It is with heavy heart I post tonight and transition from my blog's intended path to something I feel very strongly about. Health testing, health concerns, breeding for longevity, and stepping up to fight diseases known to your breed. I'm very fortunate. As I write this, my beautiful, beloved Vegas is snoring peacefully at the foot of my bed. But a friend of mine is mourning the loss of hers. The very sudden loss. To what exactly is uncertain at this point, but it is suspected a heart condition took him away from her way too soon. Mars was not quite six and struggled with many things over his life as a result of irresponsibility in breeding, but at the start and the end of every day he was loved.
Another friend of mine lost her Dane a couple of weeks ago. Gunner passed away in her arms just shy of his first birthday. He, too, was lost for a heart condition.
Great Danes are highly prone to heart disease, particularly Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Hiding known instances is not effective. Not testing for it an hoping it never happens isn't effective. Auscultation is not effective. Breeders are not the only people responsible for pursuing answers to this deadly disease, to any deadly disease that affects each of our breeds. Pet owners, conformation people, and performance competitors are responsible, too. Each of us needs to do our part. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about having had the dogs' blood drawn for a research study. In addition to looking at conformational characteristics (The study requested participants take a bunch of measurements of our dogs.), the research group is also looking at genetic diseases. Sure, my dogs had to have blood drawn. Sure I had to spend some time on some paperwork. I had to send their pedigrees in. And I don't get any information back. But big deal. What if it helps find out something down the road that helps your dog? Your friends' dog? Your breed line's offsprings' families? It's a small price to pay.
I feel very strongly about health testing, continued health testing, specifically not breeding affected dogs - YES, even if they have amazing, overwhelming other positive characteristics. So what? You don't know until it's too late the strongest gene he or she may pass on could be a deadly one. Bloat is looking more and more like it has hereditary roots. Heart disease certainly does. How about cancer? Danes are highly known for their susceptibility to lymphoma and osteosarcoma. Is there anything more devastating than losing someone too soon?
I don't mean to harp. I don't mean to make anyone mad or feel bad. I hope to make people think. Breeding isn't just putting Fido and Fifi together and making cute puppies or future champions. It can't even be just about carrying on a line. It's about looking ahead. Look ahead at what you set in motion. How many people will be affected by the wrong decisions? I hate that diseases like DCM don't show up until it's too late, often after a dog is bred. It's unfortunate. But even in hindsight we can take measures to halt it's steady growth. Every puppy every sold out of a litter of an affected animal should be tested, possibly altered to avoid the potential damage that could continue to occur. But blessed be, what is most scary is burying our heads in the sand. It's nothing to be ashamed of - unless we don't test, don't step up and own it, and we don't do something about it. It's for the breed we love! It only behooves us all to do what we can to stop it.
On that note, I have some resources to provide. Whether you have been affected directly or not by one of the diseases this breed is known for, it's worth a look into the information, worth signing up for different Yahoo groups as well as other educational resources. Make those appointments at the national each year for heart testing. Get those color echocardiograms done every year. Test. Test. And test again to be sure. Please do your part.
DCM Yahoo Group: http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/dcmgreatdanes/
Great Dane Club of America Candidate for Gene Research: http://www.gdca.org/health/candidategenesearch.htm
Washington State University: http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/deptsVCGL/
(Breeders and others - for normal/baseline echos, put together a group of 4 or 5 dogs for a special rate)
University of Pennsylvania: http://www.vet.upenn.edu/SpecialtyCareServices/Cardiology/tabid/1838/Default.aspx
Heart Disease in the Great Dane: http://www.gdca.org/health/cardio.htm
Diseases in the Great Dane: http://www.gdca.org/healthandwelfare.htm
The Dog Heart Disease Called Cardiomyopathy: http://www.all-about-great-danes.com/dog-heart-disease.html
Gone in a Phlash: http://www.all-about-great-danes.com/dog-heart-disease.html
Great Dane Health Problems: http://www.about-great-danes.com/great-dane-health-problems.html
A Look at Cancer in Great Danes: http://www.gdca.org/health/Great%20Dane%20105.pdf
University of Prince Edward Island: http://www.upei.ca/~cidd/Diseases/cardiovascular%20diseases/cardiomyopathy.htm
Lymphoma in Dogs: http://www.southpaws.com/topics-of-interest/lymphoma-in-dogs/
Canine Osteosarcoma: http://www.southpaws.com/topics-of-interest/canine-osteosarcoma/
Texas A&M University: http://vetmed.tamu.edu/services/cardiovascular/directory
University of Guelph: http://www.ovc.uoguelph.ca/icci/
UC Davis - Echo Atlas: http://www.vmth.ucdavis.edu/cardio/cases/Echocardiograms/echocardiograms.htm
UC Davis - Cases: http://www.vmth.ucdavis.edu/cardio/cases/cases.htm
Animal Medical Center - Clinical Trials: http://www.amcny.org/veterinary-community/clinical-trials