Border Collie collapse (BCC) is an episodic nervous system disorder that is triggered by strenuous exercise. BCC is recognized throughout North America, Europe, and Australia and is observed in dogs used for working stock, as well as dogs participating in agility or fly-ball competitions or repeatedly retrieving a ball. This disorder has also been called exercise-induced collapse (EIC), exercise-induced hyperthermia, stress seizures and “the wobbles”.
Affected dogs are normal at rest and seem healthy. Typical collapse episodes begin 5 – 15 min after onset of exercise and include disorientation, dull mentation or loss of focus; swaying, staggering and falling to the side; exaggerated lifting of each limb while walking and a choppy gait; scuffing of the rear and/or forelegs, and crossing of the legs when turning. All of the factors contributing to the tendency for an affected dog to collapse on a given day (excitement, heat, the intensity of exercise) have not been determined. Some dogs seem relatively normal while they are exercising but only show symptoms about 5 minutes after exercise is halted. Dogs are abnormal for 5 to 30 minutes but then recover completely with no residual lameness or muscle stiffness or discomfort. Affected dogs are often unable to exercise and must be retired from competition and work.
Investigators at the University of Minnesota (Drs. Ned Patterson and Jim Mickelson, and Katie Minor), University of Saskatchewan (Drs. Susan Taylor and Cindy Shmon), and the University of California, San Diego (Dr. Diane Shelton) are involved in a large-scale project to investigate this disorder. The objectives of the project are to (1) establish clinical, hematologic and biochemical parameters for normal Border Collies participating in a standardized exercise protocol, (2) to evaluate dogs with BCC participating in a standardized exercise protocol to determine clinical or clinicopathologic markers for BCC at rest or after exercise that will help veterinarians diagnose BCC and help us understand the cause of collapse, (3) to fully describe the clinical features of BCC to facilitate recognition by dog owners and veterinarians, (4) to evaluate the heritability of BCC, (5) to determine the genetic cause of BCC, and (6) to develop a genetic test for BCC to aid diagnosis and to allow breeding decisions to be made to avoid producing affected pups.
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