Gundog lover and veterinarian Dr. Eric Ruhland shares his thoughts about a newly discovered disease effecting Labrador Retrievers: Exercise Induced Collapse. “All those tests sound great doc, but my dog comes from great bloodlines” Oh boy, don’t they all. If I had a dollar for every time one of my fellow bird hunters told me that in my clinic I could have retired by now. The fact of the matter is that some of my clients might be right. Their dogs may come from an impenetrable linage of field trial champions that has produce award winning sires, and puppies that belong in a Cottenelle toilet tissue commercial.
The second undeniable fact is that all Labradors, whether from California, or from Maine have similar lineages, and carry with them, the same genetic makeup. When we deal with genetics, you take the good with the bad. This has been the case with the recent discovery and unveiling of Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) in purebred Labradors and in particular field trial champion lines. If you do not know, or have not heard what EIC is, then stay tuned, because it is the next large scale breakthrough in sire and bitch testing since Hip Dysplasia. This work has been spearheaded by Dr. Ned Patterson at the University of Minnesota, and his work has been groundbreaking in the Labrador world. He has recently discovered the genetic makeup and inheritance of the condition, and has also patented the only blood test in the world that is available to detect carrier.
Lets first start with a breakdown of what EIC is. Exercise Induced Collapse is a recessive genetic disease effecting skeletal muscle and neuron function. Recessive means that in a pedigree it takes a sire and a dam that are both carriers to have affected puppies. For this particular reason the disease goes unnoticed, simply going from lineage to lineage with no consequence until two carriers pair up. The outcome of such a breeding yields puppies and young adult dogs that are intolerant to high levels of physical activity. Their muscles essentially shut down after 5 to 10 minutes of heavy work or physical strain, and long periods of rest is needed to restore function. Not all puppies of such a breeding are affected however, and some pups have varying degrees of the condition. EIC has no treatment, and the condition is lifelong. Up to 30% of all Labradors have been identified as carriers and researchers estimate that number to remain steady as more dogs are tested.
Selective breeding for dogs clear of EIC is the only way to remove it from the pedigrees. For this reason I stress any person who is passionate about the Labrador retriever, and believes their bitch or stud to be superior enough to breed should have their dogs tested at an early age. The future buyers of puppies and pedigree analyzers will be paying close attention to this and you will not want to be behind the ball when a buyer asks ‘what about EIC.’ I know it can be tempting to say, ‘well I just want one litter for myself,’ because I hear it almost every day in my clinic. Your puppies genetics however will not belong to you. In one to two generations there will be hundreds of families that will own puppies from your lines, and to pass EIC on would be a gigantic blunder.
The only way we can beat this disease is with coordinated and concentrated efforts by owners and breeders who are passionate about the breed Your local veterinarian can perform a simple blood test and submit it to the University of Minnesota’s Diagnostic Lab.
Although initial testing is being done primarily on the Labrador Breed, all canine breeds have potential for EIC. It is also important for all puppy buyers to demand genetic clearances for the sire and dam of a litter to include CERF (eyes,) OFA (hips and elbows,) CNM (canine nuclear myopathy,) and EIC (exercised induced collapse.) to insure the best possible long term health of each new puppy. All reputable breeders will have this information readily available for their puppy buyers.
Until next time here is to birds in the air, and a steady dog at foot,
Dr. Eric Ruhland- Veterinarian at the Hastings Veterinary Clinic.
For More Info See: www.hastingsveterinaryclinic.com