Plans for Health Check-up

Nemo is going in for a dental in late January and I thought I would try to take care of some other things while he is there. He will be 5 this January. Here is what I am planning and contemplating:

  1. Planning to draw blood for the OFA thyroid panel. I believe he had the full panel done a few years ago (the vet had to use an outside lab) but it was not an official OFA evaluation although one of the approved labs may have been used (I'll check at the visit). So, I'm not sure if I have a good baseline or not. Just so I'm clear when I talk to the vet, my understanding of why I should be doing the OFA panel is a) you need the full panel to get an accurate read on a basenji's thyroid condition and b) basenji's thyroid levels are typically higher than other breeds? That's the impression I get from other posts. Are the results for the OFA panel evaluated against typical levels for the basenji breed so that it offers more value than the vet interpreting the results alone (particularly if they have limited basenji experience)?

  2. I'm contemplating doing his hips and elbows. He will already be knocked out for the dental so the timing works out. He hasn't had any issues so far.

  3. I'm planning an eye check since he hasn't had one since he was a puppy. This will be a separate visit, but how important is it that the opthamologist has basenji experience? Or is it that they are familar with PPM and PRA? The doctor my breeder used is several hours away but there are two DAVCOs close to home now. Nemo has PPM, which I believe are the white spots on each of his eyes. I can't really read the other comments from the eye doctor at the time (my vet couldn't read it either).

Any comments would be appreciated. 🙂

Thanks,
Clay

While it is nice to have a Ophthamologist that is familar with the breed, it is not super important unless he was diagnosed with PRA. If there were questions if he had early stages PRA, then I would look for a specialist that knew Basenjis because sometimes that can be miss diagnosed. PPM is pretty common not only in just Basenjis… so I would just try on of the two that you have that are close...

And if you have the money to do Hips and Elbows, it can never hurt to be certain that you don't have any possible problems later in life...

Thyroid does need to be the full panel to understand the complete picture and they are read by those OFA approved labs also, not by your Vet, but they are not read by anyone at OFA, OFA is just posts the results based on the approved labs findings. Basenjis usually have low thyroid problems and low normal for a Basenji is considered "too low"... Here is a link to Dr. Dodds, http://www.itsfortheanimals.com/HEMOPET.HTM
(I am saying you should go to her lab) but this is what she says about Thyroid testing

"The COMPLETE Thyroid Panel is needed for an ACCURATE diagnosis and assessment of Thyroid Function. Dr. Dodds' Thyroid Panel # D8T provides the values for: T3, T4, free T3, free T4, T3 Autoantibodies and T4 Autoantibodies."

Well let me tell you about my experience with a Vet - at a University that had no basenji experience. It was the most horride 3 weeks of my life as he said EVERYONE OF MY DOGS WAS PRA. I knew it was impossible, or at least improbable - they had eye exams (by the experienced with basenji guy) annually.

I made another appointment with the regular guy - and he said - you know you can stop bringing some of these old dogs in now - they have been clear and are now old - stop worrying about PRA. So I showed him the results I had gotten a few weeks earlier - and he went and got that guy and gave him a lecture on hyper-reflective and how it can look like PRA.

So if you can find one that knows the basenji eye - I would do it - although I think that they opthamologists have gotten better learning about those breeds that are 'unique'.

That can happen, but I would still just do the local for the first exam… and if you get a reaction of PRA, then find one with B experience...

When you get your results from the thyroid panes, unless everything is completely normal, send the results to Dr. Dodds. Eddie had one value that was low and another that was rather high, U of Michigan interpreted that no treatment was needed and was relatively normal. Dr. Dodds answered my e-mail immediately and recommended treatment and explained her interpretations which my vet agreed with once he read her comments. Ed has been on thyroid supplement for 1 month and is more active and just seems happier. We caught it very early so he really didn't have severe symptoms, just seemed withdrawn and not himself. Anyway, Dr. Dodds is happy to help with thyroid issues.

@MacPack:

When you get your results from the thyroid panes, unless everything is completely normal, send the results to Dr. Dodds. Eddie had one value that was low and another that was rather high, U of Michigan interpreted that no treatment was needed and was relatively normal. Dr. Dodds answered my e-mail immediately and recommended treatment and explained her interpretations which my vet agreed with once he read her comments. Ed has been on thyroid supplement for 1 month and is more active and just seems happier. We caught it very early so he really didn't have severe symptoms, just seemed withdrawn and not himself. Anyway, Dr. Dodds is happy to help with thyroid issues.

So, if I send it to Dr. Dodd's lab I won't have to worry about this situation because she would be providing the interpretation of the results to OFA?

Thanks everyone for the input. I'm going to check with the two local eye doctors to see what basenji experience they have. The one at the animal referral center has been practicing for 20+ years so hopefully he has some experience.

@tanza:

"The COMPLETE Thyroid Panel is needed for an ACCURATE diagnosis and assessment of Thyroid Function. Dr. Dodds' Thyroid Panel # D8T provides the values for: T3, T4, free T3, free T4, T3 Autoantibodies and T4 Autoantibodies."

