Health Survey Report

Introduction.


In 2004 the Kennel Club published the results of their “Pedigree Dog Health Survey”.  The results of this survey can be viewed on the Kennel Club website at:


www.thekennelclub.org.uk


On the KC website “Home” page click on the “Vets - Researchers” to open the “Publications, Statistics and Health Results” page.  Scroll down and click on “Published Health Results”.  Scroll down the page and under “Survey Results” click on “Purebred Dog Health Results, 2004”.


In 2008 a documentary TV programme, “Pedigree Dogs Exposed” was shown on BBC 2 and as part of their response to the showing of this documentary the Kennel Club introduced a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the problems raised in the programme.


As part of this drive to improve the health and welfare of dogs the Kennel Club felt that there was a need to monitor the current situation regarding breed health.  This led to them asking that Breed Clubs/Breed Councils/Breed Health Groups carry out a health survey of their individual breeds.


The BTHG carried out such a survey designed to collect data covering the period from January 2004 up to June 2013.  The data obtained from the survey has now been collated and analysed, and a report prepared, as follows.



The Survey Results.


Of the 85 survey forms that were distributed, only 39 completed forms were returned – a return rate of 45.9%. Although this was somewhat better than the return rate achieved for the Kennel Club survey, it was, to say the least, a very disappointing response (Table 1).



Table 1














One interesting point highlighted by the survey results was the similarities between the percentage of male dogs relative to female dogs included in both the BTHG and the Kennel Club surveys.   Note that neutered dogs are included in the “sex” totals. (Table 2).  




Table 2














The survey form used by the BTHG was loosely based on that devised by the Kennel Club.  However, there were a number of differences in the format of the survey form which impacted on the type of data that was collected and how it was collated.  This has meant that in some instances comparisons between the two sets of data would not be appropriate.  None-the-less, where it is felt that a comparison is justified this has been given in the form of a percentage figure in the BTHG Results Summary Table (Table 3), below.



Table 3







































































A comparison of the data relating to the causes of death reveals some interesting points.  Interestingly, in the BTHG survey no dogs died as a result of an hepatic condition whereas in the earlier Kennel Club survey this type of condition accounted for 14.6% of deaths.  THE comparative data is shown below (Table 4).



Table 4






























Comments.


Please note that for various reasons it is only feasible to make generalised comparisons between the results obtained in the two surveys.



Please note. There is an additional comment relating to Copper toxicosis in the Conclusions section, below.


It is worth noting that 128 (81%) of the dogs included in the BTHG survey had been tested for copper toxicosis, with COMMD1 being the test most frequently used.  This is a very significant figure relative to the 9.78% for registered Bedlingtons tested by the Animal Health Trust since the introduction of the COMMD1 test.  




It should be noted that there are several ‘types’ of cataract but neither survey differentiated between the different types.  It is also worth noting that ‘juvenile cataracts’ are considered to be an inherited type of cataract in Bedlington terriers but the mode of inheritance is not known.


Interestingly, 78 dogs (49.4%) of the dogs in the survey had been tested under the KC/BVA/ISDS Eye Testing Scheme.  Total retinal dysplasia (TRD), is a genetic eye disease known to affect Bedlington terriers.  It is caused by a recessive gene mutation.  Unfortunately there is no DNA test for this condition and the only way to determine whether or not a dog is affected is by examination of the eyes.  The Kennel Club are notified of the results of eye tests carried out under the KC/BVA/ISDS scheme and although it is understood that no results of ‘affected’ have been received for some considerable time, it should be noted that it is a requirement of the KC Assured Breeders Scheme that the parents of puppies to be registered under this scheme should have tested ‘clear’ for TRD.  For further information on TRD please see the relevant page on this website.



Furthermore, although not evident from the results of either survey, it should be pointed out that there is some evidence to suggest that some Bedlington terriers may have a genetic predisposition to this type of problem.  



However, there were 4 survey reports (2.5%) of problems associated with the digestive system of which 2 were serious cases of gastro-enteritis, both necessitating a rigorous treatment regime.  By their nature most dogs are naturally inquisitive and, given the opportunity will ‘scavenge around’.  Owners should be aware of the potential problems that could result from this type of activity and the consumption of ‘substances’ that may be regarded as commonplace.



One important point regarding vaccination against kennel cough is that proprietors of boarding kennels differ in their attitude to vaccination – some may insist that the dogs are vaccinated prior to boarding whilst others may not allow the boarding of dogs that have been vaccinated.  Hence, if a dog is likely to be placed in boarding kennels it is advisable to check, well in advance, the proprietor’s policy regarding vaccination.


Of some concern is that a case of lungworm infection was reported.  It is worth noting that veterinary surgeons have reported an increase in the incidence of this condition in dogs.  This is attributed to the increase in slugs and snails following the wet weather in 2012 and which are ‘scavenged’ (ingested) by dogs.




