Gastrointestinal/IBD & Megaesophagus

Gastrointestinal conditions are under the umbrella of the Gastrointestinal & Megaesophagus Committee.  

A) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) D) Colitis
B) Protein-losing Enteropathy (PLE) E) Megaesophagus
C) Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)  

A) Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Action taken by the PWDCA:

Currently, the cause of canine IBD is unknown, but is believed to have an autoimmune basis. Genetics, nutrition, infectious agents and abnormalities of the immune system can all be underlying factors. There are several forms of IBD, which are determined by the type of cell causing the inflammation. The most common is Lymphocytic-Plasmacytic, second most common is Eosinophilic, a rare form known as Regional Granulomatous, and Suppurative or Neutrophilic. Symptoms can include chronic diarrhea, vomiting, bloody stools, abdominal pain, and weight loss. There currently is no cure for IBD. However, strict diet changes and anti-inflammatory drugs will help in the control and stabilization of the dog. Early detection is of the utmost importance and can be very difficult because the symptoms can mimic other diseases. A positive diagnosis usually occurs after performing an endoscopy exam with biopsy.

How the PWDCA is addressing this:

A GI/IBD Questionnaire is used to gather information from the owners/breeders of dogs affected or suspected as being affected with IBD. A confidential database is maintained that includes all of the dogs reported. Each dog that is reported to this Gastrointestinal/IBD Committee is asked to voluntarily participate in the Georgie Project IBD Study. Educational articles regarding IBD are being published in the Courier and on the PWDCA website.

Why the PWDCA is addressing this:

IBD can be life threatening or fatal if left unattended. In the past several years, there have been more cases of IBD diagnosed in the Portuguese Water Dog, then in prior years. There also may be a genetic connection to IBD.

How the PWDCA is dealing with this:

IBD can be life threatening or fatal if left unattended. In the past several years, there have been more cases of IBD diagnosed in the Portuguese Water Dog, then in prior years. There also may be a genetic connection to IBD.

Current Status (as of November 1, 2001):

Because of the Georgie Project findings with Addison's disease (another autoimmune disease), their scientists speculated that the same autoimmune gene might be implicated in IBD. Using the IBD database of the participating IBD dogs, they found that five of the IBD affected dogs were already part of the Georgie Project and had been genotyped. Examination of the DNA marker that identifies immune involvement in Addison's demonstrated that the allele marker associated with increased risk of Addison's was only present in one of these five dogs. The fact that the allele of the autoimmune marker was not found in the other four dogs led to the conclusion that this same immune gene could not be involved in both Addison's and IBD. Using blood samples submitted by other IBD dogs, they confirmed this conclusion.

However, there appeared to be another allele of this same DNA marker present in all five dogs already in the Georgie Project. Other data from the IBD database also pointed to this allele being involved in IBD. Because this allele of the DNA marker is much less frequent in the PWD population than the Addison allele, the Utah group hoped it could be used to screen for dogs at risk with IBD. Further genotyping of affected IBD dogs was necessary to confirm that this allele was indeed required for IBD. Unfortunately, results using DNA from the blood of additional IBD dogs (received during the last four weeks as a result of our committee's request) did not confirm the role of this new allele in IBD.

They are nevertheless convinced that there must be a genetic cause of IBD and are preparing to widen their search to include other possible genes. This research is very important to the future of our PWDs. To further the search for the other markers linked to IBD, our committee continues to work with the Georgie Project requesting participation of any newly diagnosed IBD dogs. Because of this new research, each participating IBD dog will be genotyped for all 500 of the available DNA markers.

Other Important References - articles, books, websites:

The following web sites have very informative articles on IBD:

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B) Protein-losing Enteropathy (PLE)

PLE is the excessive loss of plasma and proteins into the gastrointestinal tract. This condition can be a result of damages to the GI tract mucosal lining. PLE may have an inherited component and the inheritance may be autosomal recessive. The symptoms of PLE are non-weight gain or loss of weight. The loss of protein into the bowel causes loss of fluid from the circulation into the limbs, the abdomen, or the chest. Therefore, the dog's legs and/or abdomen may appear swollen and the dog may have trouble breathing. Due to the loss of protein, fluid and fat into the bowel, the dog may have chronic persistent or intermittent diarrhea. The loss of protein from the kidney will also cause the dog to have increased urination and drinking. Laboratory tests and an intestinal biopsy are necessary to diagnose the specific cause. PLE cannot be cured, but it can generally be controlled through diet and medication

How the PWDCA is addressing this:

A GI/IBD Questionnaire is used to gather information from the owners/breeders of dogs affected or suspected as being affected with PLE. A confidential database is maintained that includes all of the dogs reported. Educational articles are being published in the Courier.

Why the PWDCA is addressing this:

Protein-losing Enteropathy (PLE) can be life threatening or fatal if left unattended. Given that the inheritance is thought to be autosomal recessive, parents (considered carriers) and siblings (suspect carriers) should not be used for breeding.

How the PWDCA is dealing with this:

The collection of information for future research and maintenance of the database is all that is currently being done for dogs diagnosed or suspected of having PLE.

Current Status:

There is no current status on PLE.

