by Lee Juslin
Sophia and Spencer, two senior Westies, had spent their lives since puppy-hood in a stable home with a caring owner. Then, their world was turned upside down.
The Westies’ owner had gone on vacation leaving the pups with a responsible pet sitter. Unfortunately, the owner was killed in a freak accident, and, with no one in the family able to take the Westies, the sitter called Sunshine State Westie Rescue (SSWR) who then took both dogs.
The volunteers of SSWR noticed that Sophia, who was ten, had a slow heart rate and something seemed not right. Their vet referred them to a veterinary cardiologist who ran tests and diagnosed Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis or Westie Lung Disease.
Spencer, at nine, also began showing some worrisome symptoms, like panting, breathing problems and coughing. He, too, was then referred to the veterinary cardiologist where he was also diagnosed with Westie Lung Disease. “We were quite shocked,” said Aggie of SSWR, “as these two dogs are not related and because we did not have a deep understanding of the disease or previous experience with Westies having Westie Lung Disease. With these cases in our care, we researched the disease and found that it is becoming increasingly common. Some vets think the disease is related to environmental causes like second hand smoke. However, we have no vet records for these two, and we don’t even know if the owner was aware her Westies were sick.”
Since Westie lung disease is not curable and eventually fatal, SSWR hopes to find a long term foster home for both Sophia and Spencer. This would mean that Spencer and Sophia are not eligible for adoption and that rescue would continue to financially support their care. Both dogs have been put on medications and have had a first course of cold laser treatments, after which they showed marked improvement. But, both dogs will need additional laser treatments, regular vet monitoring, medications, and some supplements to help them maintain a level of comfort and to control the symptoms of this disease.
The cold laser treatments come in a series of ten individual treatments and each series costs just under $300.00. Medications are about $80-$90 per month. The supplement, Serrapeptase, which is recommended for dogs with Westie Lung Disease, is available online. To date, the cost for treating Sophia and Spencer is about $2500.
Sophia and Spencer have become, along with eight other dogs in SSWR’s care, sanctuary dogs. They all have a variety of serious health issues and are not adoptable. SSWR will continue to pay for the care of these dogs in foster homes, but, having a significant number of sanctuary dogs with their high maintenance costs, puts a strain on the rescue. Currently, the cost of maintaining these dogs monthly is about $600.00.
Additional foster homes and donations for the sanctuary pups are urgently needed. You can find the link to make a sanctuary donation to SSWR or apply to become a foster parent at the end of this article. You will also find a link to a FB group dedicated to Westie Lung Disease.
If you would like to volunteer to be a foster parent for SSWR or to make a much needed donation to SSWR for their sanctuary dogs, you may do so through Paypal: Sanctuary Dogs or by mailing a check to: SSWR, PO Box 19415, Sarasota, FL 34276.
Visit SSWR’s FB page: SSWR on FB
Westie Lung Disease group on FB: Westie Lung Disease
SSWR website: Sunshine State Westie Rescue
Check out more animal rescue & therapy animal stories in our Pets section.
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If you have not already done so, look into getting their meds at Sam’s Club. I found out that with the Plus membership, a month’s supply for my dog that would have cost nearly $140.00 elsewhere only cost me $7.50 – paying for the membership in the first month.
we see what is considered ‘asthma’ in cats, also diagnosed as COPD – and while it may be environmentally induced, the information is anecdotal – second hand smoke, heavy use of essential oil scent candles or oils. can be relieved with inhalers similar to those humans use for the same issues – there are cones that fit over the cat ( or dog ) nose/mouth with an opening for the owner to insert the tube of the ‘puffer’ — just a couple of ‘squirts’ – like for us … and it’s usually very well tolerated by the pet. I’d not heard of this Westie Lund Disease – great info Ms. J — always look forward to your articles.
Oh how horrible! These poor babies, I’m so glad they were rescued by such a caring organization. I wish them all the best!
Love & Biscuits,
Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them
This makes me so sad. The little Westie’s never knew what happened to their owner. I’m glad they are together. I wish I could help. ?