Cairn Terrier Health Guide
Many breeds of dog have particular traits or health requirements that set them apart from other types of dogs. A healthy Cairn Terrier should live as long as 14 or 15 years, but animal health experts have identified some genetic faults in purebred dogs that may apply to the Cairn.
In fact, an excellent manual called “Genetic Anomalies of the Cairn Terrier” has outlined some of these concerns. Careful breeding seems to be the most effective way of avoiding, or at least tracking, these conditions.
Cairn Terrier Health Guide
A quality diet and regular exercise should be sufficient to give this small, strong dog a long, happy life. However, Cairn Terrier owners should be aware of possible genetic problems or health problems that can develop in this Scottish breed. Skin problems, usually caused by fleas, grass, and other environmental issues can be a common ailment with Cairns. To help with these conditions, your veterinarian may recommend antihistamines. In addition, cataracts, which are opaque eye lens, can also be a problem for purebred dogs.
One of the more unusual conditions, which occurs in a puppy and usually resolves in about a year, is “lion jaw,” formally known as craniomandibular osteopathy. Interestingly, you will find an open registry for this condition maintained by the Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals. Treatment usually targets the pain and includes aspirin or steroids. Other genetic condition owners should be aware of include globoid cell leukodystrophy or Krabbe’s disease, cryptorchidism; hypothyroidism, and a variety of heart defects. However, according to the Cairn Terrier Club of America, there is no predominant heart disease identified with this breed.
New information about vaccinating your pet has come up in the past few years, with some veterinarians stating that dogs and cats do not need to be revaccinated every year. In fact, a book that is considered the veterinarian’s bible notes that a successful vaccination to most bacteriological pathogens is effective for years. For day-to-day care, the Cairn Terrier is generally a delight to own, needing a little grooming for a shaggy coat that sheds lightly. This active breed should need no more than moderate exercise to stay healthy, doing quite well without a large yard.
High-quality dry dog food should be just right for your Cairn. Then, with this breed’s tendency to gain weight, table scraps are highly discouraged by animal nutrition experts. However, some veterinarians, and others such as dog breeders, say “real food” is fine as part of the Cairn Terrier diet although it would be food specially made for a dog. This could include fresh chicken, dairy, and even brown rice and oatmeal.
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Keep in mind that Cairn Terriers and some other dogs have allergies to corn, soybeans, or wheat, which make up much of commercial dog food. Therefore, owners might consider fresh foods for their Cairn, perhaps with the advice of their veterinarian.
Cairn Terriers can be given a limited number of treats each day, usually two or three, but owners should not give in to the consistent begging for more treats that can be a part of the terrier’s personality. Some owners and breeders of Cairn Terriers recommend a sufficient amount of exercise and mental stimulation for this breed because they are so active and need to burn off excess energy.
You will also find that these same people urge you not to expect the Cairn to be simply a household pet because the breed was originally such a hardworking dog, with aggression toward vermin and other small animals as part of its makeup.