Whoa… what a difference a year makes!
Last year we were talking about the early beginnings of breed specific wellness programs and now those programs are well developed and making the news. They will even been incorporated into the AAHA Canine Lifestage guidelines to be published later this year! Many of the dogs we see at West Towne Veterinary Center are mixed breed rescues but we see many purebreds as well. There is a good reliable DNA test that can identify over 200 breeds and allow us to tailor our wellness programs accordingly. A recently publlshed text book “The Genetic Connection” by Lowell Ackerman DVM DACVD lists 254 different breeds with at least one genetic disorder.
What can we do about it ? Lots! Routine wellness testing, consultations before a breed is selected and DNA testing to confirm or deny the risk of disease are all practical right now! Here are some wellness plans for some of the more common breeds. We have searched our database of active clients since 2007 and found this mixture of different breeds.
This site www.upei.ca/~cidd/intro.htm is a very good base for a wide range of breeds but has not been updated since 2004 so it has likely already been superseded by the rapid explosion of genetic testing capabilities that is currently underway. It does provide good links to the breed associations that have done great things to gather information and partner with veterinary schools to make progress on identifying these conditions.
From our training in veterinary school, every veterinarian recognizes that all breeds have specific predilections towards certain illnesses. The emerging genetic information for the many new breeds (and breed mixes) along with all the great evidence based nutrition and supplements is changing the way we practice pet wellness!
There are several DNA tests currently on the market including both saliva for owner use and blood test for professional use. The blood test is currently more comprehensive in terms of being able to detect over 200 breeds. The Wisdom professional panel test is a blood test available through veterinarians for over 200 breeds and has recently added a breed specific condition report and even a predicted adult weight. The ones I have seen to date are very broad ranges and only minimally helpful. The test should be considered for any non purebred dog to determine breed specific health risks. One caution is that phenotype (the outward appearance) and genotype (DNA) do not always allow us to guess accurately from visual appearance.
See lots of great results on the Wisdom “Doggie DNA” Facebook fan page.
Our clinic’s wellness focus has always been on Ideal Weight, dental care, preventing osteoarthritis, and preventing infectious disease and parasites. Knowing what breed(s) are present in a rescued dog can only enhance the specificity of our wellness recommendations. Stay tuned as this exciting area evolves!