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The Basenji
Basenji Health Issues



"Warning"

All our dogs are genetically tested to guarantee the health of our litters and the absence of hereditary diseases. Beware of breeders who don’t give you the pedigree and the health tests results. We say that, because unhealthy puppies will suffer during their life and they will be a problem besides their health. Only consider that an operation to correct diseases like hip dysplasia could cost over € 4000. So we’ll never stop to say that, it’s better to pay a hundreds euro right now to have healthy and checked puppies than thousands euro for puppies that will have problems.
 
Therefore please ALWAYS choose professional breeders and remember that the pedigree is not a genetic certificate and that doesn’t attest the absence of hereditary diseases.
 

An HEALTHY puppy will be an HAPPY puppy.

 
 
The Basenji is a sturdy little breed with an average life-span of 13/15 years.If we compare it to other purebred breeds it has very few health problems and if we are vigilant they will stay that way. The following are the more common health issues known to affect the Basenji. If your Basenji has any serious health problem, please ensure that you contact the breeder of your puppy to let him/her assess future breeding programs and for research purposes.

1.         EYES - PRA

PROGRESSIVE RETINOL ATROPHY - PRA is considered rare in the Basenji. Pra affects the retina and causes the blood vessels of the retina to atrophy and die. When the retina dies the picture screen no longer functions and the dog becomes blind. The first symptom usually is the night blindness which can progress slowly or rapidly to total blindness. This condition is irreversible, there is no cure. Anyway it seems that nutritional support with anti-oxidants can slow the progression of the disease and support the health of the retina.A carrier of the gene will have normal eyes.

 
DNA TEST FOR PRA IN BASENJIS is now available through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) where you can order a specific kit. The test will identify and classify dogs as clear, carrier, or affected for one form of PRA in basenjis, being referred to as PRA-BJ1.
 
 
The breeding recommendations for this form of PRA are the same as those for Fanconi syndrome so acceptable breedings are:
 
o    clear x clear, clear x carrier, clear x affected.
 
While breedings not recommended are:
 
o   carrier x carrier, affected x carrier, affected x affected
 

2.        FANCONI SYNDROME

 
 
It’s a set of kidney malfunctions. Kidney malfunction leads to excessive urine production, excessive thirst, resulting in deficits of water, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and other substances in the body. It often leads to bone disease and stunted growth. The syndrome was first reported in the Basenji in 1976. With Fanconi Syndrome, the cells of the proximal tubule in the kidney do not function properly so that chemicals that should be reclaimed by the body spill out into the urine instead.
 
 
On the internet is available for downloading a “Fanconi treatment protocol” to give to your veterinarian in the case that your Basenji would be affected. So main symptoms are: increased thirst, frequent urination, dehydration, weight loss, changes in haircoat, weakness and frequent urinary tract infections. Pay attention as the signs can mimic Diabetes.
 
 
The signs may appear as early as the age of three, but the highest rate of occurrence is between the ages of five and eight.If left untreated, a Basenji with Fanconi syndrome will generally die from this disorder.
 
 
A NEW DNA TEST FOR FANCONI IN BASENJIS is now available through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) where you can order a specific kit.The test gives definitive results. Results will be Clear, Carrier or Affected.
 

o    DNA Clear
Indicates that the fanconi gene is not present. A Clear dog can not pass the Fanconi gene on to offspring.
 

o    DNA Carrier
One copy of the Fanconi gene is present. Carrier dogs will probably not develop Fanconi Syndrome but will pass it on to offspring 50% of the time.
 

o   DNA Affected
Two copies of the Fanconi gene are present. High risk of Fanconi developing & an affected dog will pass on the gene to offspring 100% of the time.
 
 
All breedings should be from at least one clear/normal DNA tested parent. Two carriers should never be bred together.

 
3.        PERSISTENT PUPILLARY MEMBRANE - (PPM)


It is very common in Basenji puppies and normally disappear with age. It is estimated that the majority of Basenjis do have PPM to some degree. During the embryological development of the eye, the iris initially forms as a solid sheet of mesodermal tissue. This is called the pupillary membrane. Sometimes, after birth, a few fine strands of pupillary membrane remain: if they persist beyond 6 to 8 weeks of age they are then described as persistent pupillary membranes (PPM) and are considered to be defect. PPM's come in various forms, it can be also visible to the naked eye or may be very tiny to be seen.
 
 
Iris to Iris strands of PPM generally cause no problems and may persist for several months before disappearing completely. Iris sheets however can lead to blindness and if the ppm are attached to the cornea or lens.
 
It is important to consult a veterinary ophthalmologist to further investigate PPM through the use of a 'slit lamp' exam.

 
4.        HYPOTHYROIDISM


Diagnosis is by means of Blood tests and the most comprehensive Thyroid blood panel comprises of: Free T4 by dialysis, T3, Free T3, TSH and TGAA.
 
Thyroid deficiency can present with a wide variety of symptoms, some of which can be: course brittle coat, aggressiveness, lethargy, obesity, mental dullness and irregular heat cycles but also other symptoms are possible.
 
Basenjis can have lower normal ranges for T4 and T3 concentrations as compared to other breeds, so a low-normal result may be quite normal for this breed. Please advise your vet about that.
 
Treatment is simply the administration of a daily Thyroxine tablet.

5.        CANINE HIP DYSPLASIA


Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) appears to be rare in the Basenji, but has been diagnosed. The development of hip dysplasia is conditioned to both genetic and environmental factors.
 
Basically the hip joints fail to develop normally, and from the age of 4 months can begin to deteriorate and lead to loss of function of the hip joints and severe pain.

 
Hip Dysplasia is diagnosed radiographically. Dogs in a breeding program should wait until fully developed at around 2 yrs before being x-rayed for CHD.
 
The Role Of Diet and Exercise
 
Diet and exercise can also have a role in the developing of the disease. So feeding a very high-calorie diet to growing puppies can lead to a predisposition to hip dysplasia, but also too much exercise in a growing puppy could speed up the development of hip dysplasia if the subject is predisposed to. It is better to avoid in young puppies running on hard surfaces such as roads and pavement.

6.        IPSID

Ipsid is a severely debilitating diarrhea disease of the Basenji. Its frequency and mode of inheritance are unknown. The symptoms can be: weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, increased and decreased appetite, emaciation, skin lesions, hyperpigmentation of the ears and thickening of the ear leather, hairloss in the ear and on the stomach, lethargy and/or depression. Most dogs afflicted with this disorder will experience a cyclically exacerbating course, characterised by episodes of anorexia and/or diarrhea. Many times it is precipitated by a stressful episode such as travelling.

 
Diagnosis is not simple: an electrophoresis study of the serum (the liquid portion of the blood) shows a marked increase in the gamma globulins and a corresponding decrease in the albumin. These changes noted in the Protein Electrophoresis Test have proven to be a useful tool in confirming diagnosis of IPSID in dogs with some of the symptoms. IPSID can be controlled if caught early. Diet may need to be changed and discuss with the Vet. Prednisone can be used in a treatment regime.

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