Common Genetic Problems In Dogs And How To Anticipate Them


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“Man’s best friend” is a moniker with a long and storied history that aptly describes the unprecedented bond shared between a canine and its owner.  While having a dog can be a highly rewarding experience, deliberate thought should be undertaken prior to delving into the land of pet ownership.

A few of the important aspects to consider include scrutiny of one’s ability to make the long-term commitment associated with dog ownership, having a clear understanding of how daily life meshes with the needs of caring for a dog and providing for an appropriate environment in which a pet can thrive.

While the aforementioned should play a role in deciding if a dog is right for you, it is the simple act of falling in love that often dictates who starts sleeping at the foot of your bed. With the best interests of your new pooch at heart, astute pet owners will serve themselves well in taking the time and resources to understand exactly “who” has come home to live with them.

Pure Breed vs. Mixed Breed – What to Consider

Dog owners often stand on one side of the fence or the other when it comes to owning a pure versus a mixed breed dog. Both come with their own list of pros and cons, and it is up to the new pet owner to make an informed decision regarding which is right for them.

One train of thought that often drives potential owners towards mixed versus pure-breeds is the belief that mixed dogs carry far fewer genetic markers for congenital issues. While not wrong, what is often forgotten is that these mixed breed dogs often come from pure-bred lineage on one or both sides. With new “designer” dogs such as Labradoodles and Cockapoos cropping up, owners are now faced with multiple sets of genetics to take into consideration, and that genetic mix is often not so clear.

Common Genetic Problems in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia is a loosening of the hip joints which causes soreness/limpness and can lead to chronic arthritis. Common in large dogs such as Great Danes, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers, thoughtful care in the early stages of a dog’s development can stave off/manage the onslaught of this disease. Veterinarians often recommend a low-protein diet (accelerated growth associated with high-protein foods can create too much stress on the joints), exercise (although in moderation for dogs under 1.5 years), and regular hip check-ups for “at risk” animals.

Cancer is frequently associated with large dogs such as Great Danes, Greyhounds and especially Golden Retrievers – who on record are more than twice as likely to die from cancer as other dogs.  As in humans, preventive measures such as limiting a dog’s exposure to second-hand smoke, keeping them on a healthy diet and avoiding foods with extra additives can make all the difference in them living a cancer-free life.

Hearing loss is a genetic trait often found in Dalmatians, English Setters and Siberian Huskies. Everyday care of the hearing canal, which includes regular cleaning out of ear wax build-up, is an important component to overall ear health. Prompt intervention by a veterinarian is also paramount for all ear infections, which if left untreated, can lead to permanent hearing loss.

Idiopathic Epilepsy is most commonly seen in breeds such as Beagles, Golden Retrievers and Labradors, manifesting itself anywhere from ten months to three years of age.  Afflicted dogs can and do suffer seizures of varying degrees. Unfortunately, while little can be done to prevent them, having a frank conversation with your vet on treatment options along with regular check-ups can be the difference in managing both their severity and frequency.

Exercise, a good diet, regular check-ups and lots of love are a great foundation in managing the health of your dog. Furthering your knowledge of his background through genetic testing however, can often make the difference in a life lived and a life well-lived.

Test your dog today – your knowledge is your pooches’ power.

What preventive measures have you undertaken as a pet owner to ensure the future well-being of your mixed-breed dog?

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