Cavalier King Charles spaniel

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Hereditary xanthinuria is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder that results in excessive xanthine (a metabolic byproduct) in the urine. This increases the risk for formation of xanthine bladder or kidney stones and can cause significant kidney disease.  Hereditary xanthinuria is a result of mutations in either xanthine dehydrogenase (XDH, type 1 xanthinuria) or molybdenum cofactor sulfurase (MOCOS, type 2 xanthinuria). Xanthinuria can also occur from non-genetic factors such as exposure to drugs that inhibit XDH (e.g. allopurinol). This is termed iatrogenic xanthinuria.

Who gets it?

Hereditary xanthinuria is rare but has been reported in multiple breeds. In the past 5 years, the Minnesota Urolith Center received xanthine stone submissions from dogs of the following breeds with suspected hereditary xanthinuria: Toy Manchester Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, English Cocker Spaniel, Dachshund, Chihuahua, and mixed breed dogs.

To date, we have identified causative mutations in a mixed breed dog (Type 1a), Toy Manchester Terriers (Type 2a), English Cocker Spaniels and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (Type 2b), and Dachshunds (Type 2c). If you are submitting a sample from a breed that is not listed, we recommend running all four tests. Genetic test results can be used to help guide medical management of affected dogs, identify dogs at risk even before they form stones, and to inform breeding decisions.

What are the clinical signs?

Xanthinuria leads to the development of urinary stones. This causes irritation that may manifest as straining to urinate, frequent urination, urgency with urination, blood in the urine, or life-threatening urinary obstructions. Microscopic crystals can also accumulate in the kidney and cause kidney disease. Patients with xanthinuria can present at virtually any age from a few months onwards. Though many patients have serious consequences, some remain asymptomatic. Males appear to be more likely to form stones than females.

How is it managed?

Once diagnosed, stones can be treated surgically or with other removal techniques, but the disease tends to recur without additional intervention. High fluid intake is important, along with a low purine diet. Therapeutic veterinary low purine diets are available by prescription. Egg, nuts, and dairy are generally low purine sources of protein; foods with high purine content such as liver, kidney, bacon, and most seafood should be avoided.

Contact us

Canine Genetics Lab
University of Minnesota
1988 Fitch Ave
AS/VM 295
St. Paul, MN 55108

[email protected]

Submitting a sample

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Step 1 - Select instructions for your sample type

Step 2 - Complete your submission form(s)

Step 3 - Fees & Payment

Any single test

  • 1-3 dogs - $65 each
  • 4 or more - $58 each

Four test panel

  • $175 each

Submit payment

Need cheek swabs?  

Cheek swabs are not included in the purchase price. Links to several purchasing options are available within the cheek swab protocol  (pdf).

Result interpretation

Scientific references

Related links

Minnesota Urolith Center

Learn more about the work of the Minnesota Urolith Center, which has received more than one million bladder stones for diagnosis and strives to minimize pain and avoid invasive surgery.