Showsight May 2017

then leave her with the stud dog for weeks and then do some more waiting before they found out if the breeding even worked. Today, we have so much more control over the process. Brucel- losis checks tell us whether or not one of the breeding dogs has an infection of Brucella canis, a zoonotic infection that causes abortion in a variety of mam- malian species. Fertility checks allow us to know whether or not a stud dog is fertile and what his sperm count is. Progesterone levels in the blood allow us to track where a bitch is in her cycle and determine when she will ovulate, which in turn allows us to pinpoint the best time to breed. We can ship semen across the world, or freeze it to save and use generations later. Artificial insemi- nation allows us to breed a bitch with- out the dog present, even depositing the semen directly into the uterus. Ultrasound tells us if the bitch is pregnant or not and allows the veteri- narian to further refine due date estima- tions and estimate the size of the litter. An x-ray about a week before the lit- ter is due can give an accurate puppy count, enabling the breeder to know when the bitch is truly done delivering and to identify problems faster and get Both of these areas allow us to capture a moment in time and view it again and again. We generally think of photos and videos as having sentimen- tal value, but they are also so much more: a record of growth and develop- ment in a breeder’s lines, a progress report for a dog recovering from an injury, a means for a veterinarian or coach to evaluate a dog’s condition and These are just a few of the ways that science has benefitted our dogs. The medical breakthroughs are endless, not to mention studies in canine behavior and how they learn. Almost everything we do with our dogs is impacted by sci- entific progress in one way or another. Science is not about politics. It is about constantly learning and refining, so that we can better understand our world and improve the quality of the lives within it. the bitch to a vet quickly. PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY performance long-distance. ...& SO MUCH MORE

The form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy in Irish Setters has an early onset. Breeders used to have to do test breedings—intentionally breeding a young, unaffected dog or bitch to a dog/bitch that had gone blind due to PRA—in order to determine whether the young Setter was or was not a carrier for the gene. This method of testing was itself scientific, if incredibly resource-heavy and poten- tially heartbreaking. Today, the science has further evolved so that breeders and owners can send in a blood sample for a dog’s DNA to be evaluated. This has made it much easier for breeders to identify carriers and breed away from this problem, without the risk of pro- ducing a bunch of affected puppies. We could only be so lucky if one day every genetic defect has a test like this! Unfortunately, many heritable dis- eases do not have a simple inheritance pattern, or can be caused by a vari- ety of genes or gene mutations. This makes it much more difficult to create a simple and reliable test. The develop- ment of any genetic test also requires equipment, personnel, DNA samples to work with and funding to cover all of the costs associated with those things (equipment, salaries and stipends, elec- tricity, computers and software, ship- ping of equipment and samples, etc.). If you want to see progress on a genetic disease present in your breed, be sure to support any research projects! NUTRITION Scientific study has given us an understanding of what nutrients canines need to survive and different foods that are either beneficial or harm- ful. We know that large breed puppies should be fed foods that are less nutrient rich, because growing too fast leads to bone problems. We know that dogs can have sensitivities or allergies to certain ingredients and we can use tests and/or food trials to figure out which ingredi- ent is the problem and then avoid it. We know that supplementing with Vitamin C can help prevent or resolve some uri- nary tract infections and that dogs that have had a bout of pancreatitis should be fed low-fat diets to avoid a relapse. BREEDING TOOLS Once upon a time, breeders had to just wait for a bitch to come in heat and

MEDICAL PROCEDURES We can also thank science for the medical procedures that we have today, from dental cleanings to Caesarean sec- tions to orthopedic surgery to repair a severe fracture. Surgeons today don’t have to go in blind—they already have an understanding of anatomy and how to go about a procedure, because oth- ers before them have documented what they found and what worked best. We have digital x-rays, ultrasound, CT scans and MRIs to get a look at what is going on inside a dog’s body without having to do surgery first. Studies can also give insight into how to get the best results out of a pro- cedure, such as how often to do dental cleanings or what age is best to spay or neuter to still get optimal growth. GENETIC TESTING Many conditions and diseases either are inherited or have a genetic element. Thanks to the work of scientists, we have been able to locate the respon- sible genes for some of these problems and can now test dogs to determine whether or not they carry the gene. One example is the MDR1 mutation that causes dogs of several breeds to be highly sensitive to certain medi- cations (Ivermectin being the most famous). My Australian Shepherd was clear by parentage (both of her par- ents had been tested and were Normal/ Normal), but if we hadn’t known that, we could have sent in a cheek swab to determine her genotype. Had she come back Normal/Mutant or Mutant/Mutant, I would have known to inform any vet- erinarian that saw her so that we could avoid using drugs that were dangerous for her.

104 • S how S ight M agazine , M ay 2017

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