Our community blogs
Veterinary Cancer Glossary - Help for Tough Discussions
Veterinary-client communication is key to good care for our pets, and a new resource to support owners and vets is now available from IPFD partner World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA).
Let's face it - cancer/neoplasia can be a complex subject to discuss and even harder to comprehend when one is faced with the emotional aspects of a challenging diagnosis. The Veterinary Oncology Glossary provides an understandable source of information that can be used by veterinarians and their clients.
The Veterinary Oncology Glossary is:
- Concise and clear, with helpful images
- Available in multiple languages
Contains common terms around the diagnosis, treatment, and management of cancer.
Download the English version here: Veterinary Oncology Glossary-WOW-13.11.2021.pdf
Go to the Oncology Working Group site to learn more or download in other languages.
https://wsava.org/committees/oncology-working-group/ - is the link.... and you will see this:
Unfortunately, cancer is very common in some breeds and can happen in any dog. This chart of Swedish data shows high and low risk breeds and ages at death.
We all know someone who is affected by cancer. The WSAVA glossary resource can help us understand the terminology and communicate with others.
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Genetic Rescue of the Highly Inbred Norwegian Lundehund
... is a new paper about attempts to 'save' the Lundehund breed and is a good reference for anyone working with a rare breed.
This Lundehund was reduced from a relatively rare one to one with such low genetic diversity that its survival was doubtful. Under these conditions, outcrossing to other breeds offered the one possibility. This paper shows some success, but, not surprisingly, researchers found that crossing the first generation back to the Lundehund reduced the genetic diversity of outcrosses.
Outcrossing programs have been utilized for other breeds in Finland, with a carefully planned program, with some success (see links below). Breeders must be willing to make some tough decisions in these cases and have the patience to 'do it right' if they wanted to save these rare and endangered breeds.
The conclusions of the Lundehund paper are:
"This study clearly documents the beneficial genetic effect of outcrossing a highly inbred dog population. It also documents that backcrossing the F1 generation to the parental population results in a loss of some of the desired heterozygosity achieved in the initial outcross. To preserve the characteristics of the Lundehund, the F2 dogs were made by crossing the F1 with the Lundehund and not with other F2 dogs from different lineages." ... "Thus, stakeholders in the program and in future genetic rescue projects can use this data in combination with health data for the F1 and F2 animals to evaluate the effectiveness of the genetic rescue program so far. Our results indicate that additional crossbreeding would extend and augment the genetic rescue process." ...
- Crossbreeding in Finland:
- Crossbreeding and Outcrossing: Two terms, many concepts. - https://dogwellnet.com/content/health-and-breeding/breeding/breeding-for-health/cross-breeding/crossbreeding-and-outcrossing-two-terms-many-concepts-r730/
- The Norwegian Lundehund Outcross Project - https://dogwellnet.com/content/health-and-breeding/breeding/breeding-for-health/cross-breeding/the-norwegian-lundehund-outcross-project-r419/
- Norwegian Lundehund - Pedigree Breeds - DogWellNet - https://dogwellnet.com/breeds/pedigree/norwegian-lundehund-r140/
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(Above photo by Kaisa Huttunen)
We published a Get a GRIHP! article on the Finnish Spitz in August 2020. While gathering information for the article, we got to know the work being done in the Finnish breed association Suomen Pystykorvajärjestö - Finska Spetsklubben ry (SPJ). SPJ, together with the other Nordic breed clubs of the breed, has worked very hard to maintain and improve health and genetic diversity in the breed. A very good example of this is the successful work in reducing the frequency of epilepsy - a polygenic disease not easy to breed against.
The work done in the Finnish Spitz is well worth checking out. We wrote about it - it became a series of articles which offer in-depth information on development and implementation of the Finnish Spitz Breeding Strategy. Here you are - I hope you like it!
Breed-specific breeding strategies to achieve positive outcomes - the Finnish Spitz as an example.
