The Maltese is a beautiful little toy breed. This spiritedly little breed is very intelligent, sensitive and responsive. Most of all, they are extremely loving. To keep this little dog in good physical health and well groomed, the owner of this unique little one must be willing to devote some time daily tending to his basic needs. The following information will touch briefly on the most basic care for a happy pet.
Grooming Your Maltese
Many Maltese owners choose to bring their puppy to the “spa” for full “treatment”. In between visits, your puppy will require regular grooming to keep him looking and feeling his best. You MUST brush your dog at least three times a week to keep him, clean, free of mats, beautiful and comfortable. Brushing daily is best. Start brushing and combing your puppy as soon as possible and he will soon learn to love the grooming routine and the time he spends with your full attention.
The Maltese Coat
Brushing your Maltese daily will keep its coat in top condition. First, spray the brush with a leave-in detangler or distilled water. Brush through the coat thoroughly to the skin with a wire pin brush (no balls on the tips of the pins) in which the pins are set in rubber. Then comb with a metal comb, paying special attention to the feet, under the legs and behind the ears.
Good quality grooming tools are an investment; you will use them every day. I have tried many different grooming tools and this is a list of my favorites:
If you are planning to keep your Maltese in long coat, I recommend:
Wait at least one (1) week for the puppy to get to comfortable with you and his new home before bathing him. Try to make bath time a pleasant experience for the puppy - it will be easier for both of you from now and into the future. Young puppies should not be bathed too often, as it can dry out their skin and beautiful silky coat as well as cause skin irritation. Once every 10-12 days is usually sufficient.
Before You Begin Bath Time
Make sure the area is free from drafts - turn down your air conditioner or turn it off. Your small puppy will become chilled very easily. Gather everything you will need to bathe your puppy, including warmed towels. The coat must be thoroughly groomed, with all mats removed, before bathing. Mats that become wet and then dry can never be combed out without damaging the coat. Place a small piece of cotton into each ear to help keep water out.
- The Maltese is small enough to be bathed in the kitchen sink. Place a rubber mat or a towel on the bottom of the sink to give the puppy a more secure footing. Then place the puppy in the sink and begin by washing the face and ears with a diluted tearless shampoo, being very careful not to get any water in the nose or mouth.
- Once the head is done, wet him down with warm water and massage a good quality diluted shampoo into the coat. Never rub the hair, rubbing promotes matting. Thoroughly rinse off all of the soap as any residue can cause dry skin and itching.
- After the puppy has been thoroughly rinsed, you can use a very small amount of diluted conditioner to help de-tangle and condition the hair. It is not necessary to condition the hair on the face.
- Wrap him in a thick towel and gently squeeze the hair to absorb most of the water (do not rub back and forth to dry as this will mat the hair). Remove the cotton from the ears and gently dry the exposed skin. Never stick anything down into the ear.
- With a hair dryer set on the warm setting, blow dry the puppy, brushing the hair constantly with the pin brush until the section you are working on until it feels dry. Be sure to brush only in the direction of the hair growth. For best results, dry the head, ears, and top coat first, then turn him on his back or stand him up to dry the legs and stomach area. When your Maltese is dry, turn the dryer to cool or air setting and blow through the coat to cool it. Now feel for any damp spots. If he’s left with any damp spots in the coat, this area will turn into a mat and be almost impossible to comb out. Never let them dry naturally as they can become chilled. Make sure the dryer is not too hot as you can burn the puppy’s skin. Hair dryers manufactured specifically for animals are the safest to use because of the temperature control.
- Make a part down the center of the back from the top of his head to the base of the tail. Comb through his coat with a metal comb.
- It is important to keep the eye area clear of hair. If you opt for longer hair, tie the hair up into one or two topknots.
