Heredity can affect any dog’s health
If you’ve taken a genetic test yourself, you know that biology is not destiny. But knowing what’s lurking in your genes can help you decide what to do about what may (or may not) be coming. This is also true for dogs. A new DNA test, specifically designed for the furry loves of our lives, can predict your dog’s chances for acquiring specific genetic traits and diseases. The test, pioneered by Wisdom Health and Genoscoper Laboratories, uses genetic testing technology, which can be done at home. A study based on the test yielded surprising results for mutt lovers. All dogs, including mixed breeds, can be affected by genetic disease variants. The good news? Being forewarned is forearmed. There’s a lot you can do to counteract what’s in your dog’s genes, just like you can for your own.
“Mixed breeds are less likely to develop a genetic diagnosis than pure breeds, but it still happens, more often than people realize,” explains Angela Hughes, DVM, veterinary genetics research manager for Mars Veterinary, which operates Wisdom Health. The Wisdom Panel analyzes all of the breeds in the dog’s heredity and the health concerns inherent in each breed. They then note when two or more ancestral breeds’ health issues overlap. “That helps your dog’s veterinarian hone in on specific conditions as your pet ages, so you can catch some problems quickly, and lessen the risk of developing others,” adds Dr. Hughes.
Cockapoos, a mix of a poodle and cocker spaniel, may be at risk for an eye disease that affects older dogs called progressive rod cone degeneration. “Late adult early geriatric blindness is a condition that at this time you can’t avoid, but you can help your dog prepare for it by setting up your space, removing potentially hazardous items from around the house, and maintaining a solid routine,” says Dr. Hughes.
A popular breed known for their boundless energy, Labrador retrievers are predisposed to a number of health conditions. “Labs are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia, eye conditions, and exercise induced collapse (EIC),” says Pete Lands, DVM, the director of emergency and critical care at Saint Francis Veterinary Center. He adds that there are surgical treatments to treat hip and elbow dysplasia, and ophthalmological evaluations can diagnose ocular disease.
As for EIC, it’s a recessive hereditary trait which has become common in labs, no matter what their coat color. It is an important condition to be aware of, since it can be fatal. If you know that your dog has the trait for EIC, avoiding strenuous exercise is imperative, especially in hot weather. Dogs with EIC often, though not always, become wobbly and collapse after five or ten minutes of vigorous exercise, such as running, playing catch, or fetching. Older dogs with flaccid muscles may be more susceptible. Watch out for these 15 signs your dog is secretly mad at you.