However, there are instances where this is not the case – the heart murmur may persist or may even develop later in life and, as reported in the survey, the dog may go on to lead an apparently ‘normal’ life.  Awareness of the problem and regular monitoring is important.



Noticeably, the high incidence of ‘cysts, fatty lumps and warts’ listed under ‘skin conditions (13 cases out of 40, equivalent to 32.5%) seems somewhat higher than one would expect.  



It was reported that 8 (2.5%) of the puppies were born with some form of congenital defect.  These are usually not genetic faults and can usually be attributed to some “incident” that occurred in pregnancy. Similarly, the number of puppies dying within the first 2 weeks is within the range quoted by A.S.Blunden (Fading Puppies – Reality or Myth, In Practice (2012), volume 34, pages 314-321).


The average litter size was ‘4’ but the data collected did not allow any further analysis on this point.  However, analysis of the litter details for Bedlington terriers  in the Kennel Club’s Breed Record Supplements for 2012 (litter size range = 1-8, mode = 5, median =5, mean = 4.6), indicates the apparent normality of the data relating to ‘litter size’ implied by the survey data.  



Incidentally, old age was also given as the major cause of death in the Kennel Club survey but it would seem that no attempt was made to differentiate between natural and assisted deaths.   Additionally, the Kennel Club, in their survey appeared to have treated ‘dogs which died during the period of the survey’ and ‘dogs that were alive when the survey form was completed’ as two separate entities.  A comparison of the data on the causes of death reported in the BTHG and Kennel Club surveys is shown in Table 4, above.


Food for thought - the concept of old age in this context is difficult to define and it would be interesting to know how and for what reason(s) the decision to euthanize on the basis of ‘old age’ was made.




Conclusions.


As with the Kennel Club survey (2004), the response rate to the BTHG survey (2013) was disappointingly low. Consequently, any comparisons between the results from the two surveys must be treated with caution.  In general, any apparent changes are probably not ‘significant’ and that there has been no real change in the overall general health status of Bedlingtons terriers in the period between the two surveys.


None-the less, scrutiny of the results does suggest some issues that merit further attention.



Dr Mike Herrtage and his colleges carried out the first investigation into the prevalence of copper toxicosis in UK Bedlington terriers between August 1982 and November 1984.  The work involved the assessment of the CT status of 62 asymptomatic dogs, i.e. dogs that were apparently healthy and showing no clinical signs of copper toxicosis.   The results of this investigation were published in 1987 and indicated that, on the basis of

histo-pathological examination of liver biopsy samples and determination of liver copper levels, 21 dogs (33.9%) were ‘affected’.  Moreover, since liver biopsy results can not be used to differentiate between ‘normal’ and ‘carrier’ status it, and because of the nature of inheritance of copper toxicosis, it was concluded that the majority of the non-affected dogs were, in fact, ‘carriers’.  


Fortunately, through the work of the former Liver Malfunction Committee, the increase in awareness of the problem and the introduction of the ‘marker’ test and, subsequently the COMMD1 test, there appears to be an apparent improvement in the situation.  In the time interval between the introduction of the COMMD1 test in July 2005 and the publication of this report 398 registered dogs have been tested of which 7 (1.8%) were classified as ‘affected’ and 98 (24.6%) were ‘carriers’.  Note:  these data are updated regularly as and when new test results are received from the AHT - please see the relevant page on this website.


Despite this, there is still a long way to go - there is no room for complacency when one bears in mind that only about 9.8% of Bedlingtons registered since the introduction of the COMMD1 test have been tested. Moreover, there is an unknown number of unregistered dogs to be considered.

   




However, overall the impression gleaned from respondents to the survey is that they endorse the view that the Bedlington is, in general terms, a ‘healthy’ breed.







Comparison - BTHG v Kennel Club Surveys - Return Rate



Forms distributed

Forms returned

% returned

Dogs in Survey


BTHG Survey (2013)

85

39

45.9%

158


Kennel Club Survey (2004)

200

61

30.5%

187 (235)


Comparison - BTHG v Kennel Club Surveys - Sex of Dogs in the Survey.



Male

Female

Total Dogs


BTHG Survey (2013)

52

106

67.1% females


Kennel Club Survey (2004)

64

122

65.6% females


A Summary of the BTHG Survey Results


System

Dogs

%

Conditions reported

KC Survey


Hepatic System.

Copper toxicosis

2

1.3%

Asymptomatic copper toxicosis, diagnosed by biopsy (2)

4.6%

Other hepatic conditions

4

2.5%

Liver cancer (1), Diffuse hepatopathy (1), Elevated liver enzymes.



Endocrine System.





Cushing’s

9

5.7%

Clinically diagnosed Cushing’s Syndrome (9).

