As a proud parent to this adorable breed of dogs, you most likely have questions and concerns about the well being of Westies. If so, you have come to the right place.
One very important and persistent question is, are Westies prone to cancer? Under normal circumstances, they are no more prone to cancer than another breed of dogs. However, there is one type of cancer that they are more susceptible to than others. And that is bladder cancer.
There are many factors that contribute to this unfortunate phenomenon. But the primary determinant is the genetic makeup of their breed. These short legged breeds of dog which originated from Scotland have a higher vulnerability to developing urinary bladder cancer as well as kidney disorders.
The most distressing thing about this health scare is that it is not often detected in the early stages. In the majority of the cases, the tumor is already in its advanced stages by the time it is diagnosed. Watching out for any signs of health problems can be detrimental to the health of your Westie.
Symptoms of bladder cancer in Westies are eerily similar to a urinary tract infection. The key is not to ignore the indications that may otherwise seem insignificant. Any incidence of blood in the urine, difficulty in passing urine, tenderness of the belly and vomiting should necessitate a serious medical consultation with the veterinarian.
The most important thing that we can do for our canine companions is to equip ourselves with knowledge about their health. Therefore, we have taken the liberty to discuss, in detail, the factors that cause the manifestation of bladder cancer in Westies, the symptoms, and treatment in this article. We are confident that you will find this post enlightening and give you insight into this health issue of the beloved Westies.
Which Factors Make Westies Prone to Bladder Cancer?
As mentioned above, the genetic blueprint is mainly to blame for this damning disease. But it is not the only component that causes bladder cancer in Westies. Apart from the genes, factors that contribute to this disease may include but are not limited to:
Dogs which live in close proximity to lawns that use plenty of herbicides and pesticides are more vulnerable. Researches have shown a close interlink between urinary cancer and phenoxy herbicides, a chemical used commonly in lawns. The unpleasant side effect of smoking does not seem to end with humans. Westies that live in an environment that often exposes them to smoke are also more vulnerable.
As speculated by a veterinarian from North Carolina, Dr. Betsy Sigmon, bacteria might have a role to play as well. Bartonella, which is responsible for causing the infectious bartonellosis, is spread by lice, fleas, and ticks. These bacteria can cause cancerous mutations by affecting the transitioning lining inside the urinary tract of dogs.
It is also a direct effect of pesticide exposure. Obesity, in turn, accelerates the incidence of bladder cancer.
The age of a Westie is also a factor that affects the occurrence of bladder cancer. Dogs around the age of six to eight years are in the risk category. It is important to keep a close watch on the behavior of the dog during this time.
What are the Symptoms of Bladder Cancer?
According to Dr. Lindsay Thalheim and Dr. Arteaga, professor and specialist of oncology in veterinary medicine, the typical symptoms of bladder cancer include:
- Urinating very frequently in small quantities
- Blood in urine or discolored urine
- Difficulty or discomfort while urinating
- Pooping accidents while inside the house
- Urinary tract infection that is persistent
What are the Available Treatments?
Treatments of bladder cancer in Westies include:
- Radiation – In cases where the tumor is not a substantial size, radiation therapy is used. The frequency of treatment depends on the size and severity of the tumor.
- Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is often used in the treatment of bladder cancer in Westies. The drugs administered are typically similar to the ones used for human treatment. The duration, as well as the frequency of the treatment, is determined by the extent of the tumor, the dog’s tolerance, and the response to the drugs.
- Surgery – Surgical procedure is also used to treat bladder cancer in dogs. Here, the veterinarian may remove the tumor from the bladder. However, it is not uncommon to have an entire bladder removed if the cancer is particularly aggressive.
- Medications – Medications such as anti-inflammatory and antibiotics may also be incorporated into the treatment. These are used to supplement other treatment procedures in case of incidences such as bacterial infection as an after-effect of surgery.
- Supportive care may also be required to facilitate the treatment. In the case where the dog experiences extreme difficulty in urinating, the veterinarian may suggest and perform a catheterization.
What can you do to Prevent Bladder Cancer?
As Westies are categorized as a high-risk breed, it is important to be aware and give them the best possible care. Of course, there is nothing that can be done to alter their vulnerable genes but there is so much that we can do for them.
- Keep them away and protected from exposure to smoke and insecticides and other chemicals.
- Maintain a healthy diet. The best is a vegetarian based diet.
- Regular exercise will keep them healthy and their weight under check.
- Maintaining good dental hygiene for Westies is as essential as the owners.
- Any sign of physical distress must be dealt with immediately.
- A routine medical checkup after every six months or so is essential.
Westies do more than possessing a lovable appearance. They bring joy, comfort, and love into our homes. It is our responsibility as human caretakers to give them love attention and care. With proper care and regular trips to the vet, bladder cancer can be easily eliminated from the lives of these wonderful pets.
We hope this article has given you all the information and prepared you to take better care of your Westie. If you have any more questions on the topic, kindly post your comments.