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OFA Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why should I test my dog for genetic disease?
  2. How do I know which tests I should do for my breed?
  3. I have a mixed breed. Can she get an OFA number?
  4. What do I have to do to have an animal evaluated by the OFA for hip/elbow dysplasia?
  5. Does the veterinarian need to be certified in any way to take the radiograph to submit to the OFA?
  6. I've been to my vet and we just sent off the radiographs. When will I know my results?
  7. My breed isn't listed in your statistics. Why not?
  8. Do you do tests for cats?
  9. How do I contact you?
  10. Can environment or food cause hip dysplasia?
  11. I want to screen my puppy, but OFA says I have to wait until he's two. What should I do?
  12. How do you read OFA numbers?
  13. What does the PI, VPI or NOPI stand for?
  14. Why is my dog's OFA number not showing up on the OFA website?
  15. Is information regarding the status of my dog's evaluation available on the website while the application is still in progress?
  16. My OFA report says "Transitional Vertebrae" below the phenotypic hip evaluation. What does this mean?
  17. My OFA report says "Spondylosis" below the phenotypic hip evaluation. What does this mean?
  18. Does the OFA require dogs to be permanently identified in order to be evaluated or included in its databases?
  19. Why is my dog's OFA number not printed on its AKC paperwork?
  20. Are the sire and dam fields on the applications required?
  21. Can I pay extra to have the evaluation process expedited?
  22. Can I have my female radiographed while she is in season, pregnant, or nursing?
  23. How do I get a corrected or duplicate copy of my dog's OFA certificate?
  24. What if the hip or elbow radiographs were taken just a few days before the animal turned 24 months old?
  25. What type of identification is required in the film emulsion of the radiograph?
  26. What are the OFA fees?
  27. I submitted the fee printed on the application card. Why have I received an invoice regarding a balance due?
  28. What position is required to evaluate a dog for elbow dysplasia?
  29. Does the OFA require the animal to be anesthetized during the radiograph?
  30. Does the OFA return the radiographs when the evaluation is complete?
  31. Does the OFA require the cardiac examination to be performed by a cardiologist?
  32. Can dogs be re-evaluated?
  33. How reliable are the consultation results?
  34. Since the hip and elbow evaluations are subjective, what level of consistency is there between the radiologists?
  35. What do OFA numbers beginning with GDC mean?

Answers

  1. Why should I test my dog for genetic disease?
    Veterinarians and responsible breeders of purebred dogs and cats are well aware that hip dysplasia and other inherited diseases can be controlled by careful, selective breeding programs. DNA tests for specific diseases remain the "gold standard" in determining an animal's genotype, but in the absence of available DNA tests, phenotypic evaluations are the best alternative. Information regarding the test results from the sire and dam, along with information on other close relatives such as siblings, half-siblings, aunts and uncles allows breeders to apply greater selective pressure to produce normal offspring and avoid affected offspring.

  2. How do I know which tests I should do for my breed?
    A number of sources are valuable in determining what tests are the most appropriate for your dog. These include your veterinarian, the OFA website statistics section, local breed clubs, and the health concerns documented on the websites of numerous national breed clubs.

  3. I have a mixed breed. Can she get an OFA number?
    The OFA does not require dogs to be purebred or registered in order to perform an OFA evaluation or to register test results into our databases.

  4. What do I have to do to have an animal evaluated by the OFA for hip/elbow dysplasia?
    Radiographs need to be taken by the veterinarian of your choice. These are submitted to the OFA along with the completed application form and service fee. The application can be downloaded from this site. Detailed instructions on the correct radiographic positioning and required film identification are included on the application.
  5. Does the veterinarian need to be certified in any way to take the radiograph to submit to the OFA?
    Any licensed veterinarian can take OFA radiographs. The necessary forms and instructions for submitting OFA evaluations can be downloaded from this site.

    OFA Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Application
    General Hip Dysplasia information
    General Elbow Dysplasia information

  6. I've been to my vet and we just sent off the radiographs. When will I know my results?
    The current average turnaround time for hip and elbow evaluations is approximately two weeks from the time the application arrives at the OFA. Keep in mind that depending on the method of delivery, it can often take almost that long for films to arrive at the OFA. For consultations and the soft tissue databases (cardiac, thyroid, patellar luxation, DNA, SA), the turnaround time is approximately one week from the time the application arrives at the OFA.

  7. My breed isn't listed in your statistics. Why not?
    Breeds are not included in the OFA statistics tables until a minimum number of individuals have been evaluated. For hips, the breeds must have 100 evaluations in the database. For all other databases, there must be at least 50.

  8. Do you do tests for cats?
    The OFA accepts cats into the hip dysplasia, cardiac, and patellar luxation databases. Requirements, protocols, procedures, and fees are identical to dogs.

  9. How do I contact you?
    The OFA can be reached by phone, fax, mail, or email. Our hours of operation are from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm CST.

