Does your dog suffer from the collie wobbles?
Border Collie Collapse (BCC) is an episodic nervous system disorder that is triggered by strenuous exercise. It's been observed in dogs used for working stock as well as dogs participating in agility or fly-ball competitions or repeatedly retrieving a ball. This disorder has also been called exercise induced collapse (EIC), exercise induced hyperthermia (EIH), stress seizures and 'the wobbles.' Research is currently underway to identify the genetic mutation that characterises the disease. If you run a collie, you should be aware of the symptoms. Dr Janette Mattey explains more about it.
Border Collie Collapse is a recognised syndrome in Border Collies that has been described in the UK, USA and Australia. It has also been called Exercise Induced Collapse, Exercise Induced Hyperthermia and Malignant Hyperthermia, although Malignant Hyperthermia is a separate condition that occurs in Border Collies as well as a number of other breeds.
It is a syndrome of hyperthermia and muscle and organ damage that occurs with gaseous anaesthesia (halothane) and several other drugs on occasion. It is a rare condition associated with a known genetic mutation, and a DNA test is available for Malignant Hyperthermia.
BCC is usually seen in working dogs or those training for high intensity activity such as agility or flyball, tending to occur after 5 – 15 minutes of strenuous exercise. It may be, but does not have to be, associated with high environmental temperature, and some have said that these dogs are prone to high levels of stress or excitement.
Studies have been conducted and have not conclusively shown there to be any predisposing factors, but owners and handlers of affected dogs have tended to report that collapse occurs when their dogs are particularly excited, and possibly happens more often in hot weather.
What to look
They may seem bright and alert mentally, however some do seem dull or confused. The rectal temperature will generally be very high, often over 41°C, but studies have shown that it is not any higher than normal (unaffected) animals that are performing the same level of strenuous activity.
Normal dogs develop extremely high temperatures during strenuous exercise, but are able to reduce their temperatures to within the normal range shortly after they stop exercising. Hence it is thought that the high temperature seen in collapsed dogs is not part of the syndrome, but rather part of the normal rise that occurs when performing these types of activities. Still, ensuring a dog suffering collapse can cool off (e.g. put him in the shade), and ensuring access to fresh water (only if he is able to drink), would certainly be beneficial in most situations.
Occasionally, deaths may occur during or immediately following a collapse. It is, therefore, important that you stop your dog's activity as soon as any sign of abnormal gait is seen, and allow the dog to recover quietly.
Border Collies that suffer from this syndrome can generally live healthy lives, but will not be able to continue working (or performing the activity that caused the episode of collapse). They should avoid all strenuous exercise situations, and also avoid situations where they are likely to become overly excited. It is hoped that in the near future we will have further knowledge about the causes of this condition, and hopefully with this will come advances to help prevent it in the future.
NEW DNA Testing Scheme
At the request of the Labrador Breed Council, the Kennel Club has recently approved a new official DNA testing scheme for Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) in the breed.
As an agreement is already in place with Laboklin to report other health test results, any EIC results will now automatically be sent directly to the Kennel Club where the test result will be added to the dog’s details on the registration database. This will trigger the publication of the test result in the next available Breed Records Supplement, and the result will appear on any new registration certificate issued for the dog and on the registration certificates of any future progeny of the dog, and also on the Health Test Results finder on the Kennel Club website.
However, the KC has no such agreement with Animal Genetics and therefore if an owner has had their dog(s) tested through this laboratory they will need to send copies of the test certificate into the Kennel Club and the data will be added to the dog's registration details and the Health Test Results Finder.
In addition, if the owner includes the original registration certificate for the dog (not a copy) then a new registration certificate will be issued, with the DNA result on it, free of charge. Please send any DNA test certificates to:
Since graduating, Netty has worked in emergency and critical care, both here in Melbourne and for a short period in Birmingham (UK). She has also done a little shelter work, and currently does some part-time work at a veterinary pathology laboratory.
Netty grew up on a farm in Northern Victoria with some cattle, chooks, a goat and an Airedale Terrier. She also had a cat when I was nine, who died 10 years ago while she was working in the UK. She currently has two cats - both boys - who keep jer company and sometimes try her patience. She has have one who is quite well trained, and will sit, and fetch, and play 'paw tennis.' The other is not so bright, and has not really learnt anything other than the word dinner! She loves them both equally!
Netty is currently undertaking a project to update their database at work on the current knowledge (by literature review) on the 50 – 100 most popular dog breeds in Australia and in the USA) and the inherited diseases they are prone to.
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