Anyone else have a dog with a genetic disorder? Mine has DLE...

So, I will start by saying that I am really very fortunate that Toby's condition is mostly cosmetic. It has been expensive to treat, and he was "not quite himself" for awhile, but otherwise is no worse for wear.

In March or so, Toby started experiencing what I thought was allergies and conjunctivitis. Several months and many many vet visits and procedures (and thousands of dollars--I'm dumb and never got pet insurance) later, it was determined that he has DLE (Discoid Lupus Erythematosus). Unlike Systemic Lupus, which can be very degenerative and painful, I've learned that mostly what Toby will experience is sun sensitivity, dry eyes, some skin discoloration, etc. Again, very lucky to know that my little man, though sick *forever*, won't experience much discomfort.

So I guess I have 2 questions in sharing this. One, does anyone else have a Corgi with DLE? I'd love to talk to someone whose been through this and maybe know a little more about what to expect.

And 2...The breeders likely knew, right? I would have thought that they had an obligation to tell me this, but I guess not? The vet said Toby was "genetically predisposed". Should I take that to assume his parents had this disease? I know he has at least 1 brother, what about him?

(Don't hate me for my ignorance. I got Toby from what I thought was a reputable --not puppy mill-- pet store) I tried to do my due diligence and got AKC information, etc. on his parents before I went through with the purchase, but I guess I didn't do enough. Is there something I should be doing to make sure that this doesn't happen again?

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I'm sorry your Toby has this condition, but relieved that it sounds manageable. 

To answer your question:  a lot of these diseases have very complex genetic inheritance and it may not have ever showed up in the family tree until now.  Auto-immune diseases, by and large, are polygenic and cannot be tested for.  I have a form of auto-inflammatory disease called Ankylosing Spondylitis, an often severe form of inflammatory arthritis that attacks spine and hips and is known for starting at a young age (teens to twenties).  Ongoing genetic studies show that this disease has a few DOZEN genes involved in its onset.  Even a reputable, careful breeder could end up with a dog with auto-immune disease when it was never in either line before.

We have carefully reviewed our family tree and no one in our family had any early-onset arthritis that we know of, my parents don't have it, their relatives don't have it, neither of my siblings have it.  However, my nephew DOES have it.  So apparently it was some confluence of my parents' genes that never showed up before.

That said, we all live and learn and while you felt you were doing the right thing at the time and so there is no sense in feeling bad about it, the fact is there is no such thing as a reputable pet store.  Good breeders, be they show breeders, working breeders, or decent "backyard" breeders are as concerned about their pups futures as their pasts.  They would never have a pup spend even a week of critical socialization periods in a pet store cage, and would never have a pup go to a home where they could not personally interview the prospective new owners.  A good breeder would sooner keep an unsold pup for its natural life than see it go to a pet shop.  There are no good pet stores.  Again, not to regret the past, but so that you know in the future not to take this path. 

Good luck with Toby! 

Here's some info on the human variant:

It is polygenic, and in addition, the genes can show up through random mutation in previously unaffected genetic lines.

Just a thought. You might try putting some turmeric in his food.  I have a colon problem (not as bad as Crohn's disease) but it requires steroid treatment.  I use Super Bio-Curcumin (from turmeric) which helps me reduce the amount of steroid that I take.  I treated Reese my rescue dog for heart worms by an alternative treatment methods but it usually requires steroids or strong anti-inflammatory and I treated her with Super Bio-Curcumin and it seemed to help her through periods when the worms died. I wish Toby well.

Thank you all for your notes so far! I was really surprised when Toby came down with this but, yes, very glad to know that it is manageable. Appreciate the advice all around!

This could be a "bolt from the blue".

I work in a medical genetics research lab, just a tech.  From my understanding, many genetic problems stem from de novo mutations in the affected individual, so there is no family history.  They're new mutations, and these things happen often enough.  

If it is inherited, but fully recessive, then it may show no family history (we all inherit lots of broken genes, but if one good gene is enough, the disease allele is fully recessive and the normal allele is fully dominant).

It is REALLY complicated.  Our lab found a gene which, when mutated, causes a certain neurologic disease.  It was the 14th gene which, when broken, causes those symptoms.  Now there are over 30 of them known.  So really, they are 30 different disease caused by mutations in 30 different genes, but it's almost impossible to tell them apart clinically.  This stuff is still in its infancy.

Also note that while is is "easy" to detect a well-known, fairly common allele (the DM risk factor is a good example), that's because you know what you're looking for.  New, sporadic, or uncommon alleles are like looking for a needle in an ocean.

My breeder told me that NO reputable breeder would place one of their puppies in a pet store.  I see that Beth covered the pet store issue very well so I need not go on.  However, I must add that I will not purchase ANYTHING from a pet store that sells dogs or cats.  I don't want to support that kind of store.

I am happy to read that Toby's condition is mostly cosmetic and that he has a family that will take care of him and love him no matter what comes.  He is very lucky that you came along.  There are lots of people who could have taken him home that would just get rid of him.

My Payton had DLE.   He was diagnosed around 6 yrs of age when his nose partially turned pink and was crusty on one side all the time.  My vet told me up front it was DLE or a very rare untreatable cancer that DLE can mimic.   So, when the tests came back  as DLE I was quite relieved. It was manageable and I could live with that since his idopathic epilepsy was under control and it wouldn't effect that,  It just made him that more special.   I did contact his breeder to let her know so she could have the information for her records. She hadn't been notified of any pups in his litter having either issues but was grateful for the information.

Payton's symptoms were: partially pink nose, dry skin, sensitive skin (be careful with topical flea & tick products), chronic staph infections on the left side of his nose (NOT contagious to humans or other dogs-- was an allergy to his natural staph)

You will need to put Toby on vitamin E and some good Omegas.  Makes a huge difference.  

We use

If you can afford it, find a canine  dermatologist.

Hi Stacia,  I am back since Jill recommended vitamin E.  I would suggest Swanson Vitamins Full-Spectrum E.  There are 2 types of E, tocopherols and tocotrienols and each has 4 sub groups with the various subunits doing different things.  Of course, these are prepared for humans so when I was treating Reese for hookworm and heart worms, I would nip the end off of a capsule and squeeze 1/3 to 1/2 out into her food bowel when preparing her food into which I also put her other meds and supplements.

I don't know how closely related the human and canine versions are, but I have systemic lupus. They say you inherit a disposition, but none of my MANY relatives have it. Do not worry about where you got him, just go forward with keeping him comfortable and loving him!

Setting his pet store acquisition aside, even a reputable breeder might not know their dogs can produce it and it's not something you can test for apparently since it is polygenic.  The parents don't even have to have it to pass it along.  Kind of like Hip Dysplasia, you can have two perfect parents produce severely affected offspring.  It's doubtful anybody would have known before hand.  Just because something is "genetic" doesn't mean the breeder necasarily knows because not all diseases and conditions are able to be tested for. 

But this situation demonstrates the difference in pet store vs. reputable breeder is a reputable breeder would be easy to contact to inform them of the findings and they could adjust their breeding program accordingly and be happy to stay in touch with you about the problem.  A pet store isn't usually going to take interest in your problem and the breeder may be able to be contacted but you would have to search for them and may or may not find them.  The information may mean something to them but then again it might not.  In all likelyhood the breeder of Toby will not know about the condition and cross the two dogs again to potentially produce the same problem. 


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