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Know the Signs: 5 Most Common Health Issues in Westies

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on May 25, 2023

Known for their cheerful disposition and bright white coat, the West Highland White Terrier, affectionately called a “Westie,” is a popular breed worldwide. However, Westies, like any breed, are susceptible to specific health problems. As a responsible Westie owner, understanding these conditions’ common signs is crucial. This article delves into the five most common health issues in Westies.

  1. Atopic Dermatitis

Atopic dermatitis is a common chronic skin disease in Westies, caused by an allergic reaction to various environmental allergens. Symptoms can vary but often include incessant scratching, licking or biting the skin, ear infections, redness, and skin sores. This condition typically requires lifelong management, involving a combination of allergen avoidance, topical treatments, and immunotherapy.

  1. Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease

This condition, common in small breed dogs like Westies, involves the degeneration of the femoral head (the “ball” in the ball-and-socket hip joint). Early signs include limping, difficulty moving, and muscle atrophy in the hind leg. Without intervention, it can lead to painful arthritis. Surgery is often required, followed by a period of physical rehabilitation.

  1. Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)

CMO is a bone disease affecting Westies, causing excessive growth in the lower jaw’s bones and surrounding skull bones. Symptoms typically appear between 4 to 8 months of age, including pain while eating, fever, and swelling of the jaw. While there is no cure, symptoms can be managed with pain relief and usually cease once the dog reaches adulthood.

  1. Pulmonary Fibrosis

Westies are prone to a condition called Pulmonary Fibrosis, or “Westie Lung Disease.” This disease causes progressive scarring in the lungs, reducing their ability to function effectively. Early signs can be subtle and include increased respiratory rate, difficulty breathing after exercise, or an unusual “crackling” sound during breathing. As the disease progresses, symptoms become more severe, with dogs showing signs of significant respiratory distress. Regular vet check-ups and early intervention can help manage this condition.

  1. White Shaker Syndrome

This neurological disorder predominantly affects small, white dogs, hence the name. The syndrome is characterized by generalized tremors, often accompanied by nystagmus (rapid involuntary eye movement), and incoordination. The cause remains unknown, but it is thought to be linked to inflammation in the brain. Dogs with this condition may display tremors, difficulty walking, and in some cases, seizures. Treatment typically involves corticosteroids to reduce inflammation, with most dogs responding well.

In conclusion, knowing the signs of these common health issues in Westies is crucial for ensuring your pet’s well-being. Regular veterinary check-ups are invaluable for the early detection and treatment of these conditions. By providing a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and ensuring regular exercise, you can significantly contribute to your Westie’s overall health. Remember, your dog relies on you to notice if something’s amiss. Understanding these issues allows you to provide the best possible care for your faithful friend.

NEXT UP: Since the pandemic, veterinarian bills have skyrocketed. This website lets you compare prices on all the pet insurance companies at once.

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