What Do Most Boston Terriers Die From? 3 Common Reasons.

Are you concerned about potential causes for death in your Boston Terrier?

It can sometimes be overwhelming considering the possible ways your Boston Terrier might die. 

What Do Most Boston Terriers Die From? 3 Common Reasons.

However, by understanding the potential causes of death, you can take steps to reduce the risk of these diseases and ensure that your Boston lives the longest and happiest life possible.

This article will explore common causes of death in Boston Terriers and ways you can reduce the risk of your Boston Terrier passing away from these causes.

What Are The Three Most Common Causes Of Death In Boston Terriers?

Most commonly, Boston Terriers die from cancer, heart disease, and infectious diseases.

These diseases can be potentially fatal, but there are steps that you can take to reduce the risk of your Boston dying from one of these conditions.

Death Rates for 3 Common Causes of Death in Boston Terriers:

Cause of DeathDeath Rate
Cardiovascular disease (heart disease)13%
Infectious disease6%
Boston Terrier cancer

1. Cancer

Like all dogs, one of the leading causes of death in Boston Terriers is cancer. Research studies suggest that up to 30% of all Boston Terriers die from cancer.

Bostons may be especially prone to developing brain cancer and mast cell tumors.

Did you know cancer is the leading cause of death in all dogs over ten years, with 50% of older dogs developing the disease and approximately one in four dogs eventually dying from it? (reference)

Cancer appears to be related to genetic and lifestyle factors. Still, many times, we are not quite sure why a pet develops cancer.

Cancer can appear in a variety of different ways. 

Common Signs Of Cancer May Include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Lumps Or Bumps
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Limping
  • Seizures
  • Circling In One Direction

Reducing Risk Of Cancer In Your Boston Terrier

While sometimes there may be no cure for cancer, there may be things that you can do to help prevent cancer or improve your Boston’s chances of surviving cancer.

Are you concerned about veterinarian medical bills for your Boston? Pet Assure is not a “traditional” pet insurance plan, but a vet health savings plan. You get 25% off our vet visits immediately and there are no pre-existing conditions. Plans start for less than $10.00 per month for a single dog. Check out more at Pet Assure to see if this would be worth it for your Boston Terrier.

Take Your Boston To The Vet If You Notice A New Symptom

To improve the prognosis for cancer, early detection is vital. 

If you notice a new lump or bump on your Boston or if you see a new symptom you can not explain, it is vital to have your veterinarian examine your pet.

If your veterinarian can detect cancer early, the chances of your Boston surviving cancer may be improved. 

Some cancers can even be cured if detected early enough.

Spay Your Boston At A Young Age

It is also important to spay your Boston Terrier at a young age if you do not plan on breeding. Early spaying greatly reduces the risk of mammary cancer. 

I typically recommend spaying at around six months of age.

Are You Worried About Cancer In Your Boston Terrier? Read this article, are Boston Terriers prone to cancer? Signs to watch for.

What Do Most Boston Terriers Die From? 3 Common Reasons.

2. Heart Disease

Heart disease is a common cause of death in Boston Terriers. Between 13 and 19% of all Boston Terriers deaths are related to heart disease. This makes heart disease the second leading cause of death in Bostons.

As Bostons age, their heart valves may stop functioning like normal. The mitral valve in the heart may begin to leak, which can cause a heart murmur to be heard.

Over time, because the mitral valve in the heart is no longer functioning properly, excessive strain is placed on the heart. 

Eventually, mitral valve disease can lead to a potentially fatal condition called congestive heart failure.

Boston Terriers with congestive heart failure typically get excessive fluid build up in their lungs, which may cause coughing and difficulty breathing. 

Also, the heart may enlarge to an abnormal size and stop functioning regularly.

Symptoms Of Congestive Heart Failure In Boston Terriers May Include:

  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Coughing
  • Easily Tiring When Exercising
  • Decreased Activity
  • Panting
  • Weight Loss
  • Loss Of Appetite
  • Passing Out

Reducing Risk Of Heart Disease In Your Boston Terrier

Early detection can improve the long-term prognosis of heart disease in Boston Terriers. 

