Dogs Lovers Raise Over £10,000 To Help Research Into Autoimmune Disease

Over £10,000 has been raised by those involved in the world of dogs to help fund a research project which could greatly improve the lives of dogs affected by Addison’s disease, an autoimmune condition that affects some dog breeds and their crosses.

The research project, being led by Professor Brian Catchpole, Professor of Companion Animal Immunology at the Royal Veterinary College, has been funded by a £25,000 grant from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust. 

Additional funds of over £10,000 have been raised by the Bearded Collie Joint Breed Liaison Committee, made up of representatives from the six UK Bearded Collie clubs, and a number of other breed clubs which wanted to support the research.

Whilst relatively rare, Addison’s disease, which also affects humans, can come on suddenly and result in weakness, dehydration, low blood pressure, depression, heart toxicity, vomiting, blood in faeces, weight loss and death. The disease, also known as hypoadrenocorticism, is characterised by a deficient production of hormones called mineralocorticoids and glucocorticoids, which can prevent the body from functioning properly, and can be difficult to diagnose quickly due to the generalness of its symptoms.

It is believed that certain dog breeds could be more susceptible to the disease, such as Bearded Collies, Standard Poodles, Portuguese Water Dogs, West Highland White Terriers, Rottweilers, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, and crosses of these breeds, but the disease can affect a number of other breeds and their crosses.

Professor Catchpole and his team have already identified some of the genetic risk factors involved in the disease and wanted to investigate further to see whether these can be used as part of diagnostic blood testing which could potentially identify dogs that have an autoimmune reaction before they develop clinical signs. However £30,000 of funding was required to enable the project to continue. Professor Catchpole applied for funding from the Kennel Club Charitable Trust, which granted £25,000 towards the research.  

The Bearded Collie Joint Breed Liaison Committee then set about raising the remaining funding required and has seen the support of a number of breed clubs, including a £1,000 donation from the Standard Poodle Club, £1,000 from the Pointer Club, £1,000 from the Southern Finnish Lapphund Society and various donations from the Bearded Collie community in the UK and abroad along with many personal donations from other canine supporters.

Yvonne Fox, Secretary of the Bearded Collie Joint Breed Liaison Committee, said: “The research into Addison’s disease is so important as it could go a long way in reducing the incidence of the disease by enabling earlier diagnosis. This will help breeders to make responsible breeding decisions to protect the future health of their dogs and it will also enable dogs who are already living with the disease to receive treatment earlier, making their lives far more comfortable, as once correctly diagnosed, a properly treated dog can live a normal active life.

“We have now exceeded our fundraising target and will ensure that all monies raised will be used to further Addison’s and autoimmune related research for the benefit of all breeds.”

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “We are delighted that the dog community has rallied behind this research and done such a fantastic job in raising the extra funds needed in addition to the Kennel Club Charitable Trust grant. It is a testament to how much they value the work carried out by researchers to improve dog health and protect the future of their breeds.”

The Kennel Club Charitable Trust (registered charity no. 327802) awards grants to welfare organisations which make a difference to dogs’ lives, and also provides financial support to canine scientific research and support charities. The Trust has donated more than £10 million to help improve the lives of dogs since it was established in 1987. Read more information about our charitable trust.

Find out more about what the Kennel Club does for dog health.