Cairn Terriers - Health Related Issues - Updated 2011
Below is a list of search terms and questions - some answered, some not.
Comments? ~ New Email address - less spam.
About Cairn Terrier Blindness
Cairn terrier ears (3)
Cairn terrier ear infection (28)
Cairn terrier ear infection smelly (2)
Cairn terrier ear problems (14)
Cairn terrier ear yeast infection
Cairn terrier prone to ear infections (9)
When do Cairn terriers ears stand up (8)
Cairn terriers and allergies (11)
Cairn terrier can t put advantix on
Cairn terriers corn allergy (3)
Cairn terrier hairballs (31)
Cairn terrier kidney failure
Cairn terrier longevity (14)
Cairn terrier neutering
Carin terrier never sleeps?
Cairn terrier skin conditions (22)
Cairn terrier skin infections (18)
Cairn Terrier Stink (35)
Cairn Terrier Teeeth (4)
Cairn Terrier Tooth Problems (2)
Cairn Terrier throwing up white like foam every 2 or 3 days. (6)
Cairn foaming at the mouth whining shaking his head
Corn and grains and Cairns (3)
Does Cairn dog dander make you feel like something is biting you?
Grumpy Cairn Terrier (A Dental Assumption)
How do I get my Cairn to drink more water? (4)
How much can a Cairn terrier eat in a day? (Better Question is 'Should Eat')
How much wet food mature Cairn terrier (10)
How often should I bathe my Cairn Terrier? (13)
How to spot kidney failure in a Cairn terrier
Kidney failure in a Cairn terrier (4)
Renal failure Cairn terriers (3)
What can you do for a Cairn Terrier with bad skin allergies?
What do skin allergies look like on Cairn terriers
What food can Cairn terriers eat
What kind of human food can I feed my Cairn Terrier-Poodle?
Why Cairn terriers won't eat (11)
Why does my Cairn terrier eat grass (8)
Why does my Cairn Terrier squeal during bowel movements?
|Ears and Ear Infections
I would say Cairn Terriers are not any more prone to ear infections than other breeds and I think ear infections are more a result of geography than anything else.
I do a lot of traveling and can say that humid climates facilitate ear infections much more readily than arid regions.
If I had a Cairn in a humid climate I would be for keeping the head and ears trimmed down so as to circulate as much air as possible into the ear and ear canal.
The Cairn does have an advantage in that the ears stand which in itself reduces the chances of ear infection.
Ear infections can be a pain to eliminate so it is best to catch them early if you can.
Symptoms are universal - the dog persistently rubbing the head and ears on anything handy, including you.
If you are a newbie, you might construe this as affection.
Don't feel bad though............ as nice a thought as that is, best to check with the vet.
Cairn Terrier Hairballs
This is rather interesting and it does involve some conjecture on my part.
Yes, it is true that most Cairn Terriers can easily be termed hairballs and I believe the Brits use the word to assist in providing a graphical description of an offensive act committed by a Cairn Terrier:
"That bloody little hairball did wot?"
This may also be a reference to Cairn Terriers upchucking hairballs. If this is the case, take a photo of your animal and compare the image to that of a gray, long haired cat. If the similarities are striking, then that should answer your question.
Might answer a few others as well.
Search Term: Cairn Terrier Skin Infections and other Congenital Disorders
I'll leave this to Barb, occasional contributer and Cairn enthusiast:
OFA and finding a healthy Cairn puppy.
Please try to spread the word - free information to do a background check on a Cairn breeder through the OFA WEBSITE.
Free and easy, check this first for any new puppy parents. Hopefully consumers will pause before getting out their checkbook.
Check first before falling in love with a puppy. It is just as easy to fall in love with a pre-screened, HEALTHY Cairn as
it is to walk into a pet store and fall in love with a puppy mill Cairn.
Let me pause a moment and humbly acknowledge the pet Cairn Owners whom I have met and after the fun and laughter of watching Dezi with her skateboarding skills, and talking (she says "maa maa")... then I hear the other side of the unsung reluctant warriors. Reluctant warriors who fight for their genetically ill pets.
Consumers who simply wanted to buy a sweet Cairn terrier puppy later find they bought a lemon.
