Archives for October 2013

The Chronic Disease That is Killing Our Dogs

The Chronic Disease That is Killing Our Dogs

If your dog is an average American canine, there is approximately 50% likelihood that your dog has a chronic disease that increases chances of osteoarthritis, heart disease, respiratory disease, kidney disease, chronic pain, cancer, high blood pressure, and endocrine disease. In addition, this disease is also known to significantly decrease life expectancy. The most unfortunate aspect of this condition is that it is completely preventable, yet only a small fraction of dog owners take the necessary precautions to prevent this disease of malnutrition in their dogs. This disease is canine obesity.

Unless you avoid all news and cultural commentaries, you are likely aware of the human obesity epidemic in America and other countries around the world. According to the report, “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future”, a collaborative work by Trust for America’s Health ( and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, as of 2010, 68.7% of American adults over 19 years of age were overweight or obese (“Overweight” is defined as a body mass index, or BMI, over 25 and “Obese” is defined as a BMI over 30 - BMI Calculator). In addition, the rapidity at which the increase in human obesity has occurred is ...

No Dogs Allowed: Quality Testing Guarantee

No Dogs Allowed: Quality Testing Guarantee

Have you ever wondered what goes on in a genetic testing laboratory? What kinds of measures are taken to guarantee quality testing? For example, does the laboratory that you use have what is pictured - a clean room? What is a clean room and why should they have one? And why can’t you bring your dog directly to the laboratory for swabbing?

Paw Print Genetics has received a lot of questions about our testing quality and accuracy – and we love it! Ask away! We like to talk about our lab and the careful approach we take to testing to ensure that your results are reliable and accurate. Otherwise, what’s the point?

A genetic testing lab must have accurate and reliable results. They should have performed validation studies for each of the diseases and mutations that they offer. Does your testing lab provide you with the test’s sensitivity and specificity for the diseases you are concerned about? Have you asked for this?

During our validation studies, we assessed eight performance criteria for each test: accuracy, precision, analytical specificity, analytical sensitivity, detection limits, reportable ranges, reference intervals and robustness. For example, accuracy refers to getting the right results; whereas, precision refers to ...

Do English cocker spaniels share any diseases in common with people?

Do English cocker spaniels share any diseases in common with people?

               When you are a veterinarian living in a swirling haze of disease prevention and treatment, you often forget that most people don’t spend their spare time thinking about disease processes on a regular basis. They are even less likely to spend time comparing canine diseases to illness found in them or in people they know. Therefore, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised when my friends, family and clients find it so fascinating and unbelievable when I tell them that dogs inherit and develop many of the same genetic diseases as people.  In fact, dogs are well recognized in the scientific community as terrific models for particular diseases in people and have been thoroughly studied to gain information on many conditions. According to the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (OMIA;, as of this writing, there are 343 genetic mutations identified in dogs that are considered to be “potential models for human disease” and the list continues to grow rapidly since mapping of the full canine genome was completed in 2005.  The mapped genome of a boxer named Tasha provided a much needed framework for genetic comparison studies ...

Breed of the Week: Dachshund

Breed of the Week: Dachshund

Affectionately known as the wiener dog, the short-legged, long-bodied dachshund is consistently one of the top 10 most-registered dogs in the country. It seems the dachshund has always been popular, with kings and queens of Europe in the distant past, as well as with the likes of artists such Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, Presidents John F. Kennedy and Grover Cleveland, writer E.B. White, newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst and singer Adele in more recent times.  

The popular dachshund originated in Germany and was bred to track badgers, enter their den and fight them to the death. The modern dachshund is much smaller than the badger-fighting ancestor, which weighed between 30 and 40 pounds, and is usually bred for the conformation ring and as a companion animal. However, there are lines, especially in its native Germany, that are still bred for hunting purposes.

The history of the dachshund is somewhat muddled, with some groups claiming it was developed in the 18th and 19th centuries, others claim the 15th Century and still others cite drawings and mummies of dachshund-like dogs that were popular with ancient Egyptians. The modern-day incantation was developed in Germany, but was also ...

Rickie Roo's Story - Could this happen to your dog?

Rickie Roo's Story - Could this happen to your dog?

Rickie Roo is an agility dog, a service dog and a roving reporter for the United States Dog Agility Association. She is well known in the sport of agility and in the rat terrier community. On October 12th, 2013, Roo unfortunately had to have emergency surgery because of a luxated lens in her left eye. Primary Lens Luxation, or PLL, is a condition that can happen in many breeds including American Eskimo dogAmerican hairless terrierAustralian cattle dogborder colliebull terrierChinese crestedJack Russell terrierjagdterrierLakeland terrierLancashire heelerminiature bull terrierNorwich terrierParson Russell terrierPatterdale terrierrat terrierRussell terrierSealyham terrierTeddy Roosevelt terrierTenterfield terrierTibetan terriertoy fox terrierVolpino ItalianoWelsh terrierwire fox terrier, Yorkshire terrier.

Lens luxation can happen suddenly and when it occurs, needs to be surgically corrected as soon as possible to try to minimize any loss of sight. Luckily, Rickie Roo's luxated lens was caught very early by her owner, Deborah Davidson Harpur. Thanks to early intervention, Rickie ...

