*Information given is found on the University of Minn, website. (find link below)
Many people are not aware of Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC). The University of Minnesota was the first to study the condition and be able to do the gene testing to determine if a dog is a carrier (1 copy of the mutated gene), has the defect (2 copies of the mutated gene), or is negative. They estimate that 30-40% of Labrador Retrievers are carriers and 3-13% are affected (have) EIC
This inherited disease is common in Labrador Retrievers, but is also found in other breeds, including Curly-Coated and Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Boykin Spaniels, Bouvier des Flanders, German Wirehaired Pointers, Old English Sheepdogs, Cocker Spaniels and Pembroke Welsh Corgis. Not all dogs that test positive will show symptoms but when dogs are symptomatic they will typically become weak in the rear limbs after strenuous exercise between 5 – 20 minutes. They will collapse, not being able to move their hind legs even though nothing else appears to be wrong – they will still appear to be your happy, ready to go companion and may continue to run while dragging their rear legs…they are not OK. In some dogs EIC will rear its ugly head when you are only playing fetch in the yard. It is common for the condition to worsen 3-5 minutes after exercise is stopped. ***Some affected dogs have been known to die during strenuous exercise or even after exercise has been stopped so you should ALWAYS get your dog to a state of rest at the first hint of imbalance or wobbliness in your dog.
Link to the University of Minnesota web-site where you can find complete information regarding EIC & how you can get your dog tested.
Veterinary examinations at the time of collapse appear to be extremely normal. The only thing found is elevated temperature, 7-8 degree increase in most cases, as well as hyperventilating that decreases their blood, carbon dioxide concentrations, and an increase in blood PH . These things are also found normal exercising dogs. The only difference is that affected dogs have the mutation in the gene that causes malignant hypothermia.
Most dogs recover in 5-25 minutes with no residual weakness or stiffness. This condition also does not appear to cause pain in the affected body parts; this is known due to massage and testing to the muscles during collapse.
Although normal dogs show the same increase in body temperature during extreme exercise and all dogs do appear to cool down at the same rate; temperature is believed to contribute to the death of affected dogs. It is also believed that the ability to regulate temperature is not the underlying issue in dogs with EIC.
There are 3 factors believed to contribute to the collapse in dogs with EIC: 1 – Not the temperature itself but rather the humidity or temperature your dog is not accustomed to. Excessive panting may also be a factor. Collapse has been seen more in dogs during upland hunting rather that waterfowl or during times of cold. 2) Excitement – collapse is seen more in a dog that has more excitable or more driven personality. 3) Type of Activity. Activities commonly implicated include grouse or pheasant hunting, repetitive “happy retrieves”, retrieving drills or repetition of difficult marks or blinds where the dog is being repeatedly corrected or is anticipating electric collar correction, and excitedly running alongside an ATV. Activity with continual intense exercise along with excitement.
What to do if your dog has EIC – If your dog has symptomatic EIC it is recommended that you do not allow them to participate in the activities that trigger their symptoms. Their activities should be limited and they should be closely monitored so exercise can be ended at the first sight of weakness or wobbliness. (1) make sure that their breathing is unobstructed so it can hyperventilate to cool down. (2) offer water & ice to your dog. (3) try to cool the dog down by placing it in water or by wetting it down. (4) Force rest until they are fully recovered.
Treatment – At this time it appears the best treatment is to remove the dog from the things that trigger its symptoms. They will make a great family pet to be enjoyed for years to come. There are other medical treatments being used for dogs that participate in Field Trials. These drugs can only be used under strict veterinary care.
In my opinion, this is just another reason to look for a reputable breeder that performs the necessary testing to breed happy, healthy puppies.