27 February 2012

Sad News


It is with great sadness that I send this email to you. Percy, our wonderful 4 year old Bedlington died a month ago and it still breaks my heart to think that he is no longer with us. Percy had featured a few times on you blog pages and I only wish now that I had shared a bit more of his life with all the other wonderful Bedlington Terrier owners who follow your blog.
I first noticed that he was drinking a lot a water towards the end of November and having got another dog who has diabetic I thought "here we go again" ! I took him to the local vet who did various test and the results indicated that he had a liver infection so he was put on anti-biotics for the whole of December with a strict chicken and rice diet and this seemed to decrease his need for water. During that time I noticed a slow weight loss and the occasional bouts of sickness but nothing really to warrant alarm bells. He returned to the vets in January for some more test and a Copper Toxicosis gene test. His results showed that his liver still wasn't performing as it should and the Copper Toxicosis test indicated that he was simple a carried of the gene. It was suggested that he could possible have a portosystemic shunt. Our vet recommended a course of medication to "jump start" the liver and a medicated diet but within the week he had deteriorated so badly that by the weekend he didn't want to go out for a walk and really couldn't be bothered with anything. He started to fit on the Monday and was admitted to the vets overnight and put on a drip and it was recommended that he was referred to a veterinary specialist in liver conditions. My husband and I made a desperate last minute dash on Tuesday 24 January down the A1 to Croft Referral Centre in Cramlington where it became clear to us that very little could be done for Percy. The vet at Croft Referral Centre was very well informed about Copper Toxicosis and explained that Percy's genetic test wasn't as clear cut as it appeared, he was extremely open and honest with us and also doubted that Percy had a portosystemic shunt. Percy was tested and scanned that day and it was discovered that he was in the last stages of liver failure with irregular brain activity. We made the heartbreaking journey back down to Cramlington on Wednesday morning to be with him when he passed away and brought him back home with us to be buried in his favourite spot in the garden.
I still find it very difficult to understand how this savage disease took over Percy so very, very quickly. Since his death I have been trawling through the Internet and discovered that some Bedlingtons can live controlled with this condition and others seem to slip away so quickly just like our Bedlington did. I only wish now that I was more informed about this disease and pushed our own vet to explore the possibility of Copper Toxicosis further by having a biopsy rather than waste precious time trying out different medications. It's also highlight just what a mind-field the gene testing is with the various combinations of genes and markers which build up the genetic picture of Copper Toxicosis. Percy was the second Bedlington I have owned and since his death we have done nothing but talk about having another one or two but I guess I'm just so worried that it will happen all over again, I know the chances are highly unlikely but I just don't want to go through all this heart ache again. Can any of your breeders or followers tell me if there is some kind of data base listing the breeders who are endorsing preventative measures to insure that this disease is eradicated totally from the breed ? With kind regards Fiona Calder

I have just returned from holiday and how upset I was to receive your very sad news. To lose such a young dog to this terrible condition is devastating and we all shares in your sadness!
It seems that some dogs can lead a normal life with CT without their owners knowing their dog have a copper problem, and unfortunately a few  fall sick with liver failure. The current test whatever the result gives no accurate indication to whether a dog will contract CT. It is thought that other faulty gene or genes need to be identified before an accurate test can come into force.

From The Health Group Website
“It looks like we'll have to wait a little while longer as some still further interpretation needs to be performed on the results of the DNA sequencing before we can know the gene(s) involved in the CT dogs.


Stuart said...

So sorry to hear about your sad loss. Unfortunately, even after over thirty years of hard work and research by some of the world's top canine pathologists and geneticists we have not fully got to the bottom of this disease. Even now its clinical diagnosis is sometimes disputed by pathologists so a 100% accurate gene test is extremely difficult to achieve despite the efforts of dedicated breeders. All we can do is provide the researchers with as much information as possible. This means ALL of us (not just breeders)having our dogs tested by all means possible and providing liver samples to the researchers, along with DNA and a pedigrees so they can all be analysed together.
I appreciate that a liver biopsy is very expensive, costing around six or seven hundred pounds a time in the South of England, but a much cheaper alternative is autopsy on the death of our much loved pals. This is the only way we are going to achieve our long term aim of total eradication.
Unfortunately too many people have relied on the information provided by the dedicated few who have gone "all the way" and this has left big holes in the genetic map of the breed.
On a more positive note, but not much consolation to you, is that we are hearing of far fewer dogs affected by CT, which initial research showed affected up to 40% of the population, with most of the remainder being carriers.
There is a mine of information on the problem on the net, much of which is, unfortunately, out of date but a good starting point is the Bedlington Health Group's site on this Blog.
Our thoughts are with you at this horrible time but please don't give up on the breed which needs caring, loving owners like yourselves and with the help and co-operation of all WE WILL GET RID OF THIS TERRIBLE DISEASE.
If you have any questions please contact myself or any of the Health Group reps who will do their best to provide answers or put you in touch with someone who can.

(BTA Health Group Rep.)

Elaine & Ern said...

So very sorry to hear of your loss Fiona - that is indeed very sad news.

As a point of interest - following on from Stuart's comment - we were encouraged a few years ago to have a routine ALT test on Mac. The result came back raised and unfortunately the younger vet in our practice diagnosed CT from this one test and had no clue how to deal with it, she came up with all sorts of bizzare suggestions and treatment plans. Thanks to the bedlington folk on here and locally in the Northeast we decided against her plans and asked for a liver biopsy - boy did we have to fight for that - Thankfully the biosy was normal - samples were sent as requested to help with the reseach and blood eventually returned to near normal.

But importantly because he had a raised ALT level our insurance company agreed he needed further investigation and paid the £500 in full - even throwing in an extra £60 for his DNA test (clear too) which certainly wasn't covered by the policy.

It's sometimes worth asking the question - certainly was for us.

EJ said...

Hi Fiona,

I'm so so sorry! Please don't start blaming yourself or thinking you should have done more! Vets are professionals so we go with what they say. I know the feeling. I have now changed vets.

I hope in time you will feel comfortable getting another bedlington.