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 finicky appetite, gulpies, occasional gastrointestinal signs, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or PLE in the dog or its relatives, ask your vet about additional testing such as fecal examinations, the TAMU GI panel-plus (B12/folate/TLI/PLI with resting cortisol added), and the TAMU Alpha1-proteinase inhibitor (A1-PI) fecal test. Visit the Wheaten Health Endowment to obtain a test kit for the Alpha 1-proteinase inhibitor fecal test.
  • Blood Pressure Measurement (BPM): Ideally, the vet will obtain the dog’s BPM during each healthy visit (starting at 1 year of age), in order to get a baseline and to get the dog used to having the procedure done.

Printable Annual-Health-Testing-2021 For Veterinarians

The PLN Variant Gene DNA Test is Recommended for All Wheaten Terriers:

It is recommended that each Wheaten Terrier dog have its DNA sample tested for the PLN‐associated variant alleles. The results will determine what risk group (low, intermediate, or high) the dog is in for developing PLN during its lifetime. The DNA test is available in the USA at PennGen (PennVet, where it was developed), Wisdom Panel, Optimal Selection (Mars), Embarkvet (Cornell), and in Europe at Laboklin.  See

There are no genetic tests yet for PLE, IBD, RD/JRD, or Addison’s disease. Dogs that are carrying one or two copies of the PLN‐associated variant alleles should be checked for proteinuria more often, perhaps 2‐4 times a year, especially after age 3 years.

Remember to keep a copy of all health testing performed by your veterinarian in your files at home.

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
  • 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

Updated 09/20/2023