    Phone Number: (573) 442-0418
    Fax Number: (573) 875-5073
    Mailing Address: 2300 E. Nifong Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201-3806
    Email Address: ofa@offa.org

  10. Can environment or food cause hip dysplasia?
    No, hip dysplasia is a multiple gene, inherited disease. Environmental factors, like high caloric diet during the rapid growth phase, may exacerbate changes in dysplastic hips but will not create hip dysplasia. There also is no evidence in the scientific literature that supplements (i.e Vitamin C) will prevent hip dysplasia. Reduced caloric intake and glucosamine products in immature animals genetically predisposed for hip dysplasia may lessen the pathologic changes associated with hip dysplasia.

  11. I want to screen my puppy, but OFA says I have to wait until he's two. What should I do?
    Preliminary evaluations are available for puppies over 4 months. For more information, go to the section on Preliminary Evaluations.

  12. How do you read OFA numbers?
    Example: LR-100E24M-PI

    LR = Breed Code, in this case a Labrador Retriever

    100 = Ascending numerical identifier given to each animal within a breed evaluated as normal and given a number, in this case the 100th Labrador to be given a number

    E = The phenotypic OFA evaluation, in this case E = Excellent, other normal phenotypes include G (Good) and F (Fair).

    24 = The age in months when the testing was done, in this case 24 months

    M = Sex, in this case a male

    PI - Indicates that the animal has been permanently identified in the form of tattoo or microchip. If the dog has been permanently identified AND the identification has been verified by the attending veterinarian, a suffix of VPI is applied. If the animal lacks permanent identification, a suffix of NOPI is applied.

  13. What does the PI, VPI, or NOPI stand for?
    Effective January 1, 2001, the OFA adopted a policy acknowledging animals that have been submitted for inclusion in its databases that have permanent identification in the form of tattoo or microchip. Animals not permanently identified will continue to be evaluated; however, they will be issued a number clearly indicating that the animal has no permanent identification. Animals with permanent identification will have a suffix of PI added to the OFA number. Animals that are permanently identified AND have had the identification verified by the attending veterinarian will have a suffix of VPI applied. Animals with no permanent identification will have a suffix of NOPI applied. Effective 1/1/08, only dogs with verified permanent identification (VPI) will have their OFA data transmitted to the AKC for inclusion in their database.

  14. Why is my dog's OFA number not showing up on the OFA website?
    The OFA website is updated several times a month. However, there is a short waiting period between the time an application finishes and the data is uploaded to the web to allow time for the printed report to reach the owner.

  15. Is information regarding the status of my dog's evaluation available on the website while the application is still in progress?
    No. Information is not uploaded to the website until the evaluation has been completed and reports mailed. The OFA website is currently updated several times a month.

  16. My OFA report says "Transitional Vertebrae" below the phenotypic hip evaluation. What does this mean?
    Transitional vertebra is an incidental radiographic finding noted during the evaluation process. Transitional vertebrae are a congenital malformation of the spine that occurs at the junctions of major divisions of the spine. Transitional vertebrae take on anatomic characteristics of both divisions of the spine it occurs between. The most common type of transitional vertebrae reported by the OFA is in the lumbar-sacral area where the last lumbar vertebral body takes on anatomic characteristics of the sacrum. Transitional vertebrae are usually not associated with clinical signs and the dog can be used in a breeding program. The OFA recommends breeding the dog to a dog with a clear family history for transitional vertebrae.

  17. My OFA report says "Spondylosis" below the phenotypic hip evaluation. What does this mean?
    Spondylosis is another incidental radiographic finding where smooth new bone production is visualized between vertebral bodies at the intervertebral disc spaces. The new bone production can vary in extent from formation of small bone spurs to complete bridging of adjacent vertebral bodes. Spondylosis may occur secondary to spinal instability but often it is of unknown cause and clinically insignificant. A familial basis for its development has been reported. Like transitional vertebrae, dogs with spondylosis can be used in breeding programs. It is recommended however, that they not be bred to others with the same condition.

  18. Does the OFA require dogs to be permanently identified in order to be evaluated or included in its databases?
    No, the OFA does not require permanent identification. However, all assigned OFA numbers will clearly indicate whether the dog was permanently identified through the use of the –PI, -VPI, and -NOPI suffixes. Effective 1/1/08, only dogs with verified permanent identification (VPI) will have their OFA data transmitted to the AKC for inclusion in their database.

  19. Why is my dog's OFA number not printed on its AKC paperwork?
    There is a lag time of approximately one month between the time the OFA issues breed numbers and the time this information is imported into the AKC registry. It should be noted that the AKC requires dogs to be permanently identified in the form of tattoo or microchip in order to include their OFA results in the AKC database. Effective 1/1/08, only dogs with verified permanent identification (VPI) will have their OFA data transmitted to the AKC for inclusion in their database.

