So, what is OFA certification? The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is the recognized certifying body to evaluate and determine if a dog will have problem hips. OFA Certified refers to the dog's hip joints and is an indicator of potential problems for your dog. Hip problems for any active dog will cause pain and discomfort that will get progressively worse. The unstable hip joint will lead to osteoarthritis Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition and can be evaluated by radiographs. The OFA maintains a database for hip dysplasia and now also maintains databases on other genetic disorders.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has defined 7 categories to describe canine hip joints. They are:
Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, Mild, Moderate, Severe.
Hip Dysplasia is a painful condition affecting the hip joints resulting in lameness and arthritis. Although it is hereditary, environmental factors play a role in its development.
In dysplasia the caput (round head of the femur bone) no longer fits snugly into the acetabulum (concave socket in the pelvis). Additionally these two elements, the caput and acetabulum are ill formed and don't move smoothly. This results in undue wear and tear on the joints resulting in the body trying to repair damage by creating cartilage. The body cannot keep up with the rate of degradation and becomes inflammed which contributes to further damage.
As this cycle progresses the dog will become increasingly uncomfortable, eventually being rendered lame due to the intensity of the pain. Signs of this condition will be the dog attempting to restrict movement of their hips, running will appear stilted. This compensation to avoid using the hips can result in spinal or soft tissue problems developing. Hip dysplasia can be anywhere from mild to debilitatingly severe.
Sample of OFA Certification
Top: Elbows (normal)
Bottom: Hips (excellent)
The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) is an organization that was founded by a group of concerned, purebred owner/breeders who recognized that the quality of their dog's lives were being affected by heritable eye disease. CERF was then established in conjunction with cooperating, board certified, veterinary ophthalmologists, as a means to accomplish the goal of elimination of heritable eye disease in all purebred and recently hybrid dogs by forming a centralized, national registry.
The CERF Registry not only registers those dog's certified free of heritable eye disease by board certified Veterinary Ophthalmologists (A.C.V.O. ), but also collects data on all dogs examined by A.C.V.O. Diplomates. These data are used to form the CERF research database which is useful in researching trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility. Not only are these data useful to clinicians and students of ophthalmology, but to interested breed clubs and individual breeders and owners of specific breeds.
HOW DOES CERF WORK?
After the painless examination of the dogs eyes, the A.C.V.O. Diplomate will complete the CERF form and indicate any specific disease(s) found. Breeding advice will be offered based on guidelines established for that particular breed by the genetics Committee of the A.C.V.O. Bear in mind that CERF and the A.C.V.O. are separate, but cooperating entities. The A.C.V.O only provides their professional services and expertise to ensure that uniform standards are upheld for the certification of dog's eyes with the CERF organization.
If your dog is certified to be free of heritable eye disease, you can then send in the completed owner's copy of the CERF form with the appropriate fee
Certification is good for 12 months from the date of the eye exam. Annual re-examination is recommended.
Regardless of the outcome of the dog's exam, the research copy of the CERF form will be sent to the CERF office at V.M.D.B (Veterinary Medical Database) where its information will be entered into the research database. This information will be used in generating research reports, but the individual dog's identities will become confidential and will never be released.
Sample of CERF Form
N/N = Normal/Normal
Multidrug sensitivity in dogs shows an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.
Dogs affected with multidrug sensitivity typically display neurological symptoms after drug admission such as hyper salivation, ataxia, blindness, tremor, depression, coma, respiratory compromise, and death. Carriers of the mutant gene may display mild neurological manifestations. Recently, a DNA-based test for the detection of the gene responsible for multidrug sensitivity became available. Since this test directly targets the mutant gene, it is 100% accurate and provides breeders with definitive information on the genetic status of their animals. Instead of avoiding drugs as Ivermectin in known susceptible breeds, veterinarians can now determine if a dog is normal, in which case the drug can be administered, or dog is affected, in which case an alternative treatment can be given. Breeders can use this information to detect carriers and eliminate this disease from their breeding lines.
Breeds found to be effected as of late 2007 include Australian Shepherd, Collie, English Shepherd, Longhaired Whippet, McNab, Miniature Australian Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Shetland Sheepdog, Silken Windhound, and a variety of mixed breed dogs
NOTE: If both parents are MDR1 "Normal/Normal" then all of the puppies are automatically Normal (by parentage) and do not need to be tested. If one of the parents is a "Carrier" then the puppies should be tested and/or avoid all of the drugs known to cause neurological symptoms. Most breeders would not breed a Carrier to a Carrier to avoid producing puppies that are "Affected".
Sample of Genetic Test Results
Normal/Normal from health gene
Note: Not all genetic lab test certificates look the same, but all will show the results.
Late form of Progressive Retinal Athrophy, called PRA-prcd (progressive rod-code degeneration), is just one of all retinal defects.
Rods degenerate at first. Affected dogs become night-blind. This is very often the first symptom that dog owners recognize. Dogs usually have poor sense of directions and they crash in things. Pupil is widely open even when direct ray of light hit the eye (dogs have shining eyes in pictures). Later, cones start degenerating. Final disease symptoms are cataracts and total blindness.
PRA-prcd defect arises after normal photoreceptors development. Degree of degeneration differs in parts of retina. Lower retina part is affected sooner and more than upper part (this is not obvious by ophthalmology examination). Disease recognition should be made during dog adolescence. Clinical diagnosis by electroretinogram (ERG) or opthalmoscopy of PRA-prcd can be difficult. ERG identifies affected animals sooner than opthalmoscopy.
PRA-prcd is a hereditary disease. Causal mutation G1298A in ninth canine chromosome (CFA9) PRA-prcd was recognized. This mutation is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. That means the disease affects dogs with P/P genotype only. The dogs with P/N genotype are considered carriers of the disease (heterozygotes). In offspring of two heterozygous animals following genotype distribution can be expected: 25 % N/N (healthy non-carriers), 25 % P/P (affected), and 50 % N/P (healthy carriers). Because of high risk of producing affected offspring, mating of two N/P animals (carriers) can not be recommended.
The disease cannot be cured, but it is possible to eliminate it through genetic testing of litters and proper choice of parents.
DNA test is an advisable alternative to the clinical examination. The test can be performed only once in life of the animal, because the genotype does not change with age. DNA sample should be obtained from blood.
NOTE: Many dogs in many diifferent breeds of dogs are "healthy carriers" which means that they have one copy of the gene but no effects from the disease as two copies are needed for a dog to be "affected". "Healthy carriers" should only be bred to dogs who are clear, that way there will not be any "affected" puppies and the gene will be slowly decreased without jeopardizing other good qualities in the bloodline.
Sample of genetic health testing results for two different dogs.