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The 9 November FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) podcast, hosted by Attila Márton, featured Dr Sára Sándor, who gave an excellent description of what a genomic chip is and how it assesses a dog's DNA to identify genetic variants (mutations) - taking some of the mystery out of a technology that many may know the name of, but few could describe!Canine genetic testing technology has changed rapidly since the first DNA tests were offered to dog breeders and owners in the late 1990's. STRs were the standard for many tests, and in some cases are still used today, before SNPs based testing became more useful and economical. Across commercial genetic test providers and some research groups, the utilization of SNP-chip or genomic chip technology has made capturing a wealth of genetic information across the whole of a dog's genome possible, and the industry standard.
In the FCI Podcast (9 November 2021), Dr Sándor talked about some of challenges and limitations of this data, including breeding implications. The talk highlighted familiar challenges in genetic testing, such as what to do with dogs who have something other than clear/normal test results for inherited diseases. Dr Sándor raised several good points about the importance of understanding the disease impact on the dog, and how removing the dog from breeding could negatively impact the genetic diversity of the breed. She also acknowledged that there are certainly some rare cases, usually affecting individual dogs or specific inherited diseases that do not have simple modes of inheritance, where dogs that carry one of the undesirable variants could have some degree of disease impact (e.g. incomplete penetrance, multivariate, or complex).
What was missing, in my opinion, was "Big Picture" thinking on health - where breeders must remember that the most common and serious problems facing a breed do not now and may never have a genetic test. The Big Picture should also be applied more specifically to genetic testing, with more discussion on the realities that face dog breeders making decisions based on multiple genetic test results. As we are more able to identify variants associated with disease risk or undesirable traits, then it will be even more apparent that all dogs (and all mammals and plants, etc.) carry a mixture of genetic risks and benefits and that there simply isn't a dog that is completely without all genetic risk. There are already many breeds where there are dozens of genetic tests associated with disease risks, that a breeder must consider in balance with the risks to the individual dog, and any potential offspring. Breeding from only "clear" tested dogs is not only going to be impossible, but undesirable. DNA test results are one factor in breeding, and knowing the genetic risks gives options to breeders to match dogs that balance each other. The overwhelming majority of genetic tests available are single-gene, with a simple recessive inheritance. Meaning in most cases, as long as one of the parents is free of the mutation, there will be no genetically affected offspring.
When you consider that there are also many attributes and health risks to consider that do not have a genetic test, and are unlikely to, then it becomes even more apparent that the solution to over-all good breeding is going to be a "Big Picture" approach.
Overall, I encourage you to listen or watch the podcast. It was very informative and interesting, as well as an excellent overview of genomic chip technology.
YouTube premiere: https://youtu.be/5YJp0UVK-CM
A small selection of IPFD's "Big Picture" resources:
Get a GRIHP! A Globally Relevant Integrated Health Profile (GRIHP) describes the Big Picture of health on (all) conditions that are of interest within a breed and is intended to inform owners, breeders, and those counseling them.
The Big Picture, on genetic diversity blog offers additional links to information and resources
International Actions. These articles link to many international projects supporting canine welfare, health, and breeding, as well as other human-dog interactions.
Photo of an Illumina chip, via illumina.com
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Recently we have had questions from dog breeder health advisors about using inbreeding tools, particularly pedigree-based tools such as estimating Coefficients of Inbreeding (COI). This blog discussion describes COIs, some advantages and disadvantages, and provides thoughts on usage.There are several resources available to both individual breeders and breed organizations (clubs and kennel clubs) that can help to monitor and track genetic diversity, and estimate an individual dog's diversity relevant to a breed population. Each have advantages and disadvantages but can play a role in improving genetic diversity, including:
- Pedigree-based COI estimations (Coefficient of Inbreeding)
- Genomic COI calculations
Often associated with COI:
- Popular sire tracking. Access to breed-wide data will vary by country, breed/kennel club. Some clubs restrict numbers of litters born to sires/dams to reduce the impact of popular sires.
- Breed diversity reports/research. Some kennel clubs, breed clubs, researchers and commercial genetic test providers have undertaken breed reports on population differences, including genetic diversity and inbreeding, popular sires/dams, etc.
There are also other genetic tools used to estimate genetic diversity, such as MHC/DLA testing, but for the purposes of this article, we are focusing on COI-based concepts. We hope to follow up with more information on all types of genetic testing-type diversity tests in another article.
