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Dogs screened for abnormal genes

Thursday September 29th 2011

Owners of particular breeds of dog will soon be able to include their pet in a veterinary screening programme for two hereditary conditions which can cause considerable pain.

Vets will look for signs of chiari-like malformation, a mismatch in the size of brain to skull, and syringomyelia, occurring when a spinal cord cavity fills with fluid.

The conditions are known to damage certain breeds: both the Cavalier King Charles and the King Charles spaniel, the Griffon Bruxellois, Chihuahua, Pomeranian, affenpinscher and Maltese.

To be eligible people must take their dog to a vet, beginning early next year, for an MRI scan which will be checked and, if relevant, graded for the condition's severity.

Chiari-like malformation is diagnosed when the dog's brain is too big for the skull, creating a constricted opening at the vertebral canal.

This constriction reduces the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and leads to a syrinx developing in the spinal cord, which fills with fluid. The resulting condition is known as syringomyelia.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

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