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Open Fontanel

This is a case where either of them, the vet or the breeder, could be correct. An open fontnel condition is NOT RARE in many of the toy breeds, including Maltese. We have had the condition in a couple of our pups and, invariably, the fontnel closed as the pup grew older. We did have a particularly small female whose head closed to a very thin crack but the crack never went away. Again, this is a condition that persisted only with very small (full adult weight at or under three pounds). The breeder should know their line and the history of the occurrence of this condition. I am NOT happy about two things, first the breeder sent the puppy home with its new family entirely too early, a pup should always be kept by the breeder past the twelve week mark, and a particularly small Maltese - and/or one with this medical condition should certainly have been kept much longer by the breeder for observation. Also, if the breeder did not point out this condition to you and, in fact, brief you on the condition and, in fact, insist that you made sure to bring this up and get your vets opinion on this is unforgiveable. As a responsible breeder I MUST make those who adopt one of my "little white children" aware of not only any physical infirmity that their new family member DOES have, but any that it MAY DEVELOP as well.

On the other hand, if you are inclined to forgive the breeder his "trespasses" to this point, it is entirely possible that the vet is "jumping the gun on this". Examine the top of the pup's head at the point where the skull has not fully closed. Is it puffy ? Does it look swollen like there is, as the ailment indicates, fluid built up underneath the skull, and causing the layer of skin over that open portion of the skull to stick up ? Not the open fontanel condition, itself, by the propensity for dogs with this condition to also be or become hydracephalic, that I would be cautious and concerned. It may be that the skull would close completely on its own or that the vet could be correct in his diagnosis. Does the dog appear healthy and normal in other respects, it doesn't appear to have seizures or fits and run into the walls or furniture ? It isn't running a fever or anything ? - if anything, it is a condition to monitor closely UNTIL it goes away. Keep us posted.
Larry Stanberry-Divine Maltese

  • Minnie was born with an open fontanel. She is four years old, and weighs under three pounds. We also have a un-neutered male who is two. We are worried about Minnie being under anesthesia, due to her weight. Is this safe? It is rather difficult keeping the dogs apart. Does anyone have any other suggestions. We do not want to fix our male.

  • I would definitely defer to a veterinary specialist regarding spaying your girl. Depending on where you are you may want to look for a vet that is particularily knowledgeable regarding small dogs. The other option would be to contact one of the veterinary schools if you live near one of these for a specialist in small dogs.
    Bobbie Linden - Bhe-Jei Maltese
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