Welsh Terrier Genetic Diseases

Make sure your Welsh terrier has regular veterinary eye exams.
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Some canine breeds suffer from such a wide variety of genetic illnesses or conditions that obtaining a healthy dog isn't easy. The Welsh terrier isn't one of those breeds, but they are at risk of certain inherited ailments. Welsh terrier genetic diseases include epilepsy and eye disorders. If purchasing a Welsh terrier puppy, it's especially important that the breeder provide you with certification that the pup's parents are free from genetic eye issues.

Eye Diseases

The Welsh terrier's most common genetic disorders are eye-related. They include glaucoma, which causes pain as fluid builds up inside the eye, affecting the optic nerve and causing vision loss. Symptoms include sensitivity to light, tearing, eye reddening and pawing at the eye for pain relief, as well as corneal clouding, according to the Welsh Terrier Association. Prompt treatment can relieve your dog's discomfort and possibly save some sight. Welsh terriers also are prone to cataracts and lens luxation. You might notice opacity in your dog's eye if he develops cataracts. A veterinary ophthalmologist might remove the cataract, possibly improving the dog's vision. Lens luxation, often related to cataracts and glaucoma, occurs when the lens dislocates. Symptoms include heavy tearing and constant blinking. Without fast treatment, glaucoma might develop, according to the University of Sydney's Faculty of Veterinary Science.

Welsh Terrier Epilepsy

Inherited epilepsy, though uncommon, is found in Welsh terriers. Affected dogs usually suffer an initial seizure between the ages of 1 and 3 years. Although there is no cure, your veterinarian can prescribe medication to control seizure activity and your dog can live a relatively normal life. Welsh terriers diagnosed with epilepsy should not be bred.

Skin Sensitivity

Welsh terriers are especially prone to skin allergies, or atopy, which may have a genetic component. The itchiness and lesions in affected dogs start early on, often before the dog's first birthday. Welsh terriers with atopy might chew on their paws, exhibit head shaking and ear scratching and rub their noses along the ground to relieve the itch. Your vet will take blood samples and skin scrapings to determine which allergens trigger the reaction. Treatment might include dietary changes and supplements, medicated shampoos, antibiotics for secondary infections caused by scratching and steroid therapy. While atopy can't be cured, management is possible.

Welsh Terrier Hypothyroidism

Middle-aged and older Welsh terriers are prone to hypothyroidism, or thyroid hormone deficiency. Symptoms include dull coat, hair loss, lethargy, skin thickening, weight gain, cold intolerance and infertility in intact dogs. Your vet can prescribe a daily thyroid pill, which your dog must take for the rest of his life. It likely will relieve his symptoms and get him back to normal, although he requires regular veterinary monitoring.