Health Concerns of the Basenji Dog
© 1994-2009 sinbajé basenjis. All rights reserved.
[Fanconi] [Eye Disorders] [IPSID] [Hemolytic Anemia]
[Health Database] [Thyroid] [Hip Dysplasia]
BIG FANCONI NEWS
Fanconi Syndrome of the Basenji Dog
Definition: The renal tubules of the kidney begin to fail to do their job of reabsorbing nutrients, resulting in loss of multiple vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and bicarbonates. These losses result in muscle wasting and weight loss and left untreated will ultimately kill. With early intervention and Dr. Steve Gonto's management protocol, prognosis appears excellent for long term, healthy survival. Fanconi syndrome appears to be polygenetic in nature with no clear inheritance patterns, therefore ALL basenjis are at risk. If you are in contact with a breeder that does not test and they say "My line is clean" or "Fanconi? Never heard of it." run, don't walk until you find a breeder more informed, and more honest, regarding the ills of this breed and their line. A breeder who is actively testing all breeding stock is a breeder you should be looking for.
Diagnosis: Polpolyuria (PU) - excessive urination, polydipsia (PD) - excessive thirst and/or frequent urinary tract infections accompanied by sugar in the urine (glucosuria). Positive diagnosis is made by having glucosuria with normal blood glucose levels. ALL basenjis should be tested by their owners for urine glucose, ketone or protein losses using any of a number of test strips available from their local pharmacy. Most common misdiagnosis are diabetes, or Cushings disease.
Onset: Age of first symptoms (PU/PD) is usually 5 to 7 years; however, it has been diagnosed from 3 to 11 years. Early diagnosis is essential since the earlier treatment begins, the less renal damage there is, resulting in fewer replacements needed to maintain said animal.
Home Testing: Simple, quick, and relatively inexpensive**. Go to the diabetic section of your local pharmacy and buy one of the following urine test strip bottles: Bayer Clinistix, Gluco-Ketostix, Ames Combistix, or Glucose/Ketone Chemstrips. Take your basenji out on leash and wait for him/her to piddle. Place the end of the strip in the dog's urine stream being careful not to contaminate the strip by accidentally touching it to leaves, grass or dirt. If needed, a shallow dish or large spoon/ladle can be used to collect a sample of urine with which to dip your strip. Wait the appropriate amount of time given on the bottle and then compare the color of the test strip to the bottle chart. Report any positive readings to your veterinarian along with a copy of Dr. Gonto's Fanconi Disease Management Protocol for Veterinarians. It is believed by many that strip testing should be done monthly on basenjis younger than three years of age and more frequently on basenjis over the age of three.
Please note: Strip testing is only a tool used in early detection of fanconi, it is NOT intended to be used as a conclusive diagnosis of the disease. Only through more advanced laboratory tests can fanconi syndrome be accurately and definitively diagnosed. See Dr. Gonto's management protocol for more indepth information.
**Each bottle contains roughly 50 test strips. Those people that have only one or two basenjis in their household will find it difficult to use every strip before the manufacturers expiration date. Not to worry. I have found a way to extend the shelf life well beyond this date. First thing I do after opening a new bottle is pop it in the freezer to keep the strips fresh. When I am ready to test, I pull out one strip per dog plus one extra. That extra strip, drawn at random, is then tested in a mixture of a 1/16th tsp. of gatorade (or Squirt or 7-up) to 1/2 cup of water. If the test strip can detect that minute of an amount then I know the strips are still effective.
Letter from Steve Gonto
We now have a DNA test as of July 18, 2007.
We now have a test - a linkage test. All breeders are encouraged to use this test prior to any breedings.
Please note: sinbajé basenjis will ONLY refer to those ethical BCOA member breeders who are actively using this tool to safely eradicate this disease from the gene pool.
Click here to see how a line "avoided" the tri color gene for close to 20 years. This is a visual model to show how, and why, fanconi is a simple recessive and how/why it could be avoided in a tightly line/in bred pedigree while still being within the pedigree.
There is no legitimate reason in today's world, with today's knowledge and advancements in science that ANY fanconi basenji should ever be created again. Please support those ethical breeders who properly test for known genetic problems within our breed; fanconi, PRA and hip dysplasia. Don't just take their word for it - visit web sites such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and LOOK for dogs bearing the kennel name of the breeder you are researching - see for yourself if they are truly testing their breeding stock or sending you a sales pitch. Sadly there are many "reputable" breeders out there that say they are testing, but have nothing to show for it. Do your research or caveat emptor!
So what's the big deal about Fanconi Syndrome? Learn what the AKC Canine Health Foundation has to say about the disease and the recent DNA test or read this valuable flyer, courtesy of sinbajé basenjis. Feel free to print either/or if you know anyone who owns or is considering a basenji.
To see a visual of what can occur when clears, carriers and affecteds are bred to each other and how, statistically speaking, the genes could express themselves, click here.
Eye Disorders of the Basenji Dog
PPM - Persistant Pupillary Membrane (in brief):
PPM is a very common problem in the basenji breed. When a puppy is born, his eyes appear a bluish color. This color is caused by the embryonic membranes covering the eyes. As the pup grows, the membranes break apart and normally disappear by four to five weeks of age. When these membranes do not disappear they become known as PPM, of which there are several types; Iris Sheets, Iris to Lens, Iris to Cornea and Iris to Iris.
Julie Gionfriddo, DVM Diplomat ACVO writes:
"Iris to lens PPMs are more problematical. These PPMs cause opacities (cataracts) at the point where they are attached to the lens. The cataracts do not usually progress and cause only minor visual deficits. Iris to cornea PPMs cause opacities on the cornea due to their ability to damage the inner lining of the cornea. These opacities may be small or may be severe due to the development of fluid in the cornea. Severely affected puppies (with numerous strands) may be blind, though they may improve as they get older. The strands may regress but do not disappear. In general, iris to iris PPMs cause no problems. They may be single strands or a forked structure. These PPMs may break and become less prominent as the puppy gets older, but they usually do not disappear completely.
PPMs are found in many breeds of dog. In most of these breeds, iris to iris PPMs are classified by CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) as a "breeder option" problem. This means that most of the PPMs, which have been reported in these breeds have been small and are probably sporadically occurring and not hereditary defects. In some breeds, PPMs are known to be hereditary and puppies who have any type of PPM will not receive a certification number. The Basenji** is the most well known but CERF will also not certify Chow Chows, Mastiffs, Pembroke Welsh Corgis, or Yorkshire Terriers with PPMs. Members of these breeds have been shown to produce offspring with blindness directly associated with their PPMs. In these breeds, the mechanism of inheritance is not known but breeding any of these dogs with PPMs is highly discouraged. Even severe PPM rarely causes vision problems but breeders should be aware of the intensity of any PPM their dog has and try to lessen the severity in future generations."
**NOTE: The BCOA (National Basenji breed club) petitioned CERF asking for Iris to Iris PPMs to be CERFable and considered "breeder option". Per the February 2003 CERF Newsletter, Iris to Iris PPM in the basenji breed is now CERFable and is "breeder's option".
PRA - Progressive Retinal Atrophy (in brief):
PRA is a blinding condition. Early signs include nightblindness and lack of ability to adjust vision to dim light. Later on, daytime vision will also begin to fail. At the same time the pupils become increasingly dilated, causing a noticeable "shine" to the eyes; and the lens may become cloudy, or opaque, resulting in a cataract. There are two types of PRA onset: early onset and late onset. In early onset the disease results from abnormal or arrested development of the photoreceptors -- the visual cells in their retina, and affects pups very early in life. In late onset, which includes the basenji, affected dogs appear normal when young, but develop PRA as adults. Research has shown there to be, at the very least, 5 different types of canine PRA. Once believed to be a simple recessive in the basenji dog, research has shown that affecteds bred to affecteds were not producing the the expected affecteds, therefore the mode of inheritance in the basenji is presently unknown. Current research is close to finding a DNA test to help determine affected, carrier, and non-carrier status. Until then, breeders and pet owners alike, should test their dogs regularly. Diagnosis of PRA is normally made by ophthalmoscopic examination by a board certified opthamologist.
For more information on PRA and the genetic studies in progress visit: PRA Today
Immunoproliferative Small Intestine Disease (IPSID) of the Basenji Dog
as per the BCOA website
IPSID stands for ImmunoProliferative Small Intestinal Disease, but it is a disease of many names. It is also called basenji enteropathy, immunoproliferative lymphoplasmacytic enteritis, basenji diarrheal syndrome, and malabsorption
IPSID is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which results in the dog not being able to utilize and absorb nutrients correctly from food.
A predisposition to IPSID is inherited, but inheritance appears to be only one of the factors involved. A dog genetically predisposed to IPSID and its resultant immunological impairment might present with usual IBD and eventually progress to IPSID. Physical and/or emotional stresses may be aggravating factors.
Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, increased or decreased appetite, gas, and depression. The type of symptoms and their severity differ from dog to dog, and from one episode to another. Dogs with IPSID often will have good periods as well as bad spells.
Typical diagnosis and treatment
IPSID requires a process of elimination for diagnosis. Blood serum protein levels may be low. Barium x-rays may show an enlarged section of the intestine. Biopsy is the only reliable way to diagnose IPSID; it is done to rule out irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome and other diseases, lymphangiectasia (which most basenjis with IPSID have as a secondary condition), colitis, cancer, and systemic fungal infections. Endoscopic biopsies are preferred to prevent complications with healing.
Traditional methods of treating IPSID include systemic prednisone and antibiotics. Some dogs do well on a holistic regimen; it is important to discuss it with your veterinarian. Symptoms may diminish or increase over time, and a veterinarian must oversee treatment and changes to treatment. IPSID affected dogs can harbor microorganisms that may cause problems for other dogs in the household; proper household hygiene is important.
It may be required to change the dog's diet to optimize nutrient utilization. Some veterinarians suggest switching diets on a monthly basis. A homemade diet also can be used, and additional vitamin supplementation may be indicated.
There are holistic veterinarians who treat IPSID. Some will do phone consults and work with your allopathic veterinarian.
Dr. Michael D. Willard of Texas A&M, an internationally recognized enterologist, is also available for consultations by phone with vets needing more information on the disease. He asks that everyone understand that he often travels and holds clinics so at times he will be out of the office. He can be reached at 979-845-2351, e-mail address email@example.com
Hemolytic Anemia of the Basenji Dog
(Also known as Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency Hemolytic Anemia)
This is quoted from "A Review of Hemolytic Anemia," by Russell V. Brown, Ph.D., 1983
"There are two types of anemia that have been found in the Basenji. One is a nonhereditary type called auto immune anemia. This happens when the dog produces antibodies that will attack its own red blood cells. This can be treated, by giving drugs like steroids, to shut down the immune system temporarily. Transfusion of blood can be given to keep the red cell count up. As the antibodies in the blood go down in number the anemia becomes less severe. Dogs that would have died have recovered with proper treatment.
The other type of anemia is, of course, the hereditary type, where the red cells have a genetically controlled defective pyruvate kinase activity. This is not a curable anemia. Removal of the spleen & transfusions may prolong life, but the enzyme defect is permanent.
Because of the short life span of red cells in the dog with hemolytic anemia, the bone marrow must replace the red cells more rapidly than normal. The bone marrow is not capable of this with mature red cells, so immature red cells (erythroblasts or erticulocytes) are released into the blood..."
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency Hemolytic Anemia per VetGen
"Pyruvate kinase deficiency in Basenji dogs is an inherited lack of an enzyme (pyruvate kinase) in the red blood cells of an affected animal. This enzyme is required for red blood cells to survive for a normal length of time in the blood of the animal, and when it is missing, the red blood cells break down and are destroyed prematurely. This leads to lifelong anemia in the affected animal. The symptoms of anemia are lack of energy, low exercise tolerance, easy fatigability, and probably reduced fertility.
This disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive. This means that affected animals have two doses of the mutant gene. Dogs that have one mutant and one normal gene are called carriers. Carriers are not ill (they do not have anemia), but can produce affected offspring if mated to another carrier."
Due to the ability to test for this condition, there should never be another HA basenji born. Please test your dogs before breeding. Please note - in 2003 there has been at least one known HA carrier born - so the disease is still out there and if not tested for or responsibly bred away from, it could still be a problem in some lines. Visit the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and search to see if any basenji you are interested in has been genetically cleared for this disease.
Genetic Test for Pyruvate Kinase deficiency
Health Database - Care To Help?
In 1998 I purchased Chuck Orange's pedigree software - PEDWIN. Since then I have worked diligently inputting basenji pedigrees into my database. Thanks in part to Sally Wallis, I have over 18,000 names currently entered with numerous records waiting in the wings (and on the shelf and in the drawer!). During this same time I have obtained, via breeders/owners, the Internet and old magazine research, numerous (500+) health facts on conditions that afflict the basenji breed. Some day this information, and certainly the pedigrees, might be important to the breed as a whole.
How can you help? Well, if you have bred or owned a basenji that has had, or currently has, any health problems mentioned on this page, I would appreciate any and all information you would be willing to share. The type of information needed would be: registered name, AKC number, sire, dam and date of birth.
*Please know that ALL information will be kept private.*
* References available regarding my integrity. *