Category archives: All Things Dog

Resources and information for the dog owner or breeder.

The Labrador Retriever Copper Toxicosis Test- Interpretation, Breeding Strategy, and Monitoring

The Labrador Retriever Copper Toxicosis Test- Interpretation, Breeding Strategy, and Monitoring

The liver disease, copper toxicosis (CT) has become a hot topic among Labrador retriever breeders and dog owners with the arrival of a new genetic test which identifies two recently described mutations found in Labradors associated with opposite effects on the amount of dietary copper stored in the liver. As with all new canine genetic tests, questions and concerns may arise from breeders about how to interpret their dog’s test results, how to use this information to maintain the health of their dog, and how to use the information for their breeding program.

What is liver copper toxicosis?

Copper toxicosis is an inherited metabolic disease affecting Labrador retrievers and other breeds, which can result in chronic liver failure. Dogs with copper toxicosis have a decreased ability to excrete dietary copper from the body resulting in excessive copper storage in tissues and organs, including the liver, which can result in liver damage, subsequent cirrhosis and the inability of the liver to function properly. Though the age of onset and speed of disease progression are variable, most affected dogs will present in middle age with non-specific signs of liver dysfunction including weight loss, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In late ...

What’s the Deal with von Willebrand Disease II? - An Important Update for the Boykin Spaniel

What’s the Deal with von Willebrand Disease II? - An Important Update for the Boykin Spaniel

The clotting disorder known as von Willebrand disease (vWD) is a relatively common and potentially lethal disease of dogs. Three general types of vWD (types I, II, and III) have been described based upon the specific genetic cause and level of deficiency in a protein known as von Willebrand factor (vWF), which plays an important role in blood coagulation. Dogs deficient in vWF protein are at risk of potentially life-threatening bleeding episodes when undergoing surgical procedures or as a result of traumatic injury. Therefore, when a relatively high frequency of Boykin spaniels was identified in the Paw Print Genetics (PPG) laboratory to carry a mutation in the VWF gene previously associated with vWDII in German shorthaired and wirehaired pointers (Kramer and colleagues), Boykin spaniel lovers and our team at Paw Print Genetics (PPG) were understandably concerned.

Concern turned to confusion as Boykins expected to be at risk for vWDII (based upon their genetic testing results) failed to show any signs of a clinical clotting disorder. In addition, results of additional blood tests looking at the product produced by the gene on several “at-risk” dogs showed no deficiency in vWF protein and no increase in blood clotting times. At that time ...

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Inherited Disease - Preventing Blindness Through Genetic Testing

Don’t Turn a Blind Eye to Inherited Disease - Preventing Blindness Through Genetic Testing

Since we started working with the Boykin Spaniel Society (BSS), both Paw Print Genetics (PPG) and the BSS have learned much about the genetic disease concerns of these wonderful, little brown dogs. By using the founder breeds of the Boykin as a guide, PPG developed the first Boykin spaniel inherited disease testing panel in 2014. Based upon the results collected over two years of testing Boykins, in September 2016, the original disease testing panel was split into two panels; the Boykin spaniel essential panel (containing the most clinically important and/or common diseases) and the supplemental panel (containing diseases of less clinical importance and/or lower incidence).

Two of the four diseases on the Boykin spaniel essential panel are inherited diseases of the eye. Diseases resulting in vision loss or blindness are among some of the most life-altering and troublesome non-lethal diseases of dogs. However, with knowledge of a specific genetic mutation resulting in blindness as well as an understanding of how that specific eye disease is inherited, blindness caused by the mutation can be prevented through the use of genetic testing and informed selective breeding practices based upon test results. Two eye diseases known to be inherited in the ...

Genetic Disease Testing and the Hunting Labrador- Protecting Your Investment

Genetic Disease Testing and the Hunting Labrador- Protecting Your Investment

You’ve spent a small fortune and an immense amount of time selecting, purchasing, socializing, and training your young Labrador retriever, Charlie, for the big hunt. It’s the first hunt of his career and he’s amped! As you are getting everything out of your truck, you let Charlie out of his crate to run around and explore a little. He disappears for several minutes as you are getting your gear and you call him back to you. However, when he returns, you notice that Charlie seems wobbly in his rear end and eventually his hind limbs collapse. He attempts to keep running, but drags his hind limbs for a short distance before giving up and lying down. Uncharacteristic for Charlie, he won’t get up when you call him and he no longer seems to be as interested in the hunt. After comforting Charlie for several minutes, he gets back up on his feet, though you can still see that he is a little wobbly. After several more minutes, Charlie is back to his jovial self with little indication that anything was wrong.

Unfortunately, the scenario described here is not a terribly uncommon story among Labrador owners and those that hunt with ...

Degenerative Myelopathy- An Owner’s Perspective

Degenerative Myelopathy- An Owner’s Perspective

One of the happiest days of my life was bringing home a German shepherd puppy to join our family. Like many parents, my wife and I wanted our only son Brandon, who was 5 or 6 years old at the time, to grow up around dogs and help us teach him some responsibility. We visited a family with a litter of 7 week old puppies to let Brandon pick the one that was going to be his buddy while he grew up. Brandon decided on the quietest pup in the litter to become our new dog, Griffey. Our journey with Griffey (Griff for short) began with Brandon and his new companion in the back of our convertible in route to the home we were excited to share with our new family member. My wife and I were hopeful that Griff would give Brandon a best friend for 10 to 13 years. Unfortunately, that wasn’t exactly how things worked out.