4.6%

Other endocrine conditions

x





Ocular (Eye) System.

15

9.5%

Cataracts (8), Glaucoma + cataracts (1), Dry Eye (4), Blocked tear ducts (1), Infection of tear ducts (1).

9.2%


Urinary System.

6

3.8%

Chronic kidney problem (3), Acute kidney failure (1), Enlarged prostate (1), Urinary tract infection (1)

8.0%


Gastro-intestinal System.

4

2.5%

Acute gastroenteritis (2), Excessive tartar build-up (1), Reaction to oral medication (1)

8.0%






Respiratory System.

6

3.8%

Kennel cough (4), Lung cancer, secondary to removal of a mammary tumour (1), Lungworm infection (1).

3.4%


Nervous System.

3

1.9%

Inflammation of cervical region (1), Epilepsy (2)



Heart, Circulation & Blood Conditions

11

6.9%

Heart murmurs (8), Leukaemia (1), Pericardial effusion (1), Blood clot/embolism (1)

11.5%


Skin, Ear & Coat Conditions.

40

25.3%

Sebaceous cysts, fatty lumps & warts (12), Interdigital cysts (1), Infections/skin inflammation (5), Ear wax (3), Food allergies causing skin reactions (6), Atopic allergy (3), Malassezia (2), Allergic reactions to ear mites, harvest mites, pollen, nettles etc (8)

*


Tumours. Cysts  etc

9

5.7%

Testicular tumours (3), Mammary tumours (2), Throat tumour (1), Lumbar tumour (1), Lymphoma (1), Ovarian cysts.

*


Allergies & Adverse Reactions.

12

7.6%

Reactions (undefined) to veterinary products (8), Reactions (undefined) to dietary components (6).  

*


Other reported conditions.

4

2.5%

Hormonal problems after oestrus/spaying (2), Anal furunculosis (1), Suspected Cushing’s (1).



Breeding.


Number of bitches in survey

106


The % of bitches in the survey was 67.1% of the total number of dogs (158).

Number of breeding bitches

48


The % of breeding bitches was 45.3% of the number of bitches in the survey.

Number of litters

79



Total number of puppies born

331

100%


Puppies born alive

324

97.9%


Mean litter size

4.1



Puppies with congenital defects

8

2.5%

Cleft palate (3), Dry eye (3), Heart murmur + respiratory symptoms (1), No tail (1).

Puppies dying within 2 weeks

8

2.5%

No details given

Problems at whelping

9

12.3%

Uterine inertia (3) of which 1 required a caesarean section, dystokia (difficult birth) (6) of which 4 required a caesarean section.

Post-partum problems


6

8.2%

Mastitis (4), Pyometra (1), Unexpelled dead puppy + infection necessitated caesarean section – the bitch was subsequently spayed (1).



Mortality





Natural Death

3

1.9%

Old age (1), Cushing’s syndrome (1), Secondary lung cancer (1).


Assisted Death

40

25.3%

Old age (19), Various forms of cancer (10), Kidney problems (4) Cushing’s syndrome (3). Injury (1), Hydrocephelus (1), Epilepsy (1), Blood clot/embolism (1).



Comparison – BTHG Survey v Kennel Club Survey – Causes of Death



BTHG Survey (2013)

Kennel Club Survey (2004)






Cause’ of Death

Nos. of Dogs

% of Dogs

Nos. Of Dogs

% of Dogs






Old Age

20

46.5%

11

22.9%

Hepatic

x

x

6

14.6%

Endocrine

4

9.3%

3

6.3%

Urological

4

9.3%

7

14.6%

Cancer

11

25.6%

7

10.4%

Trauma

1

2.3%

4

8.3%

Combinations

x

x

2

4.2%

Cardiac

1

2.3%

1

2.1%

Cerebral

1

2.3%

1

2.1%

Collapse

1

2.3%

1

2.1%

Digestive

x

x

1

2.1%

Infection

x

x

1

2.1%

Immune Mediated

x

x

1

2.1%

Poisoning

x

x

1

2.1%

Reproductive

x

x

1

2.1%

Senility

x

x

1

2.1%

Other

x

x

1

2.1%


Totals

43

100%

48

100%

Mortality Rate

27.2% (43/158)

20.4% (48/235)


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The Kennel Club All Breed Health Survey, 2014.


A report of the first Kennel Club All Breed Health Survey was published in 2004.  In November 2014 a follow-up All Breed Health Survey was launched and a report of the findings of this survey was published in March 2016.  This report can be viewed on the Kennel Club website at:


www.thekennelclub.org.uk


On the Home page, click on the “Health” tab then click on”Publications, Statistics and Health Results” in the left-had panel.  Click on “Pedigree Breed Health Results then select “Bedlington Terrier” from the “Results of the Survey” list of breeds.