This tool uses pedigree information to estimate how closely related a dog's parents are. The more ancestors a dog's parents share, the more likely that duplicate genes will have been passed down, accumulating over generations (called identity by decent, or IBD) and thus reducing genetic diversity. Pedigree COI probability calculations are based on the dog's relatedness, not specific genes or regions of the genome. It does not attempt (nor claim) to be able to tell you which parts of the genome a dog has randomly inherited from the dam or sire, but instead focuses on how many relatives are held in common throughout the dog's known ancestry. All dogs in the same litter will have the same COI probability. Pedigree-based COI probabilities can not account for any influence of recombination or specific genes/sections of genetic code.
There are some advantages to pedigree-based COI. There are a number of kennel and breed clubs who have invested in providing pedigree COIs to members, allowing free or low-cost access. There are also many free tools available for breeders to use, particularly when they have a breed or type that is not registered with a kennel club. If the COI is based on a large number of generations, ideally as many generations as known, and good-quality pedigrees, it can be informative and helpful in selecting dogs for breeding that are less closely related. It can also be used to look at changes over time in a fairly simple way that doesn't require special technology or access to the dogs. It may also have the advantage of being based on something familiar to breeders - pedigrees - and therefore may overcome some of the education challenges other genetic diversity tools may face. Pedigree-based COI calculations have been used effectively to impact genetic diversity across a wide range of animal breeding practices.
The big challenge is confidence in the accuracy and quantity of the pedigree data used. If based on a small number of generations, or on inaccurate pedigree information, the COI can be wildly inaccurate in measuring relatedness in a meaningful way. There have been numerous studies that have shown that restricting the number of generations included in the calculations can be very misleading. Examples have shown a COI based on 5-generations, vs 10+ generations can give a false impression that the COI is much lower, and not reflect the accumulation of inbreeding/relatives in common over time. There can also be the temptation to have generational calculation cut-offs to either reduce the time required for COI calculations or to compare different breeds to each other. This leaves COI vulnerable to being used to support practices and strategies that may agree with biased agendas, but do not improve dog health.
To provide good-quality COIs requires large amounts of pedigree data, time to analyze this data, and some expertise. Without this, there is a very high risk that decisions could be made on poor information.
Can we calculate better? Genomic COI:
Genomic COI works off the same concept of IDB as pedigree COI, but does this by comparing tens of thousands of markers across the dog's genome (or, in theory, could use a dog's whole genome). It aims to capture specific swathes of homozygous markers of the genome inherited over generations, rather than estimate the probability that duplicate parts of the genome have been inherited. In this way, it should be more reflective of what precisely has been inherited in common, or what is IDB, over all of the generations of a breed's development, and not be restricted to a specific number of generations.
Genomic COI is more precise, and if based on a large volume of genomic data, has a high standard of accuracy. It can also be more precise in reflecting an individual dog's level of inbreeding compared to a defined breed population. There is also the potential for much more precise estimations of inbreeding risk or improving diversity in matings. This could be especially helpful in choosing between two potential dogs who are otherwise equal in breeding qualities.
There are costs for testing (usually around the $100-200 range, but often with other genetic tests included), and you need to have access to the dogs to provide genetic samples. There may be challenges (e.g. costs, compatibility) for integration into kennel club databases or other resources trying to collate health, pedigree, and genetic diversity information. Like all genetic diversity genetic tests, identifying presence or absence of areas of homozygous genetic markers does not mean identifying what those markers may be coding for. The assumption with genetic diversity is that the more diversity that is in place, the less likely that undesirable traits will be passed down. However, there could be rare or less common markers for a reason, such as an association with a disease or other undesirable traits.
What about other genetic diversity tests?
We hope to follow up this blog with more articles exploring different kinds of genetic diversity genetic testing tools.
How could COI be useful?
There are many ways a COI % can be used. For the individual breeder, the COI can be one way to add in genetic diversity as a consideration in breeding plans for individual matings, or as a way to track breeding plans over time. For breed clubs, or kennel clubs, it can be particularly useful in observing breed-wide trends and changes. Many clubs have recommendations based on the current breed-average - usually that a breeder should aim to breed at or below the current breed average COI. This is not necessarily to breed the lowest COI possible, and certainly not to prioritize COI over the health or health risks of an individual dog.