Road Trips for #K9health

Road Trips for #K9health

Meeting our customers face to face and personally answering their questions is a high priority for Paw Print Genetics. In the last month, several members from our team have hit the road to attend dog shows. We had the pleasure to meet hundreds of dogs and their owners to talk about the value of inherited disease testing when breeding and buying a puppy.

In late September, Casey, our DVM and Assistant Medical Director and I travelled to Salem, Oregon for The Poodle Club of America’s Regional Specialty. We met poodles of all sizes and colors from all over the region. The poodle owners spent hours grooming and attending to their canines, but when they had a moment they stopped by our booth to talk about their concerns regarding genetic diseases.  Our Poodle Panel  includes six inherited diseases found in the breed. After discussing health concerns with these owners, most indicated that they always test for PRA-PRCD and neonatal encephalopathy. Many people were unaware that several breeds, including poodles, are possible carriers for degenerative myelopathy, a devastating disease with onset later in life.

Before returning to Spokane, we had one more show to attend in Kennewick, Washington for the 80 ...

Breed of the Week: Shetland Sheepdog

Breed of the Week: Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland sheepdog is not just a collie in miniature form, but rather its own breed that has been crossed extensively with the long-haired, or rough, collie. Together they, and other similar breeds, are collectively referred to as collie, but make no mistake; the Sheltie is its own dog that has had many distinct (and extinct) breeds have contributed to its genetic makeup.

Placed in the herding group, Shelties in their modern form are more of a companion and show dog than working animal, however, they still retain many herding instincts and the intelligence associated with the group. It was developed from spitz-type dogs found on the islands of Shetland, which are northeast of England, and that were used for herding the smaller sheep and other livestock that developed there.

The rough collie obviously played a large role in the conformation and appearance of the Sheltie, but in addition to it and the Shetland spitz dog, the King Charles spaniel, Pomeranian, possibly the border collie and the extinct Greenland yakki all played a role in the smaller body and disposition of the breed.

The rough collie factors into the Shetland’s makeup with crosses taking place between the two breeds until ...

Upfront Costs: The Smallest Financial Burden of Owning a Dog

Upfront Costs: The Smallest Financial Burden of Owning a Dog

Many people underestimate the ongoing financial burden of responsible dog ownership when considering a puppy, and instead focus on the upfront price of the dog.

The cost of a well-bred dog will be the least amount of money you ever spend on it. In an AKC survey of more than 1,000 dog owners, one-time costs (crate, neutering, bowls, leash, purchase price) averaged $2,100, while ongoing costs averaged $2,500 per year for items such as food, routine veterinarian care, boarding, treats and training. With the average lifespan of a dog being about 13 years, using these averages, you can expect to spend nearly $35,000 on a dog over the course of its lifetime. Even cutting these estimates in half, you can still expect to invest close to $20,000 in your pet.

The difference in paying for a $50 dog or a $1,000 is, in the long term, a negligible difference. Your upfront costs will always be the least of your financial worries.

That said, you should look for the best puppy you can find. A puppy whose parents were genetically tested prior to breeding and that come with a written health guarantee might cost a ...

Breed of the Week: Yorkshire Terrier

Breed of the Week: Yorkshire Terrier

Originally bred as a ratter, the Yorkshire terrier quickly became a show-dog darling and companion animal for the middle and upper classes – roles it retains to this day.

Yorkshire terriers, or “Yorkies” as they’re affectionately nicknamed, were derivates of terriers from Scotland that were crossed with the now extinct Paisley terriers, which possessed a long and luxurious coat. While they are show dogs today, Yorkies originated within the working class during the 19th Century and were developed and used by those in textile mills to find and kill rats – a job they were very good at thanks in large part to the tenacious terrier personality. Later, they were used in rat-baiting competitions – a practice where they would be placed in a pit or other enclosed area with rats, and then bets were placed on how many vermin the dogs could kill in certain amount of time.

According to P. H. Combs in The American Book of the Dog, when the breed was first being developed, “almost anything in the shape of a Terrier having a long coat with blue on the body and fawn or silver coloured head and legs, with tail docked and ears trimmed ...

My bird dog isn't hunting like he used to. What's wrong Doc?

My bird dog isn't hunting like he used to.  What's wrong Doc?

The season of the bird dog is upon us! Whether it's ducks, pheasants, geese or quail, your four-legged, bird-tracking machine needs to be well-trained and in optimal physical health if you want to improve your chances of collecting a limit. You handled the training through hours and hours of sacrifice, treats, frustration and love… and last year it showed. However, this year you are noticing that something is a little off with ol’ Chopper, and you can’t quite place what it is.

He seems unmotivated and won’t trail like he did last year. He acts like he’s excited for the hunt, but something is holding him back. Is it a health issue? Do you need to take him to the veterinarian? Given the immense financial, time and emotional commitments of purchasing and training a great hunting dog, wouldn’t it be nice to know that you’ve increased the chances of your hunting companion tracking birds with you late into their adult life? 

There are many different diseases or conditions that could take a bird dog off his game. Some of the most common ailments such as osteoarthritis, intervertebral disc disease, traumatic injuries and eye problems are called “acquired” diseases and ...