Westies generally are healthy, sturdy little dogs. Regular annual visits to the vet are about all it takes for most. But while Westies don’t suffer from a lot of breed-specific diseases, there are a few endemic to the breed of which you should be aware:.
Skin allergies -- Westies are prone to skin allergies. Reactions to grass are common, and more apparent with itchiness and scratching or chewing on “hot spots” in the spring and summer months. Other common allergies are related to food. Wheat, corn and other grains can cause allergic reactions in dogs. Sometimes, all it takes to “cure” food-related allergies is switching to a high-quality no-grain food or a raw diet. However, if the skin is dark and elephant-like in texture, it may be more serious. Malassezia dermatitis is not uncommon in Westies, usually manifesting itself with patchy skin lesions, hair loss and an unpleasant yeasty odor. (The Westie to the lower right has Malassezia.) A trip to your vet definitely is in order, but since many vets are not familiar with the condition, best to do your research and take along some articles from the Internet.
Westie Lung Disease -- Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, also known as Westie Lung Disease, is a scarring and fibrosing of the alveoli (air sacs) and connective tissue of the lungs. The scarring may be the result of chronic inflammation of the alveoli, and can replace much of the normal structure of the lungs. It is suspected that this disease is similar to the same disease in people.
Symptoms may be caused by other factors or diseases, so caution should be exercised when diagnosing Pulmonary Fibrosis in the Westie. In a recent talk, Dr. Elizabeth Rozanski DVM from Tufts Veterinary School reported a number of signs to look for in diagnosing Pulmonary Fibrosis. They included the following, although not all symptoms need be present: