Healthy Breeding

 

Dogs and cats are wonderful! They cheer us up when we’re down, are loyal friends and integral parts of the family. To see a beloved pet suffer from serious illness is heartbreaking, for their owners and treating veterinarians alike. Helping these animal becomes their top priority. 

However, the most common serious diseases in dogs are genetic in nature, making long-term treatment options often difficult if not impossible. What’s more, even if an affected dog doesn’t show any symptoms, he or she can still pass the condition on to his or her offspring.

The researchers and veterinarians at the Companion Animal Genetics Expertise Centre are developing new methods to fight genetic diseases in dogs and other companion animals. Because healthy breeding is the foundation for a healthy life! 

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  The Labrador retriever is a beloved breed by many people. It is not surprising that their superfriendly character, joy, enthusiasm and working ethos steals the heart of many people. Labradors are not only beloved pets or hunting companions, because of their stable and gentle character they often fulfill a role as assistance or guide dog. At the Centre of Expertise of Genetics of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University we work hard to keep the breed healthy by conducting genetic studies aiming to identify disease causing mutations in Labrador retrievers. By combining different research projects, more research output can be expected. Genetic studies require dogs that are affected by a certain disease, but also dogs that were free of disease and reached an old age in good health. By combining patient groups and groups of control dogs, we work efficiently towards solutions for hereditary diseases in the Labrador retrievers.   A better understanding of hereditary diseases    The ultimate goal of the veterinary researchers of the Expertise Centre of Genetics  to unravel the genetic background of hereditary diseases in the Labrador retriever, which will lead to more effective diagnostics and therapeutics. Ultimately, the development of a diagnostic DNA-test can be implemented in breeding strategies for prevention of diseases in the Labrador retrievers. In the current project, focused on Labrador retrievers, the research team aims to combine several research aspects for a leap forward in genetic research. The diseases that are currently under investigation are:   Hereditary copper toxicosis   Copper toxicosis is a hereditary disease in Labrador retrievers, where copper that is taken up from diet and drinking water, cannot be effectively excreted and accumulates in the liver. This causes hepatitis and eventually liver cirrhosis. In approximately half of the Labrador retrievers that were admitted to our clinic, increased hepatic copper levels were identified. When dogs are diagnosed in an early stage, treatment with a low copper / high zinc diet and copper chelation therapy, dog scan have a normal life expectancy in most cases. Unfortunately, every month we see Labrador retrievers for which diagnoses was too late for effective treatment. The research team previously identified genetic mutations that contribute to hepatic copper levels. In the current research project the team evaluates multiple mutations in a large group of Labrador retrievers for the development of a prediction model for copper toxicosis. They aim to develop a method for early diagnosis, so that effective treatment can be initiated in an early stage.   Ectopic ureters   Ectopic ureters is a congenital abnormality where ureters that transport urine from the kidney to the bladder, do not enter the bladder at an anatomical normal position. This is caused by an abnormal embryologic development, which can also lead to other abnormalities including absence of a kidney. The abnormal position of the ureters can lead to urinary incontinence and recurrent urinary tract infections. Recently, our researchers discovered in a small screening survey that one third of the investigated Labrador retrievers showed abnormal positioning of the ureters, without clinical symptoms. The results of this investigation are concerning, especially because these dogs did not show clinical signs and will go unnoticed and may be used for breeding. The current research project aims to identify genes that are responsible for ectopic ureters in the Labrador retriever. If you are an owner of a dog that has been diagnosed with ectopic ureters, you can contribute to the study by sending an EDTA blood sample to our research group. In that case, please contact us via ecgg@uu.nl.   Tricuspid valve dysplasia   Tricuspid valve dysplasia is an hereditary, congenital abnormality of the valve of the right hear. In pups a murmur can often be heard. Our advice is to always go with your pup to a cardiology specialist when a heart murmur is detected at heart auscultation. Tricuspid valve dysplasia may have a fatal course. It can lead to heart failure and accumulation of fluid in the abdomen, or to severe heart rhythm disturbances.  Besides financial support, we would need blood samples from Labradors affected with tricuspid valve disease. If your dog is diagnosed with tricuspid valve dysplasia and you want to contribute a blood sample from your dog, please contact us via ecgg@uu.nl.   Elbow dysplasia   Elbow dysplasia in the Labrador retriever is a severe problem, causing a lot of pain in dogs, that should be able to live a painful an playful life. Elbow dysplasia inevitably will lead to arthrosis of the elbow joint, and no good treatment is currently present. Our research team is searching for causal mutations leading to elbow dysplasia with the ultimate goal to develop a DNA-test that can be used for risk prediction in breeding strategies to effectively decrease the frequency of elbow dysplasia in the Labrador retriever population.      Your support counts!   Please help us to ensure a healthy future for our Labrador retrievers. Your support will lead to better diagnostics, therapies of even the development of a DNA-test, all with the ultimate goal to obtain a healthy future for our beloved breed. Together we can make a change!  
A healthy future for Labradors

Farm Food steunt fokanalysemethode Fit2Breed met meerjarige donatie

12-05-2021 | 16:00

Het fokken van rashonden kan helaas leiden tot erfelijke ziekten en aandoeningen. Farm Food steunt het Expertisecentrum Genetica Diergeneeskunde van de Universiteit Utrecht nu met een meerjarige donatie, waarmee een volgende stap gezet kan worden in de ontwikkeling van Fit2Breed. Dat is een fokanalysemethode die het mogelijk maakt om complexe genetische data van verschillende honden met elkaar te vergelijken en te combineren, om zo de meest gezonde fokcombinaties te vinden. Door het ontwikkelen van Fit2Breed draagt de Universiteit Utrecht bij aan verantwoord fokbeleid, waarmee hondenfokkers erfelijke aandoeningen kunnen voorkomen.


Gerrit de Weerd, grondlegger van Farm Food zegt: “Gezonde honden, dat zit gewoon in ons DNA. Wij willen zo veel mogelijk dienstbaar zijn aan een blije, want gezonde, hond. Daarom richten we, naast onze schenking, ook het “Gezonde puppy fonds” op. Via dat fonds kunnen klanten van Farm Food een steentje bijdragen aan het bestrijden van erfelijke ziektes bij honden, en zo mee helpen bouwen aan een gezonde toekomst voor honden.”

Voorbeelden van vaak voorkomende ernstige erfelijke ziekten zijn epilepsie, erfelijke vormen van kanker, leveraandoeningen zoals koperstapeling en levershunts, hartafwijkingen en bepaalde huidallergieën. Hille Fieten, dierenarts en coördinator van het Expertisecentrum Genetica: “Als dierenartsen worden we dagelijks geconfronteerd met honden met erfelijke ziekten. Dat brengt veel leed met zich mee voor de hond, maar ook voor de eigenaar. Hoewel deze ziekten niet of moeilijk te behandelen zijn, zijn ze wel te voorkomen door een verantwoord fokbeleid. Dat is waar wij fokkers bij kunnen ondersteunen.”

“We zijn dankbaar voor de fantastische steun van Farm Food”, beaamt Paul Mandigers. Hij werkt als dierenarts-onderzoeker samen met de faculteit Diergeneeskunde. “Dankzij hun bijdrage kunnen wij de volgende stap zetten in de ontwikkeling van Fit2Breed. We willen onze algoritmes nog verder verbeteren en meer data over verschillende rassen verzamelen. Samen met fokkers zorgen wij ervoor dat erfelijke aandoeningen waarvoor een DNA-test beschikbaar is effectief bestreden worden, zonder verlies van genetische diversiteit in de populatie. De meer complex verervende ziekten zullen met het toepassen van de juiste fokcombinaties geleidelijk aan afnemen.”

Vrienden Diergeneeskunde


Het Expertisecentrum Genetica Diergeneeskunde wordt ondersteund door Vrienden Diergeneeskunde, het goededoelenfonds van de faculteit Diergeneeskunde. Genetisch onderzoek bij gezelschapsdieren en hieruit voortvloeiende initiatieven als Fit2Breed komen namelijk slechts gedeeltelijk in aanmerking voor financiering vanuit de reguliere academische bronnen.

 

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