Mucopolysaccharidosis in Dogs
July 13, 2019
Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs is a form of metabolic disorder, generally, this will be due to the deficiency of the Lysomal enzyme, but there are multiple different forms of Mucopolysaccharidosis.
Yet, each form of Mucopolysaccharidosis is characterised by the damage which can be done to the cartilage, bones, skin, corneas, tendons, and the fluid which helps to lubricate a dog’s joints.
There are a number of different dog breeds which are more commonly diagnosed with Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs. The following breeds are all genetically predisposed to the Mucopolysaccharidosis condition Labrador Retrievers, Welsh Corgis, German Shepherds, Miniature Pinschers, Miniature Schnauzers, and mixed breed dogs.
Symptoms and Types of Mucopolysaccharidosis in Dogs
The signs and symptoms of Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs will depend on the type of enzyme deficiency or the type of GAG which is stored in the organs.
Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs is seen in dogs who have dwarfism, severe bone disease, degenerative joint diseases, facial deformities, enlarged livers, enlarged tongues and cloudiness in the eyes.
Causes of Mucopolysaccharidosis in Dogs
Unlike many other conditions, there is only one cause for Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs; and that is a dog’s genetics. As we mentioned before, Mucopolysaccharidosis is more prevalent than in certain breeds, however, inbreeding is a massive part of the problem as inbreeding increases the risk of the litter suffering from the condition. The defective gene doesn’t even need to be present in the family for the litter to be left with the condition. Therefore, it is crucial that you ensure that you go to reputable breeders – especially if you are looking at a breed which commonly suffers from Mucopolysaccharidosis.
How to Diagnose Mucopolysaccharidosis in Dogs
If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from Mucopolysaccharidosis, don’t hesitate in contacting your vet immediately. Your vet will ask you for a comprehensive rundown of their medical history, they will need to know about the nature of the symptoms and how they have changed over time. This is why it is always important to jot down details of your dog's health if you start to suspect that your dog has got sick.
After your vet is satisfied with the amount of background information, they will complete a physical examination along with the required tests. Biochemical profiles are essential in understanding your dog's condition, with Mucopolysaccharidosis, the usual tests include a complete blood count and a urinalysis. These tests should be significant for the initial diagnosis, the tests will reveal whether there are any granules within the white blood cells. Your vet may also want to take samples from other body sites on your dog such as bone marrow, the liver, the joints, and the lymph nodes – however, your vet will only perform these tests if further analysis is required.
Finally, for a definitive diagnosis may include measuring the levels of the lysosomal enzymes in either the blood or the liver. If the bones have been affected by the Mucopolysaccharidosis, bone x-rays will be required to monitor bone density, and to check for any other abnormalities in the joints.
Treatment of Mucopolysaccharidosis in Dogs
The treatment of Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs depends on the extent of the condition and which body systems have been affected. Bone marrow transplants may be needed if your dog is young. If Mucopolysaccharidosis is treated in the early stages of their lives, it is not uncommon for dogs to live normal, happy, and healthy lives. Yet, this treatment can be expensive and has the potential to be life-threatening, so it is not always viable for some pet owners. As the dog gets older, the less likely it is to recover from Mucopolysaccharidosis. Another issue with bone marrow transplants for dogs includes the fact that the process requires a healthy donor match which won’t always be viable.
The next best option is enzyme replacement therapy, the therapy has proven to be incredibly effective with Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs. Yet, just like the bone marrow transplants, this can also be an expensive course of treatment. On top of this, the process isn’t practised commonly with animals, instead, the procedure is much more common with humans suffering from Mucopolysaccharidosis.
Finally, gene therapy is a relatively new course of treatment for Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs, there has been a great amount of research conducted, however in many parts of the world the treatment is still under evaluation and not currently available. Yet, there is great progress which is being made. So, in the coming years, dog owners may have more options when it comes to Mucopolysaccharidosis.
Management and Living with Mucopolysaccharidosis
Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs can be resolved in the long-term if a bone marrow transplant has been completed while they are young. Yet, it is common for dogs with Mucopolysaccharidosis to suffer additional problems as they get older. The most prevalent implication of Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs is the dog experiencing eating difficulties. If your dog is suffering from Mucopolysaccharidosis-related eating difficulties there are ways around this such as replacing their meal with easily digested softer foods. However, you will need to be aware that dogs who suffer from Mucopolysaccharidosis will require much more care than your average healthy dogs. Their treatment plans have the potential to become incredibly costly, as they will need more than your average check-ups.
There is a substantial amount of evidence to point out that Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs leads to an increased risk of picking up bacterial infections. This will mean that antibiotic therapy is required every time they pick up a new infection.
As Mucopolysaccharidosis in dogs can have such devastating effects, it is recommended that you never breed a dog which has a proven presence of Mucopolysaccharidosis as there is a high chance the condition will be passed down to the litter. As Mucopolysaccharidosis can be a debilitating disease, your vet may suggest that you neuter your dog to make sure that the gene doesn’t enter another line breed.