There should be a puppy lemon law to hold breeders responsible for creating genetically diseased puppies.
It breaks hearts and breaks bank accounts over the dog's lifetime.
Then they ask me how to avoid purchasing a Cairn who becomes sick. I carefully explain how critical it is to do genetic health testing. After hearing stories of poor genetic health, I am even more diligent to plead with people who love Cairn terriers, to look at the OFA website.
Become educated. Never, never, never, never buy a Cairn from any pet store. Never buy a Cairn unless you see the pedigree
and see the OFA results and DNA. Check first. It is far too easy to fall in love with a cute ball of fur.
If you love this breed, do your homework. Find only the ethical breeders who spend the money it takes to do genetic health screening.
These are the breeders who are going to preserve our best little pal. Breeders listed on the OFA website are putting enthusiasm
for Health and temperament first. Ribbons and titles follow after that.
I am not ashamed to admit that the sad plight of poor health made me cry. A man at the Cleveland show met Dezi, took my card and then emailed later asking for advice. He and his wife paid $800 for a Cairn terrier who later was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder which manifested as a horrible skin disease.
Here is their story:
My Dear Barb,
Sooooo very good to hear from a caring dog lover.
Funny you should inquire about Cairn Terrier's skin issue.
Things have not been going so well with our dog...skin issues worse...I cried on my way to work this morning...I am sick of it,
I cannot imagine him...intense itching...black bath water...spreading bald spots that will scab up...I am sick of giving him
pills...cannot imagine how the little dog feels...I tried to stay off the pills...then a flare-up occurs.
We are going to make one more trip to the dermatologist on Thursday ..he has to have blood work for Thyroid and then I am DONE with him...a couple of years and no solution except pills...I am doing all that my almighty might can do...very frustrated...I LOVE my dog.
He just went outside into the biggest pile of snow that he could find to roll his heart out into...it is almost like his skin has a fever.
Thank you for your loving care and concern and I treasure dog lover helpers like you that send out helpful info.
THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH ONCE AGAIN..
Story Number Two:
Another recent acquaintance suffered with a Cairn with cataracts (inherited). After her beloved blind Cairn died,
she vowed to seek out only a breeder who promised a 100% healthy puppy.
She found one, and I was the lucky person who drove from Minnesota to Columbus to deliver this lovely, lively, completely healthy puppy... joyful in every way!
It is much easier to laugh off the expense of chewed up shoes and other puppy antics they outgrow. It is no laughing matter to spend large sums of money on veterinarians and specialists.
The new puppy is now 1 year old, playing and loving life... 100% healthy... owner is delighted.
Story Number Three:
A dedicated loving Cairn Terrier owner, who has a dog suffering from Atopic Dermatitis (Another Autoimmune disorder):
Not much you can do, but I recommended supplements and gave names of dog food that is holistic. My heart goes out to the suffering.
Sigh. The dog is in pain, just walking on her paws. Here is her story:
The more pure the food I give her the better; no treats other than green peppers and even lettuce although she loves sweet potato and bananas. I give her the horse pills in one of those two items as she swallows pills whole so it needs to slide down.
She won't take the pill by itself and I don't blame her as it has an odor to it so I have to hide it in food.
There are puppy mills in town that sell to unsuspecting people who can't resist a Cairn puppy.
My dog has a horrible immune system. She has extremely serious allergies; atopic dermatitis caused by everything from ingredients in food (chicken, eggs, soy, wheat etc.) to grass to insects; petroleum surfaces; medications; and even perhaps dust mites.
She is on immunosuppressant drugs 2 x weekly, antihistamines from time to time, topical treatments, antibiotics, varied shampoos for different outbreaks and baths at least once a week.
I have to keep her clipped short or shaved in summer so I can treat her skin. I get prescriptions from on line sources which are cheaper but are still expensive. She really should be in a bubble like a hamster but that is no way for a Cairn Terrier to live.
She is actually allergic to herself. Her skin builds up, kind of like psoriasis. The bacteria builds up and causes staph infections.
Its really miserable but since I know how to keep up with it more or less, I can keep her healthy for a while longer at least.
