SPECIFIC HEALTH CONCERNS
MANY YEARS, since the introduction of the breed
into the UK (and other countries), a few health problems have been noted.
As with all canine health issues, no one concern is restricted to the
BGV. some of the disorders are known to be congenital, whether inherited
or caused by the environment. A congenital condition therefore may nor
may not be heriditary.
are a few of the known conditions. All are monitored within the
breed. Although none is severe enough to currently cause undue concern,
the Health Committee invites anyone whose BGV has a health problem to contact
them, as submission of cheek swabs to the Animal Health Trust now may prove
invaluable in the future should any health issue warrant further research
now under control with no cases reported in 2020, early 2012 the BGV Club
became aware of instances of craniomandibular osteopathy in
BGVs. Known cases were mainly in GBGV puppies, though a couple
were also been reported in PBGVs.
BGVC Health Sub-Committee has been monitoring the condition in the breed and
the Third World Congress at Warwickshire in November 2012 gave the opportunity
to make representatives worldwide aware of the problem.
IS CRANIOMANDIBULAR OSTEOPATHY?
Sometimes known as "Lion Jaw", craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO) is a
bone disease of growing dogs. There is excessive, abnormal bone
growth of the skull and lower jaw. Irregular enlargement of the
affected bones results in extra bone growing on the surface of the lower jaw,
making it wider and thicker. It may also affect the jaw joint. In severe
cases, the excess bone may prevent the jaw joint from opening and closing
CAUSES CM0 AND WHICH BREEDS DOES IT AFFECT? The
cause of CMO is unknown. It is neither cancerous nor caused by
inflammation. It is an inherited condition known mainly in several
terrier breeds, though has been reported in a few other breeds.
ARE THE SIGNS OF CMO? The
signs of disease usually occur between 4-8 months of age. There is swelling of
the jaws, difficulty eating and pain on opening the mouth. Sometimes
opening the mouth proves difficult or practically impossible. Dogs may
drool and be depressed. Often the body temperature will fluctuate over
time, with fever occurring in phases every 10-14 days. In severely affected
dogs, the muscles used for chewing may atrophy and there may be swollen glands.
of affected dogs demonstrate irregular thickenings of the various facial bones.
It may be necessary to sedate or lightly anaesthetise the dog to obtain good
x-rays, since it is a painful condition and the dog may not lie quietly.
CMO INHERITED? Although
the mode of inheritance is known to be autosomal recessive in West Highland
White Terriers, in other breeds including the BGV the mode of inheritance has
yet to be determined.
DOES CMO MEAN TO YOUR BGV AND YOU? Your
puppy may have a swollen and painful lower law, or have trouble opening the
mouth or eating, or drool excessively. You may not notice all of these problems
continuously; the signs may seem to flare up at times then get better. This
disease is "self-limiting." Abnormal bone growth will typically stop
and begin to regress by one year of age. So, after your puppy is a year
old, the condition will probably not get worse - and should get better.
However if there has been severe bone growth, especially involving the jaw
joint, the excess bone may not go away on its own. In some cases, particularly
if the jaw joint is not working properly, your BGV may need surgery. Your
puppy's condition is more serious and the prognosis is guarded if there is
excessive bone growth on the base of the skull.
IS CMO DIAGNOSED? Your
vet will diagnose this disease based on physical examination, history and
IS CMO TREATED? There
is no treatment to stop the disease from getting worse; it will usually get
better as your puppy grows up. Pain can be relieved with anti-inflammatory
drugs. Your puppy may need surgery in certain severe cases.
YOU CAN DO If
you have a BGV affected by this health problem, contact Health Sub-Committee
members Peter Marks or Vivien Phillips who will help you to send cheek
swabs to Canine Genetics (formerly at the Animal Health Trust).
These need to go with pedigree and a report from your vet. There is no
charge for this research.
Eye Problems, other than POAG While
POAG and cataracts remain the main problem in the breed, there is some minor
evidence of Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPMs) and Lens Luxation.
Pupillary Membranes are strands of tissue in the eye. They
are remnants of blood vessels which supplied nutrients to the developing lens
of the eye before birth. Normally these strands are gone by 4 or 5 weeks of
age. Generally they cause no problems. However if attached to the cornea
or lens, the strands can cause opacities which may interfere with
vision. Cataracts that may possibly occur with PPM usually don't worsen.
Depending upon the location and extent of these strands, they may interfere
with vision. They may bridge from iris to iris across the pupil, iris to cornea
(may cause corneal opacities), or iris to lens (may cause cataracts), or they
may form sheets of tissue in the anterior chamber of the eye. In many dogs
these tissue remnants cause no problems.
Luxation is the dislocation or complete
displacement of the lens within the dog's eye. The lens is the clear structure
in the eye, consisting of two rounded or convex surfaces, that focuses light
rays to form an image onto the retina. Normally the lens is suspended between
the iris (the coloured portion of the eye) and the vitreous (the clear gel in
the back of the eye), and is held in place by small fibres or suspensory
of lens luxation may be primary or secondary. Where the lens luxation is
not associated with trauma (secondary) it is assumed to be "primary"
and therefore an inherited disorder and treatment varies on the position of the
lens, the presence of acute glaucoma and the potential for sight. The
main aim is to reduce the pressure in the eye and subsequently monitor
pressures, with medication to help.