  20. Are the sire and dam fields on the applications required to be filled out?
    No, the sire and dam are not required entries, however they are useful in helping breeders analyze the health records of related animals. If at all possible, the sire and dam AKC registration and/or OFA numbers should be included. This will allow relationships to show properly in internet search results.

  21. Can I pay extra to have the evaluation process expedited?
    The OFA does not offer any expedited processing of applications. Turnaround for hips and elbows is currently averaging two weeks following receipt of the application in the OFA offices. For consultations and soft-tissue databases (cardiac, thyroid, patellar luxation, DNA tests, SA) the average turnaround time is approximately one week.

  22. Can I have my female radiographed while she is in season, pregnant, or nursing?
    Some female dogs exhibit additional subluxation when radiographed during these times. The OFA recommends radiographing three to four weeks before or after the heat cycle, and three to four weeks after weaning a litter of puppies.

  23. How do I get a corrected or duplicate copy of my dog's OFA certificate?
    To receive a corrected or duplicate copy, please send a written request and in the case of corrections, include the original incorrect certificate with the corrections indicated. Where possible, please send verification such as the AKC registration papers to verify the requested changes. Following receipt of the request, the OFA will update its records, and mail a new certificate.There is a $5 fee for duplicate certificates

  24. What if the hip or elbow radiographs were taken just a few days before the animal turned 24 months old?
    The OFA performs hip and elbow preliminary evaluations on dogs who were under 2 years of age at the time of radiograph. For certification purposes, the animal must be at least 24 months of age to the day to be eligible.

  25. What type of identification is required in the film emulsion of the radiograph?
    Each radiograph submitted must have positive permanent identification within the film emulsion that ties the radiograph to the application. This should include at a minimum the animal's name and/or number, the name of the veterinarian or clinic, and the date of the radiograph. If this information is missing or is illegible, the radiograph and application will be returned to the vet without being processed.

  26. What are the OFA fees?
    A matrix containing the current OFA fees is located at www.offa.org/fees.html.

  27. I submitted the fee printed on the application card. Why have I received an invoice regarding a balance due?
    The current OFA fees went into effect on January 1, 2008. However, many clinics are still using old application cards with the outdated fees. It should be noted that although an outstanding balance will not hold up the evaluation process, no results will be released and no final reports will be mailed until the fees are paid in full.

  28. What position is required to evaluate a dog for elbow dysplasia?
    The radiograph needs to be the extreme flexed medial to lateral view of each elbow.

  29. Does the OFA require the animal to be anesthetized during the radiograph?
    The OFA recommends chemical restraint to the point of muscle relaxation, however it is not required.

  30. Does the OFA return the radiographs when the evaluation is complete?
    The OFA scans each radiograph and keeps the digital image for long-term referral and storage purposes. After scanning, the radiographs are recycled. Owners may have the radiographs returned if a written request is received with the application. The fee to return radiographs is $5.00 per application. Return requests cannot be guaranteed if the request is submitted after the evaluation is already in process since it is likely the radiograph will already have been scanned and recycled.

  31. Does the OFA require the cardiac examination to be performed by a cardiologist?
    The OFA recommends the advanced training of a specialist or cardiologist, but does not require it. The OFA number issued to normal dogs will clearly indicate the examiner's level of expertise with the following designations: P (practitioner), S (specialist), or C (cardiologist).

  32. Can dogs be reevaluated?
    The OFA will re-evaluate animals as often as the owner likes. However, the re-evaluation must be based on a new set of radiographs. All consensus evaluations on a given radiograph submission are final.

  33. How reliable are the consultation results?
    A synopsis of the OFA's published study, "The Reliability of Early Radiographic Evaluation for Canine Hip Dysplasia Obtained from the Standard Ventrodorsal Radiographic Projection", JAVMA, 11/97, is located at www.offa.org/hd_prelims.html

  34. Since the hip and elbow evaluations are subjective, what level of consistency is there between the radiologists?
    When results of 1.8 million radiographic evaluations by 45 radiologists were analyzed, it was found that all three radiologists agreed as to whether the dog should be classified as having a normal phenotype, borderline phenotype, or HD 94.9% of the time. In addition, 73.5% of the time, all three radiologists agreed on the same hip phenotype (excellent, fair, good, borderline, mild, moderate or severe). Twenty-one percent of the time, two radiologists agreed on the same hip grade and the third radiologist was within one hip grade of the other two. Two radiologists agreed on the same hip grade and the third radiologist was within two hip grades of the other two 5.4% of the time. This percentage of agreement is high considering the subjective nature of the evaluation.

  35. What do OFA numbers beginning with GDC mean?
    GDC stands for the Institute of Genetic Disease Control. GDC formerly maintained canine health databases similar to those of the OFA. In the Fall of 2002, the GDC databases were merged with the OFA. Numbers beginning with GDC indicate that the evaluation was performed by GDC prior to the merge.

 

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