The Kennel Club launches vital scheme to improve dachshund health and commits funding to further neurology research - Veterinary Practice
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The Kennel Club launches vital scheme to improve dachshund health and commits funding to further neurology research

Subsidies to be offered to early adopters of the scheme by The Kennel Club and Dachshund Health UK for 2021

The Kennel Club
has announced it is launching a vital health screening scheme
for Dachshunds, in partnership with Dachshund Health UK.

The Kennel Club
Intervertebral Disc Disease Scheme will be available for all Dachshund
varieties and has been developed based on the existing Dachshund Breed Council
IVDD screening programme, in conjunction with The Kennel Club Neurology
Development Group. The scheme aims to improve the health and welfare of these
dogs for generations to come by providing breeders with the information they
need to reduce the risk of breeding puppies with a progressive spinal disease
known as intervertebral disc disease (IVDD).

As part of the
launch, and to reward early adopters, The Kennel Club is offering a £100
subsidy for the owners of dogs that participate in the scheme during 2021.
Other subsidies may also be available to owners from Dachshund Health UK.

IVDD is caused by
a gradual deterioration of the shock-absorbing parts of the spine, known as
intervertebral discs. These discs are filled with a jelly-like substance and
sit between the bones in the spine. Intervertebral discs help hold the spine
together, give the back its flexibility and also protect the spine by
cushioning any impact. As dogs get older these discs can degenerate and harden
(calcify). In Dachshunds this can happen at a much earlier age compared to
other breeds. The calcification of these discs
means they don’t absorb shock as well and can lead to a slipped disc (disc
herniation) and spinal cord compression.

IVDD is a serious
condition that is known to affect large numbers of Dachshunds, especially the
increasingly popular Miniature Smooth Haired variety. It can cause severe pain,
incoordination, incontinence, and in severe cases even a paralysis. Some
dogs affected with IVDD can be treated with medication and rest, while others
may require invasive or life-changing surgery and long-term rehabilitation
therapy – or sadly in the very worst cases, may need to be euthanised to
prevent suffering.

An output from The
Kennel Club Neurology Development Group, comprised of dog health experts,
academics, breeders and specialist vets, the IVDD scheme is based on the
Dachshund Breed Council IVDD Screening Programme and evidence from Scandinavia,
which shows the risk of IVDD is correlated with the number of intervertebral
disc calcifications (IDC) identified by X-rays in dogs.

The Kennel Club
IVDD scheme is assisted by participating veterinary centres across the UK, who
can X-ray Dachshunds as part of the scheme and submit the X-rays for subsequent
scoring by an IVDD scheme scrutineer. The scheme’s scrutineers are all
neurology experts who use a pre-defined protocol to grade the dog from zero to
three, depending on the number of calcifications present in the spine. The
higher the number of calcifications found, the more at risk a dog is of
developing clinical signs and passing the disease on to offspring.

Following the
launch of The Kennel Club IVDD Scheme for Dachshunds (all varieties), The
Kennel Club health team will collate all screening results, which will be
available for the Dachshund Breed Council for publication, breed records and
public information. The results are also planned to be published via The Kennel
Club Health Test Results Finder on the website and the Breed Record Supplement
in 2022.

The IVDD scheme
will be supported by guidelines for breeders, which enable them to understand
the grade given to their dogs and the health risk of potential matings. The
scheme will also support Kennel Club Assured Breeders of Dachshunds, with IVDD
screening now a breed specific recommendation within the Assured Breeders
scheme.

Bill Lambert,
Health, Welfare and Breeder Services Executive at The Kennel Club said: “The
growing demand for Dachshunds from the everyday puppy buyer, combined with the
already recognised health problems, means that the scheme is absolutely vital
and we really urge breeders to make use of this tool and take advantage of the
subsidies on offer when it launches. We applaud Dachshund Health UK for
prioritising health within their breed and thank them for their support and
partnership with The Kennel Club scheme.

“We are also
pleased to announce that further funding from The Kennel Club Charitable Trust
has been committed, with over £85,000 to support ongoing research into IVDD and
neurology at the University of Cambridge.

“This scheme,
alongside the research which will help us better understand IVDD, really does
have the potential to improve Dachshund health for generations to come.”

Roger Sainsbury BVM&S, MRCVS, chairman of Dachshund Health UK
added: “Intervertebral Disc Disease has always been a
serious issue for Dachshunds and we welcome the new The Kennel Club scheme
which will screen Dachshunds for the risk of this condition.

“We believe this scheme will assist breeders by helping them to
choose Dachshunds with a lower risk of developing disc disease, which should
eventually lead to a reduction in the breed’s tendency towards back problems.”

Paul M Freeman MA, VetMB, Cert SAO, DipECVN, MRCVS, principal
clinical neurologist at Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital at the University of
Cambridge said: “This scheme crucially facilitates
data collection and enables researchers to monitor the frequency of the
condition and progress in the breed affected, which will inform ongoing
research, for the overall improvement of Dachshund health.

“We look forward
to working with The Kennel Club and other collaborative parties dedicated to
improving Dachshund health and welfare across the board through promoting the
scheme and through ongoing research, kindly funded by The Kennel Club
Charitable Trust.”

More information
about the scheme and its importance is available in a new webcast with health
and breed experts at Dog Health news Facebook group or via The Kennel Club website.

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