Ge­netic test­ing for dogs can en­able pre­ven­tive care

Wisconsin Gazette - - Pet Gazette - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

Re­sults from the largest-ever study of its kind show ge­netic test­ing can pre­dict if a dog is at risk for de­vel­op­ing cer­tain dis­eases.

The re­search — based on test­ing tech­nol­ogy that can be used at home — is the first to show the ge­netic dis­eases mixed­breed dogs are most likely to de­velop.

The study also shows that fewer mixed­breed dogs than pure­breds are af­fected by the most com­mon dis­ease-caus­ing mu­ta­tions tested in the study.

Why is this im­por­tant?

Know­ing a dog's dis­ease-re­lated ge­netic make-up could en­able own­ers, breed­ers and vet­eri­nar­i­ans to make more in­formed de­ci­sions about a dog's health.

“There has been a long-stand­ing per­cep­tion that mixed-breed dogs are less dis­ease-prone than pure­bred dogs,” said Cindy Cole, gen­eral man­ager at Wis­dom Health. “This DNA-test­ing-based ev­i­dence shows that while mixed-breed dogs are in fact less likely than pure­breds to de­velop the re­ces­sive disor­ders eval­u­ated in the study, they may still be car­ri­ers.”

The tests are avail­able to vet­eri­nar­i­ans, breed­ers and own­ers.

The re­searchers tested for 152 dis­eases and found:

• Ap­prox­i­mately two out of 100 mixed­breed dogs are at risk of be­com­ing af­fected and 40 out of 100 are car­ri­ers for at least one of the dis­eases.

• Ap­prox­i­mately five out of 100 pure­bred dogs are at risk of be­com­ing af­fected and 28 out of 100 are car­ri­ers for at least one of the dis­eases.

The re­search also showed that through healthy breed­ing prac­tices, which of­ten in­clude ge­netic test­ing, some dis­eases ap­pear to have been erad­i­cated from breed pools.

So, with the man­age­ment of in­her­ited disor­ders through the use of DNA test­ing and sus­tain­able breed­ing de­ci­sions, the in­ci­dence of ge­netic dis­eases in dogs can be de­creased.

For ex­am­ple, X-linked Se­vere Com­bined Im­mun­od­e­fi­ciency, a mu­ta­tion orig­i­nally found in bas­set hounds, ap­pears to have been erad­i­cated.

“For own­ers, un­der­stand­ing for which ge­netic dis­eases their dog is at risk can help them and their vet­eri­nar­i­ans de­sign a per­son­al­ized care and well­ness pro­gram for their dog,” said Jonas Don­ner, chief sci­en­tific of­fi­cer at Geno­scoper. “More broadly, for vet­eri­nar­i­ans to un­der­stand which disor­ders are com­mon across the over­all popu- la­tion is ex­tremely valu­able in­for­ma­tion for the fu­ture of proac­tive med­i­cal care.”

The study, “Frequency and distribution of 152 ge­netic dis­ease vari­ants in over 100,000 mixed breed and pure­bred dogs,” was pub­lished in PLOS Ge­net­ics and con­ducted by Wis­dom Health, a divi­sion of Mars Pet­care, and Geno­scoper Lab­o­ra­to­ries, a Fin­nish tech­nol­ogy com­pany ac­quired by Mars.

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