AKC Canine Health Foundation Breeder’s Symposium
Saturday, April 4, 2009
I attended this symposium and was amazed at the amount of information presented! After UC Davis,
Western University’s College of Veterinary Medicine is the only other veterinary medicine program in the state of ; they have only produced graduates for two years. Their program is the first new college of veterinary medicine in the California in the past 20 years. As conference attendees, we also had the opportunity to tour the clinical learning center during lunch break. United States
The room was filled with approximately 100 dog fanciers and breeders representing a wide cross-section of AKC recognized breeds. In an eight hour time period there were eight speakers scheduled. Each speaker could easily have spent the entire day trying to cover their subject matter and answering all our questions; but, alas, time was limited. Luckily some detailed information was included with the conference, including the book “ABC’s of Breeding” by keynote speaker Claudia Orlandi.
I’d like to try to summarize some of the important points from the seminar for the “Review” readers.
This lecture was my favorite!
“Current Concepts Regarding Canine Hip Dysplasia”
Peter Vogel, DVM, DACVS
Specialist in orthopedic surgery, critical care, microvascular surgery and is certified in stem cell regenerative medicine
From the syllabus:
“Breeders are an important source of information regarding heritable diseases such as canine hip dysplasia. However, much of what is common knowledge is often incorrect of incomplete. Find out the most recent information regarding the diagnosis and treatment of hip dysplasia and get practical recommendations that you can employ in your breeding programs. This talk will help you understand the limitation of OFA certification, the benefits of newer screening techniques, and give an overview of current treatment to help you educate your clients.”
OFA hip testing was initiated in 1966. After 40 years of OFA hip testing, the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs has not decreased by even 1%. This is because hip dysplasia is a common defect; it is polygenic (multiple genes involved) and can also be exacerbated by environmental factors such as trauma and diet. Almost all lines of dogs have genes for hip dysplasia. This is probably due to the fact that the majority of dogs are descended from common original ancestors, who were themselves likely genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia. Greyhounds are rarely affected; sighthounds in general have a lower incidence than other races. Standard poodles are one of the very few breeds that are not commonly affected with hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia typically displays some symptoms by age 4-6 months. Symptoms can include pain/stiffness, pop or click of the joint, bunny hopping gait, and “lazy dog” syndrome. The dog will appear to the owner to be lazy, when in reality it does not wish to move because movement is painful. At age 12-15 months, signs and symptoms will disappear, only to reappear later in life when arthritic changes have set in. By then treatment methods are limited and expensive.
The OFA hip screening is the least predictive method for hip dysplasia. It does not rule out hip dysplasia. The OFA technique is outdated 1960’s methodology. The OFA screening xray is limited due to the positioning technique used; it is also subjective depending on those interpreting the film. A better method is the Dislocation Index (DI) which is also known as Penn Hip. Another newer and even more accurate method is the dorsolateral subluxation radiograph (or DLS) which is highly diagnostic for hip dysplasia. This technique positions the dog with weight on the knees and measures actual real laxity of the hip socket.
Fully 50% of dog who score OFA “excellent” hips will be found to be dysplastic using DI and/or DLS. 67% of those who score OFA “good” are actually dysplastic, and 100% of dogs who score OFA “fair” are dysplastic.
DI technique has some breed-dependent factors (those factors were not discussed).
Another problem with OFA is waiting until the dog is two years old for their final evaluation. Hip dysplasia can and should be diagnosed by age 14-16 weeks and NO LATER THAN age 20 weeks, so that intervention can be done to prevent future painful arthritic changes.
If a puppy is diagnosed with hip dysplasia a simple procedure known as a Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis can be done. The growth plate of the pubis is cauterized to destroy the growing cells of this part of the pelvis. This results in a change in the angle of the pelvis and is 95% successful in preventing progression of the arthritis resulting from hip laxity. This should be done no later than age 5 months. It can be done at the same time as a spay.
A triple pelvic osteotomy can be done to reshape the pelvis; again this must be done before the age of one year and is very effectdive in preventing the progression of hip dysplasia.
OFA hip screening may not even be attempted in most cases until age two years (when it is too late to do any preventive orthopedic surgery), and it will miss most cases of hip dysplasia entirely. Penn hip or DLS should be done on puppies no later than age 20 weeks for the most accurate diagnosis and early treatment of hip dysplasia.
Other ways to control the progression of hip dysplasia are weight control, proper exercise and diet. Medications such as NSAIDS and adequan have a proven track record. The benefits of glucosamine and chondroitin have not been clinically proven but those supplements can’t hurt. Stem cell therapy is in its infancy but may also prove beneficial.
In conclusion, the Dr. emphasized that if you are a dog breeder, sooner or later you WILL produce dogs with hip dysplasia. Don’t blame yourself! Even two dogs with perfect hips can produce dysplastic puppies. The genes for hip dysplasia are widespread through most every breed!
Common Household Toxins
John H Tegzes, MA, VMD, DABVT
An excellent overview of this topic. The ASPCA poison control number should be readily available in everyone’s home” 888-426-4435
Also, the National Poison Control hotline may be of use: 800-222-1222
Review of the many common toxins found in the home. Activated charcoal should be kept on hand and should be given to your dog if he ingests something toxic (use after consulting with poison control or your vet).
The lecturer told of a case they had where a dog ate snail bait and came in seizuring. They kept the dog alive on a ventilator and after 11 days of touch-and-go status in intensive care, he was sent home. The next day he was brought in again seizuring from eating snail bait. The owner didn’t pick up the bait because she figured the dog had “learned its lesson” and wouldn’t eat snail bait again!
The toxicity of raisins and grapes is very real and serious. Not all dogs are affected. The exact toxic substance within the grapes has not yet been discovered. Nor is it known if this may be a new genetic predisposition in dogs?
Walnuts are often contaminated with penitrem A, a fungal toxin.
Macadamia nuts have a neurologic sedating effect
A new dangerous toxic plant is broomfeldsia or the “yesterday, today and tomorrow” plant.
One of the attendees said her dog was poisoned by eating the inner stalk of the hibiscus flower. She had to search through 20 references on toxic plants before she found one that did list the hibiscus flower as toxic.
Canine Reproduction; Managing the Dog and Bitch to Optimize Success
Dana Bleifer DVM, DACT
Warner Pet Center, , and owner/operator of CLONE West canine semen bank. Chesapeake Bay Retriever breeder. Rose City Veterinary Hospital
Preparation of the dog and bitch is essential to breeding success. Avoid flaxseed and soy in food as it may in theory affect hormonal balance.
Thyroid test should be done on every bitch prior to breeding. TGAA (thyroglobulin autoantibodies) positive indicates autoimmune thyroiditis which is an inherited condition; in addition, thyroid autoantibodies can pass into the puppies from the mothers milk and attack their thyroid gland.
Brucellosis testing should be done periodically on all breeding stock, not just bitches.
Teeth should be clean as the bitch uses her teeth to sever the umbilical cord and can transmit bacteria to the puppy if her mouth is infected. Vaginal cultures are sometimes done but are not very useful because the vaginal tract is full of many different varieties of bacteria naturally. Sometimes you can find Klebsiella or mycoplasma with a vaginal culture; these would need treatment. However, if there is a suspected problem with infection it is better to bring the bitch in at the start of her season for a uterine culture. This is done with the aid of a fiberoptic scope. Routine use of antibiotics during the breeding cycle is not wise as you upset the natural balance of flora in the body. Antibiotics should be reserved for an infectious problem which has been demonstrated by a culture.
A variety of insemination options were discussed, including the use of fresh, chilled or frozen semen. Ovulation timing using progesterone and LH levels was reviewed. Stud dog management should include a periodic semen evaluation, as well as regular prostate and testicular exams.
“The Canine Genome Decoded: An Introduction for Dog Breeders”
Christopher Irizarry, PhD
A presentation related to “bioinformatics”: the science of decoding the biological information contained within genes and genomes. The canine genome shares many similarities with other mammalian species, and differs from them just by a few small percentage points.
Dr. Irizarry explained how some genetic research is conducted. His team worked with mice and “knocked out” or removed one certain gene from the genome. The chromosome was then replaced into the breeding animal and offspring were tested to see if they were missing the gene. Then if they had two animals who both were missing the particular gene being studied, they bred those together to try to get offspring that were “doubled up” for the missing gene, then they would observe what effect this had. The found a gene that limited growth of muscle tissue (“myostatin”), which, when “knocked out” of the genome and “doubled up” offspring were completely missing this gene, the animals were extremely overmuscled. There were examples pictured of this effect in both mice and cattle.
“On Breed Identification: Visual and DNA”
Victoria Voith, DVM, PhD, DACVB
An interactive session comprised of a breed identification quiz. Photos of shelter dogs were taken, shelter workers were surveyed for each dog. They were asked if the dog was purebred or a mixed breed, and if mixed, what were the primary and secondary breeds. The dogs’ actual breed composition was identified by DNA analysis and compared with the answers given by the shelter workers.
We seminar participants also took this breed identification survey. Results seemed to indicate that identification of breed makeup based on appearance is not reliably accurate.
“ABC’s of Dog Breeding”
Claudia Waller Orlandi, PhD
This was the keynote speaker, and all participants received a copy of her book, which is a wonderful explanation of dog breeding presented in a fun and easy to understand format.
Genetics, selection, breeding systems, pedigree analysis, canine anatomy, genetic defects and kennel blindness were all discussed, using an interesting slideshow. The book we received is a wealth of information! You can buy it from the website:
Some key points: The pedigree is not more important to consider than the dog itself. Also, linebreeding beyond the fourth generation will have little impact on a litter. No one part of the anatomy of a dog is more important than the whole dog.
In the seminar, discussion of inbreeding/linebreeding did briefly touch on inbreeding depression, and the hazards of doubling up on harmful recessive genes.
Popular sire syndrome is not mentioned.
The harmful effects of homozygosity on the immune system were never mentioned.
In fact, the speaker stated that we would all like to have dogs that are homozygous for all “good” genes. The evidence is available that genetic homozygosity is not beneficial except for being useful to produce some predictability in breeding results.
Inbreeding has been necessary to form some breeds but it has had the side effect of setting in defects into almost every breed. Further culling in attempt to remove those defects results in lack of genetic diversity which is essential for health.
Narrow breed standards and judging for the extreme “stand out” specimens who are extreme in type promotes unhealthy extreme animals.
Yes, we want to produce predictable type and soundness; but our dogs also need some genetic variability. Heterozygosity in general produces healthier animals, with improved vigor and stronger immune systems. This will promote vigor, longevity and strong immune systems for our breeds to remain viable into the future.
“Grooming from the Inside”
Deborah A. Greco, DVM, PhD
The speaker is a senior research scientist with Nestle Purina Petcare. Good quality skin and hair coat can be maintained through a well-balanced diet. Her contention is that commercial pet foods are the easiest choice when available for maintaining skin and coat condition in healthy animals. She further believes that caution and care should be used when prescribing supplements or homemade diets to ensure proper nutrient balance. “Food is the least expensive and most important grooming tool available to the modern day breeder.”
There was no mention made of melamine toxicity, aflatoxicosis, or the many problems associated with the overprocessed ingredients used in most all commercial pet foods.
Erika Werne gave a comprehensive overview of AKC’s CHIC program.
I’d like to thank AKC for this very interesting and valuable symposium; I hope that another will be presented in our area in the near future.