Funding for the research is provided through the collaborative efforts and generosity of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Charitable Foundation. The AKC Canine Health Foundation supports the funding of this effort and will oversee administration of funds and scientific progress reports
The investigators recently identified a genetic mutation associated with heart arrhythmias in Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Dogs with the mutation appear to be at the most risk of developing an arrhythmia and suffering sudden death between 12-24 months of age, however, this timeline is variable, and some dogs appear to outgrow the arryhthmia. Due to the lack of knowledge of the specific at risk age, owners of dogs with the mutation must repeat the Holter monitor (a test to monitor heart rhythm) every few months to identify when their dog is at greatest risk and may need treatment. The objective of this study is to repeatedly perform regular Holter monitor testing on dogs with the mutation (including dogs with one copy and with two copies) every 4 months from 6-24 months of age with a final evaluation at 36 months to narrow in on the age when the arrhythmias appear to be the most severe. Gaining this increased clinical understanding of the disorder will decrease the risk of sudden death by helping owners and veterinarians in monitoring and providing treatment intervention for their dogs, and will further inform breeders and owners by characterizing the clinical and genetic manifestations of the disorder.
Principal Investigator: Dr. Jason Stull, VMD, PhD Ohio State University
Total Grant Amount: $14,148; RRCF contributed $12,648, RRCUS contributed $1500 through their CHF Designated fund.
Lyme disease (or Borreliosis) is a bacterial disease of dogs and humans that is transmitted by tick bites. In people, Lyme is the most common tick transmitted disease in the US with over 25,000 cases in 2014. While most common in the northeastern coastal states and the upper Midwest, Lyme disease is moving into other regions of the U.S. and Canada. Dogs infected with Lyme disease rarely show signs of illness (typically lameness), but can also be severe (e.g. kidney disease). Diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Lyme disease in dogs are complicated by limited research and conflicting professional guidance. Current practices may place dogs at risk for unnecessary illness and negative outcomes.
The investigators will follow a group of dogs from different regions of the U.S. and Canada. During this period the investigators will determine how often healthy dogs test positive for Lyme disease (meaning they have been bitten by an infected tick), and assess their risk of developing a Lyme related illness. The risks and management strategies for Lyme-positive dogs will identify potential obstacles for effective prevention. These findings will help identify unmet pet owner education needs, and will likely improve best practices for prevention and control of Lyme disease across geographic regions.
Principal Investigator: Pedro Paul Diniz DVM, PhD Western University of Health Science
Total Grant Amount: $60,717; RRCF contributed $8352
Diagnostic tests based on the detection of DNA of infectious organisms from clinical samples have revolutionized veterinary medicine in the last decades. Currently, diagnostic panels for several tick-borne organisms are available through universities and private laboratories in the USA and abroad. However, the vast majority of results from clinically ill dogs are negative for tick-borne diseases, which frustrates veterinarians and dog owners trying to reach a definite diagnosis and improve treatment options. These panels are based on the detection of previously known DNA sequences of each pathogen, with limited capacity to detect new organisms.
Using an innovative approach, the investigation will employ next-generation sequencing (NGS) to overcome the limitations of the current diagnostic technology and generate millions of individual genes sequencing reads from clinical sample, allowing for the identification and characterization of multiple organisms from a single sample. Testing samples from dogs naturally exposed to tick-borne diseases, NGS will detect not only new organisms but also characterize genetic differences among known organisms. The establishment of a dataset with a large number of DNA sequences of known tick-borne organisms and previously undetected organisms in naturally-infected dogs will support the development of diagnostic tools to simultaneously advance canine and human health.
RRCF sponsored the keynote speaker at Ridgeback University at the 2016 National. Dr. Robert V Hutchison, DVM addressed issues related to reproduction, an important health and genetics topic for RRCUS membership. Specifically, he talked about the ideal timing, and strategies using fresh, chilled and frozen semen to achieve a successful breeding.