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DM Testing and heart murmur

Discussion in 'Dog Health issues and questions' started by CathieArms, Sep 23, 2011.

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  1. CathieArms

    CathieArms Boxer Pal

    Sep 23, 2011
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    Hi! I'm in the process of selecting a new boxer baby to bring home. I've talked to the breeder extensively, and I feel mostly confident that I'm doing the right thing by purchasing through her, but I have a couple of questions I'm hoping y'all can help with.

    Heart murmur: one of the two puppies in question presented with a heart murmur a few weeks ago. At that time it was a grade 1 and the vet was unconcerned, saying that it's fairly common and should disappear by 16 weeks. Pup is now 10 weeks and was in today for eval. Vet found no murmur and considers it a resolved issue. Should *I* consider it a resolved issue, or should I be concerned that this might be a sign of things to come?

    Degenerative myelopathy: the dam was tested and is a carrier. The sire was not tested before his death, but lived to be something like 10 or 12 years old. He's a sperm donor sire to this litter. I understand that there are now DNA tests for DM and that 50-something percent of boxers are considered "at risk" of developing DM, though being "at risk" doesn't necessarily mean it will ever present in the dog's lifetime. I have no intentions of ever breeding, so I'm really concerned from a health standpoint. I understand this is considered to be an "old dog disease" and generally doesn't hit until age 8ish, but also can present earlier. I expect the lifespan of this dog - based upon our experiences with other boxers - to be 8-10 years, with or without the development of DM.

    All other recommended health testing has been done on the sire and dam with good results. I'm pleased at the otherwise proactive health testing the breeder has completed, but am reasonably concerned about the DM.

    Given this information, do you have any advice regarding whether I should proceed with a puppy from this litter. There are only 2 pups left, and the girl is the one that presented with a murmur. I'm not "sold" yet on either one and - at least right now - could go either way.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. Cami

    Cami Boxer Insane

    Sep 7, 2003
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    My pups sire is also a DM carrier. She is 14 months old and I swear not a day goes by that I don't want to have her tested or think I see something that points to her developing the condition. It is enough to make me physically ill if I let it.
    She too has a murmur. Diagnosed at 8-ish weeks old and has not gone away but hasn't gotten any worse. She is under the supervision of a cardiologist and at present does not seem to think it is something we need to be overly concerned with. We know what is causing the murmur (increased velocity) but no reason as to what is causing that.
    It is a hard decision to make. For me personally....having already fallen in love with my pup since before she was born I made the choice to bring her home (not yet knowing the heart thing but aware of the sire DM issue).
    In your position I am not 100% sure of what I would do but I lost another girl to heart issues last year so am a little guarded in that area.
    We always want to protect our hearts from pain but in the end they will ALL break our hearts in one way or another.
    Just be honest with yourself. If you want the girl and are prepared financially and emotionally if something were to happen sooner rather than later due to the murmur can you deal with that?
    You should have your answer!
  3. SherylM

    SherylM Completely Boxer Crazy

    Jan 10, 2005
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    DM is not necessarily an old dog disease. Dogs as young as four years old have been known to show symptoms.

    Heart murmurs in puppies that resolve by themselves are usually not a problem later in life.

    I have experienced both these issues with my boxers.

    You can request to have your puppy tested for DM if you are concerned. DM is an autoimmune related disorder. Part of knowing that your dog has/is a carrier for DM would be doing everything you can to protect his/her immune system. I wish I had known this when Jack was young. Each time I vaccinated him he had a horrible reaction. I am sure that this contributed to his DM presenting itself. I didn't know this until it was too late unfortunately.

    DM does not have to be a death sentence. After Jack's diagnoses he lived for almost two years. And he lived a very full life during those two years. For part of it he was paralyzed but that didn't stop him or us from making sure his life was full and rewarding.

    Personally, I would not knowlingly buy a puppy from a breeder that didn't test for DM. I think it's wonderful that this breeder you have chosen is doing this. In saying that, I can be completely honest in admitting that even if I knew my pup was a carrier or may in fact develop DM it would not stop me from bringing them home. Someone has to care for the DM dogs of the world and now that I have done this once, I know I could do it again. I could do it for the love of the dog. It was hard work but worth it every step of the way.

    If you are fully prepared to give your dog the very best of life and love then I wouldn't hesitate to bring your girl puppy home. As long as you go into it with your eyes open there won't be any surprises down the road.

    This of course is just my personal opinion, for what it's worth.
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