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Basenji Health Care & Feeding

By Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Breed Selection Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books


Start your Basenji off on the right foot by feeding the right food, giving the right vaccinations, finding the right vet, and if you're going to spay or neuter, don't do it too early.

Jump down to this list of
Basenji Health Problems

Or check out my advice 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... [read more]

numeral 33 Best Ways To Feed Your Dog Healthy Food
You can dramatically increase your dog's chances of living a long, healthy life by feeding the right food. Cutting right to the chase, the best foods for your Basenji are... [read more]

Real homemade dog food A Quick Way To Make Homemade Dog Food
Your Basenji will love real chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, yogurt, broccoli.... this is not just "people food" and I'll tell you why... [read more]

Dry kibble and canned dog food 5 Best Kibble and Canned Dog Foods
Some are better than others, but I must be honest – I'm not a huge fan of dry or canned dog food. Here are my concerns... [read more]

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

Information on spaying Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Should your female Basenji be spayed? Current research says, "The AGE at which you spay can be vitally important to your dog's future health." So what's the best age? [read more]

Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Have you been told that you must neuter your male Basenji? Current research shows that the issue is not so simple. Pet owners are not being told about some risks associated with neutering male dogs, especially neutering too early... [read more]

Information on choosing the best vet Make Sure Your Vet is the Best!
Is your current veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Here's how to tell... [read more]

Assisi Loop Assisi Loop Review
Does your Basenji suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, disk disease, colitis? My honest review of a veterinary device you can use at home to reduce inflammation and pain. [read more]


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.

Preventing health problems

Some health problems are inherited. For example, if your dog inherits from his parents the genes for an eye disease called PRA, he will go blind and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Dog feeding and health book by Michele Welton But most health problems can be prevented by the ways you raise your dog.

FREE eBOOK! My free online health care program, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to raise your Basenji in all the right ways that help prevent health problems. Become your dog's health care champion!

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

My best-selling books – now available  FREE  on my website

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy is for puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know. Click here to read for free.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say. Click here to read for free.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life. Get my honest advice about all 11 Things before you bring home your new puppy, because some mistakes with early health care cannot be undone. Click here to read for free.