Your Maltese’s nails need to be kept closely clipped at all times. Clipping the claws just after a bath while the nails are soft is best. Trimming your dog’s nails is easy (if you are nervous, ask your vet or groomer to show you). Hold the paw gently but firmly in one hand and locate the nail. If the dog is a long haired breed, separate the hair from the nail. Look for the pink in the center of the nail. This pink is the Quick. Do not cut into the quick as this is very painful and will cause bleeding. If you are worried about clipping too deeply, take a little off at a time and continue to clip until you get fairly close to the pink area. Gently go over the ends with a file to smooth out the edges. Do not forget to clip the due claw if it has not been removed. Have a styptic powder such as “Quik Stop” on hand in case you accidently clip into the quick to stop any bleeding. Sprinkle the powder onto a cotton ball or gauze. Gently wipe away the blood with a clean gauze or tissue. Cover the cut nail with the powder for a few seconds. Remove the gauze and watch for bleeding. Repeat until the bleeding has completely stopped. Hair on the bottom of the foot pads should also be trimmed as close to the pads as possible to insure good footing.
Tear staining can be caused by teething, eye irritation, allergies, diet, ear infections, blocked or infected tear ducts, eye structure and genetics. In rare occasions blocked tear ducts or low grade bacterial infections in the tear ducts can cause staining. It is important to remember that 99.99% of the time tear-staining is strictly a cosmetic issue and not a medical one. With daily cleaning of the face and a few other tricks, the staining will eventually clear up. All dogs tear, but the Maltese with its white hair will sometimes stain to a reddish-brown if not tended to. Use your mustache comb to clean away the “sleep” that forms in the corner of the eyes and clean his face every day with Spa Lavish (by Tropiclean) Tear Stain Remover, mixed half and half with water. Soak a cotton ball with the diluted solution and wipe the hair under the eyes and on the muzzle daily. For stubborn stains, leave it on the hair for 2-3 minutes before rinsing thoroughly. Dry the hair by patting gently. Never rub or push on the eye area, this will exasperate the problem. Teething often causes excessive tearing. If your puppy is tearing due to teething, it is safe to apply cornstarch with a small make up brush under the eye to keep the area dry. Keep anything you put on their facial hair away from the eyes, nostrils, and the areas they can reach with their tongue. Hair poking or hanging over the eyes will cause irritation and tearing. Keep the hair around the eyes trimmed neatly away from the eyes or tied in a topknot to keep tearing at a minimal. Avoid food and snacks with dye in them. If the eyes are crusty looking or have a yellowish or green discharge, you must take him to the veterinarian as this is a sign of infection.
Maltese Dental Care
It is never too early to start brushing your puppy’s teeth. Start out with very short, positive sessions as soon as you get your dog. The best time to brush your puppy’s teeth is when he is relaxed, calm and sleepy. You will need canine toothpaste, a finger brush, as well as a dog toothbrush which is smaller than, and has softer bristles than a human toothbrush. Many canine toothbrushes are dual ended, with a regular size and a smaller, tapered end. The tapered end is perfect for smaller dogs with small mouths. Go slow. Starting with a finger brush, massage the outside of the month and then the inside gums. Let your puppy lick the tooth paste. Work your way up to the brush gradually over the next several weeks. The smaller the tooth brush, the better. Keep in mind, a puppy’s initial reaction to tooth brushing is to chew on the brush. As the puppy gets used to the brush and paste, gently begin to go over his teeth, as you would your own, in a circular manner from the gums to the ends of the teeth. It is usually easier to work on the side of the teeth closest to the gums and that is where most of the tarter accumulates. Do not worry if you cannot get the inside of the teeth.