Frequent bathes and also paw soaks. She is so very good about all I have to do with her. I think she knows I am helping her.
She had a flare up last week but I think I caught it in time; I have to be vigilant and the average person would not or could not keep up with all this.
I think another trigger for her is insect bites. We are infested with ticks in spring.
Cairn Terrier throwing up White-Like Foam every 2 or 3 days.
Comment: Sounds like a grass attack to me. Pepto Bismal or Kaopectate can work well in the short term if you observe discomfort.
If it persists, I'd give the vet a call.
Cairn foaming at the mouth whining shaking his head
Comment: I'd love to know more detail on this one.
Two things immediately come to mind:
1. If the Cairn stinks, he might have mixed it up with a skunk came out on the wrong end of the fight. Hose him down and give him a bath in tomato juice. That really helps kill the smell. Fresh spray from a live skunk is pretty nauseating. It doesn't smell the way a dead skunk in the the middle of the road smells. It smells more like smoke and fire, or maybe burned rubber.
2. Are there toads in your area? If the cairn was out digging, he might have found one. I had a lab cross that got hold of one once.
There are a couple glands on the back of the toad's head which contain a mucous type secretion that lets loose if an animal grabs this area. If you look at the picture, you may see a raised area which might remind you of a blister running along the shoulder blades up and down, right in the area of the large bumps. These are the parotid glands.
Not all toad secretions are equal and while most only sicken or nauseate a dog, there are some that can kill.
If the Cairn is foaming up, shaking his head, whining and in obvious distress, grab him and wash his mouth out with water immediately and wash his face and forelegs as well. It would also be a good idea to call the vet and tell him what happened.
If you know there are toads in the area, he can probably advise whether or not it is serious.
Does Cairn dog dander make you feel like something is biting you?
If I felt like that I would be for getting myself to a doctor to find out what the problem is.
Question: How do I get my Cairn to Drink More Water?
Answer: Maybe you shouldn't.
It depends on why you think the Cairn is not drinking enough.
1. The Cairn is not drinking enough water because his urine is very yellow in color.
Dog urine is quite yellow in color. Some people are under the impression that dog urine should be similar to that of human urine in that it should be clear or straw colored like that of a normally hydrated human.
Pale colored urine as in the above example could be a good reason to get the Cairn to the vet for a checkup. The vet might even compliment you on your powers of observation.
2. The Cairn is not drinking enough water because he is under medication and that medication unnaturally quenches thirst.
If this is the case, you need to make the water more desirable.
Go to the store and pick up a box of chicken broth and / or a box of beef broth.
Pour enough broth into the water bowl to flavor it.
If chicken broth doesn't do it, try the beef. Odd's are the Cairn's water intake will dramatically improve.
If the broth works, ensure you forewarn visitors that what they may observe in the dog's water bowl is in fact flavored water and not something........unsanitary.
Why Cairn Terriers won't Eat
It is not that Cairn terriers won't eat, it is that they don't eat.... much.
If you confuse the two and end up giving your Cairn food that he will gorge on, you will end up with one fat Cairn whose teeth are loaded up with tartar.
Basic Feeding Instructions
Start out with somewhere around one cup of a good quality dried dog food in the morning. If it is still there at night, do nothing. If it is still there the following day, do nothing. The Cairn will more than likely start eating after the second day.
If after the third day the bowl is still full of food then odds are the Cairn is getting food somewhere else - a sympathetic family member perhaps.
They can look reeaallly pathetic when they want to. Don't be fooled.
He may also have his own private tunnel leading to another yard where the food is more to his liking.
Limit the Cairn's access to the food in his bowl.
Do not place more food in the Cairn's food bowl until the bowl is empty and then only fill it in the morning. You may need to adjust to a little more food or a little less. The idea is to have an empty food bowl at the end of the day.
By the way if you have a foul smelling, gassy Cairn and want to minimize the odor coming from same, feed him in the morning using dried food only for a couple weeks and see if you don't notice a significant decrease in smelly, canine flatulence in the evening.
Question: How often should I bathe my Cairn Terrier?
Answer: I would tend to treat it as a matter of convenience....