I just read the testing description in more detail on the HEMOPET test form. So I don't need to do the actual OFA panel, the D8T is fine? The OFA panel adds a few extra things in addition to the D8T panel.

No, you don't have to do an official OFA panel. But it does help to do that anyways so that results are in the public database. Also if your dog is from a responsible breeder that is good info for them to know, the health testing results from littermates and relatives of breeding prospects.

Dr. Dodds is great for doing thyroids. But I believe if you have the OFA panel done, it's not done at her lab anyways, but at the other Antech lab on the other side of the country. And OFA doesn't look at her interpretations, they just look at the numbers from the test.

You can also ask your vet what lab they use for sending out thyroid tests. The important thing is that you get a full panel done, not the "in house" tests that only look at a couple values. You need at least T4, free T4, TgAA, and TSH. Whatever lab you use, all you have to do is fax over a copy of the test scores to Dr. Dodds and she will be happy to interpret them "Basenji style" for free. 🙂 Sighthounds traditionally have slightly different normal ranges than what the lab machines use.

Also I like to recommend people use an accredited lab that is closest to them, if they aren't near Antech or MSU. I have seen people get equivical or odd test results when the blood had to be shipped out of state. I am not sure of the validity behind this, but length of time that the blood is sitting around may affect test results. Luckily I didn't have that problem, I only lived 40 minutes from MSU which has one of the top 2 thyroid labs in the country. lol

Kudos to you for testing! Hope everything comes back with great results!

Antech is a national labratory company with labs all over the country, if your vet uses Antech and you ask for an OFA panel Antech ships the samples internally to their OFA approved lab. Dr Dodds has negotiated a bulk rate with Antech because of the number of samples sent to her for thyroid and so her prices may be significantly better than what your own vet can offer even if they use Antech.

Most of the problems that I have heard about the test are not about the shipping it is in the OFA procedures for prepping the sample being followed. OFA's procedure differs from what many vet offices tend to do with thyroid samples. It specifically states that you must allow the blood to sit for a specified amount of time before centrifuging. If this is not done then there is an increased likelihood that you will get an equivocal result.

@lvoss:

Antech is a national labratory company with labs all over the country, if your vet uses Antech and you ask for an OFA panel Antech ships the samples internally to their OFA approved lab. Dr Dodds has negotiated a bulk rate with Antech because of the number of samples sent to her for thyroid and so her prices may be significantly better than what your own vet can offer even if they use Antech.

This maybe makes more sense now. Dr. Dodd's lab is not on the approved OFA test labs but at the bottom of the second page of her test form it mentions that Antech will do it. Although it is strange that from WI the sample will end up crossing the country twice before testing if I send it to her lab directly.

@kiroja:

You need at least T4, free T4, TgAA, and TSH. Whatever lab you use, all you have to do is fax over a copy of the test scores to Dr. Dodds and she will be happy to interpret them "Basenji style" for free.

IF I need TgAA, then that is essentially the OFA panel as TgAA is not part of the D8T panel.

Here is a good article on Basenji Hypothyroidism and what you want to have tested.

http://www.apubasenjis.com/bhealth.html

Since you will want TgAA you may as well go ahead and do the OFA test and have it published.

Yeah, I think I'm going to do the full OFA test. Thanks everyone for the help.

My vet sent blood to U of Michigan and then faxed me their results and interpretation. I e-mailed Dr. Dodds and typed in all the results, comments, and she replied within a few minutes. My charge for 2 tests (Ed & Nicky) was $128 including shipping

Lisa, thanks for the info, that's good to know. I guess a quick chat with the vet is in order when planning a thyroid panel. 🙂

Anne, that sounds pretty reasonable. I paid $102 for 2 dogs, with a rural vet that was 30 minutes or less from Michigan State. That didn't include the office visit fee of course. So for a Florida vet to be pretty close to that and ship all the way up here, that is not bad at all. I know that MSU's fee for the test is $37.50 for each sample, last time I checked.

Nemo, you may want to look into if your vet uses MSU at all, as they may have a better rate then sending to Dr. Dodds. She can still be consulted when you get your results. Although ideally she likes you to use her labs. 🙂

I have Nemo's thryoid panel results. Is Dr Dodd's email address just the "hemopet" email address on the website?

Thanks.

@Nemo:

Is Dr Dodd's email address just the "hemopet" email address on the website?

YEP.

How's things look via the lab's paperwork?

He is rated OFA Normal, everything is in range other than the Free T3 and Total T3 values which are both low. And amazingly, Dr Dodd has already responsed to my email. She said those low values are usually an indication of "some non-thyroidal issues" but everything else looked good (she even provided the normal sighthound ranges for all of the tests). So, I guess I'll have to figure out what "some non-thyroidal issues" may entail and if it's something I need to address. I guess I'll put a separate post about that.

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