"Fanconi syndrome in the Basenji dog breed
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"Fanconi syndrome in the Basenji dog breed

Dogs
Health & Safety

The Basenji is quite an unusual dog breed in the UK, and there aren’t many of them around – this is in fact quite an uncommon breed outside of its home continent of Africa, although they are recognised as a pedigree breed within the UK by the Kennel Club.

Basenjis fall within the Kennel Club’s hound group, and they are compact, workmanlike medium-sized dogs that were originally kept and bred for working purposes, and that are still widely used as hunting dogs and to control vermin across the African continent. One of the breed’s most notable traits, and one that has a number of advantages to it, is that they are known as “silent” dogs, which rarely if ever bark. Their coats are also very low shedding and low maintenance, two things that makes them easier to care for and manage within a domestic home.

However, the Basenji breed is one that requires an owner who is experienced with dogs and that has a good understanding of the breed and its core traits in order to keep them happy, as they are intelligent dogs with high energy levels, and they also have a very high prey drive too.

If you are considering buying a basenji, it is important to ensure that you know what you’re getting into and do plenty of research before committing to a purchase. Researching the breed’s general health and longevity is an integral part of this, and there are a handful of hereditary health conditions that can be found within some dogs of the Basenji breed that prospective owners should factor into their ultimate decision.

One such condition is called Fanconi syndrome, and this is a renal disorder than affects the dog’s kidneys and that left untreated, can damage the dog’s organs and tissues and affect their quality of life and ultimately, lifespan. In this article we will look at Fanconi syndrome in the Basenji dog breed in more detail, outlining the risk factors, symptoms, treatment and testing of the condition in dogs of the breed. Read on to learn more about Fanconi syndrome in the Basenji dog breed.

What is Fanconi syndrome?

Fanconi syndrome is a hereditary health condition that affects the kidneys, causing a disorder of the proximal renal tubes that results in their being unable to reabsorb the necessary nutrients and electrolytes that the body needs, instead discharging them into the dog’s urine.

This results in an increased thirst and corresponding more frequent need to pee, and the resulting urine will have higher than usual glucose levels. Left undiagnosed and untreated, Fanconi syndrome leads to a range of harmful effects on the dog’s body, including acidosis, loss of condition, and muscle wastage. Untreated Fanconi syndrome can also lead to death in affected dogs.

What type of Basenjis are at risk of Fanconi syndrome?

Fanconi syndrome in Basenji dogs is hereditary, which means that dogs with the condition inherit the markers for it from their parents, who in their turn will possess either carrier or affected status for the condition.

However, Fanconi syndrome in Basenjis tends to become apparent for the first time in adult dogs over the age of around four (but usually under eight) which means that some dogs with the condition may already have been bred from (and so, passed the condition on) before their status becomes apparent.

What are the symptoms of Fanconi syndrome?

If you own a Basenji or are interested in the breed in general, it is a good idea to learn how to recognise some of the most common symptoms of Fanconi syndrome. You should also bear in mind that symptoms rarely develop suddenly overnight an tend to become cumulative over time, which can make them harder to spot.

Not all dogs will display all of the same symptoms either, and you should speak to your vet to get a formal diagnosis as soon as you have any concerns. Some of the most common symptoms of Fanconi syndrome in the Basenji dog breed include:

  • Increased thirst.
  • Increased need to urinate.
  • Loss of appetite and lack of interest in treats.
  • Loss of weight and condition.
  • Muscle wastage.
  • Weakness and lethargy.

Can Fanconi syndrome be treated?

Because Fanconi syndrome is an uncommon condition and the Basenji is an uncommon dog breed in the UK, not all vets will recognise the condition when they see it, or understand the Basenji’s increased risk factors.

It is important to pick a vet who is aware of the condition and that knows where to find out more, in order to arrange an appropriate treatment protocol for affected dogs. This will usually involve management and care to replace the lost nutrients and electrolytes the dog needs, and neutralising excess acid.

Managing the condition is a lifelong endeavour as Fanconi syndrome cannot be cured or reversed, but a properly arranged and regularly reviewed treatment protocol is usually highly effective, and will restore the dog’s quality of life.

Can dogs be tested for Fanconi syndrome prior to breeding?

Basenji dogs can be DNA tested for the markers of Fanconi syndrome prior to breeding, which allows breeders to make an informed decision about the viability of any given mating match. To arrange this, you need to ask your vet to take a DNA sample from your dog, which is then processed by an approved laboratory to return a clear result.

If you are considering buying a Basenji, ask the breeder about the status of their own breeding stock and ask to see any test results before committing to a purchase.

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