July 3, 2003

To: Bavaria’s Boxers Puppy Owners

It is with great despair and sadness that I am notifying all of my puppy owners and that “Jack” Ch. Interlude’s Bavarian Hummel was diagnosed with Electrical Mechanical Heart Disease also known as Boxer Arrythymogenic Dysplasia (a form of Boxer Cardiomyopathy). His condition was diagnosed (April 2003) as a result of his annual heart testing via a newly purchased digital state-of-the-art 24 hr. holter monitor. Testing and diagnosis was performed by Dr. Jason Randall in Woodstock, IL, and confirmed by Dr. Kate Meurs of the American Boxer Club Heart Study.

Link to American Boxer Club Health Study

The onset of this disease can occur as early as the 2nd year of life, but is more common to occur during the 4th year. Jack is 4.5 years old and had been tested and cleared annually (1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 yrs.) by Cardiologist Dr. Luethy in Northbrook, IL. (I have the highest regard for Dr. Luethy and want to be clear that Jack’s onset was after his 3.5 yr. test.) Those tests included an annual Echocardiogram with color Doppler and EKG (7 min.). The 24 hr. holter monitor was not available locally in previous years.

Jack’s disease was not evident until this year’s testing and had progressed so rapidly that his heart monitor results revealed that he could have had a heart attack and dropped dead that day. He gave no outward signs which are typical of this disease.

Jack is now on medication (Sotilol – a betablocker) and takes a 40 mg. twice a day. A re-holter while on medication resulted in a reduction of PVCs (Premature Ventricular Arrythymogenic ) from 1060 to 8. With his medication, he will live a long and normal life. He continues to run and play as much as he wants.

In a litter of 8 that I bred to Jack’s father (half-siblings to Jack): two are on medication 3/03, one has already died of a heart attack 3/03, and one was put down due to cancer although an EKG revealed the beginnings of the disease 4/03. The remainder of the pups have early indications of the disease and are being watched. These pups are almost 4 years old.

As of July 2003, fifteen of Jack’s pups have tested clear. Max, Ditto, Savana, Prudence, Torrie, Tee & Molly have already been tested clear and approved for breeding by Dr. Jason Randall and Dr. Kate Meurs. Roxie (7.5 yrs.), Tiffany (7.5 yrs.), and Rachel (7 yrs.), who are the mom’s of my pups have all tested clear as well. Three pet pups did not clear and are doing well on medication. I will share all pup’s testing results on my website soon.

At our recent American Boxer Club Specialty show, I learned of two unrelated pups who have the disease, but their parents, aged 5-10 years, still test clear.

I believe that I did everything in my power at the time of breeding my dogs to feel that they were healthy. Also, I feel it is imperative to let everyone know about Jack’s disease so that all of his puppies and relatives have the opportunity to be tested and prevent a needless early death. All of his offspring over 1 yr. of age should be checked immediately with at least an EKG (5 min.), but more preferably, the 24 hr. heart monitor (I have heard of other breeder’s boxers being severely affected at 18 mos.). Puppies under 1 year of age generally will not show any irregularities. Any boxer related to Jack should be monitored annually and if afflicted, medicated accordingly.

I have made arrangements with Dr. Jason Randall, Animal Hospital of Woodstock, IL, (815-337-2900) for a reduced fee for the 24 hr. heart monitor for Jack’s relatives. He will collect all of the data that will be shared with Dr. Kate Meurs in her Boxer Heart Study. In order to eradicate this disease, it is imperative that as much data as possible is collected and shared. If you have testing done elsewhere, please contact Dr. Randall’s office to determine the best way to get us your data. You can also contact me via email at Veraboxers@aol.com (due to the volume of email that I receive please put the name JACK in the subject line) or call me at 847-526-8299. I now live in Wauconda, IL.

Due to technology advances, new and more thorough heart testing becomes available. We should all partake to ensure the safety and well being of our precious boxers. I personally recommend that every boxer should have an annual 15 min. EKG, at the very least, in order to monitor their hearts.

Vera Albers

Bavaria’s Boxers

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