By Robette Johns
Donna’s story highlights the fact that no matter how careful we are or how many times we tell our vet clinic our Collie is MDR1 mutant/mutant, it’s never enough. To give you a little background on the MDR1 journey, one of Pati Merrill’s memorable stories about “Getting to Know You”, in the early 1990’s, is sitting around after the Collie Club of Alabama shows telling stories and talking Collies with breeders and exhibitors. A lot of the breeders told stories of their Collies having sensitivities to certain drugs. “Wow, so does mine!”
About the same time my husband, Steve, and I were at a dog show, and one of our girls started with bad diarrhea. Remembering that our vet said it was safe to give our dogs Imodium, we gave her a tablet. Within a couple of hours our girl was unable to walk and had shallow breeding. We had a motorhome, so we found someone to drive us to a local veterinarian. For three days we didn’t know if she was going to live or die. We were lucky she lived.
Fortunately, these things rarely happen now, but not everyone is educated about MDR1. The Collie Health foundation started supporting Washington State University as soon as they started looking for the MDR1 mutation. When they found the genetic mutation, they patented the process. As a side note, this is why we only use WSU or Optimal Selection, licensed by WSU, as approved labs for MDR1 testing.
After a conversation with Becky Connors from the WSU lab team, she shared some updates with me. Dr. Katrina Mealy was able to purchase a Flow-cytometer. This will significantly speed up the testing of drugs on the sensitivity level for affected dogs. As new drugs are developed, we need them tested. Becky shared with me she just finished a Pod Cast for WSU on MDR1 and will let me know when the link is available to share. This is very exciting as we can add it to our website and on to our page of articles.
I will close with my advice to anyone who has an affected dog. Never trust that the vet tech or veterinarian will read their chart to see MDR1 MUTANT/MUTANT. Remind them every time. It’s not just with sedation or surgeries, but it has become very important with the new Cancer treatments that are available for our dogs these days. Know your dog’s MDR1 Status, because if you’re treating for cancer, MDR1 mutant/normal is a completely different treatment than a Collie that’s mutant/mutant. For your information, some of the drugs that can kill MDR1 sensitive dogs, can be used affectively in smaller doses with no harm. You need to see what your veterinarian has to say. Some of the time there are safer choices. In the end, you must ask them what drug they are giving your dog to be sure it’s safe. Don’t feel ashamed, most vets will understand.