For example, the Finnish Breed Club encourages breeders to integrate COI information into breeding plans based on the first 5 generations to avoid high COI% matings in the near-generations, as a way to reduce the likelihood of passing on deleterious genes that could impact the individual dog's health. The Swedish Kennel Club monitors 5-gen COI over time, to look at near-generation trends and changes. And, the Kennel Club (UK) provides the COI for the individual dog, and the breed average, based on all available generations included in the calculation. They also include the number of generations included in the calculation as this can impact how informative the COI may be (e.g. 3 gen is more dynamic and changeable than 22 gen). The recommendation for the Kennel Club is therefore to breed at or below the breed average. These examples illustrate the differences between focusing on the near-generations which could reflect "fast" inbreeding and also intentional inbreeding vs. COIs calculated with 10-20 generations more suitable for describing the situation and trends for the whole breed.
There is also the consideration of COI changes over time. It is usually more concerning if a breed sees a rapid, drastic increase in inbreeding, leading to a rapid loss of genetic diversity, which, in a closed breeding system, cannot be regained without outcrossing to a new breed or "unrelated" breed population.
Rule of thumb: aim to breed for type, not relatedness...
Even without specific tools, breeders can start by considering their own practices when selecting mates. Options could include: avoiding popular sires and their close relatives who have been used extensively for breeding, exploring lines that have not used for breeding previously, seeking dogs from populations that are “new” to them (e.g. field/working vs show), aiming to seek dogs that have desirable traits but are not as likely to be closely related:
- Use available tools to help make breeding plans - including genomic COI or genetic diversity tests, pedigree COI if that's the best you can access, with as many generations as possible.
- Use genetic trait/disease tests and clinical screening schemes, as well as knowledge of familial longevity, behaviour, etc. to help select the healthiest representatives of the breed
- Use MORE dogs of both sexes. Most breeds use less than 10% of the available dogs for breeding... you're losing 90% of the possible genetic diversity!
- Genetic diversity is an important factor of breeding for the Big Picture. It should be one consideration in breeding.
There is much more to explore in genetic diversity tools and applications both for individual breeders' plans, and breed-wide strategies than can be discussed in this short blog. Look for more information to come!
More resources and reference publications:
Get a GRIHP! on several breeds offers a variety of international information on a breed, including genetic diversity reports. Find them here.
Genetic Diversity and the Big Picture
Janes M, Lewis TW, Ilska JJ, Woolliams JA. The usage of Mate Select, a web-based selection tool for pedigree dogs for promoting sustainable breeding. Canine Med Genet. 2020 Oct 19;7(1):14. doi: 10.1186/s40575-020-00094-8. PMID: 33372639; PMCID: PMC7574414.
Photo by Blue Bird from Pexels
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National Kennel Clubs are major stakeholders in the governance and regulation of dog breeding. As such, they have been the targets of major criticism related to dog health issues. It is therefore interesting to investigate to what extent health and welfare is a priority for kennel clubs (KCs), and what are the capacities and actions implemented to deal with those issues.
A survey was sent in 2017 to 40 KCs with 15 answers received from 11 European (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Latvia, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK) and 4 non-European countries (Australia, Mexico, Uruguay, and the USA) aimed at describing and comparing information across countries in dog breed health management (Wang et al. 2018).
First, in order to determine the population of dogs under the responsibility of KC, the percentages of all dogs being registered as ‘pedigree’ dogs were estimated considering the 15 surveyed KCs, as well 35 other countries, using sources such as the FCI online statistics. Across countries, the average and median percentage of the entire dog population that were registered pedigree dogs, respectively was 20% and 14%. However, there was a large variation across countries, with European Nordic countries showing, in general, a larger proportion of pedigree dogs (see Figure 1). This aspect is of importance, since it is expected that the responsibility toward general dog health, as well as the capacity to improve the situation, relates to the proportion of dogs that are at least to some extent under the influence of the KCs.
