Health Information


The Havanese breed is a very healthy breed by comparison to the other AKC-recognized breeds. However, there are a few known genetic conditions that can affect the Havanese, as well as some conditions that can affect the Havanese, but whose etiology is unknown. The Havanese community, through the HCA, is very proactive in funding research to identify and find the mode of inheritance of these genetic conditions. Research is ongoing at TAMU and Cornell University and through generous donations from the Havanese community as well as AKC and others, it is everyone's hope that answers will be available soon.

In the meantime, Havanese enthusiasts and owners should learn about the various conditions that have been identified in the Havanese. There are many educational pages in Havanese websites that provide this information in a detailed and organized manner. Here are two of the best sites I have found:

Mimosa Havanese has produced probably the most complete, informative website about Havanese on the internet! They have spent lots of time putting together a lot of information for the rest of us to read and use. I cannot possibly improve upon their wealth of information and they have kindly given me permission to post a link to their site.  Thank you!




If you suspect your pet has ingested a caustic substance, do NOT induce vomiting. Caustic substances damage flesh on contact, and do fatal damage to your dog's innards within minutes.

Seek emergency veterinary care immediately!!

List of Caustic Chemicals and Substances

More on Pet Poisons
·  Animal Poison Control Center1-900-680-0000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-900-680-0000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting - fee may be applied to your phone bill

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Other Environmental Hazards
In addition to the above toxins, there are several potential things in nature that can cause toxicity. These are often related to other creatures - bee or wasp stings and fire ant bites can cause allergic reactions while some spider and snake bites can be highly toxic. Other environmental hazards include mushrooms and contaminated water. The key to prevention is to keep your dog in your sight at all times. Do not allow your dog to roam free, and keep an eye on the area around you while walking your dog. Dogs will be dogs, and curious noses are bound to explore - but it only takes a moment for that to turn into a dangerous situation.
What to Do If Poisoning Occurs
Prevention is key. Do your best to eliminate all sources of toxicity. However, exposure to toxins is still possible. It is important to recognize the signs of toxicity and act immediately. Know when to call the vet. However, if you are in doubt - call your vet anyway. He or she can advise you on the next step, such as whether or not to induce vomiting. Try to gather as much information as possible regarding the potential poison (as time allows). Obtain the packaging from the toxin and a sample of the ingested material if available.
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In case of toxin exposure, keep a list of important phone numbers in a visible, easily accessible location. Be sure pet sitters and other people who might be in your home are aware of the location of the list. The following phone numbers should be included:


Many types of plants and flowers can be poisonous to your dog. Effects range from mild to severe depending on the type of plant and the quantity consumed. Some plants will only cause slight stomach upset, while others can cause seizures, coma or even death. Learn about the plants in your yard and neighborhood that are dangerous and be sure your dog does not have access to them. Ideally, toxic plants on your own property should be removed. Houseplants are a bit easier to control - simply do not keep toxic plants inside your home and you have removed the risk. If you are planning to get new plants or flowers, research them ahead of time to learn whether or not they are toxic.
Find out what plants and flowers may be poisonous to dogs with the following list of common toxic plants and flowers. Please note that this is not a complete list. If you have a particular plant in mind for your home or yard, you should thoroughly research it first. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with a potential toxin, please contact your vet or animal poison control immediately.
Plants Poisonous to Dogs





Aloe vera

vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, tremors, change in urine color


Amaryllis sp.

vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, abdominal pain, excessive salivation, tremors

Apple and Crabapple

Malus sylvestrus

seeds, stems and leaves can result in red mucous membranes, dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, panting and shock

Autumn Crocus/Meadow Saffron

Colchicum autumnale

oral irritation, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, organ damage, bone marrow suppression


Rhododendron spp.

vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, weakness, coma, death

Calla Lily/Trumpet Lily/Arum Lily

Zantedeschia aethiopica

oral irritation and pain, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

Castor Bean/Castor Oil Plant

Ricinus communis

oral irritation and burning, increased thirst, vomiting, diarrhea, kidney failure, convulsions; Note: beans are highly toxic


Chrysanthemum spp.

vomiting, diarrhea, excessive salivation, loss of coordination, dermatitis


Cyclamen spp.

excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, heart arrhythmias, seizures, death


Narcissus spp.

vomiting, salvation, diarrhea, convulsions, low blood pressure, tremors, heart arrhythmias



oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

Elephant Ears

Caladium hortulanum and Colocasia esculenta

oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

English Ivy

Hedera helix

vomiting, abdominal pain, excessive salivation, diarrhea


Digitalis purpurea

heart arrhythmias, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, death


Hosta plataginea

vomiting, diarrhea, depression


Hyacinthus orientalis

vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors


Hydrangea arborescens

vomiting, diarrhea, depression


Iris species

excessive salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy

Lily of the Valley

Convallaria majalis

vomiting, irregular heart beat, low blood pressure, disorientation, coma, seizures


Cannabis sativa

depression, vomiting, loss of coordination, excessive salivation, dilated pupils, low blood pressure, low body temperature, seizure, coma

