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Epidermal Dysplasia… What is it? And why does it only affect West Highland Terriers?

Epidermal Dysplasia is one of those medical conditions where there was probably little to no chance you know what it was until you decided to adopt a West Highland White Terrier.  This is when you probably found yourself doing all sorts of research about this condition and now find yourself slowly becoming an expert on something you didn’t even know existed just a few months ago.

But don’t fret…

We here at IndulgeYourPet are big fans of Westies and know that having one with this condition can be heartbreaking, which is why we wanted to take a moment and discuss precisely what epidermal dysplasia is as well as shed some light on what it will be like to own a Westie that has been diagnosed with this condition.

Epidermal Dysplasia Defined

Epidermal dysplasia is a hereditary skin disease only linked to one “type” of dog, the West Highland White Terrier.  Yep, that means dogs affected can, unfortunately, thank their ancestry for this condition.  The state makes the skin grow fast, making it scaly and creating skin lesions.  This abnormal development will continue rapidly through the early years of the dog’s life, and the skin will flake off and result in alopecia (hair loss).


The problems don’t just stop there because due to this accelerated skin growth, affected dogs tend to develop skin lesions, which inevitably will lead to various skin infections over time.  This makes diagnosing this condition relatively easy simply because all your vet will need to do to diagnose first to see that your dog is a West Highland White Terrier and then look for the telltale signs of skin scaliness and hair loss.

Both of which…

It usually begins near your dog’s ears and under their arms and then spreads from the chest and limb areas.  Now, if you want to have your vet “officially” diagnose your dog with this condition, you may request that they take a sample skin scraping and have it examined; what you’re likely going to find is that this won’t be necessary and rather than focus on the “official” diagnosis, you and your vet will focus more on simply treating your dog’s condition.

Which brings us to…

A point in our articles about different diseases that can affect a dog is that we remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians, or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who are highly passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.  So, suppose you believe your Westie may be suffering from epidermal dysplasia or any other medical condition. In that case, you’ll want to be sure and have them checked out by a vet immediately.  The last thing you want to do is delay having them receive the care they need and suffer for even one second more than they need to.

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, as of right now, there is no cure for epidermal dysplasia.  There are options to manage the disease, but we’ve got to be honest with you: treatment options can be pretty expensive.  You see, the treatment involves an intense microbial therapy.  This therapy must be repeated relatively frequently.  Also, your dog will need lots of antibiotics and various other drugs to take care of the condition’s side effects and other symptoms.  These multiple drugs also must be taken very often and in large amounts.

Needless to say…

This kind of treatment can be costly.  The overall costs of everything you’ll need will run you anywhere between $100-$200 every month!  And if your dog gets complicated by one of the accompanying skin diseases, the price could increase by about $ 1,000 annually!  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now, will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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