Most common health problems in Basenjis, plus health care and feeding.


My Complete Health Care Program for your Basenji

If you want to AVOID health problems in your Basenji, you'll find my health care program very valuable.

It's called "11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy."

Raise your dog the RIGHT way, feed him the RIGHT food, give him the RIGHT vaccinations, avoid unnecessary veterinary expenses, and help him live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life.

If your Basenji already HAS a health problem, I'm sorry to hear that. You should immediately begin my health care program, and you may be able to restore his good health – or at least make him much more comfortable. Let me help!

My best-selling dog health book


Basenji dog breed

Basenji Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2017


Quick list of Basenji health problems

Serious hereditary eye diseases can impair vision and even cause complete blindness.

Fanconi is a very serious inherited kidney disease that can be fatal. Basenji owners need to test their dog's urine for glucose each month.

Thyroid disease is pretty common in Basenjis and may require lifelong medication.

A severe form of colitis (digestive disease) occurs in Basenjis.

(See more health problems below.)


Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if both parents of your Basenji have certificates proving they were tested and cleared of hereditary eye diseases, fanconi, and thyroid disease, your Basenji has less risk of developing those conditions.

Other health problems can be prevented, or partially prevented, by the ways you raise your dog. If you're serious about doing everything you can for your Basenji, my best-selling book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to raise your Basenji puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways. It will help you be your dog's health care champion!


Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Basenji puppy or adult dog:

Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Basenji lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Pet insurance Should You Buy Pet Insurance? An Honest Review
My advice on the pros and cons of pet insurance, and the best pet insurance company I've found.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Basenji
Food is the #1 foundation for good health. The best diet for feeding your dog is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, fish....these are not just "people foods" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Basenji. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Basenji
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Basenji. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Basenji puppy really need? Does your adult Basenji need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed! Find out what some vets aren't telling you.


Information on spaying your Basenji. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female dog.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Basenji. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review: How I Helped Treat Inflammation and Pain
Does your dog suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis, a skin wound? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to help reduce inflammation and pain.


Complete list of Basenji health problems

Eye diseases are problematic in Basenjis, especially persistent pupillary membranes (which can severely impair vision in this breed), optic nerve coloboma, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), cataracts, corneal dystrophy, and retinal dysplasia.

A severe form of colitis occurs in Basenjis. It's similar to irritable bowel syndrome in people and is referred to by various names, such as IPSID (immuno-proliferative systemic intestinal disease), malabsorption, or enteropathy. They all refer to the same serious condition.

Fanconi is a very serious inherited kidney disease in Basenjis.

Here's how the kidneys work: they filter your dog's blood, reabsorbing good nutrients (glucose, electrolytes, proteins) and channeling them back into the bloodstream to be used by the body, while pulling out bad wastes (urea, creatinine) and voiding them as urine.

In a Basenji with fanconi, a part of the kidney that does this filtering is defective. So valuable nutrients, instead of being reabsorbed, are "spilled" into the urine and flushed out of the body. The loss of these nutrients leads to electrolyte imbalances and eventually kidney failure.

Fanconi is a disease of middle age, typically appearing at 3-8 years old. As with all kidney diseases, you'll see increased drinking and increased urination. Because of the glucose (sugar) being spilled into his urine, the urinary tract becomes attractive to bacteria, so your dog may experience repeated urinary tract infections. Because valuable nutrients are being flushed out of his body, he eventually loses weight and muscle tone. As kidney failure sets in, he loses his appetite and becomes sick and depressed.

Fanconi diagnosis: sugar in the urine is the easiest thing to look for. All Basenji owners should test their dog's urine for glucose each month, starting at age three and continuing at least until age eight. Urine glucose test strips, such as those used by diabetics, are inexpensive and can be purchased at most pharmacies. In a Basenji, if a urine test strip gives a positive result (shows sugar), this suggests fanconi, but doesn't prove it. The next step is a trip to the vet for venous blood gas tests that will verify an electrolyte imbalance consistent with fanconi.

Vets sometimes misdiagnose fanconi as diabetes. But with diabetes, sugar levels in the urine AND sugar levels in the blood will both be high. With fanconi, sugar levels in the urine are high, but sugar levels in the blood are normal. Diabetes is rare in Basenjis; fanconi is NOT.

There's no cure for fanconi, but the progression of kidney disease can be slowed if caught early enough. A new program to manage fanconi has been developed by Basenji experts. When the kidneys flush out electrolytes and nutrients, an unhealthy acidic environment is created in your dog's body. The goal of the new program is to reduce acidity by adding alkaline supplements (sodium bicarbonate, potassium citrate, phosphorus, calcium). These are given daily and venous blood gas readings repeated every few months to monitor your dog's blood chemistry.

Basenjis today still die from fanconi. But many more respond to this new program than the old program of drugs and antibiotics.

Getting back to other health problems in Basenjis.....pyruvate kinase deficiency is a serious form of hemolytic anemia (not enough red blood cells). Fortunately a simple DNA test is available for PK deficiency so you can find out at any time whether your Basenji has the disease, carries the disease, or is completely clear.

Hypothyroidism is common in Basenjis. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, up to 17% of Basenjis have low thyroid levels.

Orthopedic diseases such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and luxating patella can occur, but are not common (each occurs in Basenjis at less than a 4% rate).

There is an inherited tendency for hernias in some lines of Basenjis.


To help you train and care for your dog

book cover To learn more about training your dog to be calm and well-behaved, my dog training book is Teach Your Dog 100 English Words. It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your dog to listen to you and do whatever you ask.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a good-tempered, healthy dog.

book cover My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, shows you how to help your dog live a longer life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.