Author archives: Casey Carl

Dry Eye Curly Coat Syndrome: A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Dry Eye Curly Coat Syndrome: A Preventable Inherited Disease of the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

As I discussed in a previous blog, the US and the UK have a soft spot in their heart for the Cavalier King Charles spaniel (CKCS). The popularity of the breed has exploded over the past 15 years and is continuing to climb the AKC registration statistics. In 2013, the CKCS moved up to the 18th most popular dog registered with the AKC (up from 20th place in 2012 and 40th place in 2002). With this gain in popularity comes a larger number of owners voicing their concern about inherited diseases that affect the breed. However, through the use of modern genetic testing technology, some inherited diseases can be completely eliminated. One such inherited disease is dry eye curly coat syndrome (DECC); a disease caused by a mutation in the FAM83H gene and unique to the CKCS.

To the knowledgeable eye, dogs affected with DECC can often be identified at birth (or shortly after) due to the presence of a rough or curly coat which does not grow well initially. Following eyelid opening, affected dogs will have frequent, recurring episodes of conjunctivitis sometimes accompanied by painful ulceration of the corneas due to the inability to produce adequate ...

Amelogenesis Imperfecta: An Inherited Dental Disease of the Italian Greyhound

Amelogenesis Imperfecta: An Inherited Dental Disease of the Italian Greyhound

The Italian greyhound (IG) is a wonderful breed. As a true greyhound, the IG is happiest when provided an opportunity to exercise frequently. However, in their down time IGs are just as content laying on the couch with their human family. Their sweet demeanor combined with easy grooming has made this breed desirable to many. Unfortunately however, like most pure bred dogs, the IG can develop a handful of inherited diseases that make life a challenge for the breed and those that love them.

It isn’t a secret among IG aficionados that one of the biggest health concerns for the breed is their oral health. Though the exact reason is yet to be fully understood, it is not uncommon for IGs to develop early-onset dental disease resulting in significant problems in early adulthood. Though a commitment to daily tooth brushing can help prevent many dental issues, there is also an inherited dental disease in IGs that can now be eliminated through genetic testing of dams and sires prior to breeding!

In the “Health Concerns” section of the Italian Greyhound Club of America website, there is a discussion about “a condition in IG's where the teeth are small ...

Understanding complex inherited diseases in your dog

Understanding complex inherited diseases in your dog

When we look at the vast majority of genetic tests currently available for canine inherited diseases, we find a large number of diseases that can be predictably diagnosed with our current technology. For most of the available canine genetic tests, dog breeders understand that there are three commonly used designations applied to a dog for any given inherited disease; normal, carrier or affected. By knowing the way a disease is inherited (recessive vs dominant vs X-linked) and the number of copies of a mutation present in an individual, genetic testing laboratories like Paw Print Genetics can give predictable information about these diseases because they have a clear, 100% correlation between the cause and the illness. 

Unfortunately for dog breeders, inheritance is not always as clear cut as a simple recessive or dominant pattern. In fact, the diseases with a clear-cut inheritance pattern likely only make up a small percentage of the diseases with inherited components. Some of the most frustrating diseases for dog breeders and geneticists are those which pose an increased risk by the combined effects of multiple genetic mutations and/or environmental conditions. In these multifactorial diseases, rather than a 100% correlation between a singular genetic mutation ...

Inherited Diseases of the Beagle

Inherited Diseases of the Beagle

It’s easy to see why the beagle has been ranked near the top of AKC registered dog breeds since their acceptance in to the AKC registry in 1885.  Their amiable personality, fantastic sense of smell, and natural talent as a hunter and guard dog have kept them popular with American dog lovers for the past 130 years. Unfortunately, like most popular, purebred dog breeds, particular inherited diseases can make life tough for some beagle blood lines. Luckily, the genetic cause of some of the beagle’s known inherited diseases have been discovered. Thus, allowing laboratories such as Paw Print Genetics to develop genetic tests that allow for the elimination of these disorders through informed selective breeding. The following genetic tests are available at Paw Print Genetics:

Musladin-Lueke Syndrome

One of the largest inherited disease concerns for beagle breeders is a disease known as Musladin-Lueke Syndrome (MLS). MLS is listed on the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) as a required test for the beagle and is typically identified in affected puppies by 2 to 3 weeks of age. MLS is a connective tissue disease that causes stiff, contracted joints, and inelastic skin giving affected dogs a characteristic tip-toe walk described as ...

Inherited Diseases of the Border Collie

Inherited Diseases of the Border Collie

If you are a dog owner that values intelligence and obedience above all else when choosing a dog, it’s likely you are familiar with the border collie. This hardworking canine breed who received its name from its likely place of origin along the border of England and Scotland, has historically been bred for working ability above all and is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent breeds in the world. Though generally considered a relatively healthy breed, like other purebred dog breeds, the border collie is known to inherit several genetic diseases; some of which are known to be caused by specific genetic mutations. Discovery of the specific mutations responsible for genetic diseases allow laboratories like Paw Print Genetics to develop tests to identify dogs that carry the mutation. This information allows breeders to selectively breed these carrier dogs to dogs that are clear of the mutation in order to avoid producing puppies with these diseases. Three specific inherited diseases are listed on the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) website as optional recommended tests for the border collie. Testing for these diseases is available from Paw Print Genetics:

Collie Eye Anomaly

One of the biggest inherited disease concerns for ...

Making Canine Genetic Testing Easier: DNA Collection

Making Canine Genetic Testing Easier: DNA Collection

Since we opened Paw Print Genetics in April of 2013, we have had the opportunity to work with many breeders and other dog owners who already had previous experience with genetic testing of their dogs. Though the vast majority of these clients have praised us for our ease of ordering, unrivaled customer service, and quick test results, some clients have expressed some confusion in regards to why (or how) we use cheek swabs as our default method of DNA collection opposed to other methods that they were already familiar with.

In The Beginning

When making choices about how Paw Print Genetics would operate, we decided we wanted to eliminate as many barriers to canine inherited disease testing as possible. Not only did we want to make testing more convenient by offering as many disease tests as possible under one roof, we also wanted to make the experience of DNA collection easy and more convenient. To accomplish this, we chose to allow our clients to collect DNA in their own home or kennel with cheek swabs we provide (at no additional cost) after an order is placed. This decision eliminates the time, effort, and expense our clients had previously had to ...

Why is my dog so itchy? Part 4: Fleas and Ticks

Why is my dog so itchy? Part 4: Fleas and Ticks

Click for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of this ongoing blog about itchy dogs.

In part 3 of this series of blogs about itchy dogs, we took a look at two common parasites of dogs; lice and mites. In this fourth and final part of these blogs we will discuss fleas and ticks, two other common parasites that can make our dogs’ lives miserable at times.

Fleas

Though there are multiple species of fleas that can infest our dogs, the most common flea type in North America is the “cat flea”, known to scientists by the name Ctenocephalides felis. Fleas are commonly acquired by our dogs through close contact with other infested animals or from environments suitable for flea development and dormancy. Regions with higher environmental temperatures and high relative humidity allow fleas to develop more quickly and to survive for extended periods of time off of a host. Once infested, there are two important pieces of information that should be considered to eliminate fleas and prevent a reinfestation of your dog; flea control on the host and flea control in the environment.

Since female fleas must take a blood meal before they can lay eggs, controlling the fleas ...

Why is my dog so itchy? Part 3: Lice and Mites

Why is my dog so itchy? Part 3: Lice and Mites

Click for Part 1 and Part 2 of this ongoing blog about itchy dogs.

Though many itchy dogs suffer from food or environmental allergies (as discussed in previous blogs of this series), parasites of the skin and hair coat (called ectoparasites) are another important cause of itchiness in our canine companions. In fact, performing parasite testing should be considered a veterinary standard for itchy dogs. Ruling out parasitic causes of itchiness is important because they can greatly complicate diagnosis and treatment of other skin related diseases. Though there are many individual species, in this and the next blog in this series we will examine four general groups of ectoparasites that infest our dogs.

Lice

The first experience I can recall involving lice was in elementary school; a time period in life when an infestation of head lice could turn any otherwise sanitary, well-meaning child into the classroom leper. Luckily for us dog owners, we don’t need to fret much about our own health if our canine children come down with an infestation of lice as they tend to be very species-specific in regards to which creatures they choose to call home.

Lice come in two main varieties; chewing lice and ...

Embracing Customer Service and the Veterinary Leadership Institute

Embracing Customer Service and the Veterinary Leadership Institute

Customer service is of the highest priority at Paw Print Genetics. From the numerous positive reviews we have received on our Facebook page referencing our personal attention to detail, to the many emails we receive from our clients thanking us for a job well done, we recognized early on that we were on to something. After all, we know that without our loyal clients, we could simply not exist as a laboratory. The customer service goal established by our company culture is to exceed the expectations of every client that we have the privilege with which to work. We want our clients to come back to us for genetic testing, not because we are the only option, but because they have never had a better experience with a genetics laboratory.

Though the pursuit of exceeding client expectations is an ideal that most businesses strive for, the exact way to perform this level of service often remains elusive. In addition, there has been a long standing debate about whether the skills needed to provide great customer experiences are ones that can be taught or learned. One veterinary nonprofit organization, the Veterinary Leadership Institute, has helped prove that not only can these ...

Why is My Dog so Itchy? Part 2: Environmental Allergens and Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Why is My Dog so Itchy? Part 2: Environmental Allergens and Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Click here for Part 1 of this ongoing blog about itchy dogs.

Like people, some dogs are known to develop seasonal summer allergies to a variety of environmental allergens. Pollen, mold, dust mites, and mildew are just a few of the triggers that can make dogs itchy as the days become warmer. Many dogs have only mild signs of allergies that can be controlled by the use of antihistamines and bathing to wash allergens from the hair coat. In these mild cases, the allergies are predictable annually, they don’t seem to progress in severity, and are relatively easy to manage. However, for some dogs, the body’s reaction to allergens is so significant that their overall quality of life can be greatly impaired.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis
An allergic disease now termed “canine atopic dermatitis” (CAD) is a relatively common and troubling condition seen in our canine friends. It is estimated that up to 10% of all dogs are affected by this condition worldwide. First discussed in the 1930’s, the definition of the disorder and our scientific understanding of the cause are still being worked out. Our current understanding is that CAD is a multifactorial disease involving genetic predisposition, immune system dysregulation ...