When asked about the current challenges, KCs ranked exaggerated morphological features and inherited disorders as the most important issues, showing those two problems are now clearly identified as priorities (Figure 2). By contrast, issues such as economic constraints to breeding were rarely viewed as problematic for dog breeding. Kennel clubs also commented on challenges related to the difficulty to find balance between increased regulation and the risk of losing members; to achieve consensus and compliance of breeders and clubs toward breed health strategies; as well as lack of capacity regarding information provision and education.
Surveyed countries showed great diversity in terms of information management, implementation of breeding strategies, recommendations, requirement, restriction and tools. Most KCs indicated that information on genealogies, breed standards and dog shows were recorded in their data base for most, if not all breeds; however, health information (e.g. screening examinations, genetic tests) was more sparsely recorded and provided to the public, both for breeds within countries and across countries (Figure 3). For instance, KCs from Austria, Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Norway, the UK and the USA provided health information status on pedigrees and in online data bases, but in general, not all breeds were covered. When considering implementation of breeding strategies, six countries indicated that there were no breeding strategies implemented by any breed clubs, while in three countries (Austria, Sweden and the Netherlands) it was reported that each breed club had its breeding strategy.
Several countries indicated that they were planning to develop breeding tools and provide health information to users, and for instance, France and Belgium reported having ongoing work to develop tools to provide online pedigree with health information or estimate breeding values for complex disorders such as hip dysplasia.
Although limited by the relatively low number of countries considered, this survey showed that despite large differences in their approach to breeding policies and management, the awareness to improve breeding and health of pedigree dogs was strong among the surveyed Kennel Clubs. The dog breeding world is increasingly global in scope. The understanding of both the diversity of health initiatives and the potential for coordinated actions internationally is key to further efforts to promote dog health and welfare.
There is probably still a lot of progress to be made in term of information provision and collection, as well as planning breeding strategies considering dog health. In particular, finding a consensus in terms of constraints and priorities for breeding, is expected to be particularly challenging for Kennel Clubs and breed clubs in order to implement those strategies. Although the situations differ across countries, exchanges of experiences may surely help to find the most adequate solutions toward improvement of health and welfare.
Wang, S., Laloë, D., Missant, F. M., Malm, S., Lewis, T., Verrier, E., ... & Leroy, G. (2018). Breeding policies and management of pedigree dogs in 15 national kennel clubs. The Veterinary Journal. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tvjl.2018.02.018
Brenda’s blog gave a great overview of the American Kennel Club National Parent Club Canine Health Conference we attended earlier this month in St. Louis, Missouri. I am grateful for the sponsorship from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals provided to myself and the 31 other veterinary students in attendance.
This conference, like the 3rd International Dog Health Workshop, was an opportunity to learn more about cutting edge research that is improving dog health. Topics were varied and included tick borne disease, epilepsy, lymphoma, and reproductive health. It was exciting to see my Colorado State University (CSU) Immunology professor, Dr. Anne Avery, present on her lymphoma research.
Right: View from the top of the St. Louis Gateway Arch
After completing a CSU clinical orthopedics rotation a few weeks prior to the conference, it was especially interesting to hear what I had learned about Omega-3 fatty acids in my rotation be reiterated by presenter Dr. Wendy Baltzer from Massey University. Her Purina funded study described that a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids post-surgical correction of cranial cruciate ligament disease is helpful and results in less progression of arthritis and lameness.
I’m am looking forward to graduation in 9 months and continued involvement in dog health. The opportunities I have received since first starting my IPFD project have been endless and I am very thankful for the DogWellNet.com community!
Left: Veterinary Student Attendees at the AKC National Parent Club Health Conference
Well, it's been 10 weeks... and I've learned quite a lot. I hope you have, too! As my project comes to an end, Nina and I wanted to give our viewers a big thank you. I hope you enjoyed this blog series and feel more confident about what your role is in solving antimicrobial resistance (AMR). We would also like to extend a huge thank you to the Skippy Frank Fund who sponsored this entire project, and a thank you to Dr. Jason Stull and Dr. Brenda Bonnett for being wonderful mentors every step of the way.
