Certain breeds have genetic predisposition to certain diseases, and we recommend early screening for these conditions so that anything out of the norm can be addressed.
The most common breed-specific diseases that we see in dogs are:
(Click here for cats)
- Cardiomyopathy – Canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a primary disease of cardiac muscle that results in a decreased ability of the heart to generate pressure to pump blood through the vascular system. The definitive cause of canine DCM is the subject of debate, although a number of factors including nutritional, infectious, and genetic predisposition have been implicated. The fact that canine DCM occurs at a higher incidence in specific breeds suggests a heritable genetic component to this disease, although it is likely that it’s etiology is multifactorial. Breeds predisposed to DCM include the Doberman Pinscher, the Great Dane, the Boxer, and the Cocker Spaniel. Dietary carnitine deficiency may play a role in some cases of Boxer DCM, and taurine responsive DCM has been identified in Cocker Spaniels.
- Chronic Hepatitis– Chronic hepatitis is a syndrome in dogs that can result from many different disease processes. It means that the liver has undergone or is undergoing inflammation and/or necrosis. Inflammation is an invasion of different types of white cells that are active components of the immune system. The cells come from the blood stream into the liver and help fight infection. Necrosis refers to the death of large numbers of liver cells.The invasion of white cells and cell death can both be a result of previous damage to the liver by infectious agents, such as viruses or bacteria. Previous damage could also be due to poisons ingested by the dog, cancerous processes, or a primary attack of the immune system against the liver cells (referred to as auto-immune disease). Liver cancer can also result in similar liver damage, but once cancer is identified the term chronic hepatitis is not used.The term chronic means that the damaging process has been going on for some time, at least a number of weeks. This is in contrast to an acutehepatitis that has most likely been present for just a few days. Unfortunately the chance for complete recovery (cure) is less in chronic hepatitis than in acute hepatitis.Chronic hepatitis can occur in any breed of dog, male or female, and at any age. Most dogs with chronic hepatitis are middle-aged to older. There are certain breeds that are predisposed to this condition, meaning that although the exact mechanism may be unknown, genetics likely plays a role in disease development. Bedlington terriers, and less commonly West Highland white terriers and Skye terriers, may develop chronic hepatitis as a result of the accumulation of copper in the cells of their liver. Affected Bedlington terriers may not be able to excrete copper from the liver to the intestine via the bile because of a known genetic defect. High concentrations of copper are damaging to liver cells, resulting in severe chronic hepatitis.Doberman Pinschers and Cocker Spaniels (American and English) are also commonly diagnosed with chronic hepatitis. Affected spaniels are usually young, and are usually diagnosed when they are 1 to 4 years old. Unfortunately Cocker Spaniels tend to be severely affected and most die within a short time of diagnosis despite therapy, although some (with a bit of luck and very aggressive treatment) may live much longer. Recently, some Labrador retrievers have also been identified with chronic hepatitis.
- PennHip– PennHIP is a multifaceted radiographic screening method for hip evaluation. The technique assesses the quality of the canine hip and quantitatively measures canine hip joint laxity. The PennHIP method of evaluation is more accurate than the current standard in its ability to predict the onset of osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is the hallmark of hip dysplasia (HD).PennHIP is more than just a radiographic technique. It is also a network of veterinarians trained to perform the PennHIP methodology properly and, perhaps most importantly, it is a large scientific database that houses the PennHIP data. Radiographs are made by certified PennHIP members worldwide and are sent to the PennHIP Analysis Center for evaluation. The resulting data is stored in the database, which is continually monitored as it expands. As more information becomes available, the PennHIP laboratory is able to obtain more precise answers to questions about the etiology, prediction and genetic basis of hip dysplasia.
- Elbow Dysplasia– Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow of dogs. Three specific etiologies make up this disease and they can occur independently or in conjunction with one another. These etiologies include:
- Pathology involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP)
- Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD)
- Ununited anconeal process (UAP)
- Studies have shown the inherited polygenic traits causing these etiologies are independent of one another. Clinical signs involve lameness which may remain subtle for long periods of time. No one can predict at what age lameness will occur in a dog due to a large number of genetic and environmental factors such as degree of severity of changes, rate of weight gain, amount of exercise, etc. Subtle changes in gait may be characterized by excessive inward deviation of the paw which raises the outside of the paw so that it receives less weight and distributes more mechanical weight on the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow joint away from the lesions located on the inside of the joint. Range of motion in the elbow is also decreased.
Click here to see our Canine Breed Specific Screening Guidelines.
The most common breed-specific disease that we see in cats is Polycystic Kidney Disease. Occurring most frequently in Persian cats, polycystic kidney disease is an inherited disorder in which small, closed, liquid-filled sacs develop in the tissue of the feline kidney. These sacs (cysts) tend to multiply in number and grow in size over time, eventually overwhelming normal kidney tissue and often leading to potentially fatal kidney failure. There is no explanation for the development of these cysts except for a genetic anomaly that is evident primarily in Persians and occasionally in a few other feline breeds, such as Himalayans and British Shorthairs. (Click here for feline wellness care recommendations)Citations: http://research.vet.upenn.edu/