How to get your dog tested

What Tests are Available?

Unfortunately, Lafora testing is not currently offered through the most well known animal testing facilities, such as the UK’s Animal Health Trust. Testing is complex, time-consuming and uncommercially viable. Dr. Berge Minassian of the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children  is the world’s leading authority on Human Lafora. His team developed the first Canine Lafora tests in 2005/6 as part of their  Human Lafora research programme and,  after extensive clinical trials, can now offer a reliable blood Full Spectrum blood test that can differentiate between “Clear”, “Carrier” and ‘Affected’ dogs.

There are several commercial laboratories around the world who offer human Lafora testing who may consider testing a dog for Lafora, but the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children has a proven record of reliable, certified testing on 5-10mls blood from each animal, placed in an EDTA tube and the Canadian test is recognised by the UK Kennel Club as their ‘approved’ Lafora test for mini wirehair dachhsunds. The test takes up to 4 months to process, analyse and provide results.  Their  canine testing starts from $350 dollars per test and the revenue generated is used to subsidise their invaluable work on finding a treatment for Human Lafora.

n.b.A ‘not affected’ dog is NOT the same as a CLEAR dog. In the early days of testing the only test that was available was a simple ‘Affected/Not affected’ test A  ‘Not Affected’ status dog will not develop the condition but may be a ‘carrier’ which means if it is mated to another carrier or affected dog, it will produce affected puppies. This is an extremely important distinction when it comes to mating decisions and advising puppy buyers about the status of their dog.

Subsidised Lafora Testing for UK Mini Wire Dachshunds

The Wirehaired Dachshund Club co-ordinates a DNA screening programme for Lafora Disease in Miniature Wire-haired Dachshunds in the UK. More than 500 dogs have now been tested and it is also possible to deduce the status of some untested dogs from those results. Throughout the testing, results have remained consistent: 9-10% dogs affected, approximately 35- 40% carriers. You can see the results of all dogs tested through the WHDC scheme on the public database at WHDC Test Results or via the excellent Kennel Club online services, such as Mate Select. It is also possible to deduce the status of some untested dogs based on these results, for example if a dog is tested affected, then by deduction, both parents must carry at least one Lafora gene and are therefore at least Carriers.

If you are in the UK and have mini wire dachshunds,it is important for the future health of the variety that the status of any dog used for breeding is known. 

How does the WHDC Screening Programme work?

The Wirehaired Dachshund Club’s screening programme now uses the tests developed by Dr. Berge Minassian in Canada (see above). The tests are currently heavily subsidized by the Wirehaired Dachshund Club, with support from other Breed Clubs and the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. In order to keep costs down, the majority of testing is done in bulk at intervals throughout the year and then samples are shipped out to Canada for blind testing. The testing facility is located within a busy teaching hospital and it can take up to four months for results to come back, so we ask that all owners taking part in the scheme are patient and DO NOT contact Dr Minassian direct. Dr Minassian deals direct via the WHDC and no longer offers private testing to UK owners of Mini Wire Dachshunds.

All test results are published on the Wirehair Dachshund Club’s website at WHDC Lafora database as soon as they are available and certificates are provided.  It is a requirement of the subsidised testing scheme that any dogs identified as AFFECTED will be taken out of the breeding programme. (Why ‘no breeding from affected’ restriction?)  It is anticipated that the test will, in due course, be recognized by the Kennel Club and recorded in their online Mate Select and MyKC services. In time, this test will be as well known as Cord1 testing and that prospective puppy owners will expect breeders to know the status of their dogs and show certificates if tested.

When should I get my dog tested?

  • If your dog is showing symptoms of lafora (what is canine lafora?)
  • If your dog’s parents or siblings are showing symptoms
  • If your dog’s parents are recorded as ‘affected’ or ‘carrier’ on www.whdc.co.uk lafora database

How much does it cost?

There are still limited funds available to continue subsidised testing for a short while longer. For all NEW animals tested, the subsidised cost is £150. This price includes significant veterinary, shipping and administrative costs.   The true cost of the test without the subsidy is closer to £250.  Whilst the subsidy lasts, those owners who have already paid £80 for earlier testing via Centogene, whether they have received an Affected/Unaffected result or are still waiting for results can pay only £70 if they require a full test on the actual dog already tested by Centogene (i.e. no substitute dogs will be allowed).

You can find out about the next bulk testing session at http://www.whdc.co.uk/latest-laforas-news.php or   http://laforadogs.org/news the Dachshund Breed Council Health and Welfare Pages.  Sign up for the DBC newsletter here, the laforadogs mailing list by emailing laforadogs@btinternet.com or look out on social media for further news.

Next Testing Opportunity:

26th January 2014 Fitzpatrick Referrals, Godalming, Surrey. To request your test, or to attend the  seminar on the same day, go to Fitzpatrick Lafora and IVDD Seminar.

 

or contact Nora Price:  ( laforatesting@mypostoffice.co.uk), 01543 276797 or or Sue Holt:  (Susan.Holt@talktalk.net), 0`161 306 4403

 

Lafora Testing for other Breeds or Non UK Based Miniature Wirehair Dachshunds

If your dog is showing symptoms that might be Lafora but it is not a UK-based miniature wirehair dachshund, we strongly recommend that you use Dr Minassian’s tests as the lab has the only Lafora DNA testing in the world that have been so extensively used.*

Shipping to Canada : As mentioned above, the WHDC send the UK samples to Dr Minassian’s lab. All bloods are sent via Fedex , who provide excellent instructions about sending blood or animal samples abroad.  You need 6 copies of the shipping invoice and additional copies of the waybills –  explained on the Fedex site.

