Bella is a very cheeky West Highland White Terrier puppy with a face that nobody can resist! But a few months ago she was not so happy.
When Bella was just 12 weeks old she suddenly became very quiet, she stopped eating treats and was no longer able to pick up even her favourite toys. Mr & Mrs Matthews brought her in to see our vet, Duncan Ross. He found that she was very sore when her lower jaw was touched and it was too painful to open her mouth. He already had his suspicions as to what the problem might be and advised that we take some X-rays to check.
Bella was admitted immediately and had a general anaesthetic so we could take clear X-rays of her jaw. These showed some abnormalities of her lower jaw and confirmed Duncan’s suspicion that she was suffering from Cranio-Mandibular Osteopathy.
This is an inherited genetic condition that occurs almost exclusively in Westies. It usually affects puppies between three and six months old when they are growing fast. Affected pups develop painful thickenings of the jaw bones. It can be so painful that some pups won’t eat. There is no specific treatment for the illness but steroid anti-inflammatory medication usually works well to control the pain and the signs.
As the puppies get older the bone swellings stop growing and in some cases gradually disappear, but in other cases the dogs are left with permanently misshapen jaws and faces.
Bella’s condition responded very well to the cortico-steroids and before long she was back to her normal playful self. She is now 7 months old and soon we will be able to wean her off the medication. Because her condition was diagnosed early we are very hopeful that she will not be left with any permanent swellings and that her beautiful looks will not be spoilt – as you can see from her photos!