Question: What can you do for a Cairn terrier with bad skin allergies?
Answer: Unless you are independently wealthy, put the dog down and buy another quality Cairn Terrier complete with guarantees and this time from a reputable breeder.
I'm not kidding. If you want to read horror stories, tales of sorrow about same... peruse some of these pages. It is not worth the effort, time, trouble and heartache.
If you don't want to do the right thing, spay or neuter the animal and give it to one of the Cairn Rescue orgs so they can pass the defect off to someone who hopefully knows how many vet bills he or she is likely to incur for a long, long time.
Question: What kind of human food can I feed my Cairn Terrier-Poodle?
Answer: Don't. The occasional treat is ok, but remember dogs are dogs. Treat them as such.
Why does my Cairn Terrier Eat Grass?
Short Answer: Because that is what dogs do.
This is a $64.00 question that has to my knowledge no definitive answer. My theory is that there are at least three distinct reasons for eating grass and these are based on personal observation over the years:
1. The Special Treat
In this instance the Cairn picks through the grass, chewing carefully selected blades. This can go on for 10-15 minutes. It seems as though the Cairn is eating grass because he enjoys it. Perhaps he does.
2. Something's Missing
You know this one when you see it.....the Cairn acts like a miniature lawnmower, virtually chowing down on grass. I think this is the Cairn's way of making up for a deficiency in the diet due to something lacking in the dog food. I have noticed that with some brands of food, I see the Cairn eating more grass. With the latest dog food we are using, the dog rarely eats grass and when he does, it is more regarded as a special treat.
3. Sour Stomach
This is unmistakable as well. The Cairn finds a a patch of grass, long bladed grass in particular and doesn't chew it but wolfs it down
and promptly throws it all up a minute later. I think it is a dog's method of purging his stomach of something that didn't sit well.
Question: Why does my Cairn Terrier squeal during bowel movements?
Answer: Better you than me. There are numerous reasons. The most obvious would be blockage of some sort. This would include pieces of a toy, wood, shattered bone and anything else you can imagine that a dog would eat.
If the Cairn is an older dog, when they squat and strain, pressure is put against the spine and neck. Might be some arthritis or something age related going on.
Lets see, the dogs scent glands might be infected or something along those lines.
The Cairn might be constipated. I would imagine Ex-Lax or fiber might help.
Failing all that, give the vet a call.
In my experience, I would guess that constipation is the most frequent culprit. Cairns I have observed don't drink a lot of water. If you mix that with a brand of dog food that doesn't help the cause, I would look to increasing the moisture content of the dog's food.
Search: About Cairn Terrier Blindness (Occular Melanosis)
Cairn Terrier Blindness......I initially found this rather curious because I really hadn't heard anything about it until some of the Cairn owners from overseas, England and Scotland in particular brought up the fact that they had dogs that were going blind, were blind in one eye or blind in both eyes. The cause of this was a condition called Occular Melanosis and some of the leading studies of this condition are located right here in the Midwest. Even curiouser, one often finds 'Cairn Terrier' and 'Occular Melanosis' in the same sentence, if one Googles 'Occular Melanosis'.
Here are a couple informational PDF's dealing with the subject:
Occular Melanosis in Cairn Terriers
Since the topic interested me and since I didn't know much about it, I decided to consult Ms. Barb and asked her if she had any info on Occular Melanosis in Cairn Terriers.
She did of course, and broadened the topic out to include other Cairn Terrier health issues, as well as responsible breeding and what to do about those that aren't so responsible.
So without further adieu, here is Ms. Barb on the subject:
CERF AND THE OFA
To help breeders locate important screening information with less effort, the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) has graciously agreed to allow the OFA to display some of its data. In order for CERF results to appear on the OFA site each dog must have:
1. An existing OFA record
2. A current CERF exam
3. Identical registration name and number information registered with each organization (in order to establish the database links).
About CERF (Quote)
CERF was founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dogs lives were being affected by heritable eye disease. CERF was then established in conjunction with cooperating, board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists as a means to accomplish the goal of elimination of heritable eye disease in all purebred dogs by forming a centralized, national registry.