Alternatives to Toothbrushes
Some dogs who refuse the toothbrush will tolerate soft rubber finger brushes that you place over your index finger. It has soft knobs that break apart tarter as you rub your finger around the dog’s mouth, over the teeth and on the gums. If your dog is hyper-sensitive to anything in his mouth beside food, dental wipes might be the answer. They are flavored so most dogs find them tolerable, even palatable. A piece of gauze will also work. Take a two by two gauze square and wrap it around your index finger. Dab a little toothpaste on and wipe the teeth and gums, moving as far back in the mouth as possible. The importance of ongoing dental regime of some sort cannot be stressed enough. Maltese (and other toy breeds) are prone to tarter buildup, gingivitis and early tooth loss. Your dog’s teeth need good dental hygiene not only to protect the teeth, but for your dog’s overall health. Poor dental hygiene not only affects the teeth and mouth, but it can also extend to your dog’s vital organs, such as the heart, kidney or liver. Even with regular teeth cleaning, your dog may require periodic cleaning under anesthesia.
When your Maltese is ready to go, we provide you with a supply of the high quality puppy food he is used to. We recommend not changing the food within a few weeks of bringing your puppy home. Should you decide to change the food for another brand, care must be taken to do so gradually over a period of a few weeks. A young puppy’s digestive system is sensitive, new foods and treats should also be introduced gradually. To avoid the risk of hypoglycemia, our puppies are free fed until they are 12 weeks old and over 2lbs. If your puppy is stressed when you bring him home, we would recommend you keep free feeding for a few days. After a few days, I recommend scheduled feedings, 4 times a day until your puppy is at least 6 months old. Allow your puppy to eat for 15 minutes, the remaining food can be set aside for the next meal. Feed your Maltese a high quality puppy food, it is higher in protein and enriched with vitamins, minerals, and fats essential for rapid growth. Always have fresh clean water available to your puppy. Glass, metal or porcelain bows are best as plastic tend to harbor bacteria. We use filtered or distilled water.
Young, toy breed puppies can develop a low blood sugar condition due to overexcitement, overexertion, or injury and can very quickly become seriously ill and even die without immediate treatment! If the puppy does not eat, is stressed by too much excitement, handling, or new experiences, it may result in a hypoglycemic (low blood sugar) attack. Prevention and treatment is simple. The early signs of hypoglycemia: lethargy, sleepiness, a dazed look, then, as it progresses, a staggering or “drunken” gait, drooling, collapse and convulsions. If it is not treated, it continues into coma and death.
Episodes of hypoglycemia come on suddenly and can occur without warning. The treatment of an acute attack is aimed at restoring the blood sugar. Begin immediately. If the puppy is awake and able to swallow, give corn syrup or sugar water by syringe, or rub corn syrup, honey, or glucose paste on the gums (Nutri-Cal is one commercial paste available at most of pet stores). Then call your veterinarian. Together you can make the decision on whether or not your puppy should be seen. If the puppy is unconscious, do not give an oral solution because it will be inhaled. Rub corn syrup, honey, or glucose paste on the gums and proceed at once to your veterinarian. This puppy will require an intravenous dextrose solution and may need to be treated for brain swelling.
This is the MOST CRITICAL part of caring for a tiny Maltese. Due to their small size they do not have much reserve of calories or energy. Therefore, it is essential that your Maltese gets enough calories by eating only a premium, high quality, high calorie diet and by eating frequent meals. Puppies should be fed at least four times a day. Also, the size of the kibble/food needs to be small enough so that it will fit into their small mouths. FRESH water must ALWAYS be available to any dog - especially a young puppy. Empty and re-fill the water dish DAILY.
Another important step in care of the smaller sized Maltese is making sure they get plenty of rest. The first few days and weeks your puppy is home you should insure that you limit the number of guests visiting to meet your new puppy. Young, small breed puppies tire very easily and quickly, especially if they are allowed to romp freely about the house or are handled excessively.
Do not let your young puppy get chilled, especially after a bath. If they are cold, shivering will eat up calories and lower their immunity making them more susceptible to sickness. Prolonged or repeated hypoglycemic attacks in toy breed puppies can cause brain damage. Puppies with frequent attacks should undergo veterinary testing to rule out an underlying problem, such as liver shunt, infection, or an enzyme or hormone deficiency.