Retrospective study of 25 young Weimaraners with low serum immunoglobin concentrations and inflammatory disease

Immune function disorder in weimaraners

source: R.D. Foale et al
Veterinary Record vol 153 no 18, November 1 2003starts p553,
6 pages long

A number of reports have mentioned apparent immune dysfunction affecting young weimaraners. This immune system defect appears to be the cause of mulitfocal inflammatory disease, or recurrent bacterial infections. Symptoms include joint pain, pyrexia, vomiting and diarrhoea. Tests have revealed low circulating immunoglobin concentrations. There are also reports of reactions at injection sites, and some researchers report that vaccination appears to trigger the syndrome. This defect appears to be inherited, since it affects littermates.

This study reviews clinical records for 25 weimaraners that had suffered more than two episodes of this syndrome. Twelve of the cases came from the University of Cambridge's Queen's Veterinary School Hospital, while the remainder came from throughout the UK. Serum samples from 15 weimaraners were used for control purposes. Anorexia and lethargy were the most common signs, affecting 20 dogs, with 13 dogs affected by diarrhoea and vomiting. There were 10 dogs for which accurate vaccination histories were available, and nine had developed signs within five days of being vaccinated. The tenth developed signs 25 days following a booster vaccination. Twenty four dogs had low levels of at least one serum immunoglobin class. Twenty one dogs were followed up, and eleven of these recovered fully, six showed occasional clinical signs, while four were euthanased. One was euthanased following a collapse after showing symptoms of the syndrome, another was euthanased following diagnosis, and a further two were euthanased for aggression, having showed signs of the syndrome prior to the aggression.

No gender predisposition was noted in this study. Like previous studies, gastrointestinal problems were predominant. Diarrhoea has previously been noted as a particular problem with weimaraners showing low serum immunoglobin concentrations. This suggests that intestinal and gastric biopsies are indicated for affected weimaraners with intestinal problems, when dietary intolerance, parasitism and infections have been excluded as possibilities.

Metaphyseal osteopathy affected eight dogs, five of whom showed good responses to NSAIDS, though two later showed a faster response to treatment with glucocorticoids. Five dogs were affected by sterile meningitis, and they all showed a good response to glucocorticoids. The syndrome could be a type of immune dysregulation, since dogs responded well to glucocorticoids at doses that were immunosuppressive.

Young weimaraners seem to be vulnerable to immunodeficiency syndrome. Diagnosis of the syndrome is indicated if dogs show two of three criteria: low serum immunoglobin levels, inflammatory disease, and the development of signs within a week of vaccination. Most of the dogs in this study responded to treatment with glucocorticoids, NSAIDS or antibiotics.