Annual Testing Protocols

Every dog needs an annual veterinary checkup. Wheaten researchers recommend owners take their Wheaten to the vet for health testing even if the dog is happy, exuberant and shows no signs of illness. All dogs hide pain associated with disease and instinctively hide pain from their owners. Many illnesses don’t present symptoms until they are quite advanced. In many cases, early diagnosis and treatment can prolong your dog’s quality of life and even the length of life.

Recommended Protocols for Health Testing

  • Health Testing should start at age 1 and include:
    • Biochemical Profile aka Chem Screen – includes total protein, albumin, globulin, creatinine, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), SDMA, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, etc.
    • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
    • Urinalysis – including specific gravity, dipstick, and urinary sediment
    • Urine Protein/Creatinine Ratio (UPC) or a Microalbuminuria (MA) test.  These are add-on tests to the urinalysis and need to be requested.
    • In tick or heartworm endemic areas, a SNAP-4DxPlus or AccuPlex4 test.
  • If you are concerned about PLE, consider doing annual fecal API testing in addition to annual blood and urine screening tests on healthy breeding dogs. Be aware there are situations in which this test can produce a false positive result.  Read more about the fecal API test.

Note:  For healthy Wheatens, it is recommended that all of the above testing be done on an annual basis.

Additional Protocols for PLN in DNA Tested Dogs

  • If your dog’s results are Heterozygous (i.e., having 1 copy of the variant alleles):
    • In addition to regular annual blood and urine screening tests, a UPC or MA might be checked every 6 months beginning at age 2-4 years.
    • If abnormalities are found, further testing is warranted.
  • If your dog’s results are Homozygous Positive (i.e., having 2 copies of the variant alleles):
    • In addition to regular annual blood and urine screening tests, a UPC or MA is recommended minimally every 6 months beginning at age 2 years.
    • If abnormalities are found, further testing is warranted.
  • If you have not had DNA testing done:
    • It is recommended you follow the guidelines for a Homozygous Positive dog.
    • For more information on DNA testing, visit our DNA Testing page

Note:  No matter the result of your dog’s DNA test, testing at least annually is still important.

If your Dog’s Testing Shows Abnormalities

Do not panic! There are multiple causes besides a genetic disease that can cause abnormal test results. In many cases, one lab result, or even one set of results, is insufficient for a diagnosis.  Your vet may wish to repeat testing in a few weeks to see if the results are still abnormal, and/or do additional testing to rule out other causes.  Treatment for PLE, RD and Addison’s disease are often part of a veterinarian’s standard practice.

Resources for you or your veterinarian
Consultations with Specialists
  • If your veterinarian is unable to manage your dog’s care, seek the assistance of a veterinarian who is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (DACVIM).  You can use this Find a Specialist tool to locate one near you – be sure to select SAIM which is a specialist in Small Animal Internal Medicine.
  • Dr. Littman has retired from the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, but is available for paid consultations.  Contact her at merylitt@vet.upenn.edu
  • Shelly Vaden, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, Professor Internal Medicine, North Carolina State University is available for consultation ONLY with veterinarians.  If you wish a consultation, please have your vet contact her at slvaden@ncsu.edu

Updated 08/29/2020