What Does Your Veterinarian Know About Health Testing?

  • November 25, 2017
  • by Deborah Lynch

What Does Your Veterinarian Know About Health Testing?

I am assuming that most of the people reading this article go to reproductive veterinarians. These are the professionals most likely to be familiar with CHIC testing and the requirements for some if not many breeds. However, most of us use local veterinarians for routine procedures and we try to seek out the best of those available.

What do they know and what do the newer veterinary school graduates know about health testing. Hmm. I would be interested in knowing about your experiences.

Here is one scenario experienced recently. A young bitch that just needed a patella check to complete her CHIC requirements, was presented to a local veterinarian. She had been practicing about five years. When she asked what was required she confidently informed the client that there was no registry or certification for patellas. She said this with great authority. Imagine her surprise when she was informed that, yes indeed there was a registry for patella certification and had been for at least two decades. In fact, it was offered by OFA along with many other registries for individual conditions and for most breeds of purebred dogs. She also got an introduction to the concept of the Canine Health Information Center also managed by OFA.

Why is this important? Why is this somewhat of a calamity for purebred dogs? Because this veterinarian is a graduate of one of largest veterinary schools in the United States and she graduated without any knowledge of canine health testing? Further in her five years of practice she had not acquired this knowledge. That is only part of the story. The fact is that the majority of all purebred puppies are bred by people who only breed one litter. That has ever been the case. And if these one time breeders go to their vets, as they are likely to do, there is a good chance they will not get any accurate or helpful information there either. Why? Because there is a giant hole in our information distribution and a knowledge and communication gap between breed health testing requirements and veterinarians.

Think about the young woman who decides to breed her Golden Retriever, she asks her veterinarian for help. What should she do prior to breeding her dog? Well just let them know when she comes in season may be the response. No information about CHIC, the parent club or health testing. Will all of them do the testing even if they get the information? Probably not. But most of them won’t even be presented with the opportunity. It does us little good to pursue canine health research, develop valuable health tests and then not do everything in our power to make sure they are used. Veterinarians need this information and it is far past time that OFA, AKC, AKC/CHF and the AVMA develop programs to provide it.

Companies that offer these tests have offered to help provide the information and have been met with indifference. That needs to stop. The AVMA recently suggested that breeders need to screen their dogs for health and not breed those that are not healthy. Yet, there has been little done to educate veterinarians about what health testing is required by Parent Clubs and where to find that information. Parent Clubs who have heroically funded the tests, worked with AKC/CHF and the Veterinary Schools to raise funds, collect samples and guide research need to step in again. What can you do?

Make sure the organizations that represent you do their job. Work with the AKC, AKC/CHF, and the AVMA and OFA and don’t stop your advocacy until the needed educational programs are in place. Perhaps, a congratulations packet for each Veterinary School graduate with an information piece could 
be sponsored by one of the health 
testing companies.

Have your Health committee contact the Veterinary School in your state and offer to make a presentation (Tip pizza and dogs will help draw students).

Local veterinary societies hear presentations, recruit one of your breeder/veterinarians to make a presentation to them, or have your health committee make one. The veterinarians and the students will be impressed with your efforts to advance the health of dogs.

Make sure that your veterinarian receives information about CHIC and where to access information about health testing of all breeds on 
line. If need be, develop you own 
information piece.

Then, when the next person comes in with a Keeshond, Golden Retriever, or any other breed they will be given the information on the health tests required by their breed club. They will not just wander off after consulting their professional, thinking they have everything they need for a healthy litter. 

Deborah Lynch, MSSA, Bio

Deborah Lynch was the first Executive Vice President of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, she served in that role from it’s founding in 1995, until 2003. She has a Masters Degree in Non Profit Administration from Case Western Reserve University and has worked with several non profits in mission development, and strategic planning including United Way Services, the Mandel Center for NonProfit Organizations, CWRU and Ursuline College. She is a member of the Buckeye Keeshond Club and the Keeshond Club of America and has served on its Board of Directors and as its President. She has bred over 30 AKC Champions and has judged her breed in the United States and England. She is currently a writer and consultant. She lives with her family and Keeshonden in Burton, Ohio, and can be contacted at dlnpoconsult@gmail.com 


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