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Vet Rec. 1999 May 29;144(22):611-6.

Chronic pulmonary disease in West Highland white terriers.

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Department of Veterinary Clinical Studies, Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh, Summerhall.


This paper describes the clinical features, and diagnostic findings of a chronic respiratory condition in 29 West Highland white terriers. Typically, the dogs were coughing chronically, had dyspnoea and tachypnoea of varying severity, and had deteriorated progressively over months to years. The mean (sem) survival time in months from the clinical signs being first noted by the owners was 17.9 (2.3). Most cases had a combination of respiratory signs, but coughing was the predominant sign in 18 cases. Inspiratory crackles were audible on chest auscultation in 28 cases, 10 of which were also wheezing. Rhonchi were the predominant sound in the remaining case. The main radiographic changes were mild to severe increased Interstitial markings in all cases, with additional bronchial markings in 14 of the dogs. Right-sided cardiomegaly (cor pulmonale) was recorded in 15. Bronchoscopic findings in 17 of the dogs were either normal or involved a mild airway mucoid reaction in eight. Chronic mucosal changes were observed in eight, but in two this finding was equivocal. Dynamic changes to the lumen of the airway were present in seven cases. No significant haematological or biochemical changes could be detected in 20 cases, but four cases were hypercholestrolaemic. A histopathological assessment of four cases revealed alveolar septal fibrosis to be the predominant change. Prednisolone, with or without bronchodilators, was the most commonly used therapy, and the response was variable. The condition appears to be associated with significant pulmonary interstitial fibrosis of unknown aetiology and has clinical similarities to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis) in human beings.

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