Editor’s note: This article has been reviewed for accuracy by Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM. Dr. Ochoa is a graduate of St. George’s University with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine.
Scottish Terriers are a hardy breed, but like all dogs, they’re susceptible to certain health problems. Here’s a look at some of the most common health issues faced by Scottish Terriers, along with tips on how to keep your dog healthy and happy.
In this blog post, I’ll go over 12 common Scottish Terrier health problems you should be aware of as a Scottie owner.
- Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)
- Cushing’s Disease
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)
- Atopy (Skin Allergies)
- Bladder Stones
- Hip Dysplasia
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
- Pulmonic Stenosis (Heart Disease)
- Congenital Deafness
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
1. Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)
Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO) is a condition that affects the bones of the jaw, face and skull in dogs. It is most commonly seen in young Scottish Terriers, although it can occur in other breeds as well. Symptoms may include swelling around the eyes and muzzle, difficulty opening or closing the mouth, drooling and pain when eating or drinking.
In treating the condition, medications such as steroids and anti-inflammatories are employed to reduce symptoms. Nutritional support may also be provided in addition to medication.
If you are concerned that your dog may have CMO, much more information is available from the free CMO e-book put out by the Westie Foundation.
2. Cushing’s Disease
Cushing’s Disease is a common health problem in Scottish Terriers and other dog breeds. It is caused by an overproduction of the hormone cortisol, which can lead to a variety of medical issues including increased thirst and urination, hair loss, skin infections, fatigue and poor coat quality.
In some cases it can also cause behavioral changes such as aggression or anxiety. If left untreated Cushing’s Disease can eventually be fatal for your pet. Fortunately with proper care and treatment most dogs with Cushing’s Disease are able to live long happy lives without any major complications.
3. Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)
Von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD) is a genetic disorder that affects the clotting of blood in dogs. It is more common in Scottish Terriers than most other breeds, but can be found in other breeds as well. In affected dogs, their bodies lack an important protein needed for normal clotting, leading to prolonged bleeding from even minor cuts or injuries.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for vWD and it cannot be prevented so it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms early on so treatment can begin right away. Symptoms may include excessive bleeding from wounds or surgery sites, nosebleeds, gum bleeding after brushing teeth or vomiting up blood.
With a little extra love and attention, many dogs with von Willebrand Disease can live relatively normal lives.
4. Atopy (Skin Allergies)
Atopy in dogs is a common health issue faced by many breeds, especially Scottish Terriers and closely related breeds. This condition is caused when the body’s immune system reacts to allergens such as dust mites, pollen and mold spores that are found in the environment.
Symptoms of atopy can include intense itching, redness and inflammation of the skin along with hair loss and secondary infections. If left untreated these symptoms can become increasingly severe and even lead to more serious conditions such as bacterial or fungal infections.
Scottish Terriers are known to inherit or develop a number of different eye diseases including Glaucoma. The disease is caused by an increase in the pressure inside the eye, which can cause permanent damage to the optic nerve and lead to blindness if left untreated.
Symptoms may include redness or cloudiness of the eye, squinting or blinking excessively, dilated pupils and/or vision loss. In some cases glaucoma can be treated with medications but surgery may also be necessary.
It’s important for pet owners to watch for signs of glaucoma in their dog so that it can be detected early on and treatment can begin right away before any lasting damage occurs.
6. Bladder Stones
Bladder stones, also known as uroliths or cystic calculi, are a common health issue in dogs. They form when minerals and other substances found in the urine combine to form hard crystals that can cause painful blockages in the urinary tract.
Bladder stones can be especially dangerous for smaller breeds such as Scottish Terriers, since their small size makes it more difficult to pass them through the body naturally. If left untreated bladder stones can lead to severe medical issues including infection, kidney damage and even death.
Fortunately with proper diagnosis and treatment from a veterinarian most dogs with bladder stones can make a full recovery without any lasting effects.
7. Hip Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia is a common health condition that affects dogs of all breeds, including Scottish Terriers. This disorder occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly and becomes unstable or loose, leading to pain and difficulty walking.
Over time this can cause further damage to the joint as it wears away at the cartilage and bone resulting in arthritis. Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia may include limping, decreased activity level, reluctance to move around or jump up on furniture and an abnormal gait while walking.
Lymphoma is a form of cancer that can affect the lymphoid system in any dog, but it is more prevalent in Scottish Terriers than most other breeds. This condition can cause an enlargement of the lymph nodes and spleen along with other symptoms such as weight loss, poor appetite and lethargy. It is important to be aware of these signs so that treatment can begin right away if necessary.
See which former child star’s Scottie unfortunately passed away due to cancer.
9. Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is a painful hip disorder that affects dogs of all breeds, but is more common in smaller breeds including Scottish Terriers. This condition occurs when the blood supply to the femoral head (the ball of the hip joint) is interrupted.
Symptoms may include limping or lameness on one side, decreased activity level and reluctance to move around or jump up on furniture. If left untreated Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease can lead to further damage in the joints resulting in arthritis and long term pain for your dog.
If you suspect your Scottie may have the disease, make sure to let your veterinarian know as soon as possible as it may require surgery to repair.
10. Pulmonic Stenosis (Heart Disease)
Pulmonic Stenosis is a serious heart condition that especially affects terrier breeds, including Scottish Terriers. It is caused by the narrowing of the pulmonary artery, which supplies blood to the lungs and can lead to difficulty breathing and even death if left untreated.
Symptoms may include coughing, shortness of breath or exercise intolerance. In some cases Pulmonic Stenosis can be treated with medications but surgery may also be necessary in order to restore normal blood flow throughout the body.
It’s important for pet owners to watch for signs of this condition in their dog so that it can be detected early on and treatment can begin right away before any lasting damage occurs.
11. Congenital Deafness
Congenital (inherited) deafness is a condition in which dogs are born without the ability to hear. This genetic disorder affects many dog breeds, with Scottish Terriers being more prone to the condition than most.
While there is no cure for congenital deafness, early detection and proper treatment from a veterinarian can help minimize its effects on your pet’s quality of life.
12. Pulmonary Fibrosis
Scottish Terriers are prone to Pulmonary Fibrosis, a serious respiratory condition involving the thickening and scarring of lung tissue due to inflammation or infection.
Symptoms may include persistent coughing, shortness of breath or exercise intolerance.
It is essential for pet owners to be vigilant and spot indicators of this condition in their dog quickly, so they can initiate treatment as soon as possible, before any irreversible harm takes place.
Common Scottie Health Problems Final Thoughts
If you are thinking about adopting a dog, or already have, it is important to know the potential health problems that come with the breed.
The above list of health problems in Scottish Terriers is not meant to scare you off of adopting a Scottie. Remember, every dog breed has their own list of potential health problems.
Just because Scotties are more prone to certain health issues than other dogs doesn’t mean they are destined to be afflicted. But, of course, if you think your Scottie has one of the above health issues or any other health problem, be sure to let your vet know right away.
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