Genesis Breed-Specific Health Care® is a pioneering genetics-based educational resource for pet owners and veterinary healthcare providers. With Genesis products and educational information, purebred pets are treated according to their own unique behavioral attributes, lifestyles, and genetic predispositions to disease, thereby ensuring that these pets live longer, healthier, and more enjoyable lives. The Genesis program is based on recent research and medical advances in canine genetic testing and prevalence of diseases. Veterinarians who practice breed-specific care ensure that clients with purebred pets are educated, such as Miniature Schnauzer owners knowing about the predisposition to mitral valve disease, portosystemic shunt, glaucoma, and other conditions. Likewise, clients with Boxers are encouraged to schedule regular heart screens to identify early signs of dilated cardiomyopathy before dogs develop symptoms, like labored breathing or fainting spells, which indicate disease progression. This type of pet wellness care allows pet owners and veterinary health-care teams to better prevent, diagnose, and treat many painful, costly, and sometimes devastating diseases and conditions earlier and more effectively than with traditional veterinary care. The benefits of health care by breed are:
- Patients live longer, healthier lives.
- Breed behavioral problems are better understood and managed as wellness considerations.
- Pet owners are happier because their pets are companions for a longer period of time and live a higher quality of life.
- The pet-owner/pet/veterinary-health-care-team bond is stronger.
- Veterinary practices are able to provide a higher level of medicine and quality pet-owner service.
Isn’t a Dog a Dog?
You may be wondering why we consider genetics at all when we think about wellness and prevention for animals. Isn’t a dog a dog? Well, yes. And there are many differences in species based on breed(s). Some of it is size related. For example, dogs that weigh more than 90 pounds are more likely to have bone cancer than smaller dogs. Small dogs are more likely to suffer from tracheal collapse or retained testicles.
But many of the health concerns we pay attention to in dogs are genetically linked to their breeds. Some examples clearly demonstrate specificity by breed because the disease occurs only in one or a few breeds: for example, exercise-induced collapse in Labrador Retrievers and collie eye anomaly in Shetland Sheepdogs, Border Collies, Collies, and Australian Shepherds. In other cases, the disease occurs in several breeds but much more frequently in some breeds than others. Examples include certain types of heart disease, kidney stones, and hip dysplasia.
What If My Dog Has an Inherited or Genetically Linked Disease?
The science behind the conclusions can be traced to particular genes in some cases, which is why there are tests for some diseases in some breeds. There’s no sense in passing on diseases by breeding a dog that is predisposed to a particular health problem. For example, bulldog and Boston terriers most often can’t birth puppies without veterinary surgery. Collies with the gene for collie eye anomaly, a disease that causes blindness, should not be bred. Dogs with the gene for degenerative myelopathy, a disease that causes eventual paralysis of the hindquarters, should likewise not be bred.
But beyond looking for problems in dogs that you are considering breeding, genetic predisposition for certain diseases has other applications. If you and your veterinarian are aware that the disease may occur, you can both look for physical signs early on. This helps the veterinarian diagnose and treat a disease much earlier in your dog’s life, which often results in a longer and happier life for your pet. For example, if you know that dilated cardiomyopathy, a type of heart disease, is common in your Doberman Pinscher, you can look for the outward physical signs of the disease, and your veterinarian can conduct ECG screenings starting at a young age. Diagnosing this type of heart disease early in a dog’s life means that the veterinarian can prescribe medication that may prolong a Dobie’s life for many years.
Where can I learn more?
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