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Research has shown that certain dog breeds are sensitive to certain medication, drugs and wormers. This includes antibiotics, pain relief medication and chemotherapy drugs to name but a few. Herding breeds namely Collies, Australian Shepherds and other related breeds when given certain drugs can be so adversely affected it can be life threatening to them which means it is really important to find out whether your pet is sensitive before they are given them.
The reason some dog breeds are sensitive to certain medication is due to a gene mutation which allows certain drugs and medication to build up in their brains. The result? A neurological reaction which causes a dog to demonstrate systems which includes tremors, blindness and disorientation. The research was carried out in America at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine and their studies came up with a mutation of the "multi-drug resistance" gene which is now known as MDR1.
In 2010, researchers at the university developed a much needed test so that dogs with the mutation could be identified and therefore avoid any nasty neurological effects should they have been administered any drugs and medication they are sensitive to.
The fact that pets can now be tested for MDRI, offers dog owners a lot of peace of mind. Knowing it is safe for a dog to be given a specific drug without the risk of them having a extremely severe reaction is a great leap forward in veterinary medicine.
For the moment the most affected breeds are herding dogs and related certain mixes but with the number of breeds that are now being tested, it is thought this list may well grow in the future. In the meantime, vets are now able to choose the type of medication when treating a dog knowing they will not cause them any adverse neurological effects.
Below is a list of breeds which are known to have a sensitivity to certain medication, wormers and drugs:
Mixed breeds too can be affected so it's important to know if your pooch has any herding ancestry – the problem being that a few dogs that don't resemble a herding dog have been identified as having the MDR1 mutation. If you are unsure it is essential to have your pet tested so that vets would know which drugs would be safe to use should your dog need to be given any type of medication.
When it comes to wormers, these too can seriously affect a dog with the MDR1 mutation. This includes ivermectin which is often used by vets to treat mange in dogs and it is thought this is because of the high dose that is used to treat the condition. However, when used to treat heartworm, ivermectin appears to be perfectly safe to use on dogs with the gene mutation but only as long as the recommended dose is administered.
If you own horses and dogs, you have to be very careful that you dog does not eat any of their droppings after a horse has been wormed because by doing so and if the dog has the gene mutation, they could be permanently blinded and may even die if they have ingested a great amount.
If you are about to get a dog from a breeder, it is essential you ask them if their breeding stock has been given the "all clear". In an ideal world, both the female and the male would need to be clear of the mutation so their puppies are not passed the gene mutation down. The problem is that within certain breeds the mutation is extremely widespread and as such this makes it very hard not to use any dogs with the mutation in a breeding program. However, being forewarned that there may be a problem makes it a lot easier to make the decision to have a dog tested so that vets know about the condition in a dog.
It is really important to have puppies and dogs tested for the mutation whether you are aware of the parents status or not. Ideally, a breeder would have already done this – but if they have not, then you should arrange for a test as soon as you can.
You can have the tests done by post or you may prefer for a vet to do this for you. There are test kits available from online laboratories that deal with veterinary analysis. The test is relatively easy to do because it involves taking a sample of your pet's DNA by swabbing the inside of their lips and then sending it off for analysis.
The results would come back showing your dog has two normal copies of the gene, a normal copy as well as a mutant copy or two mutant copies. Should your pet have two mutant copies of the gene this confirms they are sensitive to certain drugs and medication. If they have one mutant copy, they may be sensitive but in either case, it is essential that you tell your vet so they are aware of the situation. It is also crucial that your dog wears a tag showing they have the MDR1 gene mutation so that if they are injured and taken to a vet to be treated when you are not around, the vet would be aware of their sensitivity and treat your pet accordingly.
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