Welcome

Welcome to the home of our project here at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies (R(D)SVS), University of Edinburgh. This is where you will find information on research we are conducting into this devastating respiratory disease.

We presume you have an interest or experience of Westie Lung Disease (WLD) either as a West Highland White Terrier owner, breeder, or veterinary surgeon who has patients affected by the disease. At the R(D)SVS we are interested in evaluating current treatments for WLD and to examine new treatment options.

WLD, or otherwise known as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), is a disease particularly prevalent in the West Highland White Terrier but can be seen in other breeds. At R(D)SVS we were first to report WLD back in 1999 and since, with others, have tried to better understand the disease. The main difficulty has been to find treatments to control the disease as it has a predictable progression where lung function deteriorates over time. Unfortunately this eventually results in respiratory failure. Various treatment options are being used but many are untested and their true benefit has not been examined.

One of the major developments for WLD has been the wider use of High Resolution Computed Tomography (HRCT) which has allowed us to better understand the extent of lung damage in affected dogs. This has also given new insight into the possible cause of the disease and alternative treatment approaches. Working with medical colleagues in the UK and USA we are less convinced WLD is IPF and might be a related to a condition in human medicine known as Non-Specific Interstitial Pneumonitis (NSIP). If this is the case, this might be a paradigm shift in the treatment of WLD, as NSIP can be more easily controlled. For this project, funded by the Westie Foundation of America, we want to determine if treating WLD as NSIP has clear benefit for patient care, quality of life and life expectancy.

The project runs until August 2023 and will have three themes, any of which you might be interested in contributing to.

1. Owner survey to examine owner understanding of WLD, how it has affected their own pet, and what treatments have been used and what if any benefit owners have observed.

2. Recruitment of affected dogs where HRCT examination (gold standard for diagnosis) is an option and then measure response to treatment using combination of owner observations, veterinary surgeon assessment and changes in HRCT images.

or 3. For those dogs where HRCT is not an option (availability and/or cost), but x-rays are available and a diagnosis of WLD is highly likely, then measure response to treatment using combination of owner observations, veterinary surgeon assessment and changes in x-ray images.

If you are interested in being involved in our study please email us on Westie.LungDisease@ed.ac.uk where we will direct you to the relevant information pages. If you had a Westie who is sadly no longer with us that had been diagnosed or suspicious that they had Westie Lung Disease then we would still love to hear from you, as you may be able to participate in the survey portion.

Thank you for your interest in this study we look forward to working with you to try to understand more about this devastating disease.