Mistletoe/American Mistletoe

Phoradendron flavescens

gastrointestinal complications, cardiovascular collapse, difficulty breathing, slow heart rate, behavior changes, vomiting, diarrhea


Nerium oleander

vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, shallow/difficult breathing, muscle tremors, collapse, cardiac failure

Peace Lily


oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing


Philodendron spp

oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

Pothos/Devil's Ivy

Epipremnum aureum

oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing

Sago Palm

Cycas revoluta, zamia species

vomiting, black (tarry) stools, jaundice, increased thirst, bruising, blood clotting problems, liver damage, death



oral irritation and burning, excessive salivation, vomiting, difficulty swallowing


Nicotiana glauca

hyperexcitability then depression, vomiting, loss of coordination, paralysis


Tulipa species

vomiting, depression, diarrhea, excessive salivation

Yew/Japanese Yew

Taxus sp.

sudden death from acute cardiac failure (early signs include muscular tremors, difficulty breathing, seizures

In case of toxin exposure, keep a list of important phone numbers in a visible, easily accessible location. Be sure pet sitters and other people who might be in your home are aware of the location of the list. The following phone numbers should be included:

Toxic Foods and Your Dog

People Foods That Can Poison Dogs

By Jenna Stregowski, RVT, Guide
The kitchen can be a virtual playground for your dog's nose and taste buds. Most dogs love food and especially yearn for "people food". Dog experts have discouraged the feeding of table scraps to dogs for years because of the potentials for toxicity, obesity and general poor health. While healthy, well-balanced diets can be prepared for dogs using human food, it is essential to feed the right foods. Know what foods to avoid so you can prevent poisoning and keep your dog healthy. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic food, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Grapes and Raisins



Caffeinated Items

Macadamia Nuts


Alchohol and Yeast Dough

Fruit Pits and Seeds

Rotten or Moldy Foods

Moldy or rotten foods can cause many problems for your dog, some more serious than others. Any food that seems "past its prime" should be kept out reach. Be especially careful to keep your dog away from trash cans.

Other Foods to Avoid

Certain foods, while not considered toxic, can still be unhealthy for your dog. Avoid any foods that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. These foods can contribute to indigestion, obesity, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and more. Dairy products may be difficult for dogs to digest. Corn cobs and bones can cause GI obstruction. Cooked bones may splinter and break easily, risking GI damage.
Like people, too much junk food can cause poor condition and decreased energy. Remember that your dog is smaller than you and may be sensitive. What seems like "just a bite" for you is more like a small meal for your dog. If you want to feed homemade food, seek advice from your vet. You may wish to meet with a nutritionist for diet recommendations.


Feeding Your Havanese

Talk to Havanese owners about what they feed their beloved dogs and you will get many different answers, probably no two alike.  Each owner may be adamant that their formula is the best.  However, there is no one answer to this question.   There is kibble, canned, fresh frozen, raw and vegetarian diets out there, to name a few - and then you can combine a few forms.  Whatever you choose, thre are a few basic rules to follow:

                                     1.  Check with your vet to make sure he/she approves of or recommends your chosen food or method of feeding.

                                     2.  Avoid RAW food diets - veterinarians have recently come out against this due to the risk of bacteria contamination.  In addition, the total     protein intake of a raw diet can overwhelm the liver of dogs and possibly cause problems.  Average-activity dogs need 24-26% protein content, but some ultra-quality foods have 40% or more protein.  Check with your vet if you would like to use one of these brands.

                                     3.  Conventional thinking used to recommend a dry kibble diet as the best method to prevent tooth tartar.  Recent research indicates that is not the case, that dry kibble sticks to the teeth like a dry cracker.  Adding moisture helps keep the food from sticking to the teeth.

                                     4.  Always buy the best quality dog food you can.  Always buy from a pet store - grocery, discount and big box stores don't carry quality brands.  Remember, YOU are the one responsible for what goes in the dog's body.  Many health problems can stem from inadequate nutrition.

                                     5.  Check with the various online sources that review dog foods and can give you a list of quality foods to choose from.  The Dog Food Advisor and Dog Food Analysis are two of these sites. 

                                     6.  Read labels!! Compare foods.  Mix them up to give the most complete nutrition.

                                     7.  Vegetarian kibble is not complete nutrition for dogs.  Dogs need protein from meat sources.


Medications - heartworm, vitamins

Depending upon where you live geographically, you might need to use medications to prevent fleas or ticks.   Some of these medications are topical (fleas) and available over-the-counter and some of these medications are available only by prescription (heartworm) through your veterinarian.  Worming medications and vitamins are other medications you should discuss with your vet. 



All small dogs have the curse of bad teeth as they grow.  Tartar and plaque will plague these dogs due to the fact that little dogs don't chew as much as bigger dogs - who often have better teeth.  Offer lots of chewy toys to your dogs throughout their lives.  However, regular tooth care (brushing) and dental cleanings from your veterinarian will help your dog keep as many of his/her pearly whites for as long as possible.