Drs Carmel Mooney & Sabela Atencia Fernandez & their Team were supported on the day by Paul Wiltshire & Margaret Corr, Pat & Ann Clarke & James & Imelda Wade & the 13 Beautiful Japanese Spitz pictured here.
Muscular Dystrophy- Japanese Spitz
Muscular dystrophy is a collective term for a group of muscular diseases that cause weakness and progressive degeneration and wasting of muscle. Muscular dystrophy has been described in numerous dog breeds including the Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, German Shorthaired Pointer and Japanese Spitz. It is also recognized in humans.
The muscular dystrophy described in Japanese Spitz is a hereditary “X-linked disease”, which means that the affected gene is located on the X chromosome. Consequently, female dogs, with two X chromosomes, can carry the disease but male dogs, with only one X chromosome are normally affected. Affected males pass the defective X chromosome to all of their daughters, who are described as “obligate carriers”. They carry the disease but show no clinical signs and are capable for perpetuating the disease in their offspring. These carriers pass the defective X chromosome to half their sons (who are affected by the disease) and half their daughters (who are therefore also carriers). Some of their male and female progeny will be unaffected.
Although animals are affected from birth, it may be several (10 – 12 or longer) weeks before clinical signs are recognized. The most common signs are an insidious onset of exercise intolerance, abnormal gait and occasional pain on handling or palpation of the muscles. The dogs progressively worsen and can develop difficulty prehending, masticating and swallowing food. It can be difficult to fully open the mouth and there is usually accompanying excess salivation. After exercise they may become stiff and can collapse. Affected dogs are usually smaller and quieter than their unaffected littermates. To date, few dogs survive beyond 15 months of age.
The Near Future:
Detecting and Preventing Muscular Dystrophy
So far there is no treatment for this fatal disease and the only possibility is eliminating carriers from breeding stock. Clinicians and researchers within UCD have been investigating the disease since it was first recognized. Recent work with samples from affected dogs have highlighted the possible genetic mutation involved. Further studies are required to evaluate this in both affected and carrier animals. We are currently working on the development of a minimally invasive test using oral saliva swabs that will assist us in identifying carriers and therefore eliminating the disease from future Japanese Spitz dogs.
Sabela Atencia DVM Resident in Small Animal Medicine
Dr. Carmel T Mooney MVB MPhil PhD DECVIM-CA MRCVS RCVS Specialist in Small Animal Medicine
If you have any concerns or questions regarding Muscular Dystrophy in Japanese Spitz or you have a Japanese Spitz & would be happy for them to take part in the trial, or any other general questions regarding this wonderful breed, please contact me at [email protected]
I will forward all queries on to the research team.
Imelda Wade, Hon Sec.
The Irish Japanese Spitz Association