The Pupscan Project is collecting as much information as possible to identify the conditions that lead to faulty joint development (“Dysplasia”). Environmental factors begin in utero and we know from human medicine how very important this can be; particularly in regard to nutrition of the mother, medication, toxins (e.g. cigarette smoking) and restricted space for movement of the baby.
The ultrasound machines we use to scan puppy joints in the first weeks of life, are in addition, able to give excellent detailed in utero pictures several weeks before birth. We can therefore confirm a successful mating within four weeks, as well as giving an indication of the expected number of pups. This can provide us with a lot of information about the intra-uterine environment and contributes towards our current research.
Of great importance is the available space in each amniotic sac for the developing puppy limbs to move. Restricted movement may result in abnormal joint development but the causes may be predominantly due to the maternal rather than the puppy genes. For example, a slow leak of amniotic fluid following trauma (not ‘puppy’ genetic at all) or reduced fluid production from the puppy kidneys (associated with the puppy), can both lead to joint development problems. If we find one small volume sac in the pregnancy, we are at least prepared for surprises in one of the puppies born but this may not be relevant to the genetic make-up of the remaining healthy pups.
If we are to get to grips with the “Dysplasia” problem we must start as early as we can. The past history of both sire and dam, can be collected and recorded when we scan to confirm the pregnancy. We will have an estimated date of whelping and will help ensure that all necessary equipment is ready on time.
You will be sent the paperwork ready to record the whelping details we need, such as gender, delivery number, in sac/no sac, head first/breech, weight, identification details and growth details before we come to scan your litter. By having all this to hand if things are happening quickly on the day, (or night!) we will have as much information as possible.
Over a few years we will be able to pass all this information to our academic colleagues. When the numbers are big enough for meaningful statistical analysis, we can then target our “Gene-Hunting” in a way that could give detailed and objective guidance to Breeders to help maintain their healthy gene pool.
As there are relatively few pathological conditions that are the consequence of a single gene anomaly, we know we may need thousands of samples to get the answer but it will all start with the pregnancy scan!
So if you have planned a litter, get in touch and fill in the form below, so that we can plan the pregnancy scan and get the ball rolling!