Other Important References - articles, books, websites:

The following web site has very informative articles on PLE:

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C) Hemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE)

An inflammatory disorder of the intestinal tract, HGE is characterized by hemorrhage and production of a "raspberry jam" appearance to the stool. Symptoms can be a sudden onset of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, rapid dehydration, and depression. Dogs affected by HGE get very sick, very fast. The exact cause of HGE is unknown, but Clostridium species bacteria may be part of the cause.

How the PWDCA is addressing this:

A GI/IBD Questionnaire is used to gather information from the owners/breeders of dogs affected or suspected as being affected with HGE. A confidential database is maintained that includes all of the dogs reported. Educational articles are being published in the Courier on HGE.

Why the PWDCA is addressing this:

HGE can be life threatening or fatal if left unattended.

How the PWDCA is dealing with this:

The collection of information and maintenance of the database is all that is currently being done for dogs diagnosed or suspected of having HGE.

Current Status:

There is no current status on HGE.

Other Important References - articles, books, websites:

Website with an article on HGE:http://www.vetinfo.com/dencyclopedia/dehge.html 

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D) Colitis

Canine colitis is an inflammation of the large bowel known as the colon. The inflammation may be acute or chronic, disrupting your dog's normal bowel habits. Acute colitis occurs most commonly in dogs and frequently responds to one to three weeks of therapy. Chronic colitis can go on for several years or perhaps a lifetime. Some dogs may have minor clinical signs; others have severe and sometimes disabling or fatal signs. Symptoms include diarrhea with small quantities of mucus and/or blood, frequent defecation, abdominal pain, depression, fever, weight loss, and a dull coat may also be present. Treatments vary depending on whether the colitis is acute or chronic. Among many of the tests to diagnose colitis are colonoscopy exam, fecal exam, and ultrasound.

How the PWDCA is addressing this:

A GI/IBD Questionnaire is used to gather information from the owners/breeders of dogs affected or suspected as being affected with colitis. A confidential database is maintained that includes all of the dogs reported. Educational articles are being published in the Courier on colitis.

Why the PWDCA is addressing this:

Colitis can be life threatening or fatal if left unattended.

How the PWDCA is dealing with this:

The collection of information and maintenance of the database is all that is currently being done for dogs diagnosed or suspected of having colitis.

Current Status:

There is no current status on colitis.

Other Important References - articles, books, websites:

The following web site has information regarding colitis:http://www.peteducation.com/article.cfm?c=2+2090&aid=249

 

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E) Megaesophagus

Megaesophagus is a condition, where there is dilation of the esophagus due to a loss of normal peristaltic function. Peristalsis is the process by which waves of muscular contraction move along the contents (food in this case) of tubular organs. Animals with megaesophagus regurgitate undigested food shortly after eating. Dogs may be born with esophagus or they may develop it later in life. It is commonly seen with other disorders such as myasthenia gravis and peripheral neuropathies. Although it may not be noticed until young adulthood, megaesophagus is usually first recognized in puppies around the time of weaning. Affected pups regurgitate food, fail to thrive, and may develop respiratory difficulties associated with aspiration pneumonia due to inhalation of food particles. Signs include labored breathing, fever and lethargy, and nasal discharge. Regurgitation of undigested food shortly after eating is the main sign of Megaesophagus. Veterinarians will take chest x-rays to determine if your dog has this disorder, and will perform other laboratory tests since there are several conditions that may be associated. Since megaesophagus may be associated with many different conditions, the diagnostic work-up should include CBC, biochemical profile, urinalysis and survey thoracic radiographs in all cases. If an underlying cause can be identified, treatment may improve esophageal function. There is no specific treatment for the megaesophagus itself, but it can usually be managed by feeding small, frequent, high-caloric meals from an elevated location so that gravity assists the passage of food. Different consistencies of foods can be tried to determine which causes the least regurgitation. Some dogs appear to gradually out grow this condition within a year or so, while in others there is no improvement and feeding management is required for life. Treatment of this nature should be prescribed by your veterinarian, who will also discuss the possible complications that you must watch for, the most serious of which is aspiration pneumonia. Mode of inheritance for the PWD has not been determined. However, this is an autosomal recessive trait (carriers) in the wire-haired Fox Terrier, and autosomal dominant (suspect carriers) in the Miniature Schnauzer. It is advised that affected dogs of these breeds not be bred. In other breeds in which inheritance is unknown, it is safest to avoid breeding affected dogs, their parents and siblings.

(This information is from the Canine Inherited Disorders Database. This database is a joint initiative of the Sir James Dunn Animal Welfare Centre at the Atlantic Veterinary College, University of Prince Edward Island, and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.)

How the PWDCA is addressing this:

A GI/IBD Questionnaire is used to gather information from the owners/breeders of dogs affected or suspected as being affected with megaesophagus. A confidential database is maintained that includes all of the dogs reported. Educational articles will be published in the Courier on megaesophagus.

Why the PWDCA is addressing this:

Megaesophagus can be life threatening or fatal if left unattended.

How the PWDCA is dealing with this:

The collection of information and maintenance of the database is all that is currently being done for dogs diagnosed or suspected of having megaesophagus.

Current Status:

There is no current status on megaesophagus.

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