Inherited arrhythmia in young Finnish Leonbergers under investigation

March 10, 2020

A new study in Finland has revealed that inherited malignant ventricular arrhythmia is fairly common among Finnish Leonbergers under three years of age. At its worst, such arrhythmia can result in the dog's sudden death.

Arrhythmia and sudden death in Leonbergers have been a subject of research coordinated by Professor Hannes Lohi since 2016 at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, the University's Veterinary Teaching Hospital and the Finnish Food Authority.

A total of 46 Leonbergers were enrolled for comprehensive cardiac examinations, of whom 15 per cent were diagnosed with severe arrhythmia and another 15 per cent with milder cardiac changes. In addition, the project involved 21 Leonbergers that had died suddenly before turning three, and who had had a postmortem evaluation performed on them.

"No changes indicative of any other causes of death were identified in the evaluations, which makes cardiac arrhythmia the most likely cause of the sudden deaths," says Maria Wiberg, docent of small animal internal medicine at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital, who coordinated the clinical examinations.

Arrhythmia in dogs comes in varying degrees of severity. Diagnosing ventricular arrhythmia does not necessarily mean that the dog will perish, although the risk of sudden death does increase. For example, in a study previously carried out in the United States on German Shepherd dogs, it was found that arrhythmia becomes less frequent as the dog grows older. The severity of the disorder also varies from day to day.

In the Finnish study, the model of inheritance for arrhythmias was assessed on the basis of family connections between the dogs that had died suddenly and those suffering from arrhythmia.

Arrhythmia is common in Leonbergers, and the disorder is typically litter-specific, making it probable that the factors underlying it are hereditary. As it has not been possible to perform cardiac examinations on the afflicted dogs' parents when they were under the age of three, the precise model of inheritance is yet to be determined. For dogs whose heart has been examined after turning three, the findings do not necessarily reveal arrhythmias suffered when young.

"We are in the process of carrying out a range of DNA analyses to identify the arrhythmia gene, a finding that would facilitate disease diagnostics. Furthermore, it would help compare findings to arrhythmia in humans, potentially increasing understanding of the biological causes of arrhythmias. This would boost early diagnostics, breeding programmes and, potentially, the development of drug therapies. Ventricular tachycardia is also a significant and, to a considerable degree, unsolved problem in human medicine," says Professor Hannes Lohi.

The canine biobank of the University of Helsinki holds DNA samples from roughly 600 Leonbergers.
-end-


University of Helsinki

Related Dogs Articles from Brightsurf:

Dogs are sensitive to their owners' choice despite their own preference
Inspired by work on infants, researchers investigated whether dogs' behaviors are guided by human displays of preference or by the animals' own choices.

Researchers identify new Rickettsia species in dogs
Researchers have identified a new species of Rickettsia bacteria that may cause significant disease in dogs and humans.

Paleogenomics -- the prehistory of modern dogs
An international team of scientists has used ancient DNA samples to elucidate the population history of dogs.

Tracking the working dogs of 9/11
A study of search and rescue dogs led by the School of Veterinary Medicine showed little difference in longevity or cause of death between dogs at the disaster site and dogs in a control group.

Fighting like cats and dogs?
We are all familiar with the old adage ''fighting like cat and dog'', but a new scientific study now reveals how you can bid farewell to those animal scraps and foster a harmonious relationship between your pet pooch and feline friend.

Why cats have more lives than dogs when it comes to snakebite
Cats are twice as likely to survive a venomous snakebite than dogs, and the reasons behind this strange phenomenon have been revealed by University of Queensland research.

Adolescence is ruff for dogs too
The study, headed by Dr Lucy Asher from Newcastle University, is the first to find evidence of adolescent behavior in dogs.

Urban dogs are more fearful than their cousins from the country
Inadequate socialisation, inactivity and an urban living environment are associated with social fearfulness in dogs.

Veterinarians: Dogs, too, can experience hearing loss
Just like humans, dogs are sometimes born with impaired hearing or experience hearing loss as a result of disease, inflammation, aging or exposure to noise.

Dogs and wolves are both good at cooperating
A team of researchers have found that dogs and wolves are equally good at cooperating with partners to obtain a reward.

Read More: Dogs News and Dogs Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.