The CERF Registry not only registers those dogs certified free of heritable eye disease by members of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ), but also collects data on all dogs examined by A.C.V.O. Diplomates. This data is used to form the CERF data base which is useful in researching trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility. Not only is this data useful to clinicians and students of ophthalmology, but to interested breed clubs and individual breeders and owners of specific breeds
I am not here to make anyone feel bad for taking the CHEAP way out….you see.
I am a victim of falling for the price-tag of a "Cheap" "Pet" Cairn terrier, advertised in the classified ads.
My first Cairn, is from someone was blinded by dollar signs in their eyes.
In contrast to the approximate 800 dollars for a good, ethical breeder.... I snatched up a 250 dollar puppy. Whoa.
Holy S%&*t - the vet bills my Oliver cost me....( choke, choke, gasp!). Now who saved the money?
I feel stupid. Using 20/20 hindsight…. it was actually LESS expensive to buy that 800 dollar puppy from an ethical breeder.... the good breeder who budgets annually to do all kinds of genetic health testing to produce 100% healthy puppies.....and from the sale of her pups, she makes little profit.
Do you see the truth now?
In addition to popping knee caps (luxating patella). Oliver has an Auto Immune disorder (again, a genetic birth defect).
He had flaky skin, hair coming out in chunks, and he chewed his feet and his sides like he was on fire. Swell.
That was fixed with the right food. (See my advice on nutrition.)
My professional dog training can overcome many things, but not poor health.
Poor health created by greed. Breeders who turn a profit with total disregard for health are bottom feeders.
Have you ever purchased a car and it was a lemon? Do you silently make all repairs for the life of the car?
Hell no. You would go back to the source, right?
How about the ever-present outrageously popular cell phones? Ever had a "bad one"?
Cell phones are almost free and yet, consumers will return it until it is made right. Right?
Why not start hitting the SOURCE of blind Cairn Terriers.
If your dog is broken, return him or her…and make the breeder refund your money and spay/neuter the parents!!!
Report that breeder, call the Better Business Bureau, Consumer Affairs, contact the AKC and start complaining.
WE return defective cars, appliances, etc, why are we silent when it comes to dogs?
I am SHOCKED at how many people buy a "pet" Cairn Terrier and silently suffer while their beloved pet dog goes blind.
I have three little magic words to weed out the unwise, uneducated, and un -ethical:
Genetic Health Testing
What does that have to do with a PET quality Cairn?
uh.... duh, Hello?! Your wallet !!!
My Oliver Twist of Fate, was just a puppy, born 12-12-1999.
He was playing in the backyard and suddenly began to scream (for no apparent reason) and I rushed to the vet for answers (Cha-Ching).
He had "luxating Patellas". (Knee caps that pop out.) Painful and completely un-necessary if the breeder did health testing.
Sadly, Oliver inherited this disease. Surgery to repair this if it persisted… was $1500.00 per knee.
Our guest Tucker is on the left, wearing his seat belt. Dezi is in the middle and Oliver is on the far right.
Tucker has Swedish bloodlines in his pedigree. the Europeans breed the larger Cairn terrier.
Tucker is huge. He makes Oliver look small!
I found out, that yes, you can inherit defective health problems. I have learned since, that the dogs with popping kneecaps and bad eyes, or going blind.... should be spayed, neutered ASAP and the breeders with dollar signs in their eyes are the blind ones.
Owners of blind, failing eyesight puppies and adults MUST act.
1. Find an eye testing veterinarian. Go get your Cairn Tested for vision health. Find a CERF Clinic near you.
CERF: Canine Eye Registration Foundation
2. Go to the OFA website (it's free). Publish your results, and the pedigree of your dog.. it’s the right thing to do.
3. Get your pets DNA'd. Easy. (It’s a cheek swab). This will clearly identify the parents. This will help you uncover the truth... WHO are the breeding parents of your blind puppy or dog? Track them down, publish and report the results. Lots of mass breeders are only guessing who is on the pedigree.
By joining forces, all the dog owners can help. No need to re-create the wheel. The OFA and CERF are there for you, the consumer. Created by people just like you. A group of folks who want a better world and better dogs that are healthy.
