HEALTH

Health is not only important for human beings.
It is just as important to care for the health of all animals and especially one’s pets. Your pet is part of your family.
It is always best to feed your pets on as natural and healthy a diet as possible.
Don’t spoil your pet with junk food or sweets.
In general, the dog foods manufactured today, contain all the vital vitamins and minerals that your dog needs.
Make sure they have plenty of fresh water every day and lots of good exercise.
Keep them clean – trim their nails, clean their ears and teeth.
In countries that tend to have lots of ticks, fleas and worms, treat your Bedlington accordingly.
Prevention is better than cure!

General conditions like allergies, thyroid disorders and other illnesses, can be found in all breeds of dogs and are not specific to the Bedlington Terrier.

Bedlington Terriers are in the main a healthy breed, as are most Terriers.  Their average life expectancy is 12-16 years. However, there are a few hereditary diseases that one should check for when buying a Bedlington.  Below are some health issues that should be checked and understood:

Kidney Problems:  Occasionally, the Bedlington may have a genetic kidney problem, where the kidneys are too small. If this is the case, the dog usually dies by the time it is 3 years old.  This, however, is not very common. If the dog unfortunately, has CT (Copper Toxicosis – see below), the malfunction of the liver could cause an abnormal load on the kidneys and then, of course, the kidneys would also cease to function.

Eye Disorders:  The Bedlington Terrier is known to be prone to several eye diseases. Some could cause blindness.  One is retinal dysplasia, where the retina detaches before the pup is 8 weeks old.  That is, by the time a puppy is 8 weeks old, one can ascertain if it’s vision is normal or if it has a retina problem.
Two of the genetic diseases that could cause blindness are juvenile cataracts and PRA.
Other minor problems could be teary eyes or dry eyes. A blocked tear duct, eye infection or teething puppies, can cause teary eyes. Dry eyes, can be caused by constant eye infections. These conditions can easily be treated.

Inherited Copper Toxicosis (ICT):  This is the most common disease related to Bedlingtons, though not all Bedlingtons contract it.  This is a serious hereditary liver disorder found in some Bedlingtons.  It is an autosomal recessive disorder of copper accumulation that results in serious liver disease. It should not be ignored but must and can be treated. Don’t let this turn you away from the breed.  Just make sure that you acquire your Bedlington from a reputable breeder who has all his dogs tested and does his best to breed healthy dogs.
The cause of CT is the lack of a certain protein that normally processes the copper in the liver.  Copper is a necessary trace element for red blood cells, but if not processed and left to accumulate in the liver, it slowly kills off the liver cells. The liver however, is an organ that can regenerate and if treated medically correctly, the lifespan of your dog can be substantially extended. Today, it is very easy to diagnose CT by performing liver biopsies and doing DNA tests. The liver biopsy alone, can only tell whether a dog is affected or unaffected.  It cannot determine if the dog is a carrier of the disease.
It is worthwhile to note, that the dominant gene is the healthy gene!
Another point to mention is that a carrier of a CT gene can never actually contract the disease.  It may only pass the bad gene on to its offspring.
The DNA test, based on the liver biopsy of the parents, grandparents and family members of the dog, builds a profile that is shown by numbers 1 and 2.  Number 1 is usually related to the healthy gene, while number 2 is usually the unhealthy gene. Each dog has two numbers, one inherited from each parent.  Therefore, after testing, the dog will be graded either DNA 1:1, or 1:2, or 2:2. Besides these numbers, some countries use other markers as well.  The readings shown above generally mean as follows:

DNA 1:1 usually indicates a dog clear of CT.
DNA 1:2 usually indicates a carrier – that is, it may pass on the bad gene, but will never contract the disease.
DNA 2:2 usually indicates an affected dog.

There may of course always be an exception.  There have been cases of bad number 1 genes and good number 2 genes.  A reputable breeder would know the exact meaning of the 1 and 2, because of the biopsies they’ve done in the past and the way they’ve bred the dogs. DNA testing as explained above is performed at the following places:
VetGen in USA, the Animal Health Trust in England, FABALAB in Finland or SLU in Sweden.
Very recently, a new genetic test has been announced in the U.K by the AHT (Animal Health Trust) that identifies the affected gene, thus making this test more definitive and not just an indicator test as the other DNA tests that have been used to date.  This test would not require liver biopsies on the whole pedigree.  This test can determine if the dog is carrying complete forms of the gene or mutated forms. Therefore for this mutation in the COMMD1 gene this test is 100% accurate, regardless of bloodlines.

When choosing your dog, check the pedigree carefully.  Not all healthy-looking dogs are healthy.


 
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