IS CUSHING'S DISEASE? Cushing's
disease, or hyperadrenocorticism, which has been known to a small degree in the
BGV for many years, is a condition where the body overproduces the
cortisol steroid hormone. It's a fairly common condition in middle aged
and older dogs.
normally need some steroids for their bodies to function properly and they are
produced by the adrenal gland, which sits next to the kidney. The adrenal gland
is sent messages to produce cortisol by the pituitary gland, which sits at the
base of the brain. If a dog gets a growth on either of these glands, this can
send hormone production into overdrive which leads to a number of
symptoms. However the majority of Cushing’s cases are caused by a benign
tumour on the pituitary gland. Tumours on the adrenal gland also cause this
disease but are less common. High level use of steroids, used to treat
immune disorders or allergies, can also cause Cushing’s disease.
owners will notice excessive thirst and urination. One of the first
signs is that their dog suddenly begins needing to go out to the toilet in
the middle of the night.
can also be hair loss, weight gain, panting, skin changes, lowered immunity and
abdominal swelling, which can make the stomach appear to sag. A lack of
energy is another symptom you may notice.
most cases the symptoms are quite mild and for this reason – along with the
fact that there could be other causes of these signs – getting a confirmed
diagnosis can be difficult. Keep in mind that all symptoms are not
apparent in every patient and that many of the signs can also be associated
with other diseases.
determine whether or not a dog has Cushing’s disease, a vet will need to
look not just at the symptoms but also at the results of several
different diagnostic tests.
Is not always necessary to treat Cushing’s disease. This in itself is not
without risks so you should discuss the right course of action with your
vet. Treatment also depends on the type of Cushing's your dog has
but medication can be used in most cases.
your dog’s illness is due to the most common cause, a benign pituitary tumour,
daily medication will help manage the disease. Such treatment may not be
necessary if symptoms are mild and, in any case, your vet may want to
monitor your dog closely for a while first. Specialist surgery to remove
a pituitary tumour may also be an option.
the Cushing’s disease is caused by a growth on the adrenal gland, the dog will
need a scan to see whether the condition is benign or malignant. If there
is just one tumour, your vet may advise a course of medication to shrink it,
followed possibly by surgery to remove it. In some cases, further tumours may
spread through the body and in severe cases are unfortunately untreatable.
who have developed Cushing’s due to taking steroids for other health conditions
such as allergies or immunity issues will needs to be weaned off those steroids
under the advice of a vet. Coming off steroids too quickly can lead to further,
potentially fatal, problems.
Cushing’s disease cannot be cured, in most cases it can be managed but it is a
costly condition to treat.
will be needed for the rest of the dog's life, accompanied
by regular vet checks, which often includes blood tests.
has been reported in a few BGVs. An inadequate or subnormal thyroid gland
function results in immune destruction of the thyroid gland. Clinical
signs include obesity, lethargy, mental sluggishness, hair loss, change in coat
texture, infertility and hyperpigmentation of the skin. While
hypothyroidism cannot realistically be prevented, it is not particularly
difficult to diagnose and treat.
is no evidence at present that this is hereditary in BGVs but obviously, if the
condition is diagnosed, it is prudent not to breed from that individual.
pancreas is part of the endocrine and digestive system, which is integral for
the digestion of foods, producing the enzymes that digest food, and producing
insulin. When a condition occurs to cause inflammation of the pancreas, the
flow of enzymes into the digestive tract can become disrupted, forcing the
enzymes out of the pancreas and into the abdominal area.
this occurs, the digestive enzymes will begin to break down fat and proteins in
the other organs, as well as in the pancreas. In effect, the body begins to
digest itself. Because of their proximity to the pancreas, the kidney and liver
can also be affected when this progression takes place, and the abdomen will
become inflamed, and possibly infected as well. If bleeding occurs in the
pancreas, shock, and even death can follow.
of the pancreas (or pancreatitis) often progresses rapidly in dogs, but
can be treated without any permanent damage to the organ.
Always consult your vet who will begin a course of treatment but you can
help your BGV by feeding bland, low fat, high carbohydrate, easily
digestible food until the condition has cleared thoroughly.
Steroid Responsive Meningitis
responsive meningitis, sometimes known as juvenile pain syndrome, aseptic
meningitis or spinal meningitis, is a condition which has attracted
considerable concern among Petit owners in a few countries. It has been known
to crop up in the UK in Petits and occasionally in Grands but usually affects
young dogs up to two years. Most cases respond to treatment with drugs that
include analgesics, antibiotics and corticosteroids. A vet is likely to warn
that relapses can occur but, beyond the age of about four years, these are
unlikely. Although no genetic predisposition has been established, clearly it
is unwise to breed from any affected individuals.,
YOU CAN DO Although
numbers are quite small, the BGV Club will arrange for DNA samples of
affected BGVs to go to Canine Genetics (formerly at the Animal Health
Trust). If you have a BGV affected by this health problem, contact Health
Sub-Committee member Fiona Buchanan who will help you to take cheek
swabs. Once Canine Genetics is up and running, hopefully in the not too
distant future, these will need to go with a pedigree and report from your
vet. There is no charge for this research. Remember - if you have any concerns about your BGV's well-being which appear to
be related to any of the known health problems in the breed, let us know.
We are here to support you.
If you have any concerns about your BGV's well-being which appear to be related to any of the known health problems in the breed, let us know. We are here to support you.