1. Tell everyone. Be wise, be informed. Before you buy, find out if your favorite Cairn Breeder is doing this test for blindness.
If your breeder is eliminating birth defects (genetic issues), then he or she is ethical.
If your Cairn Breeder is not listed on the OFFA website, why not? What is he or she hiding?
ANY Cairn Terrier breeder on the OFA Website is on the right track. All female breeding stock should be listed on this helpful, free website.
There is a small fee to be listed, as this is a not for profit org. Find out the statistics before you buy. Be informed, educate yourself and others.
Eyesight News and education
Below is from the CTCA Foundation website. (Cairn Terrier Club of America):
'If your Cairn is 7-12 years old, or has been diagnosed with Ocular Melanosis and you would like more information on this disease, please contact Dr. Simon Petersen-Jones at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
He is collecting blood samples and pedigrees of normal and affected dogs as well as organ donated eyes from all Cairns.
Please e-mail Dr. Petersen-Jones at email@example.com .
He can also be contacted through the Comparative Ophthalmology laboratory at MSU by telephone at (517) 353-3278.'
Eye Test: Get your Cairn’s eyesight examined.
I had Oliver tested (my newspaper variety Cairn terrier.). His eyes are good. I had him tested 2 or 3 times during his life. If you TEST... and FIND OUT before he goes blind, then you can use RX eye drops to help KEEP the eyesight. Yes, even if you own a Cairn with bad eyes, detection can help save the eyes. It’s painless, your dog needs to tolerate eye drops to dilate the pupil, just like human eye doctors the whole 9 yards.... it’s really Cool!!
Also, some AKC Dog Shows have Eye Clinics for any dog. So read up on any future AKC Dog Shows. (Breed shows) and find out if the sponsoring kennel club has paid for a Veterinarian with the Ophthalmologist credentials. (AVCO). to perform reduced fee Eye testing.
Wouldn't you want to save your dog from going blind?
You asked, and I spoke up. Buyer beware, I strongly urge anyone who WANTS a Cairn, to research that kennel name first (look them up on the OFFA website).
You will be happy you did!
Example of ethical breeder published results:
Share the results of your pet. You too, can send in your CERF results to the OFA to be listed, therefore, help complete the Cairn health history and change history.
One last word of advice, don’t be fooled by clever ads. Find your next Cairn Terrier from one of the many wonderful breeders who are part of the future of this breed.
Look on the CTCA website, go find an affiliate club, meet the folks, see if they do Fun picnics, fun matches, earthdog events, things like that.
Meet Dezi. Dezi is from SnowedOn Cairn Terriers. She comes from a Healthy Gene pool and has a 100% clear history for many generations.
Please find someone who loves these dogs as much as you do, I am passionate about health in all dogs.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to find a “pet”, and you don’t need to spend a fortune on medical bills for life, either.
Comment: Thanks for taking the time, Barb.
Grumpy Cairn Terrier (A Dental Problem Assumption)
Comment: While there are doubtlessly many reasons why an older cairn terrier might turn grumpy on the odd occasion, it is unusal if they stay that way. One frequently overlooked reason for grumpiness are the cairn terrier's teeth, especially in an older one (personal experience here).
Open up your cairn's mouth and have a close look and see how well the chompers are faring.
If you see missing and/or broken teeth, time for a visit to the vet.
One year ago, Rufus had all his teeth and his personality was that of a typical cairn terrier.
One year later, Rufus had morphed into a grumpy old man and I thought it was age related. Turned out Rufus had two cracked teeth, three missing teeth, three more bad teeth and a tooth where all that was left was the roots.
All this in the space of one year!
Anyway, we took him to the vet and had the bad teeth extracted and roots removed from the other where that was all that was left.
Two weeks later, the change in Rufus's temperment was astonishing. Gone was the grumpy old man and in his place was your typical obnoxious cairn terrier.
Six Months Later Followup:
Rufus at the ripe old age of 10 is back to his old self.....Totally obnoxious most of the time, marginal IQ (especially as compared to that of a Standard Poodle on a daily basis), and.......he has developed something of a 'need for attention' streak on the odd day. I suspect this is because given his personality, the standard poodle will gladly suck in all the attention one can give.