Research ongoing for dogs with CIL disease

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Research ongoing for dogs with CIL disease

Updated Dec 21, 2021

Dear Cathy,

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 eight-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, Nevada

Dear Carol,

Your letter is timely. Dr. Kenneth Simpson, Professor of Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University, is currently conducting research, sponsored by the American Kennel Club and the Yorkshire Terrier Health Foundation, on Canine Intestinal Lymphangiectasis (CIL) in Yorkshire Terriers. 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 Lunde Hund. 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% 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 fcd2@cornell.edu with the subject line CIL Blood Samples for Study for more information.

Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, children’s author, syndicated pet columnist, and pet expert with more than 30 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal

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Cathy Rosenthal, CHES, CFE
Animal Welfare Communications Specialist

Cathy brings more than 25 years' experience in the animal welfare field. She is a sought-after speaker, Certified Humane Education Specialist, a syndicated pet advice columnist, an author, a publisher, and of course - a loving pet parent.

Read more about Cathy here or check out her Non-Profit's page to see more ways she can help you and your organization.

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