Aussie Health Care News

Love is an Action, so Take Action on Protecting your Aussie’s Health with a Simple DNA Test.We strongly recommend that you have your Aussie tested for the MDR1 gene.

“MDR” stands for multi-drug resistance.  This condition occurs in a number of dog breeds and in also in certain mixed breed dogs.  Of particular concern to the Aussie owner, the MDR1 gene occurs at unusually high frequency among herding breeds.  For instance, 75% of all collies in the United States have the MDR1.  It is also common in German Shepherds, Shetland Sheepdogs, Old English Shepherds, and Australian Shepherds.

If your dog has the MDR1 gene, it can cause adverse reactions to common pain, anticancer drugs, and heartworm medications. .  Some of these drugs include the following:

  • Acepromazine (tranquilizer and pre-anesthetic agent)
  • Butorphanol (analgesic and pre-anesthetic agent)
  • Chemotherapy Agents (Vincristine, Vinblastine, Doxorubicin, Paclitaxel)
  • Ivermectin (antiparasitic agent)
  • Selamectin, milbemycin, and moxidectin (antaparasitic agents)
  • Loperamide (ImodiumTM; antidiarrheal agent)

Reactions to these drugs are typically very severe, leading to comatose states in some dogs and death in others. Of course, there is no way to know if your Aussie is afflicted with this condition without a DNA test.

Fortunately, the Washington State University College of Vetineary Medicine has developed a way for you to test your Australian Shepherd for the MDR1       mutation.  As these tests become more common, the list of affected breeds (and even some mixed breed dogs) continues to grow.

Fortunately, too, you don’t need any special training or vetinary skill to administer this test.  You can also choose which type of test you use.  Most dog owners prefer the saliva swab test, while most vetinarians prefer the blood test.

The saliva test is easily administered with a Test Kit that you can order from the University.  Brushes and collection instructions are included in the kit.  It normally takes one or two weeks for the kit to arrive via U.S. Mail.

You also have the option of a blood test, which requires 2 mm of blood drawn into an EDTA tube you can get from your vet.  (You can also have your vet drawn the blood for you.

Both tests are equally viable provided sufficent cells are collected to determine the presence of the MDR1 gene.

If you need more information on testing your Aussie, contact us or talk to your vet today.