In my experience as a veterinarian, the earlier we detect an issue with the heart, the more likely we will be able to better control the heart disease.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

Heart disease can eventually lead to death, so early detection of heart disease is key to ensuring that your Boston lives as long as possible.

I recommend annual veterinary check-ups in Bostons under eight years of age, and twice-yearly check-ups for Bostons 8 years and older. 

During your pet’s physical exam, your veterinarian will listen to your Boston’s heart to ensure there are no heart murmurs.

If your veterinarian detects a heart murmur, they may then recommend regular testing to monitor the heart. 

If your Boston develops heart failure, they may recommend medications to help your Boston live longer with heart disease.

How old is your Boston Terrier in HUMAN YEARS? Check out this table that breaks down your Boston’s age in human years, How Old Is My Boston?

Maintain An Ideal Weight

In addition, it may be beneficial to ensure that your Boston does not get overweight. Excess fat can put a strain on the heart and lungs. 

I recommend discussing a diet plan with your veterinarian if your Boston Terrier is overweight.

What Do Most Boston Terriers Die From? 3 Common Reasons.

3. Infectious Diseases

In younger Boston Terriers, one of the most common causes of death is infectious diseases. In particular, parvovirus seems to be especially prevalent in the United States and can lead to fatal illness and death.

A large scale research study that evaluated top causes of death in certain dog breeds found that 6% of Boston Terriers died from infectious diseases.

This study also found that young dogs were much more likely to die from infectious diseases with over 20% of young dogs dying from infectious diseases.

The Following Are Infectious Diseases That May Potentially Lead To Death:

  • Parvovirus
  • Canine Distemper
  • Rabies
  • Leptospirosis
  • Heartworm Disease
  • Lyme Disease

How Can You Protect Your Boston From Infectious Diseases?

The good news is that many of the fatal infectious diseases in Boston Terriers are entirely preventable.

Regular Vaccination

I recommend speaking with your veterinarian to discuss which vaccines are recommended for your Boston Terrier. 

At a minimum, I typically recommend regularly vaccinating your Boston for; 

  • Canine Distemper
  • Parvovirus
  • Rabies

Your veterinarian may recommend additional vaccines such as leptospirosis vaccine or Lyme disease vaccine depending on your pet’s lifestyle.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal disease if left undetected. Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite that is carried by mosquitoes. 

If your Boston Terrier becomes infected with heartworms, they could potentially develop heart failure or die suddenly.

In addition to regular vaccination, I typically recommend annual heartworm testing and administering monthly heartworm preventative to prevent heartworm infection.

Flea and Tick Prevention

I recommend giving your Boston regular flea and tick preventative. This will reduce their risk of developing tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease, which can be potentially fatal.

I typically recommend Seresto Flea & Tick Collars or K9 Advantix II (make sure you check your Boston’s weight before ordering). 

Speak with your veterinarian if you are interested in chewable options for flea and tick prevention.

What Do Most Boston Terriers Die From? 3 Common Reasons.


Cancer, heart disease, and infectious disease are 3 of the most common causes of death in Boston Terriers.

Fortunately, there are many actions that you can take to help reduce the risk of these diseases. 

It is important to administer flea and tick prevention and monthly heartworm preventative to help protect against preventable infectious diseases that can be potentially fatal.

It is vital that you take your Boston to the veterinarian regularly for vaccinations to prevent certain infectious diseases. 

Also, regular veterinary examinations will ensure that heart disease and cancer are detected early, leading to a better long term prognosis.


  • Weir, M., & Ward, E. Congestive Heart Failure in Dogs. VCA Hospitals.
  • Fleming, J.M., Creevy, K.E., & Promislow, D.E. (2011). Mortality in north american dogs from 1984 to 2004: an investigation into age-, size-, and breed-related causes of death. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 25(2), 187–198.

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Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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