"Immunoproliferative enteropathy in the Basenji dog breed
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"Immunoproliferative enteropathy in the Basenji dog breed

Dogs
Health & Safety

The Basenji dog breed is quite an interesting one, with a very long history going back to the seventeenth century where the first dogs of the type that form today’s breed became popular in the Congo. However, dogs that look a lot like the Basenji have also been discovered in paintings and engravings in Egyptian tombs dating back much further, and the Basenji is thought to be one of our most enduring extant breeds that remains very similar today to its historical ancestors.

Basenjis were originally prized for their scenting skills and abilities as hunters, which are things that they still use today in a number of working roles, largely on their home continent of Africa. However, in other parts of the world, dogs of the breed are much more commonly kept as pets and companions, where they are quickly growing a small but strong following of fans and enthusiasts.

Whilst not all UK dog lovers will have met or potentially even heard of dogs of the Basenji breed, they do have a number of things to recommend them as pets. Often known as “silent dogs,” Basenjis don’t actually bark but tend to have quite unusual vocalisations that sound almost like yodelling, and they are also renowned for being very clean dogs that spend a lot of time grooming themselves, giving them an almost cat-like temperament and meaning that they don’t tend to develop that distinctive “doggy” smell in between baths.

However, considering buying a dog from a breed that you’re not overly familiar with means that you will have to put more effort into finding out what you need to know and doing your research into the breed’s core traits. Hereditary health is one of the most important things to find out about when looking into any dog type, and the Basenji has elevated risk factors for a small number of hereditary health conditions that can affect their quality of life and longevity.

Immunoproliferative enteropathy is one such condition, and one that is most widely found in dogs of the Basenji breed. The condition was originally thought to be unique to Basenjis, and whilst this is no longer considered to be the case, the Basenji is the breed most likely to be affected, which is something that all potential Basenji owners should bear in mind.

In this article we will look at immunoproliferative enteropathy in the Basenji in more detail, explaining what the condition is, how it affects dogs, and how to tell if your own dog has the condition. Read on to learn more.

More about immunoproliferative enteropathy

Immunoproliferative enteropathy is a condition that affects the bowels, and which leads to the development of inflammatory bowel disease accompanied by severe and acute symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea, and which also leads to a loss of essential proteins that the body needs to thrive.

Immunoproliferative enteropathy is a hereditary health condition that develops due to unknown causes, but that can be passed on from parent dogs to their young. The condition causes an inappropriate immune system response to otherwise harmless substances or those that the body would usually deal with on its own, such as parasitic infections or certain types of foods.

It is a serious and very limiting condition that can have a wide and acute impact on all of the body’s organs, including the heart, liver and lungs.

Why are Basenjis at higher risk of developing immunoproliferative enteropathy?

Immunoproliferative enteropathy was originally thought to be unique to the Basenji breed, but it can also be seen occasionally in dogs of other breeds. Whilst we know that the condition is hereditary within certain Basenji breed lines, we don’t know for sure why this is, or what genetic disorder or congenital defect leads to the condition’s development.

Generally, Basenjis with the condition will appear to be fine for their first few years of life before symptoms become apparent, and the most common age of onset is between around three and six years old.

What are the symptoms of immunoproliferative enteropathy?

Immunoproliferative enteropathy can produce a wide range of serious and acute symptoms, which may develop quite quickly. However, these symptoms are also common to a number of other conditions too, and so do not definitively indicate the presence of the condition.

Some of the main symptoms of immunoproliferative enteropathy that you might see in your Basenji include:

  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Diarrhoea, which may contain blood.
  • Loss of appetite and corresponding loss of weight and condition.
  • Lethargy and depression.
  • Weakness and lack of tolerance for exercise.
  • Breathing difficulties.

Other symptoms may also be present if the condition is far advanced and has begun to affect the dog’s major organs.

Can immunoproliferative enteropathy be treated or cured?

Immunoproliferative enteropathy cannot be reversed or cured, but periodic flare-ups of the condition can usually be treated and managed effectively once the condition has been diagnosed and monitored.

There are a number of different approaches that your vet might consider using to do this, such as fluid therapy, various medications, lifestyle changes and a prescription diet.

Vigilance on the part of the dog’s owner and prompt intervention in the case of flare-ups are required in order to protect the dog’s health and quality of life, and it is important that affected dogs are not used for breeding as they can pass the condition on to their own offspring.

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