Tag archives: Canine Health

Keep Breed-Specific Thinking from Delaying Your Diagnosis

Keep Breed-Specific Thinking from Delaying Your Diagnosis

Discovery of disease-associated, canine genetic mutations has greatly increased over the past two decades. As a result, identification of these mutations through genetic testing has quickly become a useful tool for dog kennels and veterinary practices by allowing for the identification of asymptomatic disease carriers, diagnosis of affected dogs, and prevention of inherited diseases through informed breeding practices. However, because mutation discovery is often funded by specific breed clubs with interest in a breed-related disease concern, study investigators may not perform extensive, species-wide population studies for a newly discovered mutation. Therefore, in many cases, additional breeds inheriting the same mutation (and developing the same disease) may remain unknown for quite some time after the initial discovery.

As any modern veterinarian can attest, for better or worse, animal lovers have more veterinary medical information at their fingertips than ever before. Occasionally, at Paw Print Genetics, we are contacted by breeders or owners whose veterinarian had opted not to pursue a diagnosis that the client suspected because of the veterinarian’s historical understanding of a disease’s breed-specific distribution rather than the current knowledge. For veterinarians building a differential diagnosis list, keeping the mind open to a particular inherited disease manifesting in an unexpected ...

You offer 12 genetic tests for the Labrador retriever. Why does this breed have so many tests?

You offer 12 genetic tests for the Labrador retriever. Why does this breed have so many tests?

Interactions with our clients are valuable to Paw Print Genetics. It helps us understand their concerns when it comes to genetic testing. One question that we have been asked on occasion is about the number of genetic tests we have available for a particular breed as compared to a different breed and what that number means for the health of that breed as a whole. For example, Paw Print Genetics currently offers 12 genetic tests for the Labrador retriever, which is more than any other breed. For some of our clients, the natural follow-up question after this discovery has been, “Are Labradors more unhealthy than other breeds?” Though there are many diseases that have been identified in the Labrador retriever, we cannot make the assumption that they are more unhealthy or carry more genetic problems as a whole than other breeds without doing some statistical evaluation of the entire dog population. However, to my knowledge, this potentially expensive and time-intensive evaluation has not been performed. Despite the fact that veterinarians may sometimes get the impression that certain breeds are overrepresented in regards to disease, there are many factors that must be considered when objectively evaluating the number of genetic ...

Defining Responsible Dog Ownership

Defining Responsible Dog Ownership

In recognition of the AKC’s Responsible Dog Ownership Days, I thought I’d reflect on what it means to be a responsible dog owner, as it’s a very subjective topic.

Some people believe simply providing food, water and shelter is the only responsibility of owning a dog. I’d say that’s the bottom line, lowest common denominator of responsible dog ownership. Below are some thoughts on what it means to responsibly care for, train and breed dogs. Which do you think are most important?

The Basics: As said, providing your dog with quality diet, water and shelter from heat/cold/precipitation are the bare minimums of responsibility. I’d add sufficient exercise and interaction to that list as well.

Socialization: Raising a puppy that has had proper socialization during the first 12 weeks of age will make a difference in its character and psychological stability for the rest of its life. Safely introducing your puppy and allowing it to meet and interact with other dogs teaches it how to behave around other dogs, and what the proper protocols and canine rituals are. Failure to socialize your dog can handicap it; creating a fearful or aggressive dog that will have difficulty interacting with other ...

The Tragedy of Canine Genetic Disease

The Tragedy of Canine Genetic Disease

Dedicated in loving memory of Rigel - the blue star Afghan - may his star burn brightly.

Many understand the "need for canine health testing".  People will dutifully test their dog’s hips, eyes (CERF exam), maybe elbows, thyroid, knees and the one DNA test for the BIG recessive genetic disease that has been known to exist in their breed for years.  This sequence is what they have been taught that they must do to be a responsible breeder by the forefathers in their breed clubs.  But how much do people really understand the need for genetic testing?

What about uncommon genetic disease in the breed?  Every individual carries recessive non-working or disease genes; many of which are uncommon and can run silently in the family for generations before two carriers are bred together and produce affected puppies.   It has often been touted that one reason for inbreeding is to identify and weed out recessive disorders, but how often is this actually done?  If the problem is uncommon and unknown, affected individuals, especially those that die young, can go undiagnosed, especially if each and every puppy is not extensively evaluated.   So the problem occurs unrecognized, unidentified and ...

