BRAT and the new Fanconi Protocol

The Board of Directors of Basenji Rescue and Transport (BRAT) made an important decision affecting the lives of many Basenjis June 6 by voting to Fanconi DNA test each rescued Basenji in BRAT’s care.   This decision was reached as a result of Dr. Steve Gonto’s presentation on the 2015 Fanconi Protocol at the BRAT Annual Convention June 5-7.


BRAT and the new Fanconi Protocol

Dr. Gonto presented new information, dispelling a belief that the rescues would have to be Venous Blood Gas (VBG) tested every two to three months, which would be cost-prohibitive for any rescue organization.  This is not the case.  If a dog is found to be Fanconi Affected, the Gonto protocol will begin immediately, and urine test strip testing will be administered monthly.  If a dog is spilling urine, then the VBG tests will be needed.  Otherwise, Fanconi Affected Basenjis will only need an annual VBG.

“The board believed it would be cost prohibitive to maintain a large number of identified affected Basenjis,” says Liz Newton, president of BRAT. “With this new information from Dr. Gonto, and his new protocol, the board realized that in many cases, especially with younger dogs, we can provide them the possibility of a normal life. It is the right this to do for the many basenjis who are in our care.”


In his presentation, Dr. Gonto emphasized the need for early diagnosis to prevent kidney damage and enable a dog to live a completely normal life.  He noted that the monthly urine test strip is not the best way to determine if a Basenji has Fanconi.  Once sugar shows in a urine test strip, Fanconi has progressed quite far along in the dog.  He urged DNA testing of Basenjis as the one reliable way to determine if a dog has the disease.  With early diagnosis, he noted, immediate treatment can prevent many of the issues that develop in the disease.   The protocol is online at

His current Basenji, who has Fanconi, does not drink excess water and does not have excess urination because he was able to identify the disease early through DNA testing and started treatment immediately.  She is a normal, active Basenji.  

Fanconi Syndrome is a disorder in which the proximal renal tubules of the kidney do not properly reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients into the body, but "spill" them instead into the urine. Symptoms include excessive drinking (polydipsia), excessive urination (polyuria), and glucose in the urine (glucosuria). Untreated Fanconi Syndrome will result in muscle wasting, acidosis and poor condition, and eventually death.

The onset of Fanconi Syndrome is typically between four and eight years of age, although onset has occurred as early as two years and as late as 11 years. The earlier the disease is detected, the less damage is done to tissues and organs.  

The board is currently seeking additional donations and grants to cover the cost of testing the current Basenjis in their care, and to establish a fund to offset future costs associated with rescues with Fanconi.

Deborah Hughes