It is important to keep in mind that science is an ever-changing field that is constantly updated with new material. For example there's a new study that just came out suggesting that not finishing a course of antibiotics may not cause resistance, which is contrary to the current belief. Here is the link to this article if you would like to read more about it. Even though this blog is over, I hope that you continue your AMR education as new scientific data arises.
To complete my summer project, I have constructed a poster that I will be presenting at The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine's Research Day.
Take a look!
Here is the downloadable PDF version:
Be sure to keep checking www.DogWellNet.com for more information on dog health and wellness!
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The Finnish Kennel Club (FKC) has finished the protocol and the instructions for fitness (walk) testing of breeding dogs in brachycephalic breeds. The test is similar to the one used by the Dutch Kennel Club.
Finnish test instructions have been developed by veterinarians doing research on BOAS. Their results concerning the Bulldog have already been published. The researchers are still continuing their research and testing Pugs and French Bulldogs, whose results will be published later.
According to the Finnish guidelines, a dog gets an approved walk test result if he/she walks 1000 meters in 12 minutes or less, and recovers sufficiently from the walk within the recovery time. In the future, it is also possible to have different time limits for different breeds. The test result is failed if
The FKC arranged the first pilot test in February, and the second pilot will be arranged in May. Also orientation for veterinarians will be held at that second pilot. After that, breed clubs are able to arrange the tests by their own. The tests have to be carried out in accordance with the FKC's Guideline for walk tests, in order to get the test result recorded in the FKC breeding database.
The FKC is following the development and use of different tests in other countries. It is also having close collaboration with the other Nordic Kennel Clubs on this subject. The aim is, in the long run, and with the help of accumulated experience, to develop the test further, to be as appropriate as possible.
All the information on the Finnish walk test can be found here.
The walk test is meant for short-muzzled (brachycephalic) breeds that have symptoms caused by upper respiratory tract disorders. These breeds include Pug, English Bulldog and French Bulldog. The dog's exercise tolerance and the ability to breathe normally are evaluated in the walk test and the clinical examination included in it. In the walk test, the dog must walk a certain distance in a defined maximum time and recover from the exercise within a defined time frame."
Updated 2-18-2021 - See the 2-8-2019 FKC article
IPFD Board Member Dr. Patricia Olson was the keynote speaker at the Inaugural One Health Program at Midwestern University on October 8, 2015 (Downer’s Grove, Illinois).
Midwestern University also has one of the newest veterinary schools in the U.S. (Phoenix, Arizona). Physicians were paired with veterinarians to deliver lectures on obesity, pneumonia, osteochondritis dissecans and epilepsy. Dr. Olson’s lecture was on collaborative research, using the clues from animals to help advance both human and animal health/welfare.
See the pdf of her thought-provoking talk here:
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Once a year, in October, the SKK Breeding Committee organizes a weekend course for
breeding officials based on the book Dog breeding in theory and practice by Sofia Malm (SKK genetic expert) and Åsa Lindholm.
The Genetic Expert and The Breeding Consultant of the SKK Department for Breeding and Health are in charge of the course.
The aim is to give breed clubs education and tools they need to work with breeding plans and breed-specific strategies.
The contents of the course include basic genetics and guidance in how to conduct work at club level.
There’s also a certain amount of self-directed studies.
Every other year, in April, this education is held specifically directed to hunting dog breed clubs.
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On the podium:
1st : Meisterhaus Signet Higher'N Higer ; Breed: Basenji ; Owner: Lise DURLOT and Dimitri HEBERT ; Breeder: Brenda CASSELL and Tad BOOKS
2nd : Fall In Love Forest Ohara Of Bloom White ; Breed : Samoyede ; Owner: Mira MITKOVA ; Breeder: Elisabeth FAUCON
3rd : Eternal Drago Of Nordic Forest ; Breed : Siberian Husky ; Owner and breeder: Valérie CHARNEAU
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The contents of these blogs are for informational purposes only and represent the opinion of the author(s), and not that of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD). This is not intended to be a substitute for professional, expert or veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. We do not recommend or endorse any specific tests, providers, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on, or linked to from these blogs.