Knowledge Sharing: Find Your Puppy’s Littermates

Knowledge Sharing: Find Your Puppy’s Littermates

A novel service has launched that aims to connect dog owners with other owners who have a puppy from the same litter. The free online service, r-u-mylitter.com, is in its infancy, but it could serve as an excellent source of information for future puppy buyers, current dog owners and in genetic research and canine healthcare.

Spurred by a co-founder Wendy Margolis’ experience picking a puppy, r-u-mylitter.com seeks to unite curious dog owners who wonder what happened to their dog’s littermates. The site has received quite a bit of press, including registration by reality star Khloe Kardashian, who made headlines when she began searching for the littermates of her new boxer puppy.

Besides offering novelty information, like where in the world littermates have dispersed and personality traits of each puppy, the site has the potential to offer more important and useful knowledge.

As Dr. Steven Suter, the Medical Director of North Carolina State College of Veterinary Medicine Canine Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, explains on their site, connecting with the owners of littermates could help your dog if it were to need a bone marrow transplant or other similar procedure.

“My impression is that using …cells harvested from a ...

"Health Guarantees" when Buying or Selling a Puppy?

"Health Guarantees" when Buying or Selling a Puppy?

In a continuation of our discussion of puppy "health guarantees" the question is: is it feasible to expect breeders to guarantee against all congenital and genetic defects and what should breeders guarantee or promise?  It is a pervasive "wisdom" that "good" breeders will only produce healthy puppies with no genetic problems or congenital defects and a "responsible breeder" certainly would never sell a puppy with a congenital or genetic defect.  This has long been a stated or implied expectation that breeders have placed on themselves and others and a notion that has passed on as conventional wisdom regarding the purchase of a puppy.   As a result, when a problem occurs, it is to be approached with chagrin, shame or denial on the part of the breeder and blame placed on the breeder by others.  But is this expectation reasonable?    Is expecting breeders to recognize the presence of all congenital defects even feasible?

Articles like Empowering international canine inherited disorder management by BJ Wilson and CM Wade published in Mammalian Genome in Feb of 2012and the increasing volume of canine health and genetic research illustrates the reality of genetic risk inherent in dog breeding ...

"Health Guarantees" when Buying a Puppy

"Health Guarantees" when Buying a Puppy

For as long as I can remember, when someone was purchasing a purebred puppy from a pet store (as my family did when I was a kid) or from a breeder, that puppy came with a "health guarantee".  If anything was wrong with the puppy you could return that puppy for a "full refund".  For some, offering the health guarantee is a "get out of jail free card" because of the "catch".  The catch being that the person who purchased the puppy had to return the puppy/dog in order to get their money back.  Of course the vast majority of people will have fallen in love with the puppy by then and will not give them up for any amount of money.

Some people will see that a "health guarantee" is offered and say  "oh-that means this is a reputable seller/breeder".  The presence of a health guarantee certainly does not ensure that the puppy was well bred or that the breeder is ethical.  It partially depends on the "fine print" of the health guarantee.  Nevertheless--a "health guarantee" is a standard practice among dog breeding, selling and purchasing.  People purchasing a ...

Importance of Canine Genetic testing anytime you breed

Importance of Canine Genetic testing anytime you breed

Many people with a "cute little dog" who are going to breed it to their friend's "cute little dog" and sell the puppies will say, "I don't need to do genetic testing on the dogs/parents, I am not a breeder." If you plan a litter of puppies, you are a breeder.

Other people will say, "There is nothing wrong with the mother and father, they are perfectly healthy. I do not need to do genetic testing." Carriers of genetic problems are often invisible and without testing; you cannot predict whether your litter will be at risk for disease.

Some people will say, "I am only breeding pets and I have never seen any issues in the puppies I produce. I do not need to do genetic testing." Pets are just as likely to get the genetic diseases associated with their breed as show or working dogs and in any scenario, people are quite obviously emotionally attached to their pets. $53.33 billion was spent in the US last year on pets with $13.67 billion of that spent on veterinary care alone (source). Many genetic issues do not get diagnosed as a genetic issue or may develop ...