What Are Rat Terrier's Health Issues? Explained With Tips

What Are Rat Terrier’s Health Issues? Explained With Tips

Despite being a human or an animal, everybody gets sick at one point. It’s unavoidable. The same thing applies to dogs as well. Therefore, let’s find out Rat Terrier’s health issues in-detail.

It might be painful to see your puppy feeling sick. Still, if you’re well aware of these illnesses, you will be able to assess the situation more calmly.

So, what are the Rat Terrier’s health issues? While Patellar Luxation and Hip & Elbow Dysplasia are common, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Degenerative Myelopathy are few genetic diseases in Ratties. Therefore, we recommend staying informed about these illnesses if you don’t want to get caught off guard.

Let’s get started!

What Health Problems Do Rat Terriers Have? 

Rat Terriers can live up to 15-18 years of age with minimal health issues. But, that doesn’t mean that they do not have health problems at all. 

Even though dogs tend to have much healthier lives than we do, and diseases are rare among them, you never know when you’ll ever get a health concern regarding your Rattie. 

So, let’s explore Rat Terrier’s health issues today. 

  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia 

When your canine is suffering from Hip Or Elbow Dysplasia, it means he has a deformity in his hip or elbow sockets. The ball and the socket should both grow equally during his growth period.

If not, this joint won’t set properly. This deformity essentially occurs in dogs if they are not taking a properly nutritious diet that will help them grow during the first year. 

But, other than the diet, there’s also an argument that this is hereditary. Yet, it’s inconclusive and has not been proven until this date. Pain, lameness, and later on, arthritis will follow. 

  • Patellar Luxation

Rat Terriers are primarily at risk of this orthopedic condition. When your Rattie gets Patellar Luxation, his kneecap is dislocated or is dislocating continuously from its position. It can affect your dog’s mobility.

  • Obesity 

It is common among Rat Terrier health issues. You will be tempted to give your friend more food and treats when he looks at you with those cute eyes.

But if you can’t resist and give in to his demands, your pup will get obese in no time. There will be a chain of other diseases following, such as joint problems, heart diseases, and digestive and metabolic disorders.

  • Infections 

Like every dog breed, Rats are prone to viral and bacterial infections, such as rabies, canine distemper, and parvo. But if you vaccinate him regularly on time, these will not be a concern anymore.

Other than the above 4, dental diseases, parasites, eye disorders, and Legg- Calve-Perthes are some common Rat Terrier health issues.

What Are The Rat Terrier’s Genetic Health Issues?

Yes, Rat Terriers are susceptible to genetic health issues as well. That’s why you need to properly check out the history of the pedigree of a particular puppy before buying him. 

But, whether you already own a Terrier or are considering buying one, it’s helpful to know these hereditary conditions.

  • Epilepsy 

Idiopathic Epilepsy or Primary Seizures is a genetically passed disease common among Ratties.

If your dog has it in genetics, you’ll notice it when he’s six months to three years old. He’ll need to take medication as long as he lives. 

  • Degenerative myelopathy 

SOD1 gene is a common gene carried by all Rat Terriers, but when this gets mutilated, it gives birth to Degenerative Myelopathy.

This disease is an inherited condition where your doggo’s spinal cord will slowly weaken, causing his back limbs to paralyze in the end.

  • Hepatic Microvascular Dysplasia 

It is another Rat Terrier health issue passed down through genetics. It’s also called Portal Vein Hypoplasia.

If your pet ever got this disease, he’s got some underdeveloped or absent microscopic blood vessels in the liver.

In the end, the liver won’t be capable of identifying toxins and producing the necessary proteins for the puppy’s growth.

  • Primary Lens Luxation

It’s another hereditary problem in Rat Terriers. In Primary Lens Luxation, the zonules which hold the lens inside the eye are broken and will dislocate the lens of the doggo.

Tearing, squinting, and excessive blinking are common symptoms and can make way for glaucoma. 

  • Color Dilution Alopecia 

Unlike the above-mentioned hereditary issues, Colour Dilution is more customary among Ratties.

It is an issue related to the fur coat of the Terrier, and there will be patches on his body without any hair. Even though it isn’t painful, it can lead to infections caused by bacteria.

Other than these diseases we discussed above, there are many other hereditary health issues such as cardiovascular disorders, issues related to ears and eyes, issues in internal organs, and many more.

But the above five are common among them. So it’s beneficial for you to be properly informed of them. 

Senior Rat Terrier Health Issues

As your pet grows old, unsurprisingly, many health issues follow. Now let’s look at some of the old age problems in Ratties. 

Even if your pup did not fall into seizures while he was young and healthy, he becomes more vulnerable to them when he reaches seniority. These don’t happen out of the blue.

The most frequent reason for seizures is malfunctioning internal organs such as the liver and kidney. When these organs are weak, it will lead to attacks. 

Moreover, heart problems Like Mitral Valve Disease (due to a weak valve) are also common. Not only that, your Rattie will lose eyesight and get hearing problems too.

You might even feel like your friend is disobeying or ignoring you. But you must be very patient with your dog because now he’s on the eve of his life. He cannot be the same energized pet he once was.

Tips For Good Care For Your Rat Terrier 

A care plan with nutritious diets, adequate exercise, and regular visits to the doctor will automatically back up your pet’s health.

Additionally, you need to brush his teeth at least once every two days and brush his hair regularly.

Moreover, in an emergency, do not take things lightly. Hurry to the veterinarian and seek medical advice as soon as possible. The more you get late, the worse you make the situation.

Thank you for reading this post. Stay tuned with Jack Russell Owner for more interesting posts.


  • Lisa Watson

    Lisa W. is a practicing certified veterinarian (BVetMed Hons in Veterinary Medicine) who graduated from Royal Veterinary College, UK. One of her research fields is mixed-dog breeds and their temperament, behavioral issues, and genetic health concerns. Also, she gathers data about purebred dog breeds and their origin, lifespan, and genetic conditions. Lisa is a loving dog parent who is keen to share her expertise with other fellow dog parents.

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