To request testing, contact:

Dr Berge Minassian,

Room 6536B, The Hospital for Sick Children,

555 University Avenue,

Toronto ON,

M5G 1X8,

Canada.

email berge.minassian@sickkids.ca.

Click Lafora FAQs July 2011 for a copy of the Dachshund Breed Council’s informative leaflet.

*If you live outside the UK and your Lafora-diagnosed dog is a dachshund, please do let us know by emailing laforadogs@btinternet.com

9 Responses to “How to get your dog tested”

  1. Jane Barwick-Nesbit says:

    I am a UK veterinary surgeon trying to find out how to test a clients WH Dachshund for Lafora please.

  2. admin says:

    I have emailed you some information.

  3. Jeremy Wright says:

    Hi,

    Have a client with a wire-haired dachsund showing neurological signs; likely ivdd but we would like to test for lafora – what is the latest protocol?
    thanks
    J

  4. Thanks for getting in touch re Lafora testing, apologies for not getting back to you until after the Christmas Break. Currently, the Canadian Hospital for Sick Children are still working on an affected/carrier/clear DNA test which is obviously what the majority of responsible breeders are keen to see and the funding for the WHDC Lafora testing project is focusing on that priority. However, Berge Minassian at the hospital is happy to receive samples for testing for Lafora affected/unaffected:

    The Hospital offers a test for affected dogs in return for a $350 (Canadian dollars) donation to the hospital (credit cards are accepted). 10mls of EDTA blood should be submitted to:
    Dr. Berge Minassian Room 6536B The Hospital for Sick Children 555 University Ave. Toronto, ON M5G 1X8 Canada Tel: 416-813-7721 berge.minassian@sickkids.ca

    Can I ask you also whether you could ask your client whether they would be prepared to share the results with us so that they can be published on the WHDC website: http://www.whdc.co.uk/lafora-results-jan-2012.php ? This public facility is an important part of our campaign to reduce the number of Lafora affected and carrier dogs – we need all the help we can get with this as there are some breeders/showers who seem keen to sweep this condition under the table.

    If you’d like to talk to me personally, or indeed, pass my details on to your client so that they can have a chat about the implications of owning a lafora affected dog, I’d be more than happy to do so.

  5. Nikki Anastas says:

    Hi
    What does grey mean:
    Green is clear & Grey shows not affected-but could be a carrier. Is this worked out on a normal range and if it falls out of the norm but not as high as the carrier result do u then put it in grey area.
    If u can explain please, I am a scientist at a sydney hospital in haematology and blood bank and I own mini wires in Australia some Uk imports also.

    Thanx Nikki Anastas

  6. Hello Nicki, I’ve responded by email, but here copy my reply:

    Hello Nikki, apologies for the delay in getting back to you, although I am delighted to see that the message has got as far as Australia. You are so right to be concerned about the UK Imports as unfortunately some less than scrupulous people who are well aware that there is Lafora in their lines have continued to export their dogs for breeding overseas, thus spreading the risk worldwide.

    The grey results are those from the first rounds of testing in 2010 AND 2011. At that stage, all we had was a test that could identify which dogs were Affected, and which dogs were Unaffected – and we couldn’t then establish which of the unaffected were actually carriers and which were clears.

    Since then the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children has been able to resurrect a reliable version of the full spectrum test which can identify Affected, Carrier and Clear dogs. All things being equal, it would be great if every dog previously identified as unaffected were retested, simply to make further pedigree analysis easier, and all were invited to retest at a significantly subsidised price. However, some owners have so far chosen not to get their dog retested, some for legitimate and some for less justifiable reasons:

    • The test itself is expensive and a subsidy is only available by testing at one of a series of bulk testing days held midweek in the UK Midlands, meaning that it is difficult for some to arrange to bring their dogs along.
    • The dog is a pet and there is no intention of breeding from it. All the owner needs to know is whether or not their dog will develop the symptoms
    • The dog has since died or been spayed, so again, no point in checking breeding potential
    • The owner has misunderstood or deliberately decided to ignore the implication of breeding from an unaffected dog, i.e. that it could well be a carrier. As an example, having posted something about Lafora testing recently on Facebook, one breeder (and a member of the Kennel Club Accredited Breeding Scheme) replied to say: “ I know some people would rather go on breeding in ignorance than to have their breeding stock wiped out in one go wrong I know but this is how some people think”. Such selfishness is terrible to see, given that they are breeding puppies who may well go on to develop the condition.

    I hope this answers your question. You can of course get your dogs tested by sending bloods to the same hospital in Toronto – details on the Laforadogs website – or better still, putting pressure on the exporter of your dogs to do so and pay for the tests themselves.

  7. gill says:

    Nikki, hopefully the chart is clearer now. If not, let me know .

  8. Yasmin Needham says:

    Hi.

    I have a 7 year old Basset Hound who is sadly showing all the signs of Lafora.
    Am I able to attend the next testing day with her, even though she isn’t a WH Dachshund?
    She is a rescue dog, so I am unaware of her exact pedigree, although I do know which breeding kennels she came from. Fortunately she has never had puppies, but I would like to know for sure what the future holds for both of us.

    Many thanks x

  9. hi Yasmin, I’m so sorry to hear about your Basset Hound. I’ve emailed you.

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