

If your Boston has severe brachycephaly, it might require surgery to expand its airway or nostrils. Such a procedure is likely to happen early in your dog’s life due to birth defects. It might also be needed later because of long-developing health problems. As they get older, Bostons’ noses and airways may get inflamed. That causes less air to pass to their pulmonary system.

There are a few common signs of inflammation. Your dog might struggle to exercise normally, have trouble drawing breath, or even experience fainting spells. If your Boston doesn’t seem like itself, you should have your vet check out its breathing.

Eye Problems in Boston Terriers

Your Boston Terrier has big, expressive eyes. They’re one of the reasons that Bostons are popular companion animals—it’s easier to read their emotions than other dogs’.

Unfortunately, those big eyes, which are a product of brachycephaly, are also a health risk. Since they protrude so much, Bostons’ eyes are vulnerable to injury and irritation. Take care to protect your dog from anything that could scrape their eyes. Keep your home clear of anything that could scratch their eyes. Don’t let your Boston run into a thicket of brambles or branches. Watch them closely when they play with other dogs.

Degenerative Myelopathy in Boston Terriers

Degenerative myelopathy is a spinal nerve disease that can develop in dogs over five years of age. It diminishes motor and bowel function and muscle mass in the lower half of their body. Signs that your Boston suffers from degenerative myelopathy include trouble walking or standing up. It can also involve frequent “accidents” involving feces and urination.

Since Bostons are so social, this disease is particularly cruel to the breed. Bostons love to do everything with their humans. Degenerative myelopathy can prevent Bostons from spending time on their paws, following their people, or getting up and down stairs.

There is no cure for degenerative myelopathy. But it doesn’t necessarily condemn your dog to total disability. Kinesiology tape can help dogs with degenerative myelopathy. The tape can increase circulation in and restore feeling to affected areas. Partially paralyzed Bostons can also use wheelchairs. Custom-built dog wheelchairs like the ones we build at K9 Carts can help your dog get around.

If your dog does definitely has degenerative myelopathy, you’ll need to get them a comfortable bed. After you do, take steps to prevent bed sores. Clean the bed often, and groom your Boston frequently.

Back Problems and Herniated Discs in Boston Terriers

Bostons frequently develop back problems like herniated discs. Bostons have short back legs and curly tails. Those physical features put pressure even on a healthy Boston’s spine. Some Bostons have more severe back problems due to birth defects.

Like humans, dogs have cushioning discs that separate their vertebrae from each other. Those discs can become dislocated, or herniated. They bulge out of their normal place.

That condition might cause nerve damage. A dog’s nerves run up the middle of their spine. In the worst cases, slipped discs can cause some degree of paralysis. Less severe cases can still cause pain and inhibit movement.

A K9 Carts rear support dog wheelchair can help a dog with a slipped disc get around.

This information is meant to help you identify health risks to your dog. However, it’s not a substitute for advice from a veterinarian. If think your dog suffers from any of these diseases, consult a professional as soon as you can.

Learn More About Your Boston Terrier’s Health

What is a brachycephalic dog? — Veterinary Expert

The Brachycephalic Syndrome — Dr. Jan Grebe

Brachycephalic Airway Syndrome in Dogs — VCA

Disc Disease — UC Davis

Genetic Welfare Problems of Companion Animals: Boston Terrier: Hemivertebrae — UFAW

Slipped Disc, Bad Back, and Muscle Spasms in Dogs — Pet MD

Boston Terrier — Wikipedia