Signs of Trouble

We spent many years loving Griff and giving him the best years of his life. Brandon and Griff were inseparable as they aged. They played together, they napped together, and they got into trouble together. At about 8 ...

Canine Halloween Hazards

Canine Halloween Hazards

The leaves are falling and the pumpkins are reaching their proper jack ‘o lantern size. Soon children everywhere will be dining on a steady diet of Halloween candy while many of us adults relive our youth by taking full advantage of the one day every year we can pretend to be someone (or something) else. Though many dogs also enjoy all of the excitement that Halloween brings, this time of year can sometimes present additional hazards and stressors for our canine friends.

Alcohol and Party Food

Themed parties are a common source of fun around Halloween. Unfortunately for our opportunistic dogs, parties can also be a great chance for canine indulgence on potentially dangerous foods and drink. Tending to the needs of partygoers and the chaos associated with such a social gathering, often leads to greater difficulty keeping watch over the dogs of the house. In addition, it is not uncommon for party guests to innocently set down a plate of food or their glass of wine only to find out that it quickly disappeared down the gullet of a sly canine with a taste for human cuisine.

Alcoholic beverages are a particular concern for dogs at parties. Dogs under ...

Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Day

Happy Responsible Dog Ownership Day

If an intelligent, alien visitor happened to land on Earth, I can’t help but think they would be fascinated by the relationship between humans and dogs. Developed over thousands of years, our once important working relationship with dogs has given way to a deep friendship built more upon our common needs for social connection and acceptance than a hard day’s work. However, without an understanding of what it means to have a dog, one might think that humans were getting a raw deal. We spend our time and hard earned money feeding, entertaining, providing shelter and medical treatment, and otherwise spoiling our dogs with little expectation of a tangible payoff, other than love. But, as any dog owner can attest, it’s hard to put a value on the love from your favorite fur ball.

One of the most impressive examples of our culture’s commitment to our canines is the AKC’s Responsible Dog Ownership Days (RDOD). This time of year since 2003, the AKC has asked its 5000 affiliated clubs around the country to hold community events in an effort to entertain and educate the public about the best practices in responsible dog ownership. Events vary around the country, however it is ...

Canine Genetic Disease Testing Prior to Other Health Clearances- Why It Makes Sense

Canine Genetic Disease Testing Prior to Other Health Clearances- Why It Makes Sense

Once only a dream for dog lovers, technological advances in the sciences have now made testing for certain inherited diseases a mainstay of modern dog breeding. With knowledge of a specific, disease-causing genetic mutations and an understanding of how diseases are inherited, tests can be developed to identify dams and sires at risk of developing the disease or producing affected puppies. With this knowledge, informed decisions can be made in selecting mates and making choices about whether or not to breed a particular dog.

As the Associate Medical Director at Paw Print Genetics, I have heard many different strategies employed by our clients to get their dogs’ required or recommended health clearances performed prior to breeding. Some choose to break up their testing over time in order to spread out the cost and many choose one type of health clearance to be performed first with other testing to be completed upon the results of the first round of testing. Based upon the most common testing performed on pure bred dogs, breeders should consider performing their genetic disease testing first, followed by the other clearances they need to pursue before breeding.

Test at Any Age

One advantage to performing genetic health ...

Friendship Day and Our Relationship with Dogs

Friendship Day and Our Relationship with Dogs

Though reliable sources for the early origins of a holiday to celebrate friendship in the US are scarce, it is probable that the first Friendship Day was proposed by the Hallmark greeting card company in the early 1900’s. Despite Hallmark’s attempt, the holiday’s luster had faded by the end of the century only to be resurrected by citizens of several Asian countries in the early 2000’s. Renewed interest in a day of friendship eventually led the UN General Assembly to proclaim July 30, 2011 the first International Day of Friendship in over 40 countries. Aside from the International Day of Friendship celebrated on July 30 annually, other countries (including the US) celebrate Friendship Day on the first Sunday of August or other dates. In 2015, Friendship Day will be celebrated by the US on August 2.

The ambitious intentions of the UN-established holiday were to promote friendship between cultures, countries, and individuals in an effort to maintain peaceful relationships on a global scale. On a less ambitious level, the holiday gives us a reason to be mindful of the great people in our life that we are privileged to call our friends. For us simple dog lovers, a day of ...

The Path to Independence from Canine Inherited Diseases

The Path to Independence from Canine Inherited Diseases

The art of medicine today is nearly unrecognizable from its state in 1776 when the original thirteen colonies of the United States declared their independence from Great Britain. Without knowledge of bacteria or viruses, physicians and veterinarians of the day had few worries about sterility or the fact that they could play a role in the spread of deadly diseases between their patients. Bolstered by anecdotal evidence, dangerous treatments to purge various ailments from the body such as bloodletting and enemas (then called clysters) were commonly practiced in both people and animals in opposition to our modern understanding of their risks and lack of efficacy.

The Birth of Modern Genetics

The 19th century saw great advances in science including progression of the scientific method by which scientists could more objectively test their observations and develop an explanation for them. These methods also allowed for the modification of previous theories as new information was uncovered through experimentation. It was also the 19th century in which the foundation for the modern era of genetics was laid by an Augustinian friar named Gregor Mendel. Far ahead of his time, Mendel’s study of trait inheritance in the common pea plant went relatively unnoticed ...