Study looks for dogs with CIL disease; ways to return song to a canary | Pets

I would like to bring some attention to a terrible disease that strikes all breeds of dogs, but rarely gets any publicity — Canine Intestinal Lymphangiectasis, which is an intestinal disease, causing diarrhea, swelling and malabsorption.

I had never heard of it before my 8-year-old bulldog Daisy was diagnosed through an ultrasound and biopsy. She died six months later despite a low-fat diet, lots of medication and several rounds of plasma. There seems to be no set protocol for treating this disease, and every dog is different as far as their reaction.

The CIL Education Group on Facebook has 685 members, and I highly recommend them to anyone dealing with this disease as they have lots of good information and offer tremendous support. While some dogs can be maintained for years on a special diet and medication, many die within months of being diagnosed like my Daisy, and it is a helpless feeling.

I would appreciate your thoughts on CIL and like to know why there isn’t more research being done so that a cure can be found? — Carol, Las Vegas, NV

Your letter is timely. Dr. Kenneth Simpson, Professor of Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, is currently conducting research on Canine Intestinal Lymphangiectasis (CIL) in Yorkshire terriers. The research is sponsored by the American Kennel Club and the Yorkshire Terrier Health Foundation. Simpson says their goal is “to determine the underlying genetic basis of a breed-specific protein-losing enteropathy that is characterized by lymphangiectasis and ‘crypt cysts.’ “

In other words, they are researching the genetic basis for CIL in the hopes of designing a genetic marker-based test that can prevent the breeding of dogs with this condition in the future.

CIL is a rare canine disorder in which the lymph cells dilate and cannot contain their fluid, which results in protein loss, diarrhea and malabsorption. Fluid leakage can extend into the abdomen and fill the chest wall, making breathing difficult, says Simpson. Other symptoms can include seizures, tremors and shaking, but these also mimic other diseases. Diagnosis is made by physical exam, blood test, and ultra sound and biopsy of the intestine.

The three breeds that are most susceptible to this disease are Yorkshire terriers, soft-coated wheaten terriers, and the Lundehund. But, as we learn from your bulldog Daisy, any dog can get CIL. While many dogs respond to fat-restricted diets and anti-inflammatory medications, says Simpson, there is no cure and a 50 percent fatality rate in the first year.

To conduct the research, Cornell University needs 300 blood samples from Yorkshire terriers diagnosed with CIL. They won’t provide individual results, but the contribution may lead to the creation of the genetic test. To anyone interested, send an email to [email protected] with the subject line “CIL Blood Samples for Study” for more information.

My 7-year-old white canary hasn’t sung in over a year. It used to be beautiful. I’ve not made any significant changes to his routine. His diet is the same, a combination of commercial canary bird seed, long seed, egg treats and fresh greens and fruit. I play two different CDs of canary songs, and the most this elicits is a note or two. I hope you can provide me with a few hints to restore his song. — Kevin, Bethpage, NY

Health is always the first concern, but I am going to assume an avian veterinarian has examined your canary and told you there are no apparent health issues.

My next question is, could your canary be a female? Some females sing when they are young but stop after their first molt. These same hens then sing sporadically after that, but never with the consistency of males.

Next, look at his cage. He should live in a medium-sized cage (not too small, not too big) with plenty of perches to exercise throughout the day. He should be in a quiet location, free of drafts and with lots of natural sunlight, which is essential in keeping these songbirds from getting depressed.

Add a few more vegetables and fruits to your canary’s diet, like raw dandelion greens, raw collard greens, broccoli, apples, bananas, oranges, pears, peaches and cherries. If he does sing, even just a little, give him some fruit to mark the behavior and reinforce the habit.

Finally, keep your bird’s nails clipped. Sometimes, if the nails get too long and uncomfortable, a canary will stop singing.

Let me know if any of these suggestions helps re-engage your bird in song again.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to [email protected]. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.

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