Cairn Diseases

by Naomi Millburn
    The cairn. Any color but white.

    The cairn. Any color but white.

    Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

    The key to success for most things in life is knowing your stuff, whether it involves a college entrance examination or owning a dog. If having a cairn terrier as a pet is your goal, familiarizing yourself with the Scottish breed's most common medical issues can be extremely helpful down the line. Cairn terriers are mostly sturdy animals, but a few diseases are common to the breed.

    The energetic and tiny cairn terrier has a long history in the breeds Scottish homeland, going after farm pests such as badgers and foxes. These diligent terriers in the modern day are less often hunters and more often household lapdogs. They're called curious, brave, sweet and jovial. Adult cairn terriers usually weigh between 13 and 14 pounds, and stand between 9.5 and 10 inches at the shoulder. Male cairn terriers are a little bigger than the females, although the difference isn't usually substantial. Their fur appears in a wide array of colors, barring white. In classic terrier style, these guys are usually pretty fond of digging.

    One rather prominent issue for the breed is globoid cell leukodystrophy, a degenerative condition that stems from insufficient amounts of certain metabolic enzymes. The disease is somewhat common in cairn terriers, and also in West Highland white terriers or Westies. If you want to check on the possibility of this inherited condition in your pooch, talk to your veterinarian about testing.

    Cairn terriers are prone to various other medical ailments, including dislocated kneecaps, the bleeding issues of von Willebrand's disease, the bone malady Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, inadequate amounts of thyroid hormones, the eye lens changes of cataracts, the bone development disorder craniomandibular osteopath and diabetes. Craniomandibular osteopathy is particularly widespread among terriers in general, not just in the cairn variety. Although many of these terriers never get any of these illnesses, many of them also do. Any dog has the potential to get sick, and at any time, too.

    A lot of things go into nurturing a dog so that he can live a strong and lengthy life. Veterinary care, for one, is a biggie. Whether your cairn terrier gives any indications of disease or not, he needs to see a veterinarian on a frequent basis. Not all sicknesses have symptoms, after all. Making sure your pet drinks lots of water and consumes a well-rounded diet is vital. Frequent exercise contributes to longevity and optimal being. Cairn terriers specifically flourish if they have lots of outside activity, whether swift walks or fetch sessions. Cairn terriers who are cared for well by their